Friday, March 24, 2017

Winter Running Product Reviews: Yaktrax, DryGuy, Falke

While it might be spring according to the calendar, it still feels like winter here in the mid-Atlantic! In fact, we just had over a foot of snow fall last week alone. What's that saying... in like a lion, out like a lamb? I sure hope so!

Even though spring is (hopefully) right around the corner, winter will return next year. *sigh* So, if you're like me and hate having to bring your workout inside due to weather conditions, you'll want to be prepared for next winter... or in my case, never-ending-winter-that-maybe-just-maybe-will-turn-into-spring. 😄

Pretty. And pretty chilly.

As a Cold Conqueror Ambassador, I was able to try out three winter-weather brands, all designed to help keep folks active in all types of cold/wet weather. I was sent two pairs of Yaktrax: Yatrax Run and Yaktrax Pro, a pair of Cabin Socks, and two Adventure Packs full of hand, toe, and body warmers. From DryGuy, I received the Force Dry DX, the Travel Dry DX, and the Warm N' Charge, a unique portable charging device and rechargeable hand warmer. And from Falke, I was sent a pair of their Ski Touring Socks.

Let's start with Yaktrax- in short, these are awesome for moving around in the snow and ice! Each pair came with a little instruction booklet but honestly, they are very easy to fit onto the bottom of your shoe and even have "toe" and "heel" imprinted on the rubber parts so you don't put them on backwards. The biggest difference that I noticed was that the Run pair had spikes and the Pro pair did not. However, when they were on, I couldn't discern any difference in performance.

The Yaktrax Pro before a snowy run.

Both pairs allowed me to run without a second thought to the snow and ice I was running through. I didn't have to worry about slipping or sliding at all. They really, truly work. The only draw back was snow gathering in between the "diamonds" made by the coils- every mile or so I'd have to stop and knock the snow off the middle of the underside of my shoe. But overall, these made running in the snow really fun!

Yaktrax and Altra- a match made in heaven!

Even though we didn't get the amount of snow we usually do, running in it -and through the puddles of this "spring" we're experiencing- results in wet running shoes. And wet running shoes stink. That's wear DryGuy's Force Dry DX saved my winter running game- and my shoes. The Force Dry DX uses gentle, heated forced air to dry your soggy socks, gloves, hats, shoes, whatever, in about an hour. I admit, I was a little skeptical that my snow-soaked shoes would dry that quickly but they sure did!

DryGuy helping thaw out my pair of Altra Olympus. 

I was a little concerned that the fan/motor would be loud, but I could barely hear it when it was plugged in. I've used it with shoes, gloves, and hats and I'm sure I'm going to use it more this spring, especially as we will have melting snow for the next few weeks. The cool thing about the Force Dry DX is that it allows me to run on consecutive days in the same shoes- I no longer have to wait a day or more for my shoes to dry out on their own.  Pretty neat.

So, I don't ski. But, the Falke ski socks have been fabulous to run in. They are a thicker, woolier, version of a compression sock and keep my legs warm on those 20 degree training runs. They don't offer any fun colors (mine are black with some red stitching- you can see a little of them in the first picture in this post) but they get the job done.

The Cabin Socks from Yaktrax have quickly become my go-to socks. As most of you know, I have really wonky, arthritic feet. And winter is brutal on them because of the cold; they are crankier than usual so I try to keep them as warm as possible by wearing socks at all times. Enter the Cabin Socks. They are double-layer, cute as hell, and very, very warm. 6/7 days a week, these are on my feet. I wash them on the seventh day. Just kidding, I wash them more often than that! Maybe. 😉

Fuzzy moose goodness.

All three of these brands offer unique products that will keep you moving and keep you warm and dry no matter your choice of outdoor winter activity. So the next time you need to train through snow and cold, grab yourself some Yaktrax, DryGuy and Falke, and #conquerwinter!

Note: As a Cold Conqueror Ambassador, I received merchandise to use and review. All opinions stated on this blog are my own. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Castaway Cay Challenge: Final Thoughts

In my last post, you may have noticed that I said Matthew and I might do the Castaway Cay Challenge again. However, after some further thought, I don't think we'll be signing up for it anytime soon. 

While getting on a cruise ship they day after a marathon is probably the best way to celebrate running 26.2 miles, there were some definite drawbacks to this particular cruise. 

The beautiful Disney Dream.

In short, there were too many damn adults on this cruise. 😊

I think Disney Cruise Line has established a perfect adult to kid ratio on its "normal" cruises. There are several adult-only spaces that are frequented by enough people to feel active but not overwhelmingly busy. This cruise had a ton more adults so the adult-only areas were packed! The pools, the bars, and the rainforest (our absolute favorite place on the Dream) were truly not as enjoyable because there were simply too many people.

THIS is how the adult pool should look the majority of the time. 

In fact, things were so crowded in the rainforest, this one woman actually went to get the spa manager to get them to "regulate" the heated beds as you are only supposed to relax on them for 30 minutes at a time if there are people waiting. Let me tell you, it was quite difficult to relax while this woman loudly complained and decided to be everyone's "countdown clock" to when they had to get off the beds. Not fun. 

In addition to the crowds, people's behavior was also a bit un-Disney like. One of the reasons we love cruising with Disney is that we've never seen someone intoxicated to the point they were acting like a fool. Well, while watching a fun game "Match Your Mate" in the nightclub, there was a group of people who appeared to be pretty drunk. So drunk, in fact, that one woman actually slammed her wine glass down on the table and broke the stem of the glass. She. broke. her. wine. glass. WHAT?! We left soon after because they were being so obnoxious and loud. 

And really, with $12 martinis, how does one even get that drunk with DCL?!
This one was pretty yummy though :-) 

I don't know if this cruise was irregular because it was the Castaway Cay Challenge cruise or if it was simply a fluke. We've now cruised on all four ships, a total of seven separate cruises, and have never experienced anything like this before. It definitely wasn't all bad; however there were a few things that will make us reconsider doing this particular cruise again. 

That being said, it was cool to be able to meet so many other Disney runners and talk "shop" with them about WDW Marathon Weekend. And the Castaway Cay Challenge 5k race itself was super fun.

But really, we don't need to do this cruise again. We much prefer our regular cruising routine: less crowded adult spaces and less drunk people. And besides, the Castaway Cay 5k happens every time they dock at Disney's private island in the Bahamas so we can run that race whenever we cruise to the island. 😄 

Disney Dream fans for life.