Sunday, October 28, 2018

Product Review: Luvo Bundles

Disclaimer: I received a Luvo Vegan Essentials Bundle to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

If there is one thing that everyone knows about a vegan/plant-based lifestyle it's that "convenience" is not a word used often enough. Meals and snacks usually take some preparation which takes time out of your day. Convenience foods are often processed and hence made unhealthy, another reason why we don't hear that word used in association with vegan.

It's time to throw that mentality out the window as Luvo changes everything. Chances are that you have heard of Luvo at some point but if you haven't they are a company that makes frozen entrees that are actually healthy. Their Vegan Essentials Bundle is no exception. They are frozen vegan bowls that are packed with all the good things that you want as a vegan/ plant-based eater with the convenience of a microwave.

The Vegan Essentials Bundle consists of four different flavors, more on those in a bit, that you only have to microwave for 4.5 minutes. The ingredients are simple whole foods which are combined to make a complete meal. One thing that I hear the most from people is that vegan food isn't "real" and doesn't have a lot of flavor. Let me tell you that when you read the ingredients, and can understand them all, that's as real as it gets. To those that claim that vegan food doesn't have a lot of flavor, they clearly haven't has a meal with me. I'll go into each of the flavors in detail below.


So Cal Kale & Bean


This one was my favorite flavor. Yielding 10 grams of protein, only 360 mg of sodium, and 14 grams of sugar this bowl was bursting with so much to love. Beans, kale, and rice are a staple of the vegan diet so add to that crisp broccoli and raisins for a touch of sweetness you get a sweet and savory bowl of fiber and deliciousness.

Hawaiian Un-Fried Rice

Let's make this clear, I lived in Hawaii for five years and know how authentic the food is suppose to taste. This bowl has all the authenticity you should be looking for in Hawaiian fried rice without the greasy fried rice texture. The black forbidden rice is cooked to perfection which if you know anything about forbidden rice it can get gritty when overcooked. This is is starchy and the flavors blends nicely with the crunchy cashews.


Great Karma Coconut Curry

Coconut is the staple of any good curry especially when it's a vegan curry since the coconut flavor isn't trampled by the flavors of meat. I really enjoyed the addition of the butternut squash to this bowl because it added a level of creaminess when paired with the chick peas. The black lentils gave a great color contract for an appetizing eye-appeal.




Chana Masala


To be a broken record, the authenticity of this bowl is on point! The spice and herb blend is so good that you can't believe that his is a frozen entree. This tomato-based sauce is protein packed and carries just a touch of heat in each bit that keeps you coming back for more. Perfect for a cold night.

To recap I absolutely loved trying out the Luvo Vegan Essentials Bundle. It made meal time fast and easy with the confidence of a healthy balanced entree. For all my non-vegan friends out there, Luvo has 8 other bundles you could choose from. They even have a gluten-free bundle as well, so there is definitely a bundle out there for you!



You can follow Luvo on the following social sites:

T: @luvofoods
IG: luvofoods



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Race Recap: Runner's World Half Marathon & Festival


Disclaimer: I received free entry to Runner's World Half & Festival Grand Slam race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


Post-race, I was able to jump on Athlinks.com and claim my race results. You can check out how I did it here, and while you’re at it, jump on and make an account too. Don’t forget to add me as a friend so we can go head-to-head in future races!

We had all heard or seen the trend about multi-race events where people run several races throughout a weekend. I have always been opposed to them because I couldn't figure out how you could possibly train for all those races and still perform well. I was given the opportunity to run the Runner's World Grand Slam through Bibrave and I didn't want to pass up this opportunity to try something new.


The Destination

The race was held in Bethlehem, PA which is a city rich with history and culture. The race was held at the old Bethlehem Steel complex. Right across the street the expo was held at ArtQuest. Packet pickup was easy and fast on the first floor with the vendors up on the third floor. All runner received a long sleeve tech shirt, Grand Slammers received a 3/4 zip sweater, 5 and Dime runners received Runner's World logo Balega socks, and Hat Trick runners received a trucker cap. The number of vendors at the expo was smaller than I imagined, less than 10 vendors. I expected a race of this popularity and size to be bigger.


Friday Trial Run


After we picked up our packets at the expo we took the shuttle to the Trail Race start. I loved the idea of the shuttle since I was in a new city and didn't want to get lost on my way to there.

Before the race started we got some trail tips from the Altra sponsored Pros which was helpful. The race itself was very fun and the perfect distance to get the weekend started. There was pizza and popcorn to snack on afterwards, which I thought was a neat idea, even though I'm vegan and don't eat cheese.

Click here for my trail run recap from Bibrave.com.


Saturday 5K and 10K


Today is when things got real, two races back-to-back. The 5K start was delayed by 10 minutes as they made sure the course was safe and blocked off from traffic. I was nervous when starting this race because I didn't want to push too hard and burnout before getting to my 10K so I tried to keep my pace moderate. Even though I ran faster than planned it was still far from my full effort. The course was pleasant and I took everything in because I knew that the 10K and half course were going to build onto this course. In the last mile there was a small climb up a hill followed by a quick downhill before the home stretch.

Click here for my 5K recap from Bibrave.com.

We had a quick break after the 5K to snack, hydrate, and use the bathroom before starting the 10K; which started promptly at 9:30 am. As expected the beginning of the course was just the same as the 5K. It wasn't until we crossed the bridge that the course differed. There was a nice scenic path that the course took by the creek before we got into some hills. I love me some hills but I was still trying to be conservative with my energy. There was a nice long stretch of downhill that felt great running a bit faster and knocking some time off. When I came up to the final hill, that I knew was coming, I climbed faster than the 5K because I conserved some energy.

Click here for my 10K recap from Bibrave.com.

I finished strong in both races and was happy with my time and pace. I wasn't anywhere near PR pace for either race but I wasn't trying for that. I figured that if I tried to PR then I would spend too much energy with one race and not do well in the others.


Sunday Half Marathon


My body was a little sore today but nothing terrible. The weather was frigid and windy in the low 40's but probably felt like 30's with the wind. Luckily I packed my warmer running gear and was prepared for the cold. I did a quick jog to warm up and the race got started right at 8:00 am. I really held back the first two miles to first let my body warm up, and secondly to see how my body felt before pushing harder. My right hip flexor and left calf were tight when the race started. After mile two they had warmed and loosened up and I pushed a bit harder.

I spent a lot of time checking out the course map for this race so I would have a better idea of what hills to expect. The course was pretty much all uphill until mile 9 where we went back down. I planned out exactly when to take in my gels and felt very prepared for the course. I kept telling myself that I just had to get to mile 9 and then I would be golden. Just as planned after mile 9 the end was in my sights. I had just enough energy to get up that last climb before the final stretch. Again I finished strong and within my goal time.

Click here for my Half Marathon Recap from Bibrave.com.


Final Reflections


After running this race I am very thankful for this opportunity. I tried something new and ran 26.2 miles in three days. It challenged me mentally and physically in a way that racing never has. But I knew what I was getting myself into and created a plan and stuck to it. I think that since I did so much research about the race and courses is what lead to my success. If I just showed up and ran then I definitely could have seen myself burning out too early and bonking, or worse getting injured.

So to the runners out there that are wondering if they should run a multi-distance race I say go for it! Plan a head and then crush your goals!







Thursday, September 27, 2018

5 Reasons to Run the Reebok Boston 10K for Women

Disclaimer: I’m promoting Reebok Boston 10K for Women as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

There's lots to be excited for about fall: pumpkin everything, cooler weather, flannel, and of course the best races of the year. If you don't have any races planned yet then here are my top 5 reasons to sign up for a fall race, and specifically the Reebok Women's 10K.

1.) Weather: October is the best month of the year to run a race for optimal weather. Summer has come to a close and the cooler weather of fall is happening. According to the Elite Daily website, the best temperature for women to run in is 51.8 degrees, and the average temperature in Boston is about 60 degrees. So while it might not be the exact ideal temperature it is definitely much better than 70's or even 80's of summer. That means you'll be able to perform better and have a better race.

2.) Scenery: Fall is one of the prettiest times of the year! Trees change colors and blend into the perfect sunsets, and pumpkins decorate everything. The Reebok Women's 10K course is one of the most scenic in Boston. Starting on Beacon Street lined with trees, then crossing the Charles River, and then following the river before crossing it again. It's a city race with all the fall feels.


3.) Race Beneficiaries: No race would be complete without a way to give back to the community. The Reebok Women's 10K has two different beneficiaries that are making a big difference in the Boston community. Boks is a program that encourages physical, mental, and social health of children through the power of movement. They host before and after school programs to help children move and exercise. The second beneficiary is Health Works Community Fitness, an amazing program that helps low income women and children get health and fitness opportunities. See the video to right to get inspired!



4.) Supporting Women: This whole race is about showing support for women, and to empower them to reach their health and fitness goals. Running has always had an amazing community for support and camaraderie but this race brings it to the next level because it's all about showing how strong the women of our nation are. Women are a force to be reckoned with so this is your opportunity to show off what you got. I've heard that crossing the Avenue Bridge is one of the best parts of the race. You get to see the elite runners on their way back as you cross it the first time then as you make your way back across you get to share that enthusiasm with the runners who are on the other side. Keep the positive vibes flowing!

5.) History: This race has a long history dating back to the late 1970's. It was one of the first of 12 races that was women only back then and now is one of the biggest women only races in the nation. In the early 2000's it held an award for the biggest women's only race for four consecutive years. Where the roots run deep with this race there is one thing that has been consistent since its conception: this is the race of choice for women of all ages. The proof is in the pudding, and you can see this from the remarkable support by the community.

There is so much to love about this race so don't waste another second, sign up for the Reebok Boston 10K for Women today!


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Race Recap: Tough Mudder Western NY

My First Tough Mudder Experience

Since moving back home last year I reconnected with a friend who loves running. So we decided to plan a race together, and that race was a Tough Mudder. I was so excited to finally commit to a race and for it to be an obstacle course race (OCR). I had never run an OCR before so it was a new avenue of running to me.


Pre-Race


He had already run the Western NY race and enjoyed it enough to want to run the race again. The race was hosted in the quaint town of Andover, NY which was 2 hours from my house. We decided it would be best to find a place to stay in the area so that we wouldn't have to do that drive twice in one day.

The Tough Mudder website did have a list of suggested lodging however I was able to find a Bed & Breakfast less than 5 minutes from the race. The B&B owner had recommended several restaurants in the nearby town only 15 minutes away so everything was pretty convenient.

Race morning we got the event early since we still had to park and walk to the race start. There was plenty of parking, which we paid for in advance to save $10. However it was almost half a mile's walk to the race start from the parking area.

At the race start they had all the booths for merchandise and other things you would expect at an expo. We knew we would have time after the race to explore so we went right to our corral to get started. The MC for the race was very motivational and shared a great story which really got us excited for the run. Our corral started promptly at 10:30 am.


The Course


As an overall summary, the course was all trail with some parts being muddier than others due to rain the night before and added effect for the course. We were far from the first wave so the course was well traveled already. I luckily had on my On Running Cloudventure Trail Shoes which still gave me great traction even on the muddy ground.

At this location the full runners ran two lap on the course, with alternate routes on lap two with different obstacles. On lap 1 we had obstacles like Kiss of Mud, Mud Mile, Hero Walls, and Hero Carry to name a few. The one that stuck out the most was the quagmire. This obstacle was a trug through a very thick mud pool, think cake batter thickness. One girl slipped and fell and went all the way under and then couldn't open her eye due to the thick mud.

Lap two had many more memorable obstacles, that tested you more than the first lap. We started with electroshock therapy which was running through a mess of live electrical wires. Other fun obstacles were Funky Monkey and Kong which were both climbing challenges. The Arctic Enema was a very challenging obstacle, we had to swim under walls in a tank of ice water. I couldn't believe how quickly we froze to the bone.

The hardest part about lap 2 was that the trails had been destroyed at this point from all the runners on their first lap, and the runners ahead of us on their second lap. So it was slow moving since we were trying to keep our footing.


Reflections


I definitely loved this race, and plan to do more in the future, I was bit by the OCR bug.

Pros

The pros of this race would have to be the course itself. It was on ATV grounds so it was very spread out. Lots of distance between the obstacles gave us time to run off the sore muscles.

Since the race was two lap, the aid stations were in the same spot, so we knew when we would be approaching one for water and fuel.

Lastly the overall camaraderie among the runners was something that you don't normally see in a typical running race. Everyone was willing to lend a hand to help at obstacles which made it much more rewarding when you helped others back.

Cons

There were a few things that I would note about the race that I wasn't thrilled about. I didn't see that many photographers throughout the course. When searching through the pictures after the race, I saw that there were pictures from specific obstacles but when we had run those obstacles there wasn't anyone taking pictures. I feel like I really missed out on this because it would have been nice to have more memories captured. More consistent photo locations would have been nice.

I also wasn't a big fan of the parking situation. After running the full mudder we were pretty worn out, so for us to have to walk another half mile to the car was annoying to say the least.

Even though these two things weren't the coolest, that doesn't sway me from wanting to get another Tough Mudder under my belt. Apparently there is a special headband that you can get from running 3 Mudders in one year. I want that so bad for next year!

Have you run an OCR before? Do you have any favorites?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Marathon Training: Why Runner's World Grand Slam


Disclaimer: I received free entry to The Runner's World Half Marathon & Festival race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I'm very excited about the opportunity to run my first race for Bibrave this October. Since moving back home I have definitely found it hard to commit to races while still trying to reestablish my life. Commitments to work have been the number one factor in deciding which races I can do. So when I saw the opportunity to run this race event I knew that I this was the race that I had been waiting for.

Why this race?

After taking a year off from running, I knew that I would need something different to reignite my passion for running. Once you lose a habit it takes a while and conscious effort to get back into it. This race weekend has an option for a Grand Slam, which is a combination of all four races throughout the weekend. I have seen a lot of runners through the years competing in the Disney Dopey challenge and though I never wanted to do that, I couldn't pass up the Grand Slam.

The Grand Slam is a unique distance because after you run all the races in the series you will have run 26.2 miles. So it's a marathon but spread out across three days. On Friday there is a 3.8 mile trail run, Saturday there is the 5K and the 10K, and Sunday is the Half Marathon. I found this to be the best way to get back into the running world without starting right away with a full marathon, in one day at least.


Does the Grand Slam sound too daunting? Not to worry there are other multi-race options for choose from:
  • The Hat Trick: 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon
  • The Five & Dime: 5K and 10K
If that isn't enough to get you excited, check out the schedule of event for the weekend:

Friday, October 19
12 p.m. – 7 p.m. Health & Fitness Expo & Packet Pick Up, ArtsQuest Musikfest Café
3:30 p.m. – Trail Run, South Mountain Park

Saturday, October 20
6:30 a.m. – 5K & 10K Number Pick Up, ArtsQuest
8 a.m. – 5K Start
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Health & Fitness Expo & Packet Pick Up, ArtsQuest Musikfest Café
9:30 a.m. – 10K Start
12 p.m. – Kids Races
2 p.m. –1-Mile Dog Run
5:30 p.m. – Dinner with the Editors

Sunday, October 21
6 a.m. – Race Day Packet Pick up
8 a.m. – Half Marathon Start

The race takes place in Bethlehem, PA which in October the weather should be beautiful, the trees starting to change colors, and fall should be in full swing. It's the perfect race to enjoy before winter gets here and starts to get things cold.

Join me and the other Bibrave Pro's at this race and use code "RWHALF18BIBRAVE" for 15% off any distance, even the multi-race options too!

Have you ever run a multi-race weekend before? Tell me what to expect down in my comments.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Product Review: Mercury Mile

Disclaimer: I received a Mercury Mile Box to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This was one of the funnest products that I have had to opportunity to test. Here's the 411 on this awesome product: Mercury Mile is a running apparel box that is tailored for you. On their website you create a profile and fill out a brief questionnaire that takes less than 10 minutes about your clothing preferences and body type. They will also ask for your social handles too.

Then when you order a box from them, it's not a subscription each month - you choose when to get one, one of their stylists will use your preferences to select apparel that is the right fit for you, and is similar to the clothing that you like to wear based on what they observe from your social profiles. The box is mailed right to your door and you have a week to try on the clothing. Everything that you like you keep, and everything that you don't like you send back to them in a pre-labeled and prepaid shipping bag. Then they only charge you for what you keep.

Let's dive a little deeper into what awaits you when you open your Mercury Mile Box. Right on top is a letter from your stylist. In the letter they highlight a few of the items that they choose for you and why they think you will like them. Also included with the letter is an itemized list of the items in the box with the prices.

What can you expect to find in your box? That is something that is different for everyone. I watched a bunch of other Bibrave Pros open their boxes and have totally different products that what I had. I know that I was of the few that was sent a pair of sunglasses in my box, where not many others got them. But if you look at my IG posts, I'm always wearing sunglasses, so kudos to my stylist Christina for picking up on that.

I have tried a few other types of runner oriented boxes, mostly the ones with gear rather than with apparel and the one thing that I found with those is that the products that you get are up and coming products that are trying to get their name out there. It's kinda hit and miss with that sort of thing. However with Mercury Mile that are sending you the latest and greatest running apparel out there. I got clothing from Rabbit, Craft, Brooks, Saucony, Adidas, and Asics. So everything was super current on fashion trends, functionality, and breathe ability.

In the first box I got I was so impressed with everything that I didn't send anything back. I love everything that they chose for me. It is perfect summer running gear and things that I wouldn't be able to find at my local running stores. The fact that it was all in perfectly sized for me as well made it even sweeter.

Since I have been obsessing over this company over the past few weeks I took advantage of their semi-annual sale that they advertised on IG, *wink wink* (follow them for up to day info on any deals). The sales was on their fall/winter gear to try and sellout so they can get ready for this year's gear and was at a massive discount. I was just as impressed with the second box as the first, not surprised since Christina was my stylist again. She chose some amazing long sleeves and sweats for me, which aren't the best during the summer heat but will definitely come in handy this fall when it gets colder.

There were a few articles that I did end up sending back this time. Though they were exactly my style they just didn't fit me right. So I put them in the pre-labeled package and sent them back. I got an email confirmation that they received the clothing back and that my invoice would be adjusted. Super easy!

What I think is the coolest part is that I can just log into my account with them and have them send me a box whenever I want. There is no contract or subscription required so I only get a box when I want, and when my finances allow lol. I know for me I have been in a brand rut for the past few years where I would only like to wear clothes from a specific brand because my local running store only had certain brands. Using Mercury Mile I was able to get outside my norm to try some new brands from the comfort of home. It's easy, convenient, and affordable.

Make sure to join us this Tuesday the 10th at 9:00pm EST for a Mercury Mile hosted Bibchat. You can also use code "bibrave10" for $10.00 off your styling fee.

Make sure to check out Mercy Mile on social:

IG: @mercurymile
T: @mercury_mile

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Product Review: Brilliant Reflective Strips

Disclaimer: I received Brilliant Reflective Strips to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I received this product just at the right time, summer running season. Running during the day time in the summer is way too hot, there is the risk of sunburn and overheating, so running at night has become a part of my life. I love night running but sometimes having all that gear can be cumbersome, a reflector vest can be heavy to run in and cause some uncomfortable chafing. So rather than spreading body glide all over my torso before a night run, I have opted to ditch the reflector vest forever and am now a loyal brilliant reflective supporter.

The Product



There are two types of brilliant reflective strips that I was able to test, the iron on strips and the stick on strips. I found them to each have their own uses, so here is more about each of them.

The iron on strips are only used for clothing. They come with an amazing set of instructions for how to get the best results, and not damage any of your clothes either. I found it very easy to do when you follow the directions. I did have one of the strips not adhere all the way which I was a little nervous about. Half of the strip was still on the shirt but the other half was loose and dangling. But I read on the packaging that this is normal, and to re-iron the strip. So I just ironed it per the directions and the strip took to the shirt.

The stick on strips I found to be much more versatile. I worked well on clothing but there were so many more applications for them. I put them on my bike and helmet so that I could be more reflective when riding my bike. I felt like it was more stressful to apply the stick on strips because unlike the iron on strips you have to peel off the back of them before applying where the iron strips can just be placed where you want them. So it was crucial to make sure I put them in the right spot the first time.

Run Test



In order to test the product thoroughly I wanted to make sure I had at least one shirt with the iron on strips and one shirt with the stick on strips. In both cases I found them to be pretty fashionable and not look out of place. I found that with both of them if didn't feel like they were on the shirt at all. I know sometimes when you do iron on decals you can feel the decal and it is sticky or rough but I didn't notice any of the strips feeling this way. Basically there are no downsides to adding them to my clothing.

One thing to note is that the iron on strips cannot be added to every type of material. Some polyester materials will melt with an iron is used on them so you really need to take the time to choose the right clothes, that way you don't ruin your iron or shirts.

Conclusion

The one difference that I think these strips made was the confidence boost that I had when exercising in the dark. Knowing that I was more visible to passing vehicles gave me so much reassurance. That alone should be enough to get you to start adding these to all your athletic apparel. When you're not spending the brain power wondering if you will be seen you can focus more on your workout and get the most out of your training.

Make sure to follow Brilliant Reflective on their social media for the latest product releases and for inspiration on where to apply your strips.

IG: brilliantreflective
T: @brilliant_safe