Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cankles, Calves, and Salts. OH MY!

Disclaimer:  I received Epsoak Epsom Salt from San Fransisco Salt Company to use and review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave to review, find and write race reviews.

It's been a strange month.  First off, Christmas is always a stressful time for me.  Call me crazy, but I sometimes wish we could skip right over it; if it weren't for the looks on my kids faces I may just do that.

Secondly, Minnesota had an insanely cold week where I did absolutely ZERO running.  We are talking lows with windchills below -40.  That's COLD!  TOO cold for anything outdoors.  This forced me to do other activities to burn calories - like my favorite kick-boxing class!

Lastly, now enter some strange ailments that plagued me during this time.  Nothing serious, but thank goodness for Epsoak Pro Epsom Salts!  I was so happy to receive this 8.5 lb. jug of goodness in the mail I could hardly stand it.  I needed a warm relaxing bath and I needed it FAST!

Let me explain!

Yes, I have cankles!  Oh my!  Well, actually just one and I can't for the LIFE of me figure out why?  I was so swollen after work one day my husband actually asked me if I could be pregnant.  After I slapped him upside the head, I took to these crazy amazing epsom salts to soak the inflammation away.  Initially,  my ankle felt tight and definitely was retaining fluid.  But after my soak, I had more range of motion and I felt much more relaxed.  Additionally, I woke up the next morning with much less inflammation and no tightness or stiffness around my ankle.

Just look at the SIZE of that cankle! 
My inflammation around my ankle has been here and there the last few weeks.  I am managing it just fine and it doesn't limit my activity.  However, almost nightly I've been adding two heaping scoops of epsom salt to my foot bath and relaxing the stresses away!

Do to the insanity that IS Minnesota winters, the outside running has really taken a back-seat.   I try to get out as much as I can, but I'm not THAT crazy.  When windchill dips too much farther than about -5 below, I stay inside.

Yup - those MN winters.

Due to my lack of running outside, I really have started to love my kick-boxing class.  My instructor thought it would be a great idea to do a calf circuit last week.  I thought,  "Hey, I'm in shape I can handle anything." I was so wrong; DEAD WRONG!  I am here to tell you, I literally could not walk for 3 days.  Stairs were impossible.  In the morning, getting out of bed was impossible.  But, once again, my epsom salts came to the rescue.

I drew myself a huge bath and soaked for one hour!  Anyone with kids knows that an uninterrupted one hour soak is AMAZING!  Did I mention these salts also smell AMAZING?  I was lucky enough to be sent the energizing scent which is eucalyptus and spearmint.  It smells so good that I sometimes open the canister just to smell the great aroma.

These salts really have been a lifesaver for me!

Let's talk a bit about the science behind why these salts are so amazing.

Epsoak Pro is the purest magnesium sulfate available.  It dissolves easily in warm water to help flush toxins, improve muscle soreness, ease stress and so much more.   Because it is pure magnesium sulfate, it is also better absorbed - which give it's user greater benefits; and faster!

When I use these salts, my skin feels amazing.  Several times a week, I place a small amount into my hand with my face wash and massage it into my face.  After rinsing, not only does my face smell amazing, it also feels amazing.

I have used these salts in the bathtub, in my body wash, in my face wash and also in my foot bath. The canister is enormous at 8.5 lbs. and the price is very reasonable at $18.99.  You can't go to a spa for that price! Why not have a spa right in your own home.

I have been using these salts consistently for three weeks and I still haven't really made a dent in the container.  Great value for a great product!

In my opinion, these salts are a must-try.  If eucalyptus and spearmint aren't your favorite, don't fret! You can always shop for a different scent!  They also make unscented!  Grab a 5 lb. bag to try out and save 10% with code "RAVE10." 

Make sure to check out our #bibchat on Tuesday, Jan. 3rd at 8 PM CST.  We'll talk all things running and relaxation.  You could win your very own epsom salts for yourself!

Do YOU soak?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

OOPS! I did it AGAIN!

Grandma's Marathon 2017!
Be there, or BE SQUARE!

Oops!  I did it Again! 
Anyone else hear Brittany Spears singing anytime they hear that statement?!?!

Alright, now that THAT is out of my system, let me clarify.

You know that famous phrase every runner says after they finish a race?  "I'm NEVER doing that again!"  I'm guilty as charged.  

Grandma's Marathon was my very first marathon EVER this year.   I trained for months.  Finished the race in the 80 degree heat and scored a lifetime of memories.  The memories I will carry with me forever.   I had a fantastic time,  but I also swore it would be my last marathon.  Ha ha!

Just LOOK at the NEW 2017 medal!! I HAVE to have it!

I compare signing up for another marathon like child birth.  You swear after one child, you'll never have another?  The pain of labor, the nine months of carrying the baby.  But, in a blink of an eye you simply forget.  You don't seem to remember all the trials and tribulations leading up to your precious bundle of joy; consequently,  you do it all over again.  

Training for a marathon is no small feat. We put our bodies through months of hard work.  We lose sleep with worry.  How will I run on race day?  Is the weather going to cooporate?  Will I use a pace group?  What if I can't finish?  The psychological stress of it all is enough to make any person drink. 

BUT, the reward at the finish is so tremendous we are willing to do anything to get there.  That shiny medal, so hard-earned at the finish line.  Eagerly placed upon your neck by a friendly race volunteer! The feeling of accomplishment lasts a lifetime.

Reunited with my BIGGEST support the ENTIRE RACE!

So, in June 2017 I'm crossing that starting line once again with hopes to cross the same finish line that I did this last June.  I crave the feeling. I can taste it.  I want that medal!

Happy Running!  


Monday, November 21, 2016

Running Gifts for the Black Friday Shopper! ALERT: GIVEAWAY & DISCOUNTS AHEAD!

The holiday's are FAST approaching! 
Gift giving will SOON be in full swing! 

Look no further as I have my 4 TOP PRODUCTS of 2016!
I have GREAT discounts in store for you and a giveaway to boot! 

As the holidays get closer and closer, I find myself filled with anxiety.  I want to give gifts that I know someone will love.  But, time and money are factors too - so it can be difficult to find that person the perfect gift.  

Every year, Black Friday is a day long event!  Deals are everywhere.  Some people camp out for great deals.  Others will wait in line for hours for great deals.  Not me!  To tell you the truth, Black Friday is a day I avoid with all of my might!   The crowds, the traffic, the chaos!  Who has time for that?   Most of my shopping is done online and lucky for you I have picked out 4 of my all time favorite running products for you to shop!

Running in the dark in Minnesota can be scary.  That is why for EVERY run I take along my Knuckle Lights .  If you are interested in reading my FULL REVIEW you can click here.  I absolutely LOVE them.  They have been my life saver and I know that your favorite runner would love them too!  Just check out how bright they are!

Get yours for 10% OFF and FREE SHIPPING for a LIMITED TIME with code: "ykaf2233"

My next favorite product of 2016 is MeStrength!  You can visit their website here.   MeStrength is a performance hydration electrolyte drink mix with ZERO calories, no added sugar, and all-natural flavors!

For a LIMITED TIME:  Get this AMAZING product for 25% OFF with CODE:  "VeryMerryMestrength".  

Trust me, you'll love MeStrength and will want more!  My favorite flavors are the orange and the lemon-line! Easy to use and sold in convenient single-use packs!

If you'd like my FULL review of the product follow this link!

Everyone knows how much I LOVE my Spibelt!  And.... to top that off... Spibelt has allowed me to do ANOTHER amazing giveaway!  To enter to win use the Rafflecopter below!  The winner will get their CHOICE of the original spibelt, the limited edition RIO ( pictured below), or the Limited edition Chantilly!

If you'd like to order one for yourself, you get a goodie bag at checkout with my code "gina2016."  Always FREE shipping!  

You will love it and so will someone you love!  It's the perfect gift!   Good luck with the giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last but certainly NOT least is Urban Halo!  Check out their website here.  Urban Halo makes amazingly soft, non-slip headbands!  I truly LOVE them and have been exclusively wearing them for 2 years.  They are inexpensive, come in a variety of amazing patterns, and the business is local in Prior Lake, MN.  How cool is that?  I promise that you will love them.

The discount for these headbands is TIME-SENSITIVE as it only runs from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.  It's JUST a 3-day sale!  Go to the website where you will score 2 FREE headbands with every 3 ordered!  It's the BEST deal of the season. I will be buying more myself!

I truly hope that you can find a great deal with my 4 favorite products of 2016!  Don't forget all of the unique discount codes and GOOD LUCK with the Spibelt giveaway!

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Madison Half-Marathon Race Recap! Urban Race With a Small-Town Feel!

Disclaimer:  I ran the Madison Marathon & Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave to review, find and write race reviews.

The Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin is a sight to be seen!  It glows in the moonlight and is just as picturesque in the daylight!   If you're looking for a beautiful urban race but also a small town feel, this race is for you! 

The BibRavePro team before the race!
I just had to stop to take this picture after bib pick-up! It was too beautiful to pass up!

Madison is a busy metropolis.  College kids everywhere, tall buildings, Camp Randall Stadium, quaint neighborhoods, lakes... the list goes on.   Race management does a great job navigating runners through all of the best parts of Madison.  This is definitely a race to add to your bucket list. 

I arrived in Madison on Saturday and checked into my hotel which was about 1 1/2 miles from the starting line; easily walkable along the bike path.  I chose to drive and was pleasantly surprised at the on-street parking for Sunday's big race!  It was FREE and there was a ton of open spots to park - I did arrive one hour before the race start, so depending on when you arrived, the street parking may be sparse.  However, there were plenty of ramps to park in as well.

The expo was small and quiet, but we got individualized attention at each booth if we wanted it.  I thought that was very nice.  When we arrived at 5pm on Saturday night, the expo was wrapping up, so there was a lot of merchandise already purchased , therefore the picking was slim.  That didn't bother me though.  The finisher shirts were awesome so I was very happy with that!  

How cute are these?  I loved the color and the fit was great! 

The pre-race accomodations for this race were fantastic.  The race starts and finishes on Capitol Square so that is an added bonus.  Anyone for a great photo op?  And did I mention.... FREE race photos!  What an amazing perk and so worth it!  I noticed photographers in at least 3 different locations, but looking at my photos I think they were at more places.  Thank you to race management for the photos because in my opinion that sets this race apart from others for sure!

Porta-potties lined one block of Capitol Square and there was no more than about a 5 minute wait.  I have a tendency to visit the bathroom several times before a race.  The last time for me was literally 3 minutes to race start and I made it there and back before the start.  Very convenient and well organized. 

Bag check was handled efficiently.  We could bring our own bag or use the bag we were given at the expo.  My one and only suggestion for this would be for the race to provide cinch bags with a drawstring.  I ended up bringing my own bag so that I could tie it closed.  Really not a make-or-break deal, but just a suggestion. 

The marathon start was at 7:00 am with the half marathon start at 7:10 am.  There were not corrals, but pacers lined up accordingly and you could follow in line from there.  For this race, I chose not to run with pacers and I did just fine.  I stayed fairly consistent with my 8:40 pace and was very happy with the way the finish turned out for me. 

After looking at my splits, I giggled.  My pace was consistent and steady with 8:40/mile except for the hills.  Oh the hills.  Not too many, but a few were a challenge. 

The photo above was taken at about mile 8.  We were running in a beautiful neighborhood, but the hill ahead awaited.  At mile 9 the view was absolutely stunning,  but you had to work to get there.  Be prepared.  The hill is relatively short, but steep.   Trust me....your view at the top is breathtaking!

At the top of mile 9, straight ahead is the capitol on the other side of the lake.  You run amidst some of the most prestigious homes in Madison.  A fantastic down hill puts you in front of the Governor's Mansion, make sure to look out for it, although I don't think you'll miss it.   Miles 8-10 were my favorites of the race for sure! 

Along the way, there were ample water stops, but spectators were sparse.  I prefer to run without music, but this may be a race to bring your headphones.  If you rely on crowd support be sure to bring some distraction with you! 

Just about when you're at the finish line be prepared for one last hill.  It's a longer one and it's placement puts a runner in a bit of a pickle.  At mile 12.5,  I just wanted to be done.   But, I had one last hill to conquer.  The hills made the medal all that sweeter.  I kept telling myself not to quit and made it up and enjoyed a nice downhill after!  Wahoo!   The half marathon overall was not "that" hilly, but the course was definitely not flat either.  I liked the variety. 

The finish line party was great.  There was no shortage of food at the finish line as Panera had bag lunches for everyone with your choice of ham, turkey or veggie sandwiches.  I loved it!  Each finisher received a beer as well.  There was also a post race band playing until 12:00pm. 

To be honest, and I know this seems crazy,  I really loved this race for the post-race photo opportunity.  Pictures by the capitol were just so beautiful.  I took plenty! 

The medal was super cool!  I loved the ribbon color as well!

I even made fellow Bibrave Pro Casey jump with me afterwards!  It's my signature photo after every race and this backdrop didn't dissappoint! 

My finish time was 1:57:30.  I ended up with 8:51/mile.  I have ran 9 half marathons, and this was my 2nd best.  I was extremely happy with this as I had been struggling to break 2 hours in previous races.  The weather was chilly at 34 degrees, but really perfect for running! 

I really enjoyed myself during this race and hope to one day be back to Conquer the Capitol.  


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Do These Glasses Make Me Look Bad-A#$?

Diclaimer:  I received the XX2i Brazil1 sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave to review, find and write race reviews.

Casual, Sleek, Retro & Bad-Ass!  Yup, those are the adjectives I'd use to describe these sunglasses.  You're probably wondering.... "Why does she need SO many pairs of sunglasses?"  I will come back and say; You can never have too many!  

Truth is, I have been given the amazing opportunity to have tested 4 different models of XX2i sunglasses.  This pair is the first pair of casual sunglasses I've tested.   I have been pleasantly surprised by them! 

At first glance, out of the box, they didn't WOW me.  BUT, when I put them on and  saw the blue, shimmering 8K optics,  I was SOLD.  They are so cool.  I have a little more swagger in my step when I wear these and I'm not kidding.  

These glasses are light-weight and the key-hole nose piece fits my face perfectly.  My eyelashes do not touch the lenses either, which is a huge plus!  They are decorated with two small silver accents on each side - which I love!  They also come in a variety of colors; however I think the black is the best!  I'm transported into the 50's and 60's when converse and rolled jeans were a fashion.  Oh wait - that IS the fashion.  Nonetheless, you can grab these glasses with virtually any outfit and your stylin' in seconds.  

Recently, I wore them post-race in Madison.  Immediately at bag pickup I grabbed them and slipped them on for fantastic coverage and polarized comfort!  Don't these glasses make my medal look big?!?!?!  HA!

I didn't get the opportunity to run with these glasses on, but due to the versatility and the strap that comes with them, you could absolutely take the on a run or ride.   These glasses are permanently in my car or my purse so I can grab them whenever I want!

I would say my only negative for the fit was after a few hours of wearing them, I did feel a bit sore at the top of my ear from the arms of the glasses.  Although, I do feel that they could be adjusted to be a bit looser on the back. 

XX2i backs ALL of their sunglasses with a 365 day return policy.  For any reason, they can be returned for FREE,  no questions.  Although,  I'm sure you'll love them!  Don't forget to use the code "XX2iROCKS" to get 50% OFF! 

***For a limited time: THROUGH TUESDAY, Nov. 22nd. Code: "BRAZIL1" gets you 60% off these glasses. 

Don't forget our BibChat on Twitter! Join Bibrave for #bibchat on Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, 8 PM CST.  XX2i will be giving away a pair of Brazil Sunglasses!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Waddell & Reed Kansas City Half Marathon Race Recap

Disclaimer:  I ran the Kansas City Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave to review, find and write race reviews. 

The Kansas City Marathon and Half Marathon took place on Saturday, October 15th.  
It was a day to remember! 

I love racing!  I love crossing finish lines.  I love the excitement of race day and the events leading up to road races! This half marathon was super fun and so memorable!  If you want a beautiful, historical and challenging road race, this race is for you!  Did I say challenging?

Kansas City race management doesn't lie when they say that this race is hilly.  Make sure that you train on hills or this course will eat you alive.  But, the reward at the finish is absolutely worth it and the views during the run are top-notch!  I am not lying when I say I think that this race had a hill around every corner - if not every corner -  for SURE every mile.  Some hills were small and others were larger. 

I arrived at the race and stayed right downtown at the Sheraton Hotel.  This was extremely convenient because the hotel was connected to the expo and only one block from the race start/finish line. It couldn't be much easier than that!  The hotel offered reasonable rates and valet parking which I would highly recommend.  Do plan on tipping your valet and concierge - it is well worth it. 

The race expo is medium-sized and held in a convention center room.  It is easily maneuvered and the race packet pick-up seemed well organized!

This race started at 7 am with fireworks and the national anthem. The fireworks were a great touch! There is not a segregated corral start, but pacers/pacer flags are well marked and you are able to enter the gates easily.  

Once underway, brace yourself for well maintained buildings, beautiful green spaces and historical buildings; including the World War I Memorial and Nelson Sculpture Gardens.  I loved running by the 5500 lb. birdies, or "shuttlecocks" as I was told by the museum guides after the race! :) 

A tad too much fun after the race :)  At least we could jump!

This race had ample hydration stops with Gatorade and water at every one and they were well stocked and had cheering sections to boot!   Trust me, you will need the water to conquer the hills on this race!  Spectators were definitely at the major aide stations, but they were few and far between otherwise.

Up until about mile 6, the half marathon and marathon run the same route.  The split is well marked and spectators also make sure that you know your way and that you are on the right track!  At about mile 10, I realized that my goal of a sub 1:55 race was not going to happen.  That's ok.  I amused myself with the spectators instead!  There were some creative race signs.  This was one of my favorites.

The last 1/2 mile of the race returns back to downtown and has a nice little down hill before a slight incline to the finish line.  I wouldn't expect a PR for this race - although I do know many that achieved that.  The weather was unseasonably humid and warm, but there was no sun - thank goodness! 

This race personally kicked my butt.  I still finished in 2:03:40 - but it was 9 minutes off of a PR for me.  That would not deter me from running another race with Kansas City again though.  They've got this race down and it is managed very well. 

The post race party was fantastic!  Live band, bounce houses for the kids, inflatable games, beer, and food galore!  Chick-fil-A was even there handing out their famous chicken sandwiches!  How cool is that?  

I personally enjoyed the PR gong.  Even though I didn't PR - I hit that thing hard to celebrate half-marathon #7.

Let's talk about the medal!  Wowza!  It's a great size and it's HEAVY! I liked that the medals were larger depending on what race you finished.  The 5K was smaller than the half; with the marathon medal being the largest!  

The finish line had heat blankets as well.  I had to giggle;  living in MN nothing feels cold to me.  I absolutely did NOT need one!  But my Oklahoma friends welcomed it in the 64 degree temps. 

Make sure you put this race on your list of must-do's.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and would love to go back someday!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Afraid of the Dark? Never again with Knuckle Lights!

 Crisp, cool air.  Leaves rustling.  Autumn smells. Football.  
Bright moonlight.  Pumpkins.  Cinnamon.  Hot apple cider.  
Flannel Pj's.  

These are a few of my favorite Fall things.  One of my MOST favorite things about Fall is the amazing running temperatures.  I can finally get back into my groove with pace without feeling like I'm going to fall over from heat exhaustion.  I can wear cute long running pants and tops.  I eliminate the need to carry so much water.  There are bountiful races to choose from this time of year.  All is nearly perfect for running.   There's just one
small problem........
I have now crossed into the DARK SIDE.  Oh the HORROR!!! 

You see.... if you're going to live in Minnesota and be a runner.... the Dark Side is just something you have to get used to.  By "dark side", I mean complete and total darkness on my early AM runs.  It's the black abyss with maybe a few glimmering stars - which are beautiful by the way.  

My alarm rings most mornings at 4:45 am.   I roll out of bed and tiptoe down the stairs so as to not wake my family.   My life is jam-packed nearly every minute, so I complete my run before work and before my family wakes up.  

Unfortunately, in Minnesota that 4:45 am wake-up call means I only have about 3 months of light in the morning.  From June to September, the sun is up in the morning when I start at 5 am.  But, the other 9 months of the year what do I do?  I need to BE SAFE and BE SEEN!  Knuckle Lights to the rescue!

I am writing this review unprompted by Knuckle Lights.   They did give me this pair complimentary because they knew just how much I loved the first editions!  All opinions are my own.

I am so in love with these babies I want to shout it from the rooftops!   If you are a "dark side" runner you need your very own pair.  They are just that awesome.  Absolutely, hands down, these have saved my life while running in the dark! 

These are my second pair of knuckle lights.  What intrigued me about this pair is the fact that they are rechargeable.  My first pair, which are still available online, take batteries. 

Here's a bit of a back-story.  

Nearly two years ago,  I decided that I just wasn't bright enough in the morning and my arm strap that I was wearing wasn't lighting up my path.  Many days,  I was running solo and images of ghouls and goblins jumping at me from every corner was getting to be too much for my imagination.  I found knuckle lights online and decided to make the purchase.   Can you believe how bright they are?

My first run with knuckle lights I was absolutely blown away!  I COULD NOT believe how bright they were.  They absolutely light up the street and the sidewalks beside me!  My running partners actually got annoyed and told me that I couldn't run next to them if I had them on because they were just SO BRIGHT!  

That next week, I went on vacation and had about two weeks off from runs with my friends.  When I finally hooked back up with them, what did I see?  Each of them had their OWN pair of knuckle lights!  I made some sassy comment about how I thought they were too bright for them and they replied...  well, we just realized we saw so much better on the roads!  From that point on, everyone was hooked! 

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't use these lights.  Just yesterday at 5:30 AM a woman came out of her house and told me that my lights were shining in her living room as I ran by.  She thought they were awesome because I was so visible!   Here is an example taken one week ago.  Two photos - one is total darkness, the other with knuckle lights illuminating my way!

Complete Darkness - I'm standing in front of the tree.  UNEDITED

UNEDITED.  My view with Knuckle Lights!

For the purpose of this review I will focus on the rechargeable set.  These are fantastic.  They have a small charger base that will show green when fully charged.  These lights actually are magnetized as well so oftentimes I hold them in one hand.  They click together at the sides by magnets so they can act as one pair if you don't want to hold them in either hand.  There is an adjustable rubber strap that fits over your hand and while running you can loosely grip and they are not even noticeable.  

I notice that I get about 3-4 hours of intense brightness before they start to fade.  I can go about 5 hours - or 5 days of running before I really need to place them on the charging base.  Even when they start to dim, they are still bright.  But, my personal preference is to have them as bright as possible, so they charge often for me.  

The first edition requires batteries which had me replacing batteries often; about every month.  However, I use them 5 days a week so that all depends on use.   This was a perk for me when switching to the rechargeables.   The price difference is about $20.  And in my opinion, these are very affordable as well.  You can never put a price on safety.

Knucke Lights are light-weight, extremely bright, easy to use and affordable.  They have made my dark runs so much easier and I cannot image running without them!  Cars see me from blocks away and immediately slow down and move to the side of the road as I pass.   I have even used them to wave at cars that seem distracted and know instantly when they see me by the quick swirving motion they make. 

I have several running friends that LOVE their knuckle lights.  Here are a few testimonials: 

Knuckle lights are great!
 If you are an early morning runner, or if you run late at night, nothing is better than a brightly lit up trail, and knuckle lights provides that!  - Casey 

I totally love the convenience of not needing to "hang on" to them (like you would a flashlight).  I usually only need one of them at a time because the light from just one is sufficient. I also use them for walking the dog! - Kimberly

If you're afraid of the dark like me or you just want to be seen.  You will not regret this purchase.  They absolutely are a must have for my early morning runs!  Be Safe. Be Seen. Enjoy your Run!  Go visit their website today!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Medal Envy... It's a Real Thing! It's Runfession Friday!

It's my most favorite time of the month!  Runfession Friday!  
The time of the month where I get to air my dirty laundry without regret!
I get to complain as much as I want! Tune in! Oh... and make sure to visit Marcia at her blog and read others confessions too!

To say I've lacked some mojo in the blogging department would be a severe understatement.  I really love blogging.  But, it's a hobby and in the day-to-day shuffle of life, it takes a back seat to other tasks that need to get done.  I RUNFESS,  I've been so lazy I can't wait to lay my head on my pillow at night and unplug.  Or, just watch that hour of TV before I have to do the day all over again.

Let me re-explain lazy.  By lazy I mean, I still get my ass out of bed at 4:45 am - four to five days a week to run.  I work full time, do the heaps of laundry, make dinner ...... although sometimes dinner is PB & J.  Hey - a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do right?  What else... homework with my oldest - since WHEN does first grade have homework?  Try to have some relationship with my spouse - who does his fair share if not MORE than I do with parenting.   On a side note:  I have THE BEST husband in the world!

I could keep going.  The truth is,  runners are multi-taskers.  I think we can do more than the average bear and I'm sure many of you reading this are doing the EXACT same thing on a daily basis.  The problem arises when we start to lose ourselves just a bit.  We get so wrapped up in our daily life of go-here, go-there, do-this, do-that....there's little time for anything else.  So, the blogging has taken a back seat.  BOO!  I'm working on a solution to keep the writing up, because I miss connecting with all of you on a regular basis.

I also RUNFESS,  I get way jealous of everyone ELSE'S racing schedule.  I have major medal envy.  Below is a pick of my medal wall in my closet.  It's feeling a little left out and not nearly heavy enough.

I do have a girls run-cation planned in two weeks and I'm over-the-moon excited.  My husband and I don't get away much solo to be with friends, so this is extra exciting for me.  I will check two states off my "been there ran that" board and add 3 medals!  I'm getting there.

I also RUNFESS, my closet truly is 80-90% running gear and beer shirts!  Hey, I like my craft beer and breweries make great shirts - what can I say?  Most of my closet chaos is caused by my obsession with cute running clothes and also casual clothes I can wear everyday,  all of which are running related.  Yes,  I'm aware... I have a problem.   But in my defense,  I am a dental hygienist.  I wear scrubs everyday and I change at work.  Who wants to get fancy just to change right away when you walk in the door?

But, seriously... could you pass up this shirt?

In no way was I paid to say this, or given this shirt.  I just like supporting local businesses.  If you want to check out more of what State of RUN has you can follow the link.   They may have cute shirts for your state too!  And, their shipping was amazingly FAST!

Ok, I feel better now.  My goal for October is to be a better blogger!  Have a great month everyone!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Generation UCAN: The Next Generation in Superstarch Nutrition

Disclaimer:  I received a sample box of UCAN Snack bars from  Generation UCAN as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find and write race reviews.

In a world where nutritional supplements are everywhere.  How do you choose?  I find myself asking: 'Will I like it?' 'How much does it cost?' 'Will it do what it says it will do?'
 Around every corner, we are bombarded daily with unhealthy food choices.  Do I choose snickers for that afternoon pick-me-up?  Or what about Twix?  

Obviously, we all KNOW there are better options out there!!  For this review I'm going to highlight the positives of these little bars that pack a HUGE punch!

The history behind these super-food snack bars starts with the founder's son, Jonah.  He is suffering from a rare blood disease the requires him to maintain stable and steady blood sugar levels;  so evolves the SuperStarch.  SuperStarch is what makes these bars unique.  Consequently, they are the ONLY nutritional bar that contains it. 

This SuperStarch is very different from the other sugars found in other competing energy bars.  As athletes, we want our nutrition to sustain us throughout our workouts and give us the much needed energy to push to the next level.  These bars are designed to give quick bursts of energy over a longer period of time.  Here's the catch - without the crash!  Wouldn't YOU want a bar to do that for you?  

Here's an example of the way this SuperStarch works.  But to make it more fun... I'm going to use my favorite afternoon pick-me-up; Twix.  Yes - don't judge.  I have my weaknesses too.  But the point is:  If I would grab for a UCAN snack bar instead of the candy bar - I'd find myself a lot more satisfied and full! 

250 calories, 24 g. sugar (WOW - 24 grams!)

Here's the stats behind the UCAN bar! 
  1.  Between 170-190 calories
  2.  10-15 g. SuperStarch
  3.  5-6 g. of sugar per bar
  4.  4-5 g. of fiber per bar
  5.  5-6 g. of protein per bar

Now for the science!  It's always been thought that in order to maintain proper performance during an endurance event, we need to have sugars and carbohydrates delivered rapidly.  That is why energy chews and gels have been so popular.  They deliver a quick boost of energy, but oftentimes the athlete bonks because they run out of energy, or they are required to continue eating these chews or gels for sustained energy.  With UCAN - all of this changes! 

Here's the problem.  With the sugary carbs, like in the Twix bar, you will absolutely get a quick boost of energy.  But, you'll quickly crash.  The Twix bar delivers too many calories and too much sugar too fast.  This, in turn, causes highs and lows in energy.  With the SuperStarch that UCAN delivers, there is no need to constantly refuel, and no nasty sugar crash after.  This bar simply delivers all the stable energy you need to take one your day!  While eating a Twix can be fun, I think next time I'll reach for my UCAN bar for my afternoon slump.

I have used these bars in a variety of different ways.  Typically, I have eaten them within 30 minutes of my workout completion.  They did a great job at curbing my hunger and getting me to my morning snack.  I have also stashed them in my purse when I'm on-the-go.  They are easily accessible and help curb my afternoon jitters.  

Recently, I cut them into bite-sized pieces and tried them during my run! 

To be honest, this was difficult.  I should have cut them up even smaller.  The size and texture while I was running was not easy to swallow.  I had to drink a lot of water and it slowed me down and was cumbersome.  I think I'll stick to using these bars as an energy pick-me-up. 

  • 5 different flavors
  • Low sugar
  • All-natural
  • Gluten-Free
  • Vegan Varieties

  • Texture for me was unappealing
  • Flavors were ok - but this is absolutely unique per person
  • Expensive at $2.75/bar (multi-packs are less expensive)
  • Difficult to eat for runners during long runs

Unfortunately, I had a very difficult time with the flavor and texture of these bars.  But, they do smell absolutely fantastic!  The peach literally smelled like a fresh peach, although this was my least favorite flavor.   You can see from the photo below just what these bars look like.   Pretty package, but not appealing to the eye while eating it.

The coffee bean bar was my least favorite.  Unfortuatnely, I am not a coffee drinker, and I think that that this bar actually had grounds in it!  The flavor was too much for me so I just couldn't finish. 

My favorite and easiest to digest bar was the cinnamon swirl.  I found this bar flavor to be appealing and it had a hint of sweetness as well. I was lucky to have a few of this flavor so I found myself reaching for this flavor over the rest.   The chocolate came in close second,  but it is very rich. I ate that one in phases over about 10-15 minutes.

In my opinion, food reviews are difficult because everyone's taste buds are all across the board.  I found that even between my fellow pros we all had differing opinions of what bar was our favorite.

What this bar did confirm for me was that the SuperStarch really did work.  I found that I did have a sustained energy and I didn't feel a crash.   I also appreciate the all-natural ingredients and the low sugar content. 

Will I be a life-long lover of these bars?  The jury is still out.  But, if you'd like to give them a shot and find out what this SuperStarch is all about use code "BIBRAVE" to save 15% off your order!  Here's a fun fact:  Meb loves UCAN!

REMEMBER:  Don't forget to check out the Bibrave Twitter chat - #bibchat on Tuesday, October 11th at 8PM, CST.  Just by participating in the chat you could win some bars to try for yourself!  I'd be interested to hear which flavor is your favorite!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Wanna Be Fast and Super-FLY? Choose Ampla Fly!

Disclaimer:  I received a pair of Ampla Fly Women's running shoes from Amplasport as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find and write race reviews. 

Runners are known to be a bit obsessive-compulsive.  We are known to be a bit crazy.  We run long distances.  We get up at insane early-morning hours just to get those miles in before work.  We train to be faster.  We train to be smarter.  We train to be a better version of ourselves.  

As runners, we are also a bit particular about our running gear.   We have to have all of our ducks in a row before races.  We lay out our "flat-annies" the night before and put our mental checklist to work.  We have our must-haves! What do YOU have to have for a great race or run?

Now let's talk about a MUST-HAVE for all runners!  SHOES!  Let's face it.  Your shoes can make or break your run or race.  Are they too stiff?  Are they too tight?  Are they too loose?  Do they fit you like a glove?  Do they give you blisters?   

I have been in the same running shoe for 5 years!  I have always been curious to try other running shoe brands, but have never been brave enough to move away from my tried-and-trues.  Until now! 

I was given the opportunity through BibRave and Ampla to try out these innovative shoes!  I was very excited and immediately took them out for a spin.  They now have become part of my daily running routine! 

What makes the amply flys extremely unique is the carbon fiber plate.   This plate allows the force of your foot strike to propel you through and forward to your next step.  They were developed to be like the carbon fiber blades amputee sprinters wear.  Although these shoes will likely help you run faster;  their true purpose is to help you with your running form.  Look to the video below to see just what I'm talking about! 

I have worn these shoes for about one month, and in that time I have gotten a great feel of them.  When I first put them on, my first expression was "Wow, these feel different!"  They are bouncy and incredibly light! They are also padded in all the right places.  I would characterize these shoes as a neutral cushion shoe.  They also fit me like a glove.  I ordered true to size with a 1/2 size factored in for my foot swell during running.  Checklist Number One: Complete! 

When walking, these shoes roll forward;  initially you have to pay attention to your foot strike.  This is due to the unique property of the carbon fiber plate on the bottom.  At first, I thought maybe this "roll" would be a problem for me while I was running.  It absolutely was not!   I noticed my step was lighter and the force plate did not cause me to fall forward; which was my initial concern.

One obstacle I did face was heel slippage.  However,  I noticed the slip more with walking than running.  I also quickly discovered a lacing technique that locks the heel in place.   When I changed my laces to the "heel-lock," the slippage nearly disappeared!  On the photo below - you can see how I laced my shoes.  The right shoe (left in the picture) is most obviously laced more snug at my ankle.

My longest run in these shoes has been 10 miles and I completed that with ease.  Please note:  these shoes are really designed for shorter, more static runs like sprints.  However, even though they were designed for speedwork, they definately can accommodate the longer runs as well.  I really have been enjoying them as an alternative to my everyday training shoe.  For a regular runner, these shoes make a fantastic 2nd pair.  I'd leave all the short runs to Ampla and the longer distances to your other favorite.

Due to the design of these shoes and the action of propulsion, they should only be worn on the road or the track.  I found out the hard way on gravel.  These shoes do not allow for much movement side to side, so the uneven gravel roads in my town make it tricky.  I stay to the track or the road with these!

Here are the PROS:
  • Ultra light-weight
  • Promotes good funning form
  • Allows maximum propulsion forward
  • Great training shoe for speedwork
  • Reasonably priced; direct to consumer brand so no third-party mark-up
  • Great design
  • Love the retro-design, feel
  • Comfortable
  • Small company 
  • TOP-NOTCH customer service and personal one-on-one email communications
Here are the CONS
  • Not versatile on different terrain
  • Heel-slippage; this could be a nuisance for some
  • Some abnormal wear on sole - fairly quickly; customer service addressed this need immediately and it was found that it did not effect performance
If you're looking to expand your horizons and try a different and innovative training shoe - look no further!  These have been a fun addition to my routine and I will continue to wear them on my runs!  

If you want more information join me and my fellow BibRave Pros on Twitter for #bibchat, on Tuesday, Sept. 20th.  8PM CST.