Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Luvo Meals - Quick, Convenient and Healthy

Disclaimer: I received Luvo Healthy Meals 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!

Disclaimer 2: I am eating a Luvo Meal (specifically Chicken Enchiladas) while I am writing this blog post



The meals I tested - YUM!
If you've not gathered from my previous blog posts, I am a pretty busy girl. I have a full time job, a husband who works a full time plus job (he works at a university and often works weekends and nights) a 7 year old with a variety of after school activities, plus I sometimes try my hand at this running thing (sometimes for hours at a time even). So trust me when I tell you, I am a connoisseur of frozen meals for lunch. Cause by the time I've gotten through everything that needs to be done at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is make myself a lunch. Stocking the freezer with quick foods to microwave for lunch at work is how I do and I've tried them all at some point. 


Luvo is by far at the top of the list for me in terms of both taste and healthiness. I first discovered them in my brother's freezer earlier this year and was pleased to see that they consist of real ingredients unlike a lot of the other "healthy" frozen meal options out there. So when I was offered the opportunity to test these out on a wider scale, I jumped at the chance. 


Luvo recently launched an online ordering system where you can order your meals right on their website and have them shipped directly to your home. I cannot tell you how great this is for me for a number of reasons:


  • First, again, super busy. If I can shorten or skip a trip to the grocery store, I'm a happy girl. 
Me ordering from Disney - CONVENIENT!
  • Second, not having to drag my 7 year old into a store is so awesome. Don't get me wrong, she's a great girl, but I swear even on perfect behavior days, any trip to any store seems to take 4x as long with her tagging along due to the millions of questions and wanting to see/touch everything and of course - oooh, are there toys at this store? 
  • Third, this testing opportunity arose while I was on vacation to Disney World. I am not ashamed (okay maybe a little ashamed) to admit that I did not have the best eating habits while visiting with The Mouse. I mean Dole Whip, right? Anyway, being able to order online and have meals shipped directly to my house was a godsend. I ordered on my phone while waiting for my daughter and hubby to finish up a ride so they would arrive the week I came home, ensuring I could quickly and easily get back on the wagon so to speak. 

A few days after arriving home, I got notice that there was a package waiting for me on my doorstep. I came home from work to a big ole freezer box full of Luvo Meals. I had ordered a pretty wide variety of meals to try, but mostly ordered Bowls as those have the added convenience of cooking and eating in the same container. No dishes to wash for the win! 



First we run the miles, then we eat the food!
There are all kinds of options for any diet, vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy free and so on, all clearly marked and all with no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners.The packaging tells you exactly what is in them with the focus on Protein, Whole Grains, and Vegetables  - just like my Burn Boot Camp trainer tells me to make sure I am eating.



So, now for the most important thing, how do they taste. Pretty darn good in fact! So far everything I have tried has been super flavorful. The meats actually taste like they are supposed to (unlike other "healthy" frozen options out there). The meals are packed with spices and taste like real food (because it is real food). My favorite that I have tried so far has been Chicken and Corn Chowder. I could eat that every single day. I also really liked the Chicken in BBQ Sauce (which also had grits and collards). They were perfect lunch meals, especially for days when I was doing a lunch-time run (#runch) and needed some quick recovery food that I could easily eat at my desk.
Love they sent me a message
to let me know they arrived!

Another thing I really liked about Luvo - they were super responsive and always let you know what was up with your order. I got several email updates and even got an email sent to me when my package arrived, which was awesome, because some days I don't go straight home, or some days I don't make it to the mail box right away (my house, parking is on the backside on a alley, so I don't come in and out of my front door) and no one wants to leave food, even if nicely packed in a cooler with dry ice, on the front porch for too long. I knew where my food was pretty much the entire process, and to a girl who kinda obsesses over that kind of thing, it was a great extra. 


I still have a few more meals left to try from my big order, but I know I will be restocking when I run out. You can find Luvo Meals in the freezer section of most major grocery and food stores or, you can be like me and order online at https://shop.luvoinc.com . To sweeten the deal, for a limited time you can use the discount code "BIBCHAT" for 10% off your purchase. They also have other deals that pop up all the time so be sure to sign up for their email Newsletter to get these deals sent straight to your inbox.

Be sure to join me for #BibChat on Twitter with BibRave and co-sponsor Luvo on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at 9 pm ET for your chance to learn more and maybe win some Luvo Meals of your own!



Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Training Update - It's Cold and Wet and UGH Out There!

I had big high hopes of getting out there and pounding some pavement this week but OMG it is nasty with a capital N out there! So yeah, today, despite having a kit packed, I seriously doubt that it is getting used. So, what exactly have I been up to, other than whining about the weather?


 On Saturday, I ran the Christmasville Reindeer Romp 5K to benefit Girls on the Run. Usually I volunteer for this race instead of run it (I've got me a pretty cozy corner as a course marshal that I've occupied the last several GotR races that I've grown fond of). But this year, I got asked to be a Run Partner for a girl who was a bit faster pace than the rest of her team. I met her and she was super sweet and I figured, why not. So, race day morning, we line up and my girl is nervous. At the start, she takes off like a SHOT. I was told her pace was in the 10 min range. We clear closer to an 8 min mile for the first mile. I've promised this girl's family I will keep an eye on her, so I do my best to keep it up. After about 1.25 miles, she starts to slow up complaining of a side cramp. Oh, thank goodness, I guiltily think to myself. I coach her through some breathing techniques and keep her moving forward and we go back and forth fast walking/sprinting the remainder of the race. When we get to the last turn, I tell her to take the turn and just run for it. She crossed the finish line in under 30 min even with the walk breaks and it's pretty awesome. 

After the race, I pull on a Nightmare Before Christmas Ugly Sweater and meet up with my friend Kim (Barking Mad About Running) and her hubby for a pancake breakfast and to spend some time walking around Christmasville. My husband and little join me a bit later and well, I continue to wander around looking like a bit of a weirdo. Luckily, the official Christmasville photographer notices me and well, I have no shame, so long story short, I'm on the Christmasville site dressed like this - 


Sunday the plan was to head to Riverwalk for 6 miles while my little one worked on some Girl Scout Badge work with her Brownie Leader, Tish. Well, when Tish heard I was running, her oldest daughter decided she wanted to run with me instead of help out the younger girls. Who am I to say no, so my training run turned into a interval run with an 11 yr old partner. Elyn was aiming for 2 miles, but when we passed the girls, she decided that no, she wasn't interested in running (happens to the best of us) and left me after 1.5. I got in another 4 steady miles after that. 

On Monday, I worked from home due to having to get a new hot water heater installed and afterwards, I hit the road for 3 miles. The intent was for 40 min, but my Apple Watch was acting up on me and kept kicking my run out. I capped it at 3 miles that was recorded over a few Runkeeper sessions due to the bugginess. 


Tuesday was a Burn Boot Camp day. The workout was Arms & Shoulders Circuit which is frankly what I am weakest at, so of course it sucked, but getting it done helps me get better and that's why I joined. 

Wednesday, the intent was to do a lunchtime run, but I suck and forgot my belt and just do not feel comfortable doing the Airport run without a phone, so it didn't happen. I regret missing my Wed. run a lot. It was a crap decision to not do it. 

Thursday was another Burn day. This time Chest and Back Day. Again, another day that I suck at (anything with upper body I am a disaster at). I could have taken the easy route and done a Leg or Conditioning day, but I'm really trying to improve at the things I am terrible at. 

And today, well, today, things are not looking good. It is wet and cold and raining and blargh. I should run today, but I am toying with instead hitting up an evening Burn class after work. We'll see.

Overall, I am disappointed at my lack of running miles this week. I have a pretty aggressive race schedule coming up with 2 races per month in Dec, Jan and Feb (these two are both Hot Chocolate 15Ks - one in Atlanta and one in Charlotte back to back) plus the Tobacco Road Half Marathon in March. And here I am slacking off like I've nothing to train for. But, it is what it is and I'll make it work how I can. 

What about you? Have you been better than I have been at meeting your goals this week? Let me know in the comments below. Stay safe and stay warm this weekend for those you in unexpected snowy areas! 

Friday, December 1, 2017

See & Be Seen - Knuckle Lights Review

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Knuckle Lights COLORS 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! 



So November is typically a tough month for my running routine as the first weekend of the month Daylight Savings ends and BOOM, it is suddenly dark at like 5 pm. Not only that, but it is the first real month where it is starting to get cold. Both conditions make it just that harder for me to get out the door and go. But this year, the timely acquisition of a pair of Knuckle Lights COLORS helped me overcome the dark some. 

See in the past I've relied on headlamps, which to be honest were never a perfect solution. They seemed to either squeeze or slip, I couldn't wear them with a brimmed hat or the light would be blocked and I somehow managed to always blind my running partners when I turned to talk to them. But with my new Knuckle Lights, I have way more control over where my light points and a much wider range of beam.



So, first let's go over the stats. Here is a quick overview of what Knuckle Lights have to offer - 


I chose pink because cute matters

  • 120 TOTAL LUMENS — The extra bright lights emit a wide flood beam, providing a steady, even light in front of you that does not bounce, even with your arms moving.
  • 2 LIGHTS PER SET — The units connect together magnetically. The soft silicone straps are easily adjusted to fit any size hand and even over gloves. The units are almost unnoticeable at less than 3 ounces each.
  • 3 POWER SETTINGS — High, Low and Blinking.
  • BATTERIES INCLUDED   Each unit operates on 1 X AA battery
  • WATERPROOF — The units are fully waterproof and can be used in any type of weather, and will operate in below freezing temperatures down to -20 Celsius.
  • CUTE — Not the most important criteria, but still, it does matter. Knuckle Lights COLORS come in 3 options: Black, Blue or Pink .



Now, how do they work?


They seem me coming now!
They are pretty fantastic TBH. They give off a lot more light than I expected, way more than a headlamp, and I liked having more control over them than a headlamp, for example, I could sweep an area more easily to check for uneven terrain, rocks and so on. I used them on a group run that I was leading and when there was a large puddle on the side of the road I could easily point it out to the group behind me and leave one light trained on it for a bit so they could see it. That is huge for night-time group runs. 

And not only can you see, but you can also be seen by cars and others really well with these. One recent late run, I was doing a quick couple miles around my neighborhood on the night before trash day. I came up on one of my neighbors who was taking his trash bins out to the curb and normally (and I know because it has happened before) I would have scared the heck out of him, but with my Rudolf-the-Red-Nosed-Reindeer like hands, he saw me from half a block away. When I got closer he said to me "Wow! You can really see you, huh?" "That's the point," I told him in return.


As far as how they feel on your knuckles, another concern I had before I got them, I had no complaints. The straps are adjustable and despite the fact that I have really small hands (a mean friend of mine who I never will forgive referred to them once as "Circus-People-Hands) I had no issues with them slipping. I got used to them on my hands pretty much immediately and since they strap to your fingers, still had full range of motion with them on. You can wear them on one hand or on two depending on what feels more comfortable to you (I wear them on two) and the light beam doesn't bounce due to the wide range of overlap. 

They are also seeing a bit of non-running related play lately. My 7 year old, who has recently developed a slight fear of the dark (long story that involves a scary Halloween event, but I digress) has taken to asking me to carry them in the car if we plan to be out late. The other night she used them with her Girl Scout friends to carry out the trash after the meeting, so they are a big win with her. I mean, they are not only cool lights, but bright pink, what is not to love?



So in summary, I've really enjoyed using 


Ready to get your own pair? You can order them off the Knuckle Lights website here: https://knucklelights.com/. To sweeten the deal, use discount code “BIBRAVEPRO” to save 15% on your purchase at the checkout.


Monday, November 27, 2017

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Fitness Routine for a Disney Break!

So I didn't post a Friday update for last week for a simple reason, I didn't do anything for a week!!
 

Why? I was in Disney World! 

In my defense, I had fully intended to run a day or two on my trip, but I managed to catch a cold also while I was there and between the massive amount of walking steps at the park daily, carrying around a 50 pound adventure pack, and the head cold, I thought that doing extra running might actually kill me. I did the math from my Apple Health App and I averaged 8.3 miles per day of walking steps, so I am thinking that has got to count for something. Plus the trip was hella fun! 

See we managed to actually surprise my 7 yr old daughter with the trip. We picked her up from school on Friday and drove straight to Kissimmee, FL for a quick off-site hotel stay to wake up Sat morning to go straight to the Magic Kingdom. I figured no way we'd pull it off, but the husband thought it would work, and low and behold, it did! It was tricky, but we managed to keep it a secret until Sat morning when she woke up and told her. We then spent the next 5 days in Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and then back to Magic Kingdom for a final day. 

We drove home on Thursday, and since I was feeling better on Friday and a little guilty for not doing any real exercise for a week, I got up bright and early on Friday morning and met a friend (Barking Mad About Running) for a 12 mile run. She is training for a marathon (a Disney one at that) and does 2:1 intervals, so it was slow and steady around Freedom Park in Charlotte. So yeah, that's how I roll, no running for a full week and then try to cram it all in a single day. It felt good to get back out there again when it would have been really easy to simple stay in bed, so I am glad that I did it. 

It was a great week, but time to get back in the saddle and get back in to my routines. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Be Open with Trekz Air

Disclaimer: I received a pair of AfterShokz Trekz Air 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 am a runner that is all about her music. Seriously,  I will create a Playlist at the drop of a hat. I have several loaded up and ready to go on my iPhone at all times, linked into my RunKeeper. Everything from Hamilton (My Shot is one of the best running songs there is, I swear it), to every single Mariana's Trench (my fav band) song above 150 bpm, to simply shuffling my entire music library. My biggest problem, however, has been finding a pair earbuds or headphones that both stay out of my way and stay in my ears. 

Just look at that mess of wires around my neck
I swear, I have tried everything. Earbuds pop out and the cord gets in the way, sport ones that wrap around your ears still have the cord issue and wireless headphones squish down my ears after awhile, plus are too bulky  in the winter with hats and earmuffs. I simply gave up and on training runs, just played the music loud and then would suffer through cord issues during races so as not to be rude - seriously, I would spend half the race adjusting cords and buds - so annoying. 

I recently received a pair of bone conducting AfterShockz Trekz Air and let me tell you, these things are a game changer. How does Bone Conduction work? According to the AfterShokz website - "Bone conduction is a natural part of the hearing process—sound travels through our eardrums and bones simultaneously. Our patented bone conduction technology produces sound via mini vibrations that travel through your cheekbones to your inner ears, bypassing your eardrums completely." - For more information, check out their FAQ Page: https://aftershokz.com/pages/general-faqs

These things are crazy amazing! When wearing them, I can hear my music and sound cues perfectly plus, I can hear everything around me which is way safer than running plugged ears. I hadn't really thought of that much before until I started wearing these and realized just how many sounds were no longer being blocked, things like approaching cars, other runners, all kinds of stuff! They also do not press down over your ears which makes them super comfortable even when wearing things like headbands, hats and sunglasses. 

I run with several different groups and without fail, at least one person would ask me about my Trekz Air after they realize I am wearing them, because to be honest, sometimes they don't since I am able to converse like normal with others while wearing them, as opposed to my friends that wear earbuds and are always going "WHAT!, WHAT!?" to me when I try to talk to them. 

Big hair, don't care!
And not only are these bad boys great for running, they are perfect for me to wear at work. See I work in a very small company where you can hear EVERYTHING from each other's offices, so if you are playing music, the whole office hears it, and no one wants that, but if you are wearing headphones, you often can't hear when others are trying to talk to you (we are an office that yells down the hall). Trekz Air to the rescue! Esp with my big hair, my coworkers have no idea that I have them on during the day. Music and productivity FTW! 

A few other fun facts about my Trekz Air. They are super light which I cannot say about the previous wireless headphones that I was using. I barely notice that I am wearing them. They are water resistant which is good because I tend to sweat up a storm. There are also controls for volume right on the side of them so you don't have to fiddle around with your phone to adjust them. And how could I have forgotten to mention Audrey, the Siri-like voice that welcomes you when you turn them on. I feel a little Tony Stark when start them up. And, they last forever! I used them continuously for a 7-hour road trip in the car on a single charge recently. 

Ready to try them out for yourself? You can order a pair at the AfterShokz website here - http://bibrave.aftershokz.com/ and for a limited time, receive a bonus trucker hat with your AfterShokz Trekz Air purchase with code “TRUCKER” when you check out. You get everything you see here to your right with your order, a cool little carrying case, charger cord, quick start guide (seriously easy set up, trust me on this, I am a tech disaster) and earplugs.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

39th Annual Great Pumpkin 5K Race Recap

I'm pretty late in posting this race review, but here's my review of the Great Pumpkin 5K Race I ran on October 28th.

This was my first time running this long-standing local race as there are just so many Fall races to choose from. The race is hosted by a local running club, The Rock Hill Striders, and all proceeds are given to a local food pantry,  Pilgrim's Inn. In addition to the 5K, there is a 1 mile fun run for the kids that is free.

There was not a lot of communication prior to the race, mainly because I believe mostly locals run this year after year so most runners already know the drill. I did ask a question of the RD prior to the race via email and got an answer almost immediately. I registered for the 5K and my little one did the 1 miler which I did it with her also as they were scheduled 45 min apart.

There was no pre-race packet pick up - all packets were to be picked up day of. The packet came with bib and cotton long sleeved shirt. The shirts ran large and the race had no problem switching my M for a S at pick up.

This race started on the campus of Winthrop University and therefore has pretty great parking access. It had a fairly late start time, 9 am, but with the Fall temps, the weather was pretty nice. The university is about 3 miles from my house, so it was a pretty quick trip to the site and easy parking. The race is fairly small, a couple of hundred participants, so I was able to find some of my local running buddies for some pictures pre-race. The start is near the former student center, which is now offices, and the building was open for races to use the bathrooms.

The course was a pretty nice one and one I run quite often, as I live very close by - starting just down from Dinkins Building, up Myrtle Drive, around the Winthrop Coliseum and back down Myrtle back to near where the start was. The course is officially certified with a couple hills, but not too many. Pretty easy terrain.

I had a pretty rough October, having to take a week off any kind of training due to having a wisdom tooth extraction a week and half prior, so it was not my best race ever. I was a full minute slower than my previous 5K, and tried to view it as a fun, easy local race for a good cause and not as a competitive one. As long as I get in under 30 min, I'm fairly happy and I did.

The kid's 1 mile started at 9:45 and ran straight down Charlotte Ave. for .5 mile and back. It was very informal, no registration or bibs, but the kids are really just interested in the running, so that works. There was a race volunteer at the turn around point cheer on the kids. The kids ran through the same finish area as the 5K and were each given a pumpkin shaped flashlight  which my daughter adores.

After the race, there was a lot of food options including bagels, fruit, chips, baked goods and even Halloween candy (how my daughter was able to eat candy corn immediately after running, I'll never know, but I passed on that). There were also several race sponsors and area groups with tables set up for a mini-finish-area festival giving out the standard stuff like pens, cozies and so on.

Awards were given out for Age Group winners which is fun to watch as the prizes consist of a variety of pumpkin shaped items that you can choose what you want as your award is called. I had a few friends that placed so I stuck around to cheer them on.

Overall, a great local, low key race that depending on what else is going on the same weekend next year, I will more than likely run again.