Monday, November 21, 2016

illinois marathon training: week 4

Monday, November 14: Rest/Stretch & Roll
Tuesday, November 15: 4 miles (50/20); 12:28 average page
Wednesday, November 16Rest/Stretch & Roll
Thursday, November 17: 4 miles (50/20); 12:40 average pace
Friday, November 18: Rest/Stretch & Roll 
Saturday, November 19: Ditka Dash 3.07 miles (45/30); 13:14 average page
Sunday, November 20: 8 miles (60/30); 13:05 average pace

Total Miles for Illinois Marathon Training: 89.61 miles

Finally, back to an almost normal week! I was able to get in all of my training runs plus a fun run on Saturday. 

Tuesday 4 miles went well, not much to say other than I am happy with the paces I've been having. Definitely seeing improvements. Oh and it was the in the 50s, so great running weather.

Thursday was another good run. I felt a bit tired and sluggish, but powered through and happy with the results. Another warm day - shorts and t-shirts, but cold weather is on the way. Fall and winter are my favorite, though while enjoying running in the winter, I'm not quite ready for temps in the 30s as the high. We've been too up and down lately and it's hard to adjust to the 30s when it was just 70. Goes up and down, which makes my sinuses go nutty and often leads to me getting sick. But I'm trying really hard to stay healthy this year (lots of sleep and hydration haha).

Saturday was the Ditka Dash, which was just a fun run with my mom. No timing even. We ran 45/30 intervals. It was pretty windy and cold out, but once I was running I warmed up quick. Gloves came off at mile 1. It was a relaxed, fun event and even Da Coach was there at the start line to see us off. Pretty cool. I ran in aviators to be cool like him (they were in the packet along with a mustache haha). We stopped at Starbucks on the way home to get some hot beverages to warm up (I am always freezing after running outside in colder temps - even if I'm sweating bullets, the instant I stop I'm cold... probably from wet clothes).

Red cups are back and they are adorable! Love all the different designs.

Sunday was 8–10 miles on the schedule. I had hoped to push to 10, but after being super sweaty I was starting to freeze around mile 5 and at 6 my knee started giving me trouble (I think from the cold, I'm like an older person with arthritis type symptoms...). I thought I wouldn't get 3 miles with the breathing problems I was having (again - not acclimated to the cold - we went basically from 70 to 30 and my asthma acted up). It was partly sunny and feels like 25 with 10mph winds. Luckily I managed ok after being out for a bit. So I stopped at 8 with an average pace of 13:05.

I wrote a post about Illinois Marathon if you're interested in reading why I chose it as my Spring Marathon. Also, you can register for any of the distances (except for Youth option) with discount code bibravebonus and it'll save you $5 :)

Friday, November 18, 2016

I wear my sunglasses at... disney. a review of the xx2i brazil1.

Disclaimer: I received the XX2i Brazil1 to review 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!

XX2i Brazil1 at Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Oh yeah, and me and my mom ;)

I feel the majority of you reading this post already know I have a problem. OK, yes, I have a few, but you know that one of them is my love for ALL the sunglasses. I could never have enough pairs. Seriously. And while I have a ton of freebies I've scored over the years, my favorite brand is XX2i. For both casual and running sunglasses.

Why are they my favorite? Though not free (at least, not all of the pairs I have have been through BibRave), they are quality sunglasses with an excellent guarantee and warranty. XX2i stands by what they make, and you have 365 days to try them out. I have yet to find a pair I needed to return, as they are all amazing. The fit is great and they certainly have lasted longer than any other pair of sunglasses I've owned. I'll admit that one of the reasons I have so many pairs is because I was a frequent scratcher of lenses, breaking off arms, or losing them, so I've sort of hoarded pairs so that when I lose or break a pair, it's not a big deal. Luckily, I've been able to keep most of my XX2i from harm.

Starbucks tastes better with Disney characters on your cup :)

The Brazil1 fit similarly to the Bermuda1 I tried earlier this year, though I'd say they are a bit smaller of a frame and a little more rectangular. I've worn them for runs up to 6 miles and wore them all day, every day at Walt Disney World. They helped protect my sensitive eyes from the bright Florida sun. I even wear sunglasses when it's cloudy and usually on rainy days as well. Gotta protect my baby blues! Haha.

Brazil1 at Animal Kingdom.

Brazil1 at Magic Kingdom. Showing off my shades AND medals.

Each pair of XX2i comes with a hard case and a fabric case (which also doubles as a lense cleaner). It was great to pack my Brazil1 in the hard case and put them in my suitcase without worrying if they would break, and then for the parks I tossed the fabric case in my purse for when I wasn't wearing my glasses to protect them from scratches. I also really like that the Matte Black Brazil1 come with polar grey lenses, while the tortoise comes in brown (so now I have one of each - Bermuda1 tortoise and the Brazil1 black).

Protecting my eyes on a sunny 6 mile run.

Unfortunately, at some point, I scratched my lenses! So sad. I thought at first they were just dirty, so wiped them off and then held them up to the light to see scratches. Boooo. Luckily, XX2i will fix that right up, I just have to pay for shipping (which is $19.95). You can read about their product warranty here.

Starbucks and shades. Remember I said I had a lot of problems?
My Starbucks addicition is another one.

Some specs for the XX2i Brazil1:

  • Lightweight and durable frame
  • Decorated with small silver accents and a keyhold shaped nosepiece (not adjustable)
  • Sleek lines and simplistic
  • Polarized lenses with 8k optical technology 
  • Glare cutting polarized lens technology
  • 100% UVA and UVB protection
  • Lifetime warranty - no questions asked (you break or scratch them, send them back to be replaced for a nominal shipping and handling fee)
  • 365 Days to return

AWESOME NEWS FOR YOU: I have a discount code to share with you! Use 'XX2iRocks' to save 50% on any of their amazing sunglasses. I own the USA1, Hawaii1, Bermuda1, and Brazil1. I'm eyeing the France hot pink and USA crystal. And maybe the Bermuda black/crystal too haha.

EDIT: You can save 60% on the XX2i Brazil1 with code BRAZIL1 from now until Tuesday, November 22 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. The season of gift-giving is upon us... just sayin'.

Make sure to join BibRave and XX2i on Tuesday night, 8pm CT, for the hour long #BibChat and you might also be able to win a pair :)

Enjoying one of the last t-shirt and shorts days we'll have in a while.

I HIGHLY recommend XX2i as a company and if you are in the market for shades — casual, running, cycling (or whatever sport you partitipate in) — I suggest getting yourself a pair of XX2i

Connect with XX2i online:
website | twitter | instagram | facebook

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

illinois marathon training: week 3

Monday, November 7: Rest/Stretch & Roll
Tuesday, November 8: 4 miles (50/20) --> Skipped
Wednesday, November 9Rest/Stretch & Roll
Thursday, November 10: 4 miles (50/20); 12:50 average pace
Friday, November 11: Rest/Stretch & Roll 
Saturday, November 12: 6 miles (50/20); 12:42 average page
Sunday, November 13: 8 miles (50/20 and 50/30); 13:14 average pace

Total Miles for Illinois Marathon Training: 70.53 miles

I've finally decided on my spring marathon and have chosen Illinois Marathon on April 22. You can read about my decision over on this blog post. I am officially registered for the I-Full Challenge (5k on Friday and the marathon on Saturday). I won't be racing the 5k, but using it more as a shakeout run and for fun. Plus, I'll get a shirt for both the 5k and full marathon, a medal for each, plus an additional medal for the challenge. Boom. 

Training was still a bit off (let's just say the first 3 weeks of training have been wonky, but will be happy to get back to regular schedule next week). Tuesday was a travel day, so missed my run. Was going to run on Wednesday instead, but I was so exhausted from the trip I just wanted to catch up on some rest.

Thursday I did 4 miles on the treadmill (it's getting dark so early now! We don't have street lights around here, and even though I have some great night gear to keep me visible I try not to run in the dark very often. The 20 second walk breaks seem so short, but like usual, just something that'll take adjusting to (and then adjusting again when it's shortened more ;) ).

Saturday 6 miler went pretty well. The weather was fantastic for an outdoor run. It took me a while to get out the door with a lack of motivation, but so glad I did. It was great to be outside running.

Sunday I did 4 miles at a 50/20 interval set, and the last 4 at 50/30. Legs were tired at first and then they warmed up a bit, but my sinuses were going crazy the entire time, which was annoying. Weather was great again. I had shorts and a long sleeve shirt on (which I wish was short sleeves about 2 minutes in as I sweat like a beast), and then there are people out in full winter garb (gloves, hats, puffy coats haha). It was in the 50s and was lovely. Want to soak in this weather while it's here. While still generally too warm for me, I still enjoy the 50s over 80s. Fall is my favorite (minus the sinus problems of course). 

I wrote a post about Illinois Marathon if you're interested in reading why I chose it as my Spring Marathon. Also, you can register for any of the distances (except for Youth option) with discount code bibravebonus and it'll save you $5 :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2017 spring marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry for Illinois Marathon to review 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!

While I had my marathon options narrowed down for the spring (was deciding between Ann Arbor at the end of March or Oshkosh Marathon at the end of April), my choice has been made. I have decided to go with the Illinois Marathon on April 22, which though on my radar, I had already decided no on haha. Read more for why...

Initially I was hesitant for this race because I have a half marathon in Naperville, IL the following day. So, I put this race aside thinking it wouldn't be a good idea. However when the opportunity came up to run for BibRave, I emailed my coach at Sweat Tracker to see what she thought about it. I thought for sure she would reply that I was bananas and it was not a good idea. To my surprise, she gave me the go ahead. She reminded me that while it would be a very big challenge, she didn't see any major issues with it. My risk for injury would be greater, though, and that keeping up my strength training would be key. Along with proper pre- and post-race (and training) recovery.

So here I am, training for my first spring marathon. It will be interesting for sure, and my one main concern is how much time I'll have to spend on a treadmill at the gym if winter is as bad as predicted. I did train through December for Dopey Challenge, however, I feel winter is usually at its worst in January and February, which will be some high mileage months. I've done up to 12 miles on the treadmill, which for me was just under 3 hours. I thought that was my max, but it's likely I'll be on there for up to 5 hours during this training cycle. Eeks. I guess my main concern is getting kicked off for being on too long haha. Usually weekends aren't as crowded, so hopefully it's not a big deal. It will also be annoying having to reset the treadmill every 60 minutes, as that is the max you can set it to run for. Boo.

Anyway, my best bud Angie will be there running the marathon too - far ahead of me - but it'll be fun to hang out before and after the race. Hopefully she doesn't mind waiting around for an hour or so ;)

Interested in running during Illinois Marathon weekend? They have just about every race distance. There's a 5k on Friday evening, and then a 10k, half marathon, marathon relay, and marathon on Saturday. You can take the I-Challenge, which is running the 5k Friday and then either 10k, half marathon, or marathon on Saturday for an additional medal. Who doesn't love more medals?

Marathon entrants will receive a high-quality, gender-specific short-sleeve technical shirt (Leslie Jordan brand in blue - must be fate!) and a drawstring backpack. Finishers get a great medal, a fleece blanket, commemorative heatsheet, finish line food and drink, and one beverage at the 27th-Mile Celebrate Victory Bash on Saturday. (Entrants must display their race bib to receive the beverage).

I haven't been down to U of I campus since my own college days... which is farther back than I'd like to admit haha. I'm sure a lot has changed, and I've never been inside the stadium, so it will be cool to finish 26.2 miles on the field.

The time limit for the marathon is 6 hours, though I did see that they allow participants up to 7 hours (though traffic will not longer be kept from the course, so you need to use sidewalks and follow pedestrian laws). 6 hours is my latest marathon goal, as I did Chicago in about 6:16, so hoping that the 6 hour limit helps push me to conquer it :)

Here's more clarification from the website:
The course will be closed to traffic for participants who are averaging faster than  13:45 minutes per mile. Slower participants may continue after traffic is allowed onto the race course, but they do so at their own risk and must follow pedestrian statutes. Race volunteers, the finish line, and post-race festivities will remain active long enough to accommodate runners taking up to 7 hours.

The next price increase will be January 16. You can save $5 off any distance (except Youth Run) using code 'bibravebonus'. I've already begun my training (even before I knew what race I was doing haha - gotta keep that base mileage from the last marathon going). Who wants to join in on the fun?!

Monday, November 7, 2016

spring marathon training: week 2

Monday, October 31: Rest/Stretch & Roll
Tuesday, November 1: 6 miles (50/30) --> Skipped
Wednesday, November 2Rest/Stretch & Roll
Thursday, November 3: Rest/Stretch & Roll
Friday, November 4: Mickey's Holiday 5k (3.16)
Saturday, November 5: Wine and Dine 10k (6.44)
Sunday, November 6: Wine and Dine Half Marathon (13.03)

Total Miles for Spring Marathon Training: 48.53 miles

It was another strange week for training as I was traveling to Florida for Wine and Dine weekend at Disney World. I ended up skipping my run on Tuesday because when I got home from work the rest of the night was spent packing. The usual. I knew I'd be walking around a ton at WDW, so I wasn't too concerned. I have my spring marathon narrowed down, but still deciding between two. I'll keep you posted.

Friday was the 5k, I think my mom and I ran 45/30 intervals. We had plenty of time to rest when we stopped for photo ops. I tried to remember to pause and un-pause my watch at each stop to get an accurate reading of what the time we were running was. I meant to compare to my mom's watch (since 5k isn't timed) to see how much of our time was spent waiting for photos. My watch had us at 43:55, which for a crowded Disney race isn't too bad. The one problem with the course is the out and back towards the end, where it's so narrow that you get caught behind a wall of people and can't go anywhere. I doubt there is any way for that to be changed, but it did get frustrating, especially if you are starting farther back in the corrals (I went back to D with my mom and we were near the front of the corral, and even at the start, we got caught by people just walking from the get go... not even an attempt at running through for a minute or two. Oy.), when you stop for photos, you just get farther and farther back with more walkers which makes it hard to navigate. Nothing against walkers of course, as part of my routine is walking, just saying it can be tough to get back up to the pace you want. 

Saturday was the 10k. Early morning number 2. I definitely missed just the 1 early morning and then the late night. Much easier for me to handle than 3 early mornings. Woof. I do believe at this race I forgot to pause my watch for one of the stops, as our 10k is usually around a 1:20 lately. My watch had me at 1:29:57 with 6.44 miles. I think we tried the 45/30 intervals again.

Sunday was our last early morning. Again I tried to pause and start my watch, but I think there was one stop I forgot to pause, and one other one I forgot to re-start after going, so my watch only had me at 13.03 miles, but we all know it is over that from the weaving.

Anyway, Disney was a ton of fun, though I was extremely tired with having to wake up so early three days in a row. I had to take naps in the afternoon to try and make up for it. Woof. I'll hopefully have a fun recap of each race (though don't hold your breath as I generally get so backed up on race recaps that I never get to them haha). Some fun photos at least ;)

What are you currently training for?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

hot chocolate 15k chicago recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for RAM Racing Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Chicago to review 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!

You can read my shorter review over on BibRave.

The Hot Chocolate Race Series takes places all over the US beginning with Denver in October of 2016 and ending with Minneapolis in April 2017.

RAM Racing puts on the race series and does a great job. It’s a well organized event with a larger expo than some of the other races (due to the size of registrants it seems a smart idea). Registration through RAM is very easy. If you have an account you just log in, your personal info is already filled out and you need to select your expected pace/finish time, gear size (this year it was a jacket in gender-specific sizes), emergency contact, etc. If you have a code, you enter that on the last page (you need to click on the promotional code on the last page above where you enter your credit card info). The nice thing about having an account is that you can add on shipping if you want at a later time (I think you can add this on up to 3 weeks before the race). Packet shipping is an additional $15.

The expo was held at McCormick place on the Friday and Saturday before the race (October 28 and 29). Friday hours were 10am – 7pm and Saturday 10am – 6pm. It was in the West Building Skyline Ballroom which was nice - if you park in the A lot it’s not as far as a walk as the east building, especially when it’s in the Lake Side ballroom.

Packet pickup was really easy. When you got to the end of the building, there were lots of computers and volunteers ready to get you your bib. They scanned the QR code in your confirmation email (or the email they sent out a few days prior with a link to your code) and got you your bib. Then you headed to the west edge and got your jacket/bag, lined up in order of women’s sizing and men’s sizing. The bag included your jacket and pins. You could try on jackets inside to see if they fit ok (and I think then exchange if needed - not sure on those details as I knew my size was fine). On your way into the ballroom you could grab a clear gear check bag.

Inside the ballroom you could find Hot Chocolate merchandise, grab some hot chocolate, marshmallows with chocolate sauce and/or cookies with chocolate sauce, Fleet Feet Sports (they had some Marathon gear left over and were selling at a great discount), OOFOS, stations where you could register for other RAM Racing events, and a few others. On your way out get your parking validated and then stop at the pay stations to pay $10 before heading into the garage.

About a week or two before the race they provide runners with a Participant Guide on the website that has just about all of the information a runner would need. Course guide, gear check/corral/pre-race map, post-race map, Expo, parking info, etc.

Race day was on Sunday, October 30 and with such large participant numbers, there were two waves. Wave 1 started at 7:30 and Wave 2 and 8:15. I was in Wave 2 so had a little extra time in the morning to get there. We parked at Soldier Field and walked over. The morning was cool in the 50s and cloudy, but I knew it would be wonderful running weather. I even felt hot at times. The wind got a bit out of control at times, but I never felt cold while running and I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt (while others were bundled in tights, gloves, and knit hats). We stopped at the bathrooms on our way to the corrals and there were no lines. Awesome. However, I got out and put soap in my hands to find out there was no water left in the station. Lesson learned - always check for water before sudsing up haha.

I had a chance to meet up with my friend Rachel briefly to chat and then got into my corral. While waiting to start there were a few times it started to rain, but it seemed to leave as quickly as it came. No problem. My wave finally got started around 8:37. 

The first mile is practically all on the lower streets of Chicago (so sort of underground). I found this section to be super warm, as there was no air flow. It was also a section where it was a wall of runners or walkers almost the whole way. Congestion didn't clear up until mile 2 or so, but honestly didn't really clear up enough until the 5k runners headed to the finish by turning east on Roosevelt while the 15k runners continued straight down Michigan Ave. It was a much nicer running experience once the two races separated. Maybe people in the faster corrals didn't witness as much congestion, but it was rough goings for a while with a mix of runners and walkers.

The course was different, which made it more exciting than the usual Lake Front Path up and back (not that LFP isn't beautiful, it's just nice to do something different sometimes). There were plenty of aid stations with Nuun first and then water. There were also 4 sweets on course - chocolate chips, strawberry marshmallows, M&Ms, and chocolate marshmallows. Luckily, these were all located right before a water station, so could easily wash it all down.

Each mile was clearly marked with a clock and mile flag and the volunteers were all great. The course was easy to follow as well.

LOTS of warning signs like this to make sure people followed the correct
course for their race.

At the finish line, runners received their 15k medal (medals only for 15k, not for 5k finishers) and bottled water. Continue onto the post-race party in Grant Park at the far north side (where Petrillo Bandshell is) for your chocolate goodies. There was a tear off on your bib to get your Hot Chocolate (plastic) Blue Mug filled with chocolate fondue sauce, a cup of hot cocoa, and dippings for the sauce – marshmallow, Rice Krispy Treat, banana, pretzels, and these stick things with chocolate in the middle (fancy name I can't remember haha).

There were a lot of people hanging out at the post-race party. There was a Kids Zone with a bouncy house, a DJ, and a tent with merchandise. I was cold since I had gotten so sweaty on the run, so wanted to get into the warmth of my car and get some starbucks. I obviously drank the hot chocolate quickly before it cooled down too much and then ate the snacks on the way to the car haha.

I was so happy to conquer a new distance and gain a new PR haha. I had always wanted to do a 15k, but hadn't had the opportunity. The jacket is top notch and so is the Chicago chocolate bar medal 15k runners received at the finish. I think the expo and race were well-organized and would suggest if you're in Chicago during the Hot Chocolate Race to give it a go!

Monday, October 31, 2016

prepping for rundisney wine and dine weekend

AHHHHH! Can you believe that it's runDisney Wine and Dine THIS weekend? It seems like yesterday that I was sweating trying to get registered before it closed haha.

This is my 5th year running (and was my first runDisney race ever... the one that got me hooked on not just Disney but running half marathons in general). I've learned a few things about runDisney along the way, and here are a few reminders while you're packing up and heading out. A lot of this was sent in an email about a week ago, but it bears repeating :)

Print your race waiver(s) before leaving & put them into your luggage. You can go here if you haven't done so already.

Are you staying at a Disney resort? Did you get a Magic Band in the mail? If the answer is yes - make sure you have it in your carry on luggage with you. If you are taking the Magical Express, you'll scan your Magic Band at the airport down in the ME area.

Study the Digital Guide (they are no longer printing programs and handing them out at the expo). While I'm glad for the environment, I will miss the printed copy. I used it OFTEN on my trips, and the digital guide is a bit difficult to access/navigate on my phone. I wish they had a version that you could at least create a PDF of or print on your own at home if you wanted (like of the race times/transportation times... I like to check on these things often as I'm paranoid I have the info wrong and need to confirm).

If you are participating in Lumiere's Challenge or Coast to Coast (or Chateau), you'll want to get your photo taken with your bib at the expo. It's usually in the Field House, so just look for signs (it's usually pretty obvious where to go). They've been doing the photos instead of wristbands, so at the end of the half, go through the tent for your challenge to receive your medal (they verify times/photo/bib in the tent).

Put your After Party card in your luggage (you should have received this in the mail within the past couple of days).

runDisney has cracked down a bit on running costumes - check out the event guide for the rules to make sure your outfit will pass the test.

Sign up for runner tracking here.

Weekend Itinerary:

Thursday, November 3
10am – 7pm: runDisney Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Friday, November 4
6:30am start: Mickey's Holiday 5k at Disney's Animal Kingdom
10am – 7pm: runDisney Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Saturday, November 5
5:30am start: Wine and Dine 10k at Epcot
10am – 4pm: runDisney Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Sunday, November 5
5:30am start: Wine and Dine Half Marathon at ESPN WWoS (finish at Epcot)
10pm – 1am (Novemebr 6): Post-Race Party at Epcot! Early entry begins at 8pm

I feel those are the main points, and that any other information needed can be found in the digital event guide. Feel free to leave a question in the comments and I can try my best to answer for you :)

Can't wait to be in the Most Magical Place on Earth! I'm also super excited to eat my way around the world at Epcot Food and Wine Festival. YUM. 

Who else is going? I love meeting new runners - so please say hi if you see me! I'm going to try and stop by the We Run Social meet up at Disney Springs Saturday at 1pm.

spring marathon training: week 1

Monday, October 24: Rest/Stretch & Roll
Tuesday, October 25: 6 miles (50/30) --> Wednesday
Wednesday, October 26: Rest/Stretch & Roll
Thursday, October 27: Medium Run: 6 miles (50/30) --> Friday
Friday, October 28: Rest/Stretch & Roll
Saturday, October 29: Medium Run: 8 miles (50/30) --> 15k on Sunday
Sunday, October 30: Short Run: 4 miles (55/30) --> Saturday

Total Miles for Spring Marathon Training: 25.9 miles

While I haven't figured out what my spring marathon will be (I have a few on my radar that I'm deciding between), I didn't want to lose the work and base mileage I had from Chicago Marathon and wanted to jump back in. I took about a week off post-marathon to help my body recover, but then I was ready to get back into the game.

My schedule was a bit off from what coach sent over, but generally I got it done.

I moved Tuesday to Wednesday, hit up the treadmill at the gym (heavy rains), and did my 6 miles in 1:19:38 with an average pace of 13:16 using 50/30 intervals.

Then I moved Thursday to Friday. I had to go to the gym again, and did 6 miles in 1:19:22 with an average pace of 13:13 using 50/30 intervals. 

Saturday was another treadmill night. I got there with less than an hour until the gym closed, so really had to bust my ass to get my 4 miles in (I was pushing the '8' to Sunday because I was running the Hot Chocolate 15k). I was trying 50/30 intervals, but for the last mile I ran almost the whole thing. I made it in 50:18 with an average pace of 12:34. I had heard the gym announcements about closing in 5 minutes and really pushed myself. I didn't want to end with 3.9 or anything. I needed that 4 haha. I thought others were still up there with me, but when I finished and went to the locker, I saw it was the cleaning crew. Oops. The last gym worker was there and I apologized profusely as I tried to hurry out, but he was really kind and told me to take my time (I didn't, but nice of him to say). 

Sunday was Hot Chocolate 15k. It was my first race of that distant, so instant PR! Boom. I was up a lot of the night coughing for some strange reason, so wasn't sure how the race would go. It was a cooler, slightly rainy day, but great for running in my opinion. You can read my recap here. Garmin said 9.89 miles in 2:06:57 with an average pace of 12:50. Obviously Garmin was off a by about .5 miles as 15k = 9.32 miles, but that happens when running in the city.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

extend your energy with ucan snack bars

Disclaimer: I received the a sample pack of Generation UCAN Snack Bars to review 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!

I've never been very good with my running nutrition – before, during, or after my workouts. Part of my problem is if I wake up early, I just can't stomach eating for about 2 hours and honestly, I'm not waking up 2 hours before a run just so I can eat something. For the short runs, it's not a big deal, but I'm obviously missing out on an important step pre-run if it's a longer one. Plus, after a run, it's important to get some protein in ya. I often make a protein smoothie/shake, but I don't always have the time or I'm not home.

Generation UCAN came up with some snack bar solutions. They come in five different flavors, depending on what appeals to you. If you are interested in trying them all, they also have a combo pack with two of each bar. Flavors include: Peach Passion, Coffee Bean, Cinnamon Swirl, Chocolate, and Chocolate Peanut Butter. In my packet I received two Coffee Bean, two Chocolate, one Cinnamon Swirl, and one Peach Passion.

My favorites were Cinnamon Swirl and Coffee Bean (which is surprising since I don't always love coffee flavors and don't drink coffee straight - - just lattes or fraps). Chocolate was pretty good, but I did not enjoy Peach Passion. It smelled delightful, just like a peach, but for me it was not an appealing taste. However, some of the other Pros testing these bars had Peach Passion as their number one flavor, so it's all about your own taste buds and what you like.

So other than flavor, texture is a biggie for most. I'll admit that my first bar had me a bit taken aback. Texture can be a problem for me, and this wasn't super great. However, once I knew what it was like, the next 5 bars were fine. I got used to the texture and then got past it pretty quickly. It made it easier to eat the other bars and enjoy them. 

The first bar I tried eating during a medium run of 8 miles. This did not go so well. Part of the problem was that it was 80+ degrees out, so the chocolate melted a bit in the wrapper, sticking to it some. It was a bit hard for me to get past the texture to take more than a few bites. The first bite was way too big and it took me a while to chew. A bit exhausting when also trying to run haha.

Next time I ate a bar as a post-run snack. Cinnamon Swirl was the flavor and I loved it! I ate Coffee Bean as breakfast one morning, and that was quite tasty too. Definitely passed the texture concern – I was able to eat the bars no problem. I tried to eat Peach Passion before a race, but I just didn't love the taste enough to eat the whole thing. I put the other chocolate flavor in my purse, and one day I was running late for work and didn't eat breakfast, I was starving an hour in. So happy I had that bar in my bag so I could eat it to hold me over to lunch. I've found I enjoy the bars before a medium/long run (about 30 mins before) or as a snack during the day to curb that pesky hunger. For me, during wasn't a good option – just not something I could carry and eat easily enough during. Not to say others didn't enjoy going that route. Again, like tastebuds, it just comes down to personal preference.

Now, what is it about the Generation UCAN bars that set them apart from other bars? It's the SuperStarch. What is SuperStarch? 

"Our revolutionary SuperStarch is changing the way you energize! This natural, slow-releasing carbohydrate keeps blood sugar stable and delivers steady energy for your brain and body. Make your calories count with SuperStarch, the key ingredient in UCAN products. 

Sustaining your blood sugar is the key to maintaing your energy so you can perform your best. UCAN prevents the spike and crash of sugar-based fuels and is gentle on the stomach. No more bonking and GI distress!"

I did notice that it helped keep blood sugar levels stable and gave me a more steady stream of energy than other bars I have tried. Definitely better than snacking on chips or candy, right? I think if you expect a bit of a strange texture, you can get past it pretty quick and start to enjoy them. I had no tummy problems with these (though I'll be honest and say that I don't generally have stomach problems). 

I'd definitely recommend giving these bars a shot, and if you don't like a flavor, don't write them off. There are a few different options and you should try them all to find which one you like best. You might find you like them all and can't pick a favorite! Though I saw cinnamon swirl is my favorite, it was a close second with chocolate and coffee bean. I have to get my hands on some of the chocolate peanut butter – sound awesome. 

Get yourself some of the bars (or any of the UCAN products) saving yourself 15% with code BIBRAVE. 

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What do the other BibRave Pros think? Check out their reviews:

GinaAngie | Jessica | Mark | Brian