Thursday, February 19, 2015

mestrength review: what's in your water?

Disclaimer: I received MESTRENGTH 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'm a big fan of testing out different products to see what works best for me. Just because I found something I love/works, doesn't mean I won't try a different brand to see if it works even better. You just never know what you might find.

As always, I was very excited when I heard I would be receiving a hydration product in the mail via the BibRave Pro program - MESTRENGTH would be sending me a sample of their 5 flavors... and not just one of each, but two. Joy! We actually had our choice of flavors, but I wanted to try the whole lot, so went with the mixed sampler.

What's nice about MESTRENGTH is that it's packaged in single serving stick-packs that are easy to carry and mix with 20 ounces of water. I found I liked to toss it in a water bottle and then shake it up to mix it. I even threw a pack in my purse for when I was on the go, but wanted to rehydrate with something other than plain water (if you know me, you know I have trouble drinking enough water because I don't love the taste... I wish I was the kind of gal that drank 100 oz a day no problem, but I'm just not... I like flavor, dang it!).

I gave each flavor a try and have to say that Lemon-Lime was the winner for me. I enjoyed the other flavors, but I feel this one was a bit less tart than the others. I found the Strawberry-Kiwi, Fruit Punch, and Grape to be very tart, while Orange and Lemon-Lime were a little less so. Not to say I minded the tartness much, I just preferred the flavors that had a little less – obviously that is all about personal preference. 

I didn't notice any weird after taste, and there wasn't any strange texture to it, which is always a plus. Also, I generally am not a fan of anything that uses Stevia, I often get headaches or just don't like the taste, but I honestly didn't have any issues with it, and didn't even know it was in there until I took a glance at the ingredient list — after I already drank one... is that horrible?! My first instinct, generally, isn't to look at that, though I know I should. But hear me out – I have no expectations going in if I don't read the ingredient list... I might have gotten a phantom headache because I knew stevia was in there, but not knowing meant that the taste test was unharmed by any preconceived notions. Boom.

Anyway, here's the ingredient list (per serving): Calcium (30mg), Phosphorus (15mg), Magnesium (15mg), potassium (30mg), Creatine Monohydrate (5g), Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Vegetable and Fruit Juice (for color), and Stevia (a calorie free plant based sweetener).

Due to a crazy work day, MESTRENGTH Lemon-Lime and
a ClIF BAR was my lunch.

It is recommended that you drink MESTRENGTH 30–60 minutes prior to your activity, because it will prepare your body for the work ahead. Or, you can drink it afterwards to help you replenish electrolytes you lost through sweat and provide your muscles with creatine to reduce muscle soreness the next day. Or, even better, drink it before AND after ;)

I did notice that after some longer runs, muscle recovery seemed to be better than normal. However I didn't notice much difference from the shorter runs – this is probably because my muscles aren't working as hard/long, so generally I don't feel sore post maintenance runs. I really wish I had received this product prior to completing my first marathon – I feel that it would have been a better time to test the product out, as I think I would have been able to notice the recovery aspect better (my long runs these days aren't nearly as long as they were training for the Dopey Challenge, nor as frequent). If I get in to the Chicago Marathon, I'll continue to test out MESTRENGTH to see how it helps with the long long runs.

As I become a more seasoned runner, I'm learning the importance of recovery. When I was first starting half marathons, I knew nothing. While my recovery wasn't horrible, it's not nearly as easy as it is now (and when I say easy, I just mean I treat my body with more respect post-run... recovery can still mean some aches and pains... like in my shins). I love my compression sleeves, chocolate milk, and know that hydration is a key factor in smart recovery. I've found that I love Nuun (especially during my runs or just to spruce up my water during the day), Hoist after a long run (or after a night of drinking one too many), and am now also a big fan of MESTRENGTH

Fruit Punch in my Shamrock Shuffle 8k pint glass post-run.

Now let's get down to what makes MESTRENGTH different from the other hydration products out there (from the website):
• Contains electrolytes for optimum hydration
• Pre-workout for maximum performance
• Post-workout for rapid recovery
• Five all-natural flavors
• Zero calories, zero carbs, and zero sugars
• Vegan and Vegetarian (no animal derived products)
• Gluten free
• No caffeine or stimulants
• Balanced blend of 5 electrolytes (most sports drinks focus on 2)
• Just enough creatine to support lean muscles (muscles need creatine, your body produces it, and it's one of the most widely studied nutritional supplements on the market. By Adding just 5 grams creatine, MESTRENGTH helps you to maximize each workout and minimize muscle soreness, without producing the muscle 'bulk' typically associated with creatine). 

Chart comparing MESTRENGTH to other sport drinks.

If you are more conscious of what you put in your body than I am, a bit more explanation to the all-natural product description:
The non-supplement portion is all-natural. The 'non-supplement portion' = although creatine is naturally produced by the human body, creatine-monohydrate is still considered synthetic. All of the other ingredients are all-nautral and no artificial sweeteners or artificial food coloring is used.

Have you ever tried MESTRENGTH  If not, here's a great reason to give it a try – 25% off until February 28. Head on over to Amazon and enter code 'BIBRVE25' at checkout. You have options of 10, 20, or 30 sticks, plus all one flavor or go for the mixed pack if you want to try them all. Have Amazon Prime? That means free 2-day shipping!

Do you already love MESTRENGTH? Great – you can use the discount code too. You can thank me later ;)

It's a great way to enhance your water (something I love to do, since plain water just doesn't do it for me). No need to mix up your routine... drink it whenever you drank water or other sports drink and try swapping that out for MESTRENGTH.

Have questions about MESTRENGTH? Check out their FAQ here. Or if it's something short, ask away on Twitter.

I will say, that as a company, I love them. The CEO, Sam, was very helpful and responsive as far as being in contact with me since the pair up. Also, whoever is in charge of the their Twitter and Instagram account is very active, always responding to my tweets or photos, which I appreciate a lot. It shows they actually care and like to be active within the community. Plus, I don't know if you noticed, but their address is in Chicago ;)

Connect with MESTRENGTH:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

What other BibRave Pros are saying:
Jess | Angie | Tom | Amy | Sarah

Monday, February 16, 2015

princess half marathon weekend: preparation, part 2

Ahhh! Can you believe Princess Half Marathon Weekend is THIS weekend?! As you prepare for your trip, I thought it might be helpful to provide a check list for items to pack for your run-cation. The weather for the 5k is looking like it might be a bit chilly (at least while standing around waiting to begin... and depending on how you are, the 10k and half might also be cold for you), so think about packing some layers, throw away clothes, or wearing a jacket that you can put in your gEAR check bag. I'm doing the 5k and the Glass Slipper Challenge, so I need to pack enough clothes and gear for 3 races.

Race Gear
• shorts, capris, and or leggings (whatever your preference for the weather) - I myself will be packing 1 pair of leggings, 2 capris and 2 shorts (in case of weather changes)
• tech shirts - both long sleeve and short sleeve for layering purposes
• sports bra x3
• Feetures socks x3
• winter running hat & gloves (I have a Brooks hat and Saucony gloves I like)
• arm warmers
• sunglasses
• 2 pairs of running shoes
• KT Tape Pro
• road ID bracelet
• Garmin + charger
• Fitbit + charger
• Sparkly Soul headbands
• Sparkle Athletic skirts
• Oiselle rundies x3
• bandaids
• BodyGlide
• bobbypins
• extra hair ties
• visor
• extra contacts
• RunGoo
• Zensah Compression Sleeves
• Nuun + water bottle (for hydrating throughout the day)
• Fuel Belt
• inhaler
• Yurbuds
• kleenex
• chapstick
• Tylenol
• ENERGYbits
• Deodorant
• Bib Number belt or Race Dots
• Handheld hydration or a hydration pack (runDisney provides plenty of water and Powerade at the races, but some runners like to carry their own – maybe they prefer different hydration drink like Nuun or MESTRENGTH, or just want to be able to drink whenever they want)
• external battery charger – I don't know about you, but my phone dies very quickly these days, so definitely need a charger for at least the half marathon
• Throw away gear, mylar blanket, garbage bag – whatever you want to bring to keep you warm before the race (I'll probably just wear a jacket and tie it around my waist once I warm up)
• Hand sanitizer
• Fuel – I use Clif Shot Bloks, so I'll bring 2 packs (one for the 10k and another for the half... most people don't need them for the 10k, but I can't eat breakfast, so in combination with ENERGYbits and the shot bloks, it helps me stay energized)

Anything you need that I don't have on my list? I'm in the camp of wanting to bring everything so I am prepared for whatever comes my way. Others are more minimalist – which are you?

Friday, February 13, 2015

friday five: love

It's Friday, and I'm so happy because I have a day filled with catching up on errands and taking care of some stuff I didn't have time for during the week.

Valentine's Day is tomorrow – do you celebrate at all? I've never been one to care much for the holiday, though I tend to request special foods like heart shaped pizza from Lou Malnati's or heart shaped donuts from Dunkin Donuts. Food just seems to taste better when it's in the shape of a heart ;)

Last year, DD was out of the heart shaped donuts at 8am on Valentine's Day, so this year my husband surprised me with them this morning. He's so smart going a day early and he must really love me :)

I am linking up with the ladies of DC for the weekly Friday Five post – Mar on the Run, Eat Pray Run DC, and You Signed Up For What?!. This week's theme is 'Love'. So I am going to give you 5 random things I'm loving at this point in time.

1. My Nike Lunarglide 6s.

2. Beck's album 'Morning Phase'. It's pretty awesome, and I love how mellow it is. Great for listening to while I'm working.

3. Homemade Vanilla Chai (loosely based off the Dunkin Donuts version). I found the recipe online, and have been loving it. I'm currently lacking two ingredients in my mix, because they were quite expensive at Jewel. Tastes pretty good without them, so I'm ok with it. I've been using my husband's milk frother to make it extra delicious.

4. The Light Between Oceans - currently reading and thoroughly enjoying. It has a book to video sticker on it (I borrow books from the library)... is it already a movie, or currently in production? Haven't heard anything about it.

5. runDisney Princess Half Marathon gear sneak peak! I have no idea how I'm going to decide what to purchase... it's gonna be a tough one. I definitely need the jacket that says Have you seen my glass slipper, the wine glass, and the 'I Did It' shirts. What do you think of the gear? Any must-haves on your list (if you are going)?

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, and a beautiful Valentine's Day, whether you celebrate it with someone you love, or home alone with a glass of wine (which will probably be me haha).

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

princess half marathon weekend: preparation, part 1

With Princess Half Marathon Weekend rapidly approaching, it's time to make sure you have everything you need. Here's a breakdown of some things you want to look at and what you want to print before leaving for your trip. Are you as excited as I am that it's next week?!

Event Guide
It's helpful to take a look at this ahead of time – you can start planning what vendors you want to visit at the expo, get an idea of the layout so you know where to go and when, and start thinking ahead about your schedule. I like to have an idea of everything before I leave, it puts my anxiety at a more manageable level. 

You'll want to print your waivers ahead of time, so you can pop right on in to the expo and grab your packets.

Now's a great time to look at the course to get an idea of where you'll be running, where the Aid Stations are, etc.

Corral Assignments
After your print your waiver (for Glass Slipper and Half Marathon participants), you can find what corral you are in based off of your bib number. Make sure to fill out the emergency medical information on the back of your bib before race day. 

I'll be in L for the Glass Slipper Challenge, so if you're in the same corral let's try and meet up :) Generally, before the race, I meet up with other pals to hang out before we have to enter the corrals.

Weekend Schedule

Packet Pick-Up
Location: Jostens® Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

All runners are required to attend the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo for race number and packet pick-up. You will need to download your personalized race number pick-up card/waiver form online and bring it with you to Packet Pick-Up at the Expo.  

Also take note - if you are participating in the Glass Slipper Challenge, you'll need to take your photo with your bib. If it's set up like it was at Marathon Weekend, after you get your packet, on your way out, they'll have workers/volunteers telling you where you need to go.

runDisney Health and Fitness Expo
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex 
10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 19, 2015
9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 20, 2015 
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 21, 2015

Disney Princess 5K presented by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
6:15 a.m. on Friday, February 20, 2015

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Breakfast
6:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. on Friday, February 20, 2015 
6:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 21, 2015

Princess Breakfast Pricing includes
Breakfast Buffet
Disney character meet & greets
Opportunities for photos and autographs with Disney Characters

runDisney Kids Races
Friday, February 20 – Saturday, February 21, 2015
1 Mile Run - 8:45 a.m.
Dashes - 9:15 a.m.

Pasta in the Park Party
World Showplace Pavilion Epcot®
Friday, February 20, 2015 
Saturday, February 21, 2015
6:00 to 8:30 p.m. Buffet Dinner
9:00 p.m. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Disney Enchanted 10K presented by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
5:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 21, 2015

Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
5:30 a.m. on Sunday, February 22, 2015
Dates and times are subject to change.

Race Retreat
Family Reunion Area at Epcot® Wonder Lot

3:00 – 5:00 a.m. (runners only)

Happily Ever After Party at Downtown Disney®
Downtown Disney®
4:00 – 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 22, 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015

week in review: february 2–8

Well, it was another lazy week as far as working out went. However, it was a productive week at the house and a very busy few days at work, which meant some later nights (and later morning than expected thanks to train delays).

I finally have my training plan in the calendar for my goal half marathon in early May, so that's really exciting. I'm the kind of person that has to be following a plan, otherwise, I get into the habit of not doing anything. 

Other than that, I was able to spend some quality time with my husband out to dinner/drinks and watching Breaking Bad (we just started and are hooked!). Saturday night we met up with some friends for drinks, and then Sunday night we went out with my parent-in-laws to a dinner up north at L. Woods - I had a delicious parmesan crusted steak. Yum yum yum. 

Things to look forward to this week (or that have happened already):

• I've been testing out MESTRENGTH flavors and there'll be a review on the blog later in the week. You can get a 25% discount if you go to Amazon and use code 'BIBRVE25' when you check out.  

• I, along with some of my fellow Bib Rave Pros, have been working on videos for a new website/project that Addaday unveiled today - check it out! They'll be featuring a new video each week. I've seen most of my friends' videos, and they are pretty awesome. I'm still working on my skills, but get better as I go ;)

• runDisney has unveiled the design for the Dooney & Bourke purses for Princess Half Marathon Weekend. What do you think? Anyone know how they will be going about selling them? They didn't do a pre-sale like they did for Marathon Weekend, as far as I know.

• BibRave is doing a fun little thing for Valentine's Week - they are posting some photos for you to share and tag your BRF(s) (Best Running Friend(s)). Check out their twitter account, or grab the photos here. Make sure to use the correct hashtags as well (#BibChat #BRFVDay).

How was your week? What are you training for, currently, if anything?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

february 2015 goals

Hi guys! You may have noticed that I haven't been doing my 'Weekly Chase' goal blog posts. I was finding that my goals were pretty much the same each week, and I started to ignore  them a bit, so wanted to give myself a break so that I would be excited for when I started making goals again.

Obviously, completing the Dopey Challenge had been my main goal for a while, so that was always on my mind. Now that that is over, and a new month has arrived, I decided to make some new goals for the month of February.

1. Get back to hydrating DAILY. My goal for the month is to drink 48 oz (6 cups) of water a day. Since I'm not super into water on it's own, I'll mix it up between drinking regular filtered water and mixing it with flavored things like Nuun and MESTRENGTH (especially these when running). I'll use My Fitness Pal to keep track of my water intake.

2. Run at least 50 miles.

3. Create a training plan for my May 3 half marathon.

4. Read 2 books.

5. Stay consistent with my blog posts. I'm not always very timely on my blog posts. I'd like to get to the point where I am writing my posts the night prior to their schedule posting, so that it can automatically post at a certain time (so every Friday, write my post Thursday night and schedule for posting at 10am every week). 

6. Catch up on at least 5 race recaps. I am horrible at writing timely recaps from my races. I still have ones from last JULY that I haven't written. It's horrible. I write up the reviews on BibRave, so I don't know why I procrastinate so much on the blog recaps. For some reason, in my mind, I make it seem like a really tough, time-consuming task, when in reality, it's not that bad.

7. Take character photos during Princess Half Marathon Weekend! I am doing the 5k and the Glass Slipper Challenge (10k and half marathon). The first few times I did runDisney, I was on the slower end and didn't stop for any photos in fear of getting swept. Now that I'm a little faster, and less scared of being swept, I want to enjoy the race more and get a bit more for my money, which means stopping for photos. 

8. Try out some classes at the gym. They have a few interesting ones - Pilates Mat, Hatha Yoga, Pilates Barre, Cyclone Cycle (spin class). It's time I give some of these a shot to see if I like them enough to add to my routines.

9. Run at least 3x a week and Cross Train at least 2x a week.

Hopefully I didn't overload myself on goals... I was shooting for 5, but kept coming up with others I want to accomplish as well. Hopefully I get out of my winter doldrums and get back into a routine.

Do you have any goals for this month?