Tuesday, April 18, 2017

illinois marathon race week

I can't believe that the big day is almost here. It seems so long ago that I chose my spring marathon and registered, and now suddenly, it's days away. You may or may not have noticed that I, as usual, fell off on my training recaps. I was doing going for the first few weeks, up till November, and then it went downhill. December was a a trip to Mexico, and then I was sick for basically the entire month and I did very little running. January came longer mileage, and suddenly here we are, at the middle of April. Anyway, all of my training runs were recapped on Instagram, so I don't feel too bad about not writing blog posts about it just repeating myself haha.

Overall, I am very happy with this training cycle, and I think if all goes well, I'll be getting a new PR on Saturday. My main goal is 6:10, but I would be so ecstatic if I could hit a 6 hour finish time (which is sort of the pacing requirement, but they say the finish line will stay open for 7 hour finisher, you'll just need to follow pedestrian laws as I think the streets open back up). I just finished my last training run and I'm feeling good.

I of course started looking at race weekend weather about a week ago. Yes, I know everything can change by the time the race appears, but I like to have a general sense of what we might get. And even a week later, it's still saying rain. Oh well - if it's warm that might feel good. I'm just hoping for light rain and not downpours, because squishy shoes are annoying haha. Also, it's calling for 20–30mph winds, so I might change my race goals a little. If I'm pushing against winds I think 6:10 will be what I'm chasing. Whatever comes, I'll make the best of it. Weather cannot be controlled, but my mindset and how I choose to deal with the hand we are dealt on race day can be. And I'll choose to be positive and happy. I did the training, now I just need to run the race. 

Here's some information you might find useful come race day.

Official Race Guide:
Basically, you'll find anything and everything you need to know in this guide.

Thursday, April 20, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday, April 21, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

The expo will take place at the University of Illinois Activities and Recreation Center (ARC - 201 East Peabody Drive, Champaign, IL 61820) and feature national and local vendors, as well as national organizations and prominent running events. Most importantly, the expo is where you pick up your packet (race number, goody bag, and race shirt). Parking for the expo is at the State Farm Center, bordered by Kirby, First, and Fourth.

I received an email with my unique QR code today. If you haven't received yours yet, just keep an eye on your email (and check that Junk Mail folder). You'll grab your race number in Gym 2; you'll grab your race shirt and goody bag in Gym 1.

Guest Speakers:

Pasta Feed:
The awesome Biaggi’s Pasta Feed will be held on Friday, April 21, in Gym 3 at the Activities and Recreations Center (ARC) on the U of I campus. The pasta feed will run from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Come any time during that window to enjoy your meal.

Purchase a Pasta Feed ticket here.

  • House Salad
  • Bread
  • Choice of Meat Lasagna or Penne Marinara*
  • Iced Tea / Lemonade
  • White Chocolate Bread Pudding or Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

$16 for adults, $7 for kids. (Note: The pre-race pasta feed is not included in your race entry fee.)

*If you need gluten-free pasta: Send Jan Seeley (jan@illinoismarathon.com) a note to reserve a gluten-free meal.

You can pick up pre-purchased tickets in the lobby of the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), where the expo is located. Additional tickets will be available for sale in the same location on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pasta feed speaker 
We are thrilled to welcome Marathon champion Dick Beardsley as our 2017 guest legend. Dick will give a brief talk at the pasta feed at 6 pm on Friday, April 21. Learn about Dick’s visit here.

Track your favorite runner(s): http://illinoismarathon.com/logistics/tracking/

Course Maps
All the maps you need for race weekend can be found here: http://illinoismarathon.com/course-info/

We will have free parking for runners and spectators. See the map.

Hydration Stations/Gu & Snack Stations
There are 16 hydration stations on the course. Hydration stations will be stocked with water (all stations), Lemon-Lime Gatorade (most stations), and GU (at mile 6.7, which is shortly after marathon relay exchange zone A; mile 13; mile 17; and mile 21). Each GU station will have the following flavors of GU: vanilla bean, strawberry banana, and chocolate outrage. All flavors of GU have caffeine except strawberry banana.

Fruits on the course
There is also an official oranges stop (thank you, Meijer, for the oranges) at approximately mile 6, hosted by The Atkins Group. There is also an official oranges and banana stop at mile 21.5 (thank you, County Market and Meijer).

Relax. There will be plenty of portable toilets at the start and even more along the entire course than in 2016. Course Porta-potties location/quantity map

You will not be able to run more than a couple of miles without being entertained by musicians, cheerleaders, or other performers. Check the entertainment page for more information as it develops.

Race Photography
Our official race photographer is MarathonFoto, the leader in sports photography around the world. Photos will be available for purchase shortly after the completion of your race.

ARC Day Pass
You can buy a day pass for ARC ahead of time online, or at the ARC lobby during expo hours. This pass gets you a locker and access to the facilities – pool, showers, weights – for $6. I'm very tempted to get one of these so I can shower before driving back to Chicago. The thought of being in the car two hours after running a marathon without a shower makes me feel gross haha.

Honestly, all of the information you need to know can be found on the website and race guide, but I thought it might be helpful to go over the main pieces you might want to know about. I am very impressed with how much info is provided online – not all races are as organized and communicate as well. Not to mention the emails keeping us up to date.

Who else is running a race that weekend? You'll find me at the expo Friday, the pasta feed around 5, the 5k Friday evening, and the marathon Saturday! I'll probably be in BibRave orange everywhere I go, and with my pal Angie at all times (except for racing, because she's faster) ;) 

Friday, April 14, 2017

peace of mind: wrist id elite review

Disclaimer: I received the Road ID Wrist ID Elite 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!

All the bright colors! Clearly I enjoy neon orange and lime,

No one likes to think about bad things happening when we are out running, but the reality is, there's a lot that can go wrong. We won't go into the depressing details (and how unfortunate and frequent they are), but we all need to do as much as we possibly can to stay safe on our runs. And for those time where we can't speak for ourselves in a medical emergency, your Road ID can speak for you. 

The top left and bottom left photos show the inner clasp closed and opened.

I've loved Road ID for quite some time now. I honestly don't remember how I first came across their products, but I purchased pretty much immediately. They have a variety of different IDs, including shoes, slim bands, neck, etc. I was able to order/customize the Wrist ID Elite.

I went with the Black edition badge (other options are classic or rugged) and the  lime badge. I love bright colors, and thought that black would look cool on neon (which I still think now that I've gotten it). The band color was tough - lots of fun choices including: black, grey, blue, lime, red, and purple. The Black Collection colors: black grey, black blue, black lime (almost went with this one), black red, or black purple. Or Leather: black or brown.

And then you can choose some badges to add on to your band. I bought the 26.2 and 'Shut Up Legs' black badges to match my black name badge (note, I paid for my badges on my own). They have a ton of options for badges including black editions, distances, sports, etc. You can also customize a badge (limited to 15 characters). You can order other band colors for $4.99, an elite clasp for $8.99 (if you don't want to swap the clasp you already have), or the elite clasp black for $13.99. There are 100 badge images available for $4.99, or you can do your custom for $5.99 (regular or black edition).

Always part of my race gear! In addition to filling out the back of my bib,
I also write on there 'see Road ID on left wrist'.

Once you have your strap and badge options chosen, you fill out the information you want on your band. For the Wrist ID Elite, you have 6 lines available. Typically, you'd put your first and last name on the top row (perhaps adding your birth year as well since it's helpful to first responders to know your age), second line can be your city, state, country, and then you can have four emergency contacts, or maybe you only want two or there, in which case you can add some of your favorite short quotes or inspirational lines (never give up), and add any medical information (such as asthma, allergic to bees, or whatever).

OR you have another option. Go with an interactive ID (which I did), and you have 4 lines to personalize and then the last two lines are for 24/7/265 emergency response support info (FOR ID INFORMATION and then there's a phone number and website. On the back of your ID is your serial number.). Included is a 6 month membership, and during the customization period, you can extend your membership to a year for $9.99, 2 additional years for $18.49, 5 additional years for $44.99, or 10 additional years for $87.49.

Featured in my post-race Chi Town Half Marathon photo.

Use the checkbox towards the end for free text proofing (recommended). I always like someone else to proof read, so I checked that. When you receive your interactive ID in the mail, you'll want to go to the website on the packaging to set up your profile – you can fill out everything or just some, but it includes Doctor information, emergency contacts, health information, insurance information, as so much more. It's nice to know that if I'm at the hospital and can't speak for myself, they can get all the information they need just off using my ID and either calling the Road ID response team or going to the website to get everything needed. 

Arm candy on point.

Once your Road ID Wrist ID Elite arrives, you'll need to cut the band to fit your wrist (and specifically, where on your wrist you'll be wearing it). I left mine much larger than my actual wrist, because I'd be wearing it on the inside of my watch, and therefore a larger part of my arm. I measured it out twice, checking which number I should cut at each time (and maybe even a third time), and then made the cut. Having the numbers on the back, along with slits, made it easy. If you are unsure, start out a little big, and then cut one at a time until you are at your desired size. Measure twice, cut once!

Once it is to your desired size, put all of your badges on, then you'll slide the end that isn't connected to the clasp into the clasp. Line it up so that you bend down the clip into a slit so it's secure. Boom. All done. It may seem more complicated than it really is. They have a video you can watch too, if you are confused. 

There are those bright colors again.

I seriously recommend that EVERYONE have a Road ID. Cyclists, runners, walkers, hikers... anyone that spends time outside. I even wore mine for Lollapalooza in case something were to happen. One year I was having a sinus infection (before I knew what all the symptoms were for me), and I felt lightheaded and dizzy, and so knowing that was on me if I needed medical attention made me feel better. It calms the anxiety a little bit. They aren't that expensive, and if you read any of the stories on their website, can see that the small price tag can save lives. So just do it. 

If you need more incentive (but seriously, do you?!) - here's a $5 gift card to use on your next purchase. You'll fill out the quick form, receive your code in an email, and it is valid for 2 weeks. Enjoy the options! 

PS They just came out with badges for Garmin watches! I might be investing in one for my Fenix 3 ;) Also, can we just say, how beautiful the rose gold badge is for the Slim2? It also has some cute limited edition color bands. I need them all haha. A girl needs to accessorize, right?

Connect with Road ID:

What other Pros had to say:

Sunday, April 2, 2017

premium nutrition for the endurance athlete: a beachbody performance review

Disclaimer: I received Beachbody Performance products 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 always on the hunt for decent products that'll help keep me hydrated during my run, as well as helping my muscles recover afterwards. Beachbody Performance has a whole line of products to help with just this, so I was excited to try it out (and in the midst of HEAVY marathon training). Originally we thought we were just getting the Hydrate and the Recover formulas, but Beachbody was nice enough to send me four of their five products: Energize (Lemon), Hydrate (citrus), Recover (chocolate), and Recharge (vanilla) (The Advanced Performance Stack). They also sent a blender bottle. If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen lots of stories and posts from me sharing the Beachbody love.

Hydrate - Citrus.

I was honestly impressed with all of these products. I am VERY picky on texture, so a lot of protein powders are crossed off my list because they have a texture that doesn't gel with my picky nature. Beachbody Performance did not have a bad texture at all, which was a relief. I was afraid I'd opt in for this product and then hate how it tasted/felt. All flavors were great and meshed well with my preferences. Phew.

Let's go in order of how you should be drinking these products and why.

Energize is a pre-workout drink. "Blast through your toughest challenges with a surge of energy. Before you get active, take Energize to help sharpen focus, push harder, and last longer." About 30 minutes before my run (I used this most often during the weekdays, when I run after work and am feeling tired) I would mix one scoop of Energize with 8oz of water, drink, and then go for my run. I could feel an energy boost, which was greatly needed after a long day or working/commuting. It was a nice, tart, lemonade-like flavor. Easy to drink, goes down well, and sits well in the stomach.

Info from the website on Energize:
Energize pre-workout product is formulated with key ingredients that are scientifically shown to help give you energy without jittery side effects. Take it before workouts to help:*

  • Boost energy and endurance
  • Improve intense exercise performance
  • Sharpen focus and reaction time
  • Increase muscle power output
  • Delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue
  • Energize ingredients and nutrition information


What are the key ingredients in Energize?*
  • Beta-alanine: This amino acid helps reduce lactic acid buildup in your muscles, which helps to delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue so you can push harder and last longer. Numerous scientific studies show that beta-alanine is especially effective at helping to improve performance during intense exercise.
  • Low-dose caffeine (from green tea and coffee bean extract): Low-dose caffeine has been shown to be ergogenic (which means it helps enhance performance). It also helps improve reaction time and focus, and reduce exercise-induced muscle fatigue. From recreational exercisers to elite athletes, studies show that it can give you both a mental and physical boost.
  • Quercetin: This powerful performance-enhancing phytonutrient gets a lot of attention in leading exercise physiology-nutrition laboratories because it can help improve endurance and delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue to help you get through your workouts and give you a competitive edge.

Why is Energize better than other energy products?*
  • You get a safe boost of energy (without jittery side effects).
  • It's a powerful combination of ergogenic (performance-enhancing) ingredients and phytonutrients that are scientifically shown to help improve exercise performance, sharpen focus, and delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue.
  • It contains functional ingredients that have been scientifically shown to work. Other products include gimmicky ingredients with no evidence that they work.
  • Key ingredients are included at their clinically established effective serving levels.
  • No artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives. 
The cost of Energize is $49.95 for 40 servings. 

Next up was the Hydrate. I drank this during my runs. It was also citrus flavored, though I'd say it was a bit lighter tasting than the Energize. This also sat well in my stomach – no issues with feeling sloshy stomach, upset stomach, and the I liked the taste (not too sweet, like some other electrolyte drinks out there). I sweat a TON when I run – even the short ones, so I definitely need electrolytes to help hydrate and replenish what I'm losing in that sweat. Beachbody Performance Hydrate kept me feeling good all the way through.

The whole line up – Energize, Hydrate, Recover, Recharge.

"Boost hydration during your training sessions for peak performance. Typical sports drinks have too much sugar and artificial ingredients that can actually dehydrate you. And water alone doesn't effectively hydrate during exercise or replace what you lose through sweat. Hydrate is specially formulated for all-out performance with an optimal balance of carbohydrates and electrolytes that quickly replaces what's lost and improves endurance, so you can stay hydrated when you need it most.*"

More info from the website:
The ingredients in Hydrate During-Workout Formula are scientifically shown to help:*
  • Support hydration during exercise
  • Replace electrolytes lost during exercise
  • Improve exercise performance
  • Improve endurance
  • Increase fluid absorption during exercise
  • Hydrate ingredients and nutrition information
What are the key ingredients in Hydrate?*
  • Hydration Blend: A balanced combination of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium helps maintain the body's ideal fluid balance and replace key electrolytes to help you last longer and feel better, even through the toughest workout.
  • Quercetin: This powerful performance-enhancing phytonutrient gets a lot of attention in leading exercise physiology-nutrition laboratories because it can help improve endurance and delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue to help you get through your workouts and give you a competitive edge.
  • Low-dose carbohydrates (from natural sugars): The carbohydrates in Hydrate are precisely dosed to ensure an optimal osmolality for rapid hydration to help improve performance and help delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue, without overloading the body with sugar that can actually dehydrate you.
Why is Hydrate better than other hydration products?*
  • It's the ideal ratio of carbohydrates and electrolytes that, when combined with a specific amount of water, creates the optimal osmolality for rapid fluid absorption during exercise. Osmolality refers to the ratio of solute dissolved in solution. Typical sports drinks contain too much sugar, which raises the osmolality and makes them slower and harder to digest. They can cause gastrointestinal distress, and can even be dehydrating, which is the opposite effect you want during exercise.
  • Hydrate solution is slightly lower than the osmolality of your blood, which means your body can absorb it better, easier, and faster—for the most effective hydration possible.
  • More fluid absorption means better blood circulation to muscles and skin, which helps boost exercise performance, improve endurance, and delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue.
  • Hydrate helps maintain the body's water balance and replace important electrolytes that are lost through sweat.
  • When you're properly hydrated, you'll feel better, recover faster, and have more stamina.
  • No artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives.

The cost of Hydrate is 34.95 for 40 servings.

And for after your workouts we have Recover. I got the chocolate flavor and it was delightful. Instructions said to mix with water, but I've never been a fan of water + protein powder, so I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I always use the Nutribullet to mix protein powders, so no exception here. It mixed well, and was quick and easy to make/drink immediately after my runs. Again – no weird texture happening so I could drink it happily with no issues. I made sure to drink it within 30 minutes of finishing my runs to have the best impact.

Loved the Chocolate Recover! So tasty and goes down easy after a long run,
when I usually have trouble eating anything.

Info from the website:
Help combat exercise-induced muscle soreness and jump-start recovery so you can hit each training session just as hard. Recover takes advantage of the critical post-training window with the ideal combination of time-released proteins and phytonutrients to help facilitate muscle recovery and reduce muscle breakdown. Take Recover after every training session to help combat exercise-induced muscle soreness, speed muscle recovery, and restore your strength.* (Also available in Orange)

The ingredients in Recover Post-Workout Formula are scientifically shown to help:*
  • Speed muscle recovery
  • Combat exercise-induced muscle soreness
  • Reduce muscle breakdown
  • Promote lean-muscle growth
  • Improve adaptation to exercise
  • Improve muscle strength recovery
  • Support muscle glycogen recovery
What are the key ingredients in Recover?*
  • Pomegranate extract: This powerful ellagitannin-rich extract is scientifically shown to promote faster muscle recovery while helping to manage exercise-induced muscle soreness. It's a natural recovery-enhancing ingredient that helps muscles return to normal strength faster, especially after intense workouts.
  • 20 grams of high-quality protein: Fast-, intermediate-, and slow-release proteins ensure a constant supply of nutrients to create the optimal environment to improve muscle recovery and promote muscle growth.
  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): Recover also includes an ideal 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, branched-chain amino acids that are unique for their ability to help promote muscle synthesis and support rebuilding.
Why is Recover better than other post-workout products?*
  • Way more effective than a simple protein powder, Recover uses key ingredients scientifically shown to help accelerate muscle recovery, reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness, and improve strength recovery. It provides your muscles with a rapid and sustained supply of nutrients when your workout is over, to boost your recovery to get you ready to crush your next workout.
  • Key phytonutrients help muscle recovery, reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness, and speed up the return of normal muscle function.
  • Recover contains functional ingredients that have been scientifically shown to work. Other products include gimmicky ingredients at insignificant levels with no evidence that they work.
  • Key ingredients are included at their clinically established effective dosage levels.
  • No artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives.
The cost of Recover is $69.95 for 20 servings. 

And finally we have Recharge. "Support your body's recovery overnight with Recharge. It's specially formulated to help accelerate overnight recovery, combat exercise-induced muscle soreness, and promote muscle growth when your body is primed to accept it—while you sleep! Slow-release protein, amino acids, and powerful phytonutrients help reduce muscle breakdown, promote lean-muscle synthesis, and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).*" 

Recharge - help those muscles recover overnight. Also very tasty.

I would make a Recharge smoothie for myself each night within an hour of going to bed. This instructions say to mix with water, but like with the Recover it's just not my thing. I mixed it in the Nutribullet with... you guessed it – unsweetened vanilla almond milk. One night I grabbed the wrong container and mixed sweetened vanilla almond milk. It was still quite tasty, but definitely a lot of vanilla flavor happening haha.

The ingredients in Recharge Nighttime Recovery Formula are scientifically shown to help:*
  • Support overnight muscle recovery
  • Combat exercise-induced muscle soreness
  • Reduce muscle breakdown
  • Promote lean-muscle synthesis
  • Improve adaptation to exercise
What are the key ingredients in Recharge?*
  • Tart cherry: The powerful tart cherry powder in Recharge delivers anthocyanins shown to help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness and improve recovery after intense exercise, both for endurance and resistance training. Anthocyanins are phytonutrients that are being investigated as potent recovery aids in athletic recovery situations.
  • 20 grams of slow-release micellar casein: This slow-release protein is shown to support overnight recovery by promoting muscle growth and helping reduce muscle breakdown. It provides sustained muscle recovery support and maintenance for hardworking muscles.
  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): Recharge includes an ideal 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, branched-chain amino acids that are unique for their ability to help promote muscle synthesis and support rebuilding.
Why is Recharge better than other recovery products?*
  • It targets your recovery while you sleep with ingredients scientifically shown to help support overnight muscle recovery and phytonutrients to help combat exercise-induced muscle soreness.
  • Recharge contains functional ingredients that have been scientifically shown to work. Other products include gimmicky ingredients with no evidence that they work.
  • Key ingredients are included at their clinically established effective serving levels.
  • No artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives.
The price for Recharge is $69.96 for 20 servings.

I could honestly feel a HUGE difference when I woke up, especially after long run weekends. I would make sure to drink the Recover 30 minutes within finishing my run and then the Recharge within an hour before bed. I would go to bed with sore muscles, and woke up feeling better than I have in the past before I began this routine. The miles have really been amping up, too, with being in the heart of marathon training (coming up on April 22 - what?!), so making sure my muscles are getting the proper fuel they need to recover from the long runs in super important. Did I mention I have a half marathon the day after my marathon? So, getting those smoothies in after the marathon to help me the next day will be huge. I know the cost might turn some off, thinking it's too high, but Beachbody Performance products are quality products and you'll notice a difference. 

Not convinced? They have a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee: 

Still not sure if you want that extra energy, focus, and endurance? Try Energize for 30 days. If you don't feel better, perform better, and see the results you want, simply send it back within 30 days for a full refund of the purchase price (less s&h). No risk, all reward. Guaranteed.

Still not sure if you want more power and strength? Try Recover for 30 days. If you don't notice better high-intensity performance and improved resistance training, simply send it back within 30 days for a full refund of the purchase price (less s&h). No risk, all reward. Guaranteed.

Still not sure if you want help to support overnight recovery? Try Recharge for 30 days. If you don't recover faster, reduce your exercise-induced muscle soreness, and see the results you want, simply send it back within 30 days for a full refund of the purchase price (less s&h). No risk, all reward. Guaranteed.

Another great thing about Beachbody Performance products is that they are NSF Certified. What does that mean? Read on:

As an independent, accredited organization, NSF International tests and certifies products. The NSF Certified for Sport® marking assures your Beachbody Performance products have been thoroughly tested for quality.

What does this mean to you?
This means you can be confident that Beachbody Performance supplements have been rigorously tested to meet NSF's strict banned substance standards when taken at the recommended serving size. Beachbody went through this rigorous certification process to meet the growing demand of athletes, coaches and all those concerned about banned substances in professional and amateur sports.

Connect with Beachbody:

Read what the other Pros had to say:

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

quick, healthy meals: luvo review

Disclaimer: I received Luvo 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!

Mac and Cheese! Yum.

One of my biggest problems is eating healthy and feeling full. Marathon training usually means I'm hungry NON STOP! I want to eat all day, and sometimes (often) my cravings are for something that's not good for me (cheetoh puffs, fast food). Life is sometimes quite busy, too, which makes stopping for fast food a quick and easy option. Luckily, there is Luvo, a quick and healthy option for people needing something to eat without the time to cook. 

Luvo sent us coupons which we redeemed at the store.

You can find Luvo at most local grocery stores. Around me, both Jewel-Osco and Mariano's carries them. Jewel surprisingly had more options to choose from. I'm an extremely picky eater, and to be honest with you, I'm not into veggies. There's a few I enjoy, but mostly, they just aren't my thing. I'd much prefer to be eating fruits. I can eat veggies when they are, we'll say, 'snuck' into the meal. By that I mean the flavor isn't too strong and I barely notice them haha. I have a weak pallet – I can't eat anything spicy (lots of mild BBQ sauces are too hot for me haha). I don't enjoy peppers of beans... and I could continue, but let's just say I often eat like a kid.

A pretty good set of options to choose from at Jewel-Osco.
Hard to get a full photo without a bunch of other brands in there.

Lucky for me, even though Luvo contains an entire serving of veggies in their meals (along with whole grains and quality protein), there were quite a few options that I could eat and I enjoyed. I doubled up on a few that sounded like they'd be up my alley – I tried the Roasted Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (bowl), Kale Ricotta Ravioli (bowl), Orange Mango Chicken (steam pouch), and the Red Wine Braised Beef & Polenta. I was searching high and low for the breakfast foods, mostly the Steel Cut Oatmeal with quinoa and mixed fruits, but I couldn't find them anywhere. I was a little nervous about the Ravioli, as it mentions fire roasted tomato sauce, but it wasn't spicy, so I was good.

The Mac & Cheese cooked, but before mixing it up.

I think my favorite was the Mac & Cheese. The rest were all about the same – I don't think I could pick one over the other. And that's a good thing. I loved how quick they were to heat up. I've been spending a lot of time out of the house lately, which used to mean just stopping for dinner on the way home, but knowing I had some Luvo in the freezer meant I came home, popped one in the microwave for about 5 minutes, and dinner was served. 

After a 'quick' post-work run, Luvo came
in handy so I could eat before 9pm.

The bowls were covered with a plastic sheet like a lot of frozen meals, and then after 4-6.5 minutes in the microwave, you let it sit 1 minute, then peel off the plastic, mix and eat. For the steam pouches, you place on a microwaveable plate, microwave about the same time as the bowls, and then when finished you cut open the pouch with scissors (carefully as the steam is HOT), and then grab the closed corners and shimmy out the food. It comes out looking pretty close to the photo on the packaging, which makes you feel like a good chef (which I am far from ha). They also make planted power bowls, which didn't appeal to me, but I know it would to most other runners.

The ravioli before going in the microwave. Love the ease of
cooking and eating out of the paperboard bowls.

Other than the convenience, it's nice to know you're getting some healthy food into your system. I am in the heart of marathon training right now, so knowing that I'm eating something with nutritional value, fueling my body properly, means a lot. And I am actually noticing a difference in how I feel during my runs, which is huge. Also of note – the chicken and beef were raised without antibiotics. 

The two sides of the pouch. They make it easy for you to k
now which side is up and which side is down.

Here's a few nutritional info on a few of the meals so you can get a feel of what's in them:

If you are looking to stock your freezer up with some quick, easy, healthy meals to make when you are in a pinch (or even when you aren't – they are great for lunches at work, or just a regular meal when you don't feel like cooking), I would suggest looking at your grocery store freezer aisle for these entrees. There are a lot of options, and it's a nice change of pace from a PB&J sandwich that someone (read: me) eats everyday. They are reasonably priced, and I often see them on sale, so stock up then. You can go here to see if they sell them at a store near you. They also have an online store with $9.99 flat rate shipping on orders over $28.99. 

Orange Chicken Mango. Mango with chicken is an awesome combo!

Red Wine Braised Beef & Polenta.

Connect with Luvo:
website | twitter | facebook | instagram | pinterest 

What the other BibRave Pros had to say:
Mai | Lindsey | Jeannine | Ang | Sam

Sunday, March 19, 2017

hyper pink amazingness: xx2i france 2 review

Disclaimer: I received a pair of XX2i France2 Hyper Pink sunglasses 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!

Angie and I sporting our France2 frames at Mardi Gras Chaser 10k.

Are you tired of my reviews for sunglasses? I sure hope not, because I have another one for you! This time it's for XX2i Optics France2. You know how much I love the USA1, so I was excited to try the France2 which I had been eyeing for about a year, but never had the money in my budget for sunglasses when I had a pair I already loved so much. Thanks to BibRave and XX2i, my dream of owning these sunglasses is now a reality – and in the color I had wanted – pink!

I knew these sunglasses were great before receiving them, as one of my best running friends and BAMR Amy had them (also in Pink) and wore them all the time – even for her ultras. If they held up to her 24 hour races (obviously she wouldn't need them for night, but still), then I felt they would be acceptable for me. The main issues with most sunglasses is fit. Is the frame to big that the arms are too wide that I don't get that snug fit (without being too tight)? While I enjoyed the Hawaii1 a lot, as they were very lightweight and comfortable as far as no bounce and they didn't hurt my ears or nose, but they were a little too big for my smaller head size.

Cuties and XX2i France2 sunglasses.

Lucky me – the France2 are perfect. The frame fits well and sits nicely on my ears/nose (the nosepiece is adjustable which is nice – you can fit it easily to your face) and they never bounced. They blocked out the right amount of light and I think they look cool. I feel sort of badass in them, as if I'm channeling my inner Amy. 

They were perfect on my 14 miler. Can you tell I like pink?
Pink visor, pink earphones, pink sunglasses haha.

I've worn them for a lot of long runs and they have been awesome. Even when wearing a BUFF® to protect my face, since the frames are open on the bottom, they might fog briefly, but with enough air flow they cleared up quickly, so I never had any issues not being able to see. They never annoyed me – no bouncing, no fogging, not too tight or too big – they were just right ;)

Even wearing a BUFF® to cover my face, the France2 barely fogged up.

Some information about the frames/lenses (from the website):
XX2i France2 Pro Racing Sunglasses comes in Hyper Pink with Blue Flash lenses and Blue temple tips. Included with these frames will be a tank protector case and one microfiber soft carrying bag that can also be used as a cleaning cloth. Features on these sunglasses are perfect for running, cycling, golfing or just about any activity that requires the sunglasses to stay on your face and remain fog free. 

FEATURES: interchangeable lenses, adjustable temple tips and adjustable nose pads. 

WARRANTY: Lifetime Warranty! No questions asked, you break or scratch them, send them back to be replaced for a nominal shipping and handling fee! 

RETURN POLICY: 365 Days! We know it may take some time to try on and get comfortable with a pair of sunglasses bought online so that's why we give you a full year to do so! That's right, take up to 365 days to determine if you want to keep them and if not, send them back for a full refund less any shipping and handling fee.

I can tell you first hand that the XX2i customer service is FANTASTIC. It's an amazing company with great, durable, comfortable, high-quality sunglasses that come with a lifetime warranty and a 365 day return policy. I think their warranty and return policy speaks volumes of the type of company they are. They want to make sure you are happy with the product and shows they actually care. 

Not a super sunny day for the Lakefront 10 Miler, but it sure was windy,
The France2 helped protect my eyes from the wind/dirt so I could get this race done.

I love all of their frames and that all of them have some fun options in colors. White and black are great, but sometimes I need a little pop of color ;) The France2 come in a variety of frame and lens colors – it was hard to pick a favorite, really. Besides having my eyes on the Pink, I was also considering the crystal green flash lens green tips pair, but since I had wanted the pink for a long time, that's what I chose. I am very happy with them and will continue to wear them for plenty of runs (switching off with the USA1 of course).

16 miles done. France2 sunglasses hold up.

Get a pair (or multiple) of XX2i using code 'marchbibrave' and you'll receive 50% off. Act fast – the code is only valid through March 28.

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

Check out what the other Pros had to say:
Tedrick | Amy | Angie | Mai | Jessica | Vanessa