Category Archives: Product Review

SPI Belt Review + 2 Fun Workouts

As I mentioned last week, I was lucky enough to win a SPI Belt through the 2016 winter edition of RunChat Hunt.  I intended to take it with me on an easy run last Sunday but totally forgot it.  That’s what happens when you never run with anything, I guess.  To make sure I followed spi beltthrough on my promise to tell you all about my experience, I zipped my GPS watch in it that night.

It just so happened my next run was a long tempo outing of 5 x 2k repeats with a 400M jog between.  Not only is this a fun workout, the weather was just about perfect, my legs felt fresh and I’d get to test the belt at a variety of paces.  Perfect!  I began with 2k at marathon pace then increased each rep to finish #5 at 10k pace.  Here’s how my new SPI Belt responded:

Fit:  The fit is great.  A highly adjustable belt allows for lots of freedom in where on my hips or belly I wanted it to sit.  For easier runs I liked it lower but for faster work I liked it tighter and a bit higher.

Comfort:  The belt was surprisingly comfortable.  I haven’t had lots of experience running with a belt but those I have had weren’t great.  The SPI Belt stayed in place without any bouncing and was barely noticeable when I wasn’t paying attention to it for this review.

Size:  I don’t wear fuel belts because every one I’ve ever tried has been too bulky.  The bands have been too wide or not fit well.  That was not an issue with the SPI Belt.  The thin strap adjusted easily to fit me just right while the width was not an issue at all.

Space:  My phone lives in a gigantic Otter Box so to make it fit, the case had to go.  I have this problem with plenty of small handbags, too, and it didn’t bother me.  Phone sans case, ID, credit card, key and gels, I shoved as many things as I could in there.  Plenty of room for all of your essentials.

My second fun workout was when I took the belt out again and got to forget it was there.  A great product that definitely met my carry-all needs.

Meredith

Do you have a SPI Belt?  What’s your favorite feature?

Lululemon Hotty Hot Short

While I was on my recent blog vacation, I acquired Lululemon’s Hotty Hot Short.  After spending some time trying them out with different activities I’ve found them to be just right for lots of things.  Here are the details!

Fabric:  I was looking for something different with this pair of shorts.  It’s been a hot, humid summer and with the dog days of August settling in I wanted a little more breathability.  The hotty hot shortloose fitting, four-way stretch fabric is great.  They are very light and I barely noticed them, even when they were soaked in sweat.  It’s not an easy fabric to damage with pins for a race number or a heavy cycle in the washer but I never put workout gear in the dryer and haven’t with these.  [All of my selfie shorts attempts failed so here’s what worked].

Fit/Feel:  With the looser fit through the legs, I doubt you’ll ever need the fabric’s four-way stretch but it’s nice to know it’s there.  The wide waist band is great for keeping the shorts in place without leaving its pattern indented on your tummy.  The Hotty Hot Shorts I purchased have a low, 2.5″, rise.  The fabric’s looseness and built in liner make you feel secure and covered even if your shorts tan is shrinking a bit.  If you’re taller there is a ‘long’ version available.  The single zip pocket in the back is convenient and keeps its contents as dry as can be expected.  The seam locations in these is different than some other Lulu shorts and I have no fear of the dreaded inner thigh chafe when rocking them.  All in all, they fit great, stay in place even when wet and almost make you forget they’re there.

Functionality:  With reflective details and a back pocket, the Hotty Hot Short is very versatile.  I’ve spent time in the gym with them, on the track running hard and on an easy long run.  For a longer run there aren’t enough pockets to hold gels so you’ll need a fuel belt or backpack.  For just about anything else from hiking to yoga they’re a solid choice.

Price:  At $58 (+ tax in most states) they come in right on target for Lululemon.  It’s an investment I’ve found is worth it.  The key to keeping these shorts long lasting is skipping the dryer and washing in cold water.

Meredith

What do you look for in workout gear?  What will you compromise on?

New Running Shoes + Racing Weekend

I got new running shoes!  Actually, I got them a while ago but I just took them out of the box today.  My brand spankin’ new, shiny and clean Saucony Kinvara 7s went out for the first time this morning and I’m happy to say all six easy miles went very well.  Since they will likely be my fall PR goal race shoes for several events, it’s never too soon to make sure we click.

I’ve been rotating between Brooks PureFlow 4s and Saucony ProGrid Ride 5‘s (this is the closest I could find) for the last year and before that had multiple pairs of the ProGrid 4s and 5s I  new running shoeswould move around.  The PureFlow came into play when I wanted to get away from the ProGrid’s 8mm drop for speed work and racing.  I still do some recovery and long runs in the 8mm drop shoes but am mostly just waiting for them to wear out before all of my shoes are 4mm offsets.  When one finally kicked the pavement, only the PureFlow 5 was available to replace it.  I found the PureFlow 5’s toe box to be tighter than the 4 and didn’t think they were nearly as comfortable.  Definitely open to trying Saucony’s 4mm drop road shoe, I slid these on and immediately knew I’d found my new running shoes.  They’re not as cushioned as the Rides and have a stiffer sole than the PureFlows but after two or so miles they loosened right up and felt great today.  I also like the tougher sole of the Sauconys compared to the Brooks and feel they last longer with the surfaces I consistently run on.

I’ll continue to train and race in my PureFlow 4s until they’re kaput but am excited to race the Allen Stone Memorial 5k in my new running shoes this weekend.  It’s run 100% on the brutally hard Virginia Beach Boardwalk’s cement that can chew shoes up and spit them out quickly.  It should be a fairly competitive event, there’s even a chance of rain, and I’m looking forward to seeing how my new running shoes and I get along when I try to push the speed.

Meredith

How often do you buy new running shoes?  Do you stick with a favorite brand or swap out?

Lululemon Wunder Under Pant Review

I purchased a pair of Lululemon’s Wunder Under Pant a few months ago and have really liked them.  They’re different than my other Lulu pants in a few ways.  They’re a different fabric, a full length tight and have only a single pocket.  After a few wears in several environments, here are the things I like about these tights in order of importance.wunder under pant

Fabric:  Nothing matters about workout gear if the fabric is awful.  Itchy, soggy, saggy anything can ruin a good sweat session.  Thankfully, Lululemon got this one right.  Slightly thicker than some of Lulu’s other fabrics, these “Full-On Luon” pants make for great outdoor workout gear.  Indoors they can be a bit warm for my taste.  The Wunder Under Pant is a built to be both “sweat-wicking” and “four-way stretch” which will provide comfortable and dry conditions through any combination of movements.

Functionality:  A “versatile, no-fuss” pant, the Wunder Under Pant can be worn for just about anything.  What it comes down to for me is pockets.  If I can fit my gels, key and ID in my pants without any additional equipment, I’m happy.  I love the functionality of a single massive pocket that can hold up to 3 gels along with a key and an ID in front of my left hip.  Even if they’re not a running specific tight, I definitely run in them and will continue to do so.  For the Crossfitters and obstacle course racers out there, they also feel sturdy enough to survive a missed box jump or tackle any obstacle without tearing wide open.Wunder Under Pant

Fit:  Designed to give a “hugged sensation”, the Wunder Under Pant doesn’t disappoint.  Snug without being constricting I’ve never once had to pull them up after a 400M repeat or set of toes to bar.  There’s no fear they might slip down or ride up.  The length is just right for low socks in the gym or high ones for a cold weather run and with complimentary hemming available at all stores, you can always make sure they’re just right.

Quality:  I’ve had good experiences with the quality of Lulu products across the board.  When one of my bra inserts was eaten by the washing machine, they were happy to replace it.  I’ve heard that pilling is a potential problem but I have had no issues with washing the tights on  regular or heavy in cold water and air drying (as with all of my workout gear).  Without the heat of a dryer, the size hasn’t changed, seams are solid and the fabric feels the same as it did on day one.

Price:  At $98 the Wunder Under Pant is a middle of the road price point for the store.  There are definitely less expensive options out there but with all of the positives I’ve already mentioned, they’re worth it.  When I have a marathon to run, the ability to pack all of my gels without an additional piece of equipment is priceless.

Meredith

**All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated in any way for this post.**

What do you look for first in workout gear?  What will you compromise on?

Bulu Box Review + Discount Code!

I received my first Bulu Box last week and could not wait to try the products.  The monthly subscription service provides five sample size products in each shipment.  If you like something, they offer every sample as a full sized product on their website.  When you register you’re asked to fill out a profile to help determine what samples are perfect for you which is a great way to know you’ll use every Bulu Box sample, every month.bulu boxMy Bulu Box contained Fusion Chicken Jerky in Lemon Pepper flavor, Movit Energy Gummies, Runa Tea, Earth’s Care Anti-Itch Cream and Simple Being Dietary Supplement.

As soon as I opened the box I dove into Fusion’s Lemon Pepper Jerky.  Delicious!  I had never had chicken jerky before, only venison and beef, and was very pleasantly surprised.  It was chewy like expected but not unreasonable so, perfectly flavored and smelled great.  The hint of spice doesn’t become overpowering when you eat more than one or two slices which is great for someone like me who doesn’t like a lot heat on food.

While I sitting out on the deck with my book Saturday afternoon a few mosquitos got their jaws in me and the Earth’s Care Anti-Itch cream was a nice tool to have handy.  I wiped some on as soon as I noticed the red bump and never had the urge to itch it.  Not once!  I typically just suffer and scratch away for a few minutes but after this experience, I might invest in a little less itchiness.

Sunday morning I had a long run scheduled.  After a sleepless night, my original plans were derailed and I got off to a late start.  Luckily, I still had time to devour The Movit Energy Gummies my Bulu Box contained.  The citrus flavor was yummy.  I love a gummy and all of the nutrients the chewies contained.  The package recommends eating about 20 minutes before your activity and even though I only gave them 12-15 to kick in, I think I noticed a difference in my energy level past the 10k mark.  It was hot and I was fighting with some hydration issues that made it hard to really tell what was going on.  Looking forward to trying these again.

Not much of a tea drinker beyond the very rare Arizona Green Tea, I was a little nervous to try the Runa Guayusa Tea.  I’ve never steeped my own tea and didn’t know how it would taste.  The Focused Energy flavor was surprisingly good.  I typically steer clear of caffeine and didn’t really feel a big boost but I suspect this could be because I drank it very slowly over about 20 minutes.  I appreciate the whole foods aspect and the company’s mission.

I haven’t yet tried the Simple Being supplement and am not sure when I will.  Like I mentioned, I’m cautious with caffeine.  When I do feel brave enough to take it, I’ll probably split the package with Doug and see how differently we respond to the same ingredients.

Aside from sending awesome samples with no shipping charges (ever) every month, Bulu Box offers cancellation at any time and a kick butt rewards program.  Each month you can earn points for sharing thoughts and reviews of the samples you received.  Those points can then be used to purchase full size products in the Bulu Box store.  How awesome is that?  Free stuff!

Thanks Bulu Box for sending me great things.  If you’d like to try Bulu Box, use discount code SWEATPINK to save 50% off a 3 month subscription.

Meredith

Do you get a monthly Bulu Box?  What other monthly sample do you subscribe to?

**I received this complimentary Bulu Box as part of my partnership with Sweat Pink and Fit Approach.  All opinions and work are my own***

Freekeh Foods Fun + Giveaway!

Freekeh Fun + Giveaway!

I recently received two packages of Freekeh Foods thanks to my partnership with Sweat Pink and FitApproach.  I opted for original and rosemary sage flavors and couldn’t wait to give the whole grain a try.  Before my recipe, here’s a little bit of background on just exactly what freekeh is!

The Freekeh Foods website proclaims freekeh is “a process which means “to rub” in Arabic.  Freekeh was created by accident nearly 2,000 years ago when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and their crop of young green wheat was set ablaze.  Most folks would sulk over their misfortune, but the crafty villagers rubbed off the chaff, cooked it up and ‘Eureka!’ Freekeh was created.

freekeh foodsOne serving of freekeh contains three times the protein and fiber you’ll get from brown rice with fewer calories than both quinoa and white rice.  It has a home low on the glycemic index, making it a good choice for everyone, especially diabetics.

For those of you who are gluten free by choice or necessity freekeh may not be a good choice.  With its early harvest, the gluten is denatured and may result in fewer stomach problems than other wheat and grain products but if you have Celiac, steer clear.

The Freekeh Foods website is home to a library full of delicious recipes but I chose to mix my rosemary sage up with teriyaki grilled pork chops.  The flavors mixed nicely, I loved the texture, taste and how easy it was to make.  The rosemary really complemented the Asian flavors and it’s a combo I’ll use again in the future.  I’m also looking forward to giving some of the official Freekeh Foods Recipes a try!

freekeh foodsEnter for you chance to win a package of Freekeh Foods right here!
Open to US residents only.

Meredith

I received this product as part of my partnership with Sweat Pink and FitApproach but all opinions and work are my own.

Right Now: Pacing, Harvesting, Reading

It’s time for the July 2015 edition of Right Now!  This month I’ll tell you what I’m pacing this fall, what I’m harvesting this week and what I’ll be reading at the airport.  That’s right!  I’m on my way to  run the 2015 Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon where I’ll be hoping to finish a strong training run and stay cool on the course.

Pacing:  I’ll be pacing two half marathons this fall and couldn’t be more excited.  The first is one I had the honor of pacing last year, as well.  Rock n Roll Virginia Beach is coming September 6 and I’ll be out there with Hampton Runner leading the 2:15 group.  It’s always a hot one but at an easy pace, it’s a blast to cheer on so many runners to new PRs.  Hopefully there’s more music on the course this year!  My fall pacing duties continue with the Hartford Half Marathon 2 hour group on October 10 in Hartford, CT.  I’ll be checking off another state on my list while hopefully making some new friends and helping to set at least a few new PRs up north.

Harvesting:  I put my Miracle Gro AeroGarden together about four weeks ago and have started harvesting some of its produce.  I’m really excited to start cooking with the fresh, organic aerogarden growingveggies and couldn’t be happier with the ease and speed they grew.  The few pieces of lettuce I’ve snuck have been very tasty and my tiny tomatoes look delicious.  With the bunnies outside, this indoor option has been perfect and low maintenance for me.

Reading: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.  This isn’t a new blockbuster best seller but I’ve finally gotten around to cracking it open.  It’s wonderful.  It is not only filled with solid, research backed facts about the monetary, emotional, support and expectation difference men and women face in the work place but offers suggestions to improve the situation without making a chance seem impossible.  A positive spin on a sometimes unfair and ultimately stressful circumstance, it’s a must read for anyone who wants to starting harvesting some serious success both inside and outside the home.

Meredith

What are you harvesting, growing, reading or racing right now or soon?

Friday Favorites: First Edition

This is my first official Friday Favorites post!  I usually do a Fit Friday, pre-race wrap up or Right Now post to break in the weekend but felt like mixing it up this month.

The Lilly Pulitzer Linen Beach Pantfriday favorites
Not only is the Red Right Return pattern lots of fun, the pants themselves are light and very comfortable.  They’re a perfect cover up when heading to the beach or hanging out at home with a wide drawstring waistband and plenty of length.  Cleaning up after a hot, sticky run feels great.  Slipping these Friday Favorites comfies on for a solid foam rolling and stretching session after that shower feels even better.

Ready to Run, Dr. Kelly Starrettfriday favorites
I first heard of Kelly Starrett and his Mobility WOD website when I starting Crossfit.  A big part of functional fitness, and solid injury free running, is proper range of motion.  It’s impossible to build strength safely when you can’t move fluidly through the movement.  As I work to perfect my running form, keep my cadence up, get faster and more powerful, I realize each day how important it really is.  My tight calves don’t help my back squat much and take away running power.  In Ready to Run, Starrett outlines 12 standards that will help you determine if you are, in fact, Ready to Run and how to get there if you’re not.  I’ve definitely seen a difference since working towards the standards I don’t already meet and can’t wait for some cooler weather to friday favoritesrace in!

Miracle-Gro Aerogarden
The third of my Friday Favorites is my brand new Aerogarden!  I’ve planted lettuce and mini tomatoes to start with herbs to follow after these seeds have been exhausted.  The light is brighter than I expected bouncing off the white walls of the corner I placed it in but I’ve set the lights to turn on at 5:15am and off around 11pm in hopes that it won’t bother anyone or any dog.  I’m excited to be able to grow these vegetables indoors since we don’t have a good flat outside spot for a garden but we do have a few cottontail rabbits living under the shed.  I can’t wait to make a nice fresh salad with what pops up and there will be plenty of pictures to follow the journey.

I don’t have any big plans this weekend other than a nice long run tomorrow and sleeping in on Sunday.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a quiet weekend and I’m looking forward to relaxing by staring at my seedlings until they sprout.

Meredith

What are your Friday Favorites this week?  Any big weekend plans like a race?

Olives! + this Week’s Workouts

I’m not usually an olive eater or martini drinker.  OK, a vodka based fruity martini every now and then, definitely.  Gin?  No, thanks.  I always associate olives with the big salty stuffed ones I don’t like so when I saw a giveaway on the SweatList Facebook page, I was on the fence about entering.  I ended up going for it, knowing that if I won, I would at least be forced to try pearl's olivessomething new.  A few days later I had completely forgotten about my entry but seen a few posts about how much other ladies enjoyed them.  Then…

Much to my surprise, a package was waiting at home for me Thursday night.  Olives!  I received two four packs of Pearl’s Black Pitted Olives and a super cute bright yellow lunch box that will definitely be used.  Unfortunately, I was making a quick turnaround to go out for dinner and didn’t want to spoil my appetite.  Friday got shot down with an out-of-town emergency but I eventually got to sit down and try my prize Saturday afternoon.pearl's olives

The first olive I can ever recall eating by choice, I popped an entire one right in and chewed away.  Not too shabby!  With only big green stuffed salty martini olive to compare Pearl’s Black Pitted Olives to, I must say they are a massive improvement.  I would even eat more than one.  I did eat more than one.  I like the portable containers they come in, each one holding 10 olives and no liquid, but I do wish there was a way to reseal them.  Ten olives is a lot for a newbie to munch on in one sitting.  I’m not sure they’ll become my go-to but it’s good to know there’s another healthy snack out there I enjoy.

On to this week’s workouts:

Monday:  Body weight strength workout.
Tuesday:  5 treadmill miles.  3 at 6:40, 1 warm (7:50), 1 cool (8:00).
Wednesday:  90 minute long run at 8:00 pace (11.25 miles).
Thursday:  Rest!  Lots of foam rolling and calf stretching.
Friday:  Overhead squats, box jumps and a very easy 2 mile run (8:45).
Saturday:  Very headwindy 7 mile run at whatever felt good pace (average 7:40).
Sunday:  Heavy power cleans and easy 3 mile sand run.

Next week kicks off training for Prairie Fire in May and the cycle includes a trip to the nation’s capitol for Rock n Roll DC one week before pacing the 1:52 group at Shamrock.

Meredith

Do you eat olives?  Why or why not?  What was your best workout this week?

My First Painting + Two Birds

My weekend was filled with avian friends.  Saturday was spent with two birds, the first of those two birds was a living one that gave me some serious excitement Saturday morning and the second was the pelican in my very first painting.  The weekend’s final feathered event was Superbowl XLIX and I was pulling for a Seattle win.

Thursday and Friday afternoons I had heard something thunking around in the attic above my office.  Saturday morning Doug climbed up there to see what it was.  He said he could see a black bird that seemed to be injured.  A-ha!  We called around to find someone to save it but before help could arrive, I heard a scratching at the attic opening and saw Jordy going ballistic below it.  The little rascal was trying to escape!  I closed all of the upstairs doors and opened the attic.  I figured a loose bird in the house would be easy enough to shoo out the front door (please don’t poop!).  A few minutes later, nothing had flapped by.  I went back to find the small bird hanging on the two birdsedge of the attic’s opening.  It definitely knew some fresh air had come from that direction and wanted out.  The bird didn’t seem to want to fly, so I gloved up, found a box and procured a towel.  After a quick getting-to-know-you flap and squawk, I wrapped the very pretty starling in a towel and was trying to lower it into the box when I realized its leg was stuck to something.  Unbeknownst to me, we had traps left up there from last year’s roof rat infestation removal process and the bird’s foot was in one.  A bit of maneuvering later, I safely got the surprisingly calm bird, both legs, a warm towel and the attached trap into the box and onto front porch.  Animal control came shortly thereafter and took the trouble two birdsmaker to, hopefully, fix things up and let it fly away.

Next up on my Saturday of two birds was the Pouty Pelican.  A friend of a friend runs Paint the Town and after rescuing one little bird, I was ready to memorialize it by painting another that evening.  I am not much of a painter.  Or sculptor, or graphic designer, or photographer, for that matter, so I was also a little bit nervous my Pouty Pelican would end up looking like a finger painting.  Luckily, Heather is a great teacher, makes everything simple and ensures everyone has a good time.  It’s fun to see all of the different styles and to put your own interpretation into the picture.  I went with a punk rock feel, initially not on purpose, by doing more of a mohawk than head feathers, but I think she turned out just fine.  From a blank canvas to some circles and streaks and finally to my finished product, two birdsI had a wonderful time creating this pouty, punky little pelican.

The weekend wrapped up with the Superbowl.  Even though my Eagles were out, I stuck with the bird theme and was rooting for Seattle.  Things ended a more disappointingly for them then it did with my other two birds, but there’s always next year, right?

Meredith

Have you done a painting event?  Who were you pulling for in Superbowl XLIX?