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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.

2015 St Michael’s Half Marathon

My 2015 St Michael’s Half Marathon recap and review is going to be a two part event, the review (here) and my recap (later).  I’m doing it this way because my experience was mind bogglingly dichotomous.  The race itself was very well done and I’m looking forward to participating again in the future.  My personal run was a complete mess that I would love to have back, pretend it never happened and/or erase from my memory.

Location – St Michael’s, Maryland, is a historic town on the Chesapeake Bay.  Home to local seafood restaurants, good shopping and lots to see, I 100% recommend staying at one of the bed and breakfasts within walking distance of the expo, start and finish.  The tree lined streets and bright green golf courses surrounding the water are beautiful in mid-May but beware the potential for warm to hot humid weather.  This year race temps were in the 70s with upwards of 75% humidity and occasional breezes reaching 10mph.

Expo – Small and easy to breeze through.  The weekend’s races have about 1,500 participants in the half, 650 in the 10k and 550 in the 5k along with race morning packet pick up that means the small community center is plenty large enough to handle everything even if there is a big rush on Friday.  It was nice that I could pick up my number and gender specific tech shirt without having to troll through a crowded vendor area like you are forced to do at some larger races but the option to shop for some running gear is still available.2015 st michael's half marathon

Dining – St. Michael’s is home to a bunch of local restaurants that feature seafood, burgers and lots in between.  The running festival brings with it a large influx of people on a normally busy enough weekend in the small town and an early dinner is recommended if you’re not looking to wait around.

Parking – Because I stayed within walking distance of both the start and finish, they’re only about 3/4 of a mile apart, I had no issues with parking.  Everyone who drove in was directed to free parking on neighborhood roads though unfortunately those same people seemed to have some trouble leaving.  The single road in and out of town got rather backed up post race so it probably pays off to hang out for a while after running.  I would definitely recommend car pooling if you’re not planning on staying extremely locally.

Start – 10k goes first, half 10 minutes later and 5k after that.  The entire start was delayed roughly 15 minutes due to I don’t know what and made the 2015 St Michael’s Half Marathon a little bit hotter than it could have been.  Port-a-Potty lines were fairly long and moved slowly, there should be a system where those who start later are behind those who are racing earlier.  The general area was spacious enough for all runners to have lots of room to warm up and everyone lined up in the starting chute where they belonged, which is always nice.  There was gear check but I didn’t use it.

Course – The course is very flat though run mostly on the right side of the road which can get a little bit irritating to hips and knees.  With warm temperatures, tree lined portions are great but not quite often enough.  It’s a scenic, quiet course that’s traffic controlled for the most part.  You will find cars on the other side of cones or, during one stretch, trying to weave down a long straightaway through the race course.  I also wondered if the golfers we ran past a few times were bothered by the hustle and bustle of 1,500 runners.  There are several out and back stretches that can get slightly tedious but also provide a good chance to see friends who are running.

Course Support – Water, Gatorade and at one, GU.  They come about every 1.5 miles but some between the stops stretches in direct sunlight felt a whole lot longer.  Each stop had plenty of volunteers and I did notice emergency vehicles parked at intervals along the course.  I did not notice Port-a-Potties at the water stops but wasn’t really paying attention as I watched a few people hop off into the course-side woods.  At each turn there were volunteers guiding runners in the correct direction along with good signage pointing the way.  The crowd is slim and mostly people at the ends of their driveways cheering or waving until the last 800M and the Finish area is jam packed.

Post Race – After being announced crossing the finish line, runners received their 2015 St Michael’s Half Marathon medals, bananas, PB&J sandwiches, water and Gatorade.  Each participant gets one free beer at the after party where is more available for purchase.

I had a good time at the 2015 St Michael’s Half Marathon even if my run wasn’t so great.  I’d love to go back for another shot at the flat course, the small town feel and nice swag this well organized race provided.

Meredith

Do you like small or big races more?  Why?

2015 EquiKids Cross Country 5k

My second race week in a row featured the 2015 EquiKids Cross Country 5k.  It was their 13th annual event, my fourth time participating and Doug and Jordy’s third time tackling the 1 Mile Run with the Hounds.  I look forward to the spring for this run each year because it’s fun for the whole family.  Plus, getting Jordy out there to race is always good for a few laughs.

My race weekend began with volunteering at packet pick-up for a few hours Friday then a nacho dinner at the Green Parrot.  I got a good night’s sleep and woke up ready to rock the trails Saturday morning.  Outside my window, the ground was covered with heavy fog after Friday night’s light rain and I immediately knew it would be humid out there on the double loop trail course.  I wasn’t too concerned about mud, the EquiKids team does a great job getting the trails ready.  It wasn’t raining and there was a cloud cover which meant the humidity would stick around for a while but there have definitely been less favorable conditions to fight through in previous years.

We arrived at EquiKids about an hour before the 5k start.  Doug and I socialized while Jordy made a few new friends and enjoyed exploring.  I started my warm up 30 minutes before the race with some stretching and mobility work then jogged one easy 800 and a second with three strides.  My legs felt good, though not as fresh as I would have liked, lined up at the Start for announcements, ready to work.  I had been a bit concerned after the previous week’s messiness and was relieved to feel almost back to normal.  Before I knew it, we were off.

I held my pace steady as the usual start too fast crowd sprinted by me and entered the first lap in the woods realizing I definitely would have benefited from a longer warm-up.  The shorter the race, the longer the warm-up, but I failed to follow through on this occasion.  Oops.  The trails were edged by a few barely muddy spots and the expected humidity was in full force.  It took my heart rate a little longer than usual to settle down into racing mode with the thicker air and by the 1 Mile mark I finally felt ready to get in gear.

Unfortunately, my watch did not.  I had trouble with it giving my accurate timing information when running through the woods (I know this is not a 9:10 mile…) and since I don’t run on dirt often, it was hard for me to nail down my desired pace.  I gradually passed the too fast starters as my legs and heart settled in, all warmed up now.  Popping back out of the woods on Lap 1, my watch got a better signal and I maintained my 7:15 pace until hitting the soft dirt again for Lap 2.

Thanks to the course design, I counted four ladies in front of me before reentering the woods.  I vowed to not let myself be passed and was happy to stay in my position.  Sticking with my pace helped me pick off two lades in front of me after the Mile 2 sign and I was on the edge of passing a third past the 2.5 mile mark when a left turn stopped us both in our tracks as we avoided colliding with one of the awesome Team Hoyt participants.  We both took off again and I gained a few meters on her as we entered the final stretch.  I knew I was in position to place in my age group, or even overall, as I eased into the Finish Line while she kicked to pass me in the final 50 meters.2015 equikids cross country 5k

I finished the 2015 EquiKids Cross Country 5k as third female overall and was happy with the end result even if I wasn’t much faster than last year.  My legs felt decent but I hadn’t warmed up enough and was still coming back from Prairie Fire.  The humidity also impacted my performance, especially coupled with the too short warm-up.  Now I know I need a longer 5k warm-up!

A few minutes later, Doug and Jordy lined up to take on the 1 Mile Run with the Hounds.  They beat last year’s time by a good margin and Jordy celebrated by laying down in the dirt.  The post race party and awards were filled with pizza, lettuce wraps, raffles, beer, water, friends and adorable dogs.  I can’t wait for the 2016 event!

Meredith

Do you race on trails?  Why or why not?

Prairie Fire Half Marathon

I’ve been talking about the Prairie Fire Half Marathon for months.  It was my target spring half marathon and I worked hard for 12 weeks leading to race day.  Unfortunately, my race was a disaster.  Doug and I flew out to Kansas Friday after I had a not so great night’s sleep Thursday but my plan was to crash on arrival and sleep late Saturday.

Some family issues were stressing me out a bit, preventing this plan from working.  Saturday morning we took things easy.  I did some push-ups, squats and foam rolling before we made our way to the expo for packet pick-up.  Happening in the same space as a larger event, expo parking was difficult but getting through pick-up was fast and simple.  I had my ID ready to go and they didn’t even want it!  I was surprised we were not given clear bags for gear check but the race day information said they would be prairie fire half marathonavailable at ‘the tent’ race morning.  The tech shirts are nice and lightweight with the race’s adorable mascot, Sparky, front and center.  Each year Sparky gets dressed up as a different character and in 2015 he was a cow-bunny.  Next up was lunch at River City Brewing Company where we caught some of the Derby Day races and tasted a few local beers.  The food was excellent and the variety of beers is enough to make anyone happy.  I had been hoping the cocktail would help me take a post-lunch nap before watching the Kentucky Derby and dinner.  It didn’t.  No nap.  So tired.

Derby and our traditional order in pizza dinner behind me, I hit the hay early.  Not knowing what to expect for gear check, I had packed my race bag in a gallon clear freezer bag and hoped for the best.  My legs felt pretty good but I could tell two rough nights were starting to take a toll.  One more weather check before closing my eyes confirmed that we’d be facing 15-18 mile an hour winds all morning and I knew I needed to rest up.  The dogs that went nuts several times during the night did not concur.  I had six on/off hours of mediocre sleep for the third night in a row.  Climbing out of bed on race morning, my legs felt worse than they had the day before and a short foam rolling session didn’t help nearly as much as I wanted.  Knowing I was going to be racing wind and wanting any advantage I could get, I decided to race in my lighter shoes.  The longest run I prairie fire half marathonhad done in them was 10 miles but it hadn’t left me with any pain or soreness and I knew I could manage.  Breakfast and E2 down the hatch, it was off to the races.

We arrived at the Start/Finish area around 6:30 for the 7:30 start to find gear check was not yet open.  It was a bit chilly in the dim light with the breeze, leading us to seek shelter in the host hotel.  With less than 3,000 runners, the hotel was very quiet, had no lines for the clean bathrooms and was a good spot to stay warm, stretch out and think about my race plan.  I wanted to run Mile 1 through Mile 10 around 7:15 -7:20 pace then kick to 7-7:10 for the final 5k.  At 7am, Doug and I dropped our gear where it turned out they did have bigger clear bags then started our warm-ups.  Mine left me feeling mentally good about the plan and my legs were starting to feel back to normal, ready to work.

The Start wasn’t corralled but everyone was asking around to make sure they lined up in the right spot.  It was a nice change from some of the larger races with corral jumpers that I can’t stand, especially when chasing a PR.  The gun went off right on time and I kept my eye on the 1:30 pacers, making sure they slowly and steadily pulled away from me.  The course was flat and windy as it wound through the city, eventually leading us into two out and backs that made an almost bunny ear shape.  The wind was definitely noticeable but through the first four miles we had some protection from neighborhood buildings.  In spite of the wind, I was right on target through Mile 6.  The shaded course felt really nice and I was doing a good job of taking turns or tangents as tightly as possible as I made the turnaround at Mile 6.  By Mile 6.5 I was looking on the other side of road for Doug when I noticed that the road was pretty seriously banked.  And not in my favor.  My left knee was inches higher than my right with each footfall which is a big trigger for my knee pain.  As I side-fived Doug just past the Mile 7 mark a few minutes later, I knew my race was over.

My knee was hurting and I could feel the entirely of my posterior chain getting angry.  I love to have running room but with no one to block the wind in front of me from the Mile 4 mark on and a knee that would surely start screaming shortly, I was pretty unhappy when I stopped for water at Mile 8.5, walking for a few seconds to shake my knee out.  By Mile 10 my pace was flagging and all I wanted to do was keep running.  My knee was feeling marginally better back on level ground but the damage had already been done.  During another walking break at Mile 11 I started to worry about being able to run across the Finish line.  I didn’t want to push my prairie fire half marathonknee and now calves, hamstrings and glutes to the point of injury with another race in six days.  I hoped it was a gently tweaked knee exacerbated by my different shoes, making for a quick fix.  Desperate to just finish, I settled into an easy 8:15 pace for the final two miles and took several more short walks.  I crossed the Prairie Fire Half Marathon finish at 1:40.21 and was completely crushed both physically and mentally.  The announcer gave me a special shout out for having traveled from Virginia Beach that put a little bright spot on my most disappointing race to date.  I had missed all of my goals and worried I ruined my chances at racing the next two weekends.  I picked up a great medal, some water and Gatorade then took my shoes off as quickly as possible.  It was while removing my socks I noticed some serious chaffing on the inside of my left leg.  I had worn my race day shorts a million times before without chaffing and it just showed me how lucky I was to get out of moving in a funky way for six miles without injury.

As I waited for Doug, who hit a 5 minute PR, I thought about what had gone wrong.  I think the wind played a part, sucking out some extra energy early, not sleeping for three nights was definitely a performance dampener, stressing about something un-race related was less than ideal, twisting my knee was awful and quite possibly my change of shoes just compounded everything.  After Doug finished we enjoyed the well stocked after party with chicken, pizza and chocolate milk.  The post race festivities included a live band, loads of food and drink all on a big grassy field with plenty of Port-a-Potties.  On course, water stops had been just about every two miles with water, Gatorade, first-aid kits and Port-a-Potties and crowd support was thin for large sections.  You can check out my review on BibRave right here where I talk more about the ins and outs of the event.  The Prairie Fire Half Marathon was a well managed event with a hometown feel, solid course support and a good post-race party that I would consider running again.

Meredith

Have you ever been injured during a race?  What did you do?

2015 Shamrock Half Marathon

The 2015 Shamrock Half Marathon was this past Sunday and it was, again, a wonderful event.  I was looking forward to pacing the 1:52 group even though this is a race I love to actually race.  2015 shamrock half marathonThe weekend began with picking up my packet as early as I could on Friday, hanging out at the Pacer booth for a while then heading home to get ready for Sunday’s race.

Race morning began when Doug dropped me at work (only three blocks from the Start!) off around 6am.  Getting down to the race was no problem but I know parking does fill up as the Start approaches.  I munched on my breakfast bagel, drank my usual E2, foam rolled and stretched as a few of my fellow pacers, including my 1:52 partner, Kevin, met up with me to stay warm before heading to the Start.  At 6:30, I ran a mile warm-up that included a trip to gear check near the Finish then used my clean, indoor restroom once more before the pacers made for their corrals.

There was a stiff breeze and the temperature was a bit chilly as Kevin and I weaved through thousands of pumped up runners to arrive in Corral 3 with plenty of time to spare.  There were lots of Port-a-Potties near the Start with lines that didn’t seem too bad.  People were excited to see us and it was great to get to know some of the ladies and gents we would hopefully be leading to new PRs.  Things were a bit warmer in the crowd but everyone still wanted the wind to die down as we all fidgeted trying to stay loose.  Moments later we were notified of an emergency of the course as an ambulance drove by.  Luckily any delay that resulted was barely noticed by the adrenaline filled group hanging out with us and before we knew it, we were off for the 2015 Shamrock Half Marathon.

I review the course here and it didn’t change this year.  The 1:52 group rocked and rolled through the first three miles.  The wind had quieted and the chill was barely noticeable once things started moving.  At Mile 3 we hit the course’s first gentle curve heading into the tree lined portion of our run.  During the stretch from Mile 3 to about Mile 5.5, Kevin and I talked with several of our runners about race recommendations, traveling and how they were working towards a new PR at that exact moment.  We passed well staffed and supportive water stops, two DJs and one band before turning right onto the race’s quietest section.  The 3+ miles of flat course running through Fort Story have great views of the Chesapeake Bay and this year lacked the strong headwind of 2014 but there isn’t a ton of crowd support until you get on Atlantic Avenue around Mile 9.5.

It’s here you can start counting down the numbered blocks and really settled into a groove for the last 5k.  Kevin and I got to watch some of our new friends run ahead to hit their goals and we rolled through the final few miles together.  Crowd support was good from 9.5 to 12 but when you hit that last mile and finally turn onto the Boardwalk, it’s exciting.  Coming in a little fast, Kevin and I slowed through the last bit, crossing the Finish a bit early to be greeted by a 2015 shamrock half marathonfew very happy new PR owners.  The gratitude, buzz and joy of those five runners was amazing.  Being a part of their journey is an incredible honor.

We walked through the finish chute to collect our medals, bananas, pretzels, cookies, water, Gatorade, finisher’s hats and awesome finisher beach towels.  Hitting the end of the finisher zone, we were routed out onto the beach where I saw a line waiting to ring this year’s newest Shamrock feature, the PR bell.  Watching the 1:52 runners smile with the bell was better than ringing it myself.  A long trek through the sand back to my gear in VIP left me cold but changing into some dry clothes and devouring a bacon, egg and cheese helped fix things.

After warming up and filling my hungry tummy, I collected my first post-race Yuengling and settled in to chat with other pacers as they finished, J&A ambassadors and the venerable Bart Yasso.  I bounced back and forth to the big party tent to listen to the 2015 shamrock half marathonbands and visit friends before heading back to VIP for a turkey sub and awesome view of the Finish Line for the marathon winner.

Cheering for the next few marathoners and some half marathon walkers, I got to hang out with a bunch of super fast marathon pacers who are all prepping for Boston and spend a little time picking Bart’s brain.  Also in the photo is marathon pacer Ben (3:15!), who I had actually already met on Twitter and connected him to pace this race.  Some serious small runner land stuff.  I saw Tony, my pacer pal from Harbor Lights, and helped him celebrate his birthday with another Yuengling.  I wrapped my 2015 Shamrock Half Marathon with a few more beers, a lot of socializing, tons of fun and a big thank you to J&A Racing for another amazing year. 2015 shamrock half marathon2015 shamrock half marathonThe 2015 Shamrock Half Marathon was a great experience and I hope I get to pace it again in 2016.  Team J&A does an incredible job involving the community, running a timely event and rewarding their participants with graciousness and gratitude.  The course is flat, fast and home to some great scenery.  If you ever have the opportunity, make sure you swing by Virginia Beach and get your ShamRock on!

Meredith

Did you Shamrock this year?  What’s your favorite race?  Why?

RnR AZ 2015 Race Day!

RnR AZ 2015 kicked off my year of racing.  It was a two day event full of running fun that included getting state #10, Arizona, checked off my list.  You can check out how Day 1 at the expo and my first tweetup went here.

RnR AZ 2015 Race Day started with breakfast, an E2 and a short drive to plenty of free parking next to Sun Devil Stadium.  I parked in a lot with plenty of space 50 minutes before the official start time and began walking to the starting area with a sea of fellow runners.  While replying to a good luck text from Doug, I realized my GPS watch was still on its charger.  Oh well, the let’s see what happens race would end up being just that.  I still wanted to come in under 1:40.00 but am not too great at pacing myself with race day distractions around and wouldn’t be crushed if I missed.  I walked past the Start line, 22 corrals, four massive groups of Port-a-Potties and dropped my gear with a friendly volunteer.  After emptying my hands of pre-race clothing, phone and bag, I jumped into a Port-a-Potty line that moved at a reasonable pace then found some space to warm up.

Stretching, jogging and three strides sent me Corral 2.  It had been chilly after shedding my hoodie at gear check and standing in the open air potty line but crammed in there with a few hundred other runners, things warmed up a bit.  The Corral 2 start was a bit late due to a passing light rail train and we were let loose at 7:58.  I settled right into a comfortable racing pace and figured I would ask someone near the Mile 1 marker how I had been doing.  My plan worked out passing the Mile 1 marker when I came up on another female runner who was moving along at roughly the same pace I was.  I asked her what she had clocked, 7:20, and we started to chat. She wanted to PR by breaking 1:40.00 with the goal of averaging a 7:30 mile for the entire race.  We stuck together through the flat and fast first 5k in 23:16.  Enjoying one another’s company, we continued to chat for the next 11 miles.  A Phoenix local, she had run this race before and was familiar with the course, which I thought was fantastic.

Now, to be honest, after that first 5k, the rest of the race is kind of a blur. Between chatting and not having my watch to look at, I was mostly just enjoying my first race with a buddy.  We grabbed some fluid at Mile 4 still clicking right along at our target pace and had settled in nicely to hit our sub-1:40.00 goals.  I’m guessing it was around Mile 5 when I came across a gentleman wearing a shirt I recognized from RnR Las Vegas.  As we passed, I asked him if he was indeed the gentleman I had seen in November wearing the Lt. Joe Kenda: Homicide Hunter tech shirt.  I had made note of the shirt during that race because Doug and I are big fans of the show and I had never seen one like it before.  He (this super runner) replied that yes, he was, as I exclaimed that Doug and I love the show.  As I came up to his side, he stated that he plays Lt. Joe Kenda on the show and when I took a second glance to my right, I was so excited!  I told him we are big fans and wished him luck on the rest of his race.

Next up was a water stop my buddy was able to run through while I walked to avoid choking.  I picked up the pace a bit to catch up and we ran a 7:40 as we climbed another short, steady grade into a right turn and the 10k mark (46:28).  Near the Mile 8 marker we finally got around to introducing ourselves.  Neither of us had ever run with a buddy before and we both agreed running, chatting and passing the miles with a pal was definitely more fun than without.  Megan is a super runner mom to three little ones who had qualified for and run Boston a few years earlier.  We had lots of the same strategies, such as telling ourselves 10k was halfway plus a little speed work and chatted for 80% of the minutes we spent side by side.  The exceptions were a few moments where I was playing catch up after slowing through one of my three water pauses or we were both puffing up one of those ‘flat’ hills.

Heading uphill towards Mile 9, I again walked for water, still managing to choke, and powered up the hill to a tight turnaround as I caught up to Megan just before the 15k marker.  We stuck together through the next few miles as some banking started to bother my knee a little bit and the tough workout I wasn’t mentally, or physically, prepared for began to take its toll.  We hit the Mile 10 mark at 1:15.22, exactly where both of us wanted to be.  I planned on cruising in and told Megan she could go for her PR whenever she was ready.  She stuck with me until the Mile 12 water stop, where I came to a complete stop to avoiding choking on water and she hit the gas to get her PR.  I struggled to start running again on legs that weren’t happy to have stopped but cruised through an easy last mile to hit my sub-1:40.00 goal and finish in 1:38.54.

After collecting my finisher’s medal, water, chocolate milk, pretzels and PowerBars, I picked Megan out of the crowd and congratulated her on her amazing run.  It was so awesome to share that with her.  Next up was watching the marathon winner cross the Finish, collecting my Desert Double Down medal to commemorate my running of both RnR Las Vegas and Arizona and stretching out on the grass a bit before calling it a day.rnr az 2015Overall thoughts:
* The course was well prepared with hydration stations and Port-a-Potties on the sidelines as well as rocking bands at each mile (or so, I think).
* If anyone ever tries to tell you this course is flat, it isn’t. Maybe compared to Boston, the Philadelphia Marathon, Run the Bluegrass or Richmond.  I’ve run flatter here, here, here, here and here.  True, it’s not hilly in the traditional sense of steep climbs followed by coming down the other side.  It’s more subtle than that.  With long stretches featuring 7-10% grades at several points on the course, it can get challenging if you’re not mentally prepared.
* Getting parked before the race was free and easy.
* Getting back to the parking after the race, not so much.  There were a number of racers wandering around trying to find our way back to the Start so we could then navigate to our cars.  It added a nice long walk to shake everything out post-race but if you’re not in the mood to stroll around ASU’s campus and don’t know where you’re going, study the map.
* The weather was great for the half (50 at the start, 62 at the finish) but might get a little warm for the full.  It’s dry and mostly sunny on the course, so hydration is important.
* The tech shirts, medals, post-race goodies and party are high quality as expected from Rock n Roll.

I still have 41 places to race to accomplish my goal but RnR AZ 2015 makes me think about heading back again next year, especially because the medals for the next three years will fit like a puzzle with this one to make one giant Arizona shaped prize.

Meredith

Have you raced in 2015 yet?  Which one?  If not, when’s your first?

Kooee Super Snacks Review

I recently received the opportunity to try a sample of Kooee Super Snacks as part of my Girls Gone Sporty ambassadorship.  I’m not a big jerky eater but that’s mostly because I don’t think to buy it.  A friend of mine makes delicious venison jerky I can’t wait to get my hands on each kooee super snacksfall and when beef jerky is flavored right, I’ll munch on it any time.  After learning a little bit about the product, I was very excited to give it a try.

Kooee Super Snacks are gluten free, soy-free, paleo friendly and feature beef that was never given antibiotics or additional hormones.  Each package contains tons of protein, 20+ grams, but it is a little high in cholesterol and sodium compared to a 20g Powerbar.  Kooee Super Snacks are currently available in two flavors, Smoked Chipolte with Apple and Lime Pepper with Mango, and two packages of each were included in my sample.  I opened the first of my Smoked Chipolte as a post-workout refuler.

The first thing I noticed was the packaging.  One of my favorite things about the snacks, the resealable packet is divided into two parts, one for the jerky and a second section for the nuts and apples, that combine when you unzip the top closure.  Two compartments helps ensure freshness while the ability to close the package means you it’s portable when you don’t finish an entire serving at once.  In addition to those fun features, the packaging is slim and easy to slide into a laptop, gym- or hand- bag.

After the packaging it was on to the jerky snacks themselves.  I dove right in and grabbed a big piece of jerky to fill my rumbling post-workout belly.  The smoked chipolte flavor was strong, fresh and good.  A sneaky burst of heat was eased by pulling out an apple slice to go with it and the pairing works wonderfully.  Of course I shared a bit with my fellow worker-outers and they also thought it was quite tasty.  It only took about half of the package to satisfy my post session craving, making me glad I could close the remaining food up and take it with me.

The next day I decided to finish my first batch of Kooee Super Snacks as an after lunch, before dinner filler.  To my delight I found the resealed package still held fresh food after 24 hours and the final third was more than enough to ease my hunger.  As I munched and prepared to discard the packaging, I noticed I could swing by the website to track my beef.  It was really neat to enter the code and see where the meat came from.  It gave tons of credibility to the no added hormone and no antibiotics claims and lets me know that I was eating exactly what I thought I was.

I definitely enjoyed the smoked chipolte but to be fair had to give them lime pepper a try.  It was just as fresh and convenient as the previous package but I’m not a big lime person and preferred the chipolte.  The fruits and nuts in both packages were really nicely paired with the meat’s flavor making it clear some serious time had been spent trying to concoct these mixtures.

I enjoyed the time I spent exploring Kooee Super Snacks and recommend the portable, protein packed jerky mixes for any road trip, workout or afternoon.  Be sure to visit the Kooee Super Snack website to help them with their Kickstarter campaign or order your own to try!

****I received Kooee Super Snacks as part of my partnership with Girls Gone Sporty.  I received no compensation for this review beyond complimentary sample product.****

Meredith

Have you tried Kooee Super Snacks?  Would you like to?

Right Now: October Edition 2

It’s time for October Edition 2 of Right Now!  I missed posting a Right Now in September and am making up for lost time with this second post.  You can check out the first one here for some of the other things I’ve been up to lately, other than running, that is.

Here we go!

Eating:  Mashed potatoes.  I love potatoes.  Baked potatoes take a while, even baked sweet potatoes so I’ve taken to mashing them up and freezing single size servings.  This article not only made my day, it makes the good point that even though I love my pasta, I can benefit more from chowing down on a baked, mashed, boiled spud with a handful of cheddar cheese and some garlic than a bowlful of penne after a hard run.october edition 2

Using:  The Fitness Games.  I reviewed this app a few weeks ago and still use it every now and then.  I love the strength program on I’m on now, but sometimes after a hard run I know lifting heavy weights wouldn’t be a good idea.  The app’s bodyweight workouts are challenging and make good cross training sessions for those non-running days when you want to stay away from the gym.

october edition 2Registering:  I used the 2015 Rock n Roll TourPass 3-Pack I purchased earlier this month to get two of next year’s race locations on the calendar.  With 43 states to go, I’m aiming to check off five per year (as long as the budget permits) and will be getting started quickly with Rock n Roll Arizona the second week in January.  Next up is Rock n Roll DC in March.

I hoe you enjoyed October Edition 2 of Right Now.  Heading into the next few days, I’ll be en route to Myrtle Beach for the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon where the last six months’ hard training will hopefully pay off with a new half marathon PR.  Stay tuned for lots of race weekend fun!

Meredith

Do you like potatoes?  What’s your favorite recipe?

Summer Shorts: Lululemon Speed Short

Shorts are it for me during the summer.  Yes, I wear lightweight capris when I’m working 85% of the time, especially when I’m indoors, but when I get my sweat on?  The shorter the shorts the better.  I’m not one to have my rear end hanging out, but full coverage and a bit of support are about all I require.  It was time for something new and I knew what I wanted: shorts with a pocket and without groin chafing seams on the lining.speed shorts

I’m a fan of Lululemon‘s other bottoms (read about it here) and hoped I’d be able to find exactly what I wanted.  What was more important to me than the pocket, however, was the lack of a chafe inducing built-in lining.  I don’t buy or wear standard ‘running’ shorts because the built-in linings with their thin, tight elastic edges usually rub me in an awful way.  (Thanks narrow hips, short rise and small rear!)  I picked up a pair of Run: Speed Shorts and was very excited to feel a flat, edgeless lining and Lululemon’s “signature three-pocket waistband”.  They felt even better when I slipped them on: comfortable and supportive without making my groin feel like it was being separated from the rest of my body.  Sold!  I made for home with a $54 pair of Lululemon’s Run: Speed Short in black.

I decided to break them in over a long run on an early, hot and humid Saturday morning.  Go big or go home, right?  I piled my car key, my ID and a $20 bill in the back zipper pocket and took off for 13 miles.  I was a bit concerned the load of goodies resting on just above my butt might result in a rub with all the sweat and heat, but better to find out now than on race day.  Off I went!  I first noticed how the lightweight fabric and loose outer layer let plenty of air circulate through the quickly sweat soaked fabric while the lining wicked the sweat that kept on coming away and protected my pocketed belongings.  The “chafe-resistant flat seams” did a wonderful job of keeping the supportive inner lining in place speed shortswith every step, regardless of how thoroughly saturated the garment was and by Mile 8, I could tell my skin wasn’t going suffer at all.  I ran on for five more miles, barely noticing the shorts and not fiddling with them once.

After I hit the stop button at Mile 13, I reevaluated my shorts situation while I cooled down and stretched.  First I checked on my lower back.  The pocket had stayed tightly zipped despite all of the contents bouncing around for over an hour and forty minutes and there was no rub.  Just a stinky, wet $20 bill.  Excellent.  Next up, the skin around my groin.  No irritation there either.  Big win.  Finally, lots of body parts I’d like to keep to myself can accidentally see daylight when doing post-run stretching and yoga in sticky, barely there to begin with, sweaty clothes but the Speed Short keep me covered.  I checked.  I looked in a mirror from every angle in every position I could think of.  Good to go.

The Speed Short had been awesome during the run and was great after it.  The “slim fit, medium rise, 2.5″ (6cm) inseam” shorts that are made “for training runs and race day, too” are a great addition to any running gear collection and I can’t wait to race in mine.  Definitely consider adding a pair to your shorts rotation and run in secure comfort any time you head out.

Meredith

Note:  I was not compensated in any way for trying, using or reviewing this product.  All opinions are my own.

What’s most important to you in a pair of running shorts or pants?

Dinner at Buoy 44: A Review

buoy 44Buoy 44 is Just off the water on Chesapeake Bay, in the former Virginia Beach location of Alexander’s on the Bay.  Destroyed by a nor’ easter in 2009, the lot was an empty building for four years as the owners searched for a new tenant.  Buoy 44 opened in April, 2014 and provides a casual, family friendly environment that rounds out the dining options in Chix Beach.

Before heading to the restaurant, I attempted to preview the Buoy 44 menu by searching the web.  I was unable to find a Buoy 44 website, but their Facebook page (link above) did provide some insight.  The menu seemed small but looked inviting and the week’s specials filled it out a bit.  Once we arrived at the location, complimentary valet parking meant we had no trouble getting to the door, and when we walked in, Doug, my mother and I were quickly seated inside by a friendly hostess.  We could see the deck and bay from our smoke free vantage point and watched many patrons enjoy the smoker friendly deck’s views.

While perusing the menu, we were offered cocktails but not told the evening’s specials.  As we waited for our drinks we found the specials listed on a chalkboard and when the cocktails were delivered we were finally told about them by our friendly server who seemed not particularly stressed out, but somewhat distracted.  The three of us also quickly noticed the noise level that resulted from a combination of low ceilings, a hardwood floor and metal tables and chairs in the dining area.  It was loud.  Our Cheesesteak Spring Rolls, one of the specials, came out with average speed but were quite delicious.  After the shared appetizer, I ordered the shrimp pasta, Doug ordered a steak and my mom ordered the crab stuffed flounder, another of the evening’s specials.

As we waited for our main dishes to be delivered, our server returned to the table to tell us they had run out of the flounder special.  Very apologetic, she was quick to offer a menu and suggest another option.  As Mom scanned the menu for another meal, the server stepped away.  Only seconds later, she returned to say that she was wrong and the crab stuffed flounder would be arriving shortly.  It did, along with Doug’s steak, though my pasta was slow in coming, dropped off close to Buoy 44five minutes later.  Awkward.  There seemed to be a very serious lack of communication between the wait staff, the kitchen and whatever system kept track of the kitchen’s inventory.

In spite of the troubles actually getting our meals to the table, we enjoyed the food.  Not one of the best meals any of us had ever had, but each plate was tasty and exactly as expected.  After wrapping up our meals, I made a visit to the restroom.  They seemed to have missed out on the renovation.  The Buoy 44 Ladies Room featured one regular stall and one wheelchair accessible stall where once white floors were worn black in high traffic areas and paper towel pieces could easily be found on the floor.  My stall door featured a wooden hinge repair, but the large vanity and two sinks were clean and brightly lit.

I returned to the table in time to decline dessert, order the check and be issued another apology from our server.  Not a place I would return to in hopes of having an exquisite dining experience, Buoy 44 does offer great views of the Bay and a deck I can definitely see myself enjoying as the warmer months roll on.  It’s the perfect spot for an outdoor happy hour with a view as long as you don’t mind the possibility of getting a nose full of cigarette smoke, though if the breeze is on your side, it wouldn’t even be noticeable.  The large bar inside would also make for a nice happy hour spot, especially for those who don’t enjoy a smokey environment.

Pluses:  Location!  Views!  Social, family friendly atmosphere.

Minuses:  No boat access, loud dining room, small menu, no website.

Will I go back?  There are numerous locales I find preferable, but it’s certainly on the list when I’m in the mood for something casual, not feeling picky about my meal and ready to talk a bit louder than normal.

Meredith