Happy Taste Buds, Meet Healthy Body – Health Warrior Chia Bars Review

Disclosure: I received complimentary samples of Health Warrior’s Chia Bars 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 opinions are my own.

Quick read for you guys this evening – I’m sharing my thoughts about the Health Warrior Chia Bars, which I’ve been tasting and testing for the past month! Health Warrior sent me 15 of the Vanilla Almond and 15 of the Chocolate Peanut Butter flavored chia bars to test, as well as a fun marathon training coloring book. 

As you may recall, I’m not super picky about the specs of the food I’m eating – I don’t have any allergies or specific restrictions on my diet, and I mainly just try to avoid eating too much junk and processed foods. Given that Health Warrior products are so “clean,” and because sometimes things that are so clean taste gross, I was pleasantly surprised I liked them. A mid-afternoon Chocolate Peanut Butter binge has successfully replaced my routine raid of the candy drawer at my office. This makes me feel better about my life choices, and makes my actual body feel better. I also had Chris, my husband who’s less of a health nut than I am, try them. He actually enjoyed the Vanilla Almond flavor as well (dude amazingly doesn’t like peanut butter).

Of course, Health Warrior’s Chia Bars are largely comprised of chia seeds, which are rich in nutrients like fiber, anti-oxidants, protein, calcium, omega-3’s and healthier carbs. The goal is for the chia seeds to expand in your stomach and also make you feel fuller, without all of the extra calories and processed junk that makes other bars, well, bar-like. 

It’s also reassuring that I understand everything that’s in each of these bars. Everything is pronounceable, not that it’s a bad thing if there’s something that’s difficult to pronounce, as long as I know what it is.

In terms of when I eat them, I’ve tried a couple for breakfast, as a snack, and as a pre-workout fuel, and they’ve worked pretty well for all three. Because they are so high in fiber, I worried that they would not make a good source of pre-long-run fuel. However, they gave me a little extra burst of carbs without making me feel weighed down (and I didn’t have any GI issues, which I’m sure is the real question you all have). That says a lot – there are a ton of foods that I just can’t eat before a long run. Anything with any amount of dairy (aka most breakfast food), pop tarts, apples and oatmeal are all foods that work for other runners but are disastrous for me. These work for my running routine and that’s what’s most important. 

My one complaint is that I wish they had a bit more protein, as there are 110 calories in each and only 3-4 grams of protein (at least in the flavors I tried). For this reason, while they filled me up temporarily (thanks, chia seeds), and they filled me up more than chips or other junk I reach for when I’m unprepared, they didn’t keep me full for longer than similar protein-rich snacks. You can guarantee I’ll be trying out their Protein Bars when I finish the samples they gave me.

The other great thing about this company is that they understand how much of being healthy is mental. The branding of warrior is just something I like, but I really did find the coloring book to be therapeutic. It helps to visualize yourself as a warrior, cheesy as it sounds. 🙂 I’ve been goal setting and considering what will be a success at the upcoming Rock ‘n’ Roll race in San Antonio, and taking the time to color has been a big part of it.

#goals: to hit 2:20 this season, which may require a unicorn cloud of magic to accomplish.

You can try out samples of the different bars by visiting the Health Warrior website, and you only have to pay shipping and handling. Be sure to try the coloring book with this unique link: http://healthwarrior.link/colorbookbr They also sell them at Target, Whole Foods, Wegmans and Sprouts. To give you an idea of price, their sampler pack has gone for 16 bars for $19.99, though it’s currently sold out. That’s quite reasonable!

What’s your favorite pre-run food?

Cheers to finding something that makes my taste buds happy and keeps me healthy!

2017 Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon Recap

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon 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 opinions are my own.

As mentioned last week, I kicked off my racing season with the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon again this year, and was really looking forward to a well-run race with awesome swag. Well, Mother Nature had other plans – sadly, they ended up having to call off the race part. However, that made me realize just how much else a race does that makes it successful, so let me tell you about all of the parts that made me love this race even more.

Pre-race

Before race weekend, management was communicative well ahead of time. There aren’t many updates made to the website, so most of their communication was through email (for example, all parking information is sent via email). The race did a great job of notifying everyone via Facebook to check their email, so once I knew to do that, I had everything I needed in my inbox.

Additionally, the race also has social media giveaways just about every week, so there are really great opportunities to win everything from Lululemon to nutrition supplements. I love that they do this because it keeps everyone engaged!

They also partnered with the Stella Hotel in Bryan this year, to give runners a killer rate. I had to sign up a little later and missed out on this, but the hotel is normally over $200/night and it was under $130 a night if you signed up for the race’s block of rooms.

Expo

I mentioned last year that the expo was quite small, but they definitely stepped it up this year. It was still small relative to other expos, but they improved on variety and activities. There were booths representing nutrition supplements, head gear, a local running club and a local running store. The race also had a fun photo booth were you could get a nice printout to commemorate the event. Well done, guys!

Race Day Communication

This is where their excellent planning truly showed. When a cold front blows through right at start time, there’s not a whole lot you can do to control the situation, but you CAN communicate. Via social media and email they did let us know the race had been delayed multiple times (first to 8:00, then to 9:00). When we didn’t see any additional updates at 8:45, we figured they were probably only going to have minor delays, as it appeared to be clearing off slightly. We headed to the start line and they had just made the decision to call off the race. It was a bummer, but they made the best of it and ushered us all to the after party, which was still ready to go!

Post-race Party and SWAG

The post race party had all the bells and whistles, with delicious craft beer, plenty of food to go around, and of course, swag. Since I didn’t race, I decided to forgo some of the food this year (I had, after all, carb-loaded thinking I was going to be racing). I did, however, take full advantage of the swag.

They went ahead and handed out finisher medals – not totally sure how I feel about having a medal for a race I didn’t actually run, but it’s really pretty, so I decided not to be legalistic and took it. The medal was large, colorful and complete with a bottle opener. We also received really soft finisher’s tees (in some ways, I’d rather have more of these than tech tees, because they’re so darn comfy) and a sweet tote bag at the expo. They definitely think outside the box with race day swag.

Moral of the story: just because a race gets cancelled doesn’t mean it’s all bad. Race management handled a difficult, unpredictable situation well and I was impressed.

Have you ever had a race get cancelled? How did they handle it?

There’s always next year and I hope to be back. Cheers to that!

The definitive guide to getting your carb on: Bryan/College Station

Never been to College Station (or just never had a race there)? Have no fear – the first in my series of restaurant guides for race weekend is here.

Check out some of my favorite places to eat that are pretty unique to the area when I’m in C-Stat for a race. And look for me on Sunday right here at Kyle Field for the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon post-race party!

Layne’s Chicken Fingers

106 Walton Dr.
College Station, TX 77840
979.696.7633

A College Station original decked out in Aggie maroon and white, Layne’s offers delicious, lightly breaded and crisp chicken and a secret, peppery comeback sauce. They also have fresh, buttery Texas toast, and an authentic vibe that will make you reminisce of the holes in the walls you frequented in college. Plus, true to college life, it’s super-affordable ($5-6 per person) and near campus.

Hungry Howie’s

105 Southwest Pkwy. #400
College Station, TX 77840
979.693.6666

Pizza can get a little old if you’re eating it often to carbload. Flavored crusts add another level to elevate the take-out pizza (garlic herb, anyone?). Plus, when you’re traveling, it’s great to have an inexpensive meal option, since you’re paying for gas and a hotel as it is.

Caffe Capri

222 North Main Street
Bryan, Texas 77803
979.822.2675

For those looking for a pasta party the night before a big race, in historic downtown Bryan, Caffe Capri has the most delicious Italian fare in the area. They serve the best bread as an intro, and their pasta is to die for. Be sure to call ahead or get there early if it’s a Friday or Saturday – it gets pretty crowded!

Grub Burger Bar

980 University Dr E #400
College Station, TX 77840
979.268.1041

Grub is the home of some of the best burgers in modern history, and has delicious fries to boot (and milkshakes, if they don’t upset your stomach). When you walk in, the aroma of their fresh buns wafts in your direction, so you know it’s going to be good. And they have a lot of different flavor options, so you’re bound to find something you like on the menu.

Fuego Tortilla Grill

108 Poplar Street
College Station, TX 77840
979.703.1804

Tacos, and especially breakfast tacos, are a Texas staple. Fuego does them really well, 24/7. They are made to order and have so many fresh salsas to choose from. I have to get the Fuego Steak every time I go, but their chorizo breakfast taco is also what got me hooked on chorizo. They also have fantastic chips and queso, if you have time to sit down.

Blue Baker

201 Dominik Drive
College Station, TX 77840
979.696.5055

What runner doesn’t like homemade baked goods? This place is like a local version of Panera. My favorite menu item is the Club Bleu on a croissant; they also have delicious bread bowls, sweet breads, scones and pastries. And if you’re short on cash, just wear all blue and you’ll get a free cookie.

Atami Steak & Sushi

800 University Dr E #200
College Station, TX 77840
979.268.8883

I love their sushi here – if you’re looking for something a little lighter to load up on carbs and protein, I highly recommend this place.

Not quite a carb:

Sweet Eugene’s

1702 George Bush Dr. E.
College Station, TX 77840
979.696.5282
 

If you need coffee in an IV, Sweet Eugene’s is one of the best local places and has a really quirky, comfy atmosphere. They have delicious pastries and donuts, too (I recommend the white chocolate cranberry scone warmed up).

If you try any of these local eateries while you’re in town, or if you try something new, I’d love to hear what you think!

Cheers to getting your carb on for a successful race. 🙂

Training Update: September – Do You Remember?

Well, I don’t remember… how my runs shaped up, that is.

This past month was like Murphy’s Law for my running in some ways (thankfully no injuries, but everything else). People often ask how I juggle running, work and the rest of my life. It seems running got the short end of the stick this month.

That’s okay, though.

The world that we portray on social media portrays the glossy version of the truth. However, we all have real lives and get off track sometimes. Perseverance it’s what’s most important.

Part of the challenge was that Chris and I took a short vacation, and then the following weekend I planned a visit to my parent’s house and was trying to run around and catch up with friends all weekend. My training got a little off, and then I got confused which week in my schedule I was on. And now, I’m looking back at what I got done and I’m even more confused.

I do remember the good runs and the bad, so I’ll do my best to piece it together for you guys.

From our trip to Magnolia Market.

Week of September 3 (Week 10):

6 mi. | 50 min. tempo | 9 mi.

This week was the week we were catching up from vacation. I don’t know where my runs are – I could have sworn I did them, but they aren’t on either app I use (Garmin and Nike Run Club). I think I was just so relaxed that I either ran a couple on the treadmill and forgot to track it, or I didn’t get them done. It’s all good though, right?

Total mileage: I honestly don’t know!

Week of September 10 (Week 11):

4 mi. | 3 mi. pace | 10K race

Well, this was the week I went to visit my parents, and I didn’t quite make it to doing the 10K. The morning I set out to do it was hot and humid (true to Houston style). But I did go ahead and do a 9 mile for the following week when I got back to Austin. Though it was also a hot one, I got it done and it felt great.

Total mileage: 12.2 18.7 mi.

Week of September 17 (Week 12):

6 mi. | 5 mi. | 9 mi.

I basically switched the prior week and this week in terms of total mileage. I think the positive is that I got a lot done. I remember all my runs feeling slow, and this was really the week I started to feel a little burnt out on training and work. Plus, it was Chris’ birthday, and all I wanted to do was relax together. This training cycle went so well up until September, and I was starting to feel the fruits of my labor in the form of burnout. It’s been hot, I’ve been tired from work, and I’ve been short on time to tend to things at home.

So it was definitely a tough week, but onward and upward.

Total mileage:  20 10 mi.

Week of September 24 (Week 13):

6 mi. | 6 mi. | 10 mi.

One of these runs was one I broke into two shorter runs, due to time and a hectic schedule. However, the big win here was during my 10 mile (which I also had to shorten to 9.5 miles due to time), I ran 9.5 miles in the time it took to finish 9 miles during week 11. The weather was amazing at 65 degrees because we got a cold front. It’s really encouraging to look back and see the improvement, especially when this month was so inconsistent.

Total mileage: 22 21.2 mi.

And that’s a wrap! I feel like I’ve gotten back on track since September.

Again, onward and upward; the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon is this weekend. Cheers to kicking off the racing season!

Guest Blog: Daisy the Dog – Stunt Puppy Go Dog Glo™ Dry Collar Review

Disclosure: I received Stunt Puppy's Go Dog Glo™ Dry Collar™ 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 opinions are my own.

Daisy is the star of today’s blog post! She’s been testing the Go Dog Glo™ Dry Collar™ from our new friends at Stunt Puppy. They’re an active pet gear brand with products made in the USA, so we were really excited to see what everyone’s been barking about.

I wanted to try this collar because it’s waterproof, stinkproof and has a highly-reflective strip down the center. It’s also made of a material called “BioThane” which reminds me of a flexible plastic or nylon. It functions like fabric, but it looks fresh all the time!

Without further ado, I’ll let Daisy share her thoughts on this collar.

Hey guys! Daisy here – sometimes, my pawrents call me “Daisy Doodle Dandy.” Whateva that means.

Anywho, Mawm says I can be a wittle ruff around the edges. I think that’s because I follow my nose wherever it takes me. She worries a wittle when I do that, so I think it makes her relax knowing I’m wearin’ reflective collar in case I wander off. Mawm and Paw also work a lot, meaning it’s dusk when we go walking sometimes. I feel confident knowing the reflection can help protect my mawm when we’re together.

I’ve heard Mawm talking ’bout all the pups in my hometown of Houston who’ve been separated from their pawrents. I bet they’re real scared, being away from their hoomans, and since I was picked up as a stray, I can understand how they feel. These things called cars go so fast, and you never know if they’re headed straight for ya. Plus, if you’re all wet and anxious, your reaction time might not be as quick. Now, cars can see me if I ever get lost, or if my ma is out searching for me, the reflection on my collar will be SO bright if she shines a flashlight on me. And the reflection won’t go away if I’m all wet.

But on to more pawsitive territory. This collar has two hooks on it, one for my identifications, the other for a leash. They’re both strong and can hold onto me if I run after a squirrel; I sure do love my walks, but those squirrels are annoying. 

I’m not a vain pup, but I still love the way this looks on me. Hoomans also think I look like a boy dog, and while I don’t believe in conforming to stereotypical gender norms (I am perty pawgressive, you guys), I just want to dress a wittle bit feminine sometimes. That bright pink just barks “girl power!” I am a bit fluffy, too, but other hoomans are able to see it perty easily, which is real nice. In a real effort to defy gender stereotypes, i love getting dirty and rolling around in the wet grass, but this collar can take it no matter what the activity.

I’m a dog, so I see the best in everything. I really don’t have any thing that I don’t love about this collar. I do recommend double checking the sizing; I’m normally a medium, but these collars are sized differently than standard collars, and every mutt is different.

Well, that’s all for now guys. Time for me to go beg my mom to take me to the dog park. Thanks, Stunt Puppy – you’re one of my new best fwiends!

Man, I pretty much feel like a failure now, since she said all of that and doesn’t even have opposable thumbs. 😉

I’d recommend this collar to any pet owner for its unbeatable safety features that give me peace of mind. It’s $26 and can be purchased at StuntPuppy.com.

What’s your favorite activity to take your pooch to do?

Cheers to smart products to protect our not-so-smart-sometimes puppers!

Time to Toss Those Earbuds: AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Review

Disclosure: I received AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones 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 opinions are my own.

Question: how often do you actually take the time to clean your earbuds?

My answer is: maybe once a year.

I understand if you think I’m gross for this, because I honestly feel gross when I think about it.

BUT I also happen to think most of you probably have a grimy set of earbuds that you’re similarly embarrassed about.

Luckily, I don’t really need to worry about the grossness as much these days. This summer, I’ve been testing the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones, and they’re definitely a workout game-changer.

What’s so special about these headphones?

They don’t actually need to go inside your ear canal to work. Crazy, right? They use a proprietary bone conducting technology that delivers the sound through a combination of the bone on the exterior of your ear and the ear canal.

The technology benefits both runners and active people. Namely, it leaves the ear open to hearing other sounds outside. Not only is this important for safety purposes/being aware of surroundings, but you can actually hear and respond when someone says something to you.

The other benefit, is, of course, no grimy earbuds. Seriously though, I’m sure traditional earbuds harbor bacteria that you do not want inside your ear. My Trekz Titanium may get sweaty, but are a lot easier to clean and only touch areas of your body that are also easy to clean. The clean freak inside of me rejoices.

I also enjoyed:

  • The freedom from having nothing in my ear – it just feels comfortable.
  • No crazy adjusting like I’ve had to do with other bluetooth earbuds to get them just right.
  • They stay put – the in-ear bluetooth headphones I’ve tried tend to fall out (obviously, I didn’t have that issue here).
  • Fun colors – I got black so my husband could borrow them if he wanted, but the pink, lime green, and blue options are all pretty!
  • Easy to pair – I’ve never had any issues with the headphones syncing up to my iPhone when I turn them on.
  • Battery life – the battery charges quickly and lasts for a long time. It also lets you know well before that the battery is getting low, so there’s time to finish your workout and then find a charger.

Other considerations:

  • The regular size fit a little loosely for my taste. Luckily they offer a Mini-sized option for those like myself with petite heads.
  • I didn’t like that a single jerk of the head in the wrong direction messes up the sound, but it’s to be expected. They’re really good for running and lifting weights, but I don’t know how they would fare with cross fit or another really dynamic workout.
  • My husband, who is a musician/audio engineer, noted he wasn’t a huge fan of the sound quality compared to traditional earbuds. I found the sound quality difference was there, but minimal; I was actually pleasantly surprised/a little shocked by how much I could hear.

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium will run you $129.95 (which is pretty realistic for bluetooth headphones). They can be purchased through the company’s website, www.aftershokz.com, though I’ve seen them go on sale on Amazon from time to time.

Today’s question: what do you enjoy listening to on your runs? Podcasts? Classical music?

Cheers to modern technology! 🙂

Year Three in the Rearview: Blogiversary/Runniversary

It’s hard to believe that just over 3 years ago I embarked on my half marathon/full marathon journey and started this blog to document the process. Reflecting on the past year, so much has happened, and I finally feel ready to discuss some of it as it relates to running.


When I started running regularly, I began to notice a lot of changes. I felt more focused, and I felt a sense of peace. After a run, I would feel refreshed, less stressed, like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Now, I realize how much God brought running into my life at a crucial time and to help heal some of my brokenness.

About a year and a half ago, after the big move to Austin, I started struggling with a lot of anxiety. No, I’m not talking about feeling anxious in normal situations that call for nervousness.

I fretted and panicked over every little thing – sending emails, keeping up with my workouts, making new friends, forgetting to take the trash out, losing my keys, etc. I would have sudden anxiety attacks, followed by massive feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and depression. I found myself struggling to get out of bed in the morning every single day, longing for each day to be over before it began. It was constant. It was something I experienced before, but something running largely alleviated during the calmer periods of my life the last couple of years.

Chris and I pre-PR at the Cap 10K this year.

Being in a new city, away from much of my support system, and being in a work environment that just did not work for me at all, the anxiety led into depression. I tried to work through it and keep on keepin’ on, but it wasn’t something that running could alleviate any more. It became impossible to rely solely on running as my stress reliever and it was clear that I needed some help. I came to a breaking point (I won’t elaborate here because I really don’t want to glamorize how I was feeling). I couldn’t out run the problem anymore, or sweep it under the rug like I’d been doing for 16 years.

Though all of that was extremely tough, the good news is that over the past year I began to intentionally take care of my mental health. In addition to having an incredibly supportive husband who encouraged me to get the help I needed, I owe that in large part to the practice of running. I would not have realized how much I needed help if running hadn’t made such a difference in my life.

It’s true that God has used running in my life, but I could not have foreseen what a large role it would play in this particular aspect of my life.

So why tell you all of this?

Transparency. So often bloggers, writers, etc. discuss struggles during a pregnancy or weight loss, but depression and mental health are sometimes considered taboo. However, it’s still health-related, and, therefore, important.

I feel a sense of duty to share what’s been going on, because so many people are afraid to. That’s always been the motivation of my blog – to reflect on what I’ve experienced and learned, so that others can know they’re not alone, learn more about themselves, and to build community.

There’s still a perception that anxiety can be a handicap or disability, which is wrong, but it exists. I got to my breaking point and it’s hard to think about how awful that was – but I’m also kind of inspired thinking about where I was just a little over a year ago and where I am today.  Not only did I start looking for a new job, but I started the journey to find help – like not just seeing a counselor a few times, but consistent help from a therapist and psychiatrist. It took me far too long to do all of that because I feared the stigma. And I want to be a part of breaking down that stigma.

Finishing my second marathon – another tough experience, but totally worth it to prove to myself that I could do it again. 

The other reason is to celebrate. It’s taken me a month and a half to get the courage to post this, but I’ve overcome a lot in the past year and I want to spread the message that there is hope. Wherever you’re at, you are loved, your life matters, and you are NOT alone. If you need help, or need to take medication, there is nothing wrong with that. As Jamie Tworkowski implied, as long as you have breath in your lungs, your life matters (this also seems more timely than ever with the tragic death of Chester Bennington).

Mental health is as important as physical health because both contribute to your overall health.

With all of that off my chest, what’s next?

I’m not sure! I’ve got a couple of half marathons I’m looking forward to this fall. My plan is to continue to focus on getting faster with my half marathon time before I think about doing another full marathon. It keeps me focused on something (and my doctor says that running is important to my treatment – funny how it really is like medication in some ways!).

I’ve also got some fun lifestyle content planned! I always say that, but I’ve been reflecting and brainstorming on a bunch of different posts for the rest of the summer and fall. If you like to travel, stay active and enjoy all that life has to offer (which is basically all people), then this is for you! I’m so excited to share this new content with you guys!

Thanks, as always, for reading along. Your support has meant the world to me and I look forward to sharing the next year of blogging with you guys!

On a serious note: if you or someone you know is experiencing serious depression or considering suicide, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Crisis Text Line (send a text to 741-741 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Someone will answer 24/7. 

FREE TO TRAVEL: Amsterdam Edition

I’ve been wanting to share our experiences from our trip to Europe, because we saw and learned so much. Enjoy my first ever FREE TO TRAVEL post!

Chris and I decided on Amsterdam for a variety reasons. From everything we read, the city was charming and easy to navigate. We were also interested in a lot of the tourist attractions – the food, castles (Chris’ request), museums, etc. Finally, my husband has traveled a lot, but Amsterdam/Holland were one of the places he’d never been, so it would be new to both of us. I’ve included some of the highlights of our trip, and some of the tips we have if you’re considering a visit to this gorgeous city.

Must Do’s

New Europe Walking Tour

In addition to having a great tram system and being a fairly small city, Amsterdam is actually fairly easy to walk –  just watch out for bikers. On our second day in Amsterdam, we took a walking tour from New Europe Walking Tours. We learned so much from our tour guide, who actually went to school in Austin (small world!). For example, did you know weed isn’t actually legal in Amsterdam? Cannabis (without THC) is, but weed is just tolerated… which is as good as being legal, technically. The government actually created a different tax bracket called “goods and other services” for “coffee shops” to use for paying taxes on the weed that they sell. I also liked the ease at which we could ask questions and interact with our guide during the walking tour.

Our tour guide hanging out with Edgar Allen Poe.

The smallest house in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh Museum

A popular attraction in Amesterdam is their many (and boy, do I mean, many) museums. My favorite was the Van Gogh. Growing up, both my mom and teachers educated me on impressionist painters, but I had not seen Van Gogh’s most famous works. It was truly a treat and worth the time. I also appreciated how the museum respectfully discussed his mental illness and the way that affected his works.

At the I Amsterdam sign in front of the Rijksmuseum, after visiting the Van Gogh.


Highly recommend this little cafe over by the Van Gogh. It was delicious!

Flowers… flowers everywhere!

The climate in Holland is lush and perfect for lots of flowers. I think the photos speak for themselves. They were everywhere and this nature-loving girl was in heaven!

Also, thought it was funny that they were selling cacti at the flower market.

Anne Frank Huis

If you go to Amsterdam, this is an absolute must. It’s incredible to see the place where the Frank and van Pels families spent their days. Of course, it’s also terrifying to imagine the fear they must have felt, and the courage they had to muster to survive as long as they did. It’s a sobering experience, but an excellent reminder that we must never allow hate to penetrate our society in such a way.

Muiderslot Castle

I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy a castle? This is more of an attraction for kids (there were birthday parties going on when we went). Still, learning how a real live castle worked, felt a little bit like Game of Thrones. We definitely don’t have anything like that here! Another highlight of going a little out of our way to get to the castle was walking through the town to get there. It was a scenic walk, and gave us a better picture of true Dutch life, away from the high-tourism areas of Amsterdam.

The castle.

Seen on our walk from bus stop to said castle.

The harbor outside the town where Muiderslot is located.

Tips

Airbnb

We stayed in a lovely Airbnb, and I highly recommend doing the same if you’re headed to Amsterdam. The Dutch are pretty friendly as a people, and our host was no exception.


I Amsterdam City Card

Might seem like a steep price to pay for something that doesn’t get you into the Rijksmuseum (one of the most popular museums), but all of the other perks were absolutely worth it. We were able to skip several lines, including at the Van Gogh, thanks to this handy pass. It also paid for our tram fare.


The line we skipped at the Van Gogh (plus the snogging couple, apparently).

Dutch Food

It’s hard to find, but make sure you get it while you’re there – it’s worth a good scouring of Yelp. Amsterdam is diverse, meaning there is a large selection of cuisine to choose from. I recommend trying the bitterballen and stroopwafels, too. Yummy!

Cheese Tasting

Holland is known for its cheese and it makes a great souvenir for family/friends. You certainly won’t regret trying all the cheese if you are anything like me.


The best schnitzel I’ve ever had… probably because I haven’t been to Germany, yet. 😉

More photos…

Boat houses!

The view outside a cafe (bikes for days).

One of the magnificent old churches. Because the Nazi’s didn’t ever bomb Amsterdam, a lot of the old buildings are still in tact.

A lost and found at one of the parks we visited. Note the cigarettes, haha.

Have any of y’all visited Amsterdam? What did you think?

Training Update: July – Feels Like Summer

Hi guys! Now that I’ve begun training again for the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon and the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon this fall, I’m ramping up my training updates once again.

One training plan that’s been effective for is the Hal Higdon Half Marathon 3 schedule, so I’ll be following a modified version of that (to make it longer). This is the schedule I followed when I PR’d at the Austin Half Marathon in 2016, so it definitely worked for me. I love this training schedule because it’s hard to make it into the gym to run more than three times a week (can anyone relate?). Cross training is also easy to do at home, like when I’m walking my dog, or through other activities.

But enough about the training schedule – let’s get started with the recap.

Week of July 2 (Week 1):

4 mi. | 3 mi. | 6 mi.

Getting back in the saddle is tough, and the heat makes it tougher. I was proud to officially get through the first week of training without having to shorten any workouts. I even finished the week with a nice run early Saturday outdoors, though that was a one-time thing on account of the soul-crushing heat. Though my new hat certainly helped! 🙂

Total mileage: 13 mi.

Chris loves my new hat.

Week of July 9 (Week 2):

4 mi. | 30 min. tempo | 6 mi.

Ironically, someone just asked me how I manage to run outside during the summer. Well, as of week two of training, I’m officially no longer running outside this summer. After week one of outdoor heat that took all of my energy, I opted for a long run at the gym and it was totally worth it to be able to sleep in a couple of extra hours.

Total mileage: 13 mi.

The view outside my gym.

Week of July 16 (Week 3):

5 mi. | 3 mi. pace | 7 mi.

During my 3 mile run this week, I challenged myself for the first time by fully committing to run at a good race pace. I’ve always just run these workouts at whatever pace I could muster, but I really want the speed work to pay off this fall. This felt surprisingly great and was a successful run; doing 3 miles netting out at 10:49 felt like a big accomplishment, even with some cool down time. And 5 miles easy at 11:03 also marked progress.

Total mileage: 15 mi.

Love melted covfefe? Move to Texas.

Week of July 23 (Week 4):

4 mi. | 3 mi. | 6 mi.

How fickle does this sound? I’ve only been avoiding the miserable heat for a little while, but I’m already getting sick of the treadmill at week four. My gym also has been having issues with the cable, meaning no HGTV or Food Network; first world problems, am I right? But I have to recognize that I’m fortunate to have a nice, clean gym with great equipment to work out in during the summer. Otherwise, continuing to train would not be bearable. Rising above the treadmill boredom, thanks to Spotify, was the real win.

Total mileage: 13 mi.

Bathing Daisy (in my Oktoberfest shirt, of course) for the sole purpose of cooling off.

Week of July 30 (Week 5):

5 mi. | 4 mi. | 7 mi.

I’ve been feeling a little slower and sluggish this week, but that’s alright. My long run pace was faster thank last week’s, so I’ll count that as an accomplishment. Also, I had to break up my four mile run into two because I was feeling sick to my stomach; luckily, rain in the area meant we saw some cooler summer weather this week. I was thankful to seize the moment and take the second half of that run outside. Long run went okay, and I’m actually looking forward to more speed workouts next week.

Total mileage: 16 mi.

In other news, Chris and I put money down on a house, so we’re excited and busy with that! That actually happened in June, but I realized I forgot to tell you guys. It’s been a busy and fantastic summer, full of growth and new opportunity.

Other landmark of this month was that I finished ALL of my runs, which never happens. Usually, I have to skip a workout or two due to conflicts popping up, or I honestly lack motivation to keep it up, so I’m feeling confident that I can stick with this schedule. I am also excited and anticipating that this training will serve me well come winter.

Anyone else take it indoors during the summer? Cheers to training during the summer in Texas.

Get on Your Feet with OOFOS – OOmg Low Shoe Review

Disclosure: I received a pair of OOFOS OOmg low shoes 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 opinions are my own.

For quite some time I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a good casual pair of athletic shoes to wear on the weekends when I want the comfort of a full shoe, without increasing the mileage on my Brooks. When I saw that OOFOS, a company specializing in recovery footwear, was coming out with the OOmg, I thought the shoe might fit the bill.

What’s so special?

For runners especially, pounding the pavement all the time can cause a lot of wear and tear on your muscles/joints, especially if you’re not being smart about it. Sure, having the right running shoe helps, but what you do when you finish running – be it foam rolling, eating protein, whatever – can also help prevent long-term damage by helping you recover.

That’s what makes OOFOS different from other footwear. OOFOS are designed to help you recover faster, with a proprietary foam technology that is lightweight, while absorbing the shock of walking around and staying active after a long run or race. From OOFOS’ research, their OOfoam absorbs up to 37% more impact than regular foam. They also have arch support, while remaining squishy and soft, which is excellent for those tired, swollen feet and helps keep you walking smoothly.

These shoes, in particular, are designed as a “lifestyle shoe” – meaning you can wear them anywhere and they go with clothes other than running gear.

Why I’m a fan

Both trendy and comfy, I have found myself wearing these even more often than I thought possible. I love that they are so breathable that I don’t even have to worry about wearing socks with them. They can also be worn in wet conditions because the foam doesn’t soak up moisture, which keeps them from getting stinky.

They have officially become my new dog-walking shoes, which helps me get a head start on getting rid of the lactic acid build-up. I’ve been experiencing less soreness lately, and I think that’s a large part of the reason why. It’s also nice that I have some shoes I can throw on when I’m running errands after the gym – no more putting excess miles on my running shoes.

They are even washable. Simply regular ‘ole detergent and cold water. Leave the bleach, fabric softener, and use of the dryer for other stuff – no need to use them here.

However…

…with all of the awesome things about these shoes, there are some trade offs. One thing I’m not keen on is the price point ($120). I get that they are priced highly because it’s a unique technology, but I still think they are a little high because they aren’t meant to be worn working out. Competitors in that price category the casual footwear market are comfortable and still make good cross training shoes. I also wasn’t crazy about the white soles. They seemed to pick up dirt far more easily than other white-soled shoes I’ve owned; however, OOFOS does offer the OOmg in other colors (grey and lime green) with dark soles.

Curious to try for yourself? Head on over to the OOFOS website, oofos.com, to purchase your very own pair. Gents, if you’re under a size 10, they also have some available for you, too!

Today’s question: how do you recover from an intense workout?

Cheers to staying active and on your feet.