Week recap… plus Vega protein powder and Blender Bottle review!

Hi friends!

I hope that you are all resting (or already in bed!) preparing for the start of another week. I know that even though I woke up quite late this morning (I think I slept 11 hours – I guess I needed that sleep!), I am going to be ready for bed soon. But before that, I think I owe my followers a review of this week and a look into the little things I’ve been up to in my spare time!

As you may recall, I have started another summer job at a local seafood restaurant in my attempt to save at least some money before the poverty of law school. Last week was crazy – I was mildly sleep deprived and exhausted after working 5 nights in a row during my training! Plus, I had the awesomely fun 5k foam fest last Saturday, which was amazing but unfortunately was stuck in the middle of a lot of work hours. Standing for 6 hours was not what I really wanted to do after that race, let me tell you!

So, looking at my Tough Mudder training schedule, I realized that I have wrapped up my fourth week and am now starting on my fifth week of training – exciting! Today I tried out a different local yoga studio. Very, very gentle class. Though I typically prefer something more athletic, I admit this was good for me to stretch everything out, especially as I like to do my long runs on Saturday.

Yesterday’s run had to be cut short – a little over 5 miles instead of 6 – but I felt really great and could have kept going if not for time constraints, so I suppose that’s what really matters! It’s best if I go out in the morning on my long run, but I slept in late Saturday too, so that didn’t happen (I worked until 11:00-11:30 Friday, so I wasn’t going to push myself to get up – that doesn’t make sense to me).

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I’m excited to note that after my run, my Nike+ home page looked like this:

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My average pace isn’t super fast, sure, but it’s way better than it was when I started running a year ago! That, and look at those miles add up! I feel pretty darn proud of that commitment, if I may say so myself. I’m no marathoner (yet?!) but I have consistently gone out there and run. when I hit 500 miles I should celebrate… and when I hit 1,000 I will definitely celebrate!

I also got in some hill workouts and interval workouts on the treadmill. Not as fun or refreshing as being outside, but I must admit I do prefer gym equipment for things like interval training. Hill workouts are easy on the treadmill, too. Recently I’ve been doing a hill workout I found in this article via Active.com. Definitely a killer, and definitely helped me during my the surprisingly hilly 5k Foam Fest!

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I took the time I could to nourish myself with delicious home-cooked meals. This particular concoction was one dinner I happily shared with my parents: organic non-GMO tofu fried with ginger and cayenne pepper, broccoli, zucchini, kale, and red pepper stir-fried in a wok with olive oil and organic peanut sauce served over whole-grain brown rice. Delicious! 😀

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Because I’ve been on-the-go so much, I’ve also invested in some portable nutrition options. I might not be right, but I think a lot of other health-conscious people and definitely athletes tend to eat quite frequently. At work I can’t eat until the end of my shift, which means an absolute minimum of 5 to 6 hours of not eating. This certainly isn’t the end of the world, but if you eat lunch around 1 or even 2 and can’t eat again until 10 or even 11… you get my point. So to stay full and energized longer, I’ve been drinking my trusty fiber-filled chia seeds, and have stocked up on both Luna and Odwalla bars (some of my stand-bys!).

I found a Blender Bottle on clearance at TJMaxx recently, so obviously being the bargain lover I am picked it up when I had the chance. I figured re-integrating shakes into my diet was a good and almost inevitable thing. Well, knowing this, I decided to put it to the test after finding individual Vega protein powder packets on sale at Whole Foods.

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The first one I tried was chocolate flavored. I just mixed it with 8 oz. of water this time around. I was pretty impressed with how well the Blender Bottle truly blended everything – I was skeptical! And after years of being unable to ever truly mix in powders without the use of a blender, I was pleasantly surprised at how effective this simply little invention was! The shake, on the other hand, was less impressive to me. The chocolate was not really my thing. It was ok, but I didn’t love it.

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I had bought two other flavors – French Vanilla and “Au Naturel”. This time around, I mixed the vanilla flavor with rice milk instead of just water. This made it better, but it was still, well, it still tasted like a protein powder, for lack of a better phrase. It blended well but still wasn’t terribly appealing.

With the only flavor left one I had intended on putting in a smoothie, I was certain that I would find myself simply disappointed with this particular Vega line. But, running late, I didn’t even have time to make a more elaborate smoothie. So I threw the unsweetened powder in the Blender Bottle with some rice milk and some honey. I didn’t expect it to be any good, but figured the honey and the rice milk would make it tolerable.

Whoah. I was very surprised to find that I loved the taste of this shake! Which makes sense – stevia and other such sweeteners don’t taste great to me, and those are in the flavored powder varieties. The natural powder had a nice taste that mixed beautifully with the honey and the rice milk – it was just good! The natural powder also made a slightly greenish shake, something which I actually kind of liked – not that it changes the taste.

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I’m hoping to try the Vega One and maybe Vega Sport powders now, too. Perhaps I will finally find a protein powder that I can get along with! I’m also definitely going to be branching out and looking for different energy gels/chews as I continue my training. 

Anyone have any races or other events coming up? Protein powder recommendations?

Remember, if you’re looking for a fun race, I highly recommend the 5k Foam Fest! Check out my pictures and earlier posts (including a recap!) for more info. If you do decide to sign up, remember to use my personal discount code “FF3316” to get $5 off the entry fee!

Peace, sweat and love,

G

 

 

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5k foam fest recap!

Hi friends!

If you remember, I owe you all a review of my most recent race – the 5k Foam Fest! For those of you who do not know or do not recall, my Sweat Pink ambassador position with Fit Approach allowed me to join Foam Fanatics – a group that allowed me to participate in the race free of charge in exchange for help with publicity and ultimately a review of the race.

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I signed up for Foam Fanatics thinking, “Hey! Free entry to a race that seems pretty cool, I’ll take it.” I also figured that it would be good prep for my Tough Mudder training – like a much less intense, cuter little cousin to the now infamous race.

As a New Englander, I attended the Boston-area event. Unfortunately it was far away from where I live, but I understand that only so many spaces can hold such a large and elaborate event, and that it was meant to serve the greater New England area. The race was held at Kimball Farm in Haverhill, MA – something that I actually thought was a plus despite the distance for me personally. During the race I heard some people complain that the mud smelled and whatnot, which I thought was kind of silly. It is in part a mud run, after all, and that’s how mud smells! Then again this is coming from the girl who loves barns and cleans up after horses, so I’m not sure.

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Muddy and happy 🙂

The poor people organizing the New England Foam Fest, however, ran into problems with the town of Haverhill last minute and were told that they could not provide on-site parking for participants in the race. Ultimately, that meant that participants and spectators had to park at an abandoned greyhound racing track in Seabrook New Hampshire and take a “15 minute” (it was really 20-25 minutes) drive to the race site on a school bus. As you may imagine, this proved problematic during an event with thousands of participants. The lines for the shuttle were extraordinarily long, and I estimate that the shuttle ride plus the wait for the shuttles to and from the race site added an unexpected two hours to the total time I spent on this adventure. Unfortunately, the people at 5k Foam Fest really didn’t have too much of a choice – it is just unfortunate that this controversy with the town had to happen a mere 2 weeks before the event. 5k Foam Fest also issued a public apology via their Facebook page for the confusion. That said, this was honestly the only thing that I was bummed about. The race itself, once all was sorted out, was awesome. The helpfulness and flexibility of the staff on this undoubtedly stressful day for them also did not go unnoticed – they let me join a later wave with a smile when I (along with at least half of the other participants) arrived too late for my original assigned “wave” due to the transportation issues.

The 5k Foam Fest surprised me, but in the best of ways. Though free entry was awesome for me as a broke student, none of my other broke student friends could afford to drop $75-90 on the entry fee, so I was forced to do the race alone. Most people, understandably, did the race with a team or at least a buddy or two, so I was not looking forward to going it alone. To my delight, the race was so much fun that I didn’t even mind that I wasn’t part of a tutu-wearing team! Going stag was not an issue in a race devoted to fun, community, and healthy challenges. I smiled and laughed my way through the course.

The event is publicized largely as an athletic, but mostly just fun experience. I would agree that the race is more about fun, community, and laughter than simply athleticism. That said, it was still a physical challenge – I have the scratches and bruises to prove it! The course itself was quite hilly in parts, and like all other types of trail running, was much more strenuous than a road race (though easier on the joints, I suppose). Virtually everyone, including myself, ran-walked the course – the steep hills and injection of various obstacles at different points throughout the course really made it necessary. I did end up running most of it, however – those hill workouts paid off!

The obstacles varied widely, but each one was totally fun. Honestly there was not a single obstacle that I did not enjoy. In fact, I might have actually enjoyed what appeared to be one of the least popular obstacles – the ascending cargo net climb. I was really into the ropes-heavy obstacles, as I love climbing things and have done some rock climbing in my day. For a number of others, this appeared to be a big source of anxiety! I myself am ever so slightly afraid of heights, but I promise that this obstacle is nothing to be afraid of. I highly doubt it would even be possible to truly fall – it seems to me you would just get tangled in the net if you lost your footing.

Best of all was the fact that these muddy, dirty obstacles (I’m looking at you, army crawl under ropes!) were followed up by bursts of foam. At one point I was caked with mud and then with foam – I likely looked like I had been tarred and feathered. 5k Foam Fest also set up professional photographers at nearly each obstacle on the course – another awesome perk! They will be sending out high quality photos to runners soon. I imagine with the huge number of participants that such a task will take some time!

In the meantime, I have a few photos of my own to share from the event, courtesy of my adorable parents who accompanied me and excitedly cheered me on. They were only able to get photos from the last leg of the race, which ended with this epic inflatable “Death Drop”. Again, I’m slightly afraid of heights, so this obstacle was the only one that really made me nervous. But I closed my eyes and just went for it, and it was of course fine and fun. It was pretty unexpectedly exfoliating, though… All that dirt kind of acted as a high-speed scrub O.o

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My parents were so excited that they didn’t really seem to understand that it was a race and that I actually still had to run the rest of it, and that it wasn’t actually a photo shoot. Whoops!

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My parents trying to pretend I’m a fitness model or something.

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Soaked, muddy, and pushing for the finish!

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for too long after the race because, as I mentioned earlier, everything took WAYYY longer than expected and I had to get to work in the early evening! The event was fun and cute, though, and immediately after crossing the finish line the staff gave us protein bars, water, our finisher medals, and directed us in line to our t-shirts. That was really well-organized and convenient – the transition was seamless and really appreciated, as I was hungry and thirsty and didn’t know where to go! They also handed out giant sponges courtesy of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, one of their primary corporate sponsors. Admittedly this form of advertising was highly useful considering how muddy I was. I also got my choice of Mike’s Hard – appreciated after all that!

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The race swag was also pretty great. The medal was really cute (plus I love when races give out finisher’s medals!), emblazoned with their “Get Filthy Clean” slogan. The t-shirts were nice, too – not your standard unisex t-shirt. They had specific men and women’s cuts, and even though the t-shirt was cotton/poly and not a technical fabric which would be preferable for working out for sweatballs like me, it was super cute and I will definitely be wearing it when I’m out and about or doing one of my less sweaty workouts 🙂

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All in all, a really great time. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone that was interested! It is suitable for a variety of fitness levels, but anyone who wishes to compete should definitely work on some strength training even if they plan on walking the course in its entirety. And for the broke students and such out there – don’t be too scared off by the price tag! There are always coupons. In fact, I have a coupon code for you right here! Use my personal code “FF3316” to get $5 entry at any race location across the U.S.

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In the meantime, from the folks over at Foam Fest, I leave you with this fitness tip.

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Peace, sweat and love,

G