Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fuel Sampling #2: Gu Energy Gels

I realize that a lot of runners choose to fuel with (or have in the past) Gu Energy Gels. For some reason I feel like Gu Energy Gel is like the popular kid in school who has a lot of friends. However, up until recently I had never tried them (I was always kind of intimidated by popular kids anyways...). The folks at Gu Energy were kind enough to send me some gels to try out and review, so I have been fueling my long runs and a few rides with Gu Gels over the past few weeks.

I have to say, I really have no complaints. I like some flavors more than others, but I don't think I would turn any of them down. If you remember from my review of the Clif Shot Energy Gels, the strawberry flavor tasted a little too sweet for me. Even with the fruity flavors, Gu Gel doesn't seem too sweet (relatively speaking, anyways). I never had any problems with cramping and I always felt well-fueled throughout my runs/rides.

I like how the packaging is slightly narrower and smaller than the Clif Shot Energy Gels, although it doesn't have the litter leash like the Clif Gels do. They fit nicely in my iFitness belt and I haven't had any explode on me!

Flavors of Gu Energy Gels: Vanilla Bean (tasted like vanilla pudding!), Chocolate Outrage (tasted like chocolate pudding...mmm), Tri-berry (haven't tried it), Strawberry Banana (good), Mandarin Orange (haven't tried it), Espresso Love (probably my favorite! I love the coffee flavor), Lemon Sublime (good), Jet Blackberry (good), Mint Chocolate (haven't tried it but that sounds amazing!), Just Plain (haven't tried it - I have one but I'm avoiding eating it because I'm afraid it might be weird), and Vanilla Gingerbread (haven't tried it, but sounds delicious!).

Nutrition facts: 100 calories, 20-25 grams of carbs, 5-6 grams of sugar, 0-2 grams of fat, 35-45 mg potassium, and 40-55 mg sodium. Flavors have varying levels of caffeine: none, 20mg ("w/ caffeine"), and 40mg ("w/ 2x caffeine").

My thoughts:
  • Good consistency; I could definitely consume this on the run.
  • All flavors were good
  • Convenient packaging/size
  • I liked the different levels of caffeine.
  • Popular product = likely to be offered on race courses = good thing
Bottom line: I would definitely use Gu Energy Gels to fuel my long runs/rides.

I will be including three Gu Energy Gels (Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Outrage, and Jet Blackberry) in my Fuel Sampling Giveaway (date/details TBD!).

If you missed my first Fuel Sampling review, check it out here: Fuel Sampling #1: Clif Shot Energy Gels.

Next week I'll be using Chocolate #9 Energy Gels on my 11 miler. Thanks Alex, for suggesting them to me via my contact page!

The opinions expressed above are my own. I requested free samples of Gu Energy Gels to try out and review on my blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Too much sugar?

I feel like I've been a little MIA from the blogosphere this week. With my husband being gone, I thought I would have more time to spend doing whatever I wanted (not sure why I thought that...) but instead I've had less since I've had to do all of the household things that he would usually do for me. Thus, less blogging time. Oh well! He's home for a few days now so I'm very happy to see him and I probably will be enjoying my time with him until he leaves again! (Yes, I'm blogging right now but he's downstairs playing with his new GPS computer that he just got for his bike).

Anyways, after reading a post about My Fitness Pal from Tyly at one mile at a time, I downloaded the app for my iPhone and I LOVE this thing! (Thank you, Tyly!!)

I'm not necessarily trying to lose weight (though who wouldn't take a few pounds off if they could?), but I thought it would be a good way to monitor my nutrition and make sure that I am eating enough but not too much as I am training for my fall marathon.

I've only been using it for two days, but one thing I have noticed is that I am WAY over my sugar goals. I've looked at my food choices and most of my sugar is coming from fruits. I don't see how anyone can eat the right amount of fruits and veggies and still stay within that sugar goal without eating cardboard for the rest of your meals.

Here's the fruit I ate throughout the day today with how many grams of sugar MFP says they have:
1/2 cup strawberries: 3.5 grams
1/3 cup blueberries: 4.8 grams
1 banana: 19 grams
1.5 cups red seedless grapes: 35.1 grams

That's 62.4 grams of sugar from fruit - over TWICE what MFP says I should be consuming in one day. I know some of my other non-fruit foods have sugar in them, too, so my actual total is higher than this, but I'm not going around eating Pixie Sticks and Fun Dip or anything! I also realize that it's not okay to eat as much fruit as I want, but I honestly don't think that's an unreasonable amount. I could be wrong though!

So I'm curious as to what everyone else thinks about this...

Should sugars that come from fruit be "acceptable" when it comes to going over this goal? Or is sugar sugar?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Seven Things Sunday...

because I just have that much to say!!

1. I should enter the lottery. I've been lucky the past week or so with winning giveaways in the blogosphere! I won a mini-giveaway of some Gu, Nuun, and sunscreen samples from MCM Mama, some Gotein from Southern Girl Running, and some awesome goodies from Bigger Girls Can Run Too. Winning ANYTHING makes me excited. I guess the gods have just been with me recently.

2. This brings me to my next next giveaway! Keep your eyes peeled this week or next for a review/giveaway of a super cute, non-slip headband from AC Designs.

3. The place I work with moved locations over the weekend. I'm kind of nervous I will go to the old building in the morning and/or not be able to get into the new building (we need pin numbers...which we haven't been assigned...?!?).

4. Yesterday I watched my brother in the Dirty Dawg 6 hour mountain bike race at Mountain Lake. It was on a challenging 5.7 mile loop and riders just rode around as many times as they could! My brother's bike broke at lap 1.5, but some kind person let him borrow his bike so that he could keep riding. It rained a little bit, making for a muddy time, but he did great!

I got to be his personal paparazzi. There weren't really many spectators so I felt a little awkward, but I was glad we could be there supporting him since he's always been supportive of me in my athletic endeavors!

5. Hubs is out of town part of this week and all of next week. I really miss him. He really does a lot for me and around the house that I don't realize or I'm not appreciative of until he's not here to do them! He really does all the "not fun stuff" like take out the garbage, clean the cat's litter box, pump up my bike tires, carry in the groceries, pay for things and manage our money, clean up the cat crap/barf off the floor, make the coffee for the next morning, put away the dishes, etc. I don't just miss him for the things he does to make my life easier, but I just really miss his presence in the house. Like right now I'm sitting here waiting for him to come upstairs and tell me to go to bed...

6. Here's my recap of Week #2 of marathon training:
on the schedule: cross train
rode 20 miles with Hubs in 1:32 (13 mph). It was a hard ride because we rode up a mountain (900 ft elevation gain). I was also too chicken not to brake all the way down.
on the schedule: rest
on the schedule: run 3 miles
ran 3.05 miles in 29:43 (9:45 pace) on the treadmill. My stomach hurt the whole time and I really didn't like this run.
on the schedule: run 5 miles
ran 5 miles in 52:00 (10:24 pace) on the treadmill. I got really tired after 2 miles because I was bored. I threw in some hill intervals to make the time go by faster. It worked.
on the schedule: run 3 miles
Did some light weights/core work for 20 minutes. Ran 3 miles in 28:32 (9:30 pace) on the treadmill. This was a pretty good run.
on the schedule: rest
on the schedule: run 9 miles
ran 9.16 miles in 1:36:17 (10:30 pace). It was 80% humidity outside, but thankfully it wasn't outrageously hot. I was just sweating. A lot. The first half of my run was a little choppy due to various interruptions (accidentally restarting my Garmin 2 miles in, stopping to talk to my dad for a few minutes, stopping to pee, stopping to refill my water bottle, and stopping to eat a Gu). The second half of my run was less interrupted, but I still took walking breaks every 10 minutes for 1 minute (sometimes a little more). I was without my running partner, so time seemed to CRAWL by. I was glad to be done, but it was still a good run.

7. After my long run on Saturday, I took my FIRST ice bath. I don't think I got it cold enough, but it was definitely still pretty cold. It was really refreshing, and my legs felt really good the rest of the day. My right calf was a little sore today, but I didn't really have much soreness otherwise.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Do You Need Some Motivation?

Yesterday I asked for you to tell me what inspires you because I started a My Inspirations page on my blog. I've added a few things already and I'm still working on adding more. If you go to the page (at the top, click on the My Inspirations tab) you can scroll down to the bottom and fill out the form (thank you, Google Docs) and let me know what inspires you!

When I was thinking of things to put on the page, I remembered this video that I saw a long time ago. I thought it was worthy of a whole blog post, so here you go. Hopefully it will give you some motivation...have your tissues ready though.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Inspires You?

I'm adding a new page to this blog called My Inspirations. Not surprisingly, it will include things that inspire me.

I'm looking for a little *ahem* inspiration. Tell me what inspires you! It can be a quote, a story or experience that you've had, a bracelet that you wear, a picture, whatever! Leave me a comment or e-mail me ([email protected]) and tell me what keeps you going during that long run, ride, or day at the office. Your inspiration might just end up on my inspirations page!

If you prefer to remain anonymous, tell me so in your e-mail!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Letter to Treadmill

Dearest Treadmill,

I know you think I probably hate your guts, but please listen to what I have to say. I know that our relationship has been rocky over the past few years, so I just wanted to clear a few things up. Make amends, if you will.

Let me start out by apologizing for being such a fair- err… bad-weather friend. I come running to on you only when the temperatures reach their extremes or when the gods of thunder speak. I abandon you when the air is pleasant and curse your name when I’m forced to visit you again. But yet, there you are…ever faithful and welcoming me with open handrails.

You let me run when external circumstances won’t allow. You will graciously hold my water and towel for me while I run and you let me use the remote control to watch and listen to whatever I want on the TVs! You even let me believe that I’m running uphill and you blow a pleasant, cooling breeze on my face. You don’t talk back and you tell me what a great workout I’ve had when I’m done. You stay close to the bathrooms to make sure that I don’t have to hold it. You’re easier on the knees and you let me stop whenever I want to. You do what I tell you to and you always keep moving forward. What is there not to love about you?

Well, here’s the part you might not like. You have an odd way of making my workouts drag, and some say that you don’t provide me as good of a workout as running with your nemesis, Great Outdoors. Great Outdoors just has a way of making my runs so much better by inviting her friends, Sunshine and Fresh Air, on our runs. After running with this trio, I seem to always run into my other good friend, Happiness, and that just makes my day! I know, I know, you can’t control any of this. And that’s where we will always have our differences and our relationship will never be perfect. It’s just the sad, sad truth.

I have considered breaking up with you and your dad, Gym, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. You’ve always been there for me, and for a small fee, I know you always will be. So considering this and your other positive characteristics, I’ll try not to talk so badly about you behind your back in the company of Great Outdoors. I will instead be thankful that you are in my life and that you're there for me when I truly need you. I must apologize in advance for when I just walk all over you and subsequently abandon you for Great Outdoors. This is just the way it’s going to be. But just place your hope in the fact that, as long as I am a runner, I will at some point come back to you.

With warmest regards,

Sunday, July 17, 2011

iFitness Belt Winner!

And the winner is...

Tyly from One Mile at a Time!

Congratulations Tyly! Woohoo indeed :) Tyly, please send an e-mail to [email protected] with a mailing address where you'd like your belt shipped. Please be sure to confirm which color you want, too (you'll be getting the Ultimate Race Belt just like mine).

Thanks to everyone who entered! If you are in the market for a running belt, please check out the running belts that iFitness has to offer! You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

And So It Begins...

Today was our first long run of marathon training. We were both kind of nervous about starting out at 8 miles since neither of us had run that far in a while. My last long runs consisted of a 10 miler (which I subsequently regretted...) on June 11th and 7 miles on June 18th. With the exception of my 5 miler this past Wednesday, all of the rest of my runs over the last month have been 4 miles or less! So yeah, I was a little upset at Hal for making us run 8 miles right off the bat.

The weather this morning was PERFECT for running, considering the fact that it is summer and all. Temps were in the upper 60s, and even better, it was cloudy! I was still sweating up a storm, but I never once thought it was "hot".

Since we hadn't run 8 miles in a while, we decided to take it easy and we took several short walking breaks (about once every mile). We found that these walking breaks really made the run so much easier and really didn't make our pace that terrible. Over 8 miles with five 1+ minute walking breaks, our pace was still 10:30/mile...which I would be totally happy with as a "marathon pace", though really I would be fine with anything under 11:00-11:30/mile.

I think we're definitely going utilize regular walking breaks as part of our strategy throughout training and for the race. I'm thinking run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute. Has anybody else utilized the run/walk method? What would you recommend for the run/walk time ratio?

Marathon Training Week 1 Recap:
on the schedule: cross train
biked 18 miles in 1:14 (14.7 mph pace)
on the schedule: run 3 miles
ran 3.25 miles in 33 minutes - flat and hot (10:03 pace)
on the schedule: run 5 miles
ran 5.11 miles in 48 minutes - treadmill (9:22 pace)
on the schedule: run 3 miles
ran 3.05 miles in 34 minutes - 502 ft of elevation gain (11:06 pace)
on the schedule: rest
on the schedule: run 8 miles
ran 8 miles in 1:24 - run/walk (10:29 pace)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Foodie Friday: Corncakes and Zucchini Casserole

Some of you may recognize this recipe for corncakes from the June 2011 issue of Runner's World. I saw it in there, ripped out the page, and finally decided to make it this week. They were really tasty, easy to make, and very filling.

  • 1 can (14.75 ounces) creamed corn
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal, divided in half
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

To make:
  1. Heat creamed corn in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 1/2 cup cornmeal. Whisk in the water, oil, and egg.
  2. In a bowl, mix remaining 1/2 cup cornmeal with flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until combined.
  3. Heat a griddle over medium heat and spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil.
  4. Working in batches, drop batter in 1/4 cup portions onto hot griddle. Cook them up like pancakes until golden brown on both sides.
I topped mine with some store bought peach mango salsa and it was delicious! The original recipe suggested topping with yogurt and honey or maple syrup if you want to have these for breakfast, or you could top them with some sour cream and salsa verde.

This recipe makes 12 cakes (4 servings...3 cakes per serving). Each serving has 325 calories, 57 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fat.

I paired my corncakes with a zucchini casserole (it was a strange combination, but I had some zucchini I needed to use up!). The original recipe comes from, but I changed it up a little bit.

  • 1-2 zucchinis, sliced (enough for a hefty "layer" in a casserole)
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian style diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • dried oregano

To make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pan, boil sliced zucchini until tender (about 8 minutes) and drain.
  3. Pour one can of drained tomatoes into the casserole dish
  4. Top with the sliced zucchini and onions
  5. Season with salt and pepper
  6. Pour the other can of drained tomatoes over the zucchini and onions
  7. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese
  8. Sprinkle with oregano
  9. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. My husband is amazing!

He's a teacher so he gets the summer off. While I do get jealous of him, it's nice to have him available to take care of some things while I'm at work. It's also nice on days like today when I had planned on going running at the gym but decided after I got to work (and looked at the weather), that I wanted to run outside. I had packed my gym back without my handheld water bottle or my running belt, both necessities for me when I'm running outside now. So a quick e-mail to my husband, and my water bottle and my running belt are dropped off in my car while I'm at work.

As if that wasn't sweet enough, he left me a sweet little note inside my belt:

This made me smile. A lot.

(btw, if you want to win a belt just like this, be sure to check out my giveaway HERE!)

2. I love my mountains.

While I was waiting for my Garmin to get a satellite signal, I snapped this picture.

Just beautiful. I love where I live.

3. Have a plan when you go out to eat.

We went out to dinner tonight, which is pretty rare for us. I actually prefer to eat at home because I think eating out is a good way to spend too much money and eat too much food that isn't good for you. We had a gift card for Applebee's and our local SPCA was getting 10% of food/beverage orders tonight, so we went out. Since we don't go out that much, I have a really bad habit of totally overdoing it when we do go out. I eat way too much of the wrong things and immediately regret it about 10 minutes after I'm done eating.

So tonight I decided to have a game plan. Before we even went to the restaurant, I looked up their menu and nutritional information and picked out a good option. I went with the Grilled Shrimp and Island Rice, which had 370 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 56 carbs, and 29 grams of protein.

My husband, on the other hand, "didn't care" what he got. In his defense, he has been riding his bike A LOT lately so he's probably burned off ever single one of these calories and he is that skinny guy who can eat a lot of food without gaining weight. He went with the Cajun Shrimp Pasta (which is something that I totally would have gotten if I hadn't looked at this first), which packs 1170 calories, 69 grams of fat, 95 carbs, and 43 grams of protein. Dang.

Eating out can make it difficult to eat healthy, but it doesn't have to derail your diet (or make you feel like you're going to vomit on your next run) if you are smart about it. Be careful about those "health" salads, too. A lot of those are well over 1,000 calories and have a lot of fat once you pour on the dressing (sorry, but salads without at least a little dressing on them aren't that appetizing to me). Make a plan before you go so that you don't get caught up in the restaurant atmosphere and eat way more than you should. Once you get there, stick with your plan!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy Breakfast

My breakfast was happy to see me this morning.

blueberry bagel, banana with peanut butter, and my multivitamin

The feeling was mutual. I eat this breakfast once or twice a week and it always makes me smile.

Do you have a certain breakfast (or any meal) that makes you smile? Note: it doesn't have to be literally smiling at you to make you smile.

PS - Don't forget to check out my iFitness Ultimate Race Belt giveaway HERE! It goes through 7/16 so be sure to check it out and share it with your friends!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Three Years Ago Today...

I married my best friend.

Today we celebrated by trying out a semi-new self-serve frozen yogurt place downtown. Since it was my first time there, I think I got a little carried away and got way too much (already violating Goal #4, Part #1), but at least it was frozen yogurt, right? Maybe I'll have a little more self-control the next time we go...

Marathon (Training) Game Plan

Today was my first official run of marathon training. 3 miles down, 456 + 26.2 to go. Here are 5 goals that I have for the next 18 weeks:
  1. Have fun. I know most people don’t think that running 459 miles in training to run 26.2 consecutive miles could ever be fun. All you other runners out there understand what I mean when I say I want to “have fun”.
  2. Keep my priorities in line. Proper order: God, husband, family, work, running. No exceptions.
  3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Of course I intend on sticking to our training plan, but I know something is going to come up and I am going to have to miss a few runs, whether it’s something I have to do, injury, or fatigue. That’s just how life is. It would be crazy to think otherwise. I will try my hardest to do all of the planned long runs, whether I run, walk, or crawl them. If I have to miss a run during the week, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Missing a short run during the week is NOT going to totally derail my training and prevent me from running 26.2 miles. Even if I have to miss a long run, although I know it would make things hard, it’s not the end of the world.
  4. Respect my body. This goal has 3 parts to it.
    1. Pay attention to what I’m eating and drinking. This means properly fueling and hydrating before, during, and after my runs (i.e. ALL THE TIME). I’m not going to scrutinize every bite of food that I put in my mouth, I just want to remember to eat the right kind of food most of the time as well as the right amount of food (not too much OR too little).
    2. Get enough sleep. I wake up around 5 AM every morning (work starts @ 7 for me). In order to get my goal amount of sleep of 8 hours a night, that means I need to go to bed at 9 PM. I’m generally exhausted at night, but this is really hard for me because I get distracted with something and all of a sudden it’s 10 PM!
    3. Respect the rest days and be willing to take an extra rest day (or two) if I’m injured or overly fatigued. My training plan calls for two rest days per week (Friday and either Sunday or Monday). If I feel like I have an injury or illness coming on, I need to listen to my body and act accordingly. This means I might have to miss a run or two to help me get better faster. When this happens, I need to remember goal #3.
  5. Run and train to FINISH. I don’t care how long the marathon takes me. I listed 4:45 as a “projected” finishing time when I was registering, but I’m not going to hold myself to that. If I finish faster, that is GREAT. If it takes me 5, 6, or 7 hours, I don’t care. I just want to finish! If I have to walk the last 6 miles, I will walk the last 6 miles. I shouldn't stress myself out about how fast I think I should be going, or belittle myself for however much I end up walking. I am doing WAY more than the majority of other people are doing. This is my first marathon, so I’m going to PR no matter what!
Here we go!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fuel Sampling #1: Clif Shot Energy Gels

Marathon training starts this week! Yikes!

A big challenge that I think I will have to face over the next 18 weeks of training is going to be figuring out how to properly fuel myself while I'm running.

When I was training for my first half marathon, I didn't use any gels or anything. I would stop by my car about halfway through my run and take a few gulps of Gatorade G2 (low calorie kind) and keep running. It would make my stomach hurt sometimes, but I didn't know any better. For my actual race, I just drank water and I felt pretty terrible when I was done, probably due to my poor fueling choices (or lack thereof).

For my second half marathon, I decided to use Strawberry Gu Chomps based on a few positive reviews I read about them online. I didn't really try anything else...I just picked something and went with it! They worked well and certainly got the job done, but now I feel like I should try experimenting with some other types of fuel to see if anything works better for me.

I'm not necessarily trying to declare a winner of any sort of contest or anything, but I just need to figure out what does and does not work for me when I'm on the run. Maybe I'll introduce you to something you haven't tried, and hopefully I'll get some advice and feedback on what has worked for you! When I'm done, I'll hopefully be able to do a giveaway of a small sampling of most things that I try.

So tell me, how do you fuel??

The first new fuel that I tried was the Clif Shot Energy Gel. Lauren from Clif Bar & Company graciously sent me a few gels to try out.

I decided to try out my Clif Shot Energy Gels this past Saturday. I was planning on running for 4 miles (40 min), then getting on the bike for an undetermined distance, which ended up being 26 miles (1 hr, 40 min). The package directs you to eat one gel 15 minutes before activity, so I ate one of the gels in the car on the way.

My first gel was the strawberry flavor. This flavor might appeal to some people, but it was a bit too sweet for me. It literally tasted like I was eating a spoonful of strawberry jelly. It wasn't necessarily unpleasant, but I might not be able to stomach something so sweet if I ate it while I was actually running. I let Andrew try some and he said it tasted like a jelly-filled doughnut (minus the doughnut). It might be good on a pre-run PB&J though...

During my run I felt pretty good. My stomach was cramping a tiny bit, but it wasn't enough to make me stop running. I'm NOT going to blame the gel for this at all, because it could have been caused by any number of things (I probably wasn't properly hydrated, I didn't wait long enough for my breakfast to digest, it was really hot and humid, etc.).

When I was transitioning from running to riding, I decided to try out the chocolate flavor. This was DELICIOUS! It tasted like when you lick the mixing bowl after you make brownies (don't try to pretend like you don't do it too...). Andrew was also a fan of this flavor. I'm pretty confident that I could eat something chocolate-flavored while I was running (or anytime, for that matter...).

After riding for a little under an hour, I opened up the mocha flavor. It was coffee/chocolate GOODNESS. I think this was my favorite over the chocolate. Again, Andrew was also a fan. This flavor has 50 mg of caffeine in it, and I needed every bit of that to finish my ride. When I was done riding I was definitely starving (it was lunchtime anyways), but I'm pretty sure I probably would have collapsed if I hadn't taken these gels along with me.

Here are some more points about Clif Shot Energy Gels:
  • Flavors include: Mocha, Razz, Vanilla, Chocolate Cherry, Double Expresso, Strawberry, Citrus, and Chocolate
  • One gel has 100-110 calories, 0-1.5 g fat (chocolate flavors have fat), 24 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 60-90 mg sodium, 50-85 mg potassium (all depending upon flavor)
  • Caffeine options: none (Chocolate, Vanilla, and Razz), 25 mg (Strawberry and Citrus), 50 mg (Mocha), and 100 mg (Double Expresso and Chocolate Cherry)
  • 85%-90% organic (depending upon flavor) and Kosher
  • Packaging has a "litter leash" so that when you tear off the top you only have one piece of trash
  • Price on the Clif Bar website: $29.99 for a box of 24 gels (= $1.25 each)

My thoughts:
  • Good consistency
  • Chocolate and mocha flavors were delicious
  • Not a fan of the strawberry flavor (just personal preference!!)
  • I liked the varying levels of caffeine available
  • I think I squeezed one of them too tight when I was putting it in the gel holder in my belt because there was a little bit of the chocolate gel on my shirt
  • The litter leash is cool, but it didn't do me too much good when I was a little over-aggressive with my opening and tore the top off and the leash came off with it (woops!)

Bottom line: I would definitely consider buying these and using them on my runs. I would probably stick with the chocolate/mocha flavor though!  The chocolate cherry flavor sounds delicious too!

I will be including one Razz flavored Clif Shot Energy Gel in my Fuel Sampling Giveaway (date/details TBD)!

Have you ever used these? If so, what do you think?

The opinions expressed above are my own. I was sent 4 free Clif Shot Energy Gels by request to try out and review on my blog.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

iFitness Ultimate Race Belt Review and GIVEAWAY!

When I first decided that I was going to train for a marathon, I started looking for a way to carry my phone. Yes, it’s a hassle to have to lug it around, but you never know when you might be stuck in a situation where you need (or just really want) a phone. You could get injured (knock on wood that doesn’t happen) or bonk out when you’re far from your car or home…you could get stuck in bad weather or a nasty situation…you might want to snap a picture of something extraordinary you see on a run…you can update your Facebook fans or Twitter followers about how awesome you are for running X number of miles…or you might just need a round or two of Angry Birds to get you through that 20 miler. Whatever the case, carrying a phone is a good idea.

Since running with a phone in my hand/shorts/handheld water bottle was not an option, I started doing my research on a few different running belts. After reading some reviews and just comparing a few, a decided to go with the iFitness Ultimate Race Belt. I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

This belt is the perfect size for holding my phone, but it does so much more than that. The pouch is roomy and stretchy enough to also be able to carry a small snack inside, too. You could also carry some tissues, chapstick, or even throw your keys in there.

What? Angry Birds!! AH!

Pouch with the phone and a full pack of Gu Chomps - zips up with no problems!

Inside the pouch is also an inner pocket that can carry your ID, credit card, cash, Starbucks gift card, etc. Also good things to keep with you on a run.

On the side of the pouch, there are six elastic slots (three on each side) that are designed to hold gels. I tested a few in the slots and it works great! They are tight enough to hold your gels securely, but not too loose that they fall out and they are easy to take out when you’re on the run.

These can also be used to clip an iPod shuffle to, and you can even hook a marker in there so that you can be ready to sign autographs for all of your fans.

Under the pouch, you can find one of my other favorite features: toggles to hold your race bib. Can we say, GENIUS!?!

One of my biggest struggles with my past two half marathons has been deciding what am I going to wear. It almost always comes down to a last minute decision, so I hesitate to pin my bib on anything the night before. When it’s a little uncomfortably chilly outside I always struggle with the decision of whether or not to wear a jacket or a vest at the start of a race. I know that I will warm up after a mile or two when I will want to toss my extra layer. That has always presented the problem of WHAT DO I PIN MY RACE BIB TO since it has to be visible at all times and I’m not going to re-pin it mid-race?!? Problem solved. Now I also don’t have to worry about safety pins snagging my nice running tops either!

If I haven’t already sold you on one of these belts, let me just add that they are very well-constructed and sturdy. One of these is going to last you a long time.

The pouch itself is made of neoprene and it is water/sweat resistant. I haven’t run in the rain with this belt, but if anybody is going to test the sweat resistance of this belt, it’s Sweaty McGee here. When I’m done running, the outside of the belt is pretty soaked with sweat, but my phone inside is still dry.

The pouch also has reflectors on each side, so people can see you coming at night.

The elastic band is fully adjustable, and stretchy enough to be comfortable but not fall off. The belt comes on and off with a sturdy clip buckle.

iFitness also sells separate hydration belts, which I’m sure are just as awesome as this one. They also sell separate 4 oz and 6 oz hydration add-ons that will slide onto any of their belts, including this one. These are going on my wish list, pronto.

Another amazing thing about this belt is that once I figured out the proper tightness and place to wear it, I didn’t have any problems with it bouncing, riding up, or chafing. I barely even notice I’m wearing it once I start running.

I will admit that it did take me a few runs to figure out where and how tight I liked to wear it. My first 2 or 3 runs with it had me a little frustrated that it wasn’t living up to everyone’s claims that it wouldn’t bounce or ride up. But then I realized that I was just wearing it wrong.

I first tried wearing it low over top of my shirt. I think my shirt would naturally move around and it pulled the belt up with it. No good.

Then I tried wearing the belt at the naturally narrowest part of my hips, which I felt like was super high/dorky looking, and I couldn’t breathe. Also no good.

This is my dorky/can't breathe face

Next I tried wearing the pouch in the back, which actually worked a lot better. However, I was determined to wear the pouch in the front since the bib holder toggles are in the front and a lot of races require your bib to be in the front rather than the back. So finally I tried wearing the belt a little lower on my hips on top of my shorts but under my shirt. PERFECT. No riding up, no bouncing, no chafing, and the pouch was in the front. Success!

Okay, enough about how awesome this belt is. Hailey at iFitness has been generous enough to let me host a giveaway so that you too can own an iFitness Ultimate Race Belt! Already own a running belt? This would make a great gift for a running buddy!

Here’s how to enter...please do a separate comment for each entry to have them count. You must leave a comment below in order to enter the giveaway. 1 comment = 1 entry:

  1. Like iFitness on Facebook HERE and/or follow iFitness on Twitter HERE (one of these is mandatory: 1 entry EACH)
  2. Become a follower of this blog (mandatory: 1 entry)
  3. Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color? Go to the iFitness website HERE and tell me what color belt you would choose if you win (note: the winner will receive the Ultimate Race Belt) (1 entry)
  4. Like The Running Cook on Facebook HERE (1 entry)
  5. Follow The Running Cook on Twitter HERE (1 entry)
  6. Share this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter (1 entry EACH!)
Holy cow, that’s up to 9 ways to enter!!

This giveaway will run through Saturday, July 16, 2011, the day of my first long run of marathon training! The winner will be chosen using and will be announced on Sunday, July 17. Please help me spread the word about this giveaway since it’s my first one :)

Who wants my autograph!?! What?! No one??

The opinions expressed in this giveaway are my own. I purchased my iFitness Ultimate Race Belt and I contacted iFitness requesting to host this giveaway. iFitness is providing the giveaway belt free of charge.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Vacation from Vacation

Do you ever get back from your vacation and think you need a vacation from your vacation? Yeah, that's me right now. Don't get me wrong, I had a GREAT vacation last week and all of the activities (the reason I'm tired) are probably why it made it so great in the first place, so I'm not complaining at all. But I'm definitely not ready to go back to work tomorrow. At all.

Recap of my "vacation" workouts:

Ran 2 miles after dinner just to stretch my legs out after being in the car all day. I felt pretty terrible because it was hot and I had just eaten dinner.

Ran 4 miles with my sister. It was super hot/humid, but it was still fun. We ran to this place where we always see alligators, but we didn't see any this time. Just a bunch of turtles with algae on them.

Ran 4 miles with my sister again. Still super hot/humid and no alligator sightings. After my run I went on a 13 mile bike ride with my husband. There is a nice long shaded path through the woods that is nice to ride on.

Went barefoot running/walking on the beach for 4.25 miles. Terrible idea. I rubbed the bottoms of my feet RAW and my lower calves hurt for 2 days. It was fun at the time though, and it didn't start hurting until the end.

In too much pain from Tuesday to do anything. Went outlet shopping instead (and bought new running clothes!).

Went on what I thought was going to be a short bike ride with my husband and dad, but it turned into 25 miles. It was fun, but I didn't have as easy of a time as them because I was riding my husbands old mountain bike.

Didn't do much. I went on 2 separate (1+ mile) strolls with my nephew though, so that has to count for something, right?

Sat in the car most of the day. Made a stop at Performance Bicycle in Greensboro, NC, on the way home and test rode a new road bike in the parking lot. Bought it :)

We were planning on eventually purchasing a road bike for me because, as I mentioned above, the bike I ride is my husband's old mountain bike. It's not fit for me, it weighs a million pounds, and sorry folks, but I'm just not a hard core mountain biker...I stick to paved paths.

We stopped at Performance Bicycle with the intentions of mostly looking for cycling gear for my husband (who has recently become quite the cyclist), and maybe just browsing to see if they had any bikes for me, not really intending to buy anything. We were thinking about starting to look around for a bike for me this fall (after my marathon), but this one was on clearance (2010 model) and there was a 15% off sale going on too, so it really was too good of a deal to pass up.

It is a super nice bike (per my husband who knows way more about bikes than me) and I must say, it's a pretty hot looking bike, too (silver with tasteful hot pink and black accents).

Took my new road bike for her 26 mile maiden voyage. I LOVE IT! I almost wish I wasn't about to start training for a marathon so that I could ride it more, but I have a cross training day planned for once a week, so I should be able to go at least that much, and maybe go for a shorter ride on my rest days.

Also on Sunday: jumped on the iPhone bandwaggon. WHAT?!

Watched some of the Tour de France in the morning, since I'm such an avid cyclist now.

Went on a shorter ride with my husband on the greenway and downtown to watch some of the ID3 criterium races. We watched most of the women's race and watched the beginning of the men's race.


It started to get a little dark, then we started to hear rumbles of thunder. Time to put the hammer down and get back to our car! We made it back just in time.

I don't know if I can handle fireworks tonight...I feel like I need a good night's sleep if I'm going to be productive at work tomorrow. We won't get home until at least 10:30 and I need to wake up at 5ish. But I don't want to be lame and pass up fireworks on the Fourth of July. Who does that?

Only one more week until marathon training starts! I'm still all excited but really nervous about it all at the same time. I'm not sure if I'm more nervous about the training or the actual race...but I'm definitely more excited about the race than the training though :)