Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nairn's Oatcakes Review

A few weeks ago, alright maybe a month ago at this point, I was contacted by Nairn's Oatcakes asking if I was interested in trying their product.  Free food? Sign me up!

 Yum!

Nairn's is Scottish company and they only use wholegrain oats that are grown near the Scottish Borders.  The climate in this area allows for perfect ripening of the grains and the farmers do not need to use insecticides.

Nairn's products are all natural and contain zero trans fat.  In addition, their products do not contain GMOs and are wheat free.  (They do have some gluten free products, but the items I received were not gluten free).

I was able to try two kinds of oat cookies: mixed berries and stem ginger.

Of the two I enjoyed the mixed berries oat cookies better than the stem ginger.  The flavor of the stem ginger cookies was really intense and it actually started to make my eyes water!  Mike said that's why he had a glass of milk with his, that's right Mike stole some of my cookies.

 Caught red handed!

In addition to the two boxes of cookies I was also sent a few recipes that would be perfect to use with their oat crackers.  I wish that they sold Nairn's products in Wegmans because I really liked them!

What is your favorite kind of cookie or cracker?

I was sent this product for the purposes of review and I was not compensated in any way.  The thoughts expressed within this post are, as always, my own. 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Second Helping Challenge Race Recap

On Thanksgiving Mike and I met up with Crystal for a unique running experience: the second helping challenge. You can read her recap, here.

What exactly was the challenge, you ask?


Run the Plymouth Turkey Trot at 7:30am (4.77 miles)
Run the Thanksgiving Day Pilgrim 5K at 9:30am (5K)
Eat a bowl of stuffing

Plymouth Turkey Trot

Mike and I woke up around 5:45am and quickly got ready.  I felt bad leaving Bernie at my grandmother's because he always cries when we leave him alone in a "strange" (aka, not our house) place.  My family told us that he didn't cry/bark too much so that made me feel better.

We got to Plymouth, both of our first times being there, and as we were parking we saw Crystal! We never have to look for her, which is very convenient.  Mike honked the horn at her, which I think scared her a little bit, and we headed over to pick up our race packets.

 Plymouth Rock

 They were really excited about it...

The line was fairly long, and as we approached the front we heard that they had run out of the sweatshirts that were guaranteed to pre-registered second helping challenge participants.  You actually couldn't even register for the challenge the day of the races.  We were told who we could talk to after the second race to arrange getting our sweatshirts and then we quickly dropped our stuff in our car before the start. 

After about 10 minutes past the time that the race was supposed to start, there were a few announcements from the race organizers and then we were off!

Mike took off ahead of us, but Crystal and I stuck around each other at the beginning of the race.  I wasn't quite sure how hard I wanted to push it, especially since we had a 5K less than 2 hours later, but our first mile came in at 8:10. 

While we were running someone said, "look at that view" and Crystal replied, "I do look good!" She is definitely good to have around for her comedic relief.  We started to run along a path and then we got into the portion of the race where I struggled slightly. 

 Yea that's a big hill

Crystal went on ahead of me as we approached the grade 5 incline and I actually slowed down intentionally, just a bit so that I wouldn't completely trash my legs for the 5K.  Even though I don't really think I can use the marathon as an excuse anymore for how I perform during a race, I don't think I have my legs back completely yet.

I was able to push it on the down hills and I caught up to Crystal again, but then there were more hills! Even though the incline wasn't as steep as the previous hill, there were two in a row! The worst part is that you could see the second hill as you were running up and then down the first.

After that there wasn't much left and I worked the downhills again.  As we were approaching the finish line I saw some people who had already finished the race wearing medals and I was intrigued.  I didn't know if we were all getting medals or just them, so I ran harder to find out. 

 We did get medals, for both races!

I saw Mike cheering me on and then Crystal right as I crossed the finish line.  My watch time was 40:05, which would have been my chip time if they actually did that, and my official time was 40:12.  Mike finished in 36:38.

We quickly dropped our stuff off in our car and then boarded the shuttle for the second race.  After sitting around for a little while, we headed out.

Thanksgiving Day Pilgrim 5K

When we got there we saw Crystal's friend, Stephanie, and her husband, Aaron.  It was nice that Aaron was there because he was able to take our stuff. 

We got into line and picked up our race packets, much quicker this time, and then I headed to the port-a-potty.  After a quick pre-race photo we made our way to the start.

 Don't be jealous of our vertical bibs, we were told to do that

There were a lot more people at this race, about 650, compared to the first (150 people).  This was the third year for the 5K, but only the first year for the turkey trot and the challenge. 

A little after 9:30, we were off!  I was really tired at this point but I tried to keep up a good pace.  Mike and I didn't realize that the race course for the 5K was an out and back, and on a dirt road at that.  I held up a sub-9 pace the first mile and I contemplated trying to negative split but that was pretty quickly thrown out the window. 

The dirt road was congested once people started to make their way back from the turn around and it had "dirt holes", Mike's version of pot holes for dirt roads.  You had to be really careful not to twist an ankle or fall, which unfortunately I think happened to a few people.

Right before the turn around point, I saw Mike and then Crystal.  We all waved to each other and then I made my way back to the finish.  A little while after the turn around, I saw Crystal's friend, Stephanie, and cheered her on.

My pace definitely slowed during the last mile, but I pushed as hard as I could for the finish.  In typical cruel race fashion, I made my way uphill for the last .1 miles and crossed the finish line in 27:01 official time (my watch said 27:14 and I even started it after the start so I'm not sure how my official time was possible but I'll take it).  Mike's official time was 23:54, which was also faster than his watch time.

After we were done, we waited for Stephanie to cross the finish line (it was her first 5K and she did great!) and then we tried to find our stuffing.  We went inside and didn't see any, so we went to find the guy to ask about our sweatshirts and the stuffing.

 Excited to be done!

We can't wait to eat Thanksgiving food!

When we found him, he said that they would mail us our sweatshirts and any age group awards we won (Mike got third in his age group in the turkey trot and third in his age group for the challenge).  That made up for some of the disorganization!

However, when we asked about the stuffing he replied, "oh you actually read that part?".  We were really sad that there wasn't any stuffing, but don't worry I think Mike and I made up for that later at dinner!

We gathered our belongings from Crystal's friends and boarded the shuttle.  After waiting for FOREVER, we finally hit the road back to Plymouth.

 We love school buses

When we got to our cars, we said goodbye to Crystal and then headed back to my grandmother's. 

Overall, this was a great experience and I know that it will improve as time goes on.  I'm glad that the race directors acknowledge the disorganization and made every effort to remedy it.  I would definitely do this again! Plus, it is always nice to see Crystal and we already have EPIC plans to see her in February.

Oh, and it is her birthday today so head on over to her blog and wish her a happy birthday!

Did you run on Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cheribundi Giveaway Winner

Just a quick post to announce the winner of the Cheribundi giveaway!

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Congratulations, Abby!

Email me at fromcouchtoironwoman@gmail.com with your mailing address so that you can start enjoying your 12 pack of Cheribundi as soon as possible!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wine Weekend Take Two

Back in June, we went to a wine trail event with our friends Sarah and Mark.  It was so much fun that immediately after we all decided that we wanted to do another one of the events in the fall.

If you follow me on Instagram you probably already saw that we had a lot of fun, but here are a few of the photos from the day.

 It was a holiday event and you got an ornament at each winery

At Dr. Frank's, where we got A LOT of wine

 Sarah was telling him to keep his eyes open

 Note the year for the legal age to drink (1991), I feel old

 Trying to be artsy

 Two of our favorite things: Sarah and Mark, and Adirondack chairs

We also took some group photos, as time went on they started to get sillier and took us more attempts to get the photo just right. 

At the third winery

This one took about four attempts

The last stop for the day

It was a great weekend and a nice end to our "time off" from running.  Mike didn't run all week until today and I ran one other time (3 miles).  Today we did 6 miles and we are now ready for our Thanksgiving races with Crystal!

Have you ever gone on a wine tour?

Friday, November 16, 2012

ShowerPill Review

First, don't forget to enter my Cheribundi giveaway, you wouldn't want to miss out on the opportunity to try this amazing drink!

Did I ever mention that we were sponsored by ShowerPill during the Reach the Beach relay? No, oh well we were!

Van 2!

Now, did I actually use ShowerPill during the relay? No. I was the smelly kid in the van, sorry teammates! (I actually don't think many people used it in our van until after the relay was over, I didn't even do that). 

Mike and I brought some of them home, however, I used one after "runch" (lunch run) at work.

The Athletic Body Wipe

I have to say, it was much better than not showering! I'm sure my co-workers were thankful that I used it too.  

Sidenote: I told my friend, Marissa, that I had used a ShowerPill that day after my run and she thought I meant an actual PILL. She was happy to learn that I had not in fact turned to prescription drugs to cure my smelliness. 

Ironically, ShowerPill describes itself as, "not a pill, not a shower and definitely not a baby wipe". 

So what is it exactly?

It is a 9x8 inch, thick, durable wipe that is individually packaged for your busy on-the-go lifestyle.

Yes that is my foot

It is small enough while in the package to fit in your gym bag, purse, etc. 

It is proven to kill germs (99.99% of common germs in 30 seconds), but gentle enough on your sensitive skin because it contains moisturizing Aloe Vera and Vitamin E.  

It is quick drying and you do not need to rinse after using it, perfect for busy athletes!

It has a light, refreshing scent but it is not overpowering nor "perfume-like".

 After using the spin bikes

I really don't have any negative things to say about Showerpill, other than if given the choice between a shower and ShowerPill I would pick a shower.  However, for those times when a shower isn't an option (or you are just too lazy like me) this is a perfect solution!

Would you like to try ShowerPill?  Well, the lovely folks at ShowerPill are offering you a great Black Friday deal!

They are having a Buy two (2), get one (1) FREE sale! (Hint, these would be great stocking stuffers!)

All you have to do is place three (3) boxes of ShowerPill in your shopping cart and enter the code: SPFRIDAY to receive the 3rd box free.  This offer is valid from 11/23-11/25 (Friday-Sunday). 

Head on over to Amazon and purchase some now! Actually, wait until next Friday so you can get the deal!

I was provided ShowerPill for the purposes of review.  I was not compensated in any way and the opinions expressed in this post are, as always, my own.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cheribundi Review and Giveaway

During Reach the Beach: New Jersey, we had SO MANY sponsors.

 I miss these people!

I've talked about a few of them already, but today I am going to talk about a new obsession in Mike's and my life: Cheribundi.

Cheribundi is a tart cherry juice and it tastes AMAZING! I like cranberry juice so I knew that I wouldn't have a problem with this similarly tart fruit juice, but I wasn't sure if Mike would like it.  Much to my surprise, he does!

During RTB we were provided with SO MUCH juice.  We were each given two boxes of Tru Cherry, Cheribundi's original juice, and it was really refreshing.  I drank mine right after my nighttime leg and I think it helped me feel a little bit more energized.

 Yes this was all of our juice!

I was just recently given the opportunity to try two other flavors of Cheribundi: Skinny Cherry and Whey Cherry.

Before I talk about each of the different flavors of juice, here are some facts about the benefits of the cherries in Cheribundi.


Freshness

Cheribundi is not from concentrate, according to them that isn't a word in their vocabulary.  The process, which was developed at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, for juicing and bottling the cherries is done using fresh fruit.

Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients help plants grow, and therefore they are good for us too!  Science is beginning to prove that many of these phytonutrients, including melatonin, flavanoids, etc., have special properties and benefits for humans. This means that they may help regulate our physiological functions, including reducing oxidative stress, fighting free radicals and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Vitamins and Minerals 

Cheribundi juices contain Vitamin A, Potassium, Iron, Calcium and, in the Whey Cherry drink, B-Vitamins (to help with muscle growth).

High ORAC Rating

Cheribudi juices have a higher Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity rating than other juices, which means that it absords and reduces free radicals better.

Now on to how the juices taste!


Tru Cherry was my favorite.  It is tart but with the addition of apple juice there is still a sweetness there that makes it taste great.  Each 8 oz bottle of Tru Cherry is made by using 50 cherries!


Skinny Cherry was my second favorite, and Mike even liked this one when I forced him to try it.  Instead of apple juice, Skinny Cherry has stevia for sweetness and has some water in order to reduce calories.  As a result each 8 oz bottle of Skinny Cherry has 40 cherries in it, but it is only 90 calories.


Whey Cherry was my least favorite of the three that I was able to try, but I still enjoyed it.  I wasn't sure how the whey protein would affect the taste, but you still got the great cherry flavor.  It was slightly chalky, as are most protein drinks, but I could still drink it.  I'm not sure if Mike would like this one, though, but he hasn't tried it yet.

I really don't have very many cons about Cheribundi, other than the fact that for a box of 12 bottles (8 oz) it is almost $34!  It's definitely not something we can justify always having in our house but we will purchase some again.  Wegmans, our grocery store, does carry it but I haven't had the opportunity to look for it yet.

I also want to have the opportunity to try Cheribundi's other two flavors: Cacao Cherry and Ginger Cherry. 

Now, would you like to have an opportunity to try Cheribundi? One lucky reader will get a chance to win his or her own 12 pack of this amazing juice! All you have to do is entry in the Rafflecopter giveaway below.  The giveaway will run from today until Sunday November 18th at midnight and I will announce the winner on Monday November 19th. 

The giveaway is only open to those in the continental United States. Sorry Alaskan, Hawaiian, Canadian and International readers, I still love you though!

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I was provided Cheribundi free of charge for the purposes of review.  I was not compensated in any way and the opinions expressed in this post are, as always, my own.   

Monday, November 12, 2012

November Book Club: The Courage to Start

It's that time again!

It's book club time.  If you haven't joined yet don't worry you still can, just go here to do so.


This month the book that we read was "The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life" by John "The Penguin" Bingham. 

I was hesitant to pick this book at first because I thought it would be too basic, however, I went ahead anyway because not everyone in the book club is an avid runner.  We all start somewhere and often, as Bingham mentions in his book, we can learn something new about running even if we have been doing it for years.

Mike and I revisited running after a long hiatus, we both ran cross country when we were younger but swimming was our true passion.  Since we started running again in April 2011 we have completed over 30 races, but does that mean that we are experts about the sport? Heck no!

I loved reading about Bingham's reasons for starting to run and laughed at (and related to) many of his stories.  His description of his first race, where he went to line up at the front and his friend slowly made him move to the back, was hilarious but right on. 

As with many books, I often felt like he was talking about me and Mike throughout his writing. It was a little scary at times some of the similarities. (One story talked about how he DNF'd a marathon, but his wife went on to finish the race. Been there, done that).

No, this is not us AT ALL

Love it!

The book is separated into four parts: "The Courage to Start", "The Next Step", "The Road to Victory" and "Running for Your Life".  I enjoyed each of these parts in the book and I found that "The Road to Victory" and "Running for Your Life" resonated with me the most.

I enjoyed his descriptions of the four kinds of runners: the really fast runners (the elites), the pretty fast runners (the local runners who win races), the kind-of-fast runners (runners who may place in their age group) and the back-of-the-pack runners (The Penguins). 

Bingham chronicled his journey through running in such a way that I felt like I was with him there the entire time.  From when he just ran to the end of his driveway to when he ran his first race to running his first marathon and to identifying as a runner, I was there for it all.

In his own words, "this is, in large part, a book about why to run. Whether you are simply thinking about beginning to run, or have been running for a week or a lifetime, this book will help you think differently about the activity of running and about the sport of running. This book will show, through my own experience and the experience of hundreds of others, how you can find the joy in running that we do".

 I'm a runner because I run.

I would encourage any of you to read this book and discovery the joy of running, or rekindle that love, for yourself.

Here are some reviews from other book club members:

Carrie at Fitness and Frozen Grapes
Leah at Chocolate and Wild Air
Emily at Life, Fitness and Me!
Ed at Everyday Living in the Pacific Northwest

Now onto the discussion portion of book club! And thanks Carrie for some of the questions!

Bingham ran a bit when he was younger, but he didn’t start running on a regular basis until he was 43.  When did you begin running?

Waddling, round, and emperor-proud, Bingham says he runs like a penguin.  How would you personify your running style?   

Which of the four kinds of runners would you identify with the most: the really fast runners, the pretty fast runners, the kind-of-fast runners or the back-of-the-pack runners? Why?

What is your greatest running accomplishment?

Don't forget that January's book is "You Are an Ironman" by Jacques Steinberg and the discussion post will be up on January 14.  Feel free to email me your book reviews so that I can include you in my post!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dirt Cheap Stage Race (Stage 3) Race Recap

Last weekend I put this as my status on Facebook:

"Stage 3?" 

What exactly does that mean? Well our local Fleet Feet store has a Dirt Cheap Stage Race with three stages: a 3 mile time trial, a 5.5 mile trail race and an "epic" 11 mile trail race.  Stage 1 and 2 both took place on Saturday and today was Stage 3.  

Mike and I registered for the race on Thursday and continued our streak of running, volunteering or spectating a race every weekend since we volunteered for the Rochester Marathon on September 23.  

We opted not to do the early start at 7:45am because we run faster than 10:30 pace on roads.  That meant we didn't start until 9am and we made our way to Mendon Ponds Park for the start.

Once we got there we had enough time to go to the bathroom, stretch and do a brief "warm-up" run to the start.  Right before 9am there were some announcements, including the race director saying that it was a "hilly course".

 Listening to the annoucements

We took off and headed down toward the beach where it was a little muddy from the rain that we got last night.  I focused on not falling and Mike got ahead of me a little bit.  Prior to the race we had decided that since we weren't really "racing", rather we were just using it as a training run, that we would run together.

 Mike is in the yellow and I'm in the green in the middle

 There I am in the green

That didn't really happen for the first mile and as we entered into the portion that I would like to call, "Jamie is a whiny brat", I started to have doubts about whether I wanted to finish the race or not.  Mike was motioning for me to catch up to him but I had to walk up one of the hills, he waited for me and I told him to go ahead.  I'm glad he was stubborn and stayed with me because he pushed me to finish the race (although I did say that I wanted to drop out from mile 1 to mile 4.5ish).  

As we made our way through the trails, and HILLS, we ran when we could and we walked when we were forced to because of the extreme inclines.  At one point this man who had passed us, yelled "turn around!" to these people who had missed the pink flags marking the course.  All of a sudden a HUGE group of people came around the corner and we passed all of them because we went the right way.  

Unfortunately, almost all of them passed us and we continued on toward the back of the pack.  Around 4.5 miles, there was a water stop (which we didn't really use since we had our handhelds) and I took one of my energy gels.  This man who had been running near us said to me, "I thought you were going to drop out?" (yes I was very vocal about my intentions) and I said, "eh, I wanted to".  He replied, "good", which I'm taking to mean good that I wasn't dropping out.

 There we are!

The middle of the race was GREAT, if only the entire course was the same!  We even had a 10:20ish mile in there! We passed three people that we had been around, including the nice man who I called "white shirt", and we continued on our way.  

Eventually we caught up to ANOTHER runner! We made our way across the road in the park and there was another water stop at about 7.5 miles.  Mike and I filled our water bottles (I drank TWO full bottles) and then continued on.  

The course started to get hilly again and there were signs pointing in different directions.  It was a little disheartening to see runners going in the opposite directions than us and I even said to the woman that we had passed, "you could so easily go the other way".  We didn't and made our way up the huge hill that awaited us.

At this point we had our slowest mile, around 18 minutes because there was a GIGANTIC hill.  It was almost straight up! At this point we passed some more people but I wasn't sure if they were part of the race or just out for a "stroll".

At 9 miles or so, we went by the final water stop and Mike quickly filled his water bottle while I made my way down the stairs.  Yes, stairs.  There were some people out walking and they cheered us on.  We winded our way through the trails and then eventually made our way back in the direction we had come, just to go down a different trail.  If the trail hadn't been marked, I would have gotten lost for sure!

 An example of how the course was marked

Mike and I made our way to the boat launch and passed an early starter.  We were almost done!  We quickly realized that our watches were off from the total distance of the course, but at that point we didn't care.

We made our way down the final trail and then, in true cruel race fashion, we ran up the final hill and through the finish line!

We finished in 2:16:43 and 2:16:44 (I was nice and let Mike finish ahead of me) and it was one of the toughest things I have ever done! I'm proud of us for finishing, but as Mike said, in hindsight we probably shouldn't have done this race.  We have put our bodies through a lot recently and thankfully we don't have a race again until Thanksgiving!

But, we have now finished our first trail race and I'm ready for more!

Have you ever done a trail race?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The North Face Fun Run

Rochester, New York is the proud location of the newest The North Face store!


This weekend marked the Grand Opening and they had a few events to kick it off right.  Mike and I decided to participate in the fun run with ultramarathoner Mike Wolfe.  

We knew a few other people who were going to be there, specifically the guys from #trailsroc.  I also won a prize by following The North Face Victor on twitter and I could only pick it up this weekend. 

Mike and I got there a few minutes before the start of the run and we saw Eric, Ron and Ben.

Photo courtesy of Eric

 Mike needs to work on opening his eyes! Photo courtesy of Eric

The entire group

After a few words from some people, including Mike Wolfe, the group headed to the start of the trail run.  We were running on the Seneca Trail and it was nice since Mike and I had never run there before.

 Photo courtesy of Eric

 Photo courtesy of Eric

We took off in the middle of the pack, making our way through the trail, switchbacks and a little stream that we had to jump over.  I made Eric go first! (And in all honesty on the way back I just put one foot in the stream, ha!)

 I said, "I'm not graceful, you go!" Photo courtesy of Eric

Walking up the hill, Photo courtesy of Eric

I was keeping up the pace for a little while, but then after walking up the one fairly huge hill I had to stop and stretch my calves out.  Tomorrow's 11 mile trail run will be interesting for sure!

Great shot of Mike! Photo courtesy of Eric

The route was an out and back and I saw Mike waiting for me, we grabbed some water and then headed back for the last 1.5ish miles.  The run was advertised as 4.5 miles, but in the end we did about a 5K.

After we were done we enjoyed some food and water provided by The North Face, collected my prize (and one for our friend who couldn't make it there) and walked around the store a little bit.

Before we left, Mike went to get Mike Wolfe's autograph and chatted with him for a little bit.  He seems like a really down to earth kind of guy, which is probably why he is a trail runner!

 Mike and Mike in the morning

It says "Mike and Jamie - Here's to more adventures in your backyard and afar!"

All in all it was a great day and we are looking forward to tomorrow's 11 mile trail race! Even though it will be a challenge!

Have you ever gone to an event like this?