Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Fast 5 Shoe Review

A shoe name like that makes you want to run in it, right?  Absolutely!  Even if you say you don't want to be a faster runner, deep down inside, you know you do!

I've run in Karhu's before.  I was impressed before and I continue to be impressed.  The Karhu Fast 5 is quite the shoe! They look like a standard shoe.  But there is nothing standard about them at all.

The Fulcrum Technology is definitely not standard.  There are 3 principals around the Fulcrum Technology - Feel, Ride, and Stride.

Feel - lowers the foot to ground angle for a smoother, more comfortable landing.  The lower dorsiflex position reduced injury risk and eliminates vertical wasted forces.

Ride - the Fulcrum Technology reduces overstriding and promotes a more balanced body position with a gentle forward lean.

Stride - activates the calf muscle for greater forward propulsion and increased forward momentum.

I have found that super flat shoes, meaning no rocker to them at all, just let you sink to the ground with each step.  Which is fine, if you like that sort of thing.  I prefer a shoe with a little curve to them because of the forward motion propulsion - which helps a bit more with the body positioning of leaning your body a little more forward for a more natural running form.

I loved the feel of these shoes.  When I put on a pair of running shoes and the footbed comes up to meet my arches, I know I have the shoe for me.  Karhu does this and makes my arches so happy!

I logged over 100 miles in the Karhu Fast 5's during my Philadelphia Marathon training.  Normally I won't try anything new at the peak or near the end of training because I don't want to risk any injuries.  But with Karhu, I knew it would be the perfect complement to my training.

In my opinion, the Fast 5 is a great neutral shoe for any distance - fast or slow.  It has full cushioning and the forward propulsion that you crave for each type of running.

disclaimer:  I was sent a pair of shoes to review from Karhu.  I was not required to provide a positive review.  As always, all opinions expressed on my blog are 100% my own.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Love and Gratitude

This year has been a roller coaster kind of year.   We started out 2015 with a small "cyst" growing in the middle of my son's nose.  We had it removed twice.  But then it returned with vengeance in October.  Since that time we've been seeing specialists - ENT, Dermatologist, a 2nd opinion plastic surgeon.  All have read the same pathology report from August.  All have given us different interpretations.  The most helpful of the specialists was a dermatologist who said it's not just a cyst, it's a rare, benign tumor.  Of course she added more words to this and of course it sent me in a tailspin.  I'll spare you the details because right now, we're not dealing with that other scenario.

This past week we finally made it to the Children's Hospital to see a Pediatric Plastic Surgeon who has more expertise in the area of rare benign growths.  And we were so relieved and thankful that this doctor feels that the growth is benign.  This rare growth is growing in the middle of his nose and is definitely not the small cyst it started out as back in February/March.  It's now quite misshapen due to the previous two surgeries and is now going to need a lot more extra care (perhaps a couple of removal surgeries and then back for a reconstructive surgery).

a silly selfie last January before all of the nose stuff started happening

Of course, first and foremost, we want the growth to be gone.  But we also understand the stress of appearances of a middle school kiddo when you have a growth in the middle of your face and some new scars to go with them.  I am hopeful that this new doctor at Children's Hospital is the best match for us, for Tucker, and that we will hopefully end 2015 with at least one of the surgeries completed and if not, start off 2016 with a "clean slate".  

this new Descriptive Apparel t-shirt is absolutely perfect for me

I haven't shared too much on social media about this because I was scared to death it was much much worse than this.  Mama Bear in me, just didn't know what the heck to do other than hug her kids more and take Tucker to see all of the doctors out there in the world.  If Boston didn't have a viable solution, we would have been off to the Mayo Clinic for sure.

The point of this post is to point out that we often times get too wrapped up in the smaller things - like "why isn't my kid playing x number of minutes playing soccer" or "why didn't he get a 90% on his quiz" and other small things when we really need to be taking a step back and looking at the big picture.  Remember what's important this day and everyday.  Remember that time together, smiles, laughter, memories are what makes the world go round.  

and my Momentum Motivate wraps have been a great source of inspiration and strength during these times

I am beyond grateful that this health scare turned out to be a benign case.   Some people haven't been so lucky this year.  My heart goes out to them.  Trust me, I know what's it's like to lose a loved one.  It's been over 9 years since we lost my mom to lung cancer and it still hurts.  But those memories are what keeps me going.

So, this holiday season, call up a loved one you haven't spoken to in a while just to say hi.  Make it a point to see friends and laugh a lot.  And let's not stop there.... let's make it a goal to bring more happiness to our lives this day and everyday.

Merry Christmas everyone!  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Win It Wednesday!

I have an extreme weakness for snacking and sweets.   Once I have just one little bite, I'm a goner.  

I stay in check much better when I focus on eating clean and staying away all of those temptations... you know... chips, brownies, cupcakes.  I could go on and on, but you get the idea!  

Now how on earth do I get through the day without breaking?  First of all, I'm super stubborn.  That helps.  Second, I make sure I'm well stocked with healthy snack options.  

And lucky for me.... Big Slice has 16 DELICIOUS flavors to choose from!

*orange ginger 
*blueberry pomegranate
*lemon berry
*cherry vanilla

*banana mango and hemp seed
*peach green tea and aloe
*pineapple passion fruit and fiber
*raspberry hibiscus and green coffee extract 

*peach bellini 
*cinnamon candy 
*boysenberry chocolate 
*cinnamon french toast 

I'm not a huge ginger fan at all.  I almost didn't try this because of the label.  I'm sure happy I did!  It has a very light ginger taste that is quite appealing!  

What makes Big Slice snack pouches perfect for me?  
*Most pouches are  under 100 calories! 
*Most NON GMO (pineapple passion fruit is the exception)
*Gluten Free! 
*Made with REAL fruit!
*Just grab and go!  

Big Slice snacks can be eaten whenever you want!  Just grab a spoon, fork or spork....tear open the pouch and enjoy.  

Now - where do you find Big Slice?  I first found them on the top shelf at Target.  I mean WAY up there and cost about $2.49/pouch.  The flavors are limited at my Target, but maybe your local store has more options.  This doesn't bother me very much, because I'm more of an online shopper - perhaps because I'm addicted to seeing that large brown or white truck pull up beside my house.  

A pouch isn't enough for you?  I hear you there!   Sometimes you just want more!  Lucky you - Big Slice comes in sharable jars at Grandma Hoerner's for only $5.95/jar.  Not all of the flavors are available, but there's plenty of delicious flavors there, almost too good to pass up!    

Thanks to Big Slice, one lucky Running With The Girls reader will win a Big Slice prize pack (12 sample pouches assorted flavors, Big Slice Tumbler, Spork or jars.  Total retail value: $50.  

Enter through the rafflecopter below.  

The details:
*Entrants must be 18 years of age or older
*Enter below through Rafflecopter.
*Giveaway begins today, 12/16/15 and ends 12/26/15.
*I will email the winner randomly chosen through Rafflecopter.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be selected. 

disclaimer: I was given this opportunity to review Big Slice through my affiliation with FitFluential.  I was not provided additional compensation.  All opinions expressed on my blog are 100% my own.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tried It Tuesday

Time is flying by!  I cannot believe it's Tuesday already.  Was Monday just a flash?  Craziness!!!

I'm trying to slow down time and take in all of the family time I can - hugging these kids as much as possible.  They are what makes my life go round.  Well, Ward too.  Of course!  

I'm finding that eating healthy is definitely not a struggle for me.   Don't get me wrong.  I do love my sweets too!  I love eating healthy foods...especially trying out new snacks from brands that I already love.   When Manitoba Hearts reached out to me to try out their new bars, I had to jump in on the fun!  

Each Hemp Heart bar has 10 grams of plant-based protein and 10 grams of omegas.    It's easy to just grab one of these bars on your way out the door for a quick snack for anytime of day.  And the flavors!!!!!  Chocolate.  Vanilla.  Apple Cinnamon.  All delicious flavors.  

I like them before a run or after a run.  It didn't matter to me.  They were light so I didn't get that heavy feeling before a workout.  

I think I have to say chocolate was my favorite out of the three.   But that's just me. 

A perfect snack while working!  I'm always eating while working.  Well, because teachers don't really get a break.  Ever.  If you are interested, a box of 12 bars runs about $32 at Manitoba Harvest.  You can order here and set up for automatic deliveries if you want to as well!  (If you do that, you're price is reduced to $28.79.)

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

disclaimer: I was sent the samples above in exchange for a review.  I was not required to post a positive review.  As always, all opinions expressed on my blog are 100% my own.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

Motivation Monday

It's a good day!  It's Monday.  The start to a new week.  Time for new opportunities.  Time to get moving!!!!  

What is motivating you to move today and everyday?  For me, a healthier and happier Jen is my motivation.  Also - being with these two little beautiful kiddos and my loving husband - drives me to be more motivated than ever to be happy and healthy.  

My running hasn't been what it was pre-marathon - because, well, I was training for a marathon then...and I'm not right now!  BUT, I'm running.  I'm running 5 days a week for my health.  For my sanity.  Our family is in the midst of a medical issue (I will share more when I'm ready and when I have more information - right now we're just waiting, which is driving me absolutely crazy!).  Running has been my saving grace right now.  I am forever thankful for running.  

One new running gear item I've been trying out is the XG4 insole.  At first glance, I was thinking "no way will that feel good in my shoes".  I'm happy to say, I was wrong!  So wrong!

My thoughts is that they added a certain bit of arch support and a little extra cushion.  I almost felt like there were springs in my shoes, which I know there were not.  They fit my shoes perfectly as well!  

I invite you to head over to the ROAR Athletic Performance Kickstarter page to check out the video and see if you would like to support this Kickstarter.  With so many running products in today's market, it's hard to decide which ones to like or support, but I feel that this one is a great product that I would love to see be successful!  

What motivates YOU to move?  

disclaimer: I was sent a pair of insoles to review.  I was not required to post a positive review.  As always, the opinions I express on my blog are 100% my own.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday Favorites + A Giveaway!

Happy Friday!  Are you ready for the Holiday Season yet?  We're getting there!  

I created an Advent "Calendar" for the kids this year.... that takes up an entire wall in our kitchen.  It was just a vision I had - so I ordered 12 pairs of fuzzy, holiday socks from Amazon, then hung them up with clothes pins on some twine, attached some numbers, and stuffed them with little goodies for the kids.  I was actually please with how it turned out!  Now I need to keep Izzy from stealing the socks and wearing them to school because I'd love to reuse it again next year.  The one tweak I'll do is make some better numbers on little wooden disks and attach them to the socks or the clothes pin.

In terms of fitness, I'm loving a more laid back approach to running and a heavier focus on yoga, strength and overall fitness, rather than cramming in tons of running for marathon training.  It's rather refreshing.  It's also given me some time to reflect on what I loved using during marathon training and some of my newest or all time favorites.  

1.  ProCompression.  These socks are nothing short of amazing.  I blog about them all of the time.  I am constantly wearing ProCompression socks because they just feel absolutely amazing.  Yesterday, ProCompression released their December sock - the Ugly Sweater Sock.  Instantly I knew I needed it.  I ordered it without even thinking.  Thank goodness I did because they are sold out.  

Fingers crossed they arrive shortly so I can wear them every single day until Christmas.  If you don't have ProCompression in your life.  You need to!  Check out their website and sign up the monthly email.  You'll get a Sock of The Month email each month with a sweet discount.  

2.  Spandits.  No brainer.  I've been in love with Spandits for years.  Perhaps I have a woman crush on the owners as well.  They are nothing shy of amazing.  And their products?   The best.  I just purchased two pairs of the Fowl Play thermals - one for my daughter and one for my niece.  I cannot wait to see these girls sporting their newest ready for a picture (or two or three) with all of us wearing our thermals!  (PS there is still time to order!  Use SPANDITSLOVE for 10% off and tell them Jen B sent you!)

3.  SaltStick.  The more I run, the more I figure out how electrolytes affect my performance.  I hydrate all of the time, but it's not enough.  I tried the SaltStick capsules earlier this year and I loved them.  I just didn't like swallowing a pill while running.  I did it, because the outcome was favorable.  But it wasn't fun.

SaltStick sent me their newest product ---   FASTCHEWS.  Oh my.  Amazing.  They provide you with the same results, but dissolve so much easier.   Yep!   

Fun Fact: For those of you who live in the U.S., you can purchase Fastchews directly from SaltStick's online store. Check it out at!

When I was running the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon, I tucked a few of these into my handheld.  I felt some cramping coming non and took one.  Instant relief.  Note, I tried them while marathon training as well.  Never, ever try something new marathon day!

SaltStick sent me 2 extra rolls of the Fastchews that I get to giveaway!   Lucky you!  Enter through the Rafflecopter below:

The details:
*Entrants must be 18 years of age or older
*Enter below through Rafflecopter.
*Giveaway begins today, 12/4/15 and ends 12/12/15.
*I will email the winner randomly chosen through Rafflecopter.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be selected. 

disclaimer: I was sent SaltStick product to review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  As always, all opinions expressed on my blog are 100% my own.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Injury Prevention - Growing Smarter Athletes

Something that I am proud about is that my family is active.  We all have our own forms of fitness that make us happy, which is even better!  

Izzy loves dancing.  This girl fell in love with it a few years ago, thanks to the best babysitter ever!  I'm thrilled to see Izzy's smile when she talks about dance, practices her moves, and even more - the smile when I pick her up.  You know that smile.  The dancer's high.  For me, it's the runner's high.  But Izzy - it's definitely a dancer's high.  

Tucker, on the other-hand, LOVES soccer!    He's been playing soccer since he was 4 years old in our Boys and Girls youth league, made the 7th/8th grade middle school team this fall and is currently playing indoor soccer with a local league.  

One thing that makes me nervous is his safety.  Tucker's a smaller kid for his age.  Huge feet (size 9 men's) but barely 5 feet.  Most kids in the 7th grade tower over him!  For this indoor soccer league- he's playing again some other kids who are nearly 6 foot tall!

Storelli Next-Gen Soccer Protection, a new soccer equipment was developed to protect and not interfere with your athlete's performance.  The BodyShield is has a great design to it - as it acts more like a second-skin under your kiddo's jersey while adding some much needed protection.  Because soccer really is a contact sport.  As a mom and teacher, I've seen more kids injured this past year playing soccer.  

I'm bummed the ExoShield did not fit Tucker as I'd love to see some added protection for his head during his indoor soccer games this winter.  The smaller "field" means the ball is moving faster and harder.  Those boys are hitting that ball with so much more force and it's a bit worrisome.    

Can you imagine what it will be like with the added protection for all of our athletes?  Could we possibly see a decrease in injuries?  I'm hoping so!  I'd love to see them continue to play their favorite sports and be absolutely FEARLESS in their endeavors.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Leftovers and a side of Birds Eye #BeFlavorFull

Say what? A side of Birds Eye® Steamfresh® ?

Tis the season for Thanksgiving leftovers. I do enjoy roasting my own turkey and eating it throughout the week. There are so many delicious recipes you can make with turkey or you could just simply warm it up and have a side or two of veggies - pictured here - Teriyaki Broccoli and Barbecue Sweet Corn.  YUM!

No need to complicate things. Life is too complicated already! Some nights are just crazy and I want to still eat healthy with the family. I was excited to see the newest Birds Eye® Steamfresh® section at the grocery store - packed with new flavors to add to any meal.

Or if you want a light snack with flavor - feel free to pop a bag of  Birds Eye® Steamfresh®  into your microwave and enjoy - just like I am with the Buffalo Cauliflower!  It was quite delicious!

Ready to try out Birds Eye for yourself? Download this $1.00 off coupon and try it today! Find out if your local grocery store is carrying the newest  Birds Eye® Steamfresh®  here.

Move It Monday!

I definitely picked the best marathon this fall!  My week "off" fell on Thanksgiving Week - which is busy anyway and means all of the food!   

A week off you say?  Yep!  It's my reward to myself and my body for all of the hard work I put it through to rest and recover.  I have finally learned that if I don't give myself ample time to recover, I'll have a miserable return post-marathon and more than likely will end up injured.  


This week I let go of my clean eating and just enjoyed the food.  I mean all food  It was rather nice to not worry and just enjoy!  

guac and chips!  yummy!

And no running?  Seriously?  It was a little dicey.  My sanity wained and I felt a little anxious...which is easily settled with running.  But I needed to listen to my body (and Ward) and not run until Sunday.  My arches were a bit achy earlier in the week...and I didn't want that ache to progress to Plantar I rested.  

Butternut squash burrito at Lisa's Legit Burritos, downtown Gardiner.  The best!

In addition to the food and no running - I made it a point to spend far more quality time with the kids.  

no ponytail?  makeup?  who am I?  

hugging this kid a lot more lately...more on that soon

They are my heart and soul and sometimes I feel like I don't do enough with them when I'm training for a race, especially a marathon - which is like having a 2nd job.  

I was still active in other ways.  We walked the dogs.  I practiced yoga. Did cart wheels with Izzy.  I cross trained with the elliptical.  I wasn't a complete couch potato.  But there was a lot of resting too.  

And you know what?  I survived!  REST is just as important to training as the active part too.  Well, for me anyway!  

But as I said, 1 week off from running meant my first run was Sunday.  Which was seriously at the top of my priority list on Sunday!  I enjoyed an easy 4 mile jog, no time, no looking at the GPS,  nothing.  Just me, the fresh air, my GORE jacket, Karhu shoes, ProCompression PC Racers, GORE windstopper gloves, and Royal Fowl Thermal Spandits....loving the feeling of running again.  

Now.... to think about what races I'll be doing in 2016.  I've already signed up for one - the MidWinter Classic 10 miler on February 6th.    That's all I have so far!  

talk about torture when I'm on the elliptical and ALL of these treadmills are empty and calling my name!  

Tell me - are you still racing until the end of 2015?  Do you have your 2016 race schedule filled already?