Amphipod Hydraform Ergo Lite Ultra – A Review

Disclaimer: I received an Amphipod Hydraform Ergo-Lite Ultra Handheld to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I am back in marathon training mode (yay!) in a new city, so I don’t know my running routes that well. Which means I have been re-thinking my hydration plans when I run. The usual is to run where I know there are water fountains; mostly because I have never been a fan of handheld water bottles or hydration belts. They are bulky, or uncomfortable to hold. I have even had my arms go numb while running with them. If you’ve seen my race pictures, you will see I never carry a bottle. Which may or may not change after I had the opportunity to test out the Amphipod Hydraform Ergo-Lite Ultra .

What has changed is me taking this handheld bottle on all of my training runs (no races yet, and I probably won’t at a race because I rely on aid stations). Amphipod’s water bottle is pretty awesome. I have another one of Amphipod’s ergonomic bottles but the Hydraform is by far the superior water bottle. One of my favorite features: THUMB HOLE! This simple, yet genius design almost makes it feel like you aren’t even holding a water bottle.

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I had to choose 1 of 2 size water bottles to try. The 20oz or 16oz. Since I already have a 12oz I chose the 16. I felt like 20oz may have been too much of a difference from what I am used to and possibly too big for my liking. After just over 2 weeks of testing out this bottle I think I made the right choice. Here are the features of the Ergo-Lite Ultra:

• Sized for large phones – fits iPhone 6™
• Thumb-Lock™ sleeve design for grip-free ride
• Great for hot and cold weather use
• Removable sleeve is hand washable
• Huge expandable zipper pocket for easy access storage with key fob
• Internal pocket divider for ID or keys
• Cushioned, adjustable strap for the perfect fit
• Ergonomic bottle shape allows hand to rest in a natural position
• BPA-free bottle
• Jett-Squeeze™ cap for quick hydration

Check out EVERYTHING I can fit into this handheld water bottle: chapstick, iPhone (5s, but the 6s will fit), 3 huma gels, Honey Stinger Chews, keys, gum, salt tablets, and ID.

While all of those things will fit in this bottle, I don’t run with all of these things because it is a little too heavy. Here is what I do run with: chapstick, keys, ID. Optional – huma gels, salt tablets. More often than not I run with my phone in my pocket or armband. Again, I find the bottle too heavy if I run with my phone in the water bottle.

The Amphipod Hydraform water bottle is also ideal for short trail runs. You definitely aren’t going to be finding any water fountains out on the trails, and a hydration pack for less than 10 miles is too much. I don’t run trails often (enough!!) but the Hydraform is my new go to when I hit the trails.

I have to give a HUGE thank you to Amphipod for the opportunity to test out this handheld water bottle. I have nothing but positive things to say about this product.

Check out what some of my fellow BibRave Pros thought about the Amphipod Hydraform Ergo-Lite Ultra:

Sarah – Sweet Blonde’s Fit Life

Alex – My Name is Dad

Jessica – Fun Size Athlete Blog

Christine – Dr. Runner

Heather – Heather Runs 13.1

Kristen – Run Away With Me

Chadd  – Running for the Average Joe

Rachel – Darlin’ Rae

Laura – The Caffeinated Runner

Samantha – Samantha’s Running Adventures

Running Emotions

Today I ran my first fartlek in quite a while. It was a good run. More mentally tough than physically. I had way too many thoughts on my mind during this run and before my run even began. On my way to Mission Bay I started to revert back to my old self. When I first started running I was scared to run in new places. I was scared because I always felt like I didn’t belong; like I wasn’t a real runner and people knew it. Yes, today I was scared to run at this new place. But hey, this is the first time all year I have actually trained for a race because of an injury, so combine that with new running locations and it can be a bit scary. When I am training for a marathon it kinda takes over my life. And in the past 6 months there have been a lot of changes in my life. Marathon training + changes = emotions. More emotions than I care to have at times.

While I enjoyed my run today, I couldn’t help the feeling of sadness as I drove home. San Diego is still new to me. My life as an adult started in Sacramento. My love for running and training (for the past 4 years) has been in Sacramento. If feels so weird to be training in a new and unfamiliar city.  I am looking forward to the day when I no longer feel like that. My biggest obstacle has always been myself. I overthink things, dwell on things and have a hard time moving on. I am constantly a work in progress.

As many runners know, running is so much more than the act of running. It brings out all of the emotions! You don’t realize how you associate running with a certain place or people, until you no longer have those places or people. Okay, that isn’t true. I still have them. They just aren’t with me at the moment. You know what is great about social media? Keeping in touch with friends and family. You know what sucks about social media? Seeing your friends and family back home enjoying everything you love about home. Admittedly, I am a little jealous when I see my friends running around the Capitol or along the American River. I am jealous of my running peeps racing all the Sacramento races that I love. I feel like I am missing out. Which is actually hilarious because I have all of San Diego to explore on my runs – something I am thankful for every day. I have so much exploring to do! Honestly, if I had the option to move back to Sacramento right now I wouldn’t take it. I feel like I am in San Diego for a reason (other than the bf’s promotion). I am learning to have my moments of sadness, accept it and let it pass – sure I can’t always control my emotions but I certainly don’t have to let my emotions control me. Can someone tell me when being homesick passes though?! Ugh. Talk about first world problems.

Above all, I always remember to be thankful for this gift of running. Thinking of that makes me happy.

This Body Can – Zoe

Hi friends! This is the 2nd contribution to my series, This Body Can. I met Zoe at my gym in Sacramento. One of the first things I learned about her is that she loved to rock climb. I hate to admit this but when I heard that I remember thinking, “she doesn’t look like she climbs”. My next thought was how ridiculous it was that something like that would even enter my mind. What is a climber supposed to look like?? That is the point of this series. We are kind of programed to judge people based on how they look, or based on how we think someone who climbs (runs, lifts, cycles, etc.) should look. No more judgment. These posts are an education of sorts; teaching us that we are all capable no matter who we are or what we look like. Thank you for your story, Zoe.

To Kiss the Sky: A Tale of Movement and Challenging Self-Doubt     

As women we’ve been taught at a very young age how to behave, how to look, how to embody femininity.  “Are you pretty enough?”  “Are you thin enough?”  “You want to be smart, but not too smart where it can be intimidating.”  “Assertiveness is good, but you can’t be too assertive because you don’t want to be overbearing.”  “You want to be physically fit but you don’t want to bulk up; after all, the purpose of working out is to maintain your thin, feminine frame.”  

I’m not sure about you guys, but these are some of the messages that have bombarded my life since I was young.  The truth is beauty, intelligence, and athleticism comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. Exercise doesn’t have to be this dreaded activity each day at the gym. It can be pushing your body to see how fast you can run, picking up some heavy shit and moving it just because you can, or maybe even hanging off the side of a cliff to see if you can climb high enough to kiss the sky.

Hey everyone, my name is Zoe and I’m out here in good ol’ Sacramento, CA.  I’ve been relatively active throughout my life, although I would hardly call myself an athlete.  Moving my body has been a regular part of my life; climbing trees, hide and seek, tag, volleyball, softball, running, hula, cycling, outrigger paddling, stand-up paddling, kayaking, hiking, yoga, weightlifting, powerlifting.  The list is endless; if it sounds fun, I’m ready to play.

My latest body movement obsession is rock climbing.  This mild infatuation that began three years ago quickly grew into a torrid love affair.  Rock climbing isn’t one of those mainstream sports that many people are quick to jump into.  There’s often a misconception that rock climbing is for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies.  While there may be some who fall into this category, I wouldn’t label myself an adrenaline junkie and I’m certainly not someone who wants to challenge death.  Climbing has really become an analogy of my life.  

One memorable climb happened last summer, when I lead my first sport route. On that sunny weekend afternoon when you may have been eating lunch or sleeping in, I was falling off the side of a cliff.  This happened not once, but twice. My arms were scraped up from sliding down the granite wall and my knee was banged up pretty good, which I knew would later turn into a bruise; a deep, rich purple, a color I was all too familiar with.  The rope I was attached to caught my fall, a lifeline I was grateful for because without it I would have surely fallen to serious injury or even death. It was the first time I ever experienced paralyzing, “take your breath away” fear.  At that moment when I was hanging from that rope, trying to catch my breath, I thought “Why do I keep doing this to myself??”

In life, I’m often faced with challenges where fear and self-doubt threaten to place their grip on me.  In much the same way when I face a challenging climbing route, I choose to focus on the smaller more immediate goals that help me reach my overall goal.  Spending too much time thinking about that tiny little peak at the very top of a route overwhelms me.  Negative self-talk can easily consume me, a habit that all of us have often engaged in at some point in our lives.  It discourages us from pushing ourselves to our limits.  Of course, I do tend to make mistakes in my life journey but I value mistakes because they can sometimes be great opportunities to learn.  They are what build resiliency and strength within me, much in the same way that falling off the wall can teach me to be a better climber and a better problem solver.  

On that sunny day last Summer I took a risk and reached for a hold to pull myself higher, only to fall.  It was an important moment in a lifetime of moving my body and playing outside because I asked myself a very important question: “Why do I keep doing this to myself?”  I keep doing this to myself because I am one of the few who believe we can climb high enough to kiss the sky, to refute the definitions of what beauty, strength and athleticism are, to trail blaze our way to create new definitions of what healthy looks like.  Because to us, challenging our self-doubt and exploring how far we can push our limits is the only way we can truly live.

Zoe is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT). You can learn more about Zoe  at www.thepeakconselinggroup.org.

Luvo – A Review 

Disclaimer: I received Luvo meals to review  as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I am a runner. I train for marathons, and when I train I become a bottomless pit – so I’ve been told. While I have gotten much better about how I eat and actually cooking for myself, I still find it difficult at times to whip up something that has good nutritional value when I am in a hurry. Specifically something with veggies. My go to is usually some kind of snack bar, pretzels, nuts or grilled cheese sandwich (yum!). Of course, we all know it is easier if we meal prep. But I don’t like to do that. I don’t want to be stuck with one meal choice. Sometimes I want multiple choices. Sometimes what I planned for the day doesn’t sound good and I want something else. I think Luvo is perfect for this situation. People, who need nutritious food, and need it now.

I received 5 meals from Luvo to eat, then review. 4 entrees and 1 breakfast. All of the food I got is vegetarian friendly:

  • Kale Ricotta Ravioli – 4g fiber, 11g protein, 250 calories. If kale is in a product/meal it can be hit or miss for me. This was a hit. The kale with the red sauce was a good choice. I did not like the cheese because it was rubbery, so I took the cheese off my ravioli, added some pepper for a little more flavor and it was a decent meal.
  • Quinoa & Vegetable Enchiladas – 10g fiber, 13g protein, 370 calories. Remember when you were a kid and you ate those kid frozen meals with the penguin on them? Or was that just me? Either way, I remeber getting the enchiladas and they were hard from being cooked in the microwave and they tasted stale. These were the opposite and I think it is due to the packaging of the meals. The enchiladas were perfectly cooked, as were the beans and rice. However, the cheese was rubbery so I did not eat that.
  • Roasted Vegetable Lasagna – 7g fiber, 12g protein, 250 calories. This was my second favorite meal. I liked the flavor of the butternut squash with the tomatoes, but overall it was a little bland. The lasagna was well cooked and the cheese with this meal was good, not rubbery.
  • Vegetable Coconut Curry Pilaf – 6g fiber, 6g protein, 300 calories (this meal wasn’t on their website. I got the info from myfitnesspal, so it could be off). Unfortunately,  I did not like anything about this meal. I cooked it for the recommended time but the rice was still a little undercooked, while the veggies were over cooked. However, the curry flavor was good.

  • Steel-Cut Oatmeal – 6g fiber, 6g protein, 260 calories. This was my favorite Luvo meal. I love steel cut oats for breakfast so this was perfect! I liked that the fruit and coconut shreds gave it a just a bit of sweetness.

Another thing about me and food, I am really picky with what I eat. I like fresh ingredients and I tend to have a sensitive stomach. So those are 2 things I kept in consideration when I ate each meal. I am happy to say that none of the meals upset my sensitive tummy, but I overall I did find that they were lacking in flavor. Here are my thoughts on Luvo meals:

Pros: 

  • The meals are steamed in pouches. I think the food tasted better than other frozen meals that are cooked in plastic.
  • Convenient, fast meals.
  • You have the option to cook in the oven. I think they are better when cooked in the oven, however that does take away from the quickness of the meal if that is what you are looking for.
  • For frozen meals, they are surprisingly low in sodium. Less than 500 grams in each meal.
  • They have veggie options. And for the meat eaters, they use meat that is raised without hormones or antibiotics.
  • Gluten free options.
  • No GMOs.
  • No artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners.

Cons

  • The meals are not as attractive as they are on the package or website (see my ravioli picture below)
  • The meals are a little bland for my taste.
  • The cheese with the ravioli and enchilada meals came out as a rubbery blob. No bueno.

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Overall I really like Luvo as a company. They donate food to people and organizations, they care about their ingredients, and are offering nutritious meals that are good for when you are on the go. I appreciate all of those things. Of all the meals I had the Steel-Cut Oatmeal  was my favorite. In fact, I will be purchasing some of their oatmeal because as a runner on the go I think this is a great breakfast option for me.

Thank you to Luvo for your value on nutrition, caring about where your ingredients come from and for this opportunity to try your meals.

Check out what my fellow BibRave Pros thought about their Luvo meals:

Bradford –  Trail Running Faith

Sarah – Sweet Blonde’s Fit Life

Karen – Reason To Play

Marathon Training, Back At It! 

Today is officially the first day of my training for the Chicago Marathon. This will be marathon #7 and my first race outside of California! I can’t tell you enough how excited I am for this race. Other than this being my first race in another state, I am excited for Chicago because it will be the first time I am running for charity. You may have read my other post about running for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) (if not you can read it here). This past weekend I got to experience just how amazing the MDA is. The MDA Team I have been coaching in San Diego just ran the Rock N Roll Marathon/Half Marathon. We had our team dinner, met families affected by muscular dystrophy, and ran the race. It was an inspiring weekend. The perfect way to lead to my training for Chicago.

 So I usually don’t like such a long training plan (this plan is 18 weeks), but the first month of my training schedule is very basic with easy runs. Which I am already doing, so I am going with it. In the past I have used anything from Googled marathon plans (which I DO NOT recommend). If you read my first post waaay back in 2012 you will see that I had a 6 month plan for my first marathon. It wasn’t personalized, it was too long, no explanation of what I was doing and why. All of which is not great for a first time marathoner. I then used Hansons Marathon Method. Which is also 18 weeks, but I loved that plan. I ran my best races when I used their plan. Finally, last year I trained with a group in Sacramento. I liked the plan; it was great until I was injured and found out I was moving. The stress of living at my parent’s place, while my bf was already in San Diego, looking for a job, sleeping on a couch bed…it didn’t make for great training conditions.

This year I have a personalized training plan from RunnersConnect. I found this site through a post on Twitter. I can’t remember what the post was about, but it was an article from their blog. Then I found out they had a podcast. THEN I heard this podcast, Are You a Strength Training Baby? and I was hooked – seriously, listen to this episode. So much great information to have as a runner, as a person who is looking to add movement into their life or as someone who is already active and wanting to learn more, or hear a different perspective on training. After obsessively reading their blog and listening to their podcast I decided to sign up for a personalized training plan. I’ll be blogging about it throughout my training – you know how I do. Been doing it since 2012.

So, today marks day 1 of 125 of Chicago Marathon training. Ahhh, marathon training. It is so good to be back. And I got a great new hat that I will be sporting tomorrow. It is the little things that make me happy.

This Body Can – Stephanie

This Body Can  is a new series I am doing on my blog. This series is meant as a fuck you to the fitness industry complex, social media, etc. that make us feel like we aren’t good enough. This series is me, and you, building a community of support. We are all good enough and we all matter. So be strong, be useful and enjoy the first guest post on my blog from my friend Stephanie:

I’m in my 30s and I still don’t love my body.

I know I’m supposed to, I know that wholeheartedly. But, I let the pictures of perfect women on Social Media affect this. I let TV, Movies, and general media affect this perception. I’ve fallen so far into the ‘skinny is beautiful’ movement, that I can’t see the way out.

Yet, I know the difference. I know how I am supposed to love my body. And to an extent I do. It takes little glimpses or really, pictures from others to see myself as others may see me. Since I’m so deluded by my lack of self love.

I don’t say this to put myself down at all. But rather to know that my self love is a continual process. Some have it mastered, some ignore it all together. I’m in the middle, just a gal trying to love every curve, every roll, every dimple AND appreciate the body I was given.

I want to show you a picture of the body I would love to attain again:

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J says I look like I need to eat. I think I look great. I know I was fit, but I also know I was obsessed with working out and eating very limited amounts of food. But I cannot sit here and tell you that I don’t crave that body. I do. I think it looks great. But I also know my life now is different and I don’t want to dedicate that much time to my body. I like spending my time with J and L, that makes me happy.

Working out makes me happy too. I need balance, but I need to workout. I need to go to Midtown regularly, because it keeps me strong and I’ve cultivated a little family there. The crazies at 5:30AM! I also need to never let my first love, soccer, and I fall out of love. Playing once or twice a week is exactly what this body and soul needs, if I get to play more that’s just a bonus. I need to run. Well, I do it on occasion these days, but for the last few years it was a large part of my life. Slowly it has taken a back seat, but it is still an important facet of my life, just not as much anymore.

This body can do all of this.
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And for that I am grateful. I am able to look at current pictures of myself and remind myself that I am a strong woman, on the field, in a race, or in the gym. I’m in my early, almost mid thirties, and my body is holding up. I run. I lift. I play soccer. I love my body, even if I still have a distorted view of it.

I know what it takes to get what I want, but that isn’t really a priority any more. So, I sit here loving that I can physically do whatever I want, but still crave a body that isn’t what I have. So, just as I train my muscles and my body, I need to train my mind to remember that, “This body can do a lot and deserves to be loved in whatever shape it currently is!”

This body does what I want it to, it just looks a little different than I want it to…