Luv for Luvo!

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! All opinions are my own and no further compensation has been given.

The lazy days of summer haven’t exactly been lazy around these parts. I’m a stay at home mom and while I love having my kids home with me (mostly), means that I’m more “on call” than I am when they’re at school.

It means a lot of swimming, going to parks, visiting the aquarium and the zoo, and of course, the never-ending questions about food. “Can I have a snack?” “When’s lunch?” “What are we having for dinner?” These boys of mine like to eat. They expect to be fed three meals a day and multiple snacks thrown in for good measure!

There are days when we are all in agreement with what to eat, which is absolutely lovely. And then, there are (more often) days when I rattle off about three choices before resorting to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

It’s on those days, I’ve been treating myself to the Luvo meals that I’ve been able to try through BibRave!

Chicken in BBQ Sauce with white chicken, millet grits, and collard greens.

In the past, I’ve shied away from frozen meals because I’ve always found them to be… well, not very tasty. Before opting in for the Luvo meals, I perused the website and was pleasantly surprised.

While I am not vegan, gluten free, nut free, vegetarian, or dairy free, I do appreciate a company that caters to those who are. As for worrying about rather the meals would be tasty, it was a non-issue! The food was flavorful and the texture was how it should be (meaning that the veggies were crisp, the meat was tender, etc.)

Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (and a clementine, which I added)

My favorite of the bunch was the Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese bowl. It’s cauliflower with brown rice noodles and panko style topping in a creamy sauce. If you’re a label reader, like I am, check out the nutrition facts.

Another Luvo bowl offering is the Chicken Harissa & Chickpeas. I am picky on my spice level and even though it says “a little spice” this was a bit too much for me. Never fear though, my husband came to the rescue and finished the bowl (and liked it just fine, thank you very much).

Chicken Harissa & Chickpeas

Red Wine Braised Beef and Polenta with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash & Cranberries – yummy!

I attempted to step out of my comfort zone and pick Luvo meals that I wouldn’t normally try, including the Kale Ricotta Ravioli Bowl. It was really good! I wanted to try the Planted Power Bowls too, but sadly neither of my local stores had them in stock.

I heard from other BibRavePros that they were able to track down breakfast meals, which I would have loved to try, but sadly it seems that Luvo is no longer making them.

Kale Ricotta Ravioli – you lost me at Kale but pulled me back in with the Ricotta and Ravioli

These meals are about making good and healthy choices, without sacrificing time with my kiddos. Their 3-2-None philosophy is one that I think we can all get on board with, not only as athletes, but as people looking for the best options for our bodies.

Do you have a favorite quick meal? What do you try to incorporate into your meals? 

Join the BibRave team for the Luvo Healthy Meals Twitter chat on July 18th, 9pm, hashtag #Bibchat! I’ll be there under @scootadoot. It’s always a lot of fun and there will be a couple of Luvo giveaways for a few lucky participants!

Fellow BibRavePros had the opportunity to try Luvo Meals too! Check out their thoughts!

Kyle is a Four Athletics Ambassador!

I don’t know about you, but if I could wear workout clothes every day, I would. I think I bring this up at least once a week at work, lamenting the fact that our dress code doesn’t include athleisure wear.

Consequently, I’m pretty sure I own more workout clothes than normal human clothes, primarily because my time spent away from work is either at the gym or doing something active outside. Also because I really just like wearing leggings and short shorts on the regular. They’re so much more comfortable than jeans or jorts. And they can look just as cute.

Unfortunately, my habit gets expensive – why does sweat-wicking spandex have to be so pricey?! It’s just unfair that Run Times shorts and Wunder Unders (yes, Lulu, I’m looking at you) have to cost more than a week’s groceries. (Side-eyeing so hard right now.)

I need to save myself from myself.

www.fourathletics.com

Wouldn’t you know that one of my favorite podcasts had a solution for me. The ladies at Girls Gone WOD Podcast, Joy and Claire, always talk about Four Athletics – one of their favorite apparel companies. I’ve been listening to these ladies for a while and not only are they super hilarious and smart, they also take their conversation beyond just working out… and when they endorse something, it’s because they use it, and genuinely believe in its quality.So, when they mentioned Four Athletics, I was immediately interested. Primarily because I love workout clothes, which we’ve established. When they added that Four Athletics had started an ambassador program, I was really interested. I said to myself, “self, get thee some of these clothes and figure out if you want to ambassador them.”

As fate would have it, I LOVED what I received. I grabbed a pair of running shorts (that are JUST like Lulus and even better in my opinion), and a tank. The shorts are exactly what I wanted – and significantly more affordable. The tank is soft and comfortable and good for all types of workouts and even when worn as a shirt to work. Ahem. Oops.

This tank is THE BEST. And these shorts are too. I wear them All.The.Time.

Four Athletics has an incredible brand statement that I am 100% behind:

We knew there had to be a better way. Premium active wear was becoming increasingly overpriced and the affordable options were not holding up to our rigorous lifestyles. To top it all off, we found almost no options that were made in the USA. We decided to do something about it.
Four uses crowdfunding to match up supply and demand, ensuring that costs the product is high quality while costs stay low. Economics was hard in high school, but this equation is one I actually get – and it’s cool!
We only make what is wanted, eliminate waste, cut out the middleman, and deliver a premium quality product at a fraction of the retail price. It’s more efficient, more responsible, and USA made. It’s a better way.
It should come as no surprise that I joined the ambassador program, so that I could reap the benefits of spreading the word about Four Athletics and get all my peeps on board, too.

I ordered these beauties and now I’m just waiting for them to get here. I can’t WAIT.

In addition to their core collection, they’ve just released printed and colored leggings. Dude. These are too fun and I need them in my life… and my gym. Stat. So do you! Go check out Four Athletics today, and feed your need for comfortable, affordable, stylish, American Made workout gear.
If you use my ambassador code: kpjennings15, you’ll receive 15% off your purchase.

#REALwomenmove

#REALwomenmove

Real women move.  Yes, they sure do.  But what does this mean to me?  It means that it doesn’t matter what your body shape, size or fitness level is.  It means that you are getting off the couch and doing something.

When you think of an athlete do images of super fit people in Runner’s World come to mind?  Do you think of someone with either huge muscles or no body fat?  That is what media wants us to think.  But to me, it is someone that is strong.  Someone that has the willpower to get out there and try to weather their storm.  Someone who will try  to run their first 5K or a marathon, it doesn’t matter as long as they are becoming a better version of themselves.

There is a giant tree near my home.  I run by it as much as possible.  It is America’s largest Bebb Oak on record.  Some call her Grandma Bebb Oak.  She has her own Facebook page.  To me, she is strong.  Her limbs are heavy and her bark is brittle, but she still stands.   She is said to be well over 200 years old. To me she is strong and she is real.

I used to be a slave to the scale.  If a certain number didn’t come up, I wasn’t happy.  If my pant size wasn’t the right number, I was disappointed.  Now I realize that my body is strong.  I might not have the perfect amount of body fat.  I might be slightly overweight at times.  I have never been accused of being skinny.  On the flip side, I have been labeled as determined, hard core, and relentless.  My legs are more like tree trunks, like that Bebb Oak tree.   But those tree trunks get me to the finish line of 100 mile races.  I think that if you can believe it you can achieve it.

So get out there and do the impossible.  Do what you think you cannot do.  Don’t let others establish your limits because they see you in a different light.  Redefine yourself. Accept yourself, love yourself.   Prove people wrong.  Be strong and prove that #REALwomenmove!

#REALwomenmove is a new campaign by my favorite clothing company, Skirt Sports.  It is based on REAL women, REAL bodies, REAL inspiration.  Skirt Sports believes we all can and should embrace fitness and health.  We should be strong, confident and not judge, but rather encourage other women.  You can read more about #REALwomen move and check out their great running skirts and other great clothing items at skirtsports.com/realwomenmove

***Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador for Skirt Sports.  They provide me with discounts on their products.  Regardless of this, I would wear their products and sing their praises.  It’s a company I believe in and am I’m proud to be a part of their family.

Sandy is an Ultra runner who’s on state 35 of her 50 state quest! She loves to push herself and encourage others to dare more than they dream. Sandy shares her running adventures on her blog, TheUltraFreak 

2017 Woodstown, NJ Firecracker 5k

On Father’s Day I was blessed with a gift from my older son, Lucas. Not sure why… but he agreed to do a 4th of July race with me. For anyone who knows me (and my son), you know what a big deal this is because he doesn’t always love the idea of running.

Which, you know, I get, because I didn’t always love the idea of running either.

Way back when: cheering with his little brother at the 4 miler.

At first I tried to sell him on the local 4 miler, the Pitman 4 Miler. When asked if there were hills though, I could not tell a lie. There are hills and lots of them. I’ve run it twice and it’s a thoroughly challenging course!

He quickly put the kibosh on that.

After looking around a bit, I found the Woodstown Firecracker 5k. Small, 20 minutes from home, less than $30 for both of us to run, and from what I could tell, fairly flat. SOLD! We registered immediately.

He planned to train but didn’t train (at all), and when we woke up on race morning, he confessed that his sneakers were shot and he needed new ones (not exactly the ideal time to tell me).

On a wing and a prayer.

The race started at 8am at Marlton Recreation Park, with packet pickup beginning at 6:30am. We arrived at a little after 7 and were immediately able to get our bibs and shirts. After asking where the starting line was (we saw the finish, but not a start), we headed in the direction we were pointed. We saw an arrow sign and figured we’d just line up when we saw other people doing the same. There were a few portapotties but we didn’t need to use them.

Since we arrived early, we wandered around the park and found a few animals. Lucas likes chickens and roosters so he was content just watching them. In fact, I think if I told him we were going to skip the race and just hang out there, he would have been absolutely fine with that.

No such luck, kiddo!

There were 186 participants and the start was actually on the grass (which is why we didn’t see a start line). From the grass line, we were to run toward a path that we’d all eventually go on.

It was a little awkward because we were lined up length wise rather than what I’ve come to expect but it worked out well because people naturally fell into place rather than trying to self-seed. After hearing a few words from the race director, we were off!

The course was about a mile loop around the park, then a mile through a neighborhood, with the third mile being the same as the first but in reverse.

Lucas was unsure with how well he’d be able to do, so I suggested that we run intervals. We ran the first half mile before switching into 30 second intervals of running and walking.

Hanging in the ‘hood, just after the water station.

The first mile and a half were great for Lucas, he was feeling good and was fairly content. Just after the water stop, which was around 1.5 miles, he started getting down on himself.

You guys, I hate to admit this but in the past I’ve not been very supportive when he’s gotten emotional during a race. Which is not okay!

I know that self doubt can be a hell of a thing to deal with and while yes, he should and could have trained more, he didn’t need to hear that from me once we were in the thick of the race.

Before going to the race, I decided that there were only going to be positive affirmations and motivation coming from me toward him while we were running. If he was feeling discouraged, I’d remind him how great he was and what an awesome kid I think he is. Because that’s what he needed in that moment from me and I want him to feel good about himself when he’s running and accomplished when he’s done!

Last mile, running by our chicken friends, who were obviously cheering him on too!

He was not as happy as he appears in this picture, but then again, we runners have that “fake it ’til you make it” smile down pat, amirite?

I tried the best that I could to read him and what he needed to hear from me while we were in the home stretch. I didn’t want to be too strong or inauthentic with my motivating. I asked him his motto for the rest of the race and he started chanting “almost done” about a quarter mile from the finish line. So I joined him and we both chanted “almost done” until we crossed the finish at 41 minutes.

There were no timing mats, instead they kept track by collecting the bottom tab on our bibs. After handing over our information, we were given a bottle of water and continued to walk in order to cool down and get in the shade.

Stayed cool on a hot and humid morning wearing my super cute Minnie Bow tank! You can save 10% at Donna’s etsy shop with the code MRCScootaDoot.

The Woodstown parade was starting after the race was over but we decided to hit the road so I could make us a yummy breakfast. It was the perfect way to start our celebration of America’s birthday. He even told me that he was glad that he did it and he was looking forward to running another race with me.

“Next time, I’ll train…”

Mmmhmm.

What did you do on the 4th of July? How do you motivation someone during a race?

Fall Racing – VA, PA, NJ, and DE

I know, I know. Summer just started. So why, oh why, am I writing about fall racing? Well, quite frankly… I don’t race in the summer and there aren’t all that many races in my area at this time of year.

The one summer race I’m doing is on the 4th of July with my older son. ‘merica!

If a summer race comes along that woos me with fun stuff (wine, amazing medal, friends participating) I’m sure I’ll sign up. That’s just how I roll. Other than that I’ll be embracing summer training (and praying that I don’t melt along the way) in preparation for the fall!

My fall race schedule is filling up and I’m excited to say that it’s mostly with new-t0-me races. Which ones? Oh, so glad you asked…

September 2nd – Vacation Races, Shenandoah Half Marathon (inaugural)

When my awesome friend Rachel was looking for a race and travel buddy for the Shenandoah Half, I was happy to join her! Jenn has raved about Vacation Races as an ambassador (here, here, and here).

While I’m a little nervous for the “challenging uphill course” that the race description boasts, I figure that as long as I am with Rachel, it will be all good! I’ve never run a race in Virginia before and if Ragnar, PA taught me anything it’s that the scenic views from the top will be well worth the hills.

If you’re interested in challenging yourself in Shenandoah Valley, registration can be found here.

September 16th – 17th – Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series, Philadelphia Half Marathon

This is a race that I ran in 2012 and am looking forward to returning to 5 years later! I’ll be honest, the first time that I ran this I didn’t train the way I should have so I struggled through the race. It was a tough one for me so this will hopefully be redemption!

Prior to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series taking over in 2010, it was known as the Philadelphia Distance Run and this will be the 40th consecutive running of the race. Race weekend has been expanded in recent years to include a 5k and 10k (this year is the inaugural 10k) on Saturday, while the half will take place on Sunday. Of course, that means that there’s the opportunity to run more than one race in the weekend. I’m currently floating the possibility of adding another race because GO BIG OR GO HOME, right?

Registration for Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia can be found here. Which distance would you chose to rock? If you go for the half, the code “BIBRAVE15” will save you $15 until 8/27.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia race as part of being a BibRave Pro. They’re currently looking for more BibRave Pros so feel free to learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews. You can tell them I sent you!

October 8th – Good Day For a Run, Run the Vineyards Destination Enoteca 5k

While I have not raced this particular location before, I am a huge fan of the Run the Vineyards series! Not only have I run the Run the Vineyards 5 miler twice, I’ve also volunteered with the race series as well. This local series knows what runners want and it’s always a good time to run and then be rewarded with wine and entertainment. And free race photos!

I’m particularly excited for this race because a group of my local friends have registered for it as well, so I know I’ll be seeing lots of familiar faces during the race and after! Without a doubt, it’s going to be a good time.

The space for the Run the Vineyards events is limited (this one is capped at 300 runners) so if you’re interested in registering, earlier is always the key.

October 15th – Run Inspired 10k for Operation Warm

The 10k is my favorite race distance, which is only one of the reasons why I’m pumped to run the Run Inspired 10k.

Winterthur, DE is less than an hour drive from my home in New Jersey and I’m looking forward to my first ever DE race. This is a young race, last year was the inaugural run. The course will be beautiful and challenging through Winterthur’s 1,000-acre natural preserve and it’s one that I’m really looking forward to running.

Run Inspired supports the Operation Warm which distributes coats to local children living in poverty and the thought of that is something that will keep me pushing over those hills during the race. The Finishers Party sounds like it’s going to be amazing too!

If you’re considering running this race, register now to get the Early Bird registration. Prices jump on July 1st! And you can use the code “BIBRAVE” to save 10% on your race entry.

Disclaimer: This is another race that I’ll be running as a BibRave Pro, I received an entry to the Run Inspired 10k through BibRave. Want to learn more the BibRave Pros (ambassador)? Be sure to click the links and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews. You can tell them I sent you!

Will I be seeing any of you in September or October at these races? November and December are usually hectic so I’m actually trying to keep a little less on my plate as far as races are concerned but I’m always open to suggestions!

5 Things to Know Before You Get Married

A few weeks back, I celebrated my fifteen year wedding anniversary to my high school sweetheart, Rick. We were together for eight years before we married so we’re celebrating almost twenty-five years together. We’ve learned a LOT in that time. We’ve watched nearly all of our friends marry, have kids, and divorce. We’re the last ones standing so-to-speak, and since I’m occasionally asked for marriage advice, I thought maybe I’d share a little bit of what I end up telling those who ask. This mindset is what works for me, but I don’t pretend that I’m an expert an any way, but here goes.

  • Make sure you’re in love with the person and the vision of your future together, and not just in love with the idea of a wedding. If only I had a dollar for all the times I’ve heard young women wax on and on about their wedding and then look like a deer in headlights when I ask “what goals do you have after the wedding?” I strongly feel this is a common mistake with young women. We’re groomed from such an early age to dream about being married to our prince charming in the perfect gown and having our special day where we’re the most beautiful girl in the whole world. The reality is that your wedding day zooms by so fast you hardly remember it later and what’s left is a gorgeous gown, some amazing photos, and that person you wake up next to every morning for the rest of forever. That person is the reason to get married, not the gown, the reception, the gifts, or the attention. And not because he/she will give you a family, your own house, or financial security, or because you were told your whole life that you’re supposed to get married and have kids because that’s what grown-ups do, but because you are madly in love with them. Love is the reason to get married, and it’s the only reason because if you don’t have love, you won’t stay married for long. Promise.
  • You don’t get to tell the other what to do. Just because you got married doesn’t mean that you get to tell your husband where he can go with whom and for how long any more than he can tell you what to do, how to dress, and that you can’t have guy friends. To be married, you must trust. You must trust your husband to make the right choices, and when he fails (like we all do), be there to help him through that and recover from his mistakes. That’s the “better or worse” part of your vows. You don’t surrender your free will or agency when you get married. He is his own person and so are you. You each have your own identity. I don’t care where my husband goes or with whom, just as long as I know whether or not he’ll be home in time for dinner or if I should just pour myself some cereal because I’m lazy.
  • Don’t ever make your spouse choose between you and their family. Sometimes loyalty can get tricky. When a situation arises that puts your spouse in a tough spot, don’t make it harder by putting them in the position of having to take sides. No one will win this way. I’m not saying you have to swallow genuine feelings to maintain harmony, but there is a graceful way to let your feelings and expectations be known without making your spouse feel like they’re being pulled in two directions. There are times to let it go, and there are times when you must quietly and firmly stand your ground and say “I am your wife/husband, and I deserve xyz. I need you to back me up this time.” Choose your battles, and choose diplomacy over war every time you can.
  • It’s going to be fucking hard sometimes. Marriage is work. For some, it’s constant work, for others it’s easier. I had a friend tell me once after being married for a short time, “This is too hard, it shouldn’t be so much work. He should just sweep me off my feet all the time.” Um, NOPE. I wish, but no. All these RomComs  and Disney movies have addled our female brains about the nature of true love and commitment. I guarantee you will have to put in effort to make your marriage happy and to make it last. Some days you won’t like your spouse at all. Sometimes, things are said and done that take a long time to heal and be forgiven for. We’re human after all, and sometimes we hurt those we love the most. My advice here is to be present, be accountable, and be compassionate. Own up to your half of the argument. Validate your spouse’s feelings. Listen to them. Support them, and help them grow and change to be a better person. Recognize when YOU need to grow and change to become a better person. We all need those closest to us to call out our bullshit and help us see ourselves for who we really are. The trick is to come out of that process with the love you took into it. Being humble in marriage is key.
  • Never stop talking and sharing. It’s cliché, but love, trust, and communication really are the bedrocks of a happy marriage (in my experience anyway). You need to laugh together and hold space for each other. You need to be emotionally available to your spouse and be comfortable sharing any and all feelings whether good or bad. You need to be able to hash out the hard stuff and appreciate the accomplishments. A strong foundation of love, trust, and communication will help you build a true partnership, and give you comfort in that you have a partner that you can always count on no matter what happens in life. As long as you’re both committed to the marriage and have love, you can work through the tough times and come out stronger and more in love than before. That’s a reward I feel many marriages don’t experience because we are a culture of giving up. I’m certainly not saying you should stay in a relationship that’s abusive in any way, but you must be honest about what marriage is really about. Sometimes it’s painful and uncomfortable, but if you have a core of love, trust, and communication, you can overcome as a team. Together. And believe it or not, your love for your spouse grows even deeper after you weather the trials together.

Then and Now, Prom ’94, and October ’14

What relationship advice has worked for you? Do you have wisdom to share? I always have something to learn, so share your tips in the comments.

Save

Save

Made (and Remembered) With Love

On Tuesday, I found out that a good friend of mine – someone I’d known since middle school, who I’d skiied with, gone to school with, laughed with, learned with – was killed by a predatory bear while doing field work in Alaska.

Every day, I open Facebook and another one of Erin’s many friends or family members has written something beautiful about her. They’ve shared happy memories, amazing pictures of her adventures… and it’s at once so sad and so comforting to know that she was so well-loved.

She brightened so many lives and it’s just effing awful that she’s gone because the world is missing out on the incredible person she was and had yet to become.

Erin was always cooler than all of us.

Tuesday evening, I needed to do something with my hands so I could think about something else for just a little while. Tuesdays in the summer are also traditionally pancake nights in our house, so I pulled out my sourdough starter and got to work.

This starter is special to me for a couple of reasons. One, it was a gift from my mom for my wedding. Two, it’s starter she made in Alaska and feels like home. I needed a little bit of home this week. 

Along with the starter, my mom gave me a few of her sourdough recipes: brownies (omg), biscuits (below), and pancakes. The biscuits might be my favorites, but they’re all delicious. 
The sourdough pancake recipe as become my go-to this summer, though. One batch makes a huge stack of the most delicious ‘cakes ever. Clay likes his with chocolate chips, I take mine plain, and lately, my mom has tried making them with slices of apple baked in. As is the case with most pancakes, the possibilities are nearly endless.

My mom’s pancake recipe is as follows, for anyone interested in trying for themselves. If you want to try your hand at making sourdough (if you don’t have some already), it’s actually pretty simple. King Arthur Flour has a great post about how to do it.

I usually add a little flour (around 1/4 cup, maybe less) to the batter, because I like my pancakes a little thicker, but the recipe as-written is generally perfect. Seriously. Look at these.

Mom’s pancakes this week became comfort food – and I’m okay with that. They reminded me of home and home is where I want to be right now, to be close to the community I grew up in, and to give hugs to those who need them.

Erin was a little spark of magic on earth.

This weekend, Clay and I are going to go climb some mountains I think – feels like an appropriate way to honor Erin and remember her adventurous spirit. <3