Road Tested: Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel

Disclaimer: I received an Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 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!

When you think of Fall, what do you think about? For me it’s all about getting outside as much as possible – fall racing, fires in the fire pit, hikes, crunching through leaves, you name it!

That’s why I was excited to be picked to try the Eagle Creek Duffel through BibRave. Because while we’re running around, getting outside as much as possible, a do-all bag is key.

Check out how small the duffel is able to fold up! I love this not only makes storage easy but it’s also a great way to pack an extra bag if needed. When we go on vacation, we usually need an extra bag for the things we pick up along the way and having one that can be packed on the way there and then expand to a full duffel works out really well.

I thought the Eagle Creek Duffel would be great to bring to races, and it was.

My family joined me for the Run Inspired 10k in Delaware and I knew that I’d want to bring a change of clothes and (perhaps more importantly in the eyes of my husband) we needed to brings things to entertain my children while I was running. We packed everything in the duffel, with room to spare.

I was very grateful I had that change of clothes because it was lightly raining during the race and I was thoroughly soaked by the time I finished.

By the way, the bag did great in the misting rain. I had everything in the main compartment and it all remained dry. The bag is water repellent but just keep in mind that if it’s really raining hard, you’ll want to get your bag to a dry spot.

The bag is super lightweight, weighing less than 2 pounds total which does matter when you’re packing a ton of stuff in it! And that’s exactly what my 12 year old son, Lucas, did this past weekend.

He’s a 2nd class rank Boy Scout and this past weekend went on a camping trip to Annapolis. After he was wearing the bag around the house and looking at it with interest, I thought it would be a great way to really put this bag to the test.

This weekend was the first cold snap we’ve had, with temps down in the 20s overnight. For the camping trip, the 60L bag fit all of his clothes, from thermals to sweatshirts.

He had a great time sleeping in a tent, taking a tour of the Naval academy, and watching the Navy football game. Once he returned and after he got settled, I asked him what he thought of the duffel.

“It was great! You were able to stuff a lot of things in there and it fit a lot. If I couldn’t use it as a duffel bag, I could always sling it over my shoulder. The zippers worked great. I’d use it again if I got the chance.”

(And then he gave me the puppy dog eyes.) (Which I think means that it’s no longer MY bag, but OUR bag.)

A few of the other BibRave Pros have flown with the Eagle Creek Duffel 60L and they say that it’s the perfect size for a carry on, which is awesome too! I’m looking forward to taking it on future trips with me.

Check out reviews from my fellow BibRave Pros: JennaMaiLaura – Fallon

Join us for the Eagle Creek Twitter #bibchat on Tuesday, November 21st at 9est! I’ll be there and it’s always an awesome time!

Feed Your Face: Thrive Market and Eating Evolved

Raise your hand if you like food.

*raises hand*

Now, raise your hand if you like food delivered to your door?

*Hand still raised*

Keep that hand up if you like that delivered food to actually save you money AND benefit other people?

*Both hands in the air*

Well, my friends, have I got something for you.

For the past year or so, I have been a member of Thrive Market, an online grocer of sorts, and I’m a little bit in love.

Thrive Market is a membership community that uses the power of direct buying to deliver the world’s best healthy food and natural products to our members at wholesale prices, and to sponsor free memberships for low-income American families.

Thrive is great because it gives me easy access to a lot of the typically more expensive paleo ingredients that I use in a lot of my cooking. AND Thrive not only ensures that the consumer pays less than retail, they also provide healthy food to low-income families. How great is that.

Here’s how their model works:

It’s seriously so great. I place an order probably once every two weeks, stocking up on baking ingredients like coconut flour, maple sugar, almond flour, or condiments like Sir Kensington’s Special Sauce (I’m obsessed with this right now) and snacks that are sometimes harder to find in my local grocery store. I save a few pennies on my purchase (yay for me!) and I feel good about how my dollar is giving back (yay community!).

Which leads me to my next rave this week: I generally follow a flexible dieting plan (not an official program, I just track my macros and food myself in MyFitnessPal). The flexible part of this plan is that I can still treat myself so long as at the end of the day, my macro profile remains balanced. Granted, I don’t take this to mean that I should go balls out on donuts or cookies all the time, but there are definitely days where based on what I’ve prepared and planned to eat, I can have some kind of treat.

A lot of times, I want that treat to be ice cream. But lately, I’ve been treating myself with Eating Evolved chocolate. Eating Evolved explains:

We have a guiding principle that influences every decision we make — Chocolate: It’s Food, Not Candy. When chocolate is done right, it’s a delicious, antioxidant-rich superfood — a far cry from the commoditized, sugar-filled milk chocolate candies that line supermarket shelves. It is this principle that also drives our simple mission, which is to be the go-to chocolate for health conscious consumers. We know what it’s like to have nothing suitable on the market, and we work hard to solve that problem every day.

It’s Food, Not Candy. DUDE. That’s like… probably one of the most profound things ever said about chocolate. Which makes me super happy, because there are few things in this world that I love more than chocolate. Like, maybe two things. Clay and cheese. But even cheese is a toss-up.

All of Eating Evolved’s products are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free and they are paleo and vegan, which is totally rad if you’re looking for a treat that is compliant with some kind of dietary plan.

They have a number of delicious snacks, but my favorite by far are their coconut butter cups. These dark chocolate cups filled with coconut butter are to dieeeee for. My favorite flavor is probably the caramel & sea salt, closely followed by the classic… but mint is right up there, too. I usually get a few packets of these with my Thrive Market order, toss them in my freezer, and bust one out for an after gym snack.

I can’t recommend Thrive or Eating Evolved enough. Big ups to both of these companies for fueling my workouts and my life – deliciously!

Review: Gainz Box

I don’t know about you, but I love subscription boxes. There’s just something fun about a box showing up on my doorstep with cool, curated stuff just for me. I’ve previously done Stride Box, I’m a frequent Stitch Fix-er, we currently subscribe to o the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Loot Crate, and I recently signed up to try gainz box.Gainz Box delivers a number of specially curated CrossFit and weightlifting products to your door – now, disclaimer, I don’t do CrossFit. I enjoy following CrossFit athletes and many of my workouts use elements, but I’ve never been to a box nor have I ever done a class. That said, I still felt like gainz box has products that were for me! I was thrilled to receive mine this week and was excited to see how the products could work in my gym life.

Each box could contain the following elements: apparel, supplements, equipment, snacks, collectibles, and since the boxes are curated by different experts each month, you also get a bit of their knowledge.

The February box was put together by Julian Alcaraz and Miranda Oldroyd – both well-known and seasoned CrossFit Games athletes. The products included are some of their favorites and the included write up gives you details about what’s included, as well as some discount codes if you want to buy more!

The first thing I pulled out of the box was WOD Welder hand cream. This moisturizer is supposed to increase the elasticity of your skin and help repair your callouses, ultimately protecting them from nasty rips and tears. I have some gnarly callouses from all of the barbell work I do, and I can tell you I need all the help I can get. Plus, it smells good and isn’t too heavy or greasy. That’s a win!

You guys. I love tea. A lot. I drink tea every day – usually hot, because it’s the easiest to make at work. But yeah, tea is great. I was super excited to see this in this box and I was even more excited to see that it was just that: tea – nothing extra added, tea and water. Paleo, no added sugar. I had this at work yesterday, and omg. It was awesome. I need to get my hands on more of these, because it’s starting to get warm in Virginia and iced tea is my jam. Gimme.

Also included? A shaker bottle. I probably have… six… seven shaker bottles? Clay and I use these daily, whether it’s for preworkout or protein shakes. One can never have too many. I threw this one in my gym bag, where it will probably live permanently, or get migrated to my office, so I have one there. 

Getting new workout clothes is maybe one of my favorite things ever – and this box had not only this v-neck tee from Wod Gear, it also included a pair of socks. I haven’t tried those yet (I’m picky about my socks), but I wore this shirt to the gym yesterday and it was great. Typically, I don’t wear sleeved shirts when I work out, but this one’s sleeves are short enough that I didn’t get too hot. It’s a nice add to my collection. All in all, I was really pleased with what I got this month. This box is a little pricey – for the month to month subscription it’s $32, but the value is great. You’re getting approximately $75 worth of gear for about half the cost. And with the coupon codes included as well? Yeah. I approve.

I’m going to keep my subscription for another month or two for sure – I’d like to see what other boxes look like and I definitely don’t mind getting some new swag in the process. I’ll say it again, you don’t have to be a crossfitter to subscribe to gainz box – honestly, I found everything in this box useful to me as someone who weight trains regularly. If you do, too, check it out! You’ll get some great products, and maybe you’ll be exposed to something you haven’t tried before.

 

All I do is WIN – WIN Detergent review and giveaway

Dear Workout Clothes,

No offense but you stink.

No Love,

Meridith

laundrywin

If you ask me what I’m doing, chances are that about 85% of the time, I’ll give you the same answer: LAUNDRY.

Friends, I do laundry more than I do basically anything else. If I’m not doing laundry, then I’m probably not at home. I wish I were kidding. But I’m not. The other Chicks can back me up on this (you know, if you need verification) because every single email that we exchange includes my laundry woes.

Lately, I’ve been pretty frustrated because while I’m constantly doing laundry, I haven’t felt like my workout clothes have been getting particularly clean. They seem to hold on to the stench of sweat, no matter what. Lovely, it is not. So when Fit Approach gave ambassadors a chance to check out WIN detergent, I was stoked!

windetergent

Welcome to my lair, WIN.

So what’s the difference between the regular (blue) bottle and WIN GREEN? Both are good to use on technical apparel and are geared toward sports/workout clothes. The GREEN is hypoallergenic and dye-free, as well as fragrance free. That means that all of my husband’s and my workout clothes as well as my (sensitive skin) kiddo’s soccer uniform were thrown in there together. Additionally, I had some towels in there because, well, we were running low!

washer

I’ve been using WIN detergent since the start of October. The verdict? I’ve been really pleased! The funk of my workout clothes has dissipated and I no longer feel like I smell bad BEFORE I start working out, which is always a positive.

The regular detergent gives the clothes a nice scent and while the GREEN doesn’t have a scent, I think that it’s cleaning my clothes and not masking odors.

I’ll continue using WIN and since it’s available through Amazon I don’t even need to leave my house to get it. Which is great, considering I always have laundry to do.

Want a chance to try WIN detergent? Well, I’m so glad to hear you do! We’ve got a bottle of the regular detergent and the GREEN up for grabs for one lucky reader. Don’t wait to wait to try WIN? Use the discount code WINGIVE1 for $1 off your purchase on Amazon. Cool? Cool!

rafflecopterWIN

Click the pic to enter!

 Thank you Fit Approach for the hook up! Other than the two bottles of detergent and the prize, no other compensation was given. All opinions (and laundry) are completely my own.

Bar Food

If you look in any grocery store, health food store, or outlet/club store, chances are you will see no less than fifty different brands and flavors of bar (variously billed as energy bars, protein bars, etc.). When I was growing up, these things were exclusively the realm of the dieter – someone who had gone to confession and admitted the sin of being unable to master the dark art of portion control and therefore needed the gods of some random food manufacturer to portion out their appropriate allotment of vitamins, minerals, calories, and what-have-you that make up a healthy diet. Similarly, granola bars have been around for quite some time. Originally, they were clearly targeted at kids lunch boxes and those that needed a snack on-the-go.

Modern energy bars are a natural combination of both of these trends. They serve as a meal-replacement for someone trying to manage their diet and count calories with deadly accuracy. They serve as a snack for on-the-go kids and adults that want to have some notion that what they are eating is healthy and has some measurable nutritional value. Most importantly, for our purposes, they serve as a means of getting a high amount of calories into our digestive systems for some athletic goal. This might be generating energy for a run or workout; providing appropriate fuel for muscle-building afterwards; or getting some quick-digesting energy to keep us going after a period of sustained exertion like a long-distance run.

Whatever your purpose for eating them, sorting through the huge variety of available bars can seem daunting. With price-tags that can cost as much as a cheap take-out meal for a single bar, it’s reasonable to want some sense of what you’re buying when to invest in a case of bars. Have no fear: we’re here to help. We intrepidly tested a number of widely-available protein/energy bars and rated them on the following categories:

  •         Nutritional Content / Breakdown
  •         Taste
  •         Price (except we got most of these from other people… so, uh, we can’t help you. Sorry y’all.)

It’s a six star rating scale. Why six and not five? Oh, wouldn’t you like to know.

dudemer

The taste-testers. Dude and Mer.

First up, we have Picky Bars Lauren’s Mega Nuts.

pickybar

This has what might be the most healthy nutritional content. It’s 45 grams, rather than 40 grams like most of the others. It has 200 calories, with 56 calories from fat making it lower fat content than all the other bars we tried. That’s 46% less fat than all of the 40 gram bars we tried, even though there’s more bar there.  Boom goes the dynamite. (I’ll give you a hint of who did the math for this post… it wasn’t me.)

It has a very earthy texture. Dude likened it to peat moss, but I’m thinking he’s never ate peat moss so what the heck does he know?

If you’re looking for energy or meal replacement with it being as healthy as possible, this is the way to go.

In addition, you could make a health-nut buzzword drinking game out of the label and end up incapacitated (eg non-gmo, organic, agave nectar, cane juice, etc.). We have very little memory of eating this bar because of this aforementioned game.

fivestars

5 out of 6 stars for nutritional content / breakdown

threestars

3 out of 6 stars for taste

Next on tap, we’ve got the Luna Peanut Honey Pretzel bar, which Dude ate without me before the gym (not that I’m bitter or anything…)

Lunabar

This bar tastes great, is the largest portion size of those we tested (at 48 grams),  and has the second lowest fat calories at 70.

On the other hand, it achieves this combination not through health-nut buzzwords, but the miracles of modern chemistry. The ingredients are in fine print on a reflective portion of the label, but the fastidious among us can find AP chem classics such as: magnesium oxide, ferrous fumarate, potassium iodide, and other geek classics. (Dude note: these are all in the vitamin/minerals section and are good for you but don’t sound as much earthy goodness as folks might expect.)

This bar kept Dude going during an intensive training session with our sociopath trainer (his words, not mine. I love you, Ron).

Editors note: It is only at this point during our review that Dude noticed the Luna bar’s label tag line “Whole nutrition bar for women.” He is displeased with my having recommended this one to him, but stands by his review nonetheless.

fourstars4 out of 6 stars for nutritional content / breakdown

fivestars5 out of 6 stars for aste

Are you ready for our next taste test? Sure you are! That would be the LARABAR uber: Roasted Nut Roll.

Dude said this bar should automatically be disqualified because it did not hail him a cab.  #giantgeek

Despite containing very natural ingredients, the nutritional content of this bar leaves something to be desired, including containing 24% of your recommended daily intake of fat in a small 40 gram bar. Oy vey!

That being said, it tastes good. It has a distinct trail mix flavor so if you were a Scout as a kid, odds are you’ll feel right at home with this bar.

Like the KIND bar we’ll talk about later, it’s relatively low in carbohydrates, so if you want a bar for a quick burst of energy look elsewhere.

threestars3 out of 6 stars for nutritional content / breakdown

fourstars4 out of 6 stars for taste

uberthinkthin

Are you ready to hear our thoughts on thinkThin Crunch Caramel Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts? Okay, awesome, because we are ready to share them.

This bar has a seal on the front that says “Wholesome abundance, 9g protein, 6g sugar, 4g fiber.” We cannot fathom why they left off 11g fat.

Despite this omission, we can say that this bar is one of our favorites. It’s lower fat than the worst offender, but better tasting and with better texture than the rest of the competitors. We’ll let the missing fat grams on the seal slide.

Like with some other bars, the low carb content makes this a better meal replacement bar than an energy or recovery bar. Dude would eat six of them in one sitting if I did not stop him (for those of you following along at home, that would be 102% of Dude’s recommended fat intake).

fourstars4 out of 6 stars for nutritional content / breakdown

sixstars6 out of 6 stars for taste

Finally, we have the KIND Nuts & Spices Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt.

kindbar

This bar has a unique flavor that seems specially crafted to help you prove how much better than everyone else you are. The nut flavors alternate with the sea salt taste in a way that is hard to argue is not fantastic.

The wrapper has a tag line “…made from all natural ingredients you can see and pronounce”. Exercise for the reader: pronounce soy lecithin.

More fun label facts! “A study by the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center indicates that eating two KIND bars a day helps prevent weight gain.” Studies by the Daniel-Daniel Prevention Research Center indicates that eating twelve daily does not afford such benefits. We’re not sure if they’re talking about eating just the two bars and nothing else for the entire day because two of these bars would give you 46% of your recommended daily fat intake.

threestars3 out of 6 stars for nutritional content / breakdown

fourstars4 out of 6 stars for taste

In conclusion, we like eating bars. We also like drinking at bars. We hope this guide helps you choose a bar that meets your needs – whether it’s a meal replacement, a pre-workout energy bar, or a post-workout recovery food.

Bon Appetit!

Road Tested: LaceLocker shoelace fasteners

Shoelaces and I have a love/hate relationship. Actually, it’s more of a neutral/hate relationship: I don’t pay them any attention when they do what they’re supposed to do. But I hate when they decide to revolt and untie themselves. I am clumsy enough as it is; I don’t need my laces’ help in tripping, okay?

Needless to say, I was pretty stoked when Stash Sporting Goods reached out to us about trying their LaceLocker shoelace fasteners, which are designed to securely store your tied laces so that they don’t come loose or get dirty/wet.

The question was this: was it possible that I could actually get through an entire walk without having to find a safe spot to retie my shoes?

I took to the streets to find out. First, though, I had to get these little contraptions onto my sneaks. They looked a little daunting at first – insert this tab into this place, then fold and fold, etc. As I mentioned in my Fitbit review, I hate reading directions, but there are just four steps to get your laces locked into place so even direction-loathers like myself can deal with it.

Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4!

Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4!

image-4

Ta-dah!

The process was ridiculously quick and easy, which I sincerely appreciate as both a mother and an eternal lazy person. Then! To the streets!

Bottom line is this: my shoelaces didn’t budge. Like, at all. I be-bopped (okay, fine, dragged myself) up and down some gnarly hills and my laces stayed locked. And while I might not use them for every single run, you can bet your sweet booty that I will use them for every single race. I definitely think LaceLocker fasteners are a must-have for every runner on race day, especially for those of you who are looking for your next PR. There’s not a chance you’ll have to stop to retie your laces. 

Plus, how adorable is that name? They really ARE little tiny lockers for your laces!

Stash Sports were awesome enough to offer up a pair of LaceLockers to a lucky Scoot reader. To enter, click on the cute Rafflecopter pic below. The giveaway runs through 10/8!

rafflecopterlacelocker

Click the pic to enter!

Disclaimer: I received one pair of LaceLocker fastener for review. All words and opinions are my own. Giveaway prize donated by Stash Sporting Goods. 

Road Tested: SKORA

Earlier this month, we shared that Vic and Mer scored SKORA shoes to rack up the miles during our September training. Mer received the SKORA CORE, while Vic tested the FORM model. How did we fare? Read on!

skora1-1Mer:

I’ve heard about minimalist shoes since before I actually started running. A friend of mine (hi Jen!) raved about her minimalist shoes and I have to admit that while I was intrigued, I was also scared as well. I’m a wee bit – what’s the word? – clumsy. Therefore, I’ve always been under the assumption that the more substantial the shoe, the better off I’d be. Au contraire, mon frère!

Let me take a moment to talk about the shoes themselves. The box is pretty. The shoes are prettier! They are super light-weight (apparently mine average 6.7 ounces). The width of the toe-box is something that really stood out to me because usually the front of my foot feels a bit confined. I really like how my toes are able to spread with each step; I feel like it helps improve my stride.

skora2

Hello, my light and airy pretty!

I committed to a running streak for the month of September for our Million Mile Run team; I also planned to give the month to testing out the SKORA shoes. I started with a couple of miles on the treadmill doing intervals. It was raining the first couple of days of the month so I figured it was the perfect time to see how the shoes felt on a flat and, well, monotonous surface.

The sole of the CORE shoes are 11mm, according to the handy dandy comparison chart, and I could actually feel the tread on my treadmill. Crazy, right? The sensation was different than what I was used to but during those first couple of interval runs, I felt really good and was itching to get outside!

skorafeet

The first day of school was midweek and once both of my boys were on their respective buses, I was ready to run. Being that it was the first test run outside with the SKORA, I decided to do an easy mile. Once I hit the turn around, I was feeling so good that I happily continued on, rounding out the run at 3 miles.

skoraer

From there, it was on! I was blessed with good weather so my outdoor running streak was a go. The CORE shoes are good for “light trail running” and that’s good because I’m not lucky enough to live near many trails. However, when I ran the Electric Run DC, we went from paved road to gravel to grass to gravel to road. Not what I had expected but the COREs did great (and I had a blast!).

One thing I do wonder about is that the COREs feel a smidge big on my feet. I fluctuate between sizes 6.5 – 8, depending on the shoe. When it comes to running shoes, I usually go big with a size 8, since feet can swell during runs. However, I think I probably could have gone with a 7.5 with the CORE model.

With that knowledge, I will say that I’m a SKORA shoe convert. As you might have read, I’m currently waylaid by a quad injury but once I get the all-clear (fingers crossed!) from the orthopedist this week, I plan to return to running. And to my SKORA.

Vic:

When I first ripped open my box of SKORAS, I couldn’t believe how fun they looked. Super cute, right? I tried them on immediately… and was smitten.

formBad-ass girly camo!

I honestly was confused by minimalist shoes well before I heard of SKORA. I only ever pictured those hideous five-clawed contraptions that remind me of the awful water sandals from the mid-90s. You know what I mean, maybe you even had a pair. They were all the rage. *Shudder*

So I first tried my zero-drop FORMs at the end of a 5 mile run. My first few steps really threw me for a loop! My feet fell close to the ground. I thought I’d done something horribly wrong and would soon trip over my own feet. I kept expecting to land higher, and quickly adjusted my stride to avoid “missing” the pavement.

Alas, I did not fall! My feet carried me along and felt incredibly light as I ran. I tripped over nothing and felt like my feet were floating.

The FORM pair boasts a 13mm sole — 9mm if you remove the insole — and are meant for roads or trails. If you are a klutz like me, you want to avoid trail running in the FORMs because while you may feel light on your feet, you may  also feel some rocks and roots.

On the road – where I typically run – I didn’t feel small rocks or anything amiss. Bonus points for you, SKORA! I also got lots of compliments from other runners and walkers on the road. Double kudos, SKORA!

The top portion of SKORA shoes are made of goatskin leather with a water-resistant coating and a soft feel (they actually feel grippy).  The soles are tough rubber.

I noticed that when I ran in the shoes on a hot day my feet became rather warm. Apparently, the leather warms up, resulting in some rather sweaty feet.  This might actually be a bonus in colder weather! Stay tuned.

Minimalist running shoes aren’t for everyone. You will likely have to adjust your running style and build slowly – by walking and running short distances first — or your feet may regret it. Don’t test them out while training for a big race. Wait until your training cycle is over, in case something goes awry.

Since I AM training for NYC Marathon, I only wore the shoes for short runs and walks. I’m a fan! They feel incredibly different than my usual shoes — Mizuno WaveRiders and Adidas Supernova. But different can be good. In my case, It was worth it! I look forward to logging more miles in my FORMs!

We each received a pair of SKORA shoes for review. No other compensation has been given. Our opinions and words are our own.