10.30.2016

Luvo Healthy Frozen Entrees


I recently had the opportunity to try Luvo's healthy frozen entrees. I'm not going to lie, at first I was skeptical because I'm not a huge fan of frozen meals and typically try to avoid them all together (hello wayyyyy too much sodium and zero freshness).

However, I have been nothing but pleased with my Luvo meals so far. First, their packaging is totally green, which I love. Second, they use steamazing technology which cooks your food ALL the way through without any of that nasty burning or frozen centers you find with other frozen meals. Learn more in the video below:


Third, their meals are healthy and fresh! They use antibiotic-free meat and poultry, and non-GMO ingredients whenever possible. Plus, the meals are nutrient dense and often pack in a ton of those macros! My favorite entrees include the chicken chile verde and roasted vegetable lasagna (see a full list HERE). So tasty! Fourth, they are so easy! Luvo will ship directly to your door (or you can buy in store), and the entrees only take about 8 minutes to prepare. 

A photo posted by Cassie (@thatsageblog) on

If you're trying to eat healthy or just looking for easy meals for those days that you are on the go, Luvo is definitely for you! I'm looking forward to trying their line of burritos when I run out of my current stash!
post signature

10.29.2016

Ekiden Coaching Review


Disclaimer: I received a free 6-week training program from Ekiden 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!

For the last 5 weeks or so I have been working with Ekiden Coaching. I'm excited to share a bit more about my experience with you all today.

What is Ekiden Coaching? Ekiden is an online coaching program that is meant to help facilitate a relationship between the coach and trainee (you!) with the aim of reaching your next running goal! My goal for this training cycle was to run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. I set a goal time between 2 hours and 2 hours 10 minutes.

How does it work? First, you fill out a survey with your needs and preferences. This is used to match you to a Ekiden coach. The match is based on goals, experience levels, and communication needs. Once you are matched with a coach, you get an online training program that you can access via the Ekiden website. Each coach is independent and has their own training style, so your plan will vary based on the coach you are assigned. You also get daily text reminders about the next day's workout. Here's an example:



Ekiden syncs with Strava so that your coach can keep track of your training and make adjustments as needed. I found the sync process to be very straightforward. Although I don't usually use Strava for runs anymore (I prefer my Apple Watch), it wasn't too hard to start using it again since I always run with my phone anyways. In addition to your weekly training plan, you can also contact your coach via Ekiden messaging with any questions, concerns, or adjustments you might need or want.

How much does it cost? The cost of Ekiden coaching varies based on your needs. Here are two coaching options they have listed on their website:





Monthly rates become lower as you pay for more months of training at a time. See the section on "coaching packages" here.

How flexible are the coaches? I found my coach to be pretty flexible. I had a few health problems come up during my training cycle that my coach was able to easily adjust for so that I could still maintain my training without hurting myself. I was pretty open-minded to whatever my coach had planned for me but I am confident that if I had strong preferences about my training, he would be willing to make adjustments as needed.

Is it worth the money? It depends. I think it's definitely at least worth a shot. Personally, being in graduate school, I cannot afford to spend this much money on a monthly basis. Also, my coach had me following the Jack Daniels training plan, which is great. However, my husband worked with Jack's wife for a time and is very familiar with the training program, so I could essentially get the same training plan from my husband for free. One thing I was really looking forward to was the communication with my coach and being able to check in about my training and any running-related questions that came up. Unfortunately, my coach wasn't always responsive. I'm super Type A and also a morning runner, so I like to plan my workouts days in advanced. On multiple occasions, 7pm on a Sunday would roll around and my training plan for the next week wouldn't be posted yet. This means my Monday morning run was completely unknown at that point, which I found to be a challenge. If coaching is something you can make room for in your budget, I would suggest at least giving it a shot. They also have a team of coaches, so if training isn't working out with one of them, I assume it wouldn't be too hard to switch. Also, you can use the code BibRave16 for 1 month of free training when you purchase 3 months!

In terms of reaching my goals, I ended up with a time of 2:13. However, I'm still really happy with this time especially given all of the health challenges that popped up in the 2 weeks before my race. I felt better during this half than I have ever felt and I'm sure that my training had something to do with it!

What questions do you have?

post signature

10.26.2016

5 Things To Do on Sedona Marathon Weekend


Last month I shared five reasons to run Sedona but this month I want to share some of my favorite activities in and around Sedona! My husband and I would regularly drive down to Sedona as we used to live just a few miles north and it's one of my favorite places ever.

1. VISIT OAK CREEK CANYON.
Just a short drive out of downtown Sedona, you won't want to miss these views! February isn't the peak season for Oak Creek Canyon but it's still beautiful in the winter. Take my advice and skip Slide Rock, it's a tourist trap.

2. SHOP AT TLAQUEPAQUE AND EAT AT OAK CREEK BREWERY. 
Sedona is known for art and this is an easily accessible shopping area that really has it all. I really enjoy just wandering from shop to shop and working up an appetite for Oak Creek Brewery. Definitely try their Nut Brown Ale and a burger.

3. GET A MASSAGE. 
My mom and I love to go stay at the hotels in Sedona and get massages, especially following a race! One of my favorite places is Sedona Rouge which also happens to be one of pick-up locations on race morning. Think about how relaxing the spectacular views of the red rocks can be!

4. CARB LOAD AT CUCINA RUSTICA. 
Absolutely amazing Italian food with the most lovely atmosphere. One of my favorite places!

5. VENTURE UP TO FLAGSTAFF. 
I could write a whole post on what to do in Flagstaff, but just trust me on this one. It's less than a 30 minute drive north of Sedona. You can check out the amazing mountain views, grab a bite to eat at Pizzicletta, and finish the night at one of the local wine bars (try Wine Loft) or breweries (try Motherroad).

If you have any questions, don't be shy!
post signature

10.24.2016

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon 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!

On Saturday I participated in the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon and I can't wait to tell you all about it. I have been anticipating this race for nearly a year and have been lucky enough to have the help of Ekiden Coaching the last few weeks to help with my training. As the  race got closer, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I was hospitalized with the flu the week before and lost a few days of training due to that. In the end, though, I ended up being really happy with my performance. I finished with a time of 2:13 which is right around where I planned to be!

Overall
One of the best half marathons I have ever participated in, by far! This is one of those races that I would come back for time and time again. From the swag to the courage to the race management, it was all flawless and a total blast! Read on to learn more.

Swag
The swag for this race was more about the experience than the material goods, which I really enjoy. Each participant got a virtual swag bag full of discounts, a lovely long-sleeve technical tee with the Urban Bourbon logo, and a wristband. The wristband included tickets for pizza, burgoo, beer, and bourbon- of course! The lines for these got a little long but tended to move quickly. This is in addition to the finish line goodies which included fruit, bagels, powerade, heat blankets, and more! Probably my favorite swag, though, was the finishers medal!

Aid Stations
Perfectly spaced, well staffed, and plenty of water and powerade!



Course Scenery
You seriously cannot beat this course. The course goes through some of the most beautiful locations in Louisville including Cherokee park. You get to tour beautiful homes and neighborhoods as well as the city. I loved the entertainment along the course which included live music, people handing out donuts, and even the police officers blasting their speakers! I forgot my headphones the morning of the race but it ended up being totally fine because I was entertained throughout. It also helped that one of the other Pros, Laura, ran with me the entire time so we were able to chat quite a bit.

Expo Quality
Easy in and easy out, just the way it should be! T-shirt size exchanges were available on-site which is always a plus. There was bourbon tasting on site and Fleet Feet was there for any last minute needs. The only thing complaint I have about the expo was the long line at the Fleet Feet register.

Elevation Difficulty 
Not bad. There were a few rolling hills and one or two steep inclines but completely manageable and worth the views.

Parking/Access
Fairly easy!


A photo posted by Cassie (@thatsageblog) on

Race Management
FIVE STARS. In the months leading up to the race all the way through the end of race weekend, race management was amazing. There were always people to help, plenty of volunteers, and flawless execution on race day. Michael, the race director, took time out of his day to come meet all of the BibRave Pros which was really cool.

Overall, I highly recommend this race to other runners. If you have been looking for a new half marathon, this is your race!

See my review on Bibrave.com HERE.
post signature

10.17.2016

Now I Understand Why No One Talks About Miscarriage


Back in August I shared about our miscarriage. I chose to share for a few reasons:

(1) Because I know it was nothing to be ashamed about and silence can breed shame,
(2) I value openness and vulnerability and it's important for me to be real with you all and the important people in my life, and
(3) I knew I was going to need a lot of support.

I recently read this article titled, "5 Weeks and 3 Days Pregnant." The author writes:

I’m not ignorant about the risks of my pregnancy. I’m aware that nearly 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and I know that I’m not excluded from that statistic. It very well might happen, regardless of how wanted this baby is. 

But I refuse to suppress my excitement because of something that might happen. Women are expected to deal with their bodies in private, to stay quiet about the normal, healthy, uncomfortable things that it experiences. When, in reality, our bodies are badass. We create human beings! How amazing is that?! 

I’m supposed to stay quiet through the grief of miscarriage or the unending sickness that is the first trimester. But I refuse to be shamed because of this natural process that my body is going through, whatever the result may be. 

If I experience the heartache that is miscarriage, I don’t want to do so alone. I shouldn’t HAVE to do so alone — not when there are so many women out there that have gone through such a tragic ordeal. I find that when someone announces a miscarriage, many women start to speak up about their own experiences. We shouldn’t have to do this ladies — we should be able to find support in one another throughout the process. 

I know my risks and I know that I will be devastated if something happens to this baby. It may be difficult to talk about, but so is depression. So is the shame that comes with making mistakes. These are all things that I’ve been open about. Because you know what’s even harder than experiencing these things? Experiencing them alone.

I saw a lot of myself in this author as I had similar thoughts about staying quiet when I found out I was pregnant. I didn't want to perpetuate this expectation that we are supposed to stay quiet and deal with our bodies in private. That's part of the reason why I chose to share our miscarriage story. But now I'm here to say that I understand why women don't share and I find myself questioning my decision to do so everyday. Let me explain.

Telling people about your miscarriage is hard. It's painful and gut-wrenching and you have to relive the tragedy every time you share. But we shared because we knew we would need the love and support of our friends, family, and church community. And we did get that support- for about a week or two.

I have written this post about a million times and I have walked away from it after realizing there was still anger in my heart. I'm not writing today from a place of anger, but from a place of humility and saying "I was wrong." I want to see people grow from my words, not become defensive and hurt by them. But I'm here to say that I'm now finding myself wishing we wouldn't have told people about our loss.

By far the hardest part of our miscarriage were the feelings of loneliness that followed. The nights of sitting home alone crying and wondering, where is my community? Why am I having to walk through this alone? Why isn't anyone checking in with me or just coming over to sit with me and tell me "this sucks"?

I have always thought I had a really wonderful support system. Close friends, a church family that really loves on one another and lifts each other up, and so on. And I do. But I wasn't supported following our miscarriage despite my numerous attempts to convey "I'm not doing OK" and "I need help." I know it wasn't out of malicious intent or spite, but instead because people didn't know what to do. So they just did nothing. That left a deep wound in my heart.

I find myself wishing I would have never uttered those words or shared on social media at all because then I know I wouldn't have a reason to be bitter or hurt. If you don't tell people you're hurting, you can't be mad at them when they don't rush in, right? But what about when you openly share your heartbreak and your need for love and support and are left feeling as if no one cares? Where does that leave you?

For me, it left me feeling alone. It left me questioning the community I was a part of. It brought me back to those feelings of "I create community for everyone else, but don't get to be a part of it myself." It brought me to a bad place. A place where I then felt guilty for feeling bitter and upset. A place where I found myself not even wanting to be a part of community anymore.

Again, I'm not here to blame, but instead to say "I get it." It's easier not to tell people because then you don't expect anything. I hate that I feel this way because I still think silence breeds hurt, but I can't help but wonder if life would be much more simple if this were just a loss shared between my husband and I...

So, here I am. Still grieving and still working through the complicated feelings and questions our miscarriage has brought up for me. Trying to figure out how to move on and forgive people while still feeling as if there is something utterly wrong with a world that doesn't know how to love women who lose their babies, because I know I'm not alone.

I don't have an encouraging note to end this on or a call to action to offer you, instead, I'm just here to  share where I'm at, even if it's not pretty. I hope, at the least, this can start a dialogue. A dialogue that will help other women that experience a miscarriage from ever feeling how I do.

post signature

10.07.2016

Generation UCAN Snack Bars Review




Disclaimer: I received the Generation UCAN Snack Bars 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'm going to preface this review with the fact that I am SUPER torn on these Generation UCAN snack bars. So, to help me be more clear about what I really loved and what I really didn't love, I'm going to the highlight some of the pros and cons of the UCAN Snack Bars.

PROS
1) The taste! I'm putting the taste in both pros and cons because I really like some flavors but didn't love the others. Chocolate and coffee were my favorite. I also really enjoyed the peach, even though it was really different from the others.

2) Sustained energy! I would take these to work, on long runs, you name it! They're super filling and have a ton of the right ingredients to ensure sustained energy. Even on super long rides and runs I didn't need to bring any fuel beyond one of these bars, which says a lot for me.

3) Texture. I also feel like the texture was kind of a con, because it was a little chalky. Interestingly enough, however, this made it easy to digest during a run or ride. I have a hard time chewing while working out, so this is a must. I noticed that some flavors were more chalky than others BUT if you rub them between your hands to warm them up before eating, they become less chalky! BAM!


CONS
1) The taste. The cinnamon swirl was disgusting and tasted absolutely artificial.

2) The texture. As mentioned above, they are a little chalky. This didn't bother me all the time, though.



Overall, I would definitely recommend giving these a shot. I know a lot of the other BibRave Pros had mixed feelings as well with some loving them, some hating them, and some feeling torn like I did. Seems like they're great for some and not for others, but they're at least worth a try in my opinion! Especially since the code BIBRAVE gets you 15% off!

post signature