Scoring sweet swag, reviewing awesome products and living the rad mom life.

*Disclaimer: I received a free remote runner entry to the San Jose 408k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

I may have left California, but California has not left me!  So I’m super excited to have the opportunity to run the San Jose 408k as a remote runner!  In my previous blog post, I mentioned how I’ve missed running races so it will be fun to feel like I’m running the 408 even if I am in another country!

408k photo3

So whether you live in San Jose, Asia, or somewhere in between – you can also get excited about this race and here are 5 reasons why!

5.  The Location! – After your run through beautiful San Jose you will finish at Santana Row, which is an upscale shopping/dining/living development and it’s the ONLY event that finishes here!

4. Special Course Miles! – Running the 408k gives you the opportunity to run both the Memorial Mile and the Mariachi Mile.  The Memorial Mile is a chance for runners to show their respect to local military as well as an opportunity for veterans to cheer on the runners. The Mariachi Mile will feature several mariachi bands playing along the last mile of the course. How fun is that?!

408k photo


3.  Extra SWAG! – Run the 408k (in person or remotely) along with any of the race distances from the Silicon Valley Half event and you will score some extra BLING!  It will be a great addition to your medal rack!

s valley medal


2.  Pat Tillman Foundation – This year’s Official Benefitting Charity is the Pat Tillman Foundation.  Fundraising and donations to Pat Tillman Foundation will be invested in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships.  This is a great charity and there are even fundraising levels.

1. Remote Runner – And my fave thing about this race?  Well, I think it’s pretty obvious…but I’m excited that I can run this 8k on my own and still score some swag! What does it mean to be a remote runner? It means I can run at home and I will receive a bib, official race shirt, and medal in the mail! No traffic, no crowded expo lines! Super easy and convenient!

And if you aren’t excited yet, use code “BIBRAVE” save $10 on your race entry or remote runner entry! 

And of course, if you aren’t up to running an 8k (4.97 miles) you can always head over to cheer on the runners  (we love spectators!) or be a race volunteer!

This is sure to be a great event for all so be sure to register today before online registration closes! And let me know if you register as a remote runner so we can run “together”. 😉



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It’s been six months since I traded in beaches and burritos for high-rises and ramen.  And during that time, my relationship with running has a been a bit rocky.  I really loved running in San Diego – the scenery is beautiful, the weather is always perfect, and there are races every weekend – it’s a runner’s dream! And of course,  I can’t forget my running club and BRF (Best Running Friend) – @TheHungryRunner_


So leaving all that behind and moving to a new country with narrow sidewalks (or zero sidewalks at times) and actual unfavorable weather sort of derailed my running momentum.  It was also a bit depressing not having my running friends and weekly races to look forward to.  Because of the move and the transition, my running became inconsistent and I sort of felt “lost” with my running.  What am I training for?  Why I am I running? What am I even doing?! I definitely began falling into a running rut. 😦

Another challenge was finding quality places to run close to my house.  Basically I have three choices: a track, a treadmill at the family gym, or a running path with a decent view of Mt. Fuji on clear days. Kind of an adjustment from the assortment of beaches and trails I had to choose from in SoCal.

After a few weeks, I basically lost my running motivation and began just running minimal miles each week. I stopped focusing on running so much and started embracing the Japan life.

Then I missed the idea of having running goals and began running a little bit more.  I started taking advantage of the track (speed work anyone?) and started aiming to run a little more (or a little faster) each week. In December, I did the WeavRun streak challenge and successfully ran for 30 days straight.  The streak really helped motivate me to challenge myself and work on cadence. I even started to incorporate more strength work and found out that I love kettlebell swings, box jumping, and ball slamming!

Then after New Years I took two whole weeks off!  No running, no gym, no counting miles, reps, or calories.  I just took time to relax without worrying about not getting in a run or workout session each day.  I literally stopped to smell the roses! 😉


I took the time to not only reset physically, but also mentally and spiritually.  I decided to write out some goals for the month, the year, and next few years.


After my little running sabbatical, something magical happened… IT SNOWED! And I HAD to run in this winter wonderland since I knew it would only last a day.  I ran slow so I wouldn’t fall, but it was super refreshing and peaceful!

Then I started building up my weekly mileage again and found out that the track isn’t so bad. You can zone out and not worry about traffic, work on your speed, and its super soft and much better on your joints than road running. 🙂

I’ve even discovered some beautiful running paths in the nearby parks.  The forests in Japan are green and super dense, which makes for some peaceful and reflective running.


What I discovered through this transition was that I don’t NEED super lofty race goals or shiny medals (although those are nice) to enjoy running.  The break reminded me why I started running in the first place.  Because I LOVE it!  Sometimes preparing for races can get stressful, so I realized that I actually needed a break from all the bling chasing.  It finally dawned on me that I don’t HAVE to run…I GET to run!!  Last week, I went out on a run with no pace/distance goal at all.  I just slowed down, took in my surroundings, and enjoyed the run! I fell back in love with running by letting the run lead me instead me leading the run.

So what’s next??  Well the SWAG is not lost, y’all!  I’m still an ambassador for Bibrave and this year I will be an ambassador for Sweat Pink too!

Okay, back to the races.  Races aren’t really that prevalent in my area, but I’ve kind of enjoyed having my weekend mornings open to new possibilities.  However, I do have my eye on a couple of local races coming up…so stay tuned!  Also, I’m excited to announce that I will be participating in some Virtual Races this year too! So I will be reviewing those as well!

I’m also working on possibly starting up a mom’s running group in my community because I’ve had a few new moms ask me about where to start with running. And I would love to share the running LOVE!

I’m really glad that I have found my love for running again and I can’t wait to share my excitement and motivation with everyone else this year!

IMG_8332“Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running.” ~Julie Isphording

And P.S. – I still miss my BRF! 😉

I’m off to chase some goals! 🙂


In case you didn’t know there is a magical place tucked in the little town of Tama – located within Tokyo, Japan.  It’s where a special lady lives with all of her best friends!  Her name?  Hello Kitty!  And yes she is a lady and not a cat.  Make sure you tell your friends that,  I get the feeling she doesn’t like being referred to as a cat.  😉  She lives in a castle called “Sanrio Puroland” although many people refer to it as “Hello Kitty Land”.

You might be familiar with Sanrio, they have locations all over the world and you can’t miss them – they are small, but colorful and bright stores. They sell lots of stationary, school supplies, and accessories as well as stuffed animals and apparel. We took our kids here during Thanksgiving week to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and I was pretty excited to go as well since I loved going to the Sanrio store when I was a kid.  So here are a few things I learned about our adventure!


  • Take the train.  It’s a fairly easy train ride and the park is only a 5 minute walk from the Tama train station.  You even get to walk down Hello Kitty Street. 🙂


  • Buy your tickets beforehand.  I got our tickets on GoVoyagin – it’s like the Groupon of Japan.  We ended up paying $19.50 for each adult and my daughter. Kids under 3 were free. You don’t even have to print anything, you can just show the barcodes right on your phone. If you plan to go frequently or want to purchase a Puropass (like a FastPass), then you may want to get your tickets from the park’s website.  Keep in mind, the price increases for weekend and holiday visits.


  • It’s indoors.   One thing that might really surprise you is that the entire theme park is indoors!  I think this is pretty awesome since the weather conditions aren’t always great here in Japan.  You don’t have to worry about your kids being too hot or too cold and you can leave the ponchos at home. 🙂


  • It’s kind of small.  Since the entire park is inside, you can imagine that this place isn’t all that big.  It’s four stories high but doesn’t really have a huge circumference and there’s an escalator and elevator.  But the steps are kind of built into the enchantment of the place so my kids loved going up and down the stairs.  They do have a large stroller parking area and locker rentals so you don’t have to lug around your bags and coats.
  • The details are amazing!  No Hello Kitty detail was left behind here.  You will see prints of Hello Kitty and her friends all over this place – down to the wallpaper and the vending machines!
  • Even the food is themed!  There are a few cafes/restaurants located throughout the park.  They serve all types of Japanese cuisine as well as French fries, pastries, and ice cream.  But you will see that Hello Kitty has made her mark on the food (and snacks), too!
  • There are rides.  Even though everything is indoors, there are a couple of rides within the park.  One is a boat ride that takes you through a land of mechanical characters and the other is a little car ride where you take photos in different themed rooms.  We had to wait about 25 minutes for each of these, but the PuroPass will get you in faster in case you’re in a time crunch.
  • There’s an arcade.  If you need a break from the rides or want to play some games, there’s a spot for that.  The park has an arcade area with a small carousel and little 100 yen arcade style rides.


  • There are plenty of opportunities for character meet-and-greets.  If your little ones aren’t afraid of giant and crazy costumes, then they will love the characters at Hello Kitty Land!


  • Catch the parade.  There are a few shows that happen throughout the day.  You’ll want to pick up a show guide at the front, but make sure to watch the parade!  They will start roping off areas (just like they do at Disney) long before the start of the parade, so make sure you grab your seat early.  They also sell light up wands for 1500 yen and your kids WILL want one so they can interact with the performance.  Since we were there the day after Thanksgiving, the show was Christmas themed and it was a mix of Japanese and English songs.
  • She’s worth the wait.  You will have the opportunity to meet Hello Kitty herself!  She has her own wing of the castle and it’s extra magical!  We waited about 30 minutes, but I did see the wait times increase at times.  You can also skip the line with the PuroPass.  Once it’s your turn, you are ushered into her special house.  There are lots of photo props and interactive areas – and it’s beautiful!  Then you wait in another short line to actually meet her.  You have the option to purchase a rose for 500 yen to give her during your meeting.  In exchange she will give you a gift as well.  We didn’t purchase this option so I’m not sure exactly what the gift was although it appeared to be a small notebook of some sort.  Also, this was the only spot where personal photography was not allowed.  We bought our Hello Kitty photo with the frame for 1600 yen.
  • There’s SWAG!  If you are celebrating a special occasion, head to the Information Desk when you first enter the park.  They will give you a card that you wear around your neck with your name and celebration date.  Then when you walk around, everyone will give you a sticker for your card and in our case, wish my daughter a Happy Birthday.  It really made her day extra special!  They even gave one to my son so he wouldn’t feel left out.  Instead of ‘Happy Birthday’, his occasion was ‘First Visit’.


  • Everyone is super friendly!  Okay, maybe this isn’t surprising since it is Japan and all.  But everyone was very friendly – not just the employees, but the people in the park too.  It’s a pretty crowded and busy place, but anytime my son had a meltdown or fell (he falls a lot) – someone would stop and check on him.  Also, everyone that worked there spoke enough English to communicate basic instructions which made things a lot easier.

Overall, we really enjoyed our day at Hello Kitty Land!  If you plan to go, check the park schedule because it does close fairly early so you’ll want to give yourself enough time to explore everything.  And if you don’t have kids, don’t let that stop you from visiting this little gem.  We saw a lot of couples there without children and they looked even more excited than the kids we encountered.  🙂

Have you been to Sanrio Puroland?  What did you think?  Would you go if you had the chance?


I’m off to review the next event!


**Disclaimer: I received two boxes of Health Warrior Bars to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!!

Well it’s a brand new year guys!  Which means everyone is working on self-improvement, new goals, and lifestyle changes.  One of my 2018 goals is to improve my eating habits.  I love eating healthy foods, but I also probably indulge more than I should…and I’m definitely guilty of stealing french-fries from my kids.  So I was pretty stoked (yet a bit skeptical) when I had the opportunity to try out the Health Warrior Chia Bars.


I was skeptical because usually healthy snack bars are either a) not really all that healthy (have too much sugar/carbs) or b) taste like an old shoe. The main ingredient in the Health Warrior Chia Bars is…well, you guessed it – Chia seeds!

They also contain:

  • 4-5 grams of unrefined sugar
  • 4g of fiber
  • 3g of protein
  • 100 calories (some 110)

AND they are:

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free
  • Dairy-free

Seems like these are leaning towards the “old shoe” taste, huh?  So I decided to start out with the Chocolate Peanut Butter bars first because I basically love PB/Choco flavored anything.

I was surprised to see that these little guys are actually smaller than many other typical health bars.  But I was even more surprised at how great they tasted!  They are pretty chewy, but not too hard and definitely had a great natural-tasting flavor.  I had them for a mid-morning snack a few times and then decided to take them out on a run!


At first I was a little disappointed with the smallness, but realized that they are the perfect size for my purse and serve as a great pick-me-up during that late afternoon crash.


Then I went on to try the Vanilla Almond bars.  I didn’t care for this flavor at first, mostly because I don’t really care for anything vanilla flavored in general.  But after the second or third bar, I developed a taste for this flavor and really began to enjoy it! My kids really liked this flavor, too!  No old shoe taste here!

Also, a little SWAG came with my shipment.  A pretty neat coloring book! Coloring is a great way to relax and relieve stress.  And this one is all about running so it’s extra special!  I’ve been thinking of running a marathon sometime in the next couple of years, so maybe this marathon coloring book is a sign that I should turn that dream into a goal. 😉  My kids were excited about the book too and even helped color the letter P. 😉


He thinks that’s me. 🙂

Overall,  I really loved these bars!  They also come in some other great flavors like Coconut and Apple Cinnamon.   I definitely plan on ordering a few boxes!

Pricing: You can score a box of 15 for $15.99, but you can save some bucks if you subscribe.  And free shipping on orders overs $35!  Also, the marathon coloring book is on sale at the moment for $5.99!

They make great gifts, too! 😉

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So what’s the #1 reason WHY I love these little fellas????


Answer:  They are super filling!!! I couldn’t believe the mighty punch these little bars packed.  Some days I just had one of these for breakfast and it kept me going through a 3 mile run and into lunch.  I think they are great to have for traveling, hiking, and running!  Not only did they fill me up, I didn’t get that heavy feeling or sugar crash feeling that some bars often give me.

And they go great with coffee. 😉


What do you think?  Have you tried these?  What’s your fave flavor?!

Happy New Year!


Feel the Music with Weav Run!

*Disclaimer: The Weav Run app is currently free, but I will be receiving a lifetime subscription in January 2018 as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Last month I was informed about a new running app called Weav Run.  I was a little hesitant to try it because I’m not super techy and sometimes technology in general can be frustrating.  But, I decided to go ahead and give it a try because YOLO (do the kids still say that?) 😉  I’ll explain how Weav Run impacted my running, #ButFirst, let me tell you what makes the app so unique.

The Weav Run app uses Weav Music to sync to your running speeds.  There’s a lot that goes into this as the music composition changes in real time without impacting the quality of the song.  There’s also the issue of music licenses and such…which is why the playlist on the app isn’t huge, but more songs are being added all the time.  There are even less songs available outside of the U.S. (because of licensing), but that will also evolve over time.


Let me break it down for you:  Let’s say you are out for a morning run and you want to run a steady pace of a 10 min/mile (the steps/minute will be different for everyone based on cadence).  You fire up the Weav Run app and the music will stay in sync with your steps! But then, your neighbor’s dog gets loose and chases you down the street – increasing your speed to an 8 min/mile.  Oh no!  Have no fear, the music from the app will speed up with you!  Finally, the dog gives up but your hot neighbor is out working in the yard and maybe you want to slow down a bit 😉 like to a 12 min/mile.  The music will slow down to your tempo so you don’t lose any precious running time.  Did I mention, this all happens with the SAME song?  And the song still sounds great – either fast or slow – without sounding like a band of Darth Vaders or chipmunks!


So now that you know a little bit more about the app, I’ll explain how this technology impacts your running.

From the Weav Run website:

Studies show that running in sync with music can:

  • Boost performance by an extra 15-20%**
  • Decrease your perception of effort by 10% (erasing pain & making running more pleasurable)
  • Motivate you to get out the door, or stick to your routine

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I can honestly say that after using this app for the last month – I have experienced all of these things!  I even ran one of my fastest miles this year!


I have also been running more negative splits, enjoying my runs, and getting motivated everyday!  And I literally mean everyday, because I have been participating in Weav Run’s #WeavStreak this month!  30 days of running to finish the year!

Streaking is hard during the winter because it’s cold and the days are shorter.  Streaking during Christmas is harder because I just want to drink hot chocolate and watch Hallmark movies, but the Weav Run app has definitely made me lace up and get out the door for at least one mile each day!  In case you’re wondering, I’m on day 21 now – follow me on Instagram @theswagmama to see me finish out the streak!

The app has 2 different modes (Indoor and Outdoor) and you can choose to either enter your desired steps per minute or have the app detect your cadence.

I also beta tested the interval mode on the treadmill and really enjoyed my experience! The change in tempo of the music prompted me when to speed up and slow down during each interval and it made the time pass quickly.

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But, with all new technology there are always a few hiccups.  I did have a few technical issues with the app:

  • Sometimes the app measured that I was running longer distances compared to my Garmin.
  • The time was a little off with the interval mode.  The app said I ran 34 minutes, whereas the treadmill said I only ran 30 minutes.
  • You can’t go back and edit your runs.
  • I had issues sharing my runs to Twitter.  It acted like I could upload my run to Twitter, but then there wasn’t an actual upload button to click.
  • The music takes up a lot of space.  If you download the music to your phone, it will take up a lot of memory.
  • It’s only available for Apple iPhone users. Sorry Android friends!

However, I believe these are all things that will be improved with time!

You can also check out some frequently asked questions here.

Another added bonus is that the Weav Run app team is pretty awesome!  They are quick to respond to your questions about the app and they are dedicated to improving your Weav Run experience!

Overall, I really loved this app and will continue to use it to improve my running performance!  I learned that my cadence is not that great, so I’m looking forward to setting a new cadence goal for 2018!

Until then, I’ll keep on streaking! 😉


The app is currently free on the IOS app store.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Join me on #BibChat on Twitter on Tuesday, December 26th at 8pm CST to learn more about the app and to chat with some fun folks from the running community!  See you there!

I’m off to work on my next review!


“Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Honolulu Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

The Honolulu Marathon is coming up on December 10th,  and I have great news!!  There’s still time to get involved!  Here a few ways for you to get in on the action!

photo courtesy of
  • RUN!  There are 3 chances to run during the Honolulu Marathon weekend – The Kalakaua Merrie Mile is on December 9th in Waikiki.  Participate in this one mile fun run and then head over for a fun beach party and concert!  All ages welcome!  The Start to Park 10k is on December 10th and has the same start time and location of the Honolulu Marathon.  This is perfect for those who want to get a taste of the marathon course, but aren’t quite ready to run 26.2 miles.  The Honolulu Marathon – Then there’s the main event on December 10th.  It’s the fourth largest marathon in the United States and is commonly referred to as “26.2 miles in Paradise”.  Who doesn’t want to run in PARADISE?! ***Fun Fact: Last year, there were over 33,000 entrants and over 14,000 of them were from Japan!



photo courtesy of


  • Expo!  The expo will be held on December 7th, 8th, and 9th at the Hawaii Convention Center and is free and open to anyone!  You can register for any of the running events here at the expo, so it’s not too late to run any of the races! But if you aren’t up to running, then just enjoy roaming the expo and checking out all of the fun vendors!  You may even score some samples and swag!  You can also check out the vendor list and their booth locations here.
honolulu marathonexpo

photo courtesy of

  • Witness Greatness!  After everyone has run the Kalakaua Merrie Mile, you can cheer on all of the elite runners!  This is your chance to see Olympians from all over the world in action!  Check out who all will be running in the Elite Field here, including the current marathon world record holder, Dennis Kimetto    Also, be on the lookout for two-time Olympian, Nick Symmonds as he has announced that his final professional race will be this year’s Honolulu Marathon!
honolulu merrie mile

photo courtesy of

  • Tracking!  Even if you can’t make the event, you can still track your friends, family, or favorite racers!  You can follow the live results and watchlist page or you can download the event app!  Create a watchlist of all of the participants you are tracking and then see their progress as they cross each timing mat.


What do you think is the most interesting part of the Honolulu Marathon?!  Will you be participating this year?

I’m off to review the next event!




Hats Off to BOCO Gear!

“Disclaimer: I received a free BOCO Gear Run Hat to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

If you scroll through most of my running photos, you will find that I am almost always wearing a hat.  Why is that?  Well a few reasons.  1.  I have a ton of hair.  2.  I don’t usually have a lot of time to properly style said hair (thanks kids).   3.  Hats offer protection from the daily elements (i.e. sun, wind, rain).  4.  They are stylish!

So you can imagine my excitement when I had the chance to test out a new run hat from BOCO Gear!


If you’ve never heard of BOCO Gear, they are a company based out of BOulder, COlorado (clever, huh?)…and they create performance hats, headbands, and other accessories for athletes.  You can browse their online shop or they will even create custom orders for your organization, team or event!  They created custom hats for BibRave and I love the look of this product!


Since moving to Japan, I’ve been faced with some “challenging” weather conditions that I haven’t been used to.  San Diego spoiled me with it’s annual perfect weather, so I had to quickly adjust to various temperatures, humidity, rain, and even some crazy wind.  When I first received my BOCO Run Hat, it was typhoon season.  I didn’t even know that was a thing until I moved here.  BTW –  the height of typhoon season is like September/October so beware if you plan to travel to Japan during those times.  😉  Anywho, I didn’t want to let any little typhoon weather get me down so I thought, “What the heck – I’ll run outside anyway.”  Well the wind was no joke.  Running against the wind will really test your strength and it’s also annoying.  But I survived, and more importantly – My BOCO Run Hat didn’t budge!  I was shocked!  In fact, I kinda forgot I was wearing it at one point because it’s so lightweight!


The good news about typhoons is they don’t last long.  After about 8 hours, it was all over and the skies cleared.  In fact, the next day was absolutely beautiful and I had to run again so I could see Mount Fuji in all of her glory!


Not only did I like how this hat protected against the wind and rain,  I also liked knowing that my face was being shielded from the sun.  But for real – wear your sunscreen, kids!


I also took my new hat friend for a ride in spin class, for some posing in yoga, and some stretching in pilates.  Obviously I didn’t need any protecting from the elements here…I just didn’t feel like doing my hair. 😉


Overall, I think this is a great hat that all runners should own!  I love how light it feels and the way it stays put without squeezing my head.  The inside features a soft sweatband to wick away the sweat and it’s totally adjustable with a snap buckle (Velcro pulls my hair so I especially appreciate this feature).  It also folds up really easily so you can stick it in your pocket or bag when you’re travelling.  And throw it in the wash when it needs to refresh!  Super easy!

I was really impressed at how much this hat could withstand!  It even stayed put during play time with the kids and speed work on the track!

If you are looking for a new running hat, then BOCO Gear is the way to go!  Or if you are an organization or have a team looking for a custom order of hats, BOCO will hook it up!

Prices range from $23-$35 in their online shop and there is a minimum of 35 hats for a custom order.  So go create some great SWAG that anyone would love to have! 😉

Already own some BOCO Gear?  Snap a pic and tag #BOCOGEAR on Instagram for your chance to be seen on their website!

I’m off to review the next product!


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