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

Last month, I had the opportunity to climb the majestic and challenging Fuji-San! I actually made the decision to climb it about 30 hours prior to climbing because sometimes I like to live life on the edge. 😉 However, because I had planned to climb Fuji sometime during our Japan stay AND because my husband had climbed it previously – I did feel SOMEWHAT prepared and also had most of the gear already. So here is my story of how I survived Mt. Fuji! *Beware: it’s long. 😉

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My daily view – so of course I HAD to go meet her in person! 🙂

Pre-Fuji Prep 

  • The decision – I decided the day before that I would go with a couple of friends to climb Fuji overnight.  Climbing season is only open from early-July to mid-September, so there is a small window to knock this off any bucket list.  Since it was already September 5th, I realized that my window was closing quickly for this year so I should probably take the leap and tag along with my friends.
  • Kids – Then I had to figure out what to do with my kiddos from Friday evening until Saturday afternoon.  Luckily, my husband was able to get off work on time to stay with the kids.
  • Packing – Now I had to decide what I should actually bring on this trip. I read a few blog posts from others who had done the overnight trip to get an idea of the necessities.  I made a trip to the grocery store for some snacks and water. And then stopped by Mega-Don Quijote (it’s like a Japanese Wal-Mart) for cans of air (and score! They were only 500 yen and Buy 2-Get 1 free!).
  • What to wear – Everything I read and learned from others was to dress in layers.  The biggest challenge of Mount Fuji is that the weather is unpredictable and can change drastically during the climb.  Thankfully the weather said it would be clear with no rain and little wind.  So I wore a moisture-wicking tank, long sleeved shirt, hoodie, moisture-wicking leggings, and beanie to start the hike.  I also already had a hiking stick my husband had gotten on his last Fuji hike, but didn’t get stamped.  This piece of information will be important later on in the story.
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What I wore to start the hike.

The Climb

Okay, here where things start getting real.  So I’m giving you a raw account of my experience!

  • The arrival – We arrived to the parking lot a little before 8pm – just in time to catch the last bus to the 5th station. We got to the 5th station for the Subashiri Trail around 8:30ish and ate some snacks and adjusted to the altitude.  It was important for us to hang out there for about an hour so we could adjust slowly and not get altitude sickness.  We packed our bags, checked our headlamps, and off we went! This brings me to Mistake #1 – My bag was way too heavy!  I was worried about not being prepared, so I definitely overpacked – and paid for it later on in the hike.

Into the forest – From the 5th to about the 7th station, it’s all forest.  And since we were on a less populated trail (Yoshida is the most popular) and it was nighttime, we only saw a handful of hikers in the beginning.  The forest is very thick and SUPER quiet.  There are no leaves rustling or branches swaying to make any white noise.  So needless to say, the first couple of hours were a bit creepy – it felt like the Blair Witch Project out there. Once we cleared the trees near the 7th station, you could see every star in the sky and lights shining in the city.  It was peaceful and beautiful!

Stations – While we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the Station system.  Stations are little rest areas that begin at the 5th station and go up to the summit – 10th station.  They sell food, water, and overpriced hiking supplies. What I didn’t know was that there are duplicate numbered stations. So I would get excited and see the 6th station only to find out that there are two 6th stations – an “old” and a “new” – and this happened at each station. 😦  Also, you have to pay to use the bathrooms at each station – the average was 200 yen.  You’ll also have to pay around 200 yen or so to get your hiking stick stamped – and yes, after all that hiking you will want some type of reward for your work.

Sunrise – Most people who do the overnight hike will stop at a hut and sleep for a few hours before finishing the journey to the summit.  We didn’t do this and it was probably for the best because it would be hard to get going again after resting for too long.  We decided to rest longer at each station, but not long enough for our bodies to get too cold.  We didn’t quite make it to the summit for the sunrise, but we were close and had a great view nonetheless.  As beautiful as the night sky was, hiking in the dark was starting to get depressing so I was looking forward to seeing some light.  There were a lot of people at this point surrounding us and set up with camera equipment ready to catch the first signs of morning. I couldn’t imagine carrying camera equipment around so more power to those people.

Almost to the top – Joy comes in the morning, y’all!  And viewing an amazing sunrise helped motivate me to keep going to the top.  Now we could lose the headlamps and actually see where we were going.  Our trail also combined with the Yoshida Trail somewhere around the 8.5 station so we saw a significant increase in traffic. I could see several “Caution: Falling Rock” signs along the way which made me uneasy but I tried to focus on the goal and pray – I prayed a lot.

We made it! – Woo hoo!  We made it safely to the summit and it was a joyous occasion.  It’s quite an emotional and exhausting experience to finally reach the summit.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather.  I did put on a jacket over my hoodie, but never needed by rain jacket or hiking pants (although there were some points where I could have worn them I was just too tired to put them on). We also all wore gloves – which were not just for warmth, but for the areas where you have to pull yourself up on to the rocks.  We spent at least an hour at the top just enjoying the views, eating, and resting.  Some hikers behind us pulled out a grill with bacon and eggs and I wished I had done that too. Although I wouldn’t have wanted to carry it up.  Then we headed over to grab some souvenirs – flags for our hiking sticks and of course the stamp.  The stamp at the top is red (the other ones are black) so everyone knows you made it to the top.

And we got a present! (aka SWAG!) The wooden keychain thing means that all five of the senses have been refreshed and renewed.  Which makes sense since the locals regard the Mt. Fuji climbing experience as something spiritual and sacred.

Above the clouds and the crater –  Mt. Fuji is 3,776 meters (12,390 feet) high so it is quite a feeling to be actually standing above the clouds!  We also took a look at the crater because this is an active volcano after all.

The Descent

This is where the story turns.  From my research I learned that going down was much harder than going up.  But I figured, ‘How hard can it be? It can’t really be THAT hard!’ Well, I was wrong.  Wrong, wrong. Just a reminder that we are climbing down loose volcanic rock here, which means it’s VERY slippery.  So combine steep with slippery and it’s a very challenging combination.  This is also where I made the majority of my mistakes.

Here we go – At first I thought, “This isn’t so bad.” But things starting picking up.  Mistake #2 – Not wearing gaiters.  I probably should have worn some gaiters over my boots or at the very least – put my hiking pants on to cover my boots.  My boots kept getting filled with rocks and sand which made the trek much more uncomfortable.  Things started out zig-zag, but then it was just one long, steep descent.  I also didn’t realize that the route down is different than the route up so there aren’t as many stations or places to rest/recharge.

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There are these cool, unique yellow plants that only grow on Mt. Fuji!

  • It’s so dusty – Something else I didn’t take into account was how dusty it would be.  While I did bring a Buff® to cover my face and wore sunglasses, there was much more dust than expected.  More experienced hikers would run down, yes run – which would kick up tons of dust (and feelings of anger) as they passed me.  Also, my legs were shaky from the hike up and I was exhausted.  So my goal at this point was to avoid injury since I have a patella that likes to go its own way sometimes.  Mistake #3 – Not wearing goggles or bringing my glasses!  Okay, this wouldn’t apply to everyone – but more for those who wear contacts.  My eyes were dry from not sleeping and the dust. My vision was blurry and I was getting a headache. I wish I had brought my glasses or wore some goggles.  Because not being able to see definitely slowed me down!

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  • Mental Fatigue – About halfway down the descent I contemplated whether or not I was going to make it.  In addition to there not being as many stations on the way down, there also aren’t very many trail markers.  So we had no idea how many meters we had back to the 5th station.  It really was a motivation killer and tested my will power.  I just wanted to know how much longer to the end.  But nope, just more steep hills and rocks.  And my contacts were now giving me a headache.  I remembered to bring Tylenol so I could at least fix that.

 

  • Homestretch – We finally made it back to the forest which meant we were close to the 5th station.  We also started seeing more happy hikers ascending which meant they had just begun their journey.  They were friendly with their “Hi’s, Hello’s, Konichiwa’s” – however, I was not up for small talk and just wanted to not die on this volcano.  I must have looked stressed because a couple of people asked if I was okay and threw some encouraging words my way.  I wasn’t having it though.

Finish Line – “Is that a Torii gate?” We asked that question a lot on the way down.  Because we knew if we saw the Torii gate, the 5th station was only a few feet away. Then I realized my next mistake – Mistake #4 – I underestimated the importance of the correct socks.  I figured my regular ole socks would work, but it was a costly mistake.  My toes were in pain and I could feel painful blisters.  I definitely should have invested in some hiking socks. Combined with the lack of gaiters, this almost broke me. But alas, after what felt like wandering in the desert for 40 years, we made it to the Promised Land.  Hallelujah!

 

  • The last stamp – We made it back to the 5th station around 4pm, but had to wait an hour for the bus to arrive to take us back to the car.  So we rested, hydrated, and ate some food at the small diner that was there.  The station was closing when we had arrived the night before so we didn’t get our stamps then.  They happily fired up the pit so we could get our final stamp of the journey.  After they started laughing and my friend translated for me, I realized my last mistake. Mistake #5 – My stick was upside down the WHOLE time. Remember in the beginning, my husband gave me his stick?  Yeah, he had the flag at the end that I thought was the top so I didn’t even check. Also, in hindsight hiking poles would have been the better option for this trip anyways.  My sweet friend let me borrow hers for most of the descent and took my stick (and she didn’t realized the stick was upside down either so I don’t feel AS bad, but still – rookie mistake).

 

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My last stamp! #stampmystick

Okay, so what did I do right? Here are a few tips in case you’re thinking of taking the journey yourself!

  • Tissues – Mt. Fuji messes with your sinuses plus the temps fluctuate – pack tissues.
  • Yen – I brought plenty of yen. Bring extra in case you have an emergency!
  • Dressed in layers – I felt like I was dressed appropriately and comfortably.  I also brought a beanie for the cold and a hat for the warmth.  Sunglasses are a must too.  Also bring sunscreen if you burn easily.
  • Water – I brought about 5 liters of water which probably would have been enough if I had paced my hydration better. I could have used another 16 ounces towards the end.
  • Station timing – The stations DO close for a few hours late at night.  I was happy we were at the top to get our stamps.  However, it’s possible that your timing is off and you don’t make it to the top in time for your stamp.
  • September – I think going at the end of the climbing season is a better choice.  July is still rainy, cold, and windy on the mountain – it’s possible that the top could even close due to bad weather. August is blazing hot.  September is starting to cool off again and while a typhoon did come through a couple of days later, it didn’t impact our climb.
  • Air – I brought a can of air, but ended up not needing it.  I’m glad I brought it though because I’ve heard altitude sickness is not pleasant at all.  And yes, I returned the air for a full refund.  Thank you, Mega.
  • Expectations – Before climbing, we all agreed that it was okay if we didn’t summit.  We would just listen to our bodies and be thankful that we could even attempt to climb.  I read in a brochure for a Mt. Fuji group tour that “The mountain doesn’t care – about your goals, your feelings, your health.” And that stuck with meMake sure you go with willpower, but leave your pride on the bus.  Mount Fuji is beautiful and brutal.

Climbing Fuji-San is an enlightening experience, but also a very humble one.  People ask me what kind of shape you need to be in to climb.  And while I recommend you have some type of endurance, stamina, and leg strength, you also need the mental strength and courage to carry on.  We saw elderly folks & kids climbing and people wearing Crocs and jeans.  Could you climb it solo?  Absolutely.  Logically, if something went wrong there are enough other hikers that would help you.  I don’t think you would have to 127 hours- yourself or anything (ya know, cut off your arm with an old knife to survive).  But would you have the emotional and mental strength to get through without the support? That’s the bigger question.

Overall, even though we hiked all night without sleeping, I’m glad I did it.  Would I do it again?  There is a Japanese proverb that says, “A wise man climbs Fuji once, a fool does it twice. And if you don’t climb it you are destined to return to Japan.” So I think once is good enough for me.

Oh one more thing – we went to an Onsen immediately after and it was the best decision.  The hot soak helped my muscles recover much faster.  I highly recommend going to one near Fuji!

What about you?  Is this on your bucket list?!

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On top of the world!

~SM

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Knockaround Sport Premium Sunglasses 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!

If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only choose three things to have with me, I can say that sunglasses would definitely be one of them.  A pair of shades are a necessity in my life since they are great for days when I don’t feel like putting on eye makeup or making eye contact with strangers. 😉  Plus they make me feel stylish and fabulous when I’m trying to accessorize. 🙂

So I was really excited to try out the new Knockaround Premiums Sport sunglasses because I most definitely never go for a run without grabbing a pair of sunnies. Here are three reasons why you’ll love them, too!

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  • Cool Colors – The Knockaround Premium Sport collection comes in all types of rad colors to match all of your cute athletic wear – and, of course, athleisure wear too! 😉 I tried the Aquamarine/Fuchsia combo and they were just right for summer activities like hangin’ by the pool and running in the bright sun. But don’t worry, they come in all black too in case you like to roll around Men in Black style. 🙂

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  • Comfortably Cool – Not only do they come in sweet colors, they fit comfortably and stay put during long, sweaty (Japan Summers can be rough) runs and workouts. I didn’t have any issues with them sliding or moving around during any of my activities.  They also didn’t feel too tight/loose or like they were digging into my face/head.

Cool Cost – The main thing I love about Knockaround shades is the cost!  I love wearing sunglasses, but I’m not always the best at keeping up with them.  Plus, I like to keep a couple of pairs in my car and in the house so I’m never without my shades.  So at $20 a pair, it’s pretty affordable to have a decent collection. *Keep reading, for a special code. 😉

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And just in case you’re into tech and specs, I’ve included those here for your reference! (*directly from knockaround.com)

  • Glossy aquamarine frames
  • Fuchsia K logos
  • Aquamarine rubber nose pads
  • Polarized fuchsia mirrored lenses
  • Super lightweight polycarbonate material
  • UV400 protection
  • FDA approved impact resistant lenses with laser etch logo detail
  • Protective pouch included

Still unsure?  Well, I’ll also throw in that these sunny guys also survived a brutal climb up and down Mount Fuji!  So if they can hold up while hiking the highest peak in Japan, then they can probably survive any activity! 🙂

Ready to try them out?!  Use code “Bibraveknocks3” for 20% off your order!  But hurry because this code expires soon.  Also, join me on #Bibchat on Twitter on October 8th for your chance to win your very own pair! 🙂

Overall, I love my Knockarounds for pretty much any activity.  I’ll probably grab some in a couple of other colors to keep it classy.  I do recommend to keep them stored in the handy pouch that’s included or else your lenses will get scratched up or worn out looking.

For the record, the other two things I would bring on a deserted island: a person good at building boats and a large supply of margaritas. 🙂

~SM

Disclaimer: I received a set of Aftershokz Aeropex headphones 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!

If you follow me on social media, then you already know how much I love my Aftershokz headphones!  I literally take them everywhere and recommend them to all my friends (and even strangers, ha!) If you aren’t sure what makes Aftershokz so special, they utilize a unique technology known as “bone conduction”.  Basically this means that the sounds travel by vibrations through cheekbones into the ear.  In other words, the device goes OVER your ears rather than IN your ears which is beneficial in many ways.

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My daughter even loves them and I love that her ears are protected.

I was previously using the Trekz Air model of Aftershokz which I absolutely loved! They stayed in place and I didn’t have to worry about anything falling out of my ears while out running PLUS they have great sound quality and long battery life.  So when I had the opportunity to try out the new Aftershokz Aeropex model, I jumped on the chance because I needed to see how much more awesome these babies could get.

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Each package contains: one set of headphones, two charging cables, ear plugs, instructions, and a sleek carrying case.

So what were the major differences between the Trekz Air and Aeropex?  I couldn’t wait to find out!

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Aeropex on the left vs. Trekz Air on the right

The first thing I noticed was the carrying case was smaller, sleeker, and also magnetic.  It’s much easier to fit into my purse or gym bag!  The other noticeable difference is the charging cable.  It is not a standard cable and it is specific to this model of Aftershokz – BUT the good news is that you get TWO of them!  So don’t worry, you have a backup!  Why is the cable so different?  It’s actually magnetic which allows for the water resistant capabilities of the headphones.  They are given the IP67 rating which means they can be submerged in water up to a meter deep for a half hour.

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Charging magnetically

After I charged them up, I took them for a spin around the track on a super hot/humid day.  Even though I was sweating like crazy, the headphones held up and didn’t miss a beat. Compared to the Trekz Air, the sound quality is definitely louder and crisper.  They also felt smoother and fit more comfortably than the Trekz Air. And “Audrey” is still there to welcome you and let you know when it’s time to charge up. 🙂

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Jumping for joy over the Aeropex! 🙂

 

I really like running with Aftershokz because I like to “Be Open”.  In other words, you can listen to your music, podcast, or book and hear your surroundings at the same time.  So my next adventure was to take them on a nature walk!

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Be Open – listen to your music and your surroundings.

Then it was off to the gym!  And not just any gym – the family gym!  This little gadget allows me to listen to some blood-flowing music AND my kids complaining all at the same time! HA!  But seriously, I like that I can enjoy my workout music and be aware of my kids while at the gym.

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They are comfortable to wear with a hat and/or shades, too!

The other thing I love about these headphones is the battery life!  They have an 8-hour batter life or 10 days of standby time.  And that is completely true!  I love that I don’t have to worry about plugging them in each night.  I can leave them in my bag and then charge them up once a week or so.  One less thing to remember is always a plus for me! 😉

Was there anything I felt that needed improvement?  For me, the Bluetooth range for my Aeropex was not as long as my Trekz Air.  They are both advertised to have 33ft of connectivity, but I definitely was able to wander a bit further with my Trekz Air over the Aeropex.  It’s not a huge deal, I pretty much always have my phone close – but just an observation.

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So, what’s the price?  They go for $159.95 plus free shipping AND a 2-year warranty.  Personally, I think this is a great deal as I see it as an investment.  You are saving your eardrums and you will have peace of mind knowing that you have better situational awareness wherever you go!  But wait!  There’s more! 🙂  Right now you can save $50 on the Endurance bundle with code “BRBUNDLE”. So you basically get free SWAG! 😉 Don’t miss out! Go to bibrave.aftershokz.com to save right now!

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Overall, I love the new Aeropex headphones and they will for sure have a permanent spot in my bag.

Have you tried Afterhoshokz before?  If so, what’s your favorite feature??

I’m off to review another product! 🙂

~SM

Kirin Tea Factory Tour

If you’ve ever visited Japan, then chances are you have enjoyed a Kirin beverage.  Whether you ordered an ice cold beer or grabbed a bottle of tea out of a train station vending machine, it was mostly likely manufactured by the Kirin company.  Well I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of the Kirin Tea Factory and now I’m here to…spill the tea! 😉

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When we first arrived, we were greeted near the parking lot, given a visitor’s badge, and escorted to the entrance of the facility.  Everyone was super cheerful and made us feel like V.I.P. 🙂

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Then we were taken to a classroom where we could take some fun photos with the tea props while we waited for the whole tour group to arrive.

And yes, selfies are a must! 🙂  #ilovetea

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Once everyone arrived, the facilitator showed us a short video about the Kirin Tea Factory and explained what to expect on the tour.  Then they took our photos (I’ll explain why later) and we had to walk through a sanitation machine that sprayed us with sanitized air.

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My four-year-old hated this thing!

We were then taken to a room where we learned about the history of the Kirin tea leaves and saw how the plastic bottles were made.  The kids really enjoyed watching the bottles getting heated up and shrunk down to size.

Then we were able to see the machines in action, however, no photos are allowed in this area because the process is proprietary and basically all a secret. 😉

We entered a last room where they demonstrated how the label stamping machine worked.  We could use our brochures to slide it through a device that stamped the date.  This was much harder than it looked as you had to slide the paper through at just the right time – not too fast or too slow – or else the date would not be centered.

Remember when we took our photos in the beginning?  Well, it was for our own custom labels!  How cool?! We even got to watch the label machine in action!

But the surprises didn’t end there!  We went back to the classroom and learned how to make a special drink that was super delicious!

Also, in the room was a “magical” vending machine where we were able to choose two free drinks! Yay, Swag! And one of them was the newest available Kirin beverage – Citrus Tea! Yum! And the kids were all given the bottles they saw being shrunk earlier in the tour!  More Swag!

Overall,  I really enjoyed this factory tour!  It was very inexpensive, free parking, warm staff, kid friendly, and just a fun way to spend a couple of hours learning more about Japanese culture.  One thing to note is that the employees speak pretty limited English and will only facilitate group tours if it is hosted by someone who speaks both Japanese and English for translation purposes.

And in true Japanese fashion, there was a souvenir vending machine.  I opted for the adorable tea spoon! 🙂

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Have you tried a Kirin drink before?  Which one is your favorite?

~SM

“Disclaimer: I will receive an annual Strava Summit subscription and Strava merchandise 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!”

“Are you on Strava?” That seems to be the question I am asking folks these days and for good reason – I want to share the Strava love as well as give kudos! 🙂  I’m pretty new to Strava (see my first Strava post about my initial thoughts) so I get excited when I find new Strava friends!  Usually when I ask someone if they are on Strava, I get one of two answers: “Yes! What’s your Strava name?” or “No, what’s Strava?” Well, if you are not on Strava – it’s super easy to get started (& free) and here are a few perks of being a Strava user!

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  • Garmin Connection – You can upload your activities a few different ways, including: opening up Strava to record from the app, manual entry, or syncing your fitness watch to the Strava app.  I like that I can use my Garmin like I normally would to track a run and then it automatically syncs to Strava – easy peasy!
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Early morning run through Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World!

  • Name runs and segments – Not only can you name your run/activity, but you can also  type in a description of how you feel.  It’s like a fitness journal so you can see patterns of what works best of you.  You can also name specific segments of your route and when you make your activities public, you can sort of compete with others (and yourself) and increase your position on the leaderboard!
  • Complete challenges – Strava offers lots of clubs to join and challenges to complete each month.  You can find a local running club or join a global group.  For the month of May, I completed the Bibrave Run Club streak.  This meant that I ran or walked at least one mile each day in May.  I also completed the Strava Virtual 5k for May and June.  It’s a great way to stay motivated, find accountability, and earn some digital badges a.k.a. Swag! 😉
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Walking around the airport to keep the streak alive!

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My little one helping me with the streak!

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Strava’s May 5k done!

  • #StravaStats – Each month you can receive an email with your stats of the previous month.  It shows you the combined mileage of the month as well as how many kudos you gave/received. If you are a visual person or really into graphics, this is for you! 🙂  Don’t forget to post your image on the socials with the hashtag #stravastats! Note: You have to choose to sign up for this email within your Strava account.

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So far I have really enjoyed being a Strava user!  I like the accountability and motivation to find new challenges. Next month, I am planning to do the Strava Virtual 5k and 10k!  I hope you will join me!

*A note for privacy: You can choose who you want to see your activities: Just yourself, your followers, or everyone.  You can also turn off the heat map.

So now here’s the question: Are YOU on Strava? 😉

~SM

 

Let the Sparks Fly!

*Disclaimer: I was provided free and discounted wraps from Momentum Jewelry in exchange for social media posts.  All opinions are my own!

Earlier this year,  I was super stoked to be chosen as a brand ambassador for one of my favorite accessory brands – Momentum Jewelry!  I discovered their products a while back and have been hooked ever since!

IMG_8250Not only are all of their accessories super cute and colorful, they also deliver an important message – Encourage yourself AND others!

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Not every run is easy, not every workout is enjoyable…and sometimes, life is just plain hard.  That’s why I love these wraps. The motivational phrases come in handy if I am having a difficult run or tough day.  It reminds me to keep going and not give up on my goals.  I try not to leave home without one!  They are so soft and comfy you almost forget you are wearing it!

And what’s better than picking yourself up on a down day?  Motivating someone else!  My favorite thing about this company is that they encourage you to #ShareTheSpark! Basically – spread the love, y’all! 🙂  These wraps and charms make great gifts and who doesn’t love to lift up their family and friends?  Or even better, wouldn’t it be great to lift up a complete stranger?  Or that lady you see killing it at the gym every week?  I loved receiving bracelets for myself, but I loved gifting them even more!  It was a pleasure to pass them out to ladies near and far, including to my own little one. 😉

There are so many great phrases and colors, it’s hard to choose just one!  There is also the option to make a custom wrap or choose from shoe charms or other fun accessories! I had the honor to promote the two newest phrases: “Keep Reaching Higher” and “Find Your Courage”.

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Momentum wraps aren’t just for athletes, but something anyone can wear on any occasion!  They may prompt a conversation with a co-worker or someone from your mom’s group.  You never know who you may inspire!

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So if you are looking for gift ideas or a just a way to encourage a friend, or maybe you are in a rut yourself – Momentum jewelry has you covered.  Your small act of kindness may make that person’s whole day! 🙂 Let those sparks fly!

“She leaves a little bit of sparkle wherever she goes.” ~Kate Spade

What about you?  Do you have a #ShareTheSpark story?! I would love to hear about it!

~SM

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for something fun and unique to experience in Japan – you are in luck!  A new pop-up museum exhibit is now open in Yokohama that’s all about – Unko! What is unko, you ask?  Well it’s poop! 🙂  Yes, a whole museum dedicated to poop!  Sound interesting?  Here’s a little bit about my experience so you know what to expect!

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The Unko Museum is located in the Asobuild building, which is about a five minute walk from the Yokohama train station.   The Asobuild building itself is super artsy and also has a few other exhibits to check out.

You have the option of purchasing your tickets online or in person.  If you purchase on the website, you will have to create a membership account (the website is in Japanese so you will have to use a translating browser).  We went during the week in the morning around opening hours and were able to go right in with no wait.  If you go on a weekend or holiday, I would recommend to get tickets ahead of time so you are guaranteed an entry.  Tickets cost between 1600-1700 yen for adults, 900 yen for school-aged kids, and free for small children.  And the fun begins as soon as you walk in!

You are immediately greeted by energetic employees and asked to sit on colorful toilets.  After a flushing sound, you stand up to get your very own colored unko (hello, swag)!  Another person then puts it on a stick for you and you are directed to one of the photo prop areas.

There’s a light up game you can play; another game where you yell “Unko!” as loud as you can; and a couple of other digital type games.

There’s also an “Unko for Lovers” area as well as a “Dessert Unko” table!

Then you can move on to an area where you make your own “Unko Art” and take a look at popular “Poop” products that are sold around the world.

After that, you can hang out at some unko shaped tables and relax while the kids play in the “Unko Ball Pit”.

And don’t miss the “Unko Shower” that happens every few minutes!  The giant Unko will countdown and then explode tiny unko!  You can also learn how to make the Unko sign with your hands!

All of the staff were super friendly and available for taking your photos – or even bombing them if you wish!  They were super silly and helpful and interacted with all the kids!

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Once you’re “pooped out” from all the fun, grab a baggie for unko and head towards the gift shop for some fun unko souvenirs!

Overall thoughts about the museum:

  • It’s pretty small – you can get through the whole thing in about an hour.  So maybe plan something else to do to fill your day unless you’re just passing through.
  • There’s no food or snacks allowed – make sure you eat before or hit up the café in the Asobuild building or some restaurants in the nearby mall.
  • It’s organized – in true Japanese fashion – everything is orderly, methodical, and well-staffed.
  • Lots of photo ops – the whole museum is one big opportunity to take Instagram photos so make sure you are selfie-ready!
  • Kid-friendly – I saw lots of kids, but several adults as well so it’s definitely family-friendly.  My kids LOVED this place and have already asked if we can go back!
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But first…lemme take a selfie 🙂

Sound like fun?  Make sure you plan your trip soon!  This is just a temporary exhibit so the unko will be “flushed away” on July 15th, 2019!  😉

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~SM

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