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

“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

 

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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

Stride, Streak, STRAVA

“Disclaimer: I received 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!”

Strava (Swedish for “strive”) is a popular app used by runners and cyclists.  I’ve had an account for a while but never really took advantage of the functions or interacted with the other users (I literally had zero connections or recent activity).  Well I just started using the app again and have learned a few things over the last month!

  • You can name your runs!  Once your run or activity is uploaded, you can customize the description as well as the actual title of your run for quick reference.

  Analyze your route! Once your run is added you can check out your route and analyze how you could make any adjustments. You can track your pace, distance, heart rate, and set new goals for yourself.

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  • You can see more and change extra settings on the website (not the app).  You can do a lot with the app, but you can do even more with the desktop version.  I feel kinda “meh” about this.  I prefer to be able to access everything through an app so I don’t have to switch platforms, but it’s not a huge deal. One cool thing you can do through the desktop settings is change your “Vanity URL” from a generic number to a preferred name!

You can join challenges and clubs!  Aside from connecting with other runners/cyclists, you can create or join clubs and also join challenges to help you reach goals.  You can also set goals for yourself, keep track of your shoe mileage, and earn badges!

And my favorite thing about the app so far?  Stats overlay!  Besides the ability to give kudos to other runners (who doesn’t love virtual encouragement?), my next fave app feature is the ability to upload photos and add the stats right on to your picture. Before this, I was using another app and manually inputting stats so I have definitely been taking advantage of this function.  A couple of tips here: 1. You’ll have to make your activity shareable – it won’t work if it’s marked to private.  2. Horizontal photos work better so you don’t have to do any extra cropping for the social media platforms.

What about you?  Are you on Strava?  What do you love about it?

Looking for an upcoming challenge?  Join the Bibrave crew for a streak in May! Streaking is a fun way to challenge yourself and find your stride. Run or walk one mile each day in May and track it on Strava!  It’s a great time to streak because you will have lots of support!  Post your streak on the socials with the hashtag #StravaRun so we can all cheer you on!

I’m excited to learn more about Strava so check back next month for another update!

Until then I’ll be adding stats overlay to aaaallllllll the running photos. 😉

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~SM

Mondays get a bad rap. 😦  I feel like most people are always dreading them or just surviving them.  So that’s why I felt I needed to stick up for my beloved Mondays!  Here are five reasons why I think Mondays are the best days! 🙂

Setting Goals

  • I look forward to Mondays so I can sit down and plan out my schedule and write down my goals for the week. I also like to fill in my gratitude list and check off any accomplishments from the previous week.  It’s also my day to assess the mess the kids have made over the weekend and get everything organized and back in its place.

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Spiritual Time

  • Monday mornings are not only a time for reflection, but also an opportunity to get caught up on Bible Study homework, devotionals, and prayer. (with coffee of course) 😉

Solo Fitness Time

  • If you’ve ever been through a workout program, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Never Miss A Monday”.  It’s always nice to start off the week feeling strong and accomplished by a good workout!  I often have to workout with my kids, so Monday is the one day of the week that I know I get time to workout or run solo!

Social Time

  • On occasional Mondays, I get to meet up with some other moms for coffee or breakfast.  It’s a nice little weekday morning outing and it’s so fun you forget it’s Monday!

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SWAG!

  • Okay, this should come as no surprise – but the #1 reason why I love Mondays? It’s mail day!  Which means all the swag and other goodies will be delivered! Yes, I get mail other days of the week too – but since I get no mail on Sundays it’s nice to wake up to packages on Monday! And Hello – It’s also a day to show off the Swag! aka – #MedalMonday

Obviously I think Mondays rock!  What about you?  Do you love or hate Mondays?!

~SM

I really enjoy living near Tokyo because there is always something interesting to see or do, but sometimes it can be a bit chaotic and overwhelming with the constant hustle and bustle.  As much I love spending the day in the city, my soul really belongs in nature.  I recently took a trip to Mount Takao and it was an amazing place that I think everyone should visit!

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Mount Takao is conveniently located about an hour outside of Tokyo (in the Hachioji region) and can be accessed by train or car.  Depending on where you are coming from, both could be viable options.  I carpooled with a few friends and we split the toll/parking fees as well as found parking pretty easily.  There are a several parking lots surrounding the park and fees vary, but start at 1000 yen.  Get there early and shoot for a weekday as this is a very popular hiking destination and can get crowded quickly!  So here are a few highlights from my trip that I think you will like – even if you don’t like nature. 😉

  • You can shop and eat!  Once you arrive at the park and before you set off on your hike, check out the little shops along the main path.  You can stock up on snacks for your hike or you can have a meal at a restaurant.  And even if you aren’t hungry, it’s still fun to look at all of the unique foods and trinkets.
  • There are cable car/chair lift options!  Don’t feel like making the 2 hour trek up the mountain?  No problem.  Mount Takao offers a cable car and a chair lift option for your viewing convenience! Both will take you halfway up the mountain and both cost about 980 yen for round trip.  We took the chair lift (the line is much shorter for the chair lift) and it was an awesome ride!  You get to be closer to nature and enjoy the quiet sounds of the nature as you sit back on your ride.  One thing I will mention is that there are no safety bars on the chair lift, so hold on tight to your kids, dog, backpack, etc.  Also remember to smile – there will be a photographer sitting amongst the trees who will take a souvenir photo for you!  You can purchase your photo for about 800 yen.  But hold on to it!  You will have your photo taken again on the way down and you can trade in your photo if you decide you like the other one better!

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  • Different paths!  There are a few different paths you can take up to the summit so take a look at the map and determine your route before your adventure.  But the other cool part is that you can also take a completely different path down to the bottom too!  Which means double the scenery!  Yay!  There is also a monkey park that is pretty popular, however we didn’t have time to check it out so it will be on my list for the next visit!

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  • Temple (Architecture)!  Along with the nature views, you can also check out the Yakuoin Temple and admire the architecture during your trip.  Temples and shrines all have their own unique designs and details so even if you’ve seen 20 temples you will always find something new to appreciate at the next one. Mount Takao is very sacred to the locals so you may see some religious and cultural practices taking place throughout your hike, but especially around the temple area.
  • View from atop (with beer)!  Once you disembark from the cable car/chair lift it takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit of Mount Takao.  Some paths are a little harder than others but I saw plenty of children, elderly, and people with dogs out on the trails.  One of the paths is paved (but with some steps along the way), so even someone with a wheelchair or stroller could enjoy part of the hike. At the top you will find lots of places to sit and enjoy the view!  On a clear day you can even see Mount Fuji!  And bonus: there’s beer!  Yes, that’s right – there is also a café and convenient store at the top that sells food, ice cream, mochi, coffee, and beer!
  • Dango!  You will see many treat options around Mount Takao, but the most popular choice is Dango.  It’s a dumpling on a stick that has a sweet/salty or soy flavor. It will only cost you a few hundred yen and it’s basically the Mt. Takao thing to do. 🙂

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So what did I love most about my Mount Takao experience??

  • The amazing views!  My hike took place around early November so I really enjoyed viewing the fall foliage and crisp air.  Whether I was waiting in line or taking a break along the hike, there was always something beautiful and interesting to look at.  The people we encountered along the way were also very friendly and polite and it was great to see so many people out enjoying nature.

Visiting Mount Takao was an amazing spiritual experience and I can’t wait to go back!  Each season offers a unique perspective of scenery so no two hikes are the same.  I also love that this park is great for people of all ages and abilities! It was fun to do with a group, but it would also be fulfilling to do it solo as well. I guarantee that you will leave here refreshed, restored, and your soul will be filled with joy and gratitude! Please visit if you get the chance!  You won’t regret it! 🙂

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“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ~John Muir

~SM

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift running pod 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!

Happy New Year!  Maybe you set some ambitious goals for 2019 or maybe your main goal is just to survive the year.  Whatever your plans are, I hope you make some time for running! 😉  And now that the holidays are over, it might be time to slide into a new fitness routine.  With the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter, this may seem like a daunting task but that’s where Zwift comes in!

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What exactly is Zwift? Zwift has been available to indoor cyclists for a while, but now it’s open to runners!  Zwift is a platform that allows you to run in virtual locations, run virtually with others, and even complete running goals!  You just attach the runpod to your shoe, download the Zwift app (and Zwift companion app to join in virtual events around the world), hop on a treadmill and off you go!

Not sure where to begin?  Here are a few tips to get started!

  • Like I mentioned before, you’ll want to download both the Zwift app and the companion app.  The Zwift app is where you set up your account, avatar, settings, etc. and also where you do all of the actual running and goal-getting.  The companion app is where you will go to browse and sign-up for group runs and other events.
  • You can use your phone, but it’s better to use a tablet so you can see the info on the screen clearly as you run.
  • Calibrate your pod so that your pace is accurately recorded.
  • Make sure your pod is securely attached to your shoe before running.  And put your pod away when not in use as the battery drains pretty quickly from any movement.

What I LOVED about the Zwift platform:

  1. The calendar. When you select an event to join, it will automatically be added to your device’s calendar.  (I’m a planner and like to be organized so I got pretty excited about this feature.)
  2. You can run with friends from around the world.  Since I live in a different country than most of my running friends as well as my Bibrave crew, I miss out on meetups and group runs.  But Zwift allows me to feel connected to my running friends from around the world.
  3. Unlocking achievements!  The more you run and surpass goals, the more achievements you can earn.  These come in the form of virtual badges or gaining new apparel and accessories for your avatar.  Running on the treadmill can get boring, so any incentive is nice!
  4. New scenery.  The main virtual location on the platform is “Watopia”, but the beach view, volcanic activity, and Santa sightings make this a pretty dope place to run.  When you join in on other virtual runs (through the Companion app) you can run in various real-world locations.
  5. Competition. If you’ve ever participated in a race then you know the increased adrenaline you feel on race day.  Running virtually gave me a similar experience and made me want to push harder so I could receive my “prize” (i.e. a new achievement, passing others in the race, or just knowing that my stats were on display wanting to do my best.)  I’m sure there’s some type of psychology behind all this – which also got me excited because I was a Psych major. 😉

With that said, there were also a few things that I didn’t like:

  1. The battery on the pod drained pretty quickly so you can’t really just leave it on your shoe, you have to take it off each time and put it away.  It would be better if there was some type of on/off switch for the pod OR if you could just bypass the pod altogether and sync your watch with the platform.
  2. You have to download two apps.  I would prefer if the platform was streamlined a bit so that everything was in one place rather than having to open two separate apps.
  3. I had to calibrate my pod a few times.  It takes a couple of minutes to go through the calibration process so it’s a bit frustrating when you just want to start running.
  4. It’s not for walkers.   My avatar would only recognize motion if I was running at least a 10:45 min/mile.  Those who are new to running would most likely not benefit from this app.

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Since the running aspect of the platform is fairly new, I do think these are kinks that can be worked out in the near future as the app develops.  Overall, I really like the concept of Zwift and plan to use it when I need some motivation on the treadmill!

Ready to try it out?!  You can download the app for free on your IOS or Android device.  You can also use code “BibRave15” to save 15% on your RunPod (regular price – $29.99) at Zwift.com. (Hurry, this code is only good for 1000 pods!)

Lastly, join me on #BibChat on Twitter on January 8th at 6pm PST where you can ask any Zwift questions and connect with other runners! You will also have the chance to win a RunPod!

Already a Zwifter?  Find me on the app under Amanda TheSwagMama!

I’m off to review another product!  Let’s crush some goals in 2019! 🙂

~SM

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