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

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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 BibRave.com 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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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. 😉

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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!

~SM

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From Japan with Love

You may have noticed that the scenery has changed a bit in my pictures and that’s because it HAS! That’s because a few months ago I relocated from sunny Southern California to The Land of the Rising Sun (seriously, the sun rises crazy early).

So I thought I would share what I’ve been up to and what I’ve learned over the last few months!

Trains are the way of life.  I’m still trying to navigate the train systems – like figure out if I need to be on a local or express train.  I had never been on a train before living here, so this has been quite the experience.  There is also train etiquette – everyone is pretty quiet and you don’t invade other people’s space.  They are also very clean!  This is kind of surprising since public trash cans aren’t as common as they are in the U.S.

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Noodles are on every corner.  You won’t find many drive thru fast food restaurants here with the exception of a McDonald’s here and there, but you will find sushi and noodles spots everywhere!  And ramen is amazeballs here!

No drink refills.  Unlike dining in the U.S., you will have to pay for each cup of soda in most restaurants.  But you will get unlimited water and many places have pitchers of ice water right on the table!  Also, there is no tipping and the servers rarely check on you because they want you to enjoy your meal without being interrupted.

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Treats are everywhere!  While we are on the topic of food, you will also find donut shops, ice cream, pastries, crepes, etc. on almost every block.  Sweets are a big deal here and it’s all delicious!  You will also find KitKat bars in all types of flavors like wasabi and wine flavor!

Starbucks isn’t the same.  You will find Starbucks all over Japan, but their drink options aren’t quite the same as they are in the U.S. (no pumpkin spice lattes here) 😦 And the drinks are also a little sweeter than they are back home, but I’ve tried some interesting flavors as well like the Almond Milk and Granola Frappuccino!

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Vending machines.  Speaking of coffee, you can find it in any vending machine.  Cold or HOT!  That’s right, you can get hot coffee, tea, or hot chocolate right out of the vending machine!  And you literally can’t walk more than 10 steps without passing a vending machine in Japan.

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Toilets.  Toilets are either really fancy or really primitive.  😉

Playgrounds.  The parks in Japan are unlike anything you’ve ever seen!  So much larger and complete with streams, bouncy areas, zip lines, roller coaster slides, etc.  Even the adults have a great time!

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Manhole covers. You can find art everywhere you look, including the street!  Even the manhole covers are beautifully painted!

Nature.  You really don’t have to go far to appreciate the nature in Japan!  There are gardens everywhere, beautiful forests, and the trees are so unique and gorgeous!

Temples.  Temples are everywhere and they are quite sacred so do as the locals do as respect the grounds.  Also visit the Big Buddha! It looks just the way it does in the history books!

Narrow Roads.  The roads are pretty narrow here which takes some getting used to…as well as the whole driving on the left side of the road deal.  There’s also tons of pedestrians so you gotta watch out for people riding bikes and crossing the street.

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Tokyo.  Tokyo is enormous.  There are so many different districts and things to look at…you could easily get lost for days in this city.  Harajuku has some pretty amazing shopping spots and the architecture is unique and beautiful!  Shibuya Crossing (Pedestrian Scramble) is insanely busy and a great place to sit and watch all the traffic!

The people.  The people here are so friendly and many will try to speak as much English as they can when speaking to you. They are so polite and will help you if you are lost!

I’m still adjusting to this new life, but trying to enjoy the ride. 🙂  Stay tuned for more updates on Japan and I will continue to share the SWAG as much as I can!

And continue to enjoy the view! 🙂

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Have you been to Japan?  What was your favorite part?

I’m off to explore!

~SM

Rockin’ Out with My Shokz Out

“Disclaimer: I received a free pair of Aftershokz Trekz Air 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!”

Earlier this year, I tested a pair of wired Aftershokz headphones and they were pretty great…buuutttt wired has kinda become soooo 2016. Cause ya know, some phones don’t even have headphone ports now.  And then Aftershokz stepped up their game and came out with a new version of their bone-conducting headphones – called Trekz Air!

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In case you aren’t familiar with bone-conducting technology, here is an explanation straight from the Aftershokz website: “Transducers guide mini vibrations through the cheekbones to the inner ears, delivering sound without plugging or covering them.”  Basically, the headphones sit ABOVE your ears rather than going INSIDE of your ears.

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Me and Mount Fuji

Pretty fancy huh?  But how do they feel?  Umm…I barely noticed I was wearing them!  The unique thing about the Trekz Air is that they are the most lightweight model from Aftershokz.  The entire product is made from titanium so that they fit snug and secure…and did I mention that you can barely feel them?  And you don’t have to fumble with ANY wires!  I even ran on some pretty windy and rainy days and they didn’t budge one bit!

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How do they sound?  I was a little skeptical about trying headphones that don’t go inside my ears, because sometimes I like to really jam out (like when I’m cleaning) and tune out everything around me.  So the first thing I did when I put these on was crank up the volume.  And surprisingly, I actually had to turn it down a few notches – the sound was clearer and louder than I had imagined.  I even used them to watch a whole movie while on the elliptical and hit the treadmill during “rush hour” at the gym and had no sound issues either time.

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But could I REALLY hear my surroundings?  Yes! I usually run with my kids or take them along to the family gym so I love knowing that I can hear them as well as my surroundings while running and working out.

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What about performance?   Trekz Air were inspired by elite athletes and I definitely feel that these are an elite pair of headphones.  Music motivates me to run and workout so I always expect my headphones to perform well.  I loved that I was able to just focus on my run while wearing these, rather than adjusting my headphones or worrying about an earbud falling out. I also liked that “Audrey” (the little voice lady in the headphones) talks you through powering on and off, pairing, and playing music.

Overall, I really love this product and I will continue using them for my future runs and workouts!

Who else would love them?  Anyone!  Maybe you are looking for the perfect gift for a special person in your life.  Look no further!  Everyone would love a pair of Aftershokz Trekz Air in their stocking!  They aren’t just for athletes!  They work great with hearing aids too!  Or maybe you share your headphones with friends sometimes but don’t like the idea of sharing earwax and whatnot (yeah…gross).  Well no wax worries here!  And you aren’t killing your eardrums by listening to your music too loud.  So there are lots of reasons why a pair of Aftershokz should always be in your bag!

Price?  $149.95 – This is pretty comparable to other Bluetooth headphone brands.  Plus FREE SHIPPING!

Battery life? – Awesome!  6 hours on a continuous charge!

Any cons?  –  Well I do wish they came in other colors so hopefully they will be adding colors to their line in the near future.

What comes in the package?

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-A charging cable, a sleek carrying case, ear plugs, and an instruction booklet

SWAG BONUS: You can score a FREE Bibrave Trucker Hat with your order!bibrave.aftershokz.com

So what are you waiting for?  It’s time to #beopen!  The only thing you will need to worry about are what new songs to add to your playlist!

Join me on #Bibchat on Twitter on Tuesday, November 28th at 6pm CST for your chance to win a pair of your own!

I’m off to review the next product!

~SM

4 Reasons to Download the RunGo App

“Disclaimer: I received a free premium membership for RunGo App 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 run pretty frequently, then chances are you are probably utilizing some type of device to track your running stats and routes.  Some runners enjoy using their watches while others prefer an app for their phone.  There are a few popular running apps out there so it may seem a little overwhelming especially if you are just starting out.

That’s why I was excited to learn about the RunGo App! The app offers some great features that make it stand out against the other running apps.  Here are a few reasons why you should download the RunGo App today!

It’s free! – You can enjoy many of the great benefits of RunGO with the free version, but if you upgrade to the premium version you also get premium verified routes, ability to export GPX, and interval training & live tracking (both with IOS only).  You can also create groups on the desktop as well.  It’s also compatible with the Apple Watch Series 2, so you could leave your iPhone behind!

Plan your routes! – Are you a planner?  Do you like to plan?  If you answered yes, then RunGO is for you!  You can easily create your own routes either on your desktop or mobile device!  Then you can save it and share it with your running club or friends!  You can plan out your route, miles, itinerary, etc. each week!  Then save your stats to keep track of your training.  It’s especially helpful if you are meeting up with others – then there’s no guessing about where the run starts and ends.

I live in a small community in Japan, so unfortunately there weren’t any pre-planned routes in my area.  But it was SUPER easy to create my own!

 

It’s also easy to share your run as well as customize the settings within the app!

Voice Navigation! – My fave thing about the app is the turn-by-turn directions!  Since I live in a new area and I’m still learning my way around, I really appreciated the guided directions (i.e. “turn left in 300 ft”).  But I had more fun just running and creating my routes!  The app even worked fine through the thick forestry of Japan!

Share the Love! – I really enjoyed finding beauty and interesting spots along my routes so that I could share these fun things with fellow runners! You can easily add pics into your saved routes!

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I even discovered some hills that would be great for a little hill training on a future run!

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There is one thing I didn’t like about the app – and that was the “auto-pause” feature.  There was a delay when it stopped and started which threw off my pace and distance.  It may not be a big deal to some people, but I like my stats to be pretty accurate so that I know how I’m progressing.  Fortunately, the feature can easily be turned off…you would just need to manually pause and start your runs.

Another bummer is that it seems to offer more perks for IOS users.  I have an iPhone myself, but I know many runners that you use Androids and I feel like they may miss out on some of the premium benefits.

Overall, I really liked this app! The routes are surprisingly easy to make! I think it’s especially great for running groups and travelling!  Have you ever been on a trip and wondered where you could run?  RunGo app is perfect for this! The app has thousands of routes already loaded and if there isn’t one near you, then create your own!  Not just for yourself, but to help out runners that might be running in that area in the future!

If you still aren’t convinced or just need some visual guidance, check out this RunGo App video!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjWQontKSc8&feature=youtu.be

And join me on #Bibchat on Twitter on October 31st at 6pm PST to learn more about the app and hear from other Bibrave Pros!

I’m off to write my next review!V

~SM

 

 

6 Tips for LEGOLAND Brick-or-Treat!

If you are looking for some Halloween fun with the kiddos this season, then you may want to check out Brick-or-Treat party nights at LEGOLAND California and Florida!  We attended the party last year in California and the kids really enjoyed it!  It may seem a little overwhelming if you’ve never been before, so here are a few things you will want to know before you party the night away!


The Brick-or-Treat event requires a separate admission ticket.  You can purchase a ticket online beforehand (in case the event sells out for the night…it happens) or you can purchase one at the gate.  We took our chances and bought our Brick-or-Treat tickets at the gate (we already had LEGOLAND tickets).  This year’s tickets are $59 for the party alone or $79 for a full day plus the party.  Note: they do actually check the wristbands and if you don’t have one you will be directed away from the park.

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Get there early!  The party starts around 5pm, but you’ll want to get there earlier in the day to eat, ride rides, and rest a little before things get poppin’.  Once 5 o’clock rolls around, the park gets pretty packed and lines will get longer so plan accordingly.  Then the fun characters come out!

Bring your costume!  Brick-or-Treat isn’t just for little boys and ghouls! Mummies and Daddies can dress up in their favorite costumes too!  And get creative because there will be a costume contest!  Even the Legos dress up! 😉

Bring your dancing shoes!  There will be a couple of different dance parties throughout the night, so make sure you attend so you can show off your Monster Mash moves!  And don’t forget to enjoy the pretty lights!

Get a treat bag or bring your own!  There will be treat stations throughout the park so make sure you have a bag for all the loot!  They do give them out at the park, but you could bring your own as well! Some stations have longer lines than others, so just be prepared to wait a little in some spots.

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There will be SWAG!  In addition to treat stations, there will be opportunities to complete missions and score Limited Pop Badges!  Speaking of SWAG!  Let’s check it out!

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Lots of fun stuff!  And the kids were more than satisfied!

Would I attend this event again?  Absolutely!  Yes, you pay a little more to get in, but I think that it’s completely worth it!  There are shows, parades, special treats, and more! And the kids will love all of the fun decorations and pumpkins!

Brick-or-Treat party nights is open every Saturday evening in October so get your tickets soon!

You can find all of the event details here!

Have you attended a Brick-or-Treat party night?  What was your favorite part?

I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

 

3 Reasons Why You Should Run the Honolulu Marathon!

I’ve read before that something like less than one percent of the population has actually completed a marathon. You can Google it if you’re a stats person.  Less than one percent though.  Let that sink in for a second.  So either those people are pretty admirable or pretty crazy, it really depends on how you look at it.  I am not part of that group…yet.  I think one day I’d like to run a marathon, but then I flashback to pulling myself over the finish line of a few half marathons and second guess myself.  But, after learning about the Honolulu Marathon I’ve decided that I may need to add this to my bucket list of races!  And here are a few reasons why:

Scenery!  I think this is a pretty obvious one given that it’s Hawaii and all.  The course goes through downtown Honolulu, through Waikiki, and up and around Diamond Head. Also it’s in December, so the weather will be perfect!

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photo courtesy of honolulumarathon.org

Swag!  Swag for this event includes: commemorative shirt, finisher medal, post race festival, malasadas (yum!!), and breathtaking scenery!

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photo courtesy of honolulumarathon.org

And the number 1 reason you will want to run this marathon??  No qualifying times! No entry limits!  Walkers welcome!  That’s right!  This race is for EVERYONE over the age of 7!  First timers, marathon vets, everyone!  Now you might be thinking, “Wow, this race must be super crowded since they accept basically everyone.”  Well, it is.  I asked a two-time finisher of this event and she confirmed that yes, it is crowded.  However, she also added that it’s VERY organized and well worth the experience.  She also added that the malasadas were pretty amazing. 🙂

Have you booked your flight yet?  😉  Well here are some key event details:

Date: December 10th, 2017

Location: Ala Moana Boulevard/Queen St., Honolulu, Hawaii

Start time: 5am – that’s not a typo…but no course limits, remember?

Price: $185-$265 (Military and dependents – $85)

Bonus: Use code “BIBRAVEHNL” to save 20%

Not ready for a marathon just yet?  There is also a 10k and fun run option.

So if you are looking for a RaceCation or a Christmas present to yourself, the Honolulu Marathon is where it’s at!

Didn’t qualify for Boston this year?  Cheer up!  You will qualify for Honolulu! 😉

Hopefully, I will make it to this event one day.  But until then, I’ll just dream about it…sigh…

Have you run the Honolulu Marathon before?  I’d love to hear about your experience!

I’m off to review the next event!

Aloha!

~SM

“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 BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

 

6 Things to Know about the Home Depot Kids Workshop

If you’re looking for a fun event to keep the kiddos busy, then check out the Home Depot Kids Workshop! It’s offered the first Saturday of every month and it’s fun for the whole family!  Here are some things you should know before you go!

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  • It’s FREE! – Yep, Home Depot Kids Workshops are free!  You will want to register at homedepotkidsworkshop.com so that the store can prepare for all of the kids.  But one important thing to note: Registering does not guarantee materials.  It’s possible your local store could run out of the materials for the advertised monthly project, but I’ve heard that they may offer a previous month’s project so that your kids don’t leave empty-handed.

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  • Arrive Early! – The event is held between 9am-12pm or until they run out of supplies.  Also, some stores hold the event indoors while others set it up outside.  My local store held the event outdoors and fortunately we never had any issues with running out of the monthly project regardless of our arrival time. I have, however, seen them run out of paintbrushes and paint but that was closer to the noon timeframe.   So I do recommend arriving early to get a feel for your store and to guarantee that your kids get all of the materials.  Also, dress appropriately in case your store holds the workshop outside as well.

 

  • Be Patient! – Especially with the younger kids!  The workshop is geared for kids around the 5-12 age range, but I’ve seen kids and adults of all ages enjoying the project.  The instructions include step-by-step details with illustrations and the projects are pretty basic so don’t think you have to build an entire house or something.  But the nails can be kind of small and you probably don’t want your two or three-year-old swinging around a hammer, so you will have to do some work if you plan to bring the younger kids.  My 3 (almost 4) year old had fun helping with the building process and then I gave her full creative control with the paint and stickers.  Also, you will be sharing tools and possibly paint/paintbrushes with others at your table so have some patience with the other kids, too!
  • There’s a Facebook Group! –  I mean, there’s a group for everything…right?! 😉 Someone (not Home Depot) created a Facebook group to connect people around the country and so that everyone can share their workshop experiences and finished projects.  And if you are searching for a particular project from a previous month, you can request that someone send you something that you missed.  They usually request that you send money for shipping, but nobody should ever ask you to send money for the project itself.  If you see anyone selling these projects or pins, please report them to the admin.  These projects are free and nobody should be making a profit from it.  And if you’d like to know what exactly you will be creating each month, you can also find the annual calendar along with the bonus holiday events posted within the group.  You can find the group here.

 

  • There’s SWAG! – Every kid receives an apron with their name on it; a unique pin that illustrates the project; and a certificate of completion!  If you forget your apron the next month, don’t worry, they’ll give you another…but it’s fun to see how many pins you can collect on your apron!  I’ve seen some aprons completely covered!

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  • Have Fun! – Most importantly, just have fun…because learning is fun!  Even if you arrive late and they run out of some supplies, just make the best of it!  You’ll enjoy watching your little builders focus on their projects and really showing their creativity!  Join in the fun and get messy too! (Most stores will have wipes on the table.) The employees really enjoy the event too so be sure to thank them for their kindness and positivity!  You’ll create lasting memories with your kids and they’ll love showing off their completed projects to their family and friends!

***Contact your local store to confirm time and availability!

Have you attended a Home Depot Kids Workshop?  What did you think?!

I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

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