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

Posts tagged ‘japan’

How I Fell in Love with Running Again

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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! 🙂



13 Surprising Things About Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty Land)

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!


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.

coffee boss

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!


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.


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! 🙂

mt fuji

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

I’m off to explore!


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