Vermont City Marathon Training: Weeks 5+6

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Vermont City 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!

The last two weeks of training for marathon #4 have gone by so quickly. It’s hard to believe it’s less than two weeks away! The runs in these two weeks were fantastic. I’ll share more about my love with my Peloton soon, but I can really tell the difference the cross training is making in my running, as well as with my confidence. As you’ll see, I’m posting my paces. This isn’t because they’re fast, because they’re not. But they’re getting faster, with lower heart rates. These paces take significantly less energy than ever before and I’m proud of that!

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Week 5 (3/26-4/1): 

Monday: 5 miles with 2 at marathon goal pace (11:00/mi) was the goal. It ended up being 1 right below (slower than) pace and 2 above (faster than) pace! Ran 90:30 intervals at an 11:10/mi avg. + 30 minute spin with a PR + Myrtl routine + foam rolling

Tuesday:  45 minute spin + foam rolling

Wednesday: Rest day – didn’t feel great and my day was just a little to crazy to fit my run (or a ride) in.

Thursday: 6 miles easy of 90:30 intervals at an 11:17/mi avg.

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Friday: 5 miles at home in NH! Ran 90:30 intervals with an average of 10:25. It was a bit harder than an “easy” pace, but it felt natural. This was nice because my runs in NH often are far from great.

Saturday: 12 miles up and down two giant hills (nearly 1,000 feet of gain in 5 miles). I’d been wanting to do this run for years and I finally did it. In all honesty, going up wasn’t as hard as I expected, it was just more mental than anything. However, coming down 2 miles of downhill around 6% grade was pretty painful. Ran 60:30 intervals at an 11:28/mi avg pace.

Sunday: Rest day

Weekly miles: 28 miles running + 21.7 miles on the Peloton

Week 6 (4/2-4/8):

Monday: 5 miles super easy – 60:30 intervals for an 11:48/mi avg pace. My legs were a bit wonky after my super hilly long run. After a morning of traveling and a day of just sitting at work (more than normal), I opted for a more “recovery paced” run on the treadmilll.

Tuesday: 45 minute spin (PR!) + 5 min cool-down ride + Myrtl routine + rolling

Wednesday: 4.5 miles. 4 miles with 5 strides at the end. Ran 90:30 intervals with an 11:40/mi avg pace. I ran this on a treadmill again, which helped me keep it truly “easy.” + core workout

Thursday:  20 minute tabata spin + strength workout + 10 minute arm workout on the Peloton app

Friday: 45 minute spin

Saturday: 9.4 miles at the Hot Chocolate 15K. Ran 90:30 intervals with a 10:17/mi avg pace + 4 miles at a recovery effort with 12:41 mi/avg (45:30 intervals).

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Sunday: Foam rolling + lots of random toe pain – I think it was a mixture of bad day-time shoes and how I sit at work!

Weekly miles: 22.8 run miles + 32.8 miles on the Peloton.

 

Now I’m one run into week 7, staring down my first 18 miler of the cycle. 18 miles is the distance in training that scares me the most. I know once I pass it, I can finish the marathon. But for now that 18 mile distance is grimly staring me in the face. We’ll see if I’m ready!

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Athlinks – a favorite way to track races

Disclaimer: I am promoting Athlinks 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!

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I have been an avid Athlinks user since I started participating in races in 2014. I won’t lie, when I meet new people who run I totally look up their results (e.g. recent Bumble match – lol!). When I learned that BibRave was partnering with Athlinks this year and learned about the improvements that Athlinks recently made, I was stoked.

What is AthlinksAthlinks is a race “library” of sorts, where you san search your name, or a race, and find your results. You can claim your results as your own, so they will be on your profile.

Once on your profile, not only can you see your race results, but at the top of your page your PR’s will be listed, as well as the number of races you’ve claimed and the amount of miles run in those races and your Athlinks percentile ranking. While not all of my results are on Athlinks, I love knowing that I’ve run at least 464 miles in races!

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Okay, so you probably knew all of this, so what’s NEW and IMPROVED on Athlinks?

Friends: You can now add friends on Athlinks! This is a great way to keep track with your running buddies locally or from your broader social life (Bib Rave Pro’s, ambassador squads, Oiselle Volee, etc.).

Rivals: These may be friends, or other runners that participate in the same races as you. Who tends to win? I wish I could tell you, but I have no rivals yet!

Race Results: I started noticing this last year or so – Athlinks has great data regarding your placement at races in which they partner with. For example, last year’s New Jersey Marathon. When I view this race on Athlinks not only can I see my race splits, but my rankings per split. LOVE IT!

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Upcoming Races and Goals: More and more races are being added to Athlinks and it is easier than ever to line up your race schedule in advance. This lets you see who else is racing and what goal other people are shooting for. As you can see, I’ve added my goals for the Frederick Half Marathon and the Vermont City Marathon.

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You can find Athlinks at www.Athlinks.com or via an iOS or Android app. Will you be my friend and/or rival? Add me here.

Are you an Athlinks user? What is your favorite part of the website?

Be Seen with Brilliant Reflective – Product Review

Disclaimer: I received a Brilliant Reflective multi-pack 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!

We all know that with winter and early spring running comes increased time running in the dark. With the amount that I run on my neighborhood streets as well as in Baltimore, I’m always looking for ways to be more visible to cars as well as other people. Unfortunately, some of my favorite gear is minimally reflective…

That’s where Brilliant Reflective comes in!

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Brilliant Reflective makes highly reflective strips that you can add to all of your favorite gear: from jackets to hats, shorts to hydration packs. You name it, you can stick your reflective strips on them! They make two kinds of strips in a multitude of colors: iron-on (non-repositionable) and stick-on (repositionable) and both are made with high-quality 3M Tape!

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Look at these GLOW!

I was sent a multi-pack from Brilliant Reflective: two packs of iron-on strips and two packs of stick-on strips, each in a different color to use. I was immediately drawn to the stick- on sheets for two reasons – I wanted to put strips on some of my cherished jackets and I’ve used an iron maybe three times in my life. I was really nervous to damage my MCM Jacket (with the iron, not the strips). I also had a stick-on Bib Rave graphic that I was stoked to put on a coat!

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Right now my needs were more reflective outerwear, because I hate messing with a reflective vest and it’s been cold in Maryland! I very easily applied the strips and the BibRave graphic to the back of two of my jackets. Running in both jackets feels great and I don’t notice the strips at all. Another use I would have to for the stick-on strips would be for my bike and helmet! More reflectivity on a bike is never a bad idea.

While I haven’t used the iron-on Brilliant Reflective strips yet, I opened up the packaging to share with you how great it is! The instructions are very concise, yet detailed. So if you’re anything like me and don’t ever use an iron, you shouldn’t burn holes in anything. I love that they added in graphics to show where on different garments you will benefit from adding the reflective strips!

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As I get dig deeper into marathon training (a spring marathon?! more on that soon), I will be running the dark of the morning more and more. I can see myself adding Brilliant Reflective strips to my running skirts, which have zero reflectivity, as well as my hydration pack and water bottle. Heck – I could even put them on some of my headbands! The possibility are endless.

Check out Brilliant Reflective for yourself – Use the link bit.ly/BRP25 to save 25% off of all Multi/Assortment Packs! Another added bonus is always free shipping! If you try them – let me know what you think! I’ve love to hear what you put them on and how you chose to apply them!

 

Ragnar Relay DC Recap Part 2: My first-time experience

As I shared what seems like forever ago (sorry….I have a life!) I ran a very random, unexpected Ragnar back in September! I loved so much of the experience, but there were also parts of my experience that I didn’t love. While my race recap shares how the running went, this post will share more of the emotional and all-around team experience.

What I LOVED:

– I loved being part of a team. It doesn’t matter that I had just met these people the night before. I loved how we cheered for each other, supported each other, and talked about running a lot.

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– I loved the organization of the Ragnar race itself. The logistics that go into a 200 mile relay that runs into Washington, DC cannot be easy. The race “bible” directions got us to where we needed to be (except for when I was giving directions at night, whoops). Race command also was very helpful with finding ways for my team to make it to the finish in time. I also appreciated that some of the exchanges were near stores so we could get food! Also, having porta johns at almost every exchange was a LIFESAVER!

I loved the atmosphere of fun that really took a forefront over the weekend. I had no idea that “tagging” vans was a thing, but I thing it is a genius idea!

 

What I didn’t love:

– Not competitive enough (at least my van): By the time I was done my second run, I was a bit over the “fun” aspect. Not because Ragnar wasn’t about fun, but it is also a race. While we may not have ever had a chance of winning, it didn’t mean that we didn’t need to stop for 10 minutes to chat in the middle of a leg to chat and sit. We were behind pace the entire time (although there is a published average you need to keep) and it caused me a lot of stress. While it’s nbd that we weren’t going to win, I wish that people still gave their all, because I sure did my best to hit my expected paces. I felt weird when my team thought it was surprising that I was running my estimated pace, because I put in a good, honest estimate.

– (Our) organization (with my legs): Seriously, having hand-off after both legs 1 and 2 made me dread leg 3, especially because it was so short. While I was fine with not getting/needing support on my legs (2 were non-support, one was full support but I can run 6 miles), it sucked for my team not to be there/ready after giving my runs my all. Everyone else seemed to have seamless hand-offs except for me. And I know it’s selfish, but it was really annoying.

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“fake” handoff. Womp.

– Rule following seemed to be an issue for my van. If you know me, I’m a strict rule-follower, so this was really hard to deal with. Peeing in the woods is one thing, but pooping in someone’s yard (when it was shared MULTIPLE times that it was OBVIOUSLY against the rules, and just RUDE/GROSS) is just wrong. Also my van was very adamant to always support the runners. Great, awesome, support our teammate – on legs when it’s allowed. There were reasons why certain legs were “non-support.” I, once again, wish rules were followed for the safety of all participants.

– The finish line: We finally finished around 7:30pm on Saturday, and the cutoff was 8:00. When we got to the finish line, there was no pizza left, the vendor tried to make us pay for our “free beer” (I did NOT, tyvm), and there was seriously no energy left in the experience. We finished within the timeline, and felt that we deserved the same experience as the “fast” teams that finished earlier in the day. I was really looking forward to the finish line experience, but by time I got there, I straight-up wanted to leave.

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Us: “We can’t wait for pizza and beer!” Ragnar: “JK LOL JOKES ON U!”

Things I would change: 

– Actually build a team, or find one in advance! It was quite the experience running with a random group. I met a lot of great people, and had an overall fun time. However, stresses such as how I was getting home (that was a fiasco) and running differences definitely caused more anxiety than I was hoping for. I’d love to be on a team with runners who are there for fun, but also to run their best efforts and to try new things! (I think only 2 or 3 of us on the whole team ran our night legs alone).

Will I run again? OH HECK YES. I loved the experience as a whole. Most of my team was all, “I’m never doing this again!” I was the complete opposite. I was having the time of my life when I was running and at the exchanges, cheering everyone on. The night run was seriously one of the best running experiences ever. I’m definitely hoping to run Ragnar Pennsylvania in June 2018, and I’m trying to form a team with Bib Rave Pro’s for that. I would also love to run a trail Ragnar and/or Reach the Beach in 2018!

I’m headed to the Philly Hot Chocolate 5K/15K!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Hot Chocolate Philadephia 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!”

I’ve finally come to accept that I am probably done with racing for 2017. As much as I want to race, nothing really fits into my training schedule for the Goofy Challenge at this time. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t look forward to 2018! I already have four races planned, with one of them being a race I’ve wanted to check out for a while now!

On April 7th, 2018, I’ll be heading to Philadelphia for the Hot Chocolate 15K! Here are just a few reasons why I’m so excited:

1. 15K (or 9.3 miles) is a new race distance for me. A new distance = automatic PR! There is also a 5K 🙂

2. A Philadelphia race didn’t happen for me this year (Rock N Roll Philly).  The race start/finish is near the famed Art Museum with the Rocky Steps, and the course runs along a riverbank, which is flat! I’m happy to finally be getting there to run.

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Art museum on the left, you will run a majority of the race on the right side of the river!

3. Have you heard about the awesome swag?! Hot Chocolate races are known for their incredible premiums and medals. The shirts for this year’s races are so pretty. I’ve been needing a purple shirt for my collection! I also like that the medals come with a city-specific key chain!

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photo: hotchocolate15k.com

4. Finish line sweets! Most of you know I’m all about the post-race beer, but  hot chocolate, and warm chocolate with goodies to dip in it? Sign me up! (I might have to run with a mini of Bailey’s for that hot cocoa 😉 ) There are also sweets on the course!

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photo: hotchocolate15k.com

5. I’ll be there as a Bib Rave Pro! I’m super excited to be back as a Pro in 2018. I ran three great races with them in 2017 and cant wait for more wonderful experiences and products to try! Don’t miss out: Bib Rave Pro applications for 2018 are open now, until 11/15! Don’t be afraid to apply to be a part of an amazing team. Feel free to tell them that I sent you!

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Do you want to run with me in Philly? Hot Chocolate races consistently sell-out, so sign up now. When you do, use the code BRHCPHILLY18 for a free hat!

Race Recap: 2017 Old Port Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Old Port Half 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!

This past weekend, I completed my 16th half marathon! I have been looking forward to this race since December, and planned my summer trip home to New Hampshire around the race. I had high hopes for my performance, and while I fell short, I still really enjoyed the race.

Friday: Jake and I flew down Thursday and spent most of Friday in New Hampshire. I did a short 2 mile shakeout on Friday and felt pretty good. After dinner with my family, we headed up to Portland to meet my mom and brother. We had a room at a Days Inn in South Portland, about 10 minutes away from the start. My brother, Jake, and I had a late-night snack/drink at Sea Dog Brewing, which was wonderful.

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Packet pick up: My mom got to Portland early enough to pick up packets and swag for the three of us. She had an easy time, aside from the volunteers saying I hadn’t ordered a shirt (which was not included in race registration). Thankfully after sending over a copy of my receipt, she was able to get my shirt. I also got a hat and a beer glass with my registration.

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Pre-race: We left our hotel just after 6 to head to the start. We faced some slight traffic getting off the highway and were finally parked about 6:30, just a couple of blocks from the half marathon start. While my brother suited up in his fire gear, Jake and I ran down to the bathrooms. There were so many and hardly any lines. I realized I forgot to put on sunscreen so I sent Jake to the 5K shuttle while I ran back to the car to sunscreen up. I made it back to the start for 6:50 to stretch after my running warm up. There were two waves of runners, and I was obviously in the second (slower) wave.

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Game plan: While looking forward to this race, I thought I had a solid chance to PR on this course, if the conditions were right. It was 62 with 93% humidity at the start, which definitely isn’t ideal. The course involves two major hills, but is flat otherwise. Unfortunately I woke up with cramps (woman problems). I decided to start conservatively and not die on the hills, before hopefully speeding up. Even if I couldn’t PR, I was confident I could run a sub-2:15 while doing 120:30 run/walk intervals.

Miles 1-5: I started out conservatively for a “race”, but not ready to keep steady splits. After a mile I got sucked in around the 2:20 pace group, which was very large and spread out. I battled them for about a mile and a half before finally passing them. We’d go back and forth for a while, but the group broke apart after the first hill. Speaking of the first hill, it was a good half a mile, and pretty steep. I made it up without altering my intervals and/or slowing, which I was proud of. The course flattened out before heading on a short, steep downhill back towards the start. Splits: 10:54, :31, :51, :08, 9:57.

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From the top of the second hill

 

Miles 6-10: I was stoked to see a sub-10 mile, but I knew I had to reign it in for the hill that was coming at mile 6. I managed to make it almost all the way up the hill without extra walking, but eventually gave in. I was moving so slowly, and figured if I had any hope of speeding up, I should conserve the energy. The climb was relentless, but the views at the top were so worth it. The terrain rolled a bit for about a mile, before coming back down to the “Back Cove” path. This is where I planned to speed back up, but I was failing at doing so. By this time it had heated up and there was no shade on the Back Cove path. The water stations started to hand out icy towels, which were AMAZING, but they could only help so much.

I felt strong until mile 8, then I started to fade, and fast. The 2:20 group passed me once more, and I knew I wasn’t going to be catching up. My cramps were getting worse and my legs just didn’t have speed in them. Splits: 10:56, ;55, :23, 11:26, 11:47.

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Photo credit: Maine Magazine

Miles 11-13: Once I started running miles in the 11’s, I knew even a sub 2:20 was not happening. I knew I had a long day ahead of me after the race, so instead of kill myself, I switched down to 60:30 intervals. Despite this, I struggled to keep a decent pace. I was feeling hot, but really felt defeated more than anything. Nonetheless, I was enjoying the views, aside from mile 11.5 where we passed a sewage plant that was disgusting. Just plain disgusting. But if that was the worst part of the course, so be it.

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I walked much more than I would have liked the last mile and a half. I was just bummed. I wanted to put up a time so badly – for my family that I came to see, my mom who was going to be at the finish, and for my boyfriend and brother who ran. Nonetheless, I finished, uninjured. Slow, but uninjured. I had a tough time for a few minutes, but felt better after sitting in the shade with an icy towel. Splits: 12:37, :54, :53, 2:38 (.22).

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Not the prettiest picture, but it’s representative of my race.

Official finish time: 2:29:08. My second slowest (road) half, I believe. (Falling a month after my slowest. Great.)

Post-race: My brother had to bring part of his fire suit back to his station, so Jake and I headed to the finish area for a quick beer. The runner’s food tent was a bit disappointing, where I was only allowed one orange piece. I only eat oranges after a race, so I would have been happy with a couple more. There were three beer options, and I stuck with one I was familiar with, the Shipyard Summer Ale. It was so refreshing! We drank our beers quickly, on the ground, because all of the seats in the shaded tent were taken or being used as foot-rests. We enjoyed the band for a bit, and then headed for pizza because we wanted to get back to the hotel to shower before check-out. They were OUT of pizza. Yes, I’m slow, but the pizza was a big draw for the race and for them to be out was a big bummer. The volunteers said there would be more, but had no time estimate, so we left. Thankfully, there was a family party later that day and we had LOBSTER.

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Also, I can’t forget to share that Jake finished in 31:43 (I don’t think he’s run since APRIL) and my brother walked the 5K in his fire gear in 51 minutes.

Take-aways: 

All around, this was a good race. The volunteers were fantastic, the course was flat with two challenging hills, and the icy cold towels in the later miles are a game changer!

For me, this race kind of put me in my place and made me remember things I learned last year. It hit home how much fitness I’ve lost since the marathon. My training has been so inconsistent, and 9 weeks out from the marathon was too long to use that fitness and rest period to my advantage. A good thing was seeing how long I could keep up sub 11 minute miles while running 120:30 intervals. This was new territory for me, and a goal for Goofy 2018 is to run both races at that interval. I stayed in sub-11 territory for 8 miles, and made it to mile 10 before changing my intervals.

In terms of mentality, it was a struggle at the end, for the first time in a while. I think those last miles would have been different if I hadn’t gone out with time goals. If I had gone out with the sole goal of fun, I wonder how my race really would have gone. When I go in with looser, effort based goals, I end up more pleased with myself and with significantly better times. I know I have more to give, and Saturday just wasn’t my day.

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For a more “technical” review, check out my review on Bib Rave!

 

Product Review: Luvo Meals

Disclaimer: I received Luvo Meals 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!

A few weeks ago, I came home to a welcome sight in the mail – COUPONS! Not just any coupons, Luvo Meals coupons. I’ve seen these frozen meals in the grocery store(s) I frequent, and I’ve wanted to see if they are the real deal. I’m lucky to live in a suburban area where there are at least 5 grocery stores in a 2 mile radius, so I had some exploring to do.

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If you know anything about me, I’m 1) a pretty picky eater, 2) horribly indecisive. I took myself to the Luvo website to browse their food selection. Between their 4 kind of products, there was plenty to choose from. I was a little worried I wouldn’t find much to fit my picky tastes, but they had many staples, just with a healthy twist on them.

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Through my adventures I found that each store carried a different variety. My favorite meals I tried, the Luvo Bowls, were only available at my local Wegmans. Each store I went to also had at least one meal that I could see myself trying!

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I must admit, all the meals I’ve tried were pasta based (#sorrynotsorry). I first tried the Turkey and Kale Lasagna, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. I felt the noodles were a bit rubbery and the sauce over powered the other flavors. I then tried the Kale Ricotta Ravioli, and I was in love! I’m not a big kale eater, but this meal made me change my mind a bit. I also liked that unlike other frozen meals, this one actually kept me full!

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Another thing I loved about these meals was the presentation and how they were cooked. The “steam in pouch” meals were, well, steamed in a pouch instead of a typical plastic tray. From there it was an easy “slide” onto your plate. The bowls came in a nice paper bowl, which was very convenient for a school lunch!

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Cauliflower Mac & Cheese bowl – my favorite!

I seriously loved the combination in the meals that I tried. There were enough “simple” ingredients that made the others more easy for a picky eater like me to try. And in terms of the ingredients themselves, they were whole, less processed foods. I gasped when I compared the ingredient list from a Luvo meal to my roommate’s Lean Cuisine in the freezer! I could actually pronounce all of the ingredients.

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I’m in the point of marathon training that I’m really trying to clean up my diet for peak weeks and taper. Knowing I was going to eat a healthy lunch gave me motivation to eat better throughout the day. I “cleaned up” the snacks around my office with Krave Jerky (my new addiction), kale chips (I bought some, next time I’ll just make my own), and Moon Cheese – instead of cheez-its and cookies. They also made for a great dinner with a salad on the side (and HALO TOP after, duh).

I’m so glad that Luvo Meals are now in my life! While they’re a little more than I tend to spend on lunch, but they’ll be great to keep in the freezer. When the rest of my team orders out, I can bring one of these for a “special” lunch and not feel so guilty afterwards! With loads of protein, veggies, and whole grains, these meals are guilt-free.

Where can you find Luvo? Check out the store locator on their website. I was able to find them at Giant, Safeway, Shop Rite, and Wegmans.

Have you tried Luvo meals before? What’s your favorite?

Do you eat freezer meals? Do you splurge on good ones or go simple? I used to get Lean Cuisines, those days are over!