April 30, 2014

Haiku Sprint Duffle Review + Giveaway!

I'm SO excited to have the chance to tell you about my beautiful new workout bag.  The Haiku Sprint Duffle is hands-down the best workout bag I've had to date.
Source: Haiku

I've had my fair share of workout bags, but none of them holds a candle to this bag.  I'd recently been longing for a new bag--I have no shortage of them, that's for sure, but each time I'd go to pack up my gear, my bags either always seemed too big or too small.  (Goldilocks I may be...)  I was browsing online one day when I stumbled across the Haiku Sprint Duffle, and I totally fell in love. 
 One of my coworkers introduced me to Haiku bags awhile ago, and I love their company background.  On their website, Haiku lists their values as: Quality, Understanding and compassion, Empowering women and community, Environmental ethics, Natural and soulful beauty with a sense of humor and adventure.  Love it.  Many of their bags are made partially from recycled materials, which my tree-hugger heart loves.
Source: Haiku
But anyways, back to the duffle.  I was thrilled when the folks at Haiku agreed to let me test it out AND give one away to a reader.  Here's why I love it:
First, the size.  This bag is the PERFECT size for me.  I'd been switching off between a big Champion duffle bag and a little shoulder bag for the gym, with neither being just the right size.  This bag is perfect for a workout or an overnight.  It easily holds my shoes, clothes, shower stuff for the gym, and gear.  Also, one of my favorite parts is that the bag has an adjustable strap across the top to hold your yoga mat or jacket.  This was a huge draw to the bag for me.  I love being able to stick my mat on top and not worry about it.  I also used the bag for gear check at a recent race, and used the strap to hold my jacket to the bag without having to cram it in.
Second, pockets, pockets, pockets!  Haiku definitely knows what they're doing when it comes to organization.  I seriously was discovering new pockets for days after getting the bag.  There are a few outer pockets, including a zipper one, which are perfect for sticking hair ties, CLIF bars, and your gym id.  Inside, there are two elastic trim pockets which are great for keeping miscellaneous accessories--my garmin, my road ID, my pouch of headbands and hair ties.  I also love the ventilated shoe compartment--no need to worry about my shoes smelling up dirtying up my clothes!
Last, it's not only beautiful, but functional too.  I love the color of the Sea Glass bag--it's just plain beautiful, and the embroidered details are so unique.  But not only that, the straps make this bag way more comfortable for carrying than my old bags.  It's also easy to clean--days after busting out the bag for the first time, it had an unfortunate encounter with some muddy spring grass at gear check.  I was able to clean all of the mud off with just a damp cloth.  WIN!
All ready for my after school yoga time!
Clearly I'm obsessed with my Haiku bag, and I'm SO EXCITED to get to give one away to one of you wonderful readers!  I know you will love this bag as much as I do for the gym, races, overnights--it even looks like the perfect size for an under-seat carry on.  Haiku has generously offered to give away one Sprint Duffle in the color of your choosing to a reader.

Here's how to win--Be sure to leave a separate comment below for each entry!
  • Follow Juice Boxes + Crayolas via Bloglovin', Google Friend Connect, via email (see sidebar), or via any other blog reading platform.  Leave a comment below letting me know how you follow! (1 entry)
  • "Like" Juice Boxes + Crayolas on Facebook (1 entry)
  • "Like" Haiku on Facebook (1 entry)
  • Visit the Haiku website and leave a comment letting me know which color bag you would choose (1 entry)
  • Share this giveaway on your blog, facebook, or twitter (1 entry for each)

That's 7 possible entries!  This giveaway will end at midnight on Tuesday, May 6th.

Disclaimer: I was given one Haiku bag free of charge in exchange for writing this review.  I was not compensated in any other way or encouraged to express a particular opinion.  All thoughts are my own.

April 12, 2014

CLICK Giveaway Winner

The winner of the Caramel CLICK giveaway is...
Jordan, email me at juiceboxesandcrayolasATgmailDOTcom by Monday to claim your prize!

Thanks for entering!

April 9, 2014

Swirlgear Ladies Night

Just a reminder that tomorrow is the last day to enter to win my Caramel CLICK protein powder giveaway!

Last Thursday evening I met Alyssa at the Barrington Running Company for a ladies night sponsored by Swirlgear, an awesome new-ish Chicago based company that makes women's running clothes.  I bought two tops from them when I joined their brand ambassador program last fall, and I love the both.  In fact, I wore both for my half marathon Sunday.  I have been dying to check out their new line in person since it can be so hard to get a sense of the fit of running clothes online.  
 Alyssa and had a great time catching up, comparing notes about tri training and bemoaning our boring bike trainers, and of course trying on the Swirlgear.  Guys, this stuff rocks.  Not only are the colors and prints fun, but the quality is amazing.
It was great to meet Marisa from Swirlgear too!  I was dying to check out the allover spray dyed capris--I'll admit, I have been stalking these babies on the Swirlgear website since they first previewed the new line a month or two ago.  These things are so amazing-looking.  Alyssa rocked them!
One item I tried that I originally hadn't been interested in based on the website pics was the new tank with back ruching, but after trying it on I LOVE IT.  It is everything I love in a running tank--long, loose, flowy.  The back ruching is adorable, and there is even a side pocket.   

Just a note--you probably don't want to pair the tie dyed capris and the tie dye tank...Ladies, that is just more tie dye than any one girl can handle...
Whoa. So much tie dye.

Not that I needed more running clothes, but you better believe I came home and ordered three pieces from the new line...I'm in denial that my running top drawer won't close and definitely won't hold another top!  (I have a separate drawer for bottoms...)  
I have a sickness...

To purge the running shirts drawer...or buy a third dresser...decisions, decisions.
What makes an item the perfect piece of running clothing for you?  For me, tops need to be long and loose.

April 7, 2014

Race Recap: Chi Town Half Marathon

Don't forget to enter my CLICK espresso protein powder giveaway!

I have recently liked reading Kelly's 6 word race recaps, so here's mine for Sunday's race, the Chi Town Half Marathon:
Trained through snowmageddon, rewarded with PR.
Don't worry, I've never been a person of only 6 words, so I of course have to write a full recap.  I had weird feelings going into this race.  In the past, half marathons have either been big goal races, destination races, or stepping stones during marathon training.  This was none of the above.  Sometime in January, I was SO SICK of running and training in the cold and was desparately seeking motivation.  Chicago was hit by one of the most brutal winters in years, and getting out there in the freezing cold, ice, snow, and wind week after week was a struggle.  To keep myself accountable, I found an early-spring half marathon and registered.  No time goals, no big training plan...just me and my YakTrax plugging away each Saturday and trying to survive winter.  (I did survive, but only barely...)

Anyways, back to the race.  The night before, I met friends for dinner and a movie.  We went to a German restaurant, and I stuffed my face with this cheesy-noodle-awesomeness...
Sunday morning I woke up bright and early and cabbed it to the lakefront from my friend's apartment.  (You know someone is a true friend when they let you crash at their place pre-race!  Thanks Katy!)  It was a little chilly pre-race, mid-30s, and I was freezing just standing around beforehand.  In fact, my feet were almost completely numb when we started running!  What a weird feeling.  It turned into a beautiful day, though!

I had no plans to shoot for a PR in this race--I haven't been focusing on speed or time AT ALL in my running.  Typically when I'm shooting for a PR, I'm super conscious about starting off slow and keeping my average pace for the first few miles much slower than it needs to be, but a I've wondered before if an over-conservative start has held me back in races in the past.  Negative splits and pacing are crucial, but have I been starting so slow and holding back too long to be able to reach the pace I'm capable of at the end of the race?  I decided to experiment today, and started off faster than I normally would.
Thanks Mom + Dad for coming out to the race and for being my race photographers!

About six miles in, I realized my average pace was fairly close to what I ran for my half-marathon PR, so I decided to see what I could do!  I tried to shave a little off my average pace with each mile, and then later, with each run interval (I'm a Galloway-method run/walker, and was running 3/1 intervals).  This was definitely not an easy task!  At no point did this race feel effortless, but I gave myself the same pep-talk I did during the Space Coast half a year and a half ago when I set my last half PR--"Setting a PR is supposed to hurt.  I am not afraid of pain"--and I dug deep.

Sub-2:20 has been on my bucket list since I crossed off sub-2:30 half awhile back, and before the race, no part of me had expected to reach it today.  With about three miles left, though, I realized that it was within my reach.  No matter how much my legs and feet were hurting, no matter how winded I was feeling, I pushed through it and reminded myself that the pain was temporary.  I almost couldn't believe the time I was looking at on my watch as I sprinted towards the finish line.  I was going to do it!  In case you're wondering, setting a PR is in no way cute.  This is what I looked like during that finish line push:
So much pain!  So tired!
"Just get across that line and then you can collapse!
 I sprinted across that finish line and couldn't be prouder when I saw my watch read 2:17:47, almost 4 minutes faster than my previous PR of 2:21:21.  And I worked my butt off for that 2:21 PR--I am still in shock that I went out there this morning with no race plan and crushed it.  I guess those awful training runs through the tundra of this Chicago winter paid off!  I stumbled over to my parents after the race, grinning, gasping, and repeating, "I can't believe I ran that fast!  I can't believe it!" :)
I did it!
And now the post race scene--Jimmy John's + catching up on Switched at Birth + bed = perfect post race recovery!
How do you push through the pain during a tough race?
What's your favorite post-race meal?

April 5, 2014

CLICK Protein Powder Review + Giveaway!

I had an opportunity awhile back to try out CLICK, an espresso protein powder that comes in flavors like Mocha and Vanilla Latte.  As a vegetarian and an athlete, I'm always trying to make sure I'm getting enough protein--especially after tough workouts.  However, I haven't been a fan of several powders I've tried in the past.  So many were chalky or clumpy.  Yuck.  But when I tried CLICK, I LOVED IT!   The flavor of CLICK rocks, I love that it blends easily, and there is zero chalk factor.  Drinking it is just like drinking an iced latte or mocha.  
I was psyched when CLICK emailed to say they were debuting a new caramel flavor.  Umm caramel coffee?  Yes please!   
Teaching = Always Multitasking!
CLICK'in during my plan time at school!
I have used protein powder in the past as a recovery drink, but recently I've been drinking CLICK other times during the day.  Every time I bump up my training, I find myself impossibly hungry.  I'm sure I'm not alone!  Lately, I've eaten big breakfasts at home in the morning, but mid-morning am DYING for a snack.  I have been mixing a CLICK shake to drink during my morning plan time, and I love it.  It's the perfect time of day for some protein to tide me over until lunch and an espresso boost.
CLICKing on the go!
Besides the taste and the protein, the nutrition facts for this stuff are great too--I love that the protein is high but the sugar and calories are low.  Exactly what I'm looking for in a protein drink. (If you're curious, CLICK Caramel has 110 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 6 grams of sugar per 2 scoop serving.)
Okay, now it's time for the best part--the giveaway!  CLICK has generously offered to let me give a canister of CLICK Caramel and a Click shaker to one of my fabulous readers.  

Here's how to win--Be sure to leave a separate comment below for each entry!
  • Follow Juice Boxes + Crayolas via Bloglovin', Google Friend Connect, via email (see sidebar), or via any other blog reading platform.  Leave a comment below letting me know how you follow! (1 entry)
  • "Like" Juice Boxes + Crayolas on Facebook (1 entry)
  • Visit the CLICK website and tell me which flavor you are dying to try and why you need some CLICK in your life (1 entry)
  • "Like" CLICK on Facebook and leave a comment letting them know that Juice Boxes + Crayolas sent you (1 entry)
  • Share this giveaway on your blog, facebook, or twitter (1 entry for each)
  • Check out CLICK on Twitter and send them a Tweet (1 entry)
^(Okay, I'll admit, I don't tweet or use twitter at all, so I don't know if I even worded that one correctly...!)

That's 8 possible entries!  This giveaway will end at midnight on Friday, April 11th.  Get CLICKing!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a canister of Caramel CLICK and a shaker in exchange for writing this review.  Some of the links above are affiliate links, but I received no other compensation.  All thoughts are my own--CLICK rocks. :) 

April 1, 2014

Training Tuesday: Half Marathons Then and Now

Ouch.  I just finished reacquainting myself with my foam roller, and it was not pretty.  I definitely have a love/hate relationship with this thing...
In fact, based on the amount of pain I was in during that session, I think I foresee a lot of time with these guys in my immediate future:
I guess that's what a car ride from Chicago to Florida and back again will do to a runner!!  (So worth it though...)

Anyways, the reason for the necessary foam rolling is that I have a race coming up!  I'm running the Chi Town Half Marathon on Sunday, and I have to say it feels like this race snuck up on me.  It's not that I haven't been training, but with school being crazy, my recent vacation, and my mental focus on triathlon lately, while my body might be ready for a 13.1, I feel like it's safe to see I feel less mentally prepared for this race than any of my other halves!

As I was making pre-race plans with a friend, I got to thinking about how my preparation for and anticipation of this half marathon feels SO different from some of my past half marathons.

During my training for my first half, I was a ball of nerves.  I obsessed about EVERYTHING in the weeks leading up to the race!  My legs, my race outfit, the weather, you name it.  I had had an injury-filled training cycle and was basically a wreck, unsure whether I'd even complete the distance.  I swear, it was all I talked about for weeks.  (Sorry, friends and family!)
Half #1, circa 2011--Could barely believe I finished :)
For my second half, I felt a *little* better, but only marginally.  After surviving the first half, I went on to incur injury after injury during the next year.  It. was. rough.  I knew I was capable of completing the distance the second time around, but I was still a an emotional basket case as I lined up at the start.  I worried that my recent injuries were going to resurface mid-race, or worse, that I'd get a new injury along the way.
Half #2, circa 2012--So pumped to finish, and with a huge PR too!

For half marathons 3 & 4, I felt more confident, and by half marathon 5, I remember thinking for the first time as I lined up at the start that I was strong, ready, and capable.  I approached that race with the confidence of a veteran, ready to just have fun and enjoy every mile.  That was the race that made 13.1 my favorite distance.

Half #5, 2013--Finally feeling at home with this distance
Now, as I look forward to half marathon #6 and race #5 billion (or really more like 35ish...), I feel something completely different--neutral.  Routine.  Old hat. It's not that I'm not looking forward to it--I love racing, and I totally am ready to race again.  It just that this distance really doesn't scare me anymore.  It feels like just another weekend long run, something I NEVER expected to feel about 13.1 miles.  I was talking to my non-runner brother this week about my training, and I realized that ever since running the Chicago Marathon this fall (my first), my perspective on distance has seriously changed.  I used to look at half marathons with the question of, "Will I make it?  Can I do this?  Will I finish?"  And even after I was confident in the answers to those questions, I worried, "What mysterious muscle will be killing me along the way?"
Chicago Marathon, 2013: If I can survive this race, I can survive anything! :)

It's not that 13.1 miles is easy--ugh I don't think running itself will ever be easy for me!  But mentally, it is SO. DIFFERENT.  I guess it's all about perspective!  Really, that's one of my favorite things about running.  I've talked before on the blog about how in my classroom, kids are always setting goals, tracking progress, and talking about their growth.  Sure, we set goals in the grown up world, but how many opportunities are there for us to sit down and reflect on our growth?  We're not taking multiplication time tests every Friday and graphing our growth targets like my 3rd and 4th graders!  But that's the beautiful thing about running--every race is a chance to reflect on how far you've come and what a beautiful journey it's been.  At least that's how it feels for me, and I hope to God it never changes.

Anyways, I have no expectations for this race and am running it for a few very simple reasons: it has been too long since I've toed a starting line, and I need a runner's high and a medal around my neck.  Because what better feeling is there than that? :)

How has your perspective on running or racing changed since you first started out?
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