Bulu Box Review

  

For my review, I received the following sample products:

  

Because I only received a sample and the company did not have a personal profile for me, there were some hits, some mehs, and some misses.

MISSES

Funnbar Protein Candy Chews

Unfortunately, I was not a fan of either one of the flavored samples – citrus and caramel and chocolate. These definitely tasted like a protein shake in the form of a bar. Now, this does not mean by any means that the product does not work, it just means that based on the sample, I would not make a full purchase of this particular product. Because I am not big on protein shakes, I am not particularly interested in protein bars.

  

Nuvia Instant Healthy Coffee

This is only a miss because I do not drink coffee. A study published in by the Food Design Product website, 83% of the adult population consumes coffee, so it is not surprise that coffee samples are a must. Unfortunately, I am in the 17% of the population that doesn’t, so I I cannot give this sample an honest review. However, I am certain with the set-up of a subscription and my personal profile coffee would most likely not be one of my samples. Nonetheless, I am very familiar with coffee given my husband is a coffee drinker, and I will definitely pass the sample on to him.

  

MEHS

Ovega-3

The Ovega-3 is a healthy alternative to fish oil, with no fishy aftertaste and made from a sustainable plant source according to the package. This was only a meh because I feel like it would be hard to dispute otherwise whether it works for me or not with just two softgels. While I definitely appreciate the fact it is environmentally conscious and does not have a fishy after taste, I am not necessarily convinced this is the particular product I would purchase as an Omega 3 supplement. Perhaps I would need seven soft gels (one per day) to determine if I would like a full purchase – or not.

  

  

Upset Stomach Relief To-Go

I have not used this because I have not needed to use it, which in my opinion is a good thing. Since I have not had an opportunity to use it, I cannot say one way or the other if 1) it works, or 2) if I would purchase. I am definitely putting the packet in my emergency kit, because I like the convenience of it and I like that you can consume it with or without water. For now though, this is in the meh category.

  
HITS

Martha Stewart essential Vegetarian multivitamin gummies

These gummies are gluten free, with no preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. The ingredients are sugar, glucose syrup, pectin, citric acid, natural flavors, colors (black carrot juice, turmeric, annatto extract) and sodium citrate. These were very tasty, and I was able to offer them to my little ones because I was not concerned about the ingredients. In fact, they are so tasty, my toddler asked me every day to give her some of the “gummies.” These were definitely a hit, and I would be inclined to purchasing them for sure.

  
Movit Energy Gummies

When I first saw these, they had my name written all over it. I sampled two of the gummies prior to a long run and they tasted so good, I had to stop myself from eating the entire bag all at once. Plus, I felt like they gave me the energy I needed it, so I found them to do what it purports to do. I will most likely be purchasing these to use during my long training runs for Marine Corps Marathon. This sample product was a definite HIT!

  
Overall, I would say I was satisfied with the Bulu Box samples I received. If the mission of Bulu Box is to introduce you to healthy products that you are not familiar with or are hesitant paying full price for, then it accomplished its mission with me. I was definitely introduced to some products I enjoyed and would pay full price for, and  had items I would pass on. If you are at all interested in giving Bulu Box a try, visit the Bulu Box website and use the discount code SWEATPINK for 50% off a 3-month subscription. That means you pay $15 for three months worth of Bulu Box samples! That is an amazing deal.

Disclaimer: I was given a Bulu Box to review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Turn, Turn, Turn

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

The weather is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, and school is about to start. I’ve also returned to work after staying home with my younger daughter for 2.5 years and she will be soon starting preschool. My husband has been away for three weeks, and after living in Oregon for 13 years, my mother has finally visited me. Of course, it only took for me to buy the airfare for her to come (yes, there is resentment in this sentence), but that is a post that needs to be saved for another day, or year, or decade. On top of that I am still in marathon training for the Marine Corps Marathon.

 

Summer Hike in Wallowa Lake towards Aneroid Trail

 

Long Live Summer

I’ve never shied away from declaring how much I love Summer and dislike Fall and Winter (and sometimes Spring). I don’t care for falling leaves, boots, scarves, or anything pumpkin. Ha, I sound like Grumpy Cat right now, but there is just something about short, cold, gray days that give me so much anxiety! When it’s bright and sunny outside, I want to jump out of bed and break out into song and dance like a musical on television. On the other hand, when it is cold, windy, gray, and dark out, it takes so much mental and physical energy to remove the blankets off my body. In fact, I am feeling so much anxiety thinking about it right now. With eight weeks remaining of marathon training, I am hoping I can continue my training streak and not miss a single workout ahead considering the days are getting shorter.

 

Summer views of Eastern Oregon

 

Adolescence

My 11-year-old is starting Middle School!!! This new endeavor – for me and for her – makes me as anxious as the change of seasons. Middle School broke my spirit, and I am concerned it will not do the my daughter’s own spirit. To this day, I don’t have an exact reason why middle was so challenging for me, but I know I entered middle school as a happy, fearless, and enthusiastic 12-year-old, and exited as a moody, anxious, and self-conscious 15-year-old. If you are wondering about my age, when I first moved to this country, I was placed in the first grade as a seven-year-old because I had no school records and could not read or write in either Spanish (my native language) or English You can read more about my school memories before moving to this country here. Anyhow, I can only speculate as to why my spirit was shattered into a million pieces, and it is my intent to be available for my daughter and help her navigate the social nuances of adolescence. While I am completely aware I will have many moments where I will falter and she will believe I don’t understand what she is going through, I am hoping she will look back and appreciate my effort.

 

My 11-year-old knows all about selfies

 

Independence and Learning the Rules

My soon-to-be three-year-old is stubborn, strong-willed, and ornery, but she is just as sweet, funny, and witty! She too is beginning a new journey in her life; one that includes navigating the social world where she can be independent yet learn to get along with others. I loved spending time with her while at home, but honestly, I felt like I was holding her back. She is so funny, and so smart, and because I was so unstructured, she could have learned so much more than what I offered. I know, I know, she’s only two, but it seems like nowadays, infants are born knowing how to walk, read, and play the piano. With me, she learned how to use an iphone, and ipad, watched every single Disney movie and learned all the songs on the radio. My concern for her is how she is going to handle preschool. Apparently, the school expects for three-year-olds to wipe their own butts! Their arms can barely reach their backs let alone their butts! I am also concerned about her orneriness and like any other mother, I want for her to be happy, kind, confident, intelligent, and all the good wishes a mother prays and hopes for.

 

She hikes to the beat of her own feet

 

Mommy Wars

I’m back at work, but it is only part-time. This means I am either going to be stellar juggling my mother and professional duties, or completely mediocre. I don’t really want to get into the mommy wars, because I don’t have an answer as to what is best. For the first six months I stayed home with my daughters, I loved it. The house was organized, the laundry was washed, folded, and stored away on the same day, and I felt total bliss not having to do the morning rat-race. But things changed. Because I was new to a small town, I did not know anyone. The only adult interaction was with my husband, and I pined for his presence and felt so lonely when he took off for work. The chores that I excelled in the first six months became “chores.” It was as if the only way to measure my self-worth for the day was whether the house was cleaned or not, whether dinner was ready or not and whether the little one was clean or not. So I became disinterested and I longed for something more. I wanted to solve problems that did not involves spills, stains, or tantrums. Plus, I also wanted to earn my own money. I wanted to buy unncesessayy items without worrying how much it would put a dent on the budget. My husband has never begrudged or made me feel like his money was only his, so it had nothing to do with feeling financially oppressed. On the contrary, my husband has always been nothing but supportive of my wants and needs, but there is a sense of freedom and empowerment when a paycheck is made out to your name. It’s like you have put on your superhero cape and you have saved the world from a natural disaster. I knew didn’t want to go back to the full 40+ hours, but I definitely wanted to be a part of the working community. Well, patience has paid off, because not only am I returning to work exercising the profession I invested in (School Psychology), I am only doing it part-time, giving me the opportunity to balance my work life with my personal life.

 

My work clothes have rediscovered their purpose

 

Family

As I was typing this, my husband walked into the door. After three LONG weeks, he is home. I’ve missed him so much, and as each day goes by, I feel so blessed knowing how fortunate I am to have not only a loving husband, but a formidable father as well. He is the father I never had and the husband I dreamed of. While he was away, my mother has been helping me out a lot. Despite our differences, I know my mom is doing the best she can. We are not close by any means, but perhaps my time with her (she will spend a total of six weeks with me) will help heal some of the wounds I have been carrying around for years. Because I cannot change who she is and what she thinks, the healing has to occur with me alone.

 

My mom taking our dog Jake for a walk

 

Marine Corps Marathon

The negative voices of self-doubt have been present the last two weeks of marathon training. I’ve not written about my training much for fear of disappointment like the one I experienced during Eugene, but I am still very much loyal to my runs. This past Saturday, I had an 18 miler, and it was definitely challenging. My legs ached, and my mind kept wandering negative thoughts, “What if I do terrible?” “What if I get hurt again?” “You are so slow.” “You are not a real runner.” Anyhow, I had to move each foot in front of the other and wrestle the demons that feast on weaknesses to prevent it from letting it get to me. I am officially eight weeks away and don’t feel as strong as I felt for Eugene eight weeks out, but I am still giving it all I’ve got. I don’t want to put much thought into this anymore in order to keep the voices of doubt way back in the dark area of the brain.

 

Summer running on my last leg of Ragnar Relay NW Passage

 

Are you looking forward to the change of Season? Do the shorter days affect your mood? What is your fall race schedule?

Ragnar Relay NW Passage Race Recap

Relays are like childbirth, you’ve got to forget the pain before you decide to register for another one. Apparently, Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back was not painful at all, because a month after running it, I ran Ragnar Relay NW Passage. It actually wasn’t a planned race at all. A friend of mine who lives in Washington was registered for the race, but she contacted me asking if I was interested in taking her place because she was undergoing some medical issues and felt it was best not to run. It took a heap load of discipline not to immediately say “yes.” While extremely supportive, it would have meant my husband had to spend another weekend with the girls, and it also would have meant more money spent on racing and traveling. After deliberation, I suggested for my husband to run instead. Even though he did not seem thrilled with the idea, I knew he would enjoy running in his beloved Pacific NW.

Three days before the race, my friend from Washington contacted me once again and said her husband was thinking about not running and asked me if I was interested. Without hesitation, I said “YES!” I figured finding a babysitter for my 11-year-old and my two-year-old would happen out of will and determination, and when my mother-in-law agreed to watch them (and our dog Jake), we were over the moon!!! Running with my husband is ALWAYS a privilege!

My mother-in-law, Maureen, who saved the relay.

The plan to getting to Redmond, WA (where my friend from Washington lives and where she kindly allowed us to spend the night) was cumbersome. On Wednesday, we traveled from Eastern, Oregon to the Oregon Coast (6.5 hour drive) with a 2-year-old, an 11-year-old, and a beagle in tow. On Thursday morning, we drove from the Oregon Coast to Redmond, WA (5.5 hours). On Friday morning, we met members from Van 2 and drove from Redmond, Wa to Bellingham, WA (1.5 hours) to conduct the first exchange between Van 1 and Van 2.

We took the scenic way along the Oregon Coast to cross the Washington border. This was taken in Oregon.

Leg 7

Distance: 4.8 miles with a rating of Moderate according to Ragnar website

Actual Distance: 4.4  According to Garmin Forerunner 220

The first mile of this leg was uneventful. It was on the streets of Bellingham and I had to cross five different lights, all of which required me to stop because they were green for passing traffic. After the first mile, you reach the bay trail and get to see the sound and the opportunity to run on the boardwalk.

This was a corridor after running past the streets of Bellingham amd just before reaching the boardwalk of leg 7.

Despite the fact the temperatures were in the 70’s my run was extremely hot. Maybe it was the humidity, but either way, I was drenched in sweat, and that is rare as I am not someone who perspires heavily. Fortunately, I do not mind running in warm weather, so I was not bothered by the temperatures as much as my husband (who prefers cooler temperatures).

It was pleasant to run on the boardwalk and be surrounded by water.

Leg 19

Distance: 8.7 miles Very Hard

Actual Distance: 8.69 miles

While most people seem to prefer the night runs (those who prefer cooler temperatures), I don’t particularly care for running when it’s dark out. Running at night in the dark is very overwhelming for me. My peripheral vision is poor, so I cannot see what’s around me, and my headlamp only lights a portion of what’s ahead, making it difficult to discern the terrain. Furthermore, because of the poor lighting, you tend to momentarily lose your night vision when facing incoming headlights.

Self-Taken night picture just before my second run.

Okay, enough of my whining. The point is, night runs are just okay for me. This particular run felt very long and aside from a bridge I know I crossed, I don’t remember much about it. It was definitely dark, and without a doubt very hilly, but there’s not much I can say. In fact, for a stretch, it felt like I was running by myself because I could not make out anyone in front of me, nor could I hear anyone around me. At the end of the run, I was drenched in sweat, and relieved my longest and most challenging run was over.

Leg 31

Distance: 6.3 miles Hard

Actual Distance: 6.32 miles

Van’s 2 night run ended about a 1/2 hour after the sunrise. This means we were up during the hours of the morning most people would prefer to be sleeping. While some slept during other team members’ runs, I felt obligated to stay awake. Unlike Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back, we had a driver, so I was not staying awake to help the driver stay alert. I wanted to be awake for my teammates while they were running and cheer them along the way. When we finally finished, we parked our vans in the next exchange and made an attempt to sleep. Attempt was definitely the key word, because I was lucky if I got one straight hour of sleep. It was just too ¬†bright out, and because I was the first runner up, I definitely had to be ready before all the other runners. At the exchange, there were showers and restrooms. While I didn’t shower (not a fan of showering in public) I did take advantage of the flushable toilets and the luxurious sinks with running water and soap to wash my face and brush my teeth. It’s amazing how a little soap, water, and a fresh breath can make someone feel rejuvenated.

A digital portrait with my loving partner-in-crime.

Once it was my turn to run, I was ready to be done with the relay. I missed my daughters, and while grateful for the opportunity to share this relay with my husband, I was ready to head back home to Oregon and sleep in my bed. Of course, first we had to endure the drive back to the Coast from Washington and then the drive from the Coast to Eastern Oregon. We were in Whidbey Island and I could see bodies of blue water around me. It was still warm out, and my leg had a couple of gnarly hills, but I was not fazed by the route. The last leg of the relay is the relay you run with heart because at that point, the body and mind don’t have much to offer in terms of stamina. I could tell by the number of people I was passing that they were giving it all they had to finish the last 6.3 miles of the 200ish relay.

Taken after my last leg in Whidbey Island.

On a really random note, I do not ever celebrate passing anyone. If you’ve run a relay before, there is this tradition in which you count the “kills,” or the number of runners you pass during your leg. I’m by no means trying to be self-righteous here, but I personally do not find pleasure passing someone who is struggling and or may have a different running pace than mine. Perhaps it’s because I believe that each and every single runner out there is on a journey, and that journey could well be a journey to self-healing (cancer survivor, the loss of a loved one), a journey to self-discovery (first relay, first run after having surgery), or a journey to raise awareness about a social or medical cause. In essence, I always feel privileged that I am traversing the same path as the runners out there, and in a way, passing them is not celebratory for me; it is more of an acknowledgement that I am grateful I was a part of their path if only for a brief moment in time. But again, I digress.

Third and Final leg. After this decline, I turned left and climbed up another hill.

This leg was also perhaps the most motivating for me. My teammates, which were nice but complete strangers, seemed to be completely vibrant and awake during this particular leg. Maybe I was too reserved and apprehensive during my first two legs of the relay, but it was during this last stretch that I felt like I finally got to know them. It completely changed my mood around and I was so appreciative of the fact I got to share this experience with them. At the end of the relay, they no longer felt like strangers to me.

The most awful night selfie with team Will Run for Donuts.

Ragnar Relay NW Passage vs Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back

Scenery: Wasatch Back

Maybe it was because I had more scenic legs, or perhaps it was because I had never been to that part of Utah (I’ve only visited SLC for the Riverton Half-Marathon), but I felt like my views for Wasatch Back were so much more worthy of a smart phone picture than NW Passage.

Exchanges: NW Passage

The exchanges at NW Passage were less congested than the ones at Wasatch Back. Don’t know if this had to do with the number of registrants or the size of the exchanges, but the exchanges at NW Passage were much more ample, with better parking. I don’t recall if Wasatch Back had a place where you could shower, but because I vividly remember the one in NW Passage, I also feel like this particular detail beat out Wasatch Back.

The Finish Line: NW Passage

Getting to the Finish line in Wasatch Back was quite the experience. It took forever for our Van to just get into the parking lot of the Finish Line. The place also seemed very small for the amount of runners, making it feel really cramped and more of a carnival than finish line.

On the other hand, NW Passage had a big finish line with plenty of room for runners to walk around. One thing that Wasatch had that NW Passage did not have: Free Ice Cream, Pizza, and Soda at the finish line. This was nowhere to be found in NW Passage. The free Pizza (Papa John’s) was all gone by the time our team finished at NW Passage and you had to form a line to wait for it if you wanted it. However, if you like Beer at the finish line, NW Passage definitely had Beer, which was not the case in Wasatch Back. My husband got to enjoy a delicious cold beer, which is exactly what he wants at the end of every race.

On the Ferry from Whidbey Island to Washington. If you are ever on any of the islands off of Washington State and brought your own vehicle, do not ever , I repeat, do not EVER skip the line to get on the ferry. There are cops that monitor this line and they will force you out of the line and make you go to the end. The local residents will also call the cops if they see you commit this crime.

Have you completed a Ragnar Relay before? Were you in a team with strangers, or people you knew?

Catherine Creek Classic Half-Marathon

Exactly a year ago today, I was chasing a sub-2 half-marathon. That goal was achieved on August 2, 2014 at the Catherine Creek Classic Half-Marathon. This year, I ran the same course, but with goals and thoughts completely different from the ones I possessed a year ago. For one, I was no longer seeking a specific finish time. Second, after spending two months on the sidelines due to a plantar fascia rupture, I was grateful for the mere of opportunity of being able to run. Finally I was racing for distance in order to test my endurance and gauge if my foot could sustain the upcoming demands of marathon training for the Marine Corps Marathon.

Last year, I had the opportunity to race with my husband. This year, my friend Kim, whom I ran Bridge of the Goddess Half-Marathon with back in September of 2014 was also running the course. She trekked all the way from Portland, Oregon to savor racing in Eastern Oregon. Unlike last year though, the temperatures were supposed to reach the 100’s for the day. While I personally prefer running in warmer temperatures over cooler temperatures, I’m highly aware how challenging and demanding running in temperatures over 80 degrees can be. The temperature at the starting line was 72 degrees, and for me personally, that was just right. I do not like starting in temperatures where I’m shivering and my muscles are cold. Since the course had water stations every two miles, I only carried Huma energy gels with me (thanks to my mother-in-law, I now have a sweet amount to choose from), and wore sunglasses to protect my eyes from the sun.

Up close and personal after the race with my friend Kim.

Because I really did not have any expectations about the race except to measure the endurance and strength of my left foot, I was extremely relaxed and free of anxiety or self-imposed demands. This time around, I was excited for the opportunity to run with the goal of just crossing the finish line. There were no voices of doubt and confidence wrestling back and forth between one another and trying to placate them with visualizations or negotiations. If there was anything my injury taught me was that a number on a race clock does not quantify the will, determination, and struggle of the human spirit. The clock at the finish line is a mere snapshot capturing just that – the finish line; it does not capture what transpired before, during, or after the race. The acceptance that the time clock was by no means a measurement of who I was and what I was capable of doing took away any stresses I had a year ago. I was not worried about the hot temperatures, the elevation, and distance I needed to cover in a specified amount of time. It was genuinely a run that I was going to enjoy.

This was the day of the Blue Moon. The moon looks tiny, but it was big and bright in person. We were trying to capture a sun set the night before our race and after dinner, but we got to see a moon rise and it was a captivating experience.

When the clock started and we started racing down the hill (much of the race is a net loss and it is mostly downhill), I was smart enough not to go all out like I did last year. In fact, in comparison to last year’s time, I was almost one minute slower than the first time I ran it (2014 – 25:40, 2015 – 26:39). However unlike last year, I was feeling extremely strong the last four miles of the race and did not feel like my energy was waning. Last year, I was fighting tooth and nail not to let my pace slip to a ten minute mile in fear I would not make it to the finish line under two minutes. This year, I did not bother to look at my Garmin during miles 9-12 because I did not feel like I was struggling at any point either physically or mentally. My foot felt great and I was not experiencing any significant pain at any point. My back and shoulders, when exhausted, begin to hunch forward, but I never felt like I was losing my form. When I only had one mile remaining, I realized that my time on the course had flown by! I had no idea what my time would be, but I knew that I had probably run one of the best races I had ever run in my life. The time on the clock: 1:53:21. My time last year -1:57:46. I shaved four minutes off my time! Would this post had been positive had I finished in 2:07? Absolutely! My goal the entire time was to finish my race and to finish strong. Because I did not place any pressure on myself, I managed to run a very strong race. It is my hope to repeat this performance during the Marine Corps Marathon in October.

Second in my age group! I love small town races.