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Start to Finish (Line): My Weekend in Tempe for RnR Arizona Half Marathon

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Traveling for a half marathon is on the top of my list of my favorite things to do! So when Tempe Tourism asked me to come to Tempe for Rock n Roll Half Marathon - Arizona, I was so excited! Even though I only live 5 hours driving distance from Arizona, I had never really explored the area much and was excited to see what it was all about.

We arrived pretty late Friday morning and slept in.  Felt so nice to sleep in after having a crazy week at work.  We started out our Saturday at Tempe Public Market Cafe.  It just opened the weekend we went, and looked so cool on Instagram!

I started my day with an almond milk latte and a breakfast burrito (for protein and carbs before my race the next day!). What I loved most about Tempe Public Market Cafe was that they offer fresh market cuisine crafted with seasonal ingredients.  This means that their food is sourced from farm to table, and their menu will change as the seasons do!

After brunch, we headed to Phoenix Marriott Tempe at The Buttes, a mountaintop hotel with a hiking trail.  I wanted to get an easy hike in and shake out my legs for the race on Sunday.

I never knew there were even hikes in Tempe, so I was excited to get some light cardio in before my race and enjoy some awesome views of the city.

Afterwards, Adam and I headed to get compression therapy for our legs.  This is something I do before every race.  I just search for 'compression therapy' on Yelp and usually every city has one!  Compression therapy helps increase circulation and speed up recovery -- making you feel like you have brand new legs for a race!

We picked up our bibs and then got some last minute items to prep for our race. 

Then it was time for dinner!  Race hack: always order your carboload dinner to-go! Usually all of the pasta spots before a race have long waits! I, personally, need lots of shut eye before a race, so I always order my dinner before to-go for destination races and bring it to my hotel room.  For this race, I ordered from RigaTony's Authentic Italian Restaurant.  I definitely recommend everything I got: eggplant tomato bruschetta, baked rigatony, and tiramisu! So yum!!

Then it was lights out (at 9pm haha) to get some good sleep in our king sized bed before the race!

Getting to the race was super easy from the hotel we were staying in (Tempe Mission Palms Hotel). During race weekend, one of the things that is a must for me is staying at a hotel that is close to either the start or finish line, and luckily for us the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel was just a few blocks from both the start and finish line!

It was an incredibly beautiful day in Tempe! And the temperature was perfect for a half marathon (I was worried it'd be super hot or super cold since we were in the desert).

And just like that, I was done with my 22nd half marathon:

After our the race, we decided to take it easy until our massage. I hung out at the pool at the hotel: Tempe Mission Palms Hotel and tried to hydrate as much as possible (so important after a race!).  I loved the view from their rooftop pool (and loved even more that I didn't even have to hike to get enjoy that view, haha).

Then it was time for some R&R!   After every race I like to treat myself and always always in a form of a massage, haha!  We were lucky enough to get a couple's massage in at Narande Spa at Phoenix Marriott Tempe at The Buttes in Tempe. Afterwards, my muscles felt brand new again!

Another must for me after a race is to treat myself to a high protein meal.  We didn't want to drive the car, so we just walked across the street from our hotel to Caffe Boa.  I ordered the calamari fritti, a cheese and meat plate, and the rib eye steak (protein!!!) --- none of which disappointed (insert drooling emoji here):

Ending our trip to Tempe with runners' high and full bellies!  Since we didn't want to take any days off of work, it was such a short trip for us.  There was so much more I wanted to explore and do -- which means that I will just have to come back!  Would definitely stay in Tempe again for our next trip to Arizona!

This post is sponsored by my friends at Tempe Tourism. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

SeatDreamzzz: Review & Why It's Essential For Travel

Monday, January 15, 2018

Product: SeatDreamzzz
About: The world's most-versatile sleeping mask: Comfort in bed + prevents the classic head-bob many of us are familiar with while traveling.

Travel has become such a big part of my life.  Whether it's for fun or for business, I feel like I am always on the go (in January alone I have four roundtrip flights!).  People don't know this, but one of my favorite flights to take when going east is the red eye flight. I love that I don't "waste" any time since the flight is overnight (when you would be sleeping anyway), and essentially get an additional day at my destination without having to pay for a hotel room!  What I don't love about the red eye is that I don't always get the best sleep.  So when SeatDreamzzz asked me to review their product, I was stoked to try it on my upcoming red eye flight to Orlando!  To be honest, I'm pretty good at sleeping on planes, but I do get interrupted by the occasional head bob by trying to sleep vertically.  Enter SeatDreamzzz.

At first glance, I love the sleek carrying case it comes with.  It's lightweight but also feels like quality (so it can last throughout many trips!), and SeatDreamzzz says that it's waterproof (haven't gotten to test this part out yet).  There's are pockets inside the case for anything else you'd bring on a carry on like headphones, keys, or a contact lens case.  As you can see above, there's a loop attached, so it can easily go on to any backpack or whatever you use as a carry on.  And it is so much lighter than a neck pillow that never seems to be very comfortable anyway (I always end up not even using mine, even when I bring it!).

By tweaking the already known eye mask (to block light) and extending the straps (SeatDreamzzz calls this "airline straps"), SeatDreamzzz is able to attach to to the back of your headrest.  Their awesome GIF example shows it best:

Attaching the airline strap was super simple:

Final Thoughts:
I was able to easily sleep on my flight from Los Angeles to Orlando without any head bobbing! However, I did have to adjust it a few times to my liking.  I think the secret is to keep it a slightly loose so it doesn't feel so constricting.  Another concern I had initially was my lashes (lol).  My normal sleep mask keeps a little space in your eye area, so I was a little concerned about my false eyelashes would get messed up while using the sleep mask, but my lashes ended up being just fine.  I'd also like to see a longer strap option, as some airlines don't have the headrest this product is designed for.  Overall, I love how sleek and compact it is and how it solves the dreaded head bob issue on long haul flights.

Best of all? You can detach the airline strap and use it as a regular eye mask when you get to your final destination!

To learn more about SeatDreamzzz visit their Kickstarter page here. You can score your own SeatDreamzzz mask for as little as $30 and be a part of bringing this brilliant idea to life!

This post is sponsored by my friends at SeatDreamzzz. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recovery: How To Do It & Why It's Important!

Friday, January 12, 2018

When running and working out became such big passions in my life, I used to throw together an impossible schedule of 3 classes a day + a run for up to 7 days a week. I was so overly ambitious in getting workouts in, that I often found myself injured. Smarter and wiser now, I have learned the importance of recovery. And how vital it is to know that recovery is a part of training too! It’s a hard lesson to learn (especially for runners), but once you can perfect the art of recovery, your runs become stronger and faster and you learn to workout more efficiently.

Here are some of my tips for recovery:

1. Stay hydrated - Water is so essential in training. I hydrate throughout my workouts, and make sure that I get even more water or electrolyte water within 10-15 minutes of completing my workout.

2. Stretch - Stretch immediately after your workout (while your body is still warm). Pro tip: set a timer for 10- 15 minutes to ensure you get quality stretching after each workout (just a couple of minutes is never enough!) 

3. Invest in a foam roller - Foam rolling has real science behind it. It’s a form of self-massage, that gets rid of adhesions in your muscles and connective tissue. It also helps increase blood flow to that area, in turn, speeding up your recovery time. Pro tip: set a timer for 10- 15 minutes for this one too! 

4. Take an ice bath after long runs or go to cryo - This one should be done after stretching. Ice baths/cryotherapy help reduce swelling while flushing lactic acid out of your body. I choose to go to cryotherapy since I can’t stand being in an ice bath, lol.

5. Invest in a good muscle and joint supplement - Whole body recovery starts from the inside out. Do your research and invest in a joint supplement with proven results. I use Forever Move™ from Forever Living. Forever Move™ is an all-natural food-sourced ingredient taken from eggs, delivers chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, glycosaminoglycans and key proteins like collagen (yasss!!). I take two capsules a day while I am stretching and foam rolling (after a workout). I notice that when I take it my bones aren’t making that clicking sound they make with movement, my recovery time is faster and I’m more flexible. Best of all Forever Move™ has an insanely concentrated form of curcumin from turmeric which is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

6. Eat a balanced meal - Another big one. You don’t have to quit the occasional pizza slice, but make sure your daily meals consist of lots of fruits and veggies!

7. Sleep well - Did you know that athletes sleep 8-10 hours a day? Your body needs sleep to rest and regenerate, so hit that snooze button every so often!

Implementing these seven recovery methods has dramatically changed the way that I workout. My body can handle more reps, longer runs, and overall just performs better. Best of all, I have been injury free for quite a few years now. What are some methods of recovery that you use?

This post is sponsored by my friends at Forever Living. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

How to Unleash Your Awesome During Recovery

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

As you know, I just ran New York Marathon.  Anyone who is a marathon runner knows that  sometimes the hardest thing is to sit back and let your body go through the recovery process, when all you want to go is get back out there! I wanted to share a few words of advice on how to unleash your awesome, especially during recovery. 

1. Literally wear your medal everywhere after the race. 
Admittedly, this was a practice I always thought was a bit weird. But now that I have completed 5 marathons (and 5 marathons wiser now, haha), it’s a great way to celebrate your race!  It doesn’t matter if you PR’ed or just barely crossed the finish line.  At the end of the day you just completed something only 1% of the population challenges themselves to.  And you are a rockstar!!

2. Go to yoga.
As a runner, I used to scoff at yoga.  But here’s the truth: yoga strengthens your glutes, hamstrings, core, the list can go on and on.  It also helps improve your balance.  All things that are amazing for runners.  Added bonus?  It helps you stay injury free.  In fact, since incorporating yoga in my life, I have been injury free!

3. Increase your protein intake.
This was something I always neglected doing.  But, no joke, my recovery always is so much faster when my protein intake is high.  Find easy ways to up it.  When I was in New York, I let myself go to my favorite steakhouse guilt-free!  And when I was traveling back to Los Angeles, I reached for Core Power, since one bottle contains 26g High Quality Complete Protein. Strawberry banana is my current fav, tastes amazing, and doesn’t have any artificial flavors or sweeteners! Core Power is designed as a post workout recovery beverage and provides high-quality complete protein to people at all levels of physical ability and activity. So no matter what level of workouts you might do, it really is great for anyone and I encourage you to try it too!

4. Get a massage.
Best way to celebrate how awesome you are?  Get a massage (maybe not directly after a race, haha but a few days after, for sure)!  Give yourself much needed R&R, because you deserve it.

5. Reflect.
Think about what worked during this race and learn from it.  Most of all, no matter what time you clocked, remember how amazing you are to even challenge yourself to something this big.  At the end of the day, no one can take away that feeling you get when you cross the finish line. :)

This post is sponsored by my friends at fairlife, LLC. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Post-Run Nutrition Tips

Monday, October 16, 2017

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I've been training for New York Marathon (ahhh officially less than 1 month away now!).  Anyone who has trained for a marathon knows that marathons can be super destructive to your body.  As runners we know we should stretch and maybe even foam roll, but I realized the one thing we really neglect (yes, even more than stretching) is what we are putting into our bodies.  Here are some of the ways I try to stay injury free while training for a marathon.

1. Hydration
Hydration is so important when training for a marathon.  There is nothing that makes me sweat more than running (not BBG, not Flywheel, literally nothing).  So it's super important to hydrate before, during, and after your runs.  When you don't have enough water to fill the muscle cells, you're at risk of losing more them.  Research studies have shown that when cells lose water, and thus volume, protein production can slow down and protein breakdown can speed up. Yikes.

Since water can sometimes be boring, I try to have contests with my co-workers.  We tally up our glasses of water per day to help keep each other motivated.

2. Protein
It kills me when runners focus so much on carbs!  Here's the truth: WE NEED PROTEIN AND CARBS.  Being a marathon runner (or marathon runner in training!) means that you are endurance athlete, which means you will need more protein than an average person.  Protein will help rebuild your muscles, improve recovery time, and actually makes me feel like soreness is bearable! Aim to intake of at least 0.55-0.77 grams/lb. (aim for the upper end of the spectrum during times of heavy training and racing).  This means if you're 135 pounds like me you should be taking in 74-104 grams of protein a day.

Lately I've been drinking Core Power since they provide high-quality complete protein.  I tend to reach for Core Power Elite which contains 42g of protein, especially when my training schedule is heavy.  Core Power is made from fairlife ultra-filtered milk and all of the protein found in Core Power comes from the milk itself.  

Whatever protein you decide to choose, look for brands that are tested to be pure like Core Power, so you know what you are putting into you hardworking, marathoner body!

(Ok, but seriously, this one tastes like vanilla ice cream!)

3. Do NOT Eat Whatever You Want
When I first started running I would "treat myself" with mimosas, or pounds of greasy processed foods.  But high-quality foods are so important when training for a marathon.  Be aware of what is in the foods you are eating, and give your body what it needs.  Rewarding yourself now and then is great, but after every long run or race can be damaging to your recovery and progress.

4. Timing
Make sure you are hydrating within 10 mins of your run, and consuming protein + carbs within 30 mins of you run.  While you are running your body breaks down muscle fibers and creates tiny tears in your muscles (this is where soreness comes from!), not giving your body the nutrition it needs can impede rebuilding and repair, often times resulting in injury.

5. Have Fun
Above all, have fun!  Remember why you started this journey in the first place.

This post was sponsored by my friends at fairlife, LLC. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

How to Maintain a Fit and Healthy Lifestyle While on Vacation

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I travel a lot.  Whether it's for my 9-5, a race, or just to explore... I travel for over 40% of the year.  One of the things that I have struggled with the most is maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle while on vacation.  Here are some of the things I have implemented to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle while on vacation:

1. I schedule my workouts.
I make a point to schedule my workouts and work my out of town schedule around the workouts.  This can be something as easy as a 30 minute plyometric workout in my hotel room, exploring the city by foot with a run, or booking an expensive cycling class that I wouldn't miss just because it cost me so much. Either way, penciling in ahead of time ensures you've made time for it.

2. I make "working out" a group activity.
What better way to explore a new city than by foot? Scheduling time to do a walk or hike with the group I'm with guarantees getting steps in and heart rates up! Bonus?  The group helps keep me accountable.

3. I up my protein intake.
It's so easy to overeat on vacation.  I find that upping my protein intake keeps me injury free (since the stuff you eat on vacation doesn't always have a ton of protein), makes me fuller longer, and powers me for my workouts and long hours exploring a new city!

My favorite protein shake right now is Core Power.  When I'm at home, I always drink it as a post recovery beverage.  And when I'm on vacation I drink it to make sure I'm getting enough protein in.  One bottle of Core Power contains 26g of high quality complete protein.

Even better?  Core Power is made from 100% fairlife ultra-filtered milk and all of the protein found in Core Power comes from the milk itself.  And there isn't a chalky taste since there are no protein powders added in Core Power.

I can always find it no matter what state I am in the U.S.!  So I know even when I'm not home in Los Angeles, I can have the comforts of a protein shake I already know and love.

4. I tell everyone on social media I'm going to workout.
Best way to stay accountable?  I brag to all of my friends that I'm working out on social media.  Haha, this is always my last resort!  It may seem like a bit much but sometimes I have to be that person to make sure I get my workout in.  And to be honest, I've noticed that the more I post about my upcoming workouts on social, the more likely I am to stick to my plan.

How do you stay fit and healthy while on vacation?

This post was sponsored by my friends at fairlife, LLC, as always all opinions expressed are my own.

BBQ Grilled Sweet Potato and Veggie Kabobs

Monday, September 18, 2017

When Adam said he invited all of my runner friends to a birthday BBQ on the beach, I knew we had to have some healthier options. Since we already planned for chicken sausage hot dogs and burgers, I thought that adding veggie skewers to the mix would be perfect!  Plus adding anything to a stick makes them super fun, easy to eat on the beach, and easier to manage on the grill!  Needless to say, they were a hit, even with my friend who hates veggies had a skewer, lol.  Here's what you'll need:

Sweet potatoes
Red Onion
Bell peppers (the more color options the better!)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt (we used pink himalayan salt, but any salt will do!)
Freshly ground black pepper
Smoked paprika
Garlic powder

Clean the sweet potatoes and pierce with a fork a few times. Microwave until just knife-tender. (Try not to make them too soft or they’ll fall apart.) Set aside and let cool while you chop the other veggies. Chop remaining vegetables into bite-size cubes. Thread sweet potatoes and vegetables onto skewers. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a small bowl, combine a spoonful each of smoked paprika, garlic powder, and oregano. Sprinkle over each side of the skewers. Add to your grill until the vegetables are tender and slightly charred.

I ordered everything from Milk & Eggs for less than $15, which served about 2-3 kabobs for 15 people.  Use code MELLIECAY to get $15 off of your order of $35 or more!
Ⓒ melliecay 2014-2018