Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review & Giveaway: Larabar! (CLOSED)

Nothing says "the week between Christmas and New Years Eve" and "so sorry I haven't been posting lately" like a giveaway of one of my favourite running snacks!

Recently (okay, not super recently because I am a terrible slacker on the blog lately), Larabar was kind enough to send me some of their bars to try, and to share with you as well.

And they were... delicious!

Shocking, I know.

But in case you're not familiar with Larabar, here's some info from their website:

LÄRABAR is a delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices. Made from whole food, each flavor contains no more than nine ingredients. Pure and simple, just as nature intended. 
There is no sugar added to the core line of LÄRABAR. The claim “No Added Sugar” appears next to the nutrition panel. The exception to this is the chocolate chip flavors (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Brownie, and Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte), which contain added sugar in the actual chocolate chips. 
LÄRABAR is made by a simple process in which fruit, nuts, and spices are ground and mixed together. They are not baked or cooked. We use simple ingredients, as close to their natural state as possible. 
Each LÄRABAR flavor offers at least a ¼ cup  of fruit. Tropical Fruit Tart, Apple Pie, and Cherry Pie each offer a ½ cup of fruit in each full-size bar.

If you are looking for more info, check out their FAQ and their product listing.

The four flavours I picked were:

  • Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte
  • Chocolate Coconut Chew
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
  • Coconut Cream Pie

I love that the list of flavours reads like a list of my favourite desserts.

As I said, all of the bars were delicious.  I tend to lean towards the Larabars with more chocolate or sweet content in them, because when I want a snack I generally want something sweet.  These bars satisfy my sweet tooth without making me feel guilty.  They also have less sweet flavours and even tangy flavours like lemon if you prefer.

The surprise favourite was the coconut cream pie flavour.  I wasn't sure about it, but I ended up saving it for last and it was awesome!  It was just like eating a coconut macaroon.  I shared it with someone in my office because I wanted everyone to know how awesome it was- but then I was sad that I had less for myself!

One bummer about Larabar is that the availability of flavours isn't very good here in Canada, or at least in Ottawa.  I notice this with similar products as well.  I can get a few basis flavours at stores like Shoppers Drug Mart and Bulk Barn, but not the same wide variety as they have on their website.

If you haven't tried a Larabar before, I definitely encourage you to check them out.  They are a satisfying snack with all sorts of flavours, and you don't have to feel at all bad about gobbling them up!

Now here's your chance to win a four pack of the same flavours I tried for this review!

How to enter:

1. Comment on this post with your answer to this question - What's your favourite guilt-free afternoon snack? This entry is mandatory.  (1 entry)

2. Follow me on Twitter at @JennieRunning. (+1 entry)

3. Like Larabar on Facebook. (+1 entry)

4. Follow Larabar on Twitter. (+1 entry)

5. Follow this blog through Google Friend Connect (use the "Join this site" button in the right sidebar) and please leave your GFC name in the entry form (+1 entry)

6. Tweet the message "I want to win some deliciousness from @larabar from @JennieRunning!" (Please use the "Tweet" link in the Rafflecopter and it will include a link to this post.) (+1 entry - may be done once per day)

I am using Rafflecopter to run the giveaway.  The only comment you need to leave below is for the mandatory entry - you then fill out the Rafflecopter form to let me know how many entries you get for the mandatory entry and any extra entries. Only entries submitted through the Rafflecopter will count.  Please note that entries will be randomly verified before selecting a winner.

The giveaway will be open for entries until 12:01 a.m. on January 3, 2012.  I will announce the winner here and contact him/her by e-mail if one is provided.  The winner will have one (1) week to claim their prize, at which time if I haven't heard from him/her I will pick another winner.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Half Marathon Training: Week Three

I only did ONE run this week.  Oops.

But it was my long run, which I hear is what matters the most.

Work was ridiculous as I tried to catch up.  I was also scrambling to make Christmas happen - shopping, baking, hosting my work party, etc.

I finally hit the pavement on Sunday afternoon, going for an 8km run around my in-laws' neighbourhood. I had planned to be running longer at this point, but decided to ease into the longer distances.  I am confident I'll still be able to hit my distance goals before the race and I am less worried about hurting myself.

My run was 8km and took me just under 1:20.  I felt good almost the entire time.  A little sore afterwards - my knee and ankle are definitely making themselves known - but already feeling better today.

This week's goal is at least one run in New York City while we're on holidays and then another LSD at my in-laws' next weekend.

And now we're off to NYC!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Half Marathon Training: Week Two

I'm pleased to say this week went much better than last week, although only because I got off my butt this weekend!

My training plan called for three 5km runs and one 8km run.  More craziness at work prevented me from getting out during the week but I managed to fit in three runs.

Monday: 6.5 km - my long run from last week.  I was so happy to do more than 5 km!  I was a little achy for a few days afterwards, so I decided not to jump to 8 km this week.

Saturday: 5 km - a steady run at around my race pace.  It felt awesome to get out there after a long week of working and not looking after myself.

Sunday: 7 km - long run at about an 8:00 minute/kilometre pace.  This run felt good other than really needing a bathroom break around the half way point.  I was passing the mall so I ducked in and took a much needed break.  The brief break from running also helped me pick my pace back up after slowing down around that point.

Total mileage (kilometre-age?): 18.5 kilometres

This coming week I plan to do four runs - three here before we head out for holidays and my long run at my in-laws' place.  I might change this around because I'm not familiar with their neighbourhood so finding a route for a long run might be difficult.  My long run might get bumped to before we leave for holidays.  I'm hoping for my total distance to be at least 24 km.

In other news, my purple skirt from Team Sparkle arrived and I am SO excited.  It's even more awesome than I imagined.  I can't wait to wear it for my half marathon!  I might have worn it around the house that night.

I am considering getting a pair of these arm sleeves from Running Skirts.  I like the idea of the cuffin and will probably need the warmth at the start of the half marathon.  The pink also goes with my costume.  Any one have experience with Running Skirts arm sleeves?

I realized today as well that I already have the perfect pink sparkly headband from Sparkly Soul!

Curious about my costume?  It's going to look a little something like this.  (Too bad I'm not a barefoot runner!)  :-)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Half Marathon Training: Week One

Things did not go as planned.  Do they ever?  Are we really surprised at all?  From my runs to the pretty graphic I had made for these training posts and can't seem to find now, things are not good for Week 1.

This week I had FOUR runs on the agenda - three 5 km runs and one "long" run of 6.5 km.

After all plans to run on Tuesday were thrown out the window by work commitments, I made it out for my planned run on Thursday evening.  It was cold and dark but I bundled up and strapped on the headlamp and got out there.  As you already know, this run was awesome.  Put one in the win column for this week.

Saturday morning was supposed to be the Santa Shuffle, but I moved my chiropractor appointment to Saturday morning due to the aforementioned work commitments, which messed up being able to go to a run that was scheduled for shortly beforehand on the other side of town.  Also, it was cold.  Yes, I'm a wimp.  I slept in and then we spent the day getting stuff done - more stuff that hadn't happened all week due to work, like relaxing and watching The Muppets (awesome, by the way).  Put one in the winning-at-life column and no points in the running win column.

The weekend turned into a bit of a write off run wise.  I was really pumped to go for my 6.5 km run on Sunday - FINALLY something longer than 5 km!  We ran some more errands and then I got dressed to go out even though by that point I had somehow lost my mojo.  Turns out I got underdressed.  Within five minutes I was cold, wet and unhappy.  This did not help.  I also just couldn't get into the run - my pace was off, I was carrying a water bottle which I never do (and won't again - hated it) and things weren't clicking.  I rounded the block and went inside after just under 1km.

Overall - a terrible training week.  Good news is that I got my 6.5 km run in at the start of Week 2, which you will hear about next week!  It's a fresh week and it's going to suck less, because I say so.  It can only get better from here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

On Running and Not Running

On running....

I had an AWESOME run last night.  I did 5km and finished in 34:00 on the nose according to my Garmin.  I wanted to maintain a 6:53 pace and came in under that.  (I read my training schedule wrong and should have run this one slower, but that's okay.)  It runs out that running in the cold makes me fast!  Who knew?

I'm running mostly pain free which is a relief.  I have my first "long" run on my training schedule for this weekend and I'm looking forward to increasing my distances.  Hopefully my chiro won't say no when I tell her my plans!

Last night, I wore my tights, long sleeve shirt, jacket and hat.  It was about 0oC and that's what Runner's World told me to wear for feeling "in between", and it worked.  It suggested gloves too but 1) I don't know where my cheapo gloves went and don't own running gloves yet and 2) my hands actually get stupid sweaty when I'm running.  My fingers were freezing for less than a kilometre and then I was fine.

If your hands sweat like mine, what kind of gloves do you suggest?

I will also need more cold weather gear as last night's get up was just about perfect for the temperature and I know it will get a whole lot colder.  What's your favourite winter go to as a top layer?

Running in the dark and cold, with my breath showing in front of me and my tunes going after another stupid crazy day at work was just what I needed.  It was amazing.

Unfortunately, I got home and my body shut down.  Pounding headache, sweaty chills, spinning and exhausted.  Probably due to the very little amount of food I had all day.  I crawled into bed and napped for a couple of hours.  Win.  I hope it was all because of the food or something to do with yesterday and not something that happens every time I run in the cold!  Any experience with this?

On not running...

Last night we booked our Christmas trip!  I asked The American if we could go to NYC this year instead of buying each other presents and he was game.  Yay!  My in-laws offered us some travel points so our flights were relatively cheap, and we scored an amazing hotel on Hotwire.

I have always wanted to go to NYC at Christmas - to see Rockefeller Centre, the shop windows, FAO Schwartz... There is so much to do!  We will be there for three nights and two full days.  Anything we absolutely must see?  Any tips on where to get tickets to The Book of Mormon that are mostly legal, trustworthy and not stupid expensive?  And who wants to take me on a run around Central Park?

More on Christmas....

I got my ornament from my ornament swap partner.  It's an adorable lime green penguin ornament!  So cute.  I will be posting more about it in a separate post.

I really need to get something for my Bloggy Secret Santa recipient.  I have two ideas and want one more little thing.

I will be sending out my cards soon, including my holiday card exchange cards.  I can't wait to put up the tree, listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, and spread the Christmas love.  So much will be going on at work in the next week so there won't be a lot of time until next weekend, but you better believe I'm going to go Christmas crazy all up in here once next week is over.

Lastly, a Larabar giveaway is coming in the next couple days, I promise!  Stay tuned!