Spartan Race Giveaway

I hope you all are enjoying your long Memorial Day weekend celebrating the things that are important – family, friends and the ultimate sacrifices some have given.

Today, I am giving away a free race entry to any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Reebok Spartan Race in the continental US!


I know there are many Spartans out there (or soon-to-be-Spartans) who I hope will enter. All you have to do is enter here –

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I would love to run a Spartan Race someday, but I don’t think I will be able to this year. Are you training for a race or are you thinking about training for a race?

Now through May 27 use the code MEMORIAL to save up to $40 off any race! 


Thanks to Reebok Spartan Race for providing this giveaway for my readers. Connect with Spartan Race on Facebook and Twitter.

AROO! And Happy Memorial Day,

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Spartan Up! The Book to Help You Get Happy, Successful and Fit

Courage is contagious. Share to inspire your friends!__#spartan #spartancourage.

Many of you have probably heard of the Spartan Race (on this blog, nonetheless) and know it as the world’s premier obstacle adventure race. As the global leader in obstacle racing since 2005, the Spartan Race was designed by eight insane ultra athletes was even voted Best Obstacle Race by Outside Magazine in 2012. It’s unlike any other trail races, mud runs, tough mudder runs, or a warrior dashes in it’s intensity, obstacles and versatility. The goal of the race is simple- to not only get you off your couch, but to deliver the biggest adrenaline rush of your life, whether a participant in the novice Sprint distance or a “Beast” in the World Championship. Now, the owner and driving force behind the Spartan Race, Joe DeSena, has written new book called Spartan Up! which not only serves as an insider’s guide to the race itself, but as a manual for the Spartan way of life to help you get happy, successful and fit.


Who exactly is Joe? An entrepreneur from age 8, Joe has had a passion for life that moves the ball forward against all odds. Born in Queens NY to a yoga teaching, meditation practicing mother and an Italian father that was an uber-entrepreneur, Joe learned simple techniques for forging ahead no matter what the odds were. In Spartan Up!, you can find out how a young kid breaks out, builds multiple businesses, changes lives, and eventually partners with military SpecOps to ultimately create the Spartan Obstacle Race.


While I don’t consider myself a Spartan (mostly because I have never done an obstacle race in my life nor am I professional athlete by any means), Spartan philosophy would argue that I am indeed a Spartan based on some principles that apply to all of us who are on a journey to succeed in health and happiness.

  • Finding the will to succeed: The first half of a race you run with your legs; the second half you run with your heart, right? Spartan up! will help you turn your pain into an outboard motor to drive you forward.
  • Tossing your cookies: Through the Cookie Test, Spartan Up! will teach you to overcome the need for immediate gratification and help you prosper long-term
  • Getting Spartan fit: This isn’t necessarily an all-out-run-until-you-pass-out-guide, but learning to train outside the gym for strength, endurance and flexibility for your entire body (a little burpee never hurt anyone). Spartan Up! will teach you what Survival of the Fittest means for you.
  • Moving mountains: Whether metaphorical mountains or the kind that come with a tough workout, Spartan Up! will show you how what you think of as your limitations can actually be a mere starting point for transformation. And who hasn’t been there, right?

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask Joe a few questions a few questions about Spartan Up! and here is what he had to say-


[WTRB] What makes your book different from all of the other “fitness” books on the market today?

[Joe] It’s not a quick fix, it won’t give you some secret and it shows us that everything we are doing is wrong.

[WTRB] Can anyone read your book? Even someone who doesn’t think they are capable of being a Spartan or adventure racing?

[Joe] Those would be the best readers..people completing the race already will gain a lot of knowledge but they are already on their way…those that have not need the book more than ever.

[WTRB] What is your number one piece of motivational advice to keep someone going when they feel like giving up (in fitness or in life)?

[Joe] You need to change your frame of reference at that moment in time..and remember that quitting lasts forever. The book explains this.

[WTRB] What’s the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome in your fitness life? Your professional life?

[Joe] My parents dying, losing all my money, and failing in business are my top three.

[WTRB] You are definitely a roll model for people looking to get in shape, take their fitness to the next level or pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. How has self-confidence kept you driven to succeed in your fitness and professional goals?

[Joe] Self confidences comes FROM being driven to succeed…we all can gain self confidence and it comes from stepping out of our comfort zone and achieving. It feels so good you seek it out more.

#Confidence #SpartanQuotes

Read more about Spartan Up! including a review by ultramarathoner and best-selling author Dean Karnazes and watch this video. It will get you thinking about the power you have to get motivated and get off the couch.

The book will be released May 13, but you can pre-order now!

In the meantime, I’ll be waiting for the release. I am looking forward to reading Joe’s fitness and entrepreneurial advice and plan to incorporate it into my own life.

What about you?


Spartan Up!

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Thank you to Joe and the team at Spartan Race for this opportunity to discuss the details of Spartan Up!

Commit to Be Fit 5K Race Report: My Second First 5K

Commit to Be Fit Cover.jpg


Commit to Be Fit 5K


June 28, 2013


Downtown Columbus, Ohio

Finish Time and Pace

45 minutes 18 seconds; 14:35 minutes per mile

Why It Matters

This was my first official race since I had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) just over a year ago. It took me 363 days to run again and 13 months to race again. My second first 5K.


I’ve had a lot of firsts when it comes to running – and a lot of firsts I would have never experienced without it in the first place. There as my first 5K, my first half marathon, my mom’s first 5K, my sister’s first half marathon, my first marathon and my first attempt at the Goofy Challenge in Walt Disney World. For all of these first have come many rewards – I gained self-confidence, patience, a new appreciation for myself, health and happiness. I also gained friendships that, while based in running, have pulled me through some of the worst times in the last two years of my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself and others – both positives and negatives.

Through running, I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was and even so, it was not until I was gravely injured by a blood clot in my lung last summer that I realized what true strength was. While I survived against the odds – partially in thanks to running and the shape my cardiovascular system was in – the thing that helped save me was also the think I could no longer do no matter how much I wanted to. I was ready to give up. For all running had given me, it hurt too bad to know things would never be as they were.

It took me 363 days to run again since my blood clot. From a distance, I watched people I used to run with continue on in their training and accomplish their goals. People would ask me from time to time “When are you going to run again?” And then later, tell me, “Get out there and try, go for it, you can do it, you did it before.” For me, it was never about that – it was about recovering from something that nearly claimed my life, damaged an eighth of my lung, and left me on oxygen, completely devastated and unsure if I would ever live a normal life again. There were days when I was convinced I wouldn’t make it one more second, hour, or step and days when it didn’t seem so bad. I started training slowly – very slowly, even for me – and with the support of my family and a core group of friends, I started run-walking.

And today, against what truly were all odds, I ran the Commit to Be Fit 5K – my second first 5K.

Honestly, I was dreading this race. I couldn’t sleep the night before, wasn’t hungry and had to force myself to at least hydrate. I’m training for a Quarter Marathon in August, but that seemed so far away – the 5K was not at all far away and I felt not at all ready. I knew in my mind I could cover the distance, but I was also afraid it would be painfully slow. Once change in the humidity or air quality would cripple my still healing lung and put me at a slow walk at best. I was dreading it – more than any half, more than any marathon.

It seems to me there is always more preparation that goes into a 5K than a larger race. I always find myself rushing around to get ready and get to the start line, only to start running and be done before my body even had time to warm up. The morning of the race was no different. Even though I had done everything right – laid out my clothes the night before, got my bib ready and packed my bag – I was running late and suddenly drew a blank of where to park in a town I have lived in all my life (okay, I struggle with directions, but it’s not like I ever raced here before).

Still I met up with my friends and we made it to the start line with about 10 minutes to spare. The field was small – like really small – and I wasn’t feeling any less nervous at the prospect of standing out in a too small crowd. I tried focusing on the perfect weather – 60’s for temps, no humidity, blue skies and plenty of shade. We were off right at 7:00 a.m. and I was feeling pretty good right out of the gate.

I ran that first mile at a 13:26. About 3 minutes faster than any of my training miles and I know I took it too fast out of the start. I felt myself get caught up in the excitement of the race and really pushed it. With such a small field, it was more than easy to do. We were across the finish line in 5.8 seconds and I was off! By the second mile I was definitely winded and having trouble talking when my running partner, Duane, asked me how I was doing. We slowed down considerably so I could catch my breath and re-group. But damn, it felt good to run that close to a 13 again (until the second mile at least).

Miles 2 and 3 were a 15:15 and 15:08 respectively, which is still quicker than I have been running in training. Duane kept me going (not to mention laughing) when I wanted to give up, which was at mile 2 when I realized I couldn’t breathe. He constantly reminded me to think about the fact that I was out there doing it when I almost didn’t have that chance. No matter how slow we went, I knew we would finish, but I was surprised to finish in under an hour. I told myself I didn’t have any expectations and just doing it was enough – that was a hard goal to set for me, but one I am glad I did. My body felt good, a little tired and my breathing is still horrible. I have a long ways to go to be able to build up the cardiovascular endurance I once I had. I am hoping that comes with time and continued healing.

The magnitude of this race didn’t hit home for me until I ran down the finish chute. When the race director saw me he raised his hand to give me a high five and said over the announcer, “Is that Sara?! Sara, if you don’t mind, I’m going to embarrass you a moment and say a year ago at this time you were on oxygen and now look where you are.” I kicked into [my] full speed to finish and burst into tears the moment I crossed the line – promptly forgetting to stop my Garmin as I had planned.

I was immediately surrounded by my training partners – Duane, Judi and Jay. The people who have truly supported me in my recovery and return to running. It was an amazing feeling and I am truly grateful to be able to not only call them training partners, but friends.

Here we are at the finish line:


And I couldn’t be happier to have earned a medal:

Race Medal Edited.jpg

I know, in terms of healing and especially in running, I still have a ways to go, but I am confident I will get there. There will be setbacks, I’m sure (as with anything), but this race gave me the confidence I need to keep trying. I hope to have many more second firsts in my future, starting with this one.

Until the next mile marker,


Hüma Chia Energy Gels Review

Huma Review Cover.jpg

Ever since reading It Starts With Food and being diagnosed as gluten-intolerant and joining Weight Watchers, I have been trying to take an active role in getting healthy, losing weight and taking care of my body. After losing my mother unexpectedly about two years ago and then almost losing my own life last year, I have developed a heightened sense of awareness of how fragile and provisional life really is. It is absolutely striking to me that one person dies of a pulmonary embolism every six minutes in the United States alone ( That could have been me.

One of the things I have really started to pay attention to is the amount of highly processed, highly sugared, highly unhealthy substances we are putting in our bodies. Nutrition is important – more than I ever imagined – and I believe the foods we eat (or don’t eat) are playing a major role in undermining our health around the globe, contributing to sometimes preventable diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart attack and stroke. The amount of sugar and processed carbohydrates we put in our bodies are contributing to such systemic inflammation that I do believe it is killing us.

Less is more when it comes to food – and maintaining our nutrition while exerting high levels of energy is also important to keep us sustained during our workouts. While I almost exclusively drink Gatorade and eat GU while running longer distances, it has really bothered me that these commercial energy supplements – while they work – are filled with sugar and a bunch of things I can’t pronounce. What is all of that stuff? And it is helping our health? I doubt it.

I am always on the hunt for natural, yet convenient and handy ways to hydrate and fuel on my runs so I was really excited when I was given the chance to try and review Hüma Chia Energy Gel.

Hüma Chia Energy Gels are all natural, gluten free and made in the USA. And guess what? When you read the ingredients list you won’t be unsettled that it takes up the fingers on both of your hands and you will be able to pronounce each and every last ingredient. In the Apples and Cinnamon Gel there is Apple Puree, Evaporated Cane Juice, Filtered Water, Brown Rice Syrup, Ground Chia Seeds, Sea Salt, Citric Acid and Cinnamon. That’s it. Nothing else. N-o-t-h-i-n-g.  I know what each of these things are and in terms of a long run when I need sustainable energy quickly, I am comfortable putting all 100 calories of them in my body.

Huma ingredients on back of package

Hüma (pronounced “Hoo-mah”) is based on the name of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, otherwise known as “The Running People” because they participate in 50-100 mile races, making them the premier ultra-marathoners. They thrive on chia seeds, which have a long history as an endurance fuel. Ancient Aztec tradition held that an ounce of chia seeds could sustain a warrior for 24 hours. Today, chia is considered a super food for the following reasons (


I found the FAQ section of the Hüma website very helpful in answering my questions about Hüma, including why is the package larger than a typical energy gel (Hüma gels have a higher water content than other gels, which makes then easier to swallow and digest, but that also means less calories per ounce, so there is more in the package). I tried the Strawberry (I am not a cinnamon fan, unfortunately) and found the consistency to be very similar to Apple Butter.

Front of huma package verticle

The taste was surprising to me as I could taste strawberry, but it was somewhat bitter, not like the processed packets I am used to. I did not particularly like the flavor, although the coarser texture was refreshing to me because I felt like I was eating something. I ran two miles in the heat on the day I tried Hüma and felt good using them as fuel in the conditions at hand. While I did not like the taste, my husband took the Apples and Cinnamon on a three day canoe trip with him and he liked the flavor. He said they were perfect snacks while canoeing because he didn’t have to stop and unpack his gear or build a fire when he was feeling like he needed energy. He just opened a Hüma gel and kept right on paddling. I think the flavor is all personal, and something I could get used to, because many other athletes reviewed Hüma and also enjoyed the flavor.

Connect with Hüma Chia Energy Gel on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find them on Pinterest (search Hüma Energy Gels) and Instagram!

Overall, it is worth it to me to sacrifice a little bit of flavor for real ingredients, whole fruit taste and all-natural energy, especially in light of how unhealthy I think traditional sports drinks and gels are and I would definitely rather fuel with Hüma Chia Energy Gels than my standard energy gels and sugary sports drinks.

You can order Hüma Chia Energy Gel online or check the store locator for a resale shop near you.

What about you? Have you tried Hüma Chia Energy Gels? Did you like them? Did they help during your run? Do you use a natural gel or sports drink? Why or why not?

Until the next mile marker,

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Please note: I was provided with four samples of Hüma Chia Energy Gels to try and review. I was not compensated for this review, nor was I asked to write a positive one. Thank you to Hüma Chia Energy Gels for your generosity in providing me with this product to review.


Start your training with Runtastic!

runtastic post cover photo

One of the questions I get (and see) on a regular basis is, “How can I keep track of my runs if I don’t have a Garmin?” When I started running, I wondered the same thing. I relied on those I ran with to let me know the distance and pace or mapped out my route before I left my house and kept track of how long I was gone to get an idea of overall time and pace. I saved up after a second summer job to buy my Garmin so I understand they are expensive and not something everyone wants to go out (or can go out) and buy from the beginning. If you were debating on quality shoes or a sports bra, I would say “spend the money now,” but I don’t think you need a Garmin to start running. You can start your training with Runtastic.

It is exciting and inspirational for new runners to keep track of their workouts, especially as they start to make progress. So, what if you are looking for an inexpensive and versatile tool to keep track of your workouts? With Smartphones nowadays, which most of us happen to have, you can now download a phone app – often at no cost – to test out and start keeping track of all of your runs!

I recently downloaded the free Runtastic app and am grateful to have received the Pro upgrade at no cost for the purposes of this review. Please keep in mind, you can download the FREE version in the iTunes/app store and still receive most of the same great features to meet your training needs.

What I like most about the Runtastic app is that it is very simple and hassle-free to use and still captures a wide variety of data – even with the free version.

Start Screen edited

You can keep track of a lot of data with Runtastic inclusing route, distance, pace, speed, time, elevation, intensity, calories burned and you can even add in a heart rate monitor. One of the things I like about this app is it is very versatile in keeping track of as much or as little detail as you want. The app also has a voice component that can recap each mile (or distance of your choice) to you. You can also play music through the app from your iTunes/MP3 playlist. I especially like that you can set a powersong to play at the touch of a button if you need a little extra kick in your workout. Find out about more of the features and if Runtastic is available for your smartphone HERE.

Distance and Pace

Runtastic also keeps a log of your workouts and activity and you can upload it to the website directly from your phone or use the app as your primary source of information. I like that the website has a community component to it where you can check in with friends and post your progress to receive feedback, which is great for beginners and veterans alike. With each workout, you can add your own notes and select the weather conditions as well, which provides for a very detailed training log. I believe it is very valuable for new and experienced runners to keep a training log to reflect on your run and note the things that went well and the things that didn’t.

One workout summary

So, if you are a runner/walker who is looking for a way to track your training, but you are not ready to purchase what can be a pricy GPS device, look into Runtastic! You can download the app for free and try it.

What about you? Have you used Runtastic? What is your favorite way to log your miles? Do you use a GPS watch or an app to keep track of your workouts?

Until the next mile marker,

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