Author Archives: littlebeastling

Beastin’ Out with BOB Team SF: 2017 SF Marathon ‘Stroller-Friendly’ 5K Recap

The high of the SF Marathon 5K is still slowly fading, but the excitement and energy it brought to me are still very palpable. It’s taken me some time to truly gather my thoughts and it sparked a new flame that is stoking an existing fire. To be perfectly honest, the whole thing — from training to racing to what I am feeling in the wake of it — moved me in ways I did not anticipate.

STROLLER RUNNING: IT’S NOT JUST “RUNNING WITHOUT ARMS.”
First things first, before I get into how the race went down: I want to clarify what it means to run pushing a beast of burden. If all you care about is race day, I get it and we can still be friends, just scroll on down!

When it comes to “can’t do without items” on this mother runner’s list, as my recent wordy review might indicate, our BOB takes the cake. While I can’t say exactly, unfortunately, how many miles mini, our Revolution PRO and I have logged, but I CAN say that stroller running different. Whether putting in specific pace and distance training, or just to get home from the park as quickly as possible mid-toddler-meltdown, it’s unlike any running I’ve ever done before. Once I spotted a mother runner’s post online where her partner quipped her run memoir could be called Running Without Arms. While it’s accurate to an extent, I believe running with my arms strapped to my sides would be easier in many respects!

Anyone who says stroller running is just like running clearly has never done it for more than a few strides while mom/dad/auntie/whoever fixed their shoe or retrieved a lost toy. It’s not the same as running. It’s not the same as strength training. It’s both and neither all the same. Stroller running is very much its own entity.

What I posted on Instagram to commemorate my very first postpartum and first BOB run. October 2015 sure feels like a long time ago!

When BOB reached out to me to see if I was interested in participating in the SF Marathon 5K, an event that allows strollers in the back of the final corral, as part of a stroller team there was only one answer in my mind: YES!

However, I had only ever run one stroller race, and it was both small and not crowded. Would I be able to make it?

IMG_0425Thankfully, we had some seriously solid training plans laid out for us by “the Flying Flower,” or as she may currently be known, “That Pregnant Runner,” Olympian Alysia Montaño. Every week for five weeks, she posted daily workouts for us to follow. I would be lying if I said I didn’t modify workouts, or if I didn’t fess up that I had to take more breaks than I planned some days. These workouts were a challenge for runners of every level, but add a 30lb stroller, 5lbs+ of park snacks and water for two, and a 30lb kid plus who or what she demands as her buddy for the day, and even ‘easy’ training days turned into a challenge.

However, the training sure made us STRONG for race day!

Sadly, my training got derailed after the first weeks by a pretty bad infection I didn’t know I was fighting. By the time I started realizing it wasn’t just fatigue, stress or not fueling properly, I started to also realize something was really wrong. I wound up essentially taking myself to urgent care not a moment too soon and spent the next two weeks–including the last weeks of training and race day–on two different antibiotics. It made it really clear to me that I had been so caught up in working full time, trying to keep up with the stressful workload, balance being a mom, a partner, having a household I was trying desperately not to leave 100% to said partner to care for… It’s horrible that having an infection that literally took me down was what it took for me to realize I was purposely burning the candle from every angle and somehow telling myself it was okay, that I could come through the other side unscathed. That “No, I’ll do it” mentality came with a high cost.

Thus, I tried to get back on the wagon in those final two weeks. Two antibiotics twice daily for two weeks isn’t anyone’s idea of a great time but it was far superior to laying on the soothingly cool bathroom floor, praying the horrible feelings would go away on their own. I wasn’t feeling 100%, but at least I felt like my brain was reconnected to my body. The clarity I felt mentally because my body was getting the help fighting that it needed was immense. I knew my training wouldn’t be what I had hoped, but I made the most of what was left, sweating, practicing turns, fartleking, and generally trying to make sure I didn’t make a complete ass of myself on race day.

Easier said that done, always.

THE PRE-RACE MEET-UP
For once, I actually made it to the PRO Compression ambassador meet-up hosted with We Run Social. Not only did I actually make it and see and hug some run friends, mister and mini came too!

Too many awesome people to tag them all! Photo: @PROCompression Instagram feed.

Truly, I was tickled and surprised when he said he would come with us. (See? He’s the one on the left in the “No Meat Athlete” shirt! Mini is clearly the one in the stroller with her ever-present monkey.) We enjoyed a leisurely walk to Fort Mason on a nice sunny, breezy day. Mini had never been to the city, so it was fun for her to see all the different people, “car, loud car!” cars and buses, all the sights and smells along the way.

She totally scored, too. It was my girl Ashley’s birthday weekend. Not only was she getting ready to run the SF Marathon, she lovingly got Kara’s Cupcakes for the meet-up, and she made sure to get something special for me and my family, and for Paula and Dave’s son Asher too! She showed up with amazing Mariposa whoopie pies (which I ate both of and have zero shame about it) and a chocolate-drizzled banana chocolate chip muffin. Mini happily ate the top and made a mess of herself, so I think she’s okay with going to future meet-ups if they all go down like that.

RACE DAY COMETH

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With Paula and Jess after the race. I wish we could run together ALL the time!

Before I knew it, all my alarms were going off and I was loading a still-asleep (thank goodness!) mini into the car Sunday morning. If I said felt great about how the racing portion of race day would go as I drove out to the city, I would be a huge liar. Knowing I was running with seriously strong, badass women who clock sub-8s on the regular while pushing kids and doling out snacks was intimidating, especially since my training was sub-par. Coming down from the new half marathon PR high early in the year to not knowing how I’d fare in a summer, stroller-pushing 5K can do a number on a gal’s confidence. Mentally I made a note to just make the most of it. I got to run with Paula, which has been something I’ve wanted to do for ages. My run friend Jess was coming out with her daughter to run too. And uh, yeah, I got to line up with an Olympian — so really, even if race day was a big fail, there were big wins to count still.

It was unlike any other race day I have ever had. This see-it-to-believe-it video produced by Louis Montaño sums up our pre-race swagger perfectly!

The pre-race photos with the BOB Team went surprisingly smooth, considering half the team was literally comprised of small humans — and they usually have their own agenda. There were no meltdowns during the pictures, plenty of helping hands (thanks to everyone who fetched or rescued monkey every time mini booted her from the stroller!) and a whole lot of coordinated, “Okay, on three we’re going hoods down! Ready?” to make it all happen. The end result felt pretty magical.

But that was just the beginning.

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Surprise papparazzi!

I am quite certain there was a 50/50 split in folks who recognized Alysia as a famous runner, and folks who thought she was one hell of a badass pregnant lady pushing a toddler. As we walked over to the back of the fourth corral at the 5K and waited for everyone else to line up, a magical and strange thing happened: people started lining up to take pictures OF us and with us (mostly Alysia, and I’m fine with that!) We were creating a buzz, we had a clear presence, but damn: we were ready to run.

A few beautiful highlights of an all-stroller parent team:

  • Zero apologies for what we all knew as “normal.” (See monkey fetching, above.)
  • Being mid-conversation with a mama pre-start when she started breastfeeding her son with the same air one might adjust their hat or tie their shoes.
  • Snack-sharing and “line of sight”-ing — i.e. here, watch my kiddo while I disappear from the line of sight momentarily to hit the port-o-potty I don’t want tiny hands inside.
  • No f’s given about middle of the sidewalk but out of the way standing diaper changes post-race (that one was me.)
  • The unsaid agreement that no matter how race day went down, we were there to make a positive statement about what it means to be a stroller runner.

HOW’D THE RACE REALLY GO?
Well, I’m in two camps, and really, that’s a result of being both a seasoned runner and a Title 9K-er (who, for lack of a better term, was “raised” seeing Title 9K’s two dedicated stroller divisions as “normal.”) Thus, part of why it took me so long to finally post this recap is because I had to calm-the-f-down first. (See ‘What didn’t go well’ below.)

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What went well:

  • Mini and I had A BLAST. Well, I definitely did, and she was smiling and laughing, and she napped hard when we got home, so I think we both had a good time.
  • I didn’t DNS, DNF, bonk and pass out on the course, or cause a giant pile-up. Phew!
  • No one got run over (at least, not by me.)
  • Mini didn’t have a breakdown and we didn’t lose anyone important. (Note I said anyone, not anything. Did you notice in the video, she’s clutching monkey? Monkey is important.)
  • We basically made history. Stroller team = no one will NOT notice you lining up.
  • We were not just a sideshow, a novelty, a team for the sake of show. The BOB Team SF runners who managed to get out of the pack before it absorbed them clocked easy sub-30 5Ks, a respectable time for anyone NOT pushing a stroller, and a very respectable stroller 5K time. (Both of these time statements are my personal opinion.)

What didn’t go well:

  • Lost a bib magnet and there were zero pictures of us. I’m mad because I stuck to the rules and wore my bib as per usual, instead of putting it on the hood of the BOB, which meant the number was blocked by the stroller, and thus there’s no photo evidence within the SF Marathon photo offerings by bib that I can claim as my own. During the race I also managed to lose one of my skull and crossbones Race Dots. I combed the whole stroller hoping it just got stuck to the frame, but no, I went home with four backs and three fronts. Thankfully they’re awesome, so I’m going to email them to replace it. (This isn’t an ad. I just love my Race Dots.) Both of these things though were the least of my concerns.
  • My pacing. That’s no one’s problem but mine, but the two weeks of dying of infection seriously showed up in the first mile. I went out too hard trying to not get caught in the pack, and as a result, struggled to stay out of the pack for most of the race. Thus, really, the only injury coming out of this race was my bruised ego.
  • Course movement. I have run tiny races and big races, but I have never, ever run a road race before where basically the entirety is restricted to a single car lane of traffic. All four corrals of 5K participants were so stuck together that some of us had our watches time out as we finally crossed over the first timing mats. It’s like our GPS knew we weren’t running yet and decided to just tap out.
  • Race etiquette. This is my one big gripe. I knew I was going to have to weave. I knew people would poo-poo strollers being out there at all, and I was ready to endure comments, snarky remarks, etc. from others on the course. My biggest mistake was assuming that everyone approaches race day with the same mindset that I do. It was apparently incredibly foolish of me to think that participants who had music on would have it at a level where they could hear others, to think that yelling very loudly “Coming up on your left! Stroller coming! On your left, on your left!” would elicit a desired reaction, or that people who wanted to walk would stay to the right to let faster participants pass on the left.
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PRO Compression “birthday sock” game strong.

See, the thing is, I do get it. I am more often than not not behind a stroller handlebar when I toe the line. However, I am aware when I’m running. I pay attention to the rushing runners I can hear coming up behind me. That heavy breathing coming up on my right tells me someone might try to pass me on the wrong side. When I see a wheelchair athlete, a fast parent with a stroller, a blind runner with a guide, I give them them respect and space needed so they can run their race while I am running mine. What I did not expect, however, was what felt like hatred.

On one hand, I love that a man was overheard telling his run buddy, “I’ll be damned if one of those stroller chicks passes me.” One of the BOB Team SF gals who races for Fleet Feet Sacramento made sure to smile and wave at him as she passed — a polite but well-aimed way to say “I heard you, and just so you know, you’re damned today but we’re still cool.” One can hope that it helped him check his ego a bit to acknowledge yes, those “stroller chicks” can be strong and fast, even stronger and faster than him with the stroller. On the other hand, I did not expect a woman to seemingly take the time out of her race to be sure she put me in my place, so to speak.

Coming into the final half mile or so, I could see the arch. The far left side of the course included a bike lane that would normally flow the other direction — and if you’ve been on the Embarcadero in SF, you know that means a beautifully smooth, clearly painted green path. To me, when running the left lane is the fast lane, the right lane is the walking lane, and any “lanes” in-between on the race course should adjust accordingly. As I came up running, nice and smooth with the BOB Lunar on the painted green path, I called out, quite a ways back. “Coming up behind you! On your left! Passing on your left! I’ve got wheels!” She kept walking at the same speed with her partner, her plastic bag full of race swag on her back, giving no indication she had heard me at all. I nearly had to come to a complete halt to maneuver around her (up the curb, mind you,) as she raised her finger, issued a few other choice mumbled words and told me to “fucking go around.”

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Trying to find my happy pace and find an opening, all while not ramming anyone.

The respectable runner and ferocious mama bear in me nearly snapped. For a brief moment, I almost stopped the BOB gangland style across the front of her path to give her what for. How dare she say that to any runner. How dare she think she was somehow entitled to the course but I was not. How dare she not respect the fact that I was trying to do the right thing. Immediately, I was livid. It was bad enough that I’d had to fight to even run at all when the gun went off. Now she was blocking my nice, smooth, finally-found-a-damn-rhythm path to the finish line!

Thankfully, my neon BOB singlet quickly reminded met that I was representing for a greater good, and that this one person and her disdain for my desire to pass her while pushing my child was not worth the drama. Finger lady, I wasn’t trying to one-up you, make you feel bad, make you feel like somehow you should yield to me for reasons of superiority: I was simply trying to get by you without running into you.

And for the record? I know people heard me on the course. I know some of those runners could hear me through headphones. If the BOB Team says they could hear me everywhere, then I know that years and years of being an all-too vocal midfield and defensive soccer player with a strong diaphragm was serving me well out there.

THE FINAL VERDICT

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We do it for the bling! And free bananas.

The learnings I took away were big, and I’m still mulling them over. For a second stroller race, it was a big departure from the first, and it served me well to focus on having a good time and being a part of an incredible flagship team experience. It really lit a fire under my butt in many ways (that I will later reveal, but we’re still percolating over here.) While I was stoked to do something fun, with people who are fun and generally amazing overall, I didn’t expect that it would motivate me to create something more, to make something for others, to find a means to continue running without arms.

Truly, I am very grateful for all BOB gave us — not just use of a BOB Revolution Flex Lunar to keep, not just singlets and swag, not just a free race entry and a chance to rub elbows with an elite. By putting this team together, BOB perhaps unknowingly gave power to those who push by giving us the respect we fight for. The presence of this team on course was strong and while quiet, it was undeniably compelling. Runners of every ilk took notice. Runners who I knew might otherwise give a side eye or snide remarks instead gave light chin dips and head nods. There is something about showing up as a kitted team that immediately tells others that it is time to go to work.

When we toed the line we meant business — and I am damn proud at how hard the team brought it.

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This was but our second stroller race, but it’s not the last for mini and me. I’m already looking for the next event, but admit I am also already counting down our limited time left for stroller running. The day will come when she wants to get out instead and run next to me, and while it’ll be the end of an era, it will be the beginning of a new one. Till then, I will make an effort to be sure we are sharing something we both enjoy with our trusty three-wheeler. Whether I’m pushing the empty BOB next to her or chasing her down to scoop her back into it, mini’s yelled narration of “RUNNING!” will never, ever get old.

May I carry that same pure joy with me the next time we toe the line.

TEAMMATE RECAPS
From ErinThe 2017 San Francisco Marathon (#TSFM2017) Race Report

From Paula, BAMR of @fitfam6:

The crew x #bobteamsf. We all rocked this 5k this morning. From starting dead last behind all runners and walkers to weaving our way to the finish with our final mile+ at 7:xx min paces. These ladies are all 💪🏽 stroller runners. Story: a woman came up to us afterwards, asked for a picture. Confessed she was pissed when the strollers passed her, but I remarked “it inspired you to move right?” She said, “sure did!” Don’t be mad a stroller passes you, just know some badass runner(s) worked their ass off to move with speed and let it inspire YOU!

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The 2017 Lunar Landing: BOB Revolution Flex Lunar Review

MY BOB HISTORY
After I found out I was growing a small human, the very first thing I put on our baby registry was a run stroller — what I was most familiar with, what I saw most often on the road, what I still consider the “original gangster,” standard setter of all run strollers: a BOB stroller.

As my husband and I definitely have a height difference of a few inches, and as where we live is anything but flat (make your own “uphill both ways” joke here,) I opted for a 2015 BOB Revolution PRO. The PRO is essentially BOB’s base Revolution model with an added adjustable handlebar (like the Revolution Flex) and an added handbrake.

What can I say? My coworkers came through big time on this one. It’s an unwritten rule of sorts at work that runners receive a run stroller as their shower gift. Britax I knew was going to be my jam based on reviews, so we had a B-Safe 35 car seat already. Honestly, if I could do it all over again, I’d skip buying the used B-Agile (which has since found a new home with my sister and niece) and just get the adaptor for the car seat for the BOB; I love it that much!

ENTER #BOBTEAMSF
We’ve tackled a lot together, me and the BOB with mini riding along. Glorious first postpartum miles. Training for races where the outcome was uncertain. “Run commutes” to pick up mini after school. Ever reliable, I can always count on my BOB. However, I added a lot of reflective, as well as lights and a Road ID to it because I know that not everyone is alert. No runner can count on drivers seeing them, or even fellow sidewalk goers! If you know me, I never say no to more reflective and am sometimes the butt of jokes about shiny things. I wanted our BOB to scream “Hey! Can’t miss us! You’re going to remember us for sure!”

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Recently, I was given the opportunity to be a part of BOB Team SF, an organized group of stroller runners who virtually trained together for the San Francisco Marathon 5K, which allows strollers in the back of the first corral. The training was lead by “that pregnant runner,” the Flying Flower herself Olympian Alysia Montaño. As if this couldn’t get any better, it did: BOB generously gave each of us one of their brand new Revolution Flex Lunar strollers to train and race with!

THE LUNAR HAS LANDED.
I wanted to be thorough in my review and give some stroller runners some insight as to why the Revolution Flex Lunar very well be my new go-to over our Pro. Thus, I didn’t want to post a review until after we had done all our training and raced with it.

The new Lunar edition takes their adjustable handlebar and swivel-wheel clad Revolution Flex and gives it a 360 reflective overhaul. Hit it with flash and it looks like this:

At first glance, she’s GORGEOUS. If a run stroller can be sexy, she’s it, and after a cat mishap (ahem) forced me to remove the lowboy basket for cleaning I saw she can also very well be one hell of a toddler hot rod (see below.) However, the 360 reflective canopy and basket are the most obvious differences. There’s more to it.

Here’s how it throws down versus a 2016 Revolution PRO.

Model Weight Capacity Handlebar Height Overall Width Full Dimensions and Specs
Flex Lunar 28.5lb; 12.9kg 75lb; 34kg 34.5 – 48 in; 87.6 – 122 cm 25.4 in; 64.5 cm link
Revolution PRO 30.5lb; 13.8kg 75lb; 34kg 34.5 – 48 in; 87.6 – 122 cm 25.4 in; 64.5 cm link

As you can see, the main difference on paper is the weight. However, there’s more than meets the eye for me! Versus the 2015 Pro, here are some differences that make me lean towards the Flex Lunar:

  • Larger, more accessible lowboy basket. That “15% more storage space” is really felt when I’m picking little up on a Friday with park snacks and still need room for her lunchbox, jacket and more.
  • Singlehanded recline adjustment. When little was teeny, I’d have to stop, rest the recline against my leg and ever so slowly and carefully let out the straps as I never developed a smooth release technique. As demonstrated by my BOB Team SF here, it’s now very fast and easy. Parents and caregivers on the run know those precious seconds count!
  • The interior pockets seem like they’re larger, so they better accommodate a wee HydroFlask, Camelbak etc. and a packet of almond butter each.
  • It simply handles lighter. I can’t quite explain this perception, but I swear I noticed it even before I went hotrod status. I thought I’d miss the handbrake on all the downhills but I feel I have better overall control, can turn sharper with three wheels down and locked and can maneuver easily. Navigating race day I did not feel like I was driving a land boat.

One added perk of having two strollers in rotation is that one is always handy, and it’s given me the opportunity to let BOBcurious friends and family take one for a solid test drive (steer? push?) before committing. The end result thus far? One friend who upgraded to a BOB Flex Lunar, one coworker who bought a dualie for his twin girls and I’ll be seeing my sister soon to see what her verdict is. She’s been happy with the handling on the hand-me-down B-Agile, so I’m pretty sure the BOB is going to blow her mind!

Both the Pro and the Flex Lunar have a wrist strap so they can’t ‘run away’ without you, an adjustable handlebar and a foot brake (see again ‘run away.’) To be frank I actually use the handbrake walking downhill more than I have ever used it while running. Additionally, both can be carseat-convertible friendly with an added adaptor bar, so it starts coming down to preferences and needs.

If you’re in the market for a do-it-all stroller, one that can handle the 6am to-school commute in low light just as well as it handles all day at Disneyland, the Flex Lunar is a fantastic option. It will absolutely be my race day choice moving forward for any stroller races, and a natural go-to for early and late runs. Our good ol’ Revolution Pro is still near and dear to my heart but what can I say? Mama likes the new whip.

Full disclosure: while BOB generously provided me with a 2017 BOB Revolution Flex Lunar stroller, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Dam Good Gear: Review and Giveaway

C66Fz2lVsAADE5d Hats and I have been friends for some time now. Maybe I like sun coverage. Maybe I like keeping that tomboy swagger with me at all times.

…or maybe I don’t always like brushing my hair. Okay fine, maybe I can’t always find a brush, nor do I necessarily care to. Call it a time saving trick.

Whatever the reason may be at any given moment in time, I can never get enough hats. Baseball style, snapback preferred, foam-front truckers… seriously just GIVE ME ALL THE HATS.

Enter Alpine Dam.

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The Brightest Low: Brilliant Reflective Review

The long standing joke that I get easily distracted by shiny things has been exacerbated by my love of running. What’s shinier than blinking lights? Reflective, of course!

Sadly, not every fitness apparel company believes in 360 degree reflective. As a road runner and a stroller runner, I have zero faith in a tiny reflective logo making me visible to texting drivers. Thankfully, I don’t have to plunk down hundreds for new, reflective specific gear: Brilliant Reflective is making it easy for everyone, everywhere, to be seen.

Of course they’re beautiful, of course they’re fascinating, but come on. Let’s be real: not everyone can plunk down triple digits for a reflective jacket when there’s still-good jackets in the closet. Prints are also very personal, and for some, it can feel a bit much. Thankfully, with Brilliant Reflective, everyone wins. The be-seen crowd can make it their own. The be-safe crowd can be economical and safe all at once.

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Can you see me now?

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Head Up, Wings Out: It’s About More Than Running

Please note, these thoughts and opinions are my own, and are reflective of my personal experience as part of this team. This post is in no way endorsed by Oiselle.

Months ago, I started this post about being a part of the Oiselle Volée team. The draft was originally entitled “Why The Flock Is About More Than Running.” The title may have changed, but this sentiment remains true.

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Taken the day I received my singlet, just in time for my first postpartum race. (Hence, the tiny sparkle skirt.)

Since I first joined, after at least two years of hoping to one day ‘being good enough’ to finally be a part of it, the flock as a whole has grown immensely to hundreds, perhaps thousands of birds and “bro birds.” It has gone through many growing pains, as any growing team will, and now as it comes time for current members to decide whether to keep flying with the flock or to spread their wings, I find myself in a place where I refuse to look down.

I am looking only up, at the sky, and to where we can fly, together.

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Fast Flats and Magic Macs: 2017 Oakland Half Marathon Recap

Days later, I’m still riding the high from Sunday. Was it even real? Did it really happen? Sure, that blood blister you didn’t ask about on my right pinkie toe says yes, that was real, but even with over 40 races under my belt, this is the first time that I have ever walked away from a race and wanted to pinch myself. It’s Thursday now, and it’s still surreal as ever.

It has been a long time coming, but it started with some great coaching, some confidence boosting and my “party dress.”

There’s something to be said about having a uniform. A competitive soccer player growing up, uniforms were something special, something with a sense of pride and a sense of something bigger than oneself. Practice uniforms were only for practice. White uniforms were for home games. Wearing our colors were so we could represent on the road. As a member of the Oiselle Volée team, I see my singlets the same way: they are uniforms, and they only come out on game day.

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From the Inside Out: Beachbody Performance Review

There are a lot of things I’m picky about and how I fuel is one of them. While I am indeed a Beachbody coach, I will fully admit that it took this opportunity through BibRave to actually try them. A vegan, I knew I wouldn’t be into anything with whey. Thankfully, I had a couple of coworkers who were game to try the Recover and Recharge formulas.

Nicquie is a go-getter who never stops. She boxes, runs, surfs, hikes and all with incredible vigor. Her review below of the Recover formula says it all.

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