I'm back!

Since the last time I posted here was in July, I thought it was time for a new header and some updates. This wasn't an intentional blogging hiatus, but so much life has happened since then and I've just been focused on other things.

Up first, I've made progress on several of my goals! 

Successfully train for and run a marathon - DONE 5/1/2016

Raise $1000 for CCFA - DONE 5/1/2016

Run a sub-30 5k - DONE! I ran the Steelers 5k in 29:34 thanks to Coach Jeff's help and then ran the inaugural Flyby 5k in 29:30!

Run a sub-60 10k - still chasing this goal, but I did get a new 10k PR at the Great Race this year (1:01:29 so close!)

Run/walk 1500 miles - 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) + 94.08 (Apr) + 67.02 (May) + 53.28 (Jun) + 53.1 (Jul) + 8.51 (Aug - YIKES! But this is only what I actually tracked, so it's not


 bad) + 58.16 (Sep) = 574.25. 

Clean out my boxes in the basement - DONE! We moved in August (which contributed to the low mileage displayed above), but since then I've taken several very full carloads of stuff to Goodwill! 

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use - DONE! In fact, that desk is in the garage ready to be donated/sold. 

Read 52 books: I've read 36 so far this year! 

Use more vacation days: I'm going to Mexico in less than a month, so I'll be using at least a week then! 

Blog more: HAHA oops.

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can 


 blog about the experience and design and order photo books: HAHA maybe before the 2 year anniversary of the trip? The photos are mostly sorted - I just need to actually put the books together.

Denali National Park


As I mentioned above, we moved in August and I also had a huge work event, both of which went very well, but I'm glad to be done with. Moving to a smaller house has allowed us to go through and get rid of a lot of crap we don't need, and the result is a lot less clutter! 

As I also mentioned above, I'm going to Mexico next month! My college roommate Elyssa is getting married at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya. I've never been to Mexico so I'm looking forward to some pool time, margaritas, and as much chips and guac as I want!

Time to plug a great cause and a super fun event! I'm on the planning committee for Opening Night! A movie premiere event benefiting the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America - Western PA/WV chapter. This year we are premiering

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

 and will also be showing

Dr. Strange

 in a second theatre! Tickets are on sale now and we have some awesome things planned! For more information and to purchase tickets, click the picture! 

When I go to Mexico, I'll also be stopping in Miami for a day on the way home. Comment below with your suggestions for things to do and places to eat! 

Training Update, and a Belt Review!

Training for my second marathon has been even more all over the place than training for my first. Between a busy summer and some nagging achilles tendinitis, there hasn't been as much running lately as I'd like. 

But, some of the running has been fun and productive! 

My first race after running the Pittsburgh Marathon was the Brentwood 5k - it's become an annual tradition to run with friends and then stick around for beer and prizes. They did the prizes a little differently this year and it was sort of lame, but the beer and company were still awesome!

Brentwood Firecracker 5k!

I ran the 2nd annual Hot-To-Trot 5k as part of Zelienople's Horse Trading Days last weekend. They adjusted the course this year and I really liked the changes (though there's a pretty tough hill in the middle!). Following the race, we got to ride in a hot air balloon! It was tethered, and "only" went 40 feet up, which makes me pretty confident that an un-tethered ride would be terrifying. 

A photo posted by Lauren Hopkins (@pghlauren) on Jul 18, 2016 at 12:57pm PDT

As a Level Up Virtual Runs Ambassador, they asked if I wanted to try out one of their new LED light-up running belts! I've tried several different belts/armbands, so I was anxious to see how this one measured up to the

SLS3 belt

I've been using for shorter runs (I use my hydration vest for longer runs). 

The pocket easily holds an iPhone 6 in an Otterbox,

with plenty of room left for car keys, cash, gels, etc.

The fit of the belt is similar to the SLS3 belt, but the elastic seems slightly less stretchy (this may change over time). The pocket is much deeper, which makes it much easier to get my phone in and out without having to manipulate the pockets. I kind of wish there was a separate pocket I could keep my car key in so it doesn't fall out if I take my phone out mid-run, but this really hasn't been an issue. Even when the zipper is open, stuff doesn't really move around or fall out. 

Easy on/off and adjusts for a perfect fit!

The LED lights are pretty cool! This would be an excellent addition to any night-time runner's reflective gear. The battery casing doesn't take up much room at all in the belt, and the lights have different patterns (or steady on, if you prefer). 

Great fit and it stays in place!

Want to try out the belt for yourself? Level Up Runs is offering my readers a chance to purchase it for 50% off - what a steal! You can purchase your own LED belt


. Use code RCE5FGY8 to get it for HALF OFF! 

You can also join Level Up Virtual Runs and I for the

Dog Days Virtual Race

next month! Use code SAVE10 to save 10% off your race registration - register



Comment below if you have any questions about the belt, the race, or about becoming a Level Up Ambassador! 

Dog Days Virtual Race!

Hey all! I'm excited to share I've teamed up with

Level Up Virtual Runs

for another Virtual race, the Dog Days 5k/10k/Half! Participants receive the awesome finisher's medal featured below as well as a $25 gift certificate for


AND, for every entry, Level Up is donating a toy, blanket, or dog bowl to the Second Chance Dog Rescue in San Diego, CA. Learn more about the work of

Second Chance


If you love dogs and running as much as I do, what are you waiting for?



Ziva loves the Dog Days of Summer! 

June Goals Update and a Weekend Update!

June Goals Update:

Successfully train for and run a marathon:


Raise $1000 for CCFA:

 $2100+ raised.

Run a sub-30 5k: 

Coming this summer?

Run a sub-60 10k: 

Coming this fall?

Run/walk 1500 miles:

 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 (Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) + 94.08 (Apr)  + 67.02 (May) + 53.28 (Jun) = 454.48! It's not likely I'll make 1500 miles (since I'm only counting logged running/walking workouts and not ALL my steps).

Clean out my boxes in the basement:

 Done, I guess? They're all in storage at the moment. We're moving in August so maybe I'll get a chance to sort through some of that crap then. 

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use:


Read 52 books:

 30 books read to date. 

Use more vacation days:

Big fail on that so far this year, but I've got a trip to Mexico in the fall and hoping for a few long weekends here and there as well. 

Blog more:


Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can 


 blog about the experience and design and order photo books:

Sorted, but no photobooks yet. 

I had a pretty solid July 4th weekend: I enjoyed craft beers with penguins at the Aviary on Friday, had yinzeritas on Saturday, went to a Daniel Tiger birthday party for two special girls on Sunday, and ran a new course PR at the Brentwood 5K on Monday! How was your holiday weekend?


Happy the Penguin tried to steal some ShuBrew!

New Course PR at Brentwood!

Finally, a plug for a super awesome event that is coming up on FRIDAY! Hope you see everyone at Cosmo - use code HOTNIGHT for discount tickets! Details can be found at



For The Community of Runners

My latest post is up over at the Smart Panel Blog, and I'm really proud of how it turned out. I was asked to choose a photo related to my hobbies and write about it, and of course it turned into a post about running. Check it out here and let me know what you think! 

You're probably going to see this picture posted forever and ever. 

May Goals Update

I crossed off some HUGE goals in May! Here's an update: 

Successfully train for and run a marathon: DONE. I still can't believe I did it! In fact, I've already registered for my 2nd marathon (Erie, in September) - when I announced this on social media, I learned just how many people do not read hashtags. 

Raise $1000 for CCFA: $2100 raised.

Run a sub-30 5k: Coming this summer?

Run a sub-60 10k: Coming this fall?

Run/walk 1500 miles: 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 (Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) + 94.08 (Apr)  + 67.02 (May) = 401.2! I'm not sure I'll make this goal of 1500 miles, but I'll definitely go more miles than I've ever gone before! 

Clean out my boxes in the basement: Done, I guess? They're all in storage at the moment. 

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use: Done! 

Read 52 books: 28 books read to date. 

Use more vacation days: I'm using a few this month, including one for a trip to Idlewild with my niece and nephew, but I really could've used a few more days this month. Work had other ideas.

Blog more: Oops.

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can finally blog about the experience and design and order photo books: I'm actually through most of these and will likely finish sorting this week. Maybe I'll be able to get photobooks ordered before the 1-year anniversary of our arrival in AK!

What about you? How are you doing in achieving your goals? Comment below!

#GameOnPGH: That time I ran 26.2 miles and lived to tell the tale - Part Two

Read Part One here. 

May 1 had finally arrived. There were no more training runs, no more carb-loading meals, no more injuries to stretch out. Just a mere 26.2 miles to run.

Best Sister ever!

My sister drove me downtown that morning and served as an amazing Race Crew for the day! She walked me down to the Westin where I did my VIP bag check-in and met up with my on-course support team, Chelsea and Jeff. We made our way to the corrals, which were a giant cluster, and the fact that Penn Avenue was still open to vehicle traffic was mind-blowing. 

I'm not going to recap every mile of the race because I can't put it into words. What an incredible experience. Pittsburgh is a special place, and the Pittsburgh Marathon is an amazing race. I could not have asked for a better first marathon experience. Sure, my hip got REAL cranky about 15 miles in, and I came out of it with a black toenail and a huge blister, but that's all trivial compared to the feeling of crossing that finish line, especially knowing that I was able to run a race that reflected my training and that I came in under my goal time! 

I do, however, want to talk about two very special people. Without them, I would not be a marathoner. I might not even be a runner. And my world would be little less bright. They say that you have to be crazy to run a marathon. Well, if that's the case, you have to be a special kind of crazy to run a marathon for the sole purpose of helping another person. Jeff and Chelsea are that special kind of crazy. I literally could not have run this marathon without them. 

The Pittsburgh Marathon Bloggers all received the VIP package for race weekend, which included indoor restrooms, special gear check, and post-race massages, among other things. But if you ask me, I got the real VIP treatment having Chelsea and Jeff there to help encourage me, keep my pace steady, grab drinks and fuel for me, and remind me that the pain was only temporary. Jeff, ever the Run Butler, carried a sign the entire race - one side telling everyone this was my first marathon and the other celebrating Chelsea's back-to-back marathons (Hall of Fame Marathon and Pittsburgh Marathon in consecutive weekends). 

The crowds were amazing. I knew they would be, but they surpassed my expectations. The wonderful people of Homewood lived up to their reputation of being the best neighborhood on the course. We got to run with a greyhound (who graciously slowed down to our mere human pace). Joanna's family cheered us on with a sign and rejuvenated us with freeze pops. For real, why don't more people give out freeze pops? They helped SO much! Perfect strangers told me they believed in me, that I could finish the race, and that they admired what I was out there doing. I saw Katie from CCFA at around mile 22 (I think?) - my hip was hurting pretty badly at that point so it was a nice surprise to see her face and get a hug and some words of encouragement. 

The Best Run Butler in the history of Run Butlers.

Probably planning our next trip to Alaska.

Chelsea and Lindsey had been texting throughout the race, with Chelsea letting her know where we were and how it was going and Lindsey letting her know where we could see her out on the course. As we approached the 26 mile marker, Chelsea told me Lindsey was up ahead and there she was with my dad! Right after we saw them we saw the Run Ohana who screamed their faces off and then we turned the corner onto Boulevard of the Allies and there it was. The finish line. I bolted towards it. Chelsea later asked me where the hell that final sprint came from and I still have no idea. I couldn't feel my feet and hoped I wouldn't trip that close to the finish and I ran out of air with about 100 feet to go but there wasn't anything that could stop me. 

The taste of sweet victory.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to Jeff and Chelsea for helping me achieve this goal. You two are amazing. 

The Marathoners of the family!

The future marathoner. Look out, Kara Goucher! 

Those things were NOT sturdy and I almost fell over multiple times.

<3 <3

This photo from the finish line sums it up the best:

#GameOnPGH: That time I ran 26.2 miles and lived to tell the tale - Part One

Leading up to registration and throughout my training, there were many times where I questioned whether or not I would actually be able to pull this off and run a marathon. Do you know how many miles that is? A LOT (well, 26.2 to be exact). SO MUCH RUNNING. 

Do I even like running that much? I still don't know the answer to that but I know that I love the feeling of crossing that finish line knowing I've accomplished something that half of one percent of the US population has accomplished.

Look, I'm flying!

It wasn't until I completed my 18 mile training run solo (due to scheduling and whatnot during Easter weekend) that I could finally see how people actually do this. The run went really well and I finished it feeling tired and a bit sore, but thinking, "Ok, I could do 20 miles. And then I could survive a 10k after that."

Two weeks later I joined the wonderful women of the 11:30 pace group from Elite Runners and Walkers (or should I say Pro Bike + Run now?). When I first started marathon training, I had intended to join this group for more Saturday runs but my schedule just didn't work out that way.

If you had told me in January that my longest training run - 20 miles - scheduled for April - would be one of the snowiest runs, I would have laughed. But it was. We slugged it out for 20 miles with the snow pelting us in the face and the wind blowing us into one another on the sidewalks. But again, I finished feeling pretty good and thinking, "Ok. I can do this. I can run a marathon. A WHOLE marathon." Special thanks to Joanna for helping me through those 20 miles and for laughing (and complaining and judging at times, haha) with me - I couldn't have done it without you, especially in that craptastic weather. 

About halfway done with the 20-miler! Notice the snowflakes stuck to our clothes.

Runners talk a lot about tapering. After your longest training run, you cut your mileage back in the weeks leading up to the race to allow your body time to heal and recover. Taper talk often comes with discussion of frustration and mood swings and anger. I didn't experience any of this. Yes, I noticed I had so more "free time" because I was running less, but I was so busy with work and life and other things that I didn't actually have any more "free time". There was never a time where I was sitting around doing nothing.  

The Pittsburgh Marathon hosted an event for all of the bloggers at Wigle Whiskey on the Thursday before Marathon weekend. There was great food and drinks, and it was so fun to finally meet our liaison, Ashley, in person! I also got to meet the Race Director, Patrice - she promised that the weather would not ruin race day and she was right! The evening ended with Kristy, Chelsea, and I introducing Kathleen and Mar to tacos and margaritas at my new favorite, Bakersfield

In 2015, The Pittsburgh Marathon introduced The Steel Challenge. You earn an extra medal if you complete both the 5k on Saturday and either the half or the full marathon on Sunday. I completed the 5k and the half last year and knew I would do The Steel Challenge again this year. 

Because I was running a marathon the next day, I knew the 5k would be at a slow and steady pace. This actually turned out to be a lot of fun because I got to run with Chelsea, Kathleen, and Lynne! We had a great time together and I finished feeling good and still ready for the Big Day.

Of course the weather was great on 5k day.

We were actually on a walk break, so I faked running :-P

Final preparations for race day included finally deciding on an outfit and a spaghetti dinner at Chelsea's (ok, and a beer too). 

The weather forecast made it really hard to choose a shirt! 

The Big Day finally arrived. There was nothing left to do but run 26.2 miles. Stay tuned for part two tomorrow!

April Goals Update

Here is April's update on my 2016 goals - I'd say it was a productive month! 

Successfully train for and run a marathon: By Monday, this will hopefully be done. The weather reports indicate Sunday is going to be pretty rainy, but what can ya do? 

Raise $1000 for CCFA: DONE! In fact, I raised over $2000! This is amazing! More coming on my fundraising experience in a post soon.

Run a sub-30 5k

Run a sub-60 10k

Run/walk 1500 miles: 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 (Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) + 90.51 (4/1-29 since I'm writing this in advance) = 330.61 I'm hoping to catch up on some miles in the summer months where I do a lot more walking on non-running days! I'll also have at least 3.1 to add to that total with completion of the Pittsburgh Marathon 5k tomorrow!

Clean out my boxes in the basement: Done, I guess? They're all in storage at the moment. 

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use: Done! 

Read 52 books: 21 books read to date. 

Use more vacation days: I'm using a few days through Marathon Weekend and my birthday celebrations, so that counts?

Blog more: Not sure I actually made progress on this. 

Actually sort through my pictures from Alaska so I can finally blog about the experience and design and order photo books: I actually started this! I made folders and sorted maybe 100 photos, so there's still a long way to go, but it's a start! :-D

What about you? How are you doing in achieving your goals? Comment below!

Six Things Sunday: 4.24.2016

This was supposed to be a a Five Things Friday post, but that just didn't happen. So here's six things for this Sunday night!

1. I attended the Ecolution Fashion Show with Jenn at the Fairmont on Thursday. There were also yummy cocktails and tacos involved in the evening. 

A photo posted by Lauren H (@pghlauren) on

2. Several years ago, I was introduced to a hockey player (at the time he was playing with the Adirondack Phantoms) - he was a star for Team Canada and has played on various teams in North America and Europe since then and has quite a story to tell. Check out Stefan's blog series on The Hockey News, including a special shoutout to his fans, Legein's Legion (a name coined by yours truly!). 

3. Thanks to my sister who advises the programming board at Penn State Behrend, I got to meet Panic! At The Disco before their concert on Friday. They played a great set!

4. We switched email providers at work and thus switched to Outlook. Any tips and tricks for how to sync my Google calendars and contacts would be much appreciated! 

5. ONE WEEK TILL THE MARATHON. Actually, less than a week since hopefully I'll be done by this time next week. EEEEEEEK.

6. Thanks to some amazingly generous donations, I am only $75 away from DOUBLING my initial goal of $1000! I'm also only $130 away from the top CCFA fundraiser! Any little bit you can spare would be SO appreciated

Savvy Shoppers!

Hey all! My next post is live over at the Smart Panel Blog. It's a good one - all about shopping apps and extensions to make your life easier and save you money! You can check out the post here

For some reason, the links I included in my submission weren't included, so I've made a list for you here to easily find the apps I've mentioned in my post:

Ibotta (referral link!)

Walmart's Savings Catcher

Target's Cartwheel

Ebates (referral link!)

Honey (referral link!)

CamelCamelCamel (or Camelizer? They seem to use both)

Also, thanks to the 2+ hours I spent on the phone with our new work email provider's help desk guy (while he set up my Outlook and then we proceeded to watch computer on its slow descent into computer hell), I learned about a new site: Slick Deals. It's a crowdsourced page where you can find the lowest price for basically anything on the internet! 

Thoughts? Tell me about your favorite shopping apps and extensions in the comments! 

5 Things Friday: 4/1/2016

Since I haven't done a 5 Things Friday post in ages, I figured it was time for another one! 

1. Bakersfield finally opened in Pittsburgh, and Chelsea, Jenn, and I had dinner there this week. Run, do not walk, to this place as soon as you can! I had been to the location in Indianapolis and naturally, the Pittsburgh locale did not disappoint! Great food, great drinks, and great prices. Best of all, we found our long-lost favorite bartender there! You can probably find me a lot going forward! 

We split a pitcher of delicious margaritas!

The tacos come a la carte so you can try different kinds - perfect!

2. The Pittsburgh Marathon is exactly one month away. This is not an April Fools joke. Holy crap. There's still time to donate to my fundraiser - help us find a cure! 

3. I've got another post up over at the Smart Panel Blog - check it out and let me know what your thoughts are on the digital world we live in! 

4. REI and Pittsburgh Craft Beers are teaming up on April 18 for Hoppy Trails: Beer and the Outdoors. I'll be there along with a few friends - join us for this free event! 

5. I love listening to Podcasts while I run, and one of them does his own spin on a "5 Things Friday" at the end of each episode. Check out TJ Sullivan's e20 Podcast

What are you loving this week? Comment below (you know, since now I can actually see your comments again - oy) and tell me what you're digging this week! 

February/March Goal Progress

First, congratulations to the winner of yesterday's Flash Giveaway and fellow Nuunbassador, Shannon! You'll have to comment on this post and let me know which distance you are planning to run! :) 

Oops...totally forgot to post a goals update at the end of February. But the good news is that while I neglected to post about it, I did make quite a bit of progress on my goals! 

Successfully train for and run a marathon: I have a brand new half marathon PR (2:30:45, 14 minutes faster than my old half PR!). This was a great confidence booster going into the final weeks of marathon training!

Raise $1000 for CCFA: I reached my initial goal of $1000 in March and am now working towards a stretch goal of $1500!! Thank you to all of my generous donors who helped me achieve this goal so far ahead of schedule! 

Run a sub-30 5k

Run a sub-60 10k

Run/walk 1500 miles: 66.41 (Jan) + 76.35 (Feb) + 97.34 (Mar) = 240.1 miles. I'm a little behind on this, but I'll pick up a lot of miles in April as I finish marathon training, and will pick up more walking miles in the summer as the temperature rises (and the grass needs cut haha!)

Clean out my boxes in the basement: Started on this - got rid of 2 big bags of trash and sent some items to Goodwill. Still more stuff to go!

Clean out the desk in my room that I never use: Success! I emptied an entire drawer of junk (including about 12 phone chargers for old phones) and was able to clear a lot of clutter off the top of the desk. I still need to frame a stack of prints sitting there, but I definitely made some progress.

Read 52 books: I've read 15 books so far, and have two more I will hopefully finish this week, so I'm ahead of schedule! 

Currently reading this book! It's full of great advice about recruitment, hiring processes, and onboarding!

Use more vacation days: I did use a few days off, but they weren't for actual time OFF, so I'm not sure they count.

Blog more: I can't really say I blogged more. But there were posts. 

Sort pictures from Alaska and order photo books: Nope, nothing on this yet haha.

How are you doing with accomplishing your 2016 goals? Comment below! 


Hi everyone! Registration for the Pittsburgh Marathon closes TOMORROW (3/31/2016) but you can still save $10 off any race registration using code HOPKINS2016. 

OR, you can enter below for a chance to win a FREE registration to either the Full or Half Marathon events! This flash giveaway is today (3/30/2016) only so ENTER and share with your friends!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Some fellow Pittsburgh Marathon Bloggers are also hosting giveaways today as well, so check out Chelsea's Blog and Mar's Instagram for more chances to win! 

Level Up Virtual Runs: The Runner Awakens

In February, Brad at Level Up Virtual Runs contacted me asking if I'd be interested in reviewing their February virtual run, The Runner Awakens. Anxious to help out a new company and because, well, the medal looked SWEET, I happily agreed! I also figured this would be a great addition to my training for the Pittsburgh Marathon. 

Brad sent me some mock ups of what the medals would look like to share on social media. With the ongoing popularity of Star Wars and the recent release of another movie, this virtual run had a great theme! 

A photo posted by Lauren H (@pghlauren) on

A photo posted by Lauren H (@pghlauren) on

Something I really appreciated about partnering with Level Up Virtual Runs is that Brad is great about communicating. He's also committed to quality. When there was a production issue that left the medals looking less than perfect, Brad sent them all back and had them corrected, even though it meant a delay in shipment of the medals. He communicated about the delay - I'm sure most people (including me) would rather have quality medals even if there's a slight delay. And the beauty of a virtual race is that it doesn't have to be done on a specific day, so it's not like I was running through an official finish line only to not receive a medal.

A video posted by @levelupvirtualruns on

Overall, partnering with Level Up was a great experience! Their medals are awesome and the commitment to quality is much appreciated. I look forward to participating in their virtual races in the future! 

In the meantime, check out their April race, The Incredible Virtual Run. Registration is $25 and includes this awesome medal AND a $25 gift certificate for SLS3 (remember I reviewed one of their belts?). So really, it's like you're getting the medal for FREE! 

You can follow Level Up Virtual Runs on Facebook and Instagram

Have you ever done a virtual race before? Share in the comments below! 

#GameOnPGH: Fuel!

This month, I'm going to talk about fuel! I'm excited to share with you all about some of my favorite running fuel options, for before, during, and after runs! 

I'm proud and excited to be a brand ambassador for the official on-course fuel of this year's Pittsburgh Marathon, Honey Stinger! 

I have been using Honey Stinger energy chews for over a year now and they are basically the only thing I consume during runs. I've got a sensitive stomach, so many of the race fuel gels upset my stomach. Honey Stinger uses, you guessed it, honey as a natural base which helps my stomach tolerate it easily. I'm going to try their gels soon and am hoping for the same results! My favorite flavor of the energy chews is Pink Lemonade! They also have protein chews that I will be placing an order for soon! 

I eat Honey Stinger waffles before runs, especially if I'm running in the morning. Again due to my sensitive stomach, I don't like to eat too much before a run so the waffles are a perfect little boost of energy. Not to mention they are delicious! My favorite flavor is the cinnamon waffles (which are also gluten free!). I also like vanilla and chocolate. The waffle is actually two thin waffle wafers with honey in the middle. They come individually wrapped so it's easy to take them on the go! I've never topped them with anything, but I think they'd go great with peanut butter, Nutella, bananas/berries, or anything you want! 

Following runs, or anytime I need a filling and healthy snack, I turn to protein! Again, Honey Stinger comes to the rescue with their protein bars! My favorite flavor is the Mocha Cherry Pro - seriously, these are delicious! They contain 10g of protein per bar and 30mg of caffeine for an extra energy boost! It's more like a candy bar than a gritty, pasty protein bar you may have tried. I almost always have at least one of these stashed in my purse - you never know when you might need a snack! 

What are your favorite fueling options? Are you also a Honey Stinger fan? Share your favorite brands, products, and flavors in the comments!

AND, as a special bonus, I have a discount code for you! Use code RaceDSG2016 for 30% off your purchase at Honey Stinger

Stay tuned for another post soon on hydration! 

Product Reviews: Glam VoxBox

Disclaimer: I received free items from Influenster in exchange for a review. All opinions and photos (except the one above, courtesy of Wikipedia) are my own. 

I recently received my first Glam Voxbox from Influenster. It was full of so many awesome goodies - some brands I already know and love as well as some I've wanted to try! 
All of this came in the box!

I've received a few other VoxBoxes from Influenster in the past, but they usually only contained one or two items from one brand, not a whole box full of goodies. I kept wondering how I could qualify for one of these Glam boxes (and just more VoxBoxes in general) and I think I discovered a way. I took about 30 minutes one day to complete several of the Expert Badges on Influenster, and since then, I've been receiving higher frequency of pre-qualification surveys). If you're wondering why you don't get more boxes, try earning some Expert Badges! It's also important to make sure you complete all the required tasks when you DO get a box so they'll keep sending you more boxes to review.

I actually had a 10 day old manicure that was looking pretty gnarly, so I immediately put the Cutex Advanced Revival Nail Polish Remover Pads to use. It worked really well and actually didn't have a super strong smell (there wasn't NO smell - it's still nail polish remover, after all). One pad easily removed all the polish on all ten fingernails and left my nails clean and free of any residue. I'm not sure I'd buy these on a regular basis, since I like being able to dip Q-tips into regular nail polish remover to clean up edges, but these are definitely convenient and effective. These retail for $1.49-3.99 depending on quantity.

So Cutex!

As I mentioned above, I usually like to be able to dip Q-tips in nail polish remover to clean up edges (I'm not great at doing my own nails), so I normally use a cotton round to remove old nail polish. The Q-tips Beauty Rounds are perfect for this! This is a product I use a lot - I use it with my Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant or Mary Kay Botanical Effects Freshen Formula 3.  The Q-tips Beauty Rounds retail for $4.99.

The next morning, I didn't have time to wash my hair but wanted to freshen my hair a little bit, so I tried out the Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo. I've tried a few other dry shampoos and haven't found them to work very well. Maybe my expectations are just too high - it just never seems to absorb any oil. The Not Your Mother's dry shampoo was the same - it didn't really absorb oil, but it did give my hair some renewed volume so I'd call it a win. The Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo retails for $3 (travel size, what I received) and $7 (full-size). 

After trying the dry shampoo and rocking my Alpha Gamma Delta badge for International Badge Day!
I LOVED seeing the Venus disposables in my Glam VoxBox! I've used a few different Venus razors for years know! I do think the moisture ribbon makes a difference and helps to reduce drying out my skin. This is important in the winter when I'm already so susceptible to dry, itchy skin. I normally don't use shave gel (just use shower gel), but after trying the Venus with a touch of Olay Vanilla Cashmere Shave Gel, I'm thinking I should invest in shave gel more often! It really helps you get a closer, smoother shave and definitely leaves my skin feeling more moisturized. Plus it's just fun the way the lather forms :). The Venus Razors retail for $8.49-13.59 and the Venus with a touch of Olay Vanilla Cashmere Shave Gel retails for $2.99-3.99. 

Finally, I tried out the SheaMoisture Cleanse. Treat. Moisturize. sampler trio. This is a brand I'd never tried before, but frequently saw in stores. I love that the products are naturally-based without a lot of artificial additives or harmful chemicals. I also love that they're based with shea, a natural moisturizer that is super effective (and smells yummy). I'm a bit of a skincare junkie, so I've tried a LOT of different products. I've been struggling with some combination skin recently - getting breakouts but also having dry, flaky patches. I tried out the SheaMoisture line yesterday and it truly seems to have reset my skin. Everything is balancing out (this may also be due to the weather this week, but either way, I'll take it). The SheaMoisture products retail for $9.99-$11.99

Makeup-free selfie to show off my SheaMoisture-ized skin!

How about you? Have you ever used any of these products? What do you think? Do you have other brands you'd recommend? Tell me in the comments! 

Exciting Announcement

A few months ago, I joined the Verto Smart Panel, a market research program where you install an app on your phone/tablet/computer that confidentially tracks your app and program usage. Your private data is always protected and encrypted - the app tracks how often you are on your devices, what types of apps you use most often and the average duration of each app's usage, etc. They use this information to help marketers determine best strategies for app development and advertising. Click here to complete a brief survey and see if you also qualify for the Panel! 

In exchange for participating in the Smart Panel, they pay you CASH MONEY! You earn money for each week you remain on the panel, and also earn additional bonus rewards for remaining on the Panel for 3 months, 6 months, a year, etc. You can transfer the funds to your Paypal account (to then transfer to your bank account if you want) or to your Amazon account.

When checking my rewards balance one day, I noticed a link to a call for Brand Advocates. It sounded interesting and fun and I completed the application. A few weeks later, I got an email inviting me for a brief phone interview, after which I was offered the position as a Brand Advocate!

As a Brand Advocate, I will be blogging over at the Verto Smart Blog. I will be writing about a variety of topics related to the Smart Panel, from how it works to earning rewards and more! You can check out my first post here

Do you participate in any market research panels like this? Have questions about the Verto Smart Panel? Comment below or over at the Verto Smart Blog!.