"Disclaimer: I received Luvo entrees to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
From time to time, I do supplement my cooking with frozen meals for those days when you just aren’t inspired to cook or are in a hurry. I recently was given some samples from Luvo. If you aren’t familiar with them, they make frozen meals that are wholesome and nutritious, locally sourced where possible, with less sugar and sodium.
I received the following
Normally, I feel like frozen dinners don’t quite fill me up. I need to have a small salad or something on the side. I have a big appetite, what can I say??
It was my first time trying Luvo – it is priced higher than the mainstream frozen meals like lean cuisine, healthy choice, etc. But you can totally tell that the quality of ingredients is several notches above the average entrees.
My first meal was the Red Wine Braised Beef & Polenta. I had it on a weeknight for dinner and was amazed at how beautifully it came out onto my plate! It not only looked stunning, it was really good! The meat was tender (and I’m fussy), I loved the polenta, and even the Brussel sprouts which are normally disgusting microwaved turned out good. And it felt like enough food. I would buy this.
Nutritional facts – 250 calories, 8 g fat, 17 g protein
Next was the Farmers Market Frittata. I’m a breakfast junkie and I eat a hot meal every morning. I was excited to try this. I was really surprised by the creaminess and savory factor of the ricotta cheese. It really took it up a level. The peppers were a bit much for me, I thought there were too many of them for me. I did not notice the mango flavor at all, but I liked the sweet potatoes. I would buy this again.
Nutritional facts – 250 calories, 10 g fat, 12 g protein
The Chicken Chile Verde entrée came with polenta and black beans, 2 things I really enjoy. I thought that it had similar flavors to the breakfast frittata. The pepper mix under the chicken was just like the other pepper mixture, but it was good.
Nutritional facts – 300 calories, 11g fat, 25 g protein
I had the Steel Cut Oats for breakfast one morning. I am not a fan of sweet oatmeal. I always buy plain and add my own peanut butter and sometimes banana to it. I liked the mixed grains (steel cut oats and quinoa) but did not really care for the steamed fruit. This is not one I would buy for myself.
Nutritional facts – 260 calories, 6 g fat, 6 g protein
The Orange mango chicken had nice sized pieces of chicken for a frozen entrée. The chunks of mango and the orange sauce gave the chicken good flavor. The whole grains, kale and broccoli were a good mix and complimented the overall dish. I would eat this again.
Nutritional facts – 280 calories, 5 g fat, 17 g protein
Luvo uses 100% recycled paperboard with 50% post-consumer waste. The meal comes in a pouch of unbleached paper made from 20% pre-consumer waste. The meal steams in the bag, and then you pour it out onto you plate. They call their pouch “steamazing”. The meals come out beautifully.
Luvo isn’t available everywhere, but where I live, I had my choice of over a dozen local supermarkets that carry it.
I see several other entrees that I'd like to try, the vegetarian ones, so I will keep an eye out for those.I'm not sure if they run sales very often, but it is worth it to give Luvo a try, if you're looking for "easy" and still want "delicious".
I’m someone who, like most people, doesn’t like to be out of my comfort zone too often. That is, until I did my first Ragnar. Participating in a Ragnar relay race is the epitomy of being out of your comfort zone. You’re away from the comforts of home – comfy bed, hot coffee, loved ones, regular meals – and instead are thrust into a 30-ish hour period of time where you’re without all of these things, have to run a lot on little to no sleep, but have a blast anyway!
It was my 3rd Ragnar (2nd time doing Ragnar del Sol) and it didn’t disappoint. For fun, I threw in the extra curve ball of not knowing ANYONE on my team before the race.
My husband dropped me off the night before at someone’s house that I’d never met and said “what if one of them is an axe murderer”?
Luckily for me, no murderers were on my team. All nice normal people who were just in it for the camaraderie and running adventure. We took a 200 mile journey from Wickenburg to Mesa AZ. Our team was the "12 Wandering Runners". I was assigned to van 1 and my crew was the following:
Runner 1 – Alex (captain)
Runner 2 – Sergio
Runner 3 – Thanesh
Runner 4 – Me
Runner 5 – Renee
Runner 6 – Joe
Oddly enough, I was runner 4 last year. It would have been nice to experience a different leg, but knowing what to expect was a bit of a comfort, too. They did make some changes to the individual legs this year, so my leg 2 and leg 3 were different than last year, mostly for the better. And because this was a different team than last year, with different speed/abilities, we got an earlier start time – yay! We had to be in Wickenburg for a 6am start time. That put my first leg around 9:30am. This year it was cloudy in the morning which left a bit of a “chill” in the air. I based my outfits on last years super-hot weather and the overall forecast, but found that it was cooler this time. I spent the majority of my downtime wrapped in my OrangeMud Transition Towel. That thing is a lifesaver.
My first leg was a 6.5 miler, kind of boring route with not much to look at. I passed 10 people (kills) during this leg. I always go out too hard in leg 1 and end up paying for it. It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement and all the cowbell...
We were done with our first legs by 1pm and got to finally go out for a real meal. I was existing on clif bar and banana prior to that. Caffeine hadn’t really entered the picture yet, but would have been fantastic. After lunch, we were fortunate enough that our team captain’s brother lived near the next exchange point. We went to his house and got the opportunity to rest, and chill without being stuck in the van. This was a serious amount of down time. Way too much for me. I was super antsy, not really that tired yet even though we left the house at 330 that morning. I just couldn’t sleep. It was technically a work day (Friday) so my mind was still on work and whether or not people were trying to contact me for various things. It wasn’t until it was after 5pm that I could shut my work brain off. We got a small bite to eat at the house and then hit the road to meet up with van 2 for round 2.
I was happy that round 2 for us was before midnight. My next leg started around 930pm. I didn’t enjoy this section last year, and wasn’t really looking forward to it. It cooled back off again, and I had a 5.3 mile leg with the first 1.75 miles on a trail. I was very nervous about the trail section since I fractured my fibula back in November during Ragnar Trail and even though I was cleared to run last month, he said no trail running for 6 weeks – even terrain only. So due to it being dark and and a gravely trail section, I walked that portion of the leg. It is in no way worth it to me to try to run on that just to save 10 minutes of time. Too risky. This whole leg was different than last year, start to finish. I enjoyed it more after I was off of the trail and got to run it.
Post-run I was treated to a hot coffee and a donut at around 11pm. The coffee was such a nice treat, it was chilly and it would still be another 2 hours before we could go sleep. Our entire team got a hotel room at the half way point. Spoiled! Van 2 got to use it first and then we got it at like 130 am. It’s quite a luxury for Ragnarians. The 6 of us had lights out at 2am with a 4am wakeup call. How relaxing. Not!
It was time to get back at it again for our last legs. Our captain had to start at 530. All 3 of his legs were in the dark, bless his heart. This was going to be my shortest run yet (4.3 miles) so I wasn’t dreading it at all, even though my legs were sore from the day before. We had 90 minutes to kill while one of our runners was out on the course, but were in the middle of nowhere, no IHOP or anywhere we could go feast on breakfast. So once again no caffeine and just a clif bar to get me powered up. The sun was coming up now and it was warming up a little, so that made me happy.
The race organizers definitely tweaked the legs and I was beyond pleased to see that my final leg was different from last year. I basically got to experience what runner 3 got last year . It was mostly flat and there were actually things to look at. We ran through a few neighborhood communities, golf courses, etc. and I was clipping along at a 9:15 pace. Happy, happy, happy. I finished my 16.1 miles of Ragnar fun a major high note, yay!
We waited for our last 2 runners and were getting ready to have a much needed feast and celebration. We headed out for pizza and beer after the exchange and had another 5 hours to kill before van 2 would finish. They really got the short end of the stick. Even though they had on average lower mileage than van 1, they had the super hot full sun in the afternoon on both days and the middle of the night shift. Yuck.
Like I said earlier we were spoiled on this adventure with places to crash, showers, etc. Since I live in the area, I actually got to go home after I finished, take a nap, shower and feel human again before meeting up with van 2 at the finish line. Now that is awesome! We were a little ahead of schedule, we finished around 430 pm and after super quick post race photos, everyone scattered and headed home. It would have been nice to hang out together for at least a short time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, but I was excited to get back home to my family too.
All in all, I enjoyed another successful Ragnar adventure with my new friends. There was no drama, we were all very responsible, organized and respectful during our 32 hour escapade. It’s a shame that you really don’t get to see or get to know anyone in the other van of your team, I think we would have had a good time, too. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t done one and to anyone who like me thought you would never even want to do one. You totally feel like a badass when you’re done! Can’t wait til the next one. Cheers!
"Disclaimer: I received a complimentary race entry for the Sedona Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
When you think of scenic marathons, you might think of ones in California, Hawaii, or maybe even one in one of the national parks. If you are inspired by nature, you should add the Sedona Marathon to your bucket list! If you're not familiar with Sedona, it's located about 2 hours north of the Phoenix area. Sedona is known for it's red rock buttes, mild climate, forests, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona red dirt and spiritual vortexes. It sits at around 4,500 feet elevation.
The race takes place on Super Bowl weekend, and offers a 5k, 10k, half and full marathon. I registered a few months in advance and received plenty of communication leading up to the race including final details with maps, parking and shuttle instructions.
This is definitely deserving of “racecation” status. I talked my husband into coming up for the weekend with our son, it made for a quick but gorgeous getaway! Below was the view from our budget-friendly hotel:
We live 2 hours south in the Phoenix area, so it was a pretty easy drive up on a Friday afternoon. Packet pickup was held at Yavapai College, right off the main road and even that building had a stunning backdrop. Clif bars were right outside giving samples and then they had 2 rooms, one marked “registration", and on the opposite side of the courtyard was “t shirt pickup”. I was a little confused. I was already registered, so I went to the tshirt pickup and was told I had to go to registration for my bib. Oops. It’s a teeny tiny “expo”, really just Sedona marathon merchandise and last minute race supplies. Very small town friendly vibe. There was no real goodie bag, just the bib and tech t-shirt. Below was the view from the expo.
Our hotel was only a few miles down the road, but since my family was joining me on this trip and would need the car to come meet me at the race, I decided to use the free race shuttle. It was about a 5 minute walk from my hotel to the shuttle, easy peasy. The driver even gave us a few local tips along the way.
The full marathon started at 9AM, with each race starting every 10 minutes after that. Mine was at 9:20. That is a true luxury in the racing world, I could have coffee, chill, walk around and take in all that scenery ahead of time. Pre-race there were plenty of snacks from Clif bar to try and other vendors to check out.
I have run marathons all over the country including Maui, Honolulu and even Cozumel, Mexico – and I have to say that the start line and race course for Sedona is one of the prettiest if not the prettiest I have ever seen.
I ran the 10k, it was an out and back course that also followed the half and full. Within the first 5 minutes we started climbing and climbing and I was worried I would have to walk a lot. Finally we got into some rolling hills and I started feeling more confident that I could handle it. The turnaround is at the bottom of a HUGE hill. As we were going down, I was swearing because I was thinking about having to come back up this hill. Ugh. As it turns out, that was the only hard thing on the way back. Once you are up and over that first hill, it was smooth sailing, with smaller rolling hills and more downhill. Thank goodness. You know it’s epic scenery when a runner will stop during the race to take pictures. I saw many people do that, and I took a few while I was still moving. The view ahead was always jaw-dropping.
I caught up with one of my fellow BibRave Pros, Cassie (above) for a quick runfie. There were about 2000 people that run the entire race events.
The medal is part of a series where each year is a piece of a 4 year pie. I was disappointed to see that everyone gets the same exact medal and ribbon, no matter which distance they ran. This is one of my pet peeves and something I hope they will consider changing for future races. Even a customized ribbon would make it more unique and special to the runner.
I had a decent finish time, considering the hills. I finished 8th out of 41 in my age group. I'm less than a month back into running after being off for 6 weeks due to a fractured fibula - so I'm just thrilled to be out running races at all!
My family and I enjoyed visiting Sedona, and will plan on staying longer next time. There is so much to do and see, great hiking trails, great restaurants and more. We took in a few sights with a local hike and seeing a little snow (exciting for Phoenicians). I will probably attempt the half next time, and maybe even the full someday. I heard that 60% of the full is on a (Sedona red) dirt road, which sounds nice to me.
My recommendation - Put the Sedona Marathon on your race bucket list, and make a racecation out of it!!
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!