Archive for the ‘Fueling’ Category

Yesterday I laid out all of my gear in preparation for Sunday.  It’s calming for me to visually see everything…now I just have to be careful not to trip on an item of clothing and injure myself!

Included in this photo is the following:

  • sneakers
  • capris
  • race shirt
  • socks
  • hat and headband (can’t decide which I’ll wear yet)
  • sports bra
  • two water bottles (one for miles 1-13 and one for my family to hand off to me at mile 13) – I know holding a water bottle may be a discomfort for some people, but for me it only provides comfort.  I’ve had some bad experiences when running through water stations at previous races (one time I almost slipped on a cup and another I poured water all over my shoe by accident).  So for me, having a water bottle is necessary.
  • coconut water for the water bottles – This is my electrolyte replacement of choice.  I personally swear by it and have used it on every training run.  You can read about my love for this drink here.
  • 6 vanilla bean Gu packets – this is possibly more than I need, but I have room in each water bottle for three so I’ll be prepared.  I’m not risking having to take a berry-flavored Gu given on the course.  I’ve tried them and have found vanilla bean is the only flavor I can stomach.
  • 1 banana and 1 Clif bar for breakfast
  • I also have a belt there that I’ve used to hold Gu packets for some of my runs, but I doubt I’ll wear it.

I still need:

  • to prepare coffee for the morning
  • band-aids for my toes
  • body glide to prevent chafing
  • Advil for after the race (I’ll also include two in the pocket of the second water bottle in case I feel like I need it after two hours)
  • I need to find a way to write my name on my shirt…apparently I can’t iron on the material :(  (For anyone who doesn’t run – this is simply so spectators can cheer for me…and therefore I can hear my name being yelled throughout the race.)
  • throwaway clothing to wear before the race – It’s going to be freezing when I get out there at 6am tomorrow morning, so I’m going to layer with old clothing.  Like most races, Philly will donate all the leftover clothes to charity :)
  • charge my iPod and Garmin!!!

Okay I think that’s all!  If you’ve run a marathon before and think I’m missing anything, let me know!

Next post:  my game plan for race day.

Less that 24 hours!

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Marathon Prep

With the marathon just two days away, my focus right now is on rest, nutrition, and carbo-loading.  The rest portion I have down:  bed by 9:30 – sleep by 10.  The nutrition and carbo-loading are where my mind races.  I’ve successfully completed two 20 milers and one 22 miler in training with my normal diet, yet I’ve become consumed with reading article after article after article about preparation the week before the race.  They offer advice on everything from specific foods to eat, to how to breath properly to fall asleep.  The truth is, I know what works for me and that’s what I’m sticking to.  Here is my preparation for race day:

  • Drink a lot of water – I do this already so this is no problem
  • Increase carbohydrate intake – I’ve heard and read many people talk about “carbo-loading” before a race.  There are specific ratios offered, but basically it means replace proteins/fats with carbs, without increasing total calories.  There is no need to eat a bowl of pasta for dessert after your normal meal.  Simply replace some of the protein/fat in your meal with carbs in the days leading up to the race. (For example, instead of having yogurt for breakfast, I’m having pumpkin banana oatmeal (recipe below).)

  • Carbs can come in many forms – Fruit, vegetables, whole grains and starches (potatoes) are all carbs.  Eat a well balanced (yet easy to digest!) diet, but do not try anything new!The soup I made the other day is perfect for this and I’ve eaten it everyday this week.
  • Prepare race clothing as soon as possible - I’ve already laid out all of my gear and it’ll probably stay on the floor until it’s on my body :)  I may be a little over-the-top with that, but I’ve done it for every race I’ve run and it calms me.  I’ll review what’s there in my next post.

  • Plan your race day morning – You can never be too obsessive here.  Before the end of the day today, I will have an extremely specific plan (that will probably even include details like “brush teeth.”  Who knows where my mind will be that morning?!)
  • Charge all of your electronics! – Obviously life will go on without music…and the miles will still be miles if my Garmin dies.  But why risk it?  And don’t forget the camera battery!
  • Study the map and plan where you expect to see your fans – I printed out the race day map and have been casually looking at it all week.  I always plan out my routes, so this is nothing new for me.  I also marked where I should expect to see my friends and family (although I know there is always a chance I will miss them, and I need to be prepared for that, as well).

  • And finally – RELAX – Surprisingly, I’ve been very relaxed (and excited!) this entire week, but I’m not entirely sure what the weekend will bring.  Today I’m heading to the expo with some of my fellow Philly bloggers – Lauren who is running the half this weekend and Leslie who ran both Chicago and NYC in the past month!  I’m counting on some words of wisdom from Leslie and preparation talks with Lauren to keep me relaxed :)  I’m hoping Sabrina can join us, as well!

That’s all for now!  Off to run my final 3 miles before 26.2.  I cannot believe the marathon is in two days.

Pumpkin Banana Oatmeal

1/3 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup skim milk
1/3 cup water
1 small banana
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tbsp pumpkin butter (I love Trader Joe’s)
pinch of salt

Combine milk, banana, salt and oatmeal on the stove and stir over medium heat until creamy.  Add the canned pumpkin towards the end.  Pour into a bowl and add the pumpkin butter.  Enjoy!

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I RAN 20 MILES!  If you can, use your imagination and picture me screaming that after an amazing and challenging 3 hours and 10 minutes this past Saturday morning.  In fact, that’s pretty much all I said this weekend whenever someone spoke to me.  Some examples:

Waiter:  “Can I take your order?”
Me:  “Well, I just got back from running 20 miles, so I’ll have three eggs, toast, fruit and coffee.  Oh and an order of challah french toast.  And water.  Lots of water.”

Best friend (who lives on the 3rd story of an awesome walk-up in NYC):  “Hi!  How was your trip in?”
Me:  “I hate stairs!  Who builds these buildings anyway?!  Certainly not someone who runs 20 miles!”

Bouncer:  “Sorry, I can’t let you in without an ID”
Me:  “But sir, I just ran 20 miles this morning and I left my ID in my water bottle!  Did I mention I RAN 20 MILES THIS MORNING?  I. Need. A. DRINK!”  (This worked at bar #1…bar #2 bouncers unfortunately followed the law.)

After a few drinks on Saturday night, I may have even started saying it to strangers without being prompted.  Sorry to my friends and family who had to endure this!  I’m done.  Well…kind of.  For those who are interested, here are my preparation plans before, thoughts during, and celebrations after I RAN 20 MILES…

All week I had big plans of driving into Philly and running the Kelly Drive/Art Museum loop twice.  This route is extremely flat and pretty mindless in that there’s no need to map out directions or figure out mileage…and for 20 miles, the less thought I needed to put into planning the run, the better.  Then it rained.  A lot.  So after reading my friend Leslie’s post about all the crazy flooding along my route, I knew I needed to come up with a new plan.  Unfortunately, the area around my house in South Jersey includes many hills I wasn’t sure my legs could handle for such a long run.  But without another option close by, I was stuck.  I tried to look at the positive side and figured that if I could handle 20 miles of hills, I could handle 26.2 miles on flat roads.  Makes sense, right?  (If you’ve run a marathon and know that these two factors have no relationship, don’t tell me.  Thanks :) )

So the morning of, I woke up at 5:30am and went through my normal routine – shower, coffee, clif bar and banana.  Then I put together a little “fueling station” in my mailbox that I planned to loop back to every 4-6 miles.  In it I placed two water bottles (one to carry and one for refilling), a bottle of coconut water (as my electrolyte replacement), three Clif gels and my hat.  Finally at 7am, I was off!

So what does one think about for 3 hours and 10 minutes?  (Keep in mind I had a pretty amazing run overall so I was in great spirits.  There were a few low points due to hills, but I’d say this was probably my best run to date.  Had I documented my thoughts from my 18 miler last week, there would not be any exclamation marks or smileys.)

  • Mile 1-5:  Wow its cold!  Is it going to be this cold on race day?  It better not rain.  What am I going to wear?  I need to buy a new outfit.  Maybe I’ll go shopping this weekend.  Maybe I should get new sneakers too.  These have too many miles on them already.  For such a low maintenance sport, running is expensive.  But I’m so excited to shop!  (Yes, I pretty much had a conversation with myself for 5 miles about shopping…if you can imagine, the time flew by :) ).
  • Mile 6:  (This is around the time I saw Eric Ripert in Central Park during my 16 miler.)  Why aren’t there any celebrities in South Jersey?  Maybe I’ll pass an Eagles player!  Who am I kidding…I wouldn’t recognize an Eagles player even if he was wearing his jersey.  I hate hills.  I hate hills.  I hate hills. I love running downhill!
  • Mile 7:  Why is this guy stopping his car?  This is so creepy.  Thank gd I’m on a main road.  Is he seriously asking me for directions?  Doesn’t he see that I’m trying to run 20 MILES?!  Only a half marathon left!  Did I really just say “only“?!
  • Miles 8-9:  I love this song!  I love Glee!  I love running!  I love fall weather!
  • Mile 10:  10 miles done already?!  I could go on forever!  20 miles is easy!
  • Mile 11-12:  I spoke too soon.  What is that pain in my hip?  I never felt that before.  My legs hurt.  My arms hurt.  My hair hurts.  Clif gels are gross.  After this marathon I will never eat one again.  I hate hills.  I hate hills.  I hate hills. Need. Water. Now.
  • Mile 13:  Half marathon done and done!  In 2:04!  Wow I’m making good time!  If I continue like this for the race, I’ll finish in 4:08.  (This is around the time I saw Kanye West by Chelsea Piers last weekend on my run.)  Seriously…where are the celebrities in South Jersey?!
  • Miles 14-17 I hate hills.  I hate hills.  I hate hills. I’m moving to Iowa to train for my next marathon.  Next marathon??  Don’t get ahead of yourself.  I hate this song.  I hate all of these songs.  Why can’t a good song come on?!  I can’t believe someone twice my age just passed me.  This is not okay.  SPEED. UP.
  • Mile 18:  Three miles to go!!!  The faster you run, the sooner you’ll be finished!  KEEP MOVING.
  • Mile 19:  19 miles?!  Am I seriously running my 19th mile?!  Legs please keep working.  One foot in front of the other.  Is that a 9:10 pace I see on my Garmin?  Where did that come from?!
  • Mile 20:  No thoughts.  No words.  8:57 pace.

I never want to reset my Garmin.

Here is a great visual of the hills I experienced…

Final Stats:
Total time:  3:10:28
Pace:  9:31

So how does one celebrate after having an amazing 3 hour run?  Well, after I freshened up, it was only 11am and I had a whole day of activities ahead of me.  First up – brunch with Dad.  As noted above, I had eggs, toast, fruit and many many bites of my Dad’s french toast.  It was the perfect post-run meal.

Then I was off to a party hosted by Sabrina for a couple local bloggers, which she was hosting to support Save the Children’s “efforts to ensure kids have access to healthy foods during the holiday season and throughout the year” (more information here).   I’ve met some amazing friends in the Philly blogging community, including Leslie, Lisa, Lauren, Chrissey – who were all in attendance, as well.  Definitely check out their posts for some great photos and details on the party!

Sabrina is an incredible hostess and had every detail covered, especially the treats!  I filled my plate with a sampling of some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten (possibly due to the hunger that was hitting me at that moment…but I’ll never forget it).

From Sabrina’s I headed straight up to NYC for a wonderful dinner (yes, more food) and to celebrate my best friend’s birthday.

One year ago, if you had asked me if I could run 20 miles, I would have said no.  If you asked me at the beginning of marathon training if I’d be able to move after running 20 miles, I would have said no.  But after 8 weeks, 198 miles, 33 hours and numerous Friday nights sacrificed for my long runs, I realized that, in fact, the answer is yes.

(For the record, I did wake up Monday morning – two days after the run – and everything hurt.  Advil was my best friend.  And I am very thankful that it is no longer sandal season.  I’m thinking that my first activity post-marathon may be a pedicure.  Seriously…I may run through the finish line straight to a salon.  To my family and friends – you can meet me there :).)

Now if I can just motivate myself to run 3 today…

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Friday morning I reached a new distance in the place where I first started running…

Sixteen miles in Central Park :)  See over by mile 6?  One avenue west of that is where I lived and practically skipped into the park each morning to run.  These are the streets where I ran my first race – the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge 5k – and where I first ran 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 miles to prepare for my first half marathon – the Philly Distance Run – which happens to have taken place exactly one year ago today (and remains the best 13.1 miles of my life).  It was a time before I owned a Garmin or iPod shuffle and didn’t understand the importance of wicking fabric, body glide, Gu or carbo-loading.  It was basically my freshman year of running.  Freshman year is always the best, right??  Everything is a “first.”  So you can understand why running in Central Park is so meaningful to me.

As for the run itself – let’s just say I truly feel like I’m marathon training now.  I know I said that at 14 miles, but this was different.  Let me explain.  My plan was to run to the park (1 mile) and then do the 6, the 5, then 4 mile loops.  Mentally, I am much better off breaking the run into smaller sections instead of one long route.  However, due to NYC’s tall buildings, my Garmin didn’t pick up until I actually got into the park.  I quickly revised my plan – I’d do the same 6, 5, 4 route and then run the 1 mile back.  Everything was going accordingly until mile 11 when I accidentally took the 4 mile loop instead of the 5 mile.  My well-planned 6, 5, 4 route was quickly deteriorating and I was so mad I left myself with a 5 mile loop to complete last that I just wanted to stop, cry and go home to take a nap (clearly I reverted to my 6-year old self).  Thankfully these thoughts only lasted for about half a mile.  Soon enough I only had 3 miles left to complete in the park, and 1 outside of the park.  You can see from my final 9:10 mile I just wanted to finish!


1 – 9:40
2 – 9:40
3 – 9:11
4 – 9:49
5 – 9:27
6 – 9:18
7 – 9:20
8 – 9:38
9 – 9:08
10 – 9:37
11 – 9:14
12 – 9:17
13 – 9:41
14 – 9:29
15 – 9:22
16 – 9:10

Total Time:  2:31
Average Pace:  9:26

Outside of my mini breakdown, it was an awesome run and I finished feeling very happy.  I ate 2.5 gels, spaced 45 minutes apart, and used two Nuun tablets, which I wrote about last week.  Everyone seems to rave about these, but I’m not quite sold yet.  My stomach was a bit off for the rest of the day, but I’m willing to try them again.  But maybe just one next time…

I still can’t believe I ran 16 miles two days ago and will have 10 more to go on November 21st…and I’m actually excited for it.  I’m pretty sure this makes me slightly crazy.  I hear marathon training can do that to a person.  This is fine with me :)

In market news, I took a fun trip to Headhouse today and made a delicious Eggplant Lasagna with these beauties.  Recap coming soon!

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This past Saturday I participated in my very first relay race - the 20in24 Relay Challenge in Philadelphia.  The race raised money for Back on My Feet, an amazing non-profit that “promotes the self-sufficiency of homeless populations by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength and self-esteem.”

You can read about the race details and my original training plan here.  Yes – so that was my plan…but due to a sore arch, an intense summer class, a two week vacation and then two weeks of catching up on sleep from vacation, my plan went straight out the window.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I quickly realized how truly unprepared I was. In the month leading up to the race, I calculated that I ran less miles than I was doing that day total.  I had never run in 90 degree weather…or completed two long runs in less than 8 hours (the runs on my one 2-a-day training day were about 10 hours apart and much shorter distances).  I had no idea what to eat before since I was starting at 11am (I never run that late in the day).  Or eat inbetween…due to my lack of 2-a-days.  I had never met 3 of the 4 team members.  And I hadn’t looked at the course map (I’ve run the Kelly Drive loop before, but not by myself, and only in the opposite direction).  To say I was unprepared is an understatement.

But somehow, none of that mattered.  Honestly, I loved the race from the moment I arrived. It was definitely the coolest and most relaxed atmosphere and crowd I’ve ever seen at a race.  It reminded me of going to a concert with lawn seats, camping and a summer picnic all at once. All day long music was blasting, food and drinks were being served, and families and friends were gathered together relaxing and cheering on their team.  It was also amazing to be there among the ultra marathoners (aka the Lone Rangers).  The guy who set last year’s record of 146.28 miles was there to win again.  Once it hit me that I’d be running alongside him and others like him, my 16.8 miles suddenly didn’t seem so bad.

The Philly Phanatic greeted us upon arrival in front of Lloyd Hall, which was the location of the starting line, the finish line, food, refreshments, bathrooms and “home” for the night to many of the 3- and 4- loop relay teams.  These teams set up air mattresses and sleeping bags in order to rest between runs since they would most likely be there for the full 24 hours.

Other teams and many of the ultra-marathoners’ families set up tents on the grounds surrounding Lloyd Hall.

My own team consisted of myself, my brother, and three friends of my brother’s who thankfully joined at the last-minute when a few others dropped out.  We also had a team captain who volunteered at the race and cheered us on all day.  Prior to the race, most of us had only met through emails and we had only figured out the race order a few days before.  So again, “unprepared” was pretty much the theme of the day.

At around 10am the first group of relay runners and Lone Rangers took off.  It was HOT. As in 92 degrees and humid.  Our first runner, Claire, was amazing and managed to finish in just a little over an hour.

Around 11am it was my turn.  There was no passing of a baton or special sendoff – just a quick wave and I was on my own!  Literally.  For the first mile there wasn’t another person with a number in sight.  And not looking at the course map?  Not such a great idea.  I had to ask about three people on bikes if I was going in the right direction!

So for the next 7.4 miles, I listened to my music, enjoyed the scenery and chatted with some other runners.  It was unbearably hot, so I made sure to stop at every rest stop to drink Gatorade and pour water on myself.  I also took advantage of the ice-cold towels being handed out and placed them on my neck.  Throughout the loop I walked about 5 times for 30 seconds to a minute.  According to my Garmin, I ran 8.53 miles (I guess I took the scenic route?) in 1:27:11 for an average pace of 10:13.  I was extremely happy with this time.

When I returned, I was greeted by two of my teammates while our third runner, Carolyn, took off.  This would be Greg and Jason (my brother).

Not exactly Lone Rangers yet…but maybe someday?  :)

After my first lap, I went back to my brother’s apartment to shower, change into race outfit #2, and eat some lunch.  I had half a whole wheat bagel (brought to Philly fresh from NYC by my brother’s girlfriend – thanks Marci!), with avocado, tomato and honey mustard.  After eating this, in the hours before my next run, I also had half a Philly pretzel, raisins, coconut water, 1 banana, some almond butter and a date.  Basically carbs + sugars + electrolytes.

I returned to the race and geared up for lap #2.  This lap was both harder and easier at various points.  I went back and forth between feeling amazing and completely sick. Again, the plan was to run slowly, listen to my music and take in the gorgeous views.  While I was cursing the sun for the heat it was creating, it happened to make the views of the Schuylkill River gorgeous.  I might be able to fall in love with running in Philly after all. It will never compare to my beloved Central Park, but it’s definitely growing on me.  I finished the second loop in 1:28:20, just a minute slower than my first loop.  I couldn’t believe that I had just run 17 miles in one day. I was so happy that my body felt fine and there were no injuries that I didn’t care than I had just run the slowest I’ve ever run in my life :) 

Jason, on the other hand, was not so lucky.  He managed to get a blister on the bottom of his foot that had to be looked at by the medical team.  Next to him in the tent was a female Lone Ranger who had finished 3 loops (27+ miles) and was getting her feet wrapped up to continue on.  It was great talking to her and learning what led her to running this race.  Basically, she ran one marathon, loved it, and wanted to see how much further she could push herself.  Pretty crazy.

Around 10:15pm, Jason took off as our final runner in the relay.  He finished in about 1:16, which was amazingly a few minutes faster than his first loop.

Finally at 11:45pm, after 14 hours and 84 miles, we gathered together at bar close by and celebrated with a few drinks.  There was already talk about next year’s race.  We’re thinking 3 loops and a tent…

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At 7am tomorrow morning, I’ll be taking off among a sea (pond?) of 800 people at the ODDyssey Half Marathon in Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park alongside Leslie and possibly a few other Philly bloggers.  Originally, I was planning on setting a time goal of under 2 hours – and my last training run proved to me that I can do it – but I may have to adjust my plans in the morning if this forecast is correct

I’m letting myself be sad about this potential rain…but only tonight.  Whatever the weather is in the morning, I’m going to go out there, rock out and have an amazing time.

In preparation for tomorrow, this past week I ate clean, upped the carbs, and hydrated hydrated hydrated.  I learned from my first two half’s that there’s really no need to carb-load the night before a race; instead I found it’s better for me to just incorporate more carbs into my diet throughout the week prior.  Easy enough, right?  ;)

I’ve actually really been itching to run all week.  I know it’s best to “trust the taper,” but I find the week before a big race so hard.  All I wanted to do was run.  I’m hoping all of my bottled energy is released during the race tomorrow!

So about the race itself…  There are a few ODD things that set it apart from other races I’ve done:

  1. Costumes are not only welcomed, they’re encouraged.
  2. There will be “obstacles” along the course.  These are optional, but should make the run pretty entertaining.
  3. And finally, according to the website, “All finishers will receive an official ODDyssey Half Marathon pint glass.  Finisher’s medals sit in a drawer; use our prize to toast your victory!”

Any race that encourages celebratory drinks is my kind of race :D

I’m staying in Philly tonight so I can be closer to the race in the morning.  I packed everything I’ll need – although that shirt might be switched to black in the am if this weather forecast holds ;)  I have my clothing, hat, socks, shoes, water bottle, garmin, iPod, two Clif gels and body glide…

…and my pre-race fuel of whole wheat bread, almond butter, a banana, and rhubarb jam from the Union Square Farmers’ market (I know, it’s quite fancy for 5am).  Plus two bottles of coconut water – one to drink during the race, and one to have for after if necessary.

And my pre-race dinner?  Pizza from Stephen Starr’s Pizzeria Stella.  That would be the Tartufo on top and Margherita on the bottom.

The Tartufo was incredible.  It is made with black truffles(!), fontina and parmesan cheese and a fresh hard boiled egg broken in front of you.  I had two pieces of the Tartufo and one Margherita.  

Later in the evening I met some friends for frozen yogurt at Scoop de Ville.  Now I’m stuffed, my glycogen levels are maxed out and I’m ready for bed.  Night!!!

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In about two hours, I’ll be up in Central Park running around the 6 mile loop twice to complete my last long run before the half next Saturday.  While the last long run before a race probably won’t help much with endurance, I mentally need it to know I can get to the finish line.  Central Park is super hilly, but my goal is to run negative splits and finish strong.  Hopefully my Garmin will work in the park!  NYC is notorious for bad reception because of the tall buildings.

For pre-run fuel, I’m currently munching on half of a huge bran muffin with peanut butter.  I bought the muffin at the market yesterday along with some other goodies (expect a market recap soon!).  I’m also bringing two Clif gel shots and a water bottle filled with half coconut water and half regular water.

You’ll probably notice over the next few months that coconut water is my drink of choice before, during and after long runs.  Last year when I started training for my first half, I learned a few things through trial and error.  For instance, I learned that running socks make a difference, Body Glide is my hero and those abstract things called electrolytes are real and necessary to function properly.  I never liked the taste of Gatorade (plus, I question why HFCS needs to be in a sports drink) so I had to find another way to replenish electrolytes.  Enter coconut water…100% pure coconut water.  There are a ton of different brands – Vita-Coco, O.N.E., ZICO – which you can find next to the sports drinks in your local grocery store.  As “nature’s sports drink” it boasts 5 essential electrolytes, 60mg sodium, 25mg magnesium and 670mg potassium (15x more than a banana)!  These minerals work together to prevent fatigue, muscle cramping and dehydration.

Honestly though, it doesn’t matter much to me what a product claims if it doesn’t work.  But I promise you – coconut water works.  Whenever I drink it and go for a long run (8+ miles), I don’t get that sluggish “I-just-want-to-lay-on-my-couch-for-the-rest-of-the-day” feeling.  I also find that I don’t get the ravenous hunger that longer runs can cause.  Trust me, I still get hungry…but not in the same way.  For any non-runners out there, I can also vouch for its ability to ease stomach sickness and cure hangovers after one too many glasses of wine ;).

Okay, enough about me and my love for coconut water!  Have you ever tried it and felt the effects?

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