Mizuno Wave Rider 18 Review

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno. All opinions are my own.

Mizuno Wave Rider 18

Check out my new kicks!!! I figured marathon week was the perfect time to tell you about the shoes I plan to wear for my 26.2 mile journey through the boroughs of NYC on Sunday. You may remember my love of the Mizuno Wave Rider 17? When I first tried those babies, I had just recently made the switch to neutral shoes after coming back from an injury. I’d tried on a bunch of brands and had a pair of shoes I liked enough, but when my new Mizunos came in the mail, it was love at first step! I had a GREAT first run in them! I felt light, fast, and totally at ease.

It’s always nerve wracking to try out a new shoe, but I have to admit as much as I loved my 17s, I love my Mizuno Wave Rider 18 EVEN MORE!!  They come in at a super light 7.8 ounces (for the women; 9.2 ounces for men) with a 12 mm ramp, and they fit like they were made for my foot! They have just the right amount of flexibility. They are known for their double fan wave which helps absorb the shock of, ya know, your foot pounding the ground for 3 hours at a time.

Mizuno Waver Rider 18-2

Finding the right shoe can be SO overwhelming! Am I the only runner who still doesn’t understand shoe specs? Here’s what I do know for sure, the right pair of shoes makes you excited to lace up. They can be the difference between you wanting  to run and feeling like you have to run. I tend to have a lot of aches and pains, especially in the foot/ankle area following a long run, but I have felt so good in this pair of shoes. The best I’ve ever felt, in fact!

They arrived just as I started to go into taper, and I was having reservations about wearing them for the marathon, but they have felt so awesome that I have no doubt that they will be the perfect shoe to take me to the finish line! Added bonus? LOOK HOW PRETTY THEY ARE!!! I love the design and color combo. You can check out all the color options here.

So if you’re a neutral runner and you’re looking for some new kicks, I would highly, highly recommend the Mizuno Wave Rider 18! I converted quite a few friends when I fell in love with the 17s, and (I know, I know, I’ve said it like 7 times because I feel so strongly!!) the 18s are even more incredible!

PS: If anyone else was like me and had trouble with blisters in the Wave Rider 17 (wasn’t a big deal, and was fixed with body glide), I just wanted to mention that the slightly new fit has completely solved that for me, so if anyone else experienced that in the previous model, don’t let that deter you!

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Mizuno Wave Rider 17 Review

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno. All opinions are my own.

You guys, I have the hardest time with shoes. Can we talk about the fact that I own, like, 10 pairs of running shoes, and literally no fancy, dress-up shoes? It’s ridiculous. It seems like practically every other month I convince myself that it’s time for new running shoes, but I can spend hour in DSW and still come out empty handed.

Mizuno Wave Rider 17

Although I buy running shoes all the time, I definitely tend to stick to what I know. I had 7 versions of the same pair of stability shoes until my PT suggested I switch to a neutral shoe, and then…same story. Many versions of the same neutral shoe, but when I received the opportunity to try something new, I jumped at it! My normal shoes definitely don’t have that super-light, speedy feel, so I was excited (and a little nervous) to try something different.

Mizuno Wave Rider 17

The verdict? True love. I took these babies out for a little spin just 3 days after my century. I thought my legs would feel like lead, but the entire run felt GREAT! I’m still struggling with figuring out all my many aches and pains, and getting the perfect combination of tricks together so that my anti-runner body hates running just a little bit less (my mind loves it, my body just is slow to get with the program…). This run truly felt that way–no pain, I felt great, and I ran way faster than I expected–that’s always a plus. ;)

Here’s the stats in technical lingo:

  • U4ic midsole delivers lightweight, resilient cushioning.
  • Dissolving upper fit with new DMF execution and soft, supple mesh materials.
  • SmoothRide Engineering for a brilliant run.
  • Lateral Forefoot Sculpting for smooth touchdown and transition.
  • Blown rubber forefront with deep flex grooves for optimal flexibility and cushioning.

Let me translate:

  • OMG SO LIGHT!!! Wait? Are there shoes on my feet? Oh yeah, but they only weigh 7.8 ounces. That makes up for the 7800 ounces of Thanksgiving food in my stomach, right?
  • Oooohhh I can wiggle my toes! It feels wonderful and soft up there!
  • Yay!! These feel great–no clunkiness.
  • I have no idea what that actually means, but it probably helps make the shoes feel so awesome.
  • Flexible, yet supportive.

So would I buy an other pair? Heck, yes! My only slight discomfort was that due to the flexibility/fit of the shoe on my foot, I got a small blister on my pinky toes the first 2 runs. However, I gave myself a bit of time to get used to them and break them in, and that’s no longer an issue! I feel like it was just a small, personal thing that most likely won’t happen to others, and honestly, I love them so much, it was totally worth breaking them in. Not to mention, almost any new shoe requires a few break in runs.

Mizuno Wave Rider 17

The Wave Rider 17 will be released on December 5th in lots of pretty colors to choose from. If you’re anything like me, that is a total selling point! ;) They would make a great gift for any neutral shoe runner in your life, or a nice Christmas present to yourself! I honestly didn’t think I would notice the difference with this new design and light weight (I mean, I’m not breaking any records over here), but I really did. My feet felt…lighter, and ya know what? I freaking loved it.

Hood to Coast Race Recap

I <3 my team!

I <3 my team!

Hi? Are you there real life? It’s me, Ari. Just coming off of this little thing I’d like to call “adventure hangover”. So tired that I’m actually not even quite sure where to start with all of this. Let’s start with the running, then we’ll talk about the adventuring.

Jealous of my cute hair and how great I look on 15 minutes of sleep? I don’t blame you.

So I signed up for this whole shindig in the midst of marathon training and thought I wanted the leg with the most mileage. Silly, silly Ari. Many of my team had just started running specifically for this race, and I wanted to step up and be a leader. Not to mention, I love lots of mileage. Anyway, then I got injured and was out for 4 months, and basically had to rebuild from scratch, so for the first time in my almost 2 years of running, I found myself totally under trained for this race. I followed my plan to a T, but I knew going in that things weren’t ideal. My longest post-injury run had been 6 miles, and as runner 9, I was scheduled to run 7.7, 5, 7.7 for a total of over 20 miles. In hindsight, I should have switched legs before the race began.

Speedy Turtles 2

Leg 1: 7.7 miles

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Okay, I started writing this way too in depth and it would have taken a millions years to read. Here are the important facts.

  • First two miles were awesome!
  • Don’t drink too much water before you run or you will be grunting, keeling over, and walking no matter how great your legs feel.
  • Runners are so nice. Thanks to the lady who told me the breathing exercise to do that made the knife jabbing in my side lessen just a teeny bit.
  • Just when I was coming unglued, my team saved the day by being at the half way point to fill my water and cheer me on. I needed it then more than ever!
  • Even though I was in pain from mile 2 to the very end (and hours after…ugghhh), I stepped up my mental game and ran as strong as I could.
  • Around mile 6 I started to feel a twinge of weirdness in my knee that I decided was a fluke (spoiler alert: it wasn’t).
  • I finished strong and despite two horrible miles, ran a new post-injury PDR of 7.7 miles in 1:16.
  • I sprinted to the finish to find just two teammates and neither was the next runner. I had estimated I would be running 1o min miles to begin with, then told them it would be longer because of the side ache. Then I ran my estimated pace. Whoops.
  • In the last mile, garmin says my best pace was 5:56. That was a fun two seconds.

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Leg 2: 5 miles

  • Pitch black. Like, with my headlamp I could probably see 1 square foot in front of me.
  • 3am ish. No sleep. Perfect weather–something like 60 degrees! It felt like heaven!
  • Gravel road. Not like a few pebbles, like a legit gravel road with big rocks. Just ask the blister on my left foot.
  • Did I mention it was pitch black? I fell off the road once, and I was totally disoriented. I didn’t know which way was front or if I’d ever make it back to the van. I started to figure getting eaten by a wild animal in the woods while running a relay wouldn’t be the worst way to die.
  • I felt surprisingly good energy-wise, but my knee hurt. The entire time. It hurt like it did at the beginning of the marathon, and I figured I should probably stop running, but then I figured if it hurt now, I probably wouldn’t be able to run my 3rd leg, and my first leg wasn’t great, so I wanted to have one strong run this weekend.
  • I did run strong. Despite not being able to see anything, and the challenging terrain, I ran my 5 miles at a 9:30 pace which is pretty good for me right now.
  • When I finished, it hurt (just a little) to walk, and I knew I was out.

So I never ran my third leg. Rockstar Mark picked it up and Prescott took Mark’s 3 miler. My team was awesome and totally understanding. I shed some tears, and had a moment about it all, but to be honest I know I made the right choice. I actually learned my lesson and I stopped before the pain got debilitating. I think I’m looking at 1-2 weeks off from running instead of 3-4 months which is enough to keep me positive. Plus, this experience is about so much more than just running. I had the time of my life with some of my best friends and some new best friends. There were tons of inside jokes, so much silliness, and I laughed so hard I almost peed.

Silliest way to get to the Oregon coast ever, but totally worth every single minute.

More importantly, as I said earlier, most of my team started training for this race. Many of them had never run. My friend Liane invited me to be a part of this team she was putting together with her family. Her dad has been a runner all his life, but no one else in her family had ever showed any interest in it. So Liane put together this team with her dad, and got both her siblings on board. I don’t know if they knew it would change their lives, but her brother lost 70 lbs, and her sister used running to find herself again after some huge life changes. And now they’re all hooked.

Well, part way through the weekend, Liane told me that I was the reason she started running. She said she was reading this little ol’ blog, and it inspired her to start. I immediately started crying, and it was only after everything was said and done that I realized how much this all means to me. My friend Laurel started running for this race as well. She had done C25K, but she started seriously training to be a part of this team. I pretended to actually know what I was doing as I gave her training plans, and tried to regurgitate all the brilliance that Coach Susan gives to me. In the end, she ran almost 17 miles and pushed beyond anything she ever felt like she was capable of. I looked at my team and realized that whether or not I was able to finish, I had made a real impact on the people on it. Then as I was sitting at the airport, I looked at my husband’s facebook page to see that he had completed the last run of his C25K program, and I started to cry,

I never dreamed that my life and my journey would be big enough to inspire anyone, but I look at the tornado effect we all have by simply making the choice to go out and run, and all the people who see it and make that choice themselves, and it amazes me. I am beyond grateful to be at this place in my life, and that my journey has meant something to the people around me. I hope you guys (my team, and everyone who takes the time to read what I have to say) know how much you inspire me too. You guys inspire me to keep going, and because of you, I look back on this weekend, and I can’t even be a little bit sad about how the running portion ended. There is just way too much happiness.

Happy Things

Hi friends! I missed you! I know I was only away for less than a week, but I’ve been way less present to blogging the last 6 weeks as I’ve been way more present to my summer job and soaking up the amazing people I only get to see a few weeks out of the year, but now I’m back home (wahhh, it’s hot) and ready to reunite with my kitchen and you lovely people! So to jump back in, I wanted to share with you some happy things I came home to.

1. A jar of this deliciousness. While I was away, NuttZo sent me a jar of their crunchy chocolate flavor to try, and it is absolutely amazing. One of the first things I did when I got home was open it up, and it is drippy, crunchy, just the right amount of sweet, and totally addictive. I already have to monitor myself to make sure I don’t go through the entire jar in two days. It includes peanuts, cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and hazelnuts. It is better than any chocolate nut spread that I have ever tasted, and I am obsessed with the crunchiness. I must find a way to recreate in my kitchen!


2. A super sweet card from Heather about my upcoming speaking engagement at the Healthy Living Summit! I am beyond excited to be speaking, and really looking forward to meeting some of my favorite people from around the internet. Because that’s a totally normal thing to look forward to, right?

3. These faces. ‘Nuff said.

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Also finally having the sound of puppy nails on the tile again! I missed that!

4. A RUNNER HUSBAND!!! Without a doubt the happiest thing that happened while I was away is that Steve started the couch to 5k program! He’s on week 5, and hasn’t missed a beat since he started. I am unbelievably proud, and it means I need to get my butt in gear with some swim lessons so I can actually announce some exciting future plans. ;)



Isn’t she beaaaauuutiful? She needs a new seat because this one is, um, not working for me, but she is everything I dreamed she would be. Also,  road bikes are super sensitive to your movements. No more off in la la land while I ride my bike for me. I actually have to pay attention now. Crap.

6. I was in the Arizona Republic today along with one of my besties! Check it out!

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7. The months of February, March and April, I ran zero miles. In May I ran 24, in June I ran 38, and in July I ran 56. I was feeling a little down on myself that I still haven’t run longer than 5 miles and I am supposed to run a marathon in November, but I know Coach Susan is, like, a billion times smarter than me, and I know she has a plan, but seeing the numbers build up and actually being able to see my progress really lifted my spirits. Slowly, but surely I will get back to where I was last November and December, and really I have my whole life to get faster, so what’s the rush?

8. I really love my bed and my couch. I’m glad to be back to “real life”. Still totally missing Portland and my girls up there, but happy to be in my home with my kitchen and my Kitchenaid and my Vitamix. ;)

Disclosure: The NuttZo was sent to me to review for blog purposes. All opinions are my own.

What’s Beautiful: Perseverance

Disclaimer: This post is part of a sponsored by Under Armour through FitFluential. My overwhelming love for this movement and everything it stands for is 100% my own.

Five and a half years ago, I began a journey to find myself. If you know me, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, or if you’ve ever read my weight loss story, you know that I didn’t grow up athletic, healthy, or confident, and I certainly didn’t feel beautiful. My body felt like my enemy, a prison, and I treated it as such. I allowed it to hold me back, and I fed into an identity that wasn’t me.


I looked at other women and dreamed that one I day I would wake up and look the way they looked. My idea of beauty was skin-deep and conveniently “unachievable”. It’s so easy to tell yourself you can’t do it. It is so much more difficult to try and risk failing.

As I changed my eating and exercise habits, I was surprised by my success. Shocked, even. Everything I’d ever wanted seemed to be happening, and I thought my dreams were coming true. I was left feeling completely lost when, after losing 75 lbs, I never did reach my goal weight, and in my mind, never achieved the “beauty” I was after.

Everything changed the day I started running. For the first time in my entire life, I saw my body for what it was able to do for me. I saw strength, determination, and beauty in who I am, and in that I found the identity that had been buried all along–I found my identity in my ability to take on challenges, to fight, push, crawl, and not give up until I’ve achieved my goal. I realized that this is a gift that is inside of me, and that not everyone has that same determination, that same perseverance.

Hot Chocolate

Around this time last year, I decided I needed something–something big, and in a moment of excitement and slight impulsiveness, I committed to raising $5,000 for Chances for Children AZ and running THE New York City Marathon. The 18 weeks of training were some of the hardest and most rewarding of my entire life, and when news of the marathon cancelation hit, I took it very hard.



Despite completing my first marathon a couple of months later, this journey has continued to feel unfinished for me. Maybe it’s because I dreamed of running that specific race, maybe it’s because I ran my first marathon injured, and didn’t feel like I really got the opportunity to go out there and give everything I had, or maybe it’s that stubborn part of me that NEEDS to finish what I start. So that is exactly what I WILL do.

When I was asked to set a goal for this movement, I found myself, for the first time ever, at a bit of a loss. Running is what is in my heart, but I’d only been back for a week, and the most I’m allowed to run at one time is currently 30 minutes. However, I have almost 6 months, and I know in my heart that THIS is the goal I need to achieve. The goal I WILL achieve. On November 3rd 2013, I will finish the journey I began a year ago (or five and a half years ago).


I challenge you to join me–set a goal that’s big, scary, and a goal you know you NEED to accomplish. Don’t use the word “try”. Find a goal and say I WILL.

If you would like to join me and set your own goal, you can sign up here. You can join teams, follow other women along in their journeys, and most importantly you can prove to yourself that you are capable of amazing things, that you can be strong, persevere, and discover a beauty inside you that you may not have acknowledged before.