November Project

Top Toronto Workouts & A 10K Recap

While I was in Toronto, I managed to get in a workout per day with 3 rest days - one per week. Not to toot my own horn, but I was pretty impressed! 

It helped that I was in a major city with fitness at my fingertips. There were three workouts in particular that stood out during my trip. 

Toronto Workouts

MEC TORONTO 10K

When Brynn and I knew we would be in Toronto with a day off on Sunday we started looking up a race to run. We found a race put on by MEC that offered a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. The best part was it was 5 minutes from our hotel and only $15!

My pre-race meal was the delicious sandwich I had at the Beet Organic Cafe. We got to bed at a decent time and in the morning I made myself PB2, a multigrain sandwich round and a banana – it looked like a taco but it worked given the hotel-room circumstances.

Pre Race Breakfast

We weren’t expecting much out of a $15 race, but Kind and Vita Coco were both there along with Tiger Balm and a few other vendors offering samples. Bib pick up was a breeze (and they called it chip pick up aw!)

This 10K (my favorite distance) was by far the best course I’ve ever run in my life. Not only was it perfectly flat, but it was absolutely gorgeous. We ran through a bird sanctuary with water on all sides. It was an out and back and at one point we crossed over a bridge that gave a breath-taking view of the Toronto city skyline. It was so hard not to stop and take a picture! But if you take a look at my Strava map and use your imagination, you can pretend to see the amazing water views. 

MEC Toronto 6

My goal going in was a sub 8:00 pace and negative splits and I’m happy to report that the race was a success on both of those fronts!

Towards the end I paced myself off of a girl slightly in front of me and it ended up being a lifesaver. When the finish line came into view at 6 miles, I booked it for the final .2 and it was THE BEST FINAL KICK OF MY LIFE! That’s a bold statement, but entirely accurate. I felt like I was flying.

As soon as I crossed the finish line I turned around to find her and we both had big smiles and hi-fives for each other which was awesome.

My splits were
8:00
7:48
7:40
7:35
7:28
7:28
and 6:20 for the last .2

Later, when I looked at my results - I was pleased to find that I was the 13th Female finisher! 

Toronto 10K

SPOKEHAUS SPIN CLASS

A few of my co-workers and I were determined to fit in a spin class during our time in Toronto. It had to happen early on, or there would have been no shot as we got more and more run down as the weeks progressed. 

We found a spin studio close to the hotel that happened to have a 2 for 1 deal - meaning that we only paid $14 for a class. Not too shabby (especially considering the exchange rate was in our favor!) 

The waiting room looked all white, shiny and new with automatic lockers. I didn't look in the locker rooms, but I'd imagine those were nice as well. The shoe rental was included in the price of the class, which is always a plus. Unfortunately, the bikes were pretty outdated - they didn't have any bells and whistles and there were definitely no statistics (my favorite part of a spin class, personally). 

I liked the name and I liked the logo - but unfortunately, I really didn't enjoy the class. It was VERY heavy on what I refer to as "bike dancing." Lots of "and crunch to the right, crunch to the left" along with push-ups and "tap backs" while speeding along with little to no resistance. If you like SoulCycle, you'd probably  like a class at Spokehaus, but I'm one of those obnoxious people who insist that doing those types of things on bikes is silly and downright bad for your body. 

I'm also the type of person who doesn't give a crap about being the odd one out in the middle of a group fitness class - for the most part I did my own thing, focusing on spinning with higher resistance in time to the music. I even sat out the arm track which is a blatantly obvious thing to do. Ooops for drawing attention to myself, but I'll never see any of these people again anyway! 

My biggest eye-roll came during the last song when electric candles were placed around the room. I might have audibly groaned. 

Spokehaus Toronto Review

NOVEMBER PROJECT YYZ 

For those of you that are new around here, I'm part of a fitness cult, I mean, group, called November Project. You can learn all about it from all of the press it's gotten in places like the New York Times, Good Morning America and the Washington Post. But essentially, its a group that extends far beyond New York City, where I first joined, to include 28 cities across the world. We workout at 6:30 a.m., which is crazy to some people, but ideal for me! 

I was able to wake up early on my first Wednesday in Toronto and hop in a cab to the meeting locations for Toronto's November Project tribe - at the Baldwin Steps of Casa Loma Park. My cab driver was definitely a little concerned about me when I told him to pull over and drop me off - seemingly in the middle of nowhere in the early morning hours. 

November Project Toronto

But I was quickly joined by others ready to workout. The Toronto tribe leaders, Sam and Michelle, were out so babysitters Ben and Arden took the reins with a killer pyramid workout. 

1 Loop around Casa Loma Park (this includes a fairly steep hill!) 
2 Sets of Baldwin Steps
55 Lunge Jumps (PER SIDE)  - these are my least favorite exercise ever, for sure. I would have rather done 55 burpees. But it was good that I was forced to do them during this workout! 
45 In & Out Crunches
35 Push-Ups
25 Squat-Star Jumps
15 Burpees
1 Loop around Casa Loma Park (this includes a fairly steep hill!) 
2 Sets of Baldwin Steps
15 Burpees
25 Squat-Star Jumps
35 Push-Ups
45 In & Out Crunches
55 Lunge Jumps Per Side

Then, I proceeded to run the3.5 miles back to the hotel! The run didn't feel effortless, but by the end my  legs were feeling much better and I was able to negative split, with my last mile clocking in at a swift 7:19 pace and the last half mile at a 7:07! 

Getting to go to a November Project workout put me in a GREAT mood that lasted throughout the day. I can't explain how waking up at 5:45 a.m. on my own accord and physically exerting myself game me MORE energy throughout the day - but it definitely did! 

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Fitness Friends, Sunday Funday Edition

In November, I will be volunteering at the New York City Marathon, handing out water to runners at the Mile 22 station. I can’t wait! I thought I would get some practice handing out water to people running past me at exceptionally fast speeds, while testing out my cheering skills.

That, and JackRabbit was offering $10 in store credit for every hour of volunteering at last Sunday’s Battle of Brooklyn in Prospect Park. Running ain’t cheap, and I’ve had my eye on a pair of compression sleeves for quite some time. And should probably get a fresh pair of kicks before my marathon. And I want a Sparkly Soul headband. And water bottles. And maybe just oneee more pair of spandex, with a butt pocket? Yeah. Needless to say, that store credit was mighttttty tempting. But in all honestly, I was also just excited to spend time at a race, around runners, and JackRabbit peeps who are an overall great group!

So that’s why I woke up super early on Sunday morning to sit on the 4 train for an eternity with David to get to Prospect Park by 7:15 a.m. 

(I may have been tired, but I think this guys morning was a little rougher...)

I got my volunteer shirt (Ok, the free shirt was ALSO an incentive!) and met up with my friend Nick before being sent over to water station numero dos (the best hydration station of the day, obviously).  

There were 6 of us there during the race and we got to wear awesome hats.


Some runners are really good at grabbing water on the fly. Others, not so much.

It was so fun though! Lots of people thanked us for being there, or had a funny little one-liner for us as the ran by. It was also great because the Battle of Brooklyn is a 10-mile race or relay, taking racers for 3 loops around Prospect Park, so we got to see faces over and over again. By the end of the 10 miles, we were like best friends.

I also got to see some November Project and JackRabbit friends run by, which was nice!

The weather was meh most of the morning, cold and rainy but then the sun came out and warmed us as we tried our best to get rid of the water to random runners out in the park. It was hysterical how excited some of them got that they were being offered water.

(Cloudy, yet sunny? You're pretty, Prospect Park)

I am a fan of volunteering at races, and can’t wait for the marathon!

Afterwards, we headed back to registration to sign out and I left with some awesome JackRabbit Battle of Brooklyn pint glasses and a whole buncha bananas. 

Then it was time to head home for a quick nap before #BetterThanBedtime with November Project. Tina, Jackie and I had decided to go as donuts because, why not?

(Will run for donuts!)

The theme was Noah’s Ark and everyone’s costumes were supah cute- but especially the tigers and composition notebooks. I looked a fool in my donut crop top and crazy socks, but what else is new? 

(Lookin' gooood)

We ran 4 miles to get to the secret location. Along the way, we ran through Central Park and a street fair where one stall offered us free hot dogs! Seriously regret not taking them up on that offer. I was so proud of my friend Tina who ran her furthest distance ever that night! :) Sweaty hugs were in order.

(YOU DID IT TINA!)

The run ended at Park Avenue Tavern where the good times rolled. Everyone I have had the pleasure of meeting through this group makes me smile- they are fun, enthusiastic, kind, badass, hysterical and inspiring. We’re a pretty good looking bunch too…

(Tribe leaders and a donut pyramid)


For some reason, at 10:30 p.m. I decided I didn’t feel like being sweaty on an air conditioned subway train so I just ran home instead. Ended up getting in my 6 miles for the day, after all! Hoorah!


Sunday was a fabulous day filled with fitness friends! 

(Sunday Funday, earned!)

November Project- JUST SHOW UP.

Perhaps one of my favorite things in this world is FREE FITNESS.  Whether it’s my running group, the Nike Training Club, at home workouts or a free trial at a gym- I am all about proving that you can be in shape at not spend thousands of dollars! And lucky for me, NYC is just BURSTING with free fitness groups.  I swear, I discover a new one every day.

So it’s kind of amazing that it has taken me this long to #JustShowUp for November Project, which meets every Wednesday morning at 6:28 a.m. at Gracie Mansion (I am a fan of their punctuality). I can literally roll out of bed at 6:15, jog over, and be enveloped in a million sweaty hugs from this crazy awesome fitness family.



The first time I came to #WakeUpTheSun with November Project, it was a little intimidating. I’m not the world’s biggest hugger, and meeting new people isn’t my strength. But everyone was SO friendly, and I definitely have found that fitness-freaks like me have a special bond.

The first morning I went was “PR Day” where we basically ran “mansions” (laps around Gracie Mansion) and saw how long it took us to finish a certain number of them.
Everyone has shirts (#GrassrootsGear) and everyone is enthusiastic and motivating and badass. We start each morning jumping up and down and screaming “Fuck yeah!” I’m not even kidding. We are called a tribe. And our leaders? So inspiring- not to mention fucking hysterical. 

And I got to meet Ali, whose blog I have been following for a while now, and who works at my most favorite place- JackRabbit! The next morning I showed up, my friend Salim from JackRabbit was there! The fitness community in New York City is kind of crazy that way. November Project even has a special vocabulary and traditions and I’m all about that spirit-y stuff. I was hooked from the start!

(Look, I have lots of new friends!)
Every Wednesday, they announce the location for Friday’s workout- and I’ll admit, I’ve been lazy and only made it to one- on the Fourthof July! We met at Grand Army Plaza decked out in our patriotic workout gear and did a bunch of fun stuff like suicide relays and leaping over people planking.

Wednesday’s workouts are usually running-centered, with loops around the park alternating with different exercises like burpees (ugh), pushups, planks, tricep dips, lunges, etc. Not to sound like a snob, but one of my favorite parts about November Project is that these guys are no joke. The workout is hard, and you will be pushed! But it's also a great social atmosphere, and you laugh and smile while you're getting your butt kicked.

And did I mention there’s a photographer who stealthily captures you looking badass? Yes.  There is. And I’m vain, and I love checking Facebook every Wednesday afternoon to see if there’s a shot of me.


I’m pumped because tomorrow, we’re meeting at Randall’s Island and I’m finally going to have my own #GrassRootsGear. If you read up on November Project, it’s a really amazing story, and thinking about it always gets me pumped to set my alarm early. These people are SO dedicated- sometimes running over 8 miles just to GET to the workout. And November Project is in 17 different cities already!


Thank you to my friend Tina for getting me involved in this awesome group. Everyone reading this- we want YOU to join us! Just show up!
(Ayyy)