What's Next on My Fitness Journey?

During a cold, wintry long-run last February, my friend Rebecca and I ran together for a few miles in Central Park. My foot was giving me problems, we were dressed in 20 layers to stay warm, and we very quickly fell into an easy conversation that helped distract us from the general unpleasantness of an outdoor run in February. 

The topic of conversation? Food. I had found my culinary-counterpart. We bonded over our love of all things epicurean – and since then I’ve come to the conclusion that no one can make eating look as life-changing as Rebecca. Just look at her with this Pepe’s pizza. Is she not making you want to hop on Metro North for a slice 

right now?

(I don't make it look as believable) 

Anywho, since then, Rebecca and I have bonded over things besides food – one of those being fitness! Like me, sometimes (lots of times) Rebecca likes to lift heavy things. I love that she knows MUSCLES ARE SEXY. And let me tell you, her gun show is the best in town.

Recently, we both started to do Kayla Itsine’s 12 week “Bikini Body Guide.”

I’ve explained in previous posts

that originally, I thought this program would be no big deal. I mean, it’s called the “Bikini Body Guide.” How legit could it be? It sounded like just another trend that would over promise and under deliver. But as I wasn’t able to run at the time, I figured I would give it a shot.

Shit that shit was hard.

Leg day? I would be sore for at least 2 or 3 days afterwards.

Kayla Itsine’s guide isn’t anything revolutionary. She’s taken a bunch of standard strength and cardio moves and put them into an easy to follow plan – it’s short but high intensity. You WILL be dripping in sweat by the end.

As someone who generally despises any and all jumping exercises – this was especially challenging for me. If I never have to do another jumping lunge in my life it would be too soon.

I was loving Kayla’s BBG for a while. And then I started running again. And suddenly the 3X a week commitment on top of trying to run 18 miles a week, swim and fit in yoga got to be overwhelming. I wasn’t looking forward to the workouts anymore and while the leg and ab routines were awesome, my arms weren’t feeling challenged.

Not usually one to quit things, especially fitness-based things, I pretty un-guiltily just…stopped…

After a solid 8 weeks of completing all the workouts, I had had enough. I felt a little bummed. But I also felt excited to be running again, and that off-set any “You’re a quitter” thoughts that I was having about cutting Kayla’s BBG short.

Last week at November Project, I got really excited when Rebecca arrived and I got to run with her for 2 miles. And again, we totally bonded over the conversation topic of choice– Rebecca’s statement of, “I’m just kind of confused on my fitness journey.”


Exactly how I have been feeling! And since that run together, I’ve been thinking about it even more. I’m feeling a little lost on my fitness journey so I’m going to try to write it out to gain some clarity.

I’m not training for a marathon.

 The fall marathon I thought I was going to run as an attempt to BQ – that most definitely didn’t happen. I've been a little sad lately watching everyone around me planning for and running their long runs – especially when it’s so beautiful out!

Do I want to run a spring marathon? I still can’t decide. I trained for Pittsburgh over the long winter months last year and it was hard. I know Peter will be an amazing source of support if I decide to do it again, but I just don’t know if I have the motivation right now for 7 a.m. alarms when the thermometer is in the teens. Then again – I want that BQ. The weather for spring marathons is beautiful. What else am I going to do all winter? So – the jury is still out.

I have been slowly increasing my weekly mileage and so far so good – except that it's still frustrating that I feel like I'm having a fast, strong run - putting in a ton of effort and left completely gassed after 4 miles - yet my pace is so. much. slower. than a few months ago. I know I need to be patient, but I may or may not have cried on a rock in Central Park after Saturday's run. I used to wake up and run the 6 mile loop at a 7:50 pace pretty consistently while training for Pittsburgh. Saturday, it took every ounce of energy to run 4 miles at 7:58. Grr. 



have a few running-related goals to work towards, however.

I just signed up for the NYC Runs 10K on Roosevelt Island on Halloween! I want to be excited, but I know the reality of how much speed and endurance I’ve lost in the past 5 months is going to hit me like a ton of bricks when I cross this finish line. At the 2014 Scotland Run 10K, I threw down a 45:23 – 7:19 pace.  Yikes.

I plan on running a new Turkey Trot this year – a 5 miler near my home on Long Island. My official 5 miler PR is the Poland Spring Marathon Kick Off which I ran monstrously hungover last fall – so we’ll see if a 7:45 pace is something I can top.

With our upcoming trip to Austin, Texas planned – my 4


half marathon is on the calendar. The Decker Challenge is a hilllllly course that I’m not expecting to PR, but hoping to feel OK running. It will be my longest run since May’s Brooklyn Half Marathon if/when I cross the finish.

Ted Corbitt 15K is the last NYRR points race of the year – and since I’ve been unable to race as a member of November Project’s team yet, I want to be out there running! It will be a PR no matter what, as it’s a new distance for me.

Last but not least on the calendar (for now) is the Blue Point 10 Miler – which was an AMAZING race I ran last winter. This year it will be even better since I will hopefully have friends to drink with after. By then, who in the world knows what my pace will be like – but I don’t anticipate it being easy to beat last year’s 8:13 pace. Time will tell!

Focusing on these shorter distance races will be different for me and I’m hoping it eases me back into running/racing/going fast and then if I decide I want to go far – we’ll see about that spring marathon. I have another month or two to decide.

Strength Training

has not being something I’ve been focusing on a lot – but I do really love it! I love going to the gym and coming up with my own circuits focused on certain body parts – waking up in the morning and knowing within a minute, “Oh yeah right, I did triceps yesterday – definitely worked!” Marathon training makes it really hard to spend a ton of time doing much besides running. And it makes it really reallllly hard to spend any time at all focused on arms. I’ve come to accept that I need to include one day a week of leg strength training to keep my hips and glutes strong. But in the next few weeks I hope to incorporate some more abs and arms as well, despite the fact that I’m not still following Kayla Itsine’s guides.

If anyone has fun strength training ladders/HIIT/Tabata/etc. that they’d like to share, please do!


are something I’ve been super gung ho about for a few months now. I started saving, I started researching bikes, I started bothering people with a million and one questions (sorry everyone). I spent $80 on shoes for spin class that I have yet to attach the cleats to. I started swimming once or twice a week. And now, I’m signed up for swimming lessons once a week.

And suddenly – I don’t know if I want to do a tri.


That’s not true. I know I want to do a tri. I think I would like it. Maybe love it. That “Iron Man” challenge is definitely still in the back of my crazy mind. But I just don’t know if right now is the time. Triathloning (yes, it’s a word…) is

really really expensive


I just booked a flight to Austin for a 6 day vacation and half marathon and it’s probably going to end up costing me less than a bike would cost me. Not to mention the $200 entry fees, a wet suit, and the tons of biking things I’m sure I don’t even know about yet.

So, jury is also out on whether or not a tri is in my future at the moment -  but I do still plan on stopping at a bike store to get myself fitted so that I can properly stalk Craiglist for a used bike in my size. Doesn’t hurt to keep my eyes open!

And in the meantime, I’ve found that swimming is a nice new challenge and I’m looking forward to finishing this 8 week course and keeping a weekly swim in my fitness repertoire.


continues to bore me for the most part – but I


notice a huge difference when I go twice a week as opposed to, you know, thinking my body will magically be fine without zero stretching. So, I’ve been trying to be consistent with that!

Unfortunately, writing all of that out didn’t give me any real clarity on why I’m feeling kind of “meh” at the moment – why I can’t seem to figure out what I want to put my energy towards.  

But maybe the moral of this incredibly long blog post isn’t, “Figure out what your next challenge is” or, “Figure out what muscle you want to develop next!” Maybe the moral of it is that I’m going to accept the fact that sometimes, we don’t know exactly where we’re headed. 

If there’s nothing calling to me right now, maybe it’s because physically or mentally I need to take a chill pill. Or maybe the lack of direction is making room for something else to unexpectedly turn up – roller blading, that field hockey league I’ve been wanting to join, trapeze school? I’m keeping an open mind and not ruling anything out. 

Some days it makes me a little antsy. Without a calendar to tell me how many miles I need to run on Saturday morning, who am I?! Answer: still Lauren.  

And sometimes, for a lot of fitness-loving ladies and lads – I think that’s harder for us to believe than it should be.

So listen up. I’m talking to you and I’m talking to myself: If you’re ever feeling a little down because you feel “lazy” without a big shiny goal – stop.

Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you aren’t preparing to run a marathon. Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you aren’t spiritually moved by downward dog. Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you didn’t do a WOD at the box this morning.

Maybe you enjoyed a walk through the fall foliage. Or a jog. Or a giant picnic. Maybe you dragged yourself to yoga because you know you needed to stretch your calves. Maybe you hope to never use the term WOD in your life. Maybe you slept in.

 As long as we are moving our bodies in ways that feel good and right for us in the moment, and letting them rest when they want to rest, we shouldn’t feeling anything but appreciation.

Appreciate that we’ve found ways to move and be active that we genuinely enjoy. Appreciate that we’ve realized endorphins really are like drugs. Appreciate that fitness is a great way to connect with your body – to know when it wants to move and how it wants to move and when it wants to rest.

To know on the day that you’re signing up for a marathon that you are ready to commit to it.

To know on a certain day that you can go that extra 100 meters in the pool.

To know on a certain day that you are definitely not going to make it to that spin class you signed up for.

To know on a certain day that the time has come to train for your first tri.

To walk into the gym ready for a tricep workout only to get there and see tthe TRX machine is empty and you feel like doing some back exercises instead.

I loved that Rebecca referred to it as her

fitness journey


No two people’s journeys are going to be the same. Some days your journey is going to be awesomely downhill and wonderful and fun and some days or weeks or months it’s going to be slow going. Then there are those forks in the road where you’re not quite sure what’s coming up next.

It’s allllll part of it. 

So instead of getting down, embrace it and keep your eyes open for the moment when your next goal appears on the horizon. And when it presents itself, you give that goal your all.

Happy Birthday Peter! Hanging Onto Summer

Everyone warns you that you shouldn't wait until something's gone to appreciate it. You know, "Don't it always seem to go, that you you don't know what you've got til it's gone." 

But lately, I've been suffering from something we'll call "Missing Something While It's Here." I'm trying desperately to cherish every last bit of summer we have. Soaking up every last ray, taking advantage of every opportunity to eat outside or run at dusk in shorts and a tank-top. But it's making me SO SAD thinking that any day now, restaurants will be packing up the al fresco dining option and going out for a run will require a whole lot more "hmm, which layers do I need?" 

Luckily, while it's creeping into late September, we had another week of beautiful weather. 

Monday was Kayla Itsine's leg day workout and DAMN was it a killer. No joke, my legs didn't feel fully recovered from it until Saturday. X jumps, weighted step ups, jump lunges (does anyone else find these to be the most difficult thing ever?), tuck jumps, sumo jump squats, split squats, weighted walking lunges and broad jump burpees.  My legs hurt all over again just thinking about it. 

A closing shift at the running store made for a late night. 

Tuesday was arms and abs with a little post-work yoga session. Then, I finally got back into the world of theater - writing a review of the Off-Broadway play Laugh It Up Stare It Down. The story wasn't my cup of tea, but the creative design was wonderful and one of the actresses from the cast of 4 graduated high school with my aunt and played for the same field hockey coach I played for! I stuck around after the show to introduce myself and Amy Hargreaves (Homeland) was extremely friendly and gracious. 

This was a first - during intermission, my friend was really hungry so we successfully took a pizza break in 15 minutes and didn't even miss the start of the second act! 

Wednesday morning Peter and I went to 5:30 November Project where we ran a whole lotta stairs! My ankle and shins still aren't all too happy about it. We had planned to do the 6:30 workout until around 7 but one of the worst things for IT Bands are stairs and hills so I didn't want to push it. Instead, we went for a nice flat 2 miles along the river. 

(Nothing like it!)

And again, a night at the running store. 

Thursday was PETER'S BIRTHDAY! He's old. Basically 30, now. We started the day with a 5:45 a.m. wake up call and journey downtown to Yoga to the People for my first ever hot vinyasa class. It was sweaty. And our teacher LOVED plank and chaturanga. My arms didn't love our teacher. But it was a good class - and for $20 for Peter and I ($5 class + $2 towel + $1 water bottle + $2 mat), it didn't break the bank either. (Although WHY does the NYSC yoga class schedule SUCK?!) 

During my lunch break I finished Kayla Itsine's workouts for the week with abs and cardio. 

After dinner it was time to celebrate! Peter had picked out a restaurant he wanted to go to for his birthday and DAMN did he pick well. Marc Forgione is an Iron Chef with a restaurant in Tribeca called...Marc Forgione's. There will be a review to come, but first, I need to see if it helps me win a Time Out New York contest that I entered to find the next NYC food critic! I'll let these pictures that I spent a lot of time perfecting speak for themselves. 

(There was even champagne waiting for us when we sat down!)

No birthday is complete without birthday cake, so after dinner I told Peter we were walking over to Parm for their famous, ginormous slice of ice cream cake. Pistachio, Strawberry and Chocolate ice cream with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry on top. Doesn't get much more classic than that! While there was certainly a TON of ice cream (think: Ben & Jerry's container) it was served super frozen and the chocolate crunchies in between each layer of ice cream just didn't measure up to Carvel. 

The fancy diner interior of Parm, though not at all what I expected, was cool and made me want to stop by for an eggplant parm hero at a later date. 

We went to bed fairly early because Friday:

Up at 5:00 a.m. to run 6.5 miles down to Pumphouse Park near Brookfield Place for a November Project workout. AND we did the workout - loops of the park + pushups + squats + dips. The pace was a little slower than our run to Southstreet Seaport the previous Friday, but both of our bodies were still functioning relatively pain free so SUCCESS. 

Then Peter did a million and one push-ups because that's what you do when it's your birthday at NP. And when you want to show off but forget that yesterday you did chaturanga approximately 1 million times. 

Friday during lunch I went to my favorite yoga class and stretched it all out. 

That night I honestly don't remember what I did. A lot of laying around watching Orange is the New Black and baking a LOT of cookies. Bed early so I could get up and workout before Peter's birthday party on Saturday. 

(S'Mores and Snickerdoodles!)

First up on Saturday morning, 50 laps at the pool. Each and every time I go I feel a little better, and this was no exception. It's probably the most I've swam in one workout too! After swimming I went to a 45 minute spin class. 

The spot for Peter's party was Loreley - a German beer garden on Steuben Day at the start of Oktoberfest. So fitting. We had a great time, and I even had avocado toast with my free beer from the keg they tapped at the bar to kick of Oktoberfest. 

They also paraded around this POOR LITTLE PIGGY!

My millions of cookies were a hit, and I unintentionally followed a German tradition when I decided to bake Peter a cookie shaped like a heart. Oktoberfestherzen are gingerbread cookie hearts! Mine was a snickerdoodle but close enough. 

During the day drinking we took a TO to stop by Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream which is supposedly one of the "Finest" Ice Cream "parlors" in NYC.  Peter and I disagree. 

Yes, you can tell that this stuff is definitely made fresh and with care. Each is in a TINY container. Like, I have bigger tupperware in my apartment. Talk about small batch! And yes, they have some interesting flavors. But you'll never know which ones are good because each customer is only allowed one sample. So when we tried one and didn't like it, obviously we weren't going to spend money on "Salt and Pepper Pinenut" without because able to give it a taste. That's not exactly a flavor I can conjure up in my mind and decide if I'm a fan. So instead we went with Raw Milk and plain old chocolate with their "homemade" whipped cream that was literally soup. For $8, I'm going to give this place a big old "OVERRATED." 

Anyone else have a better experience with Morganstern's?

The night went on, we moved locations, we had fun, we ate nachos. I helped myself to a piece of cake when we got back that night because Peter's mom is a wizard when it comes to baking. 

Sunday when we awoke I was the least hungover but that didn't mean I was feeling refreshed. There was a lot of lounging around (and maybe another slice of cake) before exploring the 92Y Street Fair on Lexington Ave. I finally bought some succulents to hang in little glass orbs about my bed! One is up and hanging and he other WAS up and hanging for about 5 minutes before crashing down, shattering, and spilling dirt all over my bed. 

At the street fair I also bought 3 beautiful fall/winter colors of ESSIE NAIL POLISH for $10. Favorite part about street fairs, for sure. 

The weather on Sunday was ridiculously gorgeous. The sun was hot, there was a cool breeze and not a cloud in the sky. We were lucky enough to snag one of the four outdoor tables at Meatball Shop for brunch where, after considering everything on the menu for a solid 10 minutes, I ended up ordering what I order every single time. Everything But the Kitchen Sink with veggie balls and pesto. Sunday's plate included broccoli rabe, zucchini, red cabbage slaw and fennel. It made for a great brunch/dinner. 

After Meatball Shop, we were too close to 16 Handles NOT to go.  A heaping cup of Graham Cracker and Birthday Cake froyo later and I was in a sugar coma. I left the boys to watch football and promptly passed out in bed. 

(This is how I could get into football...)

When I woke up I managed to motivate myself to do a 50 minute yoga video from YouTube and then headed out for some speed work in Central Park because it was such a beautiful night and I really wanted to get a picture of the sunset at the reservoir. So why not run, right? Right. A ran .5 miles to Engineer's Gate and another .5 miles on the Bridle Path. When I hit a mile, a kicked things up a notch for .5. Slowed down for .25. Kicked it up for .5. Slowed down for .25. Kicked it up for .5. Entered the reservoir loop and did two quarter mile intervals. My ankle was bothering me a little bit, so while I initially wanted to do 3 miles of fast running, I settled for 2 and comfortably ran myself back home for a total of 4.25 miles and a beautiful picture of the sunset. 

And a huge case of "Missing Something While It's Here."

Next up was grocery shopping, food prepping, an episode of Orange is the New Black, leftover Meatball Shop and bed. 

My alarm this morning was supposed to get me to the gym for Kayla Itsine's leg day but - that didn't happen so it will have to be a sweaty lunch hour today since I have work at the running store tonight. 

Here's to hoping this week is just as wonderful and filled with happiness and sunshine as last week! (Although there was a definite chill in the air this morning!) 

Funny story: Friday night I was shaving and, since I'm terrible at shaving, somehow managed to shave off a LARGE strip of skin on my ankle. It WOULDN'T stop bleeding! And of course, I had no bandaids in the apartment. So how did I improvise? Pantyliner wrapped around my ankle and held in place with an Ace bandage until I could get to Duane Reade in the morning. When I unwrapped it in the morning, it was STILL bleeding! Ugh. 

Toronto, Eh?

Last week I hopped over to Toronto for a quick work trip - and a visit to the newest November Project tribe! 

Tina and I ran the 3.5 miles from our hotel to Casa Loma and as soon as I saw the stairs I'm pretty sure I cursed.  110 of them! 

Everyone was super welcoming, and Sam and Claire led a team relay-style workout. Each team went through a series of exercises while rotating through and sending one runner to go down the stairs and up a hill around Casa Loma. The hill was no joke, and the view at the top was beautiful! Bummer I failed at getting a picture. 

I felt pretty good, and was going to run the 3.5 miles back to the hotel, but then it started drizzling, I didn't want to push it, and Tina was getting a cab soooo - I opted for the cab option. 

I was a lazy foodie this trip - I had done some research but just had no energy to actually follow through and get to any of the restaurants I had read about. 

The first night I found some take out falafel and froyo and ate it in my hotel room. 

The second night we went to Canyon Creek for dinner - and I had a tasty salad. 

The third night I spend way too long walking around and taking pictures of the sunset and then when I was starving for dinner, all the fast-casual takeaway places were closed, so I plopped down at a British Pub across the street from my hotel. 

Feeling like I had wasted away an opportunity to explore the culinary offerings of Toronto, I tried to make amends by ordering poutine and a beer flight of local beers. AND a wrap. Because why not? 

My favorite of the beers was the Barking Squirrel. I also tried the Steam Whistle, Brickworks Ciderhouse Cider, andddd two more that I can't remember. 

I also DID enjoy a Tim Horton's maple donut, All Dressed chips and maple popcorn too.

Other things to note about Canada:
-They are obsessed with the credit card chip reader and I felt like they all hated me because you need to swipe my card.

-It's weird that they bring the card machine over to the table at restaurants and then stand there as you fill out the tip.

-They have lots of weird potato chip flavors like All Dressed, Ketchup and Dill Pickle! And Poutine!

-They have lots of British candy like Mars Bars and Aero Bars. 

While I didn't have much energy for exploring I did manage to find the energy for 2 Kayla Itsines circuits, an NP workout, and a swim in the lap pool! 

The Running Update!

It's time for a recap on my fitness life for the past oh, I don't know...4 months? The last thing I blogged about was really the Brooklyn Half Marathon back on May 16. 

And unfortunately, that was my last real run where I felt good (well, I was even hurting by the end of Brooklyn). 

(Remember when I ran a 1:40:34 half marathon?)

If you remember way back to May - I had boldly declared that I would be attempting to BQ at the Suffolk County Marathon. Well, that race was on Sunday and needless to say, I wasn't there to even slowly run the half. 

The problem has been my IT band and it's been frustrating to say the least. For 4 months I've attempted to rest for weeks at a time (and by rest I mean no running) only to feel pain 2 or 3 miles into a run when I finally decided to give it another try. A run in Tampa - ended in stabbing pain. My first "training run" for the Suffolk County Marathon in Las Vegas - awful. The first attempt at 8 miles in Central Park with Peter? Frustrated tears and stabbing pain. There were a few three mile runs I was able to run without pain - but they mainly made me grumpy because I realized how much speed and endurance I had lost. 

Not to mention not exactly feeling my best in terms of the weight department either - if you've been reading my blog and reading about my summer - it pretty much consisted of a LOT of eating out and drinking. Pair that with practically no running - and I haven't been feeling super confident rockin' my bikinis. 

BUT I also had an amazing summer and just keep trying to tell myself that this whole not running thing won't last forever (please, don't last forever!)

The most frustrating thing about IT band pain is when you try Googling ways to fix it and half the Internet tells you foam roll, foam roll, foam roll and then other people tell you rest rest rest while simultaneously telling you to strengthen your hips and glutes and then other people tell you that foam rolling will only make things worse.

So, what have I been doing in an attempt to get rid of this awful tightness in my IT band? And still exercise? (By no means should you follow my lead here if you're trying to overcome ITBS).

1) Not running - but not exactly resting. 
I was pretty good about taking a serious break with running. Every two weeks or so I would lace up my sneakers and head out for a run to see if things had improved, but most of the time the answer was a big fat no. I listened when that was the case and I never went more than three miles (OK, except for the time I ran to NP Chicago). 

But should I have been going to spin class twice a week? Probably not.

I know it wasn't helping speed up my recovery - but it was low impact cardio and it didn't bother my knee when I did it. So that's what I've been doing - spin twice a week. Some days I was actually OK with the break from running because I was able to find other things I like to do. And one of those things was getting back to spinning. So while it may have slowed down my recovery, it at least kept me sane. 

2) Kayla Itsines 12 Week Bikini Body Guide. 
This chick is all the rage on Instagram. 

She's from Australia and she created a workout and nutrition guide that has completely taken off. The other day, myself and another girl were both doing the same routine at the gym! 

When I first saw all the posts, I rolled my eyes. And to be honest, I thought the workouts would be a joke. I'm hear to admit that I was wrong. 

I just started week 6 of the workouts and while I haven't noticed much of a change (I haven't exactly been following the whole nutrition aspect of this guide...) I am consistently sweaty and out of breath at the end of the workout. 

The way the program works is this:
3 days a week you complete a strength workout - either abs, arms or legs or some combination of those with some cardio. Each workout consists of 2 circuits that you complete twice each. 

Circuit one is 4 exercises. You set a timer for 7 minutes and go through the circuit as many times as you can. 

Circuit two is 4 different exercises. You set a timer for 7 minutes and go through the circuit as many times as you can. 

Then, you repeat circuit 1. Then, you repeat circuit 2. 

28 minutes of work and you'll good to go! 

The guides call for 30 seconds of rest in between each 7 minute circuit but I usually take more than that if we're being honest. 

Set-up to finish is usually 45 minutes for me. 

The other days of the week you're supposed to do either low-intensity steady state cardio or HIIT but I've just been doing my spin classes as cardio.

I really like these because they aren't super time consuming but I definitely feel like I'm getting a good workout in. After leg day, it's pretty daunting arriving at Peter's apartment and knowing I have to walk up 5 flights of stairs. 

Should I be doing 28 minutes of jump squats and lunges and burpees when I'm trying to heal my IT band? Debatable. I will say that my legs have felt stronger, which can't be a bad thing for a runner in the long run, right? 

3) Hip-Strengthening 
Last time I had IT band problems I consistently did a few hip strengthening exercises that I attribute to getting things working again. I've started to do them again. 

-Hip hikes

-Single leg squat onto box

-Clam shells with resistance band
-Leg lifts with resistance band
-Side shuffle with resistance band

Here's a video that includes some other good exercises

4) Foam rolling...sometimes.
My foam rolling game has, admittedly, been pretty weak. 

5) Icing when needed.
Sometimes after an attempted run, my knee would KILL. Any time I have knee discomfort just from walking or sitting, I try to ice it. 

6) Yoga.
I've been trying to get to yoga twice a week, even though sometimes it's only once. It's crazy how fast I lost my flexibility. During Pittsburgh Marathon training I was killin' it with yoga - sometimes going three times a week. Slowly but surely I'm getting back into it and it definitely makes a difference. The other day in the store, I told Peter my chatarunga was on fleek AND HE DIDN'T LAUGH! Someone tell me I'm funny. 

7) Daydreaming about all the things I'm going to do when I can run again. 
And that still includes a big fat BQ. Recently, I've allowed myself to start thinking about a spring marathon.

(This is what I do in my free time...anyone run any of these marathons? Suggestions for a good spring BQ course? Minimal travel? Early May?)

Even bigger than that is this crazy idea that has always semi-existed in my head of completing an Iron Man. I always said I was going to be a bad-ass 50 year old completing an IronMan but recently I've been wanting to do it sooner. But not soon. Like, 10 year plan soon. 

But that means that I'm gunna need to start somewhere in the world of triathlons! Which is why I am officially saving up to buy myself a bike (I'm also accepting donations! And recommendations, advice, etc.) I've got a loooong way to go - as in my current savings are at $35 and I figure I need $1,500. But what's important is that I've started! 

I already bought myself a pair of cycling shoes and cleats so I can start clipping in during my spin classes just to get used to it. 

And the biggest step in all this triathlon jazz is that I started...

7) Swimming. 

You're talking to the girl who DOESN'T put her head under water for fear of instantaneously getting swimmer's ear like she did as a child - ruining many a pool party or summer day. 

I can swim fine - just not for real

Peter has been enlisted as my swim coach. 5 minutes into my first lesson I was totally over it, getting cranky and frustrated. 

But I've been consistently going at least once a week and have improved a TON from that first trip to the pool - there's still so much work to be done though. I can basically get about 15 meters before I'm hanging onto the side of the pool gulping in lungfuls of air. 

Yes, I love lifting weights and strength training - but I need my cardio! So swimming has been good for that too.

8) Plunging. 
I bought a $7 sink plunger and I use it on my IT Band. Yes, this was a day I was feeling particularly desperate. But I've read a bunch about it and it's a real think! Similar to cupping - it's supposed to distract the soft tissue and increase blood flow to the area...or something like that. It feels weird but I'm willing to try anything at this point. 

You can watch it here. 

9. Reading a lot of running related books. 
It helps keep me motivated instead of convincing myself I'm over running completely just because it's going to be a lot harder now. Read these if you need to get yourself out the door!

Two weeks ago, I went to November Project for PR Day and Yearbook picture day. Really, I went for yearbook picture day. The PR day part I was dreading. I woke up and went out to get to the 5:30 workout and on my way there I swear I almost turned around and ran in the opposite direction. I suddenly felt so self-conscious. I know it sounds stupid, but I didn't want my seriously diminished running abilities to be out on display to a bunch of bad-ass, speedy-ass people pushing their limits to PR. 

But then I realized - if there was any place to make a comeback run, it was at NP - home to not only some of the speediest runners, but home to some of the most motivating, understanding, supportive people in Manhattan. Tons of these people know what it's like to come back after an injury. And the best part of November Project is celebrating everyone's accomplishments - not just the super fast and impressive accomplishments. A BQ is just as impressive as someone running their first mile without taking a walking break. 

So I made my way to the East River, got my bounce on, and threw down 3.5 miles that were far from a PR but were a start. 

And I am happy to report that I had a pretty good 3 miles last Sunday when Peter was on Long Island, and a solid 3.5 mile run to November Project Toronto on Wednesday of last week. So Peter and I set out to run the 6 miles to South Street Seaport for November Project on Friday - and it was wonderful! 

I was on cloud 9 when we reached the pier. I'm pretty sure I told everyone that I saw, "I JUST RAN 6 MILES! I JUST RAN MY LONGEST RUN SINCE BROOKLYN! I HAVEN'T FELT THIS GOOD IN 4 MONTHS!"
I was expecting to be super frustrated with my pace and had mentally prepared myself with a "Just be happy if you make it there pain free" speech, but with Peter by my side I was able to run close to my Pittsburgh pace! Granted, 6 miles vs. 26.2 miles is a lot different, but it was awesome to feel my legs underneath me and to feel them giving me a little power. 

I feel like a weirdo but on Friday it really felt like my body was telling me, "Okay, you can start running again - but ONLY if you promise not to be stupid about it!!!!" 

That second part is what I know I really need to focus on. Saturday I was already asking Peter, "Should I run the Hartford Half on October 10?"

The answer is most certainly no. 

But already I feel more like myself. On Sunday morning, Melissa and I jogged the mile and a half over to 63rd Street to cheer on November Project people running the 5th Avenue Mile. Just being back with running friends in the race environment on a crisp early fall morning made me so happy. I jogged with Peter to a Starbucks. I jogged the mile and a half home. Being able to use my favorite mode of transportation was exciting to say the least. More exciting? The half mile from 86th to 97th street where I really let my legs fly. And they worked! I flew! 

I am so ready to ease back into runs a few nights/mornings a week with a little longer run on Saturday mornings. With no humidity too! 

I just hope all this excitement and optimism isn't going to come crashing down this week or in the next few weeks... 

So that's the update. 

But enough about me. I'm also really happy that Peter's feeling better too, though still having some foot aches and pains, his hip seems to be holding up and he was able to break 6:00 at the 5th Avenue Mile this year :) And he looked good doing it too. Like a Disney Prince, some might say! 

The best part about being back to running is being able to do it together - I just hope we can both stay semi-pain free for the best running weather of the year!!

More running, more smiles!

Wolman's in the Hamptons

The last day of July meant my first day of FAMILY VACATION. 

I took the train home Friday after work, got dressed, and left with my parents for the restaurant where we were throwing my Nanny a surprise birthday party. 

Slowly, our big happy family filled the private room and we waited for Uncle Greg to show up with the birthday girl. Sitting in a room whose walls were giant floor to ceiling windows, we tried our best to turn away so Nanny didn't see us as she made her way inside. 

I wish the pictures came out better - but I think it's safe to say she was surprised! Maybe even a little teary, seeing a room filled with all of her favorite people (we're all your favorites, right Nanny?!) 

Behind Nanny and Poppy were Uncle Greg and Aunt Christine, who I hadn't seen since Thanksgiving, and THESE two little munchkins. 

Despite living in South Carolina, my aunt and uncle have raised Julia and Claire to know all of their east coast aunts, uncles and cousins wonderfully. I don't know who was more excited - us, or them. 

Our prix-fixe dinner was tasty - my sister and I split the eggplant Parmesan and fish entrees.

Given my choice of desserts, I will rarely pick cake. But given a piece of cake, I will always eat cake. And the cake was actually delicious. 

When my Poppy got up to give a little toast to Nanny, it was so so sweet. I could not be more grateful and appreciative of the love I grew up surrounded by. Not only did my grandparents and parents love for ME allow me to feel happy and secure, but their love for EACH OTHER has shown me that no matter what life throws at you, no matter how stressful it can get - if you are with the right person you can always find reasons to laugh and smile. 

Being surrounded by my family made me SO ready for a week spent with them in Hampton Bays.

(Gangs (almost) all here - and we've got a selfie stick...uh-oh!)

Saturday I attempted a run, which, shockingly, was a pain-free 3 miles. Those 3 miles were more of a jog than a run, but it was the first time that I wasn't limping a mile into it, so I was a pretty happy camper. 

I convinced my mom to drive 20 minutes to the nearest Trader Joe's so I could get some "me" food for the week -long vacation. Sandwich thins, chocolate covered almonds, garlic aioli mustard sauce - you know, the essentials. She also had to return something at Macy's next door so that's the real reason we made the trip. And I was excited because I was given permission by master-chef Mitch to make the three of us dinner that night! A healthy dinner!

And a delicious dinner, if I do say so myself. Mom and Dad both seemed to agree, and I know they would be honest with me if it was sub-par. 

I made a quinoa salad with edamame, mango and black beans along with salmon brushed with sauce made by mixing olive oil with the garlic aioli mustard sauce (again, credit to Kayla!) 

Dad made mom and I his version of the "China Blossom" from China Grill, my favorite cocktail, and I soaked in a rare night sitting out on my deck. I've had an eventful, fun summer, but the number of days spent at home on Long Island have been dismally low.

(Remember how I said I had the best role-models for happy marriages? HOW CUTE ARE THEY?!)

Sunday afternoon was the day - we packed up the truck and set out for the Wolman Family Vacation 2015. 

True story - we used to get t-shirts made for the occasion. Then there were the beer koozies. No outfitting this year, though. 

Most summer's, we go on a big family vacation like this. My grandparents rent a house and all 20 of us spend a week swimming, eating, drinking, playing games and boating. There's a lot of conversation around which house is our favorite that we've stayed in, and the consensus seems to be that nothing beats that first house, which we returned to once and try to return to every summer (Camp O-Kwa-Ri-Ga).  Here's a run down of the Wolman Family Vacation spots over the last couple of years: 

1) Camp O-Kwa-Ri-Ga in the Adirondacks (2008 and 2013). Nothing seems to beat the seclusion - meaning lots of late nights at the fire. The main cabin is great for fitting all of us, and there's a smaller cabin perfect for Nanny and Poppy (they deserve to be spoiled!) But the best part is the boat house right down by the lake. There's a dock, which means we can rent a boat and tube and water ski. And there's paddle boats, kayaks, a canoe, a pool table, piano, balcony for jumping into the lake, and shuffleboard table. So many hysterical moments have happened at O-Kwa-Ri-Ga. From ghost stories, to my dad pretending to be a bear and scaring the crap out of my uncle in the middle of the night - this place feels like home, maybe because it was the first time we all did a trip like this. 

2) Maryland Mansion (2009) - This house was definitely fancier than the Adirondacks. But there's no boat house, and sitting down by the water wasn't as easy. The plus was that we could still rent a boat AND drive the boat across the lake to the Honi Honi bar for happy hour (still fun, despite not being 21 at the time). The lake was a lot rougher though, with more boat traffic, which stressed my dad out and made tubing and water skiing a lot less enjoyable. We could make a fire outside though, a definite plus! And, my family will understand the significance of this - it was at the Maryland Mansion that Claudia Ellen was born! 

3) Rhode Island Beach Mansion (2014) - This house was weirdly fancy. But there was the beach a few steps away AND a pool. No nighttime fires, but the outdoor patio was nice. The option of pool or beach was nice. Sadly, I only spent 3 days at this house, because it was my first year working and I had no vacation time. But while I was there, we discovered the plethora of clams at the beach, which my dad naturally dug up with his bare hands and feet, with the help of uncles and cousins, which we feasted on. There was also a great running and biking path nearby, and as I was marathon training and my uncle was training for a 100 mile bike ride, that was clutch. The restaurant we went for dinner at that year was also THE BOMB. 

4) That brings us to 2015. Originally, we were supposed to go to a lake house near Hunter Mountain. But my grandma had a weird feeling, and after going to check it out, it was a big thumbs down. So last minute, her and my aunt managed to find a beautiful house in Hampton Bays for us to spend the week. The best part? It only took us an hour to get there! The quarters were a little more cramped than usual (though there were more bathrooms and showers!) and there were a lot of rules since the Hamptons can be a little hoity-toity - we couldn't be outside after dark which meant no fires. And we were about a 5 minute drive to the ocean, instead of having it in our backyard (wow, I'm sorry I don't mean to sound quite so spoiled there...) but there were so many GREAT things about this house! A huge pool AND a hot tub. A really great town to explore. A new tradition - the Wolman talent show! A basement with air hockey, foosball and pool. We just won't talk about the dining room chairs...

We were the first to arrive and after driving around to check out the beach and nearby bars and restaurants, we pulled into the driveway of this lovely little house. 

(Ok, 8 rooms, maybe not so little!) 

We figure out the rooming situation which worked out quite well for me - since my sister refuses to share a bed with me (SHE's the one who moves around a ton, NOT me...) she had an air mattress, I had a bed to myself, and my parents shared the other. 

Our days during the week went a little something like this: 

-I would wake up around 8 and go for a bike ride on my little cousins bike or into the basement for some deck of cards workouts. One morning I ran with my Mom and aunt, hopeful after my Saturday morning pain-free run, but unfortunately the IT band acted up again and my knee felt like it was being stabbed after 2.5 miles. So running wasn't part of my week, as much as I would have liked it to be. 

(My 10 year old cousin's bike - perfect fit!)

-After working out I would make myself breakfast - lox and a bagel, Greek yogurt with all the fixings, oatmeal, cereal - so much to choose from. And for someone who loves breakfast like no other meal, it was like Christmas every morning. What's the saying? "I love going to be because it's like a time machine to breakfast." Exactly. 

-Spend the day either at the beach (we went to the ocean two days and to the the bay for one day) or by the pool. At the ocean, I didn't get in the water because the waves were big and it wasn't too hot out anyway. 

At the bay, we swam around despite the rocky bottom and shallow water (North Shore Long Islander over here - totally used to the rocks!) At the pool, I attempted to improve upon my horrendous swimming skills, and although I dressed the part, I probably lasted a total of 10 minutes before frustration overcame me. By the end of the week, though, I DID feel I had made a little bit of improvement. 

-Pre-dinner snacking was a wonderful time of day - we broke out bags upon bags of chips and dips and cracked open some brewskis...or even better, my dad made margaritas. One night, the pre-dinner snacking involved clams on the half shell and another night, shrimp cocktail. You wouldn't believe how fast they got scarfed down! 

Another night, my dad made his artichoke dip - cheese, mayo and artichoke hearts. It might sound gross, but it's so addictive, despite the calorie count. 

(Happy hour - whipping our hair back and forth and eating cheese doodles)

-The way dinner works on these trips is each family gets assigned a night and they make the meal. Pretty simple. This year, some meals included - spiral ham with baked beans, brats and pierogies with LOTS of onions, pasta with chicken and vegetables, filet minion with broccoli and baked potato. There's also always a night where we all go out as a big group, and wreak havoc on some poor, unsuspecting restaurant in the area that is totally not accustomed to seeing a group of 22 people walk in. This year, however, my dad and his siblings had graduated high school with the owner of a local bar/restaurant - so we gave him a heads up, got the back room of Gator's to ourselves, and enjoyed a meal out on the town. 

I'm not sure what it was, but I was having horrible heart burn all week - something that I've never experienced before. One night, I got up out of bed with that urgent, "I think I'm going to be sick" feeling - only to see that the bathroom was occupied.  So I hurried downstairs and, I'll spare you the details, but, I was right - I was sick. After awhile I made my way back upstairs. As I entered the bedroom my family was staying in, my mom goes, "Did you see your father?" 

"No, why?" I asked, a little confused. 

"He thinks you're missing. Him and Sam are searching for you."

Dear Lord. 

Eventually they came inside and saw I was alive and well, aside from the vomit. They stopped looking in bushes and at the bottom of the pool for my body, and we all went to sleep. 

-After dinner every night there were different things to do in the basement, my little cousins organized a talent show one night, and we somehow peacefully watched the GOP debate another night. There were games of "What If..." and "Cards Against Humanity," which you're probably thinking, "Isn't that weird to play with your family?" The answer is yes. Yes, it can be a little strange, but it is also always hilarious. 


There were a few special activities as well, like the morning that a group of us went paddle boarding. We were enjoying ourselves, paddling like pros (including my fearless little cousin Kyle), and I was even getting fancy with some downward dog. 


Then, we decided to head back. 


Though the teacher had encouraged us to go even further than we ended up going, as soon as we turned around to make the trip back to the shop, we realized the wind was far stronger than when we first headed out. We paddled to no avail. I couldn't get past one boat for about 20 minutes. Kyle was spinning in circle. Eventually, my mom and I got Kyle situated on my board and she towed this board behind hers. We still weren't making much progress, but with Kyle laying down and using his hands to paddle along with me, we moved a little bit. Then, my mom realized we could stand. So there was some sludging through the water that way. 

They must have realized we were struggling, because we heard yells and looked to the shore to see my uncle and the paddle board shop owner waving us onto the beach.  We were still SO far from the shop, so we walked our boards up and put them in her pick-up truck for a lift back to get our stuff. 

She told us we were doing great, and that even SHE had some problems getting HERSELF in to shore. That made us feel better But we were EXHAUSTED and I was starving. I had planned to go to paddle board yoga the next morning - but, no thanks. 

Another fun night was when we went to Cowfish for happy hour and then took the Rum Barge over to Rumba for dinner. 

Cowfish was one of the most beautiful restaurants I've ever seen. The landscaping and flowers were beautiful, and the view couldn't get much more perfect. There were lawn games and couches and it was such an oasis. I couldn't stop taking pictures! 

We loaded up the Rum Barge and took it across the water to Cowfish's sister restaurant, Rumba, which we heard had the better menu for dinner. The view and outdoor area wasn't as nice, so I was really happy with our decision to do drinks at Cowfish and dinner at Rumba. 

Rumba had it's own style and feel - much more laid back and island-y. The food was KILLER and SO PRETTY. 

Are you ready for these avocado tacos? I don't think you're ready. Rastaman's Taco: paneed avocado, island slaw, corn salsa and rasta cream. 

What does "paneed" mean, you ask. Well, I Googled it so that you don't have to - basically it means bread-crumbed. Fried avocado might sound weird, but I promise you it wasn't. It was very LIGHTLY coated. Almost like a light tempura. The slaw was to die for. Or maybe it was the rasta cream. Either way, I could have eaten 2384932 of these for dinner and not tried anything else and still been happy. 

We also tried the duck empanadas because...I mean, duh. They were good too (greasy, fried good) but those tacos were on a different level. 

For my entree I got the jumbo scallop and papaya salad with avocado, tomatoes and corn. I don't know why I didn't sub the papaya for mango. I know I don't like papaya. And this confirmed it. But everything else about the salad was delicious! 

Mom: Ahi Tuna Salad- mango, avocado, purple onion, sesame seed, filed greens, tuna, "yummy yummy" sauce.

Nanny: Jumbo diver scallops- rum reduction sauce, white beans, capers, rice & mache 

Dad: Shrimp Boat- sage breaded shrimp, remoulade, avocado, lettuce and tomato 

Sam: Jerk Chicken Platter: coconut risotto and mango papaya honey salsa. This stuff was NO JOKE spicy. 

The cocktails were wonderfully refreshing and flavorful and the Hot Fudge Sundae was plain sinful. I've never seen a sundae that comes served with an entire gravy boat of hot fudge to be poured on top. And all of it was poured, trust me. 

After the rum barge got a little stuck in the shallow water, we were on our way back to Cowfish to pick up our cars and head back to the house. 

Watching the sunset was the perfect end to a pretty awesome night. 

Another night my parents, sister and grandparents went for a cocktail at Oakland's where I reestablished my love of prosecco. 

The last night, we again did happy hour and dinner out, this time at The Hampton Lady

Though the service wasn't anything to write home about, and the margaritas left something to be desired - the Mai Tais, crafted by a Hawaiian bartender, were phenomenal and the food was quite good along with the half-price drink happy hour special. Can't complain about that! I ordered the fish tacos and my dad got the lobster, which we split. 2 lobsters with corn and potatoes for $28! My mom got a burger that I was SO close to ordering - bacon, blue cheese, and a grilled shrimp on top! My sister ordered clams on the half shell and the Thai fried-calamari which was quite good! 

After dinner, my parents dropped me off at the train station and it was time to say goodbye. I got pretty emotional - tearing up a little as I watched them drive away. 

I just love how close I am with my family - the fact that I can be genuinely excited about spending 7 days in a house with 22 relatives says a lot - and I know how incredibly #blessed I am. 

Lately, I've been having a little bit of wanderlust. My list of places that I want to see and explore has grown a lot in the past few months. In fact, I used to not even have a list of places I wanted to see and explore. Now, I badly want to go to Iceland. I'm longing for a trip out west to hike and explore National Parks. Denver, Idaho, Yellowstone. I want to do and see it all. But having 10 vacation days means prioritizing. 

I know the day will come when I forego the family vacation to do my own thing. But when, a week after leaving Hampton Bays, my grandma sent me a link to next years house (we return to the Adirondacks!) I just thought to myself, "How can I turn down a week with the people who matter most to me?"

We shall see what happens next summer. But until then, the memories of Hampton Bays will carry me until Christmas, when I get to see everyone again! 

Nanny and Poppy - I know you're reading this, because you are my biggest fans - THANK YOU for making and raising and nurturing this big, crazy, wonderful, beautiful family and for giving us the opportunity to spend time together. 

I wrapped up the weekend with a trip to Target and Costco with Rebecca and Melissa, unpacked, and got ready for another week in the big apple. 

Busy Week

Monday, July 27 was an important day. 

The Bachelorette Finale, obviously. 

Though we all failed at watching the show together on a weekly basis, a bunch of us got together at Melissa's apartment to watch the finale, foam roll, and eat a lot of delicious food. 

More exciting than the finale was the fact that Kaitlin brought us LEVAIN BAKERY COOKIES!

She brought chocolate chocolate chip, peanut butter, and regular chocolate chip. All were amazing, all lived up to the hype, and naturally, I favored the peanut butter cookie. 

Somehow, even though they weren't fresh out of the oven, all the chocolate on the inside of the cookie was moist and melty as if they were still hot. 

Do you know the story behind the cookies? They were created by Constance McDonald and Pamela Weekes while they trained for an Ironman - they needed a way to get a LOT of calories back in their bods. 

Now, we eat this 6 ounce cookie as dessert. 


Tuesday night I got home from work and made a portable dinner for picnic in the park. I LOVE how these Mexican Mason jars turned out! I layered the following: 

Choululah shredded chicken (canned chicken heated up in a skillet with Choululah sauce)
Spicy black bean dip from Trader Joe's
Coconut oil sauteed sweet potato
Sauteed peppers
Corn cut off the cob and seasoned with cilantro and chili 

These delicious jars came with me to Carl Schurz Park where we watched Frozen with all of the children of the Upper East Side. Good thing we brought some wine in a water bottle. 

Wednesday night was my "surprise" date for Peter that he figured out because he gets the damn guitarists newsletter. GRR!

Anyway, months and months ago I had bought us tickets to go see Andy McKee and two other guitarists perform at BB Kings. I was a little nervous that I would be super bored with only guitar music, but it was AMAZING and I loved it. 

(Andy McKee - look him up!)

Before the concert we stopped at Sangria 46 for paella and sangria. While the paella wasn't nearly as good as what we had a Soccarat, it still had some yummy seafood. And the sangria was fabulous as usual. 

Thursday night brought even more activities! Celebrating Jaime's birthday at the Heidelberg! Who knew they had such an adorable outdoor garden in the back?! And who knew a German restaurant would have such great sangria?! 

It was super entertaining watching all of the guys get SO into their game of...THIS. It's super fun, you should give it a try. 

The next day it was time to head home for 10 days of FAMILY :)

I Got My Headstand! Cooked a Lot! Saw GORILLAS.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm so set on writing these boring, tedious "catch-up" posts, but I am determined to see them through - so bear with me. I promise this place will be a little more exciting, with better content and more creative topics sometime in the near(ish) future. 

The week on July 20th was fairly slow - which meant time to whip up some food in the kitchen!

With the cucumbers Peter dad game me from their garden, I made a delicious cucumber salad with Greek yogurt, dill, onions and some apple cider vinegar. 

I'm still mastering the skill of cooking for one (and occasionally 2 when Peter eats at my apartment) so I ended up eating this as a side allllll week long. 

I also put together one of the pre-made salads from Trader Joe's - kale and quinoa with craisins and carrots and other goodies.  To make it more summery, I added my own touch - avocado and grapefruit! 

Probably my favorite creation of the week was a bean salad. I mixed edamame, black beans, sliced plum tomatoes and onions and MANGO with an aioli garlic mustard dressing using this deliciousness from Trader Joe's + lemon juice + olive oil. The dressing credit 100% goes to Kayla, who made it for our salad while we were in Cape Cod. I would serve this over greens and top with avocado for a protein-packed lunch. 

I didn't stop there! I also made a monstrous tub of chia seed pudding (chia seeds + unsweetened vanilla almond milk + honey + cinnamon + walnuts) for breakfast all week and last but not least, CHIA SEED RHUBARB JAM using the rhubarb from the Fetzer garden. 

Making the jam was surprisingly easy - I cut the rhubarb into small pieces, added honey, simmered until it got liquidy, added the chia seeds, stirred a bunch, and VOILA! 

Thursday night was Kayla's birthday and we all went to The Jeffrey to hang out with her and her parents. 

A) The Jeffrey has a really nice outdoor area, an awesome beer selection, and a fun menu. 

B) Both time's I've been, it was pretty packed, so it's not the place to go if you're looking for something low-key. 

C) I had the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin which was great - a grapefruit flavored beer that isn't 2% alcohol! Hooray! In fact, it's 7% ABV. 

D) Kayla's parents are awesome and it was nice getting to talk to them. 

Friday when I got out of work early I headed to Kayla's for some Dance Mom's watching and some delicious dinner cooking. 

We decided to give "Cauliflower Steaks" a shot - and it actually ended up turning out fabulously! 

We seasoned the cauliflower with an olive oil, cumin, tumeric and ginger sauce and garnished with cilantro. They were delicious! The consistency wasn't exactly steak - but it was substantial. 

Served with our cauliflower steak were zucchini noodles with pesto and quinoa. 

With our extra cauliflower, we roasted the florets with some oregano and nutritional yeast. It was SO delicious! I was shocked at how cheesy it tasted (thanks, nutritional yeast). 

As we cooked and watched Dance Moms we had another important project - juicing a watermelon to make cocktails for that night's festivities. 

We took a cut up watermelon and put the chunks into the blender. Once everything was blended and we had lots of juice, we strained it through a very fine strainer...about 5 times! By the end, we had beautiful, clear, smooth, 100% pure watermelon juice. 

We headed over to Jess's apartment with our cocktail supplies where we played games and chatted with Peter and Melissa.

The cocktail was superb, if we do say so ourselves. We mixed Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka with our fresh watermelon juice, limes, and strawberry watermelon seltzer! 

Around 10:00 we headed out for the night's main event - the anniversary performance of Nacho Bitches at the New York Comedy Club. 

This was my first NYC comedy show and I certainly hope it won't be my last. It was a fun night, with lots of laughs, especially since the four of us sat in the front row and got made fun of quite a lot throughout the different comedians sets. I loved how small and intimate the venue was! 

One of the comedians, Corinne Fisher, is from the podcast "Guys We Fucked" which you should check out if you want a good laugh and a healthy dose of female empowerment. 

Anyway, at the end of the show, Kayla got to take a birthday shot with the hosts, Corrine and Blaire. 

My one complaint? The show promised free nachos, but the nachos provided were L-A-M-E. Tostitos with a side of some sad looking melted cheese. Oh well!

The night ended way later than anticipated, after a stop at Kayla's rooftop, and Peter and I were slow to rise on Saturday morning. 

But when we eventually woke up, we headed to the gym because Peter had promised to give me my first swimming lesson. I was an eager student - with new swimsuit, goggles, ear plugs and bathing cap in hand. 

I jumped into the pool, showed him how I usually swim, and said, "Fix it." 

Trust me, he was probably thinking "Shit." 

My version of swimming isn't much better than a doggy-paddle. As soon as my face goes in the water, let alone my whole head, my chest tightens and I feel extremely anxious. 

But Peter was patient with me, hold me under my stomach while I tried to get the breathing motions down right, explaining proper stroke form with words that I could understand (ohhh, it ends in a tricep extension? K, got it). 

I can't say I had an equal amount of patience. 

Eventually, all of the different things to think about felt way too overwhelming and I told him I needed to stop before I just started getting extremely unpleasant. I knew the next step would be snapping at him, and I didn't want to do that. 

I felt bad that not only had I not gotten any type of real exercise out of the lesson, but Peter spent most of the time helping me instead of swimming his own laps. So after we changed out of our swim suits we played around in one of the studios. He killed me with a deadlift/push-up pyramid workout and we played around a little with squats and clean and presses. 

You have no idea how happy I am to have found someone to spend my Saturday morning "playing" at the gym with. Seriously. 

We finished up with some Peter-led yoga and I finally got up into my headstand all by myself!! 

Though I was desperately ready for a nap, I went back to my apartment and got ready for a long day/night of drinking/celebrating. 

First was Kayla's birthday party at Lucy's Cantina. 

Fun was had by all, especially when we realized that HUMONGOUS beer-garitas were no more expensive than a margarita on the rocks. 

On our way out from Kayla's party we stopped at Penn Plates, an outdoor food vendor area near Penn Station. I was DYING to try the California Earth Mama Salad - with arugula, grilled corn, sunflower seeds, watermelon radish and a ginger and sesame dressing. The pictures I had seen of it on Instagram were SO PRETTY (yes, that's why I wanted to try it). This salad was at the Jicama stand, which I've tried before. While I really wanted the salad with shrimp, $14 for a salad after spending the whole day out was a little steep - so I ordered mine with avocado. 

Turns out, they were out of avocado so he asked if I wanted chicken instead. Free chicken? Sure. 

(This is just the sample - I somehow didn't take a picture of mine. Perhaps it was the giant margaritas...)

Bad decision on my part. Whatever the chicken was seasoned in was SO salty. Not just like "Wow, someone was a little heavy handed on the salt." Burning my throat, completely overpowering everything else, level salty. I was so sad! From what I managed to eat that hadn't been poisoned by the sodium-soaked chicken was good, but overall the salad was pretty much ruined. 


Later that night we went to a going away party for our friend Pete from November Project - deserting us for the West Coast. 

And last, we ended up back at Jaime's apartment to say goodnight to the birthday gal. 

Though the weekend had already been rather eventful, Sunday had more fun in store. 

Peter and I went to the BRONX ZOO and it was so much fun. We walked a TON but it was a gorgeous day and there were so many great moments. 

Like the gorillas, DUH. There were little BABIES and one sitting so so close to us and I was melting and loving every second and Peter had to literally be like, "OK Lauren, it's time to go." Noooo, just let me sit here with the gorillas forever!! 

The sea lions were going CRAY when we got to them. We realized it was because their feeding time was coming up, and they definitely knew it. That's crazy to me, they're so smart! 

These guys were legit YELLING. They sounded like those hysterical videos of goats screaming. And then there was one little baby that didn't know how to do it yet and every time he tried it sounded like he was about to throw up. Peter was imitating it and I was losing it. I don't know how everyone at the sea lion exhibit wasn't pissing themselves. 

Mr. Turtle was FLIPPED OVER on his back when we got to him. Talk about struggle city. A lemur looked on as the turtle flailed his legs and tail back and forth violently - that little lemur knew exactly what was happening but didn't do anything to help. Eventually, a zoo keeper came into the enclosure and flipped him over. 

The leopards were out and playful and it's so awesome how they act just like giant version of a regular house cat! Watching them play was just like watching Doodle and his friend play at the Meow Parlour

That night I readied for the week ahead, which would bring lots of activities in my last week in NYC before my family vacation. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

SLT Review: Strengthen Lengthen Tone (Shit, Legs Tired)

If I’m going to spend money going to a boutique fitness class, I want to leave the studio feeling like I just kicked-ass. This usually means that the class left me dripping sweat with wobbly legs or spaghetti arms, huffing and puffing. That’s why yoga’s not my jam (although I have yet to try hot yoga – I know I’d be sweaty after that!) And I’ll only take a Pilates class on a day that I’m trying to take it "easy."

That being said, I’m not entirely sure what sparked my interest in SLT – Strengthen Lengthen Tone, a class that I believed was a yoga/Pilates fusion.

But hold on. Their website describes SLT as “If Cardio, Strength Training and Pilates Had a Baby.”

Huh? Now I needed to check this out.

SLT has been in New York City for 3 and a half years.  There are now four SLT studios in New York City (Midtown, SoHo, Flat Iron and the Upper East Side). The class is based on using a machine called the Megaformer – created and franchised by “fitness guru” Sebastien Lagree in L.A. in 2010.

This machine is SO crazy.

(The MEGAformer)

But let’s rewind a little. I visited SLT’s Upper East Side location, which shares a building with Flywheel and Flybarre on 67th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues.  SLT’s studio is on the 4th floor, and had I known what was in store for me, I may have taken the elevator.
When you walk into SLT it’s a little confusing at first because you’re already in the studio. It’s just one big space, and when you walk in, you might be walking in while another class is already in progress.

I let the receptionist know it was my first class and started to give him my name until I realized the iPod stand where I was supposed to click on my name. Hi-tech! The receptionist let the instructor know that it was my first class, which was greatly appreciated because this meant that I got a little run-down on the slightly (ok, really) overwhelming looking torture-device that is the Megaformer.

My instructor, Jacob, set me up at a machine with regulars on either side so I could follow along with them if I got lost or confused and proceeded to point out all of the main components of the Megaformer that I’d need to be familiar with for the class. Thank GOD for this little introduction – I would have been flopping around like a fish out of water had I not had a little knowledge about the different parts and pieces of the Megaformer. Megaformers are picked out as you arrive to class – they’re not assigned through the registration process, but since the instructor doesn’t have a machine of their own and floats throughout the class, there’s really no “good” or “bad” spot.  The entire front of the room is mirrored.

(As Seen From My Megaformer)

The entire back of the studio is a wooden bench with cubbies with some coat hangers too. No lockers, but you can literally put your stuff right behind whatever machine you’re working on so having anything stolen would be pretty ballsy.

We got started and the first thing we did was some ab exercise where we put our hands on the slider with our knees on the platform and pushed out as far as we could while keeping our hips up. I can pretty easily plank for a minute. I can do pretty difficult ab exercises. First of all, I started out doing this completely wrong. Luckily, Jacob came over and adjusted me.  As soon as I did one rep with the right form, I think I cursed to myself. This wasn’t going to be a relaxing class by any means.

Jacob led us through some ab exercises before moving on to a variety of different lunges that had me dripping and quivering and wanting to give up, in all honesty. This shit was HARD! 

Jacob was great at explaining it, great with encouragement, and great with counting. We also did an entire section of obliques.

Going into class at SLT, the core work was expected. But I didn’t realize how great of a leg workout you could get using the Megaformer! We even did Megaformer Burpees! OUCH.

The machine is awesome because you can change how much resistance is on the slider. Watching videos of people doing moves on the Megaformer makes it looks so elegant, smooth and graceful – I assure you I felt none of those things as I struggled through some of these moves.

SLT has its own language – with exercises called things like The Bear, The Catfish and The Mermaid, but I barely even realized those terms were being used because Jacob was so great at breaking each one down into manageable steps and movements.

(The wall full of words I don't understand in terms of SLT exercises...)

Unlike the workouts I’m used to – SLT wasn’t about seeing how many reps I could fit in a certain amount of time. The slower and more precise you are with your movements on the Megaformer, the more you’ll feel the burn, the more you’ll work your muscles, and the more you’ll want to take a baseball bat to this torture device!

One thing that was a little weird to me was the music. The class is high-paced, moving quickly from one thing to the other, but the movements themselves are slower and so it was a little weird to be listening to typical workout music and also weird when a slower song would come on – because I was still dripping with sweat and needing to be pumped up.

We did a really brief portion of arm work at the end, but as someone who lifts weights fairly regularly at the gym, this part wasn’t particularly challenging or exciting.

A few more things about the studio – no showers. But the bathrooms are stocked with some things to help you freshen up!

Each class promises to be different – there were tons of aspects of the machine that I didn’t even get to experience during my first class – there’s even some dumbbells hidden under each one! I definitely thing I could go to SLT classes regularly and never be bored.

(Hiding underneath!)

These classes are pricy, even by boutique fitness standards. SLT isn’t on Class Pass. You can get your first SLT class for $20, but after that, you’ll be paying around $40 per class.  My first thought was, “Oh, NYSC has reformer Pilates classes, I’ll just take one of those!” But these Megaformer machines are so much more than a regular Pilates reformer machine. And if the rest of the instructors are as good as Jacob, you’re paying for a really put together class (he even went around adjusting all of our machines resistances’ while we were on the other end for lunges).  SLT was listed as one of DailyBurn’s Priciest Fitness Classes Worth the Splurge

At the end of this class, I was certainly sweaty, and I certainly felt like I had given my muscles a GREAT workout. I could feel every single muscle I had worked during the 50 minute class. 

Understandably, $40 may not be something you can shell out for a routine fitness class. But do yourself a favor and take your first class for $20 before you write off SLT as a trendy waste of money. Find out for yourself why SLT owner Amanda Freeman describes it as “Pilates on crack.” 

Not So Fly Mile High Run Club Review

For over a month, I have been beyond excited to try a class at the new fitness studio Mile High Run Club. A boutique fitness studio in NOHO (28 East 4th Street to be exact), Mile High Run Club is neither conveniently located or cost-effective - but I was determined to experience a class that attempts to turn the typically solitary and boring act of treadmill running into a black-light, music-blasting group fitness-fest. Unfortunately, MHRC didn't live up to the hype. 

A group of us decided to go on a Thursday night after work, using a code for a free class that we got from the wonderful  blog Ali on the Run

We showed up at around 6:15 for our 6:30 p.m. class - the lobby was nice, and the receptionist let me know which treadmill I had signed up for before giving us a little tour - there's locker rooms, showers, and a wall of lockers outside of the studio. They're the complicated lockers with the built in programmable locks that I somehow always manage to screw up -  but I guess it's for the best since I recently lost my real lock (which I've had since freshman year of high school - so I'm really sad it's gone!) The lockers were like Mary Poppins' bag. They looked so teeny, yet somehow fit my giant ass bag. 

We stood outside the studio waiting to be let inside, and it was a little cramped and crowded but not too horrible. This is the part where I should have scoped out the locker rooms and bathrooms/showers so I could write a little something about them but, I didn't, so sorry 'bout it. From others' accounts the locker room had very few lockers which were all taken and the bathroom had two showers. There, now you know everything! (Spring Awakening reference, anyone, anyone? Probably not.) 

One of my biggest pet peeves is when classes don't start on time. We still hadn't been allowed in the room when the clock struck 6:30, which was a big no-no for me. They let us in around then, but obviously, there was no way we were actually starting the workout at 6:30. The part that was frustrating was that no one was in the studio before us, so I'm not sure why we couldn't have been in there filling up our water bottles and getting settled a few minutes earlier. 

The studio itself is what you would expect, a big room with lots of treadmills. The room is dark and black-lit, so pro-tip - if you plan on taking pictures (for Instagram, obviously) then wear neon! 

(Rebecca got the neon memo, apparently!)

There's a spot in the back to fill up your water bottles and each treadmill has a towel waiting at it. (As I mentioned earlier, when you sign up online you pick a treadmill and that's your assigned spot for the class). 

Another pro-tip (since I am obviously a pro after just 1 class) - treadmills 4, 9, 17 and 21 have giant columns in front of them, so you a) won't see the instructor and b) won't be able to yourself in the mirrors. Seeing the instructor isn't all that important, but I'd imagine staring straight at a blank wall for a half hour could get kind of annoying. That's just me. Maybe it would help you get in the zone. Do you. 

I was treadmill 20 - but if I were to take another class, I would probably pick something in the back row. My reason is such an asshole reason, but I'm going to be honest about it because I'm sure there's more than a few people out there who would be the same way. If I had been in the back row,  I would have been able to see a lot more people's treadmill screens and have been able to see how fast they were going throughout the class.  No, I would not have used this information to judge the people going slower than me, but I sure as hell would have used it to push myself to try to get on some of the speedier people's levels. 

Mile High Run Club offers 3 different classes at the studio:
The Distance: Our advanced performance improving class incorporates 60 minutes of continuous intervals, tempo, and hills on the treadmill and is coached by elite runners.
Ultra: Our advanced performance improving class incorporates 90 minutes of continuous intervals, tempo, and hills on the treadmill and is coached by elite runners. 
Dash 28: This 45-minute class provides a foundation for runners of all levels with about 28 minutes of structured intervals followed by 10 minutes of strength plus power training with kettle bells.

We took a Dash 28 class with Debora Warner, the founder and program director of Mile High Run Club. Once we had all settled in, we stood besides our treadmills for a warm up of squats, high knees, butt kicks, etc.  

Each treadmill comes with a pace card, giving suggestions for the speeds you should hit during each interval as a beginner ("joggers") or a more advanced runner ("racers"). The treadmill portion of the class went a little something like this: 

4 minutes warm-up pace
1 minute level 2 pace
1 minute level 3 pace
1 minute level 2 pace
2 minutes level 3 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace at a 3.0 incline
2 minutes level 4 pace 

2 minutes warm-up pace

1 minute level 2 pace
1 minute level 3 pace
1 minute level 2 pace
2 minutes level 3 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace at a 5.0 incline
2 minutes level 4 pace 

Thoughts on the interval portion of class:
-I was a fan of the actual intervals. Nothing was too long - you could always tell yourself, "Only 90 seconds left, Only 45 seconds left, etc." 

-Debora's counting was horrendous. Each time she counted down from 5 was completely different - but not once was 5 seconds actually 5 seconds. There was even a digital clock in the middle of the room for her to use, so I'm not really sure what the issue was.

-5.0 incline is no joke and I totally had to decrease it before the 2 minutes were up.  Pittsburgh Marathon, City of I come? Gulp. 

-It would have been a lot more motivational had the instructor been on a treadmill too. It's like going to a spin class and having an instructor who walks around the whole time. Or even worse, just sits on their bike not spinning. 

-It was a little difficult to understand Debora - the mic was fuzzy and the music was loud and her prompts weren't always clear. I'm pretty sure I was on that 5.0 hill earlier than I was supposed to be because her counts and directions were so hard to understand. And it's not like it was anything too difficult to understand! 

-The playlist - so meh. 

-Apparently these are state of the art treadmills used at Mile High Run Club, and it was nice that you don't run into the front of it, although I'm still not sold on the ribbed belt ever since I tripped on one at New York Sports Club. I did a little research, and MHRC uses Woodway treadmills which feature "slat belt" technology and are supposed to feel like you're running outside. Yada yada. They felt nice. 

(This is the Woodway 4Front treadmill - there's 30 of them in the MHRC Studio. I'm assuming they cost a lot of money.)

-IT WAS SO HOT AND SWEATY IN THERE! Finally with 5 minutes left of class Debora was like, "Oh, does anyone need a fan?" Uhm, yes dear lord, please. There were sweat puddles in my sneakers. And I'm not someone who sweats a ton! 

After some light jogging/walking it was time to get to the power/strength portion of the class. Everyone grabbed some kettlebells in various weights and brought them back to their treadmills. 

I actually really liked the combination of exercises we did during this part of the Dash 28 class and I thought it was great. However, the instructor did such a poor job of explaining what exactly we were supposed to be doing. And I've been to a lot of classes, I'm usually pretty quick at picking things up. Nothing we had to do was that complicated, but she just didn't explain them very well. Or would demonstrate them in a way that wasn't how she actually wanted US to do them, which just makes no sense. 


We started by alternating for 30 seconds between kettlebell squat and presses and kettlebell curls (2 rounds of each exercise). 

Next were step ups onto the treadmill (finally a good song! Shots is my new favorite song for step-ups). 

We also did lunges, pushups, squats onto the belt followed by a hop up, and hip dips with our feet on the treadmill and our elbows on the ground (those burned). 

I was a sweaty mess by the end of class, which is usually all I need in order to be satisfied with a class, but this time I just felt so meh about what I'd just done. 

I ended up running about 3.1 miles or so. 

Worst part - we end class and Debora DOESN'T HAVE US STRETCH. I swear, it's like she just wanted to be out of there. She basically said, "If you want to stretch go ahead." Ok. 

After class, the locker area that felt just slightly crowded earlier felt catastrophically crowded as our class came out and the 7:30 class went in. Double the people plus all the sweat = ugh. 

I can definitely see how MHRC could be a great class - but unfortunately, the unenthusiastic instructor really ruined it for me. I would still be interested in trying one of the longer classes with more running, but at $34 per class, I'm not sure that's in the cards. 

I also think that what makes spin classes and even indoor group rowing classes work is the fact that at times, everyone in the room is doing the same thing. With indoor treadmilling (yes, that's a word now) there's no point where everyone's at the same pace or doing the same "choreography" (sometime's jumps in spinning remind me of dancing, OK? And everyone rowing in sync looks pretty!) There's also no real way to push yourself against others at MHRC, and obviously you can always compete against yourself, but when your instructor isn't saying things that encourage that mindset, it's hard to get into it.  

Not to mention you can go on Pinterest and get endless treadmill interval routines and save yourself a whole lot of money. You'll still be next to people who are also running and you can listen to a playlist of your own creation.

So, in conclusion, Mile High Run Club isn't really for me. HOWEVER, I do think it's great that it's seeing so much success and getting more and more people into a fitness class that includes RUNNING! It's usually such an intimidating concept to people, and I think MHRC is changing that perception for some people which is wonderful! 

Row Row Row Your Erg - ROW HOUSE REVIEW.

On Wednesday night I finally took an indoor rowing class at Row House NYC

For awhile now, I've been really interested in attending an erg class [indoor rowing machines are technically called ergometers, according to Wikipedia!] They're like the new spin class, popping up all over. These studios' gain in popularity coincided with me meeting a lot of new people through November Project who rowed in college, and definitely got me interested in giving it a chance. As a runner who feels like they're constantly injured, rowing is a lower-impact workout, while still being great for your entire body and not skimping on cardio! 

Just last week, Row House celebrated their 1st Birthday! I stopped by their party for some cute little hors-d'oeuvres from Just Salad and delicious drinks from fancy organic vodka and tequila brands that I can't remember the names of, oops. 


But let's get to the good stuff - the class. I signed up for a class at the Columbus Circle location [In reality, it's a bit of a trek from Columbus Circle - a little over a half a mile to 59th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenues]. The studio has lockers, two bathrooms [each with a shower - and the showers are equipped with TRESemme shampoo and conditioner, classy!]  

A few minutes to six we were led into the studio, 3 rows of ergs with a giant mirror in the front. Our instructor, Eric sat front and center and explained that for most of the class we would be rowing together, following either his stroke or that of another coach who was in the class in the front row.  I sat directly behind Eric, hoping some of his form would rub off on me! 

Eric Von Frohlich was not only my instructor on Wednesday night, but he, along with wife Debra, are the founders of Row House! He's been interviewed for a bunch of fitness magazines on rowing technique, since a lot of people don't know the first thing about this piece of gym equipment.

 (I certainly didn't know a bout proper rowing technique, until this guy showed me the ropes!)

So when Eric asked who was new at Wednesday's class, I raised my hand, but I knew I had an advantage. When he started going over form, I was already a few steps ahead of the game, knowing that you're supposed to send your arms out first before bending your legs. 

He's clearly experienced in teaching people how to row, because what could have taken up a quarter of the class was done succinctly and quickly - a few strokes to get the arm movements down, then a few strokes putting everything together, learning that you're body is supposed to hit 1 and 11 on the invisible clock, and then it was time to get started. 

Like I said, for most of a Row House class everyone in the room is expected to row in-sync. After all, when you're actually outside rowing, that's what it's all about - teamwork to make the boat move! Eric led us through intervals, 10 strokes of recovery followed by 20-30 power strokes at differing strokes per minute. 

There's a lot of new terminology when it comes to using the erg - but going to a class at Row House will be SO helpful in letting you put together your own erg workout if you're so inclined to use the lonely little rower hidden in corners of gyms. 

But rowing as a group, in a dark room with music, makes indoor rowing a lot more enjoyable, in my opinion. 

(Eric demonstrating perfect form!) 

After 10 minutes of intervals, we got off the rowers for some body-weight exercises. 

First, squats. Then, front lunges. Next, back lunches. Last, inchworms to push-ups. I also liked that Eric included a stretch before we got back on the machines - and one that was good for our IT bands no less [I was concerned that my IT band would bother me during this workout, and as a runner, that's not a body part I'd like to upset!] 

Next we did another 10 minute section of intervals on the erg. The more I row, the more it starts to come together. Your power is mainly supposed to come from your legs and core, not just your arms. You can bring your pace down in two ways - either by pushing off/pulling harder or by slowing down your recovery time [simultaneously upping your strokes per minute]. For me, I found that keeping my strokes per minute on the lower end and taking a sufficient recovery (slower on the way back down to the front of the rower) allowed me to have a stronger stroke which in turn made my pace (per 500 meters) drop. 

After the second 10 minutes of rowing we hopped off again and did side lunges followed by push-ups to side plank and another stretch. 

The last part of class was probably my favorite part. Eric said that now that we successfully rowed in sync it was time to let us go our own speed. He turned the lights out and told us to see how far we could go in 4 minutes. Having the lights out definitely allowed me to block everything else out and just focus on finding a rhythm that worked for my body. 

For the 4 minutes, Eric walked around encouraging people and trying to get them to give a little extra push.  Lucky for me, Eric stopped by my rower with 40 seconds left, and the extra motivation saw my pace drop to the lowest that it did the entire class - 2:19. To be fair, there were plenty of people going a hell of a lot fast than me, but I was happy to see that I could give a little more than I thought. 

At the end of 4 minutes Eric told us to look at how far we had gone, and add 50 meters (or more) to that number.  That's how far we were trying to go in the next 4 minutes. UGH. Then he gave a motivational but not at all cheesy or over-the-top speech about setting goals and learning more about yourself the loftier the goal. 

I didn't do as well as I would have liked, but I did add 30 or so meters to my first 4 minutes. 

Sadly, a few stretches and we were done. I wanted to keep going! 

It was definitely a full-body workout and I definitely sweat, though I've been sweatier in other classes.  

Row House Full Body is the class I took, but they also offer Row House Core (where the time off the rower focuses on abs only) and Row House Express (only rowing for 35 minutes). There's also Row House Endurance which is a 50 minute class with more rowing drills. 

The music Eric played during the class was GREAT. When Geronimo came on it was hard for me not to erg-dance. Is that a thing? 

At some point during the class I realized that each machine was customized with a clever quote, which I probably enjoyed more than I should have.  "Stroke of genius." "Don't resist the erg." There is nothing I like more than a fitness-themed pun. 

We all wiped down our machines at the end of class, got some high fives from Eric, and were on our way.  They had two foam rollers in the back of the room which I appreciated, and probably should have used, but I waited until I got back to my apartment to roll it out. 

You've probably never thought about taking a group rowing class. But I think you should. 

Row House has two locations - one at 555 West 59th Street (between West End and Amsterdam Avenues) and one on the Upper East Side (come on NP people!) at 406 East 91st Street (between First and York Avenues).  

Row House also is awesome on Instagram and likes my pictures, holllllla. But really, having a fitness studio that gets to know their clients is awesome, and it was very obvious that a lot of the people in the class are regulars. 

They offer a great beginner package - 3 classes for $75 (single classes are $35). 


A Muddled Training and Injury Update

I don’t have a good enough memory to start where I left off back in December, so I’m just going to backtrack to January 12, when I officially started my training schedule for the Pittsburgh Marathon. I’m all set up with a 16 week training plan courtesy of the amazing NYRR Coach John.

This is my first time using the NYRR Virtual Training program, and it is way more awesome than I had even expected it to be. Each day, I’m given not only my mileage, but how it should be run. An easy day, marathon tempo pickups, intervals, hills? It’s all spelled out for me, complete with pace ranges!

As convenient as it is – it’s been hard for me to try not to get too wrapped up in all of the numbers. I successfully ran a marathon without worrying about the pace of each 1000 meters that I ran, and I can do it again. Having all this extra information and data is certainly helpful, and hopefully will help me improve as a runner, but it can also be overwhelming, especially when I’m injured. A lot of the suggested paces are what I was running before Wine Glass and now, with all the leg issues I’ve been having, they’re just not possible for me. It’s been discouraging, and I’m considering switching my program to the “conservative” track. 

Pittsburgh was never a “need to run this fast and BQ” race for me- I want to be healthy enough to run another fall marathon and use that to crush it and Boston Qualify. And in order to make that happen, I need to not kill myself training for Pittsburgh. I’m trying to keep telling myself that- but I’m stubborn and when I see that’s I’m scheduled to run 6 miles, I’m most likely going to run 6 miles whether it’s smart or not. It sounds stupid, I know. And it is stupid.

But while the virtual training program may be a little overwhelming and discouraging for now – it DOES tell me all the right things, like, “Remember to not be too rigid with your training. If you're feeling fatigued or feel a pain, by all means cut the run short. Sometimes we get so caught up in hitting a mileage goal that we lose sight of what our body is telling us.” 

I just need to work on believing that even if I miss a bunch of training runs by taking some time off/taking it easy – I’m in shape, I’m a good runner, and I will probably be OK to run Pittsburgh.

Also adding to the overabundance of data is the fact that for Christmas, I got the Garmin 220! My first run with it was Christmas morning and I was totally surprised to see what my pace actually was - MapMyRun had me feelin' like Meb and Garmin brought me back down to earth reallllll fast. As much as it sucked seeing those numbers, I'm glad that I can feel confident in what my watch is telling me. So far, KNOCK ON WOOD, I have had zero issues with my watch connecting to satellites and I love it so far. 

(What do you mean I'm not running 7:50 miles Garmin?!)

My training for Pittsburgh got off to a good start on January 12 – I was traveling for work, but I still managed to get my first 9 workouts in as planned, with additional strength training. I was ready to rock and roll. 

(Training schedule- check! Amazing necklace engraved with "Wineglass Marathon" and my finish time from my parents- check! Wonderful reading courtesy of Peter- check! Garmin- check! Awesome training journal from Laura- check!)
(Makin' it happen on the road)

My first long run was scheduled as a 6 miler, but months ago I had signed up for the Bluepoint Brewery 10-Miler out on Long Island (full review to come). So instead of sticking to the plan and starting off with a nice, easy, 6 miles – I went out and raced 10 miles. Those 10 miles didn’t feel good. At all. My calves were extremely tight and my shins were in a lot of pain. But I thought I was fine, because I finished.
(I also probably thought I was fine because I chugged two beers after crossing the finish line and was drunk at 10:30 a.m.)

The next day, I ran 2.7 miles to get to work at NY Running Co. Felt pretty OK. Monday, headed to Central Park for my scheduled 5 miles and as soon as I started, something in the arch of my right foot started hurting. It wasn’t the usual tight/sore/achy hurt that I’ve just learned to accept in other part of my legs. This was pain. And that difference right there is why I should have stopped. But instead I finished my 5 miles. Walking around doing errands the rest of the day was seriously painful.

So painful, that I very uncharacteristically called and made an appointment with an orthopedist the following morning. I was convinced this wasn’t something that would just go away and while I didn’t want to get bad news, I also wanted to know what the hell was up- I’ve never had foot issues before. Every other part of my legs, yes. Foot? Usually fine.

I went to the doctor that a friend had recommended to me and she was really nice- totally understood my panic at being only 1 week into marathon training and having to come in to see her. After x-rays and some ultrasound, she told me it was either tendinitis (not the worst thing in the world) or a stress fracture (the worst thing in the world). So she put me in a walking boot and told me to get an MRI. Well, of course by the time I got the authorization for an MRI, I was leaving on a work trip the next day, so the MRI would have to wait and I would have to work for a week in a boot.

I stubbornly continued to get in any and all cardio that I could while in the boot.

On Wednesday of that week, I did 15 minutes on the elliptical IN A BOOT. 15 minutes of rowing IN A BOOT. And some ab and arm exercises. Rowing and using the elliptical with a boot was oddly not that difficult.

(Nothin' to see here...completely normal...)

Thursday I did 30 minutes rowing, 15 minutes stationary bike, a tricep circuit, and fire hydrants, donkey kicks, leg raises, glute bridges and clamshells.

Friday was 30 minutes on the elliptical without the boot to see how I felt and 15 minutes on the bike before a chest and abs circuit.

From using the boot, my foot was starting to feel better and I was contemplating whether I could run the 5K I was signed up for on Saturday. I spoke with John and with instructions to not wear racing flats and to take it easy, I decided I would run the 5K.

(My fave up and coming speedster who kicked butt at the 5K!)

It was quite impressive the number of people that came out for a 5K in January in Columbus, Ohio. It was a well-organized race with awesome swag- a long sleeved technical shirt, buff and medal with lots of yummy snacks and full sized Gatorades at the end.

(My co-workers are pretty awesome for waking up to run a 5K before a 13 hour+ work day!)

But, my body was screaming at me the entire time saying, “You’re really stupid!” I was in a lot of pain. I almost stopped and walked but I couldn’t walk across a finish line.

(LOL, rough.)

When I got back to the city on Monday (after an 11 hour bus ride since everyone's flights were cancelled), there was snow everywhere and I ditched the boot because navigating slush puddles in a walking boot is no bueno. That night, I went to the gym and did some rowing and elliptical along with some deadlifts, squats and lunges.

(Perfect weather for navigating a suitcase home with a walking boot!)

Tuesday I went out in the park for 5 easy miles (except they weren’t easy because there was snow everywhere!) It was really pretty and my foot wasn’t that bad until I got to cat hill…but that’s pretty much the end of the run anyway.

(It felt like we were running in place at some parts, but the park was so pretty covered in snow!)
(A lovely gentleman was making perfectly shaped snowballs for people to throw!)

(Happy place!)

Wednesday I took a spin class and was relieved to find that it didn’t bother my foot at all. That night I went in for my MRI.

Thursday I was an idiot and did a deck of cards workout that included speed skaters, box jumps, jumping jacks and squat thrusts. I was expecting all of the above to really bother my foot- but it didn’t!

Friday I took the day off and Saturday I cautiously ran 4 miles on the treadmill. Not too much pain, but also not the 9 mile long run I was scheduled to run, which stressed me out.

Sunday was fun because I joined some people from November Project for a #TravelCheerStation for the 4 miler in Central Park. What is a Travel Cheer Station you ask? We ran the course in the opposite direction and cheered every time an NP comrade passed by. It was really fun and I got in 6.5 miles.

My paces continued to upset me- with 9:17 being Sunday’s.

(Pace, schmace- I had a blast on Sunday travel-cheering with these ladies. Might be my new favorite activity. Why pay to run the race when you can just run it in the opposite direction and encourage people the whole way?!)

Monday I went back to the orthopedist for my MRI results and was told IT’S NOT A STRESS FRACTURE.

I’m free to run, since I can’t really do any more damage to the tendon which is already inflamed. She gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory (which I STILL have not been able to get filled by a pharmacy) and fitted me for a brace that has done WONDERS. She also wants me to go to physical therapy – which I’ve been two twice now and will go to 3 times this week.

Once I found out Monday morning, I decided to cut the mileage a little bit for each day on my calendar, but to jump back in.

I was even able to do some speed work on Tuesday on the treadmill!

1 Mile Warm Up @ 8:34 Pace
400 meters @ 7:19
:45 rest
400 meters @ 7:14 Pace
:45 Rest
400 meters @7:09 Pace
:45 Rest
400 Meters @ 7:04 Pace
:45 Rest
400 Meters @ 6:59 Pace
:45 Rest
400 Meters @ 6:54 Pace
 :45 Rest
400 Meters @ 6:49 Pace
 :30 Rest
400 Meters @ 6:44 Pace
.5 Mile Cool Down @ 10:00 Pace
.25 Mile Cool Down @ 8:13 Pace
.25 Mile Cool Down @ 8:20 Pace
.25 Mile Cool Down @ 8:27 Pace
.25 Mile Cool Down @ 8:34 Pace

Oh AND I went to yoga. Yoga really frustrated me, as usual, because EVERYTHING HURTS when it’s supposed to feel good! Child’s pose was painful! Why is everything so tight?!
Anyway, my foot has been feeling a lot better with the brace, and last week I was able to run 23.5 miles. The only real pain was after my 9 mile long run on Saturday. As soon as I stopped and started walking, it killed.

(Saturday long run crew! Solid.)

The long run wasn’t great in terms of how I felt, but meeting a huge group at NYRR Saturday morning full of friendly, excited faces made it worth it. I also am not the biggest fan of long runs in Central Park, so I was happy that I only had to do 9 miles.


This morning was the first running awhile where I was able to keep a pace that I was happy with- and although there was still some pain, it wasn’t terrible and I felt good with how things went afterwards.  6 miles at an 8:25 pace. I can definitely live with that.

I have lots of plans for this week- intervals tomorrow, NP Wednesday and hills Thursday- but we’ll see if that actually pans out.

I don’t really know what this post accomplished besides re-hashing the last 2 weeks of training but, yup. There ya have it.

If you take anything away from this post it should be that you can use the elliptical, ERG and stationary bike with a walking boot on but you will get some weird looks.

Also, don’t do what I do. 

PXT (2) at Pure Yoga

The other night, I had the chance to take a PXT class at Pure Yoga East. It was different than anything I've ever done before, different than I expected, but overall a pretty great workout. 

Pure Yoga East is an absolutely beautiful studio. I mean, at $250 a month for membership, it better be a little bougie.  

Pure Yoga is 3 or 4 floors, with all different types of studios. Hot yoga studios, regular yoga studios- I'm not a yogi so I'm sure there are other types of studios and I just have no idea what they are. Either way. 7 is impressive. They also have tons of little lounge areas, a boutique, and a seriously huge and gorgeous women's locker room. 

I started the class of great- by getting yelled at for walking into the studio with shoes on - oops. After taking them off and leaving them outside, I re-entered and took in the setup. Everyone had a mat, a step and those little sliders you put under your hands and feet to torture your abs. The instructor told me to grab two sets of dumbbells (10 lbs and 5 lbs) and a 10 lb medicine ball. 

I was shocked to see that there would only be 5 of us in the class - it was like a private training session! 

As usual, I had done some research before showing up, and I knew that the PXT class would start with some yoga. Grumble grumble. If I must I guess I can do a few minutes of yoga as a warm up. We started slow, switching between the few moves and poses that I actually know (my yoga knowledge is limited, at best). I was a little stressed that it was going to get too complicated for me to follow and I would stand out like a sore thumb considered there were only 5 of us, but instead of adding a bunch of complicated poses to the flow, we just sped it up. Downward facing dog, chair pose, upward facing dog, warrior, vinyasa - by the end of the 10-15 yoga warm up I was actually starting to enjoy it! Minus the fact that the room was slowly getting hotter and hotter. Hey, I'm about to do burpees and squats and you're putting the heat up? What gives? I know, it's a thing. I'm just not sure it's a thing I like. Genius day to forget to bring water too, Lauren. 

This class really pushed me with some moves I had never done before- which I loved. Using the ab sliders was A LOT more challenging than I thought it would be. Pikes and walk outs and lunges- I was shaking! I also loved implementing the step for things like squats and step ups to knee holds. The instructor, Julia Stephens, was great at explaining and demonstrating each move and encouraging and motivating you to push until the end. We didn't stay on any one move for too long, so knowing that the end was near if you could knock out a few more reps was always helpful. 

After the cardio/plyo/strength section we moved into "partner abs." One person laid on their backs and grabbed their partners ankles while the partner got in the squat position and threw the other persons legs down- first to the left, then the middle, then the right. By the end of this, my abs were feeling it and I was looking forward to a break by being the "leg thrower." Well, stay in that squat position and pushing the legs down was more work than I thought, and I could feel it by the end of that too!

The next section was the "Coreball Countdown Challenge." Julia wrote 4 exercises on the mirror at the front of the room and we had to do 8 reps of each, then 7 reps of each, then 8 reps of each, etc. all the way down to 1. I wish I remembered exactly which exercises we did here, but I know burpees with the core ball was one of them, and that was rough!

We cooled down with a few more minutes of yoga and then we were done.

If you ever get a chance to go, or want to drop-in for a $35 class, I recommend it! This class is good for anyone who gets frustrated by an entire hour of yoga and wants something more intense. I loved the challenge, but I also wouldn't recommend it for beginners, as some of the moves may be frustratingly complicated.


Being injured sucks, obviously.

Last year, when I was diagnosed with a tibial stress fracture and told that I would need to use crutches for a month, which meant I  couldn't run, spin, row, elliptical- nada- I cried. Ugly, angry, frustrated tears on the car ride home while my dad tried to comfort me. But he couldn't. Nobody could, because in my mind, nobody else "got it." Nobody else understood how I was feeling. 

(Being a cripple commuting to Manhattan was no fun!)

But now that I've joined November Project, I've found a whole bunch of people who I know "get it." A whole bunch of awesome athletes who, like me,  have bodies that just don't feel like cooperating with quite their level of fitness fanaticism. Like me, they probably pushed the limits a little too far, and now they're being forced to face the inevitable, "No. You really need to stop for a bit." Whether it's a stress fracture, IT Band syndrome, or like myself, a killer case of shin splints. Tis the season to be injured. Fall marathons have been run and if there's ever a time that we running addicts can be convinced to take a chill pill, it's now. 

I've been trying my hardest to cut back on the running- focusing on other types of exercise whenever possible, because my shins have really been bothering me. Instead of running 5 or 6 days a week, I'm aiming for 2 or 3, max. 

That's why I've been opting to take part in the #InjuryDeck at Wednesday's November Project. #InjuryDeck is a fabulous group put together by Emma and led by Leanne where all of the hobbly NPers who can't run do something else instead. 

The first week of #InjuryDeck was a killer Deck of Cards workout that Leanne put together. Side lunges, bridges, sit-ups, dips, burpees, push-ups (SO many push ups)- this workout left us all sore the next day. 

This week, Leanne asked us to bring any recovery tools we had so she could show us a routine that can help PREVENT injuries in the future, and help us recover from our current issues faster. I dutifully showed up with my foam roller, stick and golf ball ready to learn.

(This is how I roll)

Because I have to admit. I suck at recovery. No matter how many times I'm told by people far more intelligent than myself that rolling and stretching are IMPORTANT I am usually too lazy to actually do it. I wish I had a better excuse than that, I really do. Inevitably I end up hurt- my shins end up killing me, my calves end up tight and I curse myself and I promise that from that day forward I will stretch and foam roll after every workout. I usually don't even last a week. 

It's pathetic, really. I have all the tools. I have space in my apartment. And thanks to people like Leanne, I have the knowledge. 

On Wednesday, Leanne showed me some things I had never known before- different muscles to roll that hit so many of my problem areas. I felt a little click in my brain- "Oh, THAT'S the spot that's causing that pain!" Maybe this little light bulb that went off in my head will lead to more consistent attention to rolling. 

Because it really is so important. 

Leanne led us through a routine that looked a little something like this: 

elf Myofasical Release/Stretch

Activation Circuit

You can read all about it on her blog, where she does a much better job of explaining the technicalities of these corrective exercises. 

I thought I would wrap this post up by showing some of the many different options out there for recovery- it can be a little overwhelming. But it's all about finding the right tool for you and your unique set of weaknesses/problem areas. In the future, I may go into more detail on each of these tools and what they're used for but for now- just take a look at some of the things out there and do your own research.

1) The foam roller

3) Trigger point massage ball (can also use a tennis ball, golf ball, soft ball, lacrosse ball, etc.)

Transformation Tuesday: Why I'm Over My Abs

On this “Transformation Tuesday” let’s talk about the transformative power of strength training.

“We thought you just ran lots of miles,” you’re probably thinking.

 Well, that’s true. For the past half a year, running has been my main focus. But now that I have some time before I need to start upping my mileage again in preparation for the Pittsburgh Marathon, I’m trying to get back into weights.

Yes it can be a little intimidating at first to step away from the treadmill and the elliptical and the safety of other girls like you, looking cute in your Nike and Lululemon.

But let’s be real. You dream of one day being that badass chick doing all sorts of exercises with the free weights with the guys.  (Or maybe you dream of being the badass girl all alone in your own corner of the gym because you’ve been that girl at the free weights with the guys, and they’re just obnoxious for the most part).

Well, I’m here to tell you that you absolutely should go for it.

There’s no excuse. You don’t know where to start? How to do the exercises? I’m pretty sure there are approximately 129308 ways to fix that. Google. Youtube. Pinterest. DailyBurn. There are literally infinite resources for you to find different exercises and study up on the proper form before you test them out yourself. More times than I can count I’ve printed out workouts, pictures, instructions and brought them to the gym with me. I’ve also watched YouTube videos with no shame.

Start simple, with a few basic moves. Get comfortable. The best part is that once you move to the weight area of the gym- you’re going to see people doing some crazy shit. And then you’re going to go home and try to Google it with weird terms like “crunchy side step weighted leg lift thing” and then say a prayer that Mr. Google somehow figures out what exercise the Hulk at your gym was doing. And then you’re going to research it. And then YOU’RE gunna do it.

Everyone in the fitness world says that cardio bunnies are doing it wrong. Sure, you can lose weight from doing a ton of cardio. I certainly lost weight when every weekend for 4 months consisted of running 15+ miles.

I was never sold on the idea that weight training was just as, if not more, effective in toning your body than cardio until my attention to weight training became almost non-existent. And now, I MISS MY MUSCLES :(

(I even used to have baby biceps when I wasn't flexing!)

At the gym a few days ago, I was doing ab exercises and was asked, “How often do you work on your abs? Your body is amazing.” 1) I thanked that person for the compliment and 2) Said sorry to disappoint you, but I barely ever focus strictly on abs at the gym.

Here’s me 6 months ago when I was doing a pretty good mix of weights and cardio. At this point, I was only dedicating 1 day a week to an ab-based workout. The rest of that came from all the core stabilization necessary to use free weights for shoulder, back, bicep, tricep, leg, and chest exercises.

I read about it all the time, and rolled my eyes. But looking back, it is so completely true.

So while most people use transformation Tuesday to show their progress- I guess I’m kind of doing the opposite. I have totally lost this strength, those obliques, that 2-pack. Those biceps. The triceps I worked so hard for. Gone. Poof. So sad. But I’m excited to get back into the gym to be reunited with dumb bells and kettlebells and squat racks in the hopes of getting toned back up. Looking at these pictures is rough because I know how much hard work I put into getting into that kind of shape, and part of me, of course, wishes I still looked like that.

But at the same time, RIP to that body. I could get it back. But I don’t think I want to. Now, or ever again.

Because that body meant saying “no” way too much.

No to delicious food, no to happy hour with friends, no to drunken nights as a single twenty-something in NYC, no to a coworkers birthday cake.

I was obsessed with never missing a workout. I was obsessed with seeing that definition when I looked in the mirror. Clearly, as demonstrated here, I was obsessed with taking selfies to track my progress (embarrassing…)

And for what? I don’t walk around in a sports bra my whole life. I don’t compete in fitness competitions. Quite frankly, it’s a waste of time and energy for me to look like this. It made me cranky and not fun. I like froyo. I like beer.


I also really like lifting weights and doing squats and learning new exercises and running and taking spin classes.

So I’m going to do all of the above. And what happens in terms of body transformation, happens. I am so over the days where my mood every morning was determined by whether or not I could see my abs. 


Peloton Cycle a Major Win!

It’s been a Spin-o-Rama over here at PeanutButterIsMyBoyfriend! I know I’ve been writing a lot of posts about spinning, er, “indoor cycling,” but here’s one more for ya- recently, I took a class at Peloton Cycle and absolutely fell in love. While some people go gaga for SoulCycle and others are head over heels for Flywheel- I am [insert cliché here] about Peloton Cycle.
When Peloton first came to NYC, I snagged 3 free ride credits. After far too long, I finally put my first one to use and got my butt to their beautiful studio on 7th Avenue between 26th & 27th streets.
Peloton’s studio is white and airy and spotless. First, you walk through their boutique with lots of pretty workout gear that I’m assuming is overpriced. Standard. Next, you get to the check-in desk and get a pair of cycling shoes and a water bottle. Not necessarily standard. A lot of studios charge extra for shoe rentals, despite having bikes that require you to clip in! The fact that Peloton’s shoes are included in the class fee, along with a water bottle, is definitely to be applauded. 

You then walk through their lounge area which is just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s got the perfect vibe, with couches, chairs and tables to relax at before or after your class.  They have a counter that sells Jack’s Stir Brew coffee, cold-press juices and tons of different healthy snacks.

Next stop? The locker rooms. Again, so white and clean! And the lockers are all electronic so you don’t even need to bring your own lock with you. The locker rooms have a bunch of different creams and q-tips and other things that you would probably never need but they’re their- just in case.

And finally, the actual studio where you’re going to get your sweat on! It’s similar to many cycling studios with an awesome lighting system and all that jazz. As soon as I walked in, someone was there to help me set up my bike.
What makes Peloton unique are their bikes. They sell them, to have in your home. And if I were a much wealthier individual, I would totally buy one. Peloton STREAMS THEIR CLASSES LIVE to people who own their bikes. You could be in your living room in Idaho but feel like you’re in the Big Apple taking a class. Each bike also comes with a monitor that lets you log-in and track your ride- including resistance percentage, cadence and calories burned.

My favorite part? The leaderboard. I can’t help it. I’m super competitive. And you better believe I’m going to bust my ass if there’s a chance for me to move up that leaderboard! At the end you can also share your workout via Facebook. Heck yes, social media.

Peloton offers 4 different classes: 

Pure Peloton- The Peloton ride at its core. Perfectly balanced. Our signature ride, there for you whenever you crave a solid, sweaty, energizing Peloton ride. Expect to climb up hill, race downhill, work in and out of the saddle, strengthen and tone with weights, and get the most out of every minute.

Peloton Endurance: 60 minutes or more. Challenging hills. Dig deep and challenge yourself to a full 60 minutes or more of Peloton goodness. With a focus on metrics and a healthy dose of resistance, this class is guaranteed to make you push yourself to your limits—and enjoy the ride.

Peloton Power- High-energy. Speed + strength. Life begins out of the saddle. And that’s where you’ll spend the majority of this class. Speed is the name of the game with this fast-paced, heart-pumping workout—perfectly complemented with a side of strength and toning work. Intermediate to advanced.

Pelotone- Heavy on weights and resistance. Sculpt and tone while you ride. Complete your Peloton experience with a class dedicated entirely to sculpting your body into its best shape. Be prepared for weights and upper body movements, all carefully designed to strengthen and tone your entire body and leave you ready to conquer anything that comes your way. 

I took a Peloton Power class with instructor Jon Miller and it was pretty good! We did one song using hand weights, some pushups, and a lot of running out of the saddle (my favorite).

I’m in shape- but a lot of the time the cadence and resistance levels he was giving us to maintain were a little out of my league. It was frustrating to have to take it down a notch from what he was suggesting, but also made me want to push harder and continue going back for more classes to see if I could improve. He was motivational- calling me out a few times for sitting front and center- and also using some usernames from the leaderboard to cheer people on. He also continually gave verbal nods to the individuals riding along at home! 

(Seriously such a cute studio- this is part of the lounge!)

The leaderboard and competitive nature of this studio was definitely why I loved it so much- combined with the great value (taking into account the going rate of spin classes in NYC) and beautiful amenities. 

After each class, you get a free coffee or tea and piece of fruit from the lounge, too! I sat down with my apple, tea and free “pipcorn” sample and was perfectly content and BEYOND happy that I still have 2 free ride credits at Peloton! 

(Free snacks after class? Heck yes.)

Get your butt over there and into a saddle!

Update: Exciting news! Peloton is offering 40% off 5 ride packs! Use the code fb40 at checkout! $84 instead of $140! 

Spinning vs. Indoor Cycling

A topic that’s been interesting to me lately is the question of whether or not there’s a difference between Spinning classes and “indoor cycling” classes like Flywheel and SoulCycle.

As someone who has taken both- it seems obvious to me that there is, in fact, a difference.
However, after Googling around quite a bit, I wasn’t able to find much literature on the topic apart from the differences between indoor cycling and outdoor cycling.

The one article I found was actually a blog post, written by Pumps and Iron, and made perfect sense to me. I thought I would share it so that you could have the same “AHA, totally” moment that I did.

Aside from the fact that “Spinning” is a trademarked name, here’s how I like to break it down after reading Pumps and Iron’s blog post. 


-Meant to imitate an outdoor biking experience
-Focus on heart rate, training zones, etc. 
-Different types of rides, similar to training for a road bike race- strength rides, recovery rides, endurance rides, etc. 

“Indoor Cycling:”
-These are the boutique classes you pay $30 a pop for at places like Flywheel and SoulCycle 
-Every ride is designed to get you drenched in sweat- no recovery rides or focus on staying in target training zones here 
-Non-traditional moves like crunches, squats and pushups done on the bike 
-Sometimes feature sections using light hand-weights  

Of course, everyone has their preference. There’s a lot of debate out there as to whether or not these “indoor cycling” classes can be harmful with all of their crazy moves. But then again, they’re fun and total calorie-blasters.

What’s your opinion? Do you prefer Spin classes, or trendy “dance in the saddle” cycling classes? 

Snoozin' for a Bruisin' - How to #JustWakeUp

I suppose I’m lucky- For the most part, I’m a morning person. My alarm goes off, I have a bummed out moment or two when I wish I could continue cuddling with my pillow pet, and then I get up and start my day. I’m not a crazy peppy morning person or anything, but I’m also not super cranky.

As a general rule, I always prefer working out in the morning. People who live for their 9 p.m. gym sessions baffle me a little, but to each their own. It’s a total personal preference, but for me, starting off the day with a healthy dose of endorphins helps me feel more energized and keeps me from thinking about or dreading an end of the day workout when all I want to do is cook dinner and crawl into bed.

While training for the marathon, I often got my runs done before work- setting alarms for ungodly hours like 4:45 a.m.  I’ve never regretted a sweaty morning.  Plus, it makes breakfast that much better (even though breakfast is already the best meal of the day, obviously).

So what’s the point of this post? Basically, to tell you that I’m awesome and motivated and have no prob waking up for exercise while the rest of you sleep, suckers.

HA just kidding.

I’ve been seriously struggling since the marathon to get my booty up and out. At first I told myself I deserved the rest- but now I continually find myself hitting snooze and eventually saying, “Eh, I’ll do it later.” This is very unlike me and I have a few guesses as to why it’s happening.

1) My body actually does need some rest after training for and running a marathon.

(Someone needs to shut me up!)

2) The seasons are changing and its dark outside in the mornings. I don’t like the dark. And I really don’t like the cold. But seriously- it’s harder to get up when it’s dark and your body still thinks it should be enjoying your bed.

(Changing seasons = pretty runs but chilly weather, which I do not like!)

3) Not having a schedule or goals now that the marathon is over is proving difficult to handle. I was so determined to run my first marathon that when I set an alarm for 5:00 a.m. to run 8 miles, it wasn’t really a choice. It was just a fact. I was getting up and doing it because that was how I was going to reach my goal. Also, Tiffanie was usually out there waiting fr me.

4) I’m trying to take a step back. Yes, exercise makes me happy. Yes my health is a priority. But I’m trying to embrace a new attitude for winter. Where I indulge in life a little more than I have been for the past year. I’m trying to convince myself that abs are overrated. And froyo is most definitely not. It’s like the sign I just saw outside of DTUT- “Bikini season is over. Get whipped cream.” So bring on the winter layer of warmth. Maybe 4 days of exercise a week instead of 7 won’t kill me. We’ll see.

(This is what $10 of froyo looks like. I have serious self-control problems at the toppings bar...)

That being said- I am still trying to find some tips and tricks for getting back to my normal morning workout self!

I’ve found a few things that work for me.

1) It may seem silly, but label your alarm so that when you go to turn it off (or hit snooze) in the morning, you have a motivational message staring you in the face! Along the same lines- screw alarms that are peaceful waterfalls or mellow piano music. Is that really going to make you want to lace up your sneakers for a spin class? Where’s your Stronger Better Faster?

2) Accountability in the form of friends. When Tiffanie and I planned to meet on our street corner for a run- I knew I could count on her to be there and she knew she could count on me. For some reason- we usually treat the people we care about better than we treat ourselves. I’m far more likely to let myself down by staying in bed that to let a friend down.
  Fitness friends are super dependable! Jessica had told me she would bring “Gone Girl” to the next November Project workout for me, but when I woke up Wednesday morning to lots of rain- I figured I would have to wait a few more days. Wrong. True to her word, Jessica showed up with “Gone Girl” – wrapped in 3 plastic bags. #Weatherproof! 

Similarly- I had NOT wanted to go out in the rain for that workout. I am a hugeee baby when it comes to rain. And cold rain? Whyy? But I had baked cookies and posted on Facebook that I would bring them. I couldn’t be THAT person that didn’t show up with the cookies promised oh so publicly on social media! And so, I went. So Tip #3 is: Bake the night before your workout. Ok, not really- but find some way to hold yourself accountable – even if it means doing it for other people instead of yourself.

(Oh yeah, cookies yeah!)

3) Sleep in your workout clothes! Really, this makes so much sense. They’re comfy and this way you have one less excuse in the morning. Again, I hate the cold, so the thought of taking my PJs off to change into workout clothes can make me mentally shiver. But if I’m already dressed – no problem! Roll outta bed and go!

       4) Along the same lines, be prepared. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed by the thought of packing things first thing in the morning. If I plan on going to the gym before work- I have my work outfit, makeup, toiletries, gym lock, etc. all packed and ready to go. All I have to do in the morning is get out of bed, put my sneakers on, brush my teeth, grab my bag and head out the door!

       5) This one’s very specific to me- but maybe it can help someone else out there! Typically, I sleep on top of a loft. When I anticipate a difficult wake up, I’ll sleep on the futon down below- just another way of eliminating an extra excuse to stay in bed in the a.m. My loft ladder is no joke people! It takes a lot of energy getting down from there…

I’m sure there are some other things I could come up with, like drink a lot of water before bed so you have to go the bathroom early in the morning anyway? One that I know would work but I never actually do is don’t bring your cell phone to bed! Set your alarm and put it across the room so you have to get up and turn it off.

Does anyone else have any tips?

At the end of the day – know your body. Some days, you can tell you’re just being a boob and you need to suck it up and get the hell out from under the covers (no matter how damn comfy they are). But other days, at least for me, I can tell that I legitimately could benefit from the extra z’s. If my schedule allows for a later in the day workout, every once in a while it’s OK to hit the pillow for a little extra rest. As long as you haven’t dropped a #verbal and as long as no one’s waiting for you (or your baked goods)!

I've Got the Spins

As a junior in college, I remember when our fitness center got a spinning studio. I was confused, and had never heard of spin before. Sure, I had fooled around on the archaic stationary bike in my grandparent’s basement as a child, but as far as legitimate exercise was concerned, I was convinced that biking in a gym was boring, and couldn’t possibly be a real workout.

One day, Quinnipiac had a health fair and was offering spin classes, so my friend and I decided why not? Let’s try it. I really don’t remember much from that first class, except that my heart rate was elevated and I was dripping in sweat and I was persuaded that, alright, maybe that was a workout after all.

It was a long time until I tried spinning again. Probably over a year later, during one of my many free trials at gyms throughout NYC when I was a poor graduate student. I mainly took classes during my month-long NYSC membership (which you, too, can enjoy once a year!

Then, when my shin splints started getting really bad, I had to seriously cut back on my running.  But of course, I wouldn’t let myself give up all exercise.  So while home one weekend, I sucked it up and paid $15 to go to a spin class at a gym nearby.  It was dark, there were black lights, the music was loud and poppy and fun, and the calories that my Polar heart rate monitor watch said I burned was seriously awesome. I was no longer just a casual spin-class taker when the opportunity presented itself. I was hooked.

(My favorite spin studio- on Long Island!)

When you first start taking spin classes, you feel awkward. At least, I know I did.  You think everyone else knows what they’re doing, makes it look easy, and holy hell, how are they not wincing with severe butt pain?! But stick with it, because eventually you’ll learn how to set your bike, what the different positions mean, what the heck the instructor means when they say to get ready for jumps and climbs, and no, your butt won’t hurt that badly forever!

There are so many things I love about spinning. I’m not going to lie, I love the fact that it burns A LOT of calories. But there’s so much more to it. It’s never boring (if you have a good instructor.) Throughout one class you’ll do interval training, strength training, hills, jumps and depending on the type of studio you’re at, even some arm and ab work!

The music is loud and pumps you up and when your instructor has a playlist that you like, and you lock your pedal strokes in with the rhythm, you feel. so. awesome.

I also like that there is such a HUGE variety of different types of spin studios and instructors.  What works for one person may not work for everyone, so it’s definitely important to try all different types of classes with all different types of instructors before you give up on spinning! Maybe one day you’re in the mood for a class with John from SoulCycle because you leave a sweaty beast and he plays rap and techno during class while kicking your ass with 10 minute climbs and intervals.  But then the next day you wake up and need some California Dreamin’ hills with Harriet the Hippy instructor who has you closing your eyes and “becoming one with the bike.”

(I am totally content with basic NYSC spin classes!)

I’ve tested out my fair share of spin classes (you can read about my first SoulCycle experience here) and they each have something unique- so shop around until you find the place that feels like the right fit for you!

Oh, and check out this funny Buzzfeed about people who spin ;) 

SoulCyclin' with Infatuation Nation

This morning, I took the plunge and attended my first SoulCycle class.

I’m not sure why it felt like a big deal, but it did.  I’ve been taking spin classes for over 2 years now, and everyone knows about SoulCycle. There are the SoulCycle faithfuls, who pour money into classes and apparel and talk about the “pack” mentality as if it’s a life-changing experience. There are SoulCycle wannabes, who wish they could afford the steep price tag for classes on a normal basis, but settle for taking a ride on a special occasion or far less frequently than they’d like. There are those in the fitness world who downright reject SoulCycle and its practices, citing poor form and more attention on a spectacle than actually getting in a quality workout. Then there are those that are intimidated by SoulCyle because of the fancy lingo and the “skinny bitches” (I hate that term) that pack SoulCycle studios across Manhattan. It’s kind of crazy how divisive SoulCylce can be in the fitness community. A quick Google search brings up articles with headlines like, “Joining the Cult of SoulCyle” and “I’d Rather Sell My Soul Than SoulCycle.” Then there is me. Who is still trying to decide where I belong on this spectrum.

So let me tell you about my experience.

I follow this amazing food blog online and on Instagram. They’re called The Infatuation and I trust them a whole heck of a lot when it comes to advice on restaurants in this fine city. When I went to Chelsea Market and had no internet, I was freaking out that I couldn’t look-up which taco they recommend at Los Taco No. 1 (thank god it eventually loaded and I got to experience the glory of the carne asada corn taco). 

(Thanks for the pro tip, Infatuation!)

Why do I trust them so much? I’m not sure. But it could have something to do with their writing style, which makes me laugh out loud when I read their reviews. I mean, they have literally written the line, “Calexico’s Lower East Side location is basically the grown up version of your favorite fast food joint, only here you can pollute your body with margaritas instead of Baja Blast.” They just make the most relatable references.  You know these guys are just like you. And you feel like you can depend on them.

So when they partnered with SoulCycle and announced that they would be offering free classes for their followers- I JUMPED for joy. The first time I tried registering, I got a sad email saying that all the bikes had been filled. But fortunately, they’re offering a bunch of different classes! And the second time I emailed them, success! I ran around the house my family was renting for vacation in excitement that no one quite understood. I’m going to get to try SoulCycle for FREE with other people who love food as much as me! 

I dragged myself out of bed at 5:45 a.m. on Friday, walked the 2483902 miles (really .7) to the 6 train, rode the 6 train for a half hour to Bleecker Street, walked 234280 miles (really .9) to the West Village SoulCycle studio and walked up to the door.

(An early, but beautiful morning!)

You walk in and BAM lockers. I’m used to a gym where the locker area is completely separate, so that was a little weird. The two women working at the desk were like superheroes getting the huge lines of people checked-in quickly. They were somehow simultaneously helping like 7 people. I was told to find my name on the list and initial it, but I wasn’t on the list. My stomach sunk when I was told that I was on the waitlist. What?! I got a confirmation email, which is why I had traveled an hour before work to make the class! I needed my endorphins gosh darnit! The woman told me to hang tight and assured me I would get a bike. So I got my complimentary smartwater (hooray!) and shoes and put my stuff in their high-tech lockers (you program it yourself, so you don’t actually need to bring a big bulky lock with you).
As promised, they started calling people from the waitlist and told me to go downstairs to bike 10. I get down to the studio and someone’s on bike 10. Luckily, one of the great staff ran upstairs and came back and told me to take 18. Then, she helped me get set up on my bike. Yes, I’ve taken many many spin classes but when it’s a new type of bike I like to have them help me out. That, and this is only my second time clipping in with spin shoes, and I’m pretty terrible at it.

I didn’t love the seats on the SoulCycle bikes, but throughout the ride they got more bearable. My handlebars felt pretty low, but SoulCycle really focuses on your core, and the lower the handlebars, the more of a core workout you’ll get. So that was OK with me- because abs.
The actual studio was a lot like most studios- dark with lots of bikes. There were three candles lit at the front of the room. Some inspiring quotes on the wall. Standard. 

(Eh, not sure about this stuff)

Our instructor (I can’t believe I forgot to make a mental note of her name) was energetic but not completely over the top like I’ve heard some SoulCycle instructors can be.

Things I liked:
-Although I realize there is some debate on its effect on form- I do like spin classes that feature sections on arms, abs, etc. In this class, our instructor had us do pushups, tricep pushups, oblique turns, crunches, and a song using the small 2 lb. weights stored in the back of each bike. We did some bicep curls, shoulder presses, tricep extensions, etc.

-I am a fan of the famous SoulCycle “tap it back” where you go from third position, to tapping your butt back onto the saddle, back to third. Kind of like jumps. It got me into the music and engaged my core. And again- abs. I want them.

-The lighting in the room is awesome. Much like Cyc’s studio- the light system is attached to the instructor’s little DJ station and the different settings can really have an effect on how you feel during each song.

-You cannot deny that you feel pampered at this place. Upon checking in, I got a piece of gum. I went to shower afterwards- and the bathrooms are fully stocked with razors, shaving cream, moisturizer, face scrub, etc.

Things I didn’t like:
-The instructor barely focused on resistance at all. I feel like in all of these trendy spin studios, everyone is flopping around their saddle, pedaling 189234 miles per hour. I’m all for light resistance and sprints being used in a class- but I like it to feel intentional. 30 second interval sprints after a long 8 minute hill makes sense in my head. But I feel like the rides designed at SoulCycle and studios like it, don’t think in the same way that other instructors I’ve had think. I like the instructor to explain to me how the resistance should feel- whether they refer to how heavy it is based on a scale of 1-10 or through description.

-For some reason, I feel like I just cannot mimic the way that people in these types of classes spin to the music. They look like their dancing, while I look like I’m riding a bike. Who is right?

-Before the last song of the class, the instructor had some inspiring speech about getting through this hill together and coming out stronger. Then she blew out the candles and dimmed the lights. It felt a little forced to me. I’ve had a similar experience at Cyc, where they shut off all the lights for the last song- but I feel like the intention there was to just let yourself go, give it all you had for the last song. I liked that mindset a lot better. No offense, but no, these people around me really aren’t helping me push through this last stretch. MY quads are doin’ the damn work.

-There is only one shower in the whole place? Luckily, I skimped on stretching (I know, I really shouldn’t be doing that..) and was only second in line for the shower. But there were at least 5 girls waiting after me.

-Had I been paying for this, I would not have liked the $35 price tag.

-I’m still getting used to clipping in and it’s still not the most comfortable thing in the world for me.

Bottom Line:
I still don’t feel like I fully belong in classes like this, despite having the utmost confidence in my athleticism and over-all fitness. I kind of like that. It’s different, and it’s challenging, and I leave sweaty. SoulCycle really highlights the reason I fell in love with spin classes in the first place- the dark room with the loud music, losing myself in endorphin-fueled cardio. The addition of weighted songs and crunches is overall a big plus for me. That being said, I am not completely head over heels for SoulCycle in the way that most people are. I can take it or leave it, and be just as content at a New York Sports Club spin class that focuses on form and hills and interval training. Yes, the lights and the sound system and the fancy bathrooms are nice every once in a while at studios like SoulCyle. But I will continue to go only when I have a chance to go for free or as some sort of special.

Next, I really would love to try Flywheel because I feel like the monitoring system is going to get me HOOKED.

In the meantime, back to Tuesday morning rides with Victoria at NYSC :)

(NYSC works for me!)

Nike Training Club

A friend inviting me to go to the Nike store for Nike Training Club gave me the extra push to get my butt there for the first time.  I had heard about it through social media, and was pretty excited because a) it’s a boot camp type class, which I love b) it’s outdoors and on a ROOF and c) it’s completely free!

I got to the Nike store and the front was set up with a bag check and you could even opt to take the class in a pair of Nike’s to try them out! Which I did, of course.

As it got closer to the time class was supposed to start, they took us up in the elevator to the roof.

Then, the waiting began.  6:30 came and went and it didn’t seem like things were about to start anytime soon.  Punctuality and schedules are kind of important in my book, so this didn’t sit well with me. 

Eventually, the instructor, arrived, looking like a perfect, Nike model. We spread out to warm up and I started to realize just how crowded this rooftop had gotten.  75 people? We pretty much did not have sufficient space for the jumping jacks we were supposed to be doing.

After the warm up, she split us into groups. Which took forever. She then tried explaining all the stations to 75 people.  Which took forever. And was highly unsuccessful. I probably knew what she said to do at only about half the stations. After a lot of standing around and being confused, it was time to start.

I took the class awhile ago, so I’m going to do my best to remember the stations. We stayed doing each one for about a minute or two before rotating.
  • There was a little ramp on the side of the roof, which we lunged up and side stepped down. Good in theory, but it was super cramped with people going up and down at the same time.
  • Jump squats. Ouch. Got my heart rate up, got my legs burning, got lots of reps in = successful station.
  • Step ups on a bench. Our group decided to do a little leg lift action at the top of the step up for an extra challenge.  Thumbs up crew.
  • Incline pushups against the bench. Again, felt the burn!
  • Partner chest press weird things that I was highly incapable of doing but I’m pretty sure were the reason I was super sore the next day, so I guess they were alright?
  •  Speed skater jumps – I’m a fan
  • Russian twists – also a fan.

Then we took a break and by a break I mean it was time for a challenge- first partners to 20 burpees – pushup, high five each other, pushup, high five each other, jump up. Killer. We kept high fiving the wrong hands. We settled on regular burpees because we’re cheaters.
Then we went through the stations again with some modifications- backward lunges, decline pushups, sit ups, etc. The final challenge was 100 mountain climbers and then we took a sweaty group picture and were done!

Had NTC not been so crowded and a slightly better organized, I would certainly be there every week.  It’s a great way to meet like-minded fitness fanatics and it’s a well-designed circuit workout, if you’re able to do it continuously without having to stop all the time to listen for directions or wait for 75 people to get themselves situated.