cycling

Bikers Beware: Things To Look Our For on Your Next Ride

As a runner, I despised cyclists. I assumed they had it easy, zooming loops around Central Park in 20 minutes while I slogged around in more than double the amount of time by foot. Wheels = easier than feet, right? 

Wrong. 

Now, as I pass runners in the park, I envy them. As I struggle up Harlem Hill on the lowest gear, I dream of running up it instead. Bikers and runners sharing Central Park can lead to some tense moments, but runners who think the bike lane is their personal HOV lane aren't the only thing that cyclist's need to be aware of while they're out for a spin.

Here are just a few of the unanticipated potential roadblocks I've encountered in the saddle. 

BUGS

Bugs in your eyes. Bugs in your ears. Bugs in your mouth. Bugs splattered on your face.  Bugs splattered on your arms. Lots of bugs. 

There's even a BUG MOUTHGUARD. 

BIRDS 

I am terrified of birds, especially pigeons - the gluttonous, fat, flying rats of New York City. There are a shockingly large number of slow-moving pigeons that I have encountered in the park and they have come nauseatingly close to my head. 

Birds of the smaller variety also love to dart out, flying low to the ground, and passing inches from your tires.

This video gives me a panic attack. 

FRISBEES 

If I were more dexterous, it would have been awesome to reach up and grab the frisbee before throwing it back to the kids playing - all while riding my bike. 

Instead, I held on for dear life and kept pedaling as it whizzed past my face so closely that I felt the breeze. 

CITI BIKES

If you see someone on a Citi Bike doing loops of Central Park - beware. They likely have no idea what's going on around them. They will weave. They will come to a dead stop out of nowhere to wait for their friend. 

giphy.gif

HORSES 

For now, cyclists still have to share the park with horse & carriages.

HORSE SHIT 

Dodge that ish if at all possible.

TEXTERS 

People tend to think they're capable of crossing Central Park without looking up from their phones. 

IMMATURE TEENS

I once encountered a teenager who thought it was hysterical to stand in the middle of the bike lane and play chicken with cyclists. 

SQUIRRELS AND CHIPMUNKS 

They like to dart out into the path and then just stop in sheer terror. 

CHILDREN 

I once almost hit a small child who squirmed out of his parents hand-hold and went sprinting across the street. 

DOGS

Whoever said NYC was a concrete jungle with a lack of nature and wildlife has never gone for a bike ride in Central Park. Bugs, birds, squirrels, likely-rabid-raccoons and dogs have all come incredibly close to taking me out. People, I get that you want your dog to run free but we live in a world where small children are put on leashes - use one for your dog, please? 

*Side note: Once saw a man cycling with a dog sticking out of his backpack. 

POTHOLES 

A lot harder to avoid as a cyclist when you're moving at 16+ miles per hour!

DISTRACTING CHALK ART

Self-explanatory:

Runners, I feel ya, I do. Bikers go zooming by as you trudge along and you kind of want to punch them. But cyclists are people too - and we've got a lot to contend with out there. 

Let's take solace in the fact that we have the same mortal enemy - slow moving tourists. 

BIKE UPDATE: 

If you're wondering how cycling is going for me these days - it's been a little better. I don't panic as much and I had my cleats loosened so that clipping out doesn't require wrenching my foot as aggressively. 

My roommate got a bike too, and we went out for a fun little ride with some friends last weekend which was awesome. Most importantly, we have our eyes on some tris (poet) in August which is giving me the extra motivation to get in the saddle. 

Roomies that ride together, stay together!

Roomies that ride together, stay together!

It's still not easy and I still feel disappointed by my pace, but I'm enjoying it a lot more and getting (slightly) more comfortable. 

I'm still no pro though - after 18 miles today my legs felt like jelly and when I went to dismount I forgot to lean to my  unclipped side - spilling onto the cement while still attached to my bike. The man next to me panicked and started asking if I was OK - luckily I had been at a complete stop and was only bleeding a little bit. I assured him I was fine and that, "this happens all the time." He must have thought I was a moron! 

I told my friend the other day that, "It's better to fail at something hard than to not try at all." 

I'm taking my own advice and pedaling through the pessimism! 

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Biking Blues

I spent a lot of time last year saving up the money required to purchase a road bike. During that time, I dreamed of zooming around Central Park, going on epic adventures into New Jersey, and kicking ass in triathlons. 

In the past few months of owning said road bike, I have covered 116 miles, but I have not achieved any of those 3 above-mentioned things. 

Biking Blues

1. Zooming Around Central Park

Instead of zooming around Central Park, I have been boldly reminded that Central Park is hilly. Very hilly. And I have been humbled to find that as I climb the park's many hills, I look longingly at the runners and think, "That sounds so much easier right now." 

Cycling and running are both hard. I had the uneducated opinion that the bikers had it easy as they whizzed by me in the park. Nope, not at all. My legs burn like hell each climb - so much so that I'd like to ditch the bike and go up Harlem Hill on foot. 

2. Epic Adventures into New Jersey

I attempted an adventure into New Jersey and to be honest, it was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. Getting up to and over the George Washington Bridge was terrifying as a new cyclist who is still not entirely comfortable being clipped into her bike. 

My instinct on an uphill ramp with people flying past me is to stop. When I stop, my instinct is to pull my feet up - not to click them out and think, "Ok, now which side do I need to lean to?" 

I've fallen in a mud puddle and I've fallen in the middle of 96th street at a red light. And those weren't even the worst parts. 

Finishing that ride felt nothing like a victory. It felt like I had been run over by a car. I immediately fell asleep for an hour before waking up so ravenous that I thought I would cry. 

3. Kicking Ass in a Triathlon

I have certainly not kicked any ass in a triathlon. 

In fact, I have not even mustered the courage to seriously consider registering for one. My time in the pool has been non-existent these past few months and while I originally thought the biking portion would be no big thang - I am now absolutely terrified to ride in a crowded group of cyclists. 

I know I need to stick with it. I don't plan on quitting. But it would be a lie to say that I haven't been feeling discouraged.

With the weather getting nicer, and my legs still not having a ball with running, it's time to look at this whole biking thing as a challenge to conquer. I worked hard to afford the bike but that's not where the hard work stops. 

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.”

DING DING DING!

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. 

I

do

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

th

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!

Triathlons

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.

Oops.

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.

Yoga

continues to bore me for the most part – but I

do

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.

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. 
GULP. 

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!





Summer Weekends Wind Down

On Friday, after losing my cell phone, I treated myself to a later lunch/early dinner at a place that has long held a top spot on my bucket list - Jack's Wife Freda. 

I knew the chances of having the patience to wait in line for a table on a hungry Saturday or Sunday morning were slim to none - so I figured going at 3:00 p.m. on a random Friday would be a better bet. 

I left the office and made my way to their new location on Carmine Street (just around the corner from my old apartment!) To my surprise, they place was FILLED with people eating linner (lunch + dinner, duh). Every table was filled, but as it was just me myself and I, I was was able to grab a table at the bar. 

The restaurant was very chi and trendy looking - light colors made it seem open and airy despite being jam packed. 

What Jack's Wife Freda is known for are their brunch and breakfast dishes, although they do have some tempting sounding lunch and dinner entrees like the mustard seed crusted tofu served with spaghetti squash. 

My runner up dish was the Green Shakshuka (2 baked eggs in a green shakshuka served with challah toast), but I had just made it for myself the week before. Mashed pea and ricotta toast was tempting too. But ultimately, I decided to go with the Mediterranean Breakfast - a wonderful mix of 2 eggs (over medium), chopped salad (cucumber, tomato, onions), labne (Greek yogurt that is incredibly thick, rich and creamy), avocado and pita bread. 

I was incredibly saddened by the fact that I could only photograph this beautiful meal with an iPhone 4 camera - doesn't do it justice! I'm also kicking myself for not poking that yolk for a pop of yellow in the composition. No seriously, what was I thinking?



The chopped salad and labne were both excellent, and I loved loading everything up on the pita bread to make little sandwiches.  But at the end of the day, this meal wasn't anything incredible, and I'm not sure I understand the hype surrounded Jack's Wife Freda - aside from the fact that it's trendy and on Instagram a lot. 

After my meal, I walked around SoHo, taking in all of the stores where I will likely never afford to shop. 

I stopped at REI to check out bikes and cycling shoes, where I asked a bajillion questions and made it incredibly obvious that I was not a cyclist. Hopefully one of these days though! I didn't end up buying anything - but I did feel a lot more educated on the shoe-front. 

That Friday night I did a whole lot of nothin' - which was fine by me! I've started watching, and loving, Orange is the New Black, so it was me, my couch and Crazy Eyes for the night. 

Has anyone seen these advertisements around the city? I think they are hilarious and really clever. 





Saturday morning Peter was up and out early to run a 5K in Harlem. I was a bad girlfriend and didn't go to cheer - instead, I went to the gym for 2 hours. Might sound weird, but I love spending my mornings playing in the gym. 

And by playing I mean doing a shoulder/back workout, a couple minutes of spinning and a swim. 

Afterwards, I did some grocery shopping and went home to make myself a big delicious smoothie.  Well, it was big, and it was filling - but maybe I wouldn't use the term delicious. I thought skipping the step of brewing the coffee first and just throwing in the ground coffee beans would be an OK decision. It really wasn't. 

But anyway - besides for the bitter and crunchy factors - the flavor was pretty good! I'll definitely have to work on perfecting this as a post-exercise smoothie. 

1 Banana
1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tablespoon of coffee (mistake)
1 tablespoon of cacao powder
1 teaspoon of almond extract (MMM - new purchase)
1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed
Ice 





I drank my smoothie on my way to Peter's apartment and decided he deserved a present for running the race that morning. So I stopped at the super German bakery on his corner, which I've heard has the best black and white cookies. Glaser's is a family-run business that's been closed a lot this summer as the owners traveled. 

Glaser's has been around since 1902. Crazy! 

Immediately upon entering, the two women working introduced themselves, gave each customer a GIANT smile, and were super helpful. 

I brought the giant, soft black and white cookie over to Peter's and it was most certainly enjoyed. The frosting was soo good and the cookie was crumbly but in a really moist, soft way. 




We headed down to 59th Street to pick up our vehicles for the day - CITI BIKES! Initially, we wanted to rent nice bikes from a store or Bike & Roll, but I guess a ton of people had the same idea as us because the store we called was completely out of bikes. Then we decided Citi bikes could be a good idea since we could check them into places as we went - stopping for food and drinks and ice cream along the way. 

For just $11ish dollars for each bike, it was a great deal! We spent the whole day with them - about 4 hours total. Checking them into Citi bike stations every 30 minutes was a little stressful, and we cut it super close sometimes - but we never got charged any late fees (and they're only $4 each time, anyway). 

We started off on actual streets which freaked me out, but soon enough we were on the East River path cruising along. The bikes were a lot nicer than I thought they would be, and I could adjust the seat nice and low since I'm a midget. 




Our first stop was Southstreet Seaport, where Peter tried a delicious Blue Cheese and Bacon sandwich from Melt Shop and a beer. And coffee (he assures me he can quit any time...) 

It was such a beautifulllll day - we went all along the island, down near the ferry to Governor's Island, past the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. I tried soaking it all in through my eyeballs instead of through my cell phone camera. 




We peeled off just before Chelsea Piers and headed to the Meatpacking district to enjoy a margarita at Dos Caminos outside in the sunshine. 

Their menu had so many tempting margarita options, but after much back and forth, I settled for a classic. 

Of course we couldn't sit there with no guacamole in front of us. We ordered the Orange Chipotle Guacamole. I wish that the orange had come mixed throughout the guac, instead of a few pieces on top - because when you took a bite with that fresh pop of citrus, it was wonderful. Sadly, we asked for medium and there's wasn't much (ok, any) kick to it. But I did love that it came served with chips and as a healthy option, cucumber slices! 




I guess the margaritas had their share of alcohol in them, because while my intention for the day was to start a streak of no alcohol, healthy eating, and being active, I found myself suggesting a second margarita at Bamboleo's - my favorite place in the West Village. 

So we hopped on our bikes and went over to Bleecker Street. We enjoyed a strong $5 margarita, made some friends at the bar, and decided we needed ice cream. 

So the next stop was Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (you can see how my resolution to not drink and to eat healthy ended up going...) Peter got a Monday Sundae which I took my fair share of while sitting on a stoop. Some guy  passed us and told us what a cute couple we are. D'awww. 

If you're wondering - the Monday Sundae is a Nutella lined cone filled with twist soft-serve ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt and whipped cream. 

What did I suggest then? Beer pong. I wanted to play beer pong.

Luckily, my partner in crime agreed that beer pong should totally happen. 


We tried Down the Hatch but it was still dead. Same for 3 Sheets. Luckily, Off The Wagon had a little more going on. We sat at the bar to order a beer and were handed Fireball Shots. 

Ok. This day just kept veering wildly off course. But we went with it. 

Eventually we played some beer pong but I was just doing horribly. 

Time for more ice cream? Sure. 

Have you heard of 10 Below ice cream in China Town? It's all the rage on Instagram these days. There's usually an hour long line! The draw? They make ice cream "Thai Style" by using an extremely cold stone to scrape ice cream off into little rolls. 




Well, we just happened to notice a new shop on Macdougal Street called I CE NY that makes these same Thai ice cream rolls with NO line. And I've since heard some people saying it's even better than 10 Below! I wasn't expecting to be impressed with this kind of ice cream, but Peter and I found ourselves loving it! It was much creamier than we thought it would be which was a pleasant surprise. The fact that you get to watch them make it is a nice touch too! 

We got the vanilla ice cream with oreo mixed in and whipped cream and caramel on top. Definitely worth a try to see how you feel about this new craze! But I would check out I CE NY and skip the hour line! 

You would think I had strayed from my healthy active biking day enough to call it quits and head home. Nope. 

Next up was live music at the Red Lion and one final indulgence - a $1 slice from my all-time favorite pizza place -  Percy's! 

THEN we called it a night. 

Sunday I woke up and went to yoga at Lulu Lemon and then did a whole lot of lounging around, watching Orange is the New Black and cooking! I made myself a frittata for the week - 4 eggs, spinach, mushrooms, sweet potato, onions and a little cheese. It was good, except that I sauteed the veggies in coconut oil and I'm not too sure I loved that taste mixed with my eggs. 




I also realized that I had a pie crust in the fridge that needed to be used up - so I looked around and pondered what the heck I could throw together using ingredients I already had in my apartment. I came up with - SWEET POTATO PIE. 

Of course, I wanted to make this healthier than the butter, flour, oil - packed recipes I was finding. 

I made mine loosely based off of this receipt - but I only had 1.5 sweet potatoes so I guestimated the amounts...

3 Tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 sweet potatoes, cooked
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon

The best part was using the Kitchenaid for the first time! It's so nice!

I added some walnuts to the top of this, and voila! It was actually super tasty. Even Peter and my mom agreed! 




This was one of the few weekends I spent entirely in NYC with no big plans and it ending up being perfect and lots of fun. 

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. 

(Talent.)

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. 

(Zen)


Then, we decided to head back. 

Uh-oh. 

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. 










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. 

Spinning: 

-“Traditional” 
-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? 



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! 


(SUCCESS!)
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!)

What the Brick?

I went for my first brick workout on Saturday, and it was pretty awesome! But I gotta admit, I didn’t know much about them, so if you’re scratching your head thinking “What the heck is a brick workout?” don’t feel like a silly goose. Keep reading!

“Brick” workouts are generally used by triathletes and is the term used to refer to a workout that “stacks” two different forms of exercise, one after the other, with little to no break in between.  These help triathletes prepare their bodies for the transitioning between running, biking and swimming.  Usually, brick workouts focus on the biking and running portions- and are therefore great for non-triathletes as well thanks to the new popularity of indoor cycling studios! Brick workouts are a great way to switch up your routine, increase your calorie burn, challenge your body, and keep things interesting!

I also found that they’re great at sparking, “Maybe I want to do a triathalon” thoughts…but that could just be me.

Saturday morning I woke up nice and early and my friend and I journeyed down to the David Barton gym at Astor Place (it’s beautiful, even though they ruined my Alumni Weekend last year- long story, which I will recount at the end of this post for those interested because it’s pretty entertaining). Inside David Barton is a new spin studio- Cyc. Cyc had generously partnered up with JackRabbit to let us in on a FREE class for the cycling portion of our brick workout.  Score!

First we did some rolling, cause that’s just the way we roll.  And also because our legs hate us a lot of times.

Next, it was into the studio for a major sweat sesh with “cycologist” Devon Kincaid. Cyc’s studio is big, dark, and awesome.  The bikes are only useable if you’re wearing cycling shoes, so when you ride at Cyc, you’re sure to feel LEGIT.

Cyc is one of those spin studios that isn’t just going to have you climb some hills, do some jumps and sprints and call it a day.  Cyc’s classes are of the “Your arms will burn just as much as your legs by the time you leave here” variety.  During Saturday’s class, we did 5 weighted songs, including ones that focused on biceps, shoulders, triceps and abs. 

I’m still torn on how I feel about these types of spin classes.  As a general rule of thumb, I’m all onboard.  I love the variety, the burn and of course the added calories I’m torching.  But there’s still part of me that likes my “boring” in comparison spin classes at NYSC that are a little more traditional.

That being said, Cyc is such a great experience- between the spinning, the coaching, the weights, and the AMAZING LIGHTING (not to mention great playlists)- I totally wish I could afford to take a class every day (single rides are $25 with packages starting at $120 for 5 rides- they also have student rates for anyone 23 or under or anyone with a valid student ID, so check that out fo sho!).

At the end of a heart-pumping 45 minute ride, it was time to snap a picture and head to the streets for the JackRabbit led running portion of the brick workout!

JackRabbits @ Cyc!

We took a lovely 3 mile run, stretched, high-fived, and were treated to delicious OatWorks smoothies!

All in all, a wonderful, wonderful Saturday morning! (Followed by a wonderful afternoon experiencing my first Phatty Beet slider from Chickpea and Olive at Smorgasburg!)

I definitely recommend trying out a brick workout! I also give two thumbs up to Cyc, JackRabbit and OatWorks….all amazing companies!


*The story about how David Barton ruined my Alumni Weekend- One day, I went to David Barton for a free trial membership (because I am a serial gym free trial-er).  When I signed up, they asked for my ID along with all my paperwork. I had a great workout. I instagrammed their beautiful décor. I sat through their spiel. I prayed that one day I would be able to afford a membership at a gym like this. I went home, I packed, I went to Connecticut for Alumni Weekend.  I went to buy alcohol to adequately pre-game. I didn’t have my ID.  For the LIFE of me, I couldn’t figure out where my ID could possibly be.  I wasn’t missing anything else from my wallet! How was I going to go to Aunchies with the rest of the alumni for a night of drunken dancing? I had my parents send pictures of every form of ID I could think of but when I got to the door of Aunchies, the bouncer wasn’t having it.  He called for the owner, “Mrs. Aunchie”- the biggest, meanest, scariest owner in the world.  She wasn’t having it either- but luckily, she also wasn’t having the person trying to cut the line by hoping over the fence.  As she turned to yell, I raced through the door, and spent the entire night hiding from her (which got a little tricky when I was next in line for the bathroom and she was coming out of the stall…).  About a week later, after I was back in the city, it suddenly dawned on me, out of nowhere, that I had given the David Barton front desk person my ID when I signed up for my free trial! I called, and sure enough, it was there! Didn’t they think I might need that?! They had all of my information from the forms I had filled out! Grrrr. \End.