work out

RACE RECAP: A Half Marathon PR In Buffalo

I’m writing this from my hotel room bed, where I have been laying/sitting for approximately 5 hours – rotating between answering emails, eating snacks, accidentally dozing off and consistently cursing when I need to get up to go to the bathroom because I have never felt post-race soreness like I am currently experiencing.

Race Recap: MightyMan Montauk Half Iron Distance Triathlon!

MIGHTYMAN MONTAUK RACE RECAP

In December, I signed up for my first half IRONMAN race - in Wilmington, North Carolina on October 13, 2018.

When I clicked register - I knew there was a chance that I wouldn’t make it to the start line. Either a work trip would come along that I had to be at, or my legs (shins) wouldn’t get me through the training. What I really wanted was a summer spent swimming, biking and running with my friends who had agreed to sign up with me.

Triathlon Planning

I was excited for free outdoor lap swimming at NYC pools, Saturday long rides up 9W and on Long Island, and getting myself back to weekend running and brunching with friends. Even if I didn’t become a (half) IRON(wo)MAN I knew that if I enjoyed the training, it would have been worth it.

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When I train for something – I tend to get tunnel vision. This 70.3 race consumed most of my spare time and mental energy from June up until yesterday. I did what I had to do to stick as closely to my training plan (this one) as possible – weekend plans meant Thursday morning long bike rides before coming into the office. Monday rest days were sacred. Foam rolling was a daily occurrence. I convinced myself that tart cherry juice was helping with inflammation and I submitted myself to 4 weeks in a row of acupuncture even though I’m terrified of needles.

Made a friend! Hi Emma!

Made a friend! Hi Emma!

I swam farther than I had ever swam before (and cried tears of joy) and found myself more and more comfortable in the pool. I biked further than I had every biked before. I PR’d Harlem Hill multiple times. I surprised myself on every transition run off the bike. I showed restraint on my weekly running mileage.

Overall, I trained 1,000 + miles and I continued to tell myself throughout the 14 weeks that THIS was the accomplishment. Whether I made it to the start line and whether or not I crossed the finish line, I was so grateful for 4 months of discipline and dedication and purpose and pride.

Half Ironman Training

I was so grateful for 60 miles on Long Island with my best friends followed by yacht club beers with my parents. I was so grateful for open water swim practice while on family vacation at the lake. I was so grateful for the people of Clinton, NY who found me a bike to train with while I was in town for work. I was so grateful for the Friday night run to the pool followed by dinner and drinks. I was so grateful for a return to morning park loops with Tiffanie. I was so grateful for the once a week F45 training with Abby when I just didn’t want to swim bike or run for once (not as grateful for the box jump injury resulting in my shin being Steri-stripped shut).  I was so grateful for vibrating foam rollers and compression leggings and the discovery of Asser Levy Pool at sunset.

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So when our North Carolina IRONMAN was cancelled last Monday because of Hurricane Florence, I was in a bit of a dazed disbelief, but I was also telling myself that it was OK. That the 1000 miles I trained were more of an accomplishment than the 70.3 on race day. And I still 100% believe that’s true. That’s what I’ll continue to be most proud of.

But I also didn’t want to be robbed of the proof that my training had worked. That all those hours could get me from start to finish of a 70.3 distance triathlon.

On Friday I happened to see a post on the North Carolina race page that MightyMan Montauk was offering $40 off registration to anyone who could show they had been registered for North Carolina. The race was on Sunday and they offered a half Ironman distance option.

I texted my friends asking, “Is this crazy?” And their response of “Yes, but I’m totally in” is why I love them. I booked a hotel at 5 PM on Friday. I packed a bag Friday night. I got some sleep, woke up Saturday morning, got myself on a train, and at 3 PM I was in Montauk.

Montauk Cycling

I walked myself, my bike and my massive backpack the mile to registration, paid my $200 cash, and was officially signed up 20 minutes prior to packet pick-up closing.

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I continued the .5 mile walk to Atlantic Terrace, checked-in, and was told that there would be a wedding happening outside our room until 11 PM. Grrrreat.

Next I walked to IGA, bought a banana, walked to Herb’s, got a chicken cutlet/cheddar/avocado/spinach sandwich on a roll, took a picture of the beach, shaved my legs, put my race tattoos on, organized my stuff and crawled into bed where I sat listening to Armchair Expert until 9.

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I also eavesdropped on the maid of honor and best man speeches of the wedding – they weren’t that great. Around 9 I turned off the lights, popped a melatonin and dozed off until Abby and Annelise arrived at around 1 AM.

That’s right, 1 AM. They’re the crazy ones.

We got settled, they filled out the registration paperwork so it would be ready to go in the morning, and we all fell into bed. 3 hours and 45 minutes later, our alarms were going off and it was GO TIME.

I got dressed:
-Favorite Sports Bra
-Voler Tri Shorts
-Tank Top
-Long Sleeve
-Wet Suit Legs on, arms tied around my waist
-Flip Flops
-Garmin (life changing realizing I could wear it for the swim!)

MightyManMontaukTri

I prepped my food:
-Joseph’s Tortilla
-RX Peanut Butter
-Banana 
(*This is truly the highlight of every long workout and race)

Downed some Stumptown canned cold brew, triple checked my bag, body glided the neck and ankles, triple tried to poop (and failed) and we were out the door by 5:15.

It was a half mile walk to Fort Pond transition area where Abby and Annelise registered and got tatted up. The sky was starting to lighten as we made our way to the second transition area and laid out everything we would need for the run (the course had officially changed on Friday when they announced that they couldn’t hold the swim at Fort Pond due to algae levels – just another wrinkle).

MightyManMontaukTriathlon

I ate half of my PB banana wrap, gathered everything I would need for the swim/bike and we set off on our bikes (in wetsuits and flip flops) to the swim start/transition one at Navy Beach. It was about a 3-mile bike ride and we were feeling warmed up.

At Navy Beach we racked our bikes, set up what we would need to transition from swim to bike, got our timing chips and most importantly, Abby braided my hair and gave my wetsuit a loopy hookeroo.

Half Ironman

The entire time a woman was on the microphone going over the different swim courses and I was just getting more and more confused. We donned our hot pink swim caps and headed towards the water where we asked multiple people, “Do you know where we are supposed to turn?” The general consensus was just keep the buoys on your left at all times which seemed simple enough (foreshadowing – it was not simple).

Everything had moved so quickly that morning that I hadn’t really had time to freak out at the fact that the water was pretty choppy looking.

What I liked about the swim start was that we just waded into the water up to our chest and once they said go, people went as they pleased – once you crossed the buoy your timing chip activated. It was a lot less stressful than a jump start, though there was still a lot of kicking and splashing as people got started.

I had just figured I would follow the hot pink swim caps and figure out the course, but it was evident pretty quickly that most of the pink swim caps were going to be wayyyy ahead of me. I felt the familiar feelings of “oh my God I can’t do this” and then I looked around and for the first time realized that these were no joke WAVES and they were not cyclical, rolling waves – they were choppy waves coming from all different directions and crashing into each other and rolling you around and making buoy spotting next to impossible. My mindset was “I have an hour to get this done – until they force me out, I’m going to keep trying.”

At one point, I looked up and saw Annelise next to me and felt so much relief. Then I saw that she was struggling too and tried to calm us both down.

It was chaos out there – and because they had used the backup swim plan, I felt like most of the lifeguards on paddle boards and jet skis were also confused as to what colored caps were supposed to be swimming where. At one point I was swimming into oncoming swimmers which yes, seemed wrong in retrospect, but I was keeping the buoys on my left like they had said! One of the lifeguards started aggressively screaming at me, telling me to stop backstroking and swim, and generally acting like I WANTED to be swimming off course. It was ridiculous.

Luckily, at that point in the swim Abby and I had found each other and though we were one of only a few pink swim caps left in the vicinity, as long as I had her in my sights I felt OK. We somehow navigated to the turn buoy (me, entirely by backstroking and looking at the sky and trying to calm myself down and swallowing giant mouthfuls of salt water as waves crashed over me) and thankfully once we turned all those waves were pushing us into shore and I could finally put my swimming to use. I settled into a pattern of 10 backstrokes, 21 freestyle, sight, 10 backstrokes, 21 freestyle, sight.

The times I was actually swimming were definitely the best I’ve done in open water. I could exhale this time without panicking about the fact that it was pitch black.

The closer we got to the swim exit the more crowded and stressful it got but I swam as much as I could instead of standing and running on the rock bottom and dragged myself up onto the shore. I like to think I made this look partially more graceful than the others around me not used to rocky bottom swim exits. Thanks, North Shore!

1.2 Mile SWIM: 44:48

I knew Abby was close behind me so I took my time in transition so that we could head out on the bike ride together. I ate the second half of my wrap, put on my arm sleeves, put on my socks and bike shoes, made sure all my things were in my bag so that the race people could transport it back to Fort Pond bag check, put on my sunglasses, did the hokey pokey, turned myself about. Me, Abby and Annelise set off – “Just like any other Saturday ride!” I told myself.

Transition 1: 8:17

The first 15 miles of the bike were awesome. I felt really really good. I ate a date at mile 10 and was cruisin’ even up the very hilly straightaway to the lighthouse. The hills were hard and numerous but I was handling them well mentally. And seeing the lighthouse was so nice and memory inducing!

But around mile 15 I started to get the familiar post-swim cramps. These were like NYC Tri x 128390. I couldn’t sit up straight, I couldn’t take a full breath in, I felt like I was being stabbed in the side and back and stomach and my chest was tight. I honestly started to question if something was seriously wrong.

Abby passed me and I told her what was up and that I was just hoping sometime over the next three hours, the pain would go away.

Even though it was the last thing I wanted to do – I knew I had to keep drinking and eating if I ever wanted to make it through the rest of the race – even though my stomach felt so so awful.

The cramping was really bad for about 45 minutes and then it eased up a little but I couldn’t get out of my head telling myself that there was no way I was going to be able to run.

I knew that thought was not at all useful and I needed to just focus on the bike. I never found the rhythm I had had for the first 15 miles and I knew I was going much slower than most of my training rides. I’m very bad at self-motivating on the bike – if I’m next to someone I can keep up, if I’m alone on a highway – not so easy to get my RPMs up.

This was a course where you were alone a lot.

But I kept going, kept eating a date every 10 miles, had half an RX bar in the last 10 miles, and swapped out my water bottle at the halfway point.

I knew Abby wasn’t too far ahead of me and I kept telling myself to reach her so we could run together but my legs just weren’t having it. Eventually, the bike was over and I ran to my rack where Abby was finishing up her transition and checked on my cramp status which was definitely better than when she had seen me on the bike but also not great.  

57 Mile BIKE: 3:33:29 (15.7 MPH)

She headed out and I followed behind, after changing my socks and putting on my sneakers. Last minute I decided to run with my phone in my Spibelt because I fully expected the cramps to make this a loooong, slow, walk-filled half marathon with possible phone calls crying to my parents. I left transition and started the run, clutching a melted half of an RX bar in one hand. 

Transition 2: 4:11

I ran with Abby’s advice in mind – run each mile and only think about that mile. I just concentrated on getting to each aid station, where I allowed myself to stop, drink, and walk to the garbage can before starting to run again. My first mile split was 8:25 which was much slower than my usual transition runs but I figured that was safe and smart.

Stomach was feeling OK, right shin was hurting, left glute pain that I’d been worried about seemed numb – all systems were go and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the next two hours were by no means going to be easy but that this was possible and I was going to make it happen.

By the second aid station I realized that Abby was coming from behind me because she had stopped to use a porto potty at a construction site (so resourceful) and I breathed a huge sigh of relief that we could run together.

I had been entering a head space that I did not want to be in – due in part to a lonely bike ride and the almost entirely crowd-supportless course.

We agreed that there was no need to run up “Murder Hill” or any of the other vertical incline hills that the race creators for some reason decided to include on the run course. It was seriously unreal. 806 feet of elevation climb on a run course?! You’ve gotta be kidding me. We had trained for a 56-mile bike ride with less elevation gain.

Even with Abby beside me, there were times I started telling myself that I didn’t want to keep going. That this was stupid hard and I should never have signed up. That I should just walk. That I couldn’t keep up with her. Mainly, I just kept thinking, “I want this to be over, I want this to be over.” And – “HOLY HELL MY ARM PITS ARE CHAFING SO MUCH.”

I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have Abby next to me step after step. In true Abby fashion - steadfast, strong, positive, realistic, random (refusal to put down her orange) – I just kept doing what she was doing and I knew we’d make it. 

She waited for my two porto potty stops (there was some GI distress happening), we walked the hills, we drank 6890 tiny cups of water, we cringed at the thought of any form of sustenance, we said things like “single digits left!” and “5K left!” and “this straightaway is going to suck but then it’s going to be the best!” and “Shalane and Emma to the finish!”

Half Ironman Finish

And when we crossed the finish line together, it was the sweatiest, happiest, proudest hug ever with maybe some tears - I don’t really know, everything was a little blurry.

13.1 Mile RUN: 2:09:34

TOTAL: 6:40:20

70.3 Half Ironman

We got our medals and towels (which were not soaking wet and cold like I had hoped but still very nice towels) and gave Annelise big sweaty hugs and walked over to the food table where I demolished many many pieces of watermelon which was everything I didn’t know I had been waiting for.

We zombie walked around for a little, took some photo booth pics, took some phone pics, called my dad, got some popcorn (also a great post race snack – yum salt), got our bags, got our bikes and walked back to the hotel.

Things to note: my swim cap smelled like straight up seafood stew. Yuck. I somehow ripped two big holes in my $300 wetsuit. Wonderful. I was very sunburnt. It was a perfect day weather wise! I was proud that I kept myself sufficiently hydrated and fed. I was never hungry and I was peeing clear all day (this is what you get when you read a race recap, sorry).

Overall the race was fairly well organized – the bike and run courses were clearly marked to differentiate between the Olympic and Half distance races. I liked that everything was super close to where we were staying. I liked that it was a small race that kept things from seeming overwhelming.

I didn’t like that the swim was so chaotic, the bike course was almost entirely unsupported in terms of water/mechanics/etc., and there was no crowd support. Oh, and like I said, the run course was just stupid difficult. I would consider doing this course as an Olympic in the future though!

After we all showered we got food at Gig Shack (burger, fries, beet and goat cheese salad, hummus platter with mushrooms, endive, candied macadamia nuts, parsnips – it was phenom) where there was live music and outdoor seating.

Gig Shack Montauk

Next stop was Montauk Brewery (so glad to have finally made it there!) and there double IPA was so so good. Last stop for the day was John’s (duh) for ice cream (Peanut Butter Blast) and a frozen chocolate covered banana (there’s always money in the banana stand).

Montauk Brewery Triathlon

Abby, again, is a crazy, wonderful human and drove Annelise and I back to our apartments before driving back to her house late last night.

I don’t remember falling asleep it happened so instantaneously. 

Montauk Sunset

In conclusion-

Nothing about yesterday's 70.3 was how I had pictured it in my head since I signed up 10 months ago. 

There was no careful taper - I spent the week before the race working 12+ hour days on my feet, eating chicken tenders and drinking copious amounts of wine (in what was the most fulfilling work week of my life to date, so no regrets!)

There was no time to stress about my outfit, to carefully pack my bags and to triple check my to-do lists. There wasn’t even time to MAKE a to-do list. 15 hours after seeing that MightyMan Montauk was offering day of registration and a discount for those whose Ironman NC 70.3 race had been cancelled, I was on a train.

There was no expo and practice open water swim and big race night dinner with my friends. I ate a deli sandwich alone at the hotel while a wedding raged outside my window and my friends drove through the night to arrive at 1 am.

We we're supposed to have a down-stream fast channel swim and a flat bike and run course. We got a chaotic ocean swim (ok it was a bay but it opens up into the OCEAN), a hilly bike, and a run with so many hills I stopped counting.

I was supposed to finish with two other incredible women who supported me and pushed me and trained 1000+ miles with me. Knowing that Kayla couldn’t be there and that the unexpectedly wavy swim course rattled Annelise definitely changed the celebratory mood that we had all dreamed of and worked towards. They trained just as hard and are more than capable and beyond prepared to go the same distance.

But there are silver linings to every changed plan. 

I had no time to doubt myself or to panic. I felt like this race was truly just a chance to give my training a shot in a scenario where I otherwise wouldn't have gotten to race at all. 

It cut training short when I was starting to feel burnt out anyway and it came after a week of relatively low mileage since I had been away for work. 

There were no delayed flights or lost bags - just a train ride to one of my favorite places. 

I got to complete my first 70.3 on the island that I love so much - I felt comfortable and at home.

And i got to run 13.1 miles with my best friend - something I haven't done since 2016. 

Without you by my side for every step Abby- those last two hours would have been a lot less pretty. But your experience and steady determination kept me going and smiling and crossing the finish line with you was a definite life highlight. 

To everyone who has exclusively heard me talk about 70.3 training for the past 4 months ITS OVER and I'm sorry I’ve been a broken record and thank you for listening.

(And no, I’m not ready to sign up for a full!!!)

Half Ironman Finisher

How to Train for Triathlon Swimming In a Small Pool

As someone who enjoys training for the occasional triathlon - I do not swim nearly as regularly as I should.

There are a number of reasons for this - but the biggest reason is that I am quite possibly the slowest swimmer on the planet. I like to refer to myself as the sea-sloth. Would swimming more regularly help me gain some speed? Novel concept!

Anyway - when I do go for a swim - it sometimes helps if I have a workout written out (and stored in a plastic bag so it doesn't become an illegible pile of mush - made that mistake once or twice). 

However - all of the swim workouts I find online are written for and by people who swim in normal sized pools - not people who live in Manhattan are are stuck swimming in 15 and 17 yard pools that are the aquatic equivalent of a hamster wheel. 

I've added a section to my main navigation bar that will take you to some swim workouts I've used that are great for my fellow small-pool-swimmers.

Please keep in mind that I am incredibly unqualified to give any sort of swimming advice.

Sincerely, 
Sea Sloth

Triathlon Training in a Small Pool

Hotel Gym Workouts - Bench Burner

As someone who travels 5-6 months out of the year for work,  I've seen the full spectrum of hotel gyms. 

I've been in a 6x6 room with just a treadmill and elliptical and I've also been in massive fitness centers with rowers, pools, medicine balls, spin bikes, sliders and resistance bands. 

Is it frustrating to be trapped at a hotel with a shitty gym for 2 weeks? Absolutely. But it's also a fun challenge to come up with creative workouts that use minimal equipment in unconventional ways. 

I'm lucky that I have some great friends/coworkers and when we join our fitness minds together, we can come up with some killer workouts! 

Now I actually look forward to developing these workouts. I write them up the night before so that I don't have to think about anything in the morning. Just need to get up and get it done. 

Here's one that Sabrina and I collaborated on in Annapolis - using just a bench for a total body workout! You don't even need weights to get in a major sweat - but there's always the option to add dumbbells if you want to many of these exercises.

Hotel Gym Bench Workout
  1. Hands Elevated Mountain Climbers (example)
  2. Hands Elevated Push-Up (example)
  3. Shoulders Elevated Hamstring Walk (example
  4. Feet Elevated Donkey Kick (example)
  5. Plyo Pushup to Plank Transfer (example)
  6. Hands Elevated Burpee (example)
  7. Bench Squat Sit Jumps (example)
  8. Split Squats (example) *add a hop at the top if you're feeling crazy (example)!
  9. Feet Elevated Push-Up (example)
  10. Feet Elevated Mountain Climbers (example)
  11. Step Ups (example
  12. Tricep Dips (example) *IT ME!
  13. Reverse Crunch (example)

There are a number of ways to structure the workout. Personally, I did each exercise for 10 reps and went through the circuit 4X. You could also do: 

Exercise #1 for :30, Rest :10 - Repeat 4X
Exercise #2 for :30, Rest :10 - Repeat 4X
Etc. through Exercise #13

Or: 

Exercise #1 for :30, Rest :10  
Exercise #2 for :30, Rest :10
Exercise #3 for :30, Rest :10
All the way through Exercise #13, then repeat 4X 

The options are endless! 

The hope is that one day I'll figure out how to photograph/film these workouts so that I don't have to use examples from the most random sources on the internet! But until then...this is the best I can do. 

If you want some more difficult bench exercises - watch this video from Men's Health that showcases 57 bench exercises! A lot of them are in this workout - but there are also a number that I was a little intimidated to attempt. 

What's your favorite exercise using the bench? Let me know in the comments!

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Let's Catch Up! 10 Things I'm Loving

Once upon a time I wrote mainly about running and workout classes and restaurant reviews. Lately, all I've done is write about my travels - running isn't a thing I've done much for the past year+  

It's a touchy subject. 

But how about something new? How about a "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things" post? Also known as "Loving Lately," or "Fave Finds." Call it what you will - I'm just going to ramble about a bunch of things I've been feelin' these days and catching you back up with my real-life here in NYC (as opposed to work-life and travel-life!) 

Bloggers Favorite Things

1. Books

I've read some DAMN GOOD books lately.

The Fiddler In The Subway by Gene Weingarten

One of my neighbors put a bunch of old books they were getting rid of in our lobby and I randomly scooped this one up. It was one of the best things I've ever read.

The book is a collection of feature stories written by Washington Post journalist Gene Weingarten. The subjects are all over the map - but each story is brilliantly written, insightful, creative, clever, moving. I cannot explain how incredible Gene Weingarten's writing is. 

As a journalism undergrad, I'm disappointed I was never made to read this book because I honestly think that it would be convinced me to continue down the path towards becoming a writer. 

Please pick up this book! It's great because you can just read one story at a time - not too much comittment! 

There’s one last truth that I don’t tell them, because it’s needlessly disturbing and would serve no pragmatic purpose. I’ll say it now, just once, and be done with it. A real writer is someone for whom writing is a terrible ordeal.  That is because he knows, deep down, with an awful clarity, that there are limitless ways to fill a page with words, and that he will never, ever, do it perfectly. On some level, that knowledge haunts him all the time. He will always be juggling words in his head, trying to get them closer to a tantalizing, unreachable ideal. 

It’s a torment you can’t escape. It will reach even into the comfort of a drunken sleep, and it will shake you awake, and send you, heart pumping, to an an empty piece of paper. 

If you have that, you can be a good writing. Congratulations, I guess. 
— The Fiddler In The Subway, Gene Weingarten

Beartown 

Beartown: A Novel
By Fredrik Backman

When I was younger, you couldn't find me without a book. I brought books out to family dinners - sat in a booth at a noisy restaurant and just kept on reading. 

Nowadays, there's not as much time for uninterrupted, full-on face-in-a-book reading. But with Beartown - I found that 12 year old ability of mine to shut out the world and travel into the story. 

I read for an entire flight and an entire Sunday afternoon because I just couldn't put the book down. 

From the author of A Man Named Ove - Beartown is incredibly timely and is also about hockey and Sweden - two things that you could say are somewhat pertinent to my life. Backman's ability to describe human nature and to create characters that really come to life are what made this book so compelling. 

If you've read it - comment who your favorite character was! I want to discuss! 

One of the plainest truths about both towns and individuals is that they usually don’t turn into what we tell them to be, but what they are told they are.
— Fredrik Backman, Beartown

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir 

If you don't utilize your public library's ability to lend eBooks - what are you doing?! So easy and also, free! That's how I came to find The Sound of Gravel. 

This is the story of Ruth Wariner as told by herself - about growing up poor in a polygamist family. It's a fascinating look into a culture that I knew very little about before reading the book. 

Mom couldn’t teach me that because she didn’t know herself. She couldn’t show me how to be happy, only how to barely survive.
— Ruth Wariner, The Sound of Gravel

2. Romantic Comedies

I don't watch movies, as a general rule of thumb - unless I'm on a long flight. 

But for some reason a few weeks ago, I found myself watching a different romantic comedy on Netflix every night of the week. Huh? You're all going to laugh - because I'm only about 15 years late to the party on one of them and the other two are garbage. 

Bridget Jones' Diary 

Sleeping With Other People 

Drinking Buddies 

So tell me, what's your favorite romantic comedy? 

3. Yoga 

That's right - it's happened everyone. I can officially say the words, "I like yoga!" 

WOW. It took me years and years but I've finally learned to appreciate a good, sweaty, yoga class. I've even learned how to view it as a damn good workout, not just a stretch. (Read this post from April of last year where I wondered if I was starting to like yoga!)

It's mid-March and I've been to 16+ yoga classes already this year, which is probably more than the combined number of classes I had taken in my life prior to January 1, 2018. 

CorePower Yoga

Like so many runners out there - CorePower was my gateway drug. I had taken Core Power classes in Denver and Raleigh - but it was my class in Boston with Kayla that was a game changer. The instructor was phenomenal and I took my Free Week back with me to NYC and went NUTS. I took 5 classes in 7 days!

I also tried the Yoga Sculpt class without realizing it's basically heated barre - and I liked that too! 

Y7 Studio

Y7 has an intro package that gets you 3 classes for $45 which I did when my CorePower free week was up. 

I wasn't expecting to like Y7 as much as I did - hip hop isn't exactly "me" but I loved the classes that I took. My favorite part is how the class is set up - you know what to expect and there's no opportunity for laying on the mat wondering, "are there 10 minutes left or 50? How much more do we have?" (Because let's face it, I still have that moment about halfway through each yoga class). 

At Y7, you go through 3 separate flows. For each, you go through once slow, once "one breath, one movement" and then the third time the turn the music up and let you go on your own. I loved this because it kept me super focused the entire time so that I could remember the flow - keeping myself mentally focused on yoga is a challenge and I found that this really helped me. 

Yoga Vida

Yoga Vida NYC

There are multiple Yoga Vida locations, but I took all of my free week classes at the NoHo location (no showers, which is a bummer considering this is the studio that offers heated flow!) 

All the instructors here were amazing, the space is HUGE and you can't beat a free week! Plus, they have a bunch of community classes each week that are donation based. Holla! 

Om Factory

Favorite class? The one taught by my friend Bertha! Getting to see her do her thing was so cool! But even better was the fact that she is an AWESOME instructor. 

When Abby and I requested a class with lots of hamstring stretching and an arm balance - Bertha delivered exactly that. The whole class I didn't even realize we were working towards side crow and then WA-BAM all of a sudden it all made sense. 

I'm not sure what the shift was, but I'm very glad that I've come to value more low-impact exercises like yoga and barre (and I'm trying out a Pilates class this weekend!) I've been very unkind to my body in terms of how I've exercised for the past 4 years, and I'm really digging some days without burpees and jump squats and wall balls. 

4. Live Music 

Hearing someone with an incredible voice belt out a good song is probably one of my all time favorite things. I get chills. Every time. And wish that I had been blessed with some vocal chords that can SANG. Alas, I cannot. But I have been doing lots of listening. 

Piano Bars 

My family and I recently went to Don't Tell Mama in Hell's Kitchen and though we waited over an hour to be seated, and they tried skipping over our name on the list - it ended up being such a fun night. Singing along is highly encouraged. They sing a great mix of classic, show tunes, popular songs, oldies - and the singing bar and wait staff are out of this world good - they're all definitely Broadway actors and actresses. 

My other favorite piano bar in NYC is Brandy's on the Upper East Side - both of these are really small venues with two drink minimums but every time I've gone it's been more than worth the pricey drinks. These aren't your average piano bar wannabes - they're extremely talented performers. 

If you go to Brandy's - order a Tequila Cosmo!

Rockwood Music Hall - Stage 3

I had been to Rockwood Music Hall a number of times for various concerts but none of them at Stage 3 (around the corner on Orchard Street). It was such an intimate venue - everyone gets a seat which I hadn't been expecting.

We were there to see Wakey!Wakey! aka Michael Grubbs of One Tree Hill fame. He performed an hour-long show with his piano and damn is his voice powerful. 

For a $15 ticket and a $10 glass of wine (everyone has to buy a drink - but you can get a soda or coffee) it was the perfect Friday night and I was still in bed by 10:30! 

Broadway Musicals

Always my favorite form of live music - I am of the belief that there is nothing like a Broadway musical. We recently went as a family to see the new Jimmy Buffet jukebox musical "Escape to Margaritaville."

While the production was far from artistically groundbreaking, damn was it FUN. Maybe we had a little too much fun. It seems that my "FINS TO THE LEFT, FINS TO THE RIGHT" dance moves may have interfered with some lighting. And apparently the somewhat stuffy audience wasn't on board with yelling "Salt! Salt! Salt!" during the title song. But c'est la vie - not everyone can be a Parrothead. 

My family and I thoroughly enjoyed the show - despite the incredibly forced references to song lyrics and predictable plot line. It certainly helped that our margarita cups were always filled (thanks, Dad!)

The best part was my dad finally realizing just how much he must have listened to Jimmy Buffet when we were kids - my sister and I seemed to know more words than anyone else! 

City Winery

Next up for live music is a concert this week at City Winery! We'll be seeing Joshua Radin and while I haven't been to a show at this venue yet, I have a feeling I'm going to like it. Bar stool + acoustic music + wine seems like the recipe for a wonderful Thursday night. 

5. Rock Climbing

I've loved rock climbing for as long as I can remember - I was a total monkey as a kid. Climbing trees, climbing the rope faster than anyone else in gym class. 

I finally got myself belay certified and asked for a 10-climb pass for Christmas - so if anyone wants to go rock climbing at The Cliffs in LIC let me know!! 

The Cliffs LIC

It's such an adrenaline rush and I love the fact that by the end of a day at the climbing gym - my arms are actually shaking they're so exhausted. I still get a little nervous while belaying - the fact that I'm actually in control of someone's life is slightly terrifying - but practice makes perfect? 

6. Argan Oil & Chakra  Oil 

My moisturizing game has never been stronger thanks to these two products. 

Rituals Shanti Chakra Body Oil

My coworker bought us each a bottle of this in the Copenhagen airport after we used the tester and fell in love. 

The smell is dreamy, and putting this on after the shower makes me feel like I'm treating myself to a spa day. I'm almost out, and I can't find it online, and I'm having a slight meltdown. 

Organix Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil

Want your hair to feel super hydrated and luscious? Use this stuff. 

I take terrible care of my hair. I get it cut about once a year. I straighten it, blow dry it, curl it - and half the time I'm showering at New York Sports Club whose shampoo I swear doesn't actually do anything.  

But ever since my mom got me a little tube of hair oil in my stocking stuffer - I've been using it non stop and I can see a huge difference in the look and feel of my hair. 

7. Doughnuts 

There was awhile there where I seemed to be on a doughnut hiatus. Thank God that ended. 

East Main & Main - Port Jefferson, New York

East Main & Main Donuts

Long Island is finally get involved in the doughnut game!

Dilla's Delights - Detroit, Michigan 

Dilla's Delights Detroit

Banana pudding cake donut, HOLLER! 

(*Adorable donut earrings from my coworker!)

Blackbird Doughnuts - Boston, Massachusetts 

blackbird.jpg

Citrus old fashioned! GET IT!!!

Kane's Donuts - Boston, Massachusetts

Kane's Donuts

This was Kayla's introduction to doughnut tasting and I was so happy that she got totally into it with me. We started with one - but that was just a lie we were telling ourselves. 

Dough - Tampa, Florida

Dough Doughnuts Tampa Bay Florida

More than anything, what I appreciated about Dough was that they gave me the opportunity to have a ridiculous doughnut photo shoot with my friends portrait mode. And the fact that their creme brulee dooughnut was ridic. 

Stuffed - New York, New York 

Stuffed Doughnut Ice Cream NYC

Ice cream + doughnut ice cream sandwiches. Yeah, I went there.

(And in the same day, after brunch, we ate a Dun-Well doughnut AND two scoops at Davey's Ice Cream. Still unsure how I have avoided diabetes thus far). 

Carlson's Donuts & Thai Kitchen

Annapolis, Maryland 

Carlson's Donuts & Thai Kitchen

Talk about strange combos - Carlson's was a MUST VISIT while I was in Annapolis. I mean, when I hear that there is a run down shop that serves doughnuts from 5 AM - 11 AM and then becomes a Thai restaurant for dinner - you couldn't keep me away. 

The best part? These doughnuts were ridiculously good. 

8. Podcasts

I didn't really expect to like podcasts, but now I listen to them almost daily during my commute. They're great on the stationary bike. And sometimes I even just lay in bed and listen to one! I sound like I'm a podcast junkie but in reality, there are really only two that I listen to at the moment, so please send your recommendations my way!

*Also very interested in any podcast that has had JK Rowling as a guest. 

Ali on the Run Show

I think Ali was made to have a podcast. She's a phenomenal host who is clearly passionate about her guests, the subjects and the project in general. 

What I love about the Ali on the Run Show is that there's a structure to it, but depending on the guest each show is obviously very unique! I absolutely love the "Sprint to the Finish" portion of the show when Ali asks each guests fun questions like "Where was your first kiss?" and "What would your last meal on earth be?" These questions really help humanize the incredible (running-related) guests that she has on the show. 

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Unlike the Ali on the Run Show - Dax Shepard's new podcast has almost no structure whatsoever yet somehow I keep finding myself listening to to 2+ hour episodes where he interviews fellow celebrities and digs into some serious topics like anxiety, depression, addiction and has really candid talks about being a celebrity and what that's like for your psyche. 

By far my favorite episode was the first one when Dax had his wife, the wonderful Kristin Bell, on as a guest. I immediately started stalking them on Instagram and it's safe to say that I would like them to adopt me into their family. 

I also love the end of each episode when their family friend/podcast fact-checker Monica Padman comes on to call-out all of Dax's erroneous statements from the show. 

9. New Workouts 

Like I said - running is still a thing that my body doesn't seem to be interested in. Actually, it seems very disinterested in it. And finally, I'm listening and I'm saying "That's cool - let's do some other stuff!" 

Normally I would write a full review for each of these classes but in an effort to make up for the past, oh, I don't know, year that I neglected to do class reviews, I'm going to keep it brief. 

Orangetheory Fitness

Orangetheory Fitness Review

I checked out two OTF classes while I was in Tampa Bay and I gotta say - I didn't like them as much as I was expecting to. 

The first time, we didn't even get heart rate monitors, which was a complete bummer (I'm a numbers girl when it comes to a workout!) and the second time, I was just very frustrated at how hard it was to get my heart rate into the "Red Zone." 

I like the concept - and I like switching stations to do both cardio and strength - but it just wasn't the "OH MY GOD AMAZING" workout that I was hoping for. 

To be fair, I may actually have been asleep for the second class as evidenced by this photo. 

Everybody Fights

Everybody Fights Boxing Review

This boxing studio, owned by George Foreman's son, started in Boston and recently opened up in NYC. 

Whenever I take a boxing class, I leave feeling like I got my ass kicked and Everybody Fights was no exception! It's a really big space that offers a bunch of different kinds of classes and I definitely wouldn't be opposed to returning! 

Curious about boxing? You can check out my reviews of some other NYC boxing studios using the links below!

Shadowbox

Rumble

Work Train Fight

Overthrow

Kings Thai Boxing

Kings Thai Boxing Review NYC

My friend Bertha is a badass babe who regularly goes to Kings Thai Boxing. 

I said I would go as long as she was there to help me - and I'm so glad I did! It was definitely out of my comfort zone - I felt pretty lost most of the time - but the instructor was SO helpful and friendly and by the end of class I was a) drenched in sweat b) sore as hell and c) feeling like a total badass. 

Abby came to class too - so we got to work as partners which helped a TON. I felt less guilty every time I made a mistake holding the pads (which was very very frequently - sorry, Ab!) To be honest, remembering the sequences was harder as the person holding the pads than as the one doing the punching and kicking (at least for me). 

Can we just talk about the ~casual~ way this class ended? A ladder of DEATH, that's how. 

1 Left Kick
1 Right Kick
1 Pushups
2 Left Kicks
2 Right Kicks
2 Pushups 

Up to 10. Back down to 5. 

I have never come closer to throwing up (or collapsing during a push-up). 

Saturday's at noon Kings Thais has a Beginners Class if you feel like feelin' fierce! 

Spiderbands

Spiderbands Class Review

When I started getting targeted ads for this new fitness studio on my Instagram feed I was instantly intrigued. 

It looked so unique and mainly it just looked plain fun! Also, it seemed to be somewhat low-impact which I could use some more of! So I signed up for their intro deal (2 classes for $20!

When Bertha, Abby and I went to this class - there was only one other person there. Normally, I would think, "GREAT it's like a private class!" But instead, our instructor was super robotic and unenthusiastic the entire time. Even though we were clearly new students, and clearly the studio isn't batting people away. 

Despite that - I really did like Spiderbands just because it was so different than any other class. There's a TON you can do with these giant resistance bands which is evident when you realize they offer 6 different classes ranging from bosu ball to kickboxing to HIIT. 

We took the "Signature Spiderbands" class but I will definitely be using my second class to try something new!

Come prepared to take an epic Boomerang after class, and plan on staying a bit after to enjoy their BEAUTIFUL showers/locker rooms. 

Fithouse

I have a feeling Fit House is about to be all the rage in the NYC fitness world - especially now that ClassPass has become too expensive for a lot of people. 

The concept is pretty simple - a $99/month membership to attend classes at Fithouse studios across the city (right now, there is only one, but they plan to expand quickly to at least 3 more neighborhoods). 

While the membership doesn't gain you access to a typical gym space, it does grant you access to a bunch of different types of classes. This includes HIIT, Yoga, Strength and Barre. 

I found a discount code for a FREE two week trial when they first opened, but unfortunately, the Bowery location was pretty inconvenient for me and I only got to attend two classes. 

Pros
+Big studio with lots of equipment for different types of exercises
+Automatic lockers (no need to bring your own lock) 
+Close to subway station 

Cons
-No showers at the Bowery location (they are hoping that some of the other studios will have showers, but TBD) 
-No spin or boxing classes (personally, two of my favorite kinds of classes!) 
-The one bathroom stall is INSIDE the studio - so if you arrive before class and need to use the restroom but there's a class going on inside the studio - you can't. It's a weird set up. 

I took two of the higher intensity classes - Strength Station and Slam.  Bother were 45 minutes long. They were good - but not great. Hard, but not killer.  

The best part of Fit House was the instructor Mark - he was great!

I think as more studios open, as they hire more staff, as they add more classes, Fithouse definitely has the potential to be an affordable option for people who like to take a lot of classes as opposed to belonging to a gym. 

They're currently running a $19 deal for a 2 week trial! (Just be sure you cancel if you don't want to sign up or they'll automatically start charging you at the end of the two weeks!)

Sweat Yoga

It was sweaty, it was yoga. It was a yoga class I took before I liked yoga - so not much to say about it! 

Barry's Bootcamp

Who woulda thunk that my first Barry's Bootcamp class would actually be in SWEDEN? 

That's right. While I was in Stockholm for work, I went to a Barry's class! I ended up finding a class on the schedule that was taught in English and thank God for that. I don't know why I had been thinking it would be no problem taking the class in Swedish - I definitely would have regretted it as we did some pretty complicated moves with the stepper and resistance bands for the strength portion of the class!

Chris Mosiers' Deck A Day Challenge

This isn't new - but it's a workout that I have been LOVING and doing very frequently. Each year, Chris runs a Facebook group that challenges you to do a deck of cards workout every day from Thanksgiving to New Years' Eve. I've done it the past 3 years and at the end of it, I'm always in SUCH GOOD SHAPE. 

It's a strength workout, a cardio workout, an ab workout, and uses a lot of the exercises that I normally let fall to the wayside that are actually super important (glute bridges, donkey kicks, etc.)  

Deck A Day Workout

He keeps the group running throughout the year - so if I'm ever feeling uninspired at the gym I'll check the page! We were lucky enough to have Chris in NYC a few weeks ago and got to do the deck of the day live and in person in Central Park which was awesome :)

You can also follow along on his Instagram account.

 

10. Billie

Instagram sponsored ads are my best friend and my worst enemy. They can show me an ad enough times and I'll 100% start to think that I need it. Like that damn Quip toothbrush they keep pushing on me. 

But Billie is one that I barely even hesitated before purchasing. Essentially, it's a month subscription for new razor blades. The concept behind it is basically my internal monologue of: 

WHY IS IT SO DAMN EXPENSIVE TO BUY REPLACEMENT RAZOR BLADES AS A WOMAN? 

WHY DO I ALWAYS END UP JUST BUYING A NEW RAZOR BECAUSE IT'S HALF THE PRICE AS A PACK OF BLADES? 

SHOULD I JUST GET THESE SHITTY DISPOSABLE ONES?

I thought that maybe my whole life I was missing something - but nope, apparently the founders of Billie were on the same page. 

Razor blade prices + laziness + my travel schedule ensure that I am almost always using razor blades that are far too old and dull to effectively shave my legs. In fact, they're probably downright dangerous. 

The ratio of the amount of time I spend at a gym in shorts and how often my legs are well-shaven is not socially acceptable.

So I ordered a Billie razor in a cute coral color. It came in the mail with a super ~minimalist~ magnetic holder that takes up zero space in the shower. It came with two razor blades that are smooth and wonderful. Every 3 months I'll get 4 NEW BLADES FOR $9.80. In the mail. 

I don't know why this is so exciting to me but it is. I wrote an email to all my female coworkers the day I found out about it and group texted like 20 girlfriends. 

WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. 

They also have a super cool message about the "Pink Tax" which they define as - 

PINK TAX: the extra amount women are charged for certain products (*ahem* razors) or services. For no reason. Unless being female is a reason.

Word. 

So, help a sista out - if you use the link below to order your Billie razor I'll get some coupons or somethin' 

11. Gap

Bonus #11!

Not much to say on this except I have been LOVING everything from the Gap and it's getting to be a problem. 

I online shop with my Gap Cash because, "It would be a waste not to use it," and then I tell myself, "There's a Gap right near the office, just order it and it if it doesn't fit you can return it." Except can you guess how much I have ordered and decided to return? That's right, none of it. 

Gap Model

On any given day, you can find me wearing multiple items from the Gap. Most recently, I have purchased not only clothing from them but undergarments and workout clothes as well - so that my entire wardrobe is beginning to resemble the store. 

Oops. 

THAT WAS FUN! 

I feel like we're all caught up, and now I can start pushing out some new, relevant, timely posts! Thanks for stickin' around. 

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My Favorite Pre-Packaged Bars

Athletes today may be gluten-free, vegan or paleo. They may choose to only eat organic products, or Whole 30 approved foods.

It can make selecting a pre-workout snack somewhat complicated. I never really gave much thought to what my gluten-free or vegan running friends did for fuel until one of my Ragnar Relay teammates had to request certain snacks on our Costco run.

There are tons of recipes and real foods you can make to fuel your runs if you’ve got dietary restrictions, but sometimes you just want the simplicity of grabbing a prepacked bar and heading out the door. Luckily, there are a lot of options out there nowadays that don't require making your own energy balls or granola bars. 

I almost always eat half of some sort of a bar in the morning before leaving my apartment for the gym or the office to hold me over until my full breakfast. Even if i'm not doing much running lately, I need something to get me through a strength workout, swim or bike ride. Or even just the NYC rush hour commute. 

Here are some of my favorites!

Favorite Gluten Free Snacks for Runners

Dates

If you’re looking to go the natural route, I’ve found dates to be surprisingly effective at giving me that little boost of energy before a short morning workout. Adding a smear of peanut butter brings it to the next level – as it does with most things.

Brown Rice Cakes

Gluten free, quick to eat, and again – delicious when paired with peanut butter! I’ve recently been turned on to rice cakes’ cousin – the elusive corn cake! They aren’t found as easily in stores, but they’re also gluten free and have much more flavor than your average rice cake!

GoMacro Bars

Recently, GoMacro sent me a variety pack of their many different flavored bars to sample and I was really impressed! Not only are all 10 of their flavors gluten free, but they’re vegan as well!

My favorite thing about GoMacro bars were that they weren’t overly sugary and sweet, which meant I could have a half of a bar without instantly feeling like I needed to keep eating it because it was like candy. That’s not to say that they didn’t taste good – they just didn’t taste like dessert.

Typically I’m a fan of the chocolatey and peanut butter-y flavors – but with GoMacro, I absolutely went CRAZY for the “Sunny Uplift” bar with cherries + berries.

It tasted like a healthy cherry pie – probably my favorite bar that I’ve ever had!

GoMacro Gluten Free Runners

GoMacro bars didn’t taste chemically to me at all – unlike some others (I'm looking at you, Quest bars, which used to be my go-to and now I can’t stomach!) One thing to note is that they’re on the softer side. If you’re looking for something crunchier, you might want to try a different product.

I brought a handful of GoMacro bars with me on my trip to Banff and Jasper this summer, and Callie, Abby and I ate them before runs, during hikes, and as snacks to hold us over until our next meal.

gomacro1.jpg

KIND Bars

KIND bars are produced in a gluten free facility and the company keeps rolling out new products – but their fruit and nut bars are still my favorite because you can tell that it’s got real ingredients. My favorite flavor is the Blueberry Vanilla & Cashew!

These are on the crunchier side, and their “healthy grains” line are, as their packaging states, “chewy with a crunch!” (I love that they serve these on Delta flights to Business Class now!)

RX Bars

The consistency of RX bars takes some getting used to – they can be a bit of a workout for your jaw, especially if you’re storing them somewhere on the colder side. That being said, you can’t beat them when it comes to clear cut, simple ingredients.

RX bars are all gluten free, but they aren’t vegan as they contain egg whites. It took me awhile to come around to RX bars, but once I tried the Chocolate Coconut I was all in.

LARABARS

If you like dates, you’ll love Lara Bars. These are smaller than some of the other bars, but they’re dense and filling and gluten free.

Lara Bars also have TONS of flavors – like, over 20 of them! So you’re sure to find one that you like (may I suggest the chocolate chip cookie dough?)

What are you favorite bars? 

NYC Tri Race Recap

For the past week, whenever anyone asks me how my first New York City Triathlon went, I'm sure they've walked away from me secretly hating my guts. 

I hear myself gushing over the race and talking about 3 hours of physical activity as if it were a trip to an amusement park - and I've thought, "Wow, I'm annoying." 

But yet I can't help. Last Sunday was absolutely amazing in a way that only fellow race addicts will be able to comprehend. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

Packet Pick-Up & Expo

Friday, I took advantage of my office's "Summer Friday" hours to stroll over to the Hilton Hotel where packet pick-up and the NYC Tri Expo were taking place. I happened to arrive a perfect 10 minutes prior to the 3 PM briefing that is required for all participants. 

The briefing lasting about 30 minutes and had a lot of good information - all of the logistics of triathlons tend to overwhelm me so the more times I'm told what to do and what to expect, the better. Not to mention, this was my first Olympic Distance triathlon and only my second triathlon EVER. 

After the briefing you received a stamp on your hand to prove you had sat through it, which enabled you to pick up your packet full of bib numbers (one for your shirt, one for your bike, one for your helmet, etc.), your timing chip (worn around your ankle), your t-shirt and swag bag.  

New York City Triathlon Expo

Then, I headed into the expo to see what freebies I could snag. Since the expo had started at 2 PM and it was only 3:30 on a Friday, it was still pretty calm which was nice. I grabbed all the chip clips, hand sanitizer, keychains, chapsticks, coupons, etc. only to get home and think, "I literally do not need any of this..." 

I had ordered a bunch of stuff online  that didn't arrived in time - so I was on the hunt for tri shorts to wear during the race (oops). Mine have slowly disintegrated from wearing them in chlorine when I go to the pool - and the padding in my biking shorts was way too much to swim and run in. 

After trying on a few pairs at the TYR booth, I found a brand I'd never heard of - Voler - and fell in love with their basic pair of $30 tri shorts which were black and teal to match my bike, helmet, cycling shoes...etc. etc. 

I also bought a new Adidas sports bra for $12 - suhweet! 

Bike Check-In

The NYC Tri basically takes place in my backyard, which made the somewhat daunting three-day process of Expo, Bike Check-In, Race, Bike Pick-Up a lot more manageable. 

On Saturday, after a productive morning at the library and Trader Joe's, I set out on my bike with a giant backpack full of all my race essentials. 

15 minutes into the ride - I realized I had forgotten to put my number on my bike - which would prevent me from checking it into the transition area. 

Back to my apartment I went - dripping in sweat and cursing myself as I precariously balanced on my bike.

Finally, I made it to transition and found Callie and our friend Molly, racked my bike (my number said, "If triathlons were easy, it'd be called football") and started laying out all my things. 

NYC Tri Bike Check-In

It's kind of crazy to think that I walked away from transition having left behind a $1300 bike, $200+ wetsuit, $75 cycling shoes, $100+ GPS watch, and various other items. That night my parents would ask me, "What will you do with your cell phone during the swim?" And I had to laugh, thinking that my cell phone was the least of my worries. 

Callie, Molly and I took the 30 minutes to go on one of the transition area tours which I cannot recommend enough if you ever find yourself doing the NYC Tri or any tri that offers such a "tour." I left feeling much more at ease having a mental picture of where I would walk to the swim, where I would be exiting the swim, where I would re-enter transition, where I would leave with my bike, etc. etc. It also really helped to see "the hill" everyone talks about that comes fairly quickly in the bike ride. 

NYC Tri Transition

The Night Before

After bike check-in I spent the evening meal prepping for the week, getting a pep talk from my parents (which ended with, "I really don't know why you do this Lauren...") and eventually eating an early dinner of chicken, vegetarian chili and spinach. I double checked that everything was ready to go for the early morning alarm (including my pre-made rice cake + PB and banana) before taking a melatonin. I fell asleep shockingly easily around 8:30 PM. 

NYC Tri Race Prep

Morning Of! Pre-Race Readying

My alarm went off at 3:40 AM and I felt shockingly fine. I put on my tri shorts, tank, running sneakers, Road ID and pinned on my bib. Fun fact, I had gotten my period the day before, so I popped two Ibuprofen for cramps, brushed my teeth, grabbed my water bottle and breakfast and within 15 minutes was ordering an Uber pool to the bike transition. 

I assumed an Uber pool would probably end up being a) just me or b) myself and a fellow triathlete on their way to transition but NYC truly is the city that never sleeps and I was surprised to find myself explaining to a couple why I was dressed to go workout at 4:00 AM. 

Transition was daaaark when I arrived around 4:15 and I remained pretty calm - a nice departure from my crazed/stressed self prior to last year's sprint triathlon on Long Island where I had a panic attack first about my bike pump not working and then about forgetting my ear plugs in my dad's truck. 

NYC Tri Transition Area

I easily found someone nearby to help me re-inflate my tires, sipped my canned cold brew coffee, ate my rice cake with PB and banana, and re-jiggered my things in a way that made sense. 

I put on my flip flops, put my goggles around my neck, slung my wetsuit over my shoulder, and made sure that my ear plugs, swim cap and socks were in the bag I'd be walking to the swim start with.  

Callie's bike was only a few down from me, I saw Abby right away, Molly, Emily, Alex - tons of November Project people made me feel calm. I also just kept telling myself that we still weren't starting for a long time. 

NYC  Tri Race Recap

After some pictures (duh) we left as transition closed at 5:15 on the dot and started the walk to the swim start. Making our way up to 99th street with Abby and Callie by my side made it just feel like a regular morning and kept me calm. We watched the Hudson River flowing on by, "The river is moving! There is a current! Hooray!" 

When we approached where we would be exiting the water, I laid out a pair of socks that would save my feet from the gravely quarter-mile run back to transition. A ton of people had left out sneakers, but that seemed like a big hassle to put on. 

At the swim start, I body glided up, put my flip flops in my bag, took out my ear plugs and swim cap, and gave it to the truck that would transport it to the finish line. 

We continued along to Port-o-Potty Village and finally, donned our sexy wet-suits, shimmying our way into them like an extra-tight pair of skinny jeans. 

As we approached the water I put two spare ear plugs in the sleeves of my wetsuit, where I was pretty sure they wouldn't budge considered how tight it was - I knew that if I lost the ear plugs in my ears mid-swim I'd probably freak (I ALWAYS swim with them, get terrible swimmer's ear, and hate the feeling of water in my ears - especially because I fly so much, it makes me paranoid!) 

Callie braided my hair (best part of race day are the race braids!) and when we entered the line with our swim start/age group we completed the Tinder-profile-worthy look with our swim caps. 

Soon, a giant pink pig poster came marching by and attached to it were Abby's adorable parents who snapped some WINNING photos of the three of us. 

We, as usual, goofed off, joked around, and kept things as far-from-serious as possible. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

When swim waves started going off, I was relieved to see lots of people side stroking, back stroking, treading water and STILL moving at a fast clip towards the finish. The river was movin' all right and I knew that even if it took me 40 minutes of backstroke, I'd make it out of the Hudson and to my bike. 

The three of us decided to take the 20 second time penalty by sitting on the barge and dangling our legs into the water instead of jumping in and can I just say HOW GREAT it was that I got to start this race sitting next to my two best friends and triathlon inspirations (Hi, 70.3). 

The Swim 

You know people who downplay their abilities constantly because they want to hear people tell them how great they are? I SWEAR I wasn't trying to be that person by panicking about the swim portion of the NYC Tri. 

I was legitimately petrified of swimming .9 miles and still do not think that I'm entirely capable of doing it in other circumstances. Those circumstances = a quickly moving river, pulling you downstream whether you wanted to or not. 

The promising news was that I managed to do some actual face-in-the-water swimming this time around. That being said, it was HIGHLY supplemented with the backstroke for more than half of the time. Progress? 

The wave start meant that for most of the time, the route wasn't too crowded. The sea wall had signs marking each 100 meters and volunteers on both sides made sure that you were staying within the safe swimming area. By the final 150 meters, the course got crowded and hectic as everyone converged on the barge where we would exit the water. I just hung back and slowly made my way to the exit area where I grabbed onto someone's arm and they pulled me up and out. 

Volunteers immediately started telling everyone to wipe their faces off - to remove the notorious "Hudson River Mustache" from their faces before they approached the photographer. Gross? Yes. Real? Definitely - I felt plenty of gravelly-grossness as I tried to get myself camera ready (LOL I mean, how camera ready can you be as you run/try to remove a wetsuit/take off goggles and swim cap? Answer: Not very.) 

My swim ended up being 20:04 for a pace of 01:21/100 M (for reference, the fastest splits I've ever had in a pool are well over 2:00 per 100M). 

NYC Tri

Transition One

I was pleasantly surprised when I reached back to unzip my wetsuit that it pretty easily complied. Using a tip from Abby, I held my ear plugs, swim cap and goggles in my hand while I pulled the sleeves down - ensnaring the miscellaneous swim accouterments in the inside out sleeve. SCORE. 

I overshot my socks by a few steps and swiveled around to grab them and slip them on - definitely a great call to go socks instead of sneakers. I was moving at a quick pace back to transition - passing plenty of people but also trying to take a minute to breathe and mentally prepare for the bike. 

NYC Tri Swim

Imagine the smile on my face when I got back to my bike and saw Callie ready to go out and start her ride! 

I scarfed down two dates (YUM they're my new favorite fuel), took off my timing chip, fully took off my wet-suit, put the timing chip back on, slid into my socks and cycling shoes, clipped on my Spibelt with my phone, put on my Garmin, buckled my helmet, thought to myself, "that's it right?!" and picked up my bike, jogging alongside it to the exit. 

My watch said 6:30 which absolutely shocked me - I'd swam .9 miles, run .25 and gotten ready for the bike in 30 minutes - something I had never thought remotely possible. Now, it was in my head that 3 hours was a possibility and the chase for 3:00:00 was on. 

Transition One took me 08:27. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

Bike

I mounted my bike and off I went! "The hill" wasn't as stressful as anticipated - I got there at a lucky time I guess and it wasn't very crowded. I stood up to make my way up it quickly and easily. Once we made a few sharp(ish) turns (nothing that made my stomach enter my throat) it was nothing but open highway! 

NYC Tri Race Recap

It was amazing to have a whole highway shut down for us to ride on. Over the course of 25 miles, I had verrrrry few instances of overcrowding or close calls with fellow riders - everyone seemed very courteous and under control - riding to the right and passing on the left. 

I felt good and was riding hard, until I passed the first 5 mile marker and realized, "I should probbbbbably dial it back a bit." 

So I dialed it back and settled in, telling myself that I was going to be on here for awhile and didn't really know what was to come in terms of hills. But I felt great and my legs felt strong - I really had no way of knowing how fast I was going since I don't have a bike computer, but I was confident that I was having a good ride. 

Each hill that greeted me was manageable and each downhill made me a little anxious about how I would feel on the back-half of the route. There was one major hill on the way up to the Bronx that had my legs screaming but it was over fairly quickly.

I passed and was passed by the same people back and forth for most of the ride which let me know that I was staying pretty consistent. For awhile, I was chasing down a woman who 70 and it reminded me that I want to be a bad ass triathlete when I'm well into my 40s and 50s! 

The bike went really well - the final 5 miles had me trying to calculate how fast I'd need to run to finish in under 3 hours and it seemed to be slipping away. 

The final turn around was the hairiest turns but once that was over it was smooth sailing back to transition, where we slowed down to a frustrating crawl/single file line. That being said, it was nice that everyone just accepted that it was going to take a minute to get back as people slowed down and dismounted and no one was an asshole barreling through the narrow path. 

I ended up finishing the bike in 1:29:03 for an average speed of 16.75 MPH. This was nuts to me because that's the exact speed I normally do my Central Park loops at! I guess I'm pretty consistent! 

This was probably my favorite long bike ride ever and I'm so glad I enjoyed it.  

NYC Tri Bike

Transition Two 

I ran my bike back to the rack and proceeded to take off my timing chip and socks - before realizing 

that I absolutely had not needed to do that - oops haha. I ate two dates, put a caffeinated gel in my Spibelt, laced up my sneakers, contemplated a hat and decided against it, drank some water and made a quick dash to the port-o-potty. 

After that, it was out on the run - which I had originally thought would be my favorite part of the race. In reality, it was hands down the hardest part of the race. 

Transition Two: 04:00

The Run

The run course starts with a massive hill up to Riverside Dr. and I decided immediately that it wasn't worth getting super out of breath and mentally frustrated by attempting to run up it - I walked up and I think it was a good call. 

For the first mile I just told myself to relax, let my legs get used to running, and get myself to Central Park. It's nice that you don't enter the park until a mile into the run, because I just told myself once I hit the park I could really start to hit my stride. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

Like I said, this was hard. Running after biking 25 miles is a very strange sensation where your legs are heavy, yet also numb? You feel like you're moving so slowly because you've been moving at 16+ MPH for the past hour and a half. Even though I felt like I was running through quicksand and not moving - my first mile split was an 8:12. 

It was a pleasant surprise, but I also had been aiming to start slow and go for negative splits, which wasn't going to happen with that start. 

Once in the park, the hills came and I focused on quick, short steps to get myself up and over them. But that West Side of the park still killed me. I was letting my head go to a bad place where I was saying, "WHY IS THIS SO HARD this is supposed to be my favorite part!" The only thing that kept me going was that everyone I passed seemed to think I was "LOOKIN' STRONG" and had "GREAT FORM." This was news to me but I took their word for it. 

Once I saw the November Project cheer squad - things changed. The energy put a huge smile on my face and from that point on I had a much much better attitude. I bee-lined for Kaitlin who was taking pictures and gave her a big high five and zoomed away in much better spirits. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

The trudge up Harlem Hill began and my watch kept giving me mile splits that I was happy with - 8:26 for mile2 and 8:19 for mile 3. 

Somewhere between mile 2 and 3 I took my gel which also helped - I only use the caffeine Cliff shots and they work like a charm. 

I passed the water station my friend Michelle was volunteering at and gave her a huge hug which re-energized me to finish the hills. 

For the entire race, my strategy was to stop at each water station and actually drink water - I hadn't even finished a full water bottle on the bike ride and new I would be in trouble if I didn't drink during the run. I'm never a walk through the water stations person but it worked amazingly for this race and I'm really glad I did it! 

When I got over to the east side I saw Callie in the distance which put an extra pep in my step so I could catch up to her. We chatted for a few minutes and I continued on with splits that were making me very happy and quite frankly very surprised. Mile 4 was a 7:55. 

I decided to try to take mile 5 more conservatively so I could finish the final mile strong. Mile 5 was an 8:23 and then I kicked it into high gear for mile 6. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

At that point, my legs were fully in running mode and my stride was more relaxed and natural and I could tell that I was cruising along. It felt great to pass so many people in that final mile and as I approached the finish line I was pushhhhing myself to the point where I started getting chills and thinking, "Uh, this is probably not good since it's 85 degrees out."

In the final few feet I was stuck behind 2 or 3 people and desperately trying to pass. Eventually I snuck around them and sprinted across the finish line. Nothing has ever felt so amazing as the freezing cold wet towel they placed around my neck. I would have taken that over the medal. 

My final mile was a 7:32. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

According to the official results, my run was 49:07 for a pace of 07:55 (my watch had me at an 08:07) and 16th in my age group for the run! It was definitely the hardest part, but I guess it's obvious which of the three things I'm best at! 

Final time was 02:50:39 and I was so happy to break 3 hours!

Post-Race

It's hard for me to remember a time I was on such an endorphin-high. Probably after both my marathons my 10K PR. But it's just the absolute best feeling in the world and I rode that high alllllll day. 

So many people ask me why I wanted to do this triathlon if I was scared and nervous and thought that it was going to be hard and my answer is I wanted to do this triathlon BECAUSE I was scared and nervous and BECAUSE it was hard. 

There is no better feeling than proving to yourself that you can do something you've never done before. To do something despite the fact that you're nervous - to prove that you can fight through the nerves and the fear and go for it anyway. 

My biggest pet peeve is when people say they "can't" do something when they've never even tried and REFUSE to try. Complacency is so boring. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

After the race we took lots of pictures, I called my parents, we walked around the finishers festival (free YASSO BARS!) and eventually Callie and I made our way to the shuttle that took us back to transition to pick up our bikes. 

After packing everything up, we took the subway uptown and walked our bikes across the park to my apartment where I took the most amazing shower of my life, used my bone stimulator machine, and we got ready for food. 

We met Michelle and Abby at BARE BURGER which was everything I wanted and more. A burger in a collard green wrap + crispy Brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries. Not to mention 23842 glasses of water. 

Next stop was Treadwell Park to meet up with people from November Project and enjoy a refreshing alcoholic beverage (I finally tried the Wolffer Cider white wine!) courtesy of my mom and dad. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

We only lasted one drink before decided we needed our beds. 

I spent the rest of the night reading, watching TV, and eating summer rolls and a pint of Halo Top. 

It was the most accomplished I've felt in a really long time. And now, of course, I'm wondering what the next challenge will be! Thinking about that 70.3.......

THANKS 

Shout out to Kaitlin, Patti, Brian and Mr. & Mrs. Reisner for all of the wonderful pictures of the day!! I'm obsessed and you can find me most days just scrolling through my phone looking at all of them and reminiscing :) 

I really can't even figure out what to say about how much Callie and Abby helped me get to the start line and across the finish line so I'll just say that every run, every swim, every bike ride, every brunch, every beer, every laugh, every cry - it's 294380X better with you two by my side! Next stop, Banff!

NYC Tri Race Recap

 

 

 

Don't Call It A Comeback, Yet!

Return to Running

Ever since I limp/walked the last two miles of our Ragnar Relay in May, I haven't been running. I was diagnosed with grade 3 stress reactions in both shins, and now I'm using a bone-stimulator machine to help strengthen the bones. 

The machine needs to be used for 1-2 months, every day, at the same time. This has led to some interesting situations where I'm applying ultrasound gel to my legs and strapping on the machine on the Long Island Railroad and even in line for the Boardy Barn. 

#RunnerProblems. 

#RunnerProblems

I'm really hoping that this helps avoid future stress reactions, and that the time off was sufficient to heal my legs up. I've run 3 times in the last two weeks and, knock on wood, I am feeling pretty good! 

Here's a recap on some recent fitness moments!

Great Bike Rides

Every time that I get the "oomph" to bust out a 30 mile bike ride BEFORE work - I end up feeling on top of the world. A recent one up to the Little Red Lighthouse on a Monday morning was GLORIOUS. It was such a beautiful morning, and I crushed a lot of PRs for different parts along the path. 

up.jpg

Another morning, I set out for Central Park with the goal of "break some PRs" and - I did! A bunch of them, in fact! 

When I wasn't running, my bike rides were feeling very strong due to the fresh legs! 

Shocking Swims 

Uhm, can we talk about my swims lately? Because they have been surprisingly successful. 

Don't get me wrong - it is still the HARDEST thing to self-motivate for a swim. And often times I sleep through planned swims and they don't happen. But when they DO happen, they've been going pretty well! 

In the past, I would tend to stop and rest in between every 20 lengths of the pool. Last week, I went 60 in a row without a big break and then, this week, with Abby by my side (ok, two laps ahead of me) I went 80 IN A ROW and swam at 2:16/100 yards which is significantly speedier than my usual swims! 

This week I also purchased a wetsuit in preparation for next weekends NYC Tri (NEXT WEEKEND?! HELP!) So I should probably go test it out in some open water somewhere before then...

Let me tell you - getting that thing on is NOT an easy task. 

Kayla's Last Loops 

Saying goodbye to Kayla was horribly depressing, but I couldn't think of a better way to do it than with a few loops of the reservoir with a group of her running friends. 

This was my first run back since Ragnar and I was so glad I got to be out in the park that morning with Kayla! I might have still smelled like tequila from the previous day's boozy brunch, but I survived the 3 miles. 

Central Park Reservoir Path

I was SO sore the following day. It's crazy how quickly your body forgets what running is like...my hips were sore for a week! 

A Run With Mom 

While I was home for Fourth of July Weekend, I was THRILLED that my mom decided to join me for a run down to our local beach. 

She's the one who used to have me do this with her - before running was something I enjoyed in the SLIGHTEST! She would get me to go with the promise of egg sandwiches down at the beach upon our arrival. 

Now, I love that run - I know every place to cross over to be visible to vehicles around turns, I know to expect the straightaway by the harbor to be brutally hot, smelly and feel like it lasts forever, I know that the hill from the stop sign to Morgan's street is deceptively steep. 

I felt great at the end of these four miles and even better that I got to do it with my momma. My dad always times it perfectly to meet us at our turn around point and bring us home! 

Weeknight 5K! 

I had signed up for the Tracktown USA 5K on Randall's Island because summer weekends always get booked, and this race was on a Thursday night. 

Icahn Stadium Randall's Island

Fast forward to now, and I knew that, as my third run back, this was certainly not going to be a "race" by any means. But I was over the moon to be back at a race setting, pinning a bib number to my chest and toeing a starting line with hundreds of others who wanted to spend their Thursday night at Icahn Stadium. 

I was proud of myself for staying fairly comfortable the entire 3.1 miles, not pushing too hard, not feeling disappointed when things felt hard and I had to reel it in, and never once looking at a watch or my pace. I negative split, too!

I cruised across the finish at an 8:16 pace which I was very happy with all things considered. 

The best part was being able to run the 2 more miles home over the 103rd Street footbridge, running into some familiar NP faces (HI LAURA ANN AND MYLES - I definitely felt a little out of the November Project loop at the actual race) and arriving at my apartment steps in ABSOLUTE EUPHORIA. 

Runner's High

I snapped some cheesy pictures in the middle of the road and texted my parents, "I don't want to go inside. I just want to run around all night. I want to pop champagne bottles in the street." 

K Lauren. Relax. 

Random Workouts

A few of my random workouts have felt really HARD. I've been feeling super weak, and also have been CRAVING meat. Which is odd for someone who is a part-time vegetarian for all intents and purposes. 

But whenever I find myself craving meat, I know it's for a reason.  All this to say that I ate some meat (BURGER ON THE FOURTH, THANKS LINDS!) and finally this week, I've felt a little stronger at the gym. 

I whipped this workout back out from the archives while I was home -

No Equipment Exercise

I also came up with two killer deck of cards workouts the other day: 

Hearts: Plank Hip Dips
Diamonds: Lunges
Spades: Wall Ball Throws
Clubs: Ball Slams
Jokers: 50 Jumping Jacks

Hearts: Kettlebell Swings
Diamonds: Kneeling Overhead Press
Spades: Quick Feet on Step
Clubs: Mountain Climbers
Jokers: :30 Plank

Give them a try and tell me what you think! 

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Tips for Your First Ragnar Relay Race

I've always been a little intimidated by the idea of creating a "Bucket List" that's life-long and experience-based. A NYC Restaurant Bucket List? Sure. A Margarita Happy Hour bucket list? Yep, I've got one of those. Doughnut Bucket List? Going strong.

But putting pen to paper and coming up with a list of the things I want to experience in a lifetime is overwhelming to me. I fear it would get vastly out of control and end up being pages long and then I would feel like I'd failed when I looked back and saw the things I hadn't checked off. 

I tend to take my experiences as they come. Opportunity to go to Barcelona? Leggo! Random idea to walk the Brooklyn Bridge at 2:00 AM? Sure! Is there such thing as a reverse bucket-list? Where I make a list of the top experiences of my life after the fact? Cause that's something I could do! 

This is a really long way of getting to the point of this post, which is something that I HAVE actively been wanting to do and check off my list for about three years now - running a Ragnar Relay Race.

Running a Ragnar Relay

HOW WE GOT HERE

My friends and I even made a Facebook group in May of 2015 where we would bounce dates and races off of each other. The page eventually began to look like this:
"OH, this one looks awesome! Down?"
Me: "Damn, I have a work trip then."
"What about this one?" 
Me: "Traveling then too." 

Cape Cod Ragnar Relay

Then, months ago, my friend Kayla and I were sitting in a coffee shop attempting to do homework/blog work when we got on the topic of Ragnar. It went from a conversation, to some serious procrastination as we started to look at dates and details and eventually escalated into us entering the lottery for the 2017 Cape Cod Ragnar Relay. We had absolutely no idea how competitive the lottery was or what our odds of getting in were. We didn't have commitments from anyone about joining our team. We kind of shrugged our shoulders and said, "We know lots of runners and we really want to do this so, let's give it a try!"

I think we both kind of forgot we had even entered until Kayla's credit card was charged over $1,000 and she got the "You've Been Accepted" email. 

A small part of me had a moment of panic, but mainly we were excited and confident that we could recruit 10 people to join us pretty easily. 

Turns out, even if you're part of the running community in a giant city, getting together 12 people excited to run 190 miles while being crammed in a van with no personal space and even less sleep is not an easy task. 

Not to mention the weekend of Ragnar happened to be a pretty big weekend race-wise. Our two friends who we'd figured would join us would be off completing their first HALF IRONMAN (CONGRATS ABBY AND CALLIE) and it was also the same weekend as the Bear Mountain North Face Endurance Challenge - a favorite of November Project teammates. Plus, it was the weekend before the Brooklyn Half Marathon - the largest half marathon in the country that tons of people were training for and making their top priority for the spring. Oh, and it was mother's day weekend. 

Our strategy became, fill one van, give one away. Meaning we'd fill and captain one van and then pass the reins for a second van over to someone else who would be free to ask whoever they wanted to join their crew of 6. We contacted Ragnar to see if there was any way of reaching out to the "lotto losers" but they weren't very helpful. 

Fast forward to days before the race and we were legitimately still scrambling  - people were dropping out left and right due to injuries and we were prepared to compete as a team of just 11 runners. Miraculously, we pulled it together. 11 female runners, 1 brave boyfriend of a teammate, and 1 driver converged on Kayla's house in Boston and the adventure began.

THE NIGHT BEFORE

I flew from a work trip in Pennsylvania into Boston on Thursday night and was picked up in our rental mini-van by Melissa, Kaitlin, and Mr. Monks who had all gone to Enterprise to swap out the van they had driven from NYC --> Boston - the tires were low. Joy. 

TIP: We had found out days before we left that we wouldn't be able to rent our reserved 12 person van from Enterprise because none of us were insured owners of a vehicle. We were able to get a mini-van for the same cost after some negotiating, but make sure to ask questions when you initially reserve your van! 

New van + me made it back to Kayla's house where I bee-lined it to the fridge for some leftovers. Kayla's mom makes the most incredible couscous salad, which went wonderfully with dijon salmon. 

My van-mates had already done so much work to get us ready to Ragnar - a shopping trip to Costco, splitting up all the food between boxes for Van 1 and Van 2, slicing, dicing, car packing, float-blowing (I'll explain later...), and they had even brought my duffel bag from NY for me! 

TIP: Pre-purchasing all of our food saved a lot of mental energy. We didn't have to think about stopping to eat or grocery shop once during the trip. I honestly don't know how teams manage to go for sit down meals during a Ragnar Race! Here's what our food situation looked like: 
  • Apples - PRE SLICED (thanks, Rebecca) which made them so much more enjoyable to snack on
  • Bananas, duh, runners here! 
  • Peanut Butter - also duh 
  • Trail Mix
  • Couscous Salad 
  • Bagels
  • Bread (the most amazing bread, from When Pigs Fly Bakery! Get the Blueberry Granola) 
  • Rice Cakes 
  • Carrots
  • Hummus
  • Hard Boiled Eggs - Michelle made these for us and it ended up being a GREAT addition to our food spread) 
  • Peanut Butter filled Pretzels 
  • Dried Fruit 
  • Bark Thins
  • Chocolate Covered Cashews 
  • A variety of our own gels, gus, chews, energy bars, etc. 
  • Yogurts 
  • Gallons of water!
  • And post-race snacks like kettle corn, tortilla chips, champagne, and an aggressively large bottle of vodka 

Soon, the folks from the other van arrived and although not everyone knew each other, it was all hands on deck unloading their things from the van, getting it parked down the street in a family-friend-neighbors driveway (they had a 12-passenger monster), and talking about our plans for the morning. We were scared that our start time wasn't going to leave us enough time to finish, so Van 1 planned to head out early and try to get a head-start. 

Kayla and I headed to bed fairly early, hidden away in the attic and with the help of a melatonin I got a decent amount of sleep! 

THE MORNING OF

In the morning, we helped Van 1 pack their van, their cooler, cleaned up the various air mattresses and blankets, and Kayla's mom cooked a delicious breakfast for Van 1. By 8:30 AM they were ready to roll out. We took a team picture ("Big Apple Cod Squad"), wished them luck, and off they went. We heard from them around 10:15/10:30 that they were being allowed to start early and the race was on! 

Tips for a Successful Ragnar Relay

While Van 1 started their 6 legs, Van 2 continued to prepare at Kayla's house. That preparation included our own delicious breakfast made by Enid - a fritatta, toasted baguette, avocado and fruit salad. 

Then we set out to get bread at When Pigs Fly (Blueberry Granola & Baby Spinach + Onion + Garlic Ciabata) and plenty of cold brew coffee from CVS. 

TIP: You're not going to have a coffee maker in your car, you're not going to want to make extra stops or go out of your way to find coffee,  but you are definitely going to need coffee. Having cold brews in the cooler was a God send (even though I really couldn't have used a HOT cuppa joe) for energy, and, uhm, #2. 

 I showered, got dressed, packed up all my things and then it was time for DECORATING! 

Cape Cod Ragnar Race Recap

We had pre-purchased car markers and were ready to beautify our van. This is also where the floats came in play- we had bought a giant avocado pool float and an even bigger chocolate covered pretzel pool float in the hopes that we could attach them to our van as decoration. Sadly, we didn't have anything strong enough to feel confident that our float was fully secured to the roof - next time, we'll buy bungee cords or rope. There were plenty of vans that used floats to decorate. We just needed a better game plan. 

TIP: Another thing a lot of teams do aside from decorating their vans is creating team magnets that they put on other teams' vans throughout the race! We loved seeing the different magnets that got left on our van - and next time would love to make our own!

Either way, they provided a lot of fun pictures before we left Boston. I had also insisted on ordering 4 mini doughnut floats that were the most awkward size and color. But they got me featured on Ragnar's blog. 

Cape Cod Ragnar Review

The car markers worked GREAT (we ordered these) and I loved the way our van looked by the end. 

TIP: During Ragnar races, people track their "kills" during each leg - these the people that you pass as you run! Every van tracks their kills somewhere on the van. Isn't my skull and crossbones stellar?
Tips for Ragnar Relay

After much contemplation, we had named our van the "Big Apple Cod Squad" - which got us named to the Top 30 Team Names list!

After our decorating was done we headed inside for a quick lunch - a delicious open-faced sandwich on the spinach, onion and garlic ciabatta bread with arugula, hummus and cheeeeese.

ON THE ROAD

Once we were all packed and our last teammate arrived, we rolled out in our mini-van ready to meet Van 1 at the first "Major Exchange." 

But first, Kayla thought she had left her phone behind at the house. As Kaitlin navigated down a dead-end to turn around, we were boxed in by a giant UPS truck, only to realize that Kayla was sitting on her phone. This was a theme of the weekend - Kayla couldn't find something, we'd ask if she was sure she wasn't sitting on it, she usually was sitting on it... 

Cell-phone found, we were on the open road. 45 minutes later, the GPS told us we had arrived at our destination. 

But there were no fellow Ragnar vans to be found. Errr? 

Turns out we had driven 45 miles in the wrong direction. All we could do was laugh. Our mini-van was more like a struggle-bus leading up to that first run (but, things definitely improved once the race started!) 

Luckily, we had plenty of time to get to the right place and eventually we spotted other vans and knew we were in the right spot. As we drove up to the exchange we rolled the windows down and started cheering for runners, which got us all pumped up. 

TIP: Something that would have helped in pumping us up was an aux cord to play the music on our phones through the van's speakers. We were left listening to the radio or our phones placed in cup holders in an attempt to make it loud enough. During the actual race, we didn't listen to music much because we were all talking and the driver/navigator didn't need any more distractions - but for the longer driving portions, it's definitely something I'd add to our "next time" list. 
How to Run a Successful Ragnar Relay

Registration was easy and the "safety orientation" was a big of a joke - we listened to about 2 minutes worth of a video and were on our way to getting bibs, t-shirts and free samples of KIND bars and HIGH BREW COFFEE. I was so excited. I love that stuff. 

I was frozen, and would remain frozen for the entire 28 hours it seemed. Kayla had packed her NYC Marathon poncho with her and I didn't realize it was amazingly fuzzy and warm inside - it was a lifesaver and I broke my vow to never wear anything NYC Marathon branded until I actually run the NYC Marathon - it seemed necessary as I shivered. 

Ragnar Relay Secrets

We used the porta-potties (by the end of 28 hours, I was so excited to use a real bathroom! Also, porta-pottying in the middle of the night is NOT easy - those things don't have lights) and gathered at the Ragnar inflatable to await our teammates from Van 1. Soon, all of us were gathered together waiting for Joey to come through the finish of his leg - we cheered, he handed off the slap bracelet to Kayla, and Kayla was off - signifying the start of Van 2's Leg #1. 

TIP: I never ran into TP-less porta-potties but it's definitely a possibility. Doesn't hurt to pack your own roll to keep in the van! Also - hand sanitizer! 

We talked to Van 1 for awhile before heading back to our van. I didn't realize how "on" we were going to have to be for the periods of time that our van was running. It was a whirlwind. We drove and navigated to the next exchange - passing Kayla and cheering for his as we drove by - parked, and got right to helping the next runner prepare. 

Since we didn't have a ton of trunk space, there was constant reshuffling of bags, constant "hold the box of food so it doesn't fall when I open the trunk!" and constant, "do you see my...?" "can you get me a..." 

TIP: It might sound like an "easy" job, but the navigator's gotta be ready to wear a lot of different hats. The Ragnar directions can be somewhat mediocre - so paying attention is important. You can't just use your iPhone to get to the next exchange because there's a specific route you're supposed to take. People are also going to be asking the navigator a million things like, "Can you put the AC on?" "The windshield is fogging up, help!" "OMG I cannot handle that air freshener please take it down." "Can you plug my phone in?" "Can I have my phone back?" (ORDER THIS!) Definitely set up a rotation and don't take your navigator for granted!

Before we knew it, Kayla was finishing her first leg and Zoe was off for hers! Then, the process shifted to helping Kayla get settled, changed, fed, re-hydrated, etc. while simultaneously helping runner #3 (me) get ready, while simultaneously helping the driver navigate to the next exchange, while simultaneously looking out for the current runner to give a shout (and capture it on Snapchat, duh), while simultaneously needing to get an update from Kayla about how her run went. 

Ragnar Relay How To

Like i said, whirlwind. 

And it didn't stop until all 6 Van 2 runner's had run their first leg! 

LEG ONE 

Leg one for our van went really well. Like, really really well. Kayla kicked things off with a wonderful 6+ miles and her excitement and energy when she got back to the van really got us off on the right foot. 

She marked off her kills on the back window and checked off the first of three boxes next to her name to signify the completion of her first leg. She was the guinea pig for changing in the car and using a "shower pill" to clean off - a process that was hysterical and not one of us managed to do very gracefully. 

TIP: We bought a big pack of these wipes to use after each leg and thought that they worked really well! 

Zoe absolutely CRUSHED her first leg of 10 miles. After Kayla got changed, we set out to the next exchange and kept expecting to see Zoe but by mile 3 we were scratching our heads, "Could we have missed her?" "Could she really be this far along alright?" "HOW FAST IS SHE GOING?" 

Turns out, she was absolutely killing her 10 miles at a 7:30 pace! 

We got to the exchange and I started getting ready, knowing that Zoe was speeding right along. I was totally dreading my run, to be honest. But I knew that once I started, I'd be happy to be moving. 

Zoe passed off the bracelet and off I went. 

Way. Too. Quickly. 

When my watch buzzed at the first mile split, I looked down to see a 7:30.

Logical thought process: "Lauren, this is only your first leg - if you want to be able to run all 12 miles in the next day, pump the damn breaks." 

Actual thought process: "Lauren you haven't run this fast in so long, NEGATIVE SPLIT, I DARE YA!" 

Factor in the motivation of earning "kills" along the route, and I recklessly ran my first leg of 3.9 miles at a dumb dumb dumb 7:27 pace. For awhile it felt OK, but by the end my lower legs were tightening up and I was feeling shin pain with every step. My thought process had switched to, "Well, this might be the only leg you're running - KEEP GOING FAST." Oy. 

I handed off my bracelet to Melissa totally spent. It felt good to have pushed myself that hard for the first time in a long time, but I was also disappointed that I had jeopardized being able to run the rest of my legs in any sort of comfort - I was hurting, and it was the kind of hurting I knew was just going to get worse when I sat down in the car and tightened up - an unavoidable reality during a Ragnar Relay. 

TIP: Look for the Lindt Chocolate van! 

Regardless, I tried to embrace the burn in my lungs, that metallic taste of blood that signals you gave it 100%. My splits had been 7:31, 7:26, 7:16 and 7:34. 

Melissa and Rebecca both had 4ish mile legs next and they both got back in the car grinning from ear to ear after crushing them! 

Kaitlin was the last of our van to set out on Leg 1 and she had a not-so-easy 9 miles that would end in the dark. As we navigated to the exchange we realized she was going to get to run over the Bourne Bridge at sunset! 

Ragnar Relay Review

We got to the Major Exchange and parked next to Van 2 - I made myself a gourmet meal, practically (cous cous salad, rice cake with hummus + hard-boiled egg and baby carrots) and we put on our safety vests as darkness fell. 

TIP: The Ragnar staff were actually very strict about people walking around the exchanges without their vests on - so make sure you have enough for every member of your van! 

We waited for Kaitlin to emerge, literally, from out of the woods. Her leg had taken her over the bridge onto the Cape and then along the water on a paved path. She would end by leaping over some railroad tracks and charging up a narrow dirt path. 

Not to brag, but I'm pretty sure the combined cheers of Van 1 and Van 2 to welcome Kaitlin back and send Monique off were louder than any other teams! 

Ragnar Cape Cod

Once Kaitlin was settled we all breathed a sigh of relief - we'd made it through Leg 1 and now had a few hours off to rest as Van 1's six runners cycled through their nighttime runs. 

We were also slightly nervous for running in the middle of the night, and after fast first legs, all a little scared about how our bodies would feel when we told it to run again. 

The next exchange was a school where we were able to pay $3 to sleep on the gym floor. Luckily, I had come straight from a work trip so I had my travel pillow with me. I unrolled my yoga mat, popped a melatonin, and fell asleep wearing about 8 layers and still shivering. 

TIP: Bring comfy shoes for in between your runs - you're not going to want to be wearing your sneakers the whole time! 

I slept for about an hour, woke up, checked the time, and fell back asleep for mayyyybe another hour. 

Ragnar Relay Review

Then, it was time to get moving again. I took a little bit of hot coffee which was the most glorious 3 sips of my life, we used the porto-potty, repacked the van and again, waited to cheer Joey in and send Kayla off! 

TIP: Ragnar is a cup-free race meaning when there are water jugs, you'll need your own water bottle or cup to fill up! 

LEG TWO 

Leg two was the over-night run. Ragnar runners are required to wear a vest, taillight and headlamp for this portion of the race (they set specific hours where all runners need this gear). We looked pretty bad-ass, just sayin'. 

Cape Cod Ragnar Relay

When Kayla got back, she told me I should take the small flashlight we had packed with me on my run and THANK GOD she did. It was really dark, and the headlamp along didn't provide a ton of light. Plus, it created tunnel vision that made me feel a little off-balance. 

My night run (which started at 2:37 am) could have gone worse considering the pounding I had put on my legs previously in the day, but I certainly didn't feel good on these 4.7 miles. Still - it was just shin pain, nothing I'm not used to running through already. I was still picking off a good amount of runners as the course started to get more crowded during this part. But towards the end, it was more than shin pain as my IT band tightened and I started to get that all familiar pain in the side of my knee.  I finished with an 8:55 pace and a grimace on my face instead of a smile. But leg two was done and I had just 3 more miles to push through later in the day. For now, I could rest. 

TIP: Pack the clothes and gear you'll need for each run in a separate zip-lock bag. Then, when you're done, use that bag to seal up your sweaty, wet clothes. 
What to Pack for a Ragnar Relay

I am not a very confident driver - and luckily, my teammates picked up my slack in this area. The exchanges that we had to go to during the middle of the night seemed to be much more crowded, confusing and tight than the ones during the day, which wasn't a great feeling in the dark. We did our best to navigate them safely and stress-free. 

When we were done with our night runs and again handed the slap bracelet off to Van 1, we again went to a school with a gym where you could sleep. The only problem was, the gym was open, and it was COLD. I slept maybe 30 minutes before I had to go back to the van. 

5 of us attempted sleep and while I may have dozed off for a few minutes at a time, it wasn't quality sleep. One more leg! We told ourselves. 

TIP: Buy some good smelling air fresheners! And keep the plastic on half of it so it's not totally overwhelming! We had also packed Febreeze but honestly, we never ended up using it. We stayed pretty clean-smelling all things considered. 

The wait to start up again felt looooong and slow. This is also when we realized we could have easily been sleeping at Kayla's house during this break...d'ohhh. Looking back, it probably would have just made it harder to start back up again if we had gotten super comfortable and really fallen asleep in beds. 

THE FINAL LEG

As the sun rose and the birds started chirping, it warmed up and we got ready for the final 6 runs. We obviously check out the photo booth, and again cheered for Joey as he finished strong and signaled the end of Van 1's race! 

Tips for Ragnar

Kayla comically ran in the wrong direction for a few feet before we got her attention by shouting, "WRONG WAY!" She henceforth became known as Wrong Way K. 

Up until this point, we had been driving straight to each exchange, but on these last legs we got into the habit of pulling over on the side of the road and waiting for our runners to pass by for pictures, high fives and the added bonus of cheering for other runners.

It was odd - during my run I passed a few other teams pulled over on the side of the road and they just watched me go by without a "woo" or anything! RUDE. We overcompensated for these people by going absolutely nuts for every runner that went by. 

It made them all smile, and it also got US more pumped for our last runs.  

I think one of my favorite parts of the race was seeing Kayla run by on her last leg - she was SO emotional and happy and shouted, "I LEARNED TO RUN HERE!" It was the coolest. 

Ragnar Relay Race Tips

We had decided that I was going to switch last legs with Zoe - so that I only had to run 2.3 miles. But even those 2.3 miles were too much. I came ridiculously close to crying during the 24 minutes and 20 seconds and I took a lot of walking breaks. I was full on limping at this point and although every "YOU GOT THIS" "SO CLOSE TO THE FINISH" was meant to be encouraging, I just wanted to shout at everyone who passed me, "I'm only walking because I physically CANNOT run. I don't walk!" It was frustrating and painful and disappointing but I finished at a jog/hobble and Kayla had the announcer use her megaphone to yell "LOWO" which made me really happy (Tina, I'm trying to make the nickname spread). 

Everyone was so encouraging and positive and no one made me feel like I had just gone 2.3 miles at an 11+ minute pace, but I limped to the car and immediately started crying. 

It was a complete moment of feeling sorry for myself, feeling betrayed by my body that never seems to want to keep up with all the athletic endeavors I have planned, the slipping away of the NYC Marathon in the fall, and the realization that this wasn't just a bad run, I was seriously hurt and would probably not be running again for awhile. 

Tips for Ragnar

But I had to snap myself out of it. Because my teammates were crushing it, and we were having a great time, and I was seriously SO happy and proud of all of them. Kayla ran 20 freaking miles after the LONGEST fight with injuries. I knew she knew exactly what I was feeling as I cried in the back of the van but at the end of the day, I wanted to celebrate with my friends because we were so close to finishing this thing and I didn't need to be bringing the mood down. 

Everyone finished their final  miles strong and happy and we even got to meet Kayla's aunts in a parking lot on the Cape. 

Ragnar Relay Tips

With Kaitlin out on her final 9 mile leg (she was the champ who ran 22 MILES TOTAL) we parked the van, took the shuttle to the finish line (after holding the bus while Kayla SPRINTED to get the safety flag we needed to return) and met up with our Van 1 teammates to wrap this thang up!

The finish line was straight up a massive hill (rude). We gathered at the base of it and watching team after team jump in with their final runner and push them up that final stretch. Finish lines are so emotional and fun and amazing. We spotted Kaitlin, formed a tunnel, and followed her up to the finish line. Afterwards, she wondered why we were so far behind her - she was movin' and it took all of our tired legs a hot sec to start up again!

TIP: Next time, I think we would definitely try to coordinate our outfits for this final part of the race! So many teams had matching t-shirts and costumes and it was so fun to see! 

The finish area was great - we got our medals, more free samples - there were free massages available if you wanted to wait in line - and took lots of pictures. 

Ragnar Relay Tips

POST RACE

We said goodbye to Van 1 and enjoyed our free sandwich and soup (there was beer and cider available too for $5 each - but our stomachs weren't ready for that yet) before taking the shuttle back to the van and getting back to Kayla's house. 

Showering never felt so good - and somehow, napping didn't happen. We powered through the night, which included pizza, Ben & Jerry's, kettle corn, cards, flip cup (team vodka vs. team water), 4 bottles of champagne, vodka and so. much. laughing. 

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod Race Recap

In the morning we all woke up and had a leisurely breakfast while doing laundry and cleaning up the house. We stopped by the beach on our way home, and for croissants, and I even got a hug from Allison when we stopped for food at the Hartford Whole Foods. 

THE MUSHY, SENTIMENTAL CONCLUSION

Honestly, I was expecting the journey home to be miserable - full of tired, cranky, sore girls. But somehow, for 10 hours, we all laughed pretty much non-stop. My stomach seriously hurt. 

Saying goodbye as we all got into separate Ubers from the car rental place was WEIRD. We had just spent 48 hours straight together in extremely close quarters and yet still weren't ready to say goodbye.

A week + later, I think we all feel that Ragnar was an incredible bonding experience. As a team we conquered 190 miles. Through the logistics, the planning, the constant "doing," the running - we had gone through something together that we really couldn't explain or describe to anyone that hadn't been in that mini-van with us. The endless inside jokes, the laughter, the crying, the cheering, the farting (I said it), the support - it was all such an amazing experience. 

Most of my teammates had great runs, loved their runs, felt happy with their runs. Me - not so much. But Ragnar was like some alternate reality where that was literally the least important or impactful part of the weekend. I ran a race for 28 hours and looking back, I didn't give a damn about the actual running...

Do I want to do another Ragnar and negative split my legs (GO KAYLA) and do more than 11 miles and smile at the end of every exchange? Yes. But did I have THE time of my life even though I walked? Sure did. 

There are experiences you go through with people that form a bond you really can't put into words. Maybe it's your cabin from summer camp when you were 13. Maybe it's the cast of a musical you were in. Maybe it's your sorority sisters that you went through rush with. Ragnar is one of those experiences that transcends words and I can't wait to do it again. 

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Overthrow Boxing Club Review

My tour de boxing studios continued recently with a trip to the "dive bar" of boxing studios - Overthrow Boxing Club on Bleecker Street. Overthrow is housed in the previous home of the Youth International Party, or "Yippies," a "radically youth-oriented and countercultural revolutionary offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s," according to Wikipedia. 

The space stays true to its roots - despite becoming a fitness studio, it is far from "boutique" looking - with much of the original architecture remaining. Overthrow takes its own political stances and jabs, with graffiti like Donald Trump being knocked out and the quote, "When they go low, we go high." 

It's a fitting way of connecting the building's history with our present political reality and the building's new use as a boxing club. 

Overthrow Boxing Class Review

The Studio

The interior is cramped, dark, and quite frankly, it seems like it might collapse! Up the stairs is a small locker room with two showers and two bathroom stalls - along with lockers that have seen better days.  Bent metal, missing locker doors, wobbly benches - it's hard to tell if many aspects of the studio are part of the aesthetic or actual .instances of disrepair

There are actually two spaces where classes at Overthrow take place. The main level has around 6 bags along with a boxing ring while the downstairs studio has about 12 bags - covered in duct tape, these bags are a far cry from the water-filled tear-drop-shaped beauties at Rumble. Then again, they're only purpose is punching them. There are numbered spaces along the floor, though in my class we didn't really use them for anything. 

Overthrow Boxing Club NYC

The Class 

The first class I took was in "The Underground" (which makes me thing of the upside down, which makes me excited for another season of Stranger Things). 

We all lined up in side by side rows for the warm-up which consisted of lots of cardio drills like high knees, air jabs, jumping jacks, etc.

To me, the warm up seemed to last for a long time. It may have had to do with the fact that I wasn't wearing my usual sneakers and my feet were really bothering me every time I jumped - but I also think the warm up dragged on and on with not much to it. 

Eventually, the endless warmup indeed ended and we were told to pair up with a partner for the next part of class. 

Overthrow Boxing Review

We lined up in two rows down the length of the room, with partners facing each other and being told different combinations - we were technically "boxing" with each other, but obviously not full out punching our partners. Some of the combinations included more than just throwing punches - we were told to "jab, jab, cross, burpee," and various other exercises. To me, this part wasn't very challenging - the pace was pretty slow, which I guess depends on who you get as a partner. 

The line was continuously filtering towards the front of the class - when you and your partner were up in front of the instructor, you did a few punches with her before re-joining the line. 

When this was over, I was still only sweating due to the temperature of the room. 

The next portion of class it was time to bring out the bags - and this is where I sweat buckets and my heart rate rocketed. We were given a ton of different combinations and I pushed myself to keep moving throughout the 15 or so minutes of straight bag work. 

With three of us on a bag and the bags sliding around the pole they were attached to, we did have to stop every so often to adjust the bag and stop it from moving into the group next to and behind us. I didn't have much space and by the end I was getting pretty frustrated. 

Then, before I knew it, class was over. I will say that the time flew by, and by the end I was pretty exhausted - but I left a little "meh" about the class overall. 

Overthrow Boxing NYC Review

The second class I went to at Overthrow I took in the upstairs section - it was a similar set up with half of the class taking place on the bag and half taking place "in the ring" with a partner. But I liked this better because it seemed less crowded and the warm-up wasn't as long. We also finished up class with an ab series that was pretty solid. 

I found myself partner-less and got to work with a staff member that wasn't teaching class at the time which was great! The combination was really tricky and I only got it right about 75% of the time, but I still felt pretty accomplished. At the end, I told him that I was hungry because the mitts looked like they had avocados drawn on them. I think I found the comment funnier than he did. 

WHAT I LIKED: 

Classes at Overthrow fly by. The grunge-y atmosphere is super fitting for a boxing class. Both instructors that I've had were good at explaining things, though at this point I can't really consider myself a "beginner" so I might take some things for granted when it comes to instruction. 

I also really like that Overthrow is located off of the 6 line. 

Overthrow Boxing Review

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: 

Overthrow is definitely not as organized as Rumble or Shadowbox. Those two studios' classes run like well-oiled machines whereas my second class at Overthrow was more like, "Alright, what should we do next?" "Okay, let me run downstairs and get some gloves for everyone 10 minutes into class." That sort of thing. Rumble and Shadowbox have their shit together a little more in terms of flow and focus - but Overthrow has them beat on the boxing ~vibes. 

THE STUDIO – 7

Nuts and bolts in terms of amenities - but there are lockers (bring your own lock, and beware that half of them are missing doors as part of the aesthetic), bathrooms and showers and it's pretty impressive that they make the space work as two separate studios/class spaces. 

The history of the building is an added bonus - if you're there, see if you can spot the old Youth International Party manifesto on the walls! 

Overthrow Boxing Fitness Class Review

CLASS SIZE - 5

The classes are a decent size considering the small space - and I definitely felt like I was super crowded and couldn't fully enjoy the class because of it. Perhaps the morning classes are less crowded - but I've only been in the evening and each time it was jam-packed. 

SWEAT SCALE – 6

The first half of classes at Overthrow usually are more focused on shadowboxing, form, and a warm up - it's helpful for actually learning boxing, which I appreciate, but doesn't leave me with an elevated heart rate. But the second half is usually much harder - once you start using the bag. In my most recent class, Queen had us finish with 5 Push-Ups, 5 Burpees, 5 Mountain Climbers, 5 Squats, 10 Push-Ups, 10 Burpees, 10 Mountain Climbers, 10 Squats, 15 Push-Ups, 15 Burpees, 15 Mountain Climbers, 15 Squats. It was brutal in the best way. 

FUN FACTOR – 7

If you like boxing, it's a good time. 

AMENITIES – 6

Everything you need but nothing overly fancy. 

COST - $$$

Standard for NYC, a class at Overthrow costs $34 for a single class. Unfortunately, they don't have any deals for first time students. I attended for free in exchange for a review on my blog! 

Overthrow Boxing Review

BOTTOM LINE: 

I like the vibe at Overthrow a lot and I've learned more here than I think I would learn from taking consistent classes at Rumble and Shadowbox. That being said, if you're looking for a boxing class that doubles as a hard workout (you know, since you're paying $34) I might suggest getting your ass kicked at a different studio. These classes are certainly a challenge - but they aren't 45-minutes-worth-of-non-stop-challenge. 

I'll continue taking classes at Overthrow because I actually want to improve my boxing skills and I think the instructors here have that same goal in mind. Also, keep in mind that Overthrow offers two different classes - one in the "Underground" - more of a boxing bootcamp/high cardio class and one in the "Ring" which is more focused on form and technique. 

Gloves are included in the class and wraps are available for purchase.

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SHADOWBOX: NYC Fitness Class Review

A lean, mean boxing machine! That's what I am not...yet. 

But I have been trying to incorporate boxing into my weekly routine - it's cardio, strength, total-body, HIIT, and low impact on my legs. Did I mention it's FUN and the (good) classes tend to fly by? Half the time I'm concentrating so hard on what the punch sequence is that before I know it, class it over!

My mission to become the next Ali (who is his female counterpart?) has led me to NYSC, Tapout Fitness, Kickbox Haus, Rumble Boxing and Work Train Fight. The latest stop was Shadowbox in the Flatiron District. 

Shadowbox NYC Fitness Review

THE STUDIO 

Shadowbox Review

The inside of Shadowbox is SO pretty. Which is a little disconcerting for a place where you're supposed to be learning about boxing - a sport with a not so dainty reputation. 

But now that boxing has become a trendy fitness fad, some of the studios are big, bright and downright beautiful spaces that attract Lulu-clad ladies. I'm sure the boxing purists out there have their issues with places like Rumble and Shadowbox, but at the end of the day, it's raising awareness about the sport and I think that's a good thing! 

A recent conversation centered around the most overall athletic athletes - and we landed on boxers. That never would have been my pick before boutique-boxing became a thing! 

I digress. 

Shadowbox is a gorgeous studio with a cafe in the lobby serving turmeric lattes and coffee with MCT oil. Trendy AF. 

Shadowbox Fitness Review

There's an actual boxing ring where private sessions take place (why are boxing rings square?), both men's and women's locker rooms, and a black-lit, mirrored studio with 40 floor to ceiling punching bags ready for you to beat the crap out of. 

Shadowbox Boxing Review

The studio itself feels slightly cramped when you walk in, but once the class was underway, it wasn't so bad. 

There's a pouch at the bottom of each bag with 1 pound weights - it's also where you should store your water bottle so it's not on the floor and in your way! (And pro-tip from the nowhere-near-a-pro...your gloves go up on the top of the bag for the first part of class!) 

THE CLASS 

Shadowboxing Review

WARM UP 

The warm-up included some simple body-weight/cardio exercises like jumping jacks, butt kicks and high knees. 

SHADOWBOX 

During this portion of the class, we boxed without gloves and without the bag - like we were boxing a shadow! Get it? There was also the option to use 1 pound hand weights for this part. 

We went through the different movements - jab, cross, hooks and uppercuts and did a few different combinations adding in some bobbing and weaving (defensive moves). 

I had sucked it up and bought myself wraps ($4) when I arrived, so I was feeling pretty legit and ready to get to business. 

BOXING - 7 ROUNDS 

The majority of the class was spent going through 7 different rounds of boxing with the heavy bag - gloves on.  

Each round is between 3-5 minutes followed by ACTIVE recovery. There isn't a minute of class that you're resting. If you aren't throwing punches, you're doing burpees, lunges, mountain climbers, or some other form of sweet sweet torture. The hardest active recovery that we did, in my opinion, were the MAYWEATHER SITUPS. Good God. You're supposed to go right from a sit up to a stand-up, and even as I clung to the bag to try to heave myself up, I struggled HARD. 

How the heck does he make this look easy?? It is not, I assure you. 

WHAT I LIKED:

+Non-stop! Between ab work, cardio drills and bag-work, you're constantly moving during a class at Shadowbox. It's a total body workout for sure. 

+Compared to Rumble, Shadowbox relies entirely on body weight exercises for the "strength" component of the class. While I really liked the fact that you used weights at Rumble and it felt like real strength training, the way that Shadowbox is set up makes the transition from strength to boxing a lot smoother and quicker which keeps you on your toes. 

+I did really miss the combinations being projected on the wall like they were during class at Rumble, but our instructor did a great job of reminding us during each round of what punches we were supposed to be throwin'.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:

-The fact that the heavy-bags are floor to ceiling makes it very hard to see the instructor during class. I was constantly moving around to try to get a look at the moves she was demonstrating.  (When you sign up online, the website will show you which bags have better views and recommends them for beginners). 

-I didn't like that I'm dumb and kept one of my rings on and cut my hand open. 

THE RUNDOWN

Shadowbox NYC Review

THE STUDIO – 7

Another gorgeous studio - with lockers, locker rooms, convenient extras like hair-ties and nice products, and even a coffee shop with juices and other goodies. 

I was shocked at how few people stayed after class to shower. While the line wasn't long, the space itself was still pretty cramped as people tried to get changed and do their hair and makeup. 

CLASS SIZE - 7

The classes are pretty big - much like Rumble, if you're really looking to learn about boxing and get some one on one training, this probably isn't the best place to come (unless you're doing a one on one session in the ring!) There are 40 bags, and though it looks and feels a little cramped when you first walk in, you have plenty of room to do everything required of you in the class. 

SWEAT SCALE – 7

This class kicked my booty and I was definitely sore the next day! 

FUN FACTOR – 8

Dark room, great jams, releasing some pent up anxiety and stress by punching something. Definitely a good time!

AMENITIES – 8

There's really everything you could ask for in the locker room and studio - you can buy water bottles, wraps and rent gloves. 

COST - $$$

Standard for NYC, a class at Shadowbox costs $34 for a single class. Unfortunately, they don't have any deals for first time students. I attended for free in exchange for a review on my blog! 

BOTTOM LINE: 

Shadowbox NYC Review

My love of boxing classes continues. Shadowbox is definitely like Rumble in many ways, and doesn't provide any one on one time with the instructor. In fact, you can barely see the instructor during class. While it doesn't have some of the bells and whistles that Rumble has, I liked the fact that the second you finished on the bag, you went straight into another exercise. Despite not having weights for strength training, Shadowbox incorporates moves like lunges, push-ups and burpees that challenge you and keep your heart rate elevated the entire time. 

I also liked that Shadowbox threw in some defensive maneuvers as well. 

If you're looking for a group fitness boxing class as opposed to actual one on one boxing, I definitely recommend giving Shadowbox a try. It might now be as new and shiny as Rumble, but it's a great workout, a beautiful studio, and there's a shorter line for the shower after class ;) 

(And I've found that for one-on-one time with an instructor, regular old NYSC "Non-Contact Boxing" classes are great! WTF also included a LOT of time with the instructor!)

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Am I Starting To Like Yoga?!

I'm not denying that yoga has endless health benefits - that it's good for your body and good for your mind. 

I'm not denying that yoga can lead to increased strength and flexibility and decreased aches and pains. 

I'm not denying that it can connect you to your breath and your thoughts and teach you how to be in the moment - to embrace discomfort and to breathe through the most uncomfortable parts of your practice. 

But despite all of this, I still have never found myself super pumped about yoga. Instead, I've viewed it as a necessary piece of marathon training, or something I "should" do. To me, yoga has always essentially been glorified stretching. I hated the meditative aspects of it, couldn't sit still during shavasana, and got frustrated by my severe inflexibility. Hot yoga made me feel like I couldn't breathe, but during regular yoga I didn't work up a sweat and felt like I'd wasted an hour of my life. 

But in the last few weeks, a fitness funk and a running rut had me willing to give yoga another shot. An acceptance that I can't go 100 mph all day, every day, gave me a new appreciation for "easier" workout days. A need to get out of my own head and to breathe deeply had me smiling and nodding along to mantras like, "the pose begins when you want to get out of it." 

Basically, the stars aligned and the universe spoke to me and suddenly, yoga just made sense! Okay, that isn't even close to what happened. 

How I Started To Like Yoga

URBAN ELEMENTS

What really happened, was my friend Sabrina forced me into going with her to a hot yoga class when we were in Pittsburgh for work. We found a studio (Urban Elements!) that had both hot yoga and spin classes and bought a $20 pass for 10 days of unlimited classes. In order to get the most bang for our buck, I reluctantly agreed to an evening yoga class one night when we got out of work on the earlier side.  

Urban Elements Pittsburgh

Sabrina's exclamations of "I'm so excited" were met by my eye rolls, sighs, and "Kill me's." To say I was dreading 75 minutes of yoga was an understatement. 

But then something weird happened - I kind of enjoyed it. It was a hot vinyasa power yoga class - but not so hot that I was only focused on the beads of sweat rolling down my arms. 

The studio had The Twelve Laws of Transformation written on a chalkboard and I read through them before the start of class:

  • 1.  Seek the Truth
  • 2.  Be Willing to Come Apart
  • 3.  Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
  • 4.  Commit to Growth
  • 5.  Shift Your Vision
  • 6.  Drop What You Know
  • 7.  Relax with What Is
  • 8.  Remove the Rocks
  • 9.  Don’t Rush the Process
  • 10. Be True to Yourself
  • 11.  Be Still and Know
  • 12.  Understand that the Whole is the Goal

I realized that the quote, and the style of yoga practiced at Urban Elements, came from Baron Baptiste. Many people, including Ali, have insisted that I would like studios like Lyons Den who practice the Baptiste methodology.  Turns out, those people knew what they were talking about! 

I liked that instead of feeling like I was stretching during this class, I felt powerful in each of the poses. The heat really did loosen me up and I was able to get much deeper into the poses than I ever had before. 

By the end of class, yes, I was wondering "How much longer?" but it went by much quicker than usual and before I knew it I was in shavasana (I still fidget incessantly) and the instructor was placing a cool, lavender compress over my eyes. It was heavenly - and I actually felt myself relax into the restful moment. 

Urban Elements Power Yoga and Indoor Cycling - you the real MVP! It was after this class that I first had a "WOW I liked that" moment following a yoga class. 

(Urban Elements' classes also use Ryder bikes, which rock from side to side like a real bike! It was challenging and awkward getting used to it - and I couldn't really stand and ride fast on them, but it's awesome technology that I think should be in more studios. It's an added core challenge and just all around closer to actually cycling outdoors).

YOGA TO THE PEOPLE

A few weeks later I found myself thinking, "I want to go to a yoga class after work."  

The second the thought entered my brain and I acknowledged it, I was baffled. 

I hate evening workouts. 

I don't like yoga. 

I had already worked out that morning. 

What was going on? 

I didn't really know what was happening, but I Googled the Yoga to the People schedule and made my way to the 5:30 p.m.  hot yoga class. 

It was much hotter than Urban Elements, and half the time I was trying not to gag as my own sweat rolled into my mouth in downward dog. But the flow was powerful and quick (I can be a real baby about holding poses for any significant length of time) and we did some of my favorite hip opening stretches - pigeon and lizard. The music was good, the instructor gave great cues and again I was scratching my head as I left thinking, "I'm really glad I randomly did that!" 

(I was also really glad that Yoga to the People offers $7 classes!)  

NEW YORK YOGA

And THEN I finally went to a hot yoga class at New York Yoga with my friend Kayla. I am not exaggerating when I say that Kayla has been trying to get me to a class with her for over 2 years. 

I had 730+excuses not to go - but I finally ran out last Sunday and agreed that I would go with her to a 75 minute class (thankfully, I wasn't hungover or I would have 100% died). 

Kayla has been a big reason I believed in the benefits of yoga for runners and athletes even if I personally wasn't a fan. For almost 2 years she struggled with IT Band Syndrome and was unable to run - a huge adjustment for someone who was used to training for and running marathons. I watched as she went from a super sad and stressed sidelined runner to a super strong and happy yogi. Yes, she always missed running - but yoga kept her active and strong and sane. 

I don't know why I resisted for so long, when I saw the effect it had on Kayla right in front of my own eyes - but then I realized, "Wait a minute - I'm a super sad and stressed sidelined runner - maybe I should give this a try!" I finally paid the steep $30 for a class. 

I was really nervous. What if I hated it and was trapped for 75 minutes and then had to tell one of my best friends that I thought she was nuts for loving this place? What if I needed to leave because I was going to pass out? What if they used terminology I had never heard before? I'm more of a "triangle pose" girl than a "Trikonasana" girl.

The studio was HOT. There were people who literally looked like they had been in a swimming pool at the end of class. I had 3 towels and they were all completely drenched by the end of 75 minutes. 

But maybe even more than Urban Elements and Yoga to the People - this class challenged me and left me feeling really glad that I had gone. 

It was a perfect mix of fast flow and deep poses. The fast flow got my heart rate up and had me breathing like I had just run 6 miles. The constant chaturanga had my arms burning in the best way. The times when we could go through a flow at our own pace helped me really focus on connecting breath and movement which is usually something I roll my eyes at during a yoga class. 

And then there were the parts that I hate, but know are important - the poses that you have to hold for 10 breaths as your legs shake and everything screams "OMG STOP PLZ." For me, this is usually Utkatasana (chair pose). But more than the physical act of holding a pose that's difficult is the mental challenge of talking yourself through it and refusing to let yourself quit. It's also crazy that "breathing into" the areas that are the most painful actually helps! 

A shower never felt as good as the one after my class at New York Yoga.  

So, I think it's finally happened - I've started to find enjoyment in yoga. Here's what I've realized are the keys to a good yoga class (for me! Yoga preferences, apparently, are super personal and you might have to experiment for 2+ years to figure out what you like...) 

  • An instructor that gives helpful queues about body alignment, breath, and how each pose should feel.
  • I like hot yoga, because it loosens me up and makes me (slightly) more flexible - and I don't like going to a yoga class and feeling like I can't do anything! 
  • I like a lot of ~flow~. What worked really well for me at New York Yoga was learning a sequence slowly, staying in each pose for a few breaths, and then being told "Now do that 5 times fast." This got my heart rate up (It was over 100 degrees!) and going at my own speed let me connect my breath and movements. 
  • Instructors that give different options are great - but I need them to actually TEACH the other options. Telling me, "feel free to go into _____ if it's in your practice" isn't helpful if I don't know how to even attempt the more advanced pose. 
  • I don't like chant-y music. An acoustic Spotify playlist with some Lumineers or Bon Iver, please! 
  • I really like a quote at the beginning or end of class! 
  • If every yoga class could have pigeon pose, that would be great. THANKS!

Does anyone have any other suggestions of yoga studios they think I would like? I know Core Power Yoga is coming to NYC and Lyon's Den, Y7 and Modo Yoga are on my "To Try" list - but any other recommendations are appreciated! 

 

Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

There's something about boxing classes that make you feel like a total badass. 

Each time I go, I'm reminded just how much of a total body workout punching a bag really is. It looks deceptively simple - but I've never once left a boxing class thinking, "That was easy." I'm always shocked at how good of a cardio workout it is, and my arms and back are totally trashed the following day. 

In the past, I've taken classes at Work Train Fight (review here), New York Sports Club, and most recently a 30 minute class at Tapout Fitness. I've enjoyed them all, but was really looking forward to trying out Rumble Boxing - which has been absolutely all over my Instagram feed since it opened. 

What makes Rumble Boxing unique is that it's a HUGE studio made just for boxing - there are individual water-filled boxing bags for 30 people and floor stations for another 30 - meaning that 60 people can take the class and will have equipment the entire time. It's like a spin studio for boxing! You even reserve your station online before showing up for class. 

Rumble Boxing Review

THE STUDIO 

Rumble Boxing Review

Located on 23rd Street - Rumble Boxing joins an already boutique-fitness heavy block of Manhattan. Rumble's neighbors include Peloton, Uplift and OrangeTheory! 

The studio is absolutely gorgeous, with awesome artwork throughout! When you check-in, you'll have the option or purchasing wraps ($6) and renting gloves ($3). I passed on the wraps and just rented gloves, which worked fine for me - though they highly suggest using wraps to protect your hands and wrists. Oops. 

There are lockers and restrooms upstairs if you're already dressed for class - or you can make your way downstairs where you'll find the men's and women's locker rooms along with the studio itself. Everything is extremely clean, and you'll be able to grab a towel on your way into the studio. 

The studio is massive - like I said, it holds 60 people per class. And I was shocked that many classes I looked at online were completely filled up! 

Each "Floor Station" has a step and 4 sets of dumbbells in various weights - there's heavier dumbbells in the back of the room as well. 

Rumble Boxing NYC

THE CLASS

The class is split into 10, 3 minute rounds of work - but what I liked was that even during the "breaks" you were encouraged to move around and jog in place. When you were on the bag, you were supposed to use the rest for active recovery - doing sit-ups and punching the bag twice at the top of each sit-up. 

Starting on the floor, I did 3 rounds of floor-work, 3 rounds on the bag, 2 rounds on the floor, 2 rounds on the bag. 

Rumble Boxing Class Review

Round 1 - Floor 

8x Right Hangs (These were a cross between a pull and a clean - you squated down and then pulled the dumbbell up to just below shoulder height, leading with your elbow). 

8x Left Hangs

10x Squat and Press 

There were weights ranging from 5 lbs to 15 lbs already at each station, with the option to grab heavier from the back of the room. I stuck with what we were given ;) 

These rounds were performed as an AMRAP - completing each set of exercises as many rounds as possible over the course of three minutes. 

ROUND 2 - Floor 

8x Right Leg Romanian Deadlift 

8x Left Leg Romanian Deadlift 

10x Push-Ups 

I am so dreadfull at single-leg deadlifts. Every time I do them I'm reminded of my weak hips and the fact that I seriously need to work on my balance. 

ROUND 3 - FLOOR 

10x Seated Bicep Curls 

10x Chest Press 

20x Russian Twist 

For this circuit, we used the step that was at our station. 

Rumble Boxing Review

Round 4 - bag

The bags used at Rumble aren't like  your typical punching bag. They're "aqua training bags" - they're filled with water and kind of reminded me of the giant buoys we used to tie our boat up to! 

What I loved about Rumble was the easy way that the punches were numbered:
1- Jab
2 - Cross
3 - Front Hook
4 - Back Hook
5 - Front Uppercut
6 - Back Uppercut

I know numbering the punches in a boxing class isn't a revolutionary concept, but this was the first time that it really clicked for me. 1, 3 and 5 are you weaker side and 2, 4 and 6 are you strong, power punches. 

For the 3 minutes on the bag, we switched between a few different combinations which were conveniently projected onto the walls! 

ROUND 5 - Bag 

This round, we learned a 3 punch combination, followed by a 4 punch combination, before combining them all together for a 7-punch combination. 

At first I thought, "there's no way I'm going to keep a 7 punch combination straight." 

But then - I did! And it felt awesome. 

ROUND 6 - BAG

Similar to round 5, but with different combinations! 

Round 7 - Floor 

This was the core portion of the class, and we used the "brass knuckle" weights that were inside of our steps. 

10x Boxer Sit-Ups with 1-2 (two punches)

10x Sit-Up with Twist 

10x Plank to Pike 

Round 8 - Floor

This final floor round was tabata-style in the sense that we did each exercise for :20 second at maximum effort.  

:20 seconds each of- 

Speed 1,2's (cross, jab)

Mountain Climbers 

Speed 5, 6's (upper cuts)

Fast Feet 

Speed 1, 2's

High Knees

Speed Jacks with weights 

ROUND 9 - BAG 

This was the "rumble round" - we did 20, 30, 40 and 50 cross/jabs as quickly as we could. It was intense! 

Round 10 - bag 

Similar to the final floor round, we complete the last round on the bag with :20 seconds maximum effort. 

Speed 1,2's (cross, jab)

Squat Hold

Speed 3, 4's (hooks)

Fast Feet 

Speed 5, 6's (uppercuts) 

High Knees

Combination 

Rumble Boxing Review

THE INSTRUCTOR

Our instructor for the 7 AM class was Danielle, and she was great. It's a lot to explain to 60 people of varying levels and she did a great job of moving the class along. The music was solid and she was super motivational for an early morning class. I don't feel like Rumble really allows for an intimate connection with the instructors, though I'm sure people have their preferences. 

WHAT I LIKED:

+In a lot of boxing classes I've experienced, there is either a fair amount of down time, or a lot of time that's not spent actually boxing - either with a bag or with an instructor. At Rumble, you are working the entire time and you have a solid 50% of the time with your own bag. 

+This is truly a total body workout between the cardio, boxing, strength, weights, core, tabata, etc. 

+I liked that you switched between floor and bag twice - I think I would have gotten bored if I had to complete all 5 floor rounds before switching to the bag. 

+The fact that the floor workouts and punching combination were projected at the front of the room was SO helpful - and also looked awesome. Without being able to reference the combinations, I definitely wouldn't have been able to remember a 7-punch combination. But having it right there in front of me made a huge difference. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:

-In Rumble, there's no one-on-one boxing with an instructor. You get lots of time on the bag, which is great, but the instructor is trying to coach 60 people at once - so your chances of receiving individual feedback are very unlikely. 

-The advertising for Rumble is EVERYWHERE on my social media, and I think it's reliance on models and stick thin girls and jacked men is obnoxious, send the wrong message, and makes them seem pretentious. That's not the vibe I got once I was at the studio AT ALL - but their advertising bothers me.  

-Our instructor was running a little bit behind schedule as therefore there was absolutely NO cool-down, which is no bueno! 

THE RUNDOWN

THE STUDIO – 7

It's a near perfect studio - it's beautiful, well decorated, themed, clean and HUGE. That being said, when a class holds 60 people, you probably need more than 4 showers. Entering the locker room after class was like Boxing Round II. There was a huge line to shower after class and even 30 minutes post class it was impossible to get a spot at the mirror to do hair and make-up. 

The only other thing lacking that would bring it to the next level would be a smoothie bar a la Swerve  or coffee/snack bar like Peloton next door.  Not really necessary by any means - but always a nice touch! 

CLASS SIZE - 7

The classes are huge. If you're really looking to learn about boxing and get some one on one training, I wouldn't recommend Rumble. That being said - there is ample space and it never feels crowded! (Until you get to the locker room after class). 

SWEAT SCALE – 7

A shower was 100% necessary after this class! Like I said, I'm always surprise at just how exhausting boxing is! 

FUN FACTOR – 8

Black lights, blaring music, and punching the shit out of bag. Yep, I'd file that under, "things that are fun." 

AMENITIES – 8

So many fancy products to use in the locker room! 

COST - $$$

Standard for NYC, a class at Rumble costs $34 for a single class. But if you're a first timer, you can buy your first two classes for the price of one! 

BOTTOM LINE: 

Rumble is a great cardio AND strength workout that gives you a ton of time actually boxing. You'll be punching a bag for 50% of the class, which is more than can be said for the other boxing classes I've taken.

The way the punches are numbered, taught at the beginning of class, and projected on the wall during class make learning to box simple and stress-free.

That being said, you won't get one on one time with an instructor or any individual attention and training. It's like if you really want to learn to paint, you probably shouldn't just go to a Paint Nite at a bar. Sure you'll leave with something on a canvas and hopefully a nice little buzz, but you won't really be a painter.

I will definitely be back for a fun, sweaty class at Rumble again next week! (And not just because I have another class credit!) 

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Stressed Out Runner Venting Session

Stressed Out Runner

I've never had trouble sleeping, I've never been physically affected by stress, and I've never experienced much anxiety. 

Those three facts are pretty shocking considering the fact that I'm a Type-A perfectionist who doesn't know how to sit still and relax for any real length of time. 

Unfortunately, it seems that my "GO GO GO" attitude towards life is finally starting to catch up to me. Stress, anxiety and trouble sleeping have all reared their ugly heads in the past month or so and I'm not going to sugarcoat it - I'm struggling over here. 

My instinct is to ignore it, keep loading my calendar with activities, and not sit still long enough to deal with what's really bothering me (because I'm sure there's something!) But I know that I can't keep doing that and expect things to improve. 

I've purchased a big bottle of melatonin and it's helped me fall asleep at night, but I'm still waking up frequently throughout the night. I got a massage last week for all of the muscle aches and pains and giant knots in my back and shoulders - but I still feel an annoying pain in my back every time I breathe in. I'm trying to remind myself to breathe deeply throughout the day - but still find myself either not breathing or not breathing fully. Sound crazy right? Forgetting to breathe?  

I've been going NON STOP since December - traveling for work 52 days in just over 3 months. 13 flights. 13!!

I spent all that time SO looking forward to being back in the city with my friends, in my own apartment, with my bike and my kitchen and my routine. 

But then I got home (for a whopping 16 days in a row) and was suddenly reminded that "real life" isn't a cake walk either. Commuting on the subway, millions of options of what workouts I want to do instead of "Hotel Gym" on repeat, laundry, food shopping, cooking, chores, errands, jury duty, and trying to make the time to see all the people I've missed for the past 3 months. Suddenly I was feeling overwhelmed by the very thing I had been looking forward to - being home and surrounded by plans and things I wanted to do. 

Please tell me I'm not the only one who is in a constant battle between wanting to do all the things, and wanting to not do a damn thing?? 

In a previous post, I touched on the fact that I haven't been running much. Tuesday night I went out for a run which was, quite frankly, the worst run I can EVER remember. Ever.

My shins were the tightest and most painful that they've ever been. I finished the run and immediately broke down. 

There comes a point in your life when ugly-crying on the sidewalk of a New York City street doesn't make you feel self-conscious at all. And apparently, I've reached that point. 

I was crying because, "IT'S NOT FAIR. I JUST WANT TO RUN." It sounds so childish and ridiculous and DUMB but it has been over a year since I was running 30+ miles a week and training for a marathon and I miss it more and more every day. 

For the past year I've taken it easy on the running, tried to focus on other types of fitness, tried to gain leg and core strength, and told myself that the New York City Marathon in 2018 was all I wanted to do. I didn't need a calendar jam-packed with races and half marathons - as long as I could train for and cross one more marathon finish line I would be happy. 

But yesterday's run was a painful - literally - reminder that my body is so far away from being able to train for a marathon. 

That got me thinking - what is it that I miss so much about running?

It's not that I don't like the spin classes, the weight training, the boxing classes, etc. that I have been filling my schedule with. Because they're fun and I enjoy them! But there's just something about running that I can't put my finger on that is straight up therapy for me. Nothing else I've found clears my head the way a good run can. 

For me, nothing beats long conversations with running friends. For me, nothing beats lacing up on a Saturday morning and enjoying an hour in Central Park before the rest of the world wakes up. For me, nothing beats the moment when everything clicks and you feel like you're flying. For me, nothing beats the tired, but strong feeling in your legs when you reach the top of a hill. For me, nothing beats crossing a finish line after months of training and comittment. 

Everyone loves to talk about how bad running is for your body, but those people don't understand how incredible the sport and the community is for a runner's mind and soul. 

I have no doubt that my stress and anxiety are closely linked to my inability to run as much as I'd like to. 

I'm frustrated with doctors who prescribe me physical therapy instead of trying to figure out what's wrong and I'm frustrated with physical therapists who give me exercises that I do on my own at the gym already. 

I'm frustrated with "Have you tried new sneakers?" "Have you tried foam rolling?" "Have you tried a massage?" "Have you tried yoga?" "Have you tried compression?" Yes, yes yes and yes. 

The one thing that keeps getting mentioned that I haven't yet tried is acupuncture, and although I'm 100% terrified of needles and pass out every year when I get my flu shot, I think I'm at the point where it might be worth a shot. 

In the meantime, I've been going to yoga more frequently, and I've been pleasantly surprised to find myself really enjoying some of the studios I've tried. Look for a post on that coming soon - because I'm the anti-yogi and on a random Monday night recently I found myself thinking, "I need some hot yoga." What? 

I guess this post really didn't go anywhere, but writing always helps me process my thoughts so thanks for reading along on my little self-therapy session. I like to think I'm not the only sidelined, stressed-out runner who might need a bit of a pity party. 

If anyone has any advice, thoughts, ideas, I'm all ears. 

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4 Cheap DTLA Fitness Classes For First Timers

I hopped of a plane at LAX and...headed straight to a workout class. 

True story. Not only was I excited for some acai and poke bowls during my recent trip to LA, but I was excited for some new fitness classes on the West Coast! 

I was lucky enough to check out 4 different studios during the 12 days I was in town and have to agree with my friend Rebecca on which was the best - but keep reading to find out which it was! 

4 Cheap DTLA Fitness Classes for First Timers
Rise Nation LA Review

The class that I attended straight off of my flight was Rise Nation, a crazy-hard cardio class that left me absolutely DEAD. 

Rise Nation might only be a 30 minute class, but using "The Climber" delivers total-body toning. 

I was nervous after Rebecca told me that this was the roughest 30 minutes of her life - and arrived with some time to spare for the instructor to give me a quick run through on how to use the vertical climbing machine. 

It wasn't as much like climbing a ladder as I thought - it was a much smoother movement that required core strength, length strength and arm strength. It was much like spinning because it helped if you found the rhythm of the music and there were also intervals where you had to speed up your movements for a certain amount of time. 

The machine tracks the distance between your steps - so when the music is faster, you work on quick, short steps. At other points, you focus on longer climbing motions - which really work your arms and core as you stretch your body further. 

Your whole body is involved, and it takes a lot of effort to keep up with the pace of the class - especially if you're new! I found my hands cramping and my forearms burning as I struggled to hold on to the handles. I was absolutely sucking wind and it was definitely the longest 30 minutes of my life. 

Luckily, there were moments where I was able to get into the beat of the song and zone out for a few minutes at a time - usually this happened when the step distances were varied - for instance, short short long, short short long. 

It's a very hard class to try to explain, so I apologize if this makes absolutely no sense. 

At the end of the class, I was dripping in sweat and my chest was BURNING like I had just sprinted a mile. Sometimes after a really intense workout, my mouth tastes like blood. Whenever I say this, people look at me funny so I finally decided to Google it: 

Some studies also show that intense exercise can increase pressure on the lungs, which allows red blood cells to leak into air sacs, possibly causing that metallic taste.

Class at Rise Nation gave me that metallic taste and left me feeling weak and shaky. I asked the instructor what a typical distance climber was for a beginner, and I am happy to report that I crushed that number ;) 

The studio was nice and clean, the instructor was upbeat and helpful, and the only thing I found a little annoying was the lack of a shower considering how gross I was by the end of 30 minutes. I was beyond ready to eat all the things at Cafe Gratitude!

The best part? Your first class at Rise Nation is FREE. 

Speedplay

Speedplay LA Review

The second class came highly recommended by my friend Rebecca, who has tried quite a few LA classes. 

It was another small, shower-less studio but it was a great cardio and strength HIIT class with an instructor that I really liked. 

I took Speedplay 60, described on their website as "a perfect balance of running , rowing and floor. The class was broken down into 4 main sections which we all rotated through as a group. It was a very small class of about 6-8 people which was great. 

We started on the rowing machine, which I hadn't used in a good long while. It was rough getting the hang of it again, and I felt like I was going in slow motion through the ladder: 

Station One

500 M Row
6 Dumbbell Press
400 M Row
6 Dumbbell Press
300 M Row
6 Dumbbell Press
200 M Row
6 Dumbbell Press
100 M Row
6 Dumbbell Press 

Station Two 

Station two was a strength based circuit using a barbell. We rotated through a set number of repetitions of the following exercises:

  • Straight Overhead Barbell Press 
  • Lunge 
  • Deadlift
  • Row 

Station Three 

For this station we went to the treadmill - they have the Curve, self-powered treadmills that can tell how quickly you're going and adjust the speed accordingly. They always take me some getting used to, but it's really awesome technology and supposedly has a lot of benefits (encouraging better form, mainly). 

Here, we did short intervals: 
.1 Run
.05 Walk
.05 Spring

After each sprint we used the resistance bands that were wrapped around our treadmills to do 10 rows. I loved the fact that each station incorporated strength moves along with the cardio. 

Station Four

Back to the floor to finish up with strength and core with this circuit using a plate: 

  • Jump Lunges 
  • Front Plate Raise 
  • Glute Bridge with Overhead Oblique Pull 
  • Sit Up (holding plate overhead)  

This class was by far my favorite - and one I would take over and over again if I lived in LA. It was a great mix of cardio, strength and core and it absolutely FLEW by. The class was small, the instructor was great, and you got to use a ton of different equipment throughout the class. 

Your first class is only $15, a steal! 

Club Pilates DTLA

I was looking for a low impact class one morning and since I can be stubborn about taking yoga classes, I figured I would give pilates a shot. The last real pilates reformer class I took was at SLT and it absolutely KICKED MY ASS so I wasn't expecting an easy class, per se, but knew I wouldn't be jumping around and irritating my shins. 

Stephanie (who made it announcement during class that she was now the OWNER, congrats!) was absolutely AMAZING at giving me help along the way. It was super obvious that I was not well-versed in pilates and had no idea what I was doing when it came to using the reformer. 

I bought my pair of grippy socks (required for the class) but a pilates-pro they did not make me. 

Some of the moves I really felt working - like the section where we did obliques! It always amazes me how many different things you can do with the reformer, and even though I felt like a fish out of water, I certainly felt the burn. 

Pilates definitely isn't my favorite type of class - but it's a challenge, it's low impact, and it works a ton of small muscles that I normally don't pay attention to. I probably won't become a regular at pilates classes, just like you won't catch me frequenting barre classes, but I understand why some people are so in love with them and certainly think those folks should check out Club Pilates! 

Worth noting that at this point, I accepted shower in fitness studios in LA should not be expected! 

YAS Spin Class 

No joke, there is a fitness center chain in LA called YAS Fitness. 

You can imagine how many times I screamed, "YAAAAAASSSSSS" during my trip to this spin class. 

This was the only studio I went to that had a locker room and showers, which was much appreciated for a girl who showers at the gym and fitness studios more often than her own apartment. 

Also appreciated was the fact that the class was a straight-up OG spin class. No weighted songs, no crunches, no push-ups on the handlebars - just spinning. 

We got clip in shoes for $2 and a free water bottle for checking-in on Facebook. The instructor, Mike, was extremely friendly and upbeat, the playlist was passable, and while I missed the metrics of a class like Flywheel or SWERVE, I felt like I got in a solid spin workout at the end of 40 minutes. 

While I was at YAS, I ran into someone I used to run with at JackRabbit in NYC back in 2012/2013 when I FIRST started running. It was so crazy!

Anyway,YAS also offers yoga classes and weighted yoga classes, and your first class is just $13! 

DIY Workout 

The last great workout of my trip to LA was the most scenic DIY everrrrrr as I walked around La Jolla Cove. Check it out here! 

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The Fitness Update & 12 Favorite Moments

Perhaps you've noticed that I haven't been writing about running a whole lot. Or, at all, lately. 

That's because I haven't been doing a whole lot of running. When I do run, this is usually the conversation in my head: 

"You shouldn't run, your shins hurt." 
"You can you run, you don't have any injury at the moment." 
"You shouldn't run, don't push it, you want to run another marathon in the fall." 
"You need to go for a run for the sake of your mental sanity." 

At which point, I go for a run. 

Running for me isn't all about the physical act of running - it's a mental happy place and a huge aspect of my social life. Sure I can always wake up and go to the gym on Saturday morning - but I miss nothing more than consistent Saturday morning long runs with friends around the park followed by brunch.  

At the moment, I'm not training for anything - it seems that I'm on a constant loop of "terrible run," "painful run," "slow AF run," "randomly amazing run" with no insight about how to make the amazing runs more common. 

I'm currently registered to run the NYC Marathon in November, but recent work developments make it likely that I'll need to defer. I'm toying with the idea of a Hartford or Suffolk County Marathon earlier in the fall, but not making any decisions for now. 

All I've got on my race calendar is the Ragnar Relay this May - which I'm pumped about! I'm also pretty nervous, because I feel like I'm severely underestimating how difficult it's going to be. I need to really start upping my mileage if I want to run 22 miles over the course of 48 hours on little to no sleep. (We are looking for more people to join our team - please comment below if you're interested!) 

I'm also considering whether or not I want to attempt an Olympic tri this summer - of course, I'm petrified about the prospect of swimming a mile in open water. I've been going to the pool every once in awhile and I swear I somehow manage to get slower every time! 

I've been in a bit of an exercise funk - with no goals to motivate me. I'm on the lookout for my next big challenge, but it just hasn't presented itself yet. 

Since this update thus far has sounded very down in the dumps, here are some of my favorite fitness moments over this winter season that I never shared on the blog. 

1. Turkey Trot 

Favorite Fitness Moments

In 2015 I ran a turkey trot on Long Island all by my lonesome. I hated every second of it, and swore I would return for revenge. 

Considering I was certainly not in any racing shape, I gave up my plans for revenge and instead, finally convinced family members to join in the fun! Running a race with my little cousins, with turkey hats, was amazing! It wasn't fast, it didn't feel great, but I spent Thanksgiving morning doing one of my favorite things with some of my favorite people and for that I was #Thankful. 

2. Deck A Day Challenge 

Best Fitness Moments

This is the third year that I've done the Deck a Day Challenge - completing a Deck of Cards workout every day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. I look forward to it every year, and though this year I had quite a butt-kicking at the start, by the end I felt strong and in much better shape. The best was doing some of these with Abby at NYSC! (Along with our personal spin class featuring Aida and Hamilton). 

3. Run & Swim & Brunch 

Dig Inn Upper East Side

One morning, Abby and I went for a run followed by a mile swim. I never would have done both of these things back to back without her, but we managed to make it fun - and followed it up with a delicious meal at the new Upper East Side Dig Inn featuring an ALMOND CLOUD. 

4. The Run Where I Cried 

Central Park Running

I've only had one of these in recent memory, and it was a December morning where I reached the top of Harlem Hill and felt like I had reached the top of Mount Everest. My legs felt strong and I had zero pain other than fatigue. I thought this was a turning point, and though it didn't end up to be the start of a wonderful running streak, it did leave my happy all weekend. It was a 9 mile run at an 8:25 pace but I felt like I had just run a Boston Qualifying marathon. 

It was during the Ted Corbitt 15K which my friend Erin was running. I joined her for awhile, ran with my friend Kayla for awhile, and waved to many friends out in the park. It's my favorite way to spend a morning.

5. Bluepoint Brewery 10 Miler 

Bluepoint Brewery 10 Miler

This is always one of my most favorite days of the year - and this time, we made a weekend out of it! 6 of us rented an Airbnb for the weekend and after a broken train, made it to Patchogue where we had dinner at That Meetball Place and woke up for the best race of the year. 

Abby and I stuck together step for step throughout the race, and everyone stayed step for step with me on the dance floor afterwards. Many beers later, and a visit from MY SISTER, we made it back to the Airbnb and woke up in the morning for a quick run and bagel breakfast before heading back to the city. 

I hope this tradition continues because its the best. I ended up running around an 8:30 pace. 

Bluepoint Brewery Race After Party

6. Busch Stadium Workout 

While I was away for work in St. Louis, I had the chance to workout in one of the clubhouse gyms at Busch Stadium. I cranked up the tunes and enjoyed myself wayyy too much. Does everyone else get excited by an empty gym? 

7. Abby's First Bike Ride! 

Road Bike Central Park

Callie and I got to join Abby for her first bike ride on her new road bike and it was wonderful. I took my first clipped-in ride by myself and fell right into a puddle of mud while people in the park looked at me with confusion. I am happy to report that Abby did much, much better than me! 

8. Batting Practice at Dodger Stadium 

Dodger Stadium Batting Practice

This isn't just a favorite fitness moment, this was one of the cooler things I've EVER done. My coworkers and I had the chance to play ball at Dodger Stadium on a gorgeous January evening in LA and it's something that I will never forget. And yes, I hit the ball!

9. More CP Loops 

Central Park Run Club

If you haven't realized, it doesn't take much to make me happy - another Saturday morning spent in Central Park with friends - chatting, running, sun shining - longer than I had run in a long time (10 miles)! 

10. Partner Workouts

City of Bridges Pittsburgh Run

Having someone to workout with while I'm on the road is HUGE in keeping me motivated to get to the gym. In Pittsburgh, my friend Sabrina and I made a bunch of kick ass workouts to do together in the gym - she even got me to go to a hot yoga class that I ended up loving and I got her to for a run with me! The workout we created using the rower was KILLER but pretty awesome if I do say so myself. 

11. BRICK 

I landed in NY after a loooong time away for work and after a 2 hour nap ($2 tequila shots are dangerous), made my way to my happy place - Central Park. It was a ridiculously warm day for February and I did 3 loops on my bike...we had been separated for so long! I got home from my bike ride and wished I was still outside, so I decided to go for a 3 mile run too. Why not? 

My best friends Abby and Callie are amazing and training for a Half Ironman, and their Strava feeds inspired me to go big or go home. I loooved it. 

12. NP_NYC 3 Year Anniversary 

November Project NYC

In March, November Project turned 3 years old and the amazing co-leaders, John and Paul, handed over the reins. I was really glad that I got myself up for the 5:30 a.m. workout and got to see the changing of the guard. November Project has made NYC feel like home to me - it's the reason I can walk around the Upper East Side and run into people I know, it's the reason I've seen so many beautiful sunsets over the East River. It's the reason running marathons and ultramarathons and IRONMANs doesn't seem impossible. It's the reason I have so many amazing best friends (and the reason I keep finding roommates for my apartment!)