Out and About

How relaxing is this?!

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I haven’t been pressuring myself to work out every single day, so after a few days of relaxation this weekend, I knew on Sunday that I would be getting outside on my bike. My bike was a birthday gift from my parents, and while I have been able to get out for a few rides, I have a December birthday so this is really the first “season” I will be out and about on it! I planned to bike about 9.5 miles down the Mt. Vernon Trail to Old Town (and the waterfront) in Alexandria for a hopefully almost 20-mile ride.

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The ride out of Arlington wasn’t too crowded, but once I hit the trail, it was game on as I navigated around runners, other cyclists, tourists, and families walking with their kids. Since I am pretty new to the whole biking scene, I’ve realized I really don’t like the speed I gain while going downhill…and I’m easily alarmed by other people who are flying down a hill towards me. I’m easily alarmed in general, so this fear should surprise no one, but I need to get over it quickly because most other cyclists are fearless in their swerving around others!

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I didn’t quite know where I wanted to stop, but once I hit the riverfront trail, I pedaled along until I felt like taking a rest. I drank my shake, laid in the shade, and people watched as others had picnics, played games, and walked around with their families and friends. This was pretty much the last good thing that happened. Hahaha

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I wasn’t looking forward to the ride back because I was being lazy and just wanted to be done, but when you ride 9.5 miles away from home, what choice do you have but to ride back?! As I went back up the Mt. Vernon Trail, it felt like the ride was flying by, and I saw a fork in the trail that could take me in another direction. I recognized the name (Four Mile Run), so I headed that direction. I was no longer riding alongside a river, and this water was SUPER calm. There were two turtles hanging out on this branch, so that was kind of cool!

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This trail isn’t straight through the woods…eventually you run into some residential areas and then the trail picks back up again. It was at this time that I started making ALL of the wrong turns. I knew one very specific way to get home, but for some reason my adventurous self decided to go another way, and I ended up getting SO stuck in Pentagon City. There are a lot of busy roads and highways surrounding that area, and the one particular way that I knew to get back home now seemed so far away. After sitting down on the side of the road and feeling sorry for myself, contemplating calling an Uber or taking the Metro, and walking up a HUGE hill with my bike next to me, I finally hopped on and got to work. At this point, I had gone in a complete circle and wasted almost an hour, so I was very annoyed with myself. I knew that I was going to pass my mentor’s house and I was PRAYING that she and her husband weren’t sitting on the porch, but of course, they were. Ha! I pulled into their driveway, scared the heck out of their dog, and they gave me just the motivation I needed to get the last 3 miles home.

And then a rabbit ran in front of my bike.

I kid you not.

Easily startled, remember?

The rabbit and I both survived and I won’t be biking for at least 3 weeks. One week off for every hour I was gone. Hahaha

What did you do this weekend?!

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MiMM

Marathon Monday [Week 2]

I wrote one of my favorite kinds of posts ever last Monday. I did a survey and answered lots of questions about running. 🙂 I also mentioned that my friend and I decided to do something crazy…

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…we officially signed up to run our FIRST marathon! I absolutely LOVE the half marathon distance. I have run four in the past. I think it’s difficult enough that it definitely requires training, but I think it’s a “short” enough distance that you can really race and push yourself to run fast. When I picture myself running a full marathon, I picture myself running just to cross the finish line. I am not concerned about time and I really see it as an item to check off my bucket list. I think I will be a one-and-done type of girl. 😉 Because I have this point of view, when my friend Hannah suggested that I sign up as a charity runner, I knew it was the perfect thing for me to do! Now, I will be running for a cause.

Our team is raising money for two charities: Give To The World and CitiHope International. These charities seek to deliver health and hope to vulnerable communities worldwide. Give To The World sends medical supplies and essential material items to families living in conflict zones while CitiHope International promotes health by delivering medicine and other resources to underserved populations. I am so proud to be part of this team and my goal is to raise $550! I think I can do it. 🙂

I am super excited that this race will be my first full marathon because it runs through all of Washington, D.C. and it’s really highly recommended in the running world. Apparently, the crowd support is amazing…but it has to be if there are Marines along the course cheering the runners on! It’s lovingly called “The People’s Marathon” and it was rated one of the 15 best fall marathons. All good things!

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In the meantime, Kristen and I are headed into week two of our marathon training. I am following Hal Higdon’s Novice Plan which actually calls for 18 weeks of training, but since I just started training last week, I made this plan work for me and modified the first few weeks a bit so that I train for a total of 16 weeks. In case you are interested in the crazy, here is what my schedule looks like this week:

Rest 3 m run 4 m run 3 m run Rest 9 m Cross

If you have ever listened to me talk about running before, you know I am a runner who needs days off. My body just cannot run six days a week. I love that this plan includes two rest days and cross training and I plan on using those days to my advantage by incorporating stretching, strength training, and yes, actual rest. Not moving an inch. 😉

On my first “real” training run, I talked on the phone for the first 3 miles so that definitely tested me! Ha! And then I came across this random, heart shaped leaf. I am going to take it as a sign and a good omen!

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Besides listening to my training plan, I need to do a few things:

1. Get new shoes.
2. Eat healthy food and eat enough food!
Training makes you hungry, but you have to fight that hunger with the most nutritious foods. 😉
3. Hydrate!
I have been pretty bad at this one lately. My favorite Contigo 32 oz. water bottles have been letting me down and leaking everywhere! What’s your favorite kind of bottle?!
4. Get enough sleep.
I’m good at this one!

Last week was full of healthy, nutritious foods to fuel my runs…

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Lots of stretching, even if that meant putting my legs up on Kristen’s living room wall…

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And my favorite ab/core video ever. You must do it. TODAY! My abs hurt and I only did it twice last week. 🙂

Of course the holiday weekend called for a long run…but it also called for lots of desserts. So I’m waking up today with my head in the game because in three short months I have to run lots and lots of miles. I tend to doubt myself, but anything that’s worth doing comes with a little fear, I think!

Happy Monday 🙂

– What’s the last big risk you took?

– Have you ever run a marathon?

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If you feel compelled, please help me reach my fundraising goal by donating on this website. Thank you for your support!!!

Survey Says: Running

Hello Monday.

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On Friday, my friend and I made a slightly crazy running decision. More info on that coming soon. 😉

I am a recreational runner. I’m not the fastest person out there. I just happen to like lacing up my shoes and forgetting about the world for a few miles. Ha! If you’re a runner, you will like this…and if you aren’t a runner…maybe I can convince you to join the craziness. I saw these questions on my favorite blog last week and thought I would share all my running thoughts with you today!

1.  Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail?

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I have nothing against mountain trails, but I have more experience at the beach. My favorite place to run is right at the edge of the water because the sand is flat and hard! If you want a serious leg workout, run from the boardwalk to the water. That soft sand will do a number on ya…

2.  If you could choose the flavor of gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be?

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I’m not good with flavor names…I like purple and light blue and yellow. 🙂

3.  If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it?

I NEED NEW SHOES! I cannot stress the importance of 1) getting fitted for the right kind of shoe and 2) getting new shoes every 400 miles. I LOVE going to the running store and getting on the treadmill and having them analyze my running. I feel so much more at peace knowing that I am wearing the right kind of shoe and knowing that I didn’t just pick it because it was pretty. 😉 I still pick pretty shoes, but if I was allowed to choose my exact running shoe, I would pick the Brooks Pure Flow because I like the style. That is a lightweight shoe and I need a stability shoe. I wouldn’t know that if I didn’t get my stride analyzed! I can’t tell you I quite follow my own advice about the 400 mile rule. Typically, 300-400 miles on a shoe means time for new ones. I’m not great at tracking when I get shoes, so I have no idea how many miles go on them, then I get shin splints, and then I know it’s time for new shoes. Not the best method. Ha!

4.  Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run?

I didn’t use a training plan for the first four long distance races I ever did. I do not recommend this! I finished each of those four races in decent time, but then I got hurt. Follow a training plan if you’re racing. With that said, I like a training plan when I’m on it. As soon as I race, I NEED to run however far and fast I want for a long time. I don’t like being told what to do for too long, so I usually take a break from “planned” running after a race!

5.  Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill?

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This is how we felt knowing we just ran 2.5 miles downhill and knowing there were 2.5 miles to the top. Short answer: neither. I would rather have rolling hills. Finishing on a hill gives you runner’s high for sure because you are so darn happy to be done, but you dread it the whole run. Starting on a hill means you have to go downhill for a long time…and that’s hard on your legs. Rolling hills, please. 🙂

6.  When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do?

I love Spinning and PiYo (because hello I love cardio and stretching, I need you) but I also have discovered a new love for doing strength training. Cardio is not the only exercise in the world…say what?! I refrain from saying lifting because I feel like that leads people to believe I’m bulky or I lift really heavy. Neither of those are true. Lifting makes you leaner, not bulkier! However, I used 20 lb dumbbells last week and it was an exciting moment in life ha!

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7.  What is your preference—>  Out and back, point to point or loop runs?

LOOP! I get to constantly see new things and still end up back where I started!

8.  If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be a—>

Say it with me: correct. pair. of. shoes.

9.  Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs?

When I’m running in my hometown, there are usually turkeys and deer. On one rare occasion, I saw a chicken. Plum (my town) used to be a farm town, and while there are still some farms around, it’s mostly residential now. Typical suburbia with a few farm animals still hanging out.

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10.  Ever gotten lost while out on a run?

We used to get lost at cross country practice all the time! We ran on trails in a local park which was so fun. Those “we’re lost!” moments made up for the days we would intentionally run slow so we didn’t have to go as far;) Most recently, my friends and I were running to specific embassies in D.C. and our 4 mile run quickly turned into a 7 mile run because Siri couldn’t give us correct directions…

11.  If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days…what would that meal be?

I actually don’t crave specific foods right after I run. I crave a freezing cold glass of water, but as far as food goes, whatever meal time it is, I’m happy with that food!

12.  Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often?

I can now confidently say shorts. Come winter, I will be in three pairs of leggings, thank you very much! But…catch me on a treadmill…and I will only be in shorts and a tank top. I get so overheated on that thing!

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And that my friends is what I like to call “I didn’t do laundry or unpack from vacation” because THAT is a running skirt. Did you know running skirts are really expensive? Did you know people actually wore skirts while they were running? I have two and they were free and picked up at mile 8 of the Runner’s World Half Marathon in 2013 and 2014. Hahaha

13.  At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go?

1 song on my iPod or 1/2 mile. Sometimes the whole run just feels hard, but for the most part, my body adjusts pretty well.

14.  What do you do with your key when you run?

I usually take it off it’s keychain and just leave the one silver loop on it. Then I put my finger through that loop so the key is in the palm of my hand. I hold my phone when I run (because I’m usually alone) and so the key is kind of right under my phone. This week, I’ve tried putting my key on my shoe lace and it was only comfortable the first time I tried it! I want to keep working on that one ha!

15.  If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be?

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My second half marathon, which was the Runner’s World Half in Bethlehem, PA. I loved this race so so much. I had never been to this town before and it was in the Pennsylvania mountains in the fall, so the scenery was beautiful. I think it was also awesome to not know where I was going. Also, Runner’s World puts on such a good race. The weekend was full of inspirational speakers, running swag, and 3 different races to compete in or spectate!

16.  What type of run is your least favorite type of run?

A tempo run.  This is a run where you are supposed to feel like the pace you are going at is “comfortably hard”. Those two words don’t belong next to each other. Usually it just feels hard! But if you trust your training plan, eventually that pace will be your easy pace.

17.  What has been your biggest motivation lately to get out the door to get your run on?

New running adventures such as Lululemon’s Run Club and November Project AND the warm weather!

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Photo Credit: November Project DC

The humidity in D.C. has been unbearable but you really can’t complain when it was -4 degrees for five straight months…

18.  When you go for a run, do you leave right from your front door or do you drive somewhere to start?

I have been driving to run recently…but I have about 4 good routes right out my door that I like taking too! College Park just isn’t as pretty as Washington, D.C. 🙂

19.  When running in daylight—>  are sunglasses a must or an annoyance?

They aren’t a must but they are becoming one. I wore regular glasses all the time until last summer and I wore sunglasses by putting sunglasses over my real glasses because I am super cool. Anyways, when running, that is not a good situation. Now that I wear contacts, I love wearing sunglasses to run. I don’t NEED them, but like I said…getting to that point. I definitely miss them when I don’t have them!

20.  When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting?

Usually I am nowhere near my house or car when I’m tired so that’s a big one! Run away from places that will make you quit. 😉 When I’m on the treadmill, just slowing the speed a bit keeps me from quitting. Your run doesn’t have to be 100% effort the whole time you’re out there…just keep your legs moving.

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– Relationship status: love running or hate running?

– What’s your favorite kind of exercise?

Move It Monday: PiYo Edition

My love for working out and teaching crossed over a few years ago when I became a certified Spinning instructor. I have loved teaching Spinning classes for the last four years at various gyms, but last December I added another certification to my resume…that of a PiYo LIVE instructor.

So what is PiYo? Well the name starts to give it away…it is a sort of a cross between Pilates and Yoga…if you are familiar with either of those classes, you might recognize some of the moves. BUT, PiYo is NOT Pilates or Yoga…it’s completely its own. It’s a fast-paced, low impact workout that combines cardio and strength training while just using your body weight! It is perfect for someone like me who loves to do high-impact activities like running. Sometimes you just need to slow it down and stretch it out! Each song focuses on a different part of your body…lower body, full body fusion, core…we do it all in just an hour. I love PiYo because it is choreographed and the music is catchy so everyone in the class really gets into it! I wrote more about PiYo here, but today I want to share with you a few of my favorite poses from the round I am currently teaching.

– ONE –

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Yoga friends…do you recognize down dog? I love this pose because I can feel the stretch all the way down the back of my legs. My pose is getting better…it can be difficult to do down dog correctly. It’s so easy to put a ton of pressure on your wrists! I have been working on pushing my weight back and sharing that same technique with my class. We are all improving. 😉

Because PiYo likes to shake things up, check out this variation of down dog…

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…my elbows are bent and I’m doing a small push up in down dog position. My hands have moved into a triangle…thumbs and pointer fingers touching.

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Then I raise back up to regular down dog. We do these pushups in sets of 8. They are a killer. 🙂

– TWO –

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Can I hire one of you to be my photographer? 😉 Still in the same position, now I am in single leg down dog. This really tests your flexibility and balance!

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It feels great to go from single leg down dog to a low lunge. The low lunge stretches your hips, quads, and glutes, and kind of bringing your equilibrium back after being upside down in single leg down dog! At least that’s how it feels for me. I feel grounded here. 🙂

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You can make the low lunge even better by opening the arm and chest. Stretching all the muscles! In either of these low lunge poses, you have the option of dropping your other leg down so that you are on your knee. The point of the low lunge is simply to stretch…so if it feels better to have your other leg on the ground, that’s what you should do. The power of PiYo: making it work for you. 😉

– THREE –

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A table top position works our core. Why do you need a strong core? Well, a six pack would be nice;) But with strong abdominal muscles, you’re taking pressure off your lower back, making your posture better, and even making everyday tasks like lifting a lot easier. Right now in class, we are doing a lot of core work with each leg raised. We pulse the bent leg up, pull it down and up, bend it straight out and back in, and pulse the straight leg up. Once we have done all of that, it feels great to get into modified pigeon:

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Pigeon pose…or modified pigeon pose…is a really common stretch for runners. Lots of tension can build up in the hips, so this is a great way to loosen it all up.

– FOUR –

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Finally, we have modified mermaid. Here, you sit with your legs in a kind of “star position”. One leg is bent in front of you and the other leg is bent behind you. In PiYo, we plant one hand down on our side and reach up and over. This will help you stretch your hip flexors and lower back and really help you open your chest and shoulders.

So, what do you think of PiYo? Have you ever taken a class? Will you search for a class near you? You definitely should! Get your body moving this Monday 🙂