Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving was WONDERFUL!! And now it's time to streak through December!!

Did anyone eat as much as me this Thanksgiving???  

I flew home to see my Mom in Delaware and we headed to my aunt and uncle's place.  LOVE going to my Aunt June's because she raised 3 boys and thus ALWAYS has tons of food!!

No dinner is complete at Aunt June's without shrimp!

Me, my mom, and my brother

My mom enjoyed a glass of wine EARLY because she had to be at work by 5:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving day :( 

Me, Rachel, Aunt Di, Elizabeth (After Aunt June's I headed to Aunt Di's for MORE EATS!!!  (didn't get any food pics)

We played Balderdash it was so much fun!!!

So yeah a lot of eating so I guess it's no wonder that it seems like EVERYONE is doing a Holiday Run Streak challenge!

First there is the challenge from #runChi called the Holiday Hundred.  The nice thing about this challenge is that it isn't JUST running.  You can covert cross training/yoga/strengths, etc into "miles" by doing 1 mile for every 15 minutes.  So the Holiday Hundred means a combination of running miles and up to 25 hours of cross training.  Fleet Feet Chicago is even offering prizes!

Then of course there is the BIG Runner's World running streak challenge!  36 Days of Awesome  From Thanksgiving to New Years for 36 days you commit to running at least 1 mile per day.  I think I'm going to try this.  I don't want to jinx anything because too much running in a row isn't good for me, but I think if I keep mixing in a healthy mix of cross training and pilates I think I'll be OK.  Plus I don't have any REALLY long runs scheduled.  I might end up doing a 10 miler between now and NYE.

Also the FFC Runmonsters are doing a 100 day running challenge.  They are specifically training for the LA Marathon so their challenge doesn't end until March.  I will be training for Big Sur starting at the end of December, so I joined but I mostly plan to do speed workouts with them on Thursday Nights.

Are you doing a holiday challenge?  Is it really cold out where you live????

I got off the plane yesterday and discovered it was kind of warm in Chicago.  And I was riding my Uber back home I saw a ton of people on the lake front in SHORTS!  So I scrambled home despite being REALLY REALLY tired (3 a.m. East Coast wakeup call!) and pulled out a running skirt and went for 4 miles!  IT WAS GLORIOUS.

Anyways, who is joining me in committing to fitness through the holidays (despite the cold!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

West Town Pilates: Classic Reformer Class Review

West Town Pilates is located at Chicago and Milwaukee and according to ClassPass is in the Goose Island neighborhood, which means it's not exactly close to me but it's not too far either.  There is a Divvy station a block away so that's always a plus!

The studio was actually recommended to me by a couple that I met at Sana Vita studio so I was eager to see if any classes fit into my schedule.  Luckily there was a 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning!

As you can tell by the pic from the website the studio is nice and airy with a bunch of windows. 

I felt like the emphasis of the class was definitely on abs (we did the Pilates 100!) as well as legs and hips.  Which of course as a runner/triathlete I really really need!  We also use the boxes on top of the reformer to help work on our balance as well. 

I enjoyed the workout and will definitely be adding this studio to my must book list.  The studio also has 2 showers and a full range of bath products.  It makes the 7 a.m. class perfect for me because I can shower at the studio and then Divvy to work and still arrive early! 

The more I take these reformer classes the more I really want my own reformer!  (As though I have the space!)  I feel like these classes are adding strength training to my regime without making me overly sore.  It's a nice complement.  

Big Sur marathon training starts 12/22 and I hope I will be able to fit Pilates classes into my routine!!!

What about you?  Do you take extra time for Pilates?  Or what other cross training do you utilize? 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sometimes it's just tough to run alone!

I have to admit, I'm really really terrible about running alone, at least mentally.  Every few months I have a great run on my own but normally I just find reasons to dislike it, ALOT. 

Like in the summer it's always the heat and in the winter it's always the cold.  During the summer I just tell myself to run to the next water fountain and then I can have a little break. 

Water fountains are off in the winter :( So I usually make myself run a mile and then I take a break.  If there are any runners that pass me during my "break" I always get concerned glances.  I know they are thinking who just stands there resting in 25 degree weather??! 

Summertime park benches are REALLY inviting but I usually at least settle for stretching a bit, so as not to seem extremely lazy. 

But if I'm running with friends all the miles are so so easy!!  I always finish running with such a great high.  I LOVE RUNNING AND I LOVE MY FRIENDS!!!

So why is running alone so gosh darn hard for me?? 

I honestly really don't know.  Even the happiest days makes it hard for me to keep positive thoughts in my brain.  And the competitive part of me always wants to run faster than the Garmin is telling me I am but without a friends pace to match it's just really hard to push myself.   And sometimes I don't even really think that I could push harder. 

So yeah today I was coming home from running errands and I realized even thought it was 24 degrees out that the sun was shining and it would be REALLY REALLY nice to go for a run.  So then of course I procrastinated.  I mean Hulu had a new episode of Selfie AND Jane the Virgin??!! 

And this guy wanted some attention.  Turns out he had an overgrown toe nail and it was a struggle just to get him to let me hold him in order to cut it off!

But yeah just after 5 p.m. I headed out to run.  Decided to run South and thought maybe I would see some Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo.  If they were up yet I didn't notice them, I stayed on the outer Lakefront Path. 

I got my 4 miles done.  But it was WORK. 

How about you?  Do you find it tough to run alone or do you prefer it?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sometime's there's just no energy left!

Yesterday was one of those days where by the time I was finished work I had NO energy.  I debated bailing on my Computrainer class or not, but in the end I still went.  And I'm still debating if that was the right idea or not!

Let's back up a little bit with how my day started…..

Today is Day 20 of my lil Pilates/Yoga challenge.  Normally on Wednesdays after work I swim a bit before my 7:30 Computrainer session.  That meant I HAD to do either Pilates or Yoga in the morning.

That's where I started to play around with Class Pass and was trying to find the perfect morning class. Except there was no perfect morning class!  There was a 5:45 a.m. class at a studio I've been to but…hello!  5:45!  And there was a 7 a.m. class at an unknown studio that wasn't near any FFC so that meant I wasn't sure about the whole shower situation.

So, like duh, I finally remembered oh yeah I belong to FFC lemme look there.  Well, there IS a 6 a.m. yoga class at the East Lakeview location (I've taken it before, and didn't really love it).  So I started thinking about the 5:45 a.m. one again….and then I just decided to go to the FFC one and if I missed it I'd figure out something different in the evening.

And I went.  And I LOVED it.  I even decided to go swimming after the class.  So, that left me with just Computrainer that evening.

During the day work I dragged a lil bit, I mean I always do mid-day right?  Since I had a lil leeway I decided to try and hit Banana Republic on the way to the gym to see if they had any of the Sloan Pants in my size that I really really need.

I went to two Banana Republics and neither had any of them on sale :(  By the time I actually got to the gym (via Divvy) I was cold and tired and cranky.  And I just wanted to go home and go to bed.

But I was already at the gym, so I might as well go right?  The endorphins would kick in and I'd love life again, right?????

Well I did go to my Computrainer session, but endorphins didn't kick in and I didn't LOVE life.  I ate a breakfast bar right before I started (I was a lil hungry) and I set up my bike and then the Coach gave us our workout.  

After a warmup we had 6 x 5 minute segments where we were supposed to have our cadence at 60 rpm.  Except I don't have a cadence sensor!  So I had NO idea what my rpms were.  The coach said you should use the clock and your foot should be at the same spot every second…yeah that worked….NOT!!

And if anyone hasn't used a Computrainer before, if you have already plugged in your max threshold when you do one of these workouts you don't switch gears because the Computrainer applies pressure to your tire to get you to output a certain wattage.  Sometimes I wish the Computrainer would let me know if I am working hard enough or not!

We had 2 minute recoveries and we were to pedal with one leg for 30 seconds x2.  This was HARD!  I had no idea how hard it would be!

So yeah, I kinda left that training session more grumpy and way more tired and hungry then I walked in.  I'm not even sure if the whole effort was worth it.  My overall mileage was so low!  I did 13 miles in 70 minutes?!  But we were supposed to have low cadence….so….??

I dunno, do you ever regret doing a workout?  Is it sometimes better just to take the day off??

Day 10 Part 2: Eb and Flow Yoga - Embrace Flow

I've been wanting to check out Eb & Flow Yoga mainly because the class names seem so inviting!  I signed up for Embrace Flow (Gentle to Moderate Pace).  I ALWAYS need Gentle to Moderate pace!  

Actually this class was more challenging than I thought it would be!  

Since I was running around I decided to just rent a mat for $1 at the studio.  I did bring my own yoga towel though.  The studio is located in Bucktown (and I don't really ever venture that far West), but it was easy to find and only a block away from a Divvy Station (score!!)

Before class began the instructor introduced herself to me and asked me if I had any injuries.  I thought that was great.  The room was rather long, and we were on the 3rd floor right on the street.  This is actually the first class where I noticed being able to hear street noise!  

I actually thought that this class would be more floor based but nope we were standing for most of it.  Lots of warrior poses, etc.  So the class was more of a challenge than I expected but not outside of my comfort zone.  

Overall I liked the studio.  I wish it was closer to me though!!  I'll definitely keep an eye out on the schedule and see if I can add some more classes.  They also have a new member deal of $21 for 21 days.  If this studio was in my neighborhood I'd definitely sign up for that!!  

I do have to say though that for a Sunday and end of weekend, I think I'll look for a more restorative class.  I think that I just prefer to restore my mind on a Sunday rather than embrace a physical challenge.  

It's cool that I'm learning a lot about myself and my practice!  

What about you?  When do you like to do yoga?  Do you have different days for different types of yoga classes?

DAY 10: Core Chicago Pilates

Core Chicago Pilates is located on Racine right off of Wrightwood (and near a Divvy station!) and you probably never even noticed it was there.

It's quite small, but it's two floors and I have to say that for the small size nothing felt cluttered.  I arrived about 15 minutes before my 1 o'clock class and the noon class (probably a mat class but not sure) was just finishing up their stretches.  

The instructor (owner?) immediately started to get to know me and I explained how I was a triathlete and that I can't run right now because of a bad ankle.  She also was a triathlete and she seemed to have a lot of general knowledge about triathletes and then just biomechanics in general.  

The class was just me and another girl (also using Class Pass) and we went upstairs to use the Reformers.  I think there was a 3rd Reformer as well so I am guessing the max students would ever be three for the class.  I got the impression that the other girl had been coming for a while since she and the instructor had an easy rapport. 

Immediately the instructor zeroed into my bad ankle and kept giving me corrections to try and help me get it stronger.  And I have to say this is the first time this has happened to me and I didn't leave thinking that I was a total mess and maybe I shouldn't run at all. I actually felt like this was something I could actually work on correcting.   I know I have terrible biomechanics but I do have faith that I can get stronger!

We focused a lot on our hips, which is nice because if I've been taking 2-3 Reformer classes ever week lately, I feel like maybe 1 class out of ever 2 weeks focuses on hips.  And I know that my hips need a lot of help.  None of the moves seemed too challenging and I was secretly smiling to myself when the instructor added springs on some of my moves.

This is only Day 10 but I'm already starting to feel stronger!!

As soon as I got home I searched the Core Chicago Pilates schedule, but sadly the only time I can make the beginners Reformer class is on Sundays.  That's not a terrible thing but I was hoping there would be more options!!

I highly recommend this place!!!

What's your favorite body part to work on the Reformer?  (My LEAST favorite ABS!!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Full Psycle Chicago review!!!

What a wonderful Sunday!!!!

I started my day kind of lazy because I spent the night before at my friend Sarah's wine and cheese party.  A LOT of cheese and cookies were consumed!  I didn't have any wine but I still ended up leaving right around midnight.

I was still feeling sleepy around 10 a.m. and had to drag myself to Full Psycle for my first class there.  I walked in a few minutes before 10:30 and the whole atmosphere was quiet chaotic.  I had to wait in line before I could even sign in.

There were 2 girls working the front desk and neither seemed to care that it was my first time.  I actually asked to sign the waiver and then they gave me my cycle shoes.  BTW, I LOVE that these spin studios provide shoes, it's always a pain to carry them around!

I looked around trying to find at least a coat rack and saw none so I actually took two of the free lockers to fit my massive backpack and winter coat.  Like I said no one at the front desk had given me any direction.

The lobby was cute enough but if you walked passed the Full Psycle room back to the water fountain you could see that studio wasn't quite finished.  I think there were bathrooms but I didn't notice any showers.

I was told that I was bike 20 so I walked into the rather dark room and had to ask another girl where to find the bike numbers.  But once I found my bike it was easy enough to adjust.  The instructor told us all to get a pair of weights, a towel and make sure we had water.

There are two screens that display the power info for all the bikes and because of this I noticed the time.  The class was supposed to start at 10:30 but we actually started at 10:37.  Now I've been to a lot of classes in the past month using Class Pass and this was the first time I noticed a class actually starting late.

Eventually we did start and the instructor explained our power readings, etc. very well.  I noticed right away I was falling to the bottom of the list though :(

Basically each bike was on the board and depending on how much power was generated the rankings moved.  At various points we had "races" or sprints and during that interval the power rankings only reflected the power generated during the race.  We also did a 3 minute threshold test.  The avg power number we got during this 3 minute time was used for a scale to show how hard we were working.  So like 60 percent was green but 95 percent was red.  The instructor would tell you what zone you wanted to be in.  I found this very helpful to figure out how much I was working.  Sometimes in spin class I space out or get lazy and I know I'm not working as hard as I should.

Halfway through the class I actually started dripping sweat!!  And even though my rankings weren't that high I did manage to be pretty high during the individual races.  And by the end I had slowly moved up the over all rankings.

Another motivating tactic was to split the room into groups.  We would have a race and get one power number as a group and then almost immediately have to do the same interval again and this time we'd try to beat that number.  It really made you push extra hard because only the team number was shown so you weren't really sure if you were going fast enough or not.

I liked how Full Pyscle used these little tricks to make the class more exciting then the typical spin interval class.

After the class you immediately got an email telling you all your information.

I'm excited to use these numbers as a baseline and hoping I can get these numbers to approve.  I know my threshold during the 3 minute test was 97 so it looks like I was able to maintain that threshold for the entire ride.  How exactly does Full Psycle power compare to the computrainer power?  That I'm not sure.  But I think that if I can manage to get my power numbers up then I will see big improvements in my biking!  

I left the class feeling pumped and energized and I can't wait to go back again!!!!

Have you tried Full Psycle?  What's your favorite spin class?