Monthly Archives: March, 2013

Fitness Tour of New York City

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of making a trip up to New York City to visit my many friends who live there. We all went to college in DC, so I thought we’d all hang here after graduation. WRONG. I am the sole DC survivor. But that’s ok 🙂 It just gives me more excuses to travel! I grew up in New Jersey so I went into Manhattan often. However, I’ve gotten a much different appreciation for the city just going to hang out with friends, instead of going for some special event.

I love working out when I travel because it gives me an opportunity to experience different things. I wrote this post forever ago about working out on vacation if you’re interested. You might also remember that I participated in the Run to Recover in Central Park after Hurricane Sandy. This trip I decided to try out some of the classes I’ve been salivating over reading NYC fitness blogs (including Losing Weight in the City and A Healthy, Happier Bear). Here’s what I thought:

Uplift Studios

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Saturday morning my bff Sarah and I teamed up and went to the 9:30 am Uplift Strength class at Uplift Studios. This is a women only facility, so we left Mike reading a newspaper in Starbucks. I think he was very happy to not be dragged to a class with me. Here’s what you need to know – if you live in NYC and you are a lady (though I noticed on their website they do have boys night) GET TO UPLIFT IMMEDIATELY. They offered a “first timers” discount of $16 which was amazing. We arrived early because Sarah was on the wait list and the women working at the studio could NOT have been nicer or more accommodating. They got Sarah into the class, which made me a very happy girl. They also provided water bottles, towels, coffee, snacks, phone chargers, locker room products, everything! This is a full service facility.

As far as the workout, I think I might still be sore. We had Michelle as our instructor and she gave one HELL of a class. She was super high energy and provided a superbly efficient workout. We worked each muscle group to fatigue but only performed each individual exercise once. I loved that! Every exercise I could say to myself, you never have to do this again so PUSH IT. Mixed into the class were three rounds of high intensity cardio tabatas (Here’s info on tabatas if you’re not familiar… they rock). I love mixing high intensity cardio in with strength because it makes my heart pump and my whole body pour sweat. I ❤ sweating. The very small class size was ideal for correcting form and not feeling “lost in the crowd”. Also, the music rocked.

Final summation: I will be going back to  Uplift every single time I go to NYC. Besides being ridiculous accommodating on every level, the workout was top notch. In the words of Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there”

Soul Cycle

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In the interest of full disclosure, I was a little skeptical going to Soul Cycle. People who attend classes there are SO in love and obsessed with it, I was certain there was no way it was going to live up to the hype. I also was a little shocked by the $34 / class price tag, but I went ahead and signed up for Emma’s 10 am class on Sunday at the E 83rd Street studio. My first impression upon walking in was, “woah, this is a pretty intimidating environment.” However, after I checked in, I felt much more at ease because they guy working there was SUPER nice. He gave me a pair of shoes and directed me to the locker room to drop my stuff. Then began my completely humiliating attempt to figure out how to work their super high tech lockers. I couldn’t figure out which ones were taken or how to work them. Finally, someone helped me. I basically need a babysitter whenever I leave the house.

When I got into the room, I was shocked by how close together the bikes were. I taught Spinning for 5 years and this was new to me! Mercifully, I reserved a bike in the back so I clipped in a prayed to God I didn’t die. Well let me just tell you… this class left me with NO doubt about why people love this so much. At first I was a little thrown off by all the moving around and syncing up as a whole group, but once I got the hang of it I was totally feeding off the energy in the room. It was a dark, sweaty mess in there and I loved EVERY minute of it. Emma was nuts in the  best way possible, dancing all over the place. It was basically a dance party on a bike. I also loved the little strength training part, which we never did when I taught Spinning. It was just something different and I dug it.

Final Summation: Soul Cycle will give you one hell of a workout but it’s going to cost you. If you want to treat yourself though, this class ROCKS. It definitely made me want to check out other cycling facilities in DC too!

Questions for you guys:

– Ever been to Uplift or Soul Cycle? What did you think?

– Do you workout on vacation? Why / Why not? 

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Ricotta Pasta

I.LOVE.PASTA. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would definitely be pasta (or maybe pizza… close tie). I am especially loving pasta these days since I’m not forcing myself to restrict it anymore! (I’m planning a summation post on my Intuitive Eating challenge later this week with many more details) I used to think pasta was “bad” so when I did “let myself have it” I always completely gorged myself on it. My mind was in that deprivation place of not knowing when I would ever be allowed to have it again. So when I was confronted with pasta… I ate ALL the pasta. Now that I know I can have pasta absolutely any time I want to have pasta, I eat a single serving in a bowl and walk away from the table completely satisfied (ok, ok, maybe one or two more bites as I pack away the leftovers).

Recently, I’ve been finding myself really favoring simple meals. We’re busy during the week so I have less time to cook elaborate dinners. This recipe requires 5 simple ingredients and hits 3 macro nutrients all in one dish (protein, carbs, and vegetables). Here’s what you’ll need (recipe / instructions at the bottom): You could substitute any kind of pasta (I chose brown rice fuscilli – but please remember I am NOT gluten free. I just like this kind a lot), meat (I used ground turkey but beef or chicken would be fine), vegetables (I ❤ brussels sprouts. End of story) and tomato sauce (Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic is delicious and $1.95 – CHA CHING). The secret here is the ricotta (which in my world is pronounced with a G). Mixing it with tomato sauce gives you a slightly “creamy” sauce without a super heavy alfredo. mmmmm…mmm…. good.

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The other best part of this meal is that you can make the entire thing in the time it takes to boil the water / cook the pasta. I also was able to prep chicken noodle soup in the crock pot during this time.

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Mike is an excellent kitchen helper. I cut these brussels into quarters because they were really big.

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Fig kept a watchful eye on the whole process, but he doesn’t like vegetables (BLEH green stuff!)

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After the meat was cooked, I moved it to a bowl and drained MOST of the fat. I left some (about 1 tbsp) in the pan to sautee the brussels.

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For the sauce simply add your sauce and a dollop of ricotta cheese for a smooth and creamy finish.

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Serve with a little extra ricotta if you like (I love cheese… so yes please) and any garnish you like! I used oregano and crushed red pepper.

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For being so quick and simple, this meal was a HUGE hit. Mike loved it.

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And so did Little Mac…

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recipe

The Spring of Speed

My identity as a runner is not rooted in speed. I have been perfectly happy as a solid middle of the pack runner and get my kicks from distance not time. However, last spring I noticed that I was getting a little bit speedier from not really trying at all. I think I was just getting better at running and training for the marathon, so I was naturally get a little faster. Mike is a speed lover. He loves to push himself to meet new time goals and do track workouts. He pointed out that if I was getting faster without trying, maybe I was more capable of speed if I actually did put some effort towards it. Since my distance game has been off recently (you can read mournful posts here and here), I have officially decided to deem this… THE SPRING OF SPEED!

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Some commonly accepted ways to improve speed are:

  • Run consistently – this means both during the week (3 – 6 days of running) and throughout the year (don’t “stop running” or get completely out of shape)
  • Include speed and hill workouts – Speed workouts are typically slightly shorter and more intense effort than mid-distance or long runs. Some examples of good speed workouts here, here, and here. Hills can mean just including more hills in your running routes or doing specific hill workouts. Some examples of hill workouts here and here.
  • Strengthen your legs and core – I don’t think this requires a lot of explanation. Read more here and here.
  • Do more plyometrics / sprints – I love plyometrics (I’ve talked about this before) and “jump” training is definitely associated with improved speed. Same with sprints! Read more here and here.

 Here’s what I’m doing to get faster:

  • Four runs per week. Monday is short, hard speed work. Wednesday is slightly longer, moderately hard effort. Friday is easy. Saturday is long run. 
  • Lady Ripped. I’m hoping that in my quest to get lady ripped and heal my knee injury, I’ll also get faster! I’ve been doing 100 x more strength training in the last month than I have like… ever. Hopefully I’m on the right track.
  • Boot Camp style workouts. I’ve been attending a bunch of different classes and incorporating boot camp style circuits with plyo into my solo workouts.
  • Actually racing 10Ks and 5Ks. Right now I’m signed up for one 10K and a couple 5Ks this spring. I normally never sign up for these distances and focus more on distance. I really want to improve at these shorter distances so I’ve gotta race them!
  • Hills. I incorporate hills into pretty much all of my outdoor runs (I don’t live in a particularly flat area) but I’ve never done a proper hill workout. I want to give one a try sometime and see how I do.

Questions for you guys:

  • What kinds of fitness goals are you working towards this spring?
  • Have you ever worked on improving your speed? How did you do it?

Studio Review: Yoga District

For my local DC area friends, I have started posting reviews of various fitness classes and yoga studios that I have attended around the city. You can read examples of past reviews here and here. I am still searching in vain for a new yoga home since I moved and left my two year relationship with The Studio DC. I think that is the best studio I’ve been to yet, but I’m trying to be open to finding a new home. I’m certainly not in any danger of turning into the amazing DC Fit Crasher, but reviews seem helpful so I keep doing them 🙂

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The Details: I recently tried two yoga classes at Yoga District. They have five studios around the DC area and are by FAR the least expensive studio I have yet to find for a single class. Drop in class rates are $10. I purchased a the New Student Special 2-Class 1-Week pass for $10. They also offer a monthly membership for $77 per month or a 10-class pass for $90. Since I purchased the two-class option, I attended one class at the Dupont Circle studio (Wednesday 6:35 pm Yoga 2 with Michelle) and a second at the I street studio (Monday 6:15 pm Yoga 1.5-3 with Audrey).

The Good: The staff at both studios were really friendly. The gift at Dupont knew it was my first time and made sure to show me where to put my stuff, get water, rent mats or towels if necessary, etc. I’m usually pretty shy about saying I’m new so I like when studios have it in their computer systems and just take the initiative.

Both practice spaces were really great. They had a very organic feel to them. Some might prefer a perfectly symmetrical space with no obstructions and clean deco,r but I think there is something really “yoga” about practicing in an attic with slanted ceilings or an oddly shaped room. It takes the regimented nature of exercise out of the class and makes you feel very free.

The price is totally right here too for me, so that never hurts 😉

As far as the yoga, I liked that both classes offered free time to work on inversions. Unlike other studios, we didn’t go to the wall, so they were really counting on you knowing your limits. I ended up holding forearm balance in free space for longer than I ever have! Of course the second class, I tried to do the same thing and ended up going all the way over into forearm wheel but that’s ok. I had the space and it was a good learning experience. My first class (yoga 2) also worked on eka pada koundinyasana which is one of my favorites. I definitely like the yoga 2 class much better. I liked the philosophy and feel better. To be fair though, my second class (yoga 1.5 – 3) did a variation of Shiva Rea’s fire practice (which is marked by 9 rounds of 12 push ups or 108 push ups in total). Something about that particular practice just doesn’t jive for me. It’s hard sure, but not in the good yoga way. I can do 108 push ups with my trainer, I’m looking for something different in yoga so I didn’t love that.

The Could Be Better: Both spaces are a little cramped as far as waiting to go into class. I haven’t been to a single studio where this isn’t a problem though. The time between classes is always short so people are lined up waiting in tight spaces while people are trying to come out of class. This was more of an issue at the I street studio tho. Even the practice space was kind of a mess at times. The cubbies for your stuff is right near the door to the bathroom so people get hit with the door or get stuck inside the bathroom. It could be laid out better, but I recognize there are space limits.

The class scaling system is my biggest issue. I just think it’s really arbitrary and doesn’t offer a ton of guidance for someone picking a class. I would tell you from my experience that the yoga 2 class was more advanced than the 1.5 – 3 class. I was expecting the 1.5 – 3 class to be offering many more advanced options (hence the 3?) but that wasn’t my experience. As mentioned above, the only thing that was “hard” was the 108 push ups, but that’s just because that is a ton of push ups, not because it involved advanced yoga postures. The schedule is also just really complicated. The different class descriptions, level variations… it’s just not very clear. I think if they cleaned that up a little bit and made class levels / descriptions more streamlined, it would be easier to navigate.

Final Summation: I will definitely be going back to Yoga District. I loved the vibe and at $10 a class, it’s a perfect place to pop in for a class when I have time. I will just be careful what classes I pick in the future so I have the appropriate expectations 🙂

Questions for you guys:

– Do you have a studio “home” or do you bounce around?

– What do you look for in a yoga studio? What’s your biggest pet peeve at a studio?

Warm Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

One of the things I am loving the most about working through the 21 Intuitive Eating Challenge is rediscovering foods that I had made “off limits” for so long. One of those things? Caesar salad. I NEVER ate it for years because of the dressing, cheese, and croutons. Since I’m working on throwing out all my food rules and eating what I truly crave, I had my first chicken caesar wrap in years last week at work. It was… delicious. Sunday evening, I wanted to cook something warm and homey for dinner. I had a bunch of crap in my refrigerator and no plan. Intuitive eating perfection right there!

Recalling my extremely positive experience with my chicken caesar wrap, I decided to draw on that. I didn’t have lettuce so traditional salad or wraps were out. But I did have a nice amount of other delicious green veggies… so warm chicken caesar sandwiches were born!

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Here’s everything you’ll need (but the recipe with ingredient list is also below!)

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I’ve recently started using Trader Joe’s Olive Oil cooking spray and I’m enjoying it a lot! It’s not the BEST for non-stick properties (eggs particularly stick a little bit, but not terrible). I lightly coated my pan and browned a pack of chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are completely delicious btw. Much more flavorful than breasts so a great addition in simple dishes.

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While my chicken was cooking, I prepped the other pieces. I was getting hungry so trying to be as efficient as possible. I went with zucchini, green pepper, yellow onion, and leeks. I recently discovered leeks and I’ve been using them a lot. They are amazingly fragrant and a nice complement to onions. And of course hearty wheat bread, which we toasted as a sandwich base.

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I removed the chicken from the pan and threw the onions and leeks in first to “sweat down”. I heard that phrase on a cooking show once and I think it’s very accurate.

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For the sauce, I decided to mix a vinaigrette caeser dressing with a dollop of tahini sauce to add some creaminess. They ended up blending together wonderfully!

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And VOILA! served hot and topped with Parmesan cheese (because I don’t think many meals are complete without cheese!)

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Here’s my recipe in case you need it!

Warm Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

D.N.S.

This weekend I D.N.S.ed (Did Not Start) my first race ever. There… now it’s out there. It’s Tuesday and I’m still not 100% “over it”. You guys know that my knee injury has had a flare up this winter and I made the decision back in January to defer down to the half marathon from the full for the Rock’n’Roll USA race. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to do the half. But that’s exactly what happened.

Friday, I was certain I was running this race. I picked up my packet, chatted about running with other coworkers who were racing, and even enjoyed some pasta for dinner in preparation. But slowly over the course of the evening the doubt started creeping in. My knees were hurting. Now, for some unknown reason, my right ankle has also started hurting. Was I really ready to run 13.1 miles? As much as, in my mind, the half marathon isn’t an intimidating distance for me (I’ve run like 10 before… not exactly new), it’s still a lot of miles for your body.

A year and a half ago, I pushed myself to run the Rock’n’Roll Savannah half marathon injured and it was freakin’ miserable (not to mention it took me like 2.5 hrs to finish, felt like a very painful eternity). Did I want to do that again? Cue… the… FREAKOUT.

Thankfully my bff Sarah was there with me (she is my lady life-partner) to talk me down off. I set my alarm, laid out some clothes, and got into bed still thinking I was going to run. But I laid there… and laid there… and laid there. I couldn’t sleep. My mind my racing, my joints were throbbing, and suddenly my stomach was hurting (just nerves I think). At 5:30 am my eyes were wide open again (even before my alarm, which NEVER happens) and I knew I shouldn’t run this race. I crawled back into bed in miserable defeat and lay there in a pathetic pile of self pity.

Intellectually, I know I did the right thing. Could I have finished? Definitely. Would it have been fun? Probably not. Would it have been the kindest thing I could do to my body? Definitely not. Could I have potentially injured myself? Extremely likely. I run a bajillion races … what is one race in the grand scheme of things? Even though I intellectually knew all of this… emotionally, I was still super bummed. I was SO embarrassed at the thought of telling people I hadn’t raced (which let’s be honest… no one actually cares except me). I was disappointed in myself because I felt like I had “given up”.

But I remind myself that holding back is a sign of running maturity. I remind myself that running for many years to come is more important than running one race. I remind myself that I am human, I am imperfect, and that is absolutely fine.

So that is my sad, melancholy eulogy for  the race that just wasn’t meant to be. I am shifting my focus to healing my knees and getting back in the game. Everyone loves a good comeback story right?

Questions for you guys:

– Have you ever D.N.S.ed a race before? Tell me about it!

– How do you show kindness to your body?

Turn Leftovers into Black Bean Soup

I love cooking and overall find it to be the most economical way to eat during the week. I really enjoy undertaking a new recipe, trying a new skill, or spending time experimenting on my own. However, cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day is super daunting and tiring. Therefore, I enjoy an easy short cut just as much as the next person.

Last week, I made my favorite ten minute tacos for dinner one evening. Afterwards, I had several cans and packages open that I hadn’t finished. I was suddenly struck with an idea. What if I could turn these leftovers from tacos into another meal?? Everything is pretty much all ready. In fact, I had this meal prepped and in the crock pot before Mike even finished the dishes from dinner (Yes, my man does the dishes and I love him for that). I put the full recipe at the bottom for your reference 🙂

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You may want to adjust the green chilies and taco seasoning based on your heat preference. I like spicy but at the end of the day I thought this was even a little too hot for me. I might have scaled it back on the chilies and taco seasoning just a little bit.

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I always keep a box of chicken or vegetable stock in my refrigerator. It comes in handy SO often. I used to buy the low sodium version but I found that it was so bland I just ended up adding salt. I’d rather cook with the salt then add it after. I think it tastes better. Very unscientific information courtesy of Christina… you’re welcome.

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This provided several lunches for me and Mike throughout the week. Black bean soup is so hearty and filling, especially in this crappy weather we’ve been having!

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blackbeansouprecipe

Questions for you guys:

– Beans: love ’em or hate ’em? What’s your favorite one??? Personally, I love almost all beans except Red Kidney Beans. Those are really hit or miss for me. Consequently, I don’t love chili. I usually make white bean chili at home… which ROCKS.

– What recipes are you loving this week??

St Patrick’s Day 8K Recap / Review

Woohoo racing season is upon us!!! The St. Patrick’s Day 8K has now kicked off my spring racing season for the past three years. It’s a fun race (great excuse to wear green) and 8K is such a manageable distance to wade into the season. However, I’ve never actually “raced” this race before. For whatever reason, there’s always something that makes me do this race “just for fun” and take it really really easy. In some ways I like that about it. Keep this fun race… well… fun! But this is really the only 8K I ever run, so my 8K “PR” is really out of whack for my other race times. But that’s ok 🙂 This year was no exception…

Mike and I met up with my friend Sarah at about 8:30 am (the race started at 9 – major plus of this fun race… doesn’t start too early!). For the second time with this race, I’ve almost overslept / missed it because of daylight savings time. Will I ever learn? Everyone was decked out in their green and fun gear. I always end up wishing I actually took the time to go buy something fun to wear but alas my go to green / white striped arm sleeves will have to do.

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We lined up at the balloon arch and before we knew it we were off! Mike went ahead of us and Sarah and I stuck together. Mike has been having major IT band issues, Sarah hasn’t been training much, and I was having some weird ankle pain so needless to say all of us were a little down for the count on this race.

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I love the scenery in this race though. It was super sunny or else I would’ve had a PERFECT picture running down Pennsylvania towards the Capitol building. Alas, the sun was too bright so I settled for a distant pic of the Washington Monument. Nothing like a clear DC morning 🙂

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Sarah and I stuck together through the majority of the race (4 miles out of 4.98) I haven’t really mastered the art of the self portrait while running. Or really pictures while running I just kind of snap at random and hope for the best.

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As we rounded the corner to head back towards the finish line, I was able to snap a decent picture of the Capitol building. My composition could use work but that’s ok 🙂 We caught a glimpse of Mike during on the of the out / back sections and he seemed to be doing pretty well. I was super nervous about his knee injury (his complete refusal to wear green to this race ended up making him SUPER easy to find). I left Sarah at mile 4 and took off for the finish line. I had been keeping a very easy pace so I wanted to really push the last mile just for good measure 😉

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As I turned into the final out / back section of the race right before the final stretch of Pennsylvania Ave to the finish line, I saw Mike again. This time he was walking so I knew he wasn’t doing well. Mike is a huge competitor. There is no way he would walk at all (let alone this close to the finish line) unless he was really hurting. I ran harder to catch up with him. I caught him literally a minute before finishing, and made him try to run it in with me. He ended up finishing a few steps behind me and was definitely in a lot of pain… poor guy!

My “official” time was 53:09 which is totally fine by me 🙂 I just love to race, so I definitely don’t make each one a “have to push it to the max” mentality. Eventually the stars will align though and I will actually race an 8K just to see what I am capable of! The spring racing season is officially open and I can’t wait for what this year is going to bring 😀

I was super proud of Sarah for pushing it out on this race and reignited her running flame a bit. I’m so glad I was able to be with her during the race!! I don’t have many friends who run / race so it’s so much when I have a buddy.

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My armpit sweat is clearly why I never race in cotton shirts, but it was the only clean green shirt I could find!! I turned my arm warming into leg sleeves for a little variety which was definitely fun. There’s Mike in his non-St.Patty’s day gear.

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Quick Race Review! The wonderful folks at Pacers put on this event, and I have expressed my love my pacers in the past. I think they are a great local group that puts on very well organized races. They even upped their game this year with the race shirt (used to be a cotton t-shirt, now its a technical blend t-shirt. Definite improvement). Packet pick up is always exceptionally easy at their stores and this year it happened to coincide with a huge sale (which I totally scored BIG on). Water stops were well stocked, course well marked, and there were plenty of bathrooms. These are very important for a good race 🙂

After we finished they were handing out bottles of water, which was awesome. My one complaint was the lines were RIDICULOUS for the food tent. I didn’t even bother because I wasn’t hungry but I was slightly bummed to not even have a chance to grab a banana or granola bar for later. What was up with these lines??? (in the pic below… we were at the end of the line and the food was in the white tent WAY down the street… definitely did not wait in that line)

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My favorite part was the Irish dancers by the bag check (which was very smooth as always). I studied abroad in Ireland so I have a soft spot for Irish folk music and dancing 🙂

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Questions for You Guys:

– Have you ever run at St. Patty’s Day race before?? What did you wear??

– Do you always “race” or do you ever go out just for fun to take it easy? Have you ever raced injured?

Book Review: The Fault in our Stars

Let me start by recommending that you just go read this book IMMEDIATELY. I opened it on Friday evening a couple weekends ago and finished it on that Sunday morning. I couldn’t put it down. I inhaled this book and it was so.damn.good. Unlike my previous book reviews (examples here, here, and here) this is not a part of any online book club. I just read it on my own and simply HAD to write about it.

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Quick Synopsis: Fundamentally this book is about a teenage girl, Hazel, who is living with terminal thyroid cancer. She begrudgingly attends a support group of young people who are either living with, in remission from, or dying of cancer. Here she meets Augustus, a teenage boy who lost a leg to osteosarcoma but is currently NEC (No Evidence of Cancer). To boil the story down to it’s complete bare bones… they fall in love and experience a life of love, loss, death, heartbreak and disappointment together. I won’t spoil any of the plot for you since I sincerely encourage you to read the book yourself, but get ready to laugh and cry all within the same chapter because this book is an emotional roller coaster.

How did it make me feel? Well, let me start with a little peek into my history. There isn’t a person out there who hasn’t been touched by cancer, so I won’t insult anyone by saying that I “felt this book” more personally than anyone else. But it struck pretty close to home in probably more ways than I would’ve liked. When I was 14, my older brother (then 17) was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. Unlike Augutus’s osteosarcoma, which typically presents in large bones (like the femur – hence why many children with this cancer are amputees), my brother’s Ewing’s Sarcoma fell into the soft tissue of his spinal cord. There was a time when we weren’t sure he would walk again. Although his prognosis was always good, I don’t think anyone in my family would describe the year that followed as anything less than complete hell. Obviously, I wasn’t the one who was sick so I won’t even begin to equate my feelings on the situation to how my brother felt during that time. But cancer struck all of us in some way that year.

Personally, I hated talking about it. I wanted to compartmentalize it, but it felt like cancer invaded every aspect of my life. While I imagine some might find Hazel’s sarcastic and course attitude towards her illness, her family, and everyone around her off putting, I completely related to it. I think her portrayal was just so… honest. I couldn’t help but smile when they would sarcastically refer to things as “Cancer Perks” because even I got them! I was excused from being late to school, an older boy who previously bullied me suddenly stopped, and everyone was feeding us lasagna (To be clear, I am grateful to everyone who brought food to our home because that is thoughtful and caring. But my dad and I ate lasagna every night for a week early on in treatment. To this day, I have a slight aversion to lasagna).

I feel like this is the book that everyone was afraid to write about kids with cancer. They’re not always strong and sometimes people praising their strength only makes expectations even harder to meet. Augustus and Hazel were so unabashedly unapologetic in the book, it was so refreshing. The scene where Isaac is smashing the trophies on the ground was just… perfect. Cancer blows and it’s freaking unfair. And that’s just the honest truth. This book was nothing short of cathartic.

Note: To end things on a more positive note, I wanted to be clear that after spinal surgery, one year of chemotherapy, a course of radiation my brother has been cancer free for almost 10 years (it’ll be 10 years this June if I’m not mistaken… what what!). I also wanted to thank my fiance’s super awesome brother, Dave, for giving me this book for Christmas this year. It was an awesome gift 🙂

DIY Bootcamp

It’s a snow day here in DC! But unfortunately the computer has ruined the snow day for us adults because when the Federal Government closes, I still have to work from home! But it was nice to make pancakes for breakfast at home, work in my PJs all morning, and be able to take a break for cool adult tasks like clipping Fig’s nails (After two attempts, several bites, and a couple tears we managed to get all but one nail clipped. I’m going back for that nail later). Unfortunately, that also meant that my bootcamp class was cancelled this AM! Super bummer. I still wanted to do a bootcamp style workout mixed with a little speed work on the treadmill so I decided to come up with my own bootcamp and share it with you guys!

This workout follows the basic idea of bootcamp (strength moves mixed with high intensity cardio). Each “set” should take 15 minutes. I did it 3 times for a 45 minute workout, but you can definitely do it once or twice to modify the time. You should be breathing hard by the end of this one… get ready to sweat! Enjoy 🙂

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Some references below for a few of the exercises mentioned above. Feel free to ask questions in the comments!

Jumping Lunges

Skater Jumps

Tap Up on Box

Bicep Curl / Military Press Combo