Taking a Break

joyofrunningThis past October, I ran my second Chicago marathon. After months of early morning training runs, hours spent away from home, and in bed early on Friday nights, I was able to shave off over 24 minutes from last year’s race. Thrilled to say the very least!

everymileismagnificentComing off of a good training cycle and race, all I wanted to do was keep running, but I knew that I had to (and deserved to) take a break. My body needed it both mentally and physically. My goal was to take at least a week off from any type of strenuous exercise, but naturally I lasted 4 days. My race was on Sunday and by Thursday I was back to taking class at The Barre Code. Two weeks later I was back on the treadmill logging miles and doing speedwork.

Something happened in November. I’m not sure if it was the cold snap and the fact that I dislike the treadmill or if I jumped back into it too quickly, but I lost my motivation and my will to run. November’s mileage total equaled a measly 10. That’s quite a decline coming from a month where I logged almost 60 miles. Last month, running became something I dreaded, not anything I looked forward to and it was then that I decided to take a little break. I think I even let my Garmin die for the first time in years.

So what did I do instead?

-I attended more classes barre classes. I took class whenever my schedule would allow it, which averaged 3 times a week. Not running gave me time to do a workout that I love just as much as running.

backtobarre

-I enjoyed many glasses of vino, craft beer and late nights on the couch with my husband and early mornings making pumpkin pancakes with my daughter.

-I celebrated turning 30. (heading to NYC at the end of this month!)

bestbirthdayever

Overall, it was a great month. The thought of running was always on my mind. I walked past my Garmin every morning, wondering if I should plug it in but the desire just wasn’t there. Physically, I was there, but mentally I was just burned out.

I think taking a month off from logging miles, aiming to beat last run’s time, and having a regimented schedule did some good. Last week, I finally had the urge to charge my Garmin back up, put on my running shoes and headed to the lakefront for a 3 mile run. It was a cool, early evening run–it was starting to get dark outside. I ran without headphones for safety reasons. It was actually very calming to listen to my own breathing pattern. It was then that I knew the break was a good thing because I instantly missed that post-run high you get after a good run. I had no expectations for this run. I had no time goals. Even with taking a month long break, I was back to my normal comfortable pace and had negative splits.

3mile

The quote listed above (run often, run long, but never outrun your joy of running) couldn’t be more true. When a hobby you once loved stops being fun and becomes more of a chore, what’s the point? I LOVE the feeling that comes along with completing a marathon. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced with any other race distance, but it can be time consuming and sacrificial, especially with a family and a full-time job.

At the end of the month, I set a list of goals for myself of things I’d like to accomplish for the upcoming year. There will be a running goal on there for sure, but I don’t foresee a marathon in my future next year. I do want to do another one but in 2015 I’d like to work on getting faster and maintaining it over a longer distance as well as fueling for a longer race (half marathons). I want to get back to running because I love it, not because I have to.

Runners out there, have you ever taken a break? How long and for what reason? I believe last time I took a long break was during my pregnancy with Madelyn.

SPIRE Ride at SPIRE Fitness

spirespinstudioOn Saturday, I decided to try out a new fitness studio in Milwaukee. Since all Saturday classes at The Barre Code were booked solid when I went to sign up for class on Wednesday, I took advantage of the free first class at Spire Fitness.

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I first heard about Spire Fitness through a Facebook post. I was really excited to see a spinning studio coming to the Milwaukee area and was very eager to try it out. Spinning was always my go-to heart pumping, cardio workout before I discovered cardio classes at the barre. I was a little nervous because the last time I took a spin class I was pregnant with Madelyn, so it has been awhile.

I signed up for the 8:30 a.m. ride with Hubie. When I got there, I checked in and they gave me a fresh towel. I put my stuff in the lockers that they had in the lobby and walked into the cycling studio. It was set up with like your typical spin studio: the bikes were all lined up stadium style with the instructor bike being in the front of class. There were mirrors in the front of the class. In the mirror I read this quote: “The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come.” The words were written backwards on the wall, only to be read the right way in the mirror.  Loved this design element and motivation.

The bikes had dual platform pedals with the option to clip in if you had bike shoes. I don’t have bike shoes, so I chose the bike that also had the shoe straps. I got my bike set up and the instructor looked it over before we began class. There were 5 of us in class and we had one latecomer to the class. For the most part, most of us were new to this studio and needed help adjusting to the bikes. Because of this, class started 6 minutes late. I didn’t care so much because I didn’t have anywhere in particular to be, but I could see how this could be a little annoying if you’re working out before work or something else.

We finally began our workout and it was amazing! From the music and the light changing to the awesome instructor, I had a great workout. We started out with a warm up and the lights were a warm orange. I felt like I was under a heat lamp, warming up my body. Once we started getting into our workout, the lights changed to a cool blue, which helped me focus on working hard. We did 1 minute sprints at the end the lights went out! It was pretty cool to ride in the dark.  Hubie was a wonderful instructor too. He kept reminding us to engage our core and to make smooth circles on the bike, using those push/pull (quads/hamstrings) muscles. He was really motivating, riding with us the entire time. I’ve taken spin classes where the instructor hops off the bike and walks around the room “motivating” (more like shouting at people) to work hard. Not a fan of that. I knew the entire time what I should be doing and how hard I should be working.

Pros:
-Great Instructor
-Free first class
-Easy parking 3rd ward parking @8am
-Fresh towels incase you forget one
-Great retail area
-Option to take other classes: they offer yoga & rowing
-One of a kind cycling experience

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Cons:
-The price. For a monthly unlimited it is $160, it can be kind of costly.
-Late class start.
-The lockers don’t have locks. They’re just lockers to store your stuff, so I wouldn’t advise bringing anything of value in with you.

Overall, this spin class was really good and I’m looking forward to trying it out again. They offer a new client special of 8 days unlimited classes for $20. I might try it out in December or the first of the year because I’d really love to try out their yoga and rowing classes. This is a great addition to the Milwaukee fitness scene and I’ll definitely be back!

Catch Up

I’m alive! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post. In the little spare time I have, I’ve had my nose in the books, studying for a promotion test that I have to take for work. Good news is that I passed! Bad news? It’s a two-parter, so I’ll be back at it studying for the second part within a week or two. My brain needs a little break right now. I’ll be happy when it’s behind me.
So, what have I been up to since my last post?
Running
Slowly getting back into the swing of things. I ran 4 miles yesterday at a 9:14 pace, longest run post marathon. I headed down to the lakefront after work and it was completely dead compared to the last time I ran down there. I started by the lakefront but ended up running more in neighborhoods. I ran without music and it was very therapeutic. I had a lot of thoughts to last me 4 miles :-) Now that the marathon is behind me, I want to start training with a purpose. During my last two marathons, my goal was just to finish and to beat my previous time (2nd time around). Now, I’d like to focus on getting faster, add in more speed work, and educate myself more on marathon racing/nutrition. Next up on the race list? I am signed up for a Thanksgiving day run…running stroller category! I’ll be doing my first ever 5k while pushing Madelyn in the jogger. That should be interesting. Fingers crossed for good weather.
strollerunCooking
I’ve been dabbling with a little bit of everything the past few weeks: {partly} paleo, vegetarian substitutions, and vegan cooking. I recently purchased this cookbook and made Eat Your Greens Detox Soup. Oh She Glows has been a long time favorite blog of mine, so I was thrilled when I got it in the mail. I’m hoping to make some more meals very soon out of it.
detoxsoup
The soup was delicious, and perfect for a cold, autumn night. It freezes well too. I also changed it up with the old spaghetti squash creations. A few weeks ago, Danielle Walker from Against all Grain put up a picture with a link to a delicious looking casserole type dish: Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash. Once the spaghetti squash was cooked and shredded (thanks hubs!) this was incredibly easy to put together. Just how I like it! We also had leftovers of this that I froze and ate for lunch throughout the week. I really want Danielle’s next cookbook, Against All Grain-Meals Made Simple. I think I’ll add it to my Christmas list.
Celebrating
This past weekend, I celebrated my 30th birthday! It was the perfect weekend filled with all of my favorite things to do with all of my favorite people. I started the weekend off with a class at The Barre Code with my mom and sister, taught by one of my faves :-) Then we headed over to Polished for manicures and mimosas. After that, I went home and took a NAP! (My in-laws had Madelyn). When I woke up, I got dressed and ready to go celebrate with my husband. What I thought was going to just be dinner and drinks somewhere turned out to be a surprise party! I knew Larry had something up his sleeve, I just didn’t know what and to what extent. When we arrived at Camp Bar and he suggested we go “walk around to check it out” as I was trying to Instagram my Old Fashioned (they have THE BEST!),  I was onto him. It was so great to see all of my friends and family there to celebrate. It’s really hard to get surprises past me, so I give them props. If I know something’s going on, I usually bug the person until they just tell me (Larry is usually the only one who caves) and then I get mad at him for telling me. I’m the worst. The biggest surprise of the night? A Michael Kors handbag. And inside the handbag was a wrapped book clueing me in to a New York City trip! I didn’t know when we were going until I opened up the book and saw that we’ll be ringing in 2015 in NYC!!! I’m thrilled! Larry knows that I’ve always wanted to visit NYC during the holidays. Well played husband, well played.
bestbirthdayeverThere’s a story behind the book. It’s a kids series called Larry gets lost in…(Fill in the city). My mom got Madelyn her first one when she went to San Francisco and every time we’re in a city where they sell the book, we buy it. When I surprised Larry with his trip to Boston, I had the book gift-wrapped with baseball tickets inside. She has San Fran, Chicago, Boston & NYC.
The next morning, I started my day off with a run and then we enjoyed a peaceful, childless brunch before picking up Madelyn at our meeting spot. My mom cooked a delicious meal from Against All Grain. And of course birthday cake. She bought me tickets to a Broadway show in NYC. I was super excited to be spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square-something on the bucket list-until I read all of these horrible reviews basically giving advice not to do it. I went back and forth on it for a couple of days and then decided that it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s the reason Larry bought the tickets for the dates he did, and the older I get, the less appealing it will probably be. So, we’ve decided to brave the craziness and do it!
Other things on my NYC to do list so far: Run through Central Park, Frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity, Walk the Brooklyn Bridge, Ice skating at Rockefeller Center, visit Babycakes Bakery NYC, The 9/11 memorial museum, and a Carriage Ride through Central Park. I told my husband we will need a vacation after this trip :-)
It’s been a great month so far and I have lots to look forward to. The next few months are going to fly!
What are some other must see/eat/do things in NYC? What’s your favorite way to ring in the New Year? I’m a bum, I prefer staying in, making dinner and fancy drinks at home over getting dressed up to go out. This year will be a nice change of pace!

Zero Week

Recovering from a marathon is just as important as training for one. It can take weeks for your body to fully recover from the strain of running that 26.2 miles.

Of course by the next day, I was wondering when I’d be able to run again. After coming off of months of training and completing a successful race, the last thing I wanted to do was sit still but I knew that I would have to (and deserved to!) if I wanted to get back to running without any problems. So rather than sit and pout about not running, I enjoyed in a little overindulgence, something that I did not do during marathon training. Here’s what zero week looked like for me after this last training cycle.

Monday
The day after. Lower body is extremely sore. Right hamstring is a little more painful than the rest of my body. My stomach was finally feeling back to normal and I ate a cupcake for breakfast. We set out to get my medal engraved at Fleet Feet Old Town and while we were waiting, we ventured down the street to a local restaurant and I ate a delicious burger with bacon and horseradish sauce with a bloody mary. I ate everything. It was amazing. That night we came back home and ate leftover Lou Malnati’s and I’m pretty certain I ate another cupcake.

sprinklesTuesday
Back to work. Started the morning off with a cupcake and coffee ;-) Took a half day to spend the morning with Madelyn’s class. It was her first official field trip and they were going to the pumpkin farm so I volunteered to chaperone. Seeing her on the yellow school bus for the first time was so cute and exciting yet sad at the same time. Our baby is officially gone and she now a big girl…

schoolbus

On the way into work that afternoon, I scheduled myself an hour long massage that evening and finally used that gift card from Valentine’s Day…After I get a massage, I always tell myself that I need to do it more often. The therapist said that my shoulders and back were especially tight and could use more work. Just an excuse for me to go back, no one wants tight shoulders and back.

Wednesday
Alright, time to stop eating cupcakes for breakfast. My legs feel back to normal again, maybe it’s time to do something productive, I’m feeling restless. Got into work and rode the bike for 5 miles + did some very light weights to workout my arms. Had a protein shake for breakfast followed by a salad for lunch. There ends my no working out for the week…came home and started drafting my post for the marathon recap and had a little treat :-)

treats

Thursday
Couldn’t hold out any longer. Back to barre I go. Ate a veggie burger from Trader Joe’s for dinner and I was surprised at how good it was. Starting to like myself again after days of endless indulging…

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Friday
No working out today. Instead I took time for myself to get a haircut since my last one was in June! People with curly hair who wear it up most of the time can get away with that. Ate Chinese takeout for dinner and it was amazing. Crab Rangoon for the win.

Saturday
Started our morning off with fluffy, cooked to perfection trader joe’s pumpkin pancakes! Seriously, the gluten-free mix is so good! After breakfast I spent the rest of the day catching up on housework that’s been neglected over the past few months and I started potty training Madelyn. She was ready, she just needed that extra push. So far so good. I wasn’t feeling great on Saturday. I was supposed to go to a retirement party with Larry but I was just feeling a bit under the weather. So after Madelyn went to bed, I enjoyed a nice bubble bath with a glass of this delicious red wine. My favorite red table blend.

itheeredSunday
Feeling better a ton better. One week after the marathon. Went to barre with my mom and then out for a coffee and breakfast. After breakfast I enjoyed some shopping at the mall. We had family pictures the next day (Monday), and I had to find clothes for all of us to wear. It was a lot of fun! Madelyn was the hardest one to shop for. I had in my mind what I wanted her wear, but I had a very hard time finding it. I think I pulled it off without having us looking too matchy match. You’ll just have to wait for the pictures ;-) 

So now that zero week is officially over, it’s time to kick it up a notch. I started adding cardio classes at The Barre Code back into my routine (TBC & Brawl so far this week). They’re just as challenging as I remember. I THINK I may try running later today. If the weather is nice, I plan on taking my little peanut out in the jogger for a leisurely run and a workout in the park. Fingers crossed the weather is in our favor.

It was nice to give my body a little break from running and working out in general. I could’ve used some more sleep in there, but there’s always something to be done. I’m looking forward to getting back into my fitness routine and trying out some new classes in the Milwaukee area. A new spin studio just opened up nearby and I can’t wait to try it out. I’m also looking forward to taking my husband to Orange Theory for a mini “date night”! ;-)

Those of you coming off of a long training cycle, what do you look forward to most the week after? Sleep. Always sleep.

Women Rock Chicago 1/2 Marathon

On Saturday, I completed my last double digit run before the Chicago Marathon. My training schedule had me running 12 miles. Instead, I headed down to Chicago with my mom and two of her friends to participate in the Chicago Women Rock 1/2 marathon, making it my 7th half marathon. Continue reading

TBC at The Barre Code

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The Barre Code Milwaukee has a new class on its schedule: TBC! (Total Body Conditioning or The Boot Camp). What’s this class all about? TBC stands for both Total Body Conditioning and The Boot Camp. This bootcamp-style workout consisting of functional, full-range-of-motion strength training exercises designed to challenge the whole body with a host of props including heavier weights as well as body weight exercises. Though predominately strength-based, this class is bookended by high-intensity cardio intervals. (From the website). Continue reading