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Cross(fit) my heart, hope (not) to die March 9, 2015

Posted by bettyjoan in Uncategorized.
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Over the years, I have tried a lot of different exercise methods and classes and programs and whatnot.  I always attempted to be open-minded, but the one genre I never warmed to was the boot camp/CrossFit style.  Even though my husband loved his experiences, I chalked that endorsement up to his military background – after all, having been in the Air Force, he was used to being yelled at and “motivated” to action in less than positive ways.

When we moved to Hill East at the end of 2014, we noticed that there was a CrossFit studio less than 3 blocks away from our house.  Since we had fallen very much out of shape, and since the convenience factor was high, I finally relented and signed us up.  You know what?  I am woman enough to admit when I am wrong…and I was definitely wrong about CrossFit.

CrossFit Inc. defines itself as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains.”  Whiiiiiich basically means that you do a little of everything!  The hour-long workouts are intense and can include everything from jump ropes to indoor rowing machines to barbells to resistance bands, and everything in between.  Oh, and speaking of the workouts, there is some CrossFit lingo to know – for example, “WOD” means “workout of the day,” which is only one component of the session (the highest-intensity component).  There’s also generally a warm-up, a skill development segment, strength work, and some stretching.  It’s a lot of work for one hour, but it’s varied and interesting and slightly different every time.  CrossFit facilities aren’t called gyms, they’re called “boxes” – and each box has its own personality.  Thankfully, I found a box that is small, encouraging, and fun!

The great thing about CrossFit – which is one of the major things I didn’t know – is that it is scalable.  I thought you had to be a super weightlifter, or be able to do 300 pushups without a break, to be able to handle CrossFit.  But, thankfully, that’s just not true.  The components of each workout have a prescribed (or Rx) level, and then there’s always an option for less than prescribed (or Rx2).  Can’t even do Rx2?  That’s okay, too – you just do what you can and try to push yourself to YOUR limits.  It’s competitive, but in the right way (for me, at least) – it encourages me to compete with myself.  It’s nice to be able to see improvements in your time/reps after you have practiced movements for a while.

Right now, we’re pretty routinely attending CrossFit 2-3 times a week, and hopefully soon we’ll be able to bump up to the full 4.  Regardless, it’s safe to say that this CrossFit convert will be WOD-ing for a long time to come.

Who else out there does CrossFit?  What do you like best about it?

keep-calm-and-crossfit-workout-training

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Grocery shopping in the modern age December 22, 2014

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When we chose our apartment, a big factor was how convenient it was to the grocery store.  The Harris Teeter is literally right downstairs (we don’t even have to go outside to get there, if the weather is crummy), so I’ve gotten pretty spoiled.  Unfortunately, when the store was closed down by the health department recently – yes, you read that right – I was faced with the challenge of finding another option.  Thankfully, this article had recently stoked my curiosity about some new delivery options in town, so it was a perfect opportunity to test some of them out.

First, I decided to grab some basics from Safeway via Instacart.  Instacart gave me the option of about 6 nearby grocery stores, including Whole Foods and Costco (for which you do NOT have to have a membership, as it turns out).  You can get things as quickly as within one or two hours, but I chose a later delivery window since I wasn’t in a huge hurry.  The website is super easy to navigate, so ordering was a breeze.  Some items were marked up, but overall, I didn’t feel like I was getting completely robbed (especially considering the time and energy I saved).  My delivery was free, but it generally ranges in the $4-$10 range, depending on how quickly you need your items.  My courier texted me a couple of times with questions about substitutions, and I appreciated the desire to get things right.  I can definitely see myself using Instacart for parties or other time-sensitive moments, but I like grocery shopping too much to give it up completely.  🙂

Then there’s Postmates.  Postmates isn’t just groceries – it basically turns every store and restaurant in the area into a take-out joint.  When I used it first, I opted to get some of my favorite items from Trader Joe’s.  The actual items on the app (no website here – you have to do everything from the phone) were more limited than in the store, but it saved me a schlep to TJ’s, which was awesome.  There is a delivery fee (which varies) and a 9% service fee, so the charges can add up.  But…Shake Shack, delivered straight to my door?  Worth the premium, especially when I’m in the middle of a move and have no plates or silverware.

Next service to try – delivery booze from Klink!  Anyone tried it?

And the leaves that are green turn to brown November 16, 2014

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Fall in DC really is beautiful, though it tends to be short-lived.  It seems like this fall will be no exception.  Frankly, it didn’t even feel like fall until right around Halloween, and then this weekend, less than two weeks before Thanksgiving, felt more like winter.  The leaves are in big crunchy piles on the sidewalk, it is dark when I leave for AND come home from work, and folks have broken out their scarves and knee-high boots – so, I guess there’s no mistaking the season.

Some animals prepare for winter by hoarding.  In our household, we seem to be doing just the opposite – we have decided to buy a house, so we are thinking about what we can eliminate, reduce, and streamline.  While that process unfolds, I find myself looking and feeling a lot like the many neighborhood squirrels – like I have packed on extra heft to protect myself from the impending cold.  I have been exercising less and less – not only because other things have been more pressing, but also because I seem to have lost the inherent drive to better my body.  Is it unreasonable to think I might get that drive back during the short, cold days of winter?  Past patterns do not give me hope in that regard.

In any case, I will write here when I can – about training, yes, but also about life in our new neighborhood, as we put down real roots and try to become a part of a larger community.  Perhaps our neighbors will turn out to be running partners, or I will find that biking to work is more rewarding on the new route.  Who knows?  Anything is possible.

And, of course, there is always spring to look forward to…

Going Gaga for Yoga June 18, 2014

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After eating my way through San Francisco, I needed a pretty big reset on my (lack of) fitness routine.  Fortunately, my local Bikram studio was running a promotion for 30-days of unlimited classes for $99.  Ideally, they wanted the purchasers to try the 30-day challenge – at least one class every day for 30 days.  I felt like I could at least give it a try (and even if I didn’t take 30 classes, the per-class cost would be less than usual).

For those unfamiliar, Bikram yoga is a particular genre made popular by Bikram Choudhury in the early 70s.  Bikram Yoga classes run for 90 minutes and consist of the same series of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises, practiced in a hot room (generally 104 degrees and 40% humidity).  The instructors typically use a standardized dialogue to lead students through the postures, but of course each teacher’s style varies.

postures

I had practiced Bikram off and on over the past few years, but this would be my first attempt in taking back to back (to back…to back…) classes.  During the first class, I felt exhausted and completely out of shape (but, it should be noted, that was all me – yoga is not about everyone being at the same level, and there is no judging).  I concentrated and tried to watch some of the more seasoned students, and even by the third or fourth class, I noticed significant improvement.  It’s just like anything else – the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Even though I noticed steady improvement, I had one particularly bad class where I felt like I was going to simultaneously pass out and throw up – blargh.  Because of the heat and the strenuous nature of the workout, you have to be very well-hydrated AND very well-nourished to sustain a serious practice.  That day, I hadn’t eaten nearly enough at work, and it showed almost immediately.  I didn’t make that mistake again!

Even though I only made it through 8 days of the 30-day challenge (that sounds a lot worse than it is – I just decided to vary my workouts and spend some quality time walking with my pup and biking), I definitely plan to make Bikram a regular part of my exercise routine.  When my marathon training starts in about a week, I can definitely see one or two classes a week being helpful in terms of flexibility and stamina.

And, of course, I want to eventually look like this in Standing Bow Pose:

Yoga

A girl can dream…right?  🙂

Bike rhymes with LIKE!!! March 30, 2014

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Remember when I was thinking about buying a bike?  Well, I bit the bullet and got the Breezer Downtown 8 ST (from The Daily Rider on H Street – they were terrific).  Here it is in its new home!

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Even though Mother Nature has NOT cooperated in terms of bringing spring to our area (believe it or not, it is snowing as I write this), I can report that I love love LOVE this bike.  It is sturdy but light, it is a lot of fun to ride, and it makes it easy to carry everything I need for any kind of occasion.  In fact, the first time I rode to work, I used my Ortlieb Back Roller City panniers to tote my usual purse, PLUS a laptop, a couple of binders, and a few extra things I needed to have for an upcoming business trip.  AND I went to happy hour.  Yay!

Here’s to the coming spring (no, seriously…please come soon) and wonderful bike rides for everyone!

OORAH! March 22, 2014

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I entered the Marine Corps Marathon registration lottery (since I didn’t do the Rock & Roll full, I wanted to add one to my race schedule sometime in 2014), and guess what?  I GOT IN!

Marine Corps Marathon

I won’t start really training until June or July, but I am pretty stoked – it is supposed to be a GREAT race!

Who else will be running with the Marines?  Any thoughts on training plans or coaches?

Rock & Roll Half Marathon race report March 18, 2014

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Way back when, before the winter that knows no end, and before the hellish work travel of death, I thought it would be a great idea to run another full marathon.  I ran one in 2010 and 2012, so it made perfect sense to challenge myself to 26.2 again in 2014.

Well…best of intentions and all that.  Long story short, training was lackluster and it would not have been prudent to attempt the marathon.  So, we decided to drop down to the half marathon, and the race was this past Saturday.  It wasn’t my worst half, and it certainly wasn’t my best, but overall I enjoyed myself and emerged from the experience with my head held high.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day for running – 40s at the start and 60s by the end, with a mostly overcast sky.  I love the Rock & Roll races because the bands keep it interesting every couple of miles (gives me something to focus on besides the clomping of my feet), and this was no exception – the water stop volunteers were super nice as well.  It was awesome to see the whole DC running community out in full force!  It makes me think I will do more to get involved with non-TNT running groups from here on out.

The course was different from when we ran this half in 2012, and for the most part I loved the changes.  The exception?  The MASSIVE hill coming out of Rock Creek Park into Adams Morgan.  Holy.  Crap.  It was practically straight up!  I was huffing and puffing just trying to walk, let alone run.  The payoff was a nice downhill once we got to North Capitol Street, and then a nice jaunt through our neighborhood (NoMa/H Street/Capitol Hill)!  I also appreciated that the finish was not SO far away from Metro (unlike the Army Ten-Miler).

Bottom line, I’m glad we followed through with the race, and I look forward to warmer weather and hopefully getting into the lottery for the Marine Corps Marathon!  🙂

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I want to ride my bicycle February 24, 2014

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So, I have always had a…tortured relationship with cycling.  I know it’s good for me AND low impact (which is a nice change of pace from running), but other than in a triathlon setting, I have never felt particularly comfortable on my road bike.  Especially in DC, I feel like I need something a bit more stable and with a lower center of gravity, since there is a lot of stopping and starting and you are battling cars (and buses, and taxis…) for space on the roads.

I enjoy my Bikeshare membership, of course, and the bikes definitely make me feel more safe out on the roads.  The downside is that they are HEAVY, which means I work three times as hard to go the same distance.  Also, they only have three speeds, so I am hesitant to travel in the hillier areas of town.

With all of that in mind, hubby and I headed to The Daily Rider this past weekend to check out their selection and ask some questions.  I took a few bikes out for test rides, and the one I liked best was the Breezer Downtown 8:

Downtown8ST

This bike felt sturdy but comfortable, and it was so easy and pleasant to ride (and I didn’t feel like I was sitting on the couch, like some of the other step-through commuters).  At $699, I think it is worth the price.  However, I have never had internal gears before – do the pros (cleaner, smoother, less maintenance) outweigh the cons (heavier, more expensive, tougher to change tires)?

There is also a 5-speed version of the Downtown step-through that is cheaper ($569), but I wonder if I would miss the additional gear options if I’m doing a longer or hillier ride.  Also, there is an 8-speed Downtown that has external gears that is the least expensive of the three ($449), but I didn’t get to test ride it, and I’m not sure how the ride/shifting would be impacted by the external derailleur.  Then again, I’ve had the external stuff on my road bike for years, and it really didn’t bother me (my issues with my road bike were more about fit and weight).

Does anyone have any advice?  I’d love to get an order in before the spring weather arrives for good.

Two by two January 27, 2014

Posted by bettyjoan in Running.
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Two pairs of pants.  Two pairs of socks.  Two shirts.  Two jackets.  Two hats.

That was my wardrobe for my long run yesterday.  In case you couldn’t tell, it was a wee bit chilly!

We were originally supposed to run on local trails/paths, starting at Fletcher’s Boathouse in Georgetown, but apparently everything was still iced over.  So, we started at the Senate reflecting pool (at Penn and 3rd) and did 4-mile loops along the mall.  Most of the route was clear because it was on public sidewalks,  but there was still plenty of ice in the areas that don’t get as much sun and traffic.  Needless to say, it was more of an obstacle course than I would have preferred!

When it was all said and done, I got about 10 miles in, and even with 8/2 intervals I maintained a sub-12-minute pace.  Not too shabby, considering that I tweaked my calf the weekend before, AND the week leading up to the long run was less-than-ideal from a training perspective.

Oh, and I felt like a total badass.  🙂

Failure to launch January 21, 2014

Posted by bettyjoan in Fundraising, Races, Running.
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You may have noticed that the Nike Women’s Half Marathon is no longer on my “Upcoming Races” list.  I originally signed up with Team In Training to do both the Rock & Roll USA Marathon and Nike as fundraising events.  But since Jason and I have had a lot more trouble raising the funds for RNR than we anticipated, I concluded that it just isn’t realistic to raise the additional funds that would allow me to do Nike.  Even though I definitely think it’s the right decision, I am bummed, especially since the lottery period has ended so I don’t have another way to sign up for the race.

We have never had this much trouble fundraising before.  We have done TONS of events with TNT, raising thousands and thousands of dollars for a cause that is very important to us.  I haven’t quite put my finger on what has been different this time around, but I have some theories, and I suspect it’s a combination of a couple of factors.

We will certainly be adjusting our approach going forward, but for now, we are still looking forward to RNR.  Our training hasn’t been perfect, but we are hoping to still be ready for the full marathon.  If things don’t work out, we’ll definitely still do the half.

Since Nike is off the table, does anyone have suggestions for good half marathons in the April-May timeframe?  Also, has anyone planned to do a marathon but switched to the half at the last minute?  If so, why?  Were you disappointed?