Around 5 or so months ago, a group of run friends I know started talking about doing the Hot Chocolate race together in 2015.
Ah - before I get too far in this recap - I have to admit, I wasn't 100% sure I wanted to do this race. You already know that I'm not a fan of chain races that advertise their AH-maze-ING swag, but offset that with enormous headcounts and packed courses. Not to mention, I am ... less than impressed ... with races that motivate you to burn *some* calories by enabling you to consume *a lot more than you burned* calories at the finish line. (I think races like this give people an unrealistic concept of what's appropriate post race fueling in comparison to how many calories you actually burn during a run; IE: an average runner burns 10 calories/min, and at a 30 minute 5K pace that's 300 calories ... which isn't much when you're trying to offset a post race chocolate feast.)
Hmmm ... now that I said the above, I'm realizing this race sounds very Bacon Chase, no?
Anyway, despite my reservations of this race being a "crammed course calorie fest", and the fact that I haven't been running much at all since my feet issues last fall, I let a few of my friends who ran this last year convince me to give this race a shot.
OK, ok. They didn't have to convince me that much to do it. It was scheduled to be on my birthday, after all. I mean, who can say no to chocolate fondue in your honor?!
Not that I'm a chocoholic or anything. But then again, I also don't exactly like to share my stash.
And so it begins.
Of course, since this is one of those mega we-are-soooo-awesome chain races, prior to race day I had to attend a packet pickup expo. Blech.
To be fair, I really don't mind attending an expo for a race that requires a bit of training for, IE a half or full marathon, duathlon, etc. To me, those expos make sense, since it's a great chance to peek at items that can assist you in your training for future events, etc. But, let's face it. An expo hosted for the average Joe showing up at a 5K/15K race that ends in chocolate fondue? Pure money grab. "Let me sell you this $20 headband, these 2 year old overstocked running shoes, or this running gadget you really don't need for a short distance run..."
Putting the above soap box aside, packet pickup was unexpectedly ... fun! It really was.
I'm sure all the chocolate helped sway my opinion, though. I think I had like 5 or 6 chances to consume chocolate while there: official staff greeted everyone with chocolate squares just prior to entry, there were two booths inside offering chocolate fondue and hot chocolate to drink, and several vendors along the way out were giving out little chocolate treats as well.
Plus, the organizers did a fantastic job of placing staff to help direct traffic flow. If you subtract out the amount of time I wasted noshing on chocolate and putzing around, I think I had bibs & swag within 10 minutes ... max. When you consider I was there over the lunch hour AND picked up packets for two friends as well, that's pretty impressive.
Oh. What was the putzing, you ask? Well...
And no, we didn't plan to match our outfits for packet pickup. It totally happened by accident. I blame the fact that our birthdays are one day apart, and therefore our brains must be wired to wear certain color pallets on certain days.
Race Day - 5:15 am wake up
Oh right. Now I remember how much it sucks to get up SO EARLY on a Saturday. Even more so on my birthday. Why do I do this again?! Ah, the downfall of living in Minnesota and not racing all winter - you forget the joys of a race weekend rise & shine.
At least my husband got me this new toy in celebration of the day. That helped with the rise and shine some.
Why yes, that IS an excellent European style coffee.
Instead of whining about early wakeups, I'll talk about something more fun: wardobing. Which was a no brainer for this race thanks to my new ambassadorship! You see ... about a month back, InkNBurn told all us ambassadors about a new design they were going to be offering in their spring/summer assortment:
Sexy lace, no?! As soon as I saw the announcement, I knew I had to get this for the Hot Chocolate race. I mean, the back to back birthdays justified it, right?!
And so, Lacy Birthday Racy was born:
Hm. Twinsies twice in this blog.
Being that this was a lacy BIRTHDAY racy, a group of us ladies kicked off our morning by carpooling to downtown Minneapolis and parking across the street from Hell's Kitchen. This put us about a mile from the race start, but since we had reservations to eat brunch at Hell's Kitchen post race, we figured it would just be easier to avoid the race morning traffic jam around Boom Island and park by Hell's Kitchen instead. Plus, we figured it wouldn't be a huge deal to take a short walk out and back.
As an added bonus, the walk down Nicolette was quite pleasant for 7 am. And, we only interacted with one drunk bum, so there's that! (Said in a very gravelly voice to someone else nearby "I call St. Cloud my liver rest spot." Hm, that's quite the conversation to be having, drunkenly, once the sun has fully risen.)
When we got to Boom Island park, it was just before 8 am. Perfect timing, as the race started at 8:10 am. After a quick hello with another friend, also wearing InkNBurn, three of us split off and lined up for the race start.
Despite my doubts about this race, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the start was organized, and how smoothly the gate rollouts were. By 8:20 we were easing up to the mat and getting ready to head out. Impressive.
Unfortunately though, despite the good organization, the first mile or so of the race was pretty rough. The roads were full of people, many who were clearly not able to keep a "no walkers" pace (per the signs in the corrals). My birthday buddy even lamented "Oh, now I remember why I hate these big races." Honestly, running in a crowd that dense just isn't fun.
At least we managed to see someone in their pajamas and bath robe cheering around the 1/2 mile point. That helped take our mind off the traffic jam, as we spent the next few minutes debating why they didn't just throw on some pants and a sweatshirt rather than appear in public ... in a fluffy white terry robe and pink striped drawstring pajama bottoms.
Since the road was still pretty clogged at the 1 mile mark, for the heck of it we stopped to walk and get water. When I saw they were also offering chocolate at the stop, I passed. The non-birthday buddy running with us decided she was going to go for it though, and grabbed a cup. That's how we learned that apparently the people organizing this race really don't understand how much one can eat on a run, as we discovered the paper cup was about 1/3 full of chocolate wafers. Wow, too much!! Even if the three of us had been willing to share it, we wouldn't have been able to finish it. And we weren't the only ones to agree it was too much ... there were lots of ditched chocolate cups along the 2nd mile of the run. (A note for future race organizers - 3-4 pcs of chocolate in the cup would have been plenty - no need to waste your money on chocolate that ends up in the trash anyway.)
Somewhere around the 1.5 mile mark, the race finally started to shake loose - as did our trio. My birthday buddy, since she's been running quite regularly this spring, shot off into the distance. I, on the other hand, dropped my pace from a "trying to keep up with someone who is too fast for me" down to the goal I had in mind pre race: 11 minute/mile. Our group fully separated and I was on my own.
Surprisingly, around the 2 mile mark, I caught back up to the non-birthday buddy of our trio and kept her company on another brief walk break. Then we picked up the pace again and went at a steady pace ... at least until we hit the corkscrew hill at the foot of the 1st Avenue bridge. Blech - walk break up that sucker for sure. I am in NO kind of hill running shape.
Whoops. Not in hill shape? This may prove to be a major issue in a few weeks. More on this in a future race recap, I suppose.
After we made it to the top of that hill, we decided to just commit to finishing the run at a steady pace, since there was only about 3/4 of a mile left. Amazingly, that little bit passed very quickly, because all the sudden we had crossed the mat. Whoop!
Of course, as soon as I crossed the mat and pressed stop on my watch, I couldn't help but check out my stats. And yeah, they weren't great. But they also weren't too shabby considering my feet issues that still haven't quite subsided and the fact that I have run basically twice in the last 5-6 months.
Eventually our trio met back up with each other, and we proceeded to the post race festivities. There, we had plenty of opportunities to take goofy photos. And we had our chocolate feast, of course.
I myself dove right in to the marshmallow option, dipping it into the rich chocolate fondue. And yes, I did so before we had even taken a photo or stat down. Whatever! I was hungry. Heh.
Finally, after a little roaming, the three of us found a sunny spot near the river and hunkered down. Once seated, I managed to eat the other marshmallow, a mini rice crispy treat and two wafer cookies (all dipped in chocolate and washed down with hot chocolate) before my stomach started to protest. I think it was all just too sweet and too rich for my empty stomach post run, as I ended up having a sour feeling for about 20-30 minutes after that. As a result, I gave away the pretzels in my treat bowl, pocketed my banana and dumped all but maybe 1/5 of my chocolate fondue in the trash.
Sacrilege, I know.
And yes, that WAS a banana in my pocket. But I would also have been happy to see you.
As we wound down with our chocolate feast, our last few peeps who kept a slightly slower pace in a coral a few back from us finished and met up with us, and then we said our goodbyes and packed out of Boom Island to head back to Hell's Kitchen.
Where I learned that I've finally gotten old enough for the vultures to start circling:
And that's the story of how race bib #53 joined my collection - on my birthday! Who would have thought 5 years ago that I would have chosen to run on my birthday, huh? Kind of funny when you think of it that way. But now here I am, doing this for fun ... well, sort of fun, until you realize the day after how much your body hurts when it's not in running shape and you run a 5K on a whim. Hmph.
Regardless, here's to another race soon ... in two weeks, actually!!
Whoops! Update! I forgot to include swag info. Here are photos of me wearing the zippered hoodie (with zippered pockets, too - whoop!) and the drop bag they gave us. Cheers!
Despite the full schedule, it feels good to be getting back into the swing of things. Plus, I have a sense of real accomplishment, since the only activity I have left to work back into my routine is a more regular running plan ... Oh, I suppose I need to start on that if I'm going to relay a half marathon with a friend the first weekend in May?! Whoops - good thing I only have the 5 something mile leg.
Anyway, with summer just around the corner, I know my cardio volume will just continue to increase, so I'm no longer worried about keeping my workout mojo up ... at least for myself. But I HAVE been worrying a bit about my TBC students', as it seems every year without fail summer hits and everyone is all "oh, happy hour on the patio..." or "oh, boat ride on the lake", etc., etc., etc.
Last year, to combat that summer slide, I started a program I called "TBC Summer Push". And actually, it all sprung from a happy accident: I was given a coffee shop gift card that was supposed to be for $20, but ended up having $50 on it.
With the bonus $30, I got an idea and "TBC Summer Push" was born.
I told the TBC class: the person with the best attendance all summer would get a coffee shop gift card. Oh! With a chance for extra credit, of course - get one spare point for each time you bring a new friend to class.
Wouldn't you know it ... funny things happen when you give people an incentive. Suddenly, instead of the standard summer slide, I was starting to see a summer influx! By the end of Summer, my average class size had increased from 4-6+ people to 8-12+ on any given night.
It's true! My classes blew up!
And of course, once people got in the habit of working out over the summer, keeping with me through fall and winter was a no brainer. Plus, when I offered a special Saturday class for the month of January, my numbers ballooned even more, to as many as 20 people in one class. Whoa!
Since I had such success last year, I had been thinking a few weeks back that I should try to do a similar program again this summer. Just as I was stewing over what to do, a few of my regular students started inquiring what their motivation would be this summer ... since the first few warm and sunny days just hit.
I told them I was working on it, but it I was definitely saying "oh crap" in the back of my head. I mean, how do you repeat a success like that for a second year in a row?
Finally though, last week, I had a "oh duh" moment. I mean, seriously, DUH! I am an InkNBurn ambassador...
Yep. So that's the deal. Workout with me, get a shot at a super sweet T from InkNBurn.
The Bad - not really "bad", so much as I haven't made an effort to go back Kula Yoga, Edina
The Ugly - ok, these are the really bad ones, and yeah ... I'd never go back The Shed, Minneapolis 3X3 Fit!, Hopkins
In regards to tracking the above list, I'd like to mention one of ClassPass's functionalities - the "heart" feature. Essentially, "hearting" a studio while logged into ClassPass bookmarks that studio for you. By simply clicking on the little heart next to a studio name (see yellow arrow below), you've marked it as something you like, and it automatically falls into your "favorites" list on your main account page:
I think this feature is really cool, since it makes it waaaayyyy easier to remember which studios I liked for future class bookings, and it also allows me to flag new studios I want to try (so I remember to look into classes there the next time I'm free).
Speaking of ClassPass functionalities, before I go on, let's talk about the "friending" feature. Since I'm doing ClassPass with the Man to my Robot (Dawn), I've found the friending feature on ClassPass really convenient ... although it did take a few times of trial an error to figure out.
By unchecking the "keep my profile private" box (yellow arrow below), and sharing the link provided next to that box, my friend Dawn and I were able to friend each other and connect our accounts.
Linking has been REALLY cool, since we can see each other's workout schedules and they include clickable links. That means if I sign up for something and bully Dawn into joining me invite Dawn along, she can just go to my profile, search for that same class, and then add it to her schedule as well (assuming there are still open slots).
In addition to the above features, you may have noticed some stats on my side bar:
As you can see, I've completed 14 classes in total on ClassPass, which bleeds into where I really wanted to take this conversation ... which is ... is ClassPass worth maintaining after a month or two worth of trying out?
Warning - soap box. There's a dig in this, at least for me: I forgot to pause my membership when everything blew up and I got whirled winded into planning my surprise Euro trip and then leaving the country, so I feel like I cheated myself out of some workout dollars. I say this because you can put your account on hold for $15 when you aren't able to attend classes for whatever reason ... which is better than paying $79/month when you're out of commission, or cancelling your account and then paying a reactivation fee. Anyway, if you subtract out the two classes I've taken in my current month, I only managed to squeeze in 12 classes for my first 2 months of ClassPass membership. This is a dig to me because I was averaging 4 classes a week prior to the Euro whirlwind (which works out to be 12 classes / month).
But ok, ok - in reality, 4 classes a week may actually be pretty aggressive for the average Joe. So maybe 12 classes in a 2 month window is technically more realistic from a cost analysis perspective anyway.
For argument's sake, let's take the 12 classes in 2 month scenario and put some math to it:
$79 per month membership fee x 2 months = $158
12 classes / $158 = $13 per class
At $13 a class, ClassPass might seem a little steep. Yeah, I know classes at a boutique studio typically run $15-20 for drop in, but I say $13/class is steep because I think many people would say that $10+ for one workout is a little on the high side.
But $13 price tag aside, I have really enjoyed going to a few of these studios, especially CycleQuest (since it is something I can do over my lunch hour at work) and Good & Twisted (since it is practically right in my backyard). And when I look at the class packages they offer, I would still be paying $10-15 per class anyway (since I'm not willing to purchase a super huge class pack and sink several hundred dollars into workouts at one time).
Taking that into consideration, as long as I go to both CycleQuest and Good & Twisted 3 times each per month via ClassPass, anything else I add on after that is essentially free.
So ... following that logic, I may end up keeping ClassPass for longer than I anticipated. Especially because, as I mentioned in my 2 week touch base, I really enjoy the concept of ClassPass and the idea that a network of classes are available to me metro wide, with everything consolidated down into one master schedule. Not only does it allow me to workout anywhere on a whim, it keeps things new and interesting.
Plus, I can't wait to try out a few new studios this month - just wait to see what I have up my sleeve!!
Building off my post from Friday and the whole "bad" vs "good" discussion ... leading up to and during/after the Easter holiday, I listened to a boat load of people talk about how "bad" they were with their eating. IE how much crap they ate and blah, blah, blah.
A few times during these conversations, I thought my head might explode.
Here's why: all day long I listen to people bemoan a holiday or special night out eating and how many calories they'll take in. And while it's true that you might take in a few calories and some fat...
The truth is you can take in other calories WAY easier...
I get frustrated sometimes because so many people focus on one day's worth of indiscretions. They think that that a big holiday dinner, or a meal out with friends, or an ice cream run with the kids ... any of those single events were a huge mistake.
Yet many of those same people think nothing of coming home for dinner and having a big glass of wine or a few beers. Every night. 5 days per week. Plus more on the weekend.
And even if the person bemoaning the holiday meal isn't a drinker, I'm willing to bet that they have some other vice during the week that adds up the calories instead. Potato chips. Fast food lunches. Creamy soups. Cookies. You get my point. Moving on.
When I compare the choices people make on a daily basis to the calories consumed for a special event like a holiday ... I just can't handle it. To see my point, compare the average holiday meal at 1600 calories (averaged from this blog), to 5 days worth of drinking 2 beers or one large wine each night. In the end, the calorie intake is pretty much the same. And yet, the holiday is a one time event, where as the drinking happens week after week after month after year.
And furthermore - at least the holiday/event eating is centered around a meaningful gathering of friends or family. Plus, it's not like you don't know it's coming. So "budgeting" yourself the week leading up to the holiday/event is pretty easy (IE skip a few of your week day indulgencies to allow for a little calorie splurging on the weekend, or add one extra workout the week following to burn the extra intake off).
So I can't help but stare at these people and wonder ... why bemoan a single event? Instead, why not just enjoy the day, be happy you could partake in a few indulgences, and figure out how to manage your daily lifestyle so that you don't have to guilt yourself when you do enjoy something special.
Since I've been yammering non-stop lately about Europe, I've been debating something.
What is this blog about anymore?
I say this because, I started this blog two-three years ago with a handful of intentions:
(1) I wanted to share my weight loss story and let people know that anyone can get healthy. (2) I wanted to recap races I'd ran to encourage others to start running. Plus, I found a few years ago that many of the races I was interested in running in the Twin Cities didn't have blogs done about them, and I realized that if wanted to know what to expect if I paid $30+ to run that race, others probably wanted to know too. (My first recap) (3) I wanted to share interesting healthy lifestyle items such as recipes, gadgets, workout ideas, awesome clothes and so on with friends and students of my fitness classes.
Overall, I wanted my message to be something like ...
So I've been thinking, am I starting to sound like ...
What I mean by that is - am I derailing this blog too much? Am I including information that's irrelevant to a healthy lifestyle? And is my current weight proving that I'm not as healthy in real life as I preach I am here?
Yeah. That's been my internal debate as of late.
Right around the same time that I started having these thoughts, I came across another blogger/fitness enthusiast/writer's Facebook page - James Fell - Body for Wife. I had been familiar with him in the last year or so in my various blog discoveries and what not, but I hadn't followed him on Facebook.
Honestly, following him on Facebook has been one of the best ideas I've had in the last few months. I say this because reading his snarky yet realistic status updates on Facebook made me realize something. Not something new. Just something I've had in my head all along that I needed reminding of, really.
You might not see what I'm hinting at in that EXACT post, but his point (or at least what I derive from his ramblings) is ... We're all human. We all like to eat and drink and do "bad" things. And that's OK!! Just be responsible about your "bad" choices and make some "good" choices as well.
I knew being "bad" was OK a long time ago, too. I'd just lost site of that some the last few months since I've started to semi-guilt myself for my weight gain ... that hasn't increased by the way, but hasn't gone down much, either.
And in thinking about all this, I realized something else. Sharing stuff about me and what I enjoy, like tap room visits, just proves that I'm human. And that I can do "bad" things while still living overall a fairly healthy lifestyle.
So, yammering even further than I already have ... yes, I have expanded the content of this blog in the last year. But so what?! It's fun to share what I'm doing, and prove that I can be "bad" and "good" and have fun all along the way!