You Signed Up For WHAT?!

Friday Five: Five Things to Love About My Vacation

Hey there, happy Friday! The week has been a different one for me – I took the week off from work and then on Sunday, right after Iron Girl Columbia, I packed up the car and went on vacation to the Bethany Beach (Delaware) area with my three kids.

This week’s Friday Five linkup with Eat Pray Run, DC and Mar on the Run is a favorite theme from a few months ago: “5 Things to Love About ___”. Last time we did this theme, I chose “Five Things to Love About Morning Workouts“. Yes, I did an ode to Morning Workouts. No, it did not make me the supreme goddess of morning workouts, but I do my best with that! I suppose I’m a morning person trapped inside a night owl’s body.

This week I figured I’d recap my week with “5 Things to Love About My Vacation“. I wanted a low-key, personal post today – nothing profound, just stuff about my awesome week of vacation with my kids and my big BRICK WORKOUT.

5 Things to Love About My Vacation

1. Fun activities with the kids.

Sure, my speech-delayed-plus-terrible-twos youngest was screaming every 10 minutes some days, and my almost-5-year-old hit his sister with sticks in the backyard at times, but I wouldn’t trade the week with them for anything. We had such an awesome week (aside from the moments like that)!

From the beach

Beach with kids

As I said on Instagram: “Not pictured: middle child who was freaking out about seagulls eating his French fries.”

To tennis

Tennis with kids

To pirate mini golf…

Pirate mini golf with kids

We did a lot of fun things together this week. What great memories!

We’ll forget all about the screaming and stick hitting, right?

2. My 43-mile bike ride & 3.3-mile run brick workout.

I need to get in longer rides for my Ironman 70.3 Augusta training. I know this. And yet it seems to be hard to squeeze it in on weekends between my races, travel, and family stuff. So I took advantage of being on vacation and brought my bike with me in the trunk of the car.

I met up with Julie from the Luna Chix DC Triathlon Team, who was also on vacation here in Delaware this week, and we biked 43 miles from Bethany to Rehoboth to Bethany to Fenwick and back to Bethany.

Biking over Indian River Inlet Bridget

It was so great to go on a ride together and have a nice chat, and also to get in a long training ride. It’s fairly flat here, so although it wasn’t hill practice, it was really good training for endurance, fueling, and working out some kinks (ouch to the Morton’s Neuroma flare up while cycling!).

Then I ran 3.3 miles to make it a good, solid brick. In the heat.

Brick run in heat

Don’t mind the sweat, I’m just practicing for a half Ironman in Georgia – the heat will be a guarantee!

3. My daughter’s exciting milestone.

She’s 8.5 and has been wanting to get her ears pierced. She had two prerequisites:

1) She has to be responsible enough to clean those suckers herself. I have two little boys to put to bed, and bedtimes can be a struggle. These days, she totally exceeds this requirement – she even assists with her youngest brother’s bedtime, helping him brush his teeth and reading him a story. She’s the best!

2) She has to keep her room neat enough and her jewelry box tidy enough to not lose earrings. She’s getting better with this.

We were out at the Rehoboth outlets doing some shopping, and our au pair and I surprised her with a stop into Claire’s. She picked out earrings and got her wish!

Ear piercing at Claire's

It was actually great that it was a surprise – she got nervous and excited, and it all happened so quickly that there was less time for her to stress about it! I think she looks great!

Pierced ears

The earrings she chose include a donation to the Make a Wish foundation!

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Am I crazy, or was this a really good movie? And not just for a 4 year old – I loved it!

My middle child is a super fan – he came to the movie wearing a TMNT mask, a TMNT shirt, TMNT Crocs, and carrying two TMNJ toys.

TMNT movie

Excuse the fuzzy picture – it was dark in there!

5. Did I mention quality time with these three?

Kids out for a walk

Truthfully, we only went to the beach once. My youngest absolutely freaked out about the sand touching his feet. It wasn’t fun to have him on the beach since he wanted to be held every second there. Also, the ocean water & sand weren’t a great idea for my daughter’s freshly pierced ears – maybe we should have held off on that “surprise” until the last day.  But there was tons to do throughout the week!

Kids at restaurant

Out to lunch at 14 Global in Bethany Beach, which I absolutely loved. And they even made an allergy-safe meal for my youngest!

It’s the last week of summer for my daughter – Monday it’s back to school and she is SO excited to start 3rd grade! My middle child will be in Pre-K five afternoons a week, and my youngest will stay home with our au pair (he’s only 2.5). And my work will start to get busy as our concert season starts back up again.

Summertime vacation memories are the best.

Now it’s time to pack up and head back – I bought a new Thule bike rack on Amazon and had it delivered so that I can fit my middle son and his suitcase, because he had already been out here with my mom for a week when we arrived. I needed the trunk space!

New bike rack

Photo by my 4.5 year old – yikes!

In case  you didn’t check them out, this week I posted about:

Check it out!

What is one great memory from your summer?

Have you seen the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie?

5 Tips for Keeping Your Style Fresh Without Breaking the Budget

Okay, let’s be real here today - I am 41. I have three kids. I work full-time. At times, I travel around the world for my job. I am busy. I don’t have a lot of time for me unless it involves a headband, swimming cap, or bike helmet. But honestly, I try - I said try! - to avoid having a perpetual boring-old-mom-style. I try not to resort to stretchy pants every chance I get (hey, nothing wrong with stretchy pants, but not in every circumstance, right?). I try to keep my style fresh and fun. But I still want to stay true to ME and the fact that I’m not a 20-year-old any more. And here’s the really crazy thing – when you lose so much weight, you need all new clothes. I mean everythingfrom tops to underwear to pants to jackets to skirts to bras to pajamas – and I don’t just have thousands of dollars laying around to build a whole career wardrobe, PLUS a casual wardrobe, PLUS a fitness wardrobe from scratch. I have to be smart about it. I have to be creative.

I have this whole “new body” thing going on and it’s been fun to shop – clothes actually fit now and even look good! I know it’s hard to tell because I am mostly posting workout selfies and pictures with my crazy kids, but I have a few good tips that I’ve acquired for keeping my active (mom) style fresh without breaking the budget.

5 tips for keeping your style fresh without breaking the budget

First, there’s something you should understand. When given the chance, I will always default to a black v-neck shirt and jeans. It’s my standard, feel-good-about-myself outfit. It’s almost like my uniform.

Cynthia and daughter on bus to NYC

Top – EleVen by Venus. Use code “Team11CynthiaS” for a discount!

Nothing wrong with a good black v-neck shirt, but every day? Yes, I have been known to wear a black v-neck every day. But I’ve been trying to spruce it up and keep it fresh as I whiddle down the pants in my drawer from size 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, and now keep the sizes 4 and 6.

Another thing to understand - here’s me on a typical weeknight after work:

Working mom with 3 kids after work

Yes, that’s me buried under the pile of kids. I’m SO not fancy on your typical weeknight. So I need a style that can go from work to kids.

I used to bring clothes to the dry cleaner with a baby-oatmeal-handprint on the same spot on the shoulder every day. The woman would raise an eyebrow and I’d say – Hey, I’ve been gone all day long, I’m not going to say “don’t touch me!” when I walk in the door to my sweet kids.

But then there are other times where I have to don a formal black-tie gown, or a professional suit for work. I need lots of clothes in several genres.

But usually? Usually it’s every-day wear. And I tend to gravitate towards black, gray, and black & white patterns. To be fair, I work concerts and black is a great color to wear backstage – the audience doesn’t see you when you’re standing on the side of the stage and the conductor walks out to start the concert. But I’ve been trying to break out of my mold and freshen it up.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Style Fresh Without Breaking the Budget

1. Buy a new accessory. 

A new accessory can really brighten up your typical outfit. I’ve gotten into scarves lately, and am learning new ways to use them. I’ve even gone so far as to wear scarves that – gasp! – aren’t black!

Borelli Active Performance Scarf

Yep, I’m wearing it with a black v-neck shirt. But see how it adds a pop of color and freshens up the outfit?

2. Color your “uniform”.

Okay, this is going to sound really crazy, don’t fall off your chair, but I have a different color V-neck shirt. It’s pink. GASP! NOT BLACK!

Cherry Blossoms

If you have an article of clothing that you default to like a uniform, buy one in a different color. That way you’re still comfortable in your go-to style, and you can feel confident in it, but you’ve freshened up the color. And you don’t look the same as yesterday. And by changing just one piece in the ensemble, you’re not spending money on a whole outfit.

3. Have someone else pick your style.

Shop with a friend and have them pick out one article of clothing completely on their own. Walk away, let them go find something for you, and meet at the fitting rooms. Don’t wrinkle your nose at it when they hand it over at the dressing room door – try it on! You just might find that it’s the most compelling piece in your closet.

I’ve been doing Stitch Fix lately – so it’s like having a virtual stylist. Someone else picks 5 items for me and I can keep all or I can keep none. It’s definitely broken me out of my mold, and I wear the pieces more than other things in my closet. And hey, none are black v-neck shirts!

Stitch Fix

Wait, you got me. That shirt is black. Does this count as a black v-neck? It was in my second Stitch Fix box – it’s loose and flowy, and was a nice way to change up my favorites a bit. And I never would have picked out that color pants on my own, but they are my favorite pants now.

But you don’t have to do a styling service if it’s out of your budget – just take the first suggestion and have a friend pick out a piece for you! Be strong, you can break out of your mold!

4. Add patterned tights

It will come as no shock to you that my favorite dress is… yep, you guessed it – a black wrap dress. It’s like a v-neck since it wraps. Shocker! I have taken a cue from the younger ladies at work and started to wear patterned tights to spruce it up a bit so that it’s not as plain. It’s an inexpensive way to change the look.

5. Make a statement.

You can do a lot with your jewelry and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Add a “statement necklace” to your outfit and it will freshen up the look. These don’t have to be expensive to look nice.

So there you have it – style tips from me to you. I bet you never thought I had any sort of style beyond running clothes!

Do you default the same favorite top every time you go out? 

What’s your favorite accessory?

Be sure to enter the #CarefreeChallenge giveaway here! Today’s daily prize is a designer fall scarf!

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This post was sponsored by Carefree, but all opinion are my own.

Tri Talk Tuesday: Training Burnout? You Can Learn To Love it Again

Today’s Tri Talk Tuesday theme is universal: TRAINING BURNOUT. I’m co-hosting with Courtney from The TriGirl Chronicles today, and we love this topic because it’s wider-reaching than merely triathlon blogs so let’s just call it “FITNESS TALK TUESDAY” rather than “Tri Talk Tuesday” today! Whether it’s Ironman training burnout, marathon training burnout, weightlifting training burnout, Couch to 5K training burnout – whatever your burnout, link up at the bottom of the post!

As for my post, I’m inspired by my previous burnouts when marathon training, half marathon training, and at times – triathlon training. I say “at times” since I’ve typically been gung-ho with the tri training, but I do have my burnout weeks. But this theme is universal, right?

Training Burnout Learn to Love it Again #running #triathlon #fitness #exercise #fitspiration #inspiration #motivation

PS: Hover over this image, Pin it to Pinterest, and let’s spread the linkup!

We don’t need to talk about the burnout itself here, how I start to feel sluggish in the morning, lose my energy for late-night bike trainer workouts, or cut my workouts in half on busy days because I “just don’t have it in me”.

We’ll just skip right on by that business.

Because let’s face it: I’m a glass half-full person. I don’t want to focus on the negative energy. I’m all about the positive. RIGHT? Right!

Here are my ways to LOVE fitness again when you’re experiencing Training Burnout:

Remember Why You Signed Up For THAT

This is the most important way to embrace the love of training again, in my experience. Go back to that moment, that time when you pushed the “Register Now” button. What made you do it?

Was it to reach a personal goal, like wanting to do your first triathlon? Was it to reach a personal PR and best your time for that half marathon? Was it because friends pressured you into signing up for a race? That’s a valid reason too!

Whatever the reason, remember it. It was YOUR reason, nobody else’s. Write it down on a piece of paper. Put it in your pocket and take it out when you are feeling burned out. That reason still exists – it hasn’t disappeared down the drain of burnout.

YOU are still worth it. YOU are still worth reaching that goal.

You are worth it

Think of the Transformation

This is one that always gets me revved up for the training again. Truly. At the beginning of a 16-week training plan, for example, I am one person: I look one way, I feel one way, I am one way. Then at the end of it: I AM DIFFERENT.

I am different physically, mentally, and athletically. I change on the outside and I change on the inside.

YOU WILL CHANGE DURING THE TRAINING.

Embrace that transformation, get excited about it. You cannot change if you don’t put in the training.

You WANT that change, don’t you?

You want to be a different and changed version of yourself in 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 16 weeks, or in 1 year, right?

Visualize the Finish Line

Visualization? Is that some kind of spiritual meditation type suggestion? Because I don’t do that, you’re thinking.

NO.

Okay, fine – yes, if that’s your thing, get spiritual. Get meditative. I’m not putting that down at all – do what you do. I have tried it, it has benefits. But that’s not exactly what I mean.

This is what I suggest, and it’s very simple:

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Visualize the finish line.
  3. Take note your feelings.

Does it make you feel excited? Anxious? Nervous? Confident? Embrace that feeling, whatever it is, and channel that on a morning when you wake up and just don’t have it in you to get on those training shoes. You’ll be lying there in bed, about to press the snooze button, and you’ll think of that finish line.

That triathlon isn't going to train for itself

Fess Up to a Friend

I find it helps to express my feelings of burnout to a friend. Or sometimes even to a random stranger. If I’m feeling overwhelmed with life, training, and all that is piling up, I let it out.

I’m a sharer (ahem, I have a blog, of course i’m a sharer…) and sharing is a way to relieve the pressure that is building up so intensely that it might cause an explosive burst at the least opportune moment.

I want to avoid a Training Burnout Meltdown.

So tell someone. Or type up a post to a supportive online community. Or tell a random buddy at a group workout. Chances are, they’ve been there too.

Tip: don’t share this burnout as your Facebook status. Sure, we’re all human and I think we need to be real on Facebook. But this is not the time. You will get all the non-triathletes and non-runners saying “great, go eat some chocolate cake and put your feet up, you don’t need to do that long run! I always thought you were crazy anyhow!”. And that’s not going to help. General Facebook status updates are not going to be a helpful route for avoiding derailing your ultimate goals.

Lighten Up

Remember: it’s just a race.

Wait, I’m not sure you heard me, so repeat after me: it’s just a race.

Yes, I know – I love the race too and have goals that I want to achieve. That’s our thing, we sign up for THAT and we’re going for a goal for our own personal reasons. But if you are stressing yourself out to the point where you don’t even like, let alone love, what you are doing, then it’s time to take a step back.

But take that step, take a deep breath, and smile.

And then get back onto that bike, put back on those running shoes, and embrace the journey.

You have work to do.

When was the last time you experienced training burnout? What were you training for? Did you get out of the slump?

Ah, Tri Talk Tuesday. It will never be the same since one of our co-hosts has decided to cut ties with blogging and focus on other adventures. We’ll miss you, Miranda!  So for this week, it’s just me & Courtney from The TriGirl Chronicles co-hosting, but we have a lot of fun things planned so stay tuned!

Link up your running, fitness, training, and/or triathlon blog right here for a Burnout Fest! Be sure to visit and comment on other blogs in the linkup. And go say congrats to Courtney, who just attended a triathlon coaching clinic this past weekend!

NEXT WEEK’S THEME: BIKING ON THE ROADS.

Tri Talk Tuesday

 

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BODYARMOR Sports Drink Review

It’s been a really active summer so far – with the Maryland Olympic Duathlon, the NYC Triathlon, Iron Girl Columbia, and LOTS of fun, energized activities with my kids. In fact, today I’m on vacation with my three kids at the beach – a fun way to end the summer! I’ve been trying some new sports drinks to see what I like best and what works for me as I balance endurance training with fun times out with the kids in the summer heat. On the course of the Maryland Olympic Duathlon, the on-course hydration was something I hadn’t tried before - BODYARMOR Sports Drink – and I loved it. However, running on that hot and hilly course, more of the tiny cup got on my chin and outfit than in my mouth, so I really wanted to give it another try!

The awesome people at BODYARMOR sent me a variety of flavors to try – so of course I immediately broke out the Strawberry Banana.

Body Armor Sports Drink box

They call it a “SuperDrink” and not just a sports drink – this is because it has electrolytes, vitamins, coconut water, and they only use natural flavors, colors, and sweeteners. Here’s the low-down on what’s inside the bottle:

about-bodyarmor-infographic-2

So… the Strawberry Banana, my first real test of the drink. I liked the ingredients list, since I’ve been trying more natural sugars and avoiding artificial stuff lately. And since I drink a lot of coffee already, I’m trying to avoid caffeine in other sources, like my day-to-day hydration. Sometimes I want a caffeine boost when working out, but it’s hard to avoid in so many products so I want to be able to just grab a drink and go.

flavor-bottle-strawberry-banana-label-2

THE TASTE: It’s sweet, but it’s NOT sickly sweet – it was a delicious natural sweet. It tasted fresh, like juice! I am sure that on my hot workout days it was helping me stay balanced with electrolytes, because typically I just drink water since it’s quick and easy to reach for, rather than mixing up a powder drink, and on the days I had BODYARMOR I felt really great and energized. It’s a great reminder that water sometimes is not enough.

I tried the other flavors for various workouts – in my water bottle during a bike ride, at the track doing a running VO2 max interval workout. It was extremely refreshing and kept me going through the running and biking. So far, Mixed Berry and Strawberry Banana are my faves, but I really do like them all!

Body Armor Sports Drink

It definitely seemed natural and juice-like enough that I would share it with my kids for soccer game hydration this fall. I have two kids playing soccer this fall and my husband is the coach of my daughter’s team, so we’re going to stock up on this stuff because the artificial or super-fake tasting drinks are just not for our family. BODYARMOR was so fresh tasting compared to other drinks!

You can buy BODYARMOR Sports Drink on their website, in stores (I found it at my Wegmans!), and I also found it on Amazon. Totally convenient!

Which flavor would be your go-to BODYARMOR flavor? Would you reach for the Strawberry Banana first like I did?

You can check out BODYARMOR on their website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

 

Disclaimer: I have been compensated for this review, but all opinions are my own.

 

Friday Five: Ways the Second Whole 30 is Easier Than the First

Okay, seriously, this week has gone crazy fast. It’s already Friday and time for the Friday Five! My co-hosts Courtney, Mar, and I chose a “Free Friday”. Free, as in: pick a theme, any theme, your favorite theme, your randomness, your five genius ideas – whatever ya got for us today! The theme I chose is “Five Ways the Second Whole 30 is Easier Than the First“!

5 Ways the Second Whole 30 is Easier Than the First

I’ve been meaning to recap my Whole 30 Round 2 experience, and what better time than this week where I’ve had a potpourri of posts – if you missed them this week we had a-little-a-this, a-little-a-that. There was…

And then yesterday was quiet here on the blog because Wednesday night, instead of writing, I drank wine on my neighbor’s deck and then came home and fell asleep on my couch. Oh yeah, I’m old!

So speaking of wine, let’s get down to the post du jour, where I went without wine for 30 days. You want to know about this Whole 30 business. First, remember three things:

  1. I don’t eat Paleo style as a regular thing. I definitely enjoy carbs and dairy, especially when I’m in training mode.
  2. I did this as a detox to reset some bad eating habits that were creeping back in. I knew I needed a strict, structured program to be able to gain control and enjoy a healthy diet while training.
  3. I have limited time to cook, and my husband does our weeknight cooking since I’m sitting in DC traffic at that time.

So I was a little nervous going into this from a time perspective – but it went great overall! So here are

Five Ways the Second Whole 30 is Easier Than the First!

1. You can do your grocery shopping without a book, a pamphlet, a Whole 30 Shopping List, and Google open on your phone.

Whole 30 resources

2. You already have your go-to snacks planned out and can quickly buy them and/or prepare them. And, your go-to breakfast is appealing day after day!

Whole 30 breakfast eggs blueberries

Fried Eggs with Shredded Coconut
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
 
My go-to Whole 30 Breakfast!
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • Shredded unsweetened coconut - to taste
  • Blueberries or other fruit on the side
Instructions
  1. Heat a non-stick pan, then add the coconut oil
  2. Turn pan so that oil coats the pan
  3. Crack each egg into the pan
  4. Fry eggs until they are cooked enough to turn, then flip
  5. Fry the eggs on the second side until cooked almost to your liking (runny vs. not runny yolk)
  6. Sprinkle unsweetened shredded coconut over the eggs and cook another minute or two.
  7. Serve with blueberries or another fruit.

3. Your coworkers, friends, and family have already been through this once with you and don’t give you as many questions and weird stares. And they’re less likely to be “pushers” of desserts and drinks.

Whole 30 Meme

4. You already know that on Day 4-5 you will want to Kill all the Things and don’t wonder if you’re PMSing, losing your mind, or having a midlife crisis.

I'm sorry for what I said when I was hungry.

5. You can approach it knowing that “it’s only 30 days” because you’ve made it through once and remember how detoxing from processed food, sugar, and wine was so worth it.

Nonalcoholic fruit drink

See, it’s my non-alcoholic fruit drink out to dinner one night!

A total sugar bomb but a way to have something fun and not miss the wine. 

So I have a wee little confession: I re-introduced grains a couple days before the 30 days was up, but in a very “clean” and healthy way. I needed to adjust my body before the trip to NYC for the New York City Triathlon. I’m now enjoying a regular diet, but eating pretty healthy overall and trying to stick with whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible.

If I do another detox or re-set, I will likely try another No-Sugar Challenge, since it seems to be the overt, the added, and the hidden sugar that gets me on the wrong track. I’m happy with my whole grains and dairy added back in during my high intensity weeks.

Head over to my Six Sugar Detox Strategies if you need some tips for cleaning up the sugar fest in your diet!

What’s your go-to breakfast?

What’s one food or drink you couldn’t live without for 30 days?

 

Link up your Friday Five post below! Remember to link back to one or all of the host blogs, visit other blogs in the linkup and leave a comment, and please ONLY link up a Friday Five post! This isn’t a linkup for random posts or the general link to your blog. Thank you, friends!

DC_linkup

 

Blue Nectar Yoga Studio – Falls Church, VA

Recently I had the good fortune to be transported to another time and place on a busy Friday afternoon. Where did this magic happen? At Blue Nectar Yoga in Falls Church, Virginia. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration – transported to another time and place? But that’s what it felt like at the Rock n’ Flow class at Blue Nectar Yoga! And this is coming from the [uncertified] Least Flexible Person on the Planet (do they give awards for that? If so, I’m going to win!).

Blue Nectar Yoga Studio front view

I was intrigued with the way they described Blue Nectar Yoga on the website, here’s a quote:

Oh yeah, we totally love what we do here. We warmly welcome the flexibility challenged. We are yoga without attitude! Come on into Blue and feel the difference!

Flexibility challenged? THAT’S ME!

When picking out a class to try, I immediately gravitated toward the Runner’s Yoga class listed on the class description page. That seemed just my speed, but then I thought – wait. Shouldn’t I try something different? If the point is to branch out and make myself a well-rounded athlete, wouldn’t a true Vinyasa yoga class be good for me? Or am I too inflexible, too inexperienced with yoga to do a “real” class?

I decided to go on a Friday when I’d be working in the office all day, and then working all evening at an outdoor concert venue in Virginia. Yoga sandwiched in the middle of a 14-hour workday sounded like a Good Idea.

The class listed at that time was called Rock n’ Flow.

Yes, please.

It was easy to find on a main street in Falls Church, and parking was free & easy right behind the studio in a small parking lot. I think there is also a garage back there.

Blue Nectar Yoga front door

The entryway was inviting, and I wanted to stop and look at all the cool things displayed, but I was running late for the class. I loved the blue – it was very soothing from the moment I walked in and I was excited to try the class.

Blue Nectar Yoga Studio

But the real soothing sensation is walking into the main studio. Check it out – I loved this space!

Blue Nectar Yoga main studio

It’s light and open feeling, with huge wall-sized windows looking out into a relaxing view of trees.

Blue Nectar Yoga Studio photos

The name fits with the blue theme – it’s the Blue Chaise.

Blue Nectar Yoga Blue Chaise studio

There is a second studio, which has the same soothing atmosphere, but fewer windows.

Yoga Studio second

They keep the thermostat warm but it’s not “hot yoga” – it’s a warm enough temperature to loosen you up and have you feel a deep connection with the yoga practice.

THE CLASS:

The class was amazing. Truly. The instructor, Andre Harris, took us through a 75-minute class that was a truly deep experience for not only my body, but my insides.

First, you have to understand that I am the least flexible person on the planet. I will seriously compete with someone for that title if ever they award a prize for it, and I’ll likely win. You think YOU’RE not flexible and aren’t a “yoga person”? You haven’t met ME! And I post about doing yoga sometimes, but it’s usually done in my basement without anyone’s eyes on me but my kids, who think it’s hilarious.

And so I swear to you, you have to take it from me – they didn’t make me feel like a “yoga loser” at this studio – in fact it felt very much “come to us where you’re at”. I felt like I was able to do each pose at my level, and then try to dig a bit deeper and push it further from that place.

There were people in the class at all levels, and I never once felt intimidated or like I should know what I’m doing and don’t (which I’ve experienced in exercise class settings before).

Can’t do the crow pose? Not ready to try a headstand?

No problem! The instructor offered a modification for everything and was great about demonstrating the various lower and also higher modifications and options. There were experienced yogis in the class too, and they could expand on their poses and push themselves deeper – it definitely wasn’t catered to a beginner level – it was full of options.

There are handy cards to indicate if you do or do not want adjustments during the class. This way you don’t have to feel awkward – you just place the card near you to indicate your preference.

Blue Nectar Yoga adjustment cards

When in the pigeon pose, Andre came around and assisted me to go further with it, kind of like a massage therapist would do – pushing into my back with his arm in a very professional, comfortable way. He was extremely helpful with options for advancing the poses to higher and higher levels, that made me want to aspire to stick with it and be able to do the more advanced poses in the class. He wanted to make sure that everyone was doing the poses correctly and safely, for maximum benefit. But it was a relaxed vibe, without judgment.

The music in the Rock n’ Flow was subtle – it had a cool, easy groove to it, and wasn’t loud and distracting. From the title I expected more of a “hard rock” feel and was pleasantly surprised at how well the music paired with the yoga. It was enough to keep me focused and pushing forward through a longer-held pose, but not too much that I was distracted by the music.

A FEW DETAILS ABOUT THE STUDIO:

There are cubbies to put your belongings, and hooks to hang your coats.

Blue Nectar Yoga hallway

There are two changing rooms, and I loved the cool decor.

Blue Nectar Yoga Studio changing rooms

Seriously, can you NOT love these sayings in the two changing rooms?

Beautiful inspiration phrases

I love love love this one and Instagrammed it right away since it spoke to me.

Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful

They provide blankets, blocks, and straps, so you don’t need to bring your own. You can also rent a mat if you don’t have one.

Blue Nectar Yoga supplies

Blue Nectar Yoga has a lot of special events going on, as you can see on the chalkboard advertising “Vino & Vinyasa”. That seemed right up my alley and it was too bad I had to work that night or I would have been there!

Blue Nectar Yoga chalkboard

You can also see on the chalkboard that Blue Nectar is starting yoga teacher training. Other special events include things like clinics on Yoga for Runners, 3-Day Cleanse, and “Rookie Yoga” clinics focusing on specific building blocks of the practice.

The class passes are a completely reasonable price for yoga in the DC area – check out the price listing here. I’ve been taking other fitness classes and if I lived closer, I’d definitely be a regular at Blue Nectar. I love that it’s a small business run by two women

If you’re in the DC area, you have to check it out – it was the best thing I could do for myself, my body, and my mental state that week! And it really was freeing to realize that maybe, just maybe, I have a shot at yoga. Maybe, just maybe, I won’t win that least-flexible-person-on-the-planet prize.

Cynthia yoga class

You can find directions to Blue Nectar Yoga here. You can also follow Blue Nectar Yoga on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

What’s the one yoga pose that you can really rock? What’s the one you want to do but can’t?

 

I was admitted to the class at Blue Nectar Yoga free of charge in exchange for a review, but all opinions are completely my own. I absolutely loved it.

Tri Talk Tuesday: Ten Triathlon Race Etiquette Tips

Happy Tri Talk Tuesday day! This week is all about variety – yesterday I posted about running in New York City on the Summer Streets, today I’ll share Ten Triathlon Race Etiquette Tips, then I have a few other fun things in the hopper this week - yoga, running, and more! Variety is the spice of life!

So, I was chatting with my Tri Talk Tuesday co-hosts Miranda and Courtney, and we decided that after doing several races this season, it might be a good time to refresh ourselves and our readers on Triathlon Race Etiquette.

ETIQUETTE?!

Isn’t that something for fancy people who drink tea with their pinkies turned up to the perfectly-styled toile curtains?

Nope, it’s also for racing!

Race-day etiquette is an important part of not just doing well in the race, but also staying safe – and keeping your fellow racer safe too. Here are 10 Triathlon Race Etiquette Tips, and be sure to check out the linkup at the bottom of the post for triathlon blogs linking up with their thoughts on triathlon race etiquette!

Triathlon Race Etiquette Tips

 

PRE-RACE AND TRANSITION ETIQUETTE:

1. Read the Athlete’s Guide and/or Race Website Before Race Day. 

This. This. This. Many races use the website as a main source of information, but you will also find that many have a packet of information that they publish or distribute called the “Athlete’s Guide”. It’s where you can find out everything from where to pick up your packet, to when you bring your bike to the transition area, to your swim wave and swim cap color. Read it through and you’ll feel more prepared for the race.

2. Attend the Pre-Race Course Talk if the race director holds one.

This is where you will get a lot of your etiquette and rules questions answered and you will get an overview of the course and starting procedure. The Pre-Race Course talks are all different but you can expect info about the swim start, mounting the bike, the course, drafting (or no drafting!) rules – and they often take questions.

3. Rack your bike in transition the right direction.

Be kind to your transition rack-mates and rack your bike with the seat facing towards you if you’re standing staring at the bib number on the rack. Here’s a photo of my bike racked at the NYC Triathlon. I loved the fun messages they had for each of us!

Bike Rack NYC Triathlon

If you aren’t assigned a specific spot on a rack, alternate seat directions so your bike isn’t racked in the exact same direction as the one next to you. This will make life easier in transition when you’re all in a hurry to get your bikes and get out of there – or back in for the run.

4. Don’t take up more space than you need in transition.

One small towel, that’s all the space you need! If you start to spread out, your things will be crushed under the weight of someone’s cycling shoes or run over by a bike tire. Also, alternate – don’t set up your things on the same side as the person next to you – if the Athlete’s Guide reminds you to set up by the front tire, then do it! If everyone has their transition towel by the same tire, they’ll all end up alternating to help with space and not getting in each other’s way. If you have a big transition bag, you can leave it by your bike if there’s room and it’s not in anyone’s way, or you can leave it on the edge of the fence of the transition area. Or take it back to your car for the duration of the race.

SWIM ETIQUETTE:

5. Don’t be rude while swimming in a mass of people.

In the swim portion of a triathlon, you can expect to get kicked, swam over, knocked into, and have a mouthful of water splashed into you just as you breathe. Fine, that’s totally cool and should be expected – this is a RACE! But don’t be a jerk and kick someone or grab onto them on purpose and sabotage their swim. You could be endangering their safety.

6. Don’t stop suddenly with swimmers behind you.

All the athletes are swimming towards the big Swim Exit sign, and thinking through their T1 strategy. Everyone is wanting to be done with the swim – you’re not alone! If you stop suddenly and stand up too early, someone just might crash into you. Keep swimming until your fingers touch the ground – it’s quicker to swim through the water than walk through the water anyhow. This goes for midway through the swim too – if you stop suddenly and tread water, you just might find someone crashing into you. Yes, it’s fine to backstroke, breaststroke, stop and get your bearings – but just be aware of your surroundings. Doing so in a huge mass of people all swimming furiously can be dangerous.

BIKE ETIQUETTE:

7. Stay to the Right!

Seriously, stay to the right. Don’t ride in the middle or on the left unless you’re passing. It is a rule, and there are many reasons for it – primarily safety!

8. Say it with me: “ON YOUR LEFT!”

Let’s all say it together and practice it so that it will come naturally on race day: “ON YOUR LEFT!” Say this when you are passing someone. Please. I have pulled around a slower cyclist to pass and been almost run over by a cyclist faster than me, who did not announce themselves. I have a legitimate right to pass that person and said “On Your Left” to them, but thank God I checked behind me first or I’d be road kill.

8b. Look over your shoulder before you pass.

I have to add in this side note to #8, we’ll call it “8b”. To avoid being road kill, see #9. Do a quick check over your shoulder before you pass. Pull back into position if you won’t have time to pass before a faster cyclist approaches. I was thanked many times during the NYC Triathlon for this by fast male cyclists catching up with my wave.

RUN ETIQUETTE:

9. Have common courtesy.

This is an important tip but it’s all tied in together:

    • During the run, stay to the right as you did in the bike leg unless you’re passing.
    • Don’t run 2-3 people across and block the course for others.
    • Be aware when going through aid stations – don’t stop suddenly in the middle of the path if you need to get a drink of water or a gel.
    • Try to aim your empty cup to/towards a trash can or the side of the road, so that others don’t slip on it and it’s easier for the volunteers to clean up.

ABOVE ALL:

10. Thank the volunteers!

There are tons of volunteers needed to make a race go smoothly. Thank them, appreciate them, don’t litter and make their job harder, and consider volunteering for a race yourself.

What is your biggest pet peeve on race day?

 Share something you’ve learned about race etiquette in the comments!

NEXT WEEK’S TOPIC: BURNOUT. Feel free to link up if you’re a running or other fitness blogger, it will be wider-reaching than just triathlon next week!

Tri Talk Tuesday

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Running on New York City Summer Streets

Oh what fun I had running in the rain of New York City Summer Streets the day before the NYC Triathlon! If you’re not familiar with the New York City Summer Streets, don’t worry – neither was I!

That is, until I took a taxi in NYC in the summertime.

If you’ve taken a taxi in NYC, you’re familiar with the little TVs in the backseat that play the same loop of news, commercials, and snippets of late-night shows I’m too old to stay up and watch. If you’ve taken a cab in NYC in the summertime, you’re likely familiar with the promos for New York City Summer Streets. I took a LOT of cabs in NY last weekend, and thus saw a LOT of promos for the Summer Streets. Over and over and over.

NYC Summer Streets map

So you’d think I would have put 2 + 2 together the day before the NYC Triathlon when I ran out the door of the Ronald McDonald House on the Upper East Side at 7am on a Saturday and thought: “where can I go for a good pre-race-keep-it-loose run”?

Nope. Forgot all about it.

So imagine my surprise when I headed out the door in the pouring rain, ran a few blocks headed towards Central Park, and stumbled upon this:

NYC Run Summer Streets

“WHAT? A huge, empty Park Avenue? What is going on?!”, I thought to myself.

Then suddenly it dawned on me - I found my running spot right in the middle of NYC! Here’s what the Summer Streets is all about:

About Summer Streets

Summer Streets is an annual celebration of New York City’s most valuable public space—our streets. On three consecutive Saturdays in August, nearly seven miles of NYC’s streets are opened for people to play, run, walk and bike. Summer Streets provides space for healthy recreation and encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation. In 2013, more than 300,000 people took advantage of the open streets.

Summer Streets is modeled on other events from around the world including Ciclovía in Bogotá, Colombia and the Paris Plage in France. The event is part bike tour, part walking tour, part block party—a great time for exercise, people watching, or just enjoying summer mornings. Passersby are weclome to participate in arts and crafts workshops, listen to musical performances, learn to salsa dance, eat healthy snacks, climb a 25′ climbing wall, soar through the sky on a 160′ zipline and explore a 179 years voice tunnel.

Held between 7:00 am to 1:00 pm, Summer Streets extends from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Park Avenue and connecting streets, with easy access from all points in New York City, allowing participants to plan a trip as long or short as they wish. All activities at Summer Streets are free of charge, and designed for people of all ages and ability levels to share the streets respectfully.

Summer Streets is a project of the New York City Department of Transportation.

So I headed running down the street in the rain. Whee!

New York Summer Streets rain

And I had a blast! No waiting at crosswalks, no people, no curbs to trip over – just me and the open road! Oh, and the rain.

Running in NYC rain

At 7am in the rain, the streets weren’t crowded, so it was a thrill to have a New York street practically to myself for a run. I ran all the way down to the Helmsley Building.

Running in NYC
I decided to run under cover through the building before turning around. Fine, a 3-mile run was all I had planned, but I’ll bump it to a 4 miler for a totally unique experience!

Running through Grand Central

It was fun to come out the other side and be on the elevated street that my taxi drove on the day before!

NYC Summer Streets

More runners were starting to join me on the Summer Streets as I neared my turnaround.

NYC Summer Streets

Grand Central Selfie time!

 

Run at Grand Central

I forgot how much my Garmin hates New York City, and apparently the auto-pause feature really REALLY hates New York City. My watch was totally screwy – pausing when I was running, losing GPS, you name it. But I am pretty certain I ran 4 miles, because I had no issues until after mile 2 and my route was a straight out-and-back.

NYC Summer Streets rain

Thanks to all the awesome police and the volunteers helping with the traffic and safety in the pouring rain. There were some streets that had crossovers by side streets, and there were helpful STOP-GO signs held up by volunteers at these intersections that were easy to see as I approached.

NYC Summer Streets run

I noticed on that there’s one more Summer Streets day coming up – hopefully it won’t be rainy and it will be filled with fun activities. What a cool way to enjoy the city – it made me wish were were coming back for the next few Saturdays!

New York City Summer Streets Map

I got back to the Ronald McDonald House and I was soaking wet, but glad I did the 4 mile run to stay in shape for the Triathlon the next day. Plus, it was tons of fun!

Soaking wet from running in rain

It makes me want to go back to NY next August (I’ll likely have another doc appointment for my daughter there at that time anyhow), and check out the other activities they list – a zip line, salsa dancing, rock climbing wall?! Wow.

Running in the rain – yay or nay?

Have you ever run in New York City?

Have you been on the New York City Summer Streets and done anything fun?

 

Friday Five: Favorite Race Memories

What a whirlwind week – the NYC Triathlon, a busy work week, my birthday, wrapping up the Race to the Finish Line Raffle - it’s been super crazy and I can’t believe it’s already time for the Friday Five linkup with Eat Pray Run, DC and Mar on the Run! Today’s theme is Favorite Race Memories.

5 Favorite Race Memories

Speaking of the Raffle, I’ve been doing a lot of late nights wrapping up raffle business and will be contacting all the winners today. Thanks for your patience – falling asleep by accident the other night thwarted my plans to finish up the project!

So today’s theme – Favorite Race Memories. I have a lot of great race memories from this year alone, because I’ve been doing a lot of races. So I’ll try to pick five meaningful ones from throughout the years. Unfortunately I’m totally swamped this week and can’t find photos for everything on old computers. But if you know my story, you’ll know that I started running before having kids and it’s been a journey ever since. So here are some favorite moments:

MEMORY #1: Finishing my first 5K (my first running race!) - the Turkey Trot in Clearwater, Florida - Thanksgiving Day, 2003.

What a thrill! I’ll never forget this race with my friend Sarah – she asked if I wanted to train for a 5K with her and I had no idea that it would change the course of my future. My dad was visiting us in Florida for Thanksgiving, and he ran it too – the start of more races with my dad! It definitely gave me the running-racing bug. I had no idea what a “good” time was for a 5K but was happy that I did it and loved every minute of it! Sarah and I trained together for a 15K after that, but this 5K finish was amazing, the whole race experience was new to me – what a fun time!

MEMORY #2: My first marathon – the Bank of American Marathon in Tampa, part of Gasparilla Distance Classic – 2005.

I loved everything about this race and had a fabulous first marathon. I finished and said “I can’t wait to do that again!” Everything went according to plan and I loved running in Tampa, where I had been living and training for the race.

Don’t laugh at this ancient picture – it was 2007 and I wasn’t a stylish runner girl. I’m just shocked I found a photo at all!

Cynthia first marathon

MEMORY #3: The start of the MS 150 from Pittsburgh to Lake Erie – 2001 or 2002.

I wasn’t in good shape and hadn’t trained properly, but there I was lined up at the start of the 2-day bike ride on my dad’s spare hybrid bike. The sight of all the bike helmets glistening in the sun gave me the chills. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

We won’t talk about the rest of the race…

Well, okay, here’s a short synopsis: it was 70 miles the first day and I was struggling up the hills! Then at the hotel that night my legs were cramping up so badly I couldn’t get myself up out of the bathtub and thought I’d have to ask my dad to help me out! I managed to crawl out of the tub and into bed but feared the second day.

The second day was 80 miles and I did okay – slow but steady! I didn’t walk the bike at all up hills that day, and although I wasn’t the very last person, I was close (like 2 seconds before them). But I finished.

I got carpal tunnel and a hyperextended knee from riding a bike too big for me, and learned a valuable lesson about training properly for endurance events! But that starting line was memorable!

MEMORY #4: The Princess Half Marathon – running through Cinderella’s Castle – 2014.

Wow – this race (and the whole Glass Slipper Challenge) was such a highlight for me since it was less than 12 weeks since my hysterectomy (and other pelvic surgeries) this past December. I had struggled with the decision of whether to defer to 2015 because of my recovery, but when I started to heal from the surgery I felt better than ever. And I didn’t want to put off the special trip with my daughter, and meeting friends at the race. I decided to go for it and just do the best I could. Doing the 19.3 miles over 2 days gave me the confidence to really go for it during 2014. And running through Cinderella’s castle just felt right.

Rapunzel on main street castle

MEMORY #5: The swim start of the Iron Girl Rocky Gap – 2013.

I got totally emotional at the start of the swim at my first triathlon. A long-time goal to do this by the time I turned 40, set the day before I found out I was pregnant with my first baby. I won’t try to re-state it here, I said it in the recap so I’ll just quote myself:

So, walking down the beach towards the lake, pulling my goggles over my swim cap, I had a moment. Do you ever have those moments? You know, the ones where you just feel something big change and you take a moment to look around? I looked around that beach and thought – I’m finally doing this thing that I said I would do, so many years ago. And then I walked into the water and thought:

The next chapter is beginning.

Iron Girl swim start

Do you have a favorite race memory?

Link up with the DC Trifecta below! And discover a few new blogs that you haven’t checked out before!

DC_linkup

Birthday Workouts!

I had planned to spend the last few hours of being 40 on the couch: remote in the hand, laptop on the lap, and wine glass on the lips.

Instead?

Instead I fell asleep on my daughter’s bed before 9pm and woke up this morning. How old do you think that makes me feel? I was even in my stinky bike clothes and smelled horrible, and had the light blazing in my eyes from her ceiling fan.

To be fair, I had a big day – I had bike commuted with my dad and that really wore me out! Bad traffic and security was expected in DC due to political-type events (we’re used to it here), so we figured it was a good day to ride downtown.

Bike commuting with dad

It was just over 14 miles into DC from where we parked, and it felt great! I loved cruising along the Capital Crescent trail into Georgetown and arriving at my office.

Ready to bike commute

After the work day, it was time for the bike ride home.

wpid-img_20140806_174518.jpg

A little tougher on tired legs (and about 4.5 hours of sleep), but really freeing to pedal along as we crossed under the Beltway traffic.

Biking on canal

I asked my dad if there was any way to avoid riding in the roads getting back to the car, so we took a rail trail of gravel and dirt up to Great Falls, which my skinny-tire road bike did NOT like one bit!

Biking at Great Falls

Okay, in this pic there’s a railing there, but I swear there wasn’t one most of the ride and earlier on the terrain was rougher. I was totally freaked out riding along the trail, which had me pondering:

Would you rather ride in rush hour traffic on the road, or on a gravel trail where one false move would send you tumbling into the stinky Canal or over a cliff into the Falls?

Neither?

The ride back was about 15 miles, so we basically rode 30 miles that day. I was glad to sneak in some solid cycling time on a weekday, which is typically hard to fit in with my schedule.

So then there was the aforementioned fell-asleep-on-my-daughter’s-bed-all-stinky, and since I was out like a light before 9pm, I woke up at 5am fully rested. I tried to go back to sleep for a little while and then realized – let the birthday workouts begin!

Birthday Workout #1: I ran 4.1 miles to celebrate my 41st birthday! It was a gorgeous day, although humid. I felt amazing – happy to be strong and healthy and in the best shape of my life at age 41.

Running on my birthday 4.1 miles for age 41

I walked into the house to a birthday celebration put on by my kids and au pair, and it was so incredibly lovely! The kids had made magnets, picture frames, and cards, and a breakfast-y cake!

Birthday Workout #2: To double up the birthday workouts, I headed to Barre3 on my lunch break – what a cool birthday treat to have a free barre class on your birthday!

 Barre3 free class birthday

Thanks for all your birthday wishes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! 40 has been a fabulous adventure and I’m ready for the next year!

 

What is your ideal way to spend a birthday?

Would you rather ride in rush hour traffic on the road, or on a gravel trail where one false move would send you tumbling into the stinky Canal or over a cliff into the Falls?