Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Visiting Baltimore and Washington DC

A few months ago one of my very best friends invited me to visit her and her husband in Baltimore and run a 10k with them.  It was to be their first 10k and they knew I'd enjoy running in a new city.  I jumped at the invite and booked the trip.  The race was the Sole of the City 10k on April 12.

Here we are before the race and after.  It was an amazing course that started and finished in McHenry Row where there were restaurants, bathrooms, and shopping.  The course was different from the first two years of the race and this year there wasn't an awful hill right into the finish line.  The course was for the most part flat except from a short uphill portion that included some cobble stone.  Not cool.


Because of the amazing weather that morning and the flat course I was able to finish with my best time: 56:24 putting me in 815th place overall.  My pace was 9:06/mile.  I really wanted to beat 55 minutes, but I'm not at all disappointed in how I ran.  I cut 3:20 from my last 10k race in February - not too bad!  It was also fun to get to see so much of the city while we ran.  Hopefully next year they do a few waves at the start.  There were over 3000 runners and the first mile and a half was a lot of dodging and weaving.  Connie and Marc loved the race atmosphere and the 10k distance and are already looking for their next race.

After the race we grabbed some brunch and walked around a little bit more then headed back to their place.  That evening we went to a Baltimore Orioles game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The baseball fan in me loved seeing a new ball field, Camden Yards.  The long, brick building that is behind the scoreboard is actually party of the stadium and where all of the team offices are located.  We had great seats for the game and every now and then a foul ball would head in our direction.  The Braves and Orioles are in different divisions so I can't even remember the last time we played them. 

Sunday we decided to head into Washington DC to check out the last day of the Cherry Blossom Festival.  We drove about 30 minutes to a train station and then took the train in the rest of the way.  

Some of the trees were in full bloom and some of them were a day or two past full bloom, but it was beautiful.  The weather on Sunday was also amazing making the afternoon even more enjoyable.  The crowd was unbelievable, but still organized.  

We started by the Smithsonian and walked towards the Washington Monument and then to the Tidal Basin to walk around to the Jefferson Memorial.  

In all of my previous trips to DC I'd never walked around the water or over to the Jefferson Memorial.   Once we got to the Memorial the view back to the Washington Monument was breathtaking, especially with all of the cherry blossoms and the perfect weather.

Pink shades from Connie's wedding back in September. 

Inside the Memorial the statue of Thomas Jefferson was much larger than I expected it to be.  The walls were inscribed with some of his most famous quotes.  

Our last stop on our walking tour was over to the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial.

The lady on the bike wasn't moving, so there she is in my picture.  He looks out over the water, towards the Jefferson Memorial, and I wish I had taken a picture of that direction.  It is a beautiful stop along the water and much larger than I expected it to be.  

We didn't have time, and our feet were killing us, to make it across to the Vietnam Memorial so I'll have to go by there next time I visit.  The Holocaust Museum is also on my list for the next trip along with all of the other museums.  I think Vietnam and the Holocaust in one weekend will be heavy, but totally necessary.  I wish I had visited DC when I was a kid, there is so much to see, but I'm also glad that as I'm seeing these monuments and memorials that I'm old enough to appreciate them.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lululemon and a 6' Tall Lady

I work out at least three times each week, sometimes as many as six times a week.  I go through a lot of clothes and I am constantly doing laundry.  Being 6-feet tall makes finding the right workout clothes pretty difficult, especially in the winter when I need long items.  For me, the right fit means that they aren't too tight or too loose and actually cover the intended areas of my body.  I'm long and lean and not everyone designs clothes for my shape. A lot of brands will have long lengths, but then I swim in the clothes because they are so baggy.

Lululemon is my hero.

Let's outline some of the issues I have when shopping:

My Tall Girl Problem #1 - My legs are LONG
My inseam is 35" when I'm flat foot and if I'm wearing heels I need pants with at least a 36" inseam.  This is an issue when shopping for yoga pants or running pants.  Summer is great when I can just wear shorts.

My Tall Girl Problem #2 - My ribcage is small
Sports bras are also a challenge.  I need a small or extra small to fit my ribcage and bust, but a medium or large to fit correctly over my shoulders.  If I get a small the bra hits me mid-boob (I just typed that) and if I get a medium or large the bras are too loose to even work properly.

My Tall Girl Problem #3 - My torso is long
Similar to the sports bras, I can wear a small shirt, sometimes even an extra small.  Sounds nice, until I put the shirt on and it is a mid-drift when I lift my arms.

My Tall Girl Problem #4 - Long arms
Most long sleeve shirts aren't long enough for me.  Running outdoors in the winter requires long sleeves that stay put.

On a whim I ventured into a new Lululemon store just to check out what all the hype was about.  I'm much more of a TJ Maxx or Target shopper for exercise attire so there was some sticker shock when I checked out the Lulu prices.  But since I was there, why not try something on?  Of course, their clothes fit me perfectly.  The pants are long, the sleeves are long, their clothes have a slim fit and some items even come in a long size.  My poor bank account.

Solution to problem #1

The Speed Tight *full-on Luxtreme

The pants look short when you hold them up, but the store associate promised they run long so I gave them a shot.  The don't bunch at the ankle on me like they do in this picture, but they hit me in the same place - even with my crazy long legs.  And they're thick!  I've run a half marathon (at 25 degrees) in them and many training runs and can't get enough of them.  

Solution to problem #2 

Flow y bra iv
I own four Lulu sports bras, size 6, and they're perfect.  All four are different styles, one of them is the one pictured above.  It looks like they switch out their styles pretty often so I can't find my other styles online, but I haven't tried one on that hasn't felt good.  They are much more snug (on my A cups) than any other bra I've tried, and they are long enough to actually cover my chest properly.  I won't wear any other bra for a long run or a race.  

Solution to problem #3 & #4

Swiftly tech short sleeve

These shirts are so long!  And on top of that they have a slim fit, so they fit well in the arms, and all the way down the shirt.  Nothing is baggy or bunchy.  I wore this shirt with one of their skirts for my Disney Half Marathon and loved it.  You don't even feel it's there while you're running.  

I also have the shirt in long sleeve, and they are actually long enough.  I can use the thumb holes without the shirt becoming super uncomfortable.   Even without using the holes, the sleeves stay put.  They are snug the entire length of my arm so they don't bunch up and move around.  

Swiftly tech long sleeve *print

Now that the weather is heating up, I'm putting away my longer items and pulling back out my shorts.  I have an unreasonable amount of the Nike running shorts so I didn't think I needed any of the Lulu shorts until I tried on a pair a few weeks ago.  They fit completely different than the Nike shorts and I love the way they feel.  

Tracker short II 2-way stretch
They sit much lower than the Nikes and hold their form, but not in a stiff way.  I've only worn them once because of the temps, but I'll be wearing them this weekend in a 10k and I'm looking forward to it.  I'm not getting rid of any shorts that I own, but these are top of the pile in the shorts rotation.    

I can't say how happy I am that I found a store where I can buy clothes right off the rack.  I know the clothes are expensive and require some care when washing (delicate cycle, hang dry, no fabric softener) but they are quality pieces and they don't fall apart so once a quarter I can justify a new piece.  To all the tall ladies out there, check out Lululemon for your workout gear.  

*Lululemon did not sponsor this post.  The opinions above are mine alone and I was not compensated in any way for my endorsement.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Flywheel Sports - Spin class for adrenaline nerds

A lady I work with knows how much I enjoy working out and she invited me to a 5:30am Flywheel class on a Thursday morning.  She was going to pay for it.  There isn't much that will get me out the door at 5:00am, but a free spin class will do it.  I'm obsessed, but let me start at the beginning.

I've been obsessed with spin/cycle classes for years.  I took my first one when I was in high school, a million years ago, and I try to get to one a week at my YMCA.  It's a must when I join a gym.  There must be a spin class offering.  The first few classes I took at my Y were fantastic, but the instructor doesn't teach anymore (at least when I can take the classes) and the new instructor leaves a lot to be desired.

Flywheel isn't your standard class.  The bikes are amazing!  Step one is to create an account on the site and buy credits to you for your classes.  There are several packages you can pick from, they aren't cheap.  When you sign up for your class, which fill up QUICK, you pick your bike for your class.  During class, the bike tracks your distance, torque, and power for each 45 minute class.  After class you can go online and see your performance.  The great thing is that the website tracks all of your classes so you can see how you're doing over time.

I have no idea if I'm fast or slow, no judging!

Above is my performance after two classes.  The top section is my average across those statistics and below that is my performance for each of my two rides.  I've burned less calories than estimated because my weight is below the weight assumption - not a big deal to me.  Knowing that I've ridden 21 miles each class blows my mind.  I say that Flywheel is a class for adrenaline nerds because you have to enjoy the class, the loud music and pushing yourself to the limit, at the same time all of the analytics are very exciting.  At least they are to me.  As soon as I got home I went online and checked my performance and compared it against my last class.  I love data.  Especially workout data.    

I have to also give Flywheel credit for the ease of their website.  Setting up an account was easy, finding the performance results is easy and scheduling a class is easy.  This is what the class schedule looks like for the Buckhead location in Atlanta for this week.  I'm not joking when I say classes fill up fast.  When you're logged into your account online you select the instructor you want and the class you want and you're all set to pick your bike.  You can sort the list by instructor if you'd like, too.  If the class you want is full you'll have the option to get on a waiting list.  I was on the waiting list for my 2nd class and within 24 hours I got the email saying I had a reserved bike.  I'm not sure if that's typical, but it worked well for me.  

Another great thing about Flywheel is that all of the bikes are set for the clip in shoes which are given to you when you check in.  (Also an easy process with an iPad and the shoes are ready in your little cubby.  That way at 5:15am you don't have to talk to a human being if you don't want to, and more importantly, the line isn't out the door 5 minutes before class starts.)  I'm sure people bring their own shoes if they own a pair.  I should have asked for a pair for my birthday - big miss for me!

I've only taken class with Richard S so I can only speak to my experiences and his classes.  He kicks ass.  I'm sweating before our warm up is complete and I don't stop until I get home to my shower.  He is encouraging and motivating and isn't afraid to push the class.  I hate that the only time I can make his class is at 5:30 in the morning, but it's worth it.  Even the 20 minute drive to Buckhead.  

If you're in the area and want a new workout challenge, try Flywheel.  I'm fitting it in 1x a week to mix up my cardio workouts.  They also have FlyBarre in the same studio which I haven't tried yet.  I hope to try it out soon, but I think that will be a Saturday morning class when I don't want the hard cardio workout.