Biker Barre: A week of firsts

This week has been a week of firsts.  My first barre class.  My first spin class.  My first month unlimited to Biker Barre.  Oye what have I gotten myself into?!

Several of my coworkers have been raving about Biker Barre.  It’s this tiny little barre/spin place in South East DC.  Now, before you freak out when I say SE, South East DC has made HUGE strides over where they were even 10 years ago.  Heck I’d even consider living in SE if I didn’t already own a place.

Barre classes are designed to be similar to a ballet barre class.  Considering that I never took ballet in my life and I am as graceful as a rhino on roller skates I was fully prepared to look something like this during my first class:

In actuality I wasn’t quite that bad, but I am still not nearly as graceful as others.  Meh, I’m a work in progress.

Then I tried spin.  Nervous Bunny raves about her spin classes.  I have never done spin.  Every time I’ve even thought about doing spin I hear how LOUD the music is and it completely backs me off.  Nervous Bunny convinced me that doing spin would be good for me (“You are attached to the bike, you know”).  I broke down threw some ear plugs in my ears and did my first spin class.

The cool thing about Biker Barre is that they do their spin classes in the dark.  Only the emergency exit (good to know) and the instructor are illuminated.  This means that no matter how much I am huffing and puffing no one can see me huffing and puffing.  This could be a good thing…..Also spin requires you to ‘sprint’ on your bike.  I currently only have 2 speeds installed run and walk.  If spin gives me the ability to find the other gears in my legs I’m all for it.

I’m really trying to venture beyond just running mainly because if I don’t cross train I’m going to wind up unbalanced.  Not to mention with my asthma getting worse I really need to find other ways to push my lungs to the point of explosion besides running.  I need to improve my breathing to improve my running.

Why do I have this push on improving my running?  I have my sights set on doing the Seashore Classic Half Marathon next April.  It will be a month after the Shamrock Half.  There is a tiny problem, though.  You have to be able to do a 12 minute mile pace.  That is a work in progress for me.

Before I got sick I did an 11:21mm 10k.  Then I got sick.  I’m slowing whacking the time back off, but it is hard.  It’s just a matter of getting my lungs back to where they were.  I’m hoping that a month of barre and spin classes back to back every weekend will increase my stamina and increase my cardio ability.  Either that or it is going to kill me…..I’ll keep you posted.

Finding my legs, again

Lately, I’ve been struggling on my runs. At first I chalked it up to being unfit. Yet the more I ran the worse I felt. I was doing everything a good asthmatic is suppose to do. I was taking my daily meds, taking my pre-run inhaler and watching the temperature closer than most weathermen in order to gauge whether I should be inside or outside (with or without my new ColdAvenger). Yet nothing was working. I finally said enough was enough and went and saw the doc.

Long story short she threw me on a new medicine. She said it would take a couple of weeks to tell the difference. Around the time I did my follow up with her I was sicker than a dog. She said, “well new meds are definitely working or else you’d be even more sick.” I’m not quite sure why I found that reassuring but I did.

Today was my first day back running. I figured if I was healthy enough to do SolidCore and yoga I was healthy enough to hit the trails. Actually I am still coughing a little but I digress…I didn’t set out to do any crazy distance or set a pace for myself. I was out to ease myself back into the program with a nice 2 mile trail run.

It felt great. No more than great. I don’t think I’ve been this happy and enjoyed my run this much in a long time. The weather was perfect. I had the park practically to myself. Perry was enjoying himself. Most importantly I could breathe. I didn’t feel like my lungs were on fire or were going to explode out of my chest. Right now I’m a very happy girl. If I can continue breathing this well I will be beyond excited.

IMG_5284.JPG

Schrödinger’s Body: Tale of a [solidcore] workout

Schrödinger’s body; (def) a body can be weak and strong all at the same time.

I get bored.  I know it.  Not only does my mind begin to wander when it gets bored, but the natural sloth in me can always find a reason not to workout.  Over the course of many years I have learned this about myself.  This is why I register for races (to keep myself honest and on track), but also go looking for classes that are WAY outside of my comfort zone.  Not only does it keep me engaged, but it keeps me from plateauing.  Two birds, one class.  Enter [solidcore].

[solidcore] comes with it’s very own warning video.  Don’t believe me?  Click the link.  You’ll see.  It’s no joke.  Yet, I had been reading multiple articles talking about how amazing this class was for your body.  Many times several of my co-workers and I have been discussing about possibly trying it with hushed and awed tones.  Could we survive?  Would we survive?  Someone had to be the guinea pig for the group so I stepped up.  Hey, I never claimed to be smart.

After being down for a week being sick and having to reschedule only made the class more intimidating.  It’s like the mountain that is right in front of you that you know that you have to go over to get to the other side, but the more you think about it the bigger it gets.  Today my co-worker (we shall call her Nervous Bunny) finally went to class.

I got there a little earlier than I should have, but given the fact that I metro-ed to one of their DC locations I hadn’t been sure how long it was going to take me to get there.  I’m kind of glad I did.  I got to watch the class before us go.  I was watching skinny girls struggle.  Oh what did I get myself into?! Nervous Bunny and I decided that we would have a ‘safe word’; if it got too much we would say “pumpkin” and we would bail and never speak of it again.

The mega-reformer looks quite a bit like a Pilates machine. The whole purpose of this class is to bring your slow twitch muscles to failure through slow and controlled motion.  My main draw to this class is that it is slow and controlled.  Everyone knows that when it comes to grace I have zero.  What could go wrong with slow and controlled.

As we made our way through class working one muscle group to another I learned just how strong and yet weak I was.  I watched my leg muscles shake.  We weren’t doing anything crazy, no pounding, no crazy miles, no screaming, just slow controlled movements.  Just when your mind screams at you that you can’t do one more thing, they change it up.  What are they mind readers??  From one muscle group to another, over and over again.

I didn’t think I was going to make it.  Nervous Bunny didn’t think she was going to make it.  We grunted and struggled and tried our hearts out.  Then the instructor said the magic words, “last exercise”.  Oh sweet Lord we made it.  Through the ring of fire and out the other side.  We were weak, but we made it through the class making us strong.  After class the instructor of our class and one of the girls in our class (who had been the instructor of the earlier class) came to speak with us.  They congratulated us for doing well.  Then they dropped this little bomb on us, “We teach to the strongest person on the room.  That class wasn’t easy.”  If my jaw had the energy to hit the floor it would have.  Say what?  Teach to the strongest person.  Yikes!  I felt a little better about struggling and then a little ashamed that I had to struggle at all. Running the half marathon was easier than this class.  Holy smokes!

Then came the hard part; getting home.  Nervous Bunny and I chatted while we waited for our separate trains to arrive.  I was already willing to go to another class.  Nervous Bunny wasn’t so sure.  She too agreed that she was surprised that she survived the class.  “The trick is surviving the rest of the day.”  She said.  I laughed.  She did have a point.

Sweaty, stinky, and ever so exhausted I made my way home via metro.  One obstacleIMG_5267 stood between me and my heated car seat.  The stairs.  Now, granted, I could have walked down the platform and taken the escalator, but dammit that was too far.  I limped and whimpered my way up the stairs.  Turned on the car and immediately turned on the heated seat.  Oh wait, I have to drive home?!  Crap.

Sitting at a stop light with my foot on the brake, my leg started to shake.  First a little and then a lot.  The longer my foot sat on the brake the harder my leg started to shake.  Are you kidding me???  Just sitting with my leg on the brake was causing my leg to shake.  Good grief that was some workout.  I definitely won’t get bored that’s for sure.  I am already sore in parts of me I didn’t know could get sore.  All that said, I will most certainly go back.

Now, to climb the stairs to get into the shower….I’ll get there, eventually.

I finished

Whose brilliant idea was this anyway: Across the Bay 10k

IMG_5199There is exactly one span that crosses the Chesapeake Bay.  It’s called the Bay Bridge.  It’s long, it’s tall and in the summer it’s a pain in the ass.  Many moons ago there use to be a Bay Bridge run/walk.  Some time after 9/11 they stopped doing it out of security concerns.  I guess they must have worked them out because this year they re-instituted it as a 10k. Granted, there were no backpacks or no Camelbaks, but that’s the price of security I guess.

My first mistake was that yesterday I did the weight workout my brother gave me to do.  Why, in the blazes, I did something that dumb is still beyond me.  Lesson learned, doing a weight workout before one is going to run up an incline for nearly 2.5 miles is a DUMB idea. My hamstrings and quads werse creaming at me in language that would make a sailor blush.  As I was climbing the bridge I just felt like I had absolutely no gas in the tank.  Yet, I pushed on. As I pushed my way up the bridge I had to play frogger around all of the walkers.  I really wish that the organizers had reminded everyone that runners stay on the left and walkers stay on the right.  I think that the constant zigging and zagging didn’t help my lack of gas.

IMG_5208The good news is that the bridge had built in spacers to account for the change in weather (amongst other more ‘enginery’ type things that someone else could explain to you).  I used those as points of reference.  The conversation in my head would be, “ok, you are going to run to the next arch” or “ok, you can walk once you cross that expansion”.  It made for motivation to keep running and not to allow myself to walk too much.  Oh, how I wanted to walk…

There were tons of cops from the state level, both Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s County as well as Coast Guard.  The nice thing I found is that lots of people were saying thank you to both the security forces and the volunteers.  One of my favorite cops the whole race was the female that was standing near the top of the bridge who was saying, “water, porta-potties and downhill are that way”.  Oh I could have kissed her.  2.5 miles up hill was hard. My second mistake was not bringing anything to refill my tank (e.g. my cacao goji berry snacks.)

The last two miles of this race were all from my heart.  I was having an extremely difficult time finding my groove. Everything seemed to be off from my breathing to my striding.  I blame the fact that I wasn’t wearing my favorite tutu.  I was doing nothing but just gutting it out.  When I came around the corner between mile 5 and 6 and I saw a small uphill I said, “Are you f*$& kidding me?!” I walked half way up and then started running again.

IMG_5213We turned the last corner the finish line was insight.  Some how I managed to dig deep \ and sprint my way from the traffic light through the finish line.  Relief does not begin to describe the emotion I felt as I crossed over the finish line.  I stopped my MapMyFitness program.  6.52 miles was my ultimate distance with all of the zigging and the zagging.  According to their race records from start to finish I did it in 1:21:59.  That averages a 13:13 mile.

The race organizers had arranged for us to have “lunches”.  While it was a sweet gesture as I opened my bag and looked in it; bagel (gluten), granola bar (gluten), pretzels (gluten).  DAMMIT.  I handed it back to the volunteer and told them to give it to someone else because there IMG_5215was nothing in there I could eat.  As I walked away I heard them say, “I feel bad someone else said that too.”  There was not a banana or piece of fruit in sight.  There was a beer tent (gluten).   ARE YOU KIDDING ME??  As I caught up with one of my co-workers who I had conned into running the race with me we walked the perimeter looking at all of the food vendors there was gluten.  Every.  Single.  One of them.  WTH???  Ugh.  My third mistake was assuming there would be something anything I could eat at the finish.

We walked towards the exit where the shuttle buses were lined up to take us back to our parking spot at the Navy Stadium.  The ride back over the other span of the bridge was filled with contemplation of how we conquered the bridge. About 5 minutes out from the stadium this guy comes up from the back of the bus begging the bus driver to know how much longer until we reached the stadium, apparently he had to really pee.  The second we hit a stop light the driver let him off of the bus and he found the nearest tree in full view of the rest of us still ON the bus.  Hey I guess when you’ve got to go…

Once we got to the stadium we all stood up to get off the bus.  My legs weren’t just merely protesting any more, they were failing to function.  They were giving me a big FU.  I coaxed them off the bus and into forward motion heading for the car.  Thank goodness I scheduled a massage tomorrow because I’m going to need it.

Toe pick!

Do you remember the scene in Cutting Edge, you know the one where Douglas is learning to figure skate; “toe pick”.

Well, that pretty much sums up my trail run this week.  My brother was here this week and he wanted to embrace the fact that he wasn’t living in Alaska any longer. We decided to hit up a trail at a local park and work the kinks out of our legs (full disclosure, kinks he put there with his ‘modified CrossFit workout’).  I was still feeling rather mangled, so, I begged convinced him to do the 4 mile loop vice the 7 mile loop.

He took off like a gazelle through the woods.  Within a minute he was gone.  Perry and I weren’t concerned, eventually we’d catch him.  You know, like back at the car after he’s had time to cool down and take a nap.

Perry and I made our way through the woods enjoying the view and the peace. One tiny little problem I’m a huge klutz.   We were doing great with no stopping or breaks through the 2 mile mark.  Granted a few roots which caught my attention, but nothing that I couldn’t handle.  However, leaves+roots=me superman flying through the air.  At the mile 2.5 mark I took a tumble that would make any stuntman blush.  My ankle rolled, I went flying through the air, landed and then skid through the mud.  Poor Perry was terrified.  He looked at me with the “I didn’t do it, mama!”

As I lay there in a heap I realized that I had to move forward.  I was a mile and a half from the car.  There was no option.  I had to pick myself up.  As headed down the trail limping slightly I knew I had to push on.  I walked on putting more and more weight on the ankle until the stinging left the foot then I picked up a slight jog.  I knew I could do this.  Just as I picked up my jog a text message came through my phone.  I didn’t see it until I got back to the car, but it was from my brother.  He had send “You doing great, keep it up.” Yeah, he’s awesome.

I got back to the car and he laughed as he saw the streak down the side of my tights.  He asked what happened to me.  As I relayed the toe picking supermaning he laughed.  Then he asked how long it took me to finish the 4 miles.  I told him 59:32.  He was impressed.  Hey, I may be old, I may be fat, but I’m determined.