Friday, December 27, 2013

Review: Flywheel - My Latest Obsession

So, if you follow me on social media, instagram or twitter...then you know one thing. I have replaced running all the miles with taking all the Flywheel classes.

It all began oh so innocently.

I was visiting my sister for the Halloween Half Marathon in Miami. She had recently started working at Flywheel and casually mentions that the day after we should take a class. 

New activity? Sold. I hadn't been spinning much and I was in "taper" the week before the NYC Marathon so obviously the day after running 15 miles (1/2 marathon + additional) I should totally take a spin class and run some miles! Plus she was so stoked about not only the job but the classes that I couldn't NOT go, right?

The next morning we ran the mile or so over to the studio to warm up/shake out from the half marathon. 

We arrived and immediately I just felt the energy. The previous class had just let out and I was greeted by smiling sweaty people. My favorite kind of people! 

She showed me how to sign in - SO easy - you sign in with your username at the laptop, confirm your bike assignment is correct and then grab your shoes from the correlating numbered cubby to your bike.  Easy peasy. 

I'm not new to spinning but we quickly put our stuff in a locker (no locks needed - the type where you create a new code each time you use them) and set up the bike and we were in business. Each studio is set up stadium style so there pretty much isn't a bad seat in the house.

Note: this class would be my first time clipping in with spin shoes (which are provided for you as part of the class fee) - holy difference. I am sorry I will never ever spin again without the shoes. 

Start spinning the legs to warm up as the lights are dimmed and the music starts. 

Now this is my favorite part, unique to Flywheel and probably the large part of why I am obsessed at this point. 

You create a username with your account to participate in the Torque Board during class if you so choose. If you do, your total power number will appear on the screen under your name and bike. 

If you know me, you know that at times I am ultra competitive. I'm sorry not everything in life is a race? What? That is just absurd. It's about winning (okay not always buuuuut a lot). 

We get going and after a couple songs I see that my sister and I are neck to neck and at the top of the board! Us, the two who ran 15 miles the day before and prior to class. I kind of look at her and go to the dark side. Inner competitor comes out and is just like GO TIME. Head down and ride. All of it amazing. Plus the added benefit of one track where you do some upper body strength while spinning with weighted bars.

Happy to say I beat her that day (sorry Karlyle!) and finished #4 I think for my first ride. 

Next steps were running a few more miles then upon returning to her apartment stalking the Flywheel New York website and choosing classes for the upcoming week. 

That was about 2 months ago and I have probably started averaging 4 classes per week. Side note: my wallet hates me.

I have only been going to the Flatiron studio and have already found my "favorites". 

Top of my list has to be Jesse Alexander

Because of him and his popularity - I have a permanent alarm on my phone that alerts me at 4/4:30/4:55pm every Sunday for the 5:00 booking time to open because quite literally within a minute his classes fill up. 

It is insane. And warranted. I actually feel a little ridiculous for how pumped I get just THINKING about his class. Now, I am not the most hip hop person which a lot of his playlists are but his song selection is always amazing in the way it is choreographed to his ride. But, it is more just his energy. It oozes out of him. He is jumping off the bike. At times so amped with energy that he is actually jumping encouraging us. He will also move through the class, interact personally with you during the ride. 

My first one with him was the day before Thanksgiving. I guess a lot of people were no shows because for the only time I have ever experienced since there were empty bikes. I had one next to me and the next thing I knew he came over whispered some words of inspiration and then hopped up on the bike next to me and started riding with me. Want me to work harder? Okay. Done. Rode my way to #1 on the board in that class. And then proceeded to take a double with him on Thanksgiving Day. He was also the start of me realizing I could hit 300+ in total power in a 45 min class. He brings out the best. He encourages you to have an goal, and intention for each ride. Don't just show up - have a purpose. 

Okay enough of the Jesse love. But seriously, go book his class and tell me you don't love every sweaty second of it.

I've stuck with a few instructors for the most part. Ryan is just pure awesome his playlists are up my alley 100%. Want to get pumped before work? Hit up Kate or Grant and get your ass kicked before stepping foot in the office. And cannot forget Ruth the genius behind it all. I plan to test out more, but for now schedule and location wise, Flatiron is most convenient and I can only make 6/7am or usually 7:30pm or later week days (thanks work don't you know I have sweating to get done?). Weekends are dedicated one day to running long one to Flywheel typically.

At $32 a class (includes shoes and all the bottled water you need to replenish the pool of sweat that will be under your bike) it isn't cheap - but for me I am always willing to sacrifice the money for a killer workout. You can buy packages and they will get a little cheaper per class, but I would LOVE a membership option (apparently that used to exist but does not anymore, siiiiiigh).

Thankfully my Christmas consisted almost entirely of Flywheel gear + packages. Thank you everyone for catching on to my obsession. And please feel free to note my birthday coming up in the next month. Okay? Thanks.

I know that there is quite the following for Soul Cycle who is just as cult like in their obsession but I have to say...I can't see leaving Flywheel. I couldn't leave behind the competition or the classes that I come to look so forward to. And let's not forget the goal to "power up" each month. Get 2500 power points and get the shirt that month. I like goals and competition what can I say?

This has been the perfect diversion in my much needed "down" time from serious marathon training. It came at the perfect point in time. I was obviously burned out from logging 40-60 mile weeks and strict training schedules. My fall didn't go as planned and I didn't get my sub 4 hour marathon that I was focused on for oh you know just 6 months or so. I was disenchanted and was starting to think of training as a burden rather than fun and this has really helped invigorate a passion. As I am in "off" season now I plan to probably stick to a 3 classes/week schedule to accommodate at least 3 runs per week schedule to maintain fitness (1 easy/1 speed or hill/1 long) plus strength training.

Next up on the list is to get my butt to Flybarre to work on my strength and toning which is severely lacking these days. I have been getting better about hitting the weight room but think that Flybarre will help me focus on that strength to help running.

All I can say is get your ass to Flywheel...but let me know so I have more excuses to go! And I hope you drink to kool aid and fall in love just as much as I have.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Year of Running: 2013

yearofrunning 225x300 How was your year of running?

I thought that it would be fun to play along this year with Miss Zippy's Year of Running !

This has been quite the year for me. I think I will probably at some point write a longer post of reflection but here's a little insight.

  • Best race experience?  I am going to go with the Dirty German 50K - my first ultra and don't even ask me how but this was the most FUN race. My first trail run as well. Because you should definitely make your first foray onto the trails a 31 mile run. Naturally. I have never ended a race feeling so strong and as if I didn't want to end. Just an all around awesome experience.
  •  Best run? I actually had so many confidence boosting speed workouts leading up to the marathons but I am going to go with my 10 x 800 (I learned I LOVE 800 and mile repeats, weird, I know) I paced all between 3:45 and 3:53 - 3 weeks prior to my goal marathon I should have been on track for breaking that 4:00 mark.
  • Best new piece of gear? My Mizuno Wave Sayonara's - love them for tempo and speed work. Even some mid/long distance runs of 10-13 they were great and made me feel speedy - I love these bad boys!
  • Best piece of advice you received? Rest, rest and more rest. I used to never take rest days - this training cycle the easy, cross training and one day of rest (or yoga/strength but no cardio) were built in and non negotiable. And I learned to love and look forward to them. I upped the quality of my workouts and the mileage and therefore it was imperative to have the balance. I also learned that junk miles are of no benefit whatsoever. My running coach built a schedule that worked really well for me. I learned so much from her the past several months.
  • Most inspirational runner? Honestly I follow so many amazing bloggers. To watch Jen conquer her first marathon in inspiring fashion, Theodora's sub 4 NYCM as well as my sister running her first a couple weeks ago...I love. I find the most inspiring people to be those who are just like me. Working full time and trying to train on top of that. I find it a lot easier to relate knowing that they are trying to balance work, personal and training in the same fashion. 
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Evolving. This was the year of marathons and big goals for me. I ran my first marathon. Then another and then an Ultra. Then I decided I wanted to get better and set the sub 4 mark - as well as adding 2 additional marathons this fall. Everything fell apart. I was primed and should have killed Hartford. Then the DNF. I was cramped from the start. The rest of fall kind of fell apart from there. I ran NYCM with a 100 degree fever. A 4:29 not bad considering but disappointing to be sick that day. I had about 12 minutes or so of stoppage time with bathrooms and medical tent breaks I should have PR'd at least. I had grand plans of an awesome Palm Beaches Marathon but once NYCM was over I was done. Mentally and physically burnt out. I set out on a 14 mile run a week later and could barely maintain 11 minute miles. Recovery from being sick + the marathon killed me. And I dropped to the half. Which was awful in itself. So not a couple words but a book. Same thing. I'm learning. I am learning I don't want to run races to run races. I want to run well. That is the goal for the future. 
And there we have it! 2013 the year of training awesome and not performing in races. Le sigh.

Here's to many more years of running though and running happy. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Palm Beaches Half Marathon

This past weekend I went down to West Palm Beach with the intent to run the marathon.

Yay for 80 degrees and gorgeous!

After NYCM I just knew that I was kind of done with the marathon for now and officially dropped down to the half at the expo the day before. Sadly I had to keep my 26.2 bib so ran feeling like a fraud (although when the volunteers at the half / full split anxiously told me I was going the wrong way - I did my most excited leap of the day and informed them I had dropped down!).

Anyway so basically this race was crap. Quite literally.

I had been running pretty well the couple weeks prior and thought that I could at least just run a sub 2. No way I thought I would PR (1:53) but a solid race seemed realistic.

Morning of just was not feeling right my stomach was gurgling yet I couldn't actually GO to the bathroom.

Get to the start and they have the race under caution to begin (it was almost 80 at 6 something am it was going to be a hot one!). It was gorgeous along the water though waiting!

The race starts about 20 minutes late and immediately I know I am not making it far without the bathroom. I dodged away right before crossing the start to run to a portopotty.

Thus would continue for the remainder of the race.

At first I was just focusing on making it a mile without walking or stopping for the bathroom. 

By the end I was praying for 1/4 mile increments. 

So discouraging. It was hot as hell, I was drenched with sweat and incapable of just RUNNING and getting it over with. 

I lost count around 7 or 8 bathroom stops. And I threw up at mile 10 when I kept saying I needed water and got handed gatorade which I chugged and promptly threw up. (running can be so sexy, right?).

My poor sister I found out, was running the full (HER FIRST!!!!) and encountering the same exact issues. Which she has NEVER before. I felt so god awful for her. 

Turns out we think the culprit was our Publix subs we got the night before for dinner. We each ate half of ours (same subs)...she ate the other half the next day when she was feeling better and soon felt shitty again.  Major sad pants because one of my favorite things about Florida is Publix and their subs! I thankfully never ate my second half.

So the recap is: it was super hot, beautiful course, a nice but not too overpowering breeze from the water but I can't actually say I "ran" this sucker. 

Thinking Florida is cursed with races for me. Every one is a disaster! Yet I keep coming back for more. One day I will have a good one.

The BEST surprise though - MY PARENTS SHOWED UP!!! They live about 90 minutes north of West Palm and came to surprise me. Best race redemption ever, I was so happy!!!! They have never come to ANY of our races so I was thrilled. We got to spend the afternoon together so that made everything a-okay in my book.

So yeah. Basically - could have been a good one but just not my day. It was actually comical by the end just how incapable of running I was. 

I did however really enjoy the course and scenery! And there were some decent crowds. I would run this one again for sure. I love going to Miami but the vibe here was chill, and a lot smaller field makes it more manageable. 

This cute older man running by me high fived it and yelled at me that I should listen to directions, haha!
My sis about to finish!!!!
Further feeling like a fraud: they gave the full medal as much as I pleaded for the half one.

My face says a lot...smiling but really really not smiling on the inside.
And the cruelest thing ever...coming back home to this weather. Ugh NYC NOT amused!!!