Monday, March 20, 2017

More Thoughts on Another Marathon Gone

The other day, I went with "The Ukrainian" to the LA Marathon Expo and recorded a little mash-up for YouTube.

I had not been to that expo in a couple of years, and since neither of us are doing much running these days, expos in general haven't been something I've seen a lot of since 2014 or so.  I didn't go through all of my thoughts in the video.  Yesterday was the race, and since I spent the day with Tuesday (our son), I had more time to think about what I was missing.  I would have normally said "dwell" rather than "think," but it really was more of a "think" than "dwell."

I used to be SO bothered when I couldn't do a race, for any reason.  Standing on the sidelines felt like I was giving up, which seems so, so ridiculous to me now that I'm a month away from turning 32 and feeling like I'm 62.  I wish I didn't spend all those active racing years beating myself up for not finishing races at goal, as it was just amazing to get out there in the first place.  People used to tell me this all the time; I did not understand until now.

This is not to say that I couldn't just pick up and start actively racing again.  I'm pretty sure a couple of months of discipline could get me back in the saddle, at least for the most part.  It's like riding a bike, right?  I've been having more temperamental knees in the times I did try to run (I trained for a half last year) after pregnancy.  The "a couple of months" thing seems daunting, but if I just say, I'm going to try to run a few times each week, I still ask myself, "I will?!"

So then I tell myself that I will run a couple of times THIS week.  Well, it's Monday, and I woke up feeling like I needed another cycle of sleep, and I pretty much resigned and did a barre workout instead.

The bottom line is, I'm not there yet, and because I'm not there yet, I don't feel bad or sad that I wasn't out running one of my most sentimental races.  LA Marathon was my first marathon and the only marathon I did with siblings and appeared briefly on TV (reading that linked blog post again seeing that they used to start the race SO late in warm LA March made me raise an eyebrow).  I will always feel a connection to this race, even if I'm not running it, in the same way that I feel a connection to living in the LA area in general.

I don't know what the future holds for me when it comes to racing.  I'm not sure if those people who did a bunch around the time that I was still feel that "magic" or not.  I can see participation numbers are still high, so it is probably there, and I just need to get myself back out there to see it for myself.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Xtend Barre Class Review: Pasadena Studio's Opening Day

If you have been reading my blog for a while, I do a lot of home video workouts, especially now that I have to work around all of our schedules with Tuesday's new school.

Among my favorite home workouts are barre style, which basically incorporates small movements based on ballet that are done repetitively to really focus on them.  I've reviewed some different types of barre videos in the past, most of which are linked in this post (linked as to not spam this post mentioning other "brands").

One of my favorites is Xtend Barre - Lean and Chiseled -- I like it so much, in fact, that it's currently the video loaded in my laptop.  Well, truthfully, it has been a while since I've been doing barre videos regularly since I've been trying to hammer away at some other programs and lifting more weights.  But I did start doing it again recently knowing that the studio was opening soon, and according to my Apple Watch, I'm burning about 200-ish calories for about 40 minutes of work (I don't have time to do the whole video usually, so upper + lower body segments come up to around 40 minutes).  I feel like doing barre workouts at least somewhat regularly has helped me stay in shape even though I'm not putting in as much time into working out as I did before.

I was able to attend the Pasadena studio's first-ever public class and did a vlog about it.  I mentioned in a previous post that I started a YouTube channel where I was going to start posting video reviews of things just because I find myself looking toward YouTube for reviews myself.  The video is directly linked below.

The Pasadena Xtend Barre studio features barre, yoga, circuit, and TRX classes.  I tried one of their barre classes with instructor Monica.  There was a group of about 10? people taking this inaugural class, and it was definitely everything I expected: plies, butt-burning, arm workouts with tiny weights that feel heavy after a while, and core work.  I was concerned that my recent rib injuries would make things especially rough on me, but nothing that was done in that class aggravated it too much.  I'm still figuring out what my limitations are as I recover, but thankfully, this wasn't a limiting factor for me.  I did, however, tell the instructor prior to class, just in case.  You should always do this if you feel like you may need to modify in any way!

The class started off with plié and squat variations, and then the arm work with 1-lb weights.  There were 2- and 3-lb options, but everyone was taking the 1's, and I think they were the right choice.  Though all the arm exercises did add up, I will say that these recent months of heavier upper body work at the gym made this a little less painful than I remember barre arm work to be.

The toughest parts of the class involved this giant rubber band wrapped around either your arms or legs that really brought on the burn.  I've actually never used this before with any of my videos or in any other environment, so I learned something new for sure!  The latter parts of the class focused on the core with pulses and planks.

I definitely sweated and felt my arms and legs a little weak afterward, which is a good thing.  As I said in my video, I'm still trying to see how I can fit in time with this studio, which I won't know completely until they settle into a schedule.  While I don't see myself going everyday because I still want to tackle other fitness pursuits (and don't know what to do about my current gym membership), I do want to exercise in a group once in a while.  I don't "get out" very often or do group fitness anything, but it's a nice change and motivating!

The studio itself is obviously clean from being so new, and well-lit.  The owner and instructors that I've seen so far are very friendly.  There's a cool sign-in device in the front, which I can foresee being useful when you're rushing in to the class, lockers, and merchandise for sale.  The big (BIG) plus is a kids' room -- I would totally bring Tuesday there, except I'd need to wait a bit because he's still upset when I leave the room abruptly.  Surveillance cameras are up in the kid room and lobby.

This studio is a great addition to the area, and I hope to be able to take advantage of it however I see it fitting into my current lifestyle.  The bottom line is, stuff like barre, although very different from running and such, is a good exercise that yields results.

Here's the video review:

(Not quitting my day job yet, LOL!!)

FTC Disclaimer: I came for a complimentary class and was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular opinion.

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Case of the "Did Not Start"

In my last post, I announced that I had been signed up for a half marathon and decided not to run it, making it my very first "did not start" (DNS) race.  A few years ago, it would have taken breaking both my legs or something of that magnitude to keep me away from the racing game, but this time, it was literally a cough and sneeze (again, see my previous post for details).

Ironically, I did start feeling a little bit better during the race weekend.  Bear in mind that I've had these injuries for close to a month now, so I had no idea when I'd finally start being able to roll around in bed without excruciating pain.  And yes, I did see a doctor, and "The Ukrainian" asked our chiropractor -- both basically said it's just time, ice, and pain meds.  I picked up my race bib at a very low-key showroom the day before, still wondering if I was doing the right thing.

Swag I did not earn (but paid for?) -- yes, I am still going to wear this shirt,
as a reminder of this time and how I need to take better care of myself
and also that in the end, it's just a race shirt.

Another big reason why I didn't even attempt to show up at all was because of the late start time.  Originally, when I signed up about a year ago, it was a 7:30 am start.  Now, it was 9:15 am.  A 7:30 start meant I could be home by 10:30 am (as I was planning on taking the train), but a 9:15 start meant sneaking away from the baby when already awake and missing lunch and naptime and getting stuck in the rain that was predicted (and happened) later in the day.  None of these things used to bother me as much.  Okay, I never like to start late -- bad for possible heat and stomach issues -- but yes, motherhood has shifted my priorities a little.

More on that.  If I were to be hard on myself, I'd say that motherhood has made me soft, and I'm not just talking about my gut.  Waking up early to workout/run/race was rarely a big deal for me, even laughable, but nowadays, I pretty much consider it a form of torture.  I wake up pretty early during the week for work reasons, so by the weekend, I'm pretty much down for the count, at least until about 7 am.  I credit all the sleep I lost during pregnancy and early motherhood.  Besides sleep, I try to minimize my time away from my son because I know I spend enough time away due to work.  I know I still get to see him plenty because of our arrangements, but that "mom guilt" doesn't quit.  Finally, I know that I come back from running all tired, and the thought of keeping up with a toddler when I'm sore and have a headache from running is enough to deter me.

What I ended up doing that morning instead.

Though I've just made a ton of excuses, I AM planning on trying again when it comes to half-marathon #30.  I think bad luck and lack of prioritization got the best of me this time, but my return to racing will be there for me when I'm ready.  I'm going to start browsing and making a plan for myself to hopefully do it this year.  I'd either have to recover quickly and then try to hit the pre-summer races or late Fall.  I want to be at least somewhat trained next time.  Any suggestions (in the Los Angeles area) are welcome.

Here's to better days and more runs!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Some News and Xero Shoes Review - Lena and Prio

In my last post, I said I was going to try to post soon afterward, so I'm counting this two-week gap as "soon."  Of course, I am aware it is March now, but at least only the 2nd.

After recapping my recent 5k, I mentioned that a half-marathon is in my near future -- in fact, this Sunday.  I also mentioned that a number of issues made my 5k harder than it should be, namely, a bad cold followed by a rib muscle sprain.

Unfortunately, it gets worse.  I pulled another rib muscle, on my other side.  While the original offending side is healing slowwwwly, this new one got way worse a couple of days ago when I sneezed.  Yep, I've done so many races and bounced back from Cesarean section, only to get blown out by a sneeze.

My entire upper ab/chest cavity is out of commission.  It's a tough pain to describe to someone who has not had this unfortunate injury of sorts, but basically, I can't even do a plank now without great pain.  Lower body stuff is mostly fine (more on that later), but while I can still do a little upper body weights (very very carefully), even breathing hurts sometimes, and so my physical activity has been pretty limited.

I can do some HIIT as long as it's not anything that makes me do a plank and run without swinging my arms too much.  In both of these, I'm limited to a moderate intensity so I don't stress the rib muscles (intercostal muscles, technically) by breathing too hard.  Lower body weights are fine, upper body weights -- touch-and-go, but in everything, I have decreased the weights by at least 20%.

This is a bummer, and even moreso because I'm fairly certain I am logging in my first "DNS" (did not start) this weekend.  There is just no way I want to push through a half-marathon that I didn't train for (well, I DID train for it on its original date, see here for more on that) with so much pain.  I tried going out this morning for a run, and it was riddled with pain if I pushed at all.  That pretty much sealed the deal for me.

I'd rather just heal up and return to my normal activities sooner than later.  I have some much internal strife about this -- the cheapskate in me wants to "use" my race fees.  Well, I'll at least pick up the "swag" and do an update post on it later.  My younger self is just frustrated at my wanna-be mature decision of sitting this one out.  And hopefully, when I DO run that 30th half-marathon, it will be when I'm in a better state.

Anyway, onto some BETTER news.  I started a YouTube channel!  Now, I mainly did this so I could do a quick video on the new Xero Shoes I received so I could help them out with marketing them, but it IS an idea I've toyed with for a while.  I mean, let's face it -- blogging is becoming a little less consumable than it used to be, and I don't know about you, but I love seeing things on video.

This doesn't mean I won't be blogging anymore, but I think that if I decide to keep posting there, I will be putting out more "stuff" in general, which I think is a good thing.  I would say something like "Let me know what you think," but I am perfectly aware that my maiden voyage video was filmed quickly on my iPhone in all my frumpy glory.  If this becomes a thing, I will need to start cleaning up a bit, I guess!

Below is my written review of the new Xero Shoes.  If you recall, this company makes shoes that are more amenable to you "feel[ing] the world" when you're wearing them, so you're not going to find a whole lot of clunky materials so that your feet can kind of just do their thing.

I reviewed the Hana shoes a few months back and still wear them VERY often as a go-to shoe that I slip on when I go out, chase my kid around, etc.  I also reviewed the Umara sandal, which is my summer go-to for the same reasons.

The Lena is the women's version of the Hana, so it's pretty similar, just a bit more feminine-looking.  I feel like it's more narrow, too, or maybe it's because I've worn down the Hanas too much.  Although its sole is minimal, I really enjoy walking in them, even over longer distances.  I'll be wearing them in this weekend when I'm... not doing a half-marathon.

I was also sent the Prio to review, which is more of a running-style shoe.  When I put this on, I could feel it was very different than the Lena... definitely more of a running shoe, though still minimally cushioned.  I did some strides in them and felt fine.  I've admittedly run around in my Hanas, so I could definitely go quite a while in these.  I will most likely use these when I'm running on the treadmill.

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent samples of Xero Shoes to review but was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular opinion.  My opinions are my own.