My Summer Workouts

So, I didn’t quit the gym. Well, I did, then I actually started going so I unquit. Funny how it was going to take them two months to process my cancellation, but I could walk in a few days before the deadline and undo it with no lapse in my membership! It’s super close to work and I’ve fit in a few lunchtime workouts or just hit it on the way home. Plus I’m just too in love with their yoga studio. So, all is right in the world again (perhaps not quite in my bank account, but that’s okay)!

I’ve been running a decent amount lately, mostly treadmill. At the gym. At lunch. Watching the original Beverly Hills 90210. That might have influenced my decision to unquit.

But, I’ve also done some nighttime runs. Usually I lose my motivation by the end of the day, but I’m not getting up early enough to do morning and waiting until the sun goes down is a must. It’s still warm, but I kind of like them, even though they don’t seem to like me back.

Javelina-Hunting

On one night run my house key flew off my shoe (I loop it on my shoelace). A lovely couple stopped their car and helped me find it thankfully (because Rigo hasn’t learned to unlock the door yet). Then a quarter-mile from home, I saw a momma javelina and some of her babies. I FTFO! She saw me but didn’t really care, but in my mind she was coming after me!

Last Friday I went out for four or five miles at about 8pm and ended up looping out too far and finishing seven miles before I got home! My body wasn’t quite ready for that and it was hot!

If there’s anything I’ve learned from living in Phoenix for give or take 20 summers, it’s “get the hell out as often as possible,” so when a friend asked if I wanted to go to Tahoe for a wedding/her pre-birthday weekend even though the plans started months ago when it was still lovely in Phoenix, it was a no-brainer. It was chilly, but fantastic. I even got a brief teaser of a winter run because I could NOT pass up the opportunity for five cool and hilly miles there! I’ve booked two more water trips for the next two months and have two more in the works, thank God!

I marked on my calendar to make some decisions about my fall race calendar today. Why? I don’t really know, but now race brain has taken over. My mind is mostly imploding over the fact that the Fiesta Bowl half was pushed back two weeks and is now the same day as the IronGirl 10-miler. I like the half course and it would be my second half in the fall/winter and one of my 30 before 30 goals is a sub-2:00 half and the more opportunities I get, the better, right? But the hills at the Fountain HILLS (duh) IronGirl last year kicked my ass and I kind of want to go back this year and kick its ass.

Would you pick an enjoyable race or a challenging one? I think based on that I know what I should pick, but I’m leaning toward Fiesta.

Party on a Mat with my Homies?!

The Madison Improvement Club popped up on my radar maybe a few months ago. It’s a trendy little yoga and spin studio with a healthy cafe in Arcadia. I have a crush on Arcadia. If not for my full-blown love affair with North Scottsdale, I would totally move to Arcadia. For yesterday, though, I just went there for a yoga class at Madison.

They’ve been open for a while and seem to have grown a decent little following, but did a grand opening party yesterday with $5 classes all day and fun events, all to benefit families of fallen officers. I would have liked to do a spin and then yoga, but the spin classes were already on waitlist when I tried to get a spot on Thursday.

The grand opening party was a fantastic idea from a marketing perspective. I don’t know what their normal Saturdays have been looking like, but the little club was swarming. In fact, I pulled up to see they were valeting cars. Valet for yoga? Am I in LA?!

The building is nice, a repurposed club with great outdoor and indoor space that also used to be called the Madison Improvement Club, only the original was a meeting place for a women’s society, and has a lot of the “old is new and now modernly green” Arcadia charm. It was crowded with everyone rushing around, but had a great vibe among the staff and students.

I found a spot in the large yoga studio – I overheard that about 50 people had signed up, and it was pretty tight, but the room was somehow designed to fit something like 75 – the 90ish degrees a welcome change from the cold spell that had hit overnight leaving Phoenix in the 30s outside. The class was clichely full of mostly young women and middle-aged men who needed attention. I ended up next to a woman about my age who asked if I was spinning too and said she had been to the club before and that it’s “addicting.”

That's me! Front row behind the instructor in the teal getting my Warrior A on.

That’s me! Front row behind the instructor in the teal getting my Warrior A on.

The flow itself was good – traditional Vinyasa, somewhat basic and I worked up a good sweat in the heat – but it was definitely more of a dictation vs. instruction and the dictator (haha) walked around reading her phone?! It was like those restaurants where the waiter explains that he’s not being a douche on his phone, but it’s how they enter the orders because it’s cool. In the yoga setting, it felt like she didn’t know what she was doing and was reading a flow cheat sheet! I’m always super impressed with teachers who can give the class a great, intricate flow and then not miss a beat when repeating it on the left side. Then again, maybe she was bored and checking out Twitter!

The class didn’t start on time and didn’t end on time, which I chalked up to the rush of the party day, but don’t worry, plenty of yogis decided to leave whenever they found it appropriate for them! I hate that! I also noticed before class started, people were stepping on others’ mats and some wore their shoes into the space (though, thankfully not the same ones stepping on mats). I know a lot of newbies commit these faux pas just because they don’t know, but they need to figure it out! Yoga snob rant over.

So, a good workout, a little trendy for my tastes (try not to laugh if you check out the website), but I do like variety every now and then. The Madison offers first yoga class and first spin sesh free for locals so I’ll probably go back and try out the spin “party on a bike” or another yoga class with one of the big names in valley yoga circles – they have quite a few teaching for them!

Phoenix Sister Cities 5K

Another beautiful fall weekend in Arizona…another race! On Saturday I did the Phoenix Sister Cities 5K which started at Arizona Falls (much less glam than it sounds) and looped around the canal in Arcadia. I signed up for this a while ago…so long ago in fact that I was apparently the first person to sign up for the whole race!

My schedule last week was ever-changing so I ended up needing to do my long run on Saturday (instead of Friday and using the 5K as my recovery run). The eight miles were all over the place, but it was important to me to get them done. I got up early and ran two with Rigo, then drove to Arizona Falls and ran one mile to stay warm before the race, three more miles with 100 new friends.

I just kept telling myself not to stop and really my body was fine, my legs felt a little weak, but my pace was more challenging to me mentally. I was aiming for a 5K under 28 minutes and (spoiler alert) I still hope to do that sometime this month, but Phoenix Sister Cities was not the place for it.

I finished in 29:35, so still under my standing goal to race under a 10-minute pace. Apparently their timing method was to take a tag off my bib at the end, but I didn’t know and had ripped it off before the run, so my time was from my Garmin.

I felt eh after finishing, grabbed a water and a banana and drove to my office (where I had left something very important!), but ran two miles around the neighborhood to finish my eight miles for the day! I felt great for finishing, even if they were more collective than consecutive, but I was ready to start my day feeling great and knowing I earned my dirty chai latte and then the beer I was about to drink!

I haven’t done a solo race in a while and this one made me realize how much more fun it is when I have cheerleaders or, even better, friends or family running in the race too, so fortunately I just found out Stacey is running the Fiesta Bowl Half, which is my only race coming up I didn’t have anyone yet! Yay!

Coyotes Carnival

I know my “I have fun plans” tease yesterday just kept you right on the edge of your seat…so, what did my Sunday Funday include?

The Coyotes Carnival at Jobing.com Arena! My sister and her husband are hockey fans and live (for now) out on the westside, so the whole fam went to the charity carnival for some more Forced Family Fun because the sheer amount that’s been going on since The Wedding has quite simply just not been enough.

When I get around my family – even though who you’ve been ain’t who you’ve got to be (thanks Timmy-my-love) – I am definitely the LITTLE sister and I’m the one who makes everyone stand in line to take pictures with the mascot.

There were carnival games and mystery bags and player meet-and-greets. Even though I did go to TWO hockey games last year, I wouldn’t know any of the players from Adam, but we did have fun playing Spot the Aspiring Hockey Wives among the women who were standing in line.  And then there was ice skating.

Pretty cute. I tried to take him home, but his parents were all like, “no.”

I was wearing my mom’s 40-year-old ice skates, which were at least a size too small, but it was pretty fun to do a few laps on the arena ice, despite the four-year-olds out there making me look like a fool.

The winter hibernation is coming to an end as my calendar is filling up with more of these unique community events.  Tis THE season in Phoenix after all.

My Phoenix 10K

I need to amend my list of race superstitions. Please add: Don’t talk about PRing beforehand even if (you think) it’s going to be a walk in the park.

Not that I didn’t – HOLLA! – but it’s probably not a good idea moving forward.

I finished today’s Phoenix 10K in 1:01:50 and although that impressed my not-so-in-love-with-sweat sister, I guess I have to say I’m disappointed.  I only reached my first goal – to beat my last 10K time – and missed both my other goals – 1:00 and 0:56. 

However, I did follow my unspoken race rule of just keep running and there wasn’t a moment when I felt like I could give anything more, so I can be happy with it.  It’s the longest distance I’ve run in some time, so my thighs?  Not so much.  Supta virasana, please!

Unexpected April Showers

This is what I woke up to today:

While it’s lovely, unexpected change , it’s a long run day.  Call me a wuss, but, to me that means:

Which also means procrastinating it taking time to update my three loyal blog readers on the weather and fuel up!

Yes, I thought of last month’s LA Marathon and the rockstars that braved way worse conditions, but for a training run, the treadmill is just fine with me.

I’ve Got a City Love

Phoenix gets a bad rap.  Despite multiple (read: confusing) branding efforts and an active calendar of events, the typical POA is to get in, go to your game/concert and GTFO, leaving Phoenix as a virtual ghost town on nights and weekends.

However, this weekend, I gave Phoenix a little more love than I normally do (I’m an east valley girl at heart) and I have to say, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

On Friday, I went to a movie in the park at Biltmore Fashion Park.  It was like a grown-up pajama party!  Yes, there were kids there, but this event is for the adults.  For two months in the spring and two months in the fall, the shopping center shows classic and new-classic movies (this week: Top Gun) on their center lawn on Friday nights at 7:30.  Attendees show up at least an hour early to stake their claim to some grass with blankets and pillows and chairs.  Picnic baskets or take out from the center’s restuarants and contraband alcohol also add to the ambiance of the evening!

Then on Saturday, I volunteered at the Devoured Culinary Classic at the Phoenix Arts Museum.  This event was amazing.  All the buzzed-about local restaurants (some too trendy for their own good and some worthy of the hype) set up booths and cook all day, handing out samples to hungry attendees!  There’s also plenty of wine and beer!

Granted, I skipped the opportunity to make it a three-peat and hit Phoenix again on Sunday to go back to Devoured’s second day because it’s a bit of a drive, but I was really impressed with the fun things going on in the city.  While downtown on Saturday, I also saw the St. Patrick’s Day parade and Phoenix’s Great Urban Race participants running all over.

I guess it’s just that season because there were plenty of other things to do around the valley all weekend.  The beautiful weather this time of year is the reason people live here and everyone is out enjoying it. 

Check out your city’s calendar of events from local newspapers and on about.com (my main sources) and find unique things to love about and fun things to do in the place you choose to live!

Photo Credit: Biltmore image

Life is precious.

On doing what you love:

I cannot express how HAPPY I am with where I am in my life right now though, and how grateful I feel for being able to do what I do. I just wouldn’t trade it for anything and any time I am feeling not very motivated, I think about how miserable I feel when I am not training or doing something else I don’t LOVE. I totally and completely love this life I’m living and the most fabulous thing is that I know it’s only going to get 20 times better by the end of the year. Woo hoo baby!

This smiling-inducing, inspiring quote was part of the last update on Sally Meyerhoff’s blog, posted just two days before she was killed while out training (cyclist v. truck). 

Sally graduated a local high school the same year as me and I never met her, but I know a few people who knew her and it’s hitting close to home right now.  I’ll probably never reach her amazing level of athleticism, but her now-haunting blog documents her too-short life and a person who was, and will continue to be, completely inspiring for athletes and people who just want to live their lives to the fullest alike.

Seven Summits – Camelback

Camelback, 2.3 miles

Camelback is king.  It’s the highest peak in Phoenix, sits pretty central and is recognizable based on the fact that it looks like a, well, camel’s back.  We’re super original here.  To be honest with you though, sometimes I see it, sometimes I don’t.

 
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Yesterday, I told my boss I was planning on hiking Camelback this weekend and he delighted me with stories of the little creatures he happened across when he used to hike it pretty regularly.  Um, yeah, like rattlesnakes and one huge ass Gila monster.


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Oh, hey, Gila monster.  You go ahead and do you.  I’ll just be over here peeing my pants.

But, he (my boss, not the Gila monster) also recommended I go up the Cholla Trail, or the back of Camelback, for a great – slightly longer – trail, smaller crowds and, of course, an amazing view from the top, so I did.

I woke up early.  Like ridiculously early.  Like grotesquely early for a Saturday morning.  Not even on purpose.  But, it worked out well because I was able to get to the mountain right around sunrise.

That was the last bit of the “nice” trail.  Things got nasty after that.  I don’t have the best sense of direction and there really weren’t that many people on the trail to follow.  Yay for these little blue spots to point me in the right direction, although at times, I missed them and ended up staring over the edge.

 

Going up, up, up.

It was super windy at the top! The sky looked completely different in every direction!

And then it was back down the camel’s back.  Doesn’t it look like a totally different day?!

Camelback was beautiful AND challenging.  I was kinda intimidated heading into it and slightly anxious while climbing, but I’m thrilled I conquered the king!

[It’s been raining for about five hours now so I’m definitely glad my internal alarm clock woke me up in time to head out early.  I hope it clears by tomorrow!]

Seven Summits – Shaw and North

Looking out the window at work today, I could see the storm clouds rolling in.  I was itching to get out to tackle the two peaks I had planned as part of my seven in seven before the sky opened up.   I made it and the dreariness meant the trails were a little less crowded than yesterday.

Shaw Butte, 5 miles

View from halfway up.  And a cigarette I found around that spot.  How does THAT work?

Must. Pass. Man. Wearing. Pajama. Pants.


And I totally did, but I didn’t think it was appropriate to turn around and take a picture of him eating my dust.

Made it to the top!

North Mountain, 1.6 miles

My former pastor told me (via Facebook, isn’t that adorable?!) that he likes to do Shaw and when he’s up for it, head up North as well.  They’re both part of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve in North Phoenix.  Actually six of the seven peaks are considered to be part of this group of parks, so it’d be pretty easy to spend a day doing all of them (and there are challenges that encourage locals to do so), but as a newbie, two was good for me!

A quick little jaunt to the top, pretty steep, but almost all paved.  The storm clouds were rolling in and a few drops were starting to fall, so I jogged a bit each way and didn’t spend too much time.  It got windy up there!

Please accept these pictures as proof that I’m not THAT girl who cares about how she looks whilst exercising!

My booty and calves were a little sore today and then after the two peaks and a 30-minute drive home, it was more of an on-fire feeling!  I foam rolled and stretched and plan to do it again before bed.