spin4 cures

This past Saturday, I headed over to CycleBar in Woodbury, MN for a launch party for spin4 crohns and colitis cures. I’m on the planning committee for this event which will take place on Nov. 12 at CycleBar, but we held this launch party to give people a chance to learn more before they sign up.

So, what is spin4?

It’s an indoor cycling relay event. Participants reserve a bike, form a team, raise funds for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), and take turns cycling during the 2-hour event. The event raises funds to help more than one million Americans who suffer with the painful and life changing aspects of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two chronic digestive diseases.

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I’ve written about CCFA before – in fact, participating in CCFA’s Team Challenge program for the first time in 2013 is the whole reason I started this blog! I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2005 and this organization has become near and dear to me over the last few years for all of the great work they do and all of the amazing people I’ve met.

At the launch party, we set up an info table on spin4 to chat with people who came into CycleBar for Saturday morning classes. It’s always amazing to hear how many people know someone affected by Crohn’s or colitis.

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The event also included a free 30-minute intro to cycle class where people could get a taste for the studio and what the spin4 event will be like. I got to do the free class, my second at CycleBar, and had a great time!

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They have bike shoes that you can borrow so you can clip into the pedals.

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I got settled at my bike and prepared for class. Each bike has a monitor to show your stats (RPM, resistance, etc.). The instructor got things started (to a little Justin Timberlake :)) and did a nice job of explaining different aspects of the bike, and what to expect in the class. Perfect instruction for beginners while also being motivating and getting our heart rates up.

I didn’t pedal as fast as I normally would because I had my long run ahead of me later that day, but I still got in a good workout. They do some songs where you’re focused on speed, some with “hills” where you increase your resistance, and they always use one song to do some core and arm work. Another thing they do is one song where they turn down the lights and you just ride at whatever speed and resistance you want. The instructor doesn’t guide you. It’s all about you riding your ride and having a few minutes to connect with yourself mentally and physically.

A 30 minute class goes by fast! It was over before I knew it. Their regular classes are 50 minutes.

The lights, music, and motivating instructors make for a great workout experience. Not to mention, the studio is lovely.

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I’m considering buying a package of classes to do some indoor cross training during the cold winter months.

I’m so excited for spin4 to take place at this studio in November. It’s going to be an amazing event! We’ll have all the amenities of the studio available to participants along with prizes and more.

These spin4 events happen all around the country, so if you’re not in the Twin Cities and are interested, check out the spin4 website to see if there’s an event near you! You can also check out the Twin Cities page to learn more about our event and hopefully you can join us!

It will truly be a party on a bike!

So you ran a marathon – Now what?

Crossing the finish line of the Twin Cities Marathon earlier this month was an amazing experience! (Yea, I splurged on a few finish line photos. Figured it was a good thing to spend some of the Pact App money I’ve earned.)

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So, how do you follow that up? What’s the next running goal?

I’ve got the perfect thing! I’m dusting off the Team Challenge singlet to join them for the New Orleans half marathon in February!

TC singlet

Team Challenge is an endurance training program where participants train for a half marathon and raise funds for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

I participated in Team Challenge for the first time back in 2013. In fact, that’s the reason I started this blog! I wanted to give family and friends a way to follow my training.

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You can read my very first blog post for more on why I wanted to join Team Challenge, but the short story is I have ulcerative colitis. It’s a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Until I joined Team Challenge and started volunteering with CCFA, I rarely talked about my UC and only with family. It was lonely and scary to have this disease that I didn’t really understand and thought no one else would understand. Through Team Challenge I learned that I wasn’t alone and found an amazing community of people who share a love of running and dedication to finding a cure for these diseases.

This time I’m also a mentor for our team, so I’ll be helping my teammates with fundraising tips and making sure they reach their goal. I’m already starting to brainstorm some creative fundraising ideas.

It’s going to be tough training in the Minnesota winter, but I’m up for the challenge!

If you’re so inclined, you can check out my fundraising page here.

Stay tuned for more updates on my training and fundraising with Team Challenge over the next several months!

What are some fun, creative fundraising ideas? Have you run a race for a charity?

Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis Recap

Yesterday was the Twin Cities Take Steps walk for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). It’s a fundraising event for CCFA and a great way to raise awareness. If the daily meds associated with ulcerative colitis weren’t enough of a reminder of the importance of the work CCFA does, I found out that a friend recently had some serious complications from Crohn’s. Had her in my thoughts today for a speedy recovery.

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I helped get a team of fellow CC Connection people (a young professionals group for the CCFA MN/Dakotas Chapter) together for the walk.

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I got there early to help with set up and the registration table. Then it was time to walk! The route was about 1.5 miles around Harriet Island.

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They had music, games, food trucks, vendors handing out goodies, and an inflatable colon. Yes, you read that right. It was from MN Gastroenterology. Might sound weird, but Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases, so they affect the colon. It was actually very educational.

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This is the first year I’ve been able to attend the walk, but it was a lot of fun and I hope I can make it more of an annual thing!

Volunteering and Fun Run

I scored a pretty sweet volunteer gig – if I do say so myself! I’m helping to write some blog posts for the MN/Dakotas Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). I’ll be writing patient and volunteer profiles and highlighting some of the CCFA services and events on their blog: Digest This — Stories from IBD Patients.

It’s pretty sweet because, if you’re reading this, you already know I like blogging. 😉 I also love the idea of helping to share stories about people living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis as well as the volunteers who support CCFA. This past weekend I got to attend a CCFA Pediatric Support Group to write a blog post about it. It was humbling to hear the stories of these young kids and their parents as they navigate their way through the ups and downs of these diseases. (P.S. The kids are rock stars!) The group offers a great opportunity to get questions answered and make connections with others so they know they’re not alone. I wish I had known about a group like this when I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, but I’m grateful that I’ve found resources now and that I’ve always had family love and support.  I just submitted my first two posts, so I’ll be sure to let you know when they’re up on the blog!

Speaking of CCFA, I did a fun run 5K on Sunday to help raise money for a friend running the half marathon in Las Vegas with Team Challenge next weekend. I met her and her husband when I did Team Challenge last year. Check out those recaps here, here, and here. Since they’re heading to Las Vegas, there was a really cool activity during the run. When we got to the start, we drew a card from the deck. Then, at three more locations on the 5K a volunteer gave you another card. You got your final card at the finish. They had prizes for the best poker hands! There was also one Joker card, and if you drew that you automatically won a prize. Guess who drew the Joker – me! I got this cool wine carrier complete with a bottle of wine.

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Hearing people talk about heading to Las Vegas with Team Challenge makes me reminisce about last year. Still, hands down, one of the best race experiences ever. I’m starting to think about when I can do Team Challenge again. Not sure if the Las Vegas race will fit with my other 2015 race goals (more on those later) because of the timing in the fall, but Team Challenge will be going to the Jamestown half marathon and Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country half marathon in July, so those are contenders.

What volunteer activities do you do? Have you ever won a cool prize at a race?

Las Vegas Half Marathon Goals

My second half marathon is coming up, so I’ve been thinking about my A, B, & C goals for the race. Here’s what I’ve come up with…

A: Cross the finish line in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 30 seconds or less (avg. pace ~ 10:16). Ok, that probably seems really specific, and it is. I ran my first half in 2:14:45 and I’d really like to beat that time. I know this is a big race with thousands of runners, so I’m not sure how crowded the course will be, but I’m going to do my best to get in the right starting spot for my projected pace and to stick to this pace (or faster ;)).

B: Follow my plan for fueling during the race (and fuel smart before the race). I felt like I could’ve fueled a little better during my first half marathon, so I tested out something slightly different on my 9.5 mile run a couple weeks ago and felt a lot better. I’m going to give this new plan a shot during the half and hope it helps give me just a little more energy for those last few miles. Fueling properly is also important to me because this is a destination race so I won’t necessarily have my usual food. It’s also an afternoon/evening race. I’m used to morning races, so I’ll just need to be extra conscious of what I eat for breakfast and lunch.

C: Have fun! This is the most important goal of all. I decided to join Team Challenge for three reasons:

  1. It was a destination race (and one that sounded like a lot of fun)
  2. I’d get to do another half marathon this year
  3. It would give me the opportunity to raise money and awareness for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

This experience has helped me become more open about living with ulcerative colitis and has helped me to not feel alone. No matter what happens on race day, that is worth every training run, strength workout, fundraising email/Facebook post, and thank you card. The funds raised through Team Challenge will help others living with these diseases and support research so that one day there can be a cure.

This is why I’m running.

I’m running for me and I’m running for the millions of people who are living with these diseases. I can’t wait to rock Team Challenge orange as we run down the lit up Las Vegas strip!

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Fun(draising) Friday and Fall Favorites

This is my last Fun(draising) Friday post and I’m happy to report that I surpassed my fundraising goal!! Thank you so much to everyone who donated! It feels so good to know that I’ve reached my goal and helped bring some much-needed funds to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Now, I can use this last week to focus on the race.

Can’t believe the Las Vegas half is almost here. The past 15 weeks of training have flown by! I started my training this summer and now we’re already into November. It’s been a great fall for running and other fun things. I’ve been doing my best to really enjoy the fall season before it disappears into winter. So, in that spirit, I thought I’d share a few of my fall favorites.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Boots

Pumpkin Spice Lattes and boots

Blazers (I’ve worn both this week :))

fall favs black blazer     fall favs gray blazer

Colorful leaves

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Comfy Slippers

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Yummy fall flavors from Trader Joe’s

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October sunrises

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Really, I have too many fall favorites to list. While I’ll be sad to say goodbye to fall, I’m also getting really excited for the holiday season. Bring on the cheesy Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, white and multi-color lights, and Christmas music!

What are some of your fall favorites? What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Fun(draising) Friday 10/18/13 – Dine Out for a Good Cause!

In just under a month, I’ll be heading out to Las Vegas with the rest of the Minnesota/Dakotas Team Challenge group and joining other Team Challenge chapters from across the country to rock the Las Vegas strip and run a half marathon! I’m so excited for the weekend and to raise awareness for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

I’m continuing my fundraising efforts and getting closer and closer to my $3,700 goal! Every little bit helps and I’m so grateful to those who have donated to support CCFA!

On Monday, Oct. 21, O’Gara’s Bar and Grill has agreed to donate 10% of people’s bill to CCFA if you show them this flier between 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Food, fun, and raising funds for a good cause!
Food, fun, and raising funds for a good cause!

Who wants to cook on a Monday night anyway? Grab your family, friends, coworkers and head out to O’Gara’s for a fun evening that supports the awesome work being done by CCFA!