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!

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Day off in pictures

After several busy weeks at work, I took a much needed day off on Thursday to relax and have some “me” time.

I started the day with coffee in my favorite mug.

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Then headed out for a run and did an ab workout.

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For lunch, I made a fish taco bowl.

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I pampered myself with a haircut in the afternoon.

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And picked up a sweet treat.

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I enjoyed my caffeine and chocolate while working on some spin4 stuff for our upcoming event (I’m on the planning committee).

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Later, I met a friend for dinner at Parlour. We had to have the burger – so good!

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All in all, a lovely day off!

What would you do on a day off?

Back at it

No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. I’ve just had a really busy few weeks and haven’t made time for blogging. I had a big work event to prepare for that called for some long hours and had to finalize some things for a charity event last weekend (more on that in a minute).

I’ve still been keeping up with my training despite the busy schedule and am feeling pretty good. I’m over halfway through the training cycle already! My hamstring has been bugging me a little recently, so I’m keeping an eye on that. It doesn’t hurt when I run, but I can feel some tightness/soreness in it when I stretch and felt it when I was doing lunges the other day.

I finally started a strength training program! I’ve been saying I want to get stronger for a long time, and now I have a plan to follow that I’m hoping will help my running so I can avoid some of those little injuries. I can already tell that certain exercises are easier to do now that I’m into week 3 of the plan.

This past weekend, I got to enjoy a different kind of workout by playing in a flag football tournament to benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

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The Touch of Football event took place at the new U.S. Bank Stadium. Even as a Packers fan, I could appreciate the nice, new stadium. My team played 3 games. We weren’t very good, but we had fun anyway!

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By last Sunday I was exhausted. My entire body was sore. Probably partially from football and partially from just being totally spent after going full steam all week. I still managed to get in a 6 mile run since I had skipped it earlier in the week, but then tried to relax for most of the day.

Still working on recovering and getting back to my regular routine. Will try to pick up the weekly recaps next week!

New Orleans Weekend Review

Finally got around to writing up an overview of my weekend in New Orleans while there with Team Challenge for the New Orleans Half Marathon.

I got into NOLA around 1 p.m. and headed to the hotel. I was starving after I got my stuff in my room, so I ventured out to find some food. I stumbled upon a po boy place just a couple of blocks away and got a grilled shrimp po boy to kick off the weekend of southern eating.

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After that, I wandered around the area close to the hotel before heading back to get dressed for dinner. I had a reservation at Commander’s Palace. This was the one restaurant I definitely wanted to go to in NOLA – it has been on my list for a very long time. I left early so that I could explore the Garden District a little bit before dinner. I walked around and checked out Lafayette Cemetery. It was closed, so I just had to look from the outside.

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There were a lot of old, beautiful houses in the area as well. I’m a sucker for big columns on the front of a house.

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Then, it was time for dinner.

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I knew I wanted to try a soup and Seafood Gumbo sounded too good to pass up. To follow that up, I had the Crispy Crawfish and Cream Cheese Gnocchi. Both were soooo good!

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The service at the restaurant was great. It’s definitely a fine dining place. There was always someone there to make sure I had what I needed and I watch the servers simultaneously set down plates at other tables. Probably one of the fanciest places I’ve been to. So glad I treated myself to that meal.

In the evening I met up with some fellow MN and Wisconsin Team Challenge folks and hung out in the hotel bar for awhile.

On Saturday morning, I got up and headed out to breakfast at a place my cousin had recommended — The Ruby Slipper. I had a Florentine Omlette and the buttermilk biscuit was to die for! I could’ve eaten a dozen.

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That meal was my fuel to head out on a cemetery tour with a couple of my Team Challenge friends. We toured the St. Louis Cemetery. It was so interesting to hear about the history of the city and the different ways people are buried. The cemetery is maybe the size of a city block, but more than 100,000 people are buried there and it’s still used today!

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This is the tomb of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.

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After the tour, I headed over to the expo to get my bib and check out the vendors. At this point I was getting excited to hit the course!

Saturday evening was the Team Challenge pasta party. It was held at Mardi Gras World, which is the warehouse where all of the parade floats are stored. We feasted on pasta and heard from some inspirational speakers to get ourselves pumped up for the race.

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Sunday morning was all about the race. You can read more about that in my race recap, but later in the evening was about eating more food. A group of us headed over to the House of Blues for drinks and eats. Everyone was pretty beat after that, and most people were leaving early on Monday, so Sunday night was spent relaxing and watching the Oscars.

I got up early on Monday morning to head over to Cafe Du Monde to get beignets and coffee for breakfast. So much powdered sugar, but soooo good!!

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I got them to-go and sat on some steps across from Jackson Square to take in the view.

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I walked around the park to check out the area. There were musicians and artists set up around the perimeter of the park. I wandered in some shops along the street on my way to the French Market. It’s basically like a farmer’s market and flea market. I picked up a few souvenirs and headed back towards the hotel because I had a lunch reservation to get to.

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I could not come to New Orleans and not eat at one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants. I went to Emeril’s for lunch. I sat at the chef’s counter so I had a view of the kitchen while I ate. I ordered the chicken and waffles with watermelon slaw to get a good last southern meal. It was absolutely delicious!

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After lunch I was able to meet up with a friend from high school who was in town for the race as well. I explored Bourbon Street with her and her friends for a couple of hours. We found a couple of fun places to grab a drink including an outdoor patio complete with some jazz music.

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Before long it was time to head to the airport for my flight. It was so hard to leave the warm weather and come back to MN, but it was a great trip and I’m so glad I got to explore this cool city!

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New Orleans Half Marathon Race Recap

I completed my 4th half marathon last week in New Orleans! It was my 2nd half with Team Challenge.

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The plan on race morning was to meet in the hotel lobby at 6 a.m. for some team photos and then heading to the start line which was a few blocks away. I woke up before my alarm went off and had a mini panic attack when the clock radio on the nightstand said 6:15. I scrambled to look at my phone and saw that it was closer to 5 a.m. I have no idea how the clock got messed up — I’m blaming it on some weird voodoo.

When it was actually 6 a.m., I joined my team in the lobby. They got one big group photo before we headed out. Team Challenge had 335 runners rocking orange singlets!

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It was a beautiful morning and the sun was shining. I brought a throw away shirt, but I really didn’t need it.

There were about 26,000 runners at the race. I found corral 12 and hung out with a few fellow Team Challengers while we waited to get up to the start line. The first 7ish miles take you along St. Charles St. and into the Garden District. You see lots of beautiful old homes and there were a fair amount of spectators. I tried to remind myself to look up and take in she scenery, but I couldn’t look up for too long because St. Charles had lots of pot holes and uneven spots.

I was feeling pretty good in the first half, but it took some time to get used to the warmer temps. Luckily there was some decent shade to help. I settled into a pretty good rhythm and was keeping a good pace. In the second half of the course, we made our way into the French Quarter and ran by Jackson Square and Cafe Du Monde. As I made it to mile 11 I was feeling good and knew that I still had something left in the tank for the last 2 miles.

I tried to kick it up a notch as I approached the finish. When I crossed the line and stopped my watch, I was excited to see it said 2:10:19! I was going for a new PR and needed to get under 2:11. I didn’t want to get too excited until I saw my official chip time. Unfortunately, when I got my official time it said 2:35:20. Basically, I don’t think my chip registered when I crossed the start line because it said it took me an hour to get to the 5K point. I was happy that I had a good race and basically had a PR, but was bummed to not have an official time for it. I submitted a correction online and my time has been updated to 2:10:22. So, that’s the new time to beat! I’ve got another half coming up this summer, and I think I’m gonna try to get under 2:10.

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Team Challenge had an after part for us at the finish line. I rehydrated and grabbed some yummy food including a beignet!

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The race offered free Michelob Ultra as well, so of course I grabbed one of those (okay 2). 🙂

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Overall, it was a great race and so much fun doing it with Team Challenge! Stay tuned for a recap of the whole weekend.

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Have you ever had an incorrect chip time?

One Week Til NOLA Half

Ok, I’ve been really bad at blogging recently – sorry. But, I have been busy getting ready for the New Orleans Half Marathon with Team Challenge. It’s just a week away!

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I’m so excited to explore the city (especially the food). I expect to eat a lot of beignets and seafood while I’m there. I have a handful of other things I’d like to do, but I’m not setting a specific itinerary so I can see where things take me. I’ll do and see as much as I can, but I’m sure I won’t get to everything.

On the training front, things have been really good. It felt like training started a little slow as I was getting back into things after the marathon, but I settled into a groove after a few weeks and started to really enjoy the long runs again.

One of my 2016 running goals is a half marathon PR. I’m gonna go for it in NOLA. I’ve been training in the MN cold, so it will be a little different running in slightly warmer temps and I’ve heard it’s been humid down there. My training has been on track to PR, so as long as weather and other conditions are good, I should be able to do it.

Stay tuned for trip and race recaps!

What are the best restaurants to visit and sites to see in NOLA?

Running in Circles

An 8 mile run was on the schedule this past weekend. Problem was, the temps were going to be in the single digits — for the high. Hello Minnesota winter! Luckily, there are some options for indoor running that don’t include a treadmill. A couple people from my Team Challenge group met at a sports dome to do an indoor run on Saturday.

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It takes about 4.8 laps around the track to equal 1 mile. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do all 8 miles, but once I got going it wasn’t too bad. The track was turf, so it was a bit softer to run on than pavement. Felt good to get in another long run, even if it was in circles. 🙂

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Where do you run in the winter? How cold is too cold for an outdoor run?