The couple that spins together…

stays together?! Haha, yes, Runner and I are that couple at the gym. Just last weekend we attended a two hour indoor spinning class called Cycle120. We also enjoy the 45 minute version on Thursday mornings at 6:15 am.

I have to say that I really enjoy getting to go to the gym with a friend, even if he is really competitive and kicks my butt! He’s usually one of only a few guys in the class. Girls usually dominate group fitness classes and this one is no exception. However, this year Runner has encouraged some of his classmates to come out which has made the class even more fun.

Our classroom is in a re-purposed racquetball court. There are only 24 bikes so in order to attend the class you have to pre-register online. Some instructors are more popular than others, and their classes fill up fast. Our favorite instructor motivates us with her ripped muscles and motivational speaking  – “You are here this morning because you are a high achiever.” I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up to that ego boost?!

I enjoy the class because you can choose your own intensity. Yes, the bike seats are uncomfortable and sometimes you feel like you might die.  But, its easy to get lost in the music and just focus on yourself.  I usually make it about 10 miles in 45 minutes. I find that I have trouble getting my resistance up very high but I know with each workout my legs are getting stronger.

Finishing the workout by 7 am is a huge perk and we never have any guilt stopping by Dunkin Donuts on the way home.

 

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A New Fitness Goal

Bride here with some new letters after my name! Yes, I am newly graduated and awaiting the start of gainful employment. This also means I have a load of free time. Ahh what were my hobbies again?

Well, I decided to give running another try. Remembering that I enjoyed the 10K distance while training for my first and only half marathon, I decided to go for the St. Louis Rock ‘n’ Roll  10K on October 15. Runner is going to be a pacer and is training a friend for the half event, so I figured it would be fun to participate. Runner and I have always enjoyed Rock ‘n’ Roll races (Virginia Beach x 3). When I found out that the band Fastball would be playing the post-race concert, that sealed the deal!

I turned to the internet to find a training plan. I am following Hal Higdon’s novice 10K training plan. I’m in week 3 now and it has been going well. The last time I ran an official 10K was on Valentine’s Day in 2015 (brr it was cold!). You can find a nice recap here. My time was 1 hour and 17 minutes. My goal with the upcoming race is to smash this time. I think I can!

I’m cross-training with swimming and indoor cycling. So, I may be working myself up to attempt another indoor tri… baby steps, people!

My First Open Water Swim

Last Sunday, I participated in my first open water swim. The event was called “Swim the Sun” and it was hosted by US Masters Swimming.

Early early Sunday morning (4:45am!) a group of five of us from the Saluki Masters Swim Club departed Carbondale. We had a 2 hour drive west toward Lake Sunnen in Potosi, Missouri. We were off to a rough start because of the thunder and lightening, however, we were determined that the event wouldn’t be canceled on us.

While the weather did in fact clear up, the sun did not want to shine on us! On the car ride I sipped coffee and ate a Cliff bar. We made it to our destination around 7:15 am. The event was held at the beautiful YMCA Trout Lodge.

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I was a bit nervous before the start. I did not practice swimming in a lake ahead of time (smh, I know!). The course was set up as a triangular 1-mile course, marked by three large inflatable cone-shaped buoys. There were lifeguards in kayaks scattered among the lake as well. My coach gave me great advice on sighting and I felt excited to swim.

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I chose the two mile option, which meant I would go around twice. There were some swimmers there who chose to swim up to 4 miles. The start was from treading water that left in waves every 15 minutes based on distance. My group entered the water just before 8:30 am. We walked into the water from a beach with about 3 minutes to spare. The temperature of the water was 80 degrees. Since the air temp was only in the 70s, it felt good!

My first thought was that this was less scary than I expected. The water was deep and there wasn’t much to look at under the water. As I rounded the first buoy I felt confident. The conditions were awesome – barely any current and great visibility. I felt like I was pushing myself to keep up a good pace. I was glad that I wore my Garmin Vivofit as a watch and measure of my distance. At times I felt like I wasn’t taking the straightest route, especially when I looked over at other swimmers. But, following coach’s orders, I didn’t let that lead me astray. There was only one time that I got freaked out and that was when a piece of seaweed floated over my shoulder, lol.  It took me 1 hour and 5 minutes to complete the 2 mile swim.

After the swim, we were treated to a lunch at the lodge’s cafeteria. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes never tasted so good! It was a great experience and I’d love do another open water swim again soon.

 

City Review: Having fun in the Big D! (May 20, 2017)

Day two of our recent vacation began the focal point of our trip.  We woke up on May 20, 2017 in Texas, the state that we would be remaining in for the next four days.  Our first stop in Texas was the Big D, a city that neither of us had been to before.

Stop 1: Dealey Plaza
After driving to Dallas from Texarkana we pulled up to possibly the most (in)famous plaza in America.  Although there was a line for us to purchase our tickets, the line moved quickly and we were able to get into the museum after less than 30 minutes.

The museum included an audio tour that you had followed through the museum that included being able to look out the window next to where Lee Harvey Oswald made the infamous shots (picture to the left).

After visiting the museum we went for a quick walk around the plaza including visiting the infamous grassy knoll, the location that Zapruder was standing when he shot his famous film of the assassination and looking at the white “X” that marked the location of the President at the moment of each shot.  It was great to be able to walk around a place that almost every American has seen hundreds of times on film that has had such an effect on the world we live in today.

Stop #2: Globe Life Park & AT&T Stadium
After grabbing a quick lunch, and driving around SMU campus, we headed out to Fort Worth for a can’t miss appointment (discussed below).  On the way to Fort Worth we stopped by to look at both Globe Life Park (home stadium to the Texas Rangers) and AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys).  We didn’t take a tour or anything and it was a quick visit but I saw enough to know that I have to come back for a game at each stadium.  The Rangers’ stadium was a beautiful brick facade that had a great photo opportunity outside of it that Bride could not pass up.

AT&T Stadium is just a parking lot away from Globe Life Park and there is a mixed use development being built to connect the two stadiums that will add a lot of life to the pre and post games at each stadium.  AT&T park is well known for its size but I never really believed that the stadium could not be as big as the reports.  But I was wrong, the stadium is the largest stadium I have ever seen.  After we left we got back on the interstate and headed west and AT&T Stadium dominates the skyline and is visible for miles down the road.  It is truly impressive from the outside.

Stop 3: Fort Worth Stockyards
The last stop of the day was Fort Worth.  Bride was super excited to see the Longhorns walk back to their pens at the end of the day.  The stockyards are a step back in time to when each day thousands of steers would leave the stockyards for locations to the north including Kansas, Missouri and eventually Chicago.

Walking around the stockyards you realize what a big operation they were at one point with multiple train tracks ending at the stockyards that were used for trains that would be loaded up daily with steers.  Walking the longhorns is just a small sample of how busy these few blocks were for decades.  Lastly, the longhorns are HUGE! The pictures cannot due justice to how big each one is.

 

Dallas/Fort Worth as a Running/Cycling City:
As I was driving around Dallas I did see quite a few bike lanes, but I did not see many running paths or parks in the downtown areas or around SMU.  Although there was a small river near the stadiums that had a path widing around it.  Fort Worth, on the other hand, had a large park on the river in their downtown that included a great running path.  I think that both cities would be great for running but no path that I saw, or read about really had the distance that you would want for a great cycling path.

Next Stop: Austin!

-Runner

City Review: Little Rock Arkansas: A Great Way to Start a Great Trip (May 19, 2017)

Friday, May 19: Little Rock Arkansas is not high on many people’s list of places to visit. It wasn’t on mine either as we left for our week long vacation but I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed my time in the city.

On the way:

Leaving Bright and Early!

We left early in the morning (around 5:30 am) to make sure that we got there with plenty of time to explore the city.  The drive was an easy one with no traffic since we did not go through any large cities (we only skirted Memphis) and we arrived in Little Rock before 11 am so we missed any morning commute traffic.

First Stop: Clinton Presidential Library


We decided to make one step before we had lunch.  That stop was the Clinton Presidential Library & Museum.  We had only been to the Lincoln Library in Springfield, IL so we did not know what to expect to find at the museum. The museum was two stories and in the first story, there was a replica of the cabinet room and a long corridor that was arranged based on the years of the presidency.  Each year had its own panel in the center with sections based on topics surrounding them.

Mitra sitting in the President’s Cabinet chair

On the second floor there glassed in sections that held many of the gifts that President Clinton was given during his 8 years in office.  Also, Bride’s favorite part of the museum was the last thing that we got to look at.  There was a life-size replica of the Clinton Oval Office in the museum that we were able to walk through and take pictures in.  This room not only was impressive because it was the oval office but reading about all the symbolism found in the items that are located throughout the office. Overall the museum was a great experience, and some of the artifacts are priceless pieces of American history.

Second Stop: Lunch

From the Clinton library, we walked downtown to the River Market District and had lunch at the covered food hall located in the district.  The hall had multiple stands and restaurants, similar to the standard mall food court.  Although this one had a variety of small and diverse stalls to choose from.  You could eat from a different stall every day and could come back every day for over a  week or two without eating from the same place twice.

Third Stop: Arkansas Capitols

Little Rock has some similarities to Springfield, IL.  It has been the state capital for a long time and with that distinction comes the fact that there has been more than one capitol building in the city.  In Little Rock, the old capitol is in the downtown district right on the river.  The old capitol is open and is free for anyone to walk around and look at the displays throughout the building.  The displays include the history of the building, an overview of every Arkansas governor as well as a new display focused on the first ladies of Arkansas including dresses from the first ladies, including Hilary Clinton.

Last Stop: Big Dam Bridge & Little Rock’s Running Path

Northwest of Little Rock is Big Dam Bridge.  The bridge is the longest bridge in the country designed only for pedestrians and cyclists.  According to the plaques at the beginning of the bridge, this was the only bridge ever designed to be added to a dam.  All other bridges that span dams were designed as part of the dam structure but when this dam was built it was not meant to have a bridge over the dam.

Little Rock’s Riverfront Running/Cycling Path

*I am planning a larger, more in-depth post of this path later*

The bridge is a focal point of a 16-mile run/bike path that spans both sides of the Arkansas river.  The path connects Big Dam Bridge to a bridge near the Clinton Presidential Library.  The path is really developed and you can tell that Little Rock, as a city, is committed to making this path part of its community.  The path connects the Riverfront outdoor amphitheater, the Clinton Presidential Library, the Big Dam Bridge, Junction Bridge (pictured to the left behind Bride) and everything in between.  I am looking forward to coming back to Little Rock someday and spending some quality time pounding the pavement on the riverfront trail.

Overall, Little Rock has plenty of stuff to keep you busy for a long weekend or even a little longer.  It has a great mix of history, modern entertainment, and a great path to workout on.

Look for another post on our next city later this week!

-Runner

Vacation Posts Begin

Currently, I am in the middle of a 12 state 10-day vacation.  This vacation will include visits to Little Rock, AR, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, TX as well as Panama City Beach and Ginny Springs in Florida before coming back home during the memorial day weekend.

In the next few days, I will begin posting the first in a series of reviews of the cities that we are visiting.  These reviews will not only hit on the attractions that each city has to offer but will also have pieces on the running/cycling trails that each city has and my opinion on how good each city is in welcoming runners, cyclists, and triathletes.

Little Rock and the beginning of my vacation will be the focus of tomorrow’s test.

-Runner

Back at It!

I heard the pop.  The sound that makes everything move more slowly.  I heard that sound and knew before I hit the ground that everything was going to change.

On Wednesday, September 7, 2016, my athletic life changed quickly.  I was playing a soccer game with my law school soccer team when an innocent play for a header turned into a trip to the emergency room that night and 8 months of recovery since.  That pop was my patella dislocating and relocating due to the impact of my fall

That pop was my patella dislocating and relocating due to the impact of my fall.  It caused a Medial Patellofemoral Ligament (MPFL) tear and pieces of cartilage to break off.  I got surgery on Halloween and was in physical therapy since before the surgery occurred.  I cannot speak highly enough of the team that has helped me recover in the last 8 months, but now the hard work begins.

Despite physical therapy and all the work I have done so far, I am still not as strong as I was on September 6, 2016, but I am well on my way to be not only as strong but stronger than I was before my injury.  The assurance that I will grow to be stronger than before my injury has allowed me to once again look forward to my next athletic challenge.

THE NEXT CHALLENGE
Although this is a new challenge it is one that is familiar to me.  Before my injury, I was working to finish Ironman Louisville that was less than a month after my infamous soccer match.  My new challenge seeks to update and complete this unfinished goal.

I plan on competing in Ironman Texas next April!  Ironman has not announced the exact date yet for the 2018 race but, assuming it is on the same weekend as it was this year, I am just 48 weeks away from finally becoming an Ironman!

I am nervous to train through the winter for a race but this race will symbolize more than just triumphing over my injury.  Just a few weeks after this race I will graduate law school, signifying a new chapter in my life.  I see this event as culminating not only a long term athletic goal but also an educational goal that I have worked so hard to accomplish.

Before that race, I have a million steps that I will need to take but they will all be taken with one goal in mind…to become an Ironman!  More coming later!

-Runner

Swim, Bike, Run

Hello from 2017! Just checking in with some updates.

Runner encouraged me to try my first “tri.” It was a matter of good timing and a moderate fitness level. Since August I have been swimming with the Saluki Masters. I also dabble in indoor cycling and light jogging. Oh, and for Christmas I got a Garmin (#fitspo). So, on January 22, I participated in “Tri the Hub” which is an indoor triathlon held in Marion. It was 10 minutes of swimming laps, 20 minutes on the indoor bike, and 15 minutes running on an indoor track.

I was most pumped for the swim and felt strongest in the water. Once the women hit the bikes, it got a little scary … I just don’t pedal that fast!! And then there was the run where I took a slow and steady approach, got lapped by a few, but felt proud for running the whole time.

Look who got second place in her age group:

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Yippee!

I have to say that I was super nervous before the whole thing started. I didn’t really know what to expect with all the gear, the transitions, etc… but I’m glad I did it and would be willing to try it again.

Since then I have been working on improving my running. (Remember that time I ran a half marathon?) Sticking to shorter mileage but working on speed. Thanks to my Garmin Vivofit3 I can document my progress:

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I’ve decided that “Sunday is run day” so I hope to continue my 5K streak throughout March. I also plan to swim competitively in a meet in April. Runner got me cycle shoes for Valentine’s (so romantic!) but I’m still learning how to clip in and out. #goals

In the meantime I’ll be wrapping up PA school (I graduate THIS August) woot!

Where Have I Been!

September 7, 2016 is a date that will have repercussions for a long time to come.  I was playing a soccer game in the adult soccer league that I have been a participant in for multiple seasons.  During a routine corner kick a unique and life changing accident occurred.  A player on the opposing team fell onto my knee and I immediately knew it wasn’t good.

POP!!! I immediately heard and felt it as I hit the ground.  I rolled over and my teammates knew something was wrong.  I tried to get up and hobble off but I could not put any weight on it at all.  I needed to put my arms around two people just to get me to the bench on the sidelines.  I went to the hospital and x-rays could only show there was no break.

After multiple other doctor visits, an MRI and what seemed like forever, it was only 8 days,  I was told the bad news.  I had dislocated my patella.  I was happy that it wasn’t the ACL, MCL, PCL, or a full knee dislocation but this still wasn’t good.  I was signed up for Ironman Louisville in less than a month and I knew I had no way of participating.  I could not have surgery until Halloween and have been rehabbing my injury ever since.

The journey since the injury has been an eye opening one.  I am now on the road to recovery and am able to swim and bike without any pain.  But my down time has taught me more about exercise, endurance sports and life than swimming, biking or running has.  I will continue to share those lessons throughout my healing process.

As I have begun to feel that I am getting back to my normal self I thought it was time to reinvigorate this site and I am glad to be back.

-Runner

Ride Recap: Chicago’s North Branch Trail

This weekend I went up to Chicago in order to drop Bride off for her Ireland trip (hopefully she will update everyone on her journeys).  While up there I figured I might as well not waste a trip so I should get in a good bike ride while up there.  I studied what bike paths were available and asked some friends for their suggestions.  The North Branch Trail seemed to be the best one for the distance that I wanted to ride, as well as for being close to where I was staying near O’Hare international airport.

Bike and Trail MapThe day was pretty cold for May (temp at the start was 46 degrees) but since when did Chicago actually listen to the seasons when it came to its weather.  I decided to wear my long sleeve jersey but I wore it over my tri-suit rather than wearing pants.  I figured once I got going I would warm up.

Over the first few miles I realized there was a steady wind coming from the north that I would have to compete with for the first half of the ride before turning back south at the end.  The wind, plus the cool temperatures made the ride a lot more uncomfortable than it would have been otherwise.  With that being said, after I got going and warmed up I welcomed the challenge of the wind.

The trail was in great shape.  It was paved the whole way and even had an extra horse trail that paralleled the path, including have a few crossovers during the northern half of the trail.   Throughout most of the ride you are riding on a path covered by tree canopy connecting multiple parks following the North Branch of the Chicago River.  Below is a video of a small section of the path to show what great shape the path is in:

The only negative part of the path that I found was the lack of water fountains available to the riders and runners.  I did see there were some bathroom facilities available in some of the parks next to the trail and I assume there were some water fountains available near those bathrooms but there were no signs indicating their presence.  For cyclists this is not too big of a problem, but for runners this could really prove to effect your performance.

After riding approximately 13 miles north you get to ride around the Skokie Lagoons in an adjoining 4.2 mile trail before heading back south 13 miles back to Caldwell woods. (The video of my ride around the lagoons is directly below.)  I would love to do this ride again later in the summer as a 50 or 60 mile ride since it would be easy to complete two laps while being able to stop at the car to refill at the half way point if it is necessary.

Lastly, the quality of this trail has made me want to ride on many of the other trails around Chicago.  Although many are not long enough to be attractive for many of my rides, there are a few others that I would love to try eventually.

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