Thursday, April 30, 2015

Balancing Yoga + Running

At the beginning of March I was reinvigorated to add running back into my life. The weather turned nice, spring races were just around the corner, and I finally felt like I had a handle on my injuries (not to mention I had a new sparkly engagement ring on my finger and extra motivation to look really good for our fall wedding!). I ran a few times and then yoga teacher training started and whoa. Running took a back burner. In addition to the weekends of training, we also have to attend 30 yoga classes with approved instructors, observe 10 yoga classes with approved instructors, assist with 10 yoga classes with approved instructors, and teach 6 free yoga classes to friends/family members.

Can you say overwhelmed?

Running again took a back seat because, whoa commitment overload!

Now that teacher training is over half over (three weekends left!) I think I'm ready to start adding running back in to the routine!

I'm signed up for a 10k in seven weeks, and with zero running base, this could be interesting. I looked at my current fitness class schedule and tried to figure out what would work best. Clearly running running running doesn't do good things to my body, so I need to figure out what combination of running/yoga/strength training keeps me healthy.

For now, my plan is to run three days a week. One easy run on Mondays, one speedier run on Wednesdays (preferably with the running group! I missed those guys!), and then a "long run" on Friday or Saturday depending on my schedule for the week. Since I'm training for a 10k, my long runs will be 4-7 miles, so that should be easy to fit in without tweaking my yoga and fitness class schedule too much. Yoga teacher training weekends will prove to be a challenge though.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Weekly Reads: Let's Get Lost

Let's Get Lost  is a book that's been on my list to read for quite some time. I volunteered to read it for a YA book committee I'm on, so I was finally able to commit to reading it as the deadline to have it read and reviewed is looming over my head. I started reading it, and was immediately glad that I did. It's told in 4 parts and each part is incredibly endearing and delightful to read. The stories come full circle at the end, and wrapped up in a satisfying way, imo.

Great teen read.

My rating: 4 stars

Summary from goodreads:

Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Weekly Training Recap

Tuesday night Emily and I hit up our weekly barre class after work. I realized it had been two weeks since I had gone. Oops.

Wednesday morning I woke up at 4:45am to go to ashtanga. I'm really starting to see some progress in my flexibility. Wahoo.

Friday I went to a lunch time shake and flow class. 30 minutes of barre followed by 30 minutes of yoga. I normally don't sweat in barre classes, but I sure did during this one. I was psyched when the yoga portion started.

Friday night I joined Megan and her group of yoga teacher trainers for a free class that one of the trainees put on. It was awesome, and even more awesome that I got to practice with Megan again! For the first time in.... forever.

Sunday morning I hit up a power vinyasa class before work with Emily, and two of my teacher trainer friends were practicing as well. Whoop. It was a super fun class that took us through many crow variations. I held my strongest side crow ever! 
Sunday after work I went back to the studio to get my booty kicked at barre. I love seeing muscles that I've never had before!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Vegas Recap Day Two

Monday morning, I slept in until 8am (ha!) and eventually made my way to poolside with iced latte and fruit in hand. It was really nice in the morning, and I spent a good hour and a half by the pool. I reapplied sunscreen 2x during this 90 minute period and still left the pool looking a little red. Harumph.

I don't know why, but I'm obsessed with palm trees. They're just so pretty.

I met up with Dominique for lunch and we wandered around for a little bit before ending up at Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen + Bar.

And then I ordered the most delicious sounding burger of my life: bacon mac and cheese burger. 


Shockingly, the real star of the show was the fries! They were seasoned to perfection and I didn't leave a single one behind on my plate. 

When I came back to the hotel room, the last thing I wanted to do was lay by the pool showing off my burger and fry baby, plus it started to get HOT. 90+ degrees and I'm sweating, dry heat or not! I hung out in our room for a little bit and eventually made it back out poolside for maybe 30 minutes.

I showered up and before too long Dominique was back and we were ready for dinner!

One of those silly selfie sticks would've really come in handy during this trip. Surely they would've had one at the NABS conference, right?

Since Dominique has a newfound interest in sushi, we made our way to Nobu for dinner. We tried a few different things and finally left a meal not being stuffed to the gills.

Since we weren't stuffed from dinner, obviously we had to seek out dessert. At Serendipity 3.

Dominique got something boring, so I ordered the fried twinkie sundae and made her help me with it.
So good, I can't even handle it. I actually wish I could have a bite right now. With the two of us eating it, we didn't even level it off to the portion under the top of the glass rim. 

We had grand plans to go out and enjoy the night life in Vegas, but our food coma led us back to our rooms for an "early" night in. Yay for being responsible adults!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Yoga Teacher Training Weekend Three

Our third weekend of yoga teacher training kicked off on Friday night at a slightly earlier time. Naturally I got an email mid-afternoon that my engagement ring was ready to be picked up after 15 days off of my finger. I somehow managed to book it to the jeweler and get to the studio, get changed, and sneak in with a minute to spare.

When we arrived to class in the dance studio, the space was set up for the dance recital later that night. And it was the most amazing space for our yoga practice! It was my first time practicing kundalini yoga with Carole Westerman from Lotus House of Yoga.


Kundalini Yoga is called the Yoga of Awareness. It is a dynamic, powerful tool that is designed to give you an experience of your soul.
In Kundalini Yoga we harness the mental, physical, and nervous energies of the body and put them under the domain of the will, which is the instrument of the soul. This technology precisely and consciously combines breath, mudra, eye-focus, mantra, body locks, and postures to balance the glandular system, strengthen the nervous system, expand lung capacity, and purifiy the blood. It brings balance to the body, mind, and soul.

We did a lot of breath of fire in the practice, which is incredibly difficult for me. A lot of the movements seemed really basic, but were incredibly hard. Many of the movements and breath work made me feel ridiculous, but a lot of the practice was done with our eyes closed, so it was nbd. If you ever have the opportunity to try kundalini, definitely do, but go into it with an open mind!

After our practice, we headed back to the studio to learn about prenatal yoga. It made me realize how little I know about pregnancy! It was a great eye opener and I left with many dos and don'ts as well as many modifications for the future preggos that attend my classes!

Saturday we started the day with a flow based on the five elements. It was awesome and hard and a great way to kick off the day of class. Saturday's classroom focus was Ayurveda. For those unfamiliar with ayurveda, it can be defined as: The ancient Hindu science of health and medicine, based on maintaining balance among the five elements earth, air, fire, water, and ether.

Hence the morning's flow inspiration, eh? :) Carole is a smart yogi.

We each took a quiz to determine our ayurvedic constitutions and learned a ton of things throughout the day to be mindful of, careful of, etc. etc. based on our results. As part of our class curriculum, we were required to purchase Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing: A Practical Guide. I haven't made my way through it completely, but it's a pretty fascinating read so far, and would be a great place to start if you're interested.
 Also, the tests we took are here and here.

My dosha results are strongly pitta with some equal parts of vada and kappa.

To end the day, we did a yin yoga practice which I had never experienced before (a weekend of many firsts if you're also noticing the trend!). We learned that yin yoga is the yin to vinyasa yoga's yang (see what I did there?). We also learned the difference between restorative and yin yoga, as they are commonly used interchangably. Per our lecture, restorative yoga focuses on relaxation of the muscles and body, utilizing props to aid in the process. Where as yin yoga is concerend with stretching and joint health and working on the fascia and connected tissue. The analogy Carole used that resonated with me is that "Yin yoga is similar to braces aligning teeth." Very cool.

Sunday we started the day by doing an amazing restorative class. I was incredibly sore, so it was much needed and much appreciated. It also reminded me that I need to get back to restorative classes more frequently! They've taken the back seat since I haven't been destroying my legs by running all the time.

I could've stayed in this forever. Optimal levels of comfy.

After the practice, we split into duos to practice our assists during restorative positions. Heaven.

Then we split into groups to work on our portion of the master flow series that we were to teach to the group. We practiced our section, over and over and over with different students taking the lead on teaching and eventually took a break for lunch. After lunch, we had a new group with each individual knowing a different section of the flow and we practiced and practiced and practiced. By the end of the day, we split into two full groups and each of us took a turn instructing the full class during a 90 minute flow. I was certain my arms would fall off if I was required to do another chaturanga.

When we were all done, Carole treated us to a 25 minute nidra yoga session. It is said that 20 minutes of nidra yoga makes the body feel like you've taken a two hour nap, so I was all in with a late flight to Vegas just a few short hours away! It was really interesting, and I definitely fell asleep during it, as did many others. I must say, I was up until 4:30am that night, so maybe there's some truth to it!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Weekly Reads: Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree is a book that I added to my list after I heard some Newbery buzz surrounding it. As a daughter of a special education teacher, I know how important an amazing teacher can be to a student, but to see the story told from the child's perspective had me cry tears of happiness. This is a must read for kids who feel different, those who need helping understanding peers that are different, and all teachers who need a reminder of how important their jobs are to the children who's lives they change.

I also dearly hope this gets a Newbery nod.

My rating: 5 stars

Summary from goodreads:

The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.
“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”
Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Weekly Training Recap

After a very long weekend of teacher training with lots of practice teaching and practice-practicing, my muscles were dead when I left for Vegas. I took Monday off from working out. I did search out yoga classes while I was there, but the only ones on the strip coincided with when Dominique was done with her conference each day, so I passed.

Tuesday morning I spent 45 minutes practicing the surya namaskar A and B sequences, as well as the section of the master flow (we're required to teach a specific flow at the end of training) that I had to practice teach on Sunday. I managed to work up a decent sweat in our cool hotel room and realized how easy it is to rely on the stickiness of your mat for various lunging poses instead of really engaging the whole part of your foot. Yoga on carpet is hard.

Then I went and laid by the pool. Ha.

Wednesday was a full travel day full of delays and hellacious flights. Thursday I ended up sleeping in opted to skip the sculpt class I was signed up for, because I wanted to be fresh for another weekend of yoga teacher training (this is our only back to back weekend of training and since it normally takes me ~4 days to recover, I was kind of concerned!).

Friday I had big intentions of getting back to Ashtanga yoga at 5:30am. So much that I was up at 4:45. However, after laying around for 30 minutes with a terrible stomach ache, I just went back to bed.

After work I attended a mandala class. It was really unique and very earthly spiritual, if that makes sense. It was also incredibly hard. I had a hard time focusing on the class, which didn't help.

Saturday we started our day with a yoga flow designed around the psoas. It was incredibly hard because my psoas is incredibly tight, but I felt amazing after.

Sunday we started the day of teacher training with an hour flow from the studio owner's master flow series that she learned back when she was doing teacher training.

And to finish the day we did some practice teaching with our master flow series. And I got to teach a section of it! Whoop. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Vegas Recap Day One

Last Sunday I left for the airport after some significant pug snuggles for my flight to Vegas.

 Kyle and I stopped for dinner first, since my flight wasn't until 9:30pm, and despite leaving at what I felt was the perfect time, I ended up at the airport crazy early. I had already checked in online and paid for my carry on, and upon arriving to security there were zero people in line. 

This is what airport bars are for, right? (I wasn't aware there were two sizes and ended up with the JUMBO SIZE....ooops.)

I got in to Vegas around 10pm local time (earlier than expected!) and shuttled my way to the airport to meet up with Dominique! Dom and I have been running/blogging buddies for years and she was kind enough to let me tag along on a work trip last year and this year! 

We had planned to be as well rested as possible upon my arrival so we could take the city by storm a bit, since our time was limited in Sin City!

I'm a sucker for all the cool light fixtures/ceiling installments in Vegas! 

We made our way around the strip and ended up at the Bank nightclub for the second year in a row.

And ended our night at the Sprinkles cupcake ATM again. Sadly it wasn't nearly as good as last year and I ended up spending $5 on a cupcake I took one bite out of. :(

We ended our night at way too late o'clock and my sweats have never felt better.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fall Race Plans

I've had tentative fall race plans in the works for some while now. Kyle and I had been talking about a fall wedding as far back as October. But it's hard to set a wedding date when you're not yet engaged, amiright? So there were a few races chilling on my race calendar with a big ol' question mark over their heads waiting for some plans to be solidified.

Well, in case you missed the news, Kyle and I got engaged on March 1st, and wedding plans are in full swing. Since a date has been finalized (wahoo!) I have the full go ahead to plan my racing schedule. Phew! I don't think we'll be honeymooning immediately following the wedding, so that should lead to maximum fall race training!

This fall, I plan to race the Sioux Falls Half Marathon for the 11th consecutive time (!) on September 13th. I'm also planning to run the Good Life Halfsy in Lincoln, NE on November 1st. I'm hoping that we'll get some nice and cool fall weather and I'll be able to capitalize on that. I'll also get to spend some time with Niki and her freakin' adorable boys! There's a half mid-October in Fargo that I like to do, but I'm currently scheduled to work that Saturday. If I could wiggle things around a bit, I may also consider that.

Yoga teacher training should wrap up the end of June, so I'll be able to dive right into training for fall races, and I'm super excited! I think the best thing I could've done for my running was taking a mental and physical break from it! And certainly the stretching and strengthening I've been focusing on haven't hurt the cause at all.

Can't wait to get back into my running shoes more regularly!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Weekly Reads: The Honest Truth

I added The Honest Truth to my to-read list when it showed up on a Mock Printz list that I follow. When it came in for me at the library, it was classified as a children's book, but it's certainly on the cusp. I read the book in one afternoon and was physically and emotionally exhausted when I was done. I don't know if I have ever felt more for a character in a book in my life. And his dog sidekick? Do not even get me STARTED on the dog sidekick. Read it, but not on a work break or without kleenexes or a sleeve you can wipe away tears with.

My rating: 5 stars

Summary from goodreads:

n all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He's got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier--even if it's the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Weekly Training Recap

Tuesday I joined Emily at barre for our somewhat usual class. It was a lot of fun and I'm finally starting to feel strong in the plank series. #progress

Wednesday morning started at 4:45 for me with my first class of the ashtanga series I signed up for. We went through the primary series with some abbreviations for time, and it was an awesome way to start my day. Let's just say this frenchie is way better at this asana than I am.

Wednesday night I hit barre again and it almost killed me. Back to back days PLUS a class taught by Andrea on day 2 will kill most, I think. Woof.

Thursday I skipped my usual sculpt class to let my body rest up for weekend 3 of yoga teacher training, and to enjoy a beer and some cheese balls with Kyle at happy hour. #priorities Or just lazy, not sure which.

Friday morning started off with another crack at the primary series of Ashtanga. It is painful to get up that early, but once we start class, there's no where else I'd rather be at 5:30am than on the mat. 

Friday after work was my first experience with kundalini yoga. If you've never tried it, find a class! It's so different and awesome. I'll share more in my yoga teacher training weekend recap. Way cool.

Saturday we started our yoga teacher training with a power flow based on the five elements. 

Later in the day we did a yin yoga practice as well.

Sunday I spent hours doing and teaching yoga. Seriously. I think there was maybe 90 minutes of non yoga during the day, including lunch. Thank god for vacation and rest days!