I’m a Color Run Ambassador!

2015_dontmissit-1

After seeing how much fun Lauren (aka Salt) had as an ambassador for the Color Run in Baltimore, I knew I had to get in on that action. After emailing the company and filling out an application, I was asked to be an “elite” ambassador (I have no idea if there are different levels of ambassador, but hooray for being elite!)

This is exciting for multiple reasons. First of all, I get a discount code to share with all of you cool cats (although it’s only for the Burlington, VT event…COME VISIT ME!). Second, this is an event that I LOVE and love to promote. The Color Run Boston in 2012 was my first race ever, and it’s what really lit a fire under my butt for running and racing. It’s fun, low-pressure, and accessible for EVERYONE regardless of age or ability. Wanna run it? Great. Wanna walk it? Awesome. Wanna skip or hula hoop the whole thing? Rock on with ya bad self!

Before becoming an ambassador, I had already convinced 5 or so ladies from my office to form a team and register–one of whom has never done a 5k before ever. I’m so excited that her first experience will be the Color Run, and even more excited that all participants receive medals this year. What better way to commemorate her first race than with some bling?

The Burlington Vermont Color Run 5k event takes place on September 26. If you’d like to join me there, use the code BUR5 for $5 off your registration!

Have you ever participated in The Color Run?

Legally Blonde Takes Over REV

This post may not be super beneficial for those of you who don’t live in the greater Burlington, Vermont area, but I need to write about my experience at REV anyway.  Feel free to skip this one, especially if you’ve done spinning before.

I had never done a spin class, ever, and I generally don’t like the stationary bike.  I find it SUPER boring, and I’d pretty much rather be doing anything else.  But I figured, with the combination of good music, variations in movement, and somebody telling me what to do when, it would probably work out well.

On Saturday, a good chunk of the Legally Blonde cast was treated to a free class at REV Indoor, because Sarah, the owner, plays our Brooke Wyndham.  The building is very cool–high ceilings, exposed brick, and nice wood floors.  There’s only a single spin studio, but it’s large, with lots of windows and natural light.  We were each properly fitted to our bikes by an instructor, and I was very happy that special clip-in shoes are not necessary; the pedals have cages, so you can wear your own sneakers.

I have nothing to compare this class to, but HOLY CRAP.  I can honestly say that I’ve never worked so hard in a group fitness class in my entire life.  The class was co-taught by Sarah and two other instructors, each of whom are also in the Legally Blonde cast.  They each had very different styles, but I liked them all equally, and found myself really wanting to work hard and do well, so I guess they were pretty motivational.  It was also ridiculously fun because everyone knew everyone, so we could shout encouragement or curses and not feel weird.

The thing I liked most about the class is that you can really work as hard as you want, or take it easy when you need to.  They’ll give you suggestions for increasing or decreasing your resistance at various points, but ultimately, the level of resistance is totally up to you, which is especially great for a noob like me.  There were actually a few minutes towards the end where I was working so hard I started to feel nauseated, so I backed way off on the resistance, and was able to keep going and finish the class sans pukeage.

So yeah, long story short, I loved it.  This was hands down the best workout I’ve had in a long time.  Unfortunately, the pricing isn’t so great for me.  A drop-in class is $16, or you can get various class punch cards that offer a small discount.  I’m torn, because I’d like to catch at least one class a week, but I’m not sure it’s in my budget right now.  My gym does offer spin classes, but I like the idea of taking classes with instructors I know at REV.  We’ll see how things shake out.  I guess I should try a class at the gym before making a decision.  I’m sure the fact that the class was full of my friends probably made it better, and if I went to a regular class at REV, it might not be the same experience.

REV

Don’t let the smiles fool you; we’re exhausted.

Have you ever tried a spin/cycling class? Love it or hate it?

Have you ever worked out so hard you threw up?

A Guide to Bike Path Etiquette and Safety

I would like to preface this post by stating that I am by no means an expert on either bike path etiquette or cycling safety–I am in fact, only a very few steps up from a noob.  The following post is merely a collection of observations and pet peeves I have developed on my daily bicycle commute.  If you have anything to add, or refute, by all means, chime in!

I am very lucky that the city of Burlington has such a lovely and well-maintained bike path.  It stretches several miles along the Lake Champlain waterfront, from the south end of Burlington all the way up to Colchester.  This bike path is used by an enormous cross-section of locals–from walkers, runners, and cyclists, to moms with strollers and folks walking their dogs.  I think it’s fantastic that people are getting outside and getting exercise.  It’s a beautiful spot, and a great way to get around.  Unfortunately, however, I’ve noticed that even though the rules are clearly posted in several areas (and sometimes even spray painted on the path itself), there’s a startling lack of rule-following, or even common sense by many bike path users.

In order to address my own pet peeves educate the public, I have put together a list of some of the most basic courtesy and safety rules that should be followed when using a bike path (specifically, the Burlington Bikeway).

  • Keep right.  This is a simple one, and yet I see people running/biking/whatever in the middle or even on the left hand side of the path EVERY DAMN DAY.  You should always keep right so that traffic coming toward you has room to get by, and so that a fellow cyclist or  runner going at a faster pace has room to pass you.
Not my bike path, but the same printing appears on mine in many spots

Not my bike path, but the same printing appears on mine in many spots

  • Pass on the left.  Just like when driving a car, you should really only pass on the left.  Unless the person is totally breaking rule number 1 above and is running/walking/biking on the left side of the path. Then you just do what you’ve gotta do.
  • When passing, call out, or ring your bell.  It’s just common courtesy to call out “On your left (or right)” when passing, so that you a) give the person a chance to move over and give you more room, and b) don’t scare the bajeezus out of them.  I’ve had bikers go whizzing past without warning while I was running, and it’s fricken scary!

Bell

  • Don’t pass on a curve or hill.  I witnessed a really scary almost-accident last week.  I was plugging along on my bike ride home, approaching a big blind curve.  I could hear someone coming up fast behind me, so I pulled even further right to allow room for him to pass.  As I came up to the curve, I saw two ladies riding side by side approaching from the opposite direction.  Before I had time to call out a warning, the person behind me pulled out to pass and almost had a head on collision with the oncoming bikes!  One of the ladies screamed and they both slammed on the brakes, then the guy managed to zip around and just kept going, no apology, no acknowledgement, no nothing.  So, moral of the story, if you can’t see what’s coming, don’t pass!  And be nice, for crying out loud!
  • Don’t ride/walk/run more than 2 abreast.  The bike path is only about 10 feet across at its widest, and is usually more like 6 or 8.  If you make a huge line across the path, it’s really difficult for others to get by, or for your group to acknowledge that call of “On your left!” and move over fast enough.
  • Keep your dogs and your kids close.  Don’t let your leash’s flexi-lead out 20 feet, and don’t let your child wander far away from you on the wrong side of the path.  I’ve had a couple of close calls where I had to come to a complete stop on the bike path, even after calling out that I needed to get by.  Keep your kids and pets close enough that when another biker/runner/walker wants to pass, you can keep control of them so they don’t get run over.
  • Make sure your music is turned down enough that you can hear someone call out or ring their bell.  I get it, music is awesome.  It can make a tough workout better, and make your long run more bearable.  But if you’re rocking out so hard that when I call out “On your left” you don’t hear me and move, it’s totally not my fault if I run you over.
  • Don’t stop in the middle of the bike path.  If you need to stop, move over to the right as far as you can.  I know that in some areas, there’s not really anywhere to go, but if you can, get off the bike path.  Yes, sometimes shoes come untied.  Yes, the views are pretty and it’s nice to take pictures or regroup with your friends, but if you come to a dead stop in the middle of the path and I can’t get around you, it’s not going to end well.

All snarkiness aside, I really do love riding my bike to work.  It’s only sometimes that I want to punch people.  And to be fair, the rules should be posted in more places along the bike path–are you listening, City of Burlington?

Do you ever commute on your bike?

Do you have any suggestions for bike path etiquette/safety?

Vermont Brewers Festival

The Vermont Brewers Festival is an annual event, and every year, tickets sell out fast.  This year, tickets sold out in a record 11 minutes!  I’m lucky enough to sit at a desk all day long, so I was able to score tickets to the Saturday evening session for me and Ben.  This is the first year either of us have been able to attend, so we were very excited.

For the price of $30, you get a commemorative 5 oz sampling glass, and 15 sample tickets, which means you can try up to 15 beers.  Most beer samples were only one ticket, but some of the higher alcohol content beers were two tickets each.  You could also purchase additional beer tickets if 15 samples wasn’t enough for you.

The event takes place in the Waterfront Park, which affords beautiful lake views and an awesome sunset for the evening session.  With almost 50 breweries in attendance, as well as lots of food vendors, a good time was had by all.

Me and Torey

Me and Torey

I’m gonna be 100% honest here and state that I couldn’t remember 90% of the samples I tried without a little help.  15 samples times 5 oz each equals just over 6 beers (our buddy Pete also gave me one of his tickets, so that’s even more!), which is quite enough to get me feeling good.  I actually went to the Brewers Festival website to try and jog my memory.

  • Bobcat Cafe:  Kolsch.  Light, crisp German Ale
  • Burlington Beer Company:  Margarita Gose.  Like Budlight lime, but way better.  Fruity and refreshing without being artificially sweet.
  • Drop In Brewing Company:  Supernova IPA.  Hoppy and delightful.
  • Foley Brothers:  Forgotten Ale.  Surprisingly good for a sour beer.
  • Harpoon:  IPA.  I was sad, because I asked to try their special Citra, but the guy misheard me and gave me the regular IPA instead 😦 I’ve had it many times, and it’s good, but I wanted the limited edition sample.
  • Prohibition Pig:  Pro Pig Extra Pale Ale.  Pretty standard pale ale, nothing special.
  • Queen City Brewery:  Yorkshire Porter.  Yum.  I love dark beers.
  • Stone Corral:  Palomino Pale Ale.  Again, pretty standard pale ale, nothing special.
  • Sixpoint:  The Crisp.  Hoppy lager.  More like a pale ale than a lager.
  • Whetstone Station:  Fort Dummer Summer Ale.  Light and yummy.

So yeah, that’s only 10 out of the 16 that I can remember trying.  And really, after 5 or so samples, everything starts to taste the same, especially if you’re drinking hoppy or strong beers.  There were a few breweries that I would have liked to hit, but the lines were insane; like, stretching from one end of brew fest to the other insane.

This was the line for Lawson's--you can see it stretches all the way back past that tree in the left corner!

This was the line for Lawson’s–you can see it stretches all the way back past that tree in the left corner!

Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Hill Farmstead  are two that (in my humble opinion) aren’t that amazing/aren’t doing anything super different from other breweries, but a) they’ve perfected the art of supply and demand (you can’t get a lot of it, it’s not available a lot of places), and b) recently got written up in some publications as really good beer, so people are flocking to them.  There was plenty of delicious beer at plenty of other breweries, and I didn’t have to wait in line for an hour to try them.

The atmosphere at this Brewers Festival was WAY different and more relaxed than the one we go to in Providence , RI every year.  First of all, being outside, while a crap-shoot if the weather is bad, was amazing.  It was a bit overcast, so it wasn’t blazing hot, and there was a nice breeze.  It wasn’t at all claustrophobic, and actually had a festival feel, unlike being locked inside a convention center.  The food vendors were totally overpriced, but it’s nice that they were there in case people needed food to be ok, whereas in RI, there was a limited amount of free pizza, and that was it.

The commemorative glasses that they gave out are really nice, and I know we’ll use them around the house; RI had crappy plastic dixie cups.

Photo Jul 19, 5 35 26 PM

While the RI brew fest had unlimited samples, I was totally cool with the 15 tickets in VT.  It made me more mindful of how many samples I was getting, and I was a lot more selective about what I tried.  And we still left feeling pretty buzzed.  There were plenty of port-a-potties, and even some nice bathroom trailers, with flush toilets and running water, so the waits weren’t too bad.

Yup, I took a picture of the potty trailer.

Yup, I took a picture of the potty trailer.

For the price, the Vermont Brewers Festival is an excellent value, and I hope that we’ll be able to get tickets every year.

Did you make it to the VT Brewers Festival?

Is there a Brew Fest that happens near you?

What’s your favorite beer?

Conquering my Fear of Outdoor Running

This might seem weird to some, but I always get super anxious about running outside by myself.  When I first started trying to get into running while I was in high school, I lived in a sub-divided neighborhood with lots of small streets that meant I didn’t need to leave my comfort zone and deal with traffic.  When we were living in Boston, I never went running outside by myself–Ben always went with me.  But now, with training, I kind of have to go whether I’ve got company or not.

Last night was my first solo run outside in Burlington.  Now, Burlington is NOT a big city.  Most of you who live in places like Boston or NYC would probably laugh at me calling Burlington a city at all, but there are definitely dangers–busy intersections, places with no sidewalks, and less-than-desirable neighborhoods.  And I almost psyched myself out of my run last night, even though it was a sunny, warm afternoon.

Things I am Afraid of When Running Outside (In No Particular Order)

1.  Being hit by a car/bike

2.  Getting lost

3.  Weather

4.  Being attacked/kidnapped or otherwise accosted

5.  Looking foolish

Now, I know some of these are more or less lame (looking foolish), but some are legitimate concerns, especially as a female runner.  I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is.  However, there are definitely some things I (or anyone) can do to mitigate the dangers and make running outside less anxiety-inducing.

1.  Plan your route.  You’re much less likely to get lost, and much more likely to get your necessary mileage in.  Pick routes through areas you know and are comfortable in.

2.  Always let someone know where you’ll be and how long you’ll be gone.  I talked my route out with Ben last night, and told him I shouldn’t be gone longer than 40 minutes.  That way, if I was gone too long, he’d know something was up and be on the alert.

3.  Always carry ID and/or your phone.  Last night, I carried my driver’s license and phone in the handy-dandy pocket of my running jacket.  If I got lost, I could call for help, and if I were to be injured, emergency personnel would know my name and be able to get a hold of my emergency contacts.  I plan to eventually get a Road ID bracelet so I won’t have to shuffle my license around all the time.

4.  Use visibility gear like reflective a reflective vest and/or headlamp.  I will admit, I’m not currently equipped for low-visibility situations, so I won’t run outside in the dark or during bad weather until I am.

5.  Check the weather report and dress appropriately.  Wear layers so you’re warm enough, or can strip layers off if you get too hot.  Bring rain gear if necessary.  Wear sunscreen.  Bring sunglasses.  Wear a hat.

6.  Don’t run with headphones.  This one is important.  I have a hard time running without my music sometimes, but if you’ve got your music turned up, it can be difficult to be totally aware of the world around you.  You may not hear an attacker approaching behind you, or hear a car horn honk.  You can’t hear other runners who may want to pass you.  If you absolutely must have music, try only using one ear-bud, or keeping it turned down low.

7.  Slow down or stop altogether at intersections, even if you have a “walk” sign.  This proved especially true for me last night.  There were a couple of instances when I was approaching an intersection with a walk sign, but when I looked behind me, there were cars coming in to make left turns.  Both times I was able to make eye-contact with the drivers and was waved through.  But if I hadn’t looked, or if the driver wasn’t paying attention, I could have been hit.

8.  Stay on the sidewalk.  This may seem obvious, but I saw lots of runners last night running in the street, when there were definitely sidewalks available.  Sure, the sidewalks weren’t in prime condition, but even so, I didn’t really get it.  If you are going to run in the street, make sure you are on the side of the road facing traffic (the opposite side you would drive on).  This way, cars can see you coming and you can see them.

These are just my opinions–obviously not everyone is as fearful as I am, and you should do what works for you.  I think the most important thing is just to remain situationally aware.  Try not to zone out too much, or you might miss important cues to dangerous situations.

Despite my anxiety, last night’s run was AMAZING.  It was one of the first truly nice days we’ve had this year–the sun was out and the temperature was in the mid-40s.  Lots of other runners were out, and one girl and I ended up crossing each other’s paths several times.  It was kind of cool.

I ended up not doing what I said yesterday–I didn’t feel like running my route to work.  It would have felt too much like going to work.  Instead, I plotted out a nice little 3-ish mile loop around my neighborhood.  The sidewalks were atrocious–much, much worse than the pictures I took yesterday–so it ended up being a bit of an obstacle course.  But I felt really good the whole time, and kept an average pace of about a 10-minute mile, which is fantastic!  I often have a hard time pacing myself outside, so it was gratifying to see that I can actually pace myself without a treadmill’s help.

Do you ever get outdoor running anxiety?