I wanted to be the first to wish you a happy spring. Since I’m not above cheating (but I am over winter), I’m coming to you a day early. Sneaky, I know.
Perhaps it’s a result of being cooped up in maternity pants since the fall (the season, not the time I slipped on my neighbor’s icy sidewalk… which reminds me, I still need to draw him a note expressing all of my emotions about his lack of shoveling using solely emoji), but I am done with winter.
I’m more than ready to spend some solid time outdoors (in regular pants). I’m ready to wear pastels. Just kidding, it’s still all black, all the time. Even on Wednesdays.
I’m ready to keep the windows open. I would be ready to keep our backdoor ajar, but Clark got so excited about the temperature reaching 40 this past weekend that he busted through our screen, Kool-Aid Man style (fortunately, he was totally fine… apparently the screen was on its last leg… or wire… or whatever that thing is made of). I guess we could still keep the door open, but I don’t want, like… a squirrel or a theif coming in.
I’m ready to eat fresh fruit and vegetables grown somewhere closer to Boston than, say, Chile. I’m ready to leave my jacket and my bad New England attitude at home.
I’m ready to drive around with my windows down, cranking Turn Down for What (I have no idea what the song means, and I am afraid to Google it. If it turns out to be something perverted, well… I don’t want that in my search history) like the cool mom that I am (play along, all those sleepless nights have given me a fragile ego).
I have so much to be grateful for, I feel like my heart could burst. I need it to keep on ticking, though, so I will keep this short and sweet. With Thanksgiving upon us, I want to wish you all a very happy holiday and extend my gratitude to each of you for building such a lovely community.
Despite the fact that I practically ice skated my way home (so many near falls slash unintentional triple sow cows) from work last night, it is technically spring. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to shed my puffy coat and get outside for a run. In addition to my spring race recommendations, here are a few other great spring fitness opportunities you may want to check out:
New Balance and DCR celebrate spring
New Balance #teamoffbalance at the Reach the Beach Relay finish line
Tomorrow morning (Saturday, March 23rd) from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM, New Balance and Department of Conservation and Recreation are teaming up celebrate clear paths for runners and walkers along the Charles. Stop by the tent near the Hatch Shell where New Balance representatives will be showcasing new products, and proving spring running tips and giveaways. Oh, and free Boston Common Coffee. New Balance is also hosting a fun Twitter contest in conjunction with tomorrow’s event. Tweet @NBBackBay and let them know how you think #NBrunsbos for a chance to win new running kicks from New Balance.
Speaking of New Balance, I stopped by their store in Copley Square last week for the launch of NBPSYCHE, their new line of sports bras. The New Balance ladies were offering bra fittings and recommendations, and donating $10 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for every fitting that took place. To find a great fitting sports bra and know you’re helping one of your favorite brands support a great cause is definitely a win/win. Isn’t it nice to be a modern lady? You get to write about the new pope one week and bras the next.
BSSC Spring leagues (including a number of new women’s leagues)
After going into temporary soccer retirement (so as to not walk down the aisle covered in bruises), I am making my probably-not-so-triumphant return to the field next week. I’ve been playing the the same team for a number of years now, but we started out as total strangers (this sounds like the start of a romantic comedy). Joining a league is a great way to stay active, meet people, and relive your middle school travel team soccer glory days. Or whatever. Boston Ski and Sports Club is offering a number of new women’s leagues and is giving a $25 discount (on first time individual sports league registrations) when you use the code BLOGONTAP.
Get outside with Ultimate Bootcamp
You know I love Ultimate Bootcamp (find all my UBC recaps on the Fitness On Tap page). With the weather warming up and the snow melting on the stadium stairs, this is the perfect time to join a session in Southie or one of their other many locations. Save $30 on your first four week session with the referral code BLEL30 at registration. An added bonus: You get to catch sunrises like the one above while finishing your last squats and burpees.
It’s amazing how quickly the summer passes, even when you’re a real, live adult and haven’t had a summer vacation in eight several years. June and July were just fine, but I’ve been looking forward to August for ages. Mostly because I promised my sister we’d go to a water park after she took the bar exam. She has earned a trip to Water Country… and then some.
I know what you’re thinking: The lazy river you’re planning to luxuriate in is full of pee and floating band-aids. I plan to only go on the really fast tube rides. The germs won’t have a chance to attach themselves to me when I blaze by. So really. Don’t worry. I’m also really looking forward to the Healthy Living Summit. It’s been great to help out a bit and see the plans evolve and come together over the past couple of months. Which reminds me, did you sign up for Ultimate Bootcamp at HLS yet? You know how I feel about UBC. Between bootcamp and CrossFit, I am hoping people mistake my arms for Michelle Obama’s whilst I walk down the aisle.
With just three months until the wedding, I can barely contain my excitement, nor my excessive pinterst-ing. Nick has his bachelor party at the beginning of the month, white water rafting somewhere up north. That sound like the beginning of a Lifetime movie. Meanwhile, I’m planning to have my own fun while he’s away, spending the weekend building forts with my dog and reading fashion magazines. And not doing a single load of laundry. Until the smell of CrossFit socks overwhelms our condo. I also have the shower and bachelorette party to look forward to this month. I’m very lucky. And prone to happy tears. Consider yourselves warned.
Speaking of happy tears, I laughed so hard I cried when I watched this video last night.
Having stayed up past my bed time for the Bruins’ disappointing exit from the Stanley Cup play-offs, I couldn’t help but groan when my alarm went off. I must have walked around like a zombie last season. Perhaps that’s one silver lining: more sleep for the fans? I think I would have preferred the win.
That’s what our high school French teacher used to say (in English, it doesn’t rhyme otherwise), when people forgot their homework. I find the expression oddly comforting.
While the B’s were on the losing end of Game 7, I was determined to come out with a W this morning. I was out the door bright and early to meet with Peter Lavelle, co-founder of Ultimate Bootcamp for a follow-up fitness test.
I arrived at the Common this morning just as Peter’s 6 AM group was finishing up their post-workout stretching. Is it weird to say that the group was radiating positive energy? I miss that about my South Boston group, and can’t wait until my schedule quiets down again so I can get back to bootcamping. In the meantime, I was very excited to find out how my fitness has progressed since my first meeting with Peter.
After some dynamic stretching, we got down to business. The first test was a timed sprint, with the goal of improving distance covered. Though I’ve felt like my speed and endurance have definitely improved, I was feeling a bit sluggish and winded this morning. Can I blame the Bruins? Or tree pollen? Probably not. Either way, I covered 46 additional yards (or one length between lamp posts) today.
After a bit more stretching, it was time for push-ups. Focusing on good form, I completed 23 consecutive push-ups, topping my initial test by 9. I also extended my plank time by 23 seconds. Not bad, eh?
Bench squats, though, were where I really knocked it out of the park. Having spent so much time running and climbing hills, and logging rep after rep of squats and squat-thrusts over the course of four weeks, I expected to see some improvement here. I also feel like less of a wimp, having worked my tail off in a way I didn’t think I could, so I am sure there is a mental aspect to all of this. What’s one more rep?
I demolished my first score of 37 bench squats in two minutes with a new count of 56. I am tempted to write BAM!, but I don’t want to scare anyone. Welp, you know what. BAM! I’m proud of myself.
While it’s extremely encouraging to see my progress in numbers, I’ve benefited from my four week session with Ultimate Bootcamp in so many other ways.
I am hooked on morning workouts. Not only do I feel like a member of a secret club that accomplishes who knows what before dawn, but I find the rest of my day is more productive when I’ve started with a workout. I have more energy, I make better food choices, and I have more time after leaving the office to spend with these guys.
I am sleeping better. By 9:00, I am ready for a full night’s sleep. I try to make it to 10:00, but that’s often like fighting a losing battle. The combination of getting up earlier and the challenging workouts will do that to a girl.
I’m leaner, meaner tougher, faster, and stronger than when I started. I will be the first to admit that I was intimidated that first morning and in the days leading up to it. What if I can’t hang? What if it is too hard? What if I am the slowest, or least strong, or least experienced? Maybe I should back out.
Fear can be extremely limiting. I’m no expert, but I do know this: It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go of that fear. And letting go is rarely something to regret. It has seen me across the finish line of two marathons. (I feel like dropping the ‘m’ word gives me instant credibility… maybe?) I was reminded off all of this leaving the Common today. Imagine what I would have missed out on, had I let myself back out. Oh, and if I can do it, I’d venture that you can, too.
As with anything new or challenging, the hardest part is starting. And that’s not to say the workouts get easier, but I am convinced that as my body gets stronger, my spirit gets tougher. And apparently, I become an even bigger cheeseball.
As for the personalized coaching, theencouragement from trainers and fellow bootcampers, the sense of accomplishment at the end of a workout, and those sixteen mornings worth of sunrises? I am grateful for all of those, too. Many thanks to Peter, Kim, Jeanine, Kristen and everyone at Ultimate Bootcamp for the chance to participate.
For daily recaps of the four week session, please check out my fitness On Tap page. Have questions? Thinking about checking out bootcamp? Holler at me.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I can’t believe my four weeks of Ultimate Bootcamp have come to an end; the time truly flew by. Our last two days featured great workouts by the water.
On Wednesday, Kim brought us back to the beach, where it all began. I seemed to have misunderstood the assignment when it came to one of our first drills, monster walking, suicide-style, in the sand with resistance bands. I quickly found myself at the back of the pack, quads burning and legs shaking. Apparently I missed Kim’s instruction about setting the appropriate amount of resistance.
Once I caught on, it got easier. Slightly.
Wednesday’s workout included:
Warm-up and cool-down runs
Side shuffling in the sand with a resistance tube
Push-ups (regular, dive bombers, staggered)
We also completed a fitness test, counting the number of squats we could complete in one minute, which we compared to our results from Day 1. I improved by six squats, but more importantly, I’m much more confident in my form.
Now if only I could figure out how to keep the sand out of my shoes.
Thursday’s workout included:
I was so excited to earn my Ultimate Bootcamp shirt after four weeks of awesome morning workouts. I’ve loved the community and camaraderie, and look forward to signing up for another session soon. I cannot say enough about the program, truly. I feel stronger, faster, and fitter. Plus, getting up before the sun? It’s a piece of cake now.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I wish I had brought my May 2010 issue of Fitness Magazine to Monday’s workout. Yep, there I am. A spritely 28 year old at the time.
We earned every, single one of those downhills. All twenty of them. Kim ran us over to G Street for an hour’s worth of hills. Half-way through the workout, I was very much regretting the forty-seven mini Reese’s cups I consumed on Easter Sunday (and now my RD knows why I wasn’t feeling well….)
We climbed G Street and then made our way around the Heights, one hilly street at a time. I barely survived. That’s only a slight exaggeration.
Monday’s workout included:
Reverse lunges (up G Street… not normal)
When I got home, my FitBit read 5.01 miles… and it was just barely 7 AM. While I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the workout while we were actually working out, I was quite pleased that I was able to hang in there. And I rewarded myself with a 10 minute post-shower nap. Sometime you just need to get back into bed.
After an extremely long Monday, and knowing that I had to be at the office bright and early the next day, I gave myself a pass on Tuesday’s workout.
Though I felt a bit like a sloth, and was reluctant to break my perfect attendance streak, it seemed more important to give my little body a rest. Plus, I was itching to get a run in Tuesday night and knew it would be much more likely to happen with a little extra sleep and a much needed stretch.
And when we spend Wednesday’s crawling through the sand? Man, was I thankful for the rest. More on our last workout with Kim to follow. In the meantime, Ultimate Bootcamp is hosting a ‘Run to Home Base’ Bootcamp Blast this Saturday, from 9:30-10:30 AM at Arsenal Park in Watertown. Proceeds from the class ($18 per person) will benefit the Red Sox Foundation’s Home Base program. Click here to register for this great workout for a great cause.
Also On Tap for Today:
Packing and last minute prep for this weekend’s retreat
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I was both excited and terrified to find out that last Wednesday’s workout had a name: The 200. While Jeanine and Kim have referred to other workouts by name before (JFK, the Heights, Castle Island), they’ve all had something to do with the location. The 200 could mean anything, and so I assumed the worst. It wasn’t quite the worst, but it was brutal. Brutal and awesome.
Switching off with a partner, we completed 10 triceps dips and then 10 bicep curls with a resistance band before running the stairs on one segment of the stadium. Once we got to the top of the next set of stairs, we repeated the process over and over, working our way up to 200 reps of each move. Once we reached the end of the bleachers, we stopped for 3 sets of 10 push-ups and 10 sit-ups before heading back in the opposite direction. We followed the same pattern, but this time alternating between triceps push-ups and reverse bicep curls. By the time we finished all 200 reps, my arms felt like overcooked spaghettis.
Wednesday’s workout included:
Warm-up run to the stadium
Bicep curls (standard and reverse)
Pushups (standard and triceps/close grip)
Triceps dips (standard, one legged)
Taking on “The 200” seemed impossible at first, but we slowly chipped away it as we made our way around the stadium. It was actually kind of fun. Mostly because the soreness hasn’t set in yet. We went back to the track on Thursday for running and core work. I was about to type, “This was my favorite workout yet,” but it seems like every workout has been my favorite yet.
I felt more like a runner than ever during Thursday’s workout. There have been plenty of times over the last three weeks when I’ve struggled (I am looking at you, shoulder presses), but running always feels good. Manageable. Enjoyable, even. After focusing for so long on distance, I’ve come to appreciate each opportunity to leave it all out on the track. I nearly diagnosed myself with asthma at one point Thursday morning, but still. It’s fun to go fast.
A three person drill involving high knee step-ups, sit ups and 4 x 200 m. on the track
Stairs, hill running
Single leg raises with a resistance band
I love the variety of these workouts. Just when I want squats to go extinct, we’re on to lunges. And as soon as I want to hunt down the person who invented the lunge, it’s time for planks. It’s impossible to get bored, and the sense of accomplishment at the end of each workout is addictive. Our group broke out into spontaneous clapping after Wednesday’s workout. It was pretty great. I’ve been driving home with a huge smile on my face each morning.
I really used to think people who exercised in the morning were either part-robot, or fully nuts. After more than three weeks of getting up at 5:15, I get it. I really do.
Also On Tap for Today:
Watching my sister’s friend compete on Jeopardy! again tonight 🙂
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I wish Mother Earth would decide which season she fancies and just stick with it. In the past two weeks, we’ve experienced spring, summer and winter. Some days I’ve battled allergies, others I’ve worried about getting a sunburn. On Monday morning, my cheeks (both sets) nearly froze off. I am all for variety, but this erratic weather’s getting old. Sort of like me.
Before starting bootcamp, I never realized how little time I actually spend outside. For all I know, this weather pattern may be completely normal. Likely, it’s nothing to complain about (like most things I complain about). On the average day, I’m outside with Clark for three walks, each lasting ten minutes or just long for him to do something naughty (ex. uproot six newly-blooming daffodils). Whichever comes first. I might make a run to the bank or post office during the day, or rush to the curb minutes before my car is ticketed. Otherwise, I’m chained to my desk. Which is very much indoors. On a semi-related note, I just got the results of my blood work back from my doctor. Apparently I am vitamin D deficient.
Are these mornings outdoors helping to put me more in touch with nature? Perhaps. If you’ve ever been camping with me, though, you know I prefer to keep a comfortable distance. I don’t really know where I was going with any of this. Let’s just talk about the workouts. We spent Monday at the track and field at Saunders Stadium. Having underdressed and then overdressed last week, I went back to underdressing and was freezing. As mentioned above. The running helped a bit, but as soon as we slowed down, I was shivering again. I’m three paragraphs in to this post, and it’s becoming largely evident that I am wimp.
Monday’s workout included:
Lots of dynamic stretching, plyometrics and mobility work
4 x 400 meters on the track
3 x Suicide runs to/from the 50 yard line (sprint forward, back pedal to the goal line)
3 x Bear crawls 10 yards forward/back
Squats (jump, tuck, wide stance, regular)
Shoulder raises with a resistance tube
Shoulder presses with a resistance tube
I channeled my inner Ochocinco, and imagined myself running plays on the field. And actually, like, doing them right. (No offense, Chad.) I secretly always liked running suicides at soccer practice in high school. If that makes you stop liking me, I would understand. There are so many different running drills you can tackle (baahaha) on the football field, though. Here’s the breakdown for one of Monday’s drills.
Another favorite of mine involves sprinting the diagonal, from one corner of the end zone to the opposite, and then slowly jogging to the nearest corner before sprinting again. This feels especially good barefoot, on a natural grass field (that is to say, not turf). During warmer weather, obviously. Switching sports gears a bit, today’s workout took place on the basketball courts behind the McDonough Field House and focused on legs. I will be foam rollin’ with the homeys tonight, for sure.
Though I am a bit shy when it comes to picking partners, knowing that someone else is waiting for me to finish a suicide run or 25 push-ups provides tremendous motivation. I don’t want to leave that person hanging (or, in plank position). Being accountable to the group has definitely helped me to stick with these early morning workouts. That, and the opportunity to pretend I’m a New England Patriot for fifteen minutes.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I probably shouldn’t admit this, but prior to Wednesday’s workout, I thought the Dorchester Heights monument was, um… in Dorchester. It’s visible from the highway and I spot it nearly every night on my way home, but didn’t realize it was just a few blocks from our condo. Even more embarrassing is the fact that I’ve both run by and attended meetings in the school buildings on the G Street side of the park on multiple occasions and was still oblivious. So Thomas Park and Dorchester Heights are the same place, you say? Yikes. Incidentally, there’s a great band from Southie called Thomas Park.
By the end of this four week session, I will have Ultimate Bootcamp to thank for an improved sense of geography. Hopefully. The last two workouts of this week were my favorites, so far. We’re lucky to have access to so many great locations in Southie: the Harborwalk, the track and field at Saunders Stadium, Carson Beach and those beastly hills leading up the Heights, to name a few. After a warm-up run and a set of mountain climbers in the sand, Kim brought us over to Covington Street, which runs parallel to G Street (my arch nemesis while training for my first marathon) and is divided by East 8th. There is a set of stairs at the top of the street, which leads to Thomas Park. Once we got to the base of the hill, we were off and running.
Wednesday’s workout included:
5 sets up sprints up the lower half of the hill (slow run to the bottom)
Walking lunges up the lower half
Reverse walking lunges up the upper half
Running up the upper half of the hill and the stairs
Running up the full hill and stairs
Calf raises on the curb
Mountain climbers (standard, knees to outside elbows, knees to opposite shoulder)
Those reverse lunges up the hill? Nearly impossible. It’s a miracle I stayed upright.
Kim made such great use of the hill, stairs, monument and park. With all kinds of paths and stairways, we covered quite a bit of ground. My fitbit (which I programmed with my new favorite mantra –nerd alert!– above) read 4.6 miles by the time I made it back to the car. The view from the top of the Heights was spectacular, and made it a bit easier to squeeze out those last few sit-ups. The early morning dog party happening on the lawn beside us helped too. The forecast for rain on Thursday had me a bit scared, but fortunately it turned out to be quite nice both days. To continue of our exploration of the neighborhood, Jeanine took our group out to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library along the Harborwalk.
It is well worth a visit there, especially if you love history and politics, like me… or if you’re looking to enjoy a view of the Old Harbor. We had plenty of time to enjoy the view on Thursday along the Harborwalk, as we made our way from the McCormack Bathhouse to the JFK Library. We stopped every 100 yards or so for push ups, squat thrusts and forward squat jumps before partnering up for some stairs and push-up drills at the library.
Thursday’s workout included:
Push ups (singles, singles with a resistance band, and the brutal down for three counts, up for one variation)
We covered varied terrain, including boardwalk, sidewalk, sand, grass and a dirt hill towards the end of the route. While this is much harder (and requires better concentration) than running on a treadmill, it’s great for balance and core work. Plus, it keeps things interesting. Jeanine estimated that the route is 3 miles total– it would make a great out-and-back run, especially on a nice day. We looked like total badass ninjas, as my partner put it, wearing our resistance bands tied around our waist while running. I would have never thought to bring a set of bands on a run, but it makes perfect sense if you’re looking to get a full body workout in. I barely noticed they were there. And yes, we did look totally badass.
Full monty disclosure: I am attending this session of Ultimate Bootcamp at no cost. I am not being compensated for writing about participating, and per usual, you can trust me to be open and honest about the experience.