Monday, November 30, 2015

Hungry Turkey 5K Recap

Bright and early on Thanksgiving Day, I drove downtown to run the Hungry Turkey 5K.  The St. Louis area has many turkey trots, but this was the earliest and it is immediately followed by the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day parade.  The weather was warm for the end of November and the course took us through downtown, into the shadow of the Arch, onto the Eads Bridge, and back again.  Packet pick-up was available on Tuesday at the Big River Running store in University City, but I arrived at 6:45 a.m. to pick mine up on race day.  As the start of the race drew nearer, the pick-up line grew longer, so my recommendation is to pick up in store or earlier race day.  As a result of the long pick-up line, the race started late (it was supposed to start at 7:30 a.m.).  At the start line, the announcer told us that if the 5K takes you longer than an hour, you will be re-routed off the original course because the parade begins at 8:45 a.m. on the same street as the start/finish line.

Overall, I really enjoyed this race.  The course was scenic, the t-shirts were unique and soft, parking was a breeze and only $5 (pre-race emails gave great instructions on where to park and how much it would cost), and I hear the parade is pretty spectacular even though I did not stay for it this year.  Hopefully your turkey trots and Thanksgivings were equally great.  Happy Holidays!!!

The start/finish line at dawn

The super-soft, long-sleeved baseball t-shirt

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The basics of Floating

Before I get started, I should mention that the gentleman I used to refer to as "the boyfriend" is now "the fiance" as of September 12th!  :) 

I search KSDK's website daily for news updates and one day late summer, I came across this article about a new way to relax, unwind, and unplug.  I typically get a massage every month to month and a half, but I am always up for trying something new and totally different.  After watching this news report and searching for more information, I was intrigued.  The next thing I knew, I had booked two simultaneous appointments; one for the fiance and one for myself.  One appointment was for the "genesis pod" and one was for the "at peace spa."

I found myself nervous hours before the appointment, probably because although this spa had great reviews, it was also totally different from anything else I had tried.  I received an appointment reminder via email several days in advance, which included great instructions so that were more prepared as 1st time floaters.

A gentle reminder in the event you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, please do so at least 24 hours in advance. Canceling or rescheduling your appointment within 24 hours will incur a 100% fee of the float rate paid at the time of reservation.

Before You Float
1. It is not necessary or recommended to wear a swimsuit while floating.
1. Don’t shave or wax before your float - because the salt water solution can irritate your raw skin.
2. If anything, only have a snack in the hour before floating because eating will activate your digestive system and not allow your body to rest
3. Remove your contacts before floating - because this will increase your eye comfort during your float
4. Don’t drink caffeine before floating - because caffeine is a stimulant and this counteracts the process of rest and relaxation
5. It is not permitted to float while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Thank you again and we look forward to hosting your float!

FLOAT is near St. Louis University and one of my favorite restaurants, The Fountain on Locust.  When we arrived, you could immediately smell the incense.  We were asked to remove our shoes and leave them in a cubbie near the entrance.  We were given a form to fill out, which also reiterated some of the information included in the reminder email.  When it was our turn, the fiance decided that he wanted the spa, so I took the pod.  One of the owners showed us to our rooms and explained the process in detail.  You shower first (and their shower heads were amazing by the way), put in earplugs, step into the spa/pod, close the door/lid, and press the button to cue the music and start the 90 minute float.

The pod experience is a bit different from the spa, which is more like a room, but when I closed the lid and pressed the button, the light turned off and relaxing music played for five minutes or so before fading out.  Then I just floated in a pod of 1' deep salt water in complete silence and darkness for 90 minutes.

Ninety minutes seems like a long time but believe me, it flew by.  It took me probably 10 - 15 minutes just to allow myself to relax.  At one point, I knew that I was falling asleep because the waves created from my muscles twitching actually woke me up.  From that point forward, I stayed awake.

You float on your back and you can have your arms with your hands above your head or down at your hips.  I tried each position for a while, but was most comfortable with my fingers interlaced and under my head.  It just felt very natural to me, but it is totally personal preference and whatever works best for the floater.  It was so quiet in the pod that I could hear my heart beating like a drum.  I would flex one foot and then relax it and think about how it felt and then tried the other foot.  I spent most of my floating time actually listening to my body for once.  It just made me grateful somehow.  I never stop to think about how my body feels until something hurts, and then all I want to do is fix it as soon as possible and get back to not thinking about my body again.  This time, I actually thought about how it felt to be pain-free, totally relaxed, and not fighting gravity.

Before I knew it, the light and the music came back on to signal the end of the 90 minutes.  As you open the pod, the room is dimly light so that the transition isn't so drastic.  You shower again to rinse off the salt and get dressed before relaxing with water or tea in the lobby.

When I returned to the lobby, I noticed that the fiance was already there.  He wasn't as impressed with the floating experience and said that he just could not get comfortable, so he exited after 45 minutes.  The floating experience isn't for everyone.  If you get claustrophobic easily, you won't like it.  If you can't sit in complete darkness and silence, you won't like it.  If you can't be unplugged and alone with your thoughts, you won't like it.

If you read the journal entries in the lobby, many floaters have found places within themselves that I just couldn't get to on my first try, but I also don't meditate regularly.  Maybe I will discover even more about myself the next time I float.  Maybe I will sleep the entire time.  Who knows!  I just know that I will try it again because it was such a unique experience.

A quick Google search shows me that similar float spas are available in other cities like:
San Diego
Tempe, Powell, Arrowhead, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Sedona, Wilmington

Pictured below is the Beginner's Guide to Floating that I picked up and read the day of our appointment.  I enjoyed it and recommend it, but it isn't for everyone.