Friday, December 29, 2017


It's that time of year when gyms are suddenly packed and everyone is making New Year's resolutions to lose weight, get in better shape, and make healthier decisions.  I am still finalizing my own fitness goals using these tips as a guide, but I have come across several resources that I wanted to share with you as you are thinking about your own resolutions.

Do you want to take fitness classes but either don't want to join a gym or can't decide which one to join?  Then ClassPass might be for you!  ClassPass is an app and website that allows you to take classes at different gyms without having to be a member of those gyms.  There are several membership levels depending on how many classes you want to take per month and they are currently offering amazing discounts to new users.  For only $9 you take take 3 classes, for $13 you can take 5 classes, and for $25 you can take 10 classes. This app has been easy to use and I have used it while traveling in other cities too.

Want to try it before you buy it?  CycleBar offers a FREE 30 minute ride to newbies so that you can get properly fitted on a bike and introduced to the class format and technology features.  Newbies get discounts on their first packages but you can also contact the CycleBar - Creve Coeur location and ask for the "Groupon pricing" to get the Groupon rate for a four class pack without having to have a Groupon account.

Speaking of Groupon, you can amazing deals on fitness packages through the Groupon app/website. If I scroll through the Health and Fitness deals on Groupon for Washington, DC for example, I see a wide-range of options available.  There are yoga packages, Bar Method passes, online classes, and even pole dancing classes just to name a few.  When you sign up for Groupon, watch your email for 20% off days which save you even more money on classes using a special code.  Just be sure to pay close attention to expiration dates and the fine print of each Groupon deal, but enjoy the fact that you aren't paying full price for classes!

Meetup is a website and an app that allows you to connect with other people who have similar interests.  There are Meetups for nearly every interest, including fitness.  There are cycling groups, running groups, boot camp groups, etc. that you can join.  Some have fees per event while others are completely free.  Get out there and connect with other fitness-minded people!

I have learned about a wide-variety of events through the Eventbrite website. Eventbrite makes it easy to find events near you by category, location, and date or you can sort by which events are the most popular in your area.  What's great about Eventbrite is that as you start to search through the different events, "other events you may like" show up too.  Some events are totally free while others have a fee.  I am often overwhelmed by the number of events that I find each time I search, but I have found free running groups and both free and low cost yoga classes through this website.

Home Gyms
Still can't find exactly what you want?  Why not create your own gym at home!  You won't ever have to worry about operating hours that don't meet your needs.  You can workout WHENEVER you want in the comfort of your own home!

There is a great website called that saves you tons of time by reviewing various products for you.  When you visit their website, you can scroll down to see their A-Z list of reviewed items which include exercise bikes, yoga mats, treadmills, fitness trackers, rowing machines, and even pre-workout supplements, protein bars, and protein powders just to name a few.

Regardless of what tools you decide to use as you work towards your health and fitness goals, I hope you celebrate the little milestones along the way and work to overcome the obstacles you encounter.  Don't give up!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon Recap

On November 4, I ran half marathon #46 the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon.  This is my third time running this race so you can click here to see the medal from the 2012 race (but no recap because this race pre-dates my blog) or you can click here to read my review of the 2014 race.  I keep running races in Indianapolis because "Indy" is a nice Midwestern city that is clean, beautiful, feels safe, and has many things to see and do (and races to run) throughout the year.

I keep coming back for the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon because it offers:

  • Great pre-race weekend instructions and reminders via email
  • Convenient, downtown location for the expo
  • Much of downtown Indianapolis is connected via skywalks, and our hotel was one of several that directly connected to the convention center
  • Pre-race warm up in the convention center with giveaways
  • Wave start (5 waves total)
  • Finisher's hat

  • On-site medal engraving
  • Post-race food included chocolate milk, water, Gatorade, chips, bananas, cookies, Cliff bars, and a ticket for one slice of Papa John's pizza
  • Food trucks and various vendors were also at the finish line celebration area
  • Plenty of porta potties downtown
  • Many hotels within a block or two of the start/finish line
  • Expo had a wide-range of vendors including other half marathons, local races, running/athletic gear vendors, sports nutrition vendors, etc. but try to get there early
  • Poster with participant names
  • Gear check
  • Runner tracking
  • AMAZING crowd and volunteer support

  • Plenty of places to carb load downtown the night before
  • Plenty of places to celebrate post-race
  • Downtown Indianapolis feels safe and is very clean

Registration for the 2018 race opens on January 1 so as you are making your New Year's resolutions, think about making a trip to Indy next fall.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

November is National Running Safety Month

Almost overnight the temperatures have dropped and the leaves started changing color from their summer green to their fall reds, oranges, and yellows.  As summer fades and fall begins, tank tops and shorts are packed away and the long sleeve shirts, pants, gloves, and hats come out.  If you are like me, you don’t adjust the time that you run just because it is now dark at that time. You have races scheduled, and you still need to fit in the mileage every week.  Instead, you purchase reflective gear and lights to make you more visible during your runs.  Some of the gear I own, I purchased when I first started running before dawn when I lived in Washington, DC.  The streets were always well-lit and most drivers were used to runners and pedestrians.  

Where I live now in St. Louis County, the streets aren’t as brightly lit and seeing runners out before dawn or after dusk isn’t as frequent of an occurrence, so I needed different gear to adjust to my new surroundings.  November is National Running Safety Month and as our days grow shorter, I wanted to share my nighttime running gear recommendations with you.

My first purchase back in 2009 was this Nathan reflective vest, which once contained an LED light strip in the front pocket.  It was worth the money since I still use it today.

I picked up these flashing LED light clips for FREE at race expos.

At some point I purchased these Nathan LED light clips.  They have multiple flashing speeds to choose from. Like the clips above, you can clip these to your shirt, pants, or shoes.

These reflective slap bracelets can go on your wrists or ankles.

My new Amphipod fuel belt and my new Fitletic arm band both have reflective strips near the zipper.

Through the years, I have purchased several headlamps but just couldn't find one that I liked to run with.  Through a fellow runner, I found an amazing product to light my running path and they are called the Night Runner 270 LED shoe lights.  They are basically headlights for your shoes, have multiple settings, are rechargeable, and I LOVE them!

I accumulated all of my nighttime running gear over the course of many years but these days, runners can purchase an entire running safety kit with a few clicks.  This running safety kit includes many of the items I listed above, but for far less than what I paid!

In addition to gear I wear or add, I also ALWAYS carry my driver's license and medical insurance card.  I know many other runners who love Road ID.  I carry my phone in my arm band and only use it for music when running with a group.  I also always let my husband know where I am running, especially when I change my mind at the last minute.

The websites below also have great information and tips about winter and night running safety:

Speaking of nighttime running, the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas races are November 11 - 12! Distances include a full marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K with all races starting  in the late afternoon or early evening.  This race has been on my bucket list ever since I ran the Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon, which used to be run at night.  Now night races, especially races this scenic, are difficult to come by.  They actually shut down the strip for runners.  I can only imagine how amazing of an experience that must be and one day, we are going to pack our bags and I am going to run that half marathon!  The runner perks are pretty spectacular and make me want to sign up even more, but you can also check out this website for information on great package deals and this website for information about shows and other things to do once you get there. 

I have a few runner friends who have either run the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll races or are running it this year and I am truly jealous!  You won't need the nighttime running gear I listed above to run the races in Las Vegas, but you should consider investing in reflective gear or LED lights if you plan to run pre-dawn or after dusk this fall and winter.  Your safety is so important if you want to keep running for years to come!  Be safe, and good luck to everyone running the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll races next month.  #VegasStrong

Thursday, October 12, 2017

MO' Cowbell Half Marathon Recap

On October 1st I ran half marathon #45, the MO' Cowbell Half Marathon in beautiful St. Charles, MO.  I am a MO' Bassador for this race, so it is always great to see all the planning and hard work behind the scenes turn into an amazing expo and race experience for our runners.

Why you should run this race:
  • Many distances available including a 5k, half marathon relay, half marathon, and the marathon
  • Virtual race option
  • Medals and 1/4 zip pullover for all distances

  • Option to have packet mailed (for a fee)
  • Large expo with ample parking, variety of vendors indoors and outdoors, and free health and fitness classes

  • Great pre-race communication via email and social media
  • Start/finish is just off of Interstate 70
  • Several hotels close to the start/finish line
  • Don't Fear the Reaper plays at 7:20 a.m. for you to ring your cowbell to
  • Plenty of parking in downtown St. Charles near the start/finish line
  • Amazing volunteers throughout the course
  • Scenery varied between urban and country and the roads were well-maintained
  • Runner tracking available via three methods - text message updates, GPS tracking via the Athlinks race day app (android users only), on-site and online results via the website
  • Post race food included cookies, granola bars, pretzels, bananas, chocolate milk, and water 
  • Runners' Village filled with vendors and games, just past the post-race food
  • Large PR bell to ring loud and proud

My experience at the race:
I walked this half marathon, which gave me plenty of time to take the course and the scenery in and snap photos along the way.  The last time I completed the MO' Cowbell half marathon was in 2013 and last year I ran the 5k, so it has been a while since I have been on the half course.  There were parts of the course that seemed different from 2013, but I can't say for sure.

I enjoyed the variety of scenery between historic downtown St. Charles, Frenchtown, local parks, country fields, the streets of New Town, the never-ending MO-tivational Mile, the steep downhill back to Frenchtown, and the finish in Frontier Park.  The volunteers along the way were great!  Quite a few even danced as we passed and remember we were walking the half, so they had to have been dancing and cheering for the thousand-some runners before us.

The weather was perfect and the support along the course was great.  This race is just always a great way to start your fall running season.  I will be back next year and I hope to see you on the course!

Strolling through New Town

Bubble Bus

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

#WellnessWednesday - CycleBar Chesterfield Groupon

Back in July, you read the post about my first experience at the CycleBar Chesterfield studio during their grand opening.  Several months have now passed, and they are offering a deal on Groupon where you can purchase four classes for just $40!!!!  I purchased this Groupon because it was such a steal and I finally completed the four classes.  You can read my original post about the layout of the studio, class format, and the little luxuries that are included with your CycleBar experience by clicking here.  My experience with using the Groupon warranted a quick post because it was such a great experience!

I used my Groupon classes very sporadically, so I stood out from the regulars in every class.  At each of the four classes, the CycleStar instructor sought me out and introduced themselves.  As I left each class, they told me "good job" or gave me a high five.  There were also cold, wet towels waiting on the other side of the studio doors after class, which is exactly what you need after a great class!

You can choose between a wide-variety of themed or classic rides: Confidence Boost, Throwback Thursday, Wine Down Wednesday (yes, there was wine waiting after class), and Dance Party were the four that I took.  No matter what the theme is, the song when you work with the arm bars will always be my favorite part of class!

I had a few issues while trying to book my Groupon classes using the app, but management responded quickly to my emails and were able to resolve the issue on their end.  So easy!

As I finished my last Groupon class I received an email with a link to special Groupon Extension pricing, which offeres six rides for only $60!  This is a great deal considering the drop-in rate for a class is $20.

I am not sure how much longer the Groupon will be available but if you were on the fence, I hope that this will sway you to click the purchase button.  It's a great workout!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Vine to Wine Half Marathon Recap

Last weekend I ran my 44th half marathon, the Vine to Wine Half Marathon in Greenville, Illinois. This was the 2nd year for the race and I was excited to check it out since I was not able to run it last year.

Why you should run this race:
  • Greenville, IL is off of Interstate 70.  It took me just over an hour to drive there from Creve Coeur, MO so it is very easy location to drive to for a day.  The town is quaint and scenic and contains quite a few restaurants for carb loading the night before or celebrating post-race.
  • Packet pick-up was available the night before and on race day.
  • Great pre-race communication and price increase reminders.
  • Ample parking adjacent to the start/finish line.  I was in my car watching Hurricane Irma updates until 10 minutes before the race.  Then I just walked right up to the start line.  So easy!
  • Plenty of porta potties at the start/finish.
  • Packet pick-up was quick and easy.
  • Long sleeve tech shirts in unisex sizing!
  • Great finisher medals.

  • Water stops every mile.
  • Amazing volunteers!!!!!
  • Post race wine and entertainment.
  • Post race snacks like granola bars, fruit, Gatorade, and bottled water.
  • Additional on-site food for purchase.
  • Post-race survey.
  • Friendly runners!!!  Numerous times I heard "good morning" or "keep it up" or "good job."  Numerous times as in too many to count.  It actually caught me off guard because in my experience, that atmosphere isn't typical outside of Disney races
  • Nice country scenery along the course.  I saw a lot of wooly worms on the road, which I never see in the city.  My grandma, a former farmer, says that their frequency and color show you what kind of winter to look forward to.  I would say 80% of them were black or brown....whatever that means.

Suggested improvements for next year:
Really the only suggestions I had are for better signage for both the winery and race day parking.
  • I drove right past the winery by following Google maps.  I turned around in a subdivision and as I was exiting, I saw three other cars turning around too.  The sign for the winery itself is very small and when you are unfamiliar with a place, it is very easy to miss.  I might also be slightly biased because I am used to the wineries in St. Charles County which have large signs at the winery itself and when you are within a mile or two of the entrance. 
  • I heeded the warning and came early to race day packet pick-up, but there were no signs about where to park.  I saw freshly mowed fields, but I followed the other cars to the main building before someone ran out to tell us to park at the far side of the field.  A few signs would really make a difference for us newbies. 

My experience at the race:
Although I have been running this summer, I haven't been running longer distances consistently.  I have also primarily been running on treadmills, indoor tracks, and flat trails.  Having grown up two counties east of Greenville, I should have realized that "rolling hills" in the country is very different from rolling hills in St. Louis.  It seemed like the steeper hills were towards the end of the race and I specifically remember hills around mile 10 and one around mile 11 that were so steep that even walking was difficult.

Road conditions also vary a lot more on country roads than in the city, so my ankles were sore as if I had run a trail race.  Even though it took me over three hours to finish, the time actually flew by and the scenery and volunteers along the course kept me engaged.  For those looking for a fun 5k or half marathon, I would recommend adding this race to your 2018 schedule.

Did you run this race too?  Be sure to add your review to Bib Rave to help other runners decide which races to run.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#WellnessWednesday - Cat Yoga

We had our wedding reception in my hometown in Central Illinois on June 3.  Knowing that weekend would be stressful, I took the following Monday off of work and signed up for a cat yoga class at Five Acres Animal Shelter in St. Charles, MO at 12:30 p.m.

This was the first time I had ever been to Five Acres Animal Shelter, and I was very impressed with their campus.  Cat yoga is scheduled only on Mondays because Five Acres is closed to the public that day.

The class was held in a building that only houses cats.  There were signs on the other buildings to guide you there.  

I arrived shortly after Noon so that I would get a good spot and have time to play with the cats before class.  Once you entered the building, you checked in and you left your donation (minimum $12 required donation).  You enter into a large open room with cat towers and cat condos around the perimeter.  There were several litter boxes in the room, but you could not smell them at all!  There were also cat shelves mounted at varying heights on the walls.

Once I set up my mat, I continued down the hallway to the various cat rooms.  Some rooms were open to allow the cats to roam throughout the building, while others were kept closed.  All of the doors had information about the residents of that room written on and mounted to the glass.

At the end of the hallway was a door that led to a "catio," which is a screened in porch just for the cats.  

After making my way through all of the rooms, it was time to start the yoga class.  The room was full of other participants by that point, but I never felt crowded.  There were two cats that pretty much slept on their cat towers the entire time while two others roamed during class.  Staff gave us toys to attract the cats, and they were definitely put to use.  Of the course of the class we managed to get in a good workout while also giving the cats plenty of attention.  

After class, I went into the only room I had not visited yet.....the kitten room.  There were two kittens out in the center of the room, and they were so adorable that I did not want to leave.  

If this yoga class was not on Mondays during work hours, I would take it again.  It was a great way to de-stress and support a good cause at the same time.

Because I had a great experience at the Five Acres Animal Shelter cat yoga class, I decided to sign up for a weekday evening class at Tenth Life with a friend, for what they call Cats N' Mats.  Tenth Life is located on Cherokee Street, which is a neighborhood known for it's amazing Mexican food.  For this cat yoga class, you pay online in advance through Eventbrite.  The total came to $16.74 and since it supports a good cause, I didn't mind the fee.  

This was my first time in the Cherokee Street neighborhood.  I showed up early because I didn't know how difficult it would be to find a parking space at that time of day, but there ended up being plenty of parking available on adjacent streets.  The doors opened shortly before 6 p.m. and we checked in and were told that we could set up in either of the two main rooms.  My friend and I picked our spot and immediately started playing with the cats.

By 6 p.m. both rooms were filled with participants, yet there was ample room to spread out.  The instructor positioned herself in between both rooms so that we could all see her.  Despite being new to yoga and only being familiar with a few of the terms, I could just feel the difference in the flow of this class vs. the cat yoga class at Five Acres.  Neither was better or worse, they were just different.  Some of the poses were the same in both classes while others were completely new to me.  There was substantially more laughter during this class, but there were also more participants and more rambunctious cats roaming about.  

The classes at Tenth Life fit my schedule better, so I will most likely be a repeat customer.  I could technically do a "cat yoga" class at home with my own cat for free, but there is just something about the opportunity to attend a yoga class at a shelter that warms my heart.  

The St. Louis area is filled with low cost and even FREE opportunities to attend a yoga class, many of which are listed on the Eventbrite website.  Click here to check out the list of upcoming classes.  It is a pretty extensive list this time of year, with both indoor and outdoor options available.  There have also been "Yoga with Bunnies"and "Goat Yoga" classes in the area, so I am definitely open to attending more nontraditional yoga classes in the future.  I will keep you posted on what else I come across....