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zumbaHey, we’re all still alive and the world didn’t end! Woohoo! Man, that was a close one. This lady above is praising God or just instructing her Zumba class to wave yo hands in the ayirr like you just don’t cayyer.

Okay, enough of that.

This past Monday night marked my first Zumba experience. It was fun to bust a little move to relieve some unwelcome stress.

Picture a small studio with a big mirror on one wall and a big window on another.

Picture a sweaty male instructer with a patch over one eye. (essence of cool right there)

Picture said sweaty man that knows how to shake his ba-donk-a-donk…a lot.

Picture my timid expression at the start.

Picture (or really imagine) hearing extremely loud salsa and bollywood music.

Picture one male and 9 women.

Picture a whole lot of hip shaking, leg moving, arm swaying fun.

Picture me confused 3-4 times as my coordination is lacking in my feet.

Picture jumping jacks.

Picture belly dancing skirts and a lot more hip shaking.

Picture a cool down.

Picture a satisfied smile on my face.

Overall, it was a pretty great class to start off on. This guy on Monday was a lot of fun. He was very big on shaking our hips. At one point, he stopped the music and grabbed a dozen belly dancing skirts. You know the ones that have those little shiny, trinket things that aren’t bells, but when rubbed against each other they make a ton of noise? Ha! Did that make any sense? Anyway. We threw those bad boys on and kept right on shimmying.

I went with a friend and she mentioned the other instructor is much more intense so I’m definitely interested in going back for the other teacher. The best part about Zumba is you kind of forget that you’re burning calories. I tend to stick to running and opt out of cross training so I’m looking forward to taking classes with Anytime Fitness and building a better fitness base. Maybe this should be my New Years resolution. Either way, if you’re hesitant to try Zumba, just do it! Even if you aren’t the most coordinated person, you’ll end up burning some calories and just laughing it off.

Happy Friday ya’ll. I don’t go back to work until Thursday next week. I’m looking forward to having a few days off. I haven’t scheduled any blog posts, but you’ll see me around in the coming days I’m sure. If I don’t…

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I made the decision to join a gym. Since daylight savings ended, I’ve been struggling to make it to the trail for my runs. I love running as you all know, but night running is a whole other ballgame. I’m prepared for everything that comes with night running – bright clothing, head lamp, pepper spray – but running in the dark is not one of my favorite things to do. The dark gives me the willies.

My apartment complex has a gym; however it really doesn’t do me any good if my keys won’t work to get in to the little gym. After several days of attempting to workout at home and going to management about the problem without a resolution, I was fed up.

I have friends that go to Anytime Fitness. Everyone seems to rave about it. One conversation later and I was ready to become a member. During my lunch last week, I marched right into the nearest Anytime Fitness and joined for a year.

AFIvy, the Office Manager, sold me on everything the gym has to offer. As a franchise, they don’t act like a big corporate company. Each gym is owned individually. It’s opened 24/7 with access to MANY amenities.

They have indepth security measures for those that like to shred the late night treadmill oil. It’s small enough that when you walk in you feel as if you’re hanging out with family. Classes include zumba, yoga, butts and guts, and arms and abs.

AF2

They aren’t the biggest gym, but the lack of size is made up by the highest quality in technology. T.V.’s are set up on every cardio machine. The weight equipment is new and always clean. You have the option to pay for a private trainer every week. There’s tons of equipment from balls, bands and mats. Ivy told me that every year, in September, they ask members how the gym can be improved. Members can suggest new equipment and if the owners agree, it’ll show up in the gym a few weeks later. Seriously? They actually listen to the needs and wants of their members. Sweet!

Members have a private entrance. Every time you use your key, your clocked into your private account on AnytimeHealth.com. Private bathrooms allow you to change and shower after your workout. Ivy cleans those bad boys on a daily basis! The list goes on and on.

And the prices? They don’t even compare to other places. I love knowing that I don’t have to drop thousands of dollars every year to use a gym. They’re VERY reasonably priced. And this is coming from a girl who has to really think it over when buying anything over $40.

I love that the gym doesn’t make me feel intimidated. I can easily walk in and feel at ease. It’s my perfect gym style. If you’re looking for a friendly, affordable gym, please try Anytime Fitness. Just as a disclaimer, this is not a sponsored post. I’m just a happy member wanting to share my little gym find with all of you!

Have an awesome Thursday lovies!

When I started running over a year ago, my one main goal was to run a half marathon. At the time, 13.1 miles seemed like a daunting task. The great thing about goals is they have to scare you a little bit. What are they if they don’t make your heart beat a little faster or your mind a little anxiety-ridden? I’ve dreamed of this goal for a while and I can’t picture not finishing a race with an exhausted, thrilled expression and a medal around my neck. It’s my kinda dream.

The great thing about half marathons is it’s the perfect distance (for me anyway). You have to do a bit of training for them, but they don’t take over your life like dedication to a full marathon would. I’ve heard many people say if you can do 8-10 miles then 13 miles won’t make much of a difference.

I hadn’t put too much thought into a specific half marathon until I finished the Turkey Trot. I left that race thinking, “That wasn’t so bad.” I had some foot aches and pains, but a few extra miles certainly won’t break me in the long run. I had a friend tell me after the race that the pain doesn’t ever let up, but it’s your mind that really drives you to the finish. It resonated with me because once I hit 6 miles, I went into pep talk mood. “C’mon Amber! You can do this! Just 2 more miles! You can make it up this hill!” In the grand scheme of running, it really is mind over matter.

So here I sit, dreaming of my half marathon dreams.

Last week, I checked out my usual racing site, Run On, to see early 2013 races. It’s one of my favorite things to do. While I was browsing for races, I noticed they offer half marathon training classes. Something finally sparked within me. I finally had the confidence to look into an actual half marathon race. The culprit: the Rock ‘N Roll Dallas Half Marathon on March 24th. I really have no interest in taking the classes. They meet early in the mornings three days a week. I’m an evening runner. So, I went hunting for a half marathon training plan for a novice runner. I really didn’t hunt for long because I already had one in mind. I had heard the name Hal Higdon very early on in my running adventures. Hal has years of running experience and his website is filled with tips and training plans for any type of runner. After 30 minutes of checking out the plans and having a serious pep talk with myself, I knew I could do his Novice 1 training plan.

Half Marathon

12 weeks. Run 3 times a week with cross and strength training. Done.

My next move was to grab a 2013 calendar and count backwards from the half marathon date to see when I need to start this bad boy. January 1st is the big day. What better way to start off 2013 then with a great plan to run a half marathon and a continuation of living a healthy lifestyle! It’s a little scary to think about, but it just makes me think that it’s not a goal if it doesn’t scare me.

I’m looking forward to getting started. This race will become reality when I take the plunge and register. That’s the official go-ahead. *Big breath* I haven’t actually registered, but my plan is to register early (by January 3rd) so I can get the early bird price. Gotta save the bucks somehow. Plus, this is the best way to keep me accountable. If I pay $85 for a race, I’m doing it no matter if I’m crawling to the finish line.

imageBeginning in early January, I’ll keep you all posted on my progress. I’m comfortable running 4-5 miles, so anything past that has got to make for great running adventures.

Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend friends!

You know you’re going to get a good laugh when “Race Photos” are in the title of a post. Why? Because you never know what you look like when you’ve been running for an hour.

Last night, the Turkey Trot photos finally went up on the site and I was quick to check them out. I’m used to smaller races. Most smaller races have professional photographers, but I never see the photos after the race. Somewhere in the world, there are many photos of me huffing and puffing down the road. Somewhere someone is saying, “Why does she look so pissed?”

Take exhibit A:

Those determined eyes. That running form. It screams, “I’m just a 5K from finishing.” Or at least that’s what I was thinking at this point. Surprisingly, I was feeling pretty good. I had just stretched and was taking off on another leg of the run. And props to me for hitting up the edge of the road. I’ll pay for no photo bombing any day. Oh wait. I did. Since these were my first legit race photos, I needed to have them for myself. They rip you off no doubt, but I needed some evidence.

I forked over $27 for three DIGITAL images. No, I didn’t get prints. No, I didn’t receive a frame for them. No, no one gave me their first born son for them. A slight rip off indeed, but worth it.

Exhibit B:

Not such a furrowed brow here and still loving that no one else is in the picture. I do have to say the scenery was pretty awesome. Check out that background. A little slice of Dallas for your viewing pleasure. I look like I’m about to die, but at least I’ve got my essentials. Bic Band. Check. Tech tee. Check. Brooks. Check. Compression Socks. Double Check.

Exhibit C: The Grand Finale

Flailing hair, gut-wrenching finisher face and the sweet relief of a finish line. And apparently I’ve got some pronation by the looks of the way my right foot is landing which explains the pain I felt hours later. Thank you compression socks for lessening said pain.

I just had to share these with you all. I got a good laugh out of them and you should too. I mean heck. It’s only Tuesday. We all deserve a little laugh for making it through another Monday.

Happy Tuesday, ya’ll!

This year, Turkey Day started off with a nice 8-mile run. The Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot celebrated it’s 45th anniversary this year and I wanted to help celebrate.

Two days earlier, I had taken a quick 3-mile jog to keep my legs loose. After the first mile, I felt a shooting pain run through the outside of my right foot. Hoping it wouldn’t last long, I continued on my way. Anther a half mile in, the pain began moving to the arch of my foot. I cut the run short and began building a plan to nurse my foot for Thursdays run.

On Wednesday, I made my way to the Run On! store to see if they could help solve my painful foot woes. The sales guy suggested I buy a pair of compression socks to help the blood flow in my feet and legs. I knew it couldn’t hurt. I wore them most of the night while I massaged, iced and rested my foot. I really couldn’t do anything else. Worst come to worst, I could always veer off the course early for the 5K instead of the 8-miler. So the plan was I wouldn’t try breaking any records, run at a comfortable pace and constantly check the feel of my foot throughout.

Race day came and I met up with my running buddy from the Undy 5000, Sarah. We set a goal for 9/1 intervals and attempt a 10 minute/mile pace.

This was the biggest race I’ve ever done. There were over 3,900 finishers! It’s such a family-friendly race with all types of vendors from fitness companies and their sports drinks to a puppet vendor and bounce houses for the kids.

Getting back to the race, the weather was perfect – mid-60’s and sunny. Everything seemed to be lining up for a perfect run. Even the morning of the race, my foot was feeling really good. The energy of the crowd was really great. It’s really just one thing that I love about races. Everyone is so hyped up with adrenaline. It’s awesome!

The first few miles went great. We were comfortably running 9 minutes and walking 1 minute. Those miles went by fast. Before I knew it, I was closing in on the fork for 5kers and 8-milers. Since my foot was still feeling good with no troubles, I made the decision to go ahead and do the 8-miler. We weren’t hitting the 10 minute/mile goal and once we hit mile 5 Sarah and I split ways. I stopped for a quick stretch and continued on. I was more concerned with injuring myself then hitting any major time goal. I knew I wanted under 1:45 which was a pretty easy goal really.

The run led us out of downtown Dallas and back. Once we began heading back, we got some really great views of downtown.

This was the first race that I carried my phone on me…tucked in my bra. Surprisingly, I forgot it was there until around mile 5. This spot led us up to a bridge that had the perfect lookout over downtown Dallas. People were stopping to take pictures. I tried to do the same, but my phone decided to crap out on me. I think it might have had something to do with all the sweat it was enduring.

I hit the 6-mile marker and still felt pretty good. I tried to run a half-mile then walk a bit and repeat. I wasn’t concerned about time. I just wanted to finish strong. I was simply enjoying myself out there. It was nice to see the big, yellow 7 mile marker. I had 1 mile to go! The trail teased you a bit because once you hit number 7, the next half mile was all down hill. After a slight turn, the race finish festivities came into view. The only thing that was slightly annoying was I felt like I was running through the race village forever! I kept hunting for the finish with no such luck. I just kept at it and finally finished in 1:37:08. It certainly wasn’t fast, but for someone who didn’t really train for it, I think I did alright.

I actually really enjoyed this run. I thought it would be a lot harder than it was. I liked the location. It’s your typical Dallas run. The trot led us through the Main Street District, West End and Reunion District. The views of tall buildings, storefronts and lofts were such a treat from my typical trail runs. I appreciated the multiple water stations and challenging hills. I would definitely be interested in doing this race again next year. Maybe I’ll actually train a little better for it next time.

And just for a split overview:

A bit of walking at every mile really throws off my average pace. Oh well. I’ll take it.

Side Note: Recovery wasn’t that great. I stretched after the race, but my poor foot ended up taking a beating. After many massages, ice packs, icy hot patches, and Tylenol, it’s finally starting to feel better. I’m concerned I’ve got some tendinitis. Not fun.