Monthly Archives: January 2011

Another Spring Race: Four Courts Four Miler

Well hello there, January 31!  I can’t believe I’m running into you so soon! This month has just flown by.  I have a great January training wrap up post coming tomorrow.  I’m really excited to share my training progress with all five of you everyone.

The winter weather has been keeping me from getting out and enjoying some quality runs.  Even this weekend, when the temperatures were in the 40’s, there was still a ton of ice on the sidewalks in my neighborhood.  I’ve logged a lot of miles on the treadmill, but that’s not very exciting to write about.

I’ve added another local race to my spring schedule (check out my races page for the full list).  The Four Courts Four Miler is a challenging short race followed by a really fun party.

The race description is short and sweet: “Downhill on first half, uphill on second half.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”  This is certainly not a PR kind of race, but will definitely be fun because it starts and ends at a bar.  I have been setting the treadmill on a steep hill and speed walking as practice.  Maybe I won’t do so bad!

Blog related updates:

I’ve added a few little changes to CarlyBananas to make it more readable both in a reader and on the site.  If you’re reading on the site, you can now click to subscribe and add the blog to your reader.  I’ve also added an option to connect with me on Twitter and Daily MileIf you have any suggestions for CarlyBananas, please leave a comment!


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What I learned from Studio Yoga

About a month ago, I bought a pass to a small local yoga studio.  Journey Yoga in Arlington lets new students buy 3 classes for $30.  Amazingly, they also offered a Yoga I class at a time that was perfect for my schedule.

At this studio, Yoga I focuses on the basics as a starting point or it can be a place to deepen your existing practice.  I was really relieved to take a class described as a starting point. I am one of the least flexible human beings on the planet (seriously, I’m not exaggerating). My legs are like the world’s tightest rubber bands and my  lines always involve some kind of bent knee.


I do not look like any of these people when I do yoga and that is ok!

I didn’t really know what to expect in my classes but I planned to give it my all.  I was so excited during my first class when the instructor, Sabrina, immediately said not to worry if you couldn’t fold yourself in half or reach your legs over your head.  She reminded everyone that yoga is about peace and balance and happiness.  If being super flexible was the key to happiness then circus performers would be the happiest people on earth.  Point to Sabrina.

I loved the three classes that I took at Journey. They were relaxing but challenging at the same time.  It’s a small class so the instructor was able to come around and correct your posture – but she did it nicely and quietly so it was very constructive.  Each class left me a little sore, but not out of commission. I quickly saw areas that I needed to work on between classes, like my balance (wow, I don’t have a lot of balance!).

If you’re in Arlington and are looking for a new studio, I really recommend Journey.  They still have the same 3 classes for $30 special for new members and they also have a 4 classes for $50 holiday special going on (you can buy up to 3 of these – totaling 12 classes for $150).  Their normal 5 class package is $90, which is still quite reasonable in this area.  You can purchase and schedule classes online. They have a pretty good variety of different class types.

*This is not a paid or compensated review.  The views expressed in this blog are simply my opinions.


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Lost in my own neighborhood

Sometimes runs don’t go according to plan.  And sometimes  that change in plans can totally mess up your running mojo.

Wednesday night, I had plans for a great run.  It was 51 degrees and sunny in Washington, DC during the day – a huge change from the below average temps we’ve had this winter. At 6:30 pm it was still supposed to be above 40 which would feel almost toasty after the ice storm we had on Tuesday morning.  I decided I’d run the 5K course for my Valentines Day race and then do a few slow repeats of the quarter mile hill at the course start (seriously, how mean is it to have a steep hill at the start of a race?!).

Things started off ok – not wonderful, but ok.  Positive: I paced myself up the hill pretty well.  Negative: It was suddenly super windy and I forgot my gloves.  Positive: A guy passed me at the top of the hill and I was able to use him to get my pace back on track.  Negative: Suddenly, 80% of the streetlights were out.

Arlington (and most of Northern Virginia) is absolutely horrible with street lights.  For such a populated area, there are a ton of streets with no lights at all and even more streets where lamps burn out and aren’t replaced for a really long time.  I followed my pacer friend for about a quarter mile before I realized I couldn’t see him when he was between working street lights.  I looked down and realized between streetlights I actually couldn’t see my feet.  This was not good.  I was not ready to break an ankle.  Even though I was wearing a reflective belt, I didn’t feel like I could be certain that passing cars could see me so I turned around and decided to wing it.  The map below shows where things go totally awry.

The green and red dots are the start/finish lines of the race.  The arrows show my path.  The crossed out sun is where I realized I couldn’t see my feet and the ?! 😦 is where I got lost.

I turned down the first side street I saw that was well lit. Negative: Of course, the street curved and immediately turned into a gigantic hill.  Positive: I was already planning on some hills.  I got to the top of the hill and decided to go right. Negative: There was another hill to the right.  Bonus extra negative: That hill was a dead end.

At this point I started to get really panicked and flustered.  I could actually still see my apartment but couldn’t figure out what roads to take to get me back there. Negative: I realized I was totally lost within my own neighborhood.  I stood there for a good 5 minutes and just tried to figure out what to do.  I live in a neighborhood that’s pretty close to a major highway. I usually run in the direction opposite the highway and never really thought about how many roads would be intersected by it.

Positive: I decided to get myself together, accept that this was pretty much a lost run, and enjoy the upcoming downhills while I tried to orient myself.  And I did.  It took me about a mile but I got back onto one of the streets on my usual running route.  My first reaction was to hightail it for home, forget this run ever happened and head back out the next day.  But I realized that ending a run on such a negative would leave me in a bad mood all night so I did a mile of nice, normal running on a street that I recognized.  My shins were so sore from the 3 fairly epic hills but running that one good mile felt so good.

I definitely learned a lesson on this run: Always have a back up plan.  If you’re not sure where you’re going, running up and down random streets is probably not the best course of action.

This weekend it’s supposed to be extremely cold again:

As much as I’d love to buck up and run 8 miles in the cold, I might need to change course.  Thankfully my gym is about 2 miles away, and only a mile from the trail I want to run on.  Long Run Plan B: 2 miles in the cold to the gym, strip down and treadmill for 4 miles, bundle back up and run 2 miles home.  It actually sounds kind of fun!

How do you get yourself back on track when a run doesn’t go according to plan?


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Cross Training with Jillian Michaels

One of my goals for 2011 is to cross train.  Yoga, cycling, and lifting weights will strengthen my muscles, increase my flexibility, and make me a better runner.  I’ve been taking advantage of Fio’s free ExerciseTV on Demand and doing a lot of core and yoga work from home when I am too lazy to don’t have time to go to the gym .


Ready to do some Yoga Meltdown!

(I have yet to master the art of blogger self portraits)

I always worry that I won’t push myself hard enough when I work out at home so I try to pick videos that look like they’re a little tougher than what I can do comfortably.  Jillian Michaels currently has five free options On-Demand.  She’s an intense trainer, described on her website as “tough-as-nails”, and her workouts are HARD.  I’ve tried the first part of the 30 day shred a few times and earlier this week I tried Yoga Meltdown.  Today, I decided I’d give Yoga Meltdown another try.


Look at those guns!

The DVD description on Amazon:

Jillian Michaels, winning trainer on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” introduces a new yoga workout unlike any other. Combining hard-core yoga power poses with her dynamic training techniques, Jillian will get you real weight-loss results fast. YOGA MELTDOWN includes two complete 30-minute workouts that include a warm-up and cooldown. Begin with the Level 1 workout which focuses on quickly flowing yoga sequences to burn mega calories. Then progress to Level 2 which adds twists and balance poses for an even greater burn.

My take: This is a really good but very challenging work out.  Jillian has two girls demonstrating poses, one for beginners and one for more advanced viewers.  If you’re like me and you’re not that familiar with yoga, you’re probably going to need to modify the beginner poses a little further to make the DVD doable.  While the cover of the DVD says it’s a great program for weight loss, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re lacking in upper body strength. There are some parts of the workout that I simply can’t do but even with these holes, I still feel like I’m getting a serious workout in.

Do you use any at home exercise programs? How do you push yourself when you’re in the comfort of your living room?


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Love the Run 2011 – A Race with the Boyfriend

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a winter 5K, just for fun but have been pretty against it because race costs are just so high.  Recently, I remembered there’s a really cute Valentine’s Day 5K that starts right in front of my apartment and thought it would be kind of fun to make the BF run it with me.

Love the Run You’re With is part of the Pacers 2011 Event Series, which includes the GW Parkway Classic, Crystal Run 5K Fridays, and a ton of other local DC races.  They’re really well organized and professionally run, which makes the cost factor a lot more tolerable (though still painful).

Check out the race description and try to tell me that it doesn’t sound fun:

Ahh, Valentine’s Day….Either you love it, or you hate it. Run as an individual, team or both! Runners can self-select their “status” whether it be Co-Dependent (in a relationship), Stupid Cupid (single), or Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em ( . . . well, it’s complicated).  In true Pacers Events fashion, we’ll have a great post-party. Celebrate your love, declare your independence, or cry in you beer at our post-race party. Other perks include a fabulous long-sleeve, brushed cotton tee, chip timing, cool prizes, adult beverages, post-race treats, and more!

Have I mentioned that I can see the start line from my apartment?

I talked to the BF last night and he’s in.  And he’s agreed to pace me to a PR. The conversation went something like this:

Me: We should do Love the Run. It’s only 5K and it’s right out front.

Him: Sure.

Me: Wouldn’t it be fun to run it together, like starting and finishing together?

Him: So you want me to run really slowly… (*note* He runs about 90 seconds/mile faster than me)

Me: Actually, I’d like to run really fast.  Can you push me really hard and not let me give up when I’m tired? I want to see how fast I can make myself go. I ran the first 2 miles of the 9/11 5K with Laura at sub 10 minute pace but I was sick and almost died during mile 3.  I think I can push to do at least a 10 minute pace for this whole race.

Him: Sure. Why not.

Me: *Squeals in delight*

Him: *Rolls eyes*

/End scene.

So that’s the story.  I’ll be doing my first 5K of the year, right in my neighborhood with the Boyfriend.  I’m hoping it leads to a happy Valentine’s Day and not a silly argument on the course (or more realistically, me burning out after a mile and a half and forcing him to finish ahead of me).
Do you run with your significant other? Do you have any winter races planned?


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Swagtastic Swag

In late December, I posted about winning some awesome running swag from iRunnerBlog.  The excitement of winning was great motivation to get me out running in the cold weather.

Yesterday, my swag arrived.

Road ID Gift Certificate: I ordered a pink Wrist ID Elite (interactive) and a Firefly Belt. I’m super excited to receive both.  I will feel a lot safer on night runs with both of these.  The nice folks of RoadID also threw in a hat (which also has reflective stripes) and socks.

Two pairs of Ryder Sunglasses (front) VTX and (back) Grindhouse.  Ryders have polarized lenses with a Horizontal Glare Reflective (HRG) filter encased inside the lens to block over 99% of the glare from water, rock, pavement and other reflective surfaces. They also have great anti-slip nose pads.

Last (but not least), a ton of GU was included in Vanilla Gingerbread, Mint Chocolate and Vanilla Bean flavors.  I haven’t ever tried GU, but I’m starting my long runs at the end of January and early February so I’ll be giving it a try soon.

I’m hoping the weather stays snow-free here in DC so I can go out and do my 7 miler on Sunday.

Do you have any big exercise plans for the weekend? How do you ensure safety when running after dark?


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A Different Take on “Resolutioners”

Some people call them “Resolutioners” and some call them “January Joiners” and some call them “those people who hog the treadmills for 45 minutes to slowly walk shuffle”.   I’ve been guilty of harshly judging people who join gyms in January but something changed this year.

I spent a good chunk of Tuesday dreading going to the gym because I was convinced it was going to be overrun by people who had no interest in exercise but were there to suppress feelings of guilt.  You have to understand that my gym is unusually peaceful.  It’s brand new, modern (the treadmills have iPod charging docks and TVs), huge and doesn’t have a lot of members yet since it’s pretty expensive (luckily, I could piggy back onto a family plan that my mom has up in Pennsylvania and I pay next to nothing to be a member).  I’ve been there at 6 pm and maybe 10 treadmills are in use.  There is never a wait for a cardio machine and the weight area, which takes up the entire bottom floor, is usually deserted.  Classes are never full.  Basically it’s the best gym ever.

So I walked into the gym Tuesday night, grumbling about the crowds, and settled on a treadmill.  The person next to me was reading the Economist, which I think takes a fair degree of concentration that obviously detracts from athletic coordination, and he was walking at 2.7 mph.  I suppressed a scream, put down my water bottle, and started to stretch.

As I was warming up I scanned the room – I’m a pretty notorious people watcher – and I saw her.  No, this isn’t a romantic tale, I saw a woman on a treadmill one row over busting her butt at 4 mph. And then I realized: Everyone has to start somewhere.  Heck, I did Couch to 5K last June.  It was recent.  There are a lot of  people who make a resolution to go to the gym out of guilt or to socialize but there are some who are finally getting the guts to change their lives. So I grabbed my stuff and switched treadmills so I could run next to this lady.

I didn’t have the guts to say anything to her – I was too nervous that I’d end up sounding like a know-it-all or a total creeper.  So I just did my thing, smiled at her a few times, and hoped her first trip to the gym wasn’t so miserable that she changed her mind about exercise.  I wish she would have observed my 9:1 run/walk ratio because it really looked like she was going to die a few times but there’s always next time.

So tonight when I go to the gym to do treadmill speedwork (double ugh), I will be more tolerant of the crowds.  Besides, I know the guy reading the economist won’t show up too many more times 😉

How do you deal with increased gym crowds at the beginning of the year? Or are you a gym newbie?


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