Biking to the Vineyard (a 6-step program)

Remember all the biking Noah and I liked to do in Minnesota?

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A top priority in exploring our new state is to test out the biking scene. Despite our total lack of training or experience with bike touring, we decided to bike to Martha’s Vineyard this past weekend. Previously, the longest ride we had done was 40 miles on the Minneapolis Grand Rounds. Martha’s Vineyard is about 90 miles from Boston, and we’re not totally crazy, so we decided on a route that included one train, one ferry, and about 60 miles of biking.

Step 1: Prepping the bikes

Since we would be taking everything for the weekend with us on the bikes, we needed to do some prep work. Noah cleaned and oiled the chains,got new tires for his bike, we filled the tires to capacity, and we borrowed some sweet saddlebags from Noah’s parents.

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Step 2: Train

To begin the trip, we took the train from South Station in downtown Boston to Plymouth. Maybe you’ve heard of it….there’s a rock there. 😉

Biking to South Station was a bit of a harrowing experience on the crowded Boston Streets…

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…but we made it to the train and to Plymouth in one piece:

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Step 3: Bikes

After Plymouth, we biked along the Claire Saltonstall Bikeway to Sagamore and then biked along the Cape Cod Canal to Bourne. After crossing the Bourne Bridge we made our way to the Shining Sea Bikeway that took us from North Falmouth all the way to the ferry terminal in Woods Hole (thanks, Noah, for planning an awesome route!!)

In all, this leg of the journey was about 40 miles. The biking itself was fun: we set a good pace, saw some great views of the ocean, and enjoyed the adventure of it all. Although overall enjoyable, there was definitely a significant portion of the ride that took place on roads with little to no shoulder. Some cars were good about slowing down and scooting into the other lane when traffic was clear to give us room but others were not, and there was more than one occasion that I felt pretty nervous about the proximity of our bikes to cars zipping by.

I had one ill-fated fall, but luckily there were no cars racing by at that moment, and I made it out with nothing more serious than a few scrapes and bruises.

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Nothing that an iced coffee can’t fix!

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Step 4: Ferry

Woods Hole is on the far southwest corner of Cape Cod, and it’s the departure point for ferries heading to Martha’s Vineyard. Noah and I were planning to take a ferry to Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard, and we had about an hour to kill between our arrival in Woods Hole and the ferry’s departure. We took the opportunity to get some food (a burrito bowl at Quicks Hole Taqueria) and the aforementioned iced coffee.

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The ferry sure was HUGE!

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Not only does the ferry hold hundreds of passengers, but there’s also space for cars aboard! As bikers, we waited for all the cars to file in and then we were able to park our bikes along the side:

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Step 5: Bike Again

The ferry trip took about 45 minutes, and we still had a solid 15 miles of biking left to do from Oak Bluffs, so we were ready to get going!

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The house we were heading to was on the western side of the island near Menemsha, and when we finally arrived we were exhausted – but pretty darn proud of the day’s work!

Step 6: EAT!!!

After a long and draining day on the road, we were ready for some serious eats. We headed into the nearby town of Menemsha (yes, more biking, but it was a short ride!) for some food at The Home Port. We went to The Home Port’s ‘back door’ – a walk-up order counter.

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The day’s events put us in the mood for some greasy goodness:

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We agreed this was just about the best meal we’d ever had…although we did wonder if it would have tasted so amazing had we not just biked 60 miles.

Before heading home to crash hard go to sleep, there was one more stop to make.

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We went to Menemsha Blues, an apparel shop whose shirts I have long admired. The visit officially commemorated my first visit to the Vineyard.

Check back soon for more pictures and recaps from the weekend!

A New City

For most of the summer I’ve been in the hot California desert working at camp, hence my long blogging hiatus. I’m back to real life now…but real life looks totally different than before.

Goodbye Minnesota.

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Hello Boston!

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The jump from the Midwest to the East Coast has resulted in – if nothing else – a much classier stairwell.

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Minnesota

Boston

Boston

Although I’m not in Boston for very long (only a couple weeks before a much bigger move to Israel!), there were a few things that I was looking forward to doing during my time in Boston.

First and foremost, exploring the new area! I love finding and trying new cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants, and while there was certainly more exploration to be done in Minneapolis, moving to Boston provides a whole new crop of activities. During one of our first days in Boston, Noah and I got coffee at Crema Cafe in Harvard Square.

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I got an iced Americano and thought it was amazing! I’ve been back a handful of times since. In addition to coffee, they also have a nice selection of baked goods and a small menu of sandwiches, soups, salads, and breakfast items. The drinks definitely shine more than the food, but the food is still good. Be warned, however, that Crema does NOT have wifi. A clever trick indeed for a coffee shop!

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I was also really excited to try the November Project during my time in Boston. I first read about The November Project in a Runner’s World Magazine article from November 2013. The November Project is a free fitness/social group that meets in the wee hours of the morning (ie, 6:30am). It was started in 2011 by two friends who committed to working out together every morning during the month of November. To increase motivation, they started posting about their workouts on Facebook and other social media, inviting others to join. Incredibly, people started coming, and today, as many as 600 Bostonians meet on any given Monday, Wednesday, or Friday to work out with the November Project. The group has also spread to 16 other cities! The iconic November Project workout is running the Harvard Stadium stairs (yes, all of them!), and the group continues to do the stadium workout every Wednesday. Monday workouts are held at traveling locations and Friday workouts are running Corey Hill in Brookline.

On Monday, I went to the traveling workout – this week at Old Morse Park in Cambridgeport. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but when I arrived at the park I immediately found a large group already gathered.

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Even though I knew a lot of people go to November Project, it was still surprising to actually see so many people! The November Project cofounders, Brogan and Bojan, still lead the group each meeting. Monday workouts are usually shorter because the assumption is that people run to and from the workout, so after a brief warm up, the workout was seven minutes of nonstop burpies. It was definitely tough and my chest was sore for the rest of the day!

After going once, I could tell that the social aspects of the group are really emphasized. The ‘warm-up’ was more about hugging the people around you (no one shakes hands at November Project – only big bear hugs), learning the names of a few others, and high fiving with awesomeness-affirming “f*** yeahs.”

After the workout, Brogan and Bojan take a photo of the group, give out the ‘positivity award’ to one lucky participant, and ‘Happy Birthday’ is sung to anyone who has a birthday that day. After the Monday workout, a group of regulars had breakfast together at a nearby apartment. Since I knew one of the regulars from Minneapolis, I tagged along!

After Monday, I was a little hooked and wanted to see what all the fuss was about for the Harvard Stadium steps. So, Wednesday morning, I woke up bright and early again and took a short jog over to Harvard Stadium.

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There were a lot more people there for the stadium workout than the Monday meeting, and the crowd was a lot more diverse (ie, not only young people).

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There was one older man (probably in his mid-late 60s) who was there with a trombone that he played during the workout for added motivation!

Harvard Stadium has 37 sections, and the workout is to run up the big steps and walk down the small ones.

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For me, running quickly turned into walking about halfway up each section. To complete all 37 sections is called ‘a tour,’ and Brogan told the newbies (people who had never done the steps before) to aim to complete a half tour. I completed the half tour plus three additional sections. Holy cow, it was SO difficult! I thought it would be tough, but it far exceeded my expectations. My legs were shaking by the end, and I have been incredibly sore since! The stadium steps definitely had a little bit of an addictive quality to them, and I’m already looking forward to going next Wednesday and trying to complete a full tour!

This weekend, Noah and I are taking a bike trip to Martha’s Vineyard, so I hope to be able to post soon about that adventure!

Weekend Visitor

This past weekend, Noah’s sister visited from Chicago. I’d say it was an opportunity to act like a tourist…but I sort of think we always act like tourists.

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Rachel got here Friday afternoon and we went to the Midtown Global Market (site of Kitchen in the Market) for dinner and then to a Ragamala Dance show at the Walker.

No pics from Friday, but there are plenty of photos from Saturday’s activities. It was a super active day, with a run in the morning and most of the afternoon occupied by a bike ride.

Noah and I each had our own bikes, and we rented a bike for Rachel from Nice Ride.

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Noah has a leftover Nice Ride membership from the summer, so we were able to get the bike for no charge. Also, Nice Ride has recently added a lot of new bike stations (including one very close to my apartment!) and extended the no-charge ride time for members from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Noah and I had high ambitions for the bike ride, and we wanted to show Rachel all of the Minneapolis highlights:

  • Chain of Lakes (Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, and Lake of the Isles)
  • Hiawatha Bridge and Midtown Greenway
  • Guthrie Theater and Mill District
  • Stone Arch Bridge
  • University of Minnesota
  • Nicollet Avenue Pedestrian Mall and Downtown

Please note the magical fact that all of these wonderful locations were accessible via protected bike path.

We somehow mustered the energy to hit all of the spots, although we didn’t actually bike along the chain of lakes because we could see it some from the greenway and had also run near the lakes that morning.

Hiawatha Bridge along the Midtown Greenway:

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Hiawatha Bridge and Greenway

View from the bridge linked the east and west banks of the University of MN:

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view from UofMN bridge

View of the Guthrie and Mill City Museum from the Stone Arch Bridge:

view of the Guthrie and Mill City Museum from the Stone Arch Bridge

Slightly over two hours later, the journey was complete and it was time to return the Nice Ride…

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…and get some beer!

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A friend of mine has a coworker who knows a guy who knows a guy (yes, I meant to type that twice) who works at the Excelsior Brewing Company and said he would give us a tour, so a group of us headed out there in the late afternoon. Apparently, it was one too many degrees of separation though, because when we got there the fellow in question was out boating and unable to show us around. We somehow managed to recover and sample some of the brews. On tap was a brown ale called Bitteschlappe,  Bridge Jumper IPA, and Big Island Blond. They were out of their pale ale (called XCLR), so those who ordered flights had to double up on a different variety:

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I ordered the brown ale because it had the lowest bitter rating. I enjoyed it for approximately 3oz. and then the beer flavor was too much. They say it’s an acquired taste…but I certainly have yet to acquire.

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After a sufficient amount of time in the brewery, we decided to walk around the town of Excelsior. From the drive in, we knew there was a cute Mainstreet that led to a park and pathway along Excelsior Bay. We walked through town to get to the water:

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Notice the prom pictures happening in the background behind us. This was clearly a hotspot for photos since we also saw a wedding!

When we got back to Minneapolis, we were all hungry and ready for dinner. We tried to go to Brasa but the line was too long, so we ended up at Bryant Lake Bowl instead.

Noah ordered a bison steak salad, I ordered a beef sandwich, and Rachel ordered a black bean and beet burger:

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The food was good, but we were still hungry after (maybe because of all the biking!). We picked up a slice of pizza to go from Pizza Luce later in the evening.

It was a lot of fun to have a visitor over the weekend, and I especially enjoyed the bike tour. Especially now that I know I’m leaving Minneapolis, I’ve been eager to go back to all of my favorite places one more time and, of course, take lots of pictures for the memory books!

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Humans Can Fly

A friend of mine recently got into aerials. What is aerials, you ask? It’s a form of acrobatic exercise that uses silks and other methods of mid-air suspension. I didn’t know about aerials until my friend began taking classes, so imagine my surprise to learn that it’s a fast-growing exercise option and there are a few studies around Minneapolis where one can take aerials classes.

As soon as I heard about aerials, I was fascinated. People flying though the air? Normal people who aren’t circus performers? How could there be such a thing?!

Luckily for me, Xelias, the studio where my friend hones her aerials skills, puts on an adult student showcase (essentially a recital for friends and family). I was so there!

The studio itself is in a warehouse building in Northeast Minneapolis, and the aerials equipment hung from the ceiling over a hefty layering of mats and pads:

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There were fourteen acts with small groups performing on a particular apparatus. The show featured performances on the trapeze:

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Tissu (the traditional silks):

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And the rope:

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I couldn’t take my eyes off the show the whole time. This was partly because it was entertaining/impressive to see people twirling around in the air and partly because I was wondering if someone was going to fall and plummet to their death a broken limb. Aerials seems like it takes an enormous amount of upper body strength and muscle control, and I’m sure it’s a really difficult workout. I looked into trying some classes though, and most studios require people to sign up for a semester or class package rather than just doing drop-in sessions. I suppose it makes sense given the need for skill development…but I’m not ready to make that level of commitment. Also, aerials generally seems to be pretty pricey running about $20/class or more. While it looks like it would be fun to try, I’m not exactly itching to make that sort of investment!

In other news…the Paint your Plate items are done!

I received a call on Wednesday saying the items were ready for pick-up, and I stopped by after work on Friday to get them. The mug and bowl came back wrapped in newspaper so it was extra exciting opening the package:

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Both things came out great:

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I’m looking forward to eating breakfast out of my bowl this week!

Kosama

A few weekends ago I participated in the Minneapolis City Solve race. One of the stops was at Kosama, a group fitness facility that offers a variety of classes. Since I’m always interested in trying new fitness experiences (especially free ones!), I decided to take advantage of a free introductory class at Kosama.

Kosama has an intriguing structure to their classes. Each day they offer either kettlebells:

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Kickboxing:

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TRX:

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Or Kosama Strong, which is a combination of kettlebells, TRX, and plyometrics.

These class offerings are consistent throughout the week (e.g., Mondays are Kettlebells, Tuesdays are Kickboxing, etc.), and each month has a specific set of exercises done for each workout. At the beginning of each month the set of exercises are changed. So, the kettlebell workout for January is different from the kettlebell workout for February. The idea is that your body won’t be able to adapt and plateau because you are changing the specific exercises every 4 weeks.

I decided to try a Kosama strong class to get a taste of everything (besides kickboxing…I’ve never become a big fan). The inside of the studio was clean and spacious, and the staff were incredibly friendly. A major downside is that there are no real locker rooms though. There are only a couple single-person bathrooms that have a shower inside:

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The class I attended was small (only 6 people), so it wasn’t an issue after class when I needed to change, but I imagine in larger classes it would be inconvenient to need to wait for a space to change/shower.

The class itself included a warm-up, cool-down, and about 15 minutes each of kettlebells, TRX, and plyometrics. Exercises are done for about 45-60 seconds each and then you move on to the next one. Exercises are never repeated.

I enjoyed the fast pace and trying new things (especially TRX which I had never used before!). During and immediately after class I didn’t feel too tired, but later in the day my arms felt sore which made me think I had used some muscles I don’t generally get to in my typical weight lifting.

Overall, Kosama was fun to try, but I’m definitely not planning on shelling out another $100/month or so to join. I don’t think I get enough added benefit to my own workouts – plus the location is not too convenient (it’s downtown and I’m uptown). Still, if you’re looking for motivation and a personalized approach, I think this might pay off more than hiring a personal trainer at the gym since the class moves so quickly and you never stop moving.

Do you know of any other unique fitness experiences to try around the Twin Cities or in general?

 

Free Birthday Fitness

Great things about having a birthday:

1. People you haven’t talked to in years will write on your facebook wall to wish you well

2. People you talk to regularly will do something nice to reinforce your mutual affection for one another

3. FREE STUFF

Lots of restaurants give you a free dessert (and haven’t we all misused this perk to surprise an unsuspecting friend on their non-birthday…or just to get a free dessert? nope…just me?), a lovely sandwich shop in Northfield, MN will give you a free hoagie sandwich, and right here in Minneapolis you get the gift of fitness. Gym rats, yogis, and cross fit addicts everywhere know that fitness doesn’t come cheap. Just a few examples…

Cross Fit monthly membership: $170

Yoga Studio Monthly membership: $120

Pilates/Barre Monthly membership: $160

So, the birthday gift of free fitness is really a gift. Instead of paying $38 for drop-in class rates, I received a free class at Corepower Yoga and a free class at Allign Pilatesjust for being born.

I’ll take it! Naturally, I knew right away the only Corepower class I could even consider was sculpt.

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Corepower sculpt, I love you. If only our relationship depended on more than money…

At Allign Pilates, I took a barre class. Holy cow, this was a tough class! Although I wasn’t quite as fatigued as after a sculpt session at corepower, the exercises at a barre class are more unique and make me feel like I’m using totally new muscles (or at least using them a lot more than I’m used to). If your legs don’t shake at a barre class..hats off to you!

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And, since I can’t justify doing another birthday post more than a week after my birthday, the last b-day related pics are from a lovely dinner with friends. Featured dishes: cheese and crackers, sauteed summer squash, and rosemary flatbread from Smitten Kitchen (topped with caramelized onions and blue cheese).

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NROLFW: Stage 6

SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/molliefeldman/Desktop/nr6.doc

As described in the NROLFW Overview (suggested prior reading), The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women is a 6-month strengthening plan. The plan includes 7 Stages, with two Workouts (A and B) for each Stage.

Summaries of Past Stages
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

Stage 6 was all about variety. Each exercise within each workout had different set/rep instructions, so I’ll indicate that with my weights below.

Stage 6, Workout A (repeated 4 times)

Negative Chin Ups (3 sets of 1 for each workout)
Workout 1: completed all sets
Workout 4: completed all sets

Underhand Grip Lat Pulldown (10 sets of 2 for each workout)
Workout 1: 95 lbs
Workout 4: 105 lbs

Barbell Split Squat (workouts were sets x reps as follows: 2 x 10, 2 x 8, 3 x 6, 3 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: 20 pounds plus bar
Workout 4: 30 pounds plus bar

Push Up (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 2 x 8, 3 x 6, 3 x 4, as many reps as possible)
Workout 1: 10
Workout 4: 19

Stage 6, Workout B (repeated 4 times)

Reverse Lunge, One Dumbbell on Shoulder (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 6, 4 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: 15 lbs
Workout 4: 20 lbs

Dumbbell 2-point Row (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 6, 4 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: 15 lbs
Workout 4: 20 lbs

Dumbbell Push Press (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 6, 4 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: 20 pounds
Workout 4: 20 pounds

Back Extension (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 6, 4 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: with 25 pounds
Workout 4: with 25 pounds

Incline Reverse Crunch (workouts as follows: 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 6, 4 x 4, 2 x 10)
Workout 1: 10 reps
Workout 2: 10 reps

Overall, Stage 6 was a nice shake up with more variety. I don’t think I changed my weight enough throughout the different workouts to really get the full benefit of doing different set/rep combinations. Still, it’s nice to know I’m done with the second to last stage, and it will definitely be an accomplishment when I finish the whole program!

More NROLFW
Overview
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5