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hotel training

Laura’s Training On theGo has strayed from its original theme of travel and workout but this past week I was thinking about this as I spent nights in two different hotels. Here are my reviews, from an athlete (and mom) perspective.

#1.  The Standard in NYC on the High Line

Basically an awesome location in general but for athletes, you can’t do better. Why? A couple blocks away you’ll find the 11 mile Hudson River Greenway path, perfect for running or riding a Citi Bike. If you do choose to rent one of those bikes, you’ll feel like you rode 4 times the mileage you actually did. Bonus!  If you’re there during the cold winter months and don’t feel like freezing outdoors, choose a Peloton Bike and join a live streaming class from the exercise room on the 14th floor. From your perch high above the Hudson, you can laugh at the crazy suckers running in the snow. Aside from the state of the art exercise room, the hotel offers a fantastic service. They’ll wash four items of workout clothing and return them to your room by 6pm. No (extra) charge.

And in no way connected to working out but my favourite feature of this hotel, here’s the video from the elevator, set to Prokofiev’s Cinderella ballet.

#2.  limelight in Apen, CO

I’m not going to lie. I didn’t even set foot into the workout room in this hotel. Though, I did peek through the window and noticed it’s small but equipped with a lifestyle spin bike and a few other machines. The reason I think this is a great hotel for athletes is the breakfast spread. Don’t laugh, I’m serious. It’s included with the room price and it’s enormous. There are the usual cereal, eggs, bagels and pancakes but also a salad bar with several varieties of greens, black beans, seeds and nut butters. Delicious oatmeal, granola and several varieties of yogurt are just begging to be topped with fresh or dried fruits. On Saturday there was smoked salmon.  Every day there were pre-made smoothies. My favourite treat though was doughnuts and coffee by the fire. Speaking of keeping warm, the outdoor pool and hot tubs are open year round. Nothing better after a long day on the slopes than a soak until you can’t stand the heat then a cold plunge. Mine was inspired by several tipsy Europeans who seemed to think it would be great fun.  I jumped in and hopped around like a lunatic while my body acclimated then convinced my boys it wasn’t really that cold. Aviv joined me and swam a few laps. Eitan began shrieking immediately and was passed back into the hot tub. Despite the slushy ski conditions (hard work for the legs) I wasn’t even slightly sore by the end of our trip. I attribute this to my hot-cold therapy.

The final thing worth mentioning about this hotel is the shuttle services from the airport and to Snowmass Mountain, where our kids loved the ski school. Little details make a big difference.

 

 

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Said no mom ever when given the choice between a late afternoon playground adventure which would surely end with a meltdown or a free hour of childcare. Except for me yesterday when the hour of childcare was attached to my attendance of Monday night spin class – a class I dearly love and don’t miss except under extenuating circumstances. Yesterday I was exhausted and positive I’d never survive the class.

My boys won, as usual, so I signed them into Y kids and found the energy to get through class. I left the YMCA feeling better than when I’d walked in, which is true 99.9% of the time. Sometimes I just need a little push from my pint-sized coaches.

Today I returned to the Y of my own free will and pushed myself harder in yet another spin class.  I have a nifty little app that connects to the spin bikes so upon comparison I can see that today I was averaging 20 watts higher than yesterday and also burned 40 more calories during my 40 minutes on the bike. Basically boring information but useful to me as self-motivation. Yay! I’m stronger than I was yesterday! Or maybe it was the good music and the cute instructor who walked around stalking our computers. Either way, I worked harder and feel awesome because of it.

the workouts:

If you want to try working with wattage, I suggest reading this article to begin. In both classes we were working with establishing challenging wattages we could hold 2-4 minutes. In Amy’s class yesterday we were sustaining 3 minutes with a comfortably high wattage then 2 minutes at +5-10 watts. 1:00 rest interval between the two. Then 8 x :20 all out with rest interval :10. Rest and repeat the entire thing. Today Luis was working us for 4 minute intervals, high wattage 85-90 rpm broken up with 1 minute very heavy climbing 65-70 rpm.

 

 

noise regulation

Any orchestral player who complains about the volume of their brass section has clearly never taken a spinning class in Tel Aviv. Three trumpets pale in decibel to the stereo system in Gordon Pool’s spin studio. That was my first observation at 7am this morning. My second observation was that our tiny but mighty instructor had an ear splitting whistle, which she sounded throughout the class (through her headset microphone) to cue each position change.  There were eight of us in the studio, including our class cheerleader, a plump middle-aged man with a perm and muscle shirt who spent most of the hour standing on the pedals waving his arms to the music. Two of us wore earplugs. All of us clapped and cheered enthusiastically on cue. The hour flew by and in spite of the noise, I enjoyed my workout.

I spent nearly twice as much for a one month membership here as I pay at my home YMCA and they don’t even supply towels. I forgot to bring a hand towel and had to use my shirt to mop sweat during class. Then I had to wear it to breakfast. Gross. The spin bikes are old and without computers. I’ve grown accustomed to training with wattage and rpm’s so without these numbers it’s tricky to train smart.

The upside: I have a one month membership to Gordon Pool!!! Anyone who’s known me since we’ve been coming to Israel has surely grown sick of hearing me talk about this spectacular 50 meter saltwater pool overlooking the Mediterranean. Usually when we’re here I run outside and buy a swim pass but this year I splurged on the whole shebang, which includes many classes and the use of a Japanese-style bathhouse spa. I was tickled to realize I’m now comfortable enough with my Israeli-ish-ness to walk into a gym, request a tour, then attend a spin class. Of course everyone speaks English, but I can read the signs posted in Hebrew and I’m trying to begin conversations in Hebrew.

The Israman half ironman is in 23 days. While my training hasn’t exactly been thorough, I’m enjoying the process and doing the best I can at this moment in my life.

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new year’s day sunrise run

strong like mommy

A while back Aviv told me he was eating a ton of food so he could be strong like me. My instant reaction was to lecture about quality vs. quantity – it matters more that he eats “strong foods” (like the snap peas he loves and the peppers he hates). Then I stepped back and digested what he’d just said. My 5 year old thinks I’m strong and that makes me proud. In his own 5 year old way, he’s understanding the example I’m trying to set for my boys – of living a strong, healthy lifestyle. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me the same.

 

Last week in spin class my favorite instructor said she’d been using me as an example in her other classes. Though I’m small, I can sustain a high wattage on the bike while keeping good form, which must mean I have a strong core. There’s the s – word again!

Today in the pool I was admiring the strength and speed of the woman next to me. She raced by me on her kickboard while I was moving my quickest with swim fins. I asked her what she does besides swim. Nothing. She grew up in the pool. I watched a few more laps and was still contemplating her extremely powerful kick as I walked directly into the men’s locker room. Oops.

I’ve been trying to follow my own advice to Aviv and eat more “strong foods”. For me this not only means more veggies, but fewer refined sugars and a better balance toward lean proteins. I’m in the middle of week 6 training for a half ironman at the end of January and nutrition matters! Toward the end of a recent long ride I pulled an energy bar from my pocket and as I tore off the wrapper the bar flew into the middle of the street. 10 second rule! I wasn’t about to let a little dirt and grease get between me and the energy I need to climb out of Sausalito.

So, what about strength? Obviously it’s been on my mind lately. While I can’t squeeze in any more weekly gym time dedicated to strength training, my mutu program core exercises have done wonders for core strength. I’ve also safely rehabilitated my DR (the gap between the 2 sections of the Rectus Abdominis [or 6 pack] abdominal muscle), which was a couple finger widths after two pregnancies. Various other exercises I’ve learned through the years in PT round out my TV-watching / Opera intermission strength training routine. Since this blog is about having a virtual training buddy, please join me! Tonight we’re doing wall-sits, squats, grand plies, clamshells, crab walk (is there a seafood theme to my exercise??), and side planks.

Be strong!

a punch in the face

Did you know that if you forget to wear your fitness smartwatch when you exercise, the workout doesn’t count? I repeated the beginning of a cardio dance workout today so it would “count” – and then I forgot to stop my watch at the end. At least I didn’t punch myself in the face during the repeat.

Seriously, I punched myself in the face during the first round of the punching bag drill in the kick-boxing set. I really should be more coordinated than I am.

This workout is perfect for doing in the living room during your kid’s nap time or in a hotel room where you don’t care if noise bothers the downstairs neighbors. It alternates between cardio (tons of bouncing up and down like a cheerleader) and separate sets of arms (you need 3-5 lb weights or water bottles), glutes (I barely managed to stand after these) and core (I never want to hear the term “perfect plank” again). A mirror is a plus for checking your form but a window works in a pinch!

I may not be able to move tomorrow but fortunately my lip isn’t swollen!

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iwannaseea HeKaPa!!

The morning began with the promise of rain and a tantrum. Still, we had an agenda – to spend Ariel’s birthday morning riding with the kids to Frisco and back. As I pried Eitan’s hands off the skuut bike he’d commandeered at the shop and forced my kicking, screaming two year old into the weehoo seat, I promised him he’d have way more fun riding fast behind my bike than riding alone. He wasn’t convinced until we found distraction in the garbage trucks collecting trash from a nearby parking lot. The skuut was soon forgotten and we raced down the bike path, Aviv and Ariel close behind.

IMG_9598 The ride from Breckenridge to Frisco was gorgeous and relatively easy until the final couple hilly miles, when I really felt that I was riding a cruiser, pulling an extra 50 pounds. Eitan sang to me from the backseat – one song looped because he couldn’t find the ending, but sweet nevertheless. At one point Ariel and Aviv blew by us, Aviv’s inside-out raincoat flapping in the wind, his little legs pedaling furiously backward. Later, Ariel reported that he’d been a huge help – on the downhills.

We made it 10 miles to Frisco feeling victorious and full of energy for the ride back. There was a coffee shop waiting for me and Ariel, and grandparents waiting to take the boys to the nearby museum for a model train viewing. I’m certain this was the highlight of their morning adventure. The sky grew darker as we drank our lattes and lounged. I told Ariel it was exactly how I’d wanted to spend his birthday. He agreed and suggested we move so that we didn’t get stuck in a downpour.

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After organizing snacks and kids, we began our return trip. A mile in we passed the hospital with a parked helicopter. I stupidly pointed it out and somehow Eitan missed it, so for the rest of the ride home (not exaggerating) he yelled/chanted/sang IWANNASEEA HE KA TO! (I wanna see a helicopter). There was a brief respite when I realized he was not only yelling but trying to shimmy his way out of the seat and I remember the trail mix hidden in the pannier bag. I handed him the entire bag and he dug out chocolate chips for the next mile, forgetting about the helicopter he hadn’t seen. As the sky opened up about 5 miles from home, he recommenced his chanting/whining. I was struggling to keep my bike moving forward, exhausted from pulling my annoying cargo uphill with minimal oxygen at 9,600 feet. Ariel and Aviv were riding behind us in case any more escape attempts were made. I wished I’d ingested a few more espresso shots. Ruling the world was not within my realm of possibility.

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Those final few miles were hard. Really hard. I repeatedly asked Eitan to sing instead of yell and offered my own rendition of Wheels on the Bike at the top of my lungs, improvising a verse about “the baby in the backseat goes whine, whine, whine”. Ariel suggesting a few times we “move a little faster” because it was raining harder. Yeah, right. Luckily the boys didn’t seem bothered by the fact they were getting wet. Aviv was still “helping” Ariel pedal and Eitan was still yelling IWANNASEEA HE KA PO!

We finally made it back to the bike shop, exhausted and wet but (mostly) in good spirits and ready for a tasty lunch. I’d riden 20 miles in the mountains, pulling a bike trailer! And I’d do it again in a second.

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sand intervals 

We are finally settled into our apartment in Tel Aviv and I’ve begun my Alcatraz training again. It’s been almost a month since I’ve done anything, between sickness and travel, and I’m not sure I can get myself where I need to be before the race in June. Since this isn’t a race in which I can just “get by” there is the possibility that I may not be able to participate. However, I am going about my training as if I’m still preparing for the race.

I’ve managed three short workouts in the four days that we’ve been here. Thursday morning I ran just over a mile pushing the stroller along the beach path. It was a glorious welcome back to this beautiful Mediterranean location. On Friday, while everyone else lounged over coffee and brunch on the beach, I slowly inching my way into the cold water and submerged myself in the Mediterranean Sea. I swam back-and-forth parallel to the shoreline, relearning the currents and waves and narrowly missing an enormous white jellyfish. Yesterday evening we put both kids on their scooters and attempted to go for a run. Total fail. Ariel completed some semblance of a mile with Aviv while I headed straight to playground with a kicking, screaming Eitan. He wanted only to ride back-and-forth across the path where the bikes zipped by at a furious speed. Nobody rides cautiously here and the chaos was at a higher level than usual, it being a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Once the big boys returned I took off across the beach to do one loop of what will become my regular sand training; across the sand, up the steps to gan hatzmaut, across the vista-point, back down the hill to the beach path, sprint the pavement to the ritz carlton restaurant and back through the sand to the playground. Hopefully this combination of sand and steps will not only prepare me for the sand & steps I’ll tackle at Baker Beach but also strengthen small muscles in my feet to prevent injury. 

Saturday’s stats: 1 loop – 1.22 miles, 11:55, 9’46” pace

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