Friday, December 26, 2014

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Race Recap: The Ugly Sweater Run

Phew! All caught up on my Race Recaps for the year. I have a long list of blog posts I want to write, but what I lack is the motivation to do so after a full day of work, kids, or both. I ran The Ugly Sweater Run the same day as the Grant Park Turkey Trot because I love to run and race and I do crazy things like that. Mostly, however, I ran this race because my dad was visiting and he said he wanted to run a 5K with me.

Here's a secret: saying you want to run with me or miss running with me are two of the best things I could ever hear and will automatically make me want to hug you.

This race looked like fun and it seemed like a great way to get in the holiday spirit. I didn't have an ugly sweater so I sent my dad on the task of going to thrift stores to find sweaters. There wasn't much by the time he went shopping, but I'm still proud of my surprisingly heavy floral sweater. This race took me a little bit back because we did the race with my girls and the stroller (my girls were with me during my very first 5K). The difference with this race is that my oldest ran/walked most of it! I was so, so proud of that girl. She looked beautiful and strong running the course.

Aside from that, it was really fun seeing all the sweaters on the course. I must have bad taste because I didn't think any of the sweaters were ugly; they were all so much fun to me! But then again, I am the type of person who likes to wear character socks year round.

What I Liked:

  • Running with my family. My dad is awesome and my Oldest makes me heart swell with pride. 
  • Fast packet pickup.
  • Fun beanie. 
  • All the sweaters. 
  • Meeting up with Instagram running friends afterward. 
  • Course on the lakefront. 
  • Stroller- and pet-friendly course. 
  • Free beer!

What I Didn't Like:

  • That part of the course that went through mud and gravel? Not fun with a stroller. 
  • Hot chocolate given out on the course was watery. 
  • No medal (I know, I know, but I love medals).

Debating whether I want to sign up for a New Year's Day race or not. If not, then my next race is January 11th's Polar Dash. I've ran in 30-degree weather so I'm hoping it's not colder than that because I'm signed up for 15 miles! For more on my running, follow me on Instagram @thecookierunner.

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Race Recap: Grant Park Turkey Trot

This post should actually be called "Better Late Than Never" because the Grant Park Turkey Trot was November 29, 2014. I signed up for this race on a last-minute whim because I figured it would be the only time I would actually be able to run a "turkey trot" since the race took place on a Saturday. You see, I refuse to run a race on Thanksgiving because that's my absolute favorite holiday and I love spending the day in the kitchen. My day starts at 7am and the food is ready for a late lunch (and even later dinner!). Running just isn't part of my plan for the day. What can I say? I love to run, but Thanksgiving is the exception.
This is the only picture from race day. Oops!
I wasn't running this race for time. After Chicago, most of my runs have been about feel and just running to run. Training for a marathon is life changing in so many ways and, while I still have dreams of qualifying for Boston, I am more into enjoying the run and the time I get to myself to be myself. So, this run was all about enjoying the run and the crowd and finishing with a smile. I ran 10 miles prior to the race as part of my training for Miami Marathon so I was already in my running groove by the time the race started. Running on the lakefront is my favorite place to run, so I was happy we spent part of the race running there. Overall, it was a fun race and I'm happy I finally participated in a turkey trot!

What I Liked:

  • The fleece is awesome. 
  • I liked everything about the course, except for the last 1/2 mile or so that I felt like I just ran a circle. 
  • Snacks at the end. 
  • Hot cider at the end. 
  • Reasonably priced. 
  • Saturday event. 
  • Chicago skyline on the medal. 
  • The oatmeal sample they gave out in the goodie bag was the bomb. 
What I Didn't Like:
  • Packet pickup was a disaster. I have never waited as long as I did to get my packet. The wait was so long that Road Runner Sports was even raffling off items every 10 minutes. I still don't understand why the wait was so long. 
  • Last 1/2 mile of the course because of the looping feeling. 
  • Packet pickup. It was really awful. 
Next up, race recap for The Ugly Sweater Run! For more on my running, follow me on Instagram @thecookierunner.

Monday, December 8, 2014

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Got My Fitness On: ClassPass Chicago Review

My month-long ClassPass membership has come to an end and it's time to review this membership program. I originally wanted to try ClassPass because I liked the flexibility of membership in terms of the variety of studios included and because ClassPass has the almost-magical ability to centralize everything into one website. With that said, here are the pros and cons of ClassPass:

This right here is my absolute favorite part about ClassPass: you log on, click on "classes," and every single class offering at every studio participating in ClassPass is right there before your eyes. To make it even better, you can filter the class search by time, location, and activity and you can reserve your spot in the class up to seven days in advance. Their reservation system is easy to use and I really can't say enough about how much I loved seeing everything on one page. After you register for a class, you are given the option to put the class information into your calendar. As someone who, at times, feels married to her calendar, this was helpful. ClassPass also does a great job of sending confirmation and reminder emails for your registered classes.

The only hiccup I had with the classes page was that if I clicked on a class to read more about the class and then went back, I lost all my filters and the class page would revert back to the closest day to your search. So, for instance, if it was November 20th and I was looking at classes for November 23rd between 5:00pm to 7:00pm and I clicked on a class and tried to go back to my original search, I would lose all the filters and the search would revert back to November 20th or 21st classes.

Every class had a description and every studio had links to social media. If you clicked on a studio, it would show you the line up of classes at the studio for the week. If you clicked on a specific class, it would show you when the class was being offered again. There were even teacher bios for some of the students.

You can plan out your whole week in workouts with ClassPass. Before my first week of trying ClassPass, I spent Sunday night looking up different classes and planning out my workout. I loved that I was able to do this and actually became a little obsessed with checking ClassPass daily to see if there were any classes available during unexpected openings in my schedule.

The only thing I didn't like about ClassPass and, it has more to do with my lifestyle, than the membership itself was that your classes must be planned ahead of time, at least 2 hours before the class start time. Like I said above, I would have unexpected pockets of time open up and I was never able to take advantage of that free time with a class because I missed the cutoff for signing up for the class. I understand that ClassPass has to release the spots so that others can take advantage of the classes, but still. It was because of this that I wasn't able to take advantage of ClassPass as much as I would have wanted.

Checking in at the studios was easy peasy. I still had to fill out new student forms and sign liability waivers, but other than that, there was no delay in getting myself checked in and working out.

With over 50 studios offering classes in everything from yoga to strength training, ClassPass offers you the best variety possible. I prefer yoga, so most of the classes that I tried were yoga-focused, but even so, there was so much variety of style and environment. I loved being able to preview and try all the different studios in Chicago.

What a great group of studios on ClassPass. I took classes at The Dailey Method, Moksha, AIR, Body R&D, CorePower Yoga, YogaSix, Zen Yoga Garage, and Core Chicago Pilates and loved all of them. Again, I loved being able to take classes at all the different studios, instead of having to pay the $15-$20 per class I would have had to pay if I would have gone to the studios on my own.

You can't beat $99 a month price tag. Even if all you take is 5 classes a month, you are still getting your money's worth. 

Whoever came up with ClassPass deserves a prize for coming up with a membership program that is able to attract a great variety of studios to participate and offer its members hundreds of classes a week. There were minor things that I didn't like, but it's not a deal breaker. ClassPass is made for the person who likes the studio atmosphere, versatility in their workouts, and accessibility to various environments and classes.
For more on ClassPass visit their website. ClassPass is currently offered in the following cities: Boston, Chicago, NYC, LA, San Francisco, DC, Seattle, San Diego, Portland, Austin, and Dallas.

ClassPass gave me a complimentary month-long membership, but all the opinions in this post, my review, and on Instagram, @thecookierunner, are my own.