embrace the neon

an average runner's running blog

Injured Runner Woes

It’s hard to write about running when you’re not running. Especially when you really want to be running. Even more so when your first race in ages was supposed to be tomorrow.

After Mountains2Beach, I started feeling some pain in the top and back of my right leg. It wasn’t bad, and I was planning a wedding so I NEEDED to run to maintain my sanity. The pain never really got bad, so I kept running and it kept hurting. (Note: you should not continue to run when something hurts. It never makes it better. We will file this whole post under “do as I say, not as I do”.)

After the wedding, I took a week off of running (also known as a honeymoon), thinking it would get better. It didn’t, and when I started to increase my distance I realized that training for a marathon is not going to go well if I’m injured.

injured runner

After this run, I knew for sure something was wrong.

So now I am an injured runner, and I forgot how terrible it is. Especially because we have finally had perfect running weather – morning temps in the high 40s and low 50s! You will never appreciate getting up and running in the dark and cold until you can’t. (Ok most people will never want to do that. Runners are weird.) Austin and I did get some bikes and have been riding every weekend for the last few weeks, which is fun. But it’s not running.

injured runner cycling

I had forgotten how much fun riding a bike is!

So, here’s to another couple weeks of rest – if that doesn’t help, I’m sure the PT will be happy to see me again. In the meantime, I think Bob has the right idea:

dachsund

Hope your holiday season is off to a spectacular start!

Are you good at not running when something hurts? (Can you teach me?)

What’s your favorite non-running exercise?

~etn

A first time for everything

So, this is a post I meant to write a couple months ago, when it actually happened. But, you know, life.

I was out for my first five-miler in a while. I’d been feeling strong and the weather was absolutely perfect for a run on this particular Saturday morning. I ran a route I have run literally hundreds of times.

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The Lake Route

I’m cruising along, dressed as per usual in a neon tank top and knee-high polka-dotted compression socks. Drivers can see me from a mile away (as was my intention). Coming up on the busiest intersection in my little suburban town, I was running in the bike lane since there isn’t any sidewalk on that stretch of road. As I reach the bus stop, the sidewalk begins, and I move to hop up on the curb to continue my run without having to dodge cyclists.

I felt the side of my left foot touch the curb, and then the world slowed down as I flew forward, landing on my knees and wrists and sliding along the cement sidewalk. I’ve never fallen while running before. So naturally it would happen on the corner of a busy intersection while half the town is taking their kid to soccer, and when I am wearing a very visible outfit. Oh, did I mention that this was exactly two weeks before my wedding?

Falling on a run

This is what I was wearing.

It was actually fine. I was so embarrassed that I popped up immediately, checked for blood, and when I saw none I kept running. I was barely scratched (thank goodness!), and my pride took the brunt of the fall. I must have been motivated by the shame because that mile clocked in at a really quick pace for me – 8:03 – and I kept it up the rest of the run!

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8:03 overall too!

Falling was bound to happen – I’m not the most graceful person to walk the planet. So I guess I’m glad I finally got it over with, and that I escaped unscathed. But still… I can’t believe I did that!

Ever fallen while running?

Ever had something weird happen on a route you’ve run a million times?

~etn

Back to our regularly-scheduled programming

And just like that, it’s almost November: we’re married, our amazing honeymoon is behind us, and we are back in the swing of things. It was a crazy couple of months leading up to the wedding: lots of travel, wedding-planning craziness, getting pulled on to second-chair two trials (and then having both cases resolve at the last minute), and rehabbing our poor dog Bob who slipped a disc and wasn’t able to use his back legs for a while.

dachshund wheelchair

He’s back to walking now, but he rocked some wheels for a while!

But the wedding and honeymoon were perfect, and I am starting off this training cycle feeling incredibly blessed and joyous. And seriously stoked to start training again. I’ve kept up a pretty solid morning workout routine (well, except for the honeymoon, lol). I’d been running two to three days a week and going to barre three to four days a week. Austin, my husband (!!!), and I even got in a run the morning of our wedding. (It was truly a perfect day.)

Chapel Hill Running

Chapel Hill sunrise, October 15

This past week was focused on getting back into a routine, now it’s time to build mileage! Though I am feeling those few weeks off… yesterday’s four miler felt pretty rough despite the perfect temperatures.

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I tentatively have three races on my schedule: the Santa to the Sea half in December, the Zion Half in April, and (gulp) a full in May. I am glad I didn’t try to squeeze in a full marathon this year, but I am ready to tackle another one. I KNOW I can improve my time. So here we go!

What’s on your race schedule this season?

Anyone else take the summer off?

~etn

 

Becoming a Morning Runner

Long time no post!

To be fair, I haven’t been getting a ton of miles in these days. After my goal race, I knew I was done until after the wedding. A full time (plus) job plus planning a destination wedding is enough for this summer. (And I don’t miss running 20 miles in the heat.) But I am still getting in 3-5 milers, and the best part is that I am now getting them done before work!

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View from a midweek morning lake run.

How is this possible? Well, mostly because I have a new job. With a normal (35-45 minutes) commute. Which means not only do I have an extra 1-2 hours in my day, I also don’t have to leave my house by 6:30 am to get to work on time. It’s pretty glorious.

(The commute is only one of the awesome things, btw. My new job is in-house, versus working for a private firm. The people are absolutely wonderful. The office is incredibly organized and totally paperless – like, really, truly paperless. It’s a very tech-savvy company. I’m pretty much in litigation heaven.)

So for the entire month of July, I’ve managed to get in six morning workouts a week! Since I’m not doing any distance running right now, I’ve been working on my speed – which was going great until I got some piriformis pain on my right side that has stuck around for a week and a half now. But that’s ok, I’ll rest it a few days and see how it goes. I’ve been more focused on barre anyway; I want really toned arms for wedding pictures, and more importantly the studio is air-conditioned, lol.

Pre-injury:

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Post-injury:

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Now that I’ve made the transition to morning workouts, I totally get why runners rave about being morning people. It’s never too hot to run at 6 am. I do have more energy during the day. I’ve come to really cherish my pre-workout ritual of a quiet 20 minutes in the dark with my coffee, scrolling through Instagram before everyone else is up. It’s pretty nice being able to just relax when I get home too.

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Even managed a mile time trial before 7am this month!

Fiancé and I celebrated three years together this month too. I’m pretty excited about marrying him. = ) And I don’t think he’s sad that I’m not running a full marathon this year…

hiking Southern California

Hoping your summer has been great so far!

Are you a morning or an evening workout person?

What’s the worst commute you’ve ever had? (Mine was 90 miles each way through LA traffic… I don’t recommend that.)

~etn

Mountains2Beach Half Marathon Recap

Short version: I got my sub-2!!!

I’m still smiling after this weekend’s race. Everything came together and I had an amazing run.

Average Runner

Fiancé and I battled some horrible traffic on Saturday to get to the expo. It was pretty small – we did a loop, including stops to sample Nuun and some new Clif Bar offerings, and were still in and out in less than ten minutes. Packet pick-up was easy – get your bib on one side, and your shirt and shuttle ticket on the other.

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Then we stopped off to enjoy some local brews – Made West had a taco truck that day, so it was an easy decision. We met up with some friends too. Saturday night was an early one for me. I had some pretty serious nerves, so I didn’t sleep that well, but that was fine since I had to be up at 4 a.m. anyway.

My amazing dad volunteered to drop me off at the race – otherwise, it would have been a much earlier morning for me, the latest shuttle the race offered was 4:45 a.m.! It was about a 40 minute drive to the race, so if I was  taking a shuttle I’d have been leaving the house at 3:45. Thanks Dad!

Mountains2Beach

The start was well-organized and there were plenty of port-a-potties with short lines. The sky was lightening as we got there, and at about ten minutes to six the announcers had runners start lining up. With about 2000 runners, there were three waves – I was in the second. There was a slight delay as we waited for the all-clear from highway patrol, and while we were waiting a runner next to me struck up a conversation. She was from Houston, and it was her first half-marathon! (And she’s getting married in October too, so we had lots to chat about.) = ) Congratulations again Jessica on a great first race (she came in well under 2 hours!)

Finally, the first wave took off, and a minute later it was our turn. I knew that if I had a good day, I could PR and hopefully break two hours. But I also knew I was a little under-trained, and because this was my goal race my nerves were much worse than usual. Thankfully, the nerves disappeared as I crossed the start line to the chirp of hundreds of Garmins. We wound our way out of the parking lot and I gave my dad a quick wave, then got to the task at hand.

It took a while for the crowd to thin, and the first half was much more uphill than I think most were ready for. (The race directors changed the course this year – much to my frustration, the first 4.5 miles were uphill before turning around for 5 miles of downhill.) My first mile ticked at 9:18, and my heart dropped into my stomach. I pushed a little harder than maybe I should have for mile 2, but came in at 8:34 and relaxed again. I had trained for hills early in the course, and I was feeling good and gaining ground over the next couple miles.

Mountains 2 Beach

Race photo credit: Dan Holmes

I hit the turnaround at about mile 4.5, and felt strong. Seriously, I got so lucky on this race. The next four miles flew by, and I grinned at the cheering stations and tried to smile for photographers. It was overcast and misting a bit, with temperatures hovering in the high 50s and a slight breeze; I was in running heaven. I kept seeing 8:30-something splits on my watch and shaking my head in disbelief. But I knew that after all that downhill, the last few miles of flat were going to feel rough. After the mile 8 marker, I steeled myself for the last push. But the elevation map was wrong (or I read it wrong), and the downhill continued for another mile!

Oh, but then… then there was a small hill that felt harder than anything in the first half of the race. It seemed to go on forever. I was all business though, and kept that mile under nine minutes too.

Mountains2Beach

Finally, we turned right and had a brief downhill stretch again until we hit the ocean. I had to do some fartleks to keep myself motivated in the last mile, but all of a sudden I was in the finish line chute. I heard my name over Jay-Z’s Dirt Off Your Shoulder blasting on my headphones (don’t judge) and saw Fiancé! Then I looked at my watch and saw 1:54:34 – and I decided to finish in under 1:55. I left everything on the course and willed myself over the finish line, stopping my watch at 1:54:56.

Mountains 2 Beach

Race photo credit: Dan Holmes

I got my medal and had to sit down, and I may have gotten a little emotional and even teared up a bit.

Here are my splits:

Average Runner

I KILLED IT! Official time was 1:54:51: 38th of 166 in my age group, 167 of 1197 females, and 367 out of 1811 overall in the half. Even though I had perfect weather and a downhill course, never in my wildest imagination did I think I was capable of that time. Sorry to be so obnoxious, but I am just really proud of myself. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

I did get an email the next day for the USA Half Marathon, the only half marathon that has a qualifying time. It’s in San Diego in November, and now that I have a qualifying time I am SOOOOO tempted to register… but I’d be hitting peak training right around the time of my wedding and honeymoon, so I’m holding off (for now at least).

Did you race this weekend?

Ever had a perfect race?

~etn

Here We Go

One week til the Mountains2Beach half – my goal race for the year. And then it’s downhill to our wedding! I’m feeling ok about the race, but not hopeful that this will finally be my sub-2 hour race.

This is due, in large part, to a loss of motivation. For various stupid reasons I skipped some long runs during this training cycle, and while my shorter runs have felt great and speedy, I’m not sure I can maintain for 13 (point freaking one) miles. One of the skipped long runs was last weekend, and that was for a good reason: Fiancé and I had a little getaway to Avila Beach!

Avila Beach

My dad gave us a bunch of gift certificates for our birthdays last fall, and we finally carved out some time to use them. We made our way up the coast stopping in Santa Barbara for breakfast.

Post Long Run Breakfast

Then stopped at a winery not too far out of town for some really great pinot noir tastings.

Runners Who Love Wine

Spotted in the parking lot at Laetitia Winery:

Runners Who Love Wine

I need this.

We still had some time before we could check in, so we stopped for lunch.

Drinks at Mr. Rick's

We got an oceanfront room at the Inn at Avila Beach, and it was stunning.

Avila Beach Pier

Then headed out for another drink.

Runners Who Love Wine

Then dinner, which was fantastic (and also out on the patio overlooking the water).

Runner Fuel

Bacon-wrapped filet. Worth every calorie.

We danced the night away to an 80s cover band, so the next morning was not an early one. But we got to enjoy coffee overlooking the water.

Inn at Avila Beach

Then grabbed more coffee and a cinnamon roll the size of my head.

Runner Fuel

Finally, before heading out of town, we stopped and spent an hour in these amazing mineral spring hot tubs – you get your own two-person sized tub up on a hillside, and it feels like there’s no one around for miles. So relaxing.

Average Runner Blog

It was a much-needed getaway from work and life, and we are so grateful to my dad for the opportunity!

But then it was back to reality, and training. Sunday was lost due to a 6-mile hike (the distance was my fault, I got us a bit lost) and being tired from the trip. So I had to get in at least one double-digit run during the week. I managed 10 miles on Wednesday, but it felt really hard. I somehow managed a 9:04 pace, but I left everything out there. Yesterday, however, I got in 8 miles and felt pretty good! 8:48 average pace, and I wasn’t dying at the end.

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So, I am still going for my sub-2 half next Sunday, but my B goal is just to PR. After that, I have no races on the books at all – I know the months leading up to October will fly by, so I’m letting myself take it easy and do wedding stuff. = ) (Who knew, this girl who had never even seen the inside of a Michael’s now owns embossing powder and is a regular Etsy stalker… and I’m actually having fun with it? If anyone finds the old Hilary, please send her home.)

Anyone else racing next weekend? Or have fun holiday weekend plans?

What’s your favorite place to get away to for a night?

~etn

 

On Digging In

Hi all – sorry for the absence. I actually wrote this post two weeks ago, but every time I try to log in to finish the post my hosting service has been down. Sorry if you came looking for me! I’m working on getting it fixed. Anyway…

Holy butt-kicking work week month quarter.

The good news is that I’ve taken it out only (well, mostly) on my running. Running is fantastic for channeling stress, which is a major reason why running is my favorite.

Average Runner Blog

Upside: extended periods of stress have taught me to dig in during my long runs and harder workouts. I know that I am improving physically now that I’ve had a few months of consistent challenging workouts. But my biggest improvements have been in the mental toughness department. I refuse to let up, I refuse to quit.

Brutal Friday? Sneak in a 2-mile run and channel that aggression at lunch – and end up with your first mile at 7:48 without breaking much of a sweat. Or reward yourself for making it all the way through Thursday with a RoadRunner Sports Adventure Run!

RoadRunner Sports Adventure Run

Post-Adventure Run!

Feeling daunted at the never-ending pile of work you face? Make a dent in the pile and then reward yourself with an Orange Theory workout or hill sprints – those thoughts about work will get pushed out because your brain will only be able to think “Don’t throw up. Don’t pass out. Don’t throw up. Don’t pass out.” I even got some gloves to save my hands during my Orange Theory workouts – how cute are these from Sparkle & Sweat? = )

Sparkle & Sweat

Orange Theory = lots of rowing –> blisters and calluses. No more!

Runners who Row

Worried that you’re stuck? Push yourself and see your paces DROP as the miles add up. What work stress? You’re a running beast!

Average Runner Blog

Cheesy as it all sounds (I know), digging in when things get hard makes all the difference. Sure, sometimes I still want to give up and sit on the couch and have a pity party. And sometimes I do that. But the more I push, the better my results are, and the more I want to push. Funny how that turns into a cycle.

And then you want to eat healthy, too…

Runner Fuel

Homemade Acai Bowl

Runner Fuel

Spicy Eggplant with Tofu

Does running/working out help you with stress?

Anyone else doing Orange Theory?

~etn

Runner’s High

It’s a little weird to write this, but I’ve been in a really good place running-wise lately. Usually I’m whining about how I’m over training, or tired, or it’s too hot. But, not this week.

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Not that it hasn’t been hot. We had a few brief days of what most of the rest of the country would think of as fall (rain and temps in the 60s) and then skipped straight ahead to summer. Flowers blooming, sunny and warm every day.

Running in California

I assume it’s due to all the cross training (barre, and I recently started trying some Orange Theory classes), but I feel really strong on my runs. On our Sunday run to the bagel shop, my legs felt great and I was able to really push my pace. I was supposed to do my one-mile time trial on Tuesday, but in the battle of work versus Hilary’s soul, work won. So that was a rest day. Wednesday I got in a barre class at lunch, and decided I wanted to attempt the time trial after work.

It was pretty warm out, and my muscles were tired from the class earlier in the day. My abs cramped up almost immediately and stayed painful for the whole run. I also hadn’t eaten much before the run and was feeling hungry and nauseous at the same time. But I went for it anyway. (Runners are crazy.)

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I did my mile warm-up, which included walking to try to get rid of the cramp in my left side and ribcage.  Didn’t let myself look at any splits until after the workout, just pushed as hard as I could for a mile then took a nice, leisurely jog for the final mile home. My old mile PR was 7:25.

Bam.

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Something about a doing well makes you want to keep going. I was NOT feeling like working out last night. I didn’t leave the office in time to get to my planned Orange Theory class and had decided it would be a rest day. Then I got back from walking the dogs and thought about how I’d feel if I just sat in front of episodes of Chopped all night… the next thing I knew, my Garmin was beeping to let me know it had found a satellite.

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I tried to take it easy, and even stopped a few times – to give an elderly gentleman directions, to take pictures, and for a stoplight, and still wound up with an elapsed time of 25:55 (an 8:38 pace). I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I hope it sticks around for the rest of my Mountains2Beach training!

Have a great weekend!

Ever find yourself in a running groove?

Speedwork – fun change, necessary evil, or no thank you?

~etn

Zion Half Marathon Recap

Happy Friday!

Way back last summer, my friend Caitlin suggested we run the Zion Half Marathon. Never one to miss out on a chance to run with a friend, I was totally in.  It was an incredible race, and I definitely recommend it! (And sign up early – it sold out months ahead of time!)

My stepdad ran the race with us too! He and my mom graciously put us up at their timeshare in St. George, about a 45 minute drive away. Friday I got in a quick shakeout run at the resort’s gym:

Average Runner Blog

Nice and easy.

Stopped at the expo to pick up bibs, and check out the scenery:

Zion Half Marathon Recap

Zion Half Marathon Recap

Then hydrated like a champ.

Average Runner Blog

We set alarms for 4:15 (3:15 California time!), and woke on Saturday to rain and texts from the race organizers saying that the parking lot was really muddy at the start – so unless you had all-wheel drive, you needed to park at a different location. Thankfully, mom drives a Subaru. Because of the rain and parking logistics, the race started a bit late – but it was kind of nice because the sun was just coming up as we took off.

The course is incredibly beautiful. I didn’t take any pictures along the course (I usually don’t take out my phone when I run, plus it was raining on and off the whole way), but I kind of regret that now. The first six miles actually felt mostly downhill, though the elevation profile shows otherwise. I really felt the change in elevation though – I normally run at 800 to 1000 feet above sea level, and we started at just over 3500 feet. I tried pushing it in the first few miles and thought I was running a sub-9 mile based on feel – it was closer to 9:20. Unfortunately, due to the late start I think I was a little more hydrated than normal, so I had to make a pit stop right after the mile 5 marker. I lost about a minute – looking back, if I hadn’t stopped, I probably would have PR’d!

Zion Half Marathon Recap

Just after you pass the mile 6 marker, the hills begin. Honestly, it never felt impossible, and the hills were definitely not as steep as some I’ve run before (Baltimore and Raleigh come to mind). But the last 6-7 miles are a pretty steady march uphill. I was feeling like a rockstar after running down that big hill in the middle:

Zion Half Marathon Recap

And then it was time to push through:

Zion Half Marathon Recap

Ok this part felt hard.

By mile 12, the smile had faded and the elevation had me on the struggle bus. The finish is downhill though, and in the end I pulled out a 2:03:19 – one minute and one second off my PR! And that was 3500 to 3900 feet above sea level, with 832 feet of elevation gain through the race.

Even though I stopped to walk a couple times and had a few why-do-I-do-this-to-myself moments, I really felt great through the whole race. Anytime I started to think about the miles ahead, I’d just look around at the beauty of the canyon. The weather was perfect for me – in the low 40s with some light rain. The logistics were great too: aid stations with energetic, supportive volunteers, and potties at each station; shuttles; post-race goodies and a great medal; and even a clothing drop at a couple of the aid stations. I had a jacket with me (I was shivering at the start) that I dropped at mile 3. You had to sift through a bunch of clothes at the end, but it was so great to not have to carry it the whole way.

It got really cold at the finish, and it didn’t seem like many people stuck around.

Zion Half Marathon Recap

After the race, we got our snack boxes (rad) then headed home for real food and the hot tub, followed by naps. And then, of course, wine.

Average Runner Blog

The Painted Pony in St. George – yum.

I hope to go back next year (Cait, yes?). Congratulations to Caitlin and Peter on running awesome races themselves!

Ever run a Vacation Race?

What’s the hilliest race you’ve run?

~etn

Barre So Hard

***Disclaimer: I was not asked to write this post by Studio Barre or any other company. I have not and will not be compensated for this post in any way. I just love barre, Studio Barre in particular, and wanted to blog about my experience.***

Average Runner Blog

So, sometimes I have to learn things the hard way. Ok, I pretty much always have to learn things the hard way. For some reason I just don’t really believe things until I go out and do them myself. In cooking (yes, baking is exact – or you will end up with some weird-looking cakes); in law (I’m sure defense counsel will be polite, I mean – we can all just get along, right?); in traffic (an hour is PLENTY of time to get to LAX…) – I never really get it until I go out and do it.

This could not be more true, though, than in the case of The Importance of Cross-Training.

Runners who do Barre

After around three months…

In 2014 I had some injury setbacks – a stress fracture/reaction, issues with my left hip, and shin splints. And looking back, I did almost nothing but run that year. I had a barre class and some spin classes thrown in here and there, but I was not consistent. Then, in January 2015, I found out there was a Studio Barre nearby!

Over the past year, I committed to a barre class twice a week, and then three times a week. And, sure enough, it’s paying off (and not just in new arm muscles). Knock on wood, I have not had any real injuries in the past year; I can only credit barre for that. I should note that ANY cross-training is a good idea. I’m going to talk about why I like barre so much, but that’s not to say it’s for everyone. If you’re diligent about strength training, or if you love BODYPUMP or boot camp classes, that’s awesome. But if you’re thinking about trying a barre class, here are some things you might love about it:

1. Barre is low-impact. Running is awesome, but it does put a ton of pressure on your feet, ankles, legs, knees and hips – and all of the joints therein. Barre uses only your own body weight for the majority of the class. And you spend most of your time in one small space near a ballet barre.

Runners who do Barre

Love that whole-body-is-tired feeling after a class!

2. Barre is motivating. The teachers are really positive, and happy to help you master the weird barre technique (this is especially true for Studio Barre – I’ve tried other classes too, but they are my favorite). I love being in the middle of a particularly tough exercise and having the instructor yell “You got this, get it ladies!” – makes me smile every time, and push through. The music is poppy/electronic and upbeat, and loud when you need it to be!

Average Runner Blog

Such an awesome group of women!

3. Barre placates my inner control freak. I’m a little type-A. I like things to look a certain way, be organized a certain way, and be done in the most efficient manner possible. So spending an hour focused on moving one particular muscle at a time is weirdly satisfying. In barre, you focus on very small contractions of very particular muscles.

Runners who do Barre

I’ve always got at least one pair of socks in my purse, just in case.

Last night, I hit a big milestone for barre – I became a Centurion!! This means I’ve taken 100 classes with my current studio. The owner and the instructors (barre tenders) there are all so sweet: Centurions get to sign the barre and get a special shirt.

Barre Centurion

I’m so lucky to have found Studio Barre. It’s truly changed my body and the way I carry myself. If any of this appeals to you, definitely give barre a try!

What’s your favorite way to cross-train?

~etn

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