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Posts Tagged ‘Bella’s Adventures in Fitness’

bilbl_superOn Sunday, June 14th my sister, 3 friends, and I got up super early and drove up to San Francisco’s Presidio area to participate in the inaugural Mermaid Series Tour de San Francisco bike ride.  I was so excited to take part in this ride because I’ve participated in Mermaid Series events a few times in the past, and appreciated how organized and fun they are. Plus, I love riding my bike, and who better to do it with than my sister and my 3 BFFs?  Not to mention, I’ve never ridden my bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, so that would be exciting, too.

We’d signed up for the 7-mile ride, choosing the more conservative mileage since this was our first attempt.  I kept thinking we should’ve signed up for the 13-miler, but once I saw the hills involved in that leg of the ride, I’m so glad we stuck with the shorter distance.

Since it was 6:30am when we left my house, the ride up to the City was smooth and easy.  Hardly any other crazies on the road at that time of the morning on a Sunday.  We even found a primo parking area, which made the start of the race really nice.

Of course we had to stop and take some pre-race photos to capture the moment.

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Geared up and ready to ride!

Geared up and ready to ride!

It was a foggy morning, which is usual at Crissy Field in the morning, but it was the perfect temperature for the bike ride.  As we made our approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, we all took photos to capture the beauty all around us.

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As we turned that corner, we realized what they meant by a “medium-sized hill.”  I guess the Mermaid Series is all about the art of understatement, because the hill was quite steep.  I rode it almost all the way to the top, but eventually had to get off my bike and walk.  One of my goals for next year’s ride (because my friends and I all plan on doing this ride again next year) is to make it up the hill all the way without getting off to walk.

Once we hit a really scenic area right before we’d get on the Bridge, we all stopped to take photos again.

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I love this pic of my sister and me and our

I love this pic of my sister and me and our “dueling” bikes.

Now it was time to get on the Bridge and ride. The wind was blowing, the fog was rolling, the cars were speeding by, and other bikers kept saying, “on your left,” but despite these obstacles, I was truly awed at the fact that I was riding my bike on this magnificent bridge.  There really is nothing else like it anywhere.

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The journey toward Sausalito was tough – my legs were pumping and we were fighting the elements, including that brutal wind, which offered a ton of resistance.  There was also a very steady incline the entire time.  All of this didn’t phase me, though, because if I have one thing going for me with these big thighs it’s that they’re strong and powerful.

We made it to the Sausalito side and found another opportunity to take a water break and snap a few more photos.

My sis and I, happy that we made it across.

My sis and I

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you're only 5'3

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you’re only 5’3″, taking a selfie is tough business.

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Luckily, we found two nice sisters who were willing to take a proper group photo for us. I love this photo so much, and have made it my cover photo on FB.

Inspired that we’d made it halfway across the Bridge, we knew heading back to the end would be much easier. Not only was the wind on our side this way, but we also had a steady decline on the way back, too.  I had my bike on the highest gear and my had on the break almost the entire way back.  The only harrowing part was the cross traffic of bikers, and the “expert” riders who were also trying to pass in a very narrow space.  Since this wasn’t a race, but just a ride, I’m not sure what the need was to pass with so little room.  Not to mention that most of these people weren’t even taking part in the ride.  I guess people like speed.  I’m not one to talk – I’m highly competitive and prefer going as fast as possible, most of the time.

I got away from most of the “traffic” so that I could take a few more action shots and a quick video.

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The entire time I was riding to the finish line, I just kept thinking about how happy I was to share this experience with these awesome ladies.  And about how far I’d come – at my heaviest weight I might have been able to make the 7-miles, but I know I would’ve been so much slower and very sore for days afterward.  And I would have been ultra concerned with how my big butt looked on that cruiser.  I can honestly say this thought didn’t even cross my mind once during the ride.  I know I still have a big booty, but I’m proud of it, and all of my curves.  Doing these kinds of events always solidifies for me how much I’ve accomplished in my weight loss and fitness goals.

Once we hit the finish line, which we crossed as a 5-pack, we triumphed over our achievement.  You can’t miss those huge smiles on our faces at a job well done.

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I cannot say enough about what a great time we had on this ride.  It was scenic, challenging, and so much fun.  If you have the chance to do a Mermaid Series race, ride, or swim, I highly recommend it.  My sister, friends, and I all said we’re looking forward to making this an annual adventure. Can’t wait!

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bilbl_superHappy Sunday morning!   My weekend has been really fun so far.  Yesterday I participated in the Giant Race 5K with my friend Di, and we had the best time walking and chatting.  We liked it so much that we decided that next year, we’re going to run the 5-miler.

The race started early – at 7:30am, which was good because it meant we avoided the heat and had the rest of our Saturday to ourselves.  I really think the race shirts were adorable, don’t you?  That’s the SJ Giants’ mascot, Gigante.

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Of course I made us take a pre-race selfie

The course itself was really flat for the most part, although there was one small incline. I definitely think that next year I’d appreciate the challenge of running the 5-mile race.  One really cool aspect of this race was that the finish line took us onto the ballpark green.

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For a while I’d been questioning whether or not I wanted to continue participating in 5Ks.  Whether I wanted to run them, walk them, or just skip them altogether.  When I was doing my own run/walk intervals, I found myself nervous every time it was time to run, so I told myself maybe I should just walk 5Ks from now on.  But every since I’ve re-started C25K, I’ve actually enjoyed the running segments.  The difference is that I’ve slowed myself down and just focused on improving my breathing.  Yesterday’s 5K was fun, but not challenging enough for me. So I’ve decided that in the future, if I find a 5K that I want to participate in, I’m going to run it.  (Hopefully I still feel this way after the MOOnlight 5K I have coming up on July 12, which will be the first 5K I run all the way through).

 

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One of my main goals for my Hawaiian vacation was to fill my time alone with as many fitness adventures as I could.  Since Oahu offers so many different options,  decided to do a bit of research and discovered that a 30-minute drive would bring me to the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail.

There’s something very intriguing to me about lighthouses.  They’re literally guides for sailors at night, and maybe because of all the novels I’ve studied, there’s something so romantic to me about them.  I never realized how drawn to lighthouses I am until this trip, but I am going to make it a point to go to the local lighthouses we have in the San Francisco area when I get back home.

When I looked up info about the trail itself on my Trail Advisor app, it said that it was a paved trail that offered a steady incline to the top, easy to navigate for people of all fitness levels.  I knew I could make the trek, and the promise of the views along the way were all I needed to decide that this was my Tuesday morning outing.

Getting to the trail by car was an easy, beautiful drive, and because I got there early, around 8:30am, parking was a breeze.  (I’ve been on California time throughout my trip, meaning I’m waking up at 3am local time).

10006917_10151952043440426_6763370043924131053_n The hills surrounding the trail were lush and green, and the path itself was very easy to navigate.  I put on some music, and started my assent.  I was a steady incline, enough to keep my heart rate going the entire way.

1534472_10151952042795426_132579950536500944_n Before too long, I saw the ocean peeking out among the brush, and if these were the views at the start of my journey, I was anxious to see what awaited me at the top. Between my music and these views, I think I was smiling from ear to ear the whole way up.

1601506_10151952043315426_8525203781774062793_n10259743_10151952043615426_6302813055275166739_n11893_10151952043700426_7882390771869107988_n10258807_10151952043655426_5132203295441575976_n1794676_10151952044000426_1692567953378443486_n It was right around this point when the breezy morning turned super windy, and the hat I’d been wearing to protect my face from the sun flew off my head!  Luckily, I was able to snatch it from the ground before it flew away.

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I walked for a while holding the hat with one hand and my iPhone in the other. Every time I stopped to take a photo, the hat flew off – about 4 times total. Until I remembered that I could tighten it in the back.

The water below me was so blue, the sky so clear – as I walked the trail I couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky I was to be living this life.  I’d decided that this vacation was my reward for all my hard work over the past year in accomplishing so many of my weight loss goals.  This hike wouldn’t have been half as enjoyable 132 pounds ago.  I would’ve been severely out of breath, concerned about whether or not I would make it all the way to the top, and not living in the moment and enjoying all of this natural beauty all around me.  Instead, I soaked it all in and truly felt blessed to be at this point in my life.

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Before too much longer, I was at the top of the trail, looking down at these stunning views of the surrounding area.

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10150652_10151952045015426_6540676470749329357_n It was so windy at the top that I nearly lost my iPhone capturing this shot, but it was worth it, even if it is a bit blurry, I think it helps capture the wind whipping all around.

And finally, the view I’d been waiting for all day – the lighthouse!

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It was smaller than I thought, but a true jewel on that hilltop.  I love this picture so much that I’ve made it my wallpaper on the phone.

1466037_10151952045100426_452066782254352158_n I hiked to the top of this hill, which is amazing to me!

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To offer some perspective, the parking lot is in the middle of the photo. I took this about halfway back down the trail.

There’s really no other word for this hike than glorious.  It offered everything I love – views of the ocean, a great workout, and the chance to remind myself how far I’ve come and how lucky I am.

After the hike, I noticed a spot around the corner from the parking lot that was a bit of a hidden beach, filled with black volcanic rocks where I could perch and watch the white-tipped waves crashing. It reminded me a of a place near Half Moon Bay that’s really special to me. Somehow being here all alone with no other souls in sight made it all the more special, like it was a secret spot just for me.

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I shot this quick video soon after I’d sat down on the rocks. I don’t know what I was doing with the camera angles, but I’m glad I got a bit of  video:

 I don’t know for sure that these rocks are the remnants of a volcano, but given that I’m in Hawaii, that’s the story I’m going with. I sat on the rocks for about 30 minutes, just taking in the majesty and power of the ocean. I’ve always been drawn to the ocean, there’s something very spiritual about it for me.

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If you look carefully about halfway up the hill in the distance, you can spy the little lighthouse.

If you look carefully about halfway up the hill in the distance, you can spy the little lighthouse.

1546144_10151952046655426_3891003743253631992_nEven though the lighting is bad and you can hardly see my face, I wanted to make sure that I captured the fact that I was there on what was a magical morning.

 

 

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I was really looking forward to my plans on Monday – snorkeling in Hanauma Bay.  I’d heard that Hanauma Bay had the best snorkeling in Oahu, and arguably the best in Hawaii.  I’d snorkeled before when I came here 25 years ago, and again in Jamaica, but it had been years.  Still, I hoped it came back to me the way riding a bike does.

I’d signed up for the snorkeling online through a Go Select Pass.  Since I wasn’t staying at a hotel in Honolulu, I had to drive to the Queen Kapiolani Hotel and wait there for the shuttle to pick me up.  Which meant a 45-minute commute from Kaneohe in heavy morning traffic.  I was told to park across the street, at the Honolulu Zoo parking lot, which was inexpensive at $1/hour.  I’d decided that morning to leave my debit card at home, because I didn’t want to leave it unattended while I was snorkeling.  This turned out to be a major mistake.

I got to the parking lot and discovered that the parking kiosks only took debit/credit cards.  Great, how was I going to avoid a parking ticket?  As if the stress of the drive and the parking situation wasn’t enough, I realized, after 45 minutes of waiting for the shuttle to arrive, that the company had lost my reservation.  I just got off the phone with the manager, who arranged for another shuttle to get me when the meter maid pulled up.  I told her about my situation, only have cash, and she said the kiosks also took quarters.  So I headed into the Queen Kapiolani to get a roll and avoid the $96 ticket. Even though the snorkeling adventure started out on a bad note, it all worked out ok in the end.

Once on the shuttle, I let all the stress wash away.  I was excited to be heading to the snorkeling adventure.  Because of the trouble I’d gone through, the company gave me a free underwater camera and a special breathing tube for the snorkel. Plus, seeing the beauty of Hanauma Bay made me even more anxious to discover what I could find in the ocean.

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I’ll post the photos I took with the underwater camera if any of them turn out well when I develop them, and I really hope they do.  I saw tons of fish and beautiful coral.  Floating around under the water was so serene.  It’s amazing that all of these creatures live just beneath the surface of the water. And just as I’d hoped, snorkeling came really easy to me.  I was only slightly concerned that I didn’t have a safety buddy, but I made sure that I was smart about where I was in relation to the shoreline, and just enjoyed myself.

The day was so much fun, and even the pouring rain as I came out of the water didn’t dampen my spirits. 1536554_10151950278295426_4683110617201285249_n

Throughout the day, I was reminded of all the things I can do now that I’ve lost all this weight.

  • First of all, I found swimwear that is comfortable and looks good so that I was not self-conscious, which is huge.
  • I had plenty of stamina to spend over an hour snorkeling all around Hanauma Bay.
  • I could walk all the way up the fairly steep hill back to the entrance with only a little bit of effort:

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The day was wonderful, and renewed my love of snorkeling.  I think part of the appeal, besides being able to see all the exotic fish in the ocean, is that fact that you can only do it in a few tropical locales.  The rarity of it makes it all the more special.

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Newjojie, Bella, & Tinkerbell

Newjojie, Bella, & Tinkerbell – A smiley selfie before the race!

This morning, despite losing an hour of sleep to Daylight Savings Time, Tinkerbell, NewJojie, and I all met at 7:30am to head to the Mardi Gras Madness 5K, which benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma society.  NewJojie is a wonderful lady I met on MyFitnessPal who has been supporting me (and Tinkerbell) for over a year.  After Tink and I did the Jenny’s Light 5K, NewJojie emailed me and said to let her know when our next 5K was, because she’d drive the two hours from her house to meet us and join in on the fun.  Can you believe that she was willing to drive 4 hours total (2 hours here, 2 hours back) just to meet us and do a 5K?!  How special!

It doesn’t take much for Tink and I to plan a cute race outfit, but knowing that NewJojie was putting in that much effort, we had to make these extra special.  Tink found these awesome, purple, sparkly running skirts from Rock City Skirts, as well as a cool iron-on Fleur-de-lis that said “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” (Let the good times roll!) on it, and because Mardi Gras colors are purple and green, she found cool green Calvin Klein Jeans tanks at Marshall’s (mine’s a L!!). We were all set to turn heads for this race!

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You can’t tell from this pic, but the skirt is sparkly, adding just the right amount of Mardi Gras bling to the morning.

Everyone who saw us told us how much they loved our skirts, our matching outfits, our entire look. It was fun to hear before the race, and even better as we were running the 5K.

But enough about fashion, let’s get to the details of the race…

I woke up way before my alarm, probably because I was so worried that I’d have a hard time getting up and losing the hour.  So I had a leisurely morning starting at 4:30am – time to shower, get dressed, begin writing my weigh-in blog post, and have half a cup of coffee before I left.

2014-03-09 07.25.09 It wouldn’t be a race day if I didn’t take my ritual bathroom selfie before leaving the house for the race.

Since they were handing out bibs and shirts on race day, we wanted to make sure to get down to the race with plenty of time to spare.  What would we do with the extra time? Take pre-finish photos, of course!  Our thinking was that we wanted make sure we got a good shot with the Finish line in the background.

I love the cool angle Newjojie used for this pic!

I love the cool angle Newjojie used for this pic!

We also took some photos with the masks that they had surrounding the finish line:

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Notice that I had to stand on my tippy toes just to fit my face through the eye hole of the mask. #shortie

Then it was time to put down the phone cameras and get ready to race.  Newjojie and Tinkerbell are both more experienced runners than I am, but they were sweet and agreed to run at my pace, which was 2min run/1min walk.  On the treadmill my pace for the run is 4.5mph and the walk is 3.5mph and it’s a great pace. I feel strong and comfortable.  Outside, it’s a whole other story.

I always start out too quickly when I’m running outside, and today was no different.  In fact, I’d shot ahead so fast that Tinkerbell told Newjojie, “just let her go” with a smile.  I’d warned them both that the momentum and adrenaline gets to me at the beginning of a race and I go much faster than I can sustain for an entire race.  And within a minute or so, I realized I needed to slow down and go at a more moderate pace. Tinkerbell matched my pace, and Newjojie was leading our way, a few paces ahead of us.

We were running for what seemed like forever, and I was wondering why my interval timer hadn’t beeped to indicate we should start walking when I looked down and discovered it wasn’t on.  Doh!!  I apologized, turned it on, and we started the true run/walk.

The beginning of the race, until about mile 1.3 was good.  I was running well, and felt strong.  And then right before the turnaround, my breath became more labored and I was having a much harder time with the runs.  Being outside is just so much more difficult, and I probably should’ve paced myself even slower so that I didn’t get that slight burning feeling in my lungs when I ran.  But all it took was Tink holding my hand and encouraging me during one of the walking portions for me to know I was going to keep this up, even if I had to slow down a bit to do it.  Twice, I stopped my run portion about 30 seconds early, apologizing profusely to Tinkerbell and Newjojie, as I told them to run ahead without me and I’d catch up. Tink told me I had nothing to apologize for, and she and Newjojie actually did a loop around to meet me at my pace when I was back to my run.  What awesome running pals these two are!

Newjojie snapped this action shot of us.

Newjojie snapped this action shot of us.

Once we hit 2.85 miles, I felt a renewed energy.  We agreed we’d continue the run/walk pace until we could see the finish line in sight, and then we’d run into the finish line, as Carina taught me.  It must be a surge of adrenaline that comes with that FINISH sign, because I felt amazing as we ran into it!!

The race organized captured this great shot of the three of us running into the finish line.  They loved our outfits so much that they used the pic on their FB wall.  How cool is that?!

The race organizers captured this great shot of the three of us running into the finish line (bottom left). They loved our outfits so much that they used the pic on their FB wall. How cool is that?!

After the race, with water and banana in hands.

After the race, with water and banana in hands.

All told, I hit another PR today!!  I completed the race in 42:21.44, which is a pace of 13:39/mile! That’s 3.87 minutes quicker than my pace at the Hot Chocolate 5K in SF!!!!! I’m so proud of myself!  It goes to show that I’m much too hard on myself when I’m running.  I was getting so down on myself and frustrated that breathing was getting challenging and that I had to add 30 seconds to my walk a couple of times.  In reality, I had my best time yet, so I need to cut myself a break on the next 5K and really just enjoy the day. I would’ve never been able to do any of this 126 pounds ago, so I need to relish that fact!

Beyond my personal accomplishment, the best part of the day was doing the 5K with these amazing ladies.  Tinkerbell is one of my best friends, and now Newjojie has become an “in-real-life” friend, too. We’re already planning our next 5K, when Tink and I will drive up to Newjojie’s neck of the woods.  I can’t wait!!

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Today I participated in the San Jose 408K (5 miles), which benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation. It was part of Race the Bay, a 3-part race series around the Bay Area.  It was my first time doing this race, but I think it’s going to become an annual event for me.

The fun thing about this race was that I organized a group of my colleagues to participate in it with me.  When I first heard about the race, I asked my principal if she would mind if I organized a group of faculty to do the race, and she did me one better and said that she’d pay for everyone’s bibs!  How generous!  My original thought was that we could all train together, as we did for our powderpuff football game, for months before the race.  The only kink in that plan was that those months coincided with soccer season; the team uses the same field that our track is on.  But these were a committed group of racers who put in the hours in their neighborhoods and on treadmills to get ready for the race.  I’ve been overwhelmed by all the thank-yous and expressions of gratitude that my colleagues have given me! They loved that we were doing something that was so healthy and fun.

2014-03-02 06.24.10 What’s a race without my usual bathroom selfie?  Since our school colors are blue and gold, I’d asked one of our school’s families who own a screen printing shop if they would help us design a training tee. My original vision was that we’d wear it when  we were training together, but since we didn’t end up training together, we all decided to be distinctive and wear our specialy-created shirts during the race.  And I love that my Sparkly Soul headband matches perfectly!  I have to say, I’m surprised by how bright-eyed I look in that shot, because I started off the morning very early (I woke up at 5am before my alarm!) to make sure I was down at the race in plenty of time to hang up this poster I had my students make for us to put up in a meeting area. (One really cool NSV this morning was that one of the teachers said that she’d seen me from across the street, but had no idea it was me until she got closer; then she complimented me on my weight loss).

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Isn’t it adorable?!

1656061_10102504660372363_490544330_nI was really impressed that we had 27 of the 30 teachers who signed up show up today.  It was a chilly, damp morning and the lure of a warm bed was huge, but they were dedicated and determined.  For quite a few of them, this was their first race ever, so it’s all the more impressive that they were doing 5 miles.

2014-03-02 15.53.39 As we waited for the race to start, we snapped tons of pictures, one of which I took. See all those people wearing blue behind us, they are all part of the group…

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The race itself was a beautiful course that featured different radio stations at each of the mile markers.  I had decided to walk today’s race for a few reasons: 1). Most of the faculty had decided to walk, and I thought it would be a lot more fun to be part of that group, 2). I haven’t done a 5-mile run/walk before, and I wasn’t sure if this was the day to try it, and 3). I woke up with a sore ankle and thought it was better not to push it.

I’m really glad that I ended up walking because it was a lot of fun to chat with a few of my colleagues as we completed the race.  And I’m proud to tell you that I kept up with the “talls” who have long legs and a fast stride.  For this 5’3″ girl, keeping up with these lanky ladies is pretty remarkable!  We walked the entire course, until the final stretch, where we decided to finish strong and run into the finish line.

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We started to run right before this point, but once I saw that Finish sign, it really powered me through.

I’m happy to say that every one of the faculty who started the race finished it!  We all had such a good time that we’ve decided we want to make it an annual team building event.  After the race we all headed to breakfast, where we toasted with mimosas and enjoyed egg white omelets (or, at least, that’s what I ordered).

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All smiles after the race, sporting our “race bling!”

In terms of my own race, I felt strong and confident the entire time.  My sore ankle only bothered me for the last half mile, which wasn’t too bad.  The only pain I have now, beyond the normal post-race muscle soreness, is a tiny blister on the bottom of my left foot, which is thanks to a poor choice of socks.  But really, I had so much fun at this race, especially during “mariachi mile,” when groups of mariachis played for us for our last mile.  1655341_724409950912195_61886308_o

It really was a fun way to spend a Sunday morning. We decided we’re all wearing our race bling and the official race shirts to school tomorrow, to show off our accomplishment.  Fun!

Considering that I walked 99.5% of the race, I’m especially proud of my time today!

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bilbl_superI’d been looking forward to trying Zumba Step for the past month, ever since I first saw the flyer for the new class at my gym.  The only problem was, they only offered classes while I was at work – 11am on Thursdays and 8am on Fridays. So having this week off, I knew I wanted to try the class out.

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I love the music and the energy of Zumba classes, and I used to have fun taking step classes back in the day, so I figured the combination of the two could be really fun…or a catastrophe.  I could see myself tripping over the step as I tried to samba to the beat.

The teacher had brought two other instructors with her so that people on each side of the room could have someone to follow along.  She told us to grab a step, and at the most, to get one riser.  I decided to stick with the step by itself for this first class.

The class was really fun.  The teacher did a great job of cueing us about the moves ahead of time.  The difference between this class and a regular Zumba class was that the step was used about half the time to add some height to some of the moves.  We did the usual step-ups and knee raises, but included swaying hips and fun arm movements.  I’m happy to say there was absolutely no tripping over the step.

I’ll definitely take the class again.  I like the challenge including the step adds, and I could definitely feel it the next day.  As the class becomes more popular, I know they’ll add more sessions in the evening and weekends.  In fact, in checking the schedule just now, I saw that they now offer a class at 8:30pm on Tuesdays, so I’ll probably incorporate it into my schedule a couple of times a month.

The thing I really loved about the class was my own personal progress from the last time I took a Zumba class.  I haven’t taken a Zumba class since surgery, and the weight I’ve lost made a major difference in what I could do this go around.  I always gave it my all in Zumba classes, even when I was at my heaviest.  The thing is, my all was keeping things no-impact: no jumping, no hopping, no bouncing. Sometimes I’d end up a beat or two behind the class because I wasn’t able to keep up with the fast pace.  This time, I was jumping, bouncing, and hopping right along with the class. In fact, I was “that girl” who was going above and beyond.  The best part was that even though I was exerting myself and really getting in a sweaty workout, I wasn’t overwhelmed or out of breath.  At one point I got major tears in my eyes when I realized just how far I’d come.

In the past, I enjoyed Zumba so much that I thought “maybe someday I’ll be able to teach Zumba,” but it was a far off dream.  On Thursday, after I felt like I’d mastered the class, I knew with certainty that I will be a Zumba instructor.  That confidence is the coolest feeling in the world.

I snapped a quick pic after class, and as you can see, I was definitely "glowing" after the class.

I snapped a quick pic after class, and as you can see, I was definitely “glowing” afterward.

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