Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things My Podiatrist Told Me

My heavy-duty, hand-made, anti-pronation
orthotics when new.

Marathon selected, check.

Running plan* established, check.

Gear ready--almost.

Met my podiatrist this week, my one-year-old orthotics in hand--well, in shoe. I figured it was time for a new pair. Our talk boiled down to this, "are you doing ok?" "Yep." "Assymptomatic**?" "Yep." "We'll make new orthotics if you really want, but there's not much reason to change." "Oh."

My second set of orthotics, with two
half-marathons' wear.

That was easy. Then we talked swimming.

Twenty-four days into marathon training: 42 miles run, 401 to go.

A slice of my 2009 MRI.

*I use the Smart Coach feature on for a custom running plan.

**Two years ago I had stress fractures in my tibias, crutches for months.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Urban Things I Forgot

I see an orange wall and I want to paint it brown.

I spent a lot of time in a different world this week: cleaning and painting a condo in Madison. Hours of painting with occasional views out the window gave me time to think: I had forgotten many things about living in a city.
I forgot that good hair is more important than warm hats.

I forgot what it's like to pay rent or borrow a car.

I forgot how it feels to work set hours and read on the bus ride home.

I forgot how apartment windows don't face all directions.

I forgot how cold you get in the winter if you dress for warm buildings instead of cold drives.

I forgot that a grocery store can be so close that you could walk there and that groceries get heavy on the walk home.

I forgot that I didn't used to have a relationship with my car mechanic or mail carrier.

I forgot how to sleep past 7 am, how to meet for dinner at 8 pm, and how to go to a midnight movie.

I forgot that there are sidewalks everywhere and that dogs are indoors or on leashes.

I forgot how clean an apartment can be and that garbage gets set out by the street weekly.

I forgot the desire for trendy clothes and sexy shoes.

I forgot that leaving the city seemed like a major trip.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


"Indulge," say the holidays. Indulge I did. My faves: cleaning closets, researching summer events, and - most fun of all - trying out new gyms. My new experiences: the two studios of Bliss Flow Yoga, a workshop on kettlebells, and the new Group X Gym.

Bliss Flow Yoga, Fitchburg and Madison

Wintertime cabin fever?
Cured by the open spaces of
Bliss Flow Yoga's studios.
Don't know if the studio owner, Angela Gargano, goes in for Fen Shui, but the arrangement of plants, color, and light made Bliss Flow Yoga a space I wanted to bring home. Peacefully lit, fragrant with candles and tea. Cutest shoe cubbies, stylish private changing rooms, welcoming receptionist (Angela's mom).

I've been doing slow-flow yoga for a few years with Tamar Zink, an excellent instructor in Portage, and occasional classes with Michelle Szalapski, a talented teacher in Pardeeville. These are well-constructed, beautifully taught, gentle sessions, with a lot of emphasis on breath and form, so I was a little nervous about keeping up with a more fast-paced Fitchburg class. Happily, Tamar's and Michelle's instruction proved to be perfect preparation.

The first class I attended was called Yoga Flow, one of about a dozen options. Instructor: Angela herself. We started with sensible warm-ups. Then purposefully moved into a series of salutations. I totally lost track of time. Each mountain pose ended and began another series. Eventually a few of the 14 students took breaks in child's pose. The slim yogini next to me continued to gracefully float from forward fold to plank. I moved through the poses, working but satisfied, saturated in the 70-degree room.

The instructor for my second class a few days later was Ruthie Goldman, a good-humored, direct teacher. Her light laughs when she tongue-twisted a direction brought smiles to her students. The asanas were a little gentler than Angela's Yoga Flow session; that is, I didn't totally drench my shirt. Another five-star session.

My third session was "Advanced Yoga Flow." (Hey, for ten dollars you can attend all the classes you want during your first week at Bliss Flow Yoga. I'm on that!) Teacher Heather Last has an amazing resume and can do instruction-book poses: touch head and foot? sure, she's got it, from both a backbend, or leg over the shoulder. But most importantly, she can teach. Her class was a thorough warm-up, a challenging strengthening, and a workshoppy finale, all geared toward understanding the pose Dancer. My abilities were below many of the gymnast-like comrades who attended, but I felt worthy and content. And I felt more informed. Smart and satisfying class.

All of these instructors were experienced: they brought presence that could communicate, direction without distracting. And they offered assurance that adaptations are good and breathing is the star. It was great yoga. Too bad my all-you-can-attend week is done. But I'll be back some day.

Kettlebells and a Fit Brain

A Turkish Get-up
What behaviors are life-time fitness oriented? I attended an inspiring workshop by Matt Zaborowski on kettlebells, Eischen's yoga, and nutrition. It's got me thinking - and trying out a kettlebell.

These are my take-home notes: push, pull, squat, lunge, twist. Do a Turkish get-up every day, using weights as able. Eat mostly plants. Skip the crunches, stabilize instead: do planks (front and side.) Exercise keeps your brain in shape. You are a product of the ten people you spend most time with. Go barefoot.

I hope this instructor will do a follow-up next time he's in Wisconsin.

Group X, a new Cross Fit gym in Portage

Group X, a new gym in Portage, Wisconsin
Group X is a space any muscle-loving man would make his man-cave away from cave. It's a warehouse, jumpropes jangling on an oversized door, bare rafters, rubberized and plywood floors, freeweights. Oddly, I felt at home, too.

Group X co-owner, Serina Seiler, is a multiple-Ironman, ultra-marathoner, and certified Cross Fit coach. She glows, she loves what she's doing. I attended a couple one-hour classes. The first was lead by Serina; the session included lifts, hops, push-ups. The second was instructed by Mike, Serina's brother and co-owner of Group X. Both energetically kept us on task, adjusting our form, finding the right place to start, demonstrating pace.

Serina Seiler, Group X co-owner,
was willing to pose for me. 
Serina talked excitedly about her under-construction gym. Yet to come are climbing ropes, introductory gymnastics classes, kick-boxing. Her big goal: get you fit. Her promise: Group X has coaches/trainers in-house to help you, all the time, not just during classes. And January is free. Cool, January is totally free.

You won't be surprised that I'm gonna try out Group X this season. I like the new challenges, the one-on-one coaching, and what's not to love about the price. More strength translates into better fitness, which means better swimming, biking, running, right?

Ok, office work is already picking up, but the holiday indulges have been so very refreshing.