Guest Post: That Time I Joined the Gym, Then Quit, Then Joined, Then Quit, Then Joined…

When it comes to joining gyms (and quitting them), I have quite the lengthy history. In fact, it goes a little something like this…

  1. In high school, I joined a gym. I quit the gym because I was headed to college.
  2. I went to college and worked out (a wee once in a while) in the fitness center.
  3. I graduated, moved home, and joined a new gym.
  4. I fell in love with spinning at said gym and religiously went to classes three time a week. I bought the shoes, the shorts, the whole lot. I was owning it.
  5. I quit the gym because I was moving away.
  6. I moved to Hoboken (with my then-boyfriend, would-be fiancé, would-be husband) and joined a gym. I loved it for awhile, especially one specific yoga class and teacher.
  7. I got engaged.
  8. I hired a personal trainer to get ripped and ready for my wedding dress.
  9. I got married. I went on my honeymoon.
  10. I came home and joined a different gym.
  11. My husband and I were moving to the suburbs so I quit the Hoboken gym and joined a gym in the ‘burbs.
  12. I got frustrated that I wasn’t going enough, so I quit that gym.
  13. I joined a cheaper gym.
  14. We got sick of the suburbs and moved back to Hoboken.
  15. I rejoined the Hoboken gym.
  16. I went pretty regularly for awhile and tried my hand at the various fitness classes.
  17. I grew frustrated.
  18. I stopped going.
  19. I quit the gym.
  20. I started purchasing various online vouchers for gyms and workout studios in the area. I had a blast redeeming them. I’d found my thing.
  21. I used up my vouchers so I joined rejoined the gym I’d quit a couple times before.
  22. I quit that gym again.
  23. I did a one-week trial at a new gym. I loved it. I loved it so much that I locked myself into a year-long membership.
  24. I don’ t love it anymore.
  25. And now I want to quit.

Also weaved in there were short-lived stints with running. But really, who’s counting?

I ran in the Phillips 5K the first year. I was slow, but heck, I finished!

I ran in the Phillips 5K the first year. I was slow, but heck, I finished!

I don’t mean to be hard on myself here, but man, that’s a lot of quitting. Looking at this list, I really have to laugh, too. It’s such a hilarious cycle. Each time I put my John Hancock on a gym contract, I really and truly believe in my heart of hearts that THIS IS THE ONE! And then I have a change of heart…

My latest fitness interest is hot yoga (there’s something quite fascinating about sweating, dripping, get absolutely drenched alongside 20 strangers). Who knows how long this interest in yoga will last, but I do have to figure out what I’m doing here (I can’t keep dropping money on one-off yoga classes when I’m still locked into about 9 more months at my gym.) As it stands, I Google “how to get out of a gym membership” daily.

So, yeah. When it comes to fitness, dedicated I am not. Will I ever get there? Your guess is as good as mine.

Oh, and sometimes I hike. Here's a snapshot of Sharon (left) and me (right) last summer.

Oh, and sometimes I hike. Here’s a snapshot of Sharon (left) and me (right) last summer.

Now I’ll tell you about something I AM dedicated to: Helping good people do good things. And “doing good” is exactly what my dear friend Sharon Phillips is accomplishing with the Christopher and Susan Phillips Foundation. This very special Foundation was started by Sharon in 2011 to honor her mother Susan (64) and brother Chris (27), both lost within days of each other from two separate cardiac-related events.

The Foundation hosts some fabulous fundraisers each year to help provide scholarships for students of Jonathan Dayton High School (the alma mater of the entire Phillips family) and Trinitas Nursing School (where Chris was studying to be a nurse).

Next month, on May 31st, the Foundation will host its 4th annual Phillips 5K/10K Run/Walk. This special event will take place at Lewis Morris Park in Morristown, NJ — and 100% of the race proceeds will benefit the Foundation and go toward future scholarships.

I’ll be there like every year, cheering participants on from the behind the microphone and helping to present ribbons to the fastest finishers. The day isn’t just about speed, though. It’s also about taking a few hours on a spring morning to come out and remember two lives well lived, two lives lost too soon.

Come be part of this special day. For additional details about the 5K/10K and to register online (pre-registration guarantees you a cool wicking t-shirt!) visit http://www.phillips5k.org.

So that’s where I’ll be on May 31st. Until then, I’ll be feverishly trying to get out of my gym membership. I’ll also be spending quality time with dear friends like Sharon — because when it comes to my friendship with her, I’ll NEVER call it quits.

Jodi Rigotti is the Senior Editor at Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace for teachers to buy and sell their original lesson plans and other course materials. Her hobbies include cooking, exercising sporadically, and being nicer than some say is necessary. She currently lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband (and college sweetheart), Dan.

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Imagine that, in this scenario, Carmen Sandiego is me. Because, well, she is. I mean, I am. We are the same person.

Okay, maybe I haven’t been quite as around the world as this stylish 80s icon, but I have been traveling pretty extensively these past few months.

I have to pause because that sentence isn’t something I thought I’d ever write. If you’d have told me a year ago that I’d be making multiple international trips, I would have laughed in your face. And then I probably would have had a panic attack just thinking about being on a plane for that long.

A fortune I got a week before my first trip. How did it know?!

A fortune I got a week before my first trip. How did it know?!

I’ve been afraid of flying for a long time. It didn’t bother me when I was little, but by my teen years I developed a pretty fierce phobia. I’d dwell on any impending flight for weeks, be physically sick the day of, and basically be panicky throughout the entire flight. My heart would race. My breath would shorten. My hands would shake, tingle, go numb. I’d feel like I was out of my body. I talked my way out of all non-essential flights, and some essential ones, too.

But when I started my new job last February, I knew I’d have to travel occasionally. It made me pause before I accepted the position. I thought, can I do this? And then I thought, can I pass this up? The “no” was stronger with the second question than the first, so I went with it.

Now that I’m on the other side of three opportunities to visit different countries, I realize how crazy I would have been to pass it up. How much I would have regretted it later. My fear of flying stems largely from a lack of control – I don’t have any power over what happens once I step on that plane – but the same can be said for every moment of my life. Maybe an airplane is just a really big, really loud, really high symbol of the lack of control we have over everything.

I’m not completely over my fear of flying. I still get the racing heart and the shakies, and turbulence still sucks, but I’ve made 6 flights across oceans – Pacific and Atlantic – and have dealt with that fear. I’m sure I’ll still get the racing heart and the shakies, but hey, at least I get to see the world in the process, right?

At any rate, I took some pretty awesome pictures (because of the scenery, not because of my skill) that I want to share with you all! I’ve taken two trips to France, which is the country of my heart I swear, and just got back from Seoul, which was amazing and so special since Mister Jess is Korean and our little Bug is half. It was so incredible to be there and see the heritage that is so inextricably part of him.

First, Korea!

One of the fantastic neighborhoods in Seoul we visited. For shopping purposes, of course.

One of the fantastic neighborhoods in Seoul we visited. For shopping purposes, of course.

Down we go...

Down we go…

Delicious tofu from a street vendor. SO. Good.

Delicious tofu from a street vendor. SO. Good.

Samwon Garden, an amazingly delicious Korean BBQ restaurant. We ate a lot.

Samwon Garden, an amazingly delicious Korean BBQ restaurant. We ate a lot.

These small plates, called banchan, came with every meal we had.

These small plates, called banchan, came with every meal we had.

More Korean BBQ. Seriously, we ate a lot.

More Korean BBQ. Seriously, we ate a lot.

You guessed it...more food. Shaved ice with mango and with strawberries. Incredible.

You guessed it…more food. Shaved ice with mango and with strawberries. Incredible.

The duty free floor in Lotte Department store (there is also a Lotte Hotel, a Lotte amusement park, etc. Lotte everything). This. Place. Was. Packed. I lasted less than 5 minutes.

The duty free floor in Lotte Department store (there is also a Lotte Hotel, a Lotte amusement park, etc. Lotte everything). This. Place. Was. Packed. I lasted less than 5 minutes.

Snail masks. Korean beauty is pretty incredible, if not a little...exotic. It was amazing to see all of the local brands. So much innovation coming out of this small country!

Snail masks. Korean beauty is pretty incredible, if not a little…exotic. It was amazing to see all of the local brands. So much innovation coming out of this small country!

Oops. Too much shopping. Next time I'll need to see more of the actual, you know, sights.

Oops. Too much shopping. Next time I’ll need to see more of the actual, you know, sights.

 

And now, Paris. Sigh. I wish I could rewind to being 20 so I could have lived here for a year. Truly the most magical city.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 8.25.12 PM

The view from my hotel in St-Germain-Des-Pres. It was my favorite neighborhood. So quintessentially Parisian!

The pastries? Insane.

The pastries? Insane.

The famous Cafe de Flore.

The famous Cafe de Flore.

All the buildings were beautiful like this!

All the buildings were beautiful like this!

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 8.27.06 PM

 

"We are all Charlie."

“We are all Charlie.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 8.57.41 PM

 

A lovely winter day.

A lovely winter day near the Eiffel Tower.

Thar she blows! It was bigger than I thought it'd be (twss?).

Thar she blows! It was bigger than I thought it’d be (twss?).

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 8.24.02 PM

The Musee d’Orsay. Just spectacular.

The Musee d'Orsay. Just spectacular.

 

Hello!

Hello!

Just trying to blend in as one of those impossibly chic Parisian women (it didn't work).

Just trying to blend in as one of those impossibly chic Parisian women (it didn’t work).

Love locks on the Ponts des Arts.

Love locks on the Ponts des Arts.

Le Marais, my other favorite neighborhood. Such a beautiful place - cobblestone walkways, alleys filled with people, sidewalk cafes...and the shopping is AMAZING.

Le Marais, my other favorite neighborhood. Such a beautiful place – cobblestone walkways, alleys filled with people, sidewalk cafes…and the shopping is AMAZING.

There was lots of graffiti in the city as well, in certain areas.

There was lots of graffiti in the city as well, in certain areas.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 8.24.59 PM

 

Sigh.

Sigh.

 

But at the end of the day (or 12, as was the case with my February France trip), there’s no place like home.

 

 

What is your favorite place to visit? Been anywhere fun lately? Talk to me in the comments! 

 

Embracing the Dread… mill.

After five long months – yes, five – I’m finally able to run again.

Like, really run. Not “run for a mile or so and have to stop and walk because my ankle gets sore.”

new shoes

Because, let me tell you, that version of running barely counts. And is super frustrating. And no matter how much cross-training you do, it’s just not the same thing.

This week marked the longest run I’ve been able to do since #bustedankle happened – granted, it was only a little over four miles, but I felt really good. I didn’t have to stop at all, and my legs and lungs (and ankle, duh) were strong.

I’ve been doing almost all of my running on the dreadmill because 1. pacing is way easier and 2. it’s a lot harder (though not impossible, trust me) to roll your ankle on a flat surface. But, the upside to all of the treadmill running is that it makes speed work a lot easier.

My goal this summer is to really work on pacing and speed. I’m running the Baltimore Marathon in October and I would love another PR and love negative splits even more. So, I’m prepared to embrace the dread. Good ol’ Tready and I will likely be getting very familiar this summer.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be plenty of running outside. I can’t handle long runs on the treadmill. Nothing good could come from that. I would go insane. Also, I like the sunshine.

But, I don’t like humidity… and I do live in a swamp. So, inside running doesn’t sound so terrible. Especially in July. Or August. Because DC is terrible then.

So, here’s to a summer of many more miles and much fewer injuries! Cheers!

What are your favorite treadmill workouts? Tabata? HIIT? Endurance? 

 

The Top 5 Things I Learned from the Atlantic City Half Marathon

Because I had SO MUCH to say about my first half marathon experience, I had to break it up into two posts. Mainly because it wouldn’t be fair to push that much excitement on  you at once.

You’re welcome, eyeballs.

So here are the top 5 things I learned at the race.

  1. Runners also like to re-fuel.  A lot.

I came totally unprepared for the race as far a fuel goes. I’m not much of breakfast girl, and was relying on the advice Mer, Vic, and Cam as far as what was best. Because Cam is the sweetest, she gave me some of her stock; a packet of Gu and CLIF Shot Bloks packet to try out. On race day, I forgot to pack my Honey Stinger and Cam forgot all of her fuel, so I gave her back her Gu and stuck with the Bloks, which, for the record, tasted pretty yummy! By the time we reached the turn in the course, Mer had eaten her Gu and I was busting open the Bloks. At mile 9, we were looking for a station with some fuel because, as we all know, rungry is a very real thing, and it can make for grun-py runners. Perhaps we missed them, but one thing we didn’t see any Gu or fuel at the water/Gatorade stations. The lesson I learned here was to always remember to pack extra fuel. Because we really like, and need, our Gu and Bloks and stuff.

  1. A big, shiny medal is muy importante.

Since this was the very first pretty shiny medal I’ve ever earned, I was pretty stoked to get it no matter what. The fact that it was MASSIVE and BEJEWLED was even better! Everyone was oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over it because it was totally fabulous. Meri said she thought it was the best medal of the race series, and since she is a legacy runner for this race, I took her word for it. Back at her house, she pulled out her past AC medals and sure enough, this year’s was special. They kept it classy and simple and BIG. Thank you AC Race Series!

My first medal ever and it's soooo purdy!

My first medal ever and it’s soooo purdy!

Legacy Girl Mer's AC Half Medal Spread

Legacy Girl Mer’s AC Half Medal Spread

 

  1. It’s all about the intervals.

                As I mentioned, I really had no clue what I was doing. The furthest distance I had run at once was 10k. Yes, I was worried about this, but once again I knew I could rely on my girls to suggest the best plan of attack. Also? Sometimes ignorance is bliss. The initial plan was that Meri, Cam, and I would start together doing intervals of two minutes running and one minute walking. After a few miles, Meri planned to pull away to pursue the PR she wanted. We started off, and before long, I realized that this was going to be unlike any run I had been on yet. I was feeling so fantastic! I stuck with Meri and we stayed with the 2:1 run/walk interval until about mile 10, when we switched to walking for two and running for one. We played cat and mouse with some lovely people who were pursuing their 50 in 50 goal. We teased, and taunted, and toasted with them after the finish. Bonds on the course are quick to form!

New Friends!

New Friends!

Toward the end, we started bargaining with ourselves to run to different landmarks along the Boardwalk like “those apartments” or “that restaurant”. I wanted to run to a particularly tasty looking Gyro shop around mile 11 but we kept on, and averaged a pace of 13:14. I’ll take it for my first half!

  1. A great race partner makes ALLLLLLL the difference

We had our plan and all was set, but sometimes things don’t always work out the way we plan. We got separated from Cam, and I felt badly because I had promised her we’d stick together. Meridith reassured me many times that Cam would want us to run our own races, because she’s awesome like that and friends support each other’s goals. She found a new friend to finish the race with and we went out to escort them to the finish. And this is what I love about running; the love and support of one another is something rare and precious in today’s world, and it’s my favorite aspect of the running community.

Coming to the finish with a new friend. (Photo Credit: Ken Shelton Photography)

Coming to the finish with a new friend. (Photo Credit: Ken Shelton Photography)

It’s been said on Scootadoot many times that Meridith is the best cheerleader and race coach. Seriously, folks, if you have an opportunity to run with this girl, do it. She knew exactly what to do when to do it, what to say and when to say it. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said we might have been having the most fun of anyone out there. I NEVER thought running could be fun, but with the right partners it always is.

  1. You can do anything with the right attitude.

My only goal for this race was to finish. The clock didn’t matter, I just wanted my first medal. Much more importantly, I wanted to have a great time with friends I don’t get to see nearly enough. The race was really just an activity we would be doing together. Together is what’s important. And fun. Fun is important, too.

That being said, I was curious to find out how I would do at the race. I promised myself, and all of you, that I wouldn’t half ass this race. Even though I didn’t train like I meant to, I was determined to push myself as much as was safe and, of course, fun. I don’t ever get to run with friends so that alone made the race infinitely more fun, and Meri and I laughed and danced and got many compliments on our costumes, which always helps. Before I knew it, the race was ending. Our time of 2:55:15 felt like an hour. I grabbed Meri’s hand to cross the finish together, and it was honestly one of the best feelings of my life.

 

Aaaaaand we're done! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

Aaaaaand we’re done! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

Once reunited, we collected our costume contest prizes, said goodbye to to friends (Bye, Bonnie!) , and left to stuff our faces at the Melting Pot in full costume. Because runger, omg.

Our winnings! Goooo Peaches!

Our winnings! Goooo Peaches!

Bye, Bonnie! Until next time!

Bye, Bonnie! Until next time!

Mmmmmm, chocolate.

Mmmmmm, chocolate.

This was the best race ever. At least, until the next one I get to run with this wonderful friends in this fantastic community we call running.

Speedy, happy miles of smiles to all! <3

10 Things I Learned from the Atlantic City Half Marathon (Well, the first 5 at least)

AC Sign Small

Last Sunday, a few of us Chicks gathered in New Jersey to run Meridith’s birthday race, the 2015 Atlantic City April Fool’s half marathon. You may have noticed that this has become an annual Chick tradition, so please join us next year! I highly recommend the race, and you can’t go wrong with the company, if I do say so myself.

Coincidentally, it was also my first half marathon, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Training hadn’t been as successful as I would have liked, and my hip decided to be a jerkface the week before the race (I heard and felt something snap when I got out of my car one morning, totally random). So I walked into this race really not know what to expect, or what I was doing, for that matter. One thing I did know is that I would be in fantastic hands, i.e. Meridith, Victoria, and Cam’s hands, and I was determined to see how hard I could push myself while making it as fun as possible.

  1. Sewing Costumes can be time intensive (but oh so worth it!)

Ahhhhh…sewing. Let it be known here and now that I love to sew. I really do. From quilts to handbags to costumes to doggy diapers (aka, bitches britches), I’ve done it all. So when Meridith texted Cam, Vic, and I to say we needed Rockford Peach uniforms, I didn’t bat a lash. Of course we needed to needed Rockford Peach uniforms because HOW CUTE IS THAT, OH MY GOODNESS. Cam and I started researching patterns and fabrics and before long, we had a plan and sewing commenced one week before our flight to Philly.

From start to (almost) finish.

From start to (almost) finish.

Soooo, what I learned from this particular sewing project is that I need at least one week to make each costume. I started on Victoria’s costume first and then feverishly worked on mine, which gave me some trouble (stupid buttonholes). And that right there my friends is what you need to remember. In my thirty plus years of sewing experience, I’ve learned that every project will hit a snag (or five) and extra time is needed to deal with such annoying delays. I also wish I had sewn in a zippered pocket at the waist seam to hold that pesky inhaler I am forced to carry everywhere. Run and learn, I suppose! The costume itself, made from 100% cotton, was super comfy and not too hot, which was a relief. Vic supplied the PRO Compression socks to top off our outfits (and keep our legs happy), and Cam purchased the red baseball caps for the finishing touch!

May we present, the Rockford Peaches! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

May we present, the Rockford Peaches! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

Annnnd we're off!

Annnnd we’re off! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

Our costumes were a BIG hit! Everyone loved them and we heard “dirt in the skirt”, and “there’s no crying in baseball” more times than we can count! We always replied with “but there is crying in running”. No one argued with that!  Meridith and I passed an older gentleman who, based on the Navy veteran baseball cap he wore, may have been a WWII vet. When he saw us running toward him in our costumes, his entire face lit up and it was obvious that for a moment, we sparked a memory and made him feel young again. For me, that was definitely a highlight of the weekend!

  1. It is possible to run in full make-up and hair (even false lashes!)
When it comes to costumes, Cam doesn't mess around #allout #falselashes

When it comes to costumes, Cam doesn’t mess around #allout

I’ll be honest, running in foundation and mascara seemed like it would be an exercise in futility. I mean, it’s called sweat, and not even Coco Channel could conquer THAT amount of dewy sheen. But sometimes a girl’s gotta sacrifice for the sake of her…costume. After all, one cannot run as a Rockford Peach and NOT have red lips and victory rolls. So I was charged with hair because I’ve been known to rock some rolls from time to time, but realistically, I worried that my handiwork wouldn’t last through the first two miles of running.

Mer and Vic rockin' some rolls!

Mer and Vic rockin’ some rolls!

We snapped tons of photos before the race (Ken Shelton Photography did an absolutely fantastic job with the race photos), and were SO GRATEFUL that our costumes were judged PRIOR to the start because you and I both know we would be looking a hot mess after the race. Our faces and hair held up so well, I have to give a shout out to our hairspray, TRESemme Mega Firm Hold and lipstick, NARS “Fire Down Below”.

ACRace_Team_2 (800x533)

Ready to play ball! (Photo by Ken Shelton Photography)

 

  1. Altitude really does make a HUGE impact on one’s ability and endurance.

HOLY WOW. This is how running at sea level felt for me.

Kingoftheworld

Seriously you guys, if I could run at sea level all the time, I would be completely, irrevocably, in love with hitting the pavement for miiiiiiles and miiiiiiles. Now I fully understand why Kara Goucher (and numerous other pro/elite athletes) live and train in Boulder. My lungs felt so strong, and my legs didn’t begin to tire until around mile 9.5. Back home, the longest I had run was a 10k. Lesson here is low-landers beware when running at altitude. It’s no joke.

Feeling so great at the halfway point that I was dancin'!

Feeling so great at the halfway point that I was dancin’!

  1. Names on the Bibs

Attention AC Race Series, the Rockford Peaches would like to formally request that runners’ names be on their bibs. Once I ran as She-Ra, Princess of Power, and it was pretty awesome. If given the option this time, I totally would have listed Marla Hooch for my bib name, then I wouldn’t have had to wear make-up. It’s just one of those fun touches that enables us adults to be goofy and silly and, in my case, really nerdy. I will totally run as Princess Leia of Alderan at the Disney Rebel Challenge if I can.

Cool, but could maybe be a teensy bit cooler.

Cool, but could maybe be a teensy bit cooler.

  1. Runners appreciate when the race is well prepared and stocked with goodies.

After last year’s race, I heard faint grumblings about the snacks being gone before all the racers crossed the finish line. I’ll tell you that the thought of that amazing pretzel and popcorn waiting for me at the finish helped me ignore the uncomfortable fact that my thighs were seizing up on me at mile 12. If they weren’t there waiting for me I would have been soooo sad panda. Thankfully there were PLENTY of snacks when we crossed the finish, so much so that they were giving runners two or three helpings to rejuvenate. They had popcorn and amazing pretzels and bagels and water and Gatorade and stuff! WAY TO GO, AC RACES! We don’t have photos of the pretzels. We ate them.

Thanks for hooking us up, AC Races!

Thanks for hooking us up, AC Races!

Next Tuesday, I’ll be posting part duex; the top five things I learned from the AC (and my first) Half. Until then, here’s a photobomb. Sorry we’re not sorry! Thanks again to Ken Shelton Photography for the amazing race photos!!

Quite a turnout!

Quite a turnout!

We got to see Bonnie S.! What a sweet lady blessed with a beautiful family!

We got to see Bonnie S.! What a sweet lady blessed with a beautiful family!

photo(7) (549x640)

Cam coming around the turn and looking strong!

 

It takes all kinds to win the race. #NB #Mizuno #Brooks

It takes all kinds to win the race. #NB #Mizuno #Brooks

Vic looking lovely with her shiny new medal!

Vic looking lovely with her shiny new medal!

FYI, If you run this race, a photo with Lucy the Elephant is obligatory.

FYI, If you run this race, a photo with Lucy the Elephant is obligatory.

 

 

These (Stray) Boots Are Made For Walking – Philadelphia

As anyone from New Jersey can tell you, the state is divided into three distinct parts.

source: nj.com

source: nj.com

Growing up, I was a Central Jersey girl. My city was New York, my town was filled with BMWs and Lexuses, and if someone held the door for you after they went through, you were having a good day. I kid, I kid. Sorta.

College brought me to South Jersey and I’ve lived here for the better part of twenty years. My city is now Philly (although I do still adore New York, for the record). So when Jenn and Cam told me that they’d like to visit Old City in Philadelphia, I naturally knew all the places to go and what to do. Right?

Nope (with a pop of the P).

I realized just how lacking I was in the historical department of Philadelphia. I mean, I sort of knew where the Liberty Bell was because I’ve run past in during numerous races. I kind of knew how to get there. I think?

Bound and determined, I visited Groupon, knowing that they’d have my back. I get approximately 10 emails a week and I always, without fail, see Philly tours.

We are not strangers to tours - this was the Boston chocolate tour!

We are not strangers to tours – this was the Boston chocolate tour!

When choosing our tour, I considered the audience. Which is us. Which is to say we are loud and like to do our own thing. Having a tour guide and a group wouldn’t be fair to the tour guide or the group.

Because we are loud.

Very loud. And inappropriate. And curse a lot when not near children.

An up the nose (and crotch) shot with a statue on the tour. See, inappropriate.

An up the nose (and crotch) shot with a statue on the tour. See? Inappropriate.

Stray Boots to the rescue! For an very affordable $8 (thanks Groupon) we purchased a tour of Old City. Stray Boots has 4 Philly tours, as well as tours in cities all the country. The app starts you at point A and brings you on a walking tour around the area of your choice. Ours was about 2 miles and we landed right back at point A.

tour2

Certain clues (particularly the first one) were a bit tricky for us but they give you a hint, if you ask for it. It’s a scavenger hunt through the destination of your choosing with extra information after each answer so you can learn more history about the location and the people of Philadelphia.

One clue was a no-go because the building we were supposed to go into was under construction. However we were able to figure out the clue from a sign on the street and a little Google sleuthing. There’s an option to let the app makers know if something like that has happened.

And, of course, there are a couple of questions where you get to interact with people working in gift shops and stores. A tip from us? Don’t just ask them the answer to the scavenger hunt question. They are a fount of knowledge and more than happy to share!

Also awesome? Since you’re doing the tour on your own time, you can stop if you want to buy things or have lunch. We walked right past the Continental and doubled back for lunch!

tour3

We saw at least five properties that we dreamed about owning. We wandered back alleys that reminded me of Spain and listened in on a few of the walking tours that were near us.

tour5

We behaved ridiculously and made people laugh.

Soft kitty, warm kitty.

Soft kitty, warm kitty.

Now of course, I’m not going to tell you all the clues, in case you plan on visiting Old City. But I will say this, we all agreed that this was the best $8 we spent!

Sorry we cut your head off, Ben.

Sorry we cut your head off, Ben.

It was the perfect way to spend a day taking in the sights, while still resting before our half marathon the next day. Good times and good friends. Nothing better!

Have you ever done a Stray Boots tour or something like it? What is your can’t miss spot in your town? Have you ever been a tourist in your own city?

Here’s What I Know About Leadership

This post might feel a little preach-y. It’s not supposed to. Or maybe it is. I don’t know. What I do know is that the idea of Leadership is one that’s been on my mind lately. Or for the last year. Or really, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, for forever. Recently, a few things have made me think about what makes a good leader and how we can all exhibit those qualities in our day to day actions. 

vball circle

“The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” ― Colin Powell

When I was in high school, I thought a lot what it meant to be a “good” leader. Typically, I was thinking about sports and I was usually concerned with what a team captain was expected to do. I was given the responsibility of being captain of two teams – I was named Varsity Captain as a junior of both the volleyball and basketball teams, and maintained that role as a senior. Every team I played on had a different dynamic and vastly different personalities, which meant having to learn how to communicate differently. Learning what each of my teammates would best respond to and understanding that not everyone is motivated by the same thing.

dorks

I’m not sure that I was ever wholly successful as a team captain, but I did learn a lot, and since then, I’ve also come to realize that the teams I played on served as microcosms of real life.

The skills I learned on the court have found their way into my life on more than one occasion, but as of late, it is those leadership skills I’ve come to value most. So, I came up with a list that I think illustrates my point:

varisty-goofy

Lead by example: If you work hard, leave it all on the court and keep the bullshit out of the gym, the team can, too.

Respect: For your teammates and your coach – a team can’t function cohesively if there isn’t mutual respect for everyone’s abilities and differences. You don’t always have to agree, but you should always treat each other with respect.

Take the high road: Sometimes, you end up with a team that just can’t get along. Sometimes, people are real poop-nuggets. They can make everything the worst. A good leader doesn’t let their teammates’ negativity dictate their own actions. They choose optimism.

vball team

Listen: To the coach and to the team. If things aren’t going well, take the water temperature – not only does it give you the chance to find the root issues, it also shows your teammates that you care about their concerns. As I heard recently: “God gave me two ears and one mouth, and I should use them proportionally.”

Be proactive, not reactive: During a game, things don’t always go the way you plan – someone could get injured or foul out and suddenly your team looks different. The best way to move forward and win? Regroup, assess, and keep doing your jobs. A reactionary response is almost always shortsighted and rarely serves the good of the team. Keep playing to win, don’t play not to lose.

b.a. mirror pic

Recognize your team’s talent, and let them use it: The team captain isn’t always the best player. An effective captain not only knows this, but also isn’t bothered by letting their teammates shine. They are assets – allow them to utilize their skill sets and foster their confidence. Empower them to push the envelope and develop as players. Everyone benefits when we’re all allowed the room to do our best.

Talk to your teammates, not at them: This goes back to the “listen” thing – you have to learn how to engage in a productive dialogue with your team. Know your audience and tailor your message to them. Some people don’t respond to certain things. Honor that, and them, and do a little extra work to find what does work for the both of you.

bball in sandiego

Be honest, kind, courageous and fair: You might be the captain, but that doesn’t put you above your teammates on a human level. Remember that. Be decent, always.

We find ourselves on “teams” all the time – we live in community with one another, pretending that we exist outside of that is to deny our place in the world. To lead is to take on responsibility and to lead well is to care, immensely, for the well-being and success of the team and to recognize the responsibility to ensure that success.

“It’s time to care; it’s time to take responsibility; it’s time to lead; it’s time for a change; it’s time to be true to our greatest self; it’s time to stop blaming others.” – Steve Maraboli

I Need a Disclaimer

Warning: This post includes gratuitous use of “bad”, or as I like to call it, “expressive” language.

Hi, I’m Cam, I have ADD.  I’m not being rude, I swear.  It’s just really, really hard for me to pay attention to you.  You will probably have to repeat yourself and I will probably not make eye contact for very long.  But I promise, I’m not an asshole.

What do you think?   I know, it’s a bit rough.  I’m still working on it.

As I continue on in this epically disorganized and frantic life I’ve created, I notice ADD poking its nose into my business at the weirdest times. Like when I miss out on important information because I’ve “tuned out.” My lack of focus and impulsive decision-making causes like 90% of all arguments with my gentleman caller, and my mom can’t stand that I wait until the last minute to do things. And my friends, they probably think I’m tied up in the trunk of a car because I’m constantly forgetting to text them back. Living with someone with adult ADD is a challenge. It’s a big cluster of miscommunication and misread signals. So much so, I’ve compiled a list to help my friends and family understand my behavior: Things people with ADD do that aren’t assholish in intention, I promise.

Also, making lists is a strategy I use for organization. I love making lists.

Adult ADDers might exhibit the following symptoms:

1. They make lists for everything. But inevitably they misplace said list or forget the list existed in the first place. This may lead to a second list, or even third list,  contributing to a never-ending cycle of lost and found incoherent notes scribbled on used envelopes and napkins.

They may buy more rainbow socks because they forgot they already had rainbow socks.

They may buy more rainbow socks because they forgot they already had rainbow socks.

2. They’re obsessive about organization. They may spend hours and hours meticulously organizing cabinets only to be thwarted by the desire to now, at this very moment, organize the dish towels. This is often accompanied by the irrational fear of “If I don’t do this now, I will never have another chance, ever.”

20150403_113834

Warning: They may be hoarders. Who needs that many socks?

 

Which leads to..

3. They may have a skewed sense of priorities. Everything is the most important task in that moment.  This is a hard one for loved ones or colleagues and typically leads to the assholish labeling.

4. Speaking of labeling, they generally say things that are “inappropriate” or as I like to call them, “true.”

5. They frequently… I don’t remember what I was going to write here, honestly. I got sidetracked by my chick Jenn, here at the airport!

It keeps putting us sideways, I don't know why.

It keeps putting us sideways, I don’t know why.

6. And lastly, they just might write their blog post on a tablet in the airport because they were up all night making costumes for their race on Sunday. No minute like the last minute!

How do you stay focused and organized, internet world?

Spring cleaning (and other odds and ends)

I will it away each year – the dreaded spring cleaning.

My goal is steadfast: clear out clutter, recycle paper junk and send boxes of gently used items to charity.

Check, check and check.

I don’t know about you, but I have loads more to tackle. Most years, unless I take days off of work to tidy up, paint and declutter, it falls to the wayside. This spring, I was on a mission to reclaim a few rooms.

It was Meri’s mom who offered the sage advice: Pick a room and start. The rest will fall into place.

So last month, that’s just what I did.  And for the first time in three years, I can once again see the floor of our office.

spin clean 028I wish I had taken a pic before I started my cleaning frenzy, but this part of the room was filled with office supplies and samples and old magazines. ALL GONE!

Among the personal goodies I trashed were my old discman and my answering machine, which didn’t record any more. Why oh why do I still own that? (Side note, if you call my home number, you no longer have the option to leave a message. Call my cell or email me instead.)

spin clean 027These boxes are ready to be donated

I love to share no-longer-needed items with a local charity, A Second Thought. It’s run  by a local Christian-based non profit and the proceeds benefit programs for people with disabilities. Every few months, I take bags of clothes there. It’s a win all around – they get items to sell or share with people in need, and I reclaim my closet.

Slowly, I am making my way through my house and items my husband stockpiled when he worked from home for a few years. We’re working our way through boxes and sending them to off their new homes.

However, I get easily sidetracked by trying new recipes – and new workouts.

spin clean 004 Easter Enchiladas!

spin clean 017

Spin class in the local YMCA’s new spinning stadium! I think I found my new Monday morning workout!

spin clean 025

And halfway through writing this post I decided I HAD to make banana bread.

Really, I know it’s a work in progress. It will never be perfect. It’s so far from ideal its not even funny.

Here are a few tips to help you declutter:

– While considering getting rid of an item – ask yourself when you last saw or used an item. If your answer is over a year, toss it.

Books get their own category in my home as I’m a complete bookworm. I hold onto books (and newspaper clippings) far longer than I should. I blame my profession. Lately, I’ve been clearing those away too:

– I ask if I have any plans in the next year to read or re-read the book. If the answer is no, away goes the book.

– Put paper junk directly into the recycling, shredder or garbage can. Don’t let it lay around. Cut it off at the pass.

– Not sure if you want to permanently get rid of a once-beloved item? Put it in the “not sure” box. Revisit that box a few months later. If you didn’t even think about the item(s) inside, you know its fate.

And don’t worry – you’re not alone. Here’s a look at the room I am dreading. (I just shut the door to cope.)

clutter 001No, really. This is real.

 Happy Spring y’all! Please share your tips on what works best for you when trying to declutter?

Guest Post: Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k

Running for Chocolate is the SWEETEST of all victories…

Waking up at 4:30 in the morning to the sound of the wind howling, and rain hitting my house was not how I envisioned race day for running the RAM HOT CHOCOLATE 15k.  Shaking off the bad weather, I headed out at 5:45am to meet my friend and running partner Kate Fontaine at the PATCO station.

patcotrain

Riding over the Delaware River in a full subway car filled with other runners, I was excited to see how this race would treat me. This would be my longest distance since running The Philadelphia Marathon in November of 2014 and I only got to 6.5 miles while training.

hotchocolatemilling

We were greeted with clearing skies and no rain when we came from underground, but the 40 MPH winds decided to stay behind to be with us during the race.

hotchocolate15k

We made it to Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum in plenty of time to check our gear and arrive to our given running corrals. Everything was organized and the volunteers were very friendly.

hotchocolatecorrals

After saying goodbye to the 5k runners, we lined up to begin our race with our fellow corral J friends.  With the chilly wind hitting our faces, we were off. Running around the Oval, we headed away from the Art Museum and towards Kelly Drive. The wind was blowing towards us for a couple of miles making it a challenge. Before the race I was back and forth about whether I should run my race without stopping or do walk and run intervals. After a powerful gust of wind hit me head on at mile 1.15, I decided to do run/walk intervals in order to conserve energy.

hotchocolaterunning

The course was familiar (Philadelphia Marathon flashbacks) and the scenic course made me forget that the wind was howling at us. There were plenty of water stations for the runners, but I think because of the time of the race (8am) and the weather (windy and cold) the course didn’t have a lot of crowds to cheer us on while on Kelly Drive. However the spirit of the fellow runners, as well as the scenery kept me company. Once we got to the turn around after mile 5, the wind was at our backs and I felt relaxed and ready to get though the next 4.3 miles.

coursemaphotchocolate

In the home stretch, we were greeted by large crowds cheering us to the finish. This made up for the lack of spectators on the course. Even with my last minute decision to run intervals, I was able to finish the race at 1:36 and felt great at the finish line.  I met up with Kate (we separated during the race) who ran an awesome race and finished at 1:23, and we were off to get our chocolate grub on!

chocolatemedal

Our finisher’s mugs were full of edible goodies. We received a hot cup of cocoa, banana, chocolate fondue with things to dip in it such as a Rice Krispy treat, marshmallow, and pretzels.

chocolateswag

As we sat eating our goodies while on the verge of a sugar coma, we talked about what we thought of the race.  We both agreed it was very well organized, a beautiful course,  and we enjoyed the chocolate party afterwards. My favorite thing has to be the medal of a half eaten chocolate bar with the Liberty Bell on it and our warm and comfy hoodie we received (who needs another tech shirt?).

hotchocolatehoodie

hotchocolatemedal

So if you like to run, you love chocolate, this race is perfect for you! Where else can you get runners high and a sugar high all in one?

Brandi B. Dockett, CPT, is an ACE certified personal trainer, AFAA group fitness instructor, Spin instructor, running coach, and Owner of B FIT FITNESS SERVICES, LLC. Brandi loves running, cooking, traveling, and spending time with her friends, husband and 2 daughters! You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.