Category Archives: Fitness

Race Recap: 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon

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I’m writing this and still can’t believe I can finally say I’m a marathoner.

Almost 12 years ago I walked into Woodrow Wilson High School’s cross-country practice not being able to run three miles. I never thought I would have a half-marathon in me. I never thought a marathon was something I wanted to do. I don’t know if it’s having a lot of friends who are amazingly talented, Boston-qualifying runners (Lesley, Emily and Lorraine to name a few – hi, guys) that made me finally want to run a full-marathon.

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With Coach Lesley who paced me through the first half – next year I’ll keep up :)

I went through most a training cycle – though not as good of one – over the summer and early fall. That marathon didn’t happen as I moved across the country a week before the race. Over Christmas, someone told me I needed to have a goal and to stop just going out and running without a purpose because I was never going to improve otherwise. Coming home to run the Pittsburgh Marathon seemed like a good idea – I would have the support of my friends and family, I assumed Lesley would be a pacer for a time that I could probably strive for and I knew the course pretty well.

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Why yes Lululemon, I am.

I don’t know how it happened, but I somehow convinced Kay to come home to Pittsburgh with me and run the half-marathon. It’s a race that I really love and is near and dear to my heart and I thought it would be fun to bring a friend home. So Friday after work, we met at the airport and took the direct red-eye back to Pittsburgh.

As soon as we got to my house on Saturday morning, we ate some breakfast and immediately went back to bed for a few hours. I went on my shakeout run, cursing my incredibly hilly neighborhood but refusing to drive the 5 minutes to the trail so I could run flats. We popped into to see my girl Tu, had some lunch and went to the race expo to pick up our bibs where shit got very real. I think seeing the bib is what made the fact I was running a marathon the next day very real to me. I also got some new Lululemon Speed Shorts with a little Pittsburgh skyline outline on them.

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Race expo moments (in my new SoulCycle Union Street shirt because I’m that girl).

Okay back on track – we’ll fast forward through some things, maybe saw Kris Letang at Fresh Market (TBD), came back to my house, went to my fave pizza place ever (including pizza I have eaten in Italy), Il Pizzaiolo with my dad and Angela and then took obnoxious flat runner photos to Instagram so everyone know we were running a lot of miles in the morning. I also realized at this point I left my favorite socks in San Francisco and had a minor freak out.

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Race day gear. Note – I don’t run in compression socks, but definitely wear them after.

Angela stayed over so she could come cheer us on in the morning and we stayed up a little too late over-analyzing things, laughing over things we couldn’t remember in the morning and then talking about how much excitement and nervous energy I had.

Saturday night I had a lot of running dreams. I have running dreams a lot. I had a dream that I had run a marathon the week before but couldn’t remember it because I had a DNF. I forget the others, but that one stood out to me.

One thing that made me feel a lot more calm than I expected is the fact that I have run a lot of half-marathons. Emily mentioned this to me earlier in the week and I realized she was right – I have a race morning method down pretty solidly. When my alarm went off at 4:30 I just immediately went through the motions of drinking coffee and making breakfast and getting dressed without a second thought. The fact I was about to run a marathon still hadn’t totally sunk in yet.

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Thanks for the words of wisdom, True Runner.

Angela drove Kay and I down to Station Square (where I have parked for the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon the past two years) and my dad drove separately so he could take his bike to ride around the bike cheer route. This is the second or third year he has done it and I think it’s a really great part of this race. If your loved ones who are coming out to watch you run bike/have bikes, I totally recommend them taking part in the bike cheer route. They even have bike rentals available if you don’t have a bike.

When I got to Corral B, I was looking frantically for Lesley, who was pacing the 3:55 group. This is also about the time I realized I forgot my hat in my gear check bag and wondered WTF my problem was with getting it together for the most important race I had ever run was. For being a planner, I’m terrible at the execution sometimes. Anyway, luckily I found her and then the emotion of what I was about to do really hit me. I get real emotional at start lines like a nerd.

The first 10-11 miles, I felt great. I had run this part of the course so many times before, both in races and in training when I still lived in Pittsburgh. I loved running an 8:5X pace. I was able to chat with Lesley, really enjoy everything going on around me, read signs, etc. etc. Then the part of the course I was most nervous about, the hill going up from the Birmingham into Oakland, was in front of me. This is where the half-marathon and marathon split, so I felt very committed at that moment.

True Runner, one of the larger running stores in the city, had people running up the hills offering encouragement and good vibes, which I thought was awesome. For living in a city known for it’s ridiculous hills – and running hills (and a very nasty hill during a few races) a lot in the Presidio – I did not feel good about this hill. I started to back off the pace group a little, then caught up again when we got onto Forbes in Oakland.

Going down Fifth Avenue, South Aiken and onto Walnut Street I was still with the pace group. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the race because there were so many people out cheering and a really awesome drum line. Soon after, I realized I was not feeling very solid and watched as the group got further and further ahead of me. For another mile or so, I could still see them and thought to myself, “Okay, 3:55 is a really aggressive first marathon time. You can still get sub-4”.

Around mile 14 or 15, I had a real dark half mile or so. I say this because I literally thought about quitting. I didn’t think I had it in me to run another 10+ miles. I just thought maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a marathoner – maybe all this hard work and training and talking about this race would be for naught. I imagined having to call my dad to come pick me up. I imagined having to delete all the Facebook posts and Instagrams talking about the race and marathon training. I thought about the fact I made my friend fly across the country to run with me. I thought about all the words of encouragement that everyone in my life had given me and what it would have been like if I had to say I didn’t finish because I just didn’t feel like I could.

This really bad mile made me realize how important positive self-talk is to achieving things. I always tell people running is very, very mental and that day I took my own advice. Tearing myself down wasn’t going to do any good. Just because I wasn’t going to run a 3:55 didn’t mean I wouldn’t finish the marathon. I told myself I was going to cross that finish line no matter what and I was awesome and doing things not many people can say they have done. Finishing a marathon is not basic bitch level and I definitely am not basic (despite that Mad Mex quiz that said I was a Basic Burrito*, WTF).

It was a really hot and humid day in Pittsburgh and I have definitely gone soft when it comes to dealing with weather that is not between 60-70 degrees with 0% humidity and sunshine. I was stopping for water and/or Gatorade at every fluid station. I also remembered that when I start to get the least bit dehydrated, I get really negative. So when I started having negative thoughts, I focused on just running to the next fluid station.

I kept looking at my watch and until mile 20 or so, I was still running 9:10-9:20 pace. Then I hit mile 20 and even though I had a 10K left (and in my head, I kept breaking into pieces of my normal six mile route), I started to slow down unintentionally. I was now in a distance territory I hadn’t ever run before. I also kept reminding myself that many talented runners have said no matter what, that last 10K is Struggle City.

Miles 20-22 I somehow felt okay. At mile 22, I started feeling some real pain. My feet had been hurting since at least mile 18 and now my thighs were not cooperating with moving forward very well.   I just kept telling myself all I wanted was to run the entire time (minus when I started walking for fluids around mile 16-17) and that I could push through it. I didn’t spend entire Saturday mornings running and mornings before work doing 10-mile track workouts for no damn reason. I was going to push through the pain because why bother leaving anything out on the road?

With a little under a mile left, I caught my dad on his bike again. I gave him a really big smile and wave and made myself look like I wasn’t in probably the most pain I had ever been in, minus maybe running on a sprained ankle or with tendonitis in high school. I kept trying to focus on relaxing my face and not looking miserable.

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If you want to know what complete misery looks like after running 25.5 miles and trying to smile for your father, this is what it looks like. I’m kind of embarrassed of how bad my form is here.

I was very close to the mile 26 sign and had a real fear my legs were no longer going to move. I was in sight of so many people and walking at that point would have been the biggest embarrassment. A race official or volunteer hopped onto the course and started running with me, forcing me to pick up my pace a little. I was so thankful for him. He left me with probably .05 of a mile to go and I just kept forward towards the finish line, which I never thought was going to come. I crossed the finish line and got a little Tear City, which I knew was going to happen.

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Ang captured this shot of me near the finish.

I looked at my watch and saw 4:06:XX (I don’t remember the seconds) and was a little disappointed but also felt like I couldn’t really vocalize that. I ran my first full marathon – I had to stop being so hard on myself and just be proud and celebrate.

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This is kind of what death looks like.

They lengthened the finish line corral this year, which was really nice. I seriously was having trouble moving very fast at all by that point but it was nice to not feel crowded. I think that also happens when most of the 30,000 runners don’t run the full marathon. Finally I emerged at the end and went to the family reunion section to try and find Lesley, my other friends and my dad. I was not walking very fast at all and was afraid to sit down for fear I wouldn’t be able to get back up. Finally I did because I needed to stretch out and everyone found me so we could take photos and make our brunch plan of attack.

I was asked afterwards what I would have done differently. Truthfully, I didn’t do the best job tapering. I went to SoulCycle. I played tennis. I walk around the city a lot. I may or may not have drank a lot of wine and maybe a whiskey and ate some indulgent food last week. I kind of just ran my tempo runs 8:40-ish pace rather than pushing any harder. I didn’t do any marathon pace miles during my long runs.

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I would not have done brunch differently.

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Post-race Bloody Mary is kind of my thing. #allthesalt

Will I do another marathon? Probably. Definitely. I really loved this race and truthfully, I feel like new distances are always the hardest the first time because you don’t know what to expect. My next marathon I’ll know what it’s like to run 26.2 miles. Spoiler alert: painful. Overall, I had so, so, so much fun despite how badly I was hurting at the end.

I know you’re all super invested in my nerdy stats from yesterday (I secretly love math), but I was the first girl from San Francisco to finish the marathon (out of four) and second girl from California (out of 38). Now for real stats that actually matter – I finished in the top 25.9% of my division, top 21% of females and top 31.2% overall. I really love knowing I run faster than a good amount of boys.

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With my support group and sherpas, Angela and Kay.

I don’t know what my next goal to conquer is going to be just yet. I still want to run a 1:45 half-marathon this year (which is taking 6 minutes off my current PR, which would take a lot of work I believe). I’m considering running the San Francisco Marathon in July or at least one of the halves. I might take some time off training hardcore and focus on surfing for a few months. I do know right now I want to focus on losing the couple of pounds I have gained marathon training, get my strength and core back up, and enjoy this week of taking it easy and letting my body heal.

*I retook the quiz tonight looking for the link and got Shrimp Fajita, aka Cassie Death Fajita, so maybe I’m no longer basic.

Chat with me:
Have you ever run a full marathon? Do you want to? What would you have done differently if you were me?

How to Recover From a Long Run

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I’ve been consistently doing long runs on the weekend for over two years now. I usually am doing a long run every weekend, even when I’m not training for anything specific. Some weekends I skip because I’m traveling or people are in town or I want to go surfing or whatever, but for the most part, I’m logging double-digits on Saturday or Sunday mornings.

Becoming a smarter runner has really been important to me over the past year as well. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my running and I don’t spend the next two days sore and unable to walk down stairs after a race because I have focused on recovering properly. My tips on how to recover from a long run focus on things that are easy to overlook or forget – we all know to eat after a run, nap if necessary and to drink lots of water.

In honor of my marathon this weekend, here are my tips on how to recover from a long run.

How to Recover From a Long Run

  • Drink a protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing your run
    Sometimes, especially after races, I stupidly don’t drink a protein shake or eat a protein heavy snack or meal pretty quickly after I’m done running. The next day I am SORE.My go-to shake is a scoop of Vega Sport Performance Protein (either chocolate, mocha or vanilla – all delicious!) in a mixture of almond milk and coconut water. I use the coconut water for electrolytes and extra hydration. Sometimes I’ll put in a scoop of green powder (I love Skoop’s A Game) as well. This protein shake is basically the reason I do long runs and track workouts – so I have an excuse to drink it.Alternatively, make a recovery smoothie like my Chocolate Cherry Recovery Smoothie.
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My favorite protein shake ingredients.

  • Be like Ludacris and roll out
    The foam roller is a distance runner’s best friend. I know it hurts but my muscles are always so tight, it actually feels really good. I use this Rumble Roller which I think is a huge improvement on the normal foam roller. I also have a Stick which is great alternative to a foam roller when you have a really stiff achilles or don’t want to get off the couch.
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ROLL OUT.

  • Take an ice bath
    I really only do the whole ice bath thingfor20milers because… yikes. Also I feel real guilty getting in the tub because of the California drought. I know this isn’t enough ice but I have two ice trays and I don’t even know where to buy ice at in my neighborhood. But still – it’s getting my muscles in cold water and reducing inflammation so there you go.

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    My ice bath which also consisted of drinking water, drinking my protein shake and drinking SOS Replenish. #multitasking #allthefluids

  • Replenish electrolytes
    Back in my “fear all things with calories and added things” I would never replenish electrolytes, except with coconut water. That is still my favorite way to get electrolytes, but I’ve also started supplementing it with other things. I’ve been a big fan of Nuun for a while and recently I tried SOS Rehydrate. I loved SOS because it has less sugar than coconut water and has some salt so it helps with that side of replenishment as well. You have to mix it to the exact amount of water it calls for so don’t over dilute it.

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    Trying SOS Replenish after my 20-miler two weeks ago – definitely recommend!

    My friends at Vega recently sent me the Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator to try. Chrissy and I each drank one after a 12-miler prior to going to wine country (#priorities). It wasn’t ideal but between the two of us, we drank at least two bottles of wine Saturday and Sunday woke up pretty bright-eyes and bushy tailed, besides having the most indulgent day ever. Needless to say, I’ll be drinking one after the marathon this weekend.

  • Wear compression socks/sleeves
    I know, they aren’t the cutest but they totally help. I swear. Sometimes my friends remind me to wear them because my feet swell and it’s real cute of them. In Pittsburgh I wore hot pink calf sleeves and people would always think they were actual socks or a fashion statement which was outrageous.

Chat with me:
How do you recover from a long run? Do you have any tips I missed?

The Best Running Routes in San Francisco

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The best running routes in San Francisco with ideas on how to get in long runs with minimal hills, the most scenic routes and my daily run.

While I was going through photos from my iPhone photo stream for this post, I was actually surprised by how many photos from the same places I seem to have. When I first moved here, I stopped basically every run to take a photo. I mean, how many people run to the bottom of the Golden Gate bridge ever, let alone on an almost daily basis?

One struggle I had was finding flat-ish routes. I find my knees and Achilles tendon start acting up with a lot of hills, which is ironic because I have been running on hills for the past 12 years. The only place I have lived that is vaguely flat was Hong Kong (but Hong Kong is not flat – it’s actually over 80% green land and lots of mountains).

When I tell people I live in The Marina I get a lot of “of course you do” (more on that for another post). One of the main reasons I love living in this part of the city is that it is flat and perfect for running. It’s flat because it’s built on reclaimed land after the rubble from the 1906 earthquake was pushed from Pacific Heights into an old cow pasture (i.e. why the streets south of Lombard are considered “Cow Hollow” NOT the Marina). Also if there is an earthquake while I’m home my building is probably going to fall into the ocean because it’s built on a landfill. You win some, you lose some.

Even though I’ve lived here just a tad under six months, all of these runs feel really personal to me and hold a lot of memories for some reason or another.

The Best Running Routes in San Francisco

  • Crissy Field and the Marina (6-8 miles round trip)
    I start from my building and run up to Marina Boulevard. From there I run to Fort Mason then back to Fort Point. That’s 6 miles. You can add on another two miles by running past Fort Mason to Polk Street on Bay.
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Fort Point to Fort Mason. I add on a few tenths of a mile from my building.

Fort Point at sunrise.

Fort Point at sunrise.

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Crissy Field at sunrise.

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My favorite part of the route.

  • Golden Gate Bridge to AT&T Park (10 miles one way, 20 miles roundtrip)
    If you’re going to do this run, do it early. I start out by going down Marina Blvd, through Crissy Field, up the hill to the San Francisco vista point for the bridge, across the bridge, around the Sausalito vista point, back down and to Fort Point (moremilage), down Powell to theEmbarcadero and then to AT&T Park and back to my place. I love this because it’s mainly flat (two major hills, minus he bridge), scenic and there are lots of chances for me to refill my water. Just know there are a bazillion tourists that will be in your way, especially on theEmbarcadero.

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    Golden Gate Park to AT&T Park.

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    Golden Gate Bridge from the Sausalito vista point.

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    Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco vista point.

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    The city at sunrise from Fort Point.

  • Lands End (3 miles)
    If you’re looking for a city trail run, this is a great option. You can add on some milage by running past the Cliff House to Ocean Beach. There’s actually really cool ruins here from Sutro Baths, which were public swimming pools and a bath house that burned in the 1906 earthquake. So many fun SF facts in this post!
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Sutra Baths at Lands End.

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Lands End

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Sutra Baths.

  • Ocean Beach
    San Fransisco isn’t all Bay – you can also get to the Pacific. Ocean Beach is one of my favorite places in the city because I love the ocean. Plus it’s a great excuse to get coffee at Trouble Coffee or brunch at Outerlands afterwards.
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Ocean Beach

  • The Marina to Ocean Beach (7 miles one way, 14 miles roundtrip)
    I do this as an alternate long run. The route below is from Fleet Feet, the running store on Chestnut. I go up the Lyon St stairs even though it’s super intense, it’s also kind of fun because I’m a masochist when it comes to running. I run both main roads through Golden Gate Park – usually JFK on the way out and Martin Luther King Blvd on the way back. If you’re trying to see part of the city, this is a great route to do.
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The Marina to Ocean Beach

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The hike up the Lyon Street steps is worth it for this view.

  • Golden Gate Park
    There are lots of trails here, dirt paths around the park and plenty of bathrooms and water fountains. It’s bigger than Central Park in NYC and you can easily do 6 miles around the park and then tell all your friends you ran past bison in the city. Bonus points if you see a coyote.

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    Conservatory at Golden Gate Park.

  • Kezar Stadium
    I do my track workouts here (yes, I actually am doing speed workouts this training session). It’s a really iconic running spot – Runner’s World had a whole article on Kezar last year. It just reopened in March 2015 after a lot of renovations. Plus, it’s cool to run in a place where the Giants and 49ers used to play.
  • The Embarcadero
    I kind of hate running here because there are so many tourists who are not paying any attention. I do my tempo runs here which is dumb on my part but it’s also good people watching and scenic because you get to see the Bay Bridge.
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Bay Bridge at sunrise.

Chat with me:
Where do you love to run in your city? Have you ever ran in San Francisco before? Do you run when you’re traveling?

Race Recap: Rock n Roll San Francisco Half-Marathon 2015

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It’s 8:30 p.m. on Sunday night as I write this and I’m ready for bed. In my defense, I probably slept five hours last night – a 4 a.m. wake-up call is not pleasant.

I had the opportunity to run the Rock n Roll San Francisco Half Marathon this past weekend. I didn’t mention I was going to run a race this weekend, did I? I kind of mentioned it in passing to a few of my non-SF friends. I think my family basically forgot I was running. I’m old news these days.

Saturday I did something really responsible pre-race day and spent the day drinking a lot of wine in Sonoma (well, specifically Healdsburg) for my sorority sister Caroline’s birthday. I have a great track record of carb loading with wine. Originally way back in January I wanted to run a 1:45 at this race then realized it was really hilly and I have been more focused on marathon training than getting speedier so I was just going to run for fun and hopefully hit 1:50.

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Really great pre-race day strategy.

When I headed back south to the city, I realized I should probably eat some beets because I remembered they are good for runners. I was unfortunately out of beets, was trying to beat the Presidio Pizza Company (best gluten free pizza in the city – they use dough from Mariposa bakery in Oakland) guy to my place and considered having Postmates bring me some from Trader Joe’s. I then considered the fact I am a ridiculous human being and decided to forgo eating beets, but stuck to my traditional pre-race pizza.

I was not hungry when I woke up (at 4 a.m.) but forced down some oatmeal with banana and peanut butter. The race started on the Great Highway at Ocean Beach and you could take a shuttle from Fisherman’s Wharf or the finish line at Civic Center. Originally I thought I would walk down to Fisherman’s Wharf and take the shuttle but of course, I thought sleeping slightly longer was more important and took an Uber there. The shuttle ride took about 30 minutes and by the time we got there, I had about 30 minutes before the race.

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Start line.

Friday when I picked up my race packet, I was kind of shocked I was in Corral 2 (of 15). Then immediately as the race started I really wasn’t shocked and was thankful I didn’t put myself back a few corrals. The whole race I realized I was pretty much running with guys. The hills were pretty brutal – we revisited the hill in the Presidio that kind of ruined my life at the Nike San Francisco Half-Marathon in October.

One of the big selling points for this race is probably the fact that you get to run the Golden Gate Bridge. I ran it last weekend as part of my 20-miler (finding 20 flat-ish miles in a city that is 7 miles by 7 miles and built on a bazillion hills is difficult). On the way out towards Marin it was a little faster but on the way back to the city it was slightly slower because a lot of people going the other direction were stopping to take photos, etc. which I TOTALLY get and understand – just be aware of your surroundings, people!

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Photo of the bridge from Marin I took last weekend during my 20-miler.

After the bridge there are about 5 miles left. You run down to Chrissy Field and then onto Marina Boulevard, aka my usual morning run. I killed it on the down hill from the bridge because that’s my favorite hill to do hill workouts on so I’m used to speeding down it. After Marina Boulevard, you run the entire way up Polk to Civic Center. Polk is really painful and really hilly. I thought a PR was not going to happen at mile 11 but thought I should at least try. I realized at mile 12 if I didn’t screw anything up, I could slightly PR or at least get close enough to not be too mad at myself.

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Typical looking terrible post-race-ness.

I finished in the top 4% of women, top 5% in my age group and top 12% overall. I PR-ed by 30-ish seconds (my previous PR was unofficial because I bought someone’s bib off the black market Craigslist, but I ran a 1:52 flat and a 1:52:50-something in April). I’m not going to lie – I was kind of stoked about these stats. These races are great because there are a lot of entertainment for beginners (and everyone!) so if you’re thinking about running your first half – they are a well organized, fun series I would really recommend.

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I sent this to my dad and his response was “That’s great Cassie”. My family is unimpressed by me.

After the race, I walked around the Farmer’s Market, bought some things to juice then grabbed an Uber home. I showered, Facetimed with my dad for a while and then met Kay for brunch at Plow, which was basically at the top of my SF-brunch list. We waited two hours for a table (after getting there at 12:30) but it was pretty perfect because we admitted to snacking before brunch because we didn’t know how long we were going to wait. For being transplants, we have the whole being San Francisco residents down.

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Housemade biscuit with honey butter.

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We both got the plow – two eggs, sausage, lemon ricotta pancakes and subbed salad for potatoes.

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I ate this entire plate. #onlyvagueshame

Do you want to run a Rock n Roll race? Save 15% off your registration with code RUNTOGETHER.

I was compensated with free race registration as part of the Rock N Blog Team but all opinions are my own.

Chat with me:
How was your weekend? Have you ever waited two hours for brunch? Are you planning on running any Rock n Roll races this year?

How to Stick to a Training Plan

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This is the third time I’ve tried writing a post in the past two weeks. Well, I guess I was successful once, but that was a “phoning it in post”. I’ve thought about taking a break the past month or so and then some things happened in my life and writing a blog post was basically at the bottom of my priority list. I’m beyond caught up in this comparison game that is blogging and social media and life in San Francisco in general and it’s got me in a very bad place mentally. That being said, I’m working on it and trying to get out of this slump and will hopefully be my confident, happy, vaguely stuck-up self again soon.

I have, for the most part, been sticking to my marathon training plan. There have been a few mornings where I haven’t been able to get out of bed, but I’ve switched around workouts if that happens. I haven’t been doing as many strength workouts as I would like or getting to yoga nearly enough (including tonight), but at least I’m running my milage and doing tempo runs and track workouts and easy runs.

So today I want to talk to you about how to stick to a training plan. I decided in December that I was actually going to take training seriously in 2015, i.e. tracking my workouts, having achievable goals and pushing myself. I’m actually probably in the best running shape that I have been – my milage is a little lower than my last training cycle but I am also not burning myself out.

I started keeping a training journal in December. I’m using Lauren Fleshman’s Believe Training Journal because I’m a fan girl and also it’s awesome. I ordered this before I moved to SF, mainly because it also came with Picky Bars and they are my absolute favorite bar of all time.

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Making notes in my training journal.

I haven’t mentioned it here, but I’m running the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. The full. Finally. My goal time is 3:55 so I can run with my friend Lesley who is pacing that group. I’m nervous but feeling pretty good about it. I have a training plan that I kind of molded off a Runner’s World training plan. I’m running 3-5 times a week (typically 4), doing some combination of a tempo run, easy run, track workout/hill workout and a long run each week.

When I decided to finally have a goal to work towards, I sat down and wrote down every workout on a calendar. Then I put it into my Google Calendar under a “training tab”. Every day I have the next workout staring at me in the face in my notification bar and I can easily make plans around my workouts.

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I love the Believe Journal because I write down my milage, how I felt and any other notes. Plus, motivational quotes!

After a workout, I write down my milage, how I felt via smiley face – :), :|, :/ or :( and any notes about my run – sometimes pace, where I ran, who I was with, if I ate before, etc. etc. I write down my goals for the week (typically always strength which means I seriously need to try harder at it) and finally my end milage for the week. I remember writing down that I wanted to run 2,000 miles this year and I’m a little off my goal since that requires 39 miles a week.

I was not compensated for this post – I just really love keeping a training journal and eating Picky Bars. But if you would like to send me some, Lauren, I wouldn’t mind! xo

Chat with me:
Do you keep a training journal? How do you stick to your training plan? Are you training for anything right now?

How to Make Fitness Dates with Friends

I would venture to say 75% of my plans with friends involve some form of working out or exercising. Most of the time food or drinks or coffee are thrown in there afterwards, but we’re always getting some sort of activity in. From yoga to SoulCycle to runs to hiking… I basically don’t know what people do for fun with their friends that don’t involve being active. (Okay, I do know – it involves food or drinks or getting your nails done or shopping because I do those things, too.)

Last Friday Gabby invited me to the Friday Night Social at Sweat Republic and told me to invite friends… which I did! I’m so thankful that I had friends already living in SF before I moved here… and even more excited that some of my friends (hi, Emily) will be West Coasters this week! As I mentioned before, my friend Sam introduced me to Amazing Yoga in Pittsburgh and she’s always down for a good fitness date so I asked her to come along.

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The best way to spend a Friday evening – Fitness Dates with Friends!

The theme for this past week’s Friday Night Social was yoga and astrology. I’m super into astrology, as in I like reading about things about my sign because I like having excuses to back up my personality flaws traits: crippling self-doubt, indecisive, lazy about things I don’t care about. We started class learning a little bit about each type of sign – wind, earth, fire and air – and then throughout class, Jessica, the instructor, told us which poses are good for which signs. Apparently I should be doing more rabbit pose and obviously, fish.

Afterwards we had raw juice and snacks from the new Union Street juice bar, Urban Remedy. Local fitness brand Akrovita was there selling their super cute line as well.

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You can drink juice shots after your workout date… or regular shots, but then you’ll need a green juice for the morning.

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Loving these bright juices from Urban Remedy!

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Workout gear from Akrovita.

Tips for Making Fitness Dates with Friends

  • Pick a class you’ve never been to before.
    If your friend may not be disposed to going on a fitness date, try a class you’ve both never been to before. Sometimes new classes are scary but when you’re both bopping around like geeks you can’t help but laugh. My first friend “date” with Erin was actually at a barre studio nether of us had been to before!
  • Trade after work happy hour for an after work run.
    When we both still lived in Pittsburgh, Emily and I would run 5-6 miles after work every Tuesday. Sometimes our friends Lesley and Sangam would join us. Even though we weren’t fans of after-work workouts, it was so nice to stretch our legs after sitting all day and bitch about work. (#sorryimnotsorry)
  • Turn your coffee date into a walk and talk.
    Why sit at a coffee shop when you can walk around the neighborhood, being all Taylor Swift with your coffee cups in hand? You can pop into little shops, burn some cals and get some vitamin D. Don’t use “it’s too cold out” to walk and talk as an excuse. A and I would go for a walk every day when I was home and it was like 10 degrees out. And I live in California and am not accustomed to the cold. Not an excuse unless the windchill are negative. Just bundle up.
  • Spend a weekend day doing an outdoor sport.
    Go hiking! Go kayaking! Go stand-up paddle boarding! The possibilities are endless. Then you can feel less guilty if you indulge in a glass (or two!) of wine or ice cream afterwards. I usually do both. Whoops.
  • Go to a special event.
    Studios are always having social events. Go to them! They are super fun. Don’t be afraid that you won’t know anyone there. I’ve done yoga on the Andy Warhol Bridge in Pittsburgh with Emily and Lesley and went to special yoga classes like candlelight yoga with Angela in Pittsburgh
  • Do a challenge together.
    I have always wanted to do a 30 days challenge. I actually did one at Pure Barre in Pittsburgh and if my wallet could handle dishing out $600 for SoulCycle a month, I would do the challenge the Palo Alto & Union St. studios are doing in March. You can do prAna’s 30 Days of Yoga challenge FO’ FREE at home. Grab a friend and challenge each other to go to class together once or twice a week and Snapchat some photos of you crowing it up at home on days you don’t go to class.

Like my outfit in this post? I’m wearing the Piper Top and Gabi Legging c/o prAna. You can save 15% off any prAna gear and twin it up with me by entering code psps15AGIT at checkout! I keep getting TONS of complements on these pants so you should definitely snap up a pair.

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Unboxing the cute gear prAna sent me… candid while testing lightening shot by A.

I was compensated by prAna for this post but all opinions are my own.

Chat with me:
Do you go on fitness dates with your friends? What is your favorite way to workout with your friends? Have you ever done a fitness challenge?

Uforia Studios Review

uforia studios nob hill san francisco | almost getting it together

One of my favorite things (I think I say that about everything) about living in San Francisco is all the boutique fitness studios! I’m a SoulCycle junkie, love taking Surfset classes at Sweat Republic and of course you can spot me at a yoga studio in the city typically a couple days a week. When Uforia Studios reached out to me about their new studio opening in Nob Hill, I was so excited to check it out.

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Uforia Studios swag. Photo credit: Uforia Studios Instagram.

Uforia Studios is a unique boutique fitness studio with cycling, yoga, dance and cardio classes that are designed to make you smile while you sweat! Their Palo Alto studio recently brought in one of Beyonce’s choreographers to teach a class that will give you moves like Queen B. (I might have needed a few shots of tequila prior to this class because that’s the only time I think I can dance.)

I’m totally into their video too:

If you’re looking for a fitness date with a friend, Uforia Studios is a great option. Their Revolutions spin class is like a rave where you burn a ton of calories and who doesn’t love getting their sweat on before heading out for a happy hour drink? I’m super excited to try their Grit class too which is a mix of strength (which I seriously need to do more of) and cardio.

Bay Area readers: you can buy a 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 class pack at Uforia studios for 50% off! Buy your Uforia Studio classes and use code ALMOSTGETTINGITTOGETHER.

Chat with me:
Do you workout with your friends? What’s the coolest fitness class you’ve ever taken? Do you dance when you’re drunk?

Race Recap: Kaiser Permanente 2015 San Francisco Half-Marathon

Kaiser Permanente 2015 San Francisco Half-Marathon| almost getting it together

The Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half-Marathon is held annually on Super Bowl Sunday. If I was into eating buffalo chicken dip and drinking beer and watching football, it would be a perfect way to at least balance out the junk the Super Bowl usually introduces into people’s bodies. I’m not into watching football but I am into the idea of running a race instead of my typical long run.

I’ve kept my fitness level at the point where I am running at least 12 miles one day a week for the past two years. I haven’t done any speed work or tempo runs since the beginning of October (and I have ran one race, the Nike Women’s San Francisco Half-Marathon, since then) so I didn’t expect to go out and get a PR… I thought at best I would run in the mid 1:50s.

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Laying it out for the Insta.

Sunday morning I woke up, made some oatmeal and coffee and headed out. I have been eating toast with peanut butter and banana pre-long run but I always eat oatmeal before a race so I thought it would be good to stick with what works. I add a little honey for added sugar on race days as well. The night before I always eat pizza and a salad.

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Standard race breakfast: oatmeal, bananas, peanut butter and a little honey for added sugar.

I didn’t expect parking to be such an issue. I wanted to park by the finish line so I could leave things in my car and not worry about taking a shuttle back after the race. I was a little later than I wanted to be (is anyone surprised?) and the good parking on Ocean Beach was gone and I ended up parking at least a mile and a half from the finish line. I took a shuttle to the start then realized in panic I was at the end by all the strollers and walkers.

I nudged my way up towards the 8:00-8:59 minute mile corral and instantly ran into one of the women I run with a lot at the San Francisco Road Runners group runs, Rosemarie. She asked what I wanted to run and I said 1:50-something, as long as I was under two hours I was fine. I decided that I would just run with her and her friend and not go out and try to actually race. I’d never run a race with people before (I mean, I’ve started with my friends but not finished with them because one of us is faster than the other), I’d felt slow the past couple long runs I had done and I thought I would just rather enjoy it then push myself and be disappointed when I didn’t run a time I wanted (aka the 2014 Montour Trail Half-Marathon).

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I geek out near all bodies of water that involve the Pacific Ocean.

The course runs through Golden Gate Park, to Ocean Beach, 2.5 miles down the Great Highway and then back and finishes in Golden Gate Park. Mile one was a little slow weaving through people and it was around 9:25. By mile four I had finally started warming up and we settled into around an 8:35 pace.

The course really is flat. I didn’t think I believed people when they said it was flat, but it really is. I actually ran through the park on my own a few weekends ago when I skipped the group run. Did you know there are buffalo in Golden Gate Park?

Miles 7-12 are on the Great Highway, which is the western edge of the city along the Pacific Ocean. I thought it would be SO FUN to run by the ocean but you really can’t even see it because of the sand dunes and also running five miles on a high way is super boring. Everyone warned me it would be boring and I ignored them. Miles 7-9.5 literally felt like they would never end.

My feet randomly started hurting but I didn’t want to say it out loud and actualize the pain. I am running in Mizuno Wave Riders 18 but the shoelaces are super short. I bought A lace locks at Fleet Feet when I bought Gu but then realized I actually needed them for my Mizunos.

I ended up running a 1:57, which I can’t be disappointed in for running with friends and chatting the entire time. I think it’s a good reminder for me that not every race can be a PR, even if the past few (minus the epic failure that was Montour) have been.

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Post Race at Golden Gate Park.

This race was super well-organized. There wasn’t a race expo and they send you your bib which I honestly kind of liked. It’s nice to not have to plan your Friday or Saturday around picking up a race packet. I thought the shuttles to the start were efficient and even though it was a bit of a hike from that drop off to the start, it was fine. (It’s my own fault for not being any earlier.) Water and Gatorade were at great spots and they had both at most stops. They also have people telling you pace times at each mile which I really like. (This is also the first time I’ve ran a race without music for a while.)

I thought the food after the race was a little lackluster, if that’s something you look for in a race. They had bananas, milk and chocolate milk and weird twinkie-like things. I had a Picky Bar in my bag (rather than a protein shake, which I’ve been doing, after A reminded me of the importance of a 4:1 carbs to protein ratio after a hard workout) so I ate that as I drove home.

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Post-race (and post shower, obviously) photo with my medal since I didn’t take any actual race photos.

I then spent an hour texting back and forth with Kay trying to decide where we could find waffles in San Francisco (more difficult than you would expect) before finally settling on Straw. (Most waffle places here are like holes in the wall or coffee shops where all you do is order a waffle and brunch isn’t involved.) I proceeded to eat an entire waffle and a bunch of eggs.

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Plates were cleaned.

Overall, I had a lot of fun and I’m glad I ran it. It was really nice to have a pressure-less race.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to this race but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Chat with me:
Do you have any upcoming races? Have you ever ran the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half-Marathon? What did you do for the Super Bowl?

How to Banish Workout Excuses

why i'm jealous of non-runners | almost getting it together

How’s everyone doing on those New Year’s Resolutions? I obviously don’t go to the gym (except apparently I can get a discounted Equinox membership right now but I don’t need to find a boyfriend so… might still continue not having a gym membership) so I don’t know if the gym crowd as thinned out or not.

I’m a creature of habit so me rolling out of bed, making hot water with lemon and coffee, dealing with blog stuff and then going for a run is second nature to me. I don’t know what I would do with that extra hour in my morning – probably nothing super productive. Anyway, what I’m getting at is I’m committed.

Are there times I skip runs or yoga and have unplanned rest days? Yeah, for sure. See also: my entire time home for the holidays. When people tell me “one missed workout won’t kill you”… no, you’re right, but missing one workout a week when I don’t feel like doing it will really stall my goals. So I try to nip workout excuses in the bud.

Here are a lot of excuses I hear about not working out/exercising:

I don’t have time.
Yeah, working out for an hour or two a day is a time suck, I get it. If you drive to the gym or yoga or Crossfit – or even walk or run – that takes time. You know what else takes time? Compulsively checking Instagram/Facebook, watching TV, going to Happy Hour… I don’t mean to be totally boring, but if you really want to commit to something, really commit to it. Learn how to prioritize your time. I wake up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to fit in everything I want to do. Is it ideal? No, but it’s what I have to do to achieve my goals.

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Some mornings I like to take a pre-run selfie before I head out to run… in shorts… in December.

I don’t want to have to get another shower.
Well… workout in the morning then. And only get one shower. Or alternatively, at night if you’re that person. Or suck it up, throw your hair on top of your head, and get a 5 minute shower. It won’t kill you.

If you’re somewhere where you actually can’t get a shower, (i.e. Ragnar Relay, grabbing brunch after a run) Shower Pill is a great alternative. I used them during Ragnar and if it’s not super hot out and I’m not running a lot of miles and have plans after, I’ll throw one in my bag and put on real clothes. They’re thick – not like wimpy baby wipes – and it doesn’t have that weird greasy after feel.

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Keeping fresh during Ragnar DC with a ShowerPill.

I’m bad at running/lifting weights/yoga/whatever.
Not many of us are great at things at first. I wasn’t great at running at first. I’m actually still not great at running if you think about the big picture but I love it. I was awful at yoga at first but now I’m pretty good (if only I could arm balance!). If you don’t try something – and keep doing it – you won’t get better.

I have bad knees/hips/ankles/back.
Fun fact that I rarely talk about: when I was 14-15 years old, I had Patellar Tendonitis. Long story short, my tendon was ripping away from my knee joint. I spent years in physical therapy, got special custom-made orthopedics for my running shoes and shied away from lots of squats, lunges and other things that are hard on the knees (I do some now, but carefully). I loved running so I did what it took to make it work – and I’m careful now so I never reinjure myself that badly again.

But back to you and your excuses. You have a bad joint or muscle or something. Find an alternate exercise! Not everyone is going to be a runner – take up a low-impact sport like swimming or spinning. Go to yoga. Do Pilates.

Exercising is boring.
Are there days I’m bored to death on my run? Yes. Not everything is 100% fun 100% of the time. You know what’s boring to me? Spin classes that aren’t SoulCycle. Probably Zumba, not that I’ve done it. Bad yoga classes. I find the things I really love – okay, running, surfing, yoga, doing some strength training and catching up on Parks and Rec… find something that you enjoy doing at least 80% of the time and the other 20% will become habit.

In honor of getting your workout in and still making it to happy hour after, ShowerPill is giving away a box of their athletic wipes to one lucky reader. I seriously love these so I would be stoked to win these myself. Enter now until midnight on Thursday, February 5th. US only, sorry international friends.

Win a Pack of ShowerPill Athletic Wipes

 

I was compensated by ShowerPill for this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Chat with me:
How do you finish your workout with #NoExcuses? What’s the worst (best) excuse you’ve ever used for not working out?

Meet Gabby Pavelko, Sweat Republic Founder

Something I’ve wanted to do on AGIT is feature cool people doing cool entrepreneurial things. This is hopefully the first part in a continuing series as I have some other people lined up as well (and if you know anyone, send them my way, too!).

I was lucky enough to meet Gabby Pavelko, Sweat Republic Founder, last month. For those of you who don’t know, Sweat Republic is a gym in my neighborhood in San Francisco, The Marina.

The Marina is known for being kind of yuppie (I live here for a reason, after all!) and the stereotypes are girls and guys who always wear workout clothes (I’m so guilty of #bayareachic moments, even at home) and are leaving or headed to SoulCycle, yoga or Equinox. Sweat Republic bills its self as “Not Just Another Marina Gym” and they certainly are an amazing, boutique out of the box chain option for fitness in the city.

I happened upon Sweat Republic my first or second weekend in San Francisco when I took a Surfset class. I loved the feeling of community the gym had and that everyone working was inviting and welcoming. They also have a lot of great events so you get to know the people you’re working out with every day instead of just being a stranger!

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Gabby in crow pose on a Surfset board.

How do you balance your 9-5 job, your passion, and day-to-day life?
I have a habit of keeping myself busy! It’s funny – a lot of people ask me why I work two jobs but I do not see it that way. I am a strong believer in loving what I do and when you do that, it does not feel like work. I am extremely lucky that I live in SF, and am able to do not one, but two things that I love and have a supportive friend and family base that understand and support my passions!

Do you set a schedule for when you work on your day job vs the Sweat Republic?
I would say that I am a natural multi-tasker. At any given time, I am probably thinking about and working on something for my day job and Sweat Republic at the same time. I am not organized enough where I have a set schedule, but there is a method to my madness and everything seems to not only get done but I am still able to find time to sleep at night! I try to keep track of everything through to-do lists, and I love the gratifying check mark of knocking something off the list when it is complete.

How do you determine which out of the hundreds of projects that need completing is the most important to begin?
Usually the most important projects find me! I am fortunate to have an amazing team at Sweat Republic who not only help me check things off that crazy long to-do list but are also extremely creative and resourceful. Together, we prioritize and decide on which projects to tackle and when, and we work together to complete them. Since Sweat Republic is centered on our community, our top priority projects usually involve our amazing trainers and members (we call them Sweaties) and making sure they are feeling supported and excited about coming to Sweat Republic for fitness classes or our events.

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Gabby has balance [pun intended] on and off the board.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you work to overcome it?
Sweat Republic has been growing each month which is really exciting, but we just recently had to put everything on hold when we had some flooding downstairs in our TRX studio with the rain. Our community has been extremely understanding and we have received many offers for people to help with cleanup, which we are enormously grateful for. We have not been able to complete the construction just yet, but we are planning to not only have the studio finished in time for the new year, but we are also planning a member appreciation party for our one year anniversary and a re-vamped schedule as well!

What are the biggest rewards of having your own gym?
Being a part of creating something that is not only a place where people come to work out but also meet new people who enrich our lives. We have a couple of members who are really good friends who have even travelled together. When I asked them how they met and they laughed and said Sweat Republic, it was a special moment for me to realize how important this little gym could be.

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Gabby at Sweat Republic.

What about beginning your own business is the most surprising?
How many amazing new people will come into your life so quickly! I knew San Francisco was a special place but the fitness industry here is truly amazing – there are so many individuals, businesses and all-around rock stars! Some of my close friends today I did not even know before I started Sweat Republic, and they have definitely been motivation for us to continue what we set out to accomplish. It is tough when you are a small business up against the big guys, but we are honored to have achieved everything we have so far and beyond excited to see what this next year holds!

What advice would you give yourself two or three years ago before founding Sweat Republic?
Every day is going to be a rollercoaster, so hold on and make sure to surround yourself with an amazing support system. My dad is very entrepreneurial, and through him, I was lucky enough to get a preview into the life of a business owner, and it is definitely not for everyone. Not one day passes where you do not have a highest high and a lowest low, and you have to remain the brave and smiling face among all of the chaos. You will likely have to miss out on a lot of things (cue FOMO) but there is absolutely nothing else in the world like being your own boss and watching something that you created grow before your very own eyes. And when you have a support network of friends and family to help you and keep you motivated, then anything feels possible!

Sweat Republic is currently in the running for “Best Gym in the Bay Area” by Bay Area A-List so head over there and cast your vote!

Chat with me:
Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? If you could do anything as your own business, what would it be? Do you want to see more of these features?