This isn’t the post we were hoping to post, but here it is.
Two years ago, Vee and I decided we wanted to run the Chicago Marathon. It’s on Vee’s marathon bucket list, and I’m a fan of the city, so it would make a great first marathon for me. We entered the lottery last October and both got emails in March saying we were in. We knew we had a lot of work ahead of us to prepare.
Then Life Happened
Between October and March, Vee was accepted into the 200 hour yoga teacher program with Create Karma and three other fitness certifications. I changed jobs in December, knowing I would be moving into a management position in 6 months that was going to be challenging. I also started making and selling my organic beard balms.
So needless to say, there was a lot going on, and we should have known that this wasn’t the year to run. We still tried to make it work, but honestly, it just added more stress to everything. The final straw though, was when I hurt my back in early September and couldn’t run. At that point, we pulled the plug, and Chicago was done.
It’s a big disappointment for us. We were looking forward to the trip, the time off, and the experience. I had already planned out our trip, and some places I wanted to take Vee while we were there, but that will have to wait until next year.
Finding the Positives
There is an upside to all of this though. Because we were able to defer to next year, we really can focus on the 2019 race. This means getting our training right, saving additional money to stay at a close hotel, and doing everything we can to make it the perfect trip.
Shortterm, we both need to work through some things with work, but it’s been a month, and my back is getting better, but it’s still not right. Later this month, I’ll be seeing Deb at Ananda Integration for a structural integration evaluation. The goal is to see what imbalances I have in my body, and work on addressing them. I’m hoping to look at it from not just a running point of view, but also cycling and even a day-to-day perspective. With Deb’s assistance, we can get my body into an optimal alignment and balance, and get me back into training.
Longterm, the reset also gives us a chance to reboot #TeamKICKASS and set our goals for 2019. All of this started back in 2016 with our goal of raising money and riding the American Cancer Society Bridge to Beach in honor of Vee’s father/my father-in-law, Tom. For 2019 and beyond, we wanted to share our story and what inspires us to do everything that we do, along with some tips and advice along the way. Stay tuned for all of that coming soon.
So for now, instead of saying our Chicago Marathon story is over, we are choosing to say that it is just beginning. We’ll keep you updated on our plans and share some inspiration on a regular basis going forward.
Recently, a friend of Vee’s asked her about healthy snacking tips on Facebook. In the thread, someone commented that she should just “eat a … muffin, because life is too f$%&#@* short”. That got Vee thinking, yeah, life is too short, so you should eat health to live longer. Here are some last minute tips you can put to good use today at your 4th of July parties, and any other day.
Veggies and hummus
Keep the carbs early
Drink more water
Moderation is key
For most of us here in the United States, the 4th of July means cookouts, picnics, and fireworks. Burgers, hot dogs, wings, beer, soda, cake, cupcakes, and dips are just some of the tempting foods and drinks we celebrate with. Yes, they taste amazing, and the urge is to splurge on a holiday is strong, but the key word is moderation. Yes, you can enjoy those tasty foods, but keep the portions small and balance them with healthy options.
Snacking throughout the day is good as it helps to control cravings and increases your metabolism. Pass on the chips and look for the vegetable tray, but skip the dressing dip. The ranch or blue cheese dressing comes with extra calories. Instead, look for hummus if you need some extra flavor. The chickpeas adds a little bit of protein and lots of flavor. Be careful with fruit though. It might seem like a healthy option, but fruit contains more sugar than you think. Enjoy some, but keep it early and stick to a few pieces.
Leave the carbs on the table. Carbs in the morning are a good thing as you have all day to burn them off. Later in the day though, they build up and eventually convert to fat since your body doesn’t need the fuel immediately. When you go for an all-beef hot dog or that lean beef hamburger, leave the buns behind. Instead, look for broad leaf lettuce, or just eat it open faced.
Staying hydrated on any day is important, but even more so in the summer time. Your party is probably going to be outside and it’s going to be hot, so make sure you are drinking plenty of water. If water is a little too plain for your taste, try adding a splash of lemon or lime juice, or slice up some cucumber and let it steep. Get an insulated water bottle like a Hydroflask for the office or a Polar Bottle for when you are active. Both will help keep your water colder for longer, making it so much more refreshing.
If you are craving soda, try sparkling waters. It gives you the same carbonated feel, but without the sugar. Make sure to read the labels and stick with waters that are low in sugar and sodium. Better yet, pick up a SodaStream and add a little bit of lime juice or vanilla extract to your bottle. Just be careful if you are carbonating your water and then adding it to a sealed container. Make sure to vent it every so often so the top doesn’t blow off. Yeah, I’ve done it.
Once you deprive yourself of the real life food, then it is now consider a “diet”, then you won’t succeed. If you feel like having dessert, or are used to having one after each meal, grab a piece of (dark) chocolate. Then follow through with a tall glass of water. Split a cupcake with your significant other. Portion control will satisfy your craving plus sharing is caring. Caring about each other’s health.
Celebrating a holiday doesn’t mean you need to sit all day long. Do something to be active. Go for a walk, or a run, or a bike ride. Throw some horseshoes or quoits. Start up an impromptu Zumba class in the middle of the picnic. Whatever you do, get up and move around to burn some extra calories to offset any additional calories you are taking in. You can do this in the office too. Take a break every so often and go for a short walk. If there are some stairs you can climb, make sure to hit them.
Last but not least, and majority are fully aware of this, but you can’t exercise off a bad diet. It is called 80/20 for a reason. Make smart choices as well as sweat once a day. Feel good about what’s inside and also on the outside. Why do you think we’re always smiling after a great workout? It’s endorphins and a feel good effect after an awesome and fun workout. VeeFit4Fun trains at the Nook so try a free orientation/fitness assessment and free first INSANITY Class every Monday at 5pm. Sign up at the front desk. Who knows? Vee might be throwing free and random bootcamp classes in the area to support the fight against cancer?
With no events on the calendar, it was time to take a weekend off. That means no family events, no races, no charity events, but it doesn’t mean we sit around all weekend doing nothing.
I’m not sure if we mentioned it before, but Vee is a fitness instructor. It’s not her day job, but she typically teaches at least four classes a week between Zumba, RPM, and Insanity. Sometimes she’ll teach a R.I.P.P.E.D. class and certain times a year she teaches Aqua Zumba and Zumba at an active retirement center. She’s certified in more classes than we can keep track of and continues to add to the list.
She started the day teaching R.I.P.P.E.D. at one of the local gyms. For those that don’t know, R.I.P.P.E.D. stands for resistance, intervals, power, plyometric, endurance, and diet. It’s total body shock (in a good way) and conditioning. In a typical class, you can expect high intensity interval training, weights, martial arts, and core workouts. It’s not as tough as it sounds though, because you can modify all movements to fit your fitness level and abilities.
While she was teaching, I kitted up and jumped on my cyclocross bike (fitted with road tires) to meet up with her, run, and then head off for a ride. It was a short commute to the gym, and I had a chance to use my SpeedSleev One Way backpack. She forgot my running cloths I had packed for her to take with. Not a problem though, it’s light, comfortable, and easily holds clothes and a pair of shoes.
Our run was a short two miles on the Hempfield Tri course. A few rolling hills took us out of suburbia and into the country side. It’s beautiful here in Lancaster County. The wheat, corn, soybeans and tobacco are all thriving in the fertile fields. We had to stop and take a few pictures at the turn around point before we headed back.
Back at the gym, Vee got ready to take Body Pump. We’ll tell you more about that class in a few months once she is re-certified.
I left for my long ride, heading out to the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail. It starts in Columbia and heads North along the Susquahanna River past Marietta. The 14 mile trail is almost completely paved, and offers great views out over the river. It also passes many markers that tell the history of various points along the river. There are multiple access points along the way, including passing through Marietta, which has access to many pubs and restaurants.
After the 28 mile round trip, I headed back to Lancaster, stopping by Lancaster Velo to say hi to the guys and do a quick water bottle refill. You can usually find me there a few ours a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, helping out and spinning wrenches. We’ll tell you more about the shop and it’s story in another post.
My trip ended at Evolution Power Yoga, where Vee joined in for their Community Class. Evolution offers the class for a $5 donation that goes to support their Community Outreach or other non-profits. The class is offered on Saturday’s at 11:30, and is a great way to try yoga with experienced instructors.
We were both pretty hungry after an active morning, so we decided to hit one of our favorite local vegan restaurants, Root. We’re not vegan, but I’m vegetarian and Vee is pescetarian (eats seafood, but no other meat). The food is just really good, and we really like the meat alternative options they offer. It’s not our usual go-to Saturday crepes, but a nice change.
Before we could head home, we wanted to treat ourselves to some sweets. Beiler’s Doughnuts is the best doughnut shop in Lancaster. We are lucky to have them local, because their stand at the Reading Terminal Market in Philly is always packed with a line wrapping around the stand. Here in Lancaster, you walk in, grab your selection, and are out in only a few minutes.
The rest of the day, we took time to relax and work on various projects. Whether it is photography, writing, planning choreography for upcoming classes, or keeping up with the house, there is always something to do. It did give us a good chance to binge Suits and get caught up with the latest season on Amazon Prime. The finale was great, and it will be interesting to see how they move on to the next season.
Sunday was a bit of a continuation of Saturday afternoon, but added in some trips to the market to get food for the week and a few other stops. The US Pro Road Championships were on as well, so we had that streaming in the background so we could cheer for our friends racing. Vee’s little sis, Coryn Rivera and the rest of the women’s field didn’t quite time it right to bring back Amber Neiben, who went on to win her second title of the weekend. In the men’s race, Jake Sitler and the rest of the CCB team gave it a good go, with Jake finishing in the top 20 on a brutal day in the saddle.
So that’s a typical weekend off for #TeamKICKASS. It doesn’t happen often, but we make the most of it.
With a long 4th of July weekend upon us, Vee is teaching Cycology (think spin class) before we head to the Acre Breaker obstacle course race on Saturday AM to help out and do photography. There is also a 5-mile 4th of July run on Tuesday we might do before spending the rest of the day relaxing with friends. I’m sure we’ll throw in some miles running and cycling, and Vee has a few other classes scheduled too.
What are your plans for the weekend? How are you staying active while you celebrate our nation’s birthday? Leave it in the comments below.
I’ve started to write this post a few times since we rode the American Cancer Society Bridge to Beach charity event last Sunday. One attempt was more of a recap of the event. Another I was getting more into the products that we used. The event was more than that though. It was an event to fight cancer.
Over 81 solo miles of the century for myself, 47 of 67 solo for Vee, we had a lot of time on our own to think about our family and friends who have fought and are fighting cancer. Some are just starting their first battle, others fighting their second or even third battles. Some won their battles, some lost.
It was a tough ride, more so mentally than physically. I mean, yeah, it was 100 miles in 90+ degree heat. That part was a challenge, but we had the right equipment, we ate and drank right, and all of the training we have done got us to the end. I’ll touch on more of that in another post soon.
The mental challenge wasn’t even the mileage or the times when I was on the route and couldn’t see anyone ahead or behind me. It was seeing all the blue and yellow rider numbers while thinking about our friends and family. These rider numbers signified that the cyclist was a survivor or is fighting cancer now. It was even more heartbreaking to see the half blue/half yellow numbers.
These riders provided hope, though. The fact that they are fighting or have won their battle with cancer, and are out challenging themselves on the road shows us that cancer is something we can overcome. It is something that can be beaten. It is something that we are fighting together.
I left Vee at the first aid station at mile 12. I was concerned about making the cutoff to be on the century course and didn’t want to chance it. We texted each other when we stopped, but after a while, the NJ cell coverage meant we hadn’t heard from each other in a few hours.
I’ll admit that I was worried about Vee. She’s not the most comfortable riding with traffic, but once she has been riding for a little, it comes back. I was more worried that she was going to have a flat tire than anything, but not hearing from her led my mind in all kinds of directions. We both had our ICEdots on though, so I had to trust in the technology.
Along the way, we both had a chance to meet and chat with people participating at the event. I kept conversations on the lighter side, talking about the ride or complementing equipment choices (especially the other Bianchi riders), but you knew everyone there had a special connection to cancer. Be it, family or friends, we were all doing our part to help fight the disease.I jumped in with a few riders and we pace lined our way to the third to last stop. They happened to find me at just the right time, which helped me recover from the efforts I was putting in to try and get through the century loop as fast as I could to catch back up to Vee. It was an older lady, and
I jumped in with a few riders and we pace lined our way to the third to last stop. They happened to find me at just the right time, which helped me recover from the efforts I was putting in to try and get through the century loop as fast as I could to catch back up to Vee. It was an older lady and older gentleman, and a younger guy who eventually fell off the back and caught us at the stop. The four, then three of us worked well together, and had a little chat along with way. I think they thought I was much younger than I am, but they really dug the Handlebar Mustache Apparel FUCancer socks I had on.
It was between the third and second to last stops that my phone started receiving text messages again. I couldn’t read them until I got to the next stop. but I knew that I had received a few from Vee. With one stop remaining, that’s when I saw the message…Vee crashed. I continued to read through. At first, she said something was bent on her bike, and she was not sure if she could continue. The next text said she was at the last aid station, but that her phone battery was really low and she would wait for me there. Picturing her scraped up, bleeding, and with a broken bike, I skipped my planned recovery and pushed on.
I didn’t know if she was okay. I figured she was, but I wanted to be there. I hated the feeling of not knowing and not being able to help. I buried myself over those 12 miles, only slowing for traffic lights/signs or to get around packs of slower riders.
When I arrived at the last stop, Vee found me while I was fumbling for my phone. She looked okay and seemed to be walking around find. I was relieved. The story goes that she was going through an underpass that was under construction with narrow lanes and a very surface. Many other riders ahead of her had gone through and flatted from the pot holes. As Vee went through, a car in the other lane swerved into her’s to avoid a pothole. It was either get hit by the car or go into a cement barrier, so she veered right. The car kept on going.
After collecting herself from the impact, she was a little scraped and bruised, but fine. Her Warrny suit had a small tear in the shoulder and her handlebars and shifters were a little out of sorts. Another rider who was already there helping a teammate with a flat got Vee’s bars and shifters straightened out. She was a little shaken, but she was good to continue riding. By the time she was at the aid station though, the palm of her hand was beginning to swell a little, and the bruises were starting to show.
We didn’t waste much time at the stop and left to finish the final 7 miles on the Atlantic City Expressway. I wanted to get her back to the car as fast as I could so we could make sure she was okay and get home to rest. We spun along the shoulder of the highway, another road we normally cannot ride on, as motorists stuck in traffic watched us go by. NJDOT workers cheered us along, and we passed the final police helping out in Atlantic City. We had a right turn left and rode through the ACS arch to finish.
We were happy. We overcame the heat and humidity, the long stretches of road. We took our pictures and walked back to the car and packed up to head home. We completed our challenge for the day, but it reminded me how those fighting cancer cannot complete their battles by riding a bike and crossing a finish line. Their battle continues on.
Please consider donating to the American Cancer Society through our donation pages. You can find them here on the Donate section of our site. Once donations are closed for this year’s event, we will make sure there is another link to donate through #TeamKICKASS.
Welcome to #TeamKICKASS. Get fit, have fun, do good.
#TeamKICKASS started as a laugh between a husband and wife and has turned into a bit of our identity. We joked around about it because our lives are so busy between our day jobs, our passions, and our fitness endeavors. Some professional cyclocross friends took the nickname Team Awesome, so we decided to go with #TeamKICKASS. We started using it as a hashtag, and next thing you know, people started referring to us that way.
Our motto is “Get Fit, Have Fun, Do Good.” It’s something that we live by, and we want to share the message with the world.
Get Fit – There are a lot of reasons to get in shape. Live longer, the ability to do more, lower the risk of health issues, the list goes on. For us, being fit helps us do everything we do, and we have fun with it. It is our way to spend time together and support each other in our goals.
Have Fun – Something that has always been important to Vee is having fun with her fitness goals and it’s something she brings to her group exercise classes. If you aren’t to having fun, you probably aren’t going to keep at it. She jokes around and acts goofy at times, but what you don’t realize is you are actually working out.
Do Good – As part of our mission, we want to empower people to help others. It can be something small like saying good morning to a stranger, or as big as organizing a charity event. Last June, we lost Vee’s dad to pancreatic cancer. It was a few days before the American Cancer Society’s Philly Bike-A-Thon, but it just wasn’t possible for us to do the ride. This Sunday, we will be riding the Bike-A-Thon as our first official event for #TeamKICKASS. We are looking forward to more events in the future, and getting you involved with us.
So that’s it in a nutshell. We’ll be adding sections to the site about our partners along with other fun content about our adventures. We’ll have a recap of the ACS Bike-A-Thon next week, so check back to see how it went.
To donate to our Bike-A-Thon pages, click here to go to our Donation page, where you can find links to both of our pages.