Portland fit fix: How Revocycle is fueling an indoor cycling revo-lution


I have a theory that there are two types of people who work out: those of us who “embrace the suck” and find solace in the burn of each rep or the quiet rhythm of breaths and footfalls during a run…and those of us who try to tune everything out and just push through the pain with the aid of numerous distractions.

Well, as much as I’d love to tell you I’m a member of the former group, I’ve got to admit that I’ve always tended to fall into the latter. That is, until I stopped into Revocycle here in Portland and had an experience that, quite literally, redefined my idea of a good workout.

In an attempt to mix up my cross-training, I decided to check out one of founder Michael Hosking’s early-morning classes a few weeks ago. He started off by helping each student find the proper bike fit, down to precise angles for a safe ride, while reminding us that our goal was to use excellent position and practice beautiful form in an attempt to notice the muscles and the movement and the breath.

Ohhh no, I thought as I started calculating my odds of getting noticed if I ducked out the door. This is going to be the longest 50 minutes of my life. 


But after quashing those initial feelings of panic, I committed to opening myself up to the experience. After all, as Hosking explained, by paying attention to our bodies, pedaling exactly on the beat of song, tuning in to our breath and heart rate and engaging in mindfulness, we’d be maximizing the benefits of a cycling workout without putting ourselves at risk for injury.

And just because it’s not a loud, high-intensity workout doesn’t mean it isn’t tough; it just means you feel refreshed and rejuvenated after, rather than drained and exhausted.

“Finding the zone is about minimizing distractions,” he recently told Fitness magazine. “Music can help you do just that. If you focus on the rhythm and sync your pedaling or steps with the beat, you can help quiet racing thoughts. It’s moving meditation.”


And how! For the first time ever, I wasn’t tempted to speak a peek at the clock; time flew by as Hosking expertly intertwined music with instruction, and before we knew it, we were all drenched in sweat, smiling from ear-to-ear and entering our cool-down.

You see, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my approach to working out while in PT these past few weeks. Namely, learning that some of my major muscle groups had gotten lazy and stopped functioning — and that I hadn’t even noticed — has made me realize the importance of awareness with movement.

Clearly, my body’s trying to telling me that disconnection won’t cut it anymore. Removing excess ‘noise’ (both literally and figuratively) in workouts and getting into a more authentic ‘zone’ — in which I’m working hard and totally engaged, yet feeling profoundly peaceful — is not only more relaxing, but also powerfully effective.

And did I mention pretty darn addicting?

Portland-Metro area residents, your first two classes are FREE. Visit Revocycle.com for more information and to register. 

Detroit Marathon: Week 15 training recap


Big news this week! Hint: It rhymes with “funning.” 😉

Yep, I’ve officially been cleared to run. Ok, so maybe it’s twice a week for five minutes at a time on the treadmill, but I’m thrilled A) to be making forward progress, and B) to be getting stronger.


My PT even said I had a crazy-huge grin on my face at my last session when I realized I wasn’t feeling my previous aches and pains. But, oh, does running feel different now that I’m actually using my butt muscles! Go figure.

Here’s this week’s schedule; I get anxious thinking of all this peak mileage I’m missing…but I’m thankful to be able to run, regardless of pace (and still mulling over race-day goals…other than the primary objective of finishing healthy).


And below is my actual schedule; as you can see, I’m still hitting it hard with PT and trying to keep my cardio up through non-impact exercises. I’m also substituting some serious (for me) bike mileage for my long runs, which will hopefully help me maintain the strength and endurance needed for 26.2.

  • Monday: Spin class (60 min) & physical therapy
  • Tuesday: Elliptical (45 min), Bosu stabilization drills & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Swimming (40 min, ~1500m), jog on treadmill (5 min), strength training & PT exercises
  • Thursday: Revocycle class (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Friday: OFF, Bosu stabilization & plyometric drills, PT exercises
  • Saturday: Long bike ride (aiming for 40-60 miles), PT exercises
  • Sunday: Elliptical or swim (45 mins), jog on treadmill (up to 15 min), PT exercises

Two other highlights from the week, since I’m trying to remain positive and goal-oriented:

First, I’m finding a swimming groove. Whether it’s that I’m trusting my leg again or regaining some fitness in the water, I was able to cut two minutes off my 1500m time from last week and five minutes from the previous week.


And second is this shot from my weekend long ride, which is pretty self-explanatory. If you like fall — and running — as much as I do, then you’ll understand why (surprise!) fall running is one of my very favorite activities.

So even though it’ll be some time before I’m out logging miles on foot, I’m thankful to be able to enjoy this view from my bike in the meantime. Especially because my days of riding outside in the sun are numbered this season, according to what all the Portland locals are telling me…


Next week my PT and I will have some decisions to make. I’m registered for the Portland Marathon half on October 5, but I’m not stuck on the idea of running (or even walk/jogging it) if it’ll jeopardize my chances of being able to run my full 26.2 later next month.

As much as I’d like to start building mileage again soon — probably more so to mentally prepare for a marathon — I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself. The last thing I want to do is undo all the work we’ve done so far, so I told my PT I’ll do whatever she says as long as it’ll get me to the starting line in Detroit, healthy and ready to run.

So stay tuned for week 16 as the countdown to race day continues!

Detroit Marathon: Week 14 training recap

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So as not to bury the lede, I’ll start with the bad news: I’m still not running. And I had to back out of the Ragnar Napa relay this weekend as a result. It’s one of my few DNSs (Did Not Starts) to-date, which smarts, as does feeling like I’m letting my team down. But I keep telling myself to, “Suck it up, Buttercup!” because I’ve got to keep a long-term perspective.

Which brings me to my good news: PT is going well. So well, in fact, that I was able to slowly add in some impact exercises a few times this week to start testing how my leg is healing. No, we’re not back up to those 10-mile track workouts or tempos by any means, but I’ll take a few minutes of nearly pain-free skipping and jump-roping any day. Progress!

Here’s what would have been:


And what actually was:

  • Monday:  Elliptical (45 min), physical therapy & massage
  • Tuesday: Swim (45 min, ~1500m) & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Revocycle class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Thursday: Swim (45 min, ~1500m) & PT exercises
  • Friday: Elliptical (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Saturday: Long bike ride (aiming for 50 mi) & PT exercises
  • Sunday: OFF (cheering Hubby on in his triathlon!)

With the focus still off running, I’ve been wanting to bring more regular weight training back into my weekly workout regimen, but that will most likely be on hold for a few more weeks.

My PT has been keeping me busy with daily strength and stability exercises to keep my core working and my glutes firing, and if all goes well, I may (fingers crossed) get to do a little walk-jog work next week. Until then, it’s all about the Bosu.


Other than that PT progression, there were two major highlights since last week’s training update: First was the 45-mile training ride I went on with my friend, Kevin. He pushed me further and faster than I’ve ever ridden before, but I loved every minute of it.

The weather was that perfect mix of summer sun with fall crispness in the morning, and I can’t tell you how nice it was to be able to challenge myself mentally and physically while remaining run-less.

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The second, well, every time I tell this story to a non-runner, I get blank stares…but as a total #runnerd, I’m still excited about it. While we were out cycling Sunday, I saw a petite blonde woman running on the other side of a deserted stretch of road. She looked so familiar, but I couldn’t place her until I was already past her.

Then it hit me: It was Shalane Flanagan, one of the top American long-distance runners.

You may remember her from the Boston Marathon this spring, and there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing about her again with respect to the upcoming Berlin Marathon (hint: she plans on breaking the American marathon record). But, regardless, it was thrilling to have a passing encounter with one of my running heroes, so I’m taking it as a good omen as I enter the final month before my own marathon.

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Thanks, as always, for following along as I count down to race day, October 19. Now, onward to week 15!

Detroit Marathon: Week 13 training recap

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One upside to being banned (for the time being) from running? Getting to mix things up for a change with my favorite forms of cross training!

For consistency’s sake, here’s what the schedule would have been this week. Yes, I realize I’m missing out on some peak mileage here (argh), but I keep telling myself that even though backing off may slow me down in the short-term, it’ll allow me to be stronger and healthier in the long run.


So here’s a snapshot of my actual workouts for the week:

  • Monday: Elliptical (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Tuesday: 6-mile walk & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Spin class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Thursday: OFF (migraine) & physical therapy
  • Friday: Spin class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Saturday: Elliptical (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Sunday: Long bike ride (aiming for 40 miles!)

Nope, it’s nowhere near the numbers or the intensity I should be doing, but I can assure you I’m still breaking a good sweat each day and challenging myself. In fact, it actually feels really good, mentally, to be doing some non-running activities and, physically, to be working some non-running muscles for a change.

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Another tip for staying positive amid a setback is to continue setting goals (within reason, of course) and striving for them. No, I may not be able to hit my weekly running mileage, but I can keep pushing myself on the bike and do some longer weekend rides to maintain that strength and endurance in the interim.

Plus, I’m loving all the quality time with Winnie, and it’s fun to try to keep up with Hubby, who is currently training for a triathlon.

photo 2

And in the meantime, I’m being religious with my physical therapy routine. From stretches to rolling, legs lifts to lunges, the exercises are something I can check off my to-do list each day to feel some kind of accomplishment — plus my PT says my mobility, range of motion, strength and stability are getting better, which is just the encouragement I need to keep it up.

photo 4

As for when I can get back to running, there’s no clear answer. Most of the aching has subsided in my shin, but there’s still a good amount of tenderness, so we’re taking a wait-and-see approach.

My PT is pretty confident that I’ll be back on my feet in time for my race in Detroit in October, although I won’t be resuming my training schedule anytime soon. All I can say in the meantime is…onward to week 14!

Fave Fix: My must-have cycle gear for triathlon training


Last week I talked about my favorite swim gear for triathlon training, and now it’s time to move on to the second leg: Cycling!

It’s arguably the most expensive discipline, but that does NOT mean you have to empty your bank account in order to be competitive.

Again, I’ve broken it down into ‘essentials’ and ‘extras’ according to what I personally use, but you can stay as conservative or get as crazy as you’d like!

Cycle Essentials: 

– Bike: Duh. But while the whole ‘two wheels’ part is non-negotiable, the price you pay can vary greatly. I did my first few sprint-distance races on an older Cannondale commuter bike I bought off of Craigslist, for example, before moving up to my current Giant Avail Composite 3 (aka “Winnie”).

– Pedals: I also biked my sprint tris in running shoes (shhh!), but figured it was about time to get serious — and get clipped in — for longer distances. Enter the easy-in, easy-out Shimano Click’r pedals, which are technically more for mountain biking than road, but they still count. It’s all about baby steps!

– Shoes: Since I invested in my bike this season, I decided not to go all out on the footwear. Sure, a fancy carbon-fiber sole is stiffer and gives better transfer of power, but my standard Shimano cycling shoes do the trick just fine for now.

– Helmet: Eventually, I’d also like to upgrade my helmet to make sure my noggin’s better protected from concussions, but right now I have a basic Giro helmet that’s worked well for the past few years.

Cycle Extras: 

– Tools: While technically not essential to the actual riding part, having some tools to to a quick tire change will definitely help get you back up and running in the event of a flat. I have a spare tube, tire levers, bike-specific multi-tool wrench, CO2 cartridges and an inflator or pump. You can cobble this all together or buy the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle here.

– Kit: The more I ride, the more I appreciate a really good race kit. Case in point: Coeur Sports’ tri tank and tri shorts, which have a women’s-specific fit, plus other extras like anti-friction seams, antimicrobial fabric, seam-free chamois, plenty of pockets and more…all in super-flattering, fun designs.

– Accessories: This is mostly based on personal preference — and how fancy you want to get — but I have two favorites here: Tifosi eyewear and Ibex arm warmers to keep the sun (and bugs) out of your eyes and to take the edge off when it’s chilly out, respectively.

– Nutrition: I’m still practicing that whole multitasking (eating and drinking while riding) thing on the bike, but what’s been working well during brick workouts is Osmo Active Hydration and Bonk Breaker Energy Bars, so I’m planning on sticking with the same during Sunday’s race, as well.

What are your must-have items for cycling? 

What’s the deal with cycling?


In a recent post, I channeled Jerry Seinfeld and talked about some of the fun idiosyncrasies of swimmers in the style of his popular “What’s the deal with…?” routine. Well, now it’s time to turn to cyclists, the second discipline in the triathlon trifecta.

So without further ado, here are a few questions I’d like to pose to my fellow riders now that I’ve immersed myself in the cycling culture during training. For instance…

What’s the deal with aerodynamics? 

Ok, I know what it is and why it’s generally important. But spending thousands of dollars in an obsessive quest to shave off mere milliseconds? Sure, I get why the pros and age-group podium contenders do it, but let me be clear — I’m talking about us middle-of-the-pack racers here.

I’m competitive and I want to improve as much as the next person, but there’s a point where it starts to get a little silly. After all, as I overheard recently at a bike store, “The least aerodynamic part of the bike is the rider, and there’s only so much you can do with that.”

What’s the deal with “bike love?”

I never quite understood affection toward an inanimate object…that is, until I met Winnie.

My trusty Cannondale commuter got me through several sprint-distance triathlons just fine, but once I set my sights on longer races, I knew that an upgrade would be inevitable. What I didn’t expect was that my feeling toward biking would turn from ‘meh’ to maniacal as a result.

Quite simply, it was love at first sight. Not only is she beautiful, but every new adventure we tackle together has also been full of pure joy and exhilaration. Our relationship has been moving along quickly, but I’m hoping (with more time together) we can go even faster because I’ve got a good feeling about this one…


What’s the deal with clipping in?

Just like aerodynamics, I understand the reasoning behind it, but still think it’s a funny concept. Especially the fact that falling over in slow-motion while clipped in is a rite of passage for many athletes.

What’s the deal with helmets?

Nope, I’m not talking about those oddly-shaped aero ones (although that could be a whole other blog post); I’m talkin’ about the fact that while bicycle helmets do a good job of keeping our skulls intact in a major crash, they do almost zilch to prevent concussions and other significant brain injuries.

Wait — what?!

Yep, I didn’t know that either…until a friend of a friend at a bike store mentioned it during our conversation about cycling gear. This article in Bicycling Magazine is a must-read on the topic; it goes into detail about bike helmets and the current state of the industry with respect to research on concussion and brain injury.

The article’s author puts it perfectly: “The choices cyclists make with their money matter. You can pretend to protect your brain, or you can spend more money and get closer to actually doing it.”

What’s the deal with the etiquette (or lackthereof)?

Finally, from feelings of intimidation when walking into bike stores to feelings of indignation upon being yelled at by cyclists while running and trying to share the road, I found it tough, initially, to develop the warm-and-fuzzies toward a culture that felt, well, kind of cold compared to running.

Luckily, however, my stubborn streak kicked in…along with a healthy dose of curiosity and a determination to succeed. So, sure, I’ve still got days where I suffer from major imposter syndrome (a “runner in cyclist’s clothing,” as I call myself), but it’s usually overridden by those feelings of euphoria mid-ride.

And for every person who went whizzing by without so much as a, “You ok?” while my girlfriends and I were on the side of the road trying to troubleshoot our first tire change, there have been others who warmly welcome newbies with open arms. Case(s) in point: my Coeur teammates, who patiently took me on my first long ride (clipped in, no less) — not to mention Gethyn, my “bike matchmaker” from Hank & Frank Bicycles, who helped me navigate the first-real-bike-purchase process.

Thank goodness for them — otherwise, there’s a good chance I might have been trying to compete in next month’s triathlon on my old mountain bike!

Any other cycling eccentricities that make you go ‘huh?’ 

Scenes from a Sunday ride of firsts

Source: Jess Smith

Source: Jess Smith

“Coeur” is French for “heart,” so it was only fitting that those of us in the Bay Area met up during Valentine’s weekend for our first of (hopefully!) many ladies’ bike ‘n’ brunch rides with Coeur Sports and Osmo Nutrition.

Interestingly enough, “coeur” is also the root of the word “courage,” and I ended up needing a good dose of it in order to get myself out the door this morning. To say I was nervous pulling up to our meeting spot would be putting it mildly…I mean, this group touts some serious racing resumes (we’re talking pro triathletes, Ironman finishers and all-around endurance sport superstars), and I’m still very much a noob when it comes to the swim and bike stuff.

Our hosts Hailey and Jess not only welcomed everyone with open arms, though, but they also offered encouraging words as I admitted to them that I was feeling super intimated and in waaay over my head. But before I knew it, we were off…and it was sink or swim (or more like punk out or pedal), so I rode along with my friend Amy, a fellow runner and November Project member, and we joined up with Doris, a local triathlete with whom we both hit it off immediately.

It turned out to be a ride of many firsts as we hit the road for our adventure:

First time meeting the Coeur crew in-person and cycling in a group…

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First time riding in bike shoes and cleats…

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First time helping to change a flat tire (successfully, I might add!)…

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Source: Doris Steere

Source: Doris Steere

First time taking in the beautiful scenery in Woodside, Calif. (although we did get a bit lost)…

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First time realizing how good brunch tastes after a ride, especially when you’re surrounded by incredibly inspiring women…

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And, finally, first time in a long time realizing you’re never too old to still have “firsts” — whether it’s making new friends, conquering fears, tackling challenges or simply believing in yourself…

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We ended up riding about 18.5 miles total, which included almost 2,500 feet of elevation gain for what I dubbed the “thigh-thrasher” workout. While it ended up being a more, er, “creative” route (read: we got lost and took a totally different path), it was a good metaphor for the day: It’s not always about sticking to the planned journey; sometimes it’s when we veer off track that the magic truly happens.

The plan: HITS Napa Valley olympic-distance triathlon

Source: David Kiviat

Source: David Kiviat

Now that I’m going to look the part (a.k.a. a runner in some pretty sweet triathlete’s clothing, thanks to Coeur Sports), it’s time to get serious about training for my first Olympic-distance race, which is set to take place in April at HITS Napa Valley.

The 6.2-mile run? No problem; I know it’ll be tough, but doable, especially with all the trail time I’ve been logging in preparation for this month’s 30K. But the 1500-meter swim and 24.8-mile bike? Ha! That’s another story altogether.

When I registered, I told myself that I wouldn’t let my lack of comfort in the water or on two wheels hold me back, and thus created a four-step plan of attack. Here’s how I’m breaking down the process of getting myself to the start line…which, oddly enough, seems more daunting at this point than getting from there to the finish.

Step 1: Get reacquainted with the other disciplines

You know the saying, “it’s like riding a bike,” which means it’s easy to recall how to do something you’ve already learned? Well, that’s a downright lie. My childhood swim lessons and neighborhood bike rides clearly didn’t translate to automatic success in tackling the swim and bike portions of triathlon, so I’ve been putting in time at the local pool and in spin classes to create a solid endurance base for each discipline.

Step 2: Ease into open water and the road

Once I could do a full 1600 meters of laps and had countless spin classes under my belt, it was time to bite the bullet and take my workouts into the terrifying great outdoors. Enter the open-water swim and road bike, both still very much works-in progress at this point. I know I can handle the distances; it’s just a matter of developing confidence and the respective skill sets needed to handle inevitable variables as they arise, be it cloudy water or a rogue skateboard that crosses my wheel path.

Step 3: Get psyched up (and geared up)  

It’s always a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario when you’re getting into a new sport: Having decent gear makes the learning process more enjoyable, but when you don’t want to sink a lot of cash into it when you’re just starting out. So I waited until I found a good deal on an XTERRA wetsuit to buy one, and I’m making due with my “vintage” (read: Craigslist) Cannondale road bike.

I will, however, be making the leap to clipless pedals so I can wear cleats to maximize efficiency. This is something I’ve been obsessively extensively researching because I’m not thrilled about the idea of having my feet stuck in case of an emergency. Cycling snobs be damned, this noob decided to transition slowly with a set of easy-in, easy-out Shimano Click’r pedals. I’m sure I’ll have some stories to share after I install them and attempt to test ’em out…

Step 4: Pick a plan…and stick to it

Last but not least — and because it’s my first Olympic-distance event — I’m looking to follow a pretty specific plan to make sure I feel properly prepared come race day. My friend Kelly just so happens to be deep in the throes of training for her first full Ironman, so I figured there’d be no better brain to pick when it came to this.

She recommended a book called The Woman Triathlete, which features advice from an all-star cast of female triathletes and coaches. It also contains training plans for each of the distances, and the eight-week Level I Olympic Distance Training Plan looked like a winner. Day one of training starts on February 17, and I’ll be tracking my journey here, so stay tuned!

Leave your heart (but find your Soul) in San Francisco


You know what I love most about working out?

Just when you think you’ve got it figured out (i.e. this fall’s marathon PR), something else comes along, kicks your butt and knocks you back into reality.

Or, in my case, the lowest resistance on the spin bike.

That’s how I found myself last week, getting my first taste of sweet torture at the brand-spanking-new Union Street SoulCycle studio here in San Francisco.

Source: SoulCycle

Source: SoulCycle

The spin-class-meets-full-body-workout has developed a cult-like following after launching in NYC a few years back, and it promises to deliver an experience like no other.

In layman’s terms, that means you’re looking at a 45-minute mix of cardio, yoga, high-energy music and inspirational coaching from instructors intent on improving both your body and your spirit.

Source: SoulCycle

Source: SoulCycle

My indoctrination into “the pack” (SoulCycle speak) started off innocently enough; I arrived a few minutes early to scope out the studio, complete with brightly-lit and well-stocked changing rooms, showers and lockers. The staff was friendly and helpful, especially with newcomers who are unfamiliar with the SoulCycle process, which goes a little something like this…

Step 1: Reserve your class. Registration opens each Monday at noon for the week following. Classes are known to fill quickly, so come hell or high water, you can bet Soul aficionados will be in close proximity to an internet connection during lunch breaks on those days.

Step 2: Get your gear. It gets mighty steamy mid-class (plus, loose pants and a fast-spinning wheel don’t mix), so ditch baggy clothing in favor of tights and tanks. Rent cycling shoes for $3, but don’t worry about bringing towels or seat cushions; SoulCycle supplies both.

Step 3: Set up your bike. Even if you’ve taken spin classes before, do yourself a favor and ask for assistance on your maiden SoulCycle voyage. The instructor, Jenny, was more than happy to help, and even gave me my numbers so I’m locked and loaded for next time. 

Step 4: Observe the etiquette. To preserve the “soul sanctuary,” SoulCycle has a few simple requests. You can read more about ’em here, but they’re basically about using common sense and having respect for fellow riders when in close quarters.

Step 5: Find your soul. And you’re off! Give in to the “power of the pack,” and you’re in for an inspiring, energizing, full-body burn.

Source: SoulCycle

Source: SoulCycle

The class itself began with a bang; once all riders were clipped into their bikes, the candles were lit, the music went up, the lights went down, and our legs began pumping in unison to the beat.

Jenny, our instructor, explained that it’s a workout like no other — one that has brought professional athletes and Ironmen down to their knees — but I was determined to withhold judgment. After all, I can run for four hours straight, so 45 minutes in the saddle is a piece of cake, right?


Not 10 minutes into class, I was drenched in sweat and gasping for breath. Legs spinning, arms burning, it was a non-stop 45 minutes of give-it-all-you’ve-got effort, made possible by continual words of encouragement from Jenny, a constant beat and the collective energy of the pack around me. 

While I usually prefer solo workout routines, I couldn’t help by get inspired by the infectious energy of the pack. It’s not as much a transcendental experience as it is a “cardio sanctuary” of sorts where riders can come to clear their heads, transform their bodies and maybe even atone for recent sins of the flesh (in my case, Sift cupcakes and holiday candy).

The only downside? Classes are pricey at $30 a pop (although first-timers can go for $20; call the studio for details). But if you’re looking to jump-start a new workout routine or, like me, trying to supplement your ongoing regimen, it’s a great every-so-often option.


My final advice: Check your ego at the door, start slowly and build after you’ve got a grasp of the basics of cycling, and bring a positive attitude.

You just might enjoy a new spin on things.

For more information or to find a location near you, visit Soul-Cycle.com.

Fit Fix: Meghan Manion on becoming an Ironman triathlete


Sometimes social media can feel invasive and impersonal, but then there are moments where you really appreciate its power to connect us with new friends, keep us in touch with old ones and make the world feel just a little bit smaller.

Case in point: When I saw triathlon training photos start popping up in my Facebook feed from Meghan Manion, sister of my best friend growing up (shout out to Katie) and daughter of my grade school Spanish teacher (hola, Senora Manion!).

Next thing I knew, she was toeing the start line at the Florida Ironman (that’s a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2 mile run, FYI) and I was virtually cheering her on, along with hundreds of her other friends around the country, on race day earlier this month.

While she claims her story is about what your average person can do with with proper training and coaching, I tend to think she’s anything but average considering the dedication, courage and sheer tenacity needed for success in this sport. Manion crossed the finish line in an impressive 13:57:29, and I caught up with her after the race to get her take on the day, as well as her training leading up to it.

KineticFix: Meghan Manion, you are in Ironman. Congratulations! Can you even put that feeling into words now that you’ve completed the race?

Meghan Manion: I can finally wrap my head around it, but it took a few days. It was a really surreal thing in the days immediately after the race. I had so much fun reliving the day with my friends and family, and that has helped me form some great memories of the day. I feel so happy that my day went as planned, and when I think back to the experience of crossing that finish line, it brings tears to my eyes every time. I really think it was the most incredible day of my life so far.

KF: What’s the first thing you did when you crossed the finish line?

MM_Ironman3MM: When I crossed the finish line, a volunteer caught me immediately and congratulated me. I started crying the happiest tears of joy, and she asked if everything was ok. I told her, that it was amazing, and she hugged me and celebrated with me. The next thing I remember is looking to the left and seeing my boyfriend Nate with identical crocodile tears in his eyes. Next came my mom, pushing Nate out of her way, and she was crying, too. It was such a fantastic moment. My mom handed me the biggest can of bud light that I have ever seen. I had so many friends and family with me there at that moment, and I felt like I was on top of the world.

KF: What’s your favorite memory from race day? 

MM: My favorite memory of the race happened on the bike course at mile 60. I was coming up to a cheer station that my triathlon training team, Team Z, had set up. I noticed a lot of familiar faces along the road, and they were all lined up jumping and screaming. As I rode past, every single one of them mooned me! It was hilarious, and I laughed about it for hours afterwards. They had me distracted and amused for the rest of the race with that one!

KF: What was the toughest moment, and how did you power through it? 

MM_Ironman4MM: The toughest moment, for me, was waiting for the race to start. I fear the swim more than anything in triathlon. I’ve spent a few years learning how to swim, but I still have a long way to go. I’m not the most confident open water swimmer either, and IMFL is an ocean swim. In the days before the race, Nate swam with me each day, and we battled some pretty huge surf. The practice was great for me, and definitely helped me on race day. The funniest part about all of that pre-race nervousness is that I ended up having the swim of my life. I remember stopping at one point and realizing that I was having FUN! That is unheard of for me; I always struggle through swims. I finished the first loop smiling, eager to get back in and do it again. I never would have predicted that, and it set me up for a great day. The lesson here is that you will always doubt your training, but it is important to trust your coaches and trust in the work you have put in leading up to race day.

KF: What do you think was the key factor in your success?

MM: The key factor in my success at IMFL was joining a triathlon training team in the Washington DC area, called Team Z. Besides having amazing coaches, training plans and workouts, Team Z provides a social aspect that cannot be matched. It is so much easier to get up at 4am to go on a seven-hour training ride when you know that 100+ of your friends will be waiting for you, they will ride with you all day, and then your coach will welcome you to the finish with a beer and a burger. We had 40 people compete in IMFL, and hundreds more come down just to cheer us on. It was a race day experience that I feel very lucky to have had. I really recommend looking for local triathlon clubs or training programs when taking on the Ironman. It can make all of the difference.

KF: Anything that surprised you or that you weren’t expecting?

MM_Ironman8MM: Yes! The wonders of hot chicken broth! I had heard from previous Ironmen that there is nothing quite like the broth that Ironman serves on the run after the sun goes down. I did not know the power of this stuff until I decided to give it a try. The sun sets early at IMFL, and I did half of the run in the dark. I was chilly and feeling weak. That salty treat perked me right up at the perfect moment.

KF: Is there anything you’d do differently next time?

MM: I really don’t think I would change a thing! I had such an unbelievable day, and I really have no regrets at all. Well…I guess I could follow the rules better, to be completely honest! I received a drafting penalty early on in the race. It made me laugh more than anything. I had to stop at the next Penalty Tent and serve a four-minute penalty for drafting off of the person in front of me. I guess I’d try to not be a “cheater” next time around!

KF: Your background is mostly in running. So how’d you get into triathlon?

MM_Ironman5MM: I started running marathons in 2006. I never really loved running like some people do, but it was an easy way to burn the calories. Once I was bored with marathons, I bought my first road bike for some cross training. Next thing I knew, I was signed up with Team in Training for my first Olympic Distance Tri in 2010. The rest is history! I really enjoyed the challenge of learning a new skill (swimming) as an adult. I also enjoy the variety of the three events. Plus, riding your bike is just plain fun!

KF: When did you join Team Z & how has that factored into your racing? 

MM: I joined Team Z in October of 2011. Just two years later, they led me to my first Ironman. That is incredible! I feel like I am an unlikely Ironman. I was never the most athletic person growing up. Team Z showed me what a normal person can do with the right training and coaching. It is truly incredible to learn what the human body is capable of with proper training. I have also formed countless friendships through  my team.

KF: Walk us through your decision to take on the Ironman distance. 

MM: I traveled to Panama City Beach in 2012 to watch a great friend from college compete in her first Ironman. Stacie Edington is one of my friends from the water-ski team at the University of Michigan. She was supposed to have her Ironman year in 2011, but fell off of her bike on a training ride that year. She postponed her race for a year while she recovered from a broken leg. I was really inspired by her determination and toughness. She powered through the rehab, and had a fantastic race at IMFL 2012. Watching her was amazing. She encouraged me to sign up, and along with some more pressure from one of my Team Z coaches, (Ryan Pettengill) I just suddenly found myself in the line to sign up. It was a decision that I considered for about 10 minutes before handing over my credit card. I’m thrilled that it happened like it did

KF: Any advice for people looking to get into triathlon?

MM_Ironman2MM: My coach Ed Zerkle has a famous line that I love: “You’ll never know unless you Tri.” That just says it all. Find yourself some good people to help you a long the way, and give it a go. You never know where you will end up after doing that first Sprint tri. You might just surprise yourself.

KF: Any advice for runners, in particular, who want to try it but who are afraid of open water and intimidated by the bike?

MM: Being afraid of open water and/or the bike are problems that every triathlete has faced. They are real fears! The fun comes in conquering them. With determination, you can learn to overcome those fears, and when it happens, you’ll never feel better. Be sure to celebrate along the way as you achieve even small goals. Give yourself some credit for the awesome things you can accomplish!

KF: You’re an accomplished endurance athlete with quite a few races under your belt; got any tips for training hard but keeping injury at bay?

MM: I believe in training just enough, and not over-training. I do just what my coach prescribes, never more (but…yes, sometimes a little less!!). When something flares up, you have to be willing to take a break while it heals. A few missed workouts will not ruin your race, but a chronic injury might. Seek professional help early, and do what you are told!!

KF: I’ve heard that there are two reactions upon completing an Ironman: A) “Never again!”, and B) “When’s the next one?” Which camp are you in & why?

MM_Ironman1MM: I haven’t decided yet! I loved my day so much, and I don’t know if it could ever be the same the second time around. I might be happy to take this experience, continue celebrating it, and be happy with shorter races going forward. I have a feeling that at some point the idea of trying and Ironman again with come up. I’ll have to figure that out then. I know that at a minimum, I will take the next year to let myself recover, and enjoy some shorter distance racing.

KF: What the next goal you’ve set your sights on?

MM: I’m going to Disney World! (For real!) My Ironman inspiration, Stacie, suggested trying the Goofy Challenge in January. We will run a half marathon on Saturday, followed by a full marathon on Sunday all at Disney World. We signed up for the races with a big group of friends, and I am looking forward to the craziness!

KF: Any final words of wisdom that you can pass along to other Ironman hopefuls?

MM_Ironman7MM: One more piece of advice for future Ironmen: We all focus on the physical training. It is so important! But remember that Ironman day is a mental race, too. I was lucky enough to do some pre-race mental prep sessions with accomplished Ironman, Kendra Goffredo. She helped me train my brain for race day, using a variety of strategies, such as visualization. I cannot say enough about the importance of paying attention to this part of the training in addition to your workouts.

Many thanks to Meghan for taking the time to share some wonderful triathlon tips and Ironman memories. And congratulations on your incredible race results; your story will no doubt inspire all of us to ‘tri’ something new!