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40 by 40 challenge

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40 by 40 challenge

I am turning 40 this year!

What’s a big birthday without a big project? I needed something that would challenge me, be measurable, but would not make the delicate haystack of my emotions crumble like the foam from the inside of my bathmat after it had been washed one too many times.

The answer: Run 40 half marathon (distances) BETWEEN MY 39th and 40th birthdays!

The only rule I have is the run must be continuous (so no 6 miles in the morning and 7.1 in the evening). Walking, running, racing, intervals are all fair game, but it MUST be a continuous 13.1 recorded by gps.

I am kicking ass at this goal. Let’s recap the first quarter (12/8 – 3/7).

    #1–Kiawah Island Half (appx. 2:28).  Too much to say. This race felt strong and amazing, and this whole weekend was the stuff of which dreams are made.

It was my birthday. I spend the weekend with 18 of my running friends in a giant beach house in South Carolina. I ran a half marathon—which included stopping at the house to use the bathroom and get some candy— in 2:28

  • #2–Sunday morning figure 8 half (2:34).  Why did I think this was slow and steady?  

As you can see, I take visibility very seriously. Spibeams visor (available at, reflective vest, flashing light on the back, and reflective details on my pants.

    #3–5 am run with the Go with the Flowe group. Ran 9.5 miles with a group that generously waited for me to catch up, and, and then finished the last 3.6 miles on the final.


    • #4–Sunday morning run through Old Town (2:38).  This run was forgetable. Not bad, but I must not have been listening to anything amazing because nothing about it sticks in my mind. Usually I can remember exactly what I was listening to when I review the route.  Not here. (Hence no picture)
      #5–MLK Afternoon run (2:36)–Spent the weekend with the family, attempted sledding (until 20 minutes into the expereince, my niece went a little too fast, flipped her sled, and needed stitches in her chin.  She was a champion through the experience.) I HAAAAAAAAAAAATE running in the afternoon, and despite eating pancakes with the family in the morning, still had to make an emergency Starbuck’s stop to get some life-giving bantam bagels.
  • These two kiddos are the best.
    • #6–Windy Sunday morning half (2:48) Listening to Tara Westover’s book Educated.  Some of the descriptions of the abuse she suffered as a child were so real and striking that I felt sick to my stomach.  But I’m glad I had a calm, rainy, cool windy morning to not hurry through the run or hurry through the experience.

    This weather was so perfect for indulging in a good book. It was not really perfect for running. Take speed out of the equation? ALL WEATHER IS PERFECT FOR RUNNING.

    • #7–President’s Day Half.  Slowest one to date, but it was on the heels of leading a spin class.  My legs were TIRED.

    The park is damn pretty, and seeing the sunrise over this pond makes up for the geese that were actively mocking my slow pace.

    8. End of the Trail Half Marathon (2:15)–what a difference a PLAN makes!  This is a specacular, well organized, flat, fast, FUN race. I made a last minute decision to use a training plan I had loaded on my watch: 1 mile WU, 3 miles at moderate pace (10:30), then 1k run/90 second rest intervals.  It worked like a charm—13 minutes faster than the last half I raced, the first time I landed on the 2:15 mark in YEARS, and the whole race felt so good. PLUS! I got to meet a fellow Nuun Ambassador and see a whole bunch of local friends.

    I would not say I “slay”-ed anything, but I am damn proud of what I accomplished. #BeAwesomeToday

      #9–Sunday afternoon half. The husband and I had spend the weekend out of town visiting the kiddos, and that means that this early morning runner had to begin my run (journey on the struggle bus?) at 2 pm with two laps around the Dry Creek Park 10K loop.  Lessons learned–DRINK YOUR DAMN WATER. I started out the run thirsty, and it got so much worse as time went on.  BUT! I had a very smooth recovery and got to have all the Napa Marathon feels wearing the shirt and thinking about everyone who had run that morning!

    Things I am discovering–I am getting less mentally tough when it comes to these runs.  If I am alone, I have no desire to go fast and can find any excuse in the book to walk. I’m still determined to cover the miles, but there is a definite difference between my times running with peer pressure vs. running and not listening to the book.

    Here’s to getting stronger, perhaps faster, and settling into knocking this challenge out of the park.

    MIA. OMG. WTGDHHH (What the Gosh Darn Heck Happened Here). LOL.

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    Holy cow. It has been a long time.

    Just kidding. I still spin and run obsessively.

    I have a big birthday coming up at the end of this year, and I am trying not to feel down about it. MID LIFE CRISIS, Y’ALL. So I’m listing the good. Luckily, it comes as an update on what I’ve done over the last 2 years.

    • I still run a lot. I have run the Napa Valley Marathon (again–did I post a re-cap? Maybe I will. It was a trip); the Two Cities Half (the Clovis one! Tequila at mile 8!); The Kiawah Island Half (best birthday weekend a girl could have imagined); The End of the Trail race (both the 10k in 2018 and the half in 2019); The Santa Rosa Half (I left off with training for the full. That….didn’t happen. Oops.); a bunch of 5ks, 4 milers, 15ks, etc. Plus a LOT of long miles solo with me and my favorite podcasts or books.

    Sometimes I run. Sometimes I fly.

    • I still lead spin classes. Over the last 6 years (SIX YEARS??!?!?) my class profiles have whittled themselves down to about 12 different, really solid profiles that I rotate through with whatever music is speaking to me at the time. Spoiler alert: Not EDM.

    What’s a holiday spin class without a kindergarten style visual aid?

    • I still sew a lot. Do I sew fun things for myself? LOLOLOLOLOL. But I sew beautiful things, beautiful dresses, working with beautiful brides who for some reason believe in me when I tell them it is all going to be ok and they will both look and feel exactly the way they want to look and feel on their big day. And the STORIES!

    So that about covers basic updates. My goal is to write down all those race recaps I’ve been dragging my feet on, get more spinning profiles out there( maybe it will help inspire others in the oh-crap-what-are-we-going-to-do-for-spin-tomorrow rut.), all the amazing stories that come from being the safe person who gets to bond with brides before her big day, recap my current running challenges, and pretend the wider world cares deeply about what I’m doing.

    Will puppy pictures inspire you to check in more?

    But mostly? This a record for me. If my Jesuit education taught me anything, it’s that in reflection we can always find the lessons to lead us forward.

    Want more regular updates? Find me on Instagram or Facebook at spinrunsew.

    Want to see something specific? Comment below and let me know!

    What’s better than one Tabata?

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    FOUR Tabatas!

    I feel like I get into such a rut with my profiles. WILL THE CLASS NOTICE WE DID THIS SETUP 6 WEEKS AGO?

    Here is one of my newest profiles. Not one, but 4 tabatas balanced out by hills/recovery. As always, a tabata is 20 seconds all out effort, 10 second recovery x 8. The tabatas were all a bit different, incorporating ladders, mixing up standing/seated, etc. I teach on Keiser M3s, so the gears are just a suggestion. There are not a lot of formal recoveries in this list, so encourage riders to take some extra time jumping in on the hills and to listen to his or her body.

    This profile is solid. It is easy to lead a group through, because it repeats the themes so evenly and people know what to expect. It was a great workout (my legs were trashed after I did a test run on it)—but do I love this one? Nah—or, at least, I love it once every 9 weeks or so.

    Any feedback is always welcome!

    • Warm up
      Jump Around House of Pain
      Gangham Style PSY
    • Stand and Run, increasing every 30 seconds
      Bad Romance Lady Gaga
    • Seated climb, burst of speed on chorus
      Harder to Breathe Maroon 5
    • Tabata 1—Seated or standing (rider’s choice!), moderate to heavy gear (14 – 16)
      Take Me to Church (144 BPM Workout Remix) Karma
    • Hill—2 songs long, increase gear gradually keeping RPMs above 60
      My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark Fall Out Boy
    • Tabata 2—Alternate seated and standing, moderate to heavy gear (14 – 16)
      Want to Want Me (Workout Mix) Dynamix Music
    • Hill—2 songs, moderate gear and fast legs
      You Give Love A Bad Name Bon Jovi
      Hard (feat. Jezzy) Rhianna
    • Flat Road/Active Recovery
      You Make Me Feel (feat. Sabi) Cobra Starship
    • Tabata 3—Start at Medium gear (12/13), increase 1 gear every other round
      Shut up and Dance (Workout Mix) Dynamix Music
    • Small, quick hill
      Team Lorde
    • Tabata 4—Start with gear at 16, drop one gear every other round
      Rock that Body Black Eyed Peas
    • Recover
      Someday, Someway Marshal Crenshaw
    • Cool Down
      Marvin Gaye (feat. Meghan Trainor) Charlie Puthchristine-lahti-actress-quote-my-hearts-in-really-great-shape-thanks

    Have a SPINTACULAR week!

    Pick up the PACE!!

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    I am constantly looking for new drills to incorporate for class, so when I found this RPM increasing drill, I was pumped to try it. The feedback from Wednesday’s class was pretty solid as well!

    Basic profile for this class:  2 song hill, speed drill, tabata, 2 song hill, speed drill.  I teach on Keiser M3s, so the gears listed are suggestions based on the bike.  As always, adjust to your personal level of fitness. Here it is paired with music–enjoy!

    • Warm up
      Can’t Feel My Face The Weeknd
      Waking Up in Vegas Katy Perry
    • Hill (Start at 12, add 1 gear every 30 seconds until 18; slowly bring it back)
      No One Alicia Keys
      Stand By You Rachel Patten (my new favorite song!)
    • Speed drill!  Each round, keep it seated with RPMs at 70–add 5 RPMs every 30 seconds up to 85, then stand with an all out effort for 45 seconds.  Recover 45 seconds.  Suggested gear is 10, with a 1 gear increase each round. Four rounds total, capped off with a tabata (20 second all out effort, 10 second recovery x 8)
      Take Me To Church (144 bpm Workout Remix) Karma
      Love Runs Out One Republic
      Girlfriend Avril Lavigne
      Ex’s and Oh’s Elle King
      Sugar Robin Schulz
    • Hill (same as before)
      Bittersweet Symphony The Verve
      Wake Me Up Avicii
    • Tabata OR 30 second sprints (30 on, 30 off)
      Love Me Like You Do (Workout Remix) Dynamix Music
    • Final flat road free for all
      Stay the Night Zedd
    • Cooldown
      Everything Has Changed Taylor Swift

    And because it is weird not to have any pictures, I found this quote and I am in love.


    Have an awesome weekend of just being YOU.

    The Joy of Two in a Row


    I love teaching two classes in a row.  I can plan classes down to a T, but sometime during minute 75-80 out of 120 I want to throw the whole plan out the window and tweak it into something more creative.
    Last Saturday was no exception.  After an hour of my Hill, Hill, Tabata list, I was ready to tackle the HIIT list I had for class #2–but with some modifications to keep it interesting.  Instead of traditional HIIT sets, I changed it up to include a hill loop for the first round and a ladder for the second. That ladder proved to be an ass kicker, and those who were in the class LOVED it.
    Here’s the playlist and profile.  The gears are a suggestion on a Keiser M3 bike, where 12-14 is a middle of the road gear (flat road, 70 rpm, feels like the wind is pushing back–aka, a 5 on a 1 – 10 scale).  Hope you like it!
    Warm up
    • It’s Time by Imagine Dragons
    • Wild Wild Love by Pitbull
    Standing Hill finished with a run
    • I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas
    Hill Loop–1 minute standing hill at medium hard resistance;  1 minute seated with the same resistance–fight to keep those RPMS up!;  1 minute recovery = 3 rounds at 3 minutes each
    • Womanizer by Britney Spears
    • In The End by the Black Veil Brides
    • Turbulence by Laidback Luke, Lil John & Steve Aoki
    HILL:  Climb during songs 1 and 2 (mix of standing and seated), bring it down with jumps on song 3
    • Yeah! (Featuring Lil’ John and Ludacris) by Usher
    • Wide Awake by Katy Perry
    • Price Tag by Jessie J
    Interval ladder–1 minute on, 45 seconds off.  Start at gear 14 (medium-medium/heavy), add one gear each round
    • Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon
    • I Like It (featuring Pitbull) by Enrique Inglesias
    • Shake It by Metro Station
    • Outside (Featuring Ellie Goulding) by Calvin Harris
    Small hill to finish it off
    • Turn Down for What by Dj. Snake and Lil John
    Cool Down
    • We Can’t Stop by Miley Cyrus
    • Cheerleader by Omi

    This last set was SO TOUGH.  I loved it, it kept everything interesting, and am absolutely doing the same playlist for class on Wednesday.
    Hope your day is SPINCREDIBLE!!!
    And my puppy says hello.

    Happy First Class of 2015!

    First class of the new year–lots of awesome new faces, lots of regulars, and NO MICROPHONE!!  My voice was trashed by the end, especially because my music needs to compete with the Zumba class on the other side of the wall.

    I hope all the new people enjoyed the Kick Off 2015 hit list–it’s an old favorite of mine, and I hope they felt comfortable as a member of the class but able to push themselves to a new, shiny level of fitness.

    Here’s the list!

    • Warmup 1–Bang Bang (Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Manaj)
    • Warmup 2–Shake It (Metro Station)
    • Seated Flat Road–Vida la Vida (Coldplay)
    • Seated/Run on the Chorus–Timber (Pitbull featuring Ke$ha)

    Hill Block

    • Standing Climb–Crazy in Love (Beyonce)
    • Seated Climb–Paparazzi (Lady Gaga)
    • 1 min hard climb into recovery–Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani)
    • Recovery Jumps–Magic (B.O.B.)

    HIIT List!  2 minutes high intensity, 1 minute complete recovery x 5
    BONUS ROUND:  1 minute seated hard climb

    • Birthday (Workout Mix–Blaze)
    • I Gotta Feeling (Laidback Luke Remix)
    • Domino (Myon and Shane Remix)
    • Til The World Ends (Varsity Team Radio Remix)
    • Take It Off (Ke$ha)

    Finishing round

    • Seated climb/run on chorus–Dark Horse (Katy Perry)
    • Hard climb into cool down–We are Young (Fun.)
    • Cool Down–All About That Bass (Megan Trainor)

    To finish it off, I love this quote from one of my favorite websites to visit (


    Have a great day!

    HIIT Ladders!

    After attending a continuing education day last year, I have been OBSESSED with incorporating HIIT into my spin classes. The feedback I’ve gotten has been resoundingly positive.  Most of my regulars love incorporating one of these HIIT cardio sessions a week to balance out their other work outs, and it makes the class go so fast.  
    I tried a new configuration for incorporating intervals last Wednesday–a ladder of increasing time and decreasing watts, broken up with a strong climb in between each round.  
    One hour of fun.  I promise–it goes quickly!  Enjoy!
    Intro                           POMPEII  by Bastille
    Warmup                    AIN’T IT FUN (radio edit) by Paramore
                                      LET’S GO (feat. Ney Yo) by Calvin Harris
    Sprint on Chorus        ANIMAL by Neon Trees
    Seated Hill                PAPARAZZI by Lady Gaga
    Interval #1:
        Sprints (RPM 100 – 110)–:30 on, :15 off (5 rounds)
                                    TURBULENCE by Laidback Look, Lil Joh, and Steve Aoki
    Standing Hill             RADIOACTIVE by Imagine Dragons
    Interval #2:
        Power Sprints (watts at 200+) 1:00 on, :30 off (4 rounds)
                                    SEXY AND I KNOW IT by LMFAO
                                    WHO KNEW (Bimbo Jones Radio Mix) by Pink
    Seated hill                MIRRORS by Justin Timberlake
    Interval #3:
        Power Sprint (watts at 190+) 1:30 on, :45 off (4 rounds)
                                    WORK WORK by Britney Spears
                                    WE FOUND LOVE (Feat. Rhianna) by Calvin Harris
                                    STARSTUKK by 3OH!3
    Rolling hill              WAKING UP IN VEGAS by Katy Perry
    Interval #4:
        Power Sprint (wats at 180+) 2:00 on; 45 off (2 rounds)
                                    STRONGER by Kelly Clarkson
                                    SCREAM by Usher
    Recovery                C’MON by Ke$ha
    Cool Down            FAITHFULLY by Journey
    Have a great week!


    Ashleigh Lawrence

    Ashleigh Lawrence - Personal Trainer and Strength Coach

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