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Run Napa, Run Happy

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Hi guys!  I ran a marathon this weekend, which is something I swore I would never ever do again.  Crazy how that works, right? 

I ran my first marathon in San Francisco in 2008. I knew so little about running strategy or tools that make runs and recovery nicer.  You just run, right? Nutrition? Body glide? Compression socks?  None of these were something I used.  Real runners only pause for a moment at a water fountain!

This was my summer of 2008. It is also a wonderful book by Mark Remy.

I trained in the heat of summer in the flat, flat valley–it did not occur to me that there would be hills until my friend mentioned it on the drive up to the race. I HATED HATED HATED it with the fire of the thousand blazing suns that made me miserable for four months of godforsaken 4 am wake ups to run 2-3 hours 4x week. (Cross training? What?) 

Accurate depiction of me most mornings that summer.

I was so inspired to take on another one after seeing so many people train last summer–I considered running Santa Rosa last August, but couldn’t pull the trigger because I would have had zero IRL support on the day of the race–I envisioned myself immobile on park bench, hoping the stranger I gave $20 to would return with a burrito to help me pass the time until my SIL’s flight got in and she could help my sorry sorry self. 

My main goal was to enjoy training, and I did. I enjoyed it immensely. I used an app that  automatically synced to my phone’s calendar (to give me a sense of what to do when) and then modified the runs to suit me (long runs were based on time, and I replaced it with mileage goals)
I was LAZY about this training. I hit every long run with progressive distances (building up so I had time for three 20+ milers), but I did blow off a significant number of midweek runs and replaced it with spin. The cross training kept me sane and injury free, but did nothing for my speed.  

So many sunrises!

So the race! After a fitful night of sleep, I woke up, got dressed, and grabbed my oatmeal and coffee, and drove to the parking (about a half hour filled with a show tune sing along), and rode the bus to the start.  The air temperature was below 40, with an   ice cold monsoonal wind and rain that briefly picked up as I left the bus to hit the portapotty. That part of the storm passed quickly, but I remained chilly.  

Flat runner!

I truly don’t remember much of the first 13 miles. It was so enjoyable. I met up with a local friend about mile 9 and ran with her for a bit. I started doing run/walk intervals in earnest about mile 14 (4 run, 1 walk). I can’t decide if I should have started them sooner (most training runs I began with them at mile 6/7) or just held off. 

Mile 3 selfie

With the varying weather, it was super hard for my body to regulate my body temp. I wore a long sleeve over a tank, and kept switching. 

About mile 19, my nutrition started a war in my stomach (puking would have felt so good), but I think it was largely a product of being overheated and uncomfortable–when I took my wet, heavy long sleeve off, I felt less claustrophobic and my stomach calmed down. 

Wine wine everywhere and not a drop to drink at the plentiful water stops

I did a lot of math on the long hill between 19/20. I figured that if I could hit mile 21.5 at the 4 hour mark I could have a chance at hitting my A goal of a sub 5. As I got closer and tilt of the road continued to beat up my left hip, I hit the fork in the road–hit my A goal of a sub 5 race (I was on track if I could hold a 12 min mile, which was a stretch and would HURT. See, the great Tiburon Half shit show of 2015 (where I completely fell apart emotionally because I could not hit my goal on my exhausted legs despite my best efforts) or I could let go, embrace the walk breaks, and do everything I could to make the last 5 miles happy (a la the great Two Cities  Half redemption run of 2015, a mere 28 days after Tiburon)

Don’t let this victorious leap fool you. I was miserable at the end of the Tiburon half. I was upset, heartbroken, and toting around a great big bucket of failure.

I chose to run happy. It was the best. 
Except Mile 22 which was f***ing cold. Enjoyable, but cold. 

I ran it in to find that my brother, SIL and 3 year old niece were waiting for me with a sign. It was so awesome, and my niece was so excited.* 

* The excitement could have been for the chocolate milk.

I finished under my c goal (<5:30). I haven’t looked at my time, but don’t really plan on it. It was such a wonderful weekend–everything I hoped it would be. You could feel the love, joy, sadness, support, everything so acutely. 

Oh, and I was suckered into signing up for the Santa Rosa marathon in August with their $20 off registration and bottle of wine offer at the expos. Bottoms up! 


Tiny Little Ladders

I’ve been trying to get the most out of teaching with watts, and I was pumped when Keiser posted a drill for their M3i bikes using power as the primary metric. 

This coincided perfectly with interval ladder day, which is the profile on tap for today! The Keiser line up consists of 4 tiny little ladders rather than staying on each timed rung 3x in a row. 

The drill: 

  • 30/60/90 seconds, highest wattage you can achieve
  • Recover for 30 between each round

 On this playlist, there was room for 2 sets of 2 rounds each. Each round takes approximately 11 minutes to complete. If you find yourself short on time, this is a great way to vary your workout—two sets with a hill in the middle would round out a solid 30 minute set.

 Here’s the full play list—Enjoy!

Warm Up 

  • I’m Coming Out Diana Ross
  • Castle on the Hill Ed Sheeran

Run on Chorus 

  • Still Into You Paramore

Quick Hill 

  • Like a G6 Far East Movement

Round 1 

  • Crazy in Love Beyonce
  • Pump It Black Eyed Peas
  • Monkey Wrench Foo Fighters


  • Live your Life—Feat. Rihanna T.I.


  • Dear Future Husband Megan Trainor

Round 2

  • Hello—Club Edit Martin Sloveig 
  • Part of Me (CPR Remix) Kitty Punch

Timed mile (Gear at 6 on a 1 – 10 scale, ride a mile as fast as you can)

  •  Rocketeer Far East Movement 

Small Hill 

  • True Love P!nk 

Cool Down 

  • Ho Hey The Lumineers



The 5:30 am crowd loved it—the toughest parts are focused in the first 35 minutes of class, which is a must when the class thins out toward the end. 


Give it a try and let me know what you think! 

Back to Work, Ducks in a Row

It’s been a while! I had every intention of doing a proper 2016 recap and a look ahead at what 2017 has in store. Better late than never, right? 



January: Flew across the country for a magical weekend running the Charleston half marathon with 25 amazing women. It was a complete leap of faith to go because of my own insecurities, but the running that brought us all together was an incredible bond that continues.


Also, the beach house was AMAZING.


February: Valentine’s Run! Such a great race, from the “Love You a Latte” shirts my friend and I made to the chocolate, flowers, and massage at the finish line. LOVE


After many years of taking so very much from the running community, I volunteered for my first 5k and had a blast. 


March: San Joaquin River 10k—my first trail 10k! In many places, it was really more like fast hiking. The trail running experience was awesome—rainy, cool day, muddy trail, and BURRITOS AND BEER at the finish. This is the number one way to my heart.  


I also upped my race photo game. 

April: Footloose in the foothills 10k. Fun race, very informal, BYOPLPB (bring your own parking lot party beers) 

May: Finishing the school year. No time or ambition to race.

June: I have long said that if I ever come in dead last in a race that I am going to turn in my running shoes. 


Well, I came in dead last in my hometown 10k, which was an experience onto itself. Read about it here.


July: Volunteered for the Fourth of July 4 miler. 

August: SAR Wild Run 10k. My favorite race of the year (so far!) 10k up in the mountains at 5k elevation, where the burgers and beer at the finish line make for one awesome party. 


September/October: It’s wedding season. No time for racing, just prep for Two Cities (Holy cow, I never did a recap) and hyperventilating because I signed up to run the Napa Valley Marathon in March

BUT!  I did my first big bike to-do, the Valley Girls Ride!  44 miles is the longest I’ve ever ridden, and it was amazing!  

November! My favorite! Not only does November mean the Two Cities Marathon and Half (recap to come!), but I also participated in the Feat to the Beach 200 Mile relay (OMG, recap to come. What on earth was I thinking?!?!?)

SLO-Mo is right!

December: Jingle Bell 5k. My friend and I ran 7 miles before the race (AWESOME!), but I forgot any type of nutrition so the actual 5k SUCKED. I’m still working on the nutrition thing.


ALSO—Fleet Feet Fresno sponsored a Candy Cane Lane run to see the local light show, and it was one of the most beautiful, magical experiences I have ever had. Simply gorgeous, and, after a long tough semester, was the one thing that FINALLY pushed me into having some Christmas Spirit. 



So, that was last year. Seeing it all typed out makes me realize what an awesome, amazing year I had lacing up my running shoes, and makes me excited to tackle 2017. Bring it! 

Here’s to making your water count!

I am so excited to announce that I have been selected as a Nuun Ambassador for 2017!  

I was first introduced to the product by some running friends, and was thrilled to get some during a secret Santa gift exchange. After the first tablet, I was OBSESSED. Drinking things with sugar in affects me so negatively, and this was a breath of fresh (lemon lime flavored) air. 

 I quickly got my husband hooked—he works in construction, and it can get pretty hot in the California sunshine. Incorporating Nuun into his daily hydration made a huge difference in how he felt at the end of the day. 


Here’s to year of poppin’ tabs and crushing goals!

Fast and #Fancy

I spent an awesome weekend visiting family up in Marin county.  While I was there, I snuck in a few classes at SoulCycle Marin.  I can get pretty stuck in my usual class profiles, and taking these classes gave me so many ideas on how to mix it up. 


It was also a good reminder that it’s not all about hills–sometimes, you just gotta go FAST.  

Feed the Soul, Feel the Oo

So first thing on #nevermissamonday morning, it was time for a brand new shiny profile and brand new shiny playlist.  

The objective of this playlist–keep it a consistent 80+ rpms for the first 30 min and worry about climbing in the last 20 min. 

Warm up 

  • You Shook Me All Night Long  AC⚡️DC
  • Bounce Iggy Azalea

Pickup speed in chorus on song 1, then loop through standing/seated sets (30/30, 30/20, 30/10, 60/30, repeat x 3)  all at 80+ RPMs 

  • What the Hell Avril Levine
  • The Time Black Eyed Peas
  • Love Me Like You Do (Dynamix) Ellie Goulding
  • Hello (Dynamix) Adele
  • Fourth of July Fall Out Boy

Drop speed to 70 RPMs, increase gear and climb

  • Hymn for the Weekend Coldplay

Power sprints–medium heavy feat, 90+RPMs 

  • Levels (Skrillex Remix) Avicii 

Hill set–Recover for 1 min, begin to climb and jumps on the chorus of song 3

  • I Need Your Love Calvin Harris 
  • Girl on Fire Alicia Keys
  • E.T. Katy Perry

Speed up to 80+ RPMs 

  • Bad Reputation Joan Jett

Maintain that speed and increase gear for two 50 second power sprints to finish it out

  • Stay the Night Zedd

Cool down 

  • Build me up Buttercup The Foundations
  • Some Nights Fun.

FUN playlist, great workout.  

And for a special fun surprise, my necklace from Sing To Me Jewelry arrived! 


I love having a pretty and fun necklace to wear every day and during workouts, and found this on Etsy.  I’m in love–hope it holds steady through all the sweat.  

Imagine this flipped

Get out there, y’all!  Never miss. Monday and make it GREAT! 

How I came in dead last

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I’ve always said that if I ever come in first or last in a race, my running career would be over.I would have either reached peak awesome or the depths of despair.

Well, it happened. 

The sun sets over thet grain elevator..and my visions of dazzling the town with my running moxie

I ran a very informal 10k in my (very small) hometown in Wisconsin last weekend. I live in the hot, dry depths of California, so I can always blame it on the humidity. The route was a 5 k loop, with the option of running one or two laps. 

The race started at 8 am, and it was already pretty hot and humid, but with a breeze.  Look how cute the little kids are! 

Talk about sending kids mixed signals–the tape across the finish line of the kids line says “Fire Line Do Not Cross”

About 150 people were at the start line to run/walk to Extinguish Cancer. They had all the 10k people line up in the front.  FYI–you know who ran this 10k?  Ten people who ran an 8:30 min mile or faster; and me, who hovers right around the 10 min mile mark.  This disparity in speed was pretty obvious right off the bat.

The fire truck blared it’s horn and we were off! The first loop was awesome. There was a breeze, it was fun and familiar, and my 5k split was right at 30 min. So I started the second loop. 

At the 4 mile mark, I turned onto the long street that goes from one end of town to the other, and saw the rest of the 10k runners a full half mile ahead. I also heard some firemen at the water stop yelling “white tank top! That’s the last one! ” This was it’s own special kind of embarrassing. 

The chief of police drove her golf cart and chatted with me for the last 2 miles ( it was her job to give the OK to break down the water stops.) I was very much in the “screw it, time to just have fun” mindset, so if I didn’t want to run 3 blocks? Jump in the golf cart.   When I asked if the beer tent would be open, the chief radioed in to make sure there was a cold one for me at the finish. ❤

Taking a break from my golf cart ride to actually RUN

When my asthma started kicking up, I was left with the decision:  call my mom, who was a few blocks away, or jump in the golf cart for a detour to get my inhaler. I chose the latter.  This proved to be a mistake–my poor mom ended up in a golf cart with one of the towns EMTs and found me about a half mile from the end.  Because of the need for an inhaler, I was escorted the last half mile by the chief of police in her golf cart, the EMT and my mom in a second, and another EMT in a third. 

I triumphantly wheezed across the finish line with my entourage, arms raised in (the opposite of) victory, chanting “Last place! Last place!” I was the very last person to cross the finish for both the 5k and 10k.  

BUT! I still came in 11th place overall and 3rd place for the women.  It’s the little victories! 

It would have been embarrassing if I didn’t have such a damn good time. But how can you be filled with anything but warm, snuggly love when that many people rally around you to keep your spirits high. I miss how much fun living in a small town can be. 

Talk less. Smile more. 

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It’s TONY’S Week!!

It’s no secret I love theatre and the magic of the stage–or, more accurately, the magic of being backstage as I’ve been designing and creating costumes in for both professional or acedemic theatres for the last 15 years. So the Tony Awards (this SUNDAY!!) are worth a special spin class playlist.  

Naturally, I couldn’t resist making myself a Hamilton themed tank to wear. 


Warm up 1     

  • Good Morning Baltimore Hairspray
  • The Schuyler Sisters Hamilton

Speed up on the Chorus.     

  • Everybody Talks Neon Trees

Small hill     

  •  Centuries Fall Out Boy

Speed pickups (start at 70 RPMs, add 5 RPM up to 90 x 2).   

  •  I Love It (Workout Mix) Girl Bop


  • You and Me (But Mostly Me) Book of Mormon

Hill ladder (Add one gear every 60 seconds, starting with intervals of 15 seconds speed burst out of the saddle, 45 seated,transition to 45 up/15 seated)

  • I Need Your Love Calvin Harris
  • Work Work Britney Spears
  • Mama Mia Mama Mia


  • Hey Soul Sister Train 

Small Hill

  • Here’s to Never Growing Up Avril Levine
  • E.T. Katy Perry

If there’s time! One more song of speed pickups

  • Can’t Feel My Face (Workout Mix) Dynamix Music


  • Seasons of Love Rent

It was a nice way to mix it up, especially on a week where I managed to lead four classes in a span of 36 hours AND kick some ass in the #rwrunstreak. 

Burrito time is right!  

Do you have any show tune favorites?  Please share them and have a great weekend!!!

Ashleigh Lawrence

Ashleigh Lawrence - Personal Trainer and Strength Coach

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