Saturday, July 20, 2013

Run or Dye and Focus T25: Stretch

This Wednesday, Seth and I celebrated our three year anniversary! On Monday, Seth sent a surprise to my office. Flowers designed to look like a red velvet cupcake. I was so surprised. 

Bonus, the flowers are carnations, my favorite. We took all day Wednesday off from work and had a wonderful day. It was super hot, and we don't have a/c at our condo, so we decided to take a trip to wander around the shops in West Hartford. We had a delicious dinner at Viva Fresh Pasta in Northampton and then headed home to look at our wedding pictures. I even, three years later, managed to post some good ones on Facebook. Here's an assortment of my favorites.

Today, we continued with the fun with a trip down to Rentschler Field in Hartford, Connecticut to take place in a color run called Run or Dye.

We arrived at 9:00 a.m. The first wave was off running at 9:00 and they would have waves heading out until 10:40. We decided not to make ourselves get up too early. However, this may have been a mistake. The registration line was packed. 

Run and Dye offered packet pick up the night before, but it was in Farmington, Connecticut, which doesn't work for people traveling like us. Most other races that I've participated in have offered early packet pick up, but check in day-of still only take a few minutes. In this case, it took 25 minutes. Very disorganized. After getting our bibs, we had to get in another line to get t-shirts. This was a short line and volunteers were doing their best, but this was still bad planning. 

Another big problem in my opinion was the lack of bag check. We had ended up parking about half a mile away. No problem, expect for after we checked in we had bags and no place to put them. We had to trek back to the car and then bag again to the start line. We had covered 1.5 miles and not moved a step.

With the long wait times and the walk from the car and to the car and from the car, it was already after 10:00 a.m., and we hadn't gone anywhere. The weather had gotten killer hot, approximately 88 degrees, humid, and very sunny. It felt much warmer; the air was heavy and oppressive. 

We lined up in the starting shoot and people started throwing around paint. Here is where the fun started. The dye that is used at this event is imported from India where it's produced for Holi. The dye is plant based and (supposedly) easy to get out of things. (Note: This is only partly true.)

We started our race with people throwing dye all over the place. Already we were slightly colorful. 

It quickly became apparent that Run or Dye should really have been called Walk or Dye. Hardly anyone was running. Normally, I would have found this really a bother, but with the heat as oppressive as it was (and having run 7 miles the previous day), I didn't want to do too much running either. I was worried about heat sickness. 

Seth and I ended up walk/running the race, doing as much running as we could. This was very limited because of the packed course. We maybe ran 1/4 of the run, and we ran way way more than most people who I think didn't run at all. Of course, I think a lot of people at the race were not regular runners, so running in this heat would have been a big stretch. 

The race had you running 5K. At every kilometer, you ran through a group of volunteers who pelted you with dye. First we ran through yellow, then blue, then pink, then green. Suspiciously, the orange group was missing, and we went 2K without any dye which was kind of disappointing. 

There were first responders (fire, police) everywhere providing medical assistance because of the heat. The weather was definitely a huge detractor for the event, especially considering how overheated we got waiting in lines. 

But we made it -- all 5K!

As you can see, we got pretty dye covered. My legs were especially colorful. My shoes got completely yellow when we ran through the yellow dye area because they had spread the dye on the ground (which was kind of fun).

Following the race we headed over to my Dad and Step-Mom's house, less than 10 minutes away. 

So how was it to get the dye off? Hard. My skin is pretty much clean now, but some purple dye is sticking it out on my back. And I scrubbed hard. My red shorts got clean, but our white shirts will never be white again. I also don't think my shoes will lose their yellow sheen. Both of these things are fine -- we wore old clothing that we didn't mind getting permanently "colorful" on purpose.

While the color portion of the run was a good time, the race was way too disorganized to have it be a great experience overall -- there was just too much frustration. The weather definitely played a factor. I was glad I got to try a color run, but I'm not sure I'd be compelled to do it again based on the experience I had. Honestly, I prefer the more standard 5K or 10K (or a good OCR). 

After the race, Seth and I decided we wanted to do something nice for our body -- a good stretch. We popped the Focus T25: Stretch DVD into the player. This is the standard Sunday workout in the Alpha cycle. (I've reviewed the Cardio, Speed 1.0, and Total Body Circuit workouts from the Alpha cycle already. I'll add my reviews about the Lower Focus and Ab Interval workouts soon.)

The Focus T25: Stretch workout is one of my favorite active stretches I've ever done. I am notoriously inflexible and really don't enjoy stretching too much. (I find it boring.) Twenty-five minutes is perfect for me for this reason. It gets me to stretch, and, since it's only 25 minutes, I don't get bored. Also, this stretch workout is very dynamic. You are moving fairly efficiently through the movements, approximately one per minute, and really need to focus. 

Most of the stretches are for the lower body. I tend to do more lower body work than upper body work because I do a fair amount of running and aerobics. I strength train my upper body two or three days a week, but that pales compared to the six days a week that my lower body gets a workout. For this reason, the emphasis on lower body with this is ideal. I also find that the stretch workout is really good for the tendinitis in my hip since you do a lot of hip stretching.

The workout starts with with alternating knee holds and transitions into alternating straight leg kicks. This works to warm you up quickly. You then move into some static calf stretches. Pretty standard. 

The next move I really like, dynamic squats into hip flexor stretches. You do the left leg first finally stopping to hold the hip flexor stretch for a minute. After that you repeat on the right leg. We then did lateral lunges left then right, stopping to do a hamstring touch-the-floor-in-the-center type stretch.

After that we moved to a balance move where you cradle one leg and balance on the other. This wasn't as much of a stretch as some other moves for me, but keeping ones balance sharp is always a good call. 

We then moved onto some stretches for the back: a torso twist and then cat-cow from yoga. This all felt fantastic. The next move was a downward dog from which you move into plank and draw your knee into your elbow. I would not necessarily consider this a stretch, but it does do a great job working your core. Following this we got to rest in child's pose before stretching our back more with an arm reach in table top. This was followed with a stretch in spider position. 

The next set of stretches were again for the leg and hip and proved my favorite part of this workout and any stretch workout I have done. All of the moves were a variation on the stretch pigeon from yoga.

We started in low pigeon, with our legs like in the picture above but our torso folded forward. Then we moved into "S" torso, which required folding the back leg in and then twisting. I felt this really opening my hips and stretching my back and quads. We then intensified the quad stretch by lifting up the back leg. This felt amazing after all the running I had done over the past few days. We finished the stretch in high pigeon. Then everything got repeated on the other side.

Shaun T then had up move on to hip-ups, which I would consider more of a strengthening move for the glutes than a stretch. The last move is a knee cross over stretch, where lay on your back, bend one knee to the ceiling, and then cross your ankle over that leg and pull up. We did this on both sides. Again, this nicely stretches the glutes and hips and felt great.

I'm not officially even doing the T25 workout, but I have done the Stretch workout with Seth twice now. Honestly, it's worth the price of admission for just this one workout. Fantastic!

I'll be back tomorrow with my thoughts on the Lower Focus and Ab Interval workouts. Seth reports that they are very hard. This will be his second time through them. I didn't get to watch the first time or participate, so hence my review for the Stretch workout coming first. I'm excited to see the leg and ab workouts though. They will be the last workouts in the Alpha cycle to review. It's then a few more week of Alpha before Seth moves onto the Beta workouts, which will begin to incorporate resistance training with bands. I can't wait.

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