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I’m really getting excited about the upcoming winter games. Only nine more days! I caught part of 60 Minutes last Sunday that featured, Shaun White, aka “The Flying Tomato.” I can’t believe the stunts that guy can pull off, a-mazing!

I’m in awe of all the athletes who will be competing in Vancouver this year. You can see their passion and intensity come through every time they compete. They eat, sleep and breathe the sport. Can you imagine going through the years of training and preparation for this huge event that the entire world watches?  I’m sure these athletes have mastered the art of mental toughness. Take a look at this clip to grab a glimpse of how they train for the big game.

-Sara

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Gadget Review: RunKeeper App

I have had my eye on an all-in-one, watch/GPS/heart rate monitor since I signed up for the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon. You need an easy way to stay on track when you are logging all of those miles, right? What better way than through the magic of the GPS?! As snazzy as these gizmos are, the $300+ price tag was more than I wanted to spend. My solution – let’s see if there is an app for that!

Sure enough, there is. And, it’s free – even better! There are a number of applications for the iPhone that allow you to take advantage of the GPS capability of the phone. After flipping through a few options I chose the RunKeeper Free application. The application has stopwatch functionality, displays your per mile pace, current pace and lists the number of calories burned during your workout. The calorie count is just an estimate since you don’t enter your weight, but the application allows you to track your time and distance for several sports in addition to running. Cycling, walking, hiking, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, skating, swimming and mountain biking are all included activities in the free version of RunKeeper.

You can also manually enter your workouts that are completed when you are indoors or on gym equipment. After recording a workout, all of your data is then saved into your account which you can access at any time online or through the RunKeeper application.

I like that I’m able to launch the application, throw my phone in my fanny pack (oh yeah, I sport the pack when I run outside) and go. I know I’ll have an accurate mileage calculation when I’m done and the application can be paused when needed for bathroom and water breaks. During your workout the display includes your distance traveled, your average per mile pace, and current pace.

My verdict – it’s pretty darn handy for a free app. This has given me the flexibility to track my outdoor runs and the freedom to make up my route along the way. Who likes to backtrack and drive their route after they are finished? Not me! I also like having an easy way to access an electronic record of my runs. I can flip through to see my progress and get a pre-workout pick-me-up if needed; it’s nice to have a reminder of the miles I have already logged before heading out for a long run. I recommend it for anyone who is looking for a reliable GPS option, but doesn’t want to spend a small fortune on the “perfect” watch/GPS/HRM combo. I’ve still got my eye on my dream watch, but my handy RunKeeper is what I will be using to stay on track until the big day in April.

RunKeeper also offers an upgraded version and a subscription service that allows you to utilize their reporting functions to analyze your workouts, view graphs, and connect with other users.

How do you prefer to track your mileage when walking, running or cycling?
-Sara

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Cari Wohlrabe (right) with fellow ARRG member at the first bout of the season.

Last week’s post, Girls on Wheels, gave a glimpse of what roller derby is all about. This week, I talked with Cari Wohlrabe, an Arch Rival Roller Girl (ARRG) Newbie, who made the cut last October and has been practicing regularly in hopes of being drafted to one of the four ARRG teams this spring. Cari shares her insights about how to balance being a member of ARRG with being a mother of two with a full-time job.

How did you become a participant?
Well, I found out about the roller derby because a friend of mine was on a team. I came out to watch and support her pretty regularly. After a while, I wanted to give it a try. I like being active, but I don’t like my workouts to feel like a chore. It (the derby) is about having fun and being a part of a strong group of women; the derby makes you feel good about yourself. Also, being able to look back when you are 60 and know that you were a part of the roller derby – that opportunity was something I just couldn’t pass up.

How long have you been involved with the ARRG organization?
I made the cut during tryouts in October. I am a part of the, “Newbies” group. I am an active member of the league now, but not on a specific team. Newbies have to go through skill testing and lots of practice.We are very serious about training. As you get better, you get promoted to higher skill levels. I’m now at a level where I can scrimmage with the big girls.

What do you do during a typical practice?
Each practice lasts about three hours, and we do different things each night. Monday nights are for Newbies. We usually run for at least ten minutes, do stretches and then get in our skates as soon as possible. Once the skates are on we warm up with skating drills, partner drills, team drills, and blocking drills. You basically skate and squat the entire time during practice. We also have a personal trainer in the league who helps with our strength training. Our workouts are customized to strengthen the muscles we use most in our sport.

Normally, on Tuesday we do exercises off of skates for about an hour. A lot of these are pilates based moves. We also do walking push-ups and the spiderman (they are both ridiculously hard) across the entire track. We do a lot of endurance training to help you become a really strong skater. You have to be able to do 5 laps in 55 seconds to be eligible to scrimmage.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are the scheduled league practices. I try to make three of those per week. We are required to make at least 7 practices per month, but they also recommend doing your own cross-training and workouts on your own time in addition to the league practices. The recommended activities are endurance activities like swimming, cycling and running and strength building for legs and upper body. You must have good core strength.

What is your favorite part about participating in the roller derby?
I obviously enjoy having something for myself to do. I like being a part of a team sport. This requires me to make myself compete with others to make myself better. I used to participate in track and I always just competed against myself. I really look forward to going to practice. “I don’t want to go,” never crosses my mind.

What is the time commitment to be a part of the roller derby?
It is amazing how much work and time goes into this. It (ARRG) is a member run league so everybody is a big part of it. You are on a committee, responsible for talking it up to other people and attending three-hour practices up to four times per week. We also have monthly bouts; our local teams play four times during the season. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun to be a part of the league.

It seems like everyone’s personality really shines through in this sport; what would you say the common thread is among your fellow teammates?
Ha! Everybody has, “controlled aggression.” That’s what we call it.

You have two boys who are six & three. How do you manage working full-time, being a mom and participating in the derby?
I have to thank my husband; he has been incredibly supportive of my practices in the evenings. We share a lot of duties so I can practice. I have dinners planned during the week, so I walk right in the house and head straight to the kitchen to make dinner after work so can eat and have time together as a family. Jim, my husband, also cooks a lot.

Since my practices start at 7, I really only miss about an hour before bedtime. It’s all about the support of your family when you are trying to make it work.

It’s hard being a mother and not feeling guilty, but you need time for yourself too. I know that it’s benefiting them to see me doing something that I love and am passionate about. That way they can learn how important it is to follow your passion. It’s good for them to see me doing this instead of them seeing me doing nothing at all.

What advice do you have to share with others who might be interested in participating in the roller derby?
Don’t doubt yourself, give it your best effort and be serious about it. It’s definitely been inspirational to me to know that I can do this; if I had waited any longer I might have missed out. We have a newbie who is 40, so there you go. Try it and you might just be surprised about what you can do.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the F2BT readers?
Come out to our bouts and support your local ARRG!

-Sara

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Girls on Wheels

The teams rounding the corner of the track.

Have you ever been to a roller derby? I attended my first bout last weekend, and it was awesome. Roller derby is a full contact sport on wheels. It showcases the skills, spunk and attitude of each participant. St. Louis is home to the Arch Rival Roller Girls, (ARRG) and they kicked off their first bout (game) of the season last Saturday.

I am in awe of these women; they are incredible athletes. Not only can they skate at a 5 lap/55 second pace, they have the skills, focus and strength it takes to stay upright amidst blocks, grabs and pushes during each jam. These ladies can skate like pros through a pack of nine other women. They skate fast and hard. I’m pretty sure they have all mastered the art of mental toughness as well as being in great shape.

Oh yeah, they are that fast.

The members of the ARRG are women of varying ages and backgrounds, but they all share a passion for the sport. By day, these women are lawyers, personal trainers, bankers and moms. By night, they are endurance athletes. Three hour practices are held 4 days per week, and each team member is strongly encouraged to do their own workouts in addition to the time spent in team practice. I don’t know about you, but if I spent three hours on skates I might not be able to walk the next day!

Rockity Roller, the lead referee before the bout began.

I found out about ARRG through a coworker who is a new to the organization this season. She made it through tryouts last October, and she is a part of the ‘Newbie’ team that will be eligible for drafting this March. She has spent the last three months practicing drills and completing her skills testing so she will be ready to roll in February for some intense scrimmages with her teammates. In addition to introducing me to this cool sport, Cari gave me the lowdown on how a mom-of-two with a full-time career became a part of the roller derby. You will get to hear more about her story on Monday.

Until then, do a quick search for roller derby in your area. I bet you’ll be surprised how many teams you might find right around the corner. Get out and support these women at their next bout, it’s an action packed sporting event you won’t want to miss!

-Sara

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