P90: One Week In

I have worked out every day for the past 7 days straight.

Now, for you daily runners and routine-driven gymfolk, this may not seem like a very big deal, but for me, it’s pretty great. After all, this is an achievement I have never… er… achieved… before, and thus, I am going to be smugly self-congratulatory about it. Hooray for me!

As mentioned in my last post, I am taking the whole New Year’s Resolution thing to heart this year, and have decided to, yes, try to drop a few pounds, but moreover, to actively work on my fitness. Which, as you probably already know, is not exactly something I’ve ever been a big fan of. I mean, exercising? Voluntarily? Me?

But, hey, habits can be formed and broken, and I do believe it’s possible for even couch-lounging, Netflix-bingeing, lazy mofos like me to get into a solid fitness routine. One way that I’m trying to do this is with some wonderful workout routines that my sister created for me, and another way that I’m doing this is with the P90 home workout.

Some of you may already be familiar with Tony Horton and his somewhat infamous P90X workout: a hardcore home workout that produces results like this:

Unfortunately, as I learned from the one time I ever actually tried a P90X workout in the past, it really is meant for folks that are already in relatively good shape. I did like, half of the P90X Plyometrics video like, three years ago, and I basically still haven’t recovered.

Sooo, for not-quite-there-yet folks like me, Master Fitness Magician Tony Horton dropped the X and created P90. It’s a little (okay, probably a lot) less intense than P90X, especially in the beginning, but is supposedly structured around setting up a strong fitness foundation and working up to much more difficult/exerting moves. Working out at home is something that has long interested me since, you know, I’m a homebody who dislikes actively having to leave my house, but aside from a short run with Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred that culminated in, well, nothing, I’ve never attempted one before.

So, alas, somehow within the vast reaches of the interwebs, I managed to stumble upon P90, and figured, hey, why not give it a try? Nothing to lose, right? Well, except like, $90, but given what I spend on my hair every other month, it really wasn’t too difficult to convince myself to make the investment, hahaha.

For the uninitiated, P90 consists of three phases (A, B, and C) with three different parts that make up each phase: “Sweat,” “Sculpt,” and “Ab Ripper.” These workouts are present in all three phases, plus there’s a special workout for Saturdays (called, very imaginatively, “Saturday Special.”)

The calendar provided has you choose whether you want to emphasize “Sweat” (Cardio) or “Sculpt” (weight/resistance training), and then has you follow an alternating schedule of Sculpt A and Sweat A + Ab Ripper A for the first 30 days. Then you switch over to Sculpt B and Sweat B + Ab Ripper B for the next 30, and then, well, I think you get the idea. You do the Saturday Special every Saturday (it’s the same regardless of what phase you’re in), and Sunday’s your rest day.

I officially started P90 on Wednesday, 1/7, which means that I’m not actually a full week in. But since I worked out on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of that week (albeit following a different routine) I figure that it still counts. Plus, I did an extra day of P90 yesterday with my bro, even though technically the schedule only has you working out 6 days a week. So I feel like that has adequately prepared me to be able to share my thoughts on beginning this program, at any rate.

Things I like so far:

– You do it at home (duh)
– Only takes 30 minutes, and not so strenuous that you can’t supplement with additional weight training afterwards if you want
– I like the countdown timer, both for the overall workout and for each individual move
– Definitely is a solid workout, especially the cardio in “Sweat”
– Modifications are shown for every single move
– Tony Horton is surprisingly personable on screen
– So far I’m not sick of watching the same video multiple times
– Calendar makes it easy to follow and figure out which workout to do
– Meal planning booklet seems pretty solid, with lists of recommended foods and some pretty tasty-sounding recipes. (Can’t say the same for the 6-Day Shred mini-booklet that accompanies this, but see below for more on that.)

Things I dislike so far:

– I am pretty sure I’m going to get tired/bored/annoyed watching the same workout videos every other day until I get to move on to the next phase.
– The accompanying “6-Day Shred” eating plan pamphlet that is included offers a ridiculous diet that goes from 1200 to 800 calories over the course of a few days, WHILE still expecting you to work out. Ridiculous! Nobody should be consuming only 800 calories a day, even if it’s to “shock” your body into weight loss or some crap.
– Shakeology and 21-Day Fix commercials EVERYWHERE. I mean, I kinda get it, this is a business and selling their $129.95 milkshake powder is how they probably make most of their mula, but OMG if I want a shake I will throw a banana and some almondmilk into a blender, kthxbye.
– They’re only available as DVDs, not Blu-Ray. I want my Tony Horton in HD!

Now, all that said, I’m pretty surprised that I’m not already bored with having followed the exact same workout video multiple times. I guess after a while if I do get annoyed with the repetition, I can always mute the sound and put my own music on, and then just follow the moves visually. Or I could always sub in some of the alternate workouts that my sister designed for me until the next phase begins. Or, I guess I could just move onto the next phase early, too. I guess only time will tell how I adapt!

So there you go, my thoughts on this workout so far! I’ll update you again once I hit Phase B, provided I make it there, of course, heh.

Have you ever followed a video-workout program before? Do you prefer working out at home or at the gym?

The Resolutionary War

Happy 2015, friendos!

Let’s see, given that I kinda skipped over the entire holiday season ’round these parts, let’s do a quick recap about what’s been a-going on over the past couple of months, shall we?

First things first. Last we spoke, my hair looked like this:

 

But in honor of the season, it now looks like this:

 

The holidays were all kind of a blur of wonderful at this point, but they involved a joint-Thanksgiving at Taylor’s (my sister-in-law) parents’ house, a roadtrip down to Macon, GA to spend Christmas at my sister’s house, and trying to fruitlessly prove that I’m not old by doing New Year’s in DC. 2014 definitely went out with a bang!

 

The very best part of which was, naturally, spending time with my flippin’ adorable niece Mia:

 

It also probably bears mentioning that at some point during all the holiday craziness, I got promoted at work! Yep, you’re looking at the new Senior Community Manager for Yelp here in Northern VA. Hooray!

Of course, along with the promotion and presents and quality time with the fam and general warm fuzzies, also came a LOT of delicious holiday FOOOOOD:

 
 

Which pretty much brings us up to date with where we’re at so far in 2015! Much like most of America, I’d wager, I did not do the best job of keeping my gut in check over the holiday season. With turkey and ham and prime rib and pies and cookies and Lindt truffles, I definitely did my fair share of indulging. That’s not to say I went balls to the wall or anything, but in the sake of honesty, I did put on a couple of pounds between November and now. I will wait for you to recover from the shock. 😉

So, yes, in the past I’ve preached the ludicrousness of making New Year’s resolutions since, really, there’s nothing different about declaring an intention on January 1st over any other day. And yes, I rebranded this very blog to specifically declare that I was no longer interested in losing weight (or, at least, in blogging about it), well, I’ve gone back on my word and made a resolution to drop a few libbies.

In all seriousness, I still do very much believe everything I’ve said about making peace with my body and loving myself regardless of what the scale says or where my waistline is at. That said, I also never said I’d never want to lose weight again, and while I do think I’m at a much healthier place mentally and emotionally, I’d be a fool if I simply ignored the fact that I am not at my healthiest physically.

After all, I may have been going to the gym somewhat regularly before now (“somewhat” meaning like, once or twice a week, which, credit where credit’s due, is a big improvement for where I was before that!), but I wasn’t really applying myself. I’d spend half an hour walking on the treadmill and working a few machines, and I’d hightail it outta there while still giving myself a pat on the back for going at all.

And, more importantly, I wasn’t really paying too much attention to how much I was eating. My diet may have been mostly clean, but I know myself well enough to know that it’s always been more of a quantity over quality problem with me. And as most of us are more than well-aware, weight primarily comes down to what you eat.

Sooooo, trite as it may sound, here I am with a resolution for 2015 to get back in the saddle health-wise. I wanna drop some weight, up my fitness level, and generally get my health back up to snuff. I am trying to go about things the “right” way. You know, not fixating too much but cleaning my eating back up, logging my food, and definitely upping the fitness ante.

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So far, things are off to a good start! My fitness-instructor sister has done me the great favor of creating some workout plans for me, I bought some weights and a kettlebell, and I also purchased and began doing Tony Horton’s P90, which was created for couch potatoes like me who get sore at just the thought of doing P90X at this point, haha. This way, even on blisteringly cold days (like the past three days have been! Brrrrr!) where I can’t be motivated to leave the house (heh), I don’t have an excuse to get my sweat on.

Hopefully you guys don’t see this as any kind of wishy-washy reneging on my new blog/life outlook or anything wherein I made bold declarations as to be done with weight loss, but rather as an honest attempt to get myself “back on track” (I actually hate that phrase, haha) with admittedly cliche timing. Either way, here’s hoping it sticks this time around!

And c’mon, I can’t be the only one who made some resolutions, right? We aaaaall do it. So let’s hear ’em: what’s your New Year’s resolution? 🙂

Now and Then

So, alas, this post isn’t about the absolutely marvelous 1995 movie, Now and Then.

No, sadly (though we can get into all the various ways in which that movie changed my life when I was 7 another time) this post is simply about, well, me. And I would apologize for that, only I’m pretty sure that if you didn’t like to read about me talking about myself, you probably wouldn’t be on a blog that literally has my name in the title. I mean, just scroll back up to the header if you need a reminder, haha. There’s a picture of me, too. Just saying.

Anyway, one of the things I like best about this blog is how it enables me to have open (and thoughtful and intelligent and generally awesome) conversations with you guys about topics that are really near and dear to my heart. These also tend to be topics that not everybody really likes to talk about. So when I was able to submit myself for an opportunity to sample ON’s new line of Activewear and discuss how my workout wardrobe has changed over time, I jumped. Like, seriously, jumped right out of my desk chair. Not just because I was so excited to get a $50 gift card to go pick up some new Activewear items (don’t get me wrong, I was totally excited for that — $50 goes REALLY far at Old Navy! I got FIVE things and only went like $8 over!) but because I was also immediately inspired to re-open and re-discuss one of those hard topics. But one of those really necessary ones: body acceptance, body image, and body confidence.

Let me paint you a word picture. I went to James Madison University for college. JMU is a beautiful little (well, not really so little) school down in Harrisonburg, VA–the furthest south I have ever lived. It’s a really gorgeous place, with the old (er, historic) campus on one side of highway 81 and the newer part of the campus on the other side, bridged by… uh… a bridge. And when I first enrolled, as a wee young Freshman, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and totally naive to the concept of skipping 8 AM classes (oh, how quickly that changed) one of the shining gems of the newer part of campus was–and I’m assuming, still is–UREC. The University Recreation Center.

Actually, I just realized I don’t need to paint you a word picture. I can show you a real picture. Heh.

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Pretty nice, right? And it was–er, is. It’s got tons of machines, an indoor track, raquetball and basketball and whateverball courts, group fitness classes… and a ROCK WALL. Sweet, right? Only, I never got a chance to test out the rock wall. Not once in my four years there. In fact, I could probably count the number of times I actually ventured into UREC on both hands. (Well, okay, maaaaybe it would take three hands.) ‘Cause here’s another thing you should know about JMU. We have a widespread reputation throughout the state of Virginia (perhaps further than that?) for having really hot girls. I know. I’m so proud.

So anyway, here I am, just one of thousands of faces, enrolled in a school that is literally known for the hotness level of its female students. Talk about pressure. And, of course, we all know I had my eating issues, and my body issues, and those led to my weight issues… and by the time I started realizing that my weight was getting out of control, by the time I actually wanted to DO something about it, well… things didn’t go very well.

See, at first I thought, Okay, here we go. I’m going to go to the gym every day and eat super well and things will work out, you’ll see! Except I was already ashamed of my body, ashamed that I had gained so much weight, and comparing myself to every Jessica and Lindsay I passed certainly didn’t help (seriously, there were, like, six Lindsays living in my Freshman dorm). Because you know what those girls spent their spare time doing? Working out. Doing yoga. Going running. At UREC. In spandex capris and tight tank tops, and sometimes just in their sports bras. To say it was intimidating is like calling a jaguar a cat. UNDERSTATEMENT.

So each admittedly infrequent time I would actually get up the nerve to go to the gym, I was so afraid. So afraid that someone would see me, that they would judge me, that they would know I don’t belong. So I’d put on my baggy t-shirts and my loose-fitting sweatpants thinking that they hid my bulges, and I would pull my hair back and stuff headphone in my ears and pretend like I wasn’t watching the taut-bodied, long-legged girl reading Glamour on the elliptical. I’d huff and puff for maybe 10 minutes and then would get too discouraged to keep going, because I was so certain that SOMEBODY was going to look at me and think, “Ew, why is she even here? It’s not like it’s going to help…” and then I’d make sure I grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich from D-Hall on my way home.

Yeah, I know. It was messed up.

But the point of this story isn’t to dwell on the sad-sack Gretchen. Eventually she found in-office gyms and home workout videos and a diet that finally worked, and she ended up pretty okay. The point is to focus on the things that made her feel like she needed to cover up, to hide, to feel ashamed. Because even though, yes, I was overweight, it’s like there was a rule that said I wasn’t allowed to like the way I looked, or wasn’t allowed to associate with the skinnies, or wasn’t allowed to look cute at the gym. It was all self-imposed. A symptom of my complete lack of body confidence. And the ironic part is that before my senior year, I wasn’t even “that bad.” I didn’t reach my highest weight until 2009, the year that I graduated. I’m sure that I think I’m still heavier now than I was when I started college. (I graduated from high school around 185.) But, man, 197 pounds feels really different on this side of the void, that’s for sure.

I wish I had some photos of myself in “gym clothes” from back then. (But of course I don’t. I would never have let anyone take that photo, haha.) I wish I had something to really show you how low I thought of myself back then, how I thought I needed to hide, that how I looked was somehow offensive. How I hid my curves and rolls and completely HUMAN imperfections under unflattering giant t-shirts and old pairs of stretched out Soffe shorts.

So I don’t have photos of exactly that, but I do have a couple of photos that might help show what I mean:

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These photos are unrelated to gym apparel, obviously, but they make a point. Here I am, in giant, oversized sweatshirts–which I wore A LOT in the hopes that that they would fool the world into thinking I was smaller. Silly, right? Because in reality, all that wearing big, baggy, oversized stuff does is make you look oversized. Which makes you feel oversized, which makes you not want to show off the goods that God gave you. And the cycle continues.

So. We thank our lucky stars that those days are done, and we revel in the fact that the same girl who used to think like that and hide her body, well, now she wears stuff like this:

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And like this:

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I got a camera remote for Christmas and I am SO EXCITED but still figuring it out, haha. Can you tell?

And she doesn’t just wear them, she feels legitimately awesome in them. Confident. Unashamed. And yes, it helps that she’s lost a lot of the weight she put on during college and beyond. But her stomach still bunches up when she does crunches and things still jiggle when she’s on the treadmill and–gasp!–her thighs will always (ALWAYS) touch. But who cares? She doesn’t. And neither should you. What she does care about is the fact that the sweat-wicking technology in her tops helps keep her cool, and the spandex in her bottoms help her stretch and bend and reach without showing the world her buttcrack.

Old Navy has always been awesome about providing clothing that fits almost every shape and size of woman. It’s why it was one of my favorite places to shop THEN, and it’s still one of my favorites NOW. Because I appreciate the fact that they make it so that you can look good, no matter what number is stitched on the inside label of your jeans. I’ll go into detail about the actual utility of the pieces I’m wearing in a later post (for your reference though, I’m rocking the Active GoDRY Mesh Tanks and Active Fold-over Yoga Pants in both pics, with the Active GoDRY running top added in the second). The point is, workout apparel like this — clothing that clings and is fitted and has technology that helps make us better and faster and stronger… that is what’s important. And the fact that it all comes in awesome colors and flattering shapes and helps us look cute even when we don’t have that perfect body yet? That’s just gravy, man.

AdvertisementThis post is sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy’s Active wear in stores or at oldnavy.com. Active by Old Navy is 40% off until January 16th! I received a gift card and stipend for my participation but my words and opinions are 100% my own. #GetYourActiveON

Jelly Legs

So last night I made my (not so) triumphant return to CrossFit. I’ve been admittedly lax in my workout efforts since my car accident(s), citing my whiplash injuries as the reason I wasn’t trying very hard in that department. Well, while it’s true that I do still have some soft tissue injuries that I’m getting treatment for, I am certainly not completely debilitated. And shoulder/neck tension and discomfort considered, it’s no excuse for a total lack of exercise. So with a little bit of (necessary) prodding from my coach at CrossFit Annandale, I saddled up.

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Please ignore the atrocious mess that is my room.

At least it gave me an excuse to try out some of the new CrossFit-targeted workout clothes that my awesome friends at New Balance sent me!

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They hooked me up with a couple of Getback Racerback tanks. Not only is the back of this tank pretty flippin’ sweet, but the built-in shelf bra was surprisingly supportive. I didn’t wear any kind of additional sports bra with this tank and I felt totally fine jumping rope and whatnot at CrossFit. Kind of crazy, considering my rather ample front-end. I was definitely impressed!

They also sent me the Fitness 8-inch Shorts, which are seriously like the most unflattering length ever but are also CRAZY comfortable. And the length, while I don’t feel it does anything for my leg aesthetics, was pretty perfect for working out. No ride-ups, plus it has pockets! They’re also high-waisted, so I didn’t have to worry about my pooch or muffin top spilling over when I was squatting or anything. Hahaha, I am so attractive.

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And, of course, what NB ensemble would be complete without shoes? They sent me a pair of their Minimus 20V2 Cross-Training shoes to try out. I am way in love with the color, and was blown away when I picked them up because they are SO light. Lighter even than the Reebok RealFlex shoes I received at the Healthy Living Summit.

In comparison to those Reeboks, however, the NB Minimus is also less flexible. Which I guess isn’t really a terribly important component of a CF shoe, but it is something that I guess I like. I was also just a smidge disappointed in the craftsmanship of the Minimus. They fit well and were great to use during CrossFit, but there were some manufacturing details that looked a little messy: puckering where the sole meets the upper, loose threads, and whatnot (as pictured above). Regardless, they are light on my feet, though I’ll definitely need to wear them more than, um, once, in order to give a full review on how they feel.

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As for the one non-New Balance item I was wearing? My sister gave me this awesome Under Armour triple-band headband (she gave me two, actually), and I loveloveLOVE it. I provides the hair coverage of a thick headband without making me look like a thug or a seller of bavarian cookies. And even if the third band slips back because it’s too far back on my head (which I need to keep my bangs fully slicked back), the first two stay firmly in place.

But okay, enough product shilling, hahahaha. Onto the actual workout:

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So evidently I made the poorest choice in the history of choices and returned to CrossFit on like the worst possible day. Because the WOD was RIDICULOUS. It was a three-part WOD, which I had looked up on the website previously and thought we had a CHOICE of the three 8-minute WODs: A, B, OR C. As it turns out, NOPE. I WAS WRONG. We did them ALL. IN A ROW (with a 4 minute rest in between each part).

I didn’t really end up doing the same workout as anybody else because the coach was super attentive to me and modified pretty much everything so that I wouldn’t strain my neck/shoulders. Basically, this meant turning everything into some variation of a squat. Ergo, jelly legs today.

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My injured weakling substitution props

Here is how my workout broke down:

Part A: I used a PVC pipe instead of a barbell to mimic the movement of thrusters (5 reps), then did 10 goblet squats by holding a kettlebell upside down and squatting to replace the power cleans. Then I did 15 box dips instead of pull ups. I made it through 3 sets with two extra thrusters in 8 minutes.

Part B: Instead of kettlebell swings, I did another set of 10 goblet squats, which at this point were nearly impossible. My body has never felt so heavy. Then I did the 30 walking lunges that were prescribed in the WOD, and did 20 single unders (er, regular jump ropes?) instead of 40 double unders. I made it through 1 set, plus like 5 extra squats. I felt really lame.

Part C: Instead of burpees (my nemesis!), I rowed 150 meters. This was the part I was most excited about because it meant I didn’t have to do burpees, hahaha. Then instead of push-ups, I did box dips again (20 this time). And then instead of sit-ups, I held a 30-second plank. I was actually really proud of myself for being able to hold a plank for 30 seconds! I know it sounds CRAZY weak, but my max plank time from before was like, 12 seconds. I am not lying. Core strength has never been my (literal) strong suit. I made it through 2 sets and like, 2 extra squats. Again, felt very lame.

So, there you have it. I know that I’m not at my best right now, that I’m “injured” and “recovering” and stuff, AND that this was a particularly ridiculous workout for me to jump back into. But while I still got my butt handed to me by this workout (I’m thinking that post-CrossFit nausea is just going to be a thing I need to get used to, since evidently it’s going to happen every time, haha), I felt kind of pathetic that it did. Especially considering it was so modified. I know I shouldn’t beat myself up too badly (my lower body is hurting enough on its own today, haha), buuuut I may or may not have cried a little in the car once I left the gym. Only for like, 15 seconds though!

Ah well, once I have regained control of my quads and as my injuries continue to heal, I’m sure it’ll get easier. Or, you know, at least I’ll get used to being so bad at it.

Go Ape!

On Saturday, my friend Rachel and I headed up to Rockville, MD to take part of a fun outdoor adventure called Go Ape. It was part rope course, part zipline, and a TON of fun. I’m not awesome with heights, nor with forcing myself to jump off of high ledges, but I had a total blast! I was a little concerned about the weather, but since the entire course takes place in the shaded woods, it was actually not bad. I still got super sweaty (what else is new?), but definitely didn’t overheat.

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They have start times every half-hour, so we signed up for the 12:00 group. Once you get there, they have you fill out a liability form (duh), and then they take your entire timeslot through a little safety session. They saddled us up with sweet and totally flattering (HA!) harnesses, told us the most important rules (always stay attached!), and had us perform a demonstration on a little 4-feet-off-the-ground practice area.

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If we passed the test, we were sent off to do our thing! There were probably four or five different stations, all of which began with you climbing up a rope ladder into a tree. This was actually the most physically demanding part of the course, in my opinion, since I’m not very coordinated. Still, once you made it to the top of the platform, everything else was mostly just a matter of balance and fear-conquering.

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Once you were actually up and going through the course, there was a whole variety of obstacles and ways to cross: tightrope lines, swinging platforms, a swinging tunnel, etc. Some were fairly challenging, and some were pretty easy.

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I’m not the most balanced person in the world, but I found it all very do-able. At some points you were also given the option to take an easier or harder path forward, so everyone was able to get through each course at the level they were comfortable.

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One thing that I really liked about Go Ape is that even though you start at the same time as 8 – 10 other people, you don’t all have to stick together. You and whoever you came with can go at your own rate (the instructors don’t lead you through the course). Since it was just Rachel and me, and we’re both relatively fit people, we went through each course pretty quickly, and thus got stuck waiting behind other people fairly frequently. Our instructor told us to treat it like mini-golf, where if there are people behind you that are moving more quickly, you let them go ahead of you. So even though we tried to go the longer/harder ways almost every time, at one point we got stuck behind a really big group, so we cut ahead via the “easy” route to save time and jump ahead.

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The last thing you did at each station was zipline down to the next area! The ziplining was definitely my favorite part, although I didn’t accomplish it particularly gracefully because I was always landing sideways or backwards. At one point, both of my shoes flew off when I was trying to stop myself, hahaha. Only me, right?

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The only time I really started to freak out and contemplated not doing an obstacle was near the very end. They had a couple of “Tarzan Swings”, where basically you are literally just strapping yourself onto a rope and jumping off a ledge. The first one was kind of like a practice one, so it was okay, but the one near the end was REALLY high up. Rachel had to do a little bit of coaxing to get me to do it, but — be proud of me! == in the end I took the literal leap of faith. Well, I guess it was really more like a crouch-down-and-step of faith. But still! For your entertainment, she also filmed it so you can all hear me screaming like I’m about to be murdered. Totally normal reaction, right?

You’re welcome for that. I’m pretty sure my face in the next photo just about sums up my feelings about that entire experience:

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LOLOLOL.

So yes! Go Ape was super fun, a great “secret” workout (since you’re not thinking about all the muscles you’re using until they remind you the next day, haha), and I definitely recommend it. They have a few different locations — the one here in Rockville, one in Williamsburg, and one out in Indianapolis — and I’m sure there are other companies out there that offer something similar. I think the total price ended up somewhere between $55 and $60 with tax and whatnot, which was fair in my opinion because the staff was great, the equipment was clean and seemed fairly new, and they had water stations at the start of every course.

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Three cheers for adventure!

Do anything adventurous with your weekend?