Ballet Shoes & Mickey Ears

The happenings of this Disney-obsessed runner and dancer!


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Towpath Half Marathon Race Recap

This race recap is a little late, but I still wanted to share it with you. This was my third half marathon I ran in one month’s time. It was originally supposed to be on October 13, but due to our Government Shutdown, it got rescheduled to November 3. This portion of the Towpath Trilogy took place in Cuyahoga National Park. Although I have run other portions of the Towpath, I had never ran this stretch. The start area for the Half Marathon and the 10k was at Brandywine Ski Resort while the Marathon started at Boston Mills Ski Resort, about 5 minutes away. The weather was a little chilly that morning- in the mid 30’s when I first got up around 5am and then closer to 40 degrees by start time at 8am. Being the “bad” runner, I did not run at all between this race and my previous half marathon on Oct. 13. I know, stupid. Really stupid. But between dancing and teaching due to my teacher’s injury, I was really busy. I know it’s not an excuse, but since I had so much pain in my foot at the last race, I figured a few weeks off wouldn’t hurt.

The start area was definitely low-key compared to my other races. There were plenty of bathrooms available, about 20, but there were still really long lines. Luckily, we got in line when it wasn’t too bad and only waited about 10-15 minutes. This was a much smaller race- I could tell by the crowd around the start area. It most likely had something to do with the race being rescheduled. My female age group only had 38 runners. Very small!

Before I knew it, the bell rang and it was time to take off. I placed myself in the middle-middle back and immediately fell right into my target pace. I held it for the first 3 miles, which is when we actually went from running on the road to turning on to the actual Towpath. This race was my first “out-and-back” half marathon. And I can now tell you that I do not like courses like this. Sure, the first 7-8 miles were ok. But then you had to go back where you had just spent the previous hour running. This is a huge mental block for me. I do better mentally when I just keep running, not really sure of what is next. I also started to have horrible left foot pain by mile 5. Unlike the last race, instead of the bottom of my foot, it was the top of my foot. The pain was so bad I almost started crying. I ended up having to stop and walk more than a few times because of it. I honestly did not know how I was going to make it to the finish line. When the pain was at its worst, around mile 9-10, I had just stopped at a water station when I started to run again. I looked up and saw my mom and my husband screaming and cheering for me! They had totally surprised me! Seeing them made me smile and my eyes tear up and I realized I had to do this. They were counting on me. So, I sucked it up and kept running. I stopped a few times to walk, but tried to keep it minimal. I had no intention of beating my previous time when I realized the pain was so bad. When I got to the last straight away before we turned down the little grass hill to the finish line, I took off sprinting as fast as I could. Even though I was in pain, my adrenaline took over and pushed through. Hearing the crowd cheering for you when they see you finishing strong is always so amazing. That’s something my friend Legal Ballerina had taught me- always finish strong. You got this far, now power through. And when I rounded that corner and saw the finish line- and the clock- I realized I had set yet another PR. I ended up taking about 1 minute off my previous time! All I could think of when I crossed that finish line was: Give me my medal- Ouch my foot really hurts- Holy crap I beat my time- I need a banana STAT- and where is my family?! Whew! I was so happy to be done. That was definitely my least favorite half marathon to date.

Oh- you’re probably wondering what happened to my foot. Ya. This is what happened- I freakin tied my shoe too tight. Yes, that’s right. I tied my stupid shoe too tight. I wasn’t used to running in the cold weather, so when I re-tied my shoes at the start line and double knotted them- I tied them way too tight. It ended up causing what is called “extensor tendinitis” which basically means my tendons on top of my foot were getting squished when my foot was trying to expand when my body started to warm up. *FACE PALM* Like, seriously- who the heck does this? Apparently a lot of people, because when I googled my symptoms a lot of other runners have had this problem. It took about a week for it to feel better. I’m still feeling a little discomfort when I try to dance, but nothing like what I felt in that race. I learned my lesson there!

Overall- the race went ok. The Towpath Half Marathon was itself a very well put together race. The course was flat- but slightly inclined the whole way back. The course aid stations were well staffed and the volunteers were very encouraging! They had some hilarious signs.

Overall Pros & Cons:

Pros:

  • Plenty of bathrooms at the start area
  • Water at the start area
  • Great volunteers
  • Plenty of Aid Stations
  • Nice, mostly flat course
  • Fun Finish Line area with activities for kids

Cons:

  • Slightly confusing map for specators
  • Out and back course (not my cup of tea)
  • Not too many places for spectators along course (due to where course is)

Enjoy some pictures!

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A Tale of Two Ashleys

I had the opportunity to attend another Master Class put on by the great Ballet in Cleveland organization. This time they brought NYC Ballet’s Ashley Bouder and Phil Chan of Armitage Gone! Dance, also out of NYC. First off, I was really nervous. I tossed the idea of going back and forth in my head for over a week. I just got the feeling that this particular class might be too much for me. Legal Ballerina also was unsure at first of going. We ended up deciding to just go and try it. Jessica, who runs Ballet in Cleveland, said she had emailed Ashley Bouder about us and that she was looking forward to having us take her class. She was to teach 1.5 hours of ballet technique followed by a 1 hour variation class. She was going to be teaching Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux Variation!! En pointe!! I figured I had to give this a shot. It’s not every day I get the chance to learn a variation. If you want to learn more about who Ashley Bouder is you can look her up here.

Let me start with warm ups. LB and I found a place at a barre and started to stretch. There were a LOT of girls in this class. The class started on time and Ashley and Phil came out. Jessica briefly introduced them and then Ashley started class. We were at the last barre on the end. Ashley stood in the center of the room- a good 20 feet from us. She quickly started demonstrating a combination. I could not see anything she was doing at all. I also could barely hear her. So before I knew it- the pianist started playing and all these girls started the combination. I had no idea what we were supposed to be doing. This remained the same throughout the entire barre session. I could not see her demonstrate a single combination. And I could barely hear what she was saying the entire time. This was very disappointing and upsetting. I understand I am not an “advanced ballet student” but I have never been so frustrated. Ashley flew so fast through each and every combination. I noticed most of the “advanced girls” around me struggled through every combo. For them, I think it was mostly lack of being able to see/hear Ashley. I understand that Ballet in Cleveland is a non-profit organization, and I appreciate Jessica letting me attend these classes, but there were just too many girls in this class. I think in all the combos we did at the barre, Ashley only came around twice. I got no critique-nothing- from her each time. She didn’t appear to critique too many girls. The one thing I loved about the previous classes there, were that the dancers teaching would walk around and critique you. And the combos they did were challenging, but not like this time. Her combos were so fast and difficult, I literally ended up just standing at the barre, barely moving anything. We finally moved to center where I thought things would get better. We were able to split up into smaller groups for the combos which was nice. Unfortunately, Ashley gave us fast, faster, and fastest combos. Once again, I just ended up standing in the back, not able to dance. The combos were way too fast for me. I couldn’t pick any of them up. I felt very inferior. Ashley kept yelling out that girls were doing something wrong, but no one seemed to be able to correct it. Once again, most of the girls were struggling to get through these combos. The only thing I ended up being able to do were the jumps we did from first, second, and then changements. I was so disappointed. I felt like I paid to just stand around.

Up next was the pointe variation. I was extremely nervous, especially after how the first part of class went. But, I put on my shoes and started to warm up. I wasn’t really familiar with this particular variation, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was fast- imagine that! It was so fast, I thought I was going to fall. Ashley broke it up into different pieces and we ran through it a few times. By the time my group was up- I was in the first group- I still did not have it. I kept working on it though as the other groups went. By the end of the fifth group, I had finally gotten that little piece of choreography down. It wasn’t pretty like some of the other girls. My arms were all over the place, but I had gotten the footwork down for the most part. I was so happy! Finally, I had done something. LB was struggling with choreography- heck everyone was- and she ended up just wanting to be done with class. She was just as frustrated as I was with this class experience. I knew from watching the other girls continuing on in the variation, that I would not have been able to keep up. Out of all the variations out there, I just have to wonder why did she pick such a fast paced one?

We briefly got to talk with Jessica before we left, and expressed some of our concerns with her. She could tell that we were frustrated. She felt bad that we did not have a good experience. Even she thought Ashley was moving a little quickly with the teaching. I’m really sad that this class didn’t go better for me. To be honest, I left with not a good image of Ashley in my mind. Don’t get me wrong- she is a phenomenal dancer. I love watching videos of her dancing. Her teaching though? I have to say that she wasn’t a very good teacher, in my opinion. I loved the way Allison DeBona and Daniel Ulbricht taught when they were here. I took something away from each of those classes. I took nothing away from this one. I felt like all she did was call out combos and then would yell out that girls were doing it incorrectly. I could be wrong, but I got the vibe that she was just getting irritated with them. She didn’t seem very nice. And I don’t like saying that about people. I really wanted to like her and this class, but I just didn’t. 

I’m not so sure about taking any more master classes in the future. I know Allison DeBona is coming back in February or March I think? I would take from her again, because I liked her style. But for any new ones, probably not. I know as an adult beginner I will never dance or look like these younger girls. That’s ok with me. I just don’t think I’m at the ability level for these classes. And that’s just ok. I know I have come a long way, and I may not be dancing with “perfect” technique, but I’m still dancing- and that’s what makes me happy. I feel so bad that this review wasn’t a good one. I’m sure there were girls there that would say the complete opposite of me. Every one has their own opinions. Some of the really good dancers got a lot of advice from Ashley when they were dancing. So, good for them. I wish there had been less girls in the class. I understand there will be a lot, but this just seemed like way too many. Hopefully when Allison comes back next year her class won’t be overfilled too.

Here’s to another week of dancing! 🙂