Want to Run Faster? Run LESS.

Do you remember when you were a kid and all the adults around you just loved to tell you what to do? Brush your teeth! Wear that bike helmet! Stop diving headfirst off the couch!

fresh-princeYa movin’ with ya Auntie & Uncle in Bel Air!

However, now that we’re older, hindsight has proven that they were really just looking out for us. When you think about it, those shrill commands ultimately prevented our teeth from rotting out of our heads, saved us from high speed bike accidents, and kept us from breaking our necks on the living room floor.

But isn’t it funny how even as adults we sometimes tend to ignore similar good advice, even though deep down we know that it’ll ultimately help us in the long run? Take, for example, cross training.

Back when I first started my fitness journey in 2004, I did a little bit of everything to avoid the workout rut. Whenever I stopped seeing results I’d move on to yoga, strength training, kickboxing, cardio dance, step classes, spinning, everything! Thanks to the gym we lived around the corner from, I did it all, and coupled with running, these activities saw my average mile time go from 13:00 to around 10:30.

Fast Forward to 2012: my husband and I moved to a different town (and away from the gym where all these wonderful activities could be found). Slowly my routine morphed into doing the occasional workout DVD in the living room with lots and lots of running. Then I tore my ACL and things really went downhill.

Picture 859That creepy ice bath machine in physical therapy was the first sign of trouble.

Once I was well enough to run again in 2013, that’s all I did. Mile after mile I clocked, stuck in the 13-12 minute range. For almost 2 years I plodded along, wondering if I hit my peak pre-surgery and if I was destined to stay slow. I couldn’t understand: Sure, I wasn’t doing much (ahem, ANY) of those other cross training activities anymore, but I was running sooo much! Don’t they say “Run More to Run Better”? All that running made me so tired and achy! “Those magazines are nuts anyway,” I’d think. “Who has time to do ALL THE THINGS while ALSO running too? They don’t know my life, they don’t know what’s best for me. But why am I not getting faster??”


The answer was right in front of me the whole time: I was ONLY running. I was in a classic workout rut, stuck on a plateau and unable to move the fitness needle because running wasn’t challenging anymore.

So I slowly began integrating all of that “other stuff” back into the rotation in early 2015. A zumba class. Biking once a week. Strength training – even a little bit! – each day. Yoga & stretching. Swimming. It took a lot of time, believe me. But after 3-4 solid months of adding these things heavily into the rotation – and yes, cutting back from the super long hours of running – I can say without a doubt that I’m finally starting to see results.

IMG_6675Example A: last night’s 9:37 mile (!!!)

This did not happen overnight, and rest assured that I still have those 12 and 13 minute miles here and there. But I’ve seen consistently lower times in the past month or two, and the only reason I can find for it is that I’m simply running LESS.


I know, I know. I sound insane. But hear me out. I’m not saying don’t run. What I’m saying here is to focus not just on the running, but on your whole body. Now you see what I was getting at with all that “nagging parent” stuff in the beginning of this post.

Remember all that advice you’ve heard about the importance of cross training? Yeah, it’s true! You really do need to work out your whole body to improve. But it takes sacrifice and prioritization. Those hour+ long runs I’d do every other day are now a half hour, and I kind of hate that. But ultimately I love it because that other half hour+ is spent on cross training which will improve my next run!

This is not news, I know. But once you start seeing results you realize the truth. Whether you hate brushing your teeth or biking for an hour instead of running, you can’t deny the awesome feeling you get from clean teeth or a faster mile time.

What do you think? Have you ever had a lightbulb moment like mine? What’s your favorite kind of cross training? What kind of improvement have you seen in your fitness? Share in the comments!

Triathlon Training Week 1 (and Hello, Negative Splits!)

Even though I officially registered for and started training for the Jersey Girl Triathlon last week, I’ve been unofficially “training” for it for a few weeks. In the last month or so, I focused a little harder on biking in addition to running to see a) if I could keep up with two sports and b) if I noticed any improvements in my fitness. And after checking off both boxes with a big fat YES, I went for it feet (fins?) first and am thrilled with how things have gone in this first official week of training.

Since I started in the middle of the week, I had to modify my schedule a bit and kicked off Week 1 with a swim last Wednesday – where I pleasantly surprised myself!


The schedule called for 4x50m in the pool, but I mistakenly thought that the “25” in the distance of our local YMCA pool was meters when it’s really yards. Not a huge difference, but this is just one of a dozen other misadventures I’ve had while swimming that illustrate just how painfully cluelss I am when it comes to this sport.

The last time I swam, I needed to stop after each length to catch my breath and bring my heart rate down to safely make it to the other side of the pool. This time I promised to push as hard as needed for the full 50 each time, and I did! Sure, I needed a few moments in each turnaround to regulate my breathing, and by the 3rd lap I was hanging off the side of the pool gasping for air, but dammit I did those 50’s. And instead of the prescribed 4, I did 6 because I had to know that I could do the 300M distance I’ll have to cover on race day! And I didn’t have to be bottle-fed a Gatorade to get moving again after I finished, so yeah. #WINNING!


The next day I took to the DeskCycle for the prescribed “15 minutes easy” ride the schedule called for, and found myself wanting to push a little harder. I can’t help it when the schedule I’m following recommends that I “try to run” the whole 2.5K recommended for the run workouts. I know what I need to do to maintain my fitness levels, and it sure as hell isn’t walking a mile and a half twice a week. So I did about 20 minutes and covered a little more than 5 miles Thursday, then took the recommended rest day Friday.

Saturday was rainy and cool and breezy (and I had a little too much wine at Happy Hour on Friday), but I still got out there for the 5K bike ride the schedule called for.


I like to think the wind and the mist added to my training – it sure as hell made me work harder fighting through the wind gusts – but really all it did was make me wish I hadn’t ordered that second bottle of wine the night before.


Either way, I got it done (while Mike walked/jogged a few laps around the park) and called it a day! And on a semi-related topic, Friday was officially the last time I’m going to really indulge in the vino until after this race, thankyouverymuch.


It sure was nice having him around in case I toppled off my bike to nap in a roadside bush though.

After a LOT of water and sleep on Saturday, I was ready to run on Sunday. But then Mother Nature laughed in my face and spewed fire and 90% humidity at me. So I fueled up, double-fisted my coffee and water, and headed to the Y for my first treadmill run in months.


multi-tasking at its finest

I’ve talked a bit in the past about how I don’t hate treadmill running as much as some of my running colleagues do. I actually kind of dig the mill. It’s temperature controlled, there’s a bathroom a few feet away whenever I need it, and I can push my pace in a safe, controlled way (and hide the speed decrease button to challenge myself even more) – what’s not to love?

As such, I’m pretty sure my positive attitude – coupled with the bottle of Nuun that I sipped on every 10 mins or so – turned this into one of my most successful treadmill runs ever!


I rocked out to T-Swift and ran negative splits for the first time in my life, and the 10:xx pace was surprisingly easy to maintain, even for the final mile. Time was the only reason I had to cut my run short, and I felt like I could have gone much further. The treadmill and I were both drenched in sweat when I was done, too, which is remarkably satisfying!

While I haven’t been running as long as I was while training for the half, the consistently faster miles I AM running are proof positive that all this cross and strength training really is paying off, finally! After running 12:30-13:00 miles pretty solidly no matter the distance for the past year or so, I’m so relieved and energized to see some results, no matter how small!

So that was week 1 in a nutshell – how has your week gone?

New Recipe: Shrimp & Avocado Salad

It’s been a while since my last recipe, so let’s take a look at what I had last night for a post-swim dinner: Shrimp & Avocado salad! I know, it’s not a very sexy name (I’m looking for help on giving this a fun name, if you can think of one by all means let me know!) but it is one of the most delicious things I’ve had in a long time. The key is super-fresh shrimp and the just-chopped cilantro.

IMG_6486Shrimp & Avocado Salad


  • fresh uncooked shrimp, 1 lb
  • 2 medium avocados, diced
  • pico de gallo (I used a store bought container, about 1 pint’s worth, but you can make your own
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • pinch of salt


Boil the shrimp for 15 minutes or until they’re pink and curled up (and your house smells like delicious seafood and you want to lick the walls. Or is that just me? Sorry.) Rinse in cold water, peel, and de-vein, then set aside in the fridge to chill.

In a large bowl, combine diced avocado, chopped cilantro, salt, and pico de gallo and stir gently with a big spoon to coat. Add shrimp slowly, so you don’t mush up the avocado, top with lime juice, and stir a few more times – and voila, your dinner is ready!

We had ours with baked tortilla chips for some extra crunch, but you can do pretty much anything with this: eat it as a dip, fill tacos with it, serve it over a green salad, etc. Give it a shot and let me know how you like it!

What Have I Done?!

Ohhh boy… what did I just do? After all the thinking and hemming and hawing, and “maybe I shouldn’t”, “maybe I should” flip flopping, I’ve finally gone and done it: I registered for my first sprint triathlon!


That’s right, just 2 days after my birthday this summer (in about 6 weeks!), I’m swimming 300 yards, biking 11 miles, and running 3 miles to officially earn the title of “triathlete” in the Jersey Girl Triathlon!

They say you should do one thing every day that scares you, and this is like, a year’s worth of scary for me. I mean, I know I’m capable of doing this – even if I have to crawl across that finish line I’m still going to finish – but it’s still completely and entirely new to me. But if I never try, I’ll never know exactly what I’m capable of, right?

So now it’s your turn – have any of you ever done this event before? Or a sprint tri of your own? I’m looking for all the advice I can get here, share the love!

Hit the Trails

After taking on the hills of Central Park in the Oakley Mini 10K on Saturday, I thought my legs would be a lot more shredded than they were when I woke up on Sunday! So when the urge to move hit me bright and early, Mike and I decided to take advantage of the shade at Holmdel Park and headed for the trails.


It was already a hot day just like Saturday – warm and humid by 10am – but we packed up a few water bottles and some Nuun and Quest Bars and figured we’d take it slow. I didn’t plan on running a lot, but knew I wanted to cover 5K to complete 15K in the weekend and get a nice distance in for the Skirt Sports Virtual 13er, too! So we took to the main trail and chatted about life and the week ahead and had a nice slow go of the first mile and change.


We even made a little friend who we caught eating in the tall grass in the middle of the field there! She stood statue-still the entire time we walked by and talked pretty to her, but the next time we passed by she was gone.

Once we got tired of fighting through the swarms of bugs on the main trail, we decided to go into the woods for some relief from the gnats and the sun, and it was absolutely magical.


Seriously, can’t you just hear the Disney birds chirping?

We took on the hills, rocks, roots, and twisty trails together, working up a sweat and smiling the whole time. My favorite part was looking for the oldest tree carvings we could find – we spotted one from 1970! – and imagining the stories around the people whose names were carved into the bark.


Once we got to mile 2.5, we started challenging ourselves at each “Fit Station” we found – old plastic signs and metal bars for hikers to do pull ups, lunges, stretches and climbing. We got more of a workout laughing at how chicken we were to do some of the more intense moves (and how silly we looked flailing around while attempting them)!


I finally felt the urge to run for the last half mile and change, so I jetted up and down some hills and capped off our day’s adventure at a little more than a 5K – all in my Gym Girl skirt from Skirt Sports! I know I’ve said it before, but these skirts really are the best. I ran the Oakley 10K in one and spent all day traipsing around the trails in one Sunday, and never once had to tug at the shorts underneath or stop to adjust myself like I would in regular shorts or other running skits. If you’re interested in checking them out for yourself, use my ambassador code SSJRH20 for 20% off your order!


After all that fun, my legs were finally feeling the burn. So we headed home, split a nice big sandwich, and after a loooong cool shower I spent a good part of the afternoon dozing off on the couch before we finally went to see Mad Max: Fury Road! 🙂

How did you guys spend the rest of your weekend? Do you have any fun trails that you like to run on? Share the love, I’m always looking for a new place to explore!

Race Recap: Oakley Mini 10K

It’s official: the 10K is my new favorite distance! The Oakley Mini 10K was probably one of the strongest races I’ve ever run, and my running/training confidence is through the roof right now. Let’s see how it went down:

IMG_6276On Saturday morning I met my cousin at the train station for the 5:37am train but my usual pre-race jitters were nowhere to be found: this was “just” a 10K (I’m super comfortable with that distance) and we had already tested out our travel plans a few days before so we knew exactly where to go to get to the starting line on time. It was pure fun!

IMG_6277We got off the subway at Columbus Circle and practically walked right into our corral, so to kill the next hour before the start we wandered around and took pictures pretty much everywhere we could. When the volunteers warned us about the impending start time, I kissed Mike goodbye and we smushed into our corral with the rest of the “brown bibs” (copyright 2015, Jess Runs Happy).

IMG_6287By 8am, the temps were already in the high 70’s and the humidity was around 60%. I was comfortable in the shade, but when the sun poked through the trees, it was hot. But once the horn went off, everything fell into place and I took off on my very first timed 10K!

As we fought our way up the street, I got caught up in the excitement and went out too fast at around 10:40/mile. Once I noticed and slowed down, the first mile clocked by easily in 11:15. I was feeling great: my Bioskin patella strap gave my knee the support it needed and the shade of the trees and tall buildings kept me nice and comfortable. I lost my cousin at the first water stop – I was carrying a full disposable water bottle with me and hadn’t even touched it – so I kept on running for the second mile and into the park, where the fun really started.

The spectators and volunteers lining the course made a huge difference – it’s hard not to feel energized when there’s a bunch of shirtless November Project dudes in tutus hanging off the streetlight poles banging cowbells for you! As the miles ticked by through 4.5, I was pleased with my effort. I took walk breaks halfway up each hill to keep from burning out – I knew these would affect my time but I was more interested in having fun at this race than setting an unbelievable PR, especially with the heat and hills.

IMG_6293Mile 5 selfie!

This is where I passed one or two women laid out on the grass with medics elevating their feet and icing them down – the heat was really no joke! But when I glanced down to see that I’d been running for just over an hour, I was shocked at how good I still felt. To stay on track I took some gummy bears on a walk break, filled up my water bottle at the mile 5 water stop, and decided to push for the final 1.2 miles to see what I was capable of.

I knew I wasn’t going to PR – my best 10K time on a treadmill is around 1:12, and I was already at around 1:07 with an average pace hovering around 12:45 with the walk breaks. But I told myself to make the effort to finish with an average pace under 12:30, and it turned out to be a real challenge! Once I spotted the 800 meters sign, I resisted the urge to take off so that I could finish strong: I bolted at the 800 meters sign in the NYC Half, only to fizzle briefly at 400 meters, so I learned my lesson.

Soon the 400 meters sign was in sight and that’s when I gunned it past about a dozen or so women, smiling the whole way. The crowds lining the course were unbelievably happy and loud, so I gave it everything I had for a super strong finish – and crossed the line with an average pace of 12:29!

IMG_6309I smiled the whole way through the finisher’s chute, got my medal and my flower, downed a cup of Gatorade and a cup of water, then snapped a victory selfie to remember that moment.

IMG_6302Happy runner!

Once I found Mike and my cousin about 10 minutes later, we traded stories (Mike missed my finish because one runner got sick and collapsed as soon as she crossed the finish line about 15 seconds ahead of me!) and posed for some finisher pics.

IMG_6328Then we made our way to the after party, where there were lines pretty much everywhere.

IMG_6351But with a view like that, do lines really matter?!

Soon after that we tired of the crowds and made our way back through the park to Columbus Circle once more, where we snapped a few more pics and made our way home!

IMG_6323My #1 everything 🙂

Like I said before, this race has officially kicked off my love affair with the 10K distance, and I’m already searching for more to do in the next few months! It’s just long enough to be challenging but not so intense that the training cuts into my life and drains me. Plus you get medals at a lot of them, what’s not to love about that?!

IMG_6326Overall this race gets a solid A and I can’t wait for next year!

Running Stairs & Summer in the City

Happy Friday everyone! I don’t know how it is by you, but here in NJ we are a few days into a heatwave, but I am NOT complaining after the brutally cold, snowy winter we had!

On Wednesday night I took my last run before the Oakley Mini 10K this weekend, and while it was about 80+ degrees in the shade even at 8PM, I still had a great time. I decided to take my run over to my old neighborhood and elementary school, where I haven’t run in years.

IMG_6187Running up and down the streets I used to ride my bike on as a middle-schooler made for a nice little nostalgic trip. I managed 4 slow miles before the sunset and I had to go back home for dinner – which was pretty much how my evenings would end when I lived there too!


I also added some stair running into my workout too. I discovered a whole new housing development in my old hood that I found by taking this series of 3-4 steep staircases they built into the woods behind the school:

IMG_6178Like I said: steep.

After a few flights and a whole bottle of G2, I called it quits – my legs were starting to go rubbery and I didn’t want to risk twisting my already achy knees (thanks, humidity!). But afterwards I felt those hills in places I forgot I had, so that’s got to be a good thing!

Then yesterday my cousin and I went into NYC to pick up our bibs at the New York Road Runners Headquarters, and let me tell you: it was a scorcher!  At 97 degrees and full sun, what was supposed to be a fun stroll through the city turned into a race to beat the heat.


We hopped on the local train to get into Penn Station and spared ourselves the heat by jumping on the C train to W86th.

IMG_6204It wouldn’t be an adventure without me making an ass of myself on a subway platform.

The subway spit us out right at the entrance to the Reservoir Running Track, which ran straight across to the East side of the park (where we needed to go). We were blown away at its beauty  – after walking/running through the park so many times, neither of us had ever seen this path and vowed to come back when we weren’t, you know, melting. There was even a fun prancerciser galloping along the track to keep us entertained!

IMG_6212After we made it through the park we just had to walk 3 blocks north, which is much easier said than done when it’s almost 100 degrees out. Once we hit the sidewalk we promptly burst into flames. OK not really, but you know what I mean.

One saving grace of these three blocks were the countless sidewalk chalk drawings done by the local kids – one piece really spoke to me, I’m not sure why…


At 89th we crossed the street and I snapped this pic of the iconic Fred Lebow street sign:

IMG_6216And then we finally arrived at the NYRR Headquarters, which was blissfully air conditioned and full of smiling runner-friendly faces.

IMG_6222and inspirational wall art, too!

Seriously, if you live in the tri-state area and you haven’t experienced a NYRR race, register for one right now. They are the most well-organized, friendly, inclusive, and enthusiastic running club I’ve ever seen, and everything about their races is second to none. The aid stations are perfectly organized and always stocked well, the people that both work for and volunteer with them are always kind and helpful, and you will simply not experience anything like it at a race in your life. OK, love letter to NYRR over.

IMG_6225Brown Corral runners unite!

Once we picked up our bibs and tanks and chatted with some Oakley ladies (I am obsessed with their Feedback aviators and my birthday is coming up and I prefer them in rose gold, kthnxbai), we made our way back to the train station in the ridiculous heat. Thank god my cousin brought grapes for us to snack on or they would have found us in the park sometime next week, all shriveled and delirious from dehydration, babbling about sunglasses and prancercisers.

At Penn Station, we picked up some Auntie Anne’s cinnamon pretzels and peach lemonade (not pictured because I devoured them both almost instantly), and our Manhattan adventure was over! Honestly I’m looking forward to a fun race tomorrow – even though I know it’s going to be warm so I’m hydrating like crazy today and hope to get lots of sleep before my 4AM wake up call.

Who else is racing this weekend? How do you deal with the heat? Whatever your plans, have a great weekend!

The Top 3 Things They Don’t Tell You About Losing 100+ Lbs

As you can probably tell by my blog header, I’ve lost a good amount of weight. From 2004-2009, I lost more than 100 lbs and have kept it off since then, naturally. I’ve blogged about this a little bit before, but today I want to talk about the things that they don’t mention in those weight loss stories you read about. Because even though I lost a whole bunch of weight, I’ve been faced with a whole new set of problems that I never expected as a result.


3. You’ll lose weight in places you’d least expect.

Did you know that you can lose weight in your feet? Yeah. Neither did I.

Back in college (when I was at my heaviest), I was a shoe hound. Full on Carrie-Bradshaw-style, spend-your-rent-on-shoes addicted. Because one indulgence I could depend on when shopping – after getting upset that nothing fit or looked good, of course – was that a cute pair of shoes always fit!  But after losing the weight, suddenly all of my shoes were way too big. It pained me to donate the strappy black “date night” sandals that had carried me in and out of a number of bars, restaurants, and parties. I shed a tear when I finally retired the sleek peep toe pumps I rocked while interning with the NJ Devils Marketing Team… But they were all simply too big. All told, I went from a size 10 to a size 8.5!

2. You’ll learn a lot about biology.

Sure. When I was bigger I knew what body parts were what, I just wasn’t pleased with any of them. And I knew that they “recommended” we take in 2,000 calories a day. But what the hell did I know about how many calories were in the chicken parm at the diner? Pfft.

Once I started to lose weight, though, it was like there was a whole world of biology and math that I never knew existed. A lot of it is common sense, but we didn’t talk about food issues and weight when I was growing up, and they didn’t teach this stuff in school! By working at a gym with knowledgeable trainers and group fitness instructors, I discovered what triceps were and how heart rate affects weight loss. By collaborating with a nutritionist, I learned how many calories I should eat on days I work out vs. when I’m not training, and the importance of protein in muscle recovery.

I certainly didn’t become a fountain of fitness knowledge, but I definitely picked up a bunch of healthy tips and tricks that I still call on from time to time, which I think is pretty cool!

2003 2

1. Your relationships will change.

College was when I was at my heaviest. As I navigated the social waters and made new friends, I often connected with other not-stick-thin gals like me. In each new social circle I joined, there were girls in all shapes and sizes, but there was always someone to bond with over balancing our mutual love of the dining hall buffet with our desire to be thin. But then one night after (I lost most of the weight), I met up with a handful of college friends that I hadn’t seen since before the weight loss. At one point after the gang ordered another round of appetizers, I turned the plate down, saying something about not wanting to go overboard. That’s when one friend replied sarcastically, “Oh please, the skinny bitch needs to watch her weight!” And everyone had a good laugh. 

I was shocked: I know she meant it jokingly, but the way she said it made me feel like she viewed me as a traitor for losing weight! I never expected someone’s opinion of me to shift so drastically, especially since I was still so new to the whole weight loss thing. I was trying to figure out what it meant to have this new body while working through some lingering food issues, but these folks didn’t see that. They just saw the weight loss. To the people who didn’t really know me very well, I didn’t look like the same girl – so I wasn’t treated like her anymore.


These are all just my own experiences – I’m sure that others in similar situations have their own discoveries too, but that’s what fascinates me. The changes I’ve gone through by going from a size 22/24 to a size 8/10 in 4 years affected a lot more than my closet, and I’m interested in exploring all of them!

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how hard it is to balance things out without feeling like I’m stuck in an endlessly repeating loop.

giphyKind of like my friend the gray rat there..

In the past when a big race loomed on the horizon, I would get so focused on The Plan (with a capital P) that by week 10 I felt like a zombie. I’d spend most of the last few weeks wishing the monotony was over, plodding through each workout while repeating the faithful mantra “trust your training”.

duhFat lot of good that did me through endless treadmill miles.

I went from being excited to dreading those workouts, and if we’re being honest here, that kind of defeats the purpose of running, right?

So once my big spring races were done back in April, I scaled back my weekly mileage and looked for other ways to get my fitness kicks. And wouldn’t you know it, my running endurance has improved overall a result!

obvs I maintained a lower base mileage per week, kept my long runs to 5-6 miles on the weekend, and found that I looked forward to weekends because I could fit even more fitness-y type fun things in my day! On days when my knees and my heart just didn’t feel like running, I started doing stuff like yoga and walking (who knew?!). I biked more, both down the park on my trusty two wheeler and on my DeskCycle at the office.

IMG_5516Seriously, 18 miles while working? A few times a week? Hello, leg muscles!

As a result, the past few runs and smaller races I’ve done in May and June have been immensely better than my training runs and races in March and April. I go out strong and don’t waver after 10 minutes like I used to. My pace is consistently improving, even if by a few seconds. I feel stronger, more confident, and less anxious about race day in general. I’m also a few lbs lighter, which never hurts! Hell – yesterday I caught myself jogging up the spiral staircase at my office – I’ve never done that in the 2+ years I’ve been here!

hyperApologies to my coworkers for my new found energy.

I’ve got a 10K race coming up this Saturday and while I haven’t actually used a Plan with a capital P to prep for this race, I’m 100% fine with that. I’m trusting my training, even though it doesn’t fit into a rigid schedule and add up to a certain amount of miles per week. Sure, I’ll probably feel like dying halfway up those Central Park hills, but I look forward to it! Instead of “trusting my training”, this go-round I’m “embracing the journey” and look forward to smiling through all 6.2 miles.

How about you – have you ever just thrown “The Plan” out the window and gone for it? How did your race turn out? Want to race up the spiral staircase with me? 🙂