Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing. —Thomas Jefferson

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 490-497:

Ah, Holiday Time, BlogLand... Traditionally, this is a time for stuffing my face full of carb-tastic awesomeness, lounging on the couch, drinking spirits and generally lazing about in a haze of "Holiday".

Not so this year. (Aja 2.0, remember?)

Tuesday, I had a surprise come in the mail: "Biggest Loser: The Workout, Weight Loss Yoga." ... yes, there was a yoga DVD in my mailbox, and yes, I did actually order it (and a second one, actually!). Here's the thing, I've had a few injuries here and there over the course of the last couple of years that the treatment was "more stretching". I have an ankle that I need to work on mobility, to ensure it's continued health. How do you do that? "More stretching". I always feel tight in my legs, which causes more problems down the line... the solution... you guessed it. MORE STRETCHING. My GT has told me this, my PT has told me this, my Dad is a huge fan of yoga, many of my Spartans recommend it... basically, it was time to stop ignoring the voice inside my head that knows better, but was avoiding yoga because it is hard, and I'm not good at it.

After much research, I settled on this DVD (and also one by Jillian Michaels), because 1) it was short, with a workout in the 30-35 minute range, 2) it was made for beginner, not-bendy people and 3) it was not shot on some beach, with a bunch of beautiful people in bikini's Ohm'ing into the sunset. I hate that. This DVD is actually REAL people, in a studio, struggling just like I struggle.... and the best part - Bob provides modifications for all the moves. My biggest problem with traditional yoga DVD's is that I legitimately just can't do the moves. I don't bend like that (yet) and I can't physically do it. But then, they don't seem to provide you any options, or progression on how to get there. Bob, in this DVD shows you how to scale any move. It reminded me of CrossFit - allowing you to be successful and complete each move, in a progression toward greater things in the future. Also, this DVD included several workouts - geared towards a progression every couple of weeks, to keep you challenged, as you got better at it.

I begrudgingly put it in and got ready to roll my eyes and whine about having to do yoga. However, we had a nice stretching warm up and I was feeling pretty good. Bob isn't obnoxious to listen to, and the music in the background was unobtrusive. So far, so good. On to the main part of the "workout". So, this part was an easy 20-25 minutes long, but had my warmed up and stretching in ways that I typically would not. Or not for the length of time that I should. Downward dog, Triangle, Warrior. I was warm, getting a little sweaty, but it was gentle enough that I didn't not have sweat dripping down my face. Honestly, before I knew it (I hadn't gotten to whiny!), we were done and on to the cool down. I had done all the moves (some with more success than others...), and - wonder of wonders!!! - my legs felt great. They were loose, stretched out and not stiff.

Well. Hell. Everyone was right.

When I texted the GT to inform him of this he simply replied with a picture that said:
"If at first you don't succeed, try doing what your trainer told you to do the first time." and a note, "How was yoga?"

.... touche, GT, touche.

So, BlogLand, it would seem that I do not *hate* yoga... I just hate feeling unsuccessful at things. SO, many the lesson is I hated P90X yoga, because it was an hour and a half long, I was sweating like a crazy, and I couldn't do half of the moves. This Biggest Loser Weight Loss yoga allowed me the benefits I was looking for - gentle stretching, mobility, flexibility - in a nice, half hour ish workout that I can fit into my schedule several times a week, and *gasp* actually intend to. I feel some success coming on!

Then, thanks to a little holiday scheduling, I managed to make a Wednesday night CrossFit class, with my favorite CF trainer, Shannon. Shannon, like my GT, just doesn't let me get away with half-assing it. He calls me out when the weight looks too light, or it appears that I am not nearly dying.

Stacey and I rolled into CF feeling pretty good and cheerful about the impending holiday... only to find one heck of a WOD. It sounds really simple in a way - Dumbbell snatches.  We did some skill work, and then on to the WOD...

5 rounds of:

  • 10 pull ups
  • 5 DB snatches (left hand)
  • 5 DB snatches (right hand)
  • 15 box jumps
Well, you know my thoughts on pull ups. I was using a huge band and struggle after the first 7-8, resigning myself to sets of 2-3 after that. By the last round, I was down to sets of... one. Yes. One. BUT, the key, BlogLand, is just to keep going. Even if it's slowly. 
I did the DB snatches *almost* at the prescribed weight. Prescribed was 35#, but I was pushing a 30# and made it through the WOD. My left arm in particular thought this was cruel and unusual punishment, but EFF you, Left Arm. 
The hardest part, actually, was the box jumps. Jumping is still a little weird on my post-shin-splint leg, so I'm more tenative. And box jumps are really just kind of a cardiovascular killer. Thankfully, as my jump was waning in the last couple of rounds, Shannon came around and threw some words of motivation at me, challenging me to push a little harder. WOD done. Pre-Turkey Day calorie burn, complete. 


As Thanksgiving dawned, unlike any other before, I was dragging myself out of bed early and pulling on Spandex. Yep. I've become a Turkey Trotter. I signed myself up for a little local "Wobble Gobble 5K" just to get some mileage and to give myself some incentive to MOVE on the holiday, not just stuff my face with mashed potatoes.

It was cold, but Stacey and I were suited up in our Under Armor and ready to go. We're Vermonters, cold means nothing (other than layersssss!) to us. 

With almost no warning ("Ready?" *GUN*), we were buzzing off the first leg of the course. Immediately, I knew I was in terrible trouble. My legs were.... tired. Probably an intense session at CrossFit, the night before, including lots of box jumps and snatches (which use your legs to lift!), were not my best plan. But still, I thought to myself, it's JUST a 5K. No problem. 

I pushed. My legs felt like nothing. Literally. They had no gas. No go. No oomph. Suddenly, there was a little hill. 

BlogLand, I tried. So hard. 

I had to walk. It felt horrible, like admitting defeat. I haven't WALKED in a 5K race in a year. It killed me. But my body had nothing. With some encouragement from Stacey (who somehow managed to still be shuffling along!), I got trotting again. I thought I would die. I just.... couldn't. I admit, for a split second, I pondered if this is the race I would have to quit. That's how bad it was. 

BUT ( I can't stress the importance of running buddies and training buddies enough!), Stacey was right with me, not letting me quit. As I trotted at the top of the hill, with a pained expression and empty legs, I recall admitting outloud, "Stacey, I need help. Motivation. I've got nothing."

What followed was nothing short of miraculous. She told me exactly why I wasn't quitting. As we trotted down a long downhill, she reminded me where I had started, how far I had come, why I do these things, and EXACTLY how we were going to finish (whether I liked it or not). We'd done harder things, and I wasn't going to be defeated by a 5K turkey trot. 

I wanted to die, or cut my legs off, but we pressed on, leap frogging past Red Tights Girl and her Dad, who were running together. Red Tights Girl (RTG) appeared to be about 15-16 and suffering like me. Her dad was sticking with her, but she was having a hard time, taking short walk breaks too. Nonetheless, after we passed the indication that we only had like a 1/4 mile left, she picked up the pace, determined to finish strong. 

Thank god I'm competitive. I summoned some sort of phantom energy and managed to get by her (my legs are longer!). However, when we could SEE the finish line, a ways down the sidewalk, RTG made a sprint for it. It would be a long sprint, but I couldn't let her beat me after all this. 

I pulled a sprint out of somewhere. I have never felt more like throwing up in all my life. I passed her, as she dropped to a walk, but I had to settle back to a slow trot, trying not to regurgitate my banana all over the enthusiastic spectators. I trotted through the finish, as Stacey whizzed in front of me - a sprint to the finish, like ever good race should end!

I have never been so happy to get to stop. Seriously. A local 5K, with an easy course, nearly was the death of me. Thank god for Stacey's motivation and RTG for me to chase. I tracked her down at the end of the race and thanked her for a great race, and that I had chased her/been motivated by her chasing me, the whole time. 

My time was an even 33 minutes... definitely not a PR, but still squeaking in under an 11 minute mile. It was no amazing feat, but for the day after a CF wod, on dead legs, I'll take it. What I'll also take away from this is the accomplishment that I was UP, sweaty and moving (with a calorie deficit!), all before 10am on Thanksgiving. 
I was (am.) Thankful that my life has changed so dramatically for the better. 


You would think I'd earned a little rest... and I sorta did...I ate and made merry, then slept late on Friday... but then it was off again, with the CG to a rock climbing competition in NH. We were bring some demo shoes for the climbers, and spectating... and as an added perk, we get to do some climbing. This particular gym in Manchester - Vertical Dreams - is a cool atmosphere. It's a laid back, community oriented sort of place. The competition announcements were made by a heavily pierced and tattooed guy sitting on a tall railing, while everyone sat around on couches. 'nough said. 

Since my series of recent injuries, I haven't been doing much climbing. At all. It hurt. Now that I'm recovered, I'm hoping to get back at it, to continue to help me build up my upper body (and I'm really enjoying the challenge of it!). Clipping in and getting back on the wall these first few times back were real ugly. I felt like I'd never climbed before, everything felt 4x as hard, and I felt uncoordinated. But, again, a speed bump in the road, and I'm back to training now. 

The highlight of the visit though was the converted elevator shaft, which made a 4 story - 75 FOOT - vertical climb. I won't lie, BlogLand, this was a bit intimidating. There was an "easy" route for me to try... but it was long and strictly vertical. I started up, got stumped a few places and had to rest, but over all, I had a good time. The CG egged me on from the bottom, projecting directions up the shaft, whenever I started to freeze up and get "stuck". But, thanks to a few previous climbs and some raging sore arms from the CrossFit workout a couple days prior, right around the 60ft mark, my arms were done and I had to quit. Still, 60 ft!!! How cool is that?! I know it's nothing like climbing outside or anything, but it was awesome to try a different wall and see what a significant height would feel like. It's a little nerve wrecking when you look down..... but maybe that should serve as a lesson - don't look back at the past... keep your eyes forward and up on where you're going!


Saturday found me a complete rest day. I mean complete rest. Sleeping in. Didn't do much more than cook some tasty healthy food and wander around in my jammies. I'm pretty sure I showered, so Ha! There's some motivation for you. 


The soreness in my arms had been building the last few days, and on Sunday, it really reached the height of unpleasant. My biceps and forearms were so tight that I just wanted to cut my arm off at the shoulder. I couldn't straighten my right arm - my bicep when hanging "relaxed" still kept my arm engaged and at an angle. When I reached for something, I had to make ouchy faces and whine, quite a lot. 

This indicated to me it was time for a lot of water, a ridiculous amount of Tiger Balm..... and more yoga. 

With The Soprano's on in the background, I cleared a spot and settled in for an easy 35 minutes of yoga with Bob. Again, I will say, it got me warmed up, stretched out and feeling 100% better, by the time I was done. It was an excellent active recovery to get my body moving, but nothing too taxing. 

I went to bed hydrated and stretched out and not quite ready to get back to work on Monday (oh, Holiday Weekends, why are you so short?). 

And finally, the holiday weekend had drawn to a close... and Monday found me running around like a crazy person trying to do all the errands and such that I hadn't done for the last 3-4 days. 
My Workout consisted of carrying laundry bags and walking back and forth in the office. But hey, sometimes, life happens. 


Thankfully, I crawled out of bed for Tuesday morning CrossFit today. SO. DAMN. EARLY. 

It's getting more challenging, as the winter gets darker and colder... but this winter, I've built in an accountability system - Stacey. Stacey (who's quite a bit better at getting up early than I) was at my house at 6:03 am, waiting for me to jump in her (semi-warm) car and be carried off to CrossFit. It's pretty hard to argue with that. All I had to do was get some sneakers on and fall into the car. 

Today's WOD looked like this:

We did some time doing skill work on Double Unders. I tied my previous PR of ...... ONE.... double under. Yes, Blogland, ONE. But, again, I suppose that one is better than none. I just can't seem to find the rhythm to get in that allows you to get past that first glorious one. And, the concussion of my over-exuberant not-light thumping on the floor (I can't think of jumping lightly and turning quickly, at that hour of the day), started to make my leg feel a little funny. I eased up on that and decided I better save that learning curve for another day. 

Moving on, the main part of our Wod was:
- 20 Chest to bar pull ups (with a big black band, for me!) as a buy in, then:
As many rounds as possible in 7 minutes, increasing reps:
- 1 dead lift
- 1 hang clean
- 1 Overhead press
(second round is 2, 2, 2, third round is 3, 3, 3... etc.)

Wielding a 65# bar, I managed a respectable 6 complete rounds, completing the 7 dead lifts. I was finding the limiting factor to be my arms first (unhappy that we started with pull ups!), and then my ability to continually hang clean that weight. Blargh. But, the fact that I can do it at all, with a decent weight, made me happy. 

After those 7 minutes, we did a minute of Burpees Over Bar. Here's how it goes: face your bar, do a burpee, jump over bar, turn and face bar, do burpee. Repeat.  I managed a decent 13 complete burpees with a bar jump. Not too bad. 

Here's the kicker... you know how CrossFit cools down, Green Mountain Style? Yeah, we play crab walk soccer. Ever seen 6 adults trying to crab walk (crab run?) around the gym, kicking multiple balls into goals? Yeah. It's a pretty awesome way to start your morning. 

... and all before 7:15 am!


So, I'm successfully still "on track" after holiday schedule interruptions, and I feel like I did a pretty good job of taking a different approach to an big Eating Holiday this year. My, how things have changed?

I guess when it comes down to it, it's all about making a decision to be different and keeping those goals just on your horizon - far enough away that you need to keep working to chase them, but close enough that they constantly remind you of their presence. 

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