Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spartan Chicked: Spreading Holiday Awesomeness, Worldwide!

Last year, on a whim, I posed an idea to a smallish group of Spartan Chicks: let's do a Secret Santa, Holiday Gift Swap. Many of the ladies had been my inspiration through that inaugural, formative  year of my Spartan Shape-Up, and it seemed like a great way to spread out the love and camaraderie that we'd all found in the FaceBook group, on the muddy courses, and frequent email exchanges. 

Our Holiday Gift Swap that year had just about 100 participants. This year, with the uprising of women into obstacle racing, subsequently finding the Spartan Chicked group at a staggering 8000+ women strong, our gift exchange garnered roughly 250 eager participants. While I can claim to be the facilitator, the Chicks involved brought the event to life, creating searchable posts introducing themselves to each other, brainstorming useful and creative gift ideas and making sure there was no chick left behind ("Yes! We'll figure out how to get a Chick gift to a women stationed in Korea in military training! Aroo!").

From the Pacific Northwest to the tip of Florida, the United Kingdom to Australia, Mexico to Canada and beyond, the Chicks embraced their Giftee like long-lost family. Some mailed gift baskets of practical use: their favorite fueling bar or gel, training gloves to prevent blisters, anti-chafing sticks for those long runs, or technical socks to keep our feet running the mountains. Others decided to pamper the inner goddess that makes the Chicks special, shipping out relaxing bath salts, salves for sore muscles, nail polish in Chicked Pink, or shiny delicate baubles (ironically) shaped like kettlebells or weight bars, to keep our head in the game when not clad in spandex. Finally, there were the socks... While all sorts of t-shirts and gear were mailed around the globe, the Chicked movement has embraced socks as a personal, feminine, yet practical, statement. Bright colored running socks, striped knee highs to protect your shins during mud crawls, dramatic thigh-highs to pair with your shorts and every incarnation in between, were gifted from chick to chick. My personal favorite, all the tall socks that proclaimed loud and proud, statements of Spartan Strong Women: "Bad Ass," "Burpees Suck," "Lift Strong" and "Girl Power." 

While the gifts were a wonderful surprise (almost all the Chicks will tell you that they were waiting anxiously by their mailbox for their Spartan Santa gift to arrive!), the thing that differentiated our Chicked Holiday Gift Swap from any other Secret Santa I've ever participated in, was the expressions of community. Every package reached it's recipient with hand-drawn cards, lengthy letters sharing holiday well-wishes, motivational notes for the year ahead and a lot of support from one Chick to another, regardless of age or distance. One package even included a small token addressed to the Chick's child, from one mother to another, because the time had been taken to learn something about the recipient and acknowledge her as a person - not "just" an obstacle racer.

As the year draws to a close, I count myself extremely lucky to be grouped in among the Spartan Chicks. Although I know they are a spectacularly determined, driven group of women, sweating their butts of to show their stuff on the race course, every year this gift swap reminds me that they are so much more than that; the women of Sparta are group of ladies, ready to welcome you with open arms and support you through whatever life throws at you. Come tall, muddy walls, a difficult personal situation, a training plateau or a bad day at work, Spartan Chicks are there - worldwide - to keep your head up and your feet moving forward. 

A big Thank You! to all the Chicks who continue to inspire one another and were willing to share some Holiday cheer with their fellow ladies. Our gift swap went off without a hitch, and I can not wait to see how much Spartan love we can flood the Postal Service with in 2013! AROO!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working. -Kenneth Grahame

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 525:

Now that the Holiday Craziness has hit a bit of a lull (after the crazy 12" snowstorm we're now cleaning up from!), I feel compelled to tell you all about the awesomeness that was my Christmas Day.

While in Christmas' past, this would involve me sleeping in until Whenever, putzing around the house in my PJ's while my mother made a big dinner and eating myself silly on carb-laden holiday treats... I'm happy to say that this Christmas (Aja 2.0!) was a little different.

Thanks to the creative ingenuity of my fabulous Spartan buddy, Stacey, I was up *before* 8am and preparing to head out in 16 degree weather for a "Festive Run" on Christmas morning. We were instructed to dress festively and prepare for an easy 5K.

Race Bibs!
Upon our arrival, Stacey passed out our race bibs. Yes. Race bibs (there's rumor that next year might have finisher medals!)! We were all rocking a festive array of clothing - Santa hats, candy cane striped socks, red and green running attire, infamous "ugly" sweaters... you name it. Stacey, our fearless organizer, was even toting a handful of jingle bells for merry-making along the way.

Festive Run Style!
Our festive crew geared up and pinned on our bibs and headed out behind our leader to greet this holiday in sweaty style. Being a Spartan and always ready to throw in a curve ball, Stacey headed us up the infamous Hill, to start. We started plowing up it and my out-of-condition (sigh) legs were a little cranky, but they were not what forced us to slow to a walk; there was actually a bit of ice that made running uphill near impossible. Not to be deterred, we trudged up the hill and resumed our run into town.

Stacey, leading the Merriment!
Turning onto the main street, we set about running a long run throw the downtown of the booming metropolis of Barre, VT. The snow was coming down heavy, in big scenic flakes, and it was everyone's picturesque dream of a White Christmas.

We were forced to go a little slow and shorten our stride a bit to accommodate for the occasionally slippery terrain - you'd know when one of the ladies had found a slightly slippery patch by the "eee!!!" followed by a giggle and continued footfalls.

Running through the main part of downtown (down one side of main street and up the other!) was the most entertaining. Drivers headed to their holiday destinations beeped and waved and smiled at The Crazies that were out taking on a Festive Run. However, if there's one thing I've learned in this Spartan Shape-Up journey, is you really just can't care what other people think... otherwise, when would you run around carrying a tire, or dropping to do burpees?

Overall though, we seemed to bring a smile to everyone's face, as Stacey would grin ear to ear and enthusiastically shake her bells and wave at the cars, while the rest of our group would laugh, smile and try not to fall on our butts.

I'm happy to say that, despite my body reminding me VERY enthusiastically that we haven't been running enough, a grand time was had by all (and hopefully, this is just the first of our festive runs!). We all made it back to our start warm and toasty and unscathed, and ready and energized to tackle the rest of our holiday plans.

It has been interesting to reflect on how things have changed, since committing to a healthier lifestyle. While I will admit there have been slip ups and backslides (I can't even TALK about ridiculous amount of cookies that have been eaten the last few days - the rest just hit the trashcan!), I recognize that I have made the change to mostly healthier decisions. While it would've been easier to stay in bed and laze around in my PJ's, I willingly suited up and went out for a merry run in the sub-20 degree weather. It can be done folks, sometimes it just takes a little longer to get your head in the right place.

Now, since I've run for every holiday so far... I wonder, what is my New Year's Day plan? HMMMmmmmm......

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 518:

VICTORY was MINE!! on Tuesday morning, when I dragged myself out of bed pre-6am and fell into Stacey's car to head to CrossFit. The weather was spitting and slushy and wet and icy.... but we were not to be deterred. Tuesday morning is CF morning, BlogLand, and I'm trying to get back in the habit of reminding myself that it is non-negotiable - no matter HOWcomfy and warm my bed may be.

It was a predominently "heavy" WOD at CrossFit that looked like this (after a warm up, of course):

E3MOTM (Every 3 Min on the Min) for 15 min:
- Push Jerks
5-5-3-3-3 (reps, with increasing weight)
- 10 Toes to Bar

So, I did pretty well with this WOD. It's been a while since I did push jerks, and usually overhead lifts are not my strong point, but I think I've gotten stronger (climbing???). I was adding weight the first 3 rounds, then the 4th round, I stayed at the same weight (85#)... but then I thought to myself, "Am I pushing? Am I doing all I can do?"... and the answer was No. SO, I tacked on some extra weight, to max out the last round at 95#. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. It was difficult, but I could accomplish it. And to think, I might've stopped at 85#, because I was doubting.

Here's the lesson... Ask your self, are you REALLY pushing yourself, and doing your best, or are you just afraid to try a little bit more and fail? Are you doubting yourself? Obviously, you need to keep yourself safe and listen to your body... but you also need to gut-check that little voice in your head that sends you all the doubts. Most often, you can do a LITTLE more, or a little faster, or a little longer.... maybe even just one more rep. DO IT. That is where growth occurs... and you just might surprise yourself.

The Toes to Bar are a neutral exercise for me. I can't quite do them, so I end up doing something like Toes to As High Up as I can Get Them... but, my grip strength has gotten better, so it's begun to get slightly easier to hang through a set of ten... rather than having to break it up into 2-3's as I used to have to. Progress! Slow and Steady.


5 Rounds for Time:
50 Jump Ropes (Double Unders if possible)
10 Push Jerks

Again, this was the type of WOD that I like, BlogLand... I really enjoy lifting, and less enjoy things like Burpees and Bear Crawls (but really, who likes that?). I did all my jumps without consequence (haven't figured out double unders, yet...), and beasted through the push jerks.
I scaled down the weight for this WOD to 75# which felt heavy by the last round, but I was able to complete (which says to me that I picked the right weight! Yay!).
Never once, during this WOD did I doubt whether I could complete it strongly. For once (in quite a while since coming back off injuries), I felt capable and powerful again. RAWWRRRR Push Jerk.
Having said that, the last round of 10 push jerks was an effort... 75# gets mighty heavy after the first part of the day and then the rest of the reps.... I had paused before my last two reps, looked at Stacey working her ass off in front of me, and giving me a GREAT example of putting your mind to something.... and taking a deep breath, I focused and banged out two more, good form, Push Jerks at 75#. I won't lie... there may have been some primal-grunting, which is never out of place in a crossfit WOD. I swear, sometimes that grunt or scream or exclamation helps you rally for that one more rep.


I felt awesome and accomplished all day. A good WOD can do that for you... remind you that your desk and your office job are not all that you are. You are powerful, capable, determined and a force to be reckoned with. How many people in the world can say they were up pre-6am and on a mission to better themselves, before the sun even came up? YOU WIN.

Today, I'm patented CrossFit Creaky.... Those push-jerks have rendered my upper body a wee bit stiff... but nothing too bad. Just a reminder of yesterday's fun!

Tonight, on the schedule is a bit of mid-week climbing, followed by a nice easy 35 min yoga session to stretch it all out. Ahhh yeah. I'm learning to appreciate that, even though I STILL suck at flexibility.

One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, making good decisions one moment at a time....

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 515-16:

My biceps are sore, my deltoids are creaky and my lats are unhappy and making their presence known.

It feels AWESOME.

It's no secret, BlogLand, that I've been a little off track of late; I've had difficulty getting back into the training routine after being "out" injured, I've been struggling to get the food part under control, I've been struggling to remind myself WHY I want to get up early and go run in the cold. Further, I'll admit, when I have gone out, things that were easy (running a 5K) are challenging again, and I get into that negative "why bother!" head space.

BUT. I'm a Spartan and Spartan's don't quit. Particularly when they have big plans for a 2013 race season.

Anyway, Saturday found me in Everett, MA. at MetroRock for the Dark Horse climbing competition. No, No, BlogLand... it's not what you think. I'm *definitely* not competing (LOL!), but the CG is a sales rep for MadRock climbing shoes/gear, so he needed to go for work purposes.... and I needed to go get my climb on!

One of the first things we wanted to try out was the Auto-Belay system that they have in place. Basically, it's a device that allows you to climb without a partner to belay you - which is pretty cool if you don't have a regular belay buddy. It works on the same principle as those badge holders, or vacuum cord retractors: the device is always pulling up, until you start to fall, at which point it lets you down slowly. Sounds great, right? (we were particularly interested in trying these, because our home back rock gym - Petra Cliffs - was installing the auto belays, too...).

Clipping in for the first time was disconcerting. When you're climbing with a buddy belaying you, you can feel a constant person at the other end of your rope, that makes it feel "safe". They can keep the rope a little extra tight if you're struggling, and basically, their constant activity of belaying you reminds you subtly that someone has your back. With an auto-belay, you have a constant slight, gentle pull. One you don't notice all that much while you're climbing up... but hey, no big deal, because you're climbing up. However, at some point you have to come down and this is where the BIG DIFFERENCE lies.                                                                            

In a normal buddy-belay, when you reach the top, they've got the rope taught and you can just sort of sit back away from the wall, at which point they can lower you down at a consistent rate. An auto-belay doesn't work that way. When you reach the top, you have to just let go and trust that it will catch you; you actually "fall" about a foot, before the auto belay catches and realizes that you want to go down, at which point it slows you to a gentle, even lowering speed. But that first 12 inch "fall" is TERRIFYING. 1) you have to trust the machine to catch you, 2) it feels like you're jumping to your death, because there's no tension on the rope, really, until you pass that first 12 inches of falling and it catches. So, I won't lie, every time I got to the top with the autobelay, I had to take a few deep breaths, close my eyes and force myself to push off the wall.

I am happy to report that after a dozen auto belays in the last couple of days, I am still here to blog about it. Crazy to get used to, but safe for some solo gym work.

So, the CG and I did a few climbs at MetroRock, but then he had to get back to work... so it was just me and the auto belays. I dutifully attacked a few routes that I thought I could handle... a 5.6 and a 5.7... I managed the 5.6, but the 5.7 continued to elude me, with it's small, pinchy hand holds. I could barely get up 5-6 feet with that one. Frustrated, I was. The other thing is that, with an auto-belay, you don't have a buddy that you're switching off with, giving you some built in rest time. Therefore, like any self-competitive sort, I was working the routes in quick succession, inadvertently working on my muscle stamina. I knew it was time for a break, when I got to the top of the 5.6 and my arms were burning. Ohhhh yeahhh... that battery acid in your veins sort of feeling, that reminds you that you're alive and making progress.

With cooked arms, I unclipped for the day and went to watch the pros at work on the competition. It's really impressive what some of these people can do - hang their whole body weight from two fingers, while explosively jumping to grab the next hold. Something to aspire to, for sure. When pursuing a new activity or sport, I find it extremely helpful to have the picture of an "expert" in  your head to try and emulate. For instance, watching some of the basic, good technique that comes so naturally to the pros, helps me envision it for when I try my own tricky routes.

Fast forward to today, the CG and I headed off to Petra for a real workout. Yesterday didn't "count" so much, because I was only at it for about 45 minutes or so (although, did get a pretty good burn) and my CG didn't get to climb much at all.

We warmed up on a few routes and my biceps twitched a little, reminding me of yesterday's activities. But no matter, time to get a real WOD in. The CG suggested we do some bouldering today. Bouldering: tricky short-wall problems that you work through, usually requiring more strength, not roped up.

I fought with one problem for quite some time, as it required you to hang from your right arm (holding a wide grip on something maybe the size of a 4x6) with your feet on small holds out to your left.... then, with an explosive swing and pull on that one right arm, REACH with your left arm and grab on to another hold (thus getting your body back over your feet). Here's the thing, BlogLand... as we all know, I have T-Rex arms. The hanging was difficult enough, never mind the swing, reach and grab. We fought. I landed on my ass a whole bunch of times. There was even a moment (honesty, here at WhataBeautifulWreck...), where I was so angry that I just couldn't make my body do this - which I thought I should be able to - that I hit the squishy floor, butt first and ground my teeth, wanting to cry in frustration a bit. It's lingering remnants of my inner fat chick, feeling incapable, as well as self-depreciation, because I feel like I've been failing on staying on track, eating right, etc.

BUT, BlogLand... here is key. You can have those thoughts, acknowledge that they're a part of you.... and then tell them to STFU, as you move past them. The simple fact that you're frustrated because you can not perfectly perform a difficult activity should be a reminder that you're NOT on the couch and you're attempting difficult activities!! SO, you're not there YET.... but you're still on your way.

We bouldered a little longer, until my biceps were screaming while I just stood there, then did a few runs at some easy routes, while I focused on using my strengths (legs!) instead of trying to drag myself up the wall by my (mostly-decorative) arms.

Finally, with hands that did no longer close, and arms that were limp with exhaustion, we unroped and headed home.

.... but, oh no, we're not done yet. As you all well know, I've been trying to incorporate more stretching into my life a) to increase mobility, b) to prevent re-injuries from happening and c) to increase my performance and abilities going forward. SO... Yoga time!!

To cap of this weekend of climbing, we Warrior 1'd and Twisting Star'ed ourselves (yep, the CG does it with me too!! WAHA!) into a stretched out, pleasantly exhausted state. Corpse pose (laying flat on your back, breathing), was AWESOME.

As I sit here telling you about my adventures, I'm tired.... but that's the point. It's the end of the day, the end of the weekend , and I DID something with my life, rather than just held down the couch. I am probably going to be creaky tomorrow, but it will remind me to do some more yoga, and I will know that it is just a step in the right direction for getting my body into the shape I want it to be in.

Baby steps.

That said, it's time for some hydration (water fixes SO many things!), and some good fuel. There's a tasty pot roast cooking, some cauliflower mash with bacon (when you can't have potatoes, this can be a good sub), and brussel sprouts.

So, as you spend your Sunday evening planning your crazy holiday-filled week to come, take a moment and assess where you're at and where you've come from. Yeah, today your deltoids are on fire, and your back is tired.... but hey, would old you have ever worked that hard? Would your previous Fat Kid ever have even THOUGHT of going climbing? I know mine wouldn't.

VICTORY! One screaming muscle at a time.......

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Heights by great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight but, while their companions slept, they were toiling upward in the night.

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 511:

Getting back into workouts in the early morning (AT the gym for 6:15am) is the bane of my existance. I'm not a morning person. It just doesn't go well for me.

Thankfully, I have an excellent gym buddy (rule #1 of sustained training!) who drives to my house and picks me up - I don't even have to be awake enough to drive... just clad in my sneakers and spandex and stumbling out of the house. .... which, is pretty much all I'm capable of at that time of day. It's not even light out when I leave my house, these days; that's something that's really difficult for me, as I am a S.A.D sufferer (lack of light issue).

Nonetheless, Tuesday morning found Stacey beeping in my driveway, and I tumbled out the door (banana in hand!) and grunted an intelligble "good morning."

Crossfit consisted of not one, but TWO WODs...

First WOD:

EMOTM (Every minute on the minute) for 10 minutes:
7 Kettlebell swings
7 box jumps
max pull ups

Yeahh..... That was an ugly time. I tried the first two minutes as prescribed, but while I'm fast and competent on the KB swings (using the RX weight for women), the box jumps were slowing me down something fierce. Once I got through 7 of them, I didn't have time to get in my pull ups. Basically, I'm paranoid about the box jumps, because I do start feeling them in my shin a little bit. It's totally fine, but I'm leery of aggravating it again, so I'm being extra cautious - resulting in me stepping down, rather than a more time efficient jump down.
Nonetheless, I was doing work, so it was time to figure out how to scale it. What I ended up doing for the remainder of rounds was:
7 KB Swings (I was killing those bad boys!)
3-4 box jumps (depending on the time I had)
2-3 pull ups (with a heavy duty band)
This was pretty cardio heavy (KB swings and box jumps), and I am feeling the extra weight that I have put back on and the lack of training during my injury times. I got through it and I pushed the whole time, but I was aware that I really need to get back to it.

The Second WOD:
This one was an ugly AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) for 10 minutes.
21 Wall balls
15 push ups
4 laps bear crawing

...... yeah. Again, I TRIED the first round. I did the 21 wall balls, I was good there. But the bear crawls were killing me. My arms and shoulders just don't have the oomph to do push ups and then support me for all that time doing bear crawls.
Again, I had to swallow my pride at not being able to do WOD as written, and modify it down.
15 Wall balls (14#)
9 push ups (on my knees)
2 laps of bear crawls

and BOY my ass was handed to me. Bear crawls have officially begun to rival burpees as my least favorite exerices.

Having said that, I reminded myself that I'm just getting back into Crossfit. I have to have a little patience with myself. Also, I have to think about the way I approach these things... we were doing these WOD's AFTER doing a warm up that included Ski/Row sprints, 30 burpees and situps. My WARMUP really was (as the saying goes) more difficult that most people's typical workouts.

That said, the victory was that I was THERE, in the gym, at the crack of dawn, taking another step in the right direction. The battles that lead toward ultimate victory are won in these small moments... not big giant leaps.

So, today, I'm sitting here, with the worlds stiffest quads (it is not great to sit at an office job, after doing a lot of KB swings! lol), stretching and anticipating my next WOD. I think this weekend will be some climbing, some stretching yoga and an easy paced run.

While it's a battle and I've lost a little ground, one must always remember - it's a lifestyle change, not an event you train for or a finish line you cross. You're not done. You're never done. But are you happy with the direction you're moving in?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

If you want to conquer fear, don't sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. -Dale Carnegie

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 500-502:

As ever, this weekend was a busy one for me, BlogLand... but I'm prioritizing training again (REFOCUS.), and I got down to business.

Friday night found me at the climbing gym with my CG and some friends, "pulling on some plastic" as they say. I'm still a raging beginner and lack a lot of finesse, but I keep telling myself that that just means I am gaining more from these visits. I am not spider-like and graceful when I climb, in fact, I'm pretty sure I must look more like an ogre storming a castle wall, when I do it. BUT! I'm doing it. That's what's always key, BlogLand, and probably one of the most important lessons I've learned along the way. It doesn't matter how stupid you think you look, how slow you go, or how "bad" you might be at something... 1) everyone starts at the beginning sometime, and 2) you're beating the crap out of everyone else who is too afraid to try in the first place.

So, I will continue to muscle my way up these routes (I swear, I must look like a bull in a china shop!), but along the way, listening to the instructions of my CG and other people in the know, I will learn to do it a little better. Use my legs more efficiently, stop death-gripping with my hands and wearing out my t-rex arms. One thing at a time. It's pretty cool though... I am equally nervous and excited about the prospect of trying climbing outside at some point. I understand that is a large mental game - that it's not the height of the climb, but the feeling of exposure (you're like a bug on a rock face) that plays with most people's heads. After all the mind battles that training for Spartan Race has put me through, I'm pretty sure I can brain-muscle through this one too. Plus, how cool will those pictures be????

After struggling through a few climbs and being weary of my stupid leg (it's not a fan of walking on the soft mats in a climbing gym), which I'm pushing to get back up to speed, I did leave the gym feeling energized. It was a (relatively) short, after-work workout, but my arms felt trashed (in a good way), and my legs felt good to stretch out, after being at my desk all day.

Saturday brought some real work. I had some downtime while the CG had to pack for his next business trip. I also knew I should go for a run. The plan is to ease back into running, 3x a week, short runs, to get my leg back in the game and not anger it too much from the get go. However, after Thanksgiving's disastrous 5K, I was feeling a little... apprehensive. I had a mental fight with myself, while pulling on my insulated CW-X (I love these things, so much.) tights. It had snowed the night before, it was going to be brisk out... but I hate running in the heat, so this is good, right? My legs were relatively fresh and the area was mostly flat, so again, I was in good shape for a successful run, right? SELF, we can do this, I yelled in my head. It's not like I've never run 3-4 miles before. Geesh.

Somehow, I made it out the front door. It was brisk, but I assessed that I was probably dressed appropriately, because I wasn't freezing, but I wasn't immediately warm either (running hint: dress for weather 10 degrees warmer... so you'll start cold, but when you warm up running, you'll feel the right temperature!).

I left, deciding that I would do 4 miles. Two miles out and two miles back. It was pretty flat and that *should* be a good weekend distance for me. I trotted the first half mile slowly, to warm up. My legs felt heavy, and I tried to focus on a solid, but light, mid foot strikes. I am overly conscious of my legs, recently, because I don't want to anger them into shin-splints again. Yikes, that was ugly. So, after a slow trot for the first 1/2 mile, I walked a minute to stretch my calves out a little. My breathing felt fine, but my legs were not quite on board with this whole process yet. And I won't lie, it was a bit cold with the wind (I'd forgotten a 'wind' layer).

I jogged on, but I was definitely not feeling my usual energetic self. It felt like a repeat of that ugly 5K I just finished. My legs felt heavy, out of shape, unwilling. Still, I spartaned up and slowly jogged on (better slowly than not at all?). I paused again for a quick walk break to look at my GPS.

.... 1 mile.


... I was sure I was almost at my 2 mile turnaround point. I wanted to cry a little bit just then. I was fighting this whole run, and I wasn't even halfway through yet, and my legs felt like I'd never run before in my life. Still, I said 4 miles total... so, on I went.

From there, it got ugly. Truth be told, roughly every half to 3/4 of a mile afterward, I dropped to a walk for 15-20 seconds. Walked the length of a telephone pole, or to that driveway, or some other marker. I was so unhappy with that process, but I guess this is what being out of commission for a while does to you... takes you back down the training latter a little bit. Thankfully, I am familiar with this process: run until I feel like I can't run any more, run just a little bit further, walk for 15-20, get back to running. Repeat.

I was not a happy camper, but I manged to get to the two mile mark, at which point it was at least a relief to turn and know that "all" I had to do was run back home. Starting my run back, I did take some comfort in knowing that I had been running a slight up hill the whole way... but I was still disappointed at the place that I was finding my legs in. I was struggling to run a little over a 5K. I definitely couldn't run it straight through. But, I ran - with walk breaks - my 4 miles, even though it was a push to make it the whole time. I berated myself in my head for letting this slip happen, I tried to remind myself that I'd been injured and it was inevitable, I got angry that I hadn't been more proactive, I told myself it was only a little set back... let's just say, 4 slow miles is a long time to have an inner monologue that's less than sunshiney.

BUT, I think the Cosmos were on my side. Despite the disappointment in my run, I didn't turn around early and I didn't give up. I pushed the whole way through (SPARTAN UP.). When I arrive back at my starting point, sweaty, slushy from the sidewalks and trying to talk myself positive, it was like magic: the Garuka Bar fairy was standing at the door and handed me a bag of a whole bunch of tasty bars. Unexpected. Okay, this day was starting to turn around. THEN, the CG was buzzing around the kitchen, making a particularly uber-yummy egg drop soup - the PERFECT after-run lunch on a cold day. Clearly, I was being rewarded for my persistence (or, that is at least how I am choosing to view this turn of events).

After refueling and re-hydrating a bit, it was time for stretching, but instead of just doing it on my own, I was joined by my dear CG and we turned to Bob, on my new beginner-yoga DVD.

Yeah. I was voluntarily doing yoga, after my run. The Mayans were right, the world is ending.

Nonetheless, we Warrior 1'd and Down Dogged our way into some great stretching. My darn t-rex arms shook every time we were instructed to plank or Down Dog.... or quite frankly, just hold our arms up in the warrior poses, etc. for that ridiculous period of time.

I must stay, as I starfished on the I mean, "Corpse Pose"... at the end of the video, I felt good. It wasn't not my highest performing day, but in reflection, I felt like I was at least back on the right path, making good choices. I went for my run, even though it was cold and the run was hard. I came back and stretched - YOGA!! - to help prevent my injuries in the future. I ate a great paleo-friendly lunch. Good choices. Steps along the right path.

It's not always going to be easy, BlogLand. It sure as hell hasn't been for me. I've gained a little bit of my weight back, thanks to my Injury Lay-Off, running has gotten harder and I'm sore after CrossFit.... but that is by NO MEANS a sign that it's time to give up. It just means that that was a learning opportunity (more stretching!) and now I have a chance to come back stronger and more informed than I was before. I have a really well-rounded training program, a lot of qualified help, and I have determination and will-power. I will make it happen, and 2013 is going to be a GREAT year.

Use those little set backs like a bit of a slingshot....... a few steps back, only to propel yourself forward 10 steps!