Tuesday, March 26, 2013

“If there are no heros to save you, then you be the hero.” – Denpa Kyoshi

Spartan Shape Up, Day 614:

I went running today.

...and every other day, for the last week or so. I'm 4 solid runs into "back on track." I've been eating 95% like I should, drinking water, stretching.... and really just doing what I know I should and need to be doing to feel healthy and get where I want to go.

Fueled by the fire of heading (back) in the right direction and the need to get out of my office chair and away from my laptop screen, I suited up and headed out for a run today.

Since gaining back a little weight, "suiting up" isn't as awesome, because I see all the bulges in the spandex again, and the extra tire where there wasn't one this summer. However, I turned away from the mirror with the knowledge that I was taking control of that vision of myself, going for a run, and moving myself 5K closer to where I wanted to be. My inner fat chick groaned because running has gotten to be a challenge again, but my outer badass informed her that it was too damn bad, and it was her fault we were here in the first place. Tie. The. Sneakers.

It was a beautiful day today. 40 degrees. Light breeze. A sure sign that spring is, indeed, headed our way. I almost enjoyed my mile long warm up, of walk-run-walk-run, to help my legs get back into the swing of things. I've been having difficulty with my calves turning to rocks early in my runs, which is just a sign that I haven't been doing this enough. Nonetheless, it was a lovely day out and I had given myself permission to "train" to my current ability level, rather than jog miserably and resent the place I was, because of injuries and winter and such.

I was training. I was working with what I had and I'd started to recognize that familiar feel of accomplishment. 2 miles in, checking the Garmin, not a great pace, but I was still under 12 minute miles; I accepted that as I re-trained my calves to keep going, despite their protestations. Serious protestations. Every couple blocks, they'd turn into concrete blocks, I'd wince and walk for 20 seconds and let them relax, start again.

This is a frustrating process for someone who, at one point last year, was training and running double digit numbers. However. We deal with what we have to work with, and I'm determined to get back to that. On I ran.

As I was in my last 3/4ths of a mile, I was going pretty slow. Still, I was pushing through with the rhythmic left, right, left, right in my head. I could look far down the street and see the stop lights that signaled my finish line for the day. I was in the homestretch.

For the most part, when I run alone, I'm in the zone. Left, right, left, right. One block of sidewalk at a time.

I was jarred out of this peaceful work time, by the harshly whispered, "...Thunder Thighs...." that hit my ear.

My latent Inner Fat Chick stopped short, suddenly feeling like the taunted 8th grader again, shrinking back to the far reaches of myself and fighting back rising tears. However, always one to subscribe to the "never let them see you cry," mentality, I forged on. I ran the remaining 3/4ths of a mile fueled on frustration, upset, sadness....... but then, I ran fueled on power. Power that came from the knowledge of the mountains I've climbed, literally and metaphorically, and the great leaps forward that I've made, from what I used to be.  I reflected on the drastic 180 I made in my life from depression, potato chip chowing, career in holding down the couch... to happy, confident, Spartan Race'ing, CrossFiting, Paleo-eating (...ish), career in whatever the HELL I want, because I can do ANYTHING.

MY "thunder thighs" are pillars of achievement.

They've crossed... 30+ finish lines, trudged about 260 muddy, obstacle course miles, walked beside and supported my friends that wanted to change their lives too, squatted my body weight and gave me the courage to stand confidently up and write my story for the world to read and help other people know that there is hope for the Inner Fat Kids.

My THUNDER THIGHS still touch ( I like to think the muscles are just too big...), they jiggle, they don't fit in "skinny" jeans.... but my thunder thighs will carry me to places that YOU - Mr.Idiot, stomping along, smoking a butt, muttering insults as I pass - could never HOPE to go.

May you get exactly what you deserve, my ignorant, weak, angry and projecting, passerby.

THANK YOU for fueling me though the end of my run and, through your ever so apt observation, remind me EXACTLY who I am.

I am a powerful being, BLESSED to have thighs big enough to help me hold up my massive hopes, dreams, goals and all around Awesomeness.

Respectfully yours, Blogland,

Love, Thunder Thighs.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"You just can't beat the person who never gives up." - Babe Ruth

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 608:

Here's our Words of Wisdom for today, BlogLand.

I stumbled across these words this morning, on my in-bed, waking-up, FaceBook skim. Some people read the paper with their coffee, I roll over, hit the alarm and cruise through FB. I'm lucky to have an inordinate amount of active friends, who are constantly posting about their adventures, workouts, trials and hurdles... which to me, helps keep me on track. Better than reading posts about cupcakes and TV shows, you know?

This one resonated with me, a lot today. It's no secret I've been struggling. I've been pretty up front with the fact that I haven't been training like I want to, and I've gained some of the weight back. BUT, thanks to some recent revelations (... last summers jeans are not comfortable, at the moment...) , a huge mental kick in the ass, and a promise to my CG that we're in it together (he's got to rehab from a back injury!!), I'm back at it. However, when I look at where I "should" be, or where I want to get to, it gets a little disheartening and overwhelming.

SO... the plan is "EFFORT...Every Single Day."

While I was mulling this over this morning, I also found that it would be another Work From Home day, thanks to the late spring Snowpocalypse here in VT. So, what could I do *TODAY* to put in the effort?

I had been meaning to get some activity in yesterday... but work has been pretty demanding. I recognized the excuse.

Thus, I sat down with my cup of coffee and a piece of blank paper. On it, I wrote the things I could do today, to put in the effort:
1) Eat carb-free, tasty, protein and veggie meals. Appropriately sized.
2) Get up and stretch for a few minutes, every hour.
3) Go for a mid-day run with my running buddy (who was enjoying a snow day, as a teacher!).
4) Have a concerted stretch session, post run.

All very doable and attainable today. Regardless of the missteps I've made in the last couple of months, the key was that these were very tangible, things that I could get done TODAY. To put in the effort TODAY towards progress tomorrow.

I am happy to say, at 8:42pm, that I have done all those things. And I have continued to hydrate all day. It's been a good day. Tomorrow, I hope to string on another good day.

I have to make mention of today's run, though. Setting out with my Running Buddy Extraordinaire, Stacey, we braved the snow accumulation. It was a heavy, wet snow, that resulted in about 3-4 messy, slidey inches on the sidewalk, and big, cold, wet puddles. Nonetheless, we are Spartans!

It was ugly, BlogLand, for me. 3.2 miles. The snow made it like we were running in beach sand. On top of the fact I haven't been running as much, this detail made this run particularly grueling. While the first couple of miles I handled okay, as mile 2 sailed by, my calves started tightening up, I was tired, and there had to be walk breaks. While I hate to say that I had to walk during "just" a 5K.... I was at least out DOING a 5K, even if there were 20 second walk breaks here and there (more than I wanted, but...).

Thankfully, I had a buddy! Stacey kept pushing forward, dragging me along in her enthusiastic wake, every time I'd groan and trot down to a walk for a few seconds. Positive encouragement just kept coming from her. It's absolutely invaluable, BlogLand, to have a training buddy, like this. Neither of you are perfect, but both of you can help push the other along when the hill gets a little steep.

Arriving at home, my calves were screaming, I was soaking wet from all the snow, but I felt good. I'd done what I'd set out to do, even if it wasn't particularly graceful. We set about a good 20-25 minute stretch session (fueled by recovery protein smoothies!), and commiserated about the bumps in the road we've been experiencing.

I will say that my hip flexor is angry. Tight, stiff and angry. But, after much thought and discussion with the GT, the consensus is that it's from WAY too much sitting, driving and sitting some more. Makes total sense. The body is not made to be so sedentary. More Tiger Balm, more stretches... more ... yoga. *sigh*

On that note, I leave you with this BlogLand. Not all days will be perfect. In fact, most of them won't be. You'll struggle, things hurt, the workout doesn't go as planned... but ask yourself, are you putting in the effort? That's what's important. What can you do TODAY that will help you get to where you want to be tomorrow?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"May the Road Rise Up to Meet You..."

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 606:

There have been too many things out of my control lately (losing my apartment, not finding a new place right away, having no money, etc.), that I've been letting take over, that I finally stopped and reevaluated what was happening. Yes, there were things I could not force into being different.... but that was no reason that I needed to be unhappy and unable to continue my pursuit towards better health and fitness.

With much sadness, I had to cancel my CrossFit membership (hopefully, temporarily) recently, because of finances and living situations. However, while this was a real blow to my motivation, I also know that I have ALL the equipment I need at my disposal, and a huge network of inspiring friends and family, that are there to assist with my forward progression.

No more excuses. Just work.

Arriving home from my 1.5 hour drive from The Office, I felt stiff and tight. I've been spending FAR too much time in a car and at a desk, and no where near enough time being mobile and active. I was (am.) feeling it. The real kicker was when I bent over to pick up a sock on the floor and my damn chronically tight hamstrings were SO tight that I had to bend my knees to pick it up. This HAD to stop.

Half an hour later, I found myself in front of my TV, Yoga DVD in and ready to get bendy. My preferred "yoga"... DVD right now is currently the one with Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser (Biggest Loser, Weight Loss Yoga). It's easy, made for not bendy people, has a few different levels and leaves me feeling stretched out and good. Yeah, it's not P90X yoga, it's not Bikram.... but it's real yoga that I will DO (that's key!), that doesn't feel too frustrating.

Off I went. Downward Dog, Triangle, *twisting* triangle (ack!)... I did the best I could. My body was so locked up that it sounded like I was making popcorn, every time I'd move into a new position. My back was cracking, my knees were popping and my muscles were stretching. I admit, it felt AWESOME.

Oddly, I think you never realize how immobile or not flexible you are, until you restore that flexibility. After doing the light half hour of yoga, I felt like my hips could move again, my legs didn't feel stiff, and my body felt more relaxed. Clearly, I'd done the right thing.

The feeling of satisfaction for getting back on track really helps to propel me forward. So, yesterday, in the beautiful bright afternoon, my running buddy rallied from her lingering cold, and we headed out for a run.

BlogLand, it wasn't pretty. I've definitely taken a few steps backward, as far as my running abilities. However, here's a good time to remember that I was at least OUT THERE and doing it. Doing work is the only way to make more progress - not sitting on the couch lamenting how good you USED to be. Do. Work.

We were aiming for an easy 5K. I knew this was a distance I could fight through, but long enough to get in a solid 30 minutes of work. I didn't feel too bad for the first 2 miles. My brain was happy to be outside, my body felt good in motion and all was well with the world. Mile 2 brought some more work, though. I did have to take a couple of short walk breaks, but each time, I resolved to get back to running and keep going.

I have to acknowledge the fact that I'm heavier than I was this summer, haven't been running and need to respect the fact that my body needs to get back at it. Walk breaks were unavoidable.

Nonetheless, Stacey and I got it done and arrived back at my house, sweaty and accomplished. Not our best time, but right about 34 minutes (3.2 miles), averaging about an 11:20 pace - which, quite frankly, is better than when I first started running, so all is not lost!

Later, after looking at a great housing potential (thank you, Karma!!), The CG and I headed out to hit the climbing gym for a while. Got my run on in the morning, time to work out a lot of the upper body in the afternoon!

I fought with several tricky routes. I'm still learning technique, so while some should be "easy"... they're just not for me. I'm learning to climb with more finesse, to make the most of what I do have (powerful legs) and work around what is not an asset (t-rex arms). My forearms and back were crying by the end of one route in particular. I was metaphorically banging my head against the wall over and over, until suddenly, the moves clicked and my body rallied and got to the top.
To round out the day at the climbing gym, the CG and I did some grip work (dead hangs) and core stuff (knees to elbows, L-sits, etc.). If you're going to dead hang for grip purposes, you might as well make your body work in other places too.

It was a good day. I slept well, my body felt used and tired, and I had made good choices all day.

This morning, I rolled over with a groan and a sudden desire for a bunch of Ibuprofen and Tiger Balm. LOL. But, what are you going to do? STFU and keep at it. I know from experience that it GETS BETTER the more you do it. Yeah, you're going to be sore. You're going to feel stiff... but you recover faster, you get better and it's much more manageable. You just have to get over that initial ugly hump.

So, I'm working on my hydrating (don't forget it, BlogLand! Your body needs it to recover!), taking my daily Multi-vitamin, getting in some extra fish oil (decreasing inflammation and helping with weight loss), and eating correctly.

Also, tonight, to wind down and have a little light recovery, I'll be hitting up the Yoga again. Race season is upon us and I work for one of the coolest companies in the world - time to represent!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness. -- Les Brown

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 601:

Oh Blogland. I’ve been a horrid version of a Spartan, while my life has gone absolutely crazy and taken me with it.

To make a long story short, the holidays were hard and I never pulled up out of the Winter Blues nosedive. I have been trying and trying, but life doesn’t seem to want to cut me a break right now. Basically, I lost my lucrative but soul-sucking job, found my dream job but make no money. Find myself driving 1.5 hours (one way) several times a week and staying at an array of local places, wherever will be free.  In the midst of sorting that out (and some semi-permanent weekday accommodations), my landlord decided to reclaim my home-base and give me 60 days to find something else. And my darling boyfriend and his cat moved in.  Now, we all three are homeless… and torn in many directions by work family/friends and our activities.  Budget is tight and finding a living situation that fits most of our needs is… stressful. All in the last 2 months.
In the midst of all the stress, I have found myself reverting back to old behaviors. Mindless Stress eating. Lots of carbs (and stupid ones. Candy. Chips. Impulse buys.). I fell off the workout train and got horribly run over by it, and pretty much don’t even know what direction it went in, now. I’ve gained double digit weight back, everything (running, climbing, etc.) has gotten miserably difficult and frustrating again, and my jeans from this summer barely button.

I feel stressed out of my mind, stretched real thin and not feeling all that healthy.

My point being…… it happens to all of us.

Life happens and it’s time to regroup. There are things you can change and things you cannot. Sometimes you have to sit down and remind yourself of the difference. While I cannot change the balance in my bank account, I CAN control what I stuff in my face. I CAN control whether I squeeze in 30 minutes of yoga, or 30 minutes of bodyweight exercises. I can be mindful about drinking enough water.
It’s hard. Really hard. I think of the last big hill at the Vermont Beast, this year. I was, maybe, 11-12 out of 14 miles in, and it just kept going up. Through the forest. 45+ degree incline. There was no end in sight, everything hurt, I couldn’t breathe, and sweat was pouring off of me. I wanted to just sit down and  just be done, but I had to keep going, if I wanted to find the end. One foot in front of the other. Three steps then stop. Three more steps. Stop. Three more steps. Just keep moving. Slow, but forward.

After the longest hour (…? More? Less?) of my life, I saw the light breaking through the trees. I had climbed long enough and hard enough that I’d found the top. The hill leveled out, no more roots were grabbing at my ankles, my calves were no longer screaming at the incline. One step at a time, I’d made it. I took a deep breath and nearly cried with relief. I was far from the end, but I was definitely in a better place.
I think that’s where I am in my life right now. I’m at that dark point in a Spartan Race where you doubt. Where you wonder why you’re doing it. Whether you’re actually going to be able to finish. Whether you are, in fact, Spartan enough. How much longer you can keep going.

I've crossed many finish lines, muddy, beat up, bleeding and exhausted. But I’ve crossed them, when I wasn’t sure I should’ve even started. Each time, it was because I kept moving, no matter how slow. I’ve finished in the dark. I've finished in hurricanes. I've finished in pain.

But I’ve finished. Every. Single. Time.

I think it’s time to remind myself of that. I’ve proven myself stronger than I think, all my critics more wrong than they thought, done things I’ve thought were impossible, and kept going on Will alone, when all else failed.

There’s always a mountain. But I won’t let it win.