Monday, October 31, 2011

"If you want to accomplish the goals of your life, you have to begin with the spirit." ~ Oprah Winfrey

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 103:

Woot! Beat the Morning, today, BlogLand. That's a big victory for me - got right up, when the alarm went off, rather than hitting the snooze a few times. Running that 5K this weekend really escalated my fire and drive to push this process to new limits. It was the first time in quite a long time that I have wanted to turn around to everyone I walked by and say - LOOK what I DID!! I was proud of myself, and saw a tiny glimpse of the person inside of me that has been trapped for a long time. This was the first major tangible step achieved in this process.

You know how I knew this? I showed people PICTURES  - bad, sweaty, poorly composed, unflattering, candid, unposed - PICTURES of me, during the race. My hair is everywhere, I can't even comment on the unflattering tummy bulges, or bad angles, you know the drill..... But I showed them to people. Proudly, and without even really caring. Why? Because all I could see in those pictures was Victory. Victory over 65#, Victory over my self-doubts, Victory over lifelong habits, Victory over pain and hard decisions.... Triumph as I crossed the finish line. WHO CARES what the hell you look like, when you have a picture of you crossing a finish line, and know how much more than JUST a finish line that is?

SO, yes, I hopped right up out of bed this morning, anxious to beat my WOD into the ground.

So, in the wee hours of the morning (... okay, 7am.), looking out my giant windows on the Northeast's crazy "Snowtober" weather, I WOD'd:

  • T-handle tabata swings, 25#: 8 sets (roughly 16-17 swings/set)
  • DB Thrusters, 22# DBs: 9 sets, 6 reps
  • Push ups: 20
A few notes... You may have noticed I haven't Jump roped before the last few workouts. To be honest, I'm still babying my foot a little bit, as it's not 'right' yet. And, YES, I have a doctor's appointment scheduled, as my new-job insurance has finally kicked in. So, yeah, no jump roping. I did stretch and dance around a bit to get myself warmed up. Yes. At 7am, in my workout zone bubble, I was totally rocking out in my living room, with the curtains open, to the steady stream of traffic filing into the high school near my house. Yep. I'm THAT person.

Second, I'm really beginning to appreciate the Tabata concept. 20 seconds of high intensity effort - in this case, t-handle swings - alternating with 10 seconds rest. 10 seconds does not feel like a whole lot, after about 4-5 rounds. I swear to you, BlogLand, for those that have never tried something like this, I am huffing and puffing and sweaty the same amount if I really push the 20 seconds, and ONLY rest for 10 (not 12, not 15) seconds, as much as when I come home from 45 minutes of running. Seriously. 

Then, when I put DB Thrusters back to back with that, it makes for one killer, high intensity, get your blood flowing first thing in the morning in a short amount of time, workout. Particularly because, whether you realized it or not, you just finished using your quads, hamstrings, core muscles, arms, etc. in your t-handle swings. Guess what the Thrusters use? I use a similar principle with the Thrusters. I do them in sets of 6 reps, with as little rest in between as I can manage. I will say that after t-handle swings, the last 3-4 Thruster sets do have more of a break in between. And you definitely learn to think of some real motivating thoughts, or words, or SOMEthing, to help get you from that 'down' squatted position, to 'bursting' up and getting that weight over your head. It is in those moments that I thank the Cosmos for my muscular tree-trunk thighs. They're hard to fit in jeans, but I'll be damned if they don't have a lot of hidden reserves that get me up out of those squats just ONE more time...

Then, just for funsies (since I had exactly 3 more minutes left in my allotted workout time, before I had to start getting ready for work), I busted out some push ups. I totally rocked 20 of them in a row, without blinking, before my timer went off. At the beginning of this all, 3 was a challenge. Hang on to those little victories, my friends. They are what gets you through. 

On that note, just because I've been rolling over the No Bread plan in my head, today, I have seen bread and carbs everywhere. No joke, I followed a Wonder Bread truck for a good 10 minutes on my way to work today. That never happens. Then, I begun to think about what constituted "carbs" of sorts, and came to the conclusion, that my work is going to be a huge red flag area. Pre-planning to navigate that mindfield is going to be of paramount importance. 

Lastly, tomorrow is Run Day! I'm up early to go for a run before work... It'll be my first training run in the last 2 weeks. Foot is feeling okay, and it felt about 90% okay after Saturday's I'm hoping we should be good to go.... Cross your fingers!

‎"If I advance, follow me. If I stop, push me. If I fall, inspire me."

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 102:

Today got all wonky, BlogLand. Seriously, it was crazy time. I was up real late last night, I didn't sleep... tried to sleep in this morning a bit, but then the whole day just sort of went crazy. During my planned WOD time, I was apparently sound asleep in a chair at my Mom's. Unfortunately, time doesn't stop for anyone... and if I work out post-9pm, I'll never sleep. True story. I've tried it. Just going to have to go a little longer/harder in the morning.

However, I did make some interesting decisions and resolutions today.
I came to the distinct conclusion that something needed to change, specifically regarding what I'm eating. As I mentioned yesterday, I was tossing around the idea of no-carbs, or something to that effect.... unfortunately, despite my vast knowledge of generally useless information, nutrition-related topics are limited. Particularly when it comes to structuring a new weight-loss plan that will get the scale moving for me again, while still providing me enough nutrients to fuel a hearty work-out schedule.

So, when in doubt, ask the experts. I sucked it up, admitted I needed some help, and put my questions out there... and the experts responded mightily. After some further Googling on my part, and exchanges with some people in the know, I've reached The Plan.

The Plan is going to be (not-so) affectionately termed "No Bread"... but is technically the Michi's Ladder concept. In practice, this is pretty well no-carbs; no bread, pastas, refined sugars.... stick with lean proteins, veggies, some fruits, sweet potatoes.

The Task: Maintain the No Bread for 50 days.

... a person could do anything for a finite amount of time, right? I mean, I've been doing this Spartan Shape-Up for 102 days now... Surely, some of the conquests associated with that (running, I'm looking at you) are more difficult than No Bread for 50 days?

So, WHY subject yourself to this kind of soul-sucking torture, you may ask? (and yes, to a person who loves a good potato, and baking adorable cupcakes, it is a bit soul-sucking)
Well, it's just time. I've done all I know how to do through conventional "eat better" and "watch your portions" and "get exercise" plans.... But the scale is stuck, and I've somewhere around 45-50# to go to reach a "healthy weight".  So, time for something new, and something more drastic, perhaps. I *know* that carbs play too-big of a part in my eating habits.... that's a socialized in thing (my Mom loves nothing more than a good half a bag of Ruffles with her movie, and my Dad is a meat and potatoes sort...), as well as a behavior that I haven't had to really address up to this point. But now, I feel that it's holding me back, as the extra weight I'm carrying is hampering my forward progress.

SO. Time to change. If the key is to go No Bread for 50 days and get the metabolism fired up again, then so be it.

I outright refuse to be suffocated by this current weight, because of a SLICE OF BREAD. 

So there. Puts it in perspective doesn't it? It also goes back to that "how bad do you want it" mantra. Do I want fitness MORE than I want to sleep in an extra hour? Do I want weight loss MORE than I want that potato? Do I want to have the long-term memory of succeeding at goals that I set for myself, MORE than I want the short-term satisfaction of sleeping in, or eating a cookie?

When do we start, you ask? (also phrased as, "When should I run screaming for the hills and stay as far away from Aja, who is real vicious and probably in carb-withdrawls") WELL. Currently, my cupboards and fridge are not appropriately stocked for this plan. That's going to have to wait until the way home on Paycheck Thursday (ahh, I love that day.). In the next few days, though, I'm going to try and limit the carbs as much as possible, to ease the transition, and spend some time planning snacks, etc. and reading up on my undertaking... I intend to go full-on, No Bread, on Friday, November 4th. Incidentally, that puts me at 50 days on December 23rd. I am pretty sure that an *excellent* Christmas present to myself, would be myself - quite a bit lighter.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools. – Napoleon Bonaparte

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 101:

It is a momentous occasion today, BlogLand. Today, roughly 100 days after I decided I was going to learn to run, I crossed the finish line of my first 5K Race

.... Wow. 

Yep. Just wow. From someone who was pretty sure that she'd never be able to run, couldn't run, cringed at the very thought of running - this is a damn big deal. Here's how it went down. 

It began yesterday. As you may have read on yesterday's post, I was decidedly trying to psych myself up, rather that psych myself out. Despite trying to turn on my rational brain and think through these concerns logically, I kept drifting back to the "What Ifs" and general anxiety about a situation of unknown proportions, that I barely felt like I belonged in. I was definitely slipping back to the - "I'm not a runner!" the ever popular, "I'm going to be the fat chick in the back, huffing and puffing!" , the classic "Did I train hard enough??" and everyone's favorite, "I'm going to look ridiculous, and everyone is going to be thinking - 'Why is SHE here?'" Nonetheless, and armed with the knowledge that I would have a wonderful buddy to run with, I tried to quiet my brain and get some sleep. 

Yeah. Right. I'm riddled with Insomnia on a good day. Keyed up, nervous/excited me stood no chance. I tossed. I turned. I wanted so badly for this race to go well, that I was freaking myself out about everything that could possibly go wrong. Which, as you can guess, is highly counter productive. *sigh*

My alarm went off at 6:00am sharp, for Race Day. There are infrequent occasions that cause me to not hit snooze (not even ONCE!!), and get right out of bed. Today, was one of them. My body was immediately like - ZOMG!!! It's TODAY!!!!. (Oh, is this where I mention that I have a raging competitive streak, and I find competitive situations pretty motivating?). Hopping out of bed, I went through the motions of getting ready... ate a good breakfast (oatmeal with nuts, om nom nom!), drank some more water, and took a hot shower - half for the purpose of waking up, and half as a calming moment. 

Over breakfast I had been checking out Facebook, and trying to absorb all the positivity that the Spartan Chicks, and some other FB friends had left me in the over night. I was transitioning into "get down to business mode", and feeling calmer, as a result. I pulled on my spiffy new running gear - a super comfy pair of compression pants, and a couple layers of wicking stuff on top - and I almost felt like I might have this experience under control. Ish. 

Word of advice to any newbies to this process. NEVER look in the mirror once you have put your Spandex-ish clothing on. Acknowledge that you are extremely comfortable, your range of motion is not limited, and you'll be warm/dry due to its drying abilities.... but (are you listening?!) do NOT expect to look in the mirror and be totally psyched about what you see. Why? Because Spandex means you're going to see EVERYTHING. Every tiny bump and bulge and insecurity you have will be carefully hugged by unforgiving, probably slightly shiny, fabric. I suggest (from this morning's personal experience), to take a moment pre-spandex suiting up, to remind yourself how far you've come, the awesomeness of what you're about to do, and how cool is is that you have a *reason* to don Spandex (other than a random 80's party). You are a total Radtacular Beast. Tell yourself this repeatedly, THEN put on your Spandex like a total bad-ass. I really feel like this is key, going forward. Why? Well, after this self talk of Radness and badassery, spandex looks slightly less clingy, your muscles look just a little bit more bulging, and I swear, that particularly jiggly part you hyper-focus on (yes. That one. And that one.) temporarily disappears ... so THEN, when you check out your Race-Ready Look in the mirror that one last time, you'll be able to see your past victories (no matter how small), your present cool factor, and your upcoming triumphs - rather than how your thighs look like giant redwoods (So not true.). 

That said, and successfully clad in my spiffy duds, I set out to pick up my last-minute running buddy, Lisa. Let's just start by saying how awesome Lisa is. Later, you'll know why. 

We hit Race Central, and suddenly I get restless. There are RUNNERS HERE. Like, real, live, proficient looking people. In gear. With numbers on. Doing weird runner things, like eating power bars and stretching and just standing there looking athletic. I felt alien. I was starting to feel unsure and out of place... and my phone dinged. I swear, my GT is psychic at times; I found a text message with *exactly* what I needed to hear at that moment. I rallied my confidence, remembered that I could run a damn 3 mile distance, and marched over to registration. Bib #173 was ready to kill it, today. 

There was a little more mill-around time, in which Lisa and I chatted with another friend of mine, Anna, who happened to be running. It was pretty much the last I saw of Anna, before she cruised off the starting line and left us, and most of everyone else in the dust (YAY! Impressive go today!!). I told her she was going to be my inspiration to keep pushing, as I would CLEARLY need to chase her down. 

Then, there was an official voice... and a herding toward the starting line. People jockeyed for positions. I opted for some open space at the back... following some good veteran advice, I was trying to remind myself to NOT get caught up in the initial exuberance and start energy... particularly to not get sucked into gassing myself out at the beginning by getting going too fast out of the gate. The energy was infectious though. People were talking to each other excitedly, last minute clothing adjustments, shifting their weight and warming up (although, this could've been attributed to the fact that it was a positively *balmy* 32 degrees on the starting line, with a frost on the grass...). 

... And we were off. It felt good to be moving and have somewhere to channel the pent up energy. Time to really focus and just do what I knew how to do - put one foot in front of the other, for 3 miles. I was feeling good, foot was feeling good, and the initial start felt good.... then, we saw the arrow that pointed us to Cliff Street. There is nothing like being at your first 5K, being like 2 minutes into it, and seeing that you must run up a long, solid 45-50ish degree incline. An excellent piece of advice was given to me at this point, by Super Lisa: Don't look at the hill. Look down at the road in front of you, or the runners feet in front of you.... steady pace, and just keep chugging. Why? because then you never get into the "OMG! This hill is SO BIG. I'm NEVER going to be able to do this!" or the like. 
That first hill was a turning point for me. About half way up it, a funny thing started happening..... I started passing people. Quite a few people. Even people that looked "fit" and "prepared" to me (Yes, Ladies, there was mad Chicking going on, at this point. Dudes left in my dust on a uphill. "BOOM!" as MScan Spartan would say.)
That was just what I needed. Maybe I could do this. Maybe I did belong here, maybe I just was prepared... because HELL, I was RUNNING, up a HILL, at a steady pace, where other people had already dropped down to a walk, or that I'm-trying-not-to-walk-but-I-really-want-to trot. 

The rest of the race was a bit of a blur... My Dad kept randomly popping up on corners playing paparazzi, I had a leaf frog passing war with one particular set of not-super-pleasant or friendly, young high school cross country running ladies, and I kept putting one foot in front of the other. And there were hills. Holy crap, there were hills. Later I learned that this particular 5K is notorious for being one of (if not the most) the hilliest courses in VT. Yeah. And I picked it (unwittingly) for my first race. Yep. That's how I roll - difficult at 10, all the time, Spartan Style. LOL. 

I also have to take this moment to thank the bejeezus out of my running buddy, Lisa. We matched pace well with each other, and she was instrumental in coaching me through a few tough spots (I'm looking at you, last hill to home stretch). She had an amazing way of giving me a helpful pointer, while holding her pace steady and encouraging me to just keep moving. Sometimes, that's really all you need - someone to remind you to keep your mind over matter - your body can handle this, but are you going to push for it? Or are you going to talk yourself into it being okay to walk? She kept just giving me steady reminders - slow breaths, run to that pole... now keep running to the sign... just keep moving... , interspersed with a slew of encouragement and just general positive vibe. I couldn't have asked for a better buddy. 

Before I knew it, we were in the home stretch.... which turned out to be a lovely downhill (we revisit the evil Cliff street beginning, just going in the other direction), which allowed me to stretch my legs a bit.... only to turn the corner to one more long, slow uphill, with a turn to the finish line. I could SEE it. I could SEEEEEE the finish line. ..... I could also see that lady in front of me. Yes. I admit, I am a competitor. I don't like to lose. Yes, I was "running my own race", but somehow, in my head if she was that close to me, then she was running in my race too, damnit. On sheer will I held strong up the hill, but she was still in front of me. Unacceptable. We hit the corner, the flat, and literally, the sprint to the finish. That last hill had winded me a bit, and my lungs wanted me to walk...... but in a few seconds, I thought of why I was there, everyone that was behind me and how much I wanted to accomplish in the future, and admittedly, how I was *NOT* going to round the finish corner WALKING, and from somewhere (no idea where, as the hilly course had really felt like it killed me), I pulled out just a smidge more Awesomesauce. I turned to Lisa, eeked out a short, breathy "Let's Go." and let loose. Some unused set of afterburners kicked in and I SAILED by the lady I had been chasing in front of me. It felt awesome to just run, full out, with the knowledge that I could use it all up, and didn't need to 'pace myself' for what might lie around the next corner.  There was cheering. People were a blur..... and I got it. I was smiling. I felt strong, accomplished, fast (at least for a moment), and pretty damn good. 
Me (purple) and Lisa - Finish Line, Baby!

As the volunteer (YAY, Volunteers!) removed my timing chip, and I stood there panting like I was going to die (yeah, I was pretty sure my lungs were going to explode right then), I saw my Dad snapping pictures, my BFF waving and heard Lisa congratulating me on a job well done. Or well run, as the case may be. 

It was a great day, BlogLand.

Today's Stats were:
Time: 34:43
Distance: 5K
Pace: 11:12 min/mi

.... and yes, THAT my friends, is a new PR. 11:12 min/mi - despite the hills - is my currently reigning best mile time. I guess that competitive vibe gave me just a little bit of an extra mental push. 

So... needless to say, I had a good time. I find myself eagerly anticipating the next starting line (and maybe moreso, the next finish line). ... I'm thinking The Great Santa Run (they give you a santa suit to run in!!!), at the beginning of December...

I am happy to report that the time-off of running may be just what I needed for my foot, because as of right now, I'm still pain free. Did a little more icing tonight, just to make sure, and perhaps a bit more rolling tomorrow... but, all is well (or at least better!) there. 

Good times, Blog, good times. It was a great race, a beautiful day, and my two legs and feet carried me through to an important personal victory. YAY!

Incidentally, if anyone would like to stalk the set of awful photos my Paternal Unit took, feel free and click here.... 

Tomorrow, we discuss a new topic and it's impacts....: Carbs, I love you, but you're just not good for me..... Stay Tuned!

Friday, October 28, 2011

“Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.”

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 97, 98...and 99 &100:

Dear Blog. I'm sorry. Life has just kicked my ass in the last few days, via some family bullshit, as well as internet outages, OT at work, and other assorted craziness. It makes me angry, because it's not a good excuse. But, my brain checked out, I think. SO... I am admitting publicly that I did no form of physical work-out on Day 97 and 98. I definitely iced my foot, and tried to keep my mental marbles in my head (harder than you might think).

THAT said, yesterday, Day 99, I got myself back together and got up early for the before-work WOD. It has been really hard to adjust to the new hours. My work hours are now 10am-7pm, which makes post-work wod's nearly impossible... Thus, I must get up in the morning, and get my Spartan on. This... may be my greatest challenge, yet. I loathe mornings more than anything. You could never understand the extent to which my very CELLS struggle that early, unless you've actually witnessed me at that time of day. However, I'm kicking my own ass. Soon (next week), I will be doing CrossFit a few (EARLY. Holy Crap. Gym at 6:45am?! WHAT?) mornings a week. I think I just need to get into the new routine and soon, my inner Spartan will get on board.

So, Day 99's WOD. It felt harder than usual, but I did it, nonetheless.  It was a Swing/Lift Day (I'm on a temp run-hiatus):
  • T-Handle Swings (25#), 20 sec on/10 off, 9 rounds.
  • DB Thrusters (22# DBs), 6 reps, 8 sets
It's not much, and certainly not the epic wod that I would like to be able to report on... but it was a bit of a mental victory. I was up, it was early, and I was getting sweaty - despite the nagging voice from Old Me reminding me how comfortable my bed was....

Today was Day 100 (WOW.) of the Spartan Shape-Up... and my last "Rest Day" for a little while. I haven't been running at all in the last week and a half - I've been babying the foot, icing it and hoping that it will un-inflame itself and/or heal so that it's okay for the.... 

.... DRUMROLL.... 

5K Race that I'm running tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!
I can't wait to cross that one off the little goal list. I have no idea what to expect, but I'm excited. Sadly, my most-fabulous GT can not be with me to run, but I'm taking his infinite Yoda wisdom with me: it's just another 3 mi run. No need to worry, or stress or anything like that... I'm just going to "run my own race" (as the Spartan ladies have advised), push myself as hard as I can, and cross the finish line. Whatever that time is, however I cross it (it could be limping...), I will be proud of what I've done. I know it's "just" a 5K, but it represents SO much more, it's difficult to even explain. I never, EVER thought I could run, or could develop the discipline to learn to run, or do half the things that I find myself doing... that's what the 5K represents to me - the first step in showing myself just how powerful I actually am, when I decide to be. Crossing that finish line will be winning the first battle in the war against the Old Me. 

Surprisingly, I find myself not running alone. An old co-worker of mine, and probably one of the most genuinely NICE people that I know is going to run with me. She said she didn't even care if she could register - she'd run with me just to support, as she knew what it felt like to run your first race all by yourself. I almost cried (held it together), because it meant a lot to me that she would reach out like that and do that, when we're not even close by any means. I would've run the race on my own, for myself, regardless.... but everything is better when you don't have to go it alone. I was feeling the absence of my GT, worrying that I would not be able to perform my best with an injury, feeling scared, nervous... I don't even know... a lot of things. (I can't help it, I'm ridiculously emotional by nature.) BUT, The Cosmos sent me Lisa, out of the blue, most randomly, and I don't have to be alone. I think this is a good sign for tomorrow. 

AND THEN (I know, it gets more random), I found out another friend of mine is running  - she's a crazy speed demon, so more like I'll be chasing her.  A close friend of mine has promised to be at the finish line... along with (are you ready for this!!??) my DAD and his fiance. MY DAD. My Dad has been criticizing this process, my "crazy" workouts, all this Spartan stuff... etc. but he's going to come to my race. I'm kind of hoping that maybe this visual will be the moment he needs to SEE the difference, and see WHY I'm doing this. He even promised to take me to breakfast afterwards! LOL. YES!

So... I'm feeling okay about tomorrow. My 900+ Spartan Chicks are behind me virtually, my GT is keeping tabs on me from afar, I'll have a awesome buddy-runner to keep me going if my foot starts screaming, a buddy to chase to keep me focused, and there'll be a cheering section at the finish line. What more could I ask for?

If only I could get to sleep!

OH, and I will leave off with this... I've always been taught that with confidence, you must always fake it 'til you make it. So, I was feeling a little lack of confidence with this upcoming race, so I decided to fake myself into feeling some confidence. Dressed up a bit snazzy for work today (who doesn't love a matching vest and pants?), and sported a new bit of jewelry (Thank you. :-)) that I'm using as a bit of a mindful mental anchor (forgive the bit of a blurry picture):
It garnered a lot of compliments (it is a very unique piece), as well as a lot of questions. It got me talking all day about my Spartan Shape-Up, and my road to completing my first Spartan Race next year. That is exactly what I needed to keep me focused and my eye on the prize. All day long I talked about what I've been doing, and now tomorrow, it's time to put my money with my mouth is. So, here's my latest, favorite sparkly bauble, up close:

 Pretty, right? :-)

Alright, BlogLand... Off to pack some clothes for post-race breakfast out, and try and get to sleep...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." -Ernest Hemingway

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 95 & 96:

Woo, BlogLand! It's been an interesting couple of days.

Yesterday, I took my pet rock (...Grover... and no, that was not of my doing. lol.) out for a walk, up a mountain. Grover is (er, was... more on that later) a solid 17.5#, and the mountain was Spruce Peak, in Plainfield, VT. Just for sake of discussion, it appears that this particular climb is 4.4 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of 1093 ft.

I managed to wrangle in an enthusiastic potential Spartan, who thought throwing a rock up a mountain sounded like a fun way to spend a Sunday. Here's the before picture of my victim. I mean... recruit:
Grover, Me, and Steff

We look so fresh, and perky. Grover is still intact (*sniffle*), and the adventure begins. Not too far up the trail, Steff acquired her own rock (Peanut), and the real good time began. I think we tried out just about every type of throw one could imagine. There's the overhead hulk-smash, the underhanded granny bowl, the right or left handed shot put, the tricky right or left sided twisting and heave, or the beloved backwards over the head kamikaze...
There did seem to be a real technique onto where/how to throw it on a mountain trail, however... Things to consider: Throw it OVER/past the parts that you need two hands to navigate. What happens if you heave it out there and it goes wonky and now you find yourself on safari through the side of a mountain forest, calling for your rock? Ponder the splash radius of a 17.5# solid object landing in a particular squishy mud area. What about the dreaded roll-back issue?

This was a far more complicated process than just "throw rock up hill".

It was a gloriously muddy, wet, overcast day, with just enough chill in the air to keep us from being puddles of sweat. Which, I suppose, really wouldn't have mattered, as we were covered in mud, anyway.

This is where I would like to take a moment to note that Steff and I, while in the process of Chicking ("What is “Chicked”? Chicked is a racing term that defines when a man is passed on the course by a woman!" - Shawty Spartan) the mountain AND throwing big rocks, managed to totally Chick an entire group of relatively youthful hikers. We got some raised eyebrows, and a few comments to the effect of "What, it wasn't hard enough already?" but on we pressed.
And, 2.2 miles and about 1:45 min later, here we stood - Summit!
Spruce Peak: Summit
I would just like to note that while we may not be "pretty" at this point, we are muddy, sweaty, and feeling pretty damn awesome.

Oh, and because they felt that we were stealing the show, Grover and Peanut insisted on their own scenic moment:
Peanut (L), Grover (R)
Now came the dilemma. There is a fire tower on the top of the mountain. Roughly 4 flights of "stairs" with "railings" that lead you up to a somewhat ghetto-feeling, really high up structure for scenic views. The question became, "do we take the rocks to the top of the tower?" because, had we really reached the "top" of the mountain, if we didn't go all the way up?
Let me tell you BlogLand, the trickiest thing I did all day was carry a rock up those stairs, thus having only one free hand. It was slow going. My arms were tired. My eyes kept looking at the spaces between stairs. Nonetheless, we were once again met with success, hoisting our rocks for scenic pictures from the even-higher height. I'm not even going to discuss the nerve-wracking adventure the trip down those stairs was. I will leave it at the fact that Steff, Peanut, Grover and I survived, in one piece. With most of our sanity.

Thus, after a wee snack, we began our decent... and quickly learned an important lesson. If you value your Pet Rock, you must NOT throw him/her down a rocky mountain trail. Even if you threw him/her UP said trail. Why? Physics, people. When you throw UP a trail, yes, you have some pretty good muscled force. When you throw DOWN the trail, not only do you have your muscled force (albeit a bit less, after about 2 hours of exertion), but you also have gravity on your side. Grover and I found this out the hard way. He is not nicely smooth (he originated in a river bed) anymore, and let's just say I have a nice little Baby Grover paperweight for my desk at work.
So, if you can not throw, you must carry. Carrying said rock proves to be decidedly more fatiguing for me than throwing it. It was a long 2 miles down. Left shoulder. Right shoulder. Front Carry. Overhead carry. 17.5# gets heavy when it stays in one spot too long (my shoulder bruises may attest to this...).
Nonetheless, we did get in a few more throws on the way down, on the softer spots. Here are the obligatory, unflattering, action shots:
 Awesome, right?

And, without injury (except to our rocks) or incident, Steff and I completed our very first Pet Rock Walk. 
Spruce Peak Conquered!
So, there you have the nuts and bolt of our hike (and hey, who doesn't love some pic spam, occasionally?), onto some thoughts. 

WOW. That's what I thought. Why? Because I got to the top of that damn mountain, after throwing a pretty damn big rock the whole time, and I still felt good. I wasn't terribly out of breath, any more so than anyone would be, my muscles weren't jelly at the top (...they may have been by the time we got back down...), and nothing hurt. My knees didn't ache, my ankles weren't screaming. Let me tell you, BlogLand... This sort of activity is WAY more fun when you can just get out and enjoy it, rather than feeling like you're going to die the entire time. If I had lost sight of why I was getting in shape in the first place, this was an excellent snap back to focus. I WANT to be able to do more stuff like this. I don't want to be stopped by my physical abilities... and slowly, I'm learning that I don't have to be. 
Can I just take a moment to say that Steff and I held a conversation the entire way up (intersperse with throw-grunts), rather than just panting, short breaths? Amazing. I had an excellent time. 

This also became a day of reflection, incidentally. A little over a year ago, I had managed that same hike. No rock. I say managed, because I did get to the top of the hill. It was not pretty. I felt like hell. I made it on sheer will alone. And I remembered that, and found a picture that made me stop in my tracks and thank Old Me for having a (life-saving?) moment where I decided to change my life. Here's what made me reflect:

That was startling for me to look at side by side. I'm not going to lie and say that I'm completely satisfied with me on the right... but I am SO proud of how far I've come. Person on the Right almost looks like a fit, athletic sort of individual. She is approaching down right badassness. (It must be the Spartan Race shirt? lol)
It was a moving moment for me to put these pictures side by side (there may have been a watery eye...). Sometimes, in your day to day, it can be difficult to see the changes that your body and mind are making. Between yesterday and today, those things became really real to me. Finally. 

In short, in the last few days I've learned that Pet Rock Walks Up Mountains are my favorite workout (seriously, I had a fun time.), anything can be done if you decide you're going to do it, and one day at a time, one foot in front of the other is the only way to approach a mountain.

Today, Officially Spartan Shape-Up, Day 96, became an inadvertent Rest Day. I hurt in the weirdest places. Just my biceps (not any of the rest of my arms), my HANDS and wrists (from pick up the rock/gripping it). There was some general fatigue in my shoulders and back, but nothing I'm not used to. Oh, and for anyone following the saga, the foot felt good and continues to feel good with the squishier sneakers. Keeping our fingers crossed and taking it easy on the running until Saturday's race. 

With that, I leave you to go and do some more tennis ball-rolling of my shoulder/bicep. This is awkward to do, and hurts like hell, but ultimately relieves a lot of the soreness, I'm finding. 

Tomorrow *drumroll*... I have my first early-morning Crossfit session... 7am. Rocks on a mountain didn't kill me, but being that functional at that time of day, just might. LOL. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

You must do the thing you think you cannot do. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 94:

Just a quick update today, as I'm not feeling in the chatty mode, BlogLand....

Foot is still ouchy. Tennis ball rolled it, took some ibuprofen and taped it up... Hoping for a speedy recovery. Oh, and I took this as a good excuse to buy some new shoes. Didn't get the Pumas that I really wanted, but scored a nice pair of Saucony's that feel much better on the foot. I think for a little bit, while this heals (or gets less inflamed, or whatever the hell is going on) I'm going to have to wear the squishier shoes. Dear Inov8's, I still love you best. Promise.

Today was a Swing/Lift workout. Done fast, no more than 10 sec breaks, and got real sweaty:

  • T-handle swings: 25#, 9 sets (20 sec swing/10 sec off)
  • DB Thrusters: 22# DB's, 6 reps, 9 sets
Nothing too major, but got sweaty, got the heart rate going, and didn't hurt the foot any more (You'll note I did skip the jump rope warm up, in favor of some stretching...). 

And.... I think that's all. Tomorrow, I'm hiking/rock throwing with a potential new Spartan chick. She thought the rock throwing up a mountain sounded like fun......... WAHAHAHA. 

Pictures from the top, promise! :-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself - the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us- that's where it's at. - Jesse Owens

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 93:

Frustrating day today, BlogLand. It was Run Day today, and I was actually looking forward to it. It's been several days since I've had a run, and I was anticipating getting out there to stretch my legs, and see what I could do.

So, I suit up (yeah, 50 degrees is not warm, I've come to conclude!) and head out. My foot felt okay in my sneakers, I assume it's on the up and up (it's been okay for a few days now), so I didn't think anymore about it, and off I went.
Everything started out fine.... first mile in 10 minutes, with no walks, no feeling like I need to walk, no calf cramps and a steady rhythm. Everything felt GOOD. Another half a mile goes by, and all is well... you know, just enough distance to get me to the apex of my run - the point at which I am the farthest from my house. Then, as I'm going along, I begin to notice my foot. Like, it didn't 'hurt' per se, but I notice it was not 100%. Hmmm.... I think to myself that I should probably ice it when I get home, but it didn't hurt, so it must be okay. Like 2 minutes later... OW. OW,ow, OW. OWWWWW, and I drop into a tentative walk, to assess the issue. My foot hurts. A lot. Like, putting my full weight to walk on it is not comfortable at all. As in, not comfortable to the extent that I was forced to make that pain-wince face, every time I stepped on it.

.... and I was 2 miles from home. EXCELLENT. I thought, well... I have to get home some how, so I'll try and go home the 'shorter' way - which made me instantly angry, that my body had betrayed me like this. EFF you foot, today was supposed to be run day, and I *wanted* to run. I did experiment a little bit, to find that actually a slow run, sort of gingerly, was more comfortable than trying to walk (less pressure on that particular part of my foot?). Thus, I had a totally exhilarating (can you sense the dripping sarcasm?) hobble-limp-jog the last stretch back to my house.

And then, (We're about honesty here, don't judge!) all hot and sweaty and angry, I sat on my front step (the cool air felt good) and   put my head in my hands and found myself tearing up with frustration (and a side of throbbing pain.). I KNOW shit happens. I do. Particularly training with this sort of frequency, no matter how careful you are, odds are that something is going to happen eventually. The truly frustring part is that 1) this didn't even happen training. It just started one day, walking around, after training. 2) There is absolutely nothing I can do to fix it, other than just straight out will it better with my mind 3) Why right NOW? I say that because not only is the 'good' outside running time on it's way out here in Vermont, but that next weekend - exactly a week from tomorrow - I am signed up for my very first 5K race.

Yep, I took a big leap of faith today (before I went for my run...) and registered for a 5K next weekend. My name is officially on the list, they will be expecting me. I never in a million years thought I would do something like that. But... here I am. Signed up for a 5K race. And, was (key word) feeling pretty confident that I could do it and manage a respectable time... at least not be last.

... and then I go for my run today (which is typically longer than a 5K) intending to test out my speed through 5K, and this foot thing goes down. It's not better, I suppose. But it needs to get better, as I'm running that 5K next weekend, either way, damnit.

So... came home tonight and alternated ice packs and hot packs on my foot (why is it SO HARD to put my foot ON ice, when I can sit in an ice bath, no problem???), and it seems to feel much better. The plan is to bust out the kinesiotape tomorrow and get that on there, get some more Ibuprofen in my system, and acquire some squishier sneakers. My guess it that the impact/pressure is what upset it? So as much as I ADORE my inov8's, it may be that I need some more traditional squishy sneakers for a few weeks (I need them for around anyway) to take the pressure off.

Oh, and you're wondering why I'm not just headed to the doctor (because that would be what a smart person would do at this point)? Well, with my new job, my health insurance isn't effective until November 1st. Yeah. 2 days AFTER my race. Although, if it's not better by Monday, I think I may just have to suck it up and go, and just suffer the bill that may come. Yikes.

Anyway, for the sake of discussion, here's today's Run Stats:
Time: 28:43
Distance: 2.43 mi
Average Pace: 11.49 min/mi.

All things considered, I guess it wasn't that bad from a statistical sense.... just bad from a physical sense.

Alright, let's end on a happy note, so I don't get myself all worked up about this foot thing, right now (hang on, my hot pack is ready.):
I went out last night with some of my favorite people, that I see infrequently. It was an amazing experience. I was given a barrage of compliments on how good I looked (yes, loosing 65# and gaining toned muscle will create that shock value), but better than that, I was told (by multiple people) that I was a huge inspiration to them to get their workouts back in gear. People that I am only sort of friends-of-friends with told me that they keep track of me and my WODs on FB, and it helps motivate them. Another girl asked ME (ME!!!) for advice on her current gym boredom issues, and what was keeping me motivated. AND, while many responded with disbelief in their own abilities to do rock throws, or the like, most of them expressed interest in working out with me sometime to check it out.

That amazes me. Who would of thought? However, it feels really great to know that even though I struggle, and it's hard, and I have a long ways to go, that my journey may help someone else, too.

The best compliment I got all evening, was from one of my oldest and dearest friends. He told me that he loves the new, confident Aja. When I asked what was "different", he told me that he felt that it seemed that now I knew how powerful I was and embraced that. He went on to say that I had an aura of strength and peace about me that I haven't had in a long time.

I suppose that having a pet rock, mastering the squat, and fraternizing with some of the most Rad-tacular people on the planet (I'm looking at you, Spartans!) will do that for you. :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. ~ Albert Camus

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 92:

Oh My BlogLand. Having a social life, outside of workouts, is demanding. I just had to swap around my entire workout schedule, so I could make today a 'rest' day, so I can go to a friend's Birthday festivities this evening.

Geesh. No worries. We'll run tomorrow. (All things considered, letting my weird foot injury chill a little bit more probably isn't the worst thing. )

I feel a tiny bit guilty. But then, I have to remind myself, this is a lifestyle... and to do that, I must also have a LIFE.

So, off I go, to have a bit of fun.... and tomorrow, I promise my run will be epic! Waha!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” ~ T. S. Elliot

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 91:

I am happy to report that I'm really back on track, BlogLand. I'm feeling awesome (it was a good day all around, more or less), and physically I feel pretty good - minus the wee foot injury that is still nagging.

It was supposed to be a Run Day for me today, but there's the nagging foot thing. It seems to be on the mend, and it's feeling 'okay'... and I probably could've run on it. However, my logical brain says that one more day of ibuprofen, ice and rest is probably the right answer - particularly because I want to be in tip-top shape in about a week and a half (*gulp* 5k!).

So, in lieu of a run, I decided to go for something also of the cardio-evil nature - so it's Swing Day!

Here's the WOD: (with a 25# t-handle, and 2, 22# DB's)

  • Warm up: 5 min jump rope (only stopped once!)
  • Tabata T-handle swings: 9 rounds
  • Thrusters: 6 reps x 8 sets
Short and sweet (ha!). But let me tell you, I've come to conclude if you do the swing series right (as in you swing hard for 20 seconds, then rest for ONLY 10 seconds), you are really sweating and heart pumping by the end. I use a timer to keep myself on track. Also, this time, I upped the weight on my t-handle (it could be more like 26-27#, but you get the idea), which caused me to be able to do less swings per 20 seconds (only about 15, rather than the usual 17-18), so I think that was definitely a good move. It was time to make it harder. 

Thrusters are everyone's favorite for the same reason. Sweaty and heart pumping in a short amount of time. I keep the 'rest' between sets as minimal as possible (less than 20 sec), to keep the intensity as high as possible.  And, again, I think I'm doing something right, because by the last set, I am WORKING to get those damn DB's over my head and my ass out of a squat. Yikes.

That said, I have no philosophic revelations for tonight, or anything important to say. OH, wait, I do!
So, I'm thinking of taking some 'before' pictures. Really, they'd be like 'mid way' pictures, but they're really the beginning of where it's going to get interesting. The last year and a half doesn't need any documentation. I have the picture that started the whole avalanche and realization process.... and I think now, as I get into my real training, is a good time to start taking progress pictures. Although, geesh, that is a daunting feeling. No one ever really wants to document stuff like that.... but it's true, I think to be able to look back on it will be a good thing. Maybe I can get a friend to take some of me this weekend. Not sure I'll be up to posting them, Blogland (no one needs to see that, at this point!), but I'll be sure to report in. 

OH, and tomorrow I get paid and OFFICIALLY buy my 5K race entry!!! EEEE!!!

Sleep well everyone, and get ready to get up and chase down your goals tomorrow!

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” ~ Frank A. Clark

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 90:

Well BlogLand, it was a much better day today. I think sometimes you just need to have those crappy days, and get them out of your system.

Today, was a Crossfit day for me, despite this foot thing. Seriously, no idea what I did, but it hurts like crazy to walk on. Although, a bunch of Ibuprofen, icing it and generally just dealing with it seem to make it better. Hmm. Felt okay with my sneakers on (vs. pretty work shoes), so I voted that Crossfit was a 'go', regardless.

First off, I would like to start by saying I am currently suffering from Screaming Ring Dip Shoulder & Back Syndrome. Other victims of this terrible disease will understand. Maybe I should explain the skills and the Wod, before I continue to whine?

We began with a 5 min Jump Rope. Gotta warm up you know. I knew it might be an interesting day when the two 18 year old high school football players were visibly annoyed that they couldn't jumprope more than 10-15 consecutively... and I could. Seriously, the short one and I had a bit of a stare down, somewhere around minute 4, when I was still going. Yeah, biatch, I do this ALL.THE. TIME. (Thanks, GT. Who knew this torture of yours would come in handy for gym-time Chicking?) All was well until Tiny Hercules (Lisa, the trainer of the day), decided I should bust out at least 10 double unders. Consecutively, I got 4 (new PR! lol), but managed the 10.

Then, to continue our warm up, we move onto a 400m row... Good stuff. A different sort of challenge there. One of those brain things, where you try and keep the right form through the activity, while regulating your breathing...

After that, onto some skills building (this is my LAST "learning class" YAY!). Today, we did cleans and squat cleans with a bar and with a KB. I beasted a 40# KB through those, as we had run out of 'lighter' ones, and the rest of the class (including the dudes! weren't up for it. Tiny Hercules decided I was. I swear, she's out to kill me.). 40# is not really a lot, but I have a much harder time maneuvering it for cleans/squat cleans at that size. I would much rather lift MORE weight, but on a bar. .... And then I got my wish. More weight on the bar for me, and a whole lot of small sets of squat cleans, in particular. Apparently, my class was struggling with this form, and (because I squat a lot, and have been for a while)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"If you believe you can, and believe it strongly enough, you'll be amazed at what you can do." - Nido Qubein

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 89:

It was a day today, BlogLand. It was one of those kind that I succumb to every now and again, and I really don't want to document it on paper... but, for the sake of the completeness of this blog, the accountability of it, and the honesty I've promised from the beginning, here goes.
... Read on at your own risk... but it turns out okay in the end. Promise.

As I get deeper entrenched into this training and lifestyle (which I love, incidentally), many things have happened. I've met tons of new people, gained inspiration and motivation from people I've never met and felt connected through a common thread of desire to push to the limits.

Although (here it comes) I will admit to you, often those same people - who 99% of the time serve as the most excellent training motivators, because they force me to want to be better, and never get complacent - occasionally trigger one of my own greatest Achilles heels: Self-doubt. Most days, for instance, I look at the women of Sparta running their marathons, doing handstand pushups,  dominating every event they enter and I think, YES. I want to be like that, I'm going to train hard and someday I'll keep up with her. Or, I'll someday have abs like that! or be able to bust out 100 burpees! But then.... some days, when other parts of my life aren't going well, or the negative voices around me have gotten particularly loud, or there's just life clutter in my brain, those thoughts take a complete 180... Who am I fooling? I'm never going to be able to run 10 miles. This fat chick will never look like a Glamazon. How do I think I'm going to get over a 8ft vertical wall, or climb a rope? I don't have that arm strength. Why did I ever think that I could become something I don't know how to be? I'll never belong in that crowd... and on... and on... Seriously, you can only imagine.

Tonight was one of those nights. I somehow managed to injure my foot yesterday (unrelated to my run). Nothing serious I don't think, but enough that I was limping today all day, and it's not feeling much better. I spent the evening soaking it in a bucket of hot water, and then icing it and back and forth. Incidentally, it seems to feel a bit better... but, we shall see.
Basically, I came home from work and was tired. I haven't been sleeping all that great. In my tired brain, I allowed myself to get sucked into a conversation with my roommate, comfy clothes and the evening time-suck began. But, legitimately, my foot was hurting like a mo-fo. Then, I made dinner, which turned out horribly.... and I was unsatisfied. And feeling down. And feeling pain (seriously, wtf, foot?)... and rather than do something productive, like my scheduled workout, I did some mindless snacking and eating (which I haven't done in quite a long time). .... and immediately felt guilty. I didn't even WANT to do that. I WANTED to do my workout. But it was (by then) 10 pm, and my foot effing hurt, and my brain wouldn't stop telling me I felt ridiculous about all this, and why even bother, and all those things. I tell you, my brain knows JUST what to say.
I felt guilty because I let my own self-doubt get in the way, and I knew it. I felt like I've been fighting a battle in vain, to be a person that I can't be....

... however, in my old age, I have at least learned to recognize these moods and recognize them for what they are. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't make them easier.... but sometimes, it does make them a little easier to isolate. As in, "TODAY" I fell down... but TOMORROW I will get back up. Not just one big crash and burn. One foot in front of the other, and move through it.

So, BlogLand... I am here to report in. I did not work out today. I should've. I have no excuse. I did let my self-image demons get the better of me, and whisper the seeds of doubt....

But here I am.

Not. Done. Yet.

Taking this time to remind myself that this is for ME, not anyone else, or to be like anyone else. This is to lose MY last 45#, to show myself that I can do things I never thought I could, to live a lifestyle I'm proud of, and to have something to look back at and say, "Yeah, I DID do that." (... I'm coming for you, Amesbury Spartan Sprint, 2012!).

In the process, there will be these days. And I'm learning, slowly, that that's okay. I'm human, and all the crazy emotions and personality and crap that goes with it, is why I am who I am.

So... the net result: I'm going to bed. Today is over, and with it, I'm letting go of the ugly thought processes. Tomorrow, I will wake up, as Spartan as ever, attack my work day, then cruise over to CrossFit and own that workout, with all the sweat, drive and heart that I have in me.

Why? Because someday, I'm going to do handstand push-ups, too.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

“When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”~ Karen E. Quinones Miller

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 88:

I had a wee bit of a frustrating day today, BlogLand. All I wanted to do was hike up a little mountain that is near me, throw my rock all the way up, and enjoy some foliage at the top. I was prepared to go alone. Then I talked to my mother (yes, I'm almost 30) and she gave me a lecture about the safety of that, blah blah blah... and pulled the "I'm your MOTHER!" card. So. I modified my plans. Annoyed and frustrated, I decided to go for a run and add some mileage, which I did.

Today's Run looked like this:
Time: 51:07
Distance: 4.33 mi.
Average Pace: 11.48 min/mi.

Was definitely feeling a little slow today, but I figured slow and steady was alright, as long as I got the mileage out there. 4.33 is a new personal best for me, by a whole . 18 of a mile. LOL. Good times. I was definitely running emotional today, though.

I'm beginning to come up against interesting situations during this whole training process, particularly with my friends. Being a super social person, I don't always like to be doing stuff on my own - I *want* to share those experiences with  my friends, make new friends, whatever. However, it seems that my recent fitness progress has made that impossible, with the people I know. None of my current friends will participate in any sort of exercise activity with me - running, hiking, whatever.  I understand the issue intellectually. These friends that I have are part of the "unfit" not-motivated (I still haven't managed to drag them off the couch) culture that I was able to extricate myself from. Now, I have different expectations for myself (I'd like to go for a hike on a Sunday  instead of sitting on the couch, for example), but they have not changed. And no one seems willing to.  I asked one of my very best friends if she'd hike up the small mountain with me today, promising to go REAL slow and throw a rock the whole way to really slow me down, thus evening out our paces.... but she still gave me a hell no, and she wouldn't even try. And so, I found myself out running alone, instead.

While I know I'm not alone in this journey - I've got lots of people around me virtually supporting me - it is hard, sometimes on the day to day, to constantly have to be alone. I do look forward to my times at Crossfit, because it's a group of people perusing the same goal. I have to say, this is the first time in my life that I'm having a difficult time pulling people from my friend group into new interests in my life.

It would just be nice, sometimes, to have someone or two to try out a new running trail with, or take our Pet Rocks for a throw, or bust out the bikes... or.... I dunno. ANYthing. I guess this is the pain of changing... Some people will let you change and be happy for you... some people with watch you change and fight it the whole way. It's time for me to adopt some more people around me, I think, that can share in these new interests with me.

I'm now accepting applications for new randomly active friend, game for rock throwing, interested in sandbag making, and won't blink an eye at getting muddy.... any takers???

"Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head." - Joe Henderson

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 87:

I can't help but notice the weather lately, BlogLand. Here in scenic Vermont, it's definitely been some chilly, windy fall weather, with a generous rainy contribution. I'm pretty okay with that, as I've determined that I don't mind running in the rain, and I'd MUCH rather run with a slight chill (as that is only temporary) than slog through the heat. However, I ponder what will happen once the snow flies. Yes. I said the S word. It's inevitable... it's decidedly not odd for us to start getting flurries (even a dusting or so) by Halloween. And then what will I do? Being pretty new to running, I suddenly have lots of questions to research (any input, Readers?):
- Do I still run when there's snow on the sidewalk?
- What sort of shoes do I need to acquire to have successful winter runs?
- What kind of different/special clothes will I need?
- What if it's too icy to run, what's the next best workout substitute (a huge concern, as winters are LONG in Vermont... I don't want to be not-running from November-March...)

Hmm. Lots to think about. Although, on the upside, I did just learn that they've put in an Under Armour OUTLET like 35 min from my house.... that means I ought to be able to acquire all KINDS of excellent sporty clothing. Woot! (I feel that winter running is an valid and perfectly legitimate excuse for shopping.)

Anyway, on to today. It was a real lazy feeling day today. I was tired last night and really hit the pillow hard. Slept in late (weekends have taken on a new meaning, now that I'm working M-F again...), and wandered around in the comfy clothes for a while, chatting with the roommate and just generally relaxing and enjoying having no place to be. I DID utilize that off time to update my whiteboard workout calendar schedule, as we're officially into weeks 13-16 now.

It was a WEE bit scary, as I officially put on the calendar the 5K race that I'm going to do at the end of this month. It's one of my milestone goals (see the sidebar to the right) and one so close to being checked off. I'm nervous though... I still have trouble viewing myself AS a runner (even though I run. Often.), and have some anxiety about looking stupid ("What if I'm LAST? What if I'm that slow, fat chick in the back?!"). I know, intellectually, that these are not reasonable concerns. That simply the fact that I'm there, doing it negates many of those... but... still. Body transformations are much easier than mental switches, sometimes. I look in the mirror and still (often) see 284# me, who could not dream of ever being one of "those people" that ran races.
However, I've been reading some really inspiring stories lately - of people getting through their first 5K, or first Spartan race, or any number of other 'firsts'... and I feel reassured. Not to mention the fact that even if I have to run it alone (and I will, if it comes to that!), I know that there are lots of people out there who virtually have my back and are cheering me on. (Secretly, I'm really hoping that my Mud Mafia t-shirt comes in before then, so I can sport that and feel like I'm racing with a whole virtual team!)
Anyway, enough about that. I have two whole weeks more to freak out about that, and/or reach some sort of Zen place. I'm thinking that next weekend I'm going to go scout the course and perhaps run it, so I know what I'm up against. Take away one of the scary 'unknowns', you know?

Today's WOD was a Body weight workout day. I see so much progress in these workouts, but I really do hate them. haha. These are HARD. Hard in a different way than Crossfit, or Running, or lifting something really heavy... I dunno. Weird.

WOD looked like this (all unweighted):

  • 5 min: Jump rope w/u (I'm getting good at this and working on some successful double unders... stay tuned!)
  • Squats - 80
  • Push ups - 50
  • Split Squats - 60 (I also figured out how I was getting weird rug burn on the tops of my foot/toes... put your foot on the arm of a couch for split squats and see what happens. lol.)
  • Dips - 40 (being mindful to keep my body *just* in front of the chair, not out forward, stressing my shoulders)
  • Calf raises - 30
  • Lunges - 30
  • Scissor Kicks - 40
  • Ball Crunches - 40
  • Burpees (...of DEATH) - 10
Definitely not my most bad ass workout, mostly because I ran out of time, before I had to get in the shower and head to a dinner obligation. Usually, I'd try and get one more round in there, making sure most of reps were at least at 50-60. BUT, sometimes things happen. Better 30-40 reps than none at all. 

Tomorrow, I think I'm going to attempt my first Pet Rock Workout. I'm thinking Grover (apparently, my Pet Rocks' name, I'm told...) and I are going to head up Spruce Peak - a relatively easy, not to short, not too long, not too steep, but still slightly challenging, and oh-so-scenic hike near me. My rough plan will be to throw Grover most of the way up, then carry him (about 18#) most of the way down. Somehow, throwing him down the mountain just doesn't seem to make as much sense, at this moment. Hmm. We shall see. It's supposed to be a Run Day, but I'm thinking it will still be a great leg workout, and a nice mental break from just pounding the city pavement. 


Friday, October 14, 2011

What I feel like Running...

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 86:

It was Rest Day today, BlogLand (Ahhh....). But, I did come across a picture that cracked me up, that I really empathized with, so I felt I needed to share!
It really gives a visual representation to the whale-human hybrid sentiment that we noted a month or so ago.... LOL


Thursday, October 13, 2011

“If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?” ~ Joe Namath

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 85:
(Week 13, Day 1)

So, just another day in the neighborhood today... Although I did run across this quote (to the left) that I liked.

Today was a Swing/Lift Day. I kind of love these days, oddly enough. I've missed them, because I've had to sub in my Crossfit OnRamp classes (almost done with those!) for the Lift/Swing days. I've determined that I really do like t-handle and/or kettlebell work though. Swinging just maintains more of an air of "fun" even when I'm working real hard. It is amazing how quickly doing tabata swings can really get you puffing. I was pushing today, to try and work out some of regular work-frustration, while still trying to maintain good form. That, dear BlogLand, is harder than one may think. It's real temping to round your back, etc. when trying to go fast and get in more swings.

Today's WOD:

  • T-Handle tabata swings, 22#,  9 rounds
  • Thrusters (22# db's), 6 reps, 8 sets
Good times. Although, thankfully, I did the Thrusters first as they just kick my ass. If you do those as straight-through as possible - like minimize the time between sets - you will feel the burn, for sure. My quads say, "Hello!". LOL

Tomorrow, is Rest Day. Ahhh. 

Although, just a shout-out... My thoughts will definitely be with the Hurricane Heat'ers who are Spartan racing tomorrow night in Chicago - under the pink lights! I wish I could be there (damn real job. grr.). I can't imagine the awesomeness. As much as I'm excited to cross my own Spartan Finish Line ("...You'll know at the finish line."), I'm more sad that I don't get to meet up with all the awesome Spartans that I've met virtually in the last few months. The community feeling is impressive, for a international organization. Really, one of the things I'm looking forward to the most as the races get closer to the Northeast, is going - even if only to spectate/volunteer - and getting to meet and put faces to many of the people who have supported me during tough days in workout land, or unknowingly been inspiration to keep me going. 
My heartiest "AROO!" to any of my Spartan's reading!

In homage to the midwest race, I think perhaps I'll have to run around with my rock, or hike it to the top of a mountain this weekend! 

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.” ~ Liane Cardes

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 84:

Stealing an excellent quote for today:

"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."

Let's take a minute on that, BlogLand ... Impossible is nothing. I believe that whole-heartedly. Why? Because today was the last workout of Week TWELVE of my Spartan Shape-Up. Twelve weeks. That my friends, is roughly 90 days. 90 whole days that I've I've worked out 6x a week, made myself do things I never thought I'd do, found whole new pieces of myself that I never knew could exist, and begun really changing my life. 90 days in, and it has gotten easier - I don't have to talk myself into working out; I actually look FORWARD to that time to challenge myself. I don't have to try and squeeze in the workouts, because I schedule them with myself and it's just how it happens now. 90 days -12 weeks - of "ripping myself off the couch" (...with a little help...), as Spartan Race would say, has been life changing.

After a whole quarter of a year of this crusade toward a better version of me, here's some things I've accomplished, for the record:

  • Arguably the most prominent accomplishment: I've gone from running maybe a minute at a time, to running a solid 4.15 miles (at a respectable just over 11 min/mile). 
  • I have developed one bad-ass set of squat muscles, allowing me to not get out of breath at 5-10 bodyweight squats, but to easily squat 5, 10 rep sets of 60#, in a Crossfit wod. 
  • I can do a push-up. They're still not pretty, and half of them are still on my knees, but I *can* actually do a full, clean push-up  AND a BURPEE (...of Death), for that matter. 
  • I am a third of the way (ish) to doing a pull up. I have mastered the 'negative' portion... now if I could just get it UP (... that's what he said? lol)
  • I transitioned from 12# db's for workouts, up to handling 24# db's. 
  • Less tangibly, I've stopped caring what other people think. Yes, I'm going running and going to get sweaty. Yes, my goal is to be able to run Spartan Races. Yes, I have a pet rock (who seems to have gotten dubbed "Grover". hmm.). YES, I am doing something you don't understand. 
  • I've begun to accept myself as a budding athlete. (For anyone who's spent any time carrying a significant amount of extra weight, you understand how difficult "seeing" the new you can be. )
  • Perhaps the Most Difficult, I'm learning to Ask for Help, and not feel dumb for doing so. This is a process. A long, painful one ("embrace the suck!!"), of which I often have no idea where to go next. This is to be expected. BUT there are people out there who DO know and who will help (and who have been there before me). Be it my incomparable GT, to the collective knowledge of the Spartan Chicks, to the Crossfit trainer who empathizes with my tight hamstrings, to my Mom who literally, simply told me the other day, "You're doing a good job.
  • Maybe most importantly, I'm HAPPY. I feel well; physically, my chronic aches and pains are gone, and I'm on the right path to reach my healthy weight; mentally, I sleep better (more or less!), a regular supply of happy workout-endorphin can't be bad, and I feel like I have a significant purpose, even when there are other things in my life that aren't perfect or controllable. 
All things considered, I'm thinking this has been a great start to my 29th year (30th Birthday, Watch Out!), and I can't wait to see what I can do in the next 303 days (and beyond!). 

That little bit of record-keeping out of the way, on to today's WOD. To round out Week 12, it was Run Day for me. A real brisk fall evening here in VT, so after finding a few layers, I headed out. To start, I was feeling a bit stiff from last night's CF endeavors, but nothing that wasn't manageable (and really, I was hoping I'd just warm up out of it...). 

Run Stats looked like this:
Time: 40.10
Distance: 3.43
Average Pace: 11.37

Maybe not the most stellar amazing run I've ever run, but considering I could practically feel the lactic acid coursing through  my veins, I'm thinking I did a good job. In my head, at the time, I was feeling it was a bit faster than this, but I suppose I can't argue with the technology. Although, this time I did opt to run slowly, rather than walk, when the calf cramps got ugly.... and I'm thinking that I definitely brisk-walk faster than I slow-run. lol. 
I find it interesting that the calf cramps are worse through my city route than anywhere else. 4.15 miles on dirt road, I didn't feel them at all. Maybe that's coincidental evidence though?

That said, the run felt pretty good. Pushed through some of the stiff soreness (It has joyfully parked itself in my shoulders/lats, instead...), and got the job done. Calf cramps/burning, while still present, were less bad than they have been... so, I came home and sat in a tub of as-cold-as-I-could-get-it water (no ice! boo!), in hopes of remedying some of the ouch for tomorrow. That seemed to go okay, but now, hours later, my calves are pretty tight. Hmm. Ongoing problem in need of a solution. Stay tuned. 

And now, I must complete my Food Log and get to sleep. I am tired, and I think tomorrow may be my last Crossfit Learning class... Oh my. My lats haven't recovered from the LAST one. 

(Time to S.T.F.U.!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"We could not have gotten where we are without coming the way we came." ~ Stephen Covey

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 83:

Ahhh... If ever there would've been a good day for an ice bath, it would've been last night. Feeling super triumphant from my new PR run last night, I hit the pillow HARD. I woke up this morning, feeling the fatigue in my legs, for sure. I was still rockin' the Kinesio tape on my stupid tweaked ankle, which I think saved me, but other that that, it all just felt tired. I'm thinking that's a pretty major success.

For any of my readers not in the know, I have a host of old (horseback riding related) injuries to my knees/ankles. When you add a whole lot of extra weight on those things, which is what I was doing for several years, without the muscle to compensate, etc. you get a lot of hurt. Soreness, pain, OUCH. Not good. That was part of what made me begin this journey. Not only did I see a horrific picture of myself that really woke me up, I was constantly sore in my knees to the point where I was chewing a lot of ibuprofen and icing them, to no avail. Only solution was to lose weight and get in shape (apparently, regular exercise helps lubricate joints!).

I am happy to report that I have been completely pain-free for over a  year now. Like nothing. No pain. At all. EVEN after running 4.15 miles. (yes, I had fatigue pain, but no ouch pain!) I NEVER thought that that would be something I'd be able to do. I would like to note that I'm even running in minimalist shoes (inov8 230's), so it's not like running on a whole lot of cushion either. Woot! If NOTHING else comes of this (which isn't possible), I will live the rest of my life being eternally grateful for not being in chronic pain.

Whew. Okay. Off soapbox. :-)

Today's workout was an evening at Crossfit - I'm ALMOST done the intro classes to allow me to join the regular Wod's.
Tiny Hercules (what I respectfully call Lisa, at GMCF) may have tried to kill me... Or at least that's what my arms and shoulders are saying now. haha

The learning portion of the evening included Thrusters and Front Squats, as well as Kettle bell cleans and KB Thrusters, with an assortment of dips, Jumping Pulls ups, sit ups and all sorts of other good things, 10 at a time. Yikes. I tell you, those little things will wear you down, over the course of an hour.... and THEN, we move onto the WOD:

10 min. AMRAP:
10 Thrusters (40#)
10 Sit ups
10 Jumping Pull Ups

I got through 5 strong rounds, which felt good. Sweaty and do-able. Yeeeah! The Jumping pull ups even felt GOOD today. Like, No big pauses in between jumps, just hit and up again. AND, the negative portion of the pull up (the down) felt strong. Like, I could really feel the difference from even May (When I did an initial Crossfit intro). One of my big goals is to be able to do a pull up by next summer, and I am really believing that it is attainable. Rawr!

With that....

I think I'm off to throw some icepacks on my shoulders, check on my baking (Trying out Shawty Spartan's J&J Protein Bars...), and chill. :-)