Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 133:

Ahhh, another O'Dark Thirty CrossFit morning, BlogLand. Strangest thing happened this morning... I was really tired (hadn't slept much), and really wanted to stay in bed. Then I thought about missing CF, and I was like, "Awww... " because I generally enjoy it. And I am growing to enjoy the people, too. There is one (I'm sure she's super human and/or bionic) chick in my class, that keeps asking me about Spartan Race and how my training is going, etc... That's pretty cool. I am definitely a socially inclined person... having a "community" around me is important. The created community piece has really set the CF gym apart from the "regular" gym I used to go to. I like it MUCH better.

Anyway, onto today's fun... First, it's Day 1 of the 100 Burpee challenge. Basically, Day 1 = 1 Burpee, Day 2 = 2 Burpees, Day 100 = 100 Burpees. I got out of bed, did my obligatory burpee before I even put my contacts in and away I went. Incidentally, the "wide stance" tip that my CF teacher gave me REALLY helps. I suppose, depending on who you talk to, it may not be "technically" correct, but I'm still doing the same motion, just more efficiently. That makes sense to me. Plus, it allows me to bust out more without wanting to die. I am tucking this away in the back of my brain for Spartan Race penalty burpees... hehe

Onto the Warm Up: 21-15-9....... (21 of everything, then 15, etc.)
  • Superman's 
  • Walking lunge
  • Burpees (Yep! More Burpees!)

Next, we moved onto Strength/Skill:
  • Split Jerk: 5-5-5-5 (20, 40, 50, 60#)
Like my problem a couple of weeks ago, I have no frame of reference for how heavy I could/should do these. Therefore, I had to start out light and work up. (Plus, my CF teacher is of the cautious sort, since I haven't been with CF long, even though I've been lifting regularly... grr.). Anyway, the net result of this nifty little move is that I figured out that 60# is way too light for me. I may not be in crazy good shape, but having a burly sort of capacity for weight-moving activities runs in the family. I swear. See here, my Great Grandfather, Louis Cyr - The Strongest Man in the World! 
I would like to note, for the record, that my 91 year old grandmother still flips her own mattress, when the spirit moves her. We have strength in our DNA, I'm sure of it. 

Incidentally, I will say that I feel a little ridiculous doing this move, and quite often think, "SUPASTAR!" when I do it... but, I suppose that that is neither here nor there. ;-)

ANYWAY... Onto the Main Event:

Workout:Partner WOD - One Person Works While the Other "Rests"....... (please note the "" on Rests...)
  • 25 Wall Balls (10#) / Mt. Climbers (2 Count = 1 Rep)
  • 25 Pull-Ups / Double-Unders (or 3 Singles = 1 Rep)
  • 25 Good Mornings (45#) / Sit-Ups
  • 25 KB Squat Cleans (16#) / Push-Ups (knees)
* Partners perform both movements then move on
* Record time as well as "resting" reps

Yeah, it was an interesting WOD. Mountain Climbers suck in the same way that burpees do, though. My partner was pretty cool, and she and I are at relatively the same place/pace, so it kept me moving. It was quite a cycle of movements, and by the last things - I ended up doing KB Squat Cleans last, I was moving a bit slower (my hamstrings were beginning to go jelly from the Good Mornings...), but got that business done, nonetheless. I will say, as an aside, that it was a weird sensation to randomly have just my hamstring quiver while I was trying to stretch, later on.
The finish time for my partner and I was just over 12 minutes (within a minute or so of most everyone in class), and our total rep count (between both of us) was 280 - right in line with the rest of the class. Woot! It makes me feel better to at least be in the same realm as the "regulars".

That said, I'm pretty tired. Tomorrow morning is a straight up, no-holds-barred run morning. The Goal: Run 5K (3.12mi) without stopping. At all. My guest GT from a few weeks ago is keeping tabs on me, and threatened another Crack O' Dawn workout, if I don't hit that target. Physically, there should be no reason that I can't do it at this point... just struggling to get the brain (and subsequent body) on board with that thought.

HOWEVER, Exciting news! This weekend I'm running the 5K Santa Suit run near me, to benefit the local chapter of the Make a Wish foundation. THEN, the following weekend, I'm making a crazy day trip to Massachusetts to run another 5K; only this time, it looks like I'll get to run with my esteemed GT, as well as (finally) meet at least one of the Spartan Chicks that I've "met" thanks to the wonders of the internet. (Have you checked out Ms. FitBee's Blog, yet?!) Good times! What's this "race fever" I keep hearing so much about....?

And now, to get ready tomorrow's morning smoothie (mmm... raspberry with greek yogurt and flaxseed!), and SLEEP.

“Really it comes down to your philosophy. Do you want to play it safe and be good or do you want to take a chance and be great?” ~ Jimmy J

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 132:

I "slept in" until 8:30am this morning, BlogLand, and it was AWESOME. Yep, it was a Rest day around here, and I must say I was glad for it, this week. I have really grown to love my training time (actually looking forward to it 99% of the time) but every once in a while, a break is welcomed. Although, I do think it's a little funny that I now consider 8:30am "sleeping in".

So, I have no crazy WOD to report on, but I did want to take a couple minutes to tell you about some pretty awesome gear I have recently acquired. Personally, as a newbie to this whole "active lifestyle" thing, I generally know I need things, but never know what's good to buy or just seems good... thus, I rely a lot on the recommendations and reviews of people that I know. SO. I thought I would contribute. A few things that I've field-tested lately:

First, as the weather goes crazy here in the Northeast (seriously, it's the end of November and it was 50 degrees today and the snow was melting. WTF?), I realized I was unprepared to run outside without some more tops. As I have learned from some of the Veteran Spartans, cotton (in general) is a no-no. In short, it absorbs moisture, rather than drawing it away from your body. Bad. Wicking, Good.

I ended up buying the Moving Comfort Mobility Long Sleeve (in Spartan red, of course...). I was a little concerned about the sizing, as I've never bought this brand before, and I'm definitely not a small sort of person (I prefer "statuesque" or "Amazonian", thank you...). I'm 5'9" and generally wear a women's size 14/16, at this point (down from about a women's 24. Wow. That sucks to say out loud.). I ended up ordering the XL, according to the size chart. When I got this in the mail, yes, I immediately ripped it out and put it on. The fabric is soft and awesome, and the fit was okay. Personally, I think I would've preferred one size up if that had been an option (as I generally don't like the 'imperfections' to show more than they need to...), but given the fact that I am still on the downslide with my weight loss, I decided to keep it. For anyone considering buying one, I would say they are generally true to size; I am a bit more... top heavy (more on boobs later...)?... than your average chick, so I think some of the smallness of this top stemmed from there.

Next, I took this long sleeve top out for a run. Literally. First awesome feature: "fitted cuffs" with "hidden thumb hole". I appreciated that immediately, upon setting out on that brisk morning. Better than some of the other running tops I have, THESE hand-covering-sleeves actually extended longer down my hand, even tailored to a hand-fitting point. Excellent design.
This is where I reiterate that I am a hot, sweaty mess when I workout. In this shirt, I didn't feel like a sweaty mess - as promised, it did seem to pull the sweat away from my skin, while still keeping me warm in the chill 35 degree breeze. It also has some convenient, slightly stretchier, "venting" panels that I found really added to the comfort (along the sides and under arms).

The only minor flaw I discovered was right at the end of my run. I had managed to put my car key in the 'handy' obligatory tiny pocket. However, Moving Comfort has decided to locate this pocket in a frustrating place (at least for me.). It is on the back of the shirt, to one side... but slightly higher up (not down close to them hem). For me, this made it difficult to get back to my tiny pocket, without twisting the whole shirt around, and discombobulating the orientation of the zipper. That said, during the run, I never noticed my key was in there. Mild, dealable annoyance. I ultimately decided that this annoyance was offset by the extra bonus: this top seems to be made slightly on the longer side. That means, no mid-run shifting/pulling on of clothes! Yay!

Overall, the Moving Comfort Mobility Long Sleeve gets two thumbs up from me. I will definitely be buying more of these - particularly after I drop a few more pounds and the XL is roomier.

Next, we're onto Boobs. Yep. We're going there. We've talked about sweatiness, tears, fat, flab, injuries, weight and emotional turmoil... We were going to get to boobs eventually. I also really feel that for a female athlete (or aspiring one), they are a huge consideration. If The Girls aren't Locked and Loaded during your run or your workout, and you're experience Crazy, Slap-Me-In-the-Face Bounce syndrome, it really makes things unpleasant. Plus, guys, you may not believe this, but it just downright hurts. We need to keep those Ladies in check. Thus, begins the Quest for the Holy Grail... er... I mean, Sports Bra.

Now. Where are all my well-endowed Chicks out there? You know what I'm talking about. You can NOT just walk into a sports store and know that you're going to be able to walk out with a sports bra that fits - particularly if you are a fuller-figured lady. Again, keeping it real, I'm a real person: wearing a women's size 14/16, and sporting a 38DD. Yeah. I am not the ideal sports bra fit model. I also downright refuse to do the double-up trick, with layering sports bras, for added support. I feel that if one is actually doing its job, one should be enough. Therefore, it was an EPIC quest I went on.

Ultimately, after much debate, I ended up trying two different styles by Moving Comfort (which was a highly recommended brand, to me):

First, I tried the Moving Comfort Rebound Racer. This is your standard racer-back style bra; It pulls over your head, but has a 2 hook back closure for added support/adjustability. This turned out to be a blessing and a curse, it would seem. As I pulled this one over my head the first time, I experienced the dreaded - "Oh No, I'm stuck in my super-tight twisted up sports bra that will only let me loose if I manage to dislocate my arm in 6 places and reach around" issue. After much faux-panic in the comfort of my room, I did get this bad boy on. And it was ON, I'll tell ya. But then I realized I needed to clasp the two hooks in the back. That was a slightly less traumatic of an adventure, but because of the extreme heavy-duty elastic band, it was a little less than "easy".

However, I will give Moving Comfort some big bonus points here - the front-adjustable straps. The comfy (slightly padded!), wide straps have velcro adjustments that stay underneath the straps, maintaining your cute-factor (CLEARLY my first priority in a sports bra). The adjustable straps did make it super easy and convenient to get everything situated just so, and ready for evaluation. First, minimal uni-boob syndrome. I wouldn't say The Girls were clearly defined, but you definitely did not have the ugly uni-boob issue. Really, I was so caught up in the fact that my boobs were Seriously. Not. Moving. That I did 5 burpees in the midst of this, just to try it out. Nothing. My boobs were going NOwhere.

... so I went for a run. Again, I will sing the praises of Moving Comfort, here. For the active, full-figured lady, bouncing and chafing are an issue (don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.). I ran over three miles that day and there was NO bounce. NONE. 38DD's, cemented to my chest. I swear, this is unheard of. I would tell you that I was in love with this article of clothing, except for the tiny seam rub I developed on one side. However, I am willing to chalk that up to the "newness" of the bra, and reevaluate that, once I wash and wear a few more times.
The only real down-side I had with this Rebound Racer was the entry/exit portion of the thing... getting out of it was much like getting into it... a WEE bit tricky, and not for the stiff or un-limber. I was able to manage it, and will continue to do it because of how well it kept the Girls in check during my run... but, I would not necessarily seek out this bra again, in light of:

The Moving Comfort Fiona. Yep, I found it. The Holy Grail. The Ultimate in Boob Control. The Breast-Master. ... okay, I'm done, but you get the point.
I paid just over $40 for this bra, but it was worth every cent of that. I will buy more, just as soon as my paycheck rolls in. Here's why:
The Fiona had all the good points of the previously mentioned Rebound Racer - cushy, front-adjustable straps, somewhat stylish construction, etc. - BUT, it was a regular rear-closure bra. No need to try and wrestle it over my head. While I typically like racer-back styling, I found that the straps for the Fiona were set slightly closer in, making the style equally as comfortable as a racer back, with less hassle. Further, unlike the Rebound Racer, due to it's different back styling, the Fiona had a better handle on the side/back bulges (again, let's not pretend you have no idea what I'm talking about. Just keeping it real!). Where I felt that there was potential to have some unsightly side/back bulging in the racer back, the Fiona kept that all nicely under control with some soft, sleek, moisture-wicking fabric.
And, it goes without saying, I took this one for a run as well. LOVED it. I can honestly say, I have never run feeling less like an episode of Baywatch. It was GREAT. I could focus on my stride, rather than whether or not I was going to knock out an innocent passer-by.

Overall, Moving Comfort gets a gold star from me, thus far. I have decidedly liked all their products that I've sampled, even going so far as to LOVE the Fiona sports bra. I found their prices to be competitive with other comparable active wear (and felt I got what I paid for), and so far so good on a few cycles through the laundry.
I will look forward to trying some more of their products... perhaps some leggings/tights of some sort, next? Hmmm.

So, there you have it. Now, I'm watching the mail anxiously for a pair of hot pink calf sleeves I bought... I'm hoping to alleviate some of the excessive calf cramping I've been having these days. There is also a visit to the Under Armour Outlet in my future... Oh my. What girl doesn't love shopping - even for active wear!

Monday, November 28, 2011

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” ~ Woody Allen

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 131:

Getting my head back in the game today, BlogLand. It's a new day, a new week, and a refreshed outlook. Sometimes, I believe, you have to hit a low to be able to appreciate the highs.
This morning, I crawled out of bed at O'Dark Thirty (6am), and headed off to the gym - mostly awake. Ish.

I must say, yesterday's ice bath and handful of Ibuprofen really helped the situation, I think. My legs are feeling pretty good today. Lesson of the day: Listen to your Body! It knows best. However, I will say, I did order some compression sleeves for my calves (since this is a chronic problem), in hopes that I can take the ouchiness down a notch - particularly with the increased running schedule.

That said, CrossFit morning!
It looked like this:
Warm Up: 3 Rounds Of.....
  • 500 M Row/Ski
  • 15 Wall Balls (10# ball)
  • 15 Burpees

What's that quote? "Your 'workout' is my warmup." ... I kept thinking that, as I powered through this. I have to say, the last 500m row was kicking my ass. I will say though, I got a helpful Burpee-hint from the trainer today: WIDE STANCE. Wide stance as you flop down (and jump back in and up), makes the movement more efficient. You are having to move your body a shorter distance. This little tip made doing burpees a *slightly* less grueling task - and made me feel just a little more competent doing it. 

Workout20 Min AMRAP Of.....
  • 3 Power Snatches (40#)
  • 3 Pull-Ups (Jumping Pull ups, still)
  • 6 Push-Ups (On my knees, but elbows in!)
  • 9 Box Jumps (16" box)

Thankfully, I'm not dead yet. Power Snatches are a challenging movement for me - for some reason, my body has to really think to make that movement correctly. Full hip extension is key - not muscling up with your arms, which I am want to do. Managed to own them pretty damn well though, under the watchful eye of Alan (today's CF instructor). It certainly makes you feel pretty strong when you pop that weight over your head. Rawr. 
Jumping pull ups are still a work in progress.... although I do have *much* more control on the 'down', so hopefully those muscles are coming. One day, I will pull-up. Push-ups were also feeling okay today - maybe it's because there was only 6 at a time? I really concentrated on keeping my elbows in (think military style), rather than flaring out with a wide stance.
Just to round out each round, we had box jumps. Ah, box jumps. I love hate you. There's nothing complex about them - jump onto box, stand up completely. But after 20 minutes, I SWEAR to you those boxes grow. LOL. 

Nonetheless, 10 full rounds completed in 20 minutes. Aroo!

Oh yeah, and just because CrossFit is aimed at everyone's inner masochist, there was an "Afterparty"! 
What's that, you say? Well, after you've done a warm up that would cause most people to head home, then powered through a workout that is not for the faint of heart, THEN... just for FUN, you bust out the "afterparty" if you think you have it in you. 
Today, it was an 800m Run. ("just" a 1/2 mile). 

Did I do it?....... Yes! Ran the whole thing, no stops, back and forth  with another chick in the class who is totally bad ass (seriously, she busts out ring dips and pull ups like they're nothing). It was interesting, she was asking me all about my training for my Spartan Race in the summer... It was fun to talk about the sorts of things I'm up to, working towards, etc. and have someone have a genuine interest. Think I might be able to talk her into becoming a Spartan this year. Aroo!

THEN, as we finished our outdoor 800m - on a balmy 50 degree morning, I came in and died. I mean, stretched. LOL. 

Not. Dead. Yet. Rawr. 

Good times! Tomorrow, we run! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"If you can't run, you walk. If you can't walk, you crawl..."

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 130:

Today was a rough one, BlogLand. Like, the kind of rough that I haven't experienced in a long time. I debated how I was going to write about this, or if I was... but this blog is ultimately about honesty, and for me to look back on the reality of my progress... and really, the bad days are part of the process. Added to that thought, I know that many of my readers are on their own journeys, along with me; For me, if I was following along with someone for motivation and/or inspiration, I'd want to know that they were human just like me, had bad days like me, and even had really awful days. Like today.

I was a little bit sore when I got up this morning, from yesterday's CrossFit adventures, but not as bad as I had expected. I was a bit stiff in my upper body and my calves were a bit tight (damn you, jump rope!), but that's nothing new. Thankfully, it was supposed to be Long Run Day, so the upper body was no issue, and I usually warm up out of the sore calves. No problemo. I was looking forward to getting out of the house for a bit and stretching my legs; it's been a few days since I just straight up ran.

I suited up in some new gear (Moving Comfort, I LOVE YOU. Review tomorrow.), and took a look in the mirror. I should've recognized at that very moment that today was going to be a difficult day. When I looked in the mirror this morning, to check out the new top that I had gotten, all I saw was Old Me. I saw bulges. I saw belly. I saw ugly.

More often than not, these days, I can at least see progress: I look in the mirror and while I do recognize areas that still need work, I often now see the strong arms, more defined waist and muscular quads. I can usually look approvingly at myself and the changes I've made.

Such was not the case today. Although, I do feel like this calls for a tiny bit of back story. It's been a tumultuous week or so in my life. My family imploded right before the holiday, including both sides of my divorced family in screaming matches with each other AND me, some of my small family is STILL not speaking to me, and we didn't do any sort of family Thanksgiving. To add insult to injury, there's been a lot of changes in my friend group (which, for me, is really just extended family), and a lot of those relationships have felt far away, distant and just-not-right lately. For me, someone who is very family-centric, emotional, involved and devoted to the people in my life, this is extremely stressful. Everything feels wrong. When everything feels wrong, then it becomes MUCH more difficult to fight the tiny battles that make up the larger war.

Such was the case when I looked in the mirror. When usually I am armed with an arsenal of positivity around me, the emotional stress had really sapped that energy, leaving me vulnerable to sneak attacks by Old Me.

Despite the squishy-bulges I was focused in on, I laced up my sneakers and drove out to my Long Run spot. My thoughts were busy and racing, and I was looking forward to a run to clear them out - I do find it difficult to think about too much while I'm running, because I need to focus on the run.

I set off and was feeling a bit off kilter. My calves were not happy with this, my legs felt a bit stiff, but nothing I wouldn't just warm up out of as I pushed on. I got through the first half mile and nothing felt better. My breathing was all wrong, I was pushing just to make my legs maintain my stride, and I just felt like I had no energy. Drained. Totally drained. I allowed myself a tiny walk-break at a half mile, thinking maybe I just needed more of a stretch and/or warm up than usual, after yesterday's rigorous CrossFit. I stretched a bit, regrouped my brain a bit and tried to remember all the things I've learned from the veteran runners I've come across.

And so, I pushed on... two or three more lengths between telephone poles (it's a dirt road... it's how I measure, sometimes!). All wrong. I just couldn't bring it all together. Focus on breathing, I told myself. Keep the legs moving, they'll warm up. Watch my turn over and stride. How bad did I want it?! I wanted it bad. I pushed through... another two or three more telephone poles lengths. Everything was screaming at me. My legs were in concrete. I broke to a walk. I let out an exasperated sigh. What was going ON?  This was unacceptable I told myself. I wasn't even at a mile yet, and I had already walked twice. This was *backward* progress.

I just needed to keep working, I reminded myself. Keep moving. A couple more telephone poles... Not even a mile and a half total... and I was fighting every fiber in my body. Thankfully, it's a quiet dirt road I was running on - mercifully untraveled on a grey, brisk day like today - because then came the tears. Yep. I fought to put one foot in front of the other at the slowest, barely-a-jog-trot possible and hot, angry tears of frustration, disappointment and raw emotion ran down my face.

Was it the bad run? No. Was it the fact that I was having a bout of Fat Chick Syndrome? No. Was it the family bullshit in the background? No. Was it the friend-stuff cropping up? Was it all of those things at once? Yes. Yes it was. Everything. At once.

I was still walking forward, trying to gather myself, and decide what was going to happen next. Since I began my Spartan Shape-Up, I've never quit on a workout. Ever. I've always pushed to completion or my absolute limit - whichever came first. I didn't want this to be the first time. I couldn't tolerate that. But I couldn't fathom more running. I sniffled and the battle raged on in my head. I kept walking forward.

Then I thought of mantra that one of the original Spartan Hurricane Heats coined (I may be slightly paraphrasing): "If you can't run, then you walk. If you can't walk, then you will crawl. If you can't crawl, then I will carry you!".

I couldn't run. But I COULD walk. Wasn't that what this process was all about? NOT quitting? Not letting myself get in my own way? Not accepting my body's limits?

... But it was so hard. I wanted to stop. I wanted to turn around and go back. I heard myself start to come up with good "reasons" to turn back - I was too sore, I'd run the day before, I could do it tomorrow, etc. ad nauseum.

Old Me was making some really excellent points. But then I thought about all the people who have helped me along the way, who have supported me or inspired me. I didn't want to let them down by quitting. What COULD I do, I asked myself.

I was angry that I had to have this battle, frustrated that all these things were sitting on my emotional shoulders and impacting my training, and 300 other things. But I walked. I ran a few more telephone poles, then would walk again. Try and run some more, back to walking.
Admittedly, this four-ish miles was probably more like a walk with some runs in it, than a run I had to walk a bit during. But I finished the distance. I also finished the last half mile or so at a run. It was everything I had, but I wasn't going to finish Long Run Day at a walk.

It was the longest 56:15 minutes I've had in a while. Never got into the running zone... just had a lot of time to think, get angry, feel defeated, hurt, and try and press on through the emotional walls.

As I got back to my car, I didn't know what to do. Typically, this would be the moment where I would declare my accomplishment triumphantly to my GT, or Facebook, or Twitter. I didn't feel triumphant. I didn't feel accomplished, I didn't feel good, happy or satisfied.

I felt slow, out of shape, fat, stupid for thinking I could do these things, and angry that I had ever lead myself down this path where I was bound to fail.

Yep, it's true. I think these things, sometimes.

I have about a 20 minute drive home from that spot, and I used it wisely, I think. I cried. I cried about all the things and people I can't control right now, and I cried out my frustration that I couldn't just run the damn distance. And then I stopped.

I dug in my brain for every positive justification I could think of: Not every day is going to be a PR. Some runs ARE going to feel bad. I've been working hard pretty non-stop, maybe my body just couldn't, today - but tomorrow will be better. Everyone trips... it's about who keeps getting up. How bad DID I want it? Did I want it bad enough to take this day, feel it for what it was, then finish it and move on to tomorrow?

Yes. Yes I do. I felt really bad today, Blog. Readers, if you haven't yet, you'll feel really bad training one day, too. You'll have your own back story, your own negative self-talk, your own thought-demons to slay... but the war is the same. Know that you are not the only one. That helped me today. Even the athletes that we all strive to be have these days. What makes them the ones we strive to be is how they handle those days. Do they let it consume them, drag their whole training regime off track, throw it all away because they had a bad day or two? Or do they get up, dust off and push forward?

So, how did I push forward? Well, I squashed my emotional brain for a bit and brought my logical brain to the surface - what COULD I help. Well, I was sore as hell, my legs were fatigued. Answer to that problem: Ice Bath. That would be a good place to start.

A handful of Ibuprofen and an Ice Bath later, my mind felt a bit clearer. Throw a warm shower on top of that, and I almost felt human again. Am I proud of today's run? No. Am I proud that I am going to get up and train tomorrow? Yes. Old Me would've let this moment ruin the whole journey. Made it come to a crashing halt.

Things have changed around here, though. After a deep breath and a cup of tea, I'm setting my Monday alarm. It's a Crossfit morning.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

“Success demands singleness of purpose.” ~ Vincent Lombardi

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 129:

Holy OWWWWW, BlogLand. It was a CrossFit morning today - Yep, 7am WOD on a Saturday morning. This is an interesting process in redefining myself; I never thought I'd say that I was willingly (and almost enthusiastically) headed to a raging workout at that time of day on a weekend morning. Wow. However, as today's title quote says, "Success demands a singleness of purpose." I am determined that by the summer, I will be at a healthy place in my life, fit enough to successfully complete a Spartan Sprint (and hopefully, a Super and the Beast. Oh yeah, people. I'm dreaming big!). Singleness of purpose: achieve the goal. In that light, one must do what it takes to get there... in my case, it happens to be really regular, hard workouts... 50 days of No Bread... conquering my mental blocks around running... tuning out the negative/defeatist voices... 7am Saturday WOD's. Eyes on the Prize, baby.

So, I arrive at the gym this morning, wrapped up in my new Spartan Race hoodie (seriously, people. This thing is worthy of a Spartan. It is heavy, warm and amazing. Perfect for winter-morning get-to-the-gym!), mostly awake and ready to go. I got warmed up with a 400m ski, just to get my body moving, while class gathered.

Then on to the Official Warm-Up:
10-15 minutes of partner medicine ball drills, 10# ball. 
Yes, this sounds like fun... throwing from each side, throwing up (like a wall ball), etc... Then, Katy (today's instructor) put my still slightly zombie-brain to the test. Stand with your back to your partner. They call out a direction (left, right) as they throw the med ball... you register that direction, turn around fast in that direction, catch the ball, and throw back...and turn back around to start again.  WHOA that will wake up your brain. haha... AND your abs.

Then, it was on to today's WOD... I turned around to look at it on the board, and I'm sure my face went momentarily pale. It looked horrifically daunting. Like, I did have a brief moment where I thought OMFG... I can't do this!??! Then I had to mentally bitch-slap myself a bit and look at the individual parts. The funny part was when I was looking at the "prescribed" WOD, and then the scaled version, slated for CF beginners. I debated... what to do...!? I had to discuss with the instructor, because: As I looked at the prescribed WOD, I was pretty sure I could get through it - it would just take me a lot longer, and be challenging. If I did CF Beginner version, I could get through it, no issue, much faster... but would I be pushing myself enough? In the end, my Instructor of the Day imparted some wisdom - Do the prescribed version, as much as you can. If you just can't quite finish the number of reps, or with the weight, scale it as you do it, and just record the modifications that you make. That way, you're challenging yourself more than the Crossfit Beginner, but if you can't quite get to the as written version, no worries.

Accepting this approach, I set up my station to do it "As Written" and was determined to get through this set at all costs, unless I really physically failed.

Today's WOD (brace yourself...):

  • 25 Hand Stand Push-Ups (Modified: Off 20" box)
  • 50 Wall Balls (10# Ball)
  • 150 Push Ups (on Knees)
  • 75 KB Swings (16#)
  • 150 Weighted Step-Ups (16" Box, 15# Weight Plate)
  • 600 Single Jump-Ropes
  • 1 mile run
..... Yep. You read that right. Although you could break it up, or modify it as much as you needed/wanted, the idea was to go through the list, as written - thus completely exhausting one muscle group before moving to the next. I was determined to give this a shot. Slow and steady, I decided, and I could do this..... Just so long as I could get past the first exercise: Hand Stand Push Ups. This is a new kind of evil, my friends. If you have no upper body strength, this particular exercise makes you VERY aware of that fact. I'd never tried these before, so I decided I would give the modified version (knees on a tall box to lessen the weight supported) a go. I was more than moderately terrified, but I tried to swallow that fear and ante up. I will start by saying that this is the ONLY movement today that I could NOT complete in its entirety. I tried. I swear I gave it ALL I had... I just don't have the upper body strength to do that, yet. I did get to 20 (with 2-3 breaks), which was close enough to the written version that I was happy with it. Granted, they were NOT pretty, and I was practically crying on the last two or three before I had to call it done... but I did 20 of something really hard that I'd never done before. Good times. It is pretty tricky, though, as all the blood rushes to your head, then gravity is with you and helps you "down".... and then suddenly, you have to get back up. My T-rex arms were REALLY protesting this idea. But when you get fatigued, it's not like you can just pause in the middle of the exercise, as you're upside down, with your legs on a tall box. You HAVE to complete one more rep in order to take a break. THAT was the worst part. Ultimately, I was proud of getting through 20. It may have been the most difficult exercise I've ever attempted.

Wall Balls and Push ups were pretty straight forward. They were challenging due to the number that we had to do... but I just kept breathing and pushing forward. Again, my T-rex arms rejected the concept of 150 pushups... and for the last 75, I had to do them in sets of 3-5 to get through them.... BUT, I finished. THAT was what was important to me. KB swings, also not a problem. Definitely kept my heart rate up, but was a familiar, do-able movement.

Weighted step ups brought an interesting revelation. I was doing the step ups holding a 15# plate. As I got a little tired (somewhere about halfway through), I reminded myself that I used to have no choice but to heft around that much "extra" weight - and a whole lot more. If I got through this exercise, I could put DOWN that 15# weight, and be that much lighter. That visual of how far I had come helped propel me through those step ups. Plus, not for nothin', but all the running and squatting I've been doing really helped here - my legs were pumping right through this, tired, but with good staying power. It was this exercise that allowed me to mini-Chick the two other dudes in my class - they had pumped out the push ups a bit easier, but they just couldn't keep up the pace on the weighted step-ups. I just zoned in, and kept pace with the rockin' Black Eyed Peas song that was blaring, and tried to have fun with it. 

This is where the WOD became a little bit more of a Push. The "as-written" here would've been 200 Double Under jump ropes. I can't do that, yet. It is a skill that I just haven't mastered. The modification: 3x the number, if you're going to do singles. Yes, that's right, 600 jumps. Although, I knew that I could perform this movement... it was just a whole lot of it. I chose to just think of it in chunks.... I did 200, took a break, 200 more and so on, until I busted through it. Considering it was toward the end of the WOD, I think I even looked pretty competent doing it. LOL. 

Last but not least was an entirely mental exercise... run 1 mile. I routinely run 3+ miles regularly... but typically not after that kind of a WOD. As I trotted out the door (yep, OUTside... the cold air felt AWESOME at this point), happy to give my legs something they knew how to do and just sort of stretch them out, I was doing well - steady pace - at first.... then, I rounded the corner in the road and saw the HILL. Yep. Just about half a mile uphill. THAT was how we were going to finish up this WOD. I wanted to die right then, yep I did. However, the two other people (two dudes) in my class were still powering forward.... I was NOT about to be left behind. (Sometimes, your weaknesses - like extreme competitiveness - can become strengths!).  I did have to take a tiny walk break mid long-ass hill, but I kept trucking... that was what was most important to me. I did get to the top, take a second to reflect on that, and then had a nice, long-strided, run down the hill... I was exhausted, true story. But, I was focused on finishing strong. As I got in the door of the gym, I saw one of the guys totally down and in the starfish pose on the floor, and the other was totally hands on knees. WAHA. I wanted to, but on principle, I stayed head up (panting and sweating like crazy), but TRIUMPHANT. Totally finished.

I felt moderately better at the end, when one of the guys (who is my usual CF instructor during the week) said to me, "Woooo boy! We haven't done a long WOD like that in a while... I'm DONE." It felt good to know that it wasn't just me. haha

That said.... I am now feeling the hurting setting in.... LOL. My shoulders and back are completely spent. Completely. I think now it's time for some ice packs, heat and rest. OW. 

However, it's a good hurt. I am on a mission to conquer the T-rex arms. WAHAHAHA. 

With that... It's just 258 days until my goal Spartan Sprint. Yeehaw! Eyes forward, one foot in front of the other. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

"You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor". –Aristotle

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 127 & 128:

It's the beginning of Holiday Time, BlogLand. This time of year is always a challenge, in workout terms... Not only does the cold weather make you want to stay in and under a blanket, but schedules get busy and the meals get huge. However, this year, I've got my head in the game and am actively working to avoid getting bogged down in that kind of distraction and getting off track. In light of that, let me tell you about the last couple of days:

Day 127: Thanksgiving:

So, Thanksgiving imploded in my family, it was a bad day. I wanted to just stay at home, curl up in a ball and forget the world. However, I reminded myself that that wouldn't solve anything, I wouldn't feel good about that the next day and I was going to rally and get my ass in gear. It should've been a Run Day, by schedule, but I had a (rare) opportunity to go to a Zumba class again with a friend, for FREE. I figured since it was a holiday, I would change it up a bit and do that.  Plus, it would be fun, and a little bit less of a mental challenge than running is for me - just what I needed on this Thanksgiving, I think. So, off to Zumba I went. 60 full minutes of high-intensity, high-impact latin inspired, hip-hop, dance craziness. If you've never been to a Zumba class, I highly recommend them. Even as someone who works out, runs, etc. in 60 minutes of a Zumba class (assuming I do the high-impact version), I work up an excellent sweat and still get a great work out. My running has definitely helped though... I was huffing and puffing a WHOLE lot less, and totally rocked right through all the intense plyometric sections, no problemo! Yeeehaw! It is nice to have those real tangible reminders of the fact that your fitness is improving.

I thought about going for a run, too... but I figured it was the holiday and I was happy with a solid hour of cardio/plyo. I did get dragged to a friend's family Thanksgiving, and was faced with a bit of a quandary... What to do about the No-Bread eating I've been doing? Thanksgiving isn't EXACTLY No-Bread friendly (Think: stuffing, potatoes, bread, etc.). After a bit of a debate, I finally came to the decision that I would eat a "normal" dinner... but I would take it easy on the starches, desserts, etc. AND, I am happy to report that I stuck to that plan. I loaded my plate with turkey and veg and a bit of sweet potato... then added just a little bit of mashed potato, skipped the bread and ate happily. I did have a very small dessert (because it looked amazing), and felt okay with that. I felt very in control though... not like I was stuffing myself just to do it, but that I was making mindful decisions. If nothing else, that makes me happy. Upon leaving that, I was right back on track - dinner last night was chicken/blackbean "tacos" in romaine lettuce shells. Actually, I enjoyed that.

This morning, I had an excellent pumpkin smoothie (pumpkin puree, vanilla greek yogurt, milk, protein powder, and a dash or two of cinnamon/nutmeg/truvia. OM nom nom. I was really skeptical of how that was going to be... but I felt I had to honor the season and try it. SO GOOD. Might be my new favorite. Not sure I'm going to want it ALL the time... but I definitely enjoyed it this morning.

Then, off again to Zumba (Day 128), for another round of heart-pumpin', booty-shakin' good time. My calves are crying from the jumping and on-your-toes moves... but, a good time was had by all. It was nice to mix it up a bit and just let loose and have a good time - but still get in a really solid hour of a workout.

Tomorrow, however, it's back at it hard core... CrossFit in the morning! Slightly terrifying, as the teacher is Tiny Hercules... er.. I mean, Lisa. She's fabulous and I love her... but she's tiny and enthusiastic and can do ring dips like they're her job (well, I guess they kind of are). I am sure her mission for every WOD is to try and kill us. Which, again, is probably a good thing, as that kind of intensity is just what I need to train for Spartan Race. Wahaha.

Tomorrow, though, I'm going to try my first double-down day - Crossfit followed by a bit of a run... not sure how my legs will feel about that (depends on the CF WOD of the day)... but, I'm going to try and get in at least two miles, so I keep on schedule.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

“Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.” ~ Corita Kent

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 126:

Yesterday was a well-earned REST day, BlogLand. Crossfit had owned my back and shoulders on Monday, I was tired, and sometimes you just need to listen to your body and have a break. Plus, looking at my schedule for the rest of the week, I suddenly realized that I had not scheduled in a Rest. Hmm. Superhuman though I may be.... LOL!

Anyway, as I rolled out of bed at some ungodly hour this morning, I found myself suddenly met with Winter. In a big way. I went to bed, a flake or two in the air... I woke up, 8" of snow on the ground. WTF. I *wanted* to curl back up in my nice warm bed, but I reminded myself just how much I enjoy CrossFit (sick, I know.), and I got my ass in gear. Yes, I was outside at 6:25am in capri workout pants, with some sweater boots and a big sweatshirt, finding my car. Then "skiing" my car to the gym (snow tires aren't on yet... ugh.). Nonetheless, not to be deterred, I made it to class.

First, let me tell you about the Warm Up:
30 wall balls
30 burpees

OR 30 wall ball burpees. 

Yes, you read that right "wall ball burpees". I had never met this particular beast before... It involves completing a wall ball movement, then as you come down into the bottom of your wall ball squat, you put the ball on the floor, and (keeping your hands on the ball) drop into the burpee. Essentially, you increase the difficulty of the burpee like 4 trillion times (for me, anyway), because you then effectively have to do a push up (to get out of the burpee), with your hands close together, on an unstable ball.
Definitely not for the faint of heart.
However, after seeing our instructor demonstrate this in a deceptively graceful manner, and having never attempted this before, I decide to give it a go. After all, the warm up says I only have to complete 30 of that evil maneuver, rather than 30 of EACH maneuver if I perform them separately.


EPIC FAIL. LOL. Let's just leave it at the fact that I absolutely do not have the upper body strength or coordination to master this move. Basically, I did my wall ball, dropped down into the burpee and got stuck. While I could push myself up, I couldn't push myself up enough with my arms (shut up people, I am created a little... ahem... top heavy?) to make clearance for my legs to jump in to finish the burpee. It was not pretty. And it definitely was not graceful. It was more Splat-tastic. However, I tried. 3 times. At which point I determined that I had to understand my temporary limitations and get the warm up done, rather than flopping about. 30 of each ensued. Nothing like Burpees to get you 'warmed up' on a frosty winter morning.

Then, after some instruction, we moved onto the WOD Part 1:
5 rounds x 90 seconds per round:
10 light deadlifts (35#)
Max Rep box dips (Total: 73)

I am mildly disgruntled with this particular section. This was supposed to be a "heavy" wod. Using like 80% of your max weight for deadlifts. Unfortunately, there were several new people in the class - specifically, a few women who had just started out and had never lifted weights and could barely manage the 20# bar, let alone weights. Not a snarky commentary - just a factual observation, promise (everyone needs to start somewhere, it just irks me when it effects my workout. Read on). The problem with this is that the instructor lumped me in with them. Made me do the CrossFit "Basic" scaled version of this part of the WOD... which involved a ridiculously light weight (deadlifting 35#.), so that you can concentrate on form. While I understand this instructor's caution, as he doesn't know me yet, even when I asked him if I could add some weight - after he had told me my form was perfect in the instructional period - he said no. Stay basic. 35#. It was like lifting nothing. I don't like being held back, when I am working toward something. I was really interested to see what I could do with a heavier deadlift (these are not skills I've been able to test at home, although I've been developing the pieces), but was not allowed to. GRR.
I decided to keep my mouth shut for now, as relatively new to this instructor (and he teaches often at the time I will go), and keep the peace... but it was frustrating to modify the wod to basic and have to do 10 lifts that were like nothing for me, while the regulars did 5 heavy lifts per round. GRR. Next time.
However, the second part of this part was technically Ring Dips. T-Rex arms strike again, and I really struggle with ring dips. Depending on the day, I modify them to assisted ring dips (using my legs straight out), or box dips. Today was box dips, as my shoulders were still screaming from Monday's push up marathon. Total number of dips for 5 rounds - 73. I'm feeling that in my shoulders, I promise.

Lastly, we moved onto the WOD, Part 2:
5 rounds of:
60 sec jump rope (ideally double-unders, but I'm still in singles)
30 sec rest
Lowest Reps in a round: 103

Felt pretty good about this section. Jump rope is a killer, and I'm really glad that I've been working on that. I'm able to jump a long time, at a steady pace, which is helpful. I'm working up to learning those double-unders, but I can't quite figure that out yet. Nonetheless, the result was that my least successful round (the one with the least jumps) was 103. Not bad for 60 seconds.

Today had been tricky with the eating though. Damn No Bread. I was hungry today. Nothing in my house sounded good. Plus, I have a lot of "not allowed" stuff in my house, due to the presence of roommates. It would be easier if it just wasn't here - things like tortilla chips, loaves of bread, or leftover Halloween candy. I wanted these things BADLY tonight. The hummus just wasn't cutting it. I'm still not happy. Grr. But, sometimes, you must just tell your body TOO BAD. We had plenty of nutrition for today, so, body/brain/whatever is making me WANT THAT BREAD, you just need to STFU. Although, all things considered, I haven't struggled too much with this eating style up to this point... but my stress level has cranked up a bit, which I'm guessing is contributing. Drank a tasty coffee, some more water, and I'm just going to go to bed. Tomorrow is a new day.

OH. I received my AWESOME Spartan Race hoodie in the mail today. I ordered the super rugged one... BOY they were not kidding. The thing weighs as much as I do, I suspect it's bulletproof, and I'm pretty sure I could survive sub-artic temperatures in it. It's an intense piece of clothing. PERFECT for what I wanted though - heading to the gym, in the cold mornings in the winter, and/or other sorts of generally extreme, badass activities. Aroo!

Speaking of which, I need to sleep. Tomorrow morning, I volunteered to accompany a friend to a free Zumba class (I used to go all the time, but needed a new challenge...), and then I need to get in my run at some point. And probably see some family.

Be thankful for your health, as you wake up tomorrow. Live each moment of your life and be thankful you have the opportunity to do so.

Happy Thanksgiving! Stay tuned for a Turkey Day recap tomorrow... Also known as, can Aja survive Thanksgiving with No Bread?!  

Monday, November 21, 2011

"The best things in your life are not going to be easy to attain. Expect to work hard for this, very hard."

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 124:

It was one of those EARLY (class starts at 6:45am!) CrossFit mornings, BlogLand. I actually am pretty entertained by CF and the challenge it presents, so it is a bit easier to get myself moving in the morning. I'm still not perky and I'm definitely not pretty, but I'm more mobile than I would usually be, getting up at that time of day.

I was a bit apprehensive, as I'm still "new" to CF, and this morning there was a substitute instructor. I was a little sad, because I totally pick my classes and have structured my schedule around the instructors that I like the most. But hey, everyone has something to teach, I reminded myself, and tried to suck it up. It is moments like that, though, where I get nervous and have to squash Old Me trying to tell me that I don't belong, or they'll be wondering why I'm there, or any of that old crap. It's not true. At all. In fact, the CF people (here, anyway) have been super welcoming and accepting and have always treated me like I belonged there. I sternly reminded Old Me that we were just trying to make excuses to stay in (my super warm, comfy) bed, and there was no time for that. Took my 5 minutes of waking up time to peruse Facebook and infuse some Spartan-related inspiration, and it was feet on the floor.

I will say, I am SO looking forward to the new Spartan Race hoodie I ordered, for mornings like this, AFTER a morning like this. It was more than a bit frosty in Vermont this morning. I've also decided I need knee socks or leg warmers, because I typically wear capris to CF. Yes, if I was more awake in the morning, I could change into them there... but pretty much, I need to just roll out of my house geared up. Hence... Legwarmers and/or knee socks. haha

Anyway, today's CF time went like this:

The Crossfit Warmup x2
30 Second Samson Stretch
15 overhead squats (with a broomstick)
15 good mornings (w/broomstick)
15 sit ups
15 pull ups (jumping pull ups, for me)
15 dips (box dips, this time)

Then we moved on to the Strength Portion:
Front Squat, 3-3-1-1-1
Unfortunately, having no official frame of reference for where to start these and/or progress to (as in, I have no idea where my "max" is - where we were supposed to end up for the last rep), I still didn't quite find it. I apparently underestimate, greatly, how much I can front squat.
The last squat I did was 130#, and while I could feel the weight, it was not anywhere near where I would consider my "max" (Apparently, there's the "space shuttle" feeling... heavy on the bottom of the squat, then a bit of weightlessness, as the weight gets moving). Unfortunately, we were out of time for that particular segment, but it at least gave me a base to start at. It was also pretty gratifying to move that 130# with no issue. I have friends that weigh less than that. Maybe I need to start squatting them. LOL.

This is where I would like to take a moment to publicly thank My Most Awesome GT, and say how right he was. Again. A year ago, when I was still in the beginning stages of my weight loss and fitness quest, he told me that one of the best exercises that I could do was squats. He had me doing body weight squats, weighted squats, Bulgarian split squats, with and without weights, and the list goes on. I've kept up with my squatting (that sounds... awkward), and it has proven invaluable - it's helped strengthen my legs for running and made learning Olympic Lifts much, much easier. Also, as I come into crossfit, 'behind' other people who can beast out pull ups and push ups, I have one thing going for me - I can squat like a champ. And, true enough, it helps that squatting weight in various forms (as in that that uses your legs more than your upper body), makes me feel strong. There is something very empowering about feeling really solid and grounded, while pushing that weight up.
Long story short, do your squats, people. Even if it's only 1 or two at first, or just body weight squats... whatever you have to do. You'll get there. When I started, I'd get winded after doing 5-10 body weight squats... today, I easily squatted a person. BOOM.

Then, we move on to the WOD:
20 min AMRAP
7 hang cleans (40#)

7 burpees
7 push ups (knees)

I completed 9 rounds of that craziness. 40# of a hang clean, although it is not heavy, was an adequate weight for this WOD. With that 40# (although, I could've probably done around 60#), I was able to successfully complete all the reps in good form, rather than tiring too fast there and risk injuring myself.

And yes, you guessed it, this particular WOD was one of my own, tiny versions of Hell. Why? Well, we all know how much I love Burpees (...of Death!!), and then my next most *favorite* exercise - push ups. I'm trying to learn to turn my arms in a more ergonomic fashion, so my elbows are close to my body. But that seems to increase the difficultly for me by like 10 fold. I already have tiny, useless T-rex arms, and then I try and do push ups (it's a sad thing) and THEN I try and make it harder by keeping my elbows close. It MUST be painful to watch. It is painful to do. haha
Nonetheless, I persevered and pushed out a complete 9 rounds. The last few sets of burpees and push ups were slow and challenging... but I suppose, if they weren't, it wouldn't be a WOD!

Feeling sweaty-tastic and stretching after class, I got to chat with my fill-in instructor and a few classmates... I publicly admitted to training for a Spartan Race. They didn't laugh. WINNING!
I swear, I waited in my head for them to laugh. But they didn't - they asked some questions, proclaimed that "hard core" and listed a few people from the gym that had done, or wanted to do a SR too. Who knows, perhaps my CF peeps will make a Spartan showing next year!

And now... I'm going to bed. I'm struggling with No-Bread today. I *REALLY* want some toast. Or tortilla chips. Or a sandwich. That's all. But I'm holding strong. No-Bread. I have a goal, and a purpose, and I will not be deterred.

Tomorrow morning is Run Day!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second." ~ William James

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 123:

Well, what a few days it has been BlogLand. Perhaps you've noticed my absence? Without going into details, we'll leave it at this: Food Poisoning. NOT a good time. Saturday was also my BFF/Roommate's wedding to contend with. Wrecked havoc with my workout schedule, for sure.

However! Today was Long Run Day, and I was determined to get back on track. Off I headed, with the thought that perhaps I should try and do a little bit further than I had been doing (4.38mi), and my mind got "5 miles" in it... Having never run that distance, I had no idea what to expect, but I figured if I could do 4.38, then 5.0 wasn't THAT much more.... right?

It was a really grey, northeastern winter day here... except it wasn't all that cold. The *rain* (yes, rain, not snow... it IS November, isn't it?) was a big brisk, but it was cooling and kept my temperature down. I HATE being hot.

Today's Run looked like this:
Time: 58:20 min. 
Distance: 5.04 mi.
Ave Min/Mile: 11:34 min/mi.

Yes folks, FIVE MILES. Woot! I will admit, I definitely had to walk a few times during the course of that... However, I can see that my legs/body are getting on board a bit more with this whole running thing; I am able to run much longer distances without having to take a break. I still haven't quite gotten to a 5K distance without walking (it's only TINY walk breaks, but still.), but it's on my *soon* to-do list. However, over the 5 miles, I probably only took maybe 5? 20-second breaks. I'm okay with that, for NOW. I really want to get to 3 straight miles with no break... and I'm getting there.... I think that's going to be my next mini-goal. Maybe on one of my "short" 3 miler morning runs, I'll get there this week. I can physically do it, I'm sure... just need to get the mental on board. I'll have to channel Sergeant Sedlak for the mental inspiration. :-)

For the most part, it was alright... it was really just the last mile or so that was tough. But, I just tried to play over a bunch of positive thoughts, and inspirational stories in my head, and keep my legs moving. Got the job done, despite it being not so pretty.

In other news, No Bread is going pretty well. Down another 3.5 in the last 9 days. And yes, I am well re-hydrated and all that, so it was not a factor in my weigh in. I am pretty excited. I saw a number on the scale this morning that I haven't seen in... Well, I can't remember the last time I saw it. Yeehaw! I will say that I'm still struggling in the "snacking" area. That is a tough one to fill... typically I would go for popcorn, or tortilla chips and salsa... but alas. It is not to be. However, I tried something new tonight: I roasted Chick Peas in a little EVOO, salt & pepper and paprika. There is clearly a technique to be refined here, as a) I almost lost an eye to a popping (literally, like popcorn) chick-pea, and b) there is a FINE LINE between still cooking to get crunchy, and burning. I just caught my poor peas before they got there. Some of the outside ones got a little... ahem... "blackened" (I meant to do that, right? lol), but the rest are pretty good. I may have to make these in some quantity, as they do seem to fulfill the salty-crunchy need.

And with that, I must leave you for the comfort of my bed. I have an EARLY Crossfit class (it starts at 6:45am.), and I have to pack a whole ton of food, as won't get back home until 7:30 pm. Yikes.

Oooo... but I totally ordered myself a Spartan Race hoodie today, so these early mornings out into the cold and venturing to Crossfit should at least be *marginally* less unpleasant. haha (it looked so warm! I couldn't help it!)

OH!!! AND. I totally just registered for my 2nd 5K run, ever. Yep. Got the bug. I'm running a Santa 5K near me. Everyone is required to run in a Santa suit. How epically fabulous and yet ridiculous is that going to be? I couldn't pass it up. Registered.

I'm also looking into a couple more 5K's for December, but official registrations wait to be seen... Still in the planning phases there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"The best is yet to be." - Robert Browning

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 119:

Rise and Shine, BlogLand! Yep, it's 8am and I've already been to CrossFit and back, and gotten sweaty. Woo!
It was a little tricky convincing myself that I wanted to leave my bed at 6am this morning, but I imagine that I'll work into it. I hope. It is the only time I have, so I'm just going to have to!

That said, I dragged myself out the door and into my cold car (seriously, I think this year's splurge item may be a remote car starter, because there is really nothing I hate more than cold car in the morning.), and off to CF.

Today's WOD looked like this:

Warm Up:
  • 800m Ski (on the SkiErg Machine. SO fun.)
  • 3 rounds of:
    • 10 Burpees
    • 10 KB Swings
    • 10 Sit up
Workout (15min AMRAP):
  • 1 Push Press (35#)/1 (jumping) pull-up
  • 3 Push Press/ 3 jumping pull-up
  • 5 Push Press/ 5 Jumping pull-up
For today, I used a relatively light 35# bar for my presses. It's way under what I could and probably should've used, but I had no idea how I would fair with a regular CF workout - this is the first full, non-teaching class that I've been too, so I erred on the side of caution a bit. After today, though, I can see that in a WOD like this, I probably could've easily put about 60# and been fine. 
The result of today was 133 reps. Which is approximately 8 rounds and an unfinished 9.  RAWR. 

Feeling pretty good about that. Represented well in my class today. There's nothing like a bit of hard rock, some lifting and a few burpees to wake you up in the morning!

I'm not sure I'd ever choose to work out at that time of day, but I suppose it's not so bad. I do feel REAL awake now, to start the day, and I'll have plenty of time to get ready for work and not be rushed. There's always a positive side, right?

That said, I am now STARVING (Yogurt and nuts isn't cutting it!), so I must go feed myself something No-Bread friendly and begin the get-ready-for-work process. 

I'm thinking I'm going to feel today's WOD in my back and shoulders tomorrow. HMM. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

“It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.” ~ Anthony Robbins

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 118:

WHEW. BlogLand. It was my first Double-WOD day. Yep, that's right... DOUBLE Wod. As in I worked out 2x in the same day. Yep. Crazy-talk, I know... but I swear, this is not an Invasion of the Body Snatchers Moment or anything.... Just... what needed to happen. Isn't that weird how our life-view changes over time? Old Me would've been like WTF?! TWICE?

Anyway... This morning's WOD was a lovely Lifting/Swinging WOD. I was feeling particularly badass this morning; I upped the weight, beasted through it with little issue, and was generally feeling like I could move an entire building if I tried. WAHAHA.
This morning's WOD looked like this:

  • T-Handle Tabata Swings (25#): 8 rounds (15-16 swings/round)
  • DB Thrusters (22# DB's): 10 sets, 6 reps/set
Goal: Not more than 10 seconds rest between rounds. Check! I was a hot, sweaty mess but it felt great. Even though I added the extra weight to the T-handle, I felt like I had more than enough power to accomplish it. DB Thrusters, you'll see I did a couple more rounds than usual - I was just feeling good, and thought, WELL, if I can do it, I should! RAWR. 

Then, off to work I went (after an appropriate amount of preemptive stretching...). 

After work, I had scheduled a run with a run buddy. Run BUDDY. YEP! WOO! First time I got to run with another person. It was really nice... and actually, I had a really good run. Running with another person (particularly a person who could pretty well hold a conversation while running!) kept my mind busy and didn't allow me to get in my own head. Therefore... guess what happened? I just kept running. Competitive nature wouldn't let me 'rest' when I thought I wanted to... and then, oh wow... I found I didn't need to. I only stopped TWICE in the 3.09 miles that we ran. That was the best I've ever done. And quite frankly, in the scheme of things, I'm not sure I even needed to stop those two times. Maybe next time I'll try not to. Anyway... don't look too closely at the time, because it was slow and steady, but there were other victories. Here's what it looked like:
Time: 36:35 min
Distance: 3.09 mi
Ave. Pace: 11:50 min/mi
It was a bit skewed by the two times that we had to wait for cars to cross the street... but, it's all good. Next time, it'll be faster. And I won't need to walk. I have decided it will be so. 

I'm feeling good about things, today. No Bread is getting a little easier, WODs are feeling good, and like I'm making some breakthroughs (I totally just typed BREADthroughs, 2x. Uhm. yeah.), and moving forward. Tomorrow also begins the official regular addition of Crossfit a few times a week. OH my oh my. The only problem with that is that I have to Crossfit at 6:45am. This could be ugly... but, I'm trying to just not think about that, and instead think about how awesome I will feel afterward. 

And so... now, me and my tired, but happy muscles, who ALL got worked today I think, are going to bed. It's a good day. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

“Through imagination, we can visualize the uncreated worlds of potential that lie within us.” ~ Stephen Covey

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 117:

Crazy Life day, today BlogLand. Nothing of particular note to report. After a big banana, a lot of stretching and copious amounts of groaning and whining, I almost felt like myself again this morning. My legs are back to 90% functioning. haha

Today, inadvertently turned out to be Rest Day, because it occurred to me that in order to get in my assigned workout schedule (Runs 4x/week, Crossfit 3x) I have to double up one day, in order to have a Rest. Ironic, I know. Conveniently, I have a buddy that wants to run with me tomorrow night after work... thus freeing up my usually workout Mornings. Waha! Looks like a perfect set up for a double-up workout day.

So, other than that... there's not too much to report, today.

Pretty excited to run with a buddy tomorrow night... it's going to be dark, but it's a new run-route for me, which will be welcomed. My run-buddy says there's a 3 mi and a 4 mi loop.... wondering how brave I feel with a buddy... hmm. We shall see. I am armed with a headlamp (we'll be running in town, but it will be after 7pm), and ready to roll. Woot!

No Bread is going pretty well. I'm finding that it's definitely getting easier. Not EASY, but easier. It's mostly bad when I see people eating stuff that I'd like ... but, I'd LIKE to get my weight-loss moving more that I'd like that toast/potato/cracker/etc. So I'm hanging in there. I stopped counting how many days I'm in, or have left... I just know that Day 50 (the end) is December 23. A great Christmas present to myself - a thinner, healthier me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

“So many people can be responsible for your success, but only you are responsible for your failure.”

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 116:

Sorry it so long to get my post up today, BlogLand.... it just took me that long to hobble over to the keyboard! I've had two really solid days of WOD's that have left me.... shall we say... SORE as HELL.

I got up this morning, after sprints and plyometrics with Todd yesterday, feeling good... except for some pretty damn stiff calves. This is a recurring issue I tend to have, so I've gotten pretty proficient with  tennis ball rolling, Tiger Balm applications and various stretching techniques. Thus, today, like any other tight-calf day, I did those things and went about my day.

THEN, it was Long Run Day today. My task is get the miles on the sneakers, even if it means I do it at slow, 12 minute miles. But I was feeling pretty good today, and was armed with all sorts of new tips to keep me from walking. Not to mention, I was feeling pretty positive and awesome. That is always a good way to go into a run... particularly if running is not your first-choice activity. LOL.

Anyway, drove up to one of my long run spots and set out. My key thing to remember, first, was to not sprint out of the gate. If I'm trying to get the miles in, I have to learn to pace myself a little bit... If I hit a 10 minute mile on the first mile, I'm DONE by mile three. SO. I just tried to think slow and steady. My mini-goal for myself was not to walk for at LEAST a mile. Clearly, I know I can do that, after doing drills with Todd yesterday - and those were at a fast pace. Surely, I should be able to run a whole mile if I was going slow. So I ran. And ran and ran. Then I passed the Mile mark, and ran some more. And then I got so enamored with how I was still running (and not feeling like walking), that I ran some MORE.
Guess what happened, Blog? TWO WHOLE MILES before I had to take a quick walk break. I've never done that. Ever. EVER. Further, through the entire rest of the run, I did take a couple more quick recovery moments of walking, but just a couple, greatly spaced apart. WAY better than I have been doing. I was actually feeling more like a 'runner' and less like a walker that was adding in running periods. LOL.

Today's RUN:
Time: 52:28 min
Distance: 4.43 mi.
Ave. Pace: 11:46 min/mi.

So... Again, not a *fast* run... but that wasn't the point of today. The point of today was to go the distance, AND I totally did. I even did much better than I thought I could - running long stretches, without walking.

Here's what helped today: I concentrated on my "turnover" today. Todd remarked yesterday that, like many people, as I get tired, I shorten my stride drastically. Apparently, biomechanically, it takes only 10% more energy to maintain your full stride, than to run all tiny-strided. This made sense to me (Todd told me the physics!), so I was very mindful of that. The way this 'felt' to me was like I was using more of my leg. I was really conscious of trying to use all the big muscles in my leg move my legs, rather than falling into that mincing, shuffling, tired step. I found that even slow - using all my leg muscles - felt better than tired shuffle.
THUS.... I ran the longer distances, without feeling like I was going to die! woo! I was even happy to note that my calves seemed to warm up out of the cramp they were in.

So, mindful of potentially being sore and stuff, I made sure to really walk around a bit, stretch, etc. before I got in the car for the 15 minute drive home.
However. I got in the car to drive home, went to get out and was like, "OHHHhhhhhMYGodAhhhhhGROoooan".
And there's been the rest of my evening. I've stretched. I've done some more tennis ball rolling. I've tiger balmed... but wooooboy, BlogLand, this ought to be a good one tomorrow. I hurt it in my hip flexors, all the way through my leg. My hamstrings are tight, and my calves are rocks. Me walking around the house just isn't pretty. LOL.

BUT, I totally ran a substantial amount without stopping to walk today. YES. THAT is what this soreness is reminding me of. And I'm totally okay with that.

Now, I'm off to swallow some ibuprofen and crash into bed. ZZZzzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzz

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Fairy tales don't tell children that dragons exist... Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be slain."

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 115:

Today's WOD was entirely mental, BlogLand.

It all began at 6:00am. Yes, that was the first part of the WOD, as 6:00am is *never* a pleasant time for me, particularly on a Saturday morning. Sometimes getting your feet out of bed, on the floor, and in sneakers IS the tough part of the challenge.

I was (despite my reluctance to leave my warm, comfy bed) determined to greet this morning with a positive, open mind, rather than the bit of apprehension and reluctance that had begun to slither into my tired brain last night.

Why would I ever be reluctant and apprehensive, you ask? Well, because I had a Guest GT ("Guru Trainer" for those of you new to my blog) training time scheduled for this morning. Not just ANY Guest GT, either - Todd Sedlak, of Spartan Race fame. Little did I know that Todd only lives about a half an hour or so drive from me, when I friended him on FB with wanton abandon. Not only did I friend him, but I asked for help; I'd heard Todd had some extensive running knowledge and experience, and I needed advice to break through a plateau. Advice and experience he had in bounds... and guess what? He also had some time at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning. Oh shit.

The apprehension that was creeping into my brain was the same one that crept in at the thought of walking into a CrossFit gym for the first time, or the first time I thought about running with an experienced runner, or entering my first 5k: we'll call it, Out-Of-Shape-Fat-Chick-Syndrome. This is when my Old Self peeks out and wonders WTF I think I'm doing, putting myself in situations with all these athletes and super fit people and people that look good in spandex. It's the I Don't Belong Here complex... the one that tries to tell me that I'm NOT an athlete, I can't possibly get to where they are, that they're going to look at me and roll their eyes and wonder, "What is SHE doing here?"

That is a hard complex to break out of, my friends. Especially when you've spend 29 years believing it. Changing your perception of yourself is a gradual, difficult process. I will freely admit that when I look in the mirror these days, I'd say a solid 25% of the time I still see the person that was 68 pounds heavier, couldn't do a single push-up, ran 20 seconds and was winded, and had grown to accept that I'd always be the one that'd kick your ass at trivia, not the one that'd smoke you at an obstacle race.

That said, about a year an a half ago, I decided to needed to make a change. I didn't want to get to 30 years old and still be that person. I didn't like that person. I didn't like the self-imposed, and physically-imposed limits that were pressing down on my life. I never wanted to be the person that had to say "I can't" to things, because I was too heavy or out of shape. Thus I began the mental war, that continues to rage on. If you're reading this, you can probably identify in some way... so this is where I'm here to tell you that it gets better. It may never go away... but the little battles, that make up the war, become easier and easier to win... Most Days.

Today was one of those slightly more challenging battles. I suddenly was stricken with the fear that maybe I had misrepresented myself to Todd... I had said that I "ran" regularly, but did he understand that it was not pretty, or easy, or graceful.... and that I wasn't going to be some skinny runner-chick that just needed some refining tips? Did he realize that he was going to be working with someone who still has to push hard to get to a slow 3 miles?!

Immediately upon seeing Todd cruise up (sporting his Storm Chasers logo!), I knew he didn't care. At all. For real.

I was greeted with a big smile and pleasant chatter (both things I consider an amazing feat at 6:30 in the morning), details of what we had on tab for today's session - the usual chatter between friends getting ready to go and do some training together. But we'd never met before. We'd chatted for a bit on FB that one time, but it seems that was really irrelevant... there seems to be a sort of instant kinship between people who are committed to a cause, and have agreed to give it 110%, to themselves, and also to the person running (or even huffing and puffing) along beside them. (As an aside, this instant kinship of like-minded/equally committed individuals is what I believes makes Spartan Race such an infectious phenomenon.)

I did feel a little bit more of the Doubt Monster creeping in, as we wandered over to the local track... You just can't fake what you can do. Either I was going to be able to get through Todd's planned WOD, or... I wasn't. Although, Todd spoke about it all so matter-of-factly, positively, and without any doubt or questions, that it was hard to do anything but get on board with the plan. Thus, it began, The WOD:

After establishing that neither of us were "stretchers", we set off for an easy warm-up lap (400m) around the track, as Todd explained the specifics of what we were about to do. It seemed simple enough - sprint the long sides of the track, and "float" (sort of like a long strided, easy pace) the curved sides..... and we were going to do that around the whole track 4 times (8 sprints), to make the total of a mile. He began to explain to me at this point the ins and outs of mind over matter... thinking about it in short segments (Just ONE 100m sprint, for instance), and being excited for those sprints, rather than dreading the difficulty. The biggest thing: NO WALKING. I have a tendency to "need" to drop into a walk during my runs, and Todd had a mission to break me of that. Therefore, during this exercise, there would be no walking. I could float-jog the curved sides as slow as I needed to, but there was to be no walking.

Having never concertedly run on a track before, I had absolutely no base line for what I could do in an exercise like this; probably a good thing. In my mind, I was just going to lay it all out there, and what would be would be. Todd busted out his stopwatch, gave me a countdown, and off we went for my first sprint. It felt awesome to just open up, and bust down that track. First sprint, Check! No problemo. HA! It was a nice little confidence boost when Todd even commented that I was "faster than [he] expected." Maybe (just maybe), this would be okay. I had a nice float recovery jog (you're right, Todd, it does feel like "rest" after you sprint!), and set off on Sprint #2... didn't have quite the power of the initial sprint, but a solid performance, nonetheless. I'd go as far to say that even Sprint #3 was pretty solid. And then.... I swear to you, BlogLand, those recovery distances were getting shorter. That track was morphing somehow, right underneath my feet, into longer sprints and shorter curves. Then the real mental game was afoot.

I am reminded, at this point, of the quote:
"Growth begins at the end of your comfort zone." That's where I suddenly found myself. Definitely ensconced in uncomfortable. I was feeling the feeling that, during my regular solitary run, causes me to drop to a walk. But Todd said No Walk. Todd (with his 50 mile long gazelle strides...) was right beside me, supplying me the tools I needed to get away from the Walk Monster: technical running tips (head down! lean forward! concentrate on your turnover! BREATHE!), as well as the possibly more important mental ones (GO!! PUSH HARD! Just this sprint! almost to the end! It's right there! and my personal  You can "stand on your head in a bucket of shit for 10 seconds!"). And so we pushed on. I latched onto his words like a lifeline, dragging me through the unpleasantness of the situation... because let me tell you, BlogLand, by Sprint #7 I didn't feel like I had a sprint in me. At all. But now, Todd was running in front of me a bit (when it only takes you 6 strides to get around the whole track, this is bound to happen), and was telling me to really let it fly, I could do this (I was almost done!), and that I had it in me - I just had to push a little harder.

So, I pushed, I dug deep, I summoned my inner Spartan, or whatever other euphemism you'd like to use... but the net was that I did it - I found just a *little bit* more to get through those last few sprints. Now, it's true, those last few sprints probably took me 2x as long as the first one... but the key thing was that they were still sprints - a pace faster than I was 'comfortable' going at that point.

As I pretty ungracefully shifted out of the last sprint, feeling like my lungs were going to explode, into my "float", Todd reminded me that this was the last one, and were were _THIS_ close to a 10 minute mile - a ridiculous improvement over some of my PR mile times - but I had to run the last float to make it. I ran. Or, I told my body that was what needed to happen. I was willing every last muscle fiber and molecule of oxygen in my body to get on board with this. I WANTED this. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I'm certain it was an ugly finish, and no where near as fast a section as I wanted it to be, but it was okay... As I crossed the last line, Todd triumphantly held up his stopwatch and congratulated me on my accomplishment: a 10:11 min/mi.
Yes, friends, that is a WHOLE MINUTE faster than my previous best mile time. More importantly - there was no walking. At all. I had probably just won one of the biggest battles in this particular challenge; I'd proven myself that I *could* run that whole mile, without walking - and at a respectable pace, to boot! HA! AROO! Now, whenever I go for my run (thinking about it one mile at a time), I *KNOW* for certain that physically I can run the whole mile. I have felt what it feels like to be at the edge of the walk abyss and sprint through it. If I walk during my next run, I will know that I can do better. That knowledge will definitely help keep me pushing. Contrary to my originally thought, apparently, my body will run me a whole mile, now that I got my mind out of the way and let it.

Fresh off (and by "fresh" I mean red-faced and hands-on knees panting) that triumph, and feeling pretty damn good, Todd asks if I've ever heard of Plyo exercises. Yeah, you thought it was over. It wasn't. But, hey, I'd just laid waste to a really big mental wall... how hard could this be? Turns out, not too bad. Todd's indomitable positivity is pretty infectious. We went through a series of 10 Plyo exercises, with 30 second breaks in between. Everything from jumping up and down over a pretend jump rope, to jumping up the bleacher steps, to jogging 'mule kicks' (think really exaggerated drum major), to burpee-ish (!!!) "cobras". I will admit to chuckling in my head, while I had a mini-Rocky moment hopping up the bleachers. Despite my tired muscles, and my constant struggle with two-footed up-jumps (seriously, left foot?! Wtf?), I completed them all. Still felt good. Damn. Who knew? Not me.

Despite my initial prediction, Todd didn't kill me. Wow.

Wrapping up, and discussing some techniques for going forward from here, I felt more confident. Looks like, although I am still in the beginning stages, I can do these things. This is not to say the internal-war is over... but now I am freshly-armed with some pretty powerful  ammunition. 10:11 min/mi, no walks. It can be done, and I can do it. I just need to embrace the feeling of discomfort and burst through it - there IS still power in my legs at the other side of that. I learned that today. Self-Doubt, take that. WAHA.

I have to say, I think the Cosmos are on board with this big plan of mine. I said to the Universe that I wanted these things, and I needed help... and help has been unfailing in appearing. When I began this journey, a close friend stepped up to be my long-distance GT and show me how to structure a progressing workout program to take me from the couch to the finish line of a Spartan Race. When I got stuck on a weight/nutrition plateau and was feeling super defeated, Carrie Adams appeared and imparted "No Bread" upon me (DOWN 2.5 pounds this week! WOOT!). When my GT was feeling particularly far away, and I was needing up in my face help over this running thing, *poof* Sergeant Sedlak.

Just goes to show you, BlogLand... If you want it bad enough, the way shall appear.

How bad do you want it?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'm going to work so that it's a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it." --Steve Prefontaine

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 112 & 113:

It's going to be a quick one tonight (don't I always say that, right before I start rambling on?), BlogLand, as I am tiiiiired.

Yesterday (Day 112) was a bit frustrating. I decided it was another round of Bodyweight exercises day... did a few squats, and moved onto pushups, got halfway down the second one and *OW*, my shoulder blade felt like someone knifed it. (As an aside, I was pretty impressed with myself when I realized that when that had happened, I immediately picked that hand up, and was able to smoothly finish that half a push up one handed. Silver lining?) I'm not sure if this particular thing has come up during my Blog time, so I'll give you the short version:
I have a temperamental "trigger point" in my right shoulder blade/back muscle area. Apparently, a trigger point is where a bunch of muscles meet and attach together. Mine is somewhat temperamental and ensconced in a lot of scar tissue. The doc tells me this could've been a one-time thing that I hurt, but because it never fully healed correctly, I got scar tissue... in addition to the fact that initially I didn't have enough muscle buildup in my supporting muscles (lower traps) to balance out the shoulder stuff.... and one thing leads to another, and I get a major ouchy in my shoulder. How did I discover this? Well. It's in my right shoulder, and I used to work at a bank. Think about that. Reaching and counting money out right handed, all day. It apparently aggravated this. Then I lost my job, didn't have money to go to the Physical Therapist, but did get away from the repetitive motion ouchiness it was causing. Fast forward a bunch of Spartan training later, and a new job. Suddenly, I'm at a computer all day, reaching for a mouse. Suddenly, I have shoulder pain again. FML. Time to go to the PT and get this fixed once and for all (they get to shock my shoulder and do some other scar-tissue-breaking up-stuff.). At least now, I have insurance! YAY. Downside, I found myself face-down in my living room, in real pain. Yes. I made that doctor's appointment.
While I would like to say that I STFU at that moment and moved on to do some more lower body stuff, and things that didn't tax my shoulder in the wrong way, I didn't. I was pretty bummed that this had reared its ugly head again. I thought I had rid myself of it by building up the other muscles. Apparently, not enough yet. And there's still that pesky scar tissue that complicates things. Ultimately, my workout for the day was sitting in a chair with my foot on an ice pack (preventative/healing), and another ice pack on my shoulder, feeling grumpy and having a small pity party.

Then, I woke up this morning - Spartan Shape-up, Day 113 - and decided I better make up for yesterday's ridiculousness. It was a run morning - the 3rd one out of 4 for this week. After a seriously frustrating run a couple days ago, I managed to get myself some sage wisdom from Sparta's own Sergeant Sedlak. I told Todd of my I-still-have-to-walk-woes, and he gave me a few tricks to try and combat them. Some of my favorites:
When I feel like I need to walk, picture the "Walk Monster" chasing behind me, and out run that bad boy. In fact, SPRINT a few yards, every time my legs get heavy and I feel like walking.
Also, as I feel my legs get really heavy (this is my biggest issue), start really pumping my arms to drive my stride... then suddenly, you find yourself forgetting about your heavy legs.
There was much more wisdom imparted on me the other night, but my brain is too tired to spew it all forth at the moment.
HOWEVER. I did run this morning. I pushed hard. I sprinted away from the Walk Monster. I alternated fast and slow sections, I pumped my arms like a crazy person.
Most importantly, I did a good job this morning.
Know how I know? Well... I still had to walk a few times, but there were much longer stretches in between, and there was one point  where, during a fast section toward the late middle of my run, I was pretty sure I was going to throw my life up. I walked at that point, convinced myself that THAT was not going to happen, and pressed on. I definitely had to have that conversation one more time with myself in my last .3 of a mile... Mostly because I was all like, "I will NOT revisit my breakfast, here, while waiting for a crosswalk at the busiest intersection in town, at 8 o'clock in the morning, while everyone and GOD is going through here to go to work."
To be really honest (don't you laugh, BlogLand!), I told myself to stand up straighter and try and look badass and sweaty while waiting for the light. Fake it, until you make it, right?

Net result, a relatively good run. Much less walking. No puking. I'm going to give you the stats now.... but, my freakin' GPS had a bit of a nervous breakdown at one point and tweaked out, so the stats are not as accurate as they should or could be. But, we'll get the gist (the distance is a guess):

Distance: 3.05 mi
Time: 34.22 min
Average Pace: 11:16 min/mi. 

So, while not my PR, it's definitely a step in the right direction. My PR is only 7 seconds faster than that. I feel like I did a good job, like my head was in the right place, and I had some tools to work with that I was able to call on to power through some rough patches.

Don't get me wrong, Blog... It was not easy. But in the ever-Yoda-esque words of my esteemed GT: Did someone tell you it was easy?
The answer is no, in fact, everyone told me this whole undertaking of my would be hard. Very, very hard. But here I am... 275 days away from the Goal Line.... just about a 3rd of the way there.

So, did I walk? Yes. I walked. Did I do everything possible in my power not to walk. Yes. I pushed and pushed until literally, my body would be like *slap* "WALK. NOW." The victory lies in pushing the bar just a little further... next time, a little further... until, Wowza! You're staring at my back, as I effortlessly trot by you. WAHA. Someday. ;-)

I should also make a comment on No Bread, Day 7. I made it. Officially ONE WEEK without bread, potatoes, rice and the like. Getting on the scale tomorrow morning for a check-in, and I suppose we will see how this is going... I went out to dinner with a friend last night, and the first thing that happened was that the waitress put down a giant basket of glistening, buttery rolls. The Cosmos tested me, I know it. I ordered eggs... no toast, and stared at the rolls the whole meal. Victory is mine! It's only got to get easier from here, right?

With that, I shall leave you with some prophetic words from Sergeant Sedlak:
The mind is stronger than the body. When you feel like you've got nothing left, could you lift it if your child was under it? Could you keep running if someone was chasing you? There is always a little more. Focus on your mental game. Gut check time.