Saturday, December 31, 2011

Part 1: Transformations and Goodbyes, 2011

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 164:

I have a lot of ground to cover today, BlogLand. In usual fashion, I'll be touching base on today's WOD, but then - since it is the eve of a new year - I would like to reflect a bit on the watershed that was 2011. It's been a hell of a ride, and it seems only right to pay my respects to some of the things that have marked the year as a critical one in my life.\

But first, down to business. Shape-up, Day 164, was a CrossFit morning. You know you've really become a different person when you voluntarily set your alarm for 6am on a SATURDAY morning to get up and head to the gym. Now, granted, I'm still not a super pleasant person about it, but I *did it* and that's all that really matters. The CF people don't care if I'm mostly disheveled, cranky or brainless, just so long as I do work and get sweaty. So, up and at it this morning, I headed over to the gym.

Today's Warm Up was a fun one:
Partner Med Ball (10#) Tosses!

  • 10 squat throws (like a wall ball to your partner)
  • 10 side throws (10 each side)
  • 10 backward overhead throws
  • 10 (each side) seated  tosses (sitting in a V, legs off the floor, your partner tosses you the ball, you receive it and touch it to the far side and toss back to your partner)
The WOD today had a "Buy In" of 100 Double Unders... Which I can't quite do yet ( I can manage a few, spaced apart, if I really work at it), so it was about 300 jumps to get the equivalent.

Feeling pretty warmed up and ready to go, we moved onto the main event:
Today's WOD:
EMOTM (Every Minute On The Minute)

  • 5 Pull-Ups (jumping pull ups, for me)
  • Clean and Jerks (40#)
  • Complete as many rounds as necessary to total 85 Clean and Jerks
My time for completing this beast was 20:45, which was a pretty respectable one, as far as the class goes. What saved me was my ability to beast through the clean and jerks. I noticed many of the women in the class (fact, not comment on the gender!) took a lot of breaks, where I was able to keep pushing through lifting maneuver. I think, too, this particular weight (40#) was a bit light for me. WOO. I was unsure how much to really pile on there, as it seemed like this WOD would be an arduous one, all about endurance... so I wasn't really thinking that trying something heavier would be feasible. Next time, I'm thinking 50 or 60# might be more appropriate, as even at the end of 85 C&J's, I was still doing  okay. Incidentally, by my calculations, I would've done 100 jumping pull ups to complete 20 minutes worth of rounds.

THEN, just because CrossFit is AWESOME, there was an "After Party" of 100 sit-ups. That became a little bit of an evil mind-over-matter adventure. I was good for about the first 40. Then 41-60 wasn't horrible, with some brief breaks. Then we got to 60-100. Grueling, I tell you, BlogLand. I have never had "abs" in my life, and they are still on the learning curve. They were SCREAMING by #95. But I did it. I got through all 100, and I wasn't even the last one done (I know it's not a race, but it makes me feel better, as a bit of a gauge, that I'm not looking like a total idiot, finishing 10 minutes after everyone else.).

So, there you have it. Today's CrossFit times. I will say, as the evening creeps in, so does some really distinct soreness in my shoulder blades (yeaaaahhhhh pull ups!), and a pretty fatigued core section. Although, I suppose that is to be expected!

On a related note, last night, I ventured into Dick's Sporting Goods and purchases an over-the-door pull up bar. I decided I needed a little more bonding time with one, than just the CF WODs, in order to conquer my chronic t-rex arms. According to the GT, I'll be doing some negatives on that bad boy, daily, until I can do a real pull up. (Goal: Be able to do one, unassisted, pull-up on my birthday - July 6th - which is my 30th!!)

Alright, housekeeping blogging done, on to the Big Stuff.

2011 has been an year that I never could've foreseen, prepared for, or hoped for any other way. It has been filled with painful realizations, a lot of soul-searching, sweat, tears and  complete change. I wish I had a more eloquent way to put this, but 2011 was really my "Holy Shit" year. I had lost about 20# on my own, but wasn't really going anywhere fast with that process, I was turning 29, my knees hurt, I didn't feel pretty, I didn't feel healthy, I was existing in my skin, but not really living my life. Holy SHIT, I said to myself. This can't go on, something has to change. That had to be me.

I made some life altering decisions. Despite the fact I (unexpectedly) lost my job, when through some personal and financial crisis, and waded through a lot of stress, I wasn't going to let Life win, anymore. I wasn't going to sit on the couch and pizza-eat my way into temporarily feeling better. I wasn't going to wish I could do all the things that me on the inside has always wanted to be able to do... I was going to take some action. This was a terrifying concept for Old Me.

Where to begin? What to do? How to start?
The answer is ANYWHERE. Just take a step. Then another one. The early part of 2011 found me doing exercise-ball workouts, from the instruction packet that comes with it when you buy it, in the basement. I did a fun Zumba class several times a week, and began to plant both feet firmly in a new lifestyle. At my Zumba class, I found support in my tiny, dynamo of hip-hop/latin energy, Nicole, and her co-instructor Betsy. Not only have these two amazing ladies become close friends that I'll carry with me all my life, they were the beginnings of a crucial support system that every person making a major change needs. When I had to tone it down in Zumba, because my body couldn't handle the cardio, or when I arrived at the end of classes red faced and panting, I never received anything but positive energy and affirmations. It is easier to keep beating your demons into submission when someone tells you that you're doing a good job (and checks up on you when you don't show up to class!!!).

As the process got in motion a bit more, I added some basic weight training to my routines. You know, the run of the mill stuff that everyone knows how to do... some bicep curls, some presses, things like that. Nothing fancy. I struggled with 8# dumb bells.

Gradually, I started to see some results, and I had been following Spartan Race on Facebook, after recommending it to friend. It seemed extreme and crazy, but the Spartan aspect seemed fun, and I thought someone should check into it... but certainly not me. I couldn't do that, could I?

Starting to feel a bit stronger and more confident, I recognized the need for something more. The next thing. However, resources were limited, I couldn't afford a gym membership and I had no idea what to do next. You can read up all you want on the internet, but sometimes you just don't know what you don't know, and you need help. Taking one of the biggest leaps in my life, to date, I reached out and ASKED for help (not something I've ever been very good at).

Enter my incomparable Guru Trainer. A close friend of mine, educated in the field and athlete in his own right, answered when I tenetively asked for a few workout suggestions. Then I had a few questions about those mini-assignments, here and there. And more questions... to which he could always provide me a factually based, reasonable answer ("But WHY should I start incorporating Bulgarian Split Squats into my routines???? WHYY???").
Then, during the summer, I had a crazy thought. *I* wanted to do a Spartan Race. I wanted, when I turned 30, to be a person that physically COULD complete a Spartan race. (Which was a fire that was fueled by volunteering at the VT Beast this year!) After expressing this to the GT, we got down to business. I needed a more structured, efficient plan (especially since I didn't have access to a gym any longer). I needed to start running (say, WHAT?). In 4-week increments, GT and I worked through evolving goals and plans - hence the birth of this Spartan Shape-Up Blog. I tracked all the data on spreadsheets... but so much of my transformation was mental, that it seemed only appropriate to chronicle this lifestyle overhaul in more detail, as well.

In short, that's how you find me here, BlogLand. So, as this is New Year's Eve, I would like to recognize a few things that I will be leaving behind in 2011, and a few particularly memorable moments.
I am leaving behind Old Me. I will NOT be trapped by my physical limits, or mental misconceptions about what I can and can not do. I CAN do anything, and I will.
I am leaving behind eating habits that do not help fuel my ambitions. Yes. I will still eat cupcakes occasionally, but in moderation, infrequently, and only if they're really tastey - no more eating mediocre things, for the sake of eating.
I am donating an several entire wardrobes to the local GoodWill. By hanging onto all the clothes that do not fit me, not even a little bit, I feel like it affords me the 'option' of creeping back into those sizes. That is never going to happen again. Someone else, that actually needs it, should be putting these clothes to use. Not the Old Me lurking in the back of my subconscious, saving them as a safety net.
I am (constantly working on) shedding the giant mental roadblocks that still want me to think of myself as the "Fat Chick" that couldn't possibly do that, be that, or go there. I am leaving a significant amount of those broken walls in 2011 (Thank you to for the Sledgehammers that you have provided to aid in this process..).
I am leaving behind (or finding new roles for) people that can not accept the things that I need to do for me. I need to be healthier. This is what I'm choosing to do. Accept that and support me - Better Yet, Spartan Up with me!! - or step aside. I am leaving behind your eye rolling, snide comments and negativity.

In 2011, I began a formidable list of accomplishments and triumphs, not the least of which are:
That I took the first steps: off my couch, towards the person I want to be.
I found the Spartan Race community (A special Aroo! to my Chicks, who provide daily support, inspiration and motivation!! without you ladies, where would I be??), which has been an AMAZING supportive group of people (most of whom I've not met in person, yet!). I have never felt like I had so much "family" behind me, following my progress, keeping me lacing up those sneakers in the early mornings, or getting sweaty and sore right along side me.
I ran my first (and subsequent several!) 5K race. YEP. I RAN a race. I learned to run this year.
I conquered my fear of the "super-athletes" I thought must reside there, and have now joined a CrossFit gym, which I love dearly. I'm not the Fat Kid, they've never treated me as such, and the things I find I am able to do each WOD are incredible.
I lost 75#, to date. I have gone from a size 24, to a size 14/16, and still counting. For the first time, in a long time, I am almost happy when I look in the mirror.

There is much work to be done, as I look to the year ahead, but as I sit here and reflect on 2011, I am satisfied. I only wish I had begun this journey sooner in my life... but then again, things happen when you are ready for them. I'm not sure the Me of 5 years ago would've been ready to do these things. However, I'm ready now, and I'm living my life with passion, these days. I have a drive and a fire to chase down my goals that 2011 released in me, and there is no stopping now.

As 2011 continues to dwindle, I can only be thankful. It's happening, and I'm making it happen. Aroo!

Tomorrow, with the dawn of 2012, a year I expect to be one of the best in my life, I'll tackle Part 2 of this post. Today, as much as I looked back on where I have come from and bid a not-so-tearful goodbye to Old Me, I'd like to take the fresh start tomorrow to look into the future.

Tonight, as you usher out 2011 with good riddance, or find comfort in it's end at the bottom of a glass of bubbly, I challenge you, BlogLand: What are you leaving behind, for the better, in 2011? What have your triumphs been in the last 12 months? Let tonight be your metamorphosis - truthfully acknowledge who you were in 2011, and DECIDE who you will be in 2012.

Cheers to New Beginnings!

(Stay tuned... Tomorrow, Part 2...)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

“The simplest things are often the truest.” - Richard Bach

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 161:

It's a crazy winter ice storm here in VT, BlogLand. THAT certainly killed my run plans for today. Working all kinds of overtime at work, and the winter darkness has really trashed my schedule. It's screwing with my sleep, forcing me to go to different CrossFit classes (and I'm sorry, I tried... I can NOT be at the gym at 6am.), and generally mucking up the situation. Soon it will all even out... but until then, I am finding myself in a jam, sometimes, with workouts.
What do you do when you get home from work at 7:40pm, have dinner, and still haven't WOD'd yet?
You make an off-hand comment to the GT about the ice-storm killing your run-plans.... and Boom. You find yourself getting assigned a modified Crossfit Cindy:
It's a 20 Min. AMRAP:
5 Pull-Ups (although, since I don't have a bar, I was assigned squat thrusts to sub in, instead)
10 Push Ups (on my knees)
15 Air Squats
So, I am proud to say, I successfully managed 13 rounds.
Unfortunately, my t-rex arms are still the limiting factor. I can bust out and beast through squats and such, but push-ups really test me. I was hoping to hit 15 rounds, but those damn push ups gave me a run for my money... during the last few rounds, I definitely had to take breaks to get through 10 at a time (you know, the patented "down dog" position... lol). Ugh. I find that frustrating, but one thing at a time... the upper body stuff is currently my Achilles heel to be conquered.

In other news, I don't have too much to report... I did have a positive realization over the holidays, though. Every single holiday to date, I've played the "OMFG, I have nothing to wear, I look HORRIBLE" and just generally surviving them, always feeling a bit ashamed of how I looked. This year, I looked in the mirror and was not horrified (big step) and saw something positive - I saw all the early morning runs, the sweat puddles at CrossFit, the 50 days of  "No Bread" and the endless days of aching hamstrings. This is what I saw:
L: 284#.... R: 209 (ish) #

It was weird, I shared this on FB, and one comment in particular hit home with me (I'm paraphrasing): You went from Sad to Sassy!
... which was SO TRUE. SO true. I still have a LONG way to go, a lot of muscle to build, etc. but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I AM happier. Finally the person I really am inside is less and less stifled by my physical capabilities. Along with that, I'm learning that there is almost NOTHING I can't do, if I try. I am more capable than I ever imagined. I know that all sounds cliche, but it is the absolute truth. I never imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I would find myself at this place. I FEEL GOOD. Healthy. Strong. Confident. 

This is no to be shameless self-promotion, but I believe it is important to take stock in the milestones in your journey. I am still not satisfied with what I see in the mirror, but I have to acknowledge the fact that now, more often, I can see the progress.   Some days, now, I even see "pretty". THAT, BlogLand, is huge. It has been a very long time (if ever) that I was proud of what I looked like. Now, I love when people ask me about what I'm doing... I talk to them about training, about Spartan Race, about the craziness that I'm up to. I LOVE the look on their face when they are in absolute shock... 

Let me tell you BlogLand, it's not a lie... it CAN be done. If I can go from sad, unhealthy, inactive, depressed and surrounded by negatives in my life.... to (more) fit, eating well, running significant mileage, lifting heavy things, feeling (mostly!) positive and changing my surroundings to the positive things in life.... YOU can do this too. 

Just take One day at a time. Just ONE. Take each Hour or each minute, if you need to. 

Tomorrow, I am going to........

For me, my tomorrow plan is to get up and check out the weather... HOPEfully, I'll be able to get a morning run in. If only my calves (which are currently compressed in my hot pink calf sleeves!) would chill out, all would be well. 

Now, to rest. Back at Living out Loud in the morning... 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Great hopes make great men." - Thomas Fuller

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 157, 158 & 159:

Dear BlogLand... I'm sorry, I have totally been slacking on the Blog-time. The holidays have been... a tumultuous time. However. On to the WOD's... no need to dwell on the craziness.

Day 157, Saturday, Christmas Eve:
It was a run day, and I was determined to make time for it, despite it being Christmas eve.
It looked like this:
Time: 38:18 minutes
Distance 3.69 miles
Ave 10:22 min/miles
I think imapmyrun is a little off there, somehow... as in, I think the GPS screwed up my mileage a little (which would make my average a little skewed...)... but. WHATEVER. The important thing is that I got out and run. And was pretty effing cold. I swear, BlogLand, I really *need* some official winter running gear. Up to this point, it's been pretty mild running, and I've gotten by with some creative layering... but, I'm starting to feel like that's not going to be the case, in another few weeks, and I have some lofty goals to stick to.
Seriously. I *need* to find some money in the budget for these things. Yikes. BRR.

Day 158, Sunday, Christmas Day:

I had big intentions for this day. I did. It was going to be a long-run day. I was up early, I was planning on it... I had worked it into cooking time and everything.... but then I looked outside. It was single digits (pre wind chill), windy and precipitating various forms of snow/sleet/rain.... I then evaluated my (non-existent) winter running wardrobe, and found it seriously lacking. Like, not in the just buck up and deal with it sort of way... but, I would've been seriously cold, in the absence of appropriate gear. Up to this point, winter has been really pleasant, but it seems to be coming back with a vengeance.
Sooooo.... No run. I probably should've done a little something inside as a WOD... but, I decided that surviving my family was going to be exhausting enough.

Day 159, Monday:

And now we make it to Crossfit Day! Again, we had a holiday off from work, so I was going to try and get in that long run... but the weather is really an issue. I think this week, with the paycheck, I'm going to have to "make" there be a little extra money for some winter running tights, to start.

However, I DID make it to Crossfit tonight, with a lot of pent up (not-so-positive) energy, ready to crush the workout.
What was really cool is that there were only two of us in the class tonight, so it was like a personal training session!
It went like this:

Warm Up: 3 Rounds Of.......
  • Ski 250 M
  • 10 Wall Balls (yes, thank you, I DO have excellent Wall-Balls!)
  • 10 Burpees

  • Deadlift: 5-5-5-5 @ 70%, 1 RM

So, I've never really worked towards a 1 rep max, yet, at this point... SO, since we had such a small group, tonight's instructor decided we should see where I was at, in that capacity. I enjoy this particular instructor, as he is less.... cautious... than the others. I did a few light, to make sure my form was in a good place, and then we piled on the weight. THAT was exactly what I needed tonight. Somewhere to put my energy. Let me just say, I hit an excellent PR for the evening.... Not sure I could do that on any other day, or if I could do it regularly... but I DID it. It's amazing where emotions will get you. Channel them into something good.

Then, we did the WOD:

  • Max Box Jumps, 5 Min. (16" box) (76, total, I think...)
  • Max Pull-Ups, 4 Min. (jumping pull ups, for me) (somewhere between 60-70, ish...)
  • Max Double-Unders, 3 Min. (singles, for me, divided by 3) (270=90)
  • Max Push-Ups, 2 Min. (knees) (not a lot... 25-30ish?)
  • Max Ring Rows, 1 Min. (another 30ish maybe?)
* Record total reps: 357!!!

Soo.... I did good. I pushed. HARD. Shannon (the giant 6'4" CF instructor guy), I think caught on to where I was at tonight, and was after me anytime I started to slow down. Military style - Are you DONE? You're not GIVING UP, are YOU? JUMP! JUMP! PULL.... 10 more SECONDS. DO IT. 
I know it sounds ridiculous, but I work well with that sort of motivation. Telling me I can't, or daring me to is extremely motivating. 

The box jumps I handled well... I aimed to keep a good steady rhythm, for the whole 5 minutes. Success!

Pull ups... WELL. I worked at those. I did jumping pull ups... which was pretty challenging, after doing 5 minutes of box jumps.... Plyo is my nemesis, but I got it done. I feel like I made a respectable number of them, too. We'll see how my shoulders are feeling tomorrow!

Jump rope is a comfortable, known quantity for me. I can bust that out pretty well. Again, MORE PLYO, though... WHEW. 

Then we got to the real evil time...Push ups, which I find grueling on the best of days. That slowed me down, for sure. Uuuugghhh... It was really when Shannon started reminding me to go ALL the way to the floor, that I knew I was in trouble. OUCH. *insert quivering arms*

Although, then, we ended with a lovely set of Ring Rows. I can do anything for a minute. Rawr. And ring rows aren't that bad, thankfully.

 Finally, we got to the:After-Party: (because my arms weren't shot yet!!)
15 Toes2Bar .....

Yeahhh.... about that. I gave it a good go, I swear I did. I got my knees to my elbows several of the times. I just don't QUITE have that kind of strength. Particularly after a whole bunch of other stuff. 
I made a valiant effort though.... 

THAT said... it's time for bed. I'm supposed to be up early for a run tomorrow, and I'm already up WAY TOO LATE. 

Tomorrow's run goal: 3.75 - 4 miles. I may have to make a couple of extra loops around town for that, but I officially have to add more mileage, per the GT. 

He is apparently convinced that I will be running 10 miles, in somewhere around 3 weeks. ....... and he hasn't been wrong yet... sooo..... Here goes nothing.... (PLEASE let it not be too cold in the morning!)

Friday, December 23, 2011

: "Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.” - Leonardo da Vinci

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 155 & 156:

OH, BlogLand. What a couple of days it has been. Life has been rocky, and I've been sick. I got this evil sort of head cold that made me feel like I was breathing through a straw. No runs, no push ups, nothing for a couple of days. The best moment was when I took a dose of Nyquil and was knocked out cold for 9.5 hours. Seriously, my friends, sometimes you just NEED to sleep. My body needed it, I think, to rally against the cold. Oddly enough (it seemed too speedy?), I feel really good tonight. Tomorrow morning, I'm back at it. A bit of a Christmas Eve (day) run, and then I'm planning on a Christmas Day long run. My present to myself will be running 5.5 miles. More on that, later.

I've been in a rough patch, lately (if you haven't noticed). Life has been coming down hard on my shoulders. It's been hard to keep my chin up and stay any sort of positive. But I read a great quote by Spartan Race's creator, Joe DeSena, referencing the difficulty level of the signature Death Race: "There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re basically holding your hand to help you quit. The same way life does, right?” 
Something about that quote really hit me. Yes, Life (at least the particular events around me at the moment) does make choosing the "easy" way a more appealing option. The last few days, Life has been holding my hand and whispering, "This is hard... hang out on the couch, you should rest." or sweet nothings like, "Why chase these race dreams? Where will they really get you? What makes you think you'll succeed?" and the ever popular, "ohhh, but your bed is so warm in the morning..."

Having said that, I looked at where I've come from. I re-read this blog from Day 1 (this is exactly the purpose I created this blog for!), looked at some old pictures, and spent some time thinking about Old Me. And I cried. A LOT, I cried. Hard, sobbing, ugly-face, hot tears. I just let the emotion go. I am of the particularly emotional persuasion, and sometimes it gets too much. I wanted to quit, but I wanted to continue, I wanted to fight, but I wanted to just lay down and surrender, I wanted to be strong, but I wanted to let Life win.

And then I remembered why I began this in the first place. I wanted to LIVE my life on fire, not settle for 'enough'.  As a fellow  Spartan noted in his blog, I wanted to live with Intention. I wanted to chase a purpose, exist with a focus, push forward with a crystal clear passion. No more being trapped by my physical limitations, or perceived mental walls... No more Old Me.

So, I rallied. And by "rallied"... I mean I was a hot, snotty, sniffling, teary mess for another hour or so, but I was getting my brain back in the right line of thinking.

Following that, somehow, a random comment from the GT transpired into something great. He had made a comment about how I need to stop doubting myself (I may or may not have spent the last week badgering him about how I should plan my race schedule for this year, when should I start, what could I handle, etc...), because he was totally sure what I was capable of. Not to be outdone, I said FINE! (with my best 5 year old snarky attitude...), and we began serious race-debates.

And by serious, I mean we were making decisions. Out of sheer contrary attitude, not to be told I was doubting myself, I found myself suddenly committing to an early-season race: May 5th, in Colorado. YEAH! I was pumped! May 5th, that's a few months away, then I'll get to meet all the rad people I've been talking to for a while now, and see what I can really do on one of these courses... YEAH, RACE. I was GOING to Colorado!!

...... HOLY SHIT.

Suddenly, my Inner Fat Kid was freaking out. Like, remember when you were in middle school, and they suddenly announced in gym class that it was going to be "fitness testing" time? Remember how that freak out felt? You were nervous, you tried to think of 4000 reasons you couldn't participate, you were sure you could barely walk, much less run a mile, or do a wall sit, or a pull up.... C'mon, You remember this vividly, don't you? (I do.)

29 years old, and I ran through that vary array of feelings in the middle of my living room.

When I confessed to the GT that my Inner Fat Kid was "experiencing some distinct terror" associated with that plan we just formulated, he replied, "Well, it's a good thing that your outer badass makes the decisions."

.... touche', GT. Touche.

So, my outer badass (it is a clever rouse...), Spartan'd the Eff Up, and began making travel plans.

With that commitment, I had renewed my focus. I suddenly felt back on track. I love the excitement of a competitive situation and/or a new challenge. I was really eager to put my new shaped-up self to the test. Why wait for my slated race in August, in Amesbury, MA., if I was ready earlier?

And so, BlogLand, after a tiny speed bump, I'm back. I have some new training plans to keep up, and a new, CLOSER, goal to work toward. (look for the updated countdown! Ooo!)...

Run Days will now consist of:
"Regular" runs, 3x wk, adding 1/4 mi each week. (Currently starting at 3.25 mi, so I'll be running at 3.5 miles this week).
Long Run Days, 1x wk, adding 1/2 mi each week. (Currently, I'm running 5 mi... so, I'll be running 5.5 this week.)

I have trouble conceptualizing those kind of distances (that means in four weeks, I should be running SEVEN MILES on LRD), so I'm just not thinking about it. It's really just 5 more minutes, most days... or maybe 2 more 5 minute chunks on LRDs.  I can do that.

I can do anything for 5 minutes.

One foot in front of the other, I'm just going to keep moving. Through the extra distances on my runs, through the tsunami of stress that Life is trying to slow me down with, through the challenges I will face on my journey to that finish line.... but I'm going to get there.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. " -Muhammad Ali

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 154:

So, I got my sneakers on this morning. It was a fight. My quads and hamstrings were stiff, I'm not quite back on my game mentally and it was a fight. However, I had anticipated this feeling, and made that confession to the GT last night.
His answer:

 And I told Spartan Chicks message board. Why? Because then I knew I would feel accountable, even if I didn't want to do it for myself at that very moment. Sometimes, you just need to do what you need to do to get yourself out the door.

I got out the door.

Commence Crossfit:
It started like this...

Warm Up: 3 Rounds Of......
  • 15 KB Swings (25#)
  • 10 Squats
  • 5 Inchworms

That went pretty well. I suppose that's a good sign, when your warm up is actually a warm up, and not a workout. Getting better! I did inchworms today, but the other option was to hold a handstand against the wall. I admit, I was a little bit afraid of that, and was not sure I could do it. SO, I elected inchworms. Hmm. NEXT time.

Then we moved onto the Strength/Skill:

RAWR. I would like to note that I can DO THIS. .... not a LOT of them.... (like 3-4 on one side, and 2-3 on the other)... but I CAN. AND, I was the only one in my class that could. The instructor can't do them. WAHA. I guess these giant tree-trunk legs are good for something. And all the damn squats (and Bulgarian split squats, with DB's) that I've been doing right along. I have to say, it was a huge deal to me, today, to be able to do that. Only because I've been feeling really out of it lately. It was nice to have that affirmation.

Now, my status at this point in the morning: My quads and hamstrings were stiff from doing t-handle swings the other day... which was not helped by the hill runs yesterday. Then that was compounded by the damn Pistols. I am Aja's raging upper legs. 

Then we looked at the workout. *DIE*

Workout: 25-20-15-10-5 Of......
  • Wall Balls (10#, All At 10' Target)
  • Burpees
* For Time:

Yep, that's right, wall balls (squats involved there...). My legs wanted to cry. Then we thought about burpees. SO MANY burpees. But you just can't quit in the middle of a CF workout, so I soldiered on. I wasn't going to be shown up by the new guy in class! 

I am proud to say that I got a compliment from the instructor about my Wall Ball squats - as I was still doing a full, low squat, and not shorting it like the other tired people. Oh yeah. Apparently I was covering the I-want-to-die face well. LOL.

As far as the burpees go.... WELL. They're burpees.  Although, I find that I can do more and more of them in a row without wanting to die immediately.

However, I have battle wounds:
It's a badly lit pic, but what you should be seeing is the ripped callous and red spot on the ball of my index finger from the burpee friction (on rubber mats! yikes!), and the mini ripped callous' even with it. Waha. Yep, my hands have weight-lifting callous'. Aroo.

Finally, we concluded with an
After Party:
  • 100 Double-Unders
..... and since I can't do that many double unders, I did 300 singles. Easily. Yeahhh baby. 

Although, I admit, at the end of this WOD, I had NOTHING left. Damn burpees/wall balls really kicked my ass. But it felt good. I was really happy that I had gone and busted through that workout. It's true, you will feel good if you just do it. You just need to get out the door. 

Having said that.... I am stiff. I swear to you, BlogLand, I'm walking like a granny. My hams and quads are reeealllllyyyy angry. REALLY angry. 

On top of which, I appear to be fighting the onset of a headcold. SO... instead of Ibuprofen tonight, It's a good swig of NyQuil and a sleep coma. I'm supposed to run in the morning, but we have an ice-storm here that seems to be deciding I'm not running outside. I may need the rest anyway. But today, I'm choosing it - not letting it choose me. Rawr. 

We will see how this cold feels in the morning, after a good sleep. Ahhhh... 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures." - Charles C. Noble

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 153:

Run Day today, BlogLand. I was feeling a little stiff in the hamstrings from doing T-Handle swings and Thrusters yesterday... but my head was not in the game. I am an entirely emotionally driven personality, and when those emotions are heightened (say by the really excessive amount of stress that's come down on me in the last few days...), I struggle. I handle external stress well... but when it is about my home life, my family, etc. it effects things.  Like my usually can-do, will-do, get-after-it mood.

I have big goals on my plate, that I want to achieve. Intellectually, I'm there. Emotionally, I feel myself checking out a bit right now, and I'm trying to fight that. Hard. Can. NOT. let myself get in that funk of downward spiral back to Old Me. NOT going to happen. Just the particular sequence of events that's happened has made that a very big battle.

I recognized this in myself this morning, and did the sensible thing - I asked for help (this right here has been a huge step in this year's evolution). To paraphrase: Dear GT, I need solid directions for today's WOD, as I am not able to self-propel. What should I do to fight today's battle?

A hill he says. What better way to fight yourself, than to beast up a hill. Sure, the WOD wouldn't be as long... but a good long run up a hill ought to tire me out a bit, draining some of that ridiculous mental energy.

The assignment: Find a long slow hill. Maybe a mile long. Run it. If it's shorter than that, do it twice. Warm up with a mile run, to said hill.

That seemed doable. A shorter distance than usual, but a new challenge to mix up my mind.

I mulled over what hill to conquer and finally settled on a long, slow incline (with really unpleasant little extra step ups in elevation), which turned out to be about .91 miles. I ran around my warm up mile, trying to warm up my legs a little bit, focus on my breathing, and get my head in the game. Then onto the hill. My goal: Steady Pace, up the whole thing.
I am happy to report I plowed up that bad boy like a champ. Under a ten minute mile pace, and one foot in front of the other. Head down against the wind (and not looking at how much further to go), I just kept running. I think I tried to outrun some of the stress, and stomp it into the sidewalk, as before I knew it, I had gotten to the top. Granted, my over exuberant effort left me panting (tempted to go to hands on knees panting...), but it felt good. OWNED that. I could at least control that little tiny piece of my life.

With that, I came across this picture, today, that really spoke to me. It is not about what I am lacking.... it is about the fact that I am better than I was yesterday.

So, that said, I don't really have much in the way of stats for today's run.... it was just under 25 minutes and 2miles..... but I stopped once or twice to take a picture of the hill I ran up (although I couldn't get one that really captured the hill...). It was a good mental diversion though.

Tomorrow, I'm forcing myself to Crossfit. I'm waning. I don't want to. My bed seems like a better plan. But I will go to CF. I know that is the right choice, and I will feel better after I do that. I just need to get my sneakers on.

Stay Tuned, BlogLand...

Monday, December 19, 2011

"I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying." - Michael Jordan

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 152:

Today was a Crossfit day, BlogLand. Only I got woken up by an energy surge that turned on my blender at full speed at 3:30am (sounds like an airplane in your kitchen), causing me to not fall back asleep... and long story short, I slept through my early alarm.
SO, no excuses, I got up and got in a workout at home.

It looked like this:

  • T-Handle Tabata swings (20 sec. work/10 rest), 30# - 9 rounds
  • DB Thrusters, 25#, 6 reps, 8 rounds
I got sweaty. Got the job done. 

Not feeling so chatty tonight, BlogLand... bad day, personally. I think I shall leave it here. Tomorrow, I run. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

“The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.”

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 151:

Good Afternoon, BlogLand! Despite the extreme craziness of this holiday season, it was a good day. It was Long Run Day. Yep, the official plan for LRD is to get out there and run more than my usual 3ish miles. 

I didn't run yesterday, as I was overtaken by holiday craziness... so I was determined to go today. Plus, when I got up and looked out the window, it looked like a pleasant, sunny day. ... Right until I looked at the thermometer. A balmy 15 degrees. High of 20 today, supposedly. Not to be deterred, I reminded myself that people DO run outside in the winter, without turning into popsicles, and I would warm up if I got moving. I put on a bunch of layers (Seriously, Santa, I need Under Armour Cold Gear. PLEASE? I've been GOOD!), laced up the sneakers and got in the car. I was smart enough, though, to bring a super warm sweatshirt for post-run, cold sweaty me. 

I was cold, already. This does not bode well, I thought to myself. It was noon and I could see my breath, my car was angry about moving, and I was going to go RUN?! A LONG RUN?! WTF. 

And then I remembered. Several of my Spartan homies (Remember Guest GT, Todd? and Margo the Great? to name just a couple!) were in NJ, competing in the World's Toughest Mudder Competition. While I do not yet know all the details, I know that it was COLD there, and it involved them doing laps of the course (swimming it wetsuits, obstacles, etc.), for more than 24 hours. Apparently, several times they had to break the ice to get through the obstacles. Many people pulled out for hypothermia, or close to it. Margo and Todd did 30+ hours of that. Despite my badassness not even being CLOSE to theirs (yet!), surely I could handle ONE HOUR outside, in dry clothes, right? 

Yes. The only answer was yes. 

So, I STFU and drove to my Long Run spot. It's an indefinitely long out and back... which is good, because then I feel like I have no choice but to run back, however far I run out... because I have to get back to my car and all. haha... 

I got out of the car, shivered in the cold breeze (Oh yeah, I was running next to a large, frozen body of water... there was a cold breeze!), walked over to my starting line, started the tracker and I was off. I've elected to go without music the last few times, as it seems to help me pay a little better attention to the technicality of my running; I pay more attention to my breathing, how my feet are falling, my strides, etc. Plus, it conserves the battery on my stupid old phone (new one this week! ee!), so it doesn't die halfway into my run....

So, I ran. The first mile was COLD. My muscles were not warm, I was not warm, the wind was not warm... I was like, WHY am I here?.... and then I saw another runner. Cue my competitive streak. Clearly, if THEY could do this, so could I. I was feeling really badass, right about a mile and a half in, when I realize that the icy wind was making my eyes water..... which was then promptly freezing to my face. Yes, folks, I had frozen tear-cicles on my face. AWESOME. You're sad you didn't go running today, now aren't you?

I kept running, my legs started to loosen up a bit and I warmed up... I even stuck my hands actually OUT of the sleeves I had them balled up inside of! Running down a sunny stretch of road wasn't all that bad, for the most part... I was sweating, breathing pretty evenly, and all was well.

... and then I hit the shade, around mile 2. Still running. Only in the shade, with the wind, I swear it was 10 degrees colder. I could feel the outsides of my legs, and my butt go a little cold (the numbness didn't come until later...), and decided that hey, no big deal... if they went numb, then it wouldn't hurt so much later? No different than sitting in an ice bath!!

Back into the sun I ran, and I was starting to feel a little tired. I ran and shook out my arms, to try and release the inadvertent shoulder tension that I was building up.... Shake arms, concentrate on breathing, turn over my feet. Just. Keep. Moving.

You see, BlogLand, I had a goal today. Must run an entire 3 miles with no break. Absolutely. Then, the goal would be to see how far I could go past that 3 miles, without a break. I had no idea where that would be.

At around 2 and a half miles, I trotted a U-turn in the road, and began my trek back. Still running. Okay, I was feeling like I was on track. I was not a speed demon, but I was chugging along steadily. I looked at the scenic VT dirt road stretched out in front of me and had a sudden realization: The damn road is a slight rolling incline from here, as far as my eye could see. I'd never noticed that before (see what happens when you go without music?). But, I was working for a long, non-stop run, and refused to be deterred by tiny rolling hills!

At mile 3.5ish, I was back in the shade. My neck was cold (yes. I need a scarf or something, I've determined), but I was warm with the exertion. My legs were warm in the big muscles, but the outside were pretty damn cold. It was also at this point I noticed the most fabulous part - running in the shade, with the wind, being really sweaty, had caused the sweat to form tiny ice beads on all the tiny hairs on my face. Yep, I had a tiny shield of sweat-ice-beads all over my face.

At that realization, I decided I was not going to stop running. Partially because a) I'd come this far, and damnit, 5 miles sounded a lot better than 4.25 or something... and b) if I stopped running now and had to walk the rest of the way back to the car, it was going to be really, really cold.

Still running.

By running, I mean, after I passed the 4 mile mark (feeling pretty awesome, at that, because I still hadn't stopped for a break!), I was pushing. Digging really deep and keeping my eye on the prize. I could do 5 miles. All I had to do was keep my legs moving. They were strong (I thought of the awesome squats I can do at Crossfit!), they'd been conditioned (I thought of all the time I'd put pounding the pavement from the summer time)... 5 miles was nothing. I just had to keep. moving. I found myself counting to ten, with my foot falls. Get to ten, then the next ten. I paid close attention to my breathing, remembering the GT's words that I would tire more quickly if I didn't get enough oxygen to my muscles.

The last mile was a bit zombie-like. I was tired. I was cold. All my head was thinking was 1,2,3, DEEEP BREATH.......4,5,6, BREAAAAATHE.....7, 8, 9, 10. AGAIN. 1, 2, 3.... and so on.

Then I had a little bit of a tiny epiphany. I had successfully run (thus far) more than 4 miles without stopping. I assessed my physical state. I still had more gas in the tank. I was doing it. Feeling a bit more uplifted by that thought, and a few quick thoughts of the wind-free car I could get in, and the giant warm sweatshirt that awaited me, I picked up the pace a little bit. I was in the homestretch.

The evil part about the homestretch is that in the particular way that I ran the route, I have to run BY my (nice, warm...) car for a quarter of a mile, before turning back to it. But, run I did. WAHA. STILL running. I admit, at this point, I had the phone out and was checking the mileage every few minutes, to watch for when it it 5 miles.

As I checked it the last time, I saw 5.04 on the tracker. YES. Trotted down to a walk. Ahhhhh..... My first walk in almost an hour. Felt nice. Stretched out my legs at a walk, and was recovering and walking back to the card. AND FREEZING. Shortly after you stop running, your body isn't quite as warm. But you're wet and sweaty. And Cold. I couldn't get back to the car fast enough. I jogged a little bit to get there.

Sitting in the car, warming up (it, and me!) and sipping some water, I texted the GT with the good news. My first long run that was a smashing success. It looked like this:

Summary00:55:215.0 mi11:00
SplitTimeDistancePace (avg)
100:10:081.0 mi10:11
200:10:551.0 mi10:54
300:11:321.0 mi11:31
400:11:081.0 mi11:07
500:10:561.0 mi10:58
600:00:290.1 mi10:11
Not bad, if I do say so myself. I averaged an exactly 11 min/mi, with the majority of my miles faster than that (it was that damn mile three that got really cold and tiring, that blew the average!). That is a HUGE accomplishment. Typically, on these long runs, I'd be lucky to get around an 11:40min/mi. average. YEEHAW.

The 11 min/mile average wasn't the big victory though... There was NO WALKING. I RAN FIVE MILES.

Holy shit.

Now, to keep it real, at the end of those 5 miles, I'm not sure I had a lot left in me. I might've gotten to 6 miles, but it would've not been pretty, and I would've been really drained. But that is inconsequential - for the first time, I really feel like maybe I'll be able to handle these Spartan Races and what not after all.

It seems like last weeks' 5K was a real game-changer. I'm not sure if it was the mental wall destruction, or it just happened at about the same time that my body decided to jump on board with everything. For months it's felt like I was just pushing hard and unsuccessfully at a physical wall that I just couldn't get past. Somewhere around last week, that went away. On my runs, I haven't walked at all... and today, I ran a consecutive 5 miles. My legs didn't feel heavy. Sure, they were tired, but they kept going. My body felt better about today's freakin' cold run, than it did about a nice, pleasantly warm one a few weeks ago. I barely got through a mile without walking. Yeah, remember that one? Tears and all. I do.

This is where I take a moment to say, Dear Body. THANK you for finally jumping on the bandwagon. My Workouts - particularly my runs - are so much more do-able when you decide to cooperate. It's almost like you're actually improving!!

The other component here, that I'm happy to report, is that the weight-loss is going well. I'm down another couple of pounds as of the morning, thanks to No Bread. I weighed in at 211 this morning (I still hate saying that.). That is officially 74 pounds down from my starting weight over a year ago. Rawr. I can't help but wonder if the weight-reduction is playing a factor in my success. Like, maybe because my body has to move less mass, it's working more efficiently, etc?

So, overall, the GT is pleased with today's outcome (I fear the new-improved, adapted training plan that may come of this...), and I'm thrilled out of my mind. FIVE MILES. Yep.

The best part of the day, however, was definitely the subsequent LONG. HOT. SHOWER. Me and my shivering self were reallllllyyyy glad for it. My knees are feeling a little stiff (no cartilage. Grr.), but a couple of ice packs and a wee nap seem to have rectified that. All is well. AND I RAN FIVE MILES.

That said. It's bedtime. Crossfit comes early in the morning... 

Friday, December 16, 2011

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

Spartan Shape Up, Day 149:

It was a Run day today, BlogLand. WOO! And yes, it was a WOO! I didn't get up early today, to run, like I should have... So, all day at work I promised myself that when I got home, I would strap on the sneakers and get it done. I had a rest day yesterday, and two lazy days in a row (without good excuse! Which there almost never is one...) is just not okay. It's too easy for me to fall into the "well... tomorrow..." trap.

When I got home at 5:30, it was dark. Cold. And I definitely wanted to put my comfy pants on and hang out in my house. HOWEVER. Triumph! I donned my spandex (yep. it's happened.), laced up the shoes and got out the door... In the dark! I elected to not use any music and just listen. And look at the Christmas lights... which turned out to be an unexpected bonus of running at night (which I typically choose not to do...).

I have some more solid running goals now, incidentally. Since I've proven to myself that I can run the whole 5K distance, now it's about improving that and moving forward. Try and get more distance in... but in the absence of distance (like, I didn't really want to be running all around my town at 9pm on a Friday...), I'm going to work on improving my times. My best time so far, over this distance, is 10:32 min/mi at the 5K race last weekend. I've never been able to get under 11min/mi at home, by myself, however. Although, I have also never been able to run the whole thing - until after that race... SO... it's all about growth. Today, I was pretty happy with how things turned out:

Time: 33:22 min
Distance: 3.07 mi
Ave Pace: 10:51 min/mi

UNDER 11 mins, AND I ran it all. It would've been faster (closer to my race pace...) if I didn't have to stop briefly at 2 crosswalks. I am also really happy to report that my first mile was well under 10 minutes - 9:30 or something like that. It is unfortunate that my last mile was pretty slow and brought down the average. I'm getting there, though. That crazy Mental Block was bigger than I ever could know... The achievements I have made in the last week have been bigger steps than I've taken in the last month.  I've been trying to improve my mile time under 11 min for... well... ever. And you all have heard me bitch and moan about not being able to run the whole thing. One race was a real game-changer.

That said, now I need to sleep - it's CrossFit in the morning.  But I'm sleeping (tired!) but happy. I'm feeling proud of myself and accomplished, again. YEAH!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

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

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 147:

It was CrossFit Day, BlogLand! I do love me some Crossfit, but I have to tell you, it does not get any easier (at least not yet) getting up in the morning to be at class for 6:45am. I started to argue with myself this morning... but got up, and did it. I'm in a good place with my training at the moment, and I am not going to break that streak. 

SOooo... Today was CrossFit.

It went like this:
Warm Up: 3 Rounds Of......
  • 400 M Ski
  • 10 Burpees
  • 10 Wall Balls

Whew... I tell ya. I love how Crossfit "Warm ups" are most people's workout. LOL. I am happy to report that for all three times, I did my 10 burpees without stopping, all in a row.

Then we moved on to my more favorite part - Lifting!

  • Overhead Squat: 5-3-3-1-1-1 (20#, 30#, 40#, 60#)

This is where I would like to note how much I hate any sort of overhead lifting... mostly because I'm not so good at it. haha... For some reason, my shoulders just don't do that, without a lot of objection. BUT, I do like the challenge of getting through it and trying to get better. I could've done more than the 60#, I'm sure... but I just don't feel confident in holding something over my head like that. The squat portion - no problem at all. The T-rex arms just aren't confident... YET. So, I elected to stay lighter with this one.

However, there was a rack-mishap (one of the rack heights wasn't pinned in all the way), and when I dropped my last one on the rack (60# total). One side didn't stay up, and I ended up catching the bar on the back of my shoulders - mostly where it should be... but it bounced a bit, and now I have sore spot at the bottom of my neck/top of my traps. Ouch. Ah well. Casualty of war. LOL.

Then, we move onto the WOD!

Workout: 21-15-9 Of.......
  • Sumo Deadlift High Pull (40#)
  • Knees 2 Elbows
* For Time: 6:30 min (ish)

So, Sumo Deadlift High pull is a good lift for me (no overhead!), but I'd never done it in a WOD like this... so, again, I elected for lighter, to see how I could handle it over the time span. The verdict is that 40# was definitely too light for me to really challenge myself. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't "easy"... but I definitely could've gone harder.

What made up for that was Knees to Elbows. BLEH. Again, just need to work on the strength to hang for longer periods of time. It is less my abs/core that struggle here (although, they do struggle. lol)... but more just being able to hang from bar long enough to get more than 5 in, in a row. And 5 is pushing it. GRR. Stupid arms.

THEN... just for fun... there's an: 
After Party:
  • 50 Box Jumps (16" box)
* For Time: 3:02

AH yes. Box jumps. Jumping is tricky... but there is something very simplistic about this movement. It's hard to do, especially when you're tired, but when it comes down to it, you just have to jump on the box. Step down. Jump on box. It is easy to take those one at a time, if you need to. I was pretty damn happy with 50 jumps in 3 minutes. Particularly because I used a taller box that some of my classmates (Ladies, that 12" was totally a cop-out. You know it. ).

I am feeling a bit achy today... like my 'bad' ankle is a little tweaked, and my legs are a bit sore... but, I suppose box jumps and squats and stuff will do that. Nothing a good sleep won't fix up. With that, I will leave you with a quote that made me laugh:
"Sweat is my fat cells crying."