Monday, January 30, 2012

‎"A person can make a decision in three ways: positively, negatively, or a decision not to make a decision. In all cases, a person is responsible for, and reaps the benefits or problems associated with that decision." ~Thomas D. Willhite~

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 194:

I saved today, BlogLand. It was supposed to be a CrossFit morning. At 6am, my body decided that was a big "No." I am insanely irritated about the way my body and my brain are fighting on this morning thing. Nonetheless, I'm fighting it, and seeing proactive solutions (I'm really thinking one of those lighted, Sunrise Alarm Clock type things may help). I'm trying to go to bed earlier, and de-stress myself, etc.... all the things that I know I should do, when my body starts into this stupid sleep-crashing cycle (Yeah, I've gone through this before. I know the signs, I know the cycle... what I don't know, is how to NOT let it interfere with my lifestyle at the time. This sunk a semester at college for me, for instance. ). However, at this stage in my life, I refuse to let it win. One day at a time.

So, I admit, I was not out of bed this morning. I slept. And then I felt really guilty, as I wanted to get up and hit up CrossFit, I know I needed to... and yet... I didn't. Argh. However, one must not focus on what one didn't do, but get one's own ass in gear and make the best of the situation. I went to work, and planned my attack for when I got home.

Getting home found me moving some furniture into my place (my roommate has just moved, and I'm having to re-acquire some stuff), and the minutes ticking away (which happens, when you don't get home until 7:30pm). Finally, I was finished. Time check, almost 9pm. It was SO TEMPTING to not get sweaty today. Normal people everywhere were winding down... getting ready for sleeping... I heard Old Me telling me how nice it would be just to chill... and hey, since I'd missed the morning WOD anyway....

HOWEVER. I then paused, surfed around FaceBook for a couple minutes, and saw all the efforts of my Spartan friends, that day. Crazy WODs... Sandbag carries, long runs... all sorts of things. I better do SOMEthing. In like 97 days, I'll be running my first Spartan (*gulp), I need to step it up.

Without a real plan, I threw on some workout gear and just sort of did a couple circuits through the following. It's no impressive WOD by any means, but I did *something*, stayed moving, and got sweaty.
- T-handle Tabata Swings (30#): 8 rounds
- Pull Ups (with stool): 50
- Burpees: 50
- Lunges: 50
- Push-ups: 50
- 10 sec Hangs (for grip!): 5

Like I said, nothing impressive, but SOMEthing. Particularly since many of these movements (Pull ups. Pushups, Burpees...) are my most uncomfortable, non-graceful, frustrating, Achilles Heel movements. Sets of 10. I can feel that my shoulders are going to be angry tomorrow.... thankfully, it's a Run Day!

I am admittedly frustrated with my arms. I just don't see the kind of measurable success there that I have seen with my running, etc. I guess they really had farther to go. Plus, I'm still moving around a significant amount of extra weight. I know that. I'm sure that doesn't make turning my T-Rex arms into beastly power houses any easier. I imagine if I was a mere 145# and trying to work up to doing a pull up, my life would be a little easier!

However, one thing at a time. I've been doing okay with the eating.  Insanely better than I was a year ago, but not quite as clean as I was a few months ago. Getting back to that... My emotions play a lot into my eating, and the more aware of that I am, the easier staying on track can be, for me. So, I've embraced the fact that I was stressed, frustrated, upset, and acknowledged that.... not ATE that.

So, here I am. I looked at my training log for the last 4 weeks. I'm disappointed with myself. I've let a lot of "Life" (ie, bad excuses) get in the way. I know I've come a long way from the Old Me of 194 days ago... but, I still have a long way to go, and I'm frustrated I'm not further along that trail.

I think my expectations for myself can sometimes be beyond the Realistic.... but, isn't that how we find Greatness? Push ourselves beyond where we thought we could go?

Lastly, I'd like to share with you something I'm currently in love with, that I've decided I need to have. Hi-Tech gear, made from recycled *coffee beans*. SOLD!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

“Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.” -Theodore N. Vail

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 192:

Hey BlogLand.... so, I'm not dead, I swear. I just sort of fell off the wagon (...and got run over by it), for a day or two. BUT, I have regrouped, gotten my head back in the right place, and I was back at it today, full force.

I must admit, the winter and my sleeping issues are really ruining my life right now. For reasons I won't go into here, for sake of your sanity, it's really been derailing my training. I just looked at my tracking spreadsheet (for the last four weeks), and was tragically disappointed at the number of empty boxes (rest days). I got irrationally angry with myself, as it is my own fault. However, there is no good in that particular thought process, so I'm attempting to be proactive. I'm investigating new solutions to help with the sleeping, and ways to prevent the Winter issues (not the least of which is Seasonal Affective Disorder, from the lack of light here in the Northeast) from effecting my workouts. Ultimately, the workouts HELP with all of these issues... it's just getting to them that can be dicey, because of these issues. Do you see the nasty loop there? Nonetheless.... after a bit of a freak-out on the (thankfully, rational and familiar with my outbursts) GT, this week, I was able to get it back together for today.

Spartaned the EFF Up, in honor of all my peeps that were getting their Mud on at the SoCal race today. I reminded myself that if that is what I truly want to do too (starting in a short 99 days), I needed to get out of my own way and get my WOD on.

To CrossFit I went... where I paid penance to the CF gods, and WOD Overlords for skipping classes recently.  Here's how today went:

- Partner Med Ball Toss (14# ball): This is always a good warm up. It's like playing catch with a buddy.... with a really heavy ball. LOL.
- 10 Inchworms with a Push Up: I hated this. Immensely. Ironically, I was wearing my "T-rex hates push-ups" shirt, as I was hating on this movement... which made me laugh and suck it up a bit. However, let me just take this moment to note HOW MUCH my arms suck. Inchworms cause you to use your arms. THEN to drop into a push up (even though I was on my knees) was near impossible. 10 was really rugged for me, and that was really frustratingly hard.
I shut up, eyes on the prize, and moved onto the WOD:
WOD, Part 1:
"FRAN" (one of the CrossFit Benchmark WODs)
- Thrusters (50#)
- Pull Ups (Jumping)
Time: 5:05 min.
As you can see, for part one of today's WOD, we hit my strengths and weaknesses. 50# Thrusters were okay - this is a strong movement for me, as it is mostly leg/hip. I wondered if I should use a lighter weight, but ultimately was glad I didn't, as I found 50# to be the appropriate amount of heavy for the goal of this WOD: It was supposed to be executed at Sprint Pace. You were not supposed to be lifting heavy for strength, or anything like that... but something you could sustain for 21-15-9 reps, and beast through it. This is a timed WOD, so you're supposed to go completely balls to the wall. The pull ups slowed me down a little bit, because that is one of my major weak areas... but I pushed through it and got a respectable time: 5:05. It is deceptively "fast", because of the jumping pull ups, I think. If I had been using bands, or been self-powering actual pull ups, I'm pretty sure it would've slowed me down to get through them. Nonetheless, I did the best I could do, TODAY, with what I've got to work with (t-rex arms).

I must confess, however... I was beasting through Fran, determined to really push myself to this Sprint Pace we were supposed to be aiming for (no breaks! no lolligagging! Shut up and lift!). At the end of that 5:05, I was done, walked around a few steps, then assumed the common Crossfit position. Hands on Knees, panting, trying to convince yourself that your body is *wrong*, you definitely do not have to throw up. My body was not so sure. I felt a little better knowing that the guy (approx. my age) who was going at about the same pace, and appeared to be equally pushing myself, was right next to me, in much the same stance. Iwillnotthrowup, Iwillnotthrowup.... haha... AH yes, and we call this "Fun!".

Anyway, after getting our times on the board and recovering a bit, it was on to WOD, Part 2:
5 Rounds, For Time:
10 Wall Balls (14#)
10 Ball Slams (14#)
Time: 5:07 min.

I was immensely glad that I was in the half of the class that did Fran first. Not sure I would've been able to so successfully complete Fran's Thrusters, after doing these wall balls... wall balls, in theory, should be the easier movement, but after the Fran time, my legs were shaking on my last round. Got it done though, and put a lot of ... Love... into those ball slams! haha... Enthusiasm, perhaps? There is something very gratifying about purposely slamming something repeatedly to the floor.
Finish time, 5:07. Pretty good. Above the class average for this half of the workout. I, again, credit my long-standing squat-practicing (GT, I hate it when you're so completely right.).
After all of that, I pretty much wanted to collapse into the CrossFit Starfish pose (you know, the flat on your back, sprawled out on the rubber mats, dying a little?)... However, I reminded myself that it's always better for a fighter to finish on his feet... How much more powerful do you look/feel if you're STILL on your feet after whatever you've been through, rather than collapsing to sit, or Starfish? RAWR. Still Standing.

Later this afternoon, I was looking out the window. It was sunny (ish) and relatively warm... like 35! (hey, this is VT in January. That's a heat wave!) and I felt like I had recovered well from CrossFit, gotten some lunch, etc... TIME for a RUN. I haven't run in too many days, and my legs needed to get out there.
I put on ONE (warmish) layer, and headed out the door. It wasn't a "fabulous" run, as my legs (as it turns out. weird!) were tired, and the traction on the sidewalks was slushy and melty in spots... but I got my miles done. Looked like this:
Time: 45:34 min
Distance: 4.04
Ave Pace: 11:16 min/mi

I have to say... I have been having too many days off. This felt ugly. Particularly so. I guess, really, the stats weren't any worse than usual... but my body was feeling this run, I'll tell ya. Lesson Learned: Stick to training plan, for a reason.

It was, however, really pleasant to not run in 50 million layers, and not freezing my ass off, or getting ice chunks frozen to my eyelashes, etc. I think running in the spring is going to be wonderful this year.
I did have an amusing experience that I'll leave you all with, tonight...
Out running... successfully avoiding the wet slushiness. I get to this one stretch of sidewalk that always has holes/puddles, etc. to be wary of. I'm carefully trotting through that area, avoiding sketchy looking spots... I turn my head, because I hear a car engine rev up, and plant one foot solidly, up to my ankle, in ICE COLD slush water. Like, water over my ankle. As I suddenly feel this burst of cold, I realize there is nothing physically I can do to stop Foot #2 from following right behind and ALSO up to my other ankle in ice water. I simply could not stop the trajectory it was on, in time. Then, I was stuck in the middle of the ankle-deep ice water lake, and simply had to just keep running through it, to get out... 4-5 more steps. Nice. Clearly, I needed to ice my feet, as I ran. It must help?
Then, because to make the 4 mile distance, I do part of my route twice, which happens to include the aforementioned piece of sidewalk, I realize I'm going to encounter this again (on mile 2 originally, then again, on mile 3.... out of 4.). As I'm coming around the corner to The Puddle, I am thinking about all my friends that our out at the Spartan Race in SoCal, crawling through the mud, etc.... and I came up on the puddle....... What did I do!?!

Just kept running. In full stride, without slowing down, and with deliberate intention, I ran right through the middle of Tiny Icy Lake, smiled to myself (hey, my feet were already wet, right?) and kept on running. WAHA. ARoO!

Having said all that, I came home and foam-rolled... and my legs are feeling a bit tuckered out at the moment... trying to decide what I'm going to do in the morning... go to CrossFit? Go Run? Double up, like I did today? hmm... just not sure.

SOMEthing, though, as I'm back with a vengeance, BlogLand. Focused and driven - "Ima show you, how great I am!"

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Spartan Shape-Up, Day 189:

Today was a Rest Day for me, BlogLand... so I would like to take this break from our regularly scheduled programming to share with you a letter that I am contemplating sending to Ms. Sherry Post, over at Simple Fuel

Dear Ms. Post (who I shall henceforth refer to as "The Godfather of Granola"),
     I hate you. Desperately. In much the same way that My Generation hates FaceBook, Vegetarians hate Bacon and Spartan Racers hate Burpees; I loathe and despise you, because I love you so very much. Allow me to explain:
     I have spent much of my life crafting an identity around being a hater of "Healthy" foods that were "Organic" and crafted from "All-Natural" ingredients, as more often than not, they tasted like cardboard, were completely unsatisfying and left one searching for the nearest drive-thru to procure some sort of "real nourishment." In the past few years however, I've had a bit of a Life Epiphany and cut out the drive-thrus, while discovering the benefits of a life rich in Diet and Exercise (geesh, who knew?).
     During my recent gear shift, I've been in a real tricky situation: I love food dearly, but recognized I needed to change my eating style drastically, to appropriately fuel my body for its new schedule of activities. As I'm sure you're aware, training for the Fastest TV Remote Finger requires a much different nutritional intake than setting my sights on the epic, 10+ mile, muddy, uphill, burpee laden battle of the Spartan Beast obstacle race. But I still find myself generally unimpressed with the gamut of healthy offerings in the market these days....... UNTIL NOW.
     Ms. Post, you ruined my entire food-identity in two tiny plastic sample baggies.
     First, I looked dubiously at your chocolate Simple Fuel powder, and thought to myself "Great, another chalky, faux-chocolatey drink mix." I had a long-run to get to that morning and had forgotten to make breakfast, so I figured then was a prime time (ie, I was hungry) to try this "SuperFood" of yours. Following your instructions to the letter, I blended my serving of Simple Fuel with 8 oz. of my favorite milk (sorry, it was straight up cow milk, there is no "hemp, soy or almond" in this house... yet.). I took a deep breath and prepared to gulp down some sort of thick, brown monstrosity I was going to call breakfast, and took a sip. And then another... and another. It was creamy, smooth and tasting like actual chocolate (and trust me, from Godiva to Lindt, I know my chocolate!)! Sherry, you piqued my previously skeptical, foodie curiosity. This was actually *tastey*. For real. I wanted to finish it.
     Still turning over this brain twister (...healthy, good for you AND yummy? WHAT?), I went for my run, promising myself I would investigate tiny plastic baggie #2 upon my return. I swear, my increasing curiosity made me run faster (or was it the Simple Fuel?). Still sweaty from my exertions, I decided it must be time to "refuel" (isn't that what the athletes are calling it these days?). Out came Tiny Baggie #2 - which I later found out to be the most dangerous of all...
     You see, Tiny Baggie #2 had a one-bite sample of your Simple Granola in it. I eyeballed it closely, as I held it between my fingers. It decidedly looked healthy - I could actually identify the individual components - there were a multitude of seeds in there, oats, nuts and cranberries. The colorful little ball certainly had a bit of a healthy pizzazz about it. So I chomped it. The One Bite, that ruined my life. My taste buds had a Happy Party, as they bathed in all the individual flavors - slightly sweet, but not overly so, a little bit nutty, and hey, did I detect a hit of cinnamon? It was a substantial bite - feeling satisfyingly chewy, like I was really getting my bite's worth.
     And then it was gone.
     Surely, that couldn't be it?
     Tiny Baggie #2 was EMPTY?!
(I peered into the depths of it's tiny emptiness, with panic)
     Didn't the evil sender of this Tiny Baggie of Joy know how scrumptious this was?!?!

..... and you did, Sherry, didn't you? You, the now-appointed Godfather of Granola, had just made me a (good FOR me) granola I couldn't refuse.
     Oh my. I find myself left with very few options. It is clear to me now that I can't ever go back to the pressed-sawdust store-bought granola bars, under the guise of being healthy. I must have more of this Simple Food.
     So, to the woman who took the "ic(k)" out of organic, please accept my plea.
    I am in desperate need of an insanely large shipment of your Simple genius creations. I will be pacing the floor and looking out the window expectantly, like a 5 year old waiting for the ice cream truck. Please hurry.

Yours in Simple Satisfaction,


In all seriousness, BlogLand, you know I'm not one to promote just anything. I'm opinionated, and I tell it like it is (let's all recall that out there, honest post about getting sweaty?). And for real, I have an issue with healthy food, because I like things that taste good (like cupcakes!). That may partially explain why I am here, doing this Spartan Shape-up to begin with, but you get my point.

I did my research on Sherry's Simple Fuel, as I'd been hearing a lot of buzz about it. It has no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners, and is so laden with amazing stuff (SuperFruits, protein, fiber, omega's...) that I can't even begin to list them.

The recommendation for today? Check out Simple Fuel (or Like them on FaceBook and tell them Aja twisted your arm...). If you have any burning questions, ("But Chris, WHY is SF so crazy-amazing?!") direct them over to Chris Irving(Insider Granola Trading Tip: When you order, mention Chris in your comments, extra free goodies may appear in your shipment... just saying...) 

.... just don't leave your two Tiny Mind-Blowing, Change Your View on Healthy, Baggies unattended, as I will steal them. Unapologetically.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men." Seneca

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 188:

Oh, it was a close one today, BlogLand. I rolled over, heard the school closings about the ice and determined there would be no running outside. Hit the snooze. Then I was like OH WAIT, SELF. This is not the plan. After about 5 more minutes of an internal battle over the continued bonding time with my pillow, I did manage to extricate myself from my super comfy bed.

Home workout!! (NO. EXCUSES.)

I didn't have a ton of time, since I did hit that snooze... but that pushed me to be a little more efficient and take lest rests between sets/exercises. It wasn't a killer WOD today, but it was brief and efficient. Quite frankly, I was drenched at the end, so I'm thinking it was effective.

- T-Handle Tabata Swings (30#, 20 sec swing, 10 second rest) x 8 rounds. These are feeling pretty good. I'm going to have to add some more weight to that, soon... I'm thinking that's an excellent reason to get myself one of those Ironskull Kettlebells... HMM.

- Ball Crunches/sit ups: 25 regular, 50 Twists, 25 regular
They're crunches. Not too much to say.

- Planks: 2 x 1 min. This was the devil. This is clearly a weak point for me. I need to be planking daily, I think. Argh. I ended up breaking up these planks (which killed my SOUL, because it was "only" 60 seconds). On my first plank, I managed 45 sec, then 15. On my second plank, I was in bursts of 20 sec x 3. The "rest" time, was real short, I assure you, and the difficulty was high, as I was really paying attention to my form for these. But god damn, these are killer. I MAY almost rather do Burpees, then Planks. Although I have been practicing my burpees.

And that was that, today. A sweaty 30 minutes or so. Tomorrow, I'm up early to go to CrossFit, where they will be sure to try and kill me. hehe

In other news, I am totally scoping 10K races to enter. I think I need that challenge/achievement/training goal, before I go straight to the Spartan in May. I do have the 5K coming up in a couple of weeks, which I'm pretty stoked about, too. Race season is coming on!!

I think that's all I have tonight, BlogLand. Off to spend a couple of quality minutes with my Foam Roller (OW.) and then hit the pillow. CrossFit mornings are SO EARLY.

Monday, January 23, 2012

‎"Some people follow their dreams, others hunt them down and beat them mercilessly into submission." ~ Neil Kendall

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 187:

Wooo... this was "active recovery" day, BlogLand. As in, I had planned to run this evening, but our unseasonably warm rain turned into a lovely sheet of ice - with "treacherous" conditions, the weather guy said. No running on the sidewalks. Unfortunately, with a late work shift, I can't run after work at the gym... SO... it's alternate plan time!

I have to admit, I'm pretty ragingly sore from CrossFit yesterday. My shoulders and upper back feel like they've been beaten by hoardes of angry gnomes. However, I got home to find that my new piece of AWESOME had been delivered:

Yes, Friends, that is my new foam roller. Looks soft and foamy, doesn't it? Yeah. It's not. At all. It's REAL darn hard. Or at least that's what my angry back muscles said as I rolled them out.  It actually brought tears to my eyes. I haven't even ventured near my perpetually tight hamstrings yet. *gulp*  Oh my. I'm sure neighboring towns will think I have installed a torture chamber in my house, but the shrieks and screams that may be emanating from here in the near future...

So, tonight was a different sort of workout. I did roll myself out a bit, and stretched, but then I spent a solid hour and a half *playing* Just Dance 2 with a friend. If you do it enthusiastically (i.e., flail around with heart!), it can get your heart rate up a bit... plus you're laughing and having a good time. While I wouldn't say this was anywhere near a "workout" for me, it was a) better than sitting on the couch b) got the blood moving a little bit c) forced me to move my arms around, when they were really angry and stretch them out and d) went toward a greater purpose.

The friend that had come to hang with me tonight, is just at the beginning of her journey towards better health. She has been a staple in my life for 12 years, and is an invaluable friend. She has also stood by the ridiculousness of my workouts, and training plans, and eating programs, when many people close to me shook their heads and walked away. She has also told me many times that my continued progress and dedication makes her think that maybe her own journey *is* possible, where usually it feels pretty daunting (she's got a 150+ # to lose, and is threatened with high blood pressure). She's known me "when"; when I couldn't walk a flight of stairs with dying, when I couldn't run 10 seconds, when I felt suffocated by my own body, and has always been there. In that light, when she asked me if I would Wii with her tonight, and help her get in her daily 30 minutes of movement (the plan she has set for herself), I couldn't say No. I like to think this may be the practical application of what the Spartans meant when they fought for the man beside them. A sort of historical way of saying, "Yo, Man. I got your back."

Tonight, I pulled my friend off the couch. We "danced", we laughed, we argued over who was "doing it right". We played! (remember when you were young and exercise used to be fun?) I perhaps needed the mental break, as much as she needed the support buddy to stay moving. We went far longer than she intended to, but the minutes ticked by pretty quickly.

Thus, I consider today a success. My muscles are happy for the roll and the gentler movement. My brain is happy that I got moving, and my soul is happy that I could support a friend in a quest that I know is very long and dark, if you are by yourself.

Who have you kept off the couch today?

Tomorrow, though, BlogLand.... We RUN!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Strong, deeply rooted desire is the starting point of all achievement. - Napoleon Hill

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 186:

Back at it this morning, BlogLand, and it felt great. Sometimes, I wonder why I get off track, as I always feel SO much better when I'm training. Dear Self, Learn this Lesson.

So, it was a CrossFit morning, today. I haven't been to CrossFit in a week or so (*sigh*), so I was a little apprehensive today was going to be evil... but as it turns out, today was going to be a Strength Day (YAY! My Favorite!).

We began with a Warm Up:
- 5 min. Jump rope: Things to ponder, to prepare for mastery of Double Unders... Try jumping slower, and letting your heel gently tap the ground each time, rather than staying on the ball of your toes. This was much harder to execute than I anticipated.
- 5 min. leg/hip stretch to prep for today's WOD: Note to self: remember these stretches. This was awesome. It was like mini-yoga, and really stretched out my hip flexors and quads, etc.
- 2 min. in full down-squat position. Ow. There's not much else to say there.
- 2 min. on the foam roller: working on the upper thoracic region of the back, to help with flexibility/tightness, allowing more upright of a back while lifting.

Then, after a little practice it was onto the WOD:

The first challenge was to complete two of the one-minute benchmark activities. I chose:
- Burpees (result: 15 in a minute)
- Sit ups (result: 25 in a minute)
My burpee number felt pretty respectable to me, but one of the other guys in the class busted out 22. Geesh. I felt like I was moving. HMM. Must continue to work on this.

Then, we got to the Strength Activity:
This was how it was set up (before I modified it):

Not for time; complete:
  • 1 Thruster @ 1 rep Max weight
  • 10 Thrusters @ 80% 1RM weight
  • 1 Thruster @ 1RM
  • 20 Thrusters @ 65% 1RM
  • 1 Thruster @ 1RM
  • 30 Thrusters @ 50% 1RM
 Sets of 10, 20, & 30 should be unbroken

That's not quite what ended up happening, mostly because I had no idea what my !RM was going to be, so first, Tyler (the CrossFit Instructor of the day) and I had to find that. As it turns out, I had a solid 1RM at 100#. Apparently, this is pretty good? It caused this other lady in the class to come over and ask me how long I'd been doing CF, etc. and comment on the weight. The tricky thing with a Thruster is that it is basically a front squat - which I am good at - with a Push Press - which my arms/shoulders are not as strong at. It was frustrating to feel like I could've put MORE weight on for the squat portion, but just couldn't QUITE get it over my head, without killing myself. Next time!

So, after a few minutes and 5-10 reps of trying to find that one rep max, I did. Rawr. That felt good.

Then, I backed it down to 70# and did 10 thrusters in a row. THAT may have been harder than the One Rep Max, as you must just keep going. For someone with whiny shoulders and arms (me), that is the hard part. Squats, no problem, but when you must suddenly convince your body that you're going to "explode" and throw this up over your head... there can be protests.

Back to the One Rep Max. 100# was definitely trickier this time. Did I do it? Yes. After a little break, a sip of water and a quick self-pep talk. Thankfully, I like the challenge of lifting, so I was up to this task. It did not STAY above my head for long, but it got there, my elbows locked out, there was a pause... SO, it counted.

Whew. Little break. Back to 70# (My reps are not quite as prescribed, as I didn't have the proper weights to divide them up, and I was mixing up the WOD anyway. ). 20 reps at 70#... THAT was evil. I broke this one into 2 sets of 10. You were supposed to shoot for going straight through the 20... but I was getting tired, and I know that keeping form is more important. Plus, not for nothing, but 70# was slightly heavier than prescribed. So there!

And, I loaded on the One Rep Max, again. 100#. This was REAL UGLY, by this point. I got it to the rack position (at my chest, ready to go up into a push press), and wasn't totally sure I was going to make it down the squat and up overhead. BUT, the worst that could happen was I dropped it (rubber bumpers! Yay!), so I'd at least give it a shot. Dooowwnn to squat. Check. Quick Pep talk. Up! Over head! I made it... but I must admit, I didn't quite get my arms locked over head, and I definitely dropped this bad boy - not set it down gently. So, we'll say I got half credit, here.

Finally (what a relief!), it was on to 40#, and a set of 30. Picking up that 40# felt SO LIGHT after all this. It was a beautiful thing. However, by this point, my muscles were All. Done. so 30 of these things in a row was grueling. I managed 20, then I had to give in, put the bar down and have a couple of seconds, before banging out the last 10.
It was actually my wrists that were the limiting factor. I must work on keeping them straight when the weight is over my head, etc. , to reduce the stress on them.

All in all, I was happy with today's WOD. I put some good work in, found out what my 1RM is, and got my sweat on. Now, a few hours later, I'm definitely feeling it in my shoulders.

After the work out, I was switching my shoes and the lady that commented earlier, came over to ask me about my shoes (Inov-8, for the win!). She asked me how I liked them, and I told her I loved them, though they do take a little getting used to (they're minimalist) for the sake of your legs/joints, but since she was in Vibrams, she'd probably be fine. I commented that I use them to run in, and still love them a lot. And she looked at me dubiously and was like, "Oh? You run in them? Like a couple of miles?" I was like, "No... actually, I've run up to 6 or 7 in these, and never had an issue...".... to which she replied "Oh" and raised her eyebrows at me.

I wasn't sure how to take that. Old Me chimed in her two sense about how that woman must not think a fat chick like me could possibly run 6-7 miles.... but then, I tried to remind myself that she just watched me do a respectable heavy thruster... surely she must think of me as slightly more capable "athlete" (I use the term loosely). But... Who knows. I didn't like the tone of her look at me. Bleh. I think it is just the mind-set that I've been in, lately. Still not quite out of it... but seriously, BlogLand, I swear, she gave me an "oh reallllyy..." look, like I was making that up.

Ah well... I will leave you with these words to reflect on:

"Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul." - E.T. Benson

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 185:

A much-needed lovely day today, BlogLand. I got up this morning, checked the weather (a balmy 9 degrees...) and was still up and ready to go. I was off to meet a fellow Spartan Chick (Hi, Jessica! Aroo!) in New Hampshire for an afternoon of snowshoe adventures. Temperature and/or snow were not to be a deterrent... we were Spartanized New Englanders, after all!

I did wander around my room a bit this morning, trying to work out the appropriate layering for today's adventure, though. Snowshoeing is one of those activities I struggle with, as it is not always super-strenuous, causing you to have to wear heavier things, but it can get warm as you are moving, so you have to be able to un-layer, etc. Tricky. Hmm.

I settled on some new Under Armour gear I just got. (Review to come in the next few days...) I ended up geared like this:
- Moving Comfort dri-fit shirt (the one I love to run in!)
- (NEW!) Under Armour Cold Gear Tights
- Spartan Race (bulletproof, monsoon proof, blizzard proof) hoodie
- (NEW!) Under Armour AllWeather Gear pants (they're water resistant, etc.)
- mittens, neck warmer, wool socks

I crossed my fingers that this was appropriate layers, packed some "regular" clothes (just in case?), grabbed my CamelBak (hydration is important in the winter, too!) and headed out the door.
(As a random aside, I have come to the conclusion I am incompetent at filling my CamelBak; water everywhere, every time.)

The drive to Enfield was uneventful. A large regular Dunkin Donuts coffee in hand (a pre-req for any road trip, with me), I drove through the slightly slushy mess that we're accustomed to in January, in this part of the world. I swore at the out of state drivers, who kept hitting their brakes, and channeled my Masshole roots, as I gestured at them angrily when then did stupid things... like tailgate me in slippery conditions. (I do actually love road trips. hehe)

Arriving in a little town in scenic NH, I was psyched for today's adventure. I got to finally put a name to a face of a Spartan Chick that I've known (online) for a while, and have a buddy that was up to an adventure - despite the weather! YAY! I was really looking forward to the change from my usual solo WODs.

Jessica and I suited up and set forth, settling into some easy chit-chat about this, that and everything. She'd picked out a great trail for us to head out on - the Rail Trail, which is apparently an old railroad bed, made into a recreation trail. It looked like this:
Our trail was mostly flat, but wound around behind the towns of Enfield and Canaan. (This is going to be an awesome one to come run on, in the spring!!) The wonderful thing about a mostly flat trail that goes on forever, being snowshoed at a brisk pace, in good company, is that you don't really notice miles passing by...

Somewhere about an hour an a half in, and an undetermined amount of miles later, Jessica and I thought we should probably turn around. I turned on the GPS at this point, so we could get an idea of how far we'd gone. As we discussed our race plans for this year, commiserated on our t-rex arms and compared notes on training ideas, we trekked towards home. A little bit more slowly.

Why? Well. As anyone that has ever snowshoed knows, your gait is slightly widened. You have to walk a little weird, so as not to hit your own snowshoes, or step on yourself. This, as you might imagine, works a bunch of random muscles, despite the fact that you are "just walking." Our lovely hour and a half walk OUT, had suddenly reminded us of the fact that we were on snowshoes. Halfway home, my hip flexors made their presence *distinctly* known. This may be ugly tomorrow. (And sadly, the foam roller I ordered is not scheduled to arrive until Monday.)

As we returned home, I determined that my layering tactic for the day was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, and Under Armour FOR THE WIN.
Total Trek: Just about 6.5 Miles (Jess gets a gold star, as this was even her FIRST snowshoe!), at a very steady, upbeat pace.

I think this was just what I needed, today. Life has been really weighing on me, of late, in various ways. It's been stressful and decidedly negatively effecting my training, despite my best efforts to prevent that. Today I got to get outside, get moving and enjoy myself. That, BlogLand, is a wonderful way to get your head back in the game and clear out the stress. It was also nice to trek along at a good pace and *not* be terribly winded. I can remember a couple years ago that I didn't enjoy snowshoeing anymore because, at 284 # and non-active, it was too challenging. I reflected a bit on that, in the quiet drive home.

I have come a long way.
I have a long way still to go, but I am on the right road.

One Day at a time. Tomorrow, it's back to Crossfit in the morning... and perhaps a bit of a run in the afternoon. It has been an inexcusably long time since I stretched my legs.

With that, I'll leave you with some scenery from today's adventures:
I totally EPIC failed at catching the beauty of the frozen dam.

My Challenge to you, BlogLand: Get out there and just have fun. No watches, no GPS trackers, no nothing. Just get out there, enjoy your fitness and health (whatever level that may be).

Friday, January 20, 2012

‎"A falling drop at last will carve a stone."~ Lucretius

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 183:

OH, BLOGLAND. It's been a rough one. Yes, I know, I've been absent. I have no stellar excuse.
Monday, I was out of commission for medical reasons (apparently, I have some sort of virus in my inner ear that pretty much needs to resolve itself... but for the 2 weeks or so until it does, I'm going to continue to experience random bouts of room-spinning vertigo... awesome.).... but Tuesday and Wednesday I have absolutely no good explanation for, other than it was "cold" and my bed was "warm" and my life was a little more chaotic than usual.
It is what it is, though, and maybe some part of me needed the sleep. I tell you, BlogLand, I SLEPT. I think between some unusual stress going on, and workouts and stuff, I think my body might've just been a little tapped out.

Having said that, I'm still struggling a bit to get back on track. Winter in the Northeast (ie., grey, cold.) really takes its toll on me. This year has been better than most, thanks to the consistent exercise and solid goals to chase down... but, I admit, my mood really tanks in the Winter. I get frustrated much more easily and my emotions are a little less sunny. I am working 2x as hard to keep my head in the right place, in the winter, much less the physical things.

This morning, my alarm went off at 7:30am. That is NOT terribly early, in the scheme of things (considering I regularly hit CrossFit for a class that STARTS at 6:45 am). However, I rolled over grabbed my phone to shut the alarm off, and saw that the temp was -3 outside. Immediately, I vetoed the run (not sure that was a "bad" decision, really... negative temps seem excessive), but I should've gotten up and busted out a WOD at that point and gotten it done. Intellectually, I know that my day feels better, I feel better and everything is all around BETTER, if I just get up and do it. However, at that moment in which the decision was made, I was feeling tired, my bed was warm, it was still dark/grey out and a wee whisper from Old Me said, "stay in bed....". And I did.

And all day long, at work, I kicked myself for listening. I KNEW I needed to get back into the swing of things, and if I don't do it in the morning, then that means I have to get a WOD done after I get home from work (7:30pm...), which can get a little rough, when life kicks in and you have to get other things done.

Regardless, on my way home, I thought about running... but it is legitimately a skating rink of ice on all the sidewalks around here right now. Attempting to run, on principle, is not worth the potential injury. SO... what to do instead. An inside WOD, in my living room, was going to have to be the decision.

Getting home, I struggled to put together something... I turn into a raving crazy when there's too much going on in my head, and tonight, I was a hurricane of stress and emotions and thoughts, and... yeah. It was just a mess. So I put together a "simple" yet real taxing workout... I needed to sweat some of this out.

Tonight's Homebrew WOD looked like this:
15 T-handle Swings (30#)
15 Push Ups
15 Pull Ups
15 Burpees
..... Repeat as Necessary, until brain or body gives out.

T-handle swings were the easy part (OOHH, have I mentioned that I desperately want THIS?). I'm definitely going to need to pile some more weight on there next time. 30#, while gave me a good workout, as I was able to swing it faster, was not heavy enough to be as taxing (at least for this wod) as it should've been.
Push ups were on my knees. I was actively trying to keep my elbows next to my sides for a "good" push up... but... yeah. Not experiencing a lot of success on that one. Eventually defaulted to typical wide-stance arm pushups.
Pull Ups... Yeah, also still a work in progress. I did those with a stool under me, with just my toes on the stool (you can't give yourself a whole lot of leverage that way), or sometimes with just one foot. I was mostly concentrating on the "negative", as in slowly lowering myself down from the bar.
Oh Burpees. They're Burpees... I have a blister on each toe from doing them barefoot on the carpet. Oops. Lesson learned.

Having said that, I plowed through 7 rounds, at a good pace.

I wanted to go for 8, just because, but I recognized that my form was going to start to suffer, etc. and I was all set for tonight.

I don't think that WOD had the effect that I intended though... I was pretty ugly when I finished it. More frustrated than anything. I still can't do a push up well (elbows in, etc.), or off my knees. I still can't bust out ONE pull up. I STILL need to take a short breathing break to get through 30 burpees.

I felt pretty discouraged BlogLand. I know it was just today, in a lot of ways, because of a lot of emotions and such in my head... but  I had a little meltdown, because this all felt a little bit futile for a while. Like, 183 days of this, and I still can't do a good push up? Not even ONE pull up? I can't get through a set of 30 burpees??? What the EFF am I doing thinking about doing a Spartan Race in May?

My brain just feels like we've been faithfully plugging away at this for quite a while now, and my body should get on board a little bit more. Why are push ups still sucky? WHY can't I master sets of 30 burpees, even though I do them all the damn time? Today my brain went bad with these thoughts. I saw old me in the mirror and perseverated on the still unchanged parts of me. I was angry at my body. I felt like it's never going to come together. I didn't feel good enough. I felt like my goals were perhaps too lofty. I felt stupid for pushing like this for so long and STILL being unable to achieve some of these simple things.

I felt lost. Angry, tired, sad, sweaty, fat, ugly, exasperated, and 400 other things.

I didn't feel strong. At all.

Usually, I have some capacity to at least feel strong. There are many things I can not yet do (run 10 miles, or do a bunch of pull ups), but usually I internally feel strong, knowing that my forte is in other areas (back squats, for example.).... But today, I struggled to grasp onto that thread, even. Being face down on your ugly brown carpet, in your big empty living room, arms wondering how they're going to push your giant body off the floor, is not the place you want to be to start having these discussions with yourself.

So, it goes without saying, BlogLand, that tonight was not one of my best. However, I am holding myself accountable, peeling myself off the floor and continuing to move forward. I ate pretty well today, I downed my fish oil (uuugh), and at least DID the WOD (didn't skip it!), so those are all positives. Every day can't be wonderful, I suppose.

Some days, though, are just a little more draining than others. Today. Ugh.

However, I have some good, mind-refreshing plans for this weekend. On Saturday, I'm headed off to meet a few new Spartan Chick friends for a Snowshoe/hike/other sort of gathering... It will be nice to put some faces to names, and spend an afternoon with some like-minded ladies. I think one of the things that I struggle the most with is staying on the path to chase my own goals, when I always have to go it alone, where I live.

With that, I'm taking deep breath and reminding myself that there is tomorrow. I reminded myself of all the personal reasons WHY I'm doing this, WHERE I want to get to and WHAT I'm committed to doing. It feels a little daunting right now... but I'm thinking a solid sleep and a good breakfast may help with that.

Off I go. Remember BlogLand.... It's not wrong to have a bad day... Just remember to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn something, and make the next day a little bit better.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ''Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.''” Muhammad Ali

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 179:

WELL. It was a Challenge Day today, BlogLand.

The Challenge: 1/2 Mile of Lunges.

That seems so simple, doesn't it? YEAH. Let's set the scene:

It was 4 degrees at noon today, in Vermont. That's before the windchill (which was BRUTAL). It snowed over the last few days, so there is 4-5 inches of snow on the ground. However, looking out the window, it seemed to be a *beautiful* sunny day. Being an (almost) native Vermonter, though, I know these looks can be deceiving, and I pondered just how many layers I'd need.

I should preface this by saying that I did.not.want. to do lunges today. It is reeeealllly hard to build up steam to spend an extended period of time outside, in arctic weather, performing a specific exercise for an unusual amount of time, knowing that -most likely- I was going to wake up tomorrow feeling stiff and sore.

HOWEVER. I had been issued a challenge (thanks to my GT and co-conspirator Paul. I'm glaring at you both.). Being a competitive sort, and knowing that physically I could probably handle this no problem, there was no way I was going to drop out now, because it was "cold". I wanted to, though. REALLY bad.
I must say though, I had some big external motivators... sort of jokingly, I created a public event on FB about doing the lunge-stravaganza today, and it sort of blew up. LOTS of people were doing it, too... many of them right then, at noon today. My Spartan's had really saddled up and were ready to take on this ridiculous 1/2 mile of lunges, just because I had mentioned it... I would be hugely guilty if I backed out of my OWN challenge. Time to STFU and get my ass in gear.

With some (Much needed! Thank you!) texts from one of my Spartan Chicks, Jessica, who was also suiting up to lunge in the arctic temps in New England, I began donning layers.

Here's what I ended up with, for reference:
- super thin silk base-layer top
- Under Armour Cold Gear tights
- Moving Comfort moisture-wicking top (with hand covers!Yay!)
- Wind pants (sort of)
- Heavy wool socks (warm & dry is essential)
- Turtle fur neck/face gator
- Superduty Spartan Race Sweatshirt (seriously, it's bulletproof)
- Thinsulate mittens

Yeah, THAT is how cold it was. *shiver*

So, off I went, expecting to tackle the high school track that is directly across the street from my house. Only, the revolving gate thing was frozen-shut, and I'm not particularly well-versed in climbing chain-link. Plus, what if I got IN, but after all those lunges, couldn't get my butt back out (really, picture that: Me, in my eskimo gear, stuck halfway up a chain link fence.)? Yeah, no thanks. Plan B! Yes, I briefly thought about heading home, since it was -right there- and oh well, I couldn't do lunges around the track.... But then I got a update text from Jess, and a few other notes from people who'd already begun their lunges, and I trudged on to my alternate location, about 3/4 mile away.

All things considered, the little walk to my new spot was probably good - allowed me to warm up the muscles a little bit, before I put them to work. In no time, I found myself at the Recreation Path, where my running progress first started. Here's what it looked like, today:

What you're looking at there is 4-5 inches of semi-packed snow. That definitely made things a little interesting. But off I went, looking like this (I laughed and thought of myself as the Lunge Ninja):

C'mon, you know I look like some sort of weird ninja there. Admit it. hehehe...
As the arctic wind gusted, off I went... it's JUST a 1/2 mile, right?? .... 1 lunge, 2 lunge, 3 lunge...... I was taking particular care to pay attention to my form (knee not in front of toe, straight up/down, etc.) as my knee has been a bit weird and over this distance, I figured, odds were I could really tweak something. 

.... 75....76...77..... Okay, it was less cold than I thought. Mittens, off. 

...98 ... 99... 100.... Whew. Okay. I must really be getting somewhere! *checks GPS*... WHAT?! *sigh*... 

... 148...149...150. *checks GPS* 150 lunges, for me, equals .10 miles. Oh my. I did some quick math in my head, my soul died a little bit, and I texted Paul to let him know that I hated him for supplying the GT with this grand scheme. He yelled at me to stop counting. haha

On I pressed. Let me tell you, when you're working, it really does make the "brisk" temperatures feel much less brisk. I think I could've actually done without the first silk base layer and been okay. The hood had also come off at this point (making me look less like a serial killer) and I think I had begun to actually break a bit of a sweat. 

298...299...300! YES! HALFWAY. Oh my god. What? I re-checked the GPS. Three hundred lunges was only halfway. Oh My.

Although, I must say, my mind had started to quiet at this point and just focus on the business at hand. Stand. Step. Down, UP. Stand. Step. Down, UP. 

Just past this point, some people came walking their dog down the path toward me. At this point it was single-lane and I didn't want to screw up my distance, so I stopped and stepped off the path to let them go by. Talk about getting a weird look. It's almost as if they'd never seen a sweaty chick, bundled up like a crazy, homeless eskimo, lunging in incredibly cold temperatures. Geesh. Incidentally, for whatever reason, their dog was terrified of me. I think he sensed the Spartan-Crazy that would have me out on a day like this. He was concerned. 

Here's the one problem with stopping, at a time like this. You get cold. FAST. I touched my face, to push my hair out of my eye, and felt the sweat had all turned to ice on my forehead. THAT is a bit disconcerting, let me tell you. I pulled my hood back up, put my mittens back on, and hoped the people would walk by a LITTLE faster, so that I could continue on my trek, that I was only a little over halfway through. 

I pulled the neck gator back up over my nose and mouth (breathing was easier this way!), despite the fact that it had frozen into a shell-shape that it wanted to be in. Back to the lunges. Step. Down, UP. Stand. Step. Down, UP. 

And on, and on, and on. After every 25 or so lunges, I did stop and sort of shake out my legs for about 10 seconds. It felt AMAZING. By this point (somewhere around 450-475 lunges), I had really gotten into a system. I was also leaving really strange tracks in the snow. This is the one thing I really like about the intense workouts I find myself in these days... my brain is quiet. As my legs were starting to tire, I distracted myself by looking around. I live in a BEAUTIFUL state, the snow was scenic, the quiet of just me on the path was refreshing, and everything was peaceful. I felt calm and centered. Sometimes, I think, you must just take the time to stop and look around you, to remind you of all the blessings you have. Yes, it was cold, but I had two functional legs (for now) to carry me through this, I had a warm house to go back to, food to fuel my adventures, and my health.....

Step. Down, UP... Stand. Step. Down, UP. 

At exactly 625 lunges (I admit, after 575, I started checking at every 25), I hit .5 miles of lunges. I stood up, stretched, reveled in my accomplishment... and felt the cold bite at me. OKAY. Time to get back home (If I had been smart, I would've turned around at the halfway mark...). I decided probably the best thing would be a slow jog home; it would stretch out the legs in a different way and allow me to stay warm and keep moving. 
This proved to be slightly more difficult than it sounds, as my legs were slightly uncoordinated at first, and I was navigating a difficult snow-covered path.... But, a slow 1.10 miles home was a nice "cool down". 
I'm not going to lie, as I jogged through the city for the last portion of my way home, I felt a little bit like Rocky - my hood was up, my hands were in mittens.... I swear, I could hear the theme music. hehe

So, how are you fairing tonight, you may ask?

Actually, I'm okay. I'm feeling like my legs are aware that we did something today.... but I don't feel any more sore than I would any other vigorous activity day. Although, I suppose we will see tomorrow. I've been stretching all night to try and prevent this, because I would *really* like to be able to get up tomorrow and walk like a normal human. Plus, word on the street says tomorrow's CrossFit WOD has pistol squats in it.... I'm sure my legs are going to think that's an AWESOME plan, after today.

All things considered, though, I think I could've done a whole mile (Shh. Let's not give the peanut gallery ideas!). I think I may have to revisit this challenge, when it it warmer...

I salute you, TreeTrunk Legs... Perhaps you're good for something, afterall.

On which note, I'm off to do one more round of stretches, a bit more water, and off to sleep. I think I earned it today. 

Dear Legs, Please wake up mostly functional?... Love, Me.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Don't let anybody tell you, YOU CAN'T, just because they can't..."

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 177:

First, wisdom of the day, BlogLand:

Did you take a good look at that? I did.

I have spent a good portion of my Shape-Up journey defending what I'm doing, or justifying it, or trying to rationalize it... or explain it in a way that would make other people okay with it. Simple thing, that I'm slowly learning is, you can't. Anyone that is not supportive of you, when you're doing something good for you and awesome, is dealing with their own demons; either they're jealous of how good you look, or frustrated because they can't get motivated, or any number of things. But don't listen. You CAN do whatever you want to do, whether or not other people believe it.
I am living proof.

And yes, it sucks when people close to you are not as supportive or enthusiastic as you want them to be.... but. Think about why you're doing what you're doing - is it for them? No. It's for you... so then, really, why does what they think matter? It doesn't. Remind yourself of that. Their opinion doesn't matter. Don't let them hand you excuses, or negative feelings or any of those things. Sometimes, you have to leave everything behind, in order to have room in your life to find the new things....

ANYWAY. On to a lighter subject, BlogLand.

Today's WOD!

So, originally, today was a Run Day. As I sat at work and watched the snow fall steadily, I thought, well, no problem... it's just snow. I can run in snow! I was mentally prepared to run in snow.
And then the day got ickier.... It went to sleet and freezing rain and some other yucky precipitation.... and, yeah, running went out the window. As much as I *wanted* to run, I had to be smart here....... I could dress warm, but the sidewalks were pretty slick, and my knee was already (is still) angry from whatever I did to it. It's not like incapacitatingly angry, but just annoyingly angry.... just enough to make me think that an angry knee + slippery sidewalks was probably not the best plan.

Having said that, I still needed a WOD. So, I checked out my CF website, and modified the wod to something that wasn't going to kill my knees, and ended up with this:

WOD of the Day:
Ladder: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps/round
- Burpees
- Pull ups
- Sit ups

It seems like that's going to be an 'easy' wod, doesn't it? Admittedly, it's not grueling, but that is more reps than you would think... 55 per exercise. Again, not a ton, in the scheme of things, but better than no run or activity at all.... particularly with this stupid knee. GRR. Dear 18 year old self - when you get injured and the doctor says "stay off it"... STAY OFF IT. Let it heal correctly. Grr.

So, I'm happy to say, I busted out the burpees pretty solidly (I'll be a Spartan yet!), the pull ups I gave my best effort with the aid of a stool, and I completely owned sit ups.
Short. Sweet. To the Point.

OH, and another small victory for today.... I got on the scale.... *drumroll*.... DOWN another couple of pounds. Officially at 207.2 as of this evening. Yes, that's a lot, but that is now closer to my goal, than to my original weight. More than halfway!! I will also be doing something awesome to celebrate when I get into "Onederland" (as Weight Watchers calls it). I'm so excited. As an adult, I have no idea what I look like at that weight. EEeee!!

And now, I have to sleep. My knee is aching, and the Aleve has not yet kicked in....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"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 175:

Wow. One Hundred and Seventy Five Days. Sometimes when I type the number, it just hits me, BlogLand. WOW. Incidentally, if you look to your right, you will also see that there is only 115 days until my first Spartan Race. I'm more than halfway there! ACK!!!! *commence freak out*

So as not to lose my mind completely, let's change the subject. Let's talk about food. As you are well aware, BlogLand, I did that "No Bread" challenge for 50 days, commencing on Christmas Eve. After that, I honestly haven't put that many carbs back into my diet. I'm still keeping things mainly proteins with fruits and veggies. Not to say that the occasional starch isn't making it in there, but honestly, my body doesn't want it the same way. I feel better. Ahhh...

ANYWAY, having said that, I need your help, dear Readers.
Sherry Post, over at Simple Fuel, is having a contest. She issued a challenge (everyone knows I love a good challenge), and the winner gets a whole bunch of this amazing Simple Fuel of hers - which I am positively dying to try. I've been seeking out some new ways of fueling for/recovering from these crazy workouts I've been doing and I like the idea of her products - Simple. "All Natural Body Food". It's not some weird powdery mix of chemical things, with long names I can't pronounce... It's made from different kinds of berries, seeds, coconut milk, etc.. She's got granola (which I hear is crazy addictive), as well as meal replacer/supplemental drinks, natural snacks.... Hell, just go take a look.
But WAIT. Contest. I would like to win the Granola (Om Nom Nom. Carbs I don't have to feel bad about...).
Could you kindly head over to Simple Fuel's FaceBook Page, "LIKE" it, then leave a quick comment telling them I sent you? You may feel free to profess your undying love for me for introducing you to those products, or pledge your allegiance to me due to your new super powers from eating The Granola, or whatever you'd like (lol). But to recap:
1) Visit Simple Fuel
2) "Like" the page
3) Comment and tell them Aja sent you.

Please. Thank You.

Now, onto our regularly scheduled programming:

Today was technically CrossFit day. (Yep, it's Wednesday again.) However, I have been struggling to get back on my normal work/sleep/workout/life in general schedule, after the holidays... It is just not all back together yet. I've been going to bed way too late, sleeping too late, rushing to work (so I'm not late), then having to workout when I get home (which is late)... are we sensing a trend? In short, no excuses, I just need to get back into the swing of things.

This morning, though, didn't go so well. I was up late last night, but dutifully checked my alarm to make sure it was set for CrossFit wake-up time (6am. Ugh.). It was. I went to bed and was out immediately. Apparently, when the alarm went off at 6am, I woke up just enough to snooze it... and wake up a couple hours later. After my CF class was over. WTF. Damn. Alright, well, apparently I needed it. So, off to work I went.

So, consulting the GT (confessing my transgressions keeps me honest) for the best alternate plan for when I got home from work, and I was assigned the CrossFit Murph. I died inside. I know what Murph is... It is:
1 mile run
100 pull ups
200 push ups
300 squats
1 mile run
.... for time.

I didn't think about keeping time, but I knew I wouldn't be able to bust out this whole WOD tonight (I didn't even get home until 8pm, it's a legit reason!), so I split it up a bit.
I got my shoes on and went out for a run:
Time: 20:44 min
Distance: 2.0 miles
Average Pace: 10.22 min/miles
Which included a stop at a crosswalk. SO, I'm thinking I did those two miles solidly at a 10 min pace. THAT, BlogLand, is good for me. Speed is not something I've typically had a lot of, or could sustain... so, I was thrilled to see that pace on the clock. (I've got a flat 5K coming up in February, and I'm not going to lie... I'm hoping for about a 30 min pace...)

Upon arriving home, I resolved to do HALF the rest of the Murph, and finish the other half tomorrow morning. It's just not good for my sleeping if I get all my adrenaline rolling at 10pm. So:
50 Pull Ups (owwwww)
100 Push Ups (OWWWW)
150 Squats (ehh, not too bad).

I'm feeling this in my back and shoulders at the moment... sooo... it could be interesting when I try and finish the other half in the morning, but I suppose this is the penance one pays when one sleeps through their alarm.... (Lesson #4568 Learned. Check.)

So, in the midst of getting a little mouthy on FB about getting ready to do (a 1/2) Murph this evening, I find myself committed to another challenge:

1/2 Mile of Lunges, on Sunday, January 8th. Apparently, it's group challenge, through a little virtual connecting. Through the magic of cell phones/Skype and whathaveyou, The GT and I, as well as one of our fellow Spartans will all be lunging together. For a 1/2 mile.

I'm not sure what my big mouth may have gotten me into this time, and suddenly 1/2 mile seems like a LONG way for lunges, but hey, I'm game. STFU, right?

Readers, are any of you up for the challenge? How about 1/4 mile of lunges? Maybe lunges while viewing a scenic vista? Lunges while carrying something heavy? Lunges while making silly faces? Lunges. Just do some Lunges on Sunday, in solidarity for the fact I probably won't be able to walk on Monday, okay? If you get your Lunge on, how about sending me some pics? We'll compare lunges on Sunday night, alright?

Spartan up, and give it your best shot...

In the meantime, get to bed. Geesh. Don't you know that an appropriate amount of sleep is vital to your health and wellness? hehe... Oh My. (She says as she finishes blogging at 12:30am.).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"We shall neither fail nor falter; we shall not weaken or tire...give us the tools and we will finish the job." ~ Winston Churchill

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 174:

It was time to get my Run on tonight, BlogLand. It was cold (damn, you VT!), but I suited up and got ready to run. I had three tiny requests:
1.) That the knee that's been tweaked would be okay.
2.) That my GPS would not crap itself with the cold and measure the new route.
3.) The Ice Patches of Death would be minimal.

..... ALMOST.

I set off at a moderate pace, for two reasons. One, it was cold. Two, I wanted to see how my knee was going to feel while running, early on. I figure if I went a little vigorous early on, I'd know (early on) whether I was going to be able to get far tonight. It was too cold out to be slowly limping home, 3 miles out. The knee did okay. It didn't hurt at all while running, so I took that as a good sign.
So far, 1 out of 3 requests, granted.

THEN, we get to talk about the damn GPS. No. It did not track my route. It tried to tell me that in 46 minutes, I ran 1 mile. WTF GPS. For REAL?! Apparently, the lower-back pocket of my reflective vest is not a warm enough pocket for the electronics, to prevent cold-freak-outs. That's twice now. GRR. I admit, I get agitated when my WOD's/runs are not accurately trackable. A lot of my success can be credited to being able to seeing how far I've come. This GPS thing screws with that a bit. GRRR. I must investigate this. We're still at a 1 out of 3 success rate.

As far as Ice Patches go, the route was manageable. I did find myself running in the street through some back neighborhoods, as they were clear, where the sidewalks were not. I was not taking any chances about falling on my face. It was a lovely full moon, though, and made for a nice, night run (8pm start time.). So, I guess this one gets a half point. 1.5 out of 3 wishes for the evening isn't TOO bad.

So, I think the run looked like this:
Time: 46:32
Distance:... well, it was at least 4 miles.
Average Pace:... You'd have to have a GPS that was accurately calculating your distance to know this... argh. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 min/miles, I'm guessing.

And there we have it. Nothing fancy this evening.

However, I will say, tomorrow may be ugly. My legs are feeling a little ouchy. The knee feels tired, and my hamstrings are angry (hello, yesterday's planks and deadlifts! Nice of you to remind me!). But tomorrow is Crossfit, and it looks like a manageable workout on tap...
SO... to bed I go (I really have to get the bedtimes back in order.).

Over and out, Blogland! Until tomorrow.....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even." -Muhammad Ali

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 173:

Someday, BlogLand, I'm going to learn to keep my big mouth shut. Today, was not that day.
... as a result, I have new rug burns on both my elbows, a developing ache through my shoulders, and my water glass feels REAL heavy. Perhaps I should explain.

Today was supposed to be a CrossFit day. Alarm goes off, I groan, turn it off and slowly (reluctantly) I swing my feet to the floor. As I go to stand up, I feel it. The lingering ouchy tweak in my knee from yesterday. DAMN. I test-walk around the house a bit. There is definitely still lingering not-right-ness. Not like, "this is serious" ouchiness, but decided "you did something wrong" ouchiness, and since I have an issue with my knee (lots of old horseback riding injuries), I may be a little more careful, sometimes. I also didn't want to ignore it today, run on it, then really make it angry for the next few days of training. (Only 117 days until my first Spartan! No time for injuries!)
Still pondering hitting up CrossFit, I checked out the WOD for the day online... It was a metric ton of squats, wall balls and other knee-related things. Yeaahh... probably not.

So, What is a girl to do, when she finds herself without a WOD, and with some specific restrictions (no. knee. bending.)? Texts the ever-creative GT... who happened to be unavailable.
Not to be thwarted, I did the next best thing (so I thought...), I polled the hive-mind of my FB friends-list. There's a lot of knowledgeable folks there, with fitness experience, I thought for sure there'd be some excellent suggestions (and there were).

The problem was, I posted then went off to work, leaving my FB all sorts of unattended. What this resulted in was the GT collecting suggestions from the masses, and slowly adding them onto the list of new kinds of torture for me when I got home. Yes. I should've thought about that, before I posted on FB. LOL. By the time I realized what was happening.... it was too late.

The FB No-Knee-Bend Death WOD was born.

First, like every good sweat-session, we begin with a Warm-Up:
3x: Inchworm down - 60 sec plank - inchworm up
20 Glute Bridges

Alright. Not SO bad, right? I mean, well, planks are not awesome, but I got through those, more or less (it was not pretty, but I tucked my pelvis and payed attention to form..).... So, I moved onto the main part of the WOD:
Tabata (8x 20 sec work/10 sec rest) Dead Lifts. I happened to use my 2, 25# DB's, as it's what I have at home.
Then, 3x:
- 20 Bent Rows (25# DBs)
- 10 Bicep Curl to Overhead Press (25# DBs)
- 5 Pull Ups (or negatives, in my case, because my t-rex arms can't do it!!)

Ahhh.... The hurt was on. Round 3 of that bad boy began to make itself known... mostly because Pull ups make my back die, for some reason. Oddly, I found I didn't even think about the fact that I was curl to pressing 25# Db's. That wasn't an issue. I was even watching my form, to be sure. I find it slightly annoying that I can beast through some things... but ONE PULLUP eludes me. ONE pullup. Ah well. Soon enough.

ANYWAY, then we moved onto what I'm calling the "After Party":
- 2 x 60 sec planks (with arm extend to tap floor in front)
- 3 Sun Salutations (for good measure).

The After Party was definitely where the fun began. More Planks. And by "planks", I mean shaking, quivering Aja, fighting with every muscle to stay in appropriate form, not die, and just 10 more seconds...... oh WAIT. Extend arm (whole body shaking) tap floor. Extend other arm (continue the Jello posture), tap floor.

Starfish pose. (face down. arms out. panting. LOL.)

Then, we finished with some Yoga. Blog, I don't know if I've ever mentioned how little I enjoy yoga. Mostly, I think it's not because Yoga is not enjoyable, but I'm very, very bad at Yoga. I find things that I'm very bad at, very frustrating. You see, I'm not bendy. I have super-tight hamstrings and in general, would not call myself flexible. Which is probably why I SHOULD do Yoga... but.
I am considering incorporating some more regular stretchy-out type stuff into my routine......

So, after absolutely no-knee bending to speak of, I find myself at my kitchen table, feeling very aware of my midsection (I'm thinking that's going to hurt tomorrow), discovering a slight soreness in my shoulder blades (hello, pull ups), and a distinct fatigue in other areas.... I'm feeling a little bit... discouraged? disappointed? that that workout was hard for me in a many ways... but, I guess that's why we do it, right? Conquer the hard things, so they become easier?
Overall, though, I powered through it. No big breaks, no long rests, did something, even when I could've made an excuse... so, a successful day.
My knee is feeling much better, so I think a run after work tomorrow is in order, as long as it stays on track...

Incidentally, here's my random ponderence for the evening:
I have/am getting a distinct callous-ridge on my hands from lifting weights/working on pull ups, etc. I was not unhappy about that. I almost felt proud of it... Look! I've done enough to develop a callous.

Now, If I could just learn to plank....

Monday, January 9, 2012

All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. -Morarji Desai

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 172:

Today's plan totally went to Hell, BlogLand. That's okay, though, these things happen. Here's how it went down.

I had plans to head to CrossFit this morning, but I woke up, got out of bed and was stiff (it's almost like I did something yesterday...), and really tired (it's been a long week.). It was supposed to be a double-up day (CrossFit, and then a short run at some point), but I just didn't have it in me. My body was pretty spent from yesterday's run, all the overtime this week and life in general.

I elected to skip the CF, in favor of a run in the sunshine, later in the day. However, I ended up going to brunch with a friend I haven't seen in a while (Yay!), who wanted to take a walk. We ended up taking a lengthy walk (5.5mi!) around a really pretty, but hilly, loop.  At some point during this walk, I slid funny on a slippery patch and tweaked my knee. It felt alright at the time, but as the day wore on, it definitely has a bit of a twinge in it.

SO. Rather than get through a run on a tweaked knee (I probably could, it's not excruciating pain or anything) and then maybe aggravate it more and really derail the training plan, I elected to stay off it today. Just took some Ibuprofen and didn't stress it out too much. Tomorrow, I'll CrossFit!

I did take a 5.5 mile walk today, so I at least feel like I did SOMEthing.

Having said that, I have two pieces of wisdom for tonight, that are in response to some recent.... negativity... that has been thrown at me.

ALSO... an excellent piece of writing, passed onto me by the GT:
(Head's up: Potentially offensive language.)

Guest Atomic Dog
It's Sabotage!
by Chris Shugart

I can't stand it, I know you planned it
I'm gonna set it straight, this Watergate
Oh my, it's a mirage
Listen all y'all it's sabotage!
— Beastie Boys, "Sabotage"

Malicious Mike
Mike was the worst training partner I'd ever had. He'd show up late if he showed up at all. He always wanted to quit early. He flapped his gums incessantly. He'd make excuses and punk out on any tough exercise. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was his poisonous attitude.
If I got bigger, Mike would make snide comments about me being fat. If I got leaner, he'd make sarcastic remarks about me being "skinny and frail" looking. The thing was, Mike was my buddy, or so I thought. He'd make his noxious comments in a joking manner, just a little ball busting between friends. It took me a while (too long) to realize that ol' Mike had problems, and his "issues" were starting to affect me and my progress in the gym. Mike, you see, was toxic.

Toxic People
The concept of "toxic people" was popularized by Dr. Lillian Glass in her book by the same name. I read the book at the recommendation of Biotest head honcho Tim Patterson. Although it was pretty heavy on "pop" psychology, it was pretty darned interesting.
A toxic person is basically anyone who holds you back, cuts you down, makes you experience any number of negative emotions on a regular basis, and generally causes you to feel like a piece of toilet paper, and not that nice triple-quilted stuff either. A toxic person can be a friend, a co-worker, a family member, and even a girlfriend or spouse.
Dr. Glass outlines 30 different types of toxic people in the book, including The Mental Case, The Fanatic, The Accusing Critic, The Instigator, The Opportunistic User, and the ever popular Smiling Two-Faced Backstabber. No wonder Bossman Patterson recommended the book: the bodybuilding and supplement industry is a breeding ground for these wackjobs!

Enter The Saboteur
After reading the book, I came up with my own category of toxic terror, one that seems to rear his septic head often in the bodybuilding, fitness, and athletic community: The Saboteur.
The Saboteur is out to sabotage your training and diet program. He or she can do this overtly or covertly, and through physical or emotional manipulations. Let's go through some examples:
 A family member cooks you your favorite cheat food and encourages you to "live a little" and give up the diet.
 A friend drops seemingly casual but negative comments about your goals:
"Yeah, you've lost some fat but you ain't exactly Brad Pitt in Fight Club, bro!"
"Sure, you're getting big, but all that muscle will just turn to fat when you get older."
"That's a fast time in the 40 yard dash, but I knew a guy once who was way faster."
 A co-worker knows you're dieting yet keeps offering you junk food. This office saboteur has been known to wave doughnuts in your face in a "joking" manner. He or she may also refer to you as a "health nut" or "fanatic."
 Your spouse tries to talk you out of going to the gym, or make you feel guilty about it:
"Why can't you spend time with me instead of running off to the gym?"
"We're strapped for cash and you spend $50 a month on a stupid gym membership?"
"Why do you go to the gym so often? Are you seeing someone up there?"
So why do they do it? Well, they may be doing it consciously or unconsciously. It can be done out of hatred or competition, but the usual culprits are jealously and fear. Example: Your girlfriend or spouse (who usually hasn't been bitten by the training bug) sees you losing fat and getting more muscular. Your body is looking better and better. She's afraid you'll leave her for a better looking woman, so she tries to sabotage you in order to "keep you." Delusional thinking? You bet, but frighteningly common.
Another example is the jealous co-worker. She sees your discipline and hard work, and she watches as your body changes. She's failed at fat loss many times in the past and she's jealous of your achievements. Her attempts at sabotage can take many forms: caustic comments (often made as thinly disguised jests), tempting you with shitty food, subtly discouraging your healthy behaviors, spreading rumors that you must be "on something," etc.
One of the most biting comments is used against females who lose a lot of fat: "Isn't it interesting that losing weight makes a person look older?" Ouch. It takes a really toxic thundercunt to fire off that not-so-cleverly disguised attack. (Sorry, you may think I'm picking on women here. No, both sexes can be saboteurs; women are just really, really, really good at it.)
These types of saboteurs behave this way to make themselves feel better. Your discipline and success is like a slap in the face to them. Without saying a word, you're making their excuses look pathetic. These infectious whiners won't be inspired by you; they'll be offended. Nothing pisses off a toxic person more than seeing someone else succeed!
I've seen toxic men use these same tactics on their wives. You'd think a man would want his overweight wife to get into shape, right? Not if he's toxic! These pencildicks might not like having fat wives, but they'll do everything they can to keep them that way. Why? Rampant insecurity. Keeping your wife fat is a great way to control her and keep her at home. This is usually coupled with verbal and emotional abuse. And yes, I've seen insecure women do the same thing to their husbands and boyfriends.
Sound crazy? It is, but I can't tell you how many times I've tried to help someone with their diet only to have their spouse do everything in their power to ruin it. And here's where we learn about how devious the Saboteur can be. You know what the most common form of sabotage is for these poisonous personalities? This line right here:
"Honey, I love you just the way you are. You don't have to lose weight."
Horse puckey! That's a velvet hammer used to squash another person's opportunities. It's sleazy and dirty and only used by an insecure person who's emotionally retarded. Aesthetics aside, I'd be wary of any person who doesn't want his or her significant other to make positive health decisions.
"I love you just the way you are" is a polite way of saying "I'll feel inadequate and lazy if you get into shape and I don't! Please stay fat and increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Better you die at age 45 that me feel insecure or pressured to get into shape myself!"
A few things to keep in mind regarding the Saboteur:
#1: Watch for poisonous patterns.
Not everyone who offers you a slice of pizza or suggests you skip a workout is a saboteur. What you're looking for here are consistent patterns of behavior. How often does the person do this? How many different ways does the person try to do it?
#2: There are no "casual" negative comments.
If someone regularly makes nasty remarks, even in a joking manner, he could be a saboteur. Remember, saboteurs can be awfully subtle and polite about derailing your progress. They employ the "death by a thousand cuts" technique. And their tongues are wicked sharp. The closer the person is to you (wife or parent), the deeper the cuts.
#3: The Saboteur is the one with the problem.
It's easy to take these attacks personally, but you shouldn't. The Saboteur is the one with the "issues," not you. Their insecurity, jealously, and self-loathing are forced on you because you represent the opposite. Even though you don't mean it, you're a symbol of their failings and shortcomings.
#4: The Saboteur is seldom seen by you as an "enemy."
Although they can be, the actions of a saboteur are seldom overt. And the saboteur himself is seldom a person who obviously has it in for you. The most prevalent saboteurs come from within your own family and close circle of friends.
#5: Sabotage often comes disguised as concern, a favor, or a nice gesture.
I was recently contacted by a guy who'd lost ten pounds using my Velocity Diet. Although he had more fat to lose, his family was already filling his head with negative thoughts and lashing out. They told him he was anorexic, that he had a problem, that losing fat was unhealthy, that he took "too many pills" (in this case, salmon oil capsules), and that protein would damage his kidneys.
No surprise, everyone in his family was obese and did nothing but vegetate in front of the TV and eat potato chips. But still, verbal barbs like this coming from your family can be the sharpest and most frustrating.
Were they really concerned? No. They were upset that this guy was climbing out of the box they'd put him in. His success was making them feel inadequate. His fat loss reminded them that they were obese couch spuds. Luckily, this guy resisted the pull of the fatty flock and dodged their attempts at sabotage.
Side note: Saboteurs sometimes travel in packs.
#6: A sabotaging woman will often use a very powerful weapon against you: her vagina.
The power of the pussy will make a man not only accept the leash but gladly put it on himself. I've witnessed several sabotaging women use this weapon to control their men. This type of woman often falls into another toxic category created by Dr. Glass: The Self-Destroyer.
If you have any physique or career goals, avoid the Self-Destroyer at all costs. This hellbitch is hell-bent on making the worst possible choices for herself. She's often unstable and borders on being out of control. (This, of course, makes her great in the sack.) For whatever deep psychological reasons, she's out to destroy herself. She may do it with food, alcohol, drugs, money, sex, or stupid risks. While she usually prefers abusive men and ex-cons, she may occasionally end up with a T-man. She may not set out to destroy him, but if he's around she'll make sure he goes down with her.
The most common trap she'll use is to get you to "rescue" her (usually from self-destructive mistakes she's made.) All too often, the white knight will find himself dancing like a puppet on a string, fully controlled by what's between her legs. Ultimately, he wrecks his diet, quits training, and makes poor life decisions.
Long story short: beware the sabotaging gal with fangs in her coochie.
#7: Dealing with the Saboteur
A co-worker can usually be ignored. Once you learn to recognize and interpret these attempts at sabotage, you can see them for what they often are: a sign that you're accomplishing something. Take it as a compliment. Eat it up and thrive on it.
But what about the friend, family member or spouse? Dr. Glass recommends confronting them with humor. I agree, the straightforward approach is the best. End the game as fast as possible. When they try to sabotage you, ask them directly about it:
"Why are you offering me a cookie when you know I'm dieting down for summer?"
"Why do you try to keep me from going to the gym?'
"Why do you make shitty remarks every time I lay down on the bench and try for a PR?"
This is especially effective when the Saboteur doesn't even realize what he or she is doing. Remember, these are often delusional people wrapped in a security blanket of defense mechanisms, and a reality check is just what they need. It'll be very difficult for them to continue with their sabotaging ways after you point out what they're doing.
And what if the person is a deadly combination of Saboteur and Self-Destructor? Run. Run like the wind. There's not much hope for these time bombs. If it's a co-worker, avoid them. If it's a friend, de-friend him. If it's a girlfriend, think with the big head for once and kick that back alley bitch to the curb.
#8: Sometimes the "saboteur" isn't.
This is an important caveat. A 97-pound bulimic whose hair is falling out because of malnutrition will often attack those trying to help her. In her muddled mind, they're just out to sabotage her. The 17-year old juicer may be convinced that the people telling him he's too young to use steroids are just jealous. These are obviously not cases of sabotage. So, you have to be careful when labeling someone a Saboteur. You might be the one in the wrong.

Gods and Insects
The Testosterone Nation lifestyle, to me at least, is all about achievement and living a full, engaged life. The foundation of this is hard training and a healthy diet. With that solid base, anything is possible and all aspects of life are enriched. The Saboteurs hate that, and they secretly hate you for doing what they either can't or won't.
"You are a god among insects," Magneto said to Pyro in X-Men, "Never let anyone tell you different." Now, Magneto is a bad guy, but he had a point. The bitter, complacent people out there don't want you to rise above the norm. You're not allowed to be different. Today, "normal" is fat, weak and unhealthy, and their message to you is "Stay in your fucking box!" Given the chance, they'll drag you down and lock you up.
Listen to what people around you are really saying. Spot the Saboteurs, let them know you're on to them and diffuse them. I got rid of Mike. Anyone you know deserve the boot?