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.

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