Wednesday, March 28, 2012

‎"You have an appointment with life, and that appointment is in the here and now." -Thich Nhat Hahn

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 252:
(End of week 36)

It was a nice day today, BlogLand. It's gone cold again in Vermont, so I must admit, I was happy that it was CrossFit day. By a fortuitous turn in my work schedule, I was able to hit up an afternoon CF class. These are my favorite because a) I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn, and b) I enjoy the trainer who usually teaches in the afternoon. His motivational techniques are a little more my style than the laid-back morning guy. Both are excellent instructors, but afternoon guy cliques with my WOD style a little bit better. So, I was psyched to get to that class.

Yesterday, I did sprints and my legs were definitely not 100% today (definitely NO running today.), but I scoped the WOD online before I went, and it looked doable and not HUGELY quad-intensive (which seems to be where these sprints effect me most).

Here's how it went:
Warm-Up: Something we call The Confluence Warm-Up (it's the name of the gym)... x2. It's basically a series of 10 movements, that you do 10 reps of each to get the blood flowing and your muscles warmed up.

We then moved on to doing two 1-minute benchmark tests. Basically, go all out at two things from a list of 'benchmarks' for 1 minute. Record in binder. Compare to previous number.
Today I elected to do pull-ups (with a big band), as I've been avoiding it as long as possible.
1 minute: 18 pull ups (with the heavy black rubber band). I had to stop multiple times, and I can see this is still my greatest achilles heel (coincidentally, I was wearing my "T-Rex Hates Push-ups" shirt... which I felt applied here, too.)
1 minute: 51 body weight squats. My previous number was 46. YEAH. Killed that. I was particularly proud of that, considering I was working with legs at less than peak capacity. NEXT time, I'm shooting for 60.
However, I will not lie, after 51 in a minute, my quads were spent and shaking a bit. EH. Nothing I couldn't work through. (I hoped.)

Onto the main event...

Today's WOD:
(A partner WOD)
Partner 1: Deadlifts
Partner 2: Burpee Broad Jumps, the length of the gym and back.
Count lift reps and number of rounds completed.

Here's the thing about partner WODs... they can be touch and go, depending on your partner. Partners can be extremely motivational, or really frustrating. Today, I was not so thrilled with my partner (long story I won't spew to the depths of cyberspace), but I decided I would just go all in and maybe she would take the hint. (The short story: She was new to CF, but wanted to seem like she knew everything, and also still wanted to stay 'pretty' while woding. Further, she felt the need to inflate her numbers massively at the end. Insert Aja's annoyance.)

So, I start with Deadlifts, which are a pretty strong lift for me. We were supposed to be lifting at 50% of our one rep max, but for the ease of the partner wod (and the crowded class), I was only lifting 50#. However, in theory, we would be lifting a LOT of reps, so it should get heavier....

Round 1 went okay... I was deadlifting with good form and time efficiency like a champ. WAHA.
Broad Jump Burpees are a new kind of evil. Basically, do a burpee, but instead of jumping up and clapping, you jump OUT... land said long jump and right down into next burpee. And you thought regular burpees sucked.
Thankfully, it took about 8 of these things to travel the length of the gym and back. You know you are in a weird place in life when Deadlifting in your workout is the "break."

Round 2 found me still going strong. Burpee Broad jumps began sucking a little harder. We only had 12 minutes to do this thing, and I am motivated by a ticking clock. I was REALLY trying to get through these things with speed and efficiency.

Round 3 and I was definitely starting to tire. I was still keeping a consistent pace and good form while I lifted, but it was a little bit slower. Still no rest stops though - which I am happy about. I began feeling the legs a little in this round (or lack thereof...)

Round 4... this is getting ugly. Having to concentrate to maintain form on deadlifts. Keep reminding myself to utilize my legs fully to get through those deadlifts... if my partner would just burpee back a little faster...
These burpee broad jumps were hard, now. We'd been at this about 9 minutes now, going strong. I was trying to broad jump with pretty spent legs. I just kept telling myself that I only had a few more minutes to push it... and I kept picking spots on the floor that I needed to jump TO. That helped. Still pushing, still going.

Round 5. Yes, we'd entered the seventh layer of Hell, now. My legs were pulling from energy reserves... somewhere. Barely. Sweat was dripping into my eyes, and my quad would quiver every time I would momentarily touch the weight to the floor. EXCELLENT. On to the burpees. I didn't have a whole lot of jump left in me, but with some "motivational coaching" from the instructor, I kept my jumps (slow), but clean and still a good distance. I did *not* get yelled at for leaping (one foot jumping), or not jumping. WAHA. I don't stop 'til I'm DONE.

Round 6. The clock was winding down. We were in the last 2 minutes. Final push. Pick weight up, put weight down. Repeat. No thinking, just get mechanical. My body knows what to do, and I refuse to give it the chance to think about whether it can do it or not. We're just going to finish strong, whether or not my legs are shot. However, I don't know if they were, because I couldn't think about it... all I was thinking was, "Pick weight up, put weight down." (and a few pointers - eyes up, keep ass low, etc.)
Onto my last round of burpee broad jumps. I pretty much wanted to die, but I was determined this was not how I was going to go out. I did them slowly but steadily, and am happy to report that I *completed* the last round, just as the buzzer went off. I won't lie, there was a point on the way down the gym that I went down for my burpee and as I hit the floor, watching my own sweat pool on the rubber mat in front of me, I thought... it's comfortable here.... I can BREATHE if I just stay down here for a few seconds..... but then I reminded myself that "comfortable" is not what we were here for. WORK.
Up I went, to finish the round.

Total Rounds: 6. Total Lift Reps: 89 (Time: 12 min)

At the end of that, I was sweatier than I have been in quite a while, and was pretty sure that the rubber matted floor would be an excellent place to assume the starfish CrossFit-Killed-Me position... but I stayed on my feet.

However, then began the great debate. I briefly thought to myself... Self, this might be a good night for an ice bath. Then Self said to me - "Are you KIDDING? That does not sound like a good time at ALL. Just go home and make dinner and chill." But then, I had to remind myself that I did sprints yesterday, and this WOD today, and if I didn't ice bath, I probably wasn't moving tomorrow.... So, I did what I always do, when I'm in doubt (or conflict with myself): I texted the GT.

I think it was mostly to confirm what I already knew he would say. "Do it."
... so I did it.

I did have a great revelation though. When you live in Vermont, and you run your cold water out of pipes that are buried deep within the still-frozen ground and the temp outside is still only like 35 for a high.... you DO NOT need to put ice in your "ice bath." Cold water is indeed cold enough.

I made the usual plethora of dying cow, lamaze breathing, torture scream sounds, as I dropped into the water. I swear, I'm going to get a thermometer so I know just how bad this is, EXACTLY. It sucked HARD. However, I shivered and persevered, reminding myself that in the long run (no pun intended) this would be better and actually HELP me. I reminded my Quads that they better thank me for this because my Toes were certainly taking one for the team (thankfully, they went numb first).

After surviving that, I find myself spending the evening wrapped up in an excessive amount of layers and blankets, sporting perhaps one of my best looks yet (in an effort to save my cold toes!): Hot pink calf sleeves, with red fleece socks (with snowflakes on them), that go to mid-calf. Yep. Hot pink calf sleeves, showing over the top of my uber stylish red fleece socks. You KNOW you're jealous of that fashion statement.  But guess what, the tootsies are warm (finally!), and the quads are thawing and returning to functioning, as we speak.

Hopefully, I wake up tomorrow feeling no effects of my crazy workouts (Yeah...).

Thankfully, tomorrow is Complete Lower Body Rest Day. Ahhhh....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I was." - William Coleman

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 252:

What a day, BlogLand. I'm struggling today with a flare-up of FCS (fat chick syndrome), but trying to remain positive. I've noticed I struggle the most with bouts of FCS when Life-In-General gets a little out of control. My home/personal life has had me stressed out like crazy, I'm not entirely happy with my performance in my training, and as one thing leads to another... BOOM. Insert tiny spark for raging instance of FCS.

Spring Fling 10K, March 24, 2012
Here's what happened today. The 10K race I ran this weekend just released the pictures. I was SO hoping to have a bad ass picture to go with the feeling of badassery that I felt after completing that race in the time I did. This is the picture I got.

Now, when I look at this rationally, I see that I am laughing at the photographer, still running, and looking strong - all in the last .25 miles of my FIRST 10K (6.2 mi) race. THAT is something I should absolutely be proud of. Not to mention, if I was still pretty, after 6 miles of running, clearly I wasn't doing it right.

Having said that, as I'm sure many of you can relate, here is what I saw first: OMG, do you SEE that flab roll around the middle!!??!?  Look at the size of my CALVES?! (and back to) OMFG... is that REALLY what I'm sporting around the middle?!?! Wait, I only have one chin now, RIGHT?!... etc. etc.. etc...

I don't think you ever really get over FCS. You just learn to handle it differently. Today, I didn't do such a good job. Too much stress background noise in my life, and I let the FCS really take hold and blur a picture I should really be proud of. For comparison, let's take a look at the picture from my first 5K (10/29/11):
Kingdom Challenge 5K, October 29, 2011

There's a lot less (like at least 20-25#)  of me in my new picture (even if it was not captured at our most flattering moment). Not to mention, I am now happy to say that I have some seriously solid Quads and Hamstrings, that have made my thighs a thing to be reckoned with (squats, I own you!).  AND, not the least of my accomplishments, the first picture (you know, the one I was freaking out about), is at the end of a 10K RUN - of which I ran the whole thing. The below picture is almost to the end of a 5K run, where I had to stop and walk multiples times. The accomplishment is in the journey, BlogLand. Not in what is still to be done. There is ALWAYS work to be done, things to improve, and ways to change. The question is not what those are, but are you willing to keep working toward them. I'm still working. Proud of that. End of Story.

AND, with that, I will segue to today's WOD. I hate it, BlogLand, because it is SO hard for me right now. Hard, though, is exactly what I needed after today; when you are working to capacity, it is near impossible to continue to focus on other things or let your brain wander, because your body needs all of your brain power to get you through the task at hand. Enter Sprint WOD:

Again, a simple task: Sprint 200m, walk 200m. Repeat x4.

I did a bit of a 1/2 mile warm up jog, got my blood flowing, and my running buddy and I headed over to the track. It was great having her there, 1) for the moral support and 2) it is always nice to have company and inspiration. It worked out well, though - she'd jog on ahead and act as my "carrot" to chase. I'd sprint, catch her, pass her, and cross my finish line. It gave me a little bit more of a tangible goal.

Much like last time, my first sprint went the best (even slightly faster than last time, I think!), then they went downhill quickly from there. I struggle HARD with the second 100 meters of each sprint. But I guess that's why I'm doing this - to push my body a little bit further than it wants to go, and develop myself in a new way.
My sprint times went as follows:
Lap 1: 39.5 sec
Lap 2: 43.1
Lap 3: 45.1
Lap 4: 51.2
.... It definitely got a little ugly at the end. I just felt like I was out of gas and I was feeling nauseous. Hello, Lactic Acid Threshold.

While I'm not thrilled with those times, I'm satisfied with the fact that I did the wod even though I hate this one, it was effing cold out, and I really really really would've rather done anything else. But I did it.
My buddy and I followed it up with a nice (slooow! my legs were toast!) 1 mile cool down jog, just to keep the blood flowing.

Now, I'm sitting here blogging, after forcing myself to stay on my legs and make myself some dinner. My legs just feel exhausted. I find it totally amazing how a WOD totaling less than 5 minutes of "work" time can ruin my legs so much. Amazing. I must read up more on the concept behind sprinting. My inner science nerd needs to rationalize why I want to die right now (and at the end of every sprint!).

I am pretty sure my left quad is quivering a bit. LOL. I'm hoping to wake up in the morning feeling relatively unscathed, since I did wear my bionic pants and calf sleeves, with the thought that I could forestall some of the soreness I'm dreading in the next few days. This remains to be seen. I'm thinking there may still be a foam roller, Tiger Balm and or an Ice Bath in my future (or all of the above)....

And with that... I bid you a Goo.... ZZZZZZzzzzZZZZzzz......

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work." Ralph Marston

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 250:

Nothing too much to report today, BlogLand. Surprisingly, I am feeling 0% stiff or sore from yesterday's exertions. Am I in better shape? Is it my bionic exoskeleton? I dunno... All I know is that when I got out of bed this morning, I didn't feel like I was 90 years old and in need of a lot of stretching to get moving. WIN!

Today, was non-traditional (...which is odd, because all my wods are pretty non-traditional?) WOD day. Today was pull excavate a juniper bush from my front lawn, and relocate a rose bush. That doesn't sound like much you say?
Tools I used:
Pruners: 15 minutes, to even find the base of the juniper bush.
Grub Hoe: to bust up a lot of the roots and start prying that bitch out. (sorry. It's an evil bush that has caused much frustration in the last 8 months I've lived here.)
Axe: to chop the damn 10 year old root system that had gone crazy.

I also did some pulling to get it out of the ground, and worked on my squats while cleaning up the endless pile of brush I generated.

Moving on to the rose bush. The goal was just to relocate this one.

Fiskars shovel (ohhh yeah. It's a badass shovel): Dig. Dig more. Find out rose bush has root system embedded in my 100 year old foundation. Move to:
Grub Hoe: Sorry roots, we can't save you all. More swinging. Back to:
Fiskars shovel: We need a new hole for it to live in. Dig dig dig. Not deep enough for giant roots. More digging.
Replant rose bush.

Oh, wait, we have to fix the edging on the garden too?
Dig dig dig, shovel shovel shovel.
Bend. Squat. Move brush.

THEN, just for fun, jumped in the truck with the dad to take all his brush (AND mine!) to the landfill, where I then did push press throws with giant bundles of brush. Because I'm that cool. Rawr. haha

So... no. I didn't go to the gym. I didn't go for a run. But I think I got in a bit of an upper body WOD, and I definitely wasn't sedentary. I'll take that for a "lazy" Sunday!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." -John Bingham

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 249:

It was a MOMENTOUS day today, BlogLand! Today, was my first 10K race. I was petrified.

Last night I buzzed around my house, trying to keep myself busy, as if keeping my hands occupied might shift my mind out of super-speed nervous mental pacing. Every now and then, when I could get my frontal lobes to kick in and have a rational moment, I felt SO silly. First, it was just a small-ish race (The Race Vermont Spring Fling 10K), I've run the distance many times before, and I am a MUCH stronger runner than I ever have been. For some reason, though, you give me the prospect of a start/finish line, strangers running alongside me, a timer or - maybe the biggest thing - the concept of a winner/loser, and I lose my mind a little bit. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm really good IN the moment, crossing that start line, but I am a horrible crazy leading up to that moment.
What was I thinking? Well, the things every new runner thinks (or FCS sufferers...), while getting ready to tackle a new event: Have I trained enough? Am I going to be LAST? Can I finish? Will my fat ass be out of place with all these distance runners (... maybe that one's just me...)? Will I need to walk? Am I ready? Am I in over my head? Thankfully, I mentally wore myself out so much all day that I at least got a pretty good night's sleep last night.

Race morning dawned, a cool (45-50 degree!) and overcast morning in Vermont. I told myself it was too late to worry, that I had friends to meet and get to the start line, and somehow, I managed to eat some sort of breakfast.
If nothing else, I thought, I'd LOOK like I belonged there - sporting my sweet new CW-X tights, and favorite pair of Inov-8 sneakers.

After a tiny debaucle of almost being late (one must always add to the drama of an event, you know! haha), I massed at the start line, sporting lucky number 1298. I was also trying to convince myself, at this point, that I did NOT have to go to the bathroom (it's just nerves!), because the line for the porta-potty was 3-4 people deep and the race was about to start. Further, this was not a chip-timed you wanted to be sure to start exactly when the clock started, if you were looking for an accurate time.

I was also noticing, at this point, that it was not warm. Everyone was doing the I'm-effing-cold warm-up dance... you know, where you randomly jump up and down, shake your arms out, cross them back across your chest and alternately pick up your feet, bending your knees. I was also looking around at my "competition" (yes, I know my only competition is only myself, but it's a race. I'm chasing those people down.), which was an interesting observation.   Mostly because it seemed really formidable. At many of these 5K's that I've done, you could usually pick out the people that were there "for fun", just to run and walk it to get to the end and get the t-shirt. When I looked around this start line, mixed with 5K'ers AND 10K'ers (we all ran together the first leg), there was no difference. Everyone was geared out (I have never seen so much UA in my life), and looking serious, with their game faces on. The only ones that stuck out were the obligatory dudes that you could look at and know they were about to finish a 10K in five minutes, without breaking a sweat. The uniform: tiny shorts, dri-fit tank top, giant quads. You know who I'm talking about.

Thankfully, as I was just starting to fight my head from playing the insecure comparison game (They look so much more in-shape!, etc.), we were off. Our first bit took us down a paved road, and I got to get a warm up 1/2 mile in with my two partners in adventure for the day, Anna and April. Having friends to do these things with is an invaluable thing. We laughed and joked a bit, as we got our muscles going, and relaxed into our paces. Our course then diverted onto a lovely, wide gravel/dirt path through the woods. Somewhere around 3/4 mile or so, the crowd started to thin out a bit, as people dropped into their own pace. It was a weird feeling as I was going strong and passing people. Maybe I was prepared for this? Irregardless, I thought, I was committed, and I reminded myself to concentrate on slow deep breathing, while appreciating the fact that I was here, in this moment, on this day, in this lovely setting.

A little over 1.5 miles into the (flat to this point) course, came the 5K'ers turnaround. Literally, they just turned around and went back the way they came, while the 10K'ers were instructed to run on. That was EVIL, but a real defining moment. The turnaround was exactly at a road crossing... so, if you were 5K'ing it, you wouldn't cross the road... if you were, across you went, into the unknown wooded path beyond.

Sounds like a metaphor in the making, doesn't it?

It was for me. As I was running strong (we were still well within my comfort zone distance-wise), in amongst a pack of about a dozen strangers, we came up to the sign that said "5K TURNAROUND!" Like a coordinated flock, literally EVERYONE around me turned around. I was momentarily stunned, but realized I was NOT that, not today. *I* was running a 10K, for the first time, and damn straight I was finishing one. I defined myself as a a Runner, in that moment, not the Old Me playing at running. I crossed the road by myself, chasing down the unknown terrain ahead of me.

Crossing the road, I continued on the path which looked deceptively pleasant. Rounding a bend, we had the first challenge of the course: a short-ish, but steep uphill. I was still feeling good (it was only mile... 2-2.5?), so I put my giant legs to work (Thunder Thighs, earn your keep!!), and kept a steady pace up the hill - passing people, much to my amazement.

I was grateful for the flat recovery time I found at the top, and trotted on. Somewhere around this point, I started seeing other 10K'ers coming back at me (the course was an out and back).  WOO! That meant I had to be closing in on the halfway mark! They even started saying things like "You're almost there!" and "Yeah! Close to Halfway!". I felt optimistic. My pace was still steady, I had no urge to walk, and all was going well. I emerged from the woods for a moment into a clearing that ran along the water of Shelburne Bay. It was beautiful, despite the grey skies. I watched the waves, feeling peaceful, as my feet kept rhythm and I rounded another bend.

... to the HARD section.

Peaceful waves, my ass. It was all to lull you into a false sense of confidence, before you saw what lay before you: a steep, long uphill. Literally, as I started up the bottom of it (letting out a resigned sigh), I couldn't see the top. The only hope I had was that word on the street was that "halfway" and the water station, was at the top. I bent my head (it helps me to not look at the entirety of the hill, but just the few feet in front of me that I'm attacking), reminded myself how badly I wanted to make a strong turnout at this event, and kept moving. Mini goal: Just. Keep. Moving. Don't stop. Halfway up, people were coming past on the down side and saying encouraging things... I couldn't hear them, I was too busy reciting myself a paraphrase of my GT's ever-wise Mantra: "Your legs will recover, your lungs will not explode, your heart will slow down again." Right leg. Left Leg. Right Leg. Left. Right.  I was pushing up this one, panting, feeling like my heart was going to beat out of my chest... and then, there was the top. Holy shit. I'd gotten there. There was a photographer at the top, with the water table, to catch the surprised, triumphant faces as you sweated and cursed your way over the crest of the hill. I only hope she caught the undoubtedly "pretty" face I was making, as my eyes were burning from the sweat dripping into them.

I slowed to a walk for a couple seconds (the only walk of the race!!!) to accept the Dixie cup of water that looked awesome at that moment. With significant sadness, I realized that I was huffing and puffing too hard from the hill run to effectively drink it. I couldn't breathe ("... your heart beat WILL slow, your lungs WILL recover...") at that second, there was no way I was going to be able to swallow. EFF. I wanted that water. Instead, I settled for a quick swish-and-spit... that at least felt a little wet in my mouth, as I began the second half of my race and a welcome decent.

Going a little carefully down the dirt-hill, I took that time to try and regulate my breathing a little and re-focus on the task at hand. The hard part was behind me, and I was halfway done. This was the time to leave it all on the course. Reaching the flat stretch after the hill, I kicked it up a notch. I was running all alone at this point, but could see a pink jacket in the distance, bobbing through the trees. I made it my mission to catch that jacket. Competitive types will sympathize here; there's nothing that gets you through fatigue like a direct competitor, just ahead of you.

I pushed. I turned my feet over faster. I breathed deeply, fueling myself with the cool breezes off the water. Back into the woods I went, chasing Pink Jacket.

At this point, I felt pretty proud of myself. That hill had taken a lot out of me, but I realized that I wasn't "DONE." I was tired, sure, but there was a lot left in me to go. I took note of my still-strong pace and felt like I was running fast (for me). I thought about Old Me, struggling to make it through the 60 second runs initially, while I noted that I had been running for at least 45 minutes straight, at that moment, today. I thought about the strength in my legs, and positively visualized the pace I was going to keep through the rest of the race (try it. It works.). On I went, chasing Pink Jacket.

Back across the road, the traffic cop cheered me on, while a stopped car beeped encouragement.
Right, left, right, left... Breeeaaatthheeee.... Breaaatthhheeee... right left, right left, right left.... I had gone into non-thinking machine mode (must've been the bionic pants).

I was closing in on Pink Jacket.

I could see the marker for mile 5. I was starting to feel the fatigue, now. I was beginning to become acutely aware of the fact that I was pushing and running a pace decidedly faster than I normally do.

The Walk Monster mentally waved at me. He tried to tell me that just a 10-15 second walk wouldn't hurt anything, and that it'd feel SO good. I beat him down with my goal to not walk at all - even if it meant the slowest run in the world. Just. Keep. Moving. Where the eff is Pink Jacket. My eyes found her in the distance through the trees.

I was in my LAST MILE... and as the infamous (Sergeant) Todd Sedlak is fond of saying, "You can do anything for 10 minutes... even stand on your head in a bucket of shit." Surely, I could keep up the work for one more mile. I had NOT come this far to fall apart at the end. I had something to prove to the World, to myself.

I ran. I was tired. I ran some more.

I saw the daylight at the end of the wooded area... the last stretch down the road and to the finish line was just ahead.
I could see her dark hair now, slowing stride, and the hunt was afoot.

I can not express to you, BlogLand, how very much I wanted to slow down at this point. It wasn't any one thing - it wasn't that my legs were tired, or that my breathing was hard, or my heart was racing - it was just general fatigue. I thought of my Spartan Friends crawling over muddy walls, jumping over flames and climbing walls... SURELY I could keep running on some flat pavement for one more half mile.
One foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

Pink Jacket was in range now.

I kept pumping my legs, and before I knew it, I was right behind her. Then beside her (where we exchanged tired nods of shared suffering)... then PAST HER, as I rounded the final turn to the long driveway and the finish line. YES.

... except now the only competition left for me was myself. Stiff competition there.

I could see the finish chute. It was a long one, marked with yellow tape, twisting in the cool breeze.

Usually at this point in races (thus far), I have been able to kick in some sort of stored after-burner and pull a sprint to the finish out of somewhere. My GT laughed at this phenomenon, and informed me that this would suggest I am not running my hardest DURING the race. Dear GT... I am happy (?!) to report that there was definitely NO stored afterburner sprint at the end of this race. I finished strong, at a good pace... but there was no sprint. I'm thinking I left it ALL on the course with this one. Body successfully used to capacity. (Although, I'm not going to lie, if I was neck in neck with Pink Jacket at this point, I might've been able to pull out a tiny bit more, in order to get to the finish first...)

Glancing at the clock as I ran under, I was in complete disbelief. Could that have said what I thought it did?! OMG!!!

Now, BlogLand... My goal for this race was 1) Finish. and 2) Finish under 1:20.

Official Race Time: 1:03.54 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


After doing a little quick math in my head (which I later confirmed with the official results), that put me at an Average 10.18 min/mi. WHOA!! Seriously? Yep. I had set a new pace record for myself, while completing my first 10K. My best race pace thus far (in a 5K even!) has been 10:32. Today's was not only a significant improvement there, but also a big milestone, considering I did that over a long (HILLY!!) distance.

I'm thrilled with that, BlogLand.

Yes, by usual standards, that's not "fast." (The fastest finisher did the 10K in something like 43 minutes. Wow.) But, for someone who has been running less than a year, who's changed her whole life and committed to making a go of this, it was a pretty damn proud moment. I didn't quit. I chased down the finish line. I left it all out there.

Most Importantly: I GOT to the Starting line. I had the courage to ante up and try. That is what I am most proud of.
(Now, hopefully the photographer got at least one moderately-flattering shot of me looking some sort of coordinated!)

After thoughts...

I am STILL in love with my new Bionic Pants (see yesterday's post about my new CW-X tights!), maybe even more now. My knees are not feeling that race at all (despite running the whole thing in my really minimalist Inov-8 shoes!), and my legs - while tired - are not crampy, sore or overly fatigued. Honestly, I think CW-X is on to something. The best part, I noticed retrospectively - I had no tightening in my hamstrings in this race, despite the hills, fast pace, etc. That in itself made it worth it. I was real afraid of getting a aching, pulling, tight-hamstring pain mid-race that would slow me down. No such thing, with my Exoskeleton on! Based on this race and my last run, alone, I would recommend these tights to anyone and everyone.

It was a good day, BlogLand. Another milestone behind me, another marker on this Epic Journey. I'm proud of myself today, and happy with the effort I put forth today.

Next challenge: The Tortoise and Hare 10K in Salisbury, Ma. I'll be catching up with a couple of my favorite Spartan Chicks (and the cutest dog in the world!), and tackling was is supposed to be a "mostly flat" course. Initially my goal wasn't this, but after reflecting on today's race, I'm thinking the goal will be (in this order):
1) Finish.
2) Kill the race, to the best of my ability.
3) Finish in under 1 hour.

With that, BlogLand, I leave you to find some sleep. It's been a big day. But I ask you...

What Starting Line are you going to take a chance and ante up to TODAY?

Friday, March 23, 2012

"The best way out is always through." -Robert Frost

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 247 & 248:

BlogLand, I am in Love... with my new running tights. I got them the other day, and got my first chance to run in them yesterday. I thought I'd take this opportunity (Rest Day, before a RACE tomorrow!), to give you a bit of a review... 

Global Warming has arrived in Vermont in a big way; it's been 70-80 degrees all this week - MID MARCH. That is unheard of. Usually at this time of year spring skiing is still in full swing, you need a jacket at night, and it would still be cool enough for me to run in some lighter-weight warm tights. Clearly, such is not the case, right now, which got me thinking... "Self, I need to add to my running woredrobe." You see, the last time I ran in the warm weather, I was just starting running, was almost 50# heavier, and was worried about  making it through 30 seconds of full running - not weather my tights were compression, or insulated.  In the time that has passed, I've learned quite a bit about myself, the back roads of my town, and what I want/need in gear. And yes, you need "gear."

Old Self used to always scoff at people that would pay $100+ dollars for running sneakers, or trot around town in their crazy-colored spandex... I'm here to tell you BlogLand, not only am I now a believer, I assure you, there is a reason WHY that happens. First, cotton is bad. It just is. It hangs on to all your sweat (if you're anything like me, after a few miles, you're a hot sweaty mess) and you end up feeling super gross. Plus, it rubs and chafes, particularly if it's sweat-tastic. AND, my least favorite - once it gets sweaty, etc. I find that it doesn't stay in place. Quite frankly, it is NOT fun to be running along and having to hike up your tights every 4 steps; I have enough to worry about (not dying, continuing to breath, HOLYCRAP is that a HILL?) that I don't need to worry about my pants staying on, too.

So here I am, sitting at my computer the other day, pondering my warm weather running-tight choices... I looked at my Under Armour options (...which I love. UA, you'll always be my first love! You got me through negative temps this winter!), thought about going cheap and mediocre with Old Navy (the compression stuff isn't half bad), but the CW-X brand kept rattling around in my head. The in-the-know Spartan Chicks (particularly the infamous Margo the Great, over here at Dirt in Your Skirt) are always singing the praises of this company's products. However, as a newbie to the sport and the gear, what I saw was a HUGE price tag, for gear that looked like "something out of the movie Tron," to paraphrase Margaret. The CW-X gear runs upwards of $80+, but I figured there had to be something to it, if all these serious athletes were believers. SO. I investigated, and resolved that if I could find a good deal, I'd get myself a pair and see what all the fuss was about. After all I, too, am a serious Runner now, damnit.

Thank you, Ebay - deal found. The 3/4 length CW-X Stabilyx tights, in the color and size I wanted, for only $70. Sold.

Ripping open the packaging the day I received my tights, I was immediately filled with some dread. They looked itty bitty. Seriously, ladies, you know what I'm talking about - that moment when you pull out a new pair of nylons or leggings and you are like, UHM, THAT tiny bit of material is going to cover my ass? Added to which, it seems that CW-X does not cater to the more Amazonian of us; their women's size chart reads like the back of a box of nylons and according to my height/weight, I was a wee bit over their max size Large (why not an X-Large, CW-X? why?!). Nonetheless, I skimmed the directions for putting them on. Yes, they come with directions, as you must make sure their high-tech "support webbing" is, in fact, in all the right places, so it can support you as designed. Seemed reasonable.

I wiggled myself into these bad boys and was immediately struck by the compression aspect of them. WHEW. However, that may be attributed to the fact I was a little more toward their max capacity... but I had heard that the first wear was the worst - after that they compression eases up just a little bit. My next thought was that they were a little high-waisted. I am built pretty non-hippy, which could be contributing to this, but also, I think it is the way these tights are designed. Apparently, these tights have a "Support Web" in place to support the lower abs, back and core to help you "channel power." Hmm. Alright, I guess they have to go a little higher.

Feeling a lot like a sausage at this point, I was a little hesitant to look in the mirror, but I braved it: Enter I, Robot. I chuckled a little, as I have these tights in black with raspberry accents, and they really just make you look a little bionic.
The huge geek in me was even really entertained that cw-x refers to this as wearing an "exoskeleton." I'm sorry, what geeky kid (even the grown up ones!) aren't excited about wearing an EXOSKELETON!?

Yeah. I was.

Alright, it was time to take these babies out for a run, and see what my crazy bionic pants were going to do for me. Furthermore, would they be worth their crazy price tag? I had some positive vibes going, already, as walking around the house, I could (really!) feel the support around my knees and behind on my hamstrings, particularly. As these are two real trouble spots for me, I was really hopeful that my robot tights would have something to offer here.
Also, I must say, that even just test-wearing them around my living room, I felt more "springy." This is a hard one to explain, but it felt like my legs had more oomph... perhaps the supportiveness around my knees, and the compression (increasing blood flow) had something to do with it?

So, out for a run I went. Only a little 4 miler with a buddy today, but a trial-run for my Bionic Pants, nonetheless. Usually, my first 1/2 mile is a little slow and creaky, while my tight hamstrings try and warm up, my knees un-stiff themselves and I generally get moving. Today, clad in my exo-skeleton, this was shortened to literally a minute or so of jogging, and I felt really good and ready to go. Now, I know what you're thinking - this is a psychosomatic response to thinking I'm wearing hi-tech pants. I pondered this to, so I reserved judgement.

The next test: The monster hill sprint up to my buddy's house. Up I started, with the usual goal - keep moving, run the whole thing, steady pace. This is where I started to become a believer in my Bionic Pants (sorry, cw-x, they're too entertaining to ever again be referred to by their proper name "Stabilyx tights")... as I hit that point in the hill where I would typically start to fade a little bit, feeling the exertion in my quads and hams, I just didn't. I was aware that I was using my legs (when you're running up hill, that's just unavoidable!), but there was nowhere NEAR the usual fatigue.  My lungs were pretty sure they were going to explode and there was rivers of sweat beading up on my forehead, but my *legs* felt like they were still good to go. HMM. Still reserving judgement, it was early yet.

After picking up my buddy and continuing on, we fell into a slightly faster than usual pace (seriously, my "new" to running buddy is killing these runs. It's a huge help to keep me going.), and hit our route. Again, I found myself feeling a little tightness in my calves - which weren't encompassed by my 3/4 length tights - but the rest of my legs still felt fresh. Keep running.
More running (I can't tell you what happened. It was like 7am. I wasn't awake yet.).
We plowed up a .60 mile long hill, which typically has me really feeling my hamstrings (why must they be tight all the time??!)....but as I crested the top, lo and behold, there was no tight hamstring, and no subsequent pulling sensation in the back of my knees. WHAT?!? Dear Exoskeleton, could it be true?
More running.
As I headed home, I have to run down the initial hill sprint. This was another fun learning moment - I could actually feel the "support web" holding my knees as I did that typical steep-downhill tiny step run. My knees aren't the greatest (I'm sporting some compressed cartilage), so this was a HUGE thing for me.
Home I ran, where I wondered around my house, re-hydrating and evaluating the status of my body after a run in my Robot Tights.

No kidding, BlogLand... and keeping in mind we are all about honesty here at What A Beautiful Wreck... My legs felt AWESOME. Still good to go. I could've run another 4 miles, no problem. I didn't feel any of the knee-pulling tightness that my hamstrings usually set into motion, no significant fatigue in my quads, and - maybe most importantly - my knees still felt "springy" and good. Often, because I am sporting a little less useful shock-absorbing cartilage than your average bear, after a run on pavement (irregardless of the shoes) I can feel the effects in my knees; there is no pain at all, but you're bound to feel SOMEthing if you're pounding down pavement, vibrations running up your leg, with no inherent natural shock absorber. After a run with my CW-X Stabilyx tights, even with my crappy knees, thanks to the crazy hi-techness of my pants' support system, I was stiffness free!!!!

SO. My one critique (there's always SOMEwhere to improve), is that I'm not entirely in-love with their higher-waistline. Perhaps I will come to love this (particularly as I lose a little more of my spare tire and don't feel so sausagey in it!), but I'm willing to make this trade-off for now. It could be that I have just not fully evaluated and understood the "core support" that it is helping me with.

Ultimate Decision, Two Big Thumbs up for my Bionic Pants. This Exoskeleton was worth EVERY. SINGLE. DOLLAR. that I paid for it. If I could afford it (look, I'm a young profession with student loans, I can't afford anything.), I would NOT feel badly paying full price for these things, based solely on the initial 4 miles I put on these pants. I will also most DEFINITELY investigate their other products - shorts, pants and bras!! (If they can do sports bras with the finesse that they've executed the tights, I may have to buy stock in this company...)

The after thoughts... So, after running that morning, and getting ready for work, etc. even after sitting at a desk for several hours without getting up to stretch and move around, I found myself noticeably not stiff, with much less muscle fatigue. The shortened recovery time that cw-x boasts, is proving true. I'm feeling pretty good about my purchase. Tomorrow will be the real test...

(Yes, of course I'm going to go bionic into this one! I'll need it! hehe)

Stay tuned, BlogLand, for the recap on that one tomorrow... but I feel a little bit reassured knowing I'll have my exoskeleton on and rearing to go! With that, I must go and commence my pre-race freak out... 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, 'Okay, this is the limit.' As soon as you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high." Ayton Senna

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 245:

Finally, my legs felt about 95% okay today, BlogLand. WOO! Sometimes, you just need a recovery day. That said, I got some good sleep last night (that's almost miraculous), and it was another beautiful day here in VT. Although I did not get up and run in the morning, like I probably should get back into doing, it was alright - I had running plans for this evening:

Tonight would be another buddy-run! YAY!

First, I would like to express my extreme joy about having to only wear capris and a light top to go out running at 8pm. SO NICE to actually feel a breeze on the extremities. And really, even in that little bit, I was hot. Temperature wise.... I am not a "pretty" runner. hehe

Up the hill again, to head up to my buddy's house... this time, I had spectators. They were sitting on their porch, mid-hill, so they got to watch my effort the entire way up the hill. Being the competitive sort, and not wanting to look like a slacker, I pounded up the hill, looking as badass as one can look in a reflective vest.

I then proceeded to get to the top, die just a little bit, and continue a slow jog over to my friend's house.
We did our usual loop - there's nothing like going off-roading around a muddy cemetery, in the dark!! - and got it done with great speed! It is SO motivating for me to have a buddy. My legs have been tired and overworked, and they didn't really *want* to move themselves any faster today... but then my buddy was ATTACKING this run. It was awesome. She hasn't been running as long as I have, but her enthusiasm was showing mine exactly how it was done. We busted up a few hills, had a couple of fun sprints in there, and kept up a respectable pace. I know that I wouldn't have had such a steady good pace, without a buddy. My legs were feeling whiny today.

I rounded out my mileage at 3.9, in about 46 minutes - factoring in time for the world's longest crosswalk and one or two short walk segments. We had a nice long steady hill during our run, as well.

It felt really good to get my legs under me again, and feel like I had accomplished something, not like I had survived it.

However, I did decide that tonight was the night. Ice Bath Time. It's been a while, and I know how much they had helped me... they just suck particularly bad when it is cold out, so I've been avoiding them all winter. But it was warm (er)... and my legs really felt like they needed it after the last few days. So, I ran the tub.

Let me tell you, BlogLand, getting in a tub of freezing cold water is a test of will, for sure. You stick a toe in, and every fiber of your being is like OH. HELL. NO. I stood in it with both feet, fighting my inclination to jump out and climb under a blanket. It was EFFING cold.

I tried to ease down into the water and was suddenly really thankful for the amount of arm stuff I've been doing. It was way easier to 'ease' oneself into an ice bath, when one has some shoulder/tricep strength.

Having said that, at some point, you just have to drop. It's like pulling off a bandaid. You know how much it's going to suck, but you know it needs to be done, and going slowly is just going to prolong it.

I splashed in.

I made the most ridiculous set of noises ever. I probably sounded like I was in labor, by the way I was breathing and groaning. Here's something they don't tell you, BlogLand: Ice baths HURT for the first minute or so. As the cold tears up your legs, and through your feet, it is not comfortable, at all. Thankfully (?!), you soon go numb, so it gets a little easier  (just don't move around too much, or it feels real cold, all over again). Once I'm in, past the hyperventilating breathing, and the worst of the cold, it is just sheer endurance at this point. You get raging goosebumps, your legs get pale, you are acutely aware of how not-pleasant this is, and how you would give anything for a hot shower right now. It is usually at this point, while I'm counting down the minutes until 15-20 have gone by, I try and engage in something to keep my mind from focusing on how cold it is; Facebooking or Tweeting is wonderful for this. You can kill time like no one's business on there, commenting and Like'ing things, and before you know it, you've done your 15-20 minutes.

Now, I will admit, I am sitting here in hot pink calf sleeves, with long fleece socks over them (mostly because my toes were soooo cold!!!), helping the recovery. It is an awesome look. hehe

That said, tomorrow I will wake up and my legs will be fresh and ready to go. Aahhh yeah. A little CrossFit in the morning, I think. The last big WOD before resting up for Saturday's RACE!! EEE!

Lesson of the Day: There is always something to be learned (or re-learned) from a workout buddy, even if they are at a different point in their journey than you.
And also, Ice Baths Suck. Embrace It. Get in one. You'll thank me.

Will you stop when you hit the wall... or climb right over?

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 244:

Ow, BlogLand. Ow.

It is days like this that I feel that it is my duty to confess to the reality of what changing your life, in this way, can be like. Yes, sometimes I WOD and it feels like rainbows and butterflies, because I did something awesome, or accomplished a new PR, or generally made great progress.
Some days, it is tiny gnomes, ripping my muscles apart, fiber by fiber, or beating me in my sleep with spiked clubs.
I'm sure of it.

Today, tiny gnomes. Ninja gnomes, maybe, because I never see them... I just wake up and hurt.

When we get down to the crux of the situation, you have to remind yourself, you are retraining your body to be something that it currently is NOT. Whether that's faster, thinner, stronger, more endurance... whatever it is, you're chasing down a place you are not currently at. In order for your body to get from point A to point B, you have slowly reform your body and its' systems. It's work. It's slow. It's exhausting. And sometimes, it hurts.

Yesterday, we touched on the mental pains, which are a huge portion of these transformations, and today's subject is physical pains.

Today was Rest Day for me, BlogLand. Recovery day. I woke up this morning, pondering heading to CrossFit, then saw a heavy-weight wod with some squatting, etc. and immediately vetoed that - not because I didn't *want* to, but I knew my legs needed a little time to get themselves back together from this weekend. And I FELT it.

Last night, as I went to bed, I went to my go-to treatment for persistent muscle stiff/soreness: Liberal application of Tiger Balm (it's a good thing I live alone. I am impervious to the smell now, but not everyone is... lol), and a couple of ibuprofen. Usually, after this and a good foam roll, I wake up feeling pretty decent.

Today, before I even put my feet on the floor, my quads made themselves known. As I cat-stretched in my bed, my hamstrings announced their presence. Hmm... It wasn't until I stepped onto the floor and want to walk to the bathroom, that I really was aware of my need for a recovery day. I was totally stiff and walking like a granny. My quads were pretty stiff, and my hamstrings were sore and tight. Hmm. Not good.

Let me also mention I have a desk job. One that has me literally tethered to my desk (per headset phone cord), with not a lot of opportunity for on-job movement. Do you have any idea what stiff/sore quads feel like when you get up after 3 straight hours of sitting?! lol.
I am happy to report, however, that I took 3, 15 minute walks today, in the sunshine!, with my coworkers. I call this active recovery... got my legs moving, helped get the blood flowing from all the sitting, and oh yeah, reminded me that my legs were hella fatigued.

Now, I'm on to some foam rolling, and a long sleep. Tomorrow evening, a light run is on the schedule. I should be good by then (dear body, please?!).

Dear Quads, Get your act together, we've got work to do! Love, Me.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them." - Joseph Joubert

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 242 & 243:

Sometimes, BlogLand, Mental Training is the hardest obstacle to overcome; not the push ups, not the running, not the consistency, but your own head.  You've heard me talk about it ad nauseum before, I'm sure, but it's a big piece of my journey it seems... and thus, today's blog is dedicated to Mental Speedbumps (and navigating them).

It's been an up and down weekend.

Saturday, Day 242:
I was pretty excited about this, BlogLand. I had a new WOD challenge to try - something I've never done before: Sprints. Conveniently, I live right across the street from a highschool track and it was a balmy 70 degrees (VT in MARCH? what?!). I was totally stoked to get out and run today. First piece of awesome: I didn't have to don 300 layers to walk out the door. In fact, I am happy to report that I was in light capris and a tank top. YEAH. Woot!

So, for a Warm-Up, I jogged out my door and down and around the long way to the track, for .55 mile. Then, I walked one loop of the track to pick out the markers for my next task:

4 x 200m Sprints. What this breaks down to, on a 400m track is: sprint as hard and fast as you can for half the track, then walk half the track, then sprint half, walk half, etc. until you've done 4 sprints.

I admit, openly, my GT was right. Again (and yet, I still question him. lol). When he told me about this sprint wod, I was all like, "that's IT!?"... "That'll take me like 10 minutes?!"... at which point he informed me that it'll be harder than anything I've done, and I'll probably want to die. I laughed. (You'd think I'd learn.)

So, I set up my trusty phone-stopwatch app, toed up to my Start line, and off I went. I was blazing down that stretch, it felt like. My legs felt powerful and fast. 100 yards down... "oh, only halfway..." I thought to myself and pushed a little more for the second half of the sprint. WHEW. Glad it was over, but felt like it was pretty good, checking my time in at 40.3 seconds.
It's true, my heart was racing, and I was definitely huffing and puffing, but I had half the track to walk it off. No problemo. ... right? Half the track seemed remarkably short, but as I approached my Start line again, I felt like I had recovered pretty well (focus on breathing!), and I was ready to go again.
Set up stopwatch... Go. Great initial burst, but had to definitely push to the end, particularly, again, through that 2nd half of the sprint. It seems like my body is good to go for 100m, but 200m makes me work. Still, sliding into the finish line, I clocked in at 41.2 seconds. Sure, it wasn't as fast as the first time, but that seemed like a pretty reasonable gain. As I checked my time and concentrated on getting my breathing back under control, I realized I wasn't feeling quite as fresh as the first time around. I'd done less than 2 minutes of "work" at this point, and I was already fatigued? Could that be right?
The "walk" portion of the track definitely morphed into something much shorter this time, it seemed, and I walked slower. As I approached the start line for my 3rd go, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I.Could.Do.This. My legs were not so sure. Hit the stopwatch and off I went.
I fought to keep up a speed. I tried to concentrate on continuing to breathe through the sprint and keep my legs moving.
Finish line: 46.1 seconds. Eww.
As I crashed through the finish line this time, though, I careened to a momentary stop for the "Iwanttodie" hands-on-knees-pose. It was brief - 5-10 seconds - but it happened. Whew. After 3 sprints? and there was one MORE? Oh my.
I walked. Slowly. My legs were REALLY dubious we were going to eek out another sprint. My lungs were exploding. CLEARLY, we had stumbled upon a new, distinct challenge.
As I approached the start line for the final time, I wasn't quite ready. I remember scoffing at the GT when he told me that the half lap might not be enough to recover. Someday, I will learn.
I walked 2 small circles (=1/2 track walk + 10-15 seconds), and then hit the watch and pushed through the Start line.
Longest 200m of my life. I fought, I told myself it was the last one.  Reminded myself to leave it all out there, because I didn't need to do it again, that day. I could do anything for a mere 40 seconds!
I swear to you, BlogLand... That 200m felt like 400m. I crossed the Finish line on empty and ground to a halt. Hands on knees, 20 seconds. No, Self, we are not going to throw up. No. No. No. Walk it off. I walked myself a finishing lap, while nursing my water bottle a bit.
Holy shit. Less than 4 minutes of actual "work" and I was DONE. WTF!?
After another lap around the track, I felt a little more human. I found my breathing again, and my legs felt a little more solid. So, being the persistent over-achiever that I am, I spotted the bleachers. I was already sweaty, might as well put them to good use. SO:
8 x ten step up/down bleacher runs
2 x ten step jump ups
.55 mile run home.

Who knew that was going to be so evil? I severely underestimated that little WOD. However, I felt accomplished and it was nice to do something new. I will say, after Googling my times against the "averages", I came to the conclusion that I may be the slowest person on earth... but. All in due time, I suppose. First sprint wod, check!

Sunday, Day 243:

So, last night and this morning, I was feeling the fatigue in my quads. I was shocked that the sprint wod could cause that kind of evil... but it was definitely present. I stretched and rolled, but decided against Crossfitting this morning, in favor of going for my (long) run this afternoon.
That may have been the worst plan I've ever had.
This is why I should never be left to my own devices, and should have 24 hour staff. hehe
So, to me, I thought, well, my quads are a little tired from sprints, but nothing real bad, and SURELY it's all good for just a long slow run. I had 6-7 miles in my mind, at this point.
After a little more stretching, I decide to head out from a new spot, up by my Dad's house, thinking I'd get some new scenery. Again, it was a beautiful, WARM (75+) day, and a great day for a run.
I trotted out, thinking my legs would warm up a bit.
After barely crossing the half mile mark, I fell back to a walk because my legs were just all wrong. Annoyed, but thinking they still just needed to warm up, I pressed on.
... and then there was a hill.
I TRIED. Really hard. But I had to walk.
I alternated a slow trot and a walk, up that long stupid hill. I was getting frustrated with all the walking.
When I reached the top, it leveled out a bit and I thought that this would be the point where I'd be all set.
No legs. None. They just had no gas in them. I shuffled, I pushed, I cringed.
And I walked some more.
There was no way 6-7 miles was going to happen. I cursed my body and it's lack of cooperation, as I turned for home. Thankful for the downhill, because I could handle running that, I tried not to cry. My total run would be barely over 3.5 miles. 3.65 miles, if we want to be exact. It was ugly. REAL ugly.

Why so ugly, you ask? Well, because the brain (the not logical portion of it?) kicked in. I HATE it when I can't do something that I think I should be able to. Like, complete my run today. It was like admitting defeat and admitting that my body had won. Allow me to share the heat of the moment (literally, I was dripping with sweat in the heat and walking my cool down) text to the GT:
"I don't know WTF I thought I was doing when I said I could do all this shit. I couldn't even get through 4 mi today, because of a little incline, because my legs were so effing done from the world's slowest sprints yesterday. STILL not where I should be. FML."
I felt (and am still fighting not to feel) like complete fail. I know that sounds crazy and overreacting when you read it in this context. However, there are a lot of other things that run through my head when things like this happen. For instance, as I was (trying to) running up the hill, and I was huffing and puffing and my legs weren't cooperating, I felt heavy again. FCS kicked in hardcore, reminding me quite emphatically that my weight loss has been plateauing of late. That, of COURSE, is a result of my not doing enough, or screwing up or something - or at least that's what a FCS flare-up says. My FCS flare-up went on to remind me that clearly I couldn't get up this hill because I was still too damn fat, and I was frustrated at myself for not being able to take the weight off and meet my goals. It was *clearly* holding me up from moving forward. My legs should NOT be this wrecked after one stupid sprint workout. I should have more stamina and endurance than this, I should be able to do XYZ, but I can't, and I can't do a pull up and I can't climb a rope, and I can't run the distances I want to ... and I can't and can't and can't.  I've been doing all this, and I'm still nowhere and no where near where I need to be to survive these races/competitions I've signed up for and everyone's going to see what a stupid fat kid I am, and how I'm going to be the pity vote, while I drag behind all the fit people... and... and... *insert long string of negativity*.

... I'm sure many of you recognize the completely irrational downward spiral than can come from one stupid little thing. So my legs were tired today, and I couldn't run like I wanted to. But this is where my head went.
I am ever thankful that my GT was near his phone and caught that train before it had time to derail any more thoroughly.
I was calmly and concisely reminded that YES, my legs should be completely wrecked if I had done yesterday's sprints correctly. What was I doing running the day after? My body would need time to adapt and recover. Recovery was going to be part of the "difficulty" of the Sprint Wod's.

It is hard to continue down a road of ridiculousness when someone is negating every argument you have with infallible logic. No. I'd never done sprints before. Yes, I had put everything I had into them. Yes... my legs did feel real tired, and no I'm not sure why I thought it would be a good time to go for a run, other than that it fit in my schedule. Physical "recovery" time was biologically unavoidable.


I think the only cure for FCS is to deal with these flare-ups as they come, and gradually they will come less frequently and with less intensity. Today was particularly bad. But I was tired, hot and there was some regular-life "background noise" rolling around in my head. It happens.

I had to spend a great deal of time today reminding myself that I did not put on all the weight and get so out of shape overnight; I would not be able to suddenly turn superhuman in a matter of months, on sheer will alone. Body physiology alone says, No! You can be doing all the right things, pushing through all the right workouts, eating the best stuff.... and sometimes, you will find yourself here, BlogLand. Sometimes, it takes time for it all to come together. You have to build your muscles. You have to burn the fat. You have to acclimate your joints. It's not overnight. The 85# extra that I was carrying (over what I am now), did not get there from one cheeseburger.

So, let's redefine success today, BlogLand. To me, success is not necessarily the measurable things - pounds lost, pant sizes down, speed on the track, miles run - but the simple fact that I'm getting out there, chasing down some goals, one day at a time and not giving up. A bad day is a bad *day* and just that.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes, courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow." 
~Mary Anne Radmacher~

(I AM happy to report that I still did my next round of the Hundred Pushups program, tonight, though! WAHA!)

Friday, March 16, 2012

"Keep steadily before you the fact that all true success depends at last upon yourself." Theodore T. Hunger

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 240:

It was an excellent day today, BlogLand.
First, as the warm weather rolls around and Spring Fever rolls through the cube-farm I work in, people are anxious to get OUT of there. Conveniently, we have a good dirt-road walking loop that is just shy of a mile, conveniently located next to our office... What does this mean? Walks on our 15 minute breaks and lunches!

This is a fabulous thing, people, except that I became the notorious "fast-walker" with a reputation to live up to. Meaning I am busting ass, with 1-3 other ladies in tow, 3 times a day. This is a good thing, though, as getting out of the office is good for my sanity, and walking a real brisk mile (I even convinced my boss to sprint 1/4 of it today, with me, to catch up to another group of walkers!) is good for my waistline. hehe... plus, I must admit, with the other runs and stuff I do, it's really nice to get out and stretch my legs; sitting in an office chair for 8 hours really causes them to stiffen up. Ouch. I still haven't found a great way around that. (Suggestions, anyone?)

AND, the announcement just came out that our office will be participating in the Corporate Cup which is a locally famous 5K run or walk, done in teams of 3. Shortly after that announcement came out, I had like 5 emails, recruiting me for various teams. That was the weirdest feeling in the world. My brain was like, "No, wait, we're the fat kid that's supposed to get picked last...."... and I had to remind myself, NO... we WERE the fat kid. Now we're that determined, healthy, strong chick, who's going to kill that flat 5K. That is a really weird internal adjustment to have to learn to make. It's a great joy to have to make it... but it is challenging, nonetheless. FCS kicks in pretty badly, in those situations.

After freaking out at my poor GT last night, I'm feeling much better. I'm a real driven achiever and perfectionist, BlogLand. I'm also terrified of jumping into race season. That combination is leading into some real craziness, due to the fact that I have no idea what I'm getting into with all this stuff I'm signing up for and I don't know how to gauge my abilities or new body, or anything like that. Thus, instead, I tweak out about being prepared, looking like an idiot, not being successful, failing at all my goals (etc.etc.etc.) and my GT stands there while the metaphorical storm rages around him. Then, his usual, calm self takes a deep breath, gives me some sort of raised eyebrow, knowing look (even though you're not here, I can see you in my head doing it, and I know how ridiculous I'm being, in retrospect), and then he gives me a plan, with which to constructively move forward.

I work well with with a distinct plan. It's hard to get stressed and nervous when you have a clear plan in front of you; steps to success, to take one at a time. I find that when I am overwhelmed, if I don't look at the big picture (OMGALLTHESERACESOMG), and I can just stop and focus on the next step in front of me, I can regroup my Craziness into manageable focus.
SO, my Mind-Losing session earned me a new run program for the next little bit, including one long run day (7ish miles), and one day of Sprinting. Ew. EW. I can see that's not going to be an awesome good time, but I can see the value in it. SO. Sprints it is!

That said, tonight's WOD was a combination of things... I had a lovely evening run, in the unseasonably amazing evening weather, with my Up-the-Hill buddy. I ended around 3.5 miles. Nothing fast, but felt good to get the mileage on, and snuck in a couple of sizeable hills.

Then, I returned home, in an excellent mood and still feeling energized, I thought I'd take on the GT's challenge for my new toy: My 35# (1 pood) Kettle bell:
100 swings (to eye level) for time. 

It didn't seem THAT heavy when I started.

I ripped through the first 50. Then I *had* to stop. I was puffing, for sure. Wow. Who knew.
25 more.
Want to die. huff. puff. quad shake.
Bust through the last 25.

Put KB down.
Hands to knees. Huff. Puff. Want to die.
Transition to Starfish Pose on Floor.
Commence Dying.

Lesson learned: Never under-estimate your iron balls. BAHAHA.

With that, I leave you for Sleep Land. :-)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

‎"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." Thomas Jefferson

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 239:

It's actually a rest and recovery day today, BlogLand. My knee is feeling a little off (nothing
 big), and my body is starting to finally feel recovered from several days in a row of some work. For example, I can lift my arms above my head, without wanting to die.

I did, however, still do Day 2 of the Hundred Pushups app. Rawr.

So, my new kettlebell is floating around my living room. And by "floating" I mean, sitting. Very solidly. Do you know how heavy 1 pood is? Yeah, that's 35#. 35# is pretty damn rugged for a kettlebell. I swung it around a few times, just to test it out, and that bad boy will give me a hell of a workout. As a result of the anticipated torture it's going to inflict, I really feel like it does need a name. HMM. Maybe after my first real WOD with it, I will know.

In other news... I'm putting myself on mandated bed times, for a little while. Which, is actually right now (so I'm going to wrap this up). My body has felt tired and out of whack, I'm struggling to get in the early AM workouts, etc. etc... and basically, I need more sleep.

Plus, I'm stressing out, which is emotionally exhausting... so I think I just need more regular time with my pillow in which to just turn my brain off.

I'm stressing about the beginnings of race season, BlogLand. I have my first 10K on the 24th (just a few weeks), and I feel under prepared. After that, there's another 10K a couple weeks after that, and then a quick slide into Spartan Race and CMC season. I'm mildly panicky. And by "mildly" I mean pretty damn panicky at any given moment.

The worst part is, I just need to keep moving forward... but the panicking is hampering that. *sigh*

You didn't know this Blogess was such a Crazy, did you? (okay, maybe you had suspected).  I'm going to try and heed all the wise advise I've been given and just chill.... but, seriously, BlogLand. WOW. Overwhelmed. Excited out of my mind, but FCS (fat chick syndrome) is really flaring up... really, I don't think it's going to go away until after I get a few of these races under my belt, and I can see where my capabilities lie.

Having said that, I'm going to cease and desist tonight's freak out, and go to BED.

Up early for a run. Waha.

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

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 238:

Evening, BlogLand... just a quick one tonight, as I'm tired (I just can't seem to catch up!), and CrossFit has big, heavy things in store for the morning...

Today's WOD was miraculous. I had my shoes on and was stepping onto the sidewalk at 6:15am. HOLY SHIT. (sorry.) I can't take all the credit for this one, though; My running buddy up the street agreed to run with me... but she had to be back at her house at 7am. And I needed 10 minutes to run TO her house. Up a big hill.

PS. It was REAL early.
... and still dark. (damn you, Daylight Savings!)

That said, once I pried myself out of bed - motivated by the fact that someone was waiting on me, and would notice if I wasn't there - the rest was pretty easy. Shoes on, not to many layers (it's a heat wave of 40 degrees at 615am!!), and out the door.

Running over to meet my buddy poses a wee bit of a challenge, as it involves quite the uphill hike, early in my run... BUT, I am pretty sure I was still mostly asleep anyway. I steadily trudged up the hill at a solid pace. I can't say I sprinted it, but I also didn't slow down, all the way to the top, and continued on, "recovering" on the move, rather than having to walk. Gold star, Me.

Our run was lovely. It is SO nice and refreshing to go with a buddy. Plus, it has made this "light" week of running (before the GT rolls out some sort of new hell) much more bearable. It is really nice to be able to chat with someone, and laugh about running up hills half asleep, or doing burpees on wet grass.

As dawn broke and the sun came up, I was turning for home, trotting past all the high school kids heading to school. They hadn't even started school yet, and I was finishing up my run for they day. BOOM. It was going to be a good day.
The run was nothing fancy, but 3.27 miles, around 35-40 minutes.

I am still feeling a little stiff and sore from the last few days activities, but I'm STFU and pushing through.

Fun sidenote: When I got home, my new toy had arrived a day early!!! I found a box with my 35# kettlebell sitting on my porch. Sadly, I missed the delivery of that one... I was really looking forward to seeing that delivered ("WTF did you BUY?").
I'm thinking my new KB will need a name, as I intend to bond with it, quite a bit. Hmm. Thoughts to ponder.

Having said that, it's time for bed.... tomorrow, we CrossFit!

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work." Ralph Marston

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 237:

Hey there, BlogLand.

I'm tired tonight, and feeling a bit out of it. I made the mistake of getting on the scale yesterday, and was not pleased with what I saw. I *know* it's not about that number, and I know I just came back from a vacation, and I know all the things I'm supposed to say here.... but it doesn't mean I'm not a little disappointed. It's up. That's all there is to it. I've taken a step backward. Argh.

I think I find that even more frustrating, because I'm nervous about the impending race season. I'm really struggling to see progress, I'm feeling like I've not made the strides I'd hoped to make by this point, and I'm worried I'm going to look stupid and/or unprepared and/or totally out of my league.
Granted, I know this is probably all a complete over reaction, but it is what it is (welcome to the honesty blog).

I know I need to push harder, but my brain is getting in the way again. I'm trying to shut it up and keep it out of the way, but some days are better than others. Today has not been so good.

Allow me to share my FB'ing from this morning. This was a reality check that I needed:
Me: "Alright Muscles, you win (this time!), I am officially too sore to head to CrossFit. Bleh. Off to stretch, roll and breakfast...
Thankfully, I have some people in my life, ready to call me out on stuff like that, and here's what I got from Todd:
Todd: "That's bullshit and you know it. Do I have to come up there again!?"

I had already missed CF, because I was legit really sore... but Todd's comment got me thinking. It WAS bullshit. There was no reason I didn't go, other than my own stupidness. Some days, I guess you'll have that. I guess, right now, I'm just needing *something* to help me on this journey, and I'm not sure what it is.  
I am self propelled, I am moving forward, I'm still looking ahead and holding myself accountable.... but I guess I need a little more support, somehow. Rather than babble about this for a while, I'm going to stop there and formulate some more coherent thoughts on that, for later... but, just know, BlogLand, even the best of us have some really sucky days.

That said, I killed a WOD, as a sacrifice to the Cosmos, hoping to let me feel a little better about all this. Today's WOD was the same as a couple days ago, but I did an extra round. I wanted to die (didn't), but I needed that push. I needed it to be HARD.

It went like this:
(8 reps each, 4 total rounds, 25# dumbbells)
Front Squat
Over head Presses,
Romanian Dead Lift

And then, just for good measure, I did 45 push ups. 45 because that is "Day 1" of the Hundred Pushups Challenge, for me. I was able to download an app on my phone, and I figured that was as good a way as any to motivate myself to do a bit more upper body stuff.

I still am pretty sore from the last few days exertions, but tomorrow morning I'm going for a run -real early- so that I can go with a new-runner buddy that lives a short jog away. So, off to bed with me, hopefully to find some more positivity in the sun rise tomorrow...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort. Jesse Owens

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 235 & 236:

WOW, it was a crazy-time sort of weekend, BlogLand. It was one of those non-restful weekends, where you just run from one thing to the next, hoping that it all gets done. However, I am happy to say that I prioritized my workouts, and managed to get them done. What's that quote - if it's important, you'll find a way... if not, you'll find an excuse.
NO excuses this weekend, BlogLand.

Day 235:
Crossfit morning! It was nice, too, because the usually crowded class was only 6 people today. Yay! We did a little partner med-ball tossing to warm up, and then came the WOD... It was a partner WOD, meaning between you and your partner, you had to complete a total number of things. However, my partner and I agreed on equality, so we split it straight down the middle. Here's what I had to do:
A half "Angie":
- 50 Pull ups (with a BIG assistance band)
- 50 Push Ups (who thinks this is a good idea, after finishing 50 Pull ups?!)
- 50 Sit Ups
- 50 Squats
THEN: Lift a total of 5,000 pounds over head. 

Here's how this went. Pull ups were first, thank god, because those are my arch nemesis. Even with the major assistance band, I struggle to get out 10 at a time. However, my partner was beasting through hers, so I struggled to do my very best and keep up. This is frustrating for me. I internally yell at my t-rex arms to get their act together, but I guess there's only so much you can do.

Even more fun was the 50 push ups AFTER doing pull ups. I got through the first 30 without too much effort, and then thanks to the cheering, encouragement of my partner, I slowly pushed through the last 20. My arms were on fire, and the last 2-3 push ups were complete muscle DONE.

On to sit ups and squats... ahhh... you know you're a weirdo, when those are "rest" time. 50 squats, done in two quick sets of 25 - no problemo! YEAH tree-trunk legs!!

Then, onto the interesting challenge. How would I lift a total of 5,000# over my head. Initially I thought I'd do 50# clean and jerks, 100 times. And then I thought about that. 100 times. That's a whole effing lot. Finally, I settled on 40# x125. Yes, more reps, but with 40#, I should be able to keep picking that up and putting it down at a steady pace, so as not to be there all day. Off we went, in sets of 10. The deal was that you had to rest when your partner worked, and one of you HAD to be working at all times. Sadly, my partner was a BEAST. She busted through her 10 with no problem. It was an amazing motivator, though... I did those reps WAY faster than I thought I could, with WAY less breaks. Buddy's are seriously the way to go people - they will challenge you in ways you aren't aware of. The last 15 reps were pretty unpleasant, and I was pretty sure my arms couldn't push it over my head any more. But then I dug deep, reminded myself I had some burly legs for something, and used the power in my hips and legs to put more power into the bar - making pushing it overhead easier. RAWR.

I am happy to report that we were the first pair done ( BY 5 MINUTES!), in a time of something like 34 minutes. It's not about the time, really, but the fact that I pushed myself today. Or my partner did. It was good to have someone I had to concertedly keep up with. Awesomesauce workout.

Day 236:
So, I woke up today feeling a little stiff... and then, as the day has worn on, I am pretty sure I got repeated run over by an invisible Mack truck, and then beaten by tiny gnomes with clubs. I HURT. Yeah, CrossFit. My entire upper body is REAL angry. Stupid t-rex arms; if they could get on board with this whole operation a little bit more, I wouldn't feel like my entire shoulder/back area was on fire.
Hey, so you know what area you can't successfully rub Tiger Balm on, by yourself? Yeah. Your back. OW.

Thankfully, I had a date to go run with my long-lost college roommate, who is getting into running, and aiming for a 5K race at the end of the month. I was relieved that a) there was nothing going to need to be done with my unhappy upper body, and b) it was a WONDERFUL, sunny SPRING day out and a great day for a run - even BETTER with a buddy!!!

Abby and I set off through the neighborhoods of the greater Burlington area. It was a really nice change of pace; being a slightly more well-off area than I usually run in, the sidewalks were flat and well-maintained. GREAT for a run. We did an easy 5K, and it was exactly what I needed today. Great for the mental health, and good for the body to get moving, but not have to push too hard, while it recovered from CrossFit death. haha

Just when I was feeling really alone in my pursuits, lately, the universe has thrown more people at me that are willing to go the next mile with me (pun intended). People are learning to run, willing to sign up for races, and take the next steps with me. It is WONDERFUL beyond compare to think that maybe, as the nice weather comes on, there will be more people to hike with, run up mountains and cross finish lines with. I will do it alone, if necessary... but everything's better with people by your side.

Now, I really need to sleep, as I have another CrossFit class in the morning (OH my, that may hurt).

However, I do need to share a funny lesson I just learned. You know what you can't successfully do on your own? Rub Tiger Balm on your back. Or, I should say, my t-rex arms can't do that EITHER. LOL.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health. Carl Jung

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 234:

Woot, Woot! BlogLand... It was a good day. Just in general, my mood was in a good place. Work is going well, my finances are evening out (Yay! Travel to races is less stressful!), and some exciting opportunities are on the horizon.

That said, when I got home, I knew I had to get a run in.
With a quick text, I managed to suck in a run-buddy and prepped for my run. Clearly, I needed a warm up. In homage to all my fellow Spartans that were travelling off to the GA Spartan Sprint today, I decided 30 burpees were in order. Yeah. I did that to myself. 30 Burpees. I figure I better get used to it, it's good for me, and NO EXCUSES. I managed this in a set of 10, then 5 at a time with a short 10-15 second break between sets. Burpees are the devil incarnate, I'm pretty sure (second only to Wall-Ball Burpees. WTF, CrossFit, for REALS?!). I felt more competent with those, than I have in the past. Progress! Waha!

Needless to say, I was decidedly warmed up and trotted off to meet my buddy.

... this is always an interesting process, as she lives at the top of a substantial hill.

But you know what that means, BlogLand! ... A hill sprint! ... and by sprint, I mean, it was trying to be a sprint the first half of the hill of death, and it morphed into a "steady" pace, just trying to finish the hill. hehe... I wanted to pretty much die when I got to the top, so I figure I did alright.

Commence buddy run. It's so nice to have someone to chat to, check out different routes with, and just generally have some companionship. I'm too social of a person to always attack these things alone, and it's super nice to be able to have a buddy every once and a while. Plus, thanks to all the wonderful support and knowledgeable people that have embraced me the last 234 days, I have some tidbits of knowledge to share. It's nice to feel like I'm able to pay it forward, in a sense, and pass along the help that I've received toward reaching my fitness goals.

During our buddy run, it came up that my buddy had never done a burpee. *GASP*. I know, right? How does that happen? Therefore, I saw no other option, at the end of our run, but to push her over this metaphorical hurdle.

I gladly demonstrated a few times, and then proudly watched as my buddy competed her first burpee! It was a proud moment, BlogLand. She'll be at the start line of a Spartan Race before she even knows what's happened. WAhaha.

A short run home brought me back to some stretching and foam rolling. I'm still having a little bit of that pulling/ouchiness in the back of my knee, toward the end of the run (Today's Run: 3.53 miles)... According to the GT, I must just bond more fully with my roller and learn to do some yoga. Argh. Yoga. I'm looking into this... I'm sure you'll see more of this yoga related whining in the future.

After that, it was 3 sets of 10 pull ups (alternating one leg on a stool!). My goal is to just do random short sets of these during the day. Must eradicate t-rex arms. Soon.

And... here I am. It's way past bedtime, I have 452 things to do tomorrow and I'm hungry. Off to get this process started.

CrossFit in the morning! YAY!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Strivers achieve what dreamers believe." Usher Raymond

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 231:

It's good to be back, BlogLand. Not that my trip wasn't fabulous (really, I promise, pictures soon...), but it is nice to be home and back in a routine. My brain can only take so much crazy shenanigans before it implodes a little bit and craves the stability.

It has been a little tricky to get back in the routine though. As much as I have come back from my vacation really refreshed, pumped up and excited to absolutely crush this race season, it is hard to get back to the routines. I've been totally exhausted and behind the 8 ball the last couple of days trying to catch up, from being on vacation. BUT. No Excuses. Even though I *needed* to sleep in this morning, I made sure I got in my WOD tonight.

I really felt like lifting tonight. Sometimes, you just want to pick up heavy things (... or at least I do?). The GT pulled out a stellar WOD on the fly for me, and here's what the plan was:

- Front Squat, Over head presses
- Romanian Deadlifts
- Rows
- Thrusters

8 reps each x 3 sets, using 25# dumbbells

The guidance that I got going into this was, "if you don't want to puke after the first round, you're not pushing hard enough."
I laughed (WHEN will I LEARN?). It didn't seem that bad.

First, I warmed up. I turned on some raging hip-hop kind of stuff, shook my booty (it's a really hard-core warm up. lol), did some jumping jacks, shadow-boxing, etc. to get the blood flowing. Then, onto the WOD.

Upon picking up those 25# db's, I remembered that I haven't been doing any consistent, concerted lifting. I've been using weights and stuff at CrossFit, but not as consistent, concerted lifting as I had been doing in the past with these bad boys. Why did I remember this, you ask? Well, BlogLand, 25# Dumb bells are EFFING HEAVY. No problem. I had said that I wanted to lift heavy things, so I shut my brain off and got after it. The squats were no problem, but the overhead presses were... a mental exercise in pushing hard. I reminded myself that I used to carry around that much extra weight... SURELY I could push it over my head a few times. My arms still tried to disagree, but my iron (get it, like pumping iron? lol) will won out in the end.

From there, straight into Romanian Deadlifts (the principle of a dumbbell complex is to move straight through the series of exercises and only take a real short break at the end of each round). You know it's going to be a bad time when the deadlifts feel like the 'rest' portion. Into rows ("Whew, these damn DB's are HEAVY."), and then into everyone's favorite - Thrusters! There is nothing like a thruster (except maybe a burpee...) to get your heart going. Thankfully, my leg power is there, that helps make the thruster a bit easier than the overhead presses. Yeooouch.

Round one complete, 20 second rest. I wanted to puke. WHY is the GT always right? WHY? I took a couple of deep breath and took this as a sign of accomplishment and pushed through 2 more rounds. Round 3 was ugly and slower than the first two, but I finished each movement strong, even if I had to slow down the progression a bit.

I'm also rounding out the evening with 40 assisted pull ups (in 4 sets of 10, using a stool).

In other news, I had an interesting self-revelation today. I was discussing the other upcoming new run/lift/wod plans with the GT today, who informed me of some new stuff coming down the pipe to me in a couple weeks. He gave me a very simple task for the rest of this week and next week: Finish this week, as is. For the next week, he wanted me to halve all my run mileage and still run it at a normal pace. So, where I've been running 4-5 miles, I was informed to ONLY run up to a 5K (3.1 mi), and just keep it at my normal pace. After a week of that, we're switching up my running program.

This sounds easy, right?

My brain immediately freaked out. I have some races looming (a 10K on March 24th, and then my first Spartan race in 60 short days!), and I suddenly got nervous about "resting" like that. The GT reminded me that it's not "resting" if you're doing something, which I tried to assure myself.
However, I was unsettled. I trust my GT implicitly, and have 100% confidence in his methods, rationales and directions. Then why was I freaking out? After some inner reflection, I came down to the nuts and bolts of it:
I'm nervous.
Yep. There are very few things that cause me to get anxious (I'm generally a really low-key sort), but delving into unfamiliar territory (obstacle races, etc.) and not feeling 100% prepared (damn you, t-rex arms!!), is apparently one of the things that triggers this craziness.
But here's the reality of the situation (as much a reminder for myself, as sharing with you), I'm never going to feel prepared enough, because I don't know what to expect.
*deep breath*
The only solution? Follow directions of the Qualified Opinion and the GT who has proven unarguably for the last 231 days that he knows what he's doing. Have faith in the the process. Trust my body to get itself together.

What can I do?
Get my eating where it needs to be (it is HARD to eat enough protein.).
Stay on track and kill the WODs, whether they be a 10 mile run or a 2 mile run. Leave it all out on the sidewalk.
Keep positivity around me (BlogLand, this is where you come in!).  There is no "I can'ts" but just "I'm learning to...".

With that, I'm off to bed, BlogLand. Tomorrow is one of my last 'regular' (4 mi!) runs to finish out the week.

Isn't it just amazing how much our brains can effect our accomplishments? It's time to solidify your iron will, people... eyes on the prize, no doubts.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I'm on a boat! ... In my flippy-floppies!

Spartan Shape-Up, Day (hmm... I'll have to come back to this? 225? 226?):

Hello from the High Seas, BlogLand!

I did promise one post from the ship, so here it is... I apologize in advance for the brevity - It's .75 a minute for this bad boy... HOWEVER, I did want to share that I was still getting my Spartan on, while sailing around in the sunshine!

So, there were a few travel days in there, and Bourbon Street kicked my ass pretty hard, but I was determined to at least get some exercise in, once I got in a routine ON the ship.

Well, I was tired, and I wasn't feeling it... but it was time to Spartan the eff up, and go check out the running track that this ship (Carnival Elation), promises to have. I kept going up and up and up the stairs, to find the running track on the very front top of the ship. (Pictures when I have a real internet connection!).  It was 75-80 degrees, sunny and windy as hell. Sounds like a perfect day for a run, right? LOL.
I was all geared up, there was no turning back now... (incidentally, I did bring my favorite Inov8's with me, to keep me in line and ready to run (no excuses!), but I will admit I put them in my carry on and gaurded them with my life! LOL).  Checking out the weird squishy, sort of bouncy track, I figured out that 11 laps would equal one mile. ELEVEN. That's a lot of laps, BlogLand. Off I went.

I should state at this point that I am pretty sure that I was ragingly dehydrated (Hellooooo Bourbon Street), still and kind of tired, so this was no where NEAR any sort of stellar run... But, I figure it was an accomplishment to just get out there and get going.

Around and around... and enjoying the AMAZING ocean views. It is really something else to be able to run in the middle of the ocean. If you ever have the opportunity, don't hesitate. It has been very refreshing and wonderful to have that kind of view, to put your running back into a good place in my mind... I'm sure many of you Northeasterners can sympathize... It's pretty rough to suffer through a winter of running under grey skies, sub 30 degree temperatures and 50 layers of clothes. It's hard to stay in love with it.
As I trotted around the track on the cruise ship, I found that I actually enjoyed it. Sometimes, you just need some damn sun.

That said, there is a whole new element to running on the top deck of a cruise ship. WIND. HOLY CRAP. When it blows, it is like running while trying to push a brick wall. NOT so easily done. Like seriously, you're going around at your usual clip... then suddenly, it's like your whole body is trying to run through a very solid wall. I think this seriously added extra difficulty to my workout, when half of every lap was like I was pushing a weighed sled.

Having said that... dehydrated and feeling like ass, I only made it 22 laps - 2 miles. BUT, I DID two miles, while on vacation. Waha.  Pushing the wind.

And then, as I waited for my friend to get out of the shower, in our room, I busted out 30 push ups for good measure.

I was finding, incidentally, from eating off schedule and eating weird things while traveling (a  lot more carbs that I typically eat) I was really just feeling UGH. So, starting yesterday, after that body wake up call of my run, I instituted new measures. I have been concertedly drinking a hell of a lot more water (umbrella drinks are NOT water, contrary to whatever the waitstaff tells you...), and I've been trying to eat more in line with my usual schedule - eating every couple of hours, and trying to stick more to proteins and veg with the occaisional carb. Needless to say, I am feeling infinitely better today:

I was pretty disappointed with yesterday's run, so I decided that I needed to push it a little harder today. Although, again, I really didn't want to get out there. We were docked in Cozumel, Mexico and the temps were quite warm, and the running deck was full sun. HOWEVER. I remembered that I have some goals, and just because I'm not home, doesn't mean I can't continue to chase them.

Back up to the deck I went.

Three miles was today's goal. (Mentally, it's pretty hard to go longer than that up there, between the sun, the crazy wind, and the fact that you're running in small circles.)

However, it is always interesting... as you're doing tiny laps, there is a mini-golf course in the middle of it, so a couple of the band members were playing mini-golf while I was lapping around them. There's an experience you can't have on every cruise.

After two miles of sweaty-tastic running, in the full mexican sun, I started bargaining with myself... okay, I'll just run one more lap, and then I'll stop.... or I'll walk a little bit.... but I didn't want to have to blog today and tell you all that I only made it a sad two miles, when on a regular basis at home, I run 4 or 5.
I kept going. (Thanks for that motivation, BlogLand!)

I'm happy to report that today's wind-pushing run (SERIOUSLY. It is really hard. I feel like that increased the difficulty of my run by like 10.) was THREE whole miles. 33 laps... plus a couple walking to "cool down"... And then, because I'm on a mission  - 30 more pushups, before the shower.

Now, I know you're saying, Aja? Uhm, those aren't much in the way of WODs. However, I should say that I've been constantly walking a cruise ship, dancing at continuous back to back concerts and not sleeping ALL that much. I'm considering the fact that I even did ANYthing at all a huge victory. Old Me would've still been under the covers snoozin', while Me of today was finishing a banana and heading up to the jogging track - all before 9am.

I'm feeling pretty accomplished, BlogLand. Some WOD, is better than no WOD at all.

So, alright, I am watching my minutes (and money!) tick away, so I'll leave you all with that for now... but here's the lesson of the day... NOTHING needs to stop you from chasing your goals. NOTHING. Just because you're on vacation, doesn't mean you have to eat crap. Just because you're not at home, doesn't mean you can't bring your sneakers and get a run in. Just because you're not at your home track, doesn't mean you can't find a way to move your body.

Get your Spartan on today, BlogLand! (... and I'll see you in a few days with a full picture-full recap!)