Tuesday, April 17, 2012

“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” Niccolo Machiavelli

Spartan Shape Up, Day 270 & 271:

So, Sunday's (Day 270) so thoroughly finished destroying my body, after Saturday's CrossFit WOD, that today has been deemed a day of rest and one with which to Blog of my adventures. And OH they were of epic proportions. Read on, BlogLand... (You know you want to.).

Sunday found me rolling out of bed feeling mostly like a truck had run over my upper half. Yesterday's lunges were fine with my legs, but my shoulders were weeping at the memory of holding that 30# overhead. Seriously. I went to lift my arm to put my glasses on, and my shoulder groaned. This was only the day after. I dreaded what Day 2 DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) would be like, as day 2 is always twice as bad for me.

Chalking my ouchy achiness up to my stupid t-rex arms, I gathered my partner-in-crime, and fellow Spartan, Sara to begin the day's adventure: Create a Sandbag.

WHY a sandbag, you ask? Well. I needed something heavy to play/run/hike/etc. with, and sand is cheap and easy. Plus, due to it's flowing nature, it is slightly easier to carry for a distance than say a rock, or a log, because it will shape a little more ergonomically to your shoulder(s). Besides, if you've been reading right along, you're probably well aware that "reason" is not always prevalent in my first line of thinking through these things. Sara was on board with this plan... what more did I need?!

A trip to the hardware store for supplies, of course! We wandered into our local small town hardware store and were immediately greeted by the 16-17 year old local-boy-working-parttime-on-Saturday crowd. Although, I decided to have some faith and see just how resourceful this crew could be... after all, they worked here, and I knew what I needed... finding it shouldn't be that hard?


Yes, they sell sand bags. In 60# bags (yeeahh... I'm not that burly.).  I explain to them, great, but I need to make two 30# bags... therefore, you need to find me (You must have them somewhere in this store?!) the plasticy/burlap type of bag that you contain these things in. My area has recently been victim to a lot of flooding, so I made the assumption that making sandbags would be something the hardware store would be familiar with at this point. ..... Apparently, the 16-17 year old population was not, but they were trying really hard. While the one mature gentlemen supervising the young'uns went to procure my sand and bags, the young'uns proved useful gathering the accessories - sturdy zip ties and duct tape. But not just any duct tape... GORILLA TAPE. If nothing else, you can count on a 16 year old boy to be able to advise you how to reach over kill.... even on duct tape. He assured me that Gorilla Tape was the best version out there, and I didn't want any of that pink stuff (oh, but I did.), if I wanted my sandbag to stay together. Incidentally, I had not yet informed him of our purpose for making these sandbags....

... which was why it was really funny when, after ringing us out, head 16 year old #1 proclaims that he'll "carry that out for us" and proceeds to heft (with some sighing) the 60# onto his shoulder and out to my car. Sara and I exchanged some glances (to be fair, we didn't tell him we'd be voluntarily carrying that around later...), but let him feel useful and accomplished. Well done, Team 16... we left the store with all the accouterments we needed for Sandbag construction:
- One 60# bag of tube sand
- Two smaller sand bags
- Zip ties
- Gorilla tape (duct tape on steriods)
- a couple of garbage bags
 After some tricky discussion about what would make the most sturdy, but functional sandbag for workouts, Sara and I got down to business. First, split the 60# tube sand into the two smaller bags (lined with a garbage bag), hopefully evenly.
 With highly technical precision, "weigh" the two bags, hoping that you made them equal.
 .... Decide that they are not even, and since neither one of us wanted to be hiking with an ounce more than the other, begin the "evening it out" process. This proved to be trickier than anticipated...
 ... Especially when the only scale in my house is my WiiFit.  It was really confused why I was weighing my "dog" over and over. This is me, standing on the Wii, holding my "dog", to get it's weight. Repeat at least 5x.
 Finally, as is clearly documented here on my Wii screen (don't laugh, people!! You work with what you have!!), we succeeded in getting them to *exactly* 30# per sandbag. That seemed like a reasonable weight to us, at the time.
 Next, seal your inner garbage bag. In retrospect, something a little more burly than a Glad ForceFlex would've been good here. Hmm. Heavy plastic, perhaps.
 Next, you must "try on" your sandbag before tying it off, to ensure it has enough give for you to be able to adjust it comfortably over your shoulders. Make sure to do this on your front lawn, on a busy street, to keep the town guessing.
 Begin the sealing process. For anyone that has not tried to work with Gorilla Tape, this stuff is monster. It was a workout just trying to pull it off the roll. There were points (especially after it warmed up in the sun) that it took both of us to pull it.
 We elected to seal the bottom (the wide, not zip-tied end) with some extra "tails" so that we could have some hand-holds. Make sure to try your sandbag on an excessive amount of times, so that you can also work in a pre-official wod workout. (You think I'm joking. Pick up and put down 30-60# an unreasonable amount of times. You'll see.)
 Next, the sealed up twin sandbags! Yay! We did trim up the strings and what not after this picture was taken, but you get the idea. No, they're not "pretty", but we were pretty sure they'd stay solid and get the job done.

The TEST PHASE! (or Sunday's WOD):

Having a beautiful day on our hands, Sara and I set out to test our sandy creations on a 5.5 mile loop not far away. The loop is all dirt road, but encompasses a great rolling hills section, as well as about 2 miles of more-or-less flatness.
 You know this is the beginning of our adventure, as Sara still looks particularly happy about this idea. You can just see her saying "YEAH! Sandbag hike!" can't you?
As for me, I slung that 30# sandbag across my shoulders and was immediately reminded of yesterdays CrossFit shenanigans. While my shoulders didn't *hurt* per say, they were certainly a little stiff. But eh, they didn't have to lift the sandbag today, just provide a little structural support while my core and legs did the work.... right?

And so commenced our first sandbag WOD. We tacked a short hill run with our sandbag shortly after our beginning, to test how this was going to work. I would like to report a couple of things: a) when you run with a sandbag, you can't hear anything except the "ocean" in your ears. b) running/jogging/trying to move faster than a walk is deceptively difficult with an additional 30# on your shoulders. 

But on we walked. Up little hill. Down little hill. Up big hill.... up bigger hill... down little hill. And so on and so forth. 

Our first set of comments came from a lovely middle-aged couple that was walking along, and greeted us with smiles (if confusion...). Comments about the weather, a short joke or two about getting a good workout.... and then, once we were thought to be out of earshot, the wife commented to her husband, "We have got to get back into working out - This water bottle is feeling heavy!"

Sara and I chucked to ourselves as we did the Sandbag Shimmy and pressed on (The Sandbag Shimmy is an interesting hop-shake maneuver you develop while carrying a sandbag, to shift the sand to a more comfortable position... generally trying to more evenly distribute it across your shoulders.). 

Upon reaching our halfway marker (2.5ish miles!) we elected to put down our burdens and stretch a minute. Half joking, Sara commented that perhaps we should sprint up that hill right there... ha-ha. In the spirit of a thorough Spartan-worthy workout, I told her that we probably should. No joke. We laughed, decided that if our respective GT's were here, they'd make us do it, and we plotted out the start/end line. Let me just say, after carrying an extra 30# for 2.5 miles or so, an *unweighted* hill sprint feels like a nice break. Ahhh. 

With proper form (something like a deadlift, push press), we donned our sandy friends and continued on. 

The next set of people just looked at us incredulously and said, "Training for something??".... at which point I really just wanted to say something snarky like, No, I really just wander around with a 30# sandbag for FUN...... but then realized that wouldn't be so snarky and funny... because, well.... I do. DAMNIT. haha

After figuring we'd had plenty of a "warm-up" and adjustment phase to figuring out the logistics of carrying our sandbags, we moved into the real work phase of our trek: Telephone pole runs.

Luckily (?) this particular route has a telephone line that runs exactly parallel the road, making for perfect periodic markers. What does this mean when you're trekking with a sandbag - Run intervals, of course! 

Let me tell you, BlogLand. The sandbag multiplies its' weight, the longer you trek. Not unmanageably, but you are certainly aware that you would like to put it down. Instead, you've decided you're doing interval runs with it. Hmm. It was right about this point that I decided I was really thankful for the consistent run program that I've been on, as even with the added weight, I was able to manage these intervals pretty effectively. 

... Until Sara saw a "fun" pit stop. There seemed to be a bit of a pull off, that had a pipe "gate" to stop people from driving into it, about a foot off the ground. Again, in the spirit of a good spartan WOD, she proclaimed this time to do push ups. 

I wanted to die. While I could run with a sandbag, easily enough, my t-rex arms rawr'd just thinking about doing those incline push ups. But Sara had thrown out the challenge, and down we went for 30 of them. 

I admit, I had to put my sandbag under my knees an do knee push ups. My t-rex arms (worsened from the previous day's CF!!), just do not have the oomph to get my whole body mass down and up. This frustrates me to NO END. Sara, however, I am proud to say OWNED those 30 pushups (on her toes!), before prodding me into attempting some real ones of my own. I am happy to say that I struggled through 4. Yes. 4. One at a time, plus a set of 2 at the end. OH yeah. I'm beastly. My arms shook the whole time. I was so annoyed with that, I wanted to scream... but I suppose, at least I could do 4. Really slowly. Must. Stay. Positive.

I put the sandbag back across my shoulders and at least felt powerful again. THIS, I could handle. I declared we do 20 (weighted) squats at this point, as retaliation for that push up suggestion. (yes. I am that vindictive. lol)

We attacked the telephone pole interval runs again. The end was in sight, we were in our last mile... when I noticed the tragic moment....

There was sand running down my right shoulder. I noticed, actually, because it was grinding INTO my shoulder. Not fun. My dear sandbag was bleeding!!

This is the point we discovered that perhaps a Glad ForceFlex kitchen bag is not exactly the liner you want under these circumstances. Hmm. 

Deeming my sandbag's wound non-fatal, on we walked/ran. We finished up our go (cars in sight!!), with an interval sprint. Woot! Probably the most gratifying part was having a very super-fit runner lady, and her friend on a bike, proclaim that they'd been trying to catch up to us, but with our sprint, they had not been able to. WAHA. That's right, we were sprinting with a sandbag. That's how we roll. 

Finally, before calling it a successful WOD, we dropped into 10 more weighted squats... because, hey, who doesn't love squatting with 30# on their shoulders after walk-running it for over 5 miles?

Putting that sandbag down (also known as, "dropping that mo'fo' as fast a possible), was a sweet moment. I felt light again. For a moment.... then we died:

You know you had a great WOD when your finishing pose is the "Exhausted Starfish."

Depositing my as-yet-unnamed sandbag into it's new home in my trunk, we headed for home, when suddenly we had a realization: we had completed a pretty all-encompassing WOD, but we were missing one thing, if we truly wanted to be in touch with our inner Spartan.


After a quick consultation with the remote GT about what would be a good number of burpees to finish the day with, we were given a math problem to solve (You really think you're funny, don't you? lol), including multiplication and square roots. Yeah. After sweating and trekking for the last hour and half or so. FML. Sara and I put our heads together and attempted to figure out the answer to our burpee query. Math done, we figured out that 64 burpees was the apparent suggestion.

Collective Groan.

Everyone hates burpees. Particularly 64 of them.

Sara and I felt pretty awesome about our accomplishment for the day, and decided that we refused to be defeated by our negative thoughts about the burpee. And really, if we just attacked them in small sets, we could work through them.

And we did SEVENTY (yes, 7-0.), just to prove a point.... in sets of 8-10.

Having completed that WOD (and sucking down a protein shake like it was my job, before I had to eat my own arm I was so hungry), I felt pretty accomplished. I did spend a little time reflecting on some things... namely the fact that today I voluntarily carried around an extra 30# for fun and in the name of a workout, while I used to unhappily carry around 80 extra pounds, just because I couldn't (yet) get out of my own way. Wow, how things have changed.

My shoulders are still sore today from all the weekend craziness, but I am marching forward, knowing that I will make progress. I did declare today (Monday, Day 271) Rest Day, however, because my body was really saying that it needed to recover. I struggled to make it to 10pm last night, before passing out cold from sheer overall body fatigue (thank you, Sandbag... that WOD got me the best sleep I've had in weeks!).

With that, BlogLand, again, I'm going to leave you for sleep, and a short session with my foam roller. I am really hoping that my upper-body gets on board with this whole "shape-up" things soon, as the stiffness and ouchies that go with upper-body intense wods really stick around for me. Today, where my tricep connects to my elbow is particularly painful.  Oh, and the fronts of my shoulders. And the tops. And... oh, well, you get the idea.

Lesson of the Day: Spartan the EFF Up, People. You don't need a gym, you don't need fancy equipment (sandbag = >$10), and you definitely do not need all those excuses!
You just need your body, a willingness to work, and a healthy dose of determination.

"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."

1 comment:

  1. Awesome account of our day, but what about the "free popcorn" the 16 year old offered us - LMAO!