Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nothing will work unless you do. - Maya Angelou

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 402:

As the sunny Saturday afternoon stretched before us, I instructed the CG to don his newly-acquired Spandex; I was taking him for a run.

We weren't "going running" ... implying that it was entirely voluntary activity... I was taking him for a run. My ankle is on the healing upswing and I needed to get back out there and on it to test it out a bit (and work out some of the stiffness). Also, the CG has expressed some genuine interest in getting back into running for health and fitness. It seemed like a perfect combination to me - I'd have to take it a little easy on my ankle, and an "easy" pace would be good for easing him back into it. Plus, I needed a reason to lace up my sneakers again and fight off the mental laziness that has tried to creep in, and he needed a push out the front door to get started. These, BlogLand, are the times when having a buddy is invaluable. You may not be at the same level of your training, but there is always something to be learned from each other.

I taped up my ankle Kenesio-Tape style (not a supportive taping, exactly), tied my Inov-8's and dragged him out the door. It was warm, but not horrid, there was a nice breeze and all was well with world. The plan was to do walk-run intervals (You know, run to that mailbox, walk until that tree, run to the next mail box), until we'd completed this roughly 3 mile circuit.

The first mile was a stiff one for me, until my stupid ankle warmed up, but it was a great reminder tool for me. Instead of concentrating on the frustrating feelings of having to take it slow on that injury, I got to hand out reminders of the basics, to the CG. Aside from taking the focus away from my ankle, it also helped me to center in on the little things - manually slowing down your breathing, deep breaths in, keeping a steady pace, relaxing your shoulders and pushing just a few steps farther than you want to.

The CG was a wonderful running partner, even egging me into a couple of cul-de-sac sprints, as I was feeling good at the end of our run. We both came back a sweaty mess, hot but smiling, so I deemed it a success. It was hard enough to be effective, but not miserable enough that he'd never want to get out there again. That, in my experience is the key. Your workouts need to push the limits of your capabilities, but still be within your ability to finish them.
(Here's to Day 1 of converting another poor, unsuspecting soul into running...)

Following our lovely run was a natural progression of re-hydrating and stretching, in his shaded back yard. I chattered on about stretching, sitting in the grass and reaching for my toes, doing pigeon poses, and generally feeling my creaky muscles loosen up....  when I stretched out a hand into the grass and felt like a nail had just gone through my palm.

With an instinctual reaction, I whipped my hand up to find a yellow-jacket dangling and wriggling in that pissed-off imma-sting-the-shit-out-of-you way that they do. Well, FML, BlogLand. That hurt like crazy, and knowing I have a sensitivity to stings and such, I was a little concerned. As I clutched my hand and watched the purple lump rise, the medically-knowledgeable CG fed me some allergy meds and got me some ice.... and interestingly enough, put a meat-tenderizer paste on the sting. What, you say?! I know. I did the same thing. However, when that sting starts throbbing and swelling, you're pretty much willing to try anything. Apparently, the venom is protein based... and meat tenderizer breaks down protein. SO, hypothetically, if you can get it in the sting, it helps to lessen the venom. Whether it was this, or the allergy med, or the ice, or just my brain wanting to believe it was better.... it did feel better in about an hour or so, so we decided to press on with our day.

I refuse to let a tiny yellow jacket with anger management issues ruin my weekend. Ba!

Off to climbing. The CG was on a mission to get in a workout - not just "go climbing." I had the slight feeling that I was in for it, despite a touchy ankle and a slightly swollen hand. My inner Spartan was not yet ready to admit defeat though. Climbing, here I go.

Today's plan was to do a pyramid workout with the climbs, taking advantage of the mostly-empty climbing gym. First, we'd climb all the super easy climbs, emphasis on getting up them fast and not wasting time. Then, we'd move up the grades (all the next easiest, all the slightly harder), until we didn't successfully complete a climb. Ideally, then, we'd go back down the ladder, backing down to a route level that we could do, and so on.

We did a slightly modified version of this plan, but got a raging amount of climbing in. I'm pretty sure I went up and down the wall a million times.... or like 12? 13? more? which is a lot in the scheme of things. The CG was putting me to shame with the ease that he got up the routes that tapped me out, and then was able to keep going. I feel off the wall at one of my project 5.6's and at a project 5.7. Basically, my arms were toasted at this point. On a good day, when I was fresh, I think I could've gotten up these climbs, but our endurance climbing day had taken it's toll. Even though these were "easy" climbs, you still have to use your body, your grip, your muscles.... slowly, they'll get stronger and I'll be able to do more. Effectively, I feel like this is the equivalent of the interval runnings I got the CG to do.... Push until you can't go anymore, then back off a little bit, until you can push a little bit further. It's the only way you get better.

After about an hour of hard, fast climbing, my hands (and my damn bee sting) were exhausted; I'm pretty sure I couldn't have opened a water bottle if I tried (thank god for the push-button water fountain), and my ankle was feeling tired (not painful, but worked).

.... and it only took a 35 minute interval run, a recovering ankle injury, a bee sting and an hour or so of rock climbing to get me there. Interesting thought, I just had. Old Me wouldn't have even made it through that "easy" run.... let alone have the stamina or energy to push through all of those things.

Aja 2.0, for the win. The best thing about this process has not been the weight loss, or the muscle gain, or the compliments or the successes.... but simply the fact that I can now live Out Loud and do the things I want to do, without having to factor in my physical limitations. I am not limited by anything except my own mind... and I choose to make that get on board and Spartan Up.

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