Altitude adjustment

If you had told me last year that I would be running, yes running, at altitude I would have told you you were crazy! This past weekend, though, I did just that with and I didn’t die (always a plus).

Back in January C asked me if I wanted to do the Dirty Dash with her. I was totally down for running in the mud!  Eventually we even managed to get her brother to join us. Knowing I was going from sea level to altitude I flew out to Colorado a few days before the race and C and I drove down to her parents place in New Mexico.

Her parents live in this gorgeous stretch of land, pretty much in the middle of no where.IMG_6875  My kind of people! Even the road they live on is dirt which suits me perfectly.  We pulled into her parents driveway and I was itching to go run the sunflower lined road.  As the sun started to droop in the sky I laced up received some last minute route suggestions from C and I was out the door.  It was amazingly beautiful.  Everyone thinks that New Mexico is flat.  Well, I’m here to tell you that there are most assuredly rolling hills in New Mexico even on the “flat” parts.  Over the course of the next few days I ticked up the miles all while still maintaining my 136 training heart rate zone.  I was absolutely stunned.

IMG_6904On day three of being in town C and I decided that we were going to descend Sandia Mountain.  We took the first tram up to the top and started down.  The views were just spectacular.  Only one tiny little problem.  The map said that our journey was 8 miles. Coconut (my TomTom multi-sport cardio) told us when we hit the car we had done 9.22.  Even better was seeing the burn rate of over 1200 calories!  That’s going DOWN the mountain.

Finally came mud run day.  We all piled into the farm truck (so as to not worry about making mama’s new car filthy) and headed down to the race.  The weather was perfect.  Not too hot (yet) not too cold.  Over, under, and through obstacles we went getting absolutely covered in mud, but totally enjoying the process.

IMG_6954You can’t tell from this picture, but let me assure you that we were ALL filthy.  Even after we used the hoses on site we still managed to grunge up Mama’s shower.  Oops.  One load of pre-wash and extra rinse later our clothes came out relatively clean.

I’m just so incredibly thrilled that I am not able to do all of these things.  Things that a year ago would have totally been out of reach.  Cargo nets, A frame walls, heck, even going DOWN the mountain.  Even better was that my wheezing was totally under control.  I couldn’t run with my inhaler so I just paced myself, focused on my breathing, and made sure that C knew where it was in the truck (just in case).  I’m just giddy beyond belief.  Next up?  Smoky Mountain Half Marathon!

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Mental Hurdles

In the military there is a percentage of folks who struggle with their weight.  However, in the military those folks are bullied, badgered, hazed, and belittled.  Starvation, laxatives, running in garbage bags or sweat suits, hours in a sauna are all common place for those folks “on the bubble”.  This is not in the past, even today I know of active duty military folks who struggle.  Rather than put them in contact with someone who knows that they are doing (an actual RD) at best the military members wind up at a doctors office who gives them weight loss pills, and at worst they wind up on the command “land cow” program being bullied and belittled by the command fitness buff.  “Your fat.”  “You belong here.”  If you don’t get within standards you are punted from the military.  Doesn’t matter how long you have served.  You are done.

I get it. You have to have standards.  You have to set a bar.  When, however, you have a fat Chief rolling around with a 30″ neck who can barely lift his beer “in standards” and someone else who has no neck but can lift/press a Mack Truck there is a problem.

I say this because during this journey one of my biggest mental goals has been to get “in standards”.  Not via starvation.  Not via laxatives.  Not via any one of the thousands of ways that I tried during my active duty time to hit that number.  Instead I always wound up getting taped.  Which, while, yes, you may hit standards, you are a 2nd class citizen because well, you didn’t hit the number.

As I have been getting closer and closer to that number I have struggled with all the flood of emotions and thoughts that have come back to me; all of the belittling and bullying.  I remember the humiliation. There are people who I vividly remember even though it was over 20 years ago.  I know I should (to quote Frozen) let it go, but those types of scars remain with you.

Even though my weigh in day is officially Monday, this morning curious IMG_6799(because, well when you are this close you want to know), I stood on the scale.  There that number was staring back at me. I got off and got back on just to make sure.  This is what 20 years ago I was striving for.  This number.  Today, nearing 40, on a random Thursday I hit it.  No starvation.  No crazy tactics.  Actually I think I’m eating more now than I have ever eaten in my entire life.

Now this journey becomes about me.  Funny.  You would have thought this journey was all about me from the beginning.  I had to hit this number before anything else could begin because I needed to know that I could hit this number and eat.  I needed to know that I could hit this number healthy.  I needed to know that this number was even possible. Now the journey becomes about me getting to where I want to get to.  Not where some random chart tells me to get to.  Not where some number cooked up by a bunch of men sitting in a 5 sided sided building decide.  ME! It’s quite empowering actually.

Before you get all freaked out that I am going to go to extremes, trust me, I’m not.  Sainted Mary and I have already discussed where she is going to cut me off.  First, I don’t have the body type to be a 110 pound woman (thanks to these Eastern European “birthing” hips).  Second, I like being strong.  I like having muscle.  I like knowing that I can run half marathons and do doubles at Biker Barre.  If I loose too much I will start loosing muscle and honestly, I like being strong.  Sainted Mary and I have another 8 pounds that we have adjusted my goal to.  Then at that point we will discuss maybe another 5 pounds.  However, I absolutely positively do not want to be skinny and weak.  She knows that.  I know that.  So we are going to take it a little bit at a time.

IMG_6794In the meantime, I pulled together a side by side comparison of me in December and me last weekend.  Eight months separate these pictures.  In eight months I’ve lost 48 pounds, 15 inches, four dress sizes.  All while eating more food than I have in decades.  Isn’t science grand?

Clearing my head with a little dirt

I’ve had a great deal on my mind lately. A co-worker died from an apparent suicide.  A ‘friend’ told me she liked me better fat.  Amongst other issues.  I needed to clear my head badly.  Running on the treadmill doesn’t clear my head; it does quite the opposite, in fact.  When I showed up at the gym today I just couldn’t do it.  The thought of being on the treadmill just filled me with a sense of dread and anxiety.

Now, as an asthmatic running outside in the summer has always been a very big no no. Between wheezing, air quality, and my lungs wanting to explode even attempting it was not on my “allowed” activities from my doc.  However, I finally hit my breaking point and needed some trail time.  Something about dirty always soothes the soul.

I’ve been training with the Maffetone Method part of which is keeping my heart rate within a specific zone.  In my case it’s 136. I did a quick calculation; given the fact that it was 97 degrees out and my heart rate needed to stay at 136, I knew I wasn’t going to be moving at any lightening pace.  I was willing to take the risk. I grabbed my stuff, left the gym, grabbed the dog and we were off for the trails.

Even just pulling into the shade of the park made me feel better.  We had the whole place to ourselves.  As we headed down the trail I kept a very close eye on my HR making sure it didn’t spike and trying to maintain my 136 number.  Almost immediately I began to feel better and my mind began to clear.  Even better, though?  My lungs didn’t hurt.  I did the 4 mile loop at a very slow run/fast walk pace.

When I got done Perry was hot and sweaty.  I was sweaty, but not wheezy.  Most importantly, we both felt better.  Maybe there is something to this whole Maffetone thing.