2016: I survived, barely

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”- Hunter S. Thompson

I set about this year with a plan.  I wanted to push myself.  I wanted to see just how far I could go.  According to the statistics I did 247 workouts burning over 125k calories, and moving 883 miles.  Now, those aren’t 100% accurate because I regularly forget my watch, but those are still numbers I’m proud of.   While, granted, I have other friends that crossed well into the 2k miles for the year each one of those 883 miles, for me, were hard earned.

What those numbers don’t portray is the amazing experiences that this year has brought about.  This year I completed my first Spartan Trifecta.  While I IMG_9132may have started the journey because of He Who Shall Not Be Named I found some amazing people along the course who have become wonderful friends.  I root for them, they root for me, but most importantly they are phenomenal humans I’m thankful to call friends. While Spartan Racing isn’t necessarily at the top of my things to do again, with the right company I could probably be persuaded. Maybe.

This year has also been a year of firsts for others in my life.  Bella’s first 5k.  GardeningGirl’s first 10k and her first 15k!   CrossFit Runner and ShooterGirl also got into the action with CrossFit Runner doing her first trail 10k race and ShooterGirl doing her one (and only) run longer than 800m. Windchime and I got to share time on the ECSUT 50k course, her first, and all done without training. I was lucky enough to be there for all of these huge mile stones.  I’m lucky that I have these amazing people in my life.
IMG_89202016 will be forever the year that I started doing back to back races (challenges).  Starting with Florida (Glass Slipper Challenge), North Carolina (Double Dare), and Colorado (Elk Double).  Pushing myself and my distance is something that I’m still working on as witnessed by my first and second attempts at a 50k.

This is also the year, though, where I truly learned that I am not like the other kids on the playground.  My asthma really reared it’s ugly head and has started to let me know where my limits are.  I also truly learned the lesson that I have some amazing friends in my life who will absolutely be there no matter what.  To those friends, you know who you are, I love you for who you are.  We make up one badass family.

2017 is going to be a year of change and challenge.  I may not be able to run the number of races that I ran this year, but that’s ok because the locations of where I do run are going to be AMAZING. My plan is to work within the box that I have on any given day vice fight against it.  I’m going to focus on getting stronger to help me hold up longer on the trails.  Finally, I’m going to be incredibly lucky to be able to train in some gorgeous territory in 2017.

 

 

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She’s going down; I’m yelling TIMBER!

Let’s talk a moment about the autonomic nervous system.  It’s not something that we think about that often because, well, we don’t have to. However the ANS is critical to everything from breathing to pooping to blood pressure.  The sympathetic system  handles “fight or flight” response, and that parasympathetic handles normal day to day duties.  When you workout you are stressing your sympathetic system.  When you are stressed (school, work, etc)  you are aggravating the sympathetic system.  There’s a really cool set of videos from Crash Course on it, if you are truly interested, but I digress…

Have you ever driven through the countryside and witnessed a beautiful stone wall that’s being buttressed by wood supports?  You know that with one strong gust of wind that the  buttresses are going to give way and the whole wall is going to come down leading to a domino effect for miles?  In effect, that’s me on a normal basis, I’m being held together by a series of buttresses (super clean diet, extra Vitamin C, asthma meds, etc).  Throw in a stress (hypothermia, grad school, etc) and TIMBER….

Having asthma, which is an autoimmune disorder, already makes me unlike the other kids on the playground.  I have to be super careful with my diet (crap in=weak immune system=lots of sick days) and I have to be vigilant of when/where/how I exercise to try to minimize exposures to things that will give me an asthma attack because dying isn’t on my list of things to do, right now anyway.

However, ever since hypothermia I’ve been struggling.  My fingers have been experiencing Raynaud’s more than I’d care to admit.  I’ve been exhausted all the time.  Weight at CrossFit that is normally a piece of cake has gotten hard.  My heart rate has been spiking on runs when it normally stays very steady thanks to all of the Maffetone training.  My internal thermostat has decided to go on the fritz.  All of these individually are bad, but in combination and they are signs that I need a system reset.

With careful consideration, discussions with Doc and Sainted Mary it has been decided I’m going to take a week off.  Nothing.  No CrossFit, no runs, no anything.  I’m going to be upping my Omega-3s (chia, flax, walnuts) and antioxidants (leafy greens, berries) even more than their normal levels to help reduce the inflammation in my system.  After a week, I’m going to see how I feel.  If after two weeks off if I’m not back to normal, then it’s time for Doc to do some deeper digging.   Fingers crossed that just some time off is all that is required.  I just want to be like the other kids on the playground……

12 Days of Christmas: WOD

It’s all fun and games until they say 3,2,1, GO! 

Ah, CrossFit, you are a mean bitch aren’t you.  All week long I knew this workout was coming.  Yet, somehow, when I woke up this morning I was still looking forward to it.  Perhaps it is because I knew that, as with all chippers, it was going to wreck me.  Perhaps it was because I really do love a good chipper.  Or perhaps it was because this year, unlike last year, I was in a much better place mentally (and physically) to handle it; something about spending six hours out in the hills of Ohio.
fullsizeoutput_ee1What exactly is the 12 Days of Christmas?  Ah, just like the song you start with 1, then 2-1, then 3-2-1, etc.  Only unlike the traditional 12 days of Christmas where you wind up with an ass load of birds and people leaping and dancing in the CrossFit version you wind up with pain and death.  Ok, that may be a bit of exaggeration, or is it?

I had made plans ahead of time to do it with AntiRunner.  Hey, if I’m going to be suffering I want to be suffering with amazing friends.  When I saw what the movements were I had a mixed bag of emotions.  First, I was sad there were no double under, hey I’ve been practicing.  Second, I was terrified of all of the overhead work.  I already woke up extremely sore from yesterdays death by wall ball.  I had already decided when I saw folks running in the 39 degree rain that this little asthmatic would not be running.  Shocking I know.  Something about not having an asthma attack was first and foremost on my mind.   When I walked in and saw several of the coaches wrecked I knew this was going to be a doozy.

We went through a brief warm up with Mel and Alex  where they ever so graciously told us that it was 2 lunges with each leg (wait what???).  45 minute max time cap.  Oh boy.  The first few rounds went fairly quickly then I found myself at five and things start getting spicy.  By the time I hit rounds seven, eight, and nine I was absolutely convinced that the barbell is getting heavier and heavier every time.  The thought of;  are you sure that those coaches didn’t put extra weight on there when you were at the rig, ran through my mind.

img_1709Luckily, AntiRunner was facing me.  We were suffering together.  A random smattering of the thoughts that ran through my head;

-Good God this is a lot of overhead.

-Do I have to pick up the barbell again?

-Who the hell was the sick and twisted bastard that programmed wall balls AND thrusters?

-Fuck you, too, burpees.

To say that I was angry, pissed off, and motivated is an under statement.  I was GOING to finish this.  I was GOING to finish this under the time cap.  I was not going to have an asthma attack.

Grind, grind, grind.  Through each of the rounds.  12! Oh hello 12! I love and adore you 12. Okay, time for my big girl panties.  I sat on the rower and forced my mind to find a happy memory to focus on. I blew through the 550m row.  I made my way back down the ladder and was doing great until I hit 6.  Crap, this bar was getting heavy.   Ugh.  OK.  Finish this.

img_1718As I put the barbell down after the last deadlift I laid out on the floor.  My ass hurt.  My shruggers hurt.  Lifting my arms?  Yeah, not going to happen.  But I finished!  Take that you mean CrossFit bitch.  I’m going to go die now.  Merry Goddamn Christmas to you too CrossFit.

 

 

 

Weight loss: A ship out to sea

A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for. -John A. Shedd 

I was raised in a very Catholic home.  Vanity is one of the seven deadly sins.  While there were mirrors in the bathrooms, small ones, there were exactly zero full length mirrors.  I was raised to believe that a full length mirror led to vanity, vanity led to sinning and, well, you see where this is going.  While now I am not super Catholic, heck, I’m not even a Christmas and Easter Catholic, some things just stick with you.

I don’t know how the conversation came up, but a couple of months ago I had this very  conversation with the AntiRunner.  She was stunned that I was 40 years old and had never in my life owned a full length mirror.  Then I explained to her why.   I also pointed out that didn’t help when I was fat I didn’t want to look at myself in any mirror let along a full length one.

“How do you get ready for work in the morning?”  she asked stunned.

“I just pick out clothes and put them on.” I said matter of factly.

“THAT’S IT! I’m know what I’m getting you for Christmas.” She decreed.

I laughed and proceeded to put the entire conversation out of my mind.

Today, Christmas Eve,  when I showed up at CrossFit AntiRunner handed me a folder.

“Inside you will find something you’ve been asking for, but it’s only one part of your present.  The other part is in my car.”

img_1720As I opened the folder, inside was the most beautiful piece of artwork.  I laughed because not only had I been bugging her to get one, but because of what it says.

“I want you to tape this to the other part of your present,” she demanded.

I was now worried, oh boy, what did she get me?

“I got you a full length mirror.”

I was touched, smiled, laughed, and felt like I’d been shoved out to sea all at the same time.  Oh boy.  No more hiding.

I brought her present home and hung it up on the closet door.  Baby TrailDog instantly img_1723decided that she didn’t like the new dog I brought home.  I laughed.  Then I stood in the mirror and she saw that I was in the mirror too.  She walked up to it, sniffed it, huffed, blew steam on the glass and then turned and walked away.  Yeah, baby trail dog, it’s going to take some getting used to for me too.  We can do this.  One step at a time.

 

MGM 50K: It’s hard to be smart

“It’s easy to be hard.  It’s hard to be smart.”- Chriss Smith

I went into the Magnus Gluteus Maximus Fat Ass 50k optimistic.  My training has been going well.  Even though the temperatures were going to be in the “feels like 20F” range I thought that if I kept my mouth covered and didn’t push too hard I’d be ok.  I just wanted to f*%k*&$ finish.  That was my goal.  Funny how goals work.

The night before the race I set an alarm on my phone to go off every 45 minutes with the word “EAT!” since 1st6after Utah I realized that me remembering to eat wasn’t gong to happen.  I was determined to not have the wheels come off the bus. I felt really good getting to the first aid station (around the 6 mile mark). I wasn’t wheezing, my breathing felt good.  I was doing ok.  I filled up my water bladder and Q asked me how I felt.  “Good, but not pushing too hard, just want to finish without wheezing.”  7 miles to the next one at Fountainhead.

I’ve run Fountainhead before.  Quite a few times actually.  Crossing over the road and onto the trails that I know was comforting; however, my body started talking to me.  My chest tightened up a bit, so I took my medicine.  Then my glutes tightened up.  Then I needed to put my hat back on my head because I was cold.  Looking back, this was my body giving me warning signs.  2nd6However, I ignored these warning signs and took them as my mind being weak.  I took my inhaler and pushed forward.  As I approached the drop at Fountainhead The Great Bob came up behind me.  “What’s your per mile pace?” “I’m aiming for a 15 minute mile.” “Well, if you don’t pick it up it’s going to be dark before you finish.” (insert blue streak here). At this point my fingers were the size of bratwurst.  Again, my body was telling me something and I wasn’t listening.

The Great Bob stayed with me, talking to me, pushing me and getting me almost to mile 14.  I didn’t want to stop.  I wanted to keep going.  I was going to f-ing finish this thing. I had to stop and put my jacket on.  “Are you cold?” I told him yes.  In truth, I hadn’t been warm for miles, even running, and I had stopped being cold and I was getting a little foggy.  I probably should have been a bit more honest with him and with myself.

In my fog I realized that I really needed to turn around. I had to accept that today wasn’t going to be my day.  Well, at least I will get 28 miles in.  As I turned around and started to head back my alarm on my phone went off (again.) I struggled to process the information.  Wait, my alarm went off as we were approaching the aid station at 12.  Why was my alarm going off again? I know I haven’t gone that far.  Wait, what???

Somewhere internally every bell, whistle, and AHOOOGA was going off.   I looked down and my bratwurst fingers were white.  There was absolutely no way I was going to make it the 13 miles back.  Crap.  What am I going to do? I will say this, having asthma and learning to not panic when you can’t breathe also teaches you to not panic when your body is shutting down in other ways. I did the one thing that I didn’t want to do.  That I NEVER want to do.  I had to admit defeat and call for help.  I called ShooterGirl with my SOS.

Now, this is how you know you have amazing friends.  She was in the middle of her favorite workout of the week.  The workout she looks forward to all week long.  When I called her she knew that something was up.  When I said, can you come get me, there was no hesitation.  “Drop me a pin and I’ll be there.”

trainwreckI struggled to make it back to the road.  I didn’t realize how badly I was struggling until after I uploaded my GPS information.  I knew I was going slow.  I knew that I almost threw up and I was nauseous as hell.  I knew that staying on my feet was hard.  I knew that I was tripping over everything.  I didn’t realize just how bad I was.  Until I saw this.  My heart rate data is even more jarring.

ShootGirl pulled into the parking lot and there was this wave of relief that washed over me.  “I didn’t want to do this.”  “I know.”  “I really hated doing this.”  “I know. I also know that you wouldn’t have called if you weren’t really in trouble.”

I couldn’t get warm.  Heated seat on high, heat on high, and I couldn’t get warm.  My teeth were numb.  My fingers were still the size of bratwurst and white.  To top it all off, now I was crying.

She drove me back to my car.  She calmed me down, talking logic and reason, and she would have stayed with me if I had let her.  I already felt guilty enough for taking her away from her workout.  I’ll be ok, I promised.  I checked in, grabbed my stuff, and got in my car to head home.  I turned the heat on high, the butt warmer on high, and texted Dad to tell him what happened and that I was ok before I took the long drive home.

After I got home Dad called and I filled him in on the details.  “Here’s your sign stupid. You had a mild to moderate case of hypothermia.” Huh.  Well, that would explain much.

“Did you take a hot bath?” He asked

“Yes but the water didn’t get very warm.”

“That’s what happens when you drop a 140 pound ice cube in it.”

img_1578He has a good point there.  I climbed on the couch and pulled every blanket I owned on top of me.  Then I piled my two 101 degree 4 legged hot water bottles on top.  I started to get super sleepy.  At 1830 I climbed into bed.

Some time in the middle of the night my own internal heater finally kicked back on.  Apparently like all the computers at work step 1 of the help manual is “Did you log off and log back in?” I’m still not 100% warm, my fingers are still swollen, but I’m MUCH better than I was.  I didn’t finish the 50k. Not even close.

Total Distance: 15.85

Total Time: 4:16

I did however, learn a very valuable lesson, and I am around to run another day.  That’s the important part.

Weight Loss Update: Maintenance & Muscle

I, as with most women, live by a number on the scale.  My entire life I’ve been trained to focus on the number.  As I’ve made progress down the weight loss journey road Sainted Mary and I have also been monitoring my body fat percentage. Yet, I still focus on the number.  I’m trying to change. Really, I am.

This summer when I was inured and cut off from working out I immediately noticed a huge drop in the scale.  Sainted Mary reminded me that was from my muscles not retaining water from repairing themselves. She was right, the minute I was cleared to start working out again boom up the scale went again.  I know, I know, it’s just water, but I was SO focused on getting to a very specific number.  F&%*^&@

img_20160922_133305When I was out on the #ECSUT course I had a lot of time to think.  What was more important?  Was it the number on the scale?  Or was it the ability to go out and do all of the crazy things that I love to do?  It was out in the mountains of Park City that I realized that I wanted to be the strongest version of myself.  Because, dammit, I like being active with my friends! I like not being the weakest one.  I want to be able to push hard and not break!

When I returned and shared my insights, gained in the mountains, with Sainted Mary and she laughed.  She laughed because she had already been there and was just waiting for me to get there.  “With all of the crazy hiking, running, etc that you love to do you need all the muscle you can get.”  Ah yet another reason why I love Sainted Mary.  Ah the old adage of you can lead a horse to water……smart woman.

We made some changes to my nutritional plan and then we discussed how over the winter I was going to focus on gaining strength in order to make me a better runner.  Then we had to have “the talk”:

“You do realize that as you put muscle on the scale is going to go up, right??”

(sighing) “Yes…..” I begrudgingly acknowledged.

“You also realize that muscle takes up less space than fat does so you will actually be getting smaller, right????”

(sighing and with a twinge of eye rolling) “Yes….”

1411638441200Why was this concept so hard for me to embrace?  Why did she have to keep reminding me of this?  Because, well, numbers are what we women have been trained from birth to go off of.  This is why continuing to work with Sainted Mary is so important.  She reminds me of all of the things that I know, but then I stand on the scale and all hell breaks loose.  This is why we do body fat readings in addition to the number on the scale.  Now instead of focusing on the number on the scale, we are trying to get my body fat numbers down.  I started out in 2015 at 36.4%.  Now I’m at 28.3% and dropping that number a safe clip.  Ok, ok, I’ll admit I still look at the scale.  I do.  I’m trying to change.  I promise.  Change is hard, but change is good.

Jingle All the Way 15k: Just keep swimming

“When life gets you down you know what you’ve got to do? Just keep swimming.” -Dory

I went into today’s Jingle All the Way 15k with a bit of trepidation. The temperatures were in the danger zone for my lungs, but I knew as long as I kept my mouth covered I ‘should’ be ok.  Little did I know it wasn’t going to be my lungs giving me the hard time, but rather my glutes and hamstrings.

A few weeks ago when GardeningGirl decided to register for the Asheville Half Marathon I told her about this race.  I thought it might be a good incentive to keep training for the half marathon.  She agreed it would be.  So she came up on Saturday and we got a couple of hours of bonding time before bed.  I’m always thrilled to spend time with her.  This time she brought her 12 year old sheltie, Buddy.  Charlotte was instantaneously infatuated with him.  “Will you be my friend??? Please, oh please, oh please be my friend.”  She was intrigued by this new dog who didn’t want to be her friend.  The more aloof he was, the more she tried to be submissive to him and bait him into interacting with her.  When he finally gave in, just a little, she was only encouraged that they would be best friends forever.  Oh Charlotte, you’re so stinking cute sometimes.

fullsizeoutput_e74We got up early, ate breakfast and headed into DC.  I knew that mentally this course was going to be a bit of a challenge since it looped back on itself a couple of times.  Ugh, loops. However, I had tunes so all would be well in the land.  I was also trying running in an InkNBurn skirt for the first time.  This summer I tried Eastern Mountain Sports skorts for hiking and really fell in love with them, so I wanted to see how these would do running.  I know most folks won’t try new things on race day, but I wasn’t there to race, I was there as moral support for GardeningGirl. I even lent her my green “Grinch” tutu for the day.

As we stood waiting for the go, everyone was shivering.  Many of us had even cracked into the mylar warming blankets early as they started us 10 minutes behind schedule.  Crossing the start line I knew it was going to take me a couple of miles to warm up.  It always does.  By the time I hit mile 2,  though, my glutes and hamstrings were a little pissy. I thought it was just from being cold.  By the time I hit mile 4 I realized, oh shit, this isn’t getting better it’s getting worse.  Around mile 5 I tried to stretch them out a little to see if I could make them better.  Nope.  Fail.  Actually made them worse.  Well f&%*#$*!!!

It got so bad around mile 7 that I had to resort to run/walking.  I was using the walking as an opportunity to take really big strides (well what felt like it, but in reality they were probably just normal strides) in an effort to stretch out my glutes.  Perhaps doing CrossFit on Friday and Saturday wasn’t the best idea in the world…..Oops.

img_1496I crossed the finish line 10 minutes slower than I was hoping to finish.  Oh well.  Life happens.  On the plus side there was not a single asthma attack, so I call this a win! While yes wearing something over my face makes me look like a dork, when you’re asthmatic you do what you need to to keep from having your lungs completely seize up.  GardeningGirl crossed not too terribly long after me.  She was elated with her performance.  Just goes to show you how different a single race can be,

The only other upside (you know other than walking away breathing)  I can say about this race is that it demonstrated to me that I really do love running in skorts. I’m going to have to get way more of these.  This particular skirt (last year’s Christmas fullsizeoutput_e73design) didn’t ride up, didn’t bunch up….which means I didn’t spend the whole race fighting with it.  Now granted, I just need to remember to start sizing up my long sleeve shirts (since I wear my Techwick under them).  Now to just get my glutes and hamstrings to stop being angry at me….