Monthly Archives: April 2017

Sometimes it Sucks

I had a rough week. Following a fun-filled week of stay-actioning with some friends who were visiting from upstate New York, it was hard to get back into any routine, but I had particular trouble getting back into the swing of making fitness a priority.

I’m not sure why all good habits are easy to break and, it seems, that bad habits are easy to pick up, but after seven days of stuffing my face with malasadas and sitting on my duff in a beach chair, I didn’t want to go back to a life of being diligent about eating healthy and making exercise a priority.

Doing what I do best, sitting on my butt, enjoying a beer at the Kaneohe sandbar. Can you blame me for not wanting to come back?

On Monday, I dragged myself to a CrossFit class after work and slogged through the WOD. The coach was someone I didn’t know (and I didn’t happen to catch her name), but, as she explained the WOD to us, she recommended that if we weren’t all that good at double unders (jumping rope and having the rope pass under you twice each jump), we should spend about 90 seconds of each round working on double unders and then move on whether we had reached the prescribed goal or not. The goal was a descending ladder of 150 double unders the first round, 100 the second round, and 50 the final round. After I accomplished about 5 double unders and succeeded in whipping myself in the butt and shins with the jump rope several times, the coach stopped by my area and told me that I should probably just do single jumps. It was a humbling moment, but I filed it away under “things to practice at home” and happily did my single jumps.

I awoke on Tuesday sore and tired; a week of being sedentary followed by a tough workout really whipped my butt (literally- that damn jump rope!), and it took me all week to recover. Tuesday’s workout was a short, solo run, and Wednesday and Thursday were more CrossFit classes where I put in wimpy, lackluster performances. Friday was a blissful day off, Saturday more CrossFit, and yesterday Don and I ran about 8 miles before we dragged our chairs to the beach and enjoyed an afternoon of sitting in the sun, doing many reps of beer-can-to-mouth curls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday’s workouts left me with more things to practice at home: pistol squats and wall walks. A pistol squat is where you squat one-legged, like a bird, with whichever leg you aren’t using extended in front of you. Ideally you begin from a standing position, squat all the way down on one-leg, and then rise to a standing position again. On one leg. Go ahead and try it, I’ll hold your beer.

Wall walks were something completely new to me and seem like the precursor to a hand stand (which seems like the precursor to a hand stand pushup; I don’t like the direction this is headed). You start with your feet against a wall and your chest to the floor almost like you’re in a pushup position (or, if like me you don’t do pushups very often, it’s the position you find yourself in when your dog rolls his ball under the couch and you have to retrieve it), and then you walk your feet up the wall and walk your hands toward the wall until, ideally, your nose touches the wall and you are upside down. I didn’t get that far, or, I guess I should say, I did not get that CLOSE. My nose was probably still about 1.5 to 2 feet away from the wall before my arms got shaky and I got nervous about having my butt and legs at a higher elevation than my head. Progress, like most things about me, is slow, I guess.

After my relaxing afternoon on the beach, I made sure to hit the hay a little early last night because I think, along with not eating super healthfully, that part of what was bringing me down and turning me into a slow little weakling last week was that I was just plain tired. Too much fun will do that to you once you reach your 30’s. It seems to have helped; I felt more solid in tonight’s pre-dinner CrossFit class and wasn’t excused from attempting any of the movements.

I learned another new thing at tonight’s class: the Tempo Press. At first I thought that the tempo press was right up my alley because you take about 3-5 seconds to raise a barbell above your head and I’m really slow at everything, but after a few reps, my shoulders were screaming. It’s a good thing I went to the evening class instead of the morning one because my arms are useless now- I’ve typed this entire blog post with my nose; It seems like tonight might bring another early bedtime for me.

Perfecting those beer curls. Good form is important!

 

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Happy Hapalua!

Today was a great day to run a half-marathon! We awoke to cool breezes that promised to keep the air temperature down, and, although we were promised VOG and high humidity, by the time our group finished running the race, the weather was still holding out.

Ready to Race!

While I did not achieve my goal of running the race in less than 2 hours, I did take a few minutes off last year’s time and ran it in 2:02:31. I am happy with how I ran the race; for the first half, each time I looked at my watch, I was running faster than a 9:00 mile, which for a slow-poke like me, is quite fast. I’m not sure I’ve ever kept a pace like that up for such a long distance, and I ran my fastest 10k in 57:55; remember two years ago when I worked so hard to run a 10k in 75 minutes? Yeah, I sure do, and it felt really good to know that I could easily accomplish 6.2 miles in less than an hour today.

The finish line is in sight…

I would never have dreamed, that just two years later, I would be running distances far beyond 6.2 miles and doing an adequately mediocre job of it! It might seem to you that I’m selling myself short, but I’m not, and nor am I disappointed to have attained the status of being an adequately mediocre runner. I have no delusions of grandeur; I’m not going to be selected for any sort of competitive running event (hello Olympic pasta-eating team!) and I’m never going to be the winner of a race (unless I design another race of one, but then I’m both first and last place, and what is the point of that?), but to have gone from somebody who would rather lie down on a treadmill and get belt-burn on her chin than run one goddamn step to someone who signs up to run (when not being chased by a predator) kinda far for fun is pretty remarkable.

In thinking back over my race, I am happy with my pace, and I think the only way I could have saved a little time (aside from running faster, obviously) would have been to skip some of the water stations. Because I carry my water with me (on my back, like a two-legged camel), I usually don’t stop at every aid station, but, because we were warned about high-humidity and VOG, I was worried about dehydrating and stopped, briefly, at each station. I don’t know if it would have saved me three minutes to skip an aid station or two, and I’m not all that concerned about it. I’m happy with my results and now have something to work on for next year- getting faster!

We have a brief break from serious training until August when marathon season begins again. In the meantime, I’m going focus on getting stronger and faster, and, in general, fitter. I’m hoping to jump in on some longer training runs with friends who are going to run a 100 mile run around (literally, around) the Big Island of Hawaii. I’m DEFINITELY not running 100 miles… not today, not tomorrow, not ever… but I am hoping to go beyond the 26.2 mile marathon distance. We’ll see what kind of stuff I’m made of!

The happy finishers.

Put Your Muscles Where Your Mouth Is

Yesterday my six week CrossFit challenge came to a close. It was a bittersweet day because, although we were happy to have made it all the way through the course, we were sad about our weekly meetings coming to an end. Much as I suspected, I am not the only one who enjoyed working with the same group of ladies each time I went to class.

The six weeks went by quickly and, as I looked around the gym while we were doing our last WOD (Workout of the Day) together, I was surprised and impressed by how far we had all come in such a short amount of time. Everybody looked stronger, we knew the names of the movements we were supposed to be doing (a big improvement for sure; at many times during the six weeks I felt sorry for our instructors- it must have felt like herding cats trying to get us all going the right direction!), and, most impressive of all, nobody was complaining. Having a group of women, who two months ago would not have described themselves as particularly fit or at all CrossFit savvy, working together on a hot, Hawaiian Saturday afternoon and not hearing any complaints about the aches, pains, and sweat is a big accomplishment!

Our final WOD; do you hear the Eye of the Tiger theme from ‘Rocky’ playing?

Our final workout was a team workout, so, while we didn’t do all of the movements on our own, we did all do the 2 burpees every minute on the minute, and that counts for something, right? As a team, we managed to get through almost three rounds (we had just goblet squats and burpees left to power through, c’est la vie) and, I’m ashamed to admit, that when I first looked at the whiteboard and saw the 20 minute cap, I was concerned we wouldn’t make it through one entire round. Essentially what I am trying to tell you is that this group of ladies and I are a bunch of badass mofos and, when there are tacos at stake, we don’t play around.

Our final WOD was followed by a Taco Tuesday (on Saturday) themed fiesta, and it was well-deserved. No matter where we started from, we all worked hard to make ourselves just a little bit better each time we stepped into the gym. Using the guidance provided through the daily emails, we each tried to find a way to eat more healthfully, and, even from day to day, I could see physical improvement in all of us. There were ladies who couldn’t run the entire 400 m warm-up run on day one, and, by the time we were up to running a mile, Coach Gil said it was the first time he had ever had all participants in the New You group finish in under thirteen minutes. Progress! The first time I tried to do an overhead squat holding just the light PVC practice bar, my shoulders and hips were so stiff I almost fell over, and now I can do them, tentatively, with 25 lbs of total weight. Tentative progress, but progress all the same!

Kettlebell swings. To demonstrate how much I’ve learned, I knew to ask if we were supposed to be doing American or Russian style swings.

I’m excited to see how CrossFit will influence my running (yeah, I signed up to continue. That’s how it is with me, I guess; I sign up for things like this thinking it will be a fun, one-off experiment and I’ll have a funny story to tell about that time I trained for a marathon or that time I did several weeks of CrossFit, but then I really enjoy what I’m doing and see changes in myself that I really like and I’m hooked.) In the short-term, the workouts have made me very tired, but I think that is to be expected as my body adjusts to being challenged in a new way (challenged, tortured, po-tay-to, po-tah-to). I think CrossFit will be good at countering the stiffness that running, just by the nature of the fact that your body is always moving the same way, inherently creates. This must be why so many runners I know also like to compete in triathlons because the swimming and the biking force you to do something a little different, but I’m afraid of sharks and I don’t like to put my face in public pools because they are gross, so triathlons seem to be out for me. Also I think that people would laugh at my cruiser if I tried to ride it in a race. So, CrossFit it is, for now.

I think, in the long run, it will help my running. With a stronger core and more balanced strength, I predict that my endurance will increase and I will maybe even become a little faster. Time will tell. I don’t know if I will see these kinds of results in the upcoming Hapalua half-marathon (ummmm…..it’s next Sunday! One week!) because I am so flippin’ tired, but, I am going to take it a bit easier this week to allow my muscles some rest. Of course, it’s also time to start eating some extra carbohydrates- music to my ears; bring on the pasta! Last year I ran this race in about 2:05, and this year I hope to run it in under 2:00. After my fantastic marathon, I thought that this was a pretty achievable goal, but I’m starting to have doubts. I will be happy to knock any time off of last year’s race, and ultimately hope that I don’t add time, but if I’ve learned anything from having trained for two marathons and, now, three half-marathons, it’s that every day is different, and you’ve got to run the best you can in the moment. Here’s hoping my newly-found CrossFit muscles feel revived and ready to help power me on after a week of rest!

CrossFit: it’ll put hair on your lip!