Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Precious

Please note: If you haven't read or seen The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit then some of this might not make the best of sense.  If you have read/seen them then you'll know I'm not the biggest fan because I will probably get a lot of the facts wrong.  Either way hopefully you can hang with me through this....

If you've been reading my blog for long you know I have a kind of love/hate relationship with races.  I love racing and I hate that I don't ever seem to do as well as I want to or think I should have.  Over the years I have had a few races turn out like I thought they would (because I managed my expectations beforehand), but mostly I find a way to be disappointed with myself after the fact for one reason or another.

Following the Rocket City Marathon yesterday a friend of mine was having a bit of a tough time.  He is a race walker who walks faster than some people run.  At the race yesterday he found himself with an athlete who was having a tough day.  They were swept at mile 23.  ((If you don't know what that means it's when the designated last place finisher, in this case the 6 hour pacer, passes you.  Rocket City Marathon has a 6 hour time cut off so when the 6 hour pacers, the course "sweepers", pass you, that means unless you can catch back up to them, you will not be an "official" finisher of the race.))  He could have left the struggling athlete behind and stayed with (or in front of) the sweepers, but instead he chose to hang with this person to the finish. Now that the race is over and his name is not on the official results page he is fighting the urge (or not) to beat himself up over that choice.

I know that feeling all too well.

I know you are wondering how on earth that relates to The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit.  Well...there was a hobbit named Smeagol who found a ring (that he called "precious").  The ring made him a little crazy (a lot crazy).  He developed an evil alter ego named Gollum.  Gollum was bad news.  All Gollum wanted was that ring; so much in fact, he even killed to keep it.  One day a hobbit named Froto was able to get the ring from Smeagol/Gollum (long story but it happened).  Froto could have killed Smeagol/Gollum but he showed mercy and didn't.  Consequently Smeagol submitted himself to Froto and called Froto "master".  There is a scene from The Lord of the Rings (not sure which one) where Gollum is trying to get Smeagol to kill Froto to get the ring back.  I don't want to give anything away because I think it's a great scene so just watch it for yourself here (PAUSE the video at 1:23)

This is very similar to what usually happens with me after a race, and to what is happening with my friend now.  There is this internal battle between the voices.  One side says "You are worthless and a big ole loser because you didn't __(fill in the "finish in under six hours" or "win an age group award" or "set a new personal record"...the list goes on)__."  The other side says something like "I had a great time doing something that I love" or "I enjoyed my day" or "I helped someone else achieve something they might not have been able to if I hadn't been there at that moment in time"....  The Gollum side is accusatory and just down right mean.  That side wants to berate and beat up the other side.

Here's the thing...Smeagol has a choice to listen to Gollum or not.  Gollum wants Smeagol to believe there is no choice.  Gollum wants to take complete control, but watch what happens next (continue to play the video from 1:23).  As Smeagol becomes more brave (I think because he has Froto looking after him) he is able to stand up to Gollum ("LEAVE NOW AND NEVER COME BACK!").

Sculpture by Zenos Frudakis
I think it's interesting what happens when Gollum "leaves".  Smeagol is a little shocked at first.  And then he proclaims freedom!!

Something I have been working on for a while is freedom from my own "Gollum".  I can't say I'm completely free..."he" is still there, but every time I bravely look that hag in my head in the face and speak truth I get closer and closer to being free from that voice.

The key is to know what the truth really is.

In regard to races I MUST know why I'm doing the race in the first place...BEFORE I start it.  In fact, I need to know why I'm doing it before I sign up for it because that will determine how I train.  How I train will determine how I'm able to perform.  How I perform is not driven by what I do as much as it's driven by WHY.  When people make a goal without having a reason to hang on to when getting to that goal gets hard, they won't hang on to the goal.  They will change the goal or give up on it.  But when you know why you want that thing, you can power through hard times and break out of the chains that hold you back.

Sometimes the ultimate goal is to do something you've never done before in order to glorify God as the provider of strength and determination, sometimes the goal is to let go of pride and selfishness and simply enjoy life every day to the fullest.  No one can set your goals for you.  That is something only you can do.  But you darn sure better know why you have that goal, because I can guarantee you that something or someone will come along and want to strip you of your will to get there...knowing why it's important will help you hold on.

When you hold on to the goal it's like Gollum wanting to keep control of the ring (his "precious").  Spoiler alert (if you haven't seen/read the movies/books you might want to skip this paragraph).  In the series the ring is destructive.  Having the ring makes the possessor do things they wouldn't normally do just to keep control of the power the ring gives.  In the end no one overcame the desire to keep the ring for himself.  The very act of fighting over the ring is what destroyed the ring.  The people who knew the evilness of the ring and knew it needed to be destroyed succumbed to it's power  the moment it slipped on their finger.

You can't allow the the goal to gain control over you.  Sifting your goals through your WHY will help you keep the ring off your finger and keep the goal from destroying the joy that comes with true freedom to pursue the why.

Bottom line:  REMEMBER THE WHY.

Until next time...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Doing Dizzy

I have intentionally put off making my post about the Dizzy Fifty 50K.  I was on such a high after the race was over I couldn't have been sure my perspective was clear.

It's been two and a half weeks and my perspective hasn't changed.

I'm SO glad I did that race.  Even with the "injury" and uncertainty leading up to it, race day couldn't have been a whole lot better overall.

Race Morning

I was uncharacteristically calm the night before and the morning of the race.  Well...that's not exactly true.  I was very detached from thought if that makes sense.  I felt like I was watching someone else's life paying out in front of me.  I was so unsure what was going to happen that I think I somehow disconnected from my perpetually busy mind.  I can't say my thoughts were quiet, but they weren't spinning.  It was very much like my mind was in a holding pattern.  Race morning I woke up, had breakfast, packed up my bags and stuff for the race and headed out with only enough time to park, unload and go to the bathroom.  I don't know if I would have recognized my own mother that morning.  Before I knew it we lined up, the gun was fired (literally) and we were running.

The Race Set Up

This race is called Dizzy Fifty because the course is set up in loops.  There is a little loop to start out, then you run a north loop and a south loop three times.  The north and south loops make a kind of figure eight with the middle point being the start/finish of the race.  So you come back to "home base" a total of seven times.  I honestly thought I would hate this because I generally truly dislike loops.  I don't want to come back to where I started during the race.  If I had my way I would probably run point to point races all the time.  The thought of coming back to the "start" SEVEN times was almost enough to keep me from registering.

However, I have to say, I LOVED it.  Shockingly it was pretty perfect for a first time 50K.  I had all my nutrition planned out and ready to go and the loops worked out so that all I had to carry was a hand held water bottle.  If I didn't like running with fluid as much as I do I could have easily not carried anything at all.  Not only that, probably because this is a trail run I didn't remember many parts of the course even the third time I ran it!  I noticed different things each time.  The group I was running with experienced the same thing.  We dubbed it "course amnesia".

The Race

When I started running all the thoughts that had been strangely absent the few days before the race came flooding in.

"Why am I here exactly?"  "Who do I think I am trying to run THIRTY ONE MILES?"  "I might have a stress fracture...or worse, a messed up tendon."  "What if I end up really tearing the tendon...they can't cut this one out."  "This doesn't feel good."  "This is just mile one...what will this be like after 30 more..."  and so on.  Mercifully within the first probaly quarter of a mile, I connected with a good friend I don't see nearly enough.  (Remember the girl with the broken foot who beat me at Iron Girl?  That's her.  She's an IRONMAN now but I'll call her Iron Girl here.)  We talked and talked the whole rest of the little loop which really helped calm my mind and allowed my body to warm up in peace.

When we made home base stop one I had to use the bathroom pretty bad so Iron Girl ran on while I did what I needed to do.  I don't know if the 1st part is the north or south loop because I'm directionally challenged, but the first part you do is the more technical of the two.  This whole course is fairly easy in comparisson to the only other long trail race I've done (McKay Hollow Madness 25K), but when looking at just this race, the first loop (not the little one) is the more "challenging" of the two.

There is a section that goes down hill and then there's a section that goes up hill.  ( have to say that section got longer all three times I did that loop.)  There were people in front me and behind me the whole time, but I mostly ran "alone".  I talked to some people but I wasn't running "with" any of them.  My mind had settled but I was paying very close attention to my leg and evaluating every tinge of discomfort.  I told myself that if a tinge held on for a mile, or got progressively worse than just a tinge, that would be the end of my race. 

First (half) loop done...back to home base.  One of the athletes I coach was also doing this race.  She planned to be a little slower than me so I left a dry erase board at "camp" so we could leave notes to each other.  I wanted to know how she was doing and leave her words of encouragement during the race.  I left her a note, refilled my hand held and headed out for the second half of the figure eight, the "easier" of the two.  This loop winds through the woods in such a way that it feels as if you will be lost out there forever. 

Without having any technical terrain to negotiate, trail running can get a little monotonous if you are alone...which I was.  That monotony began to wear on me quicker than I expected.  I started getting a tad worried.  I pretty much always run alone, but not for 6-8 hours. I quickly halted the return of the internal jibber-jabber and started pondering my usual athletes and my kids' tri teams.  Before I knew it I caught up with Iron Girl and another friend who were looking at some frost flowers.   But, because I had to go to the bathroom AGAIN I told them I would see them back at home base and I went on my way.

First figure eight done!  Only two more to go.  I used the bathroom (again), refilled my bottle, and checked the dry erase board.  I won't share the note my athlete left me (I have to come up with a name for her...) but it was HILARIOUS.  I left on for her and then started running loop two with Iron Girl and the other friend.  The other gal can walk faster than a lot of people can run, she also has an adorable child, so I'm going to call her Fast Momma.

Photo credit.
Starting that loop I had the first bit of course amnesia.  There's a trail that goes beside a Japanese Tea Garden.  I don't understand that part of the park.  Who put a Japanese pagoda in an Alabama State Park??  I remembered running out that way, but not really seeing the signs.  Just as I started getting worried that somehow I had gone the wrong way the first time I saw something I remembered from the first time.  (Not to mention there really is no way to get off the course because it's so well marked.)  We went down the steep part...through my favorite part of the course, and up the hill, talking the whole way about all kinds of things.

I decided very quick that I wanted to stick with them.  They were out there to finish not compete and were doing an undefined walk/run.  It was probably a little slower than I might have tried to go if I were alone, but it was super comfortable and that's exactly what I needed.  Plus the talking made the time FLY by.  An hour felt like 10 minutes and before I knew it we were starting the second half of the second loop.  Another friend came out there to get some miles in for an upcoming Disney marathon (she might be doing the Dopey Challenge, I can't remember), so three became four.  Then four became five when we met up with another gal.  We had little trail train going and I realized why people are getting together to run trails all the time instead of going it alone like I usually do.  It felt like I had been out there maybe a couple of hours but when I checked it had been 5 and we were starting the third and final loop.

I could tell I was getting a little tired and I was very glad this would be the last time I would have to go down that steep part...and up that hill that seemed to double (maybe even triple) in length this time.  Every little stump, every rock, every limb that I ran over I mentally said my goodbyes to.

When we got back to home base before starting the last half of the last loop I had a huge Knight in Bald Head was there!!!  He had gone out to do his run earlier and had planned on coming out to run some with me.  Unfortunately he hurt his leg on his run.  ((Side story...I haven't talked about how COLD it was that morning...funny that I didn't think about that detail this long after the race...but it was probably one of the coldest mornings we had all season.  Well, Dwayne got four miles away from his car and hurt his leg to the point he couldn't keep running at all...and had to walk back FOUR MILES in the freezing cold, soaking wet with sweat.))  I told him I was fine because I was running with the "train of awesomeness" and only had the last half of the last loop to go, about five miles.  At the rate we were going it would take about an hour longer.  He asked about my leg and I had to that point I told him it was the only thing that didn't hurt.

I was feeling surprisingly good in fact, except for my pubic arch.  It felt like I had been riding a skinny horse, or a horribly fitting bike with a terribly uncomfortable saddle, all day long.  I haven't researched this yet to try to figure out why...but I'm fairly certain it stems from weak hips.

As we started out on the final section I could feel, and hear, the fluid in my stomach sloshing around.  It sounded like a half full gallon jug being jostled around.  I fueled the whole race with a product called Tailwind.  I'll write up another post on it, but for now I'll say it worked like a complete charm.  No stomach discomfort and I had more energy than I expected to have.  It's a powder you mix with a  certain amount of water (you MUST drink with it for the fuel to get to the muscles). I had dialed in the amount I would need, but I didn't account for running much slower than I am used to.  I also didn't account for how cold it would be.  Cold and going slow meant I was sweating MUCH less than usual (and using a bit less energy).  Consequently, it created a bit of a "back up" of fluid in my stomach.  And that back up was sloshing around so loud the gal in front of me asked if she was hearing my water bottle!!!  Nope...that would be my stomach.  

How embarrassing...
As we hit the point of the trail that turns and takes you back toward the finish we all cheered a little...headed HOME!!!  Fast Momma was walking so stinking fast we couldn't walk fast enough to keep up, but it was just slow enough we couldn't run either.  We were doing this accordion thing but none of us were willing to break the train.  Everyone was tired.  Combined with the strong desire to be done, we all had an almost fall from tripping over holders and tree trunks (okay...they were pebbles and twigs, but they seem much bigger when you are that tired!).  Thankfully none of us fell.  (I found out later almost everyone had a spill at some point).

We were going to hold hands and cross the "finish line" together, but Iron Girl had gotten pooped on by some tree-dwelling animal like half a mile before we got there and unfortunately found it by reaching her hand up to see what had just hit her head!!!  We could have moved around so that the poopy hand was on the outside but we were all more interested in being done.

Thirty one miles in seven hours thirteen minutes and fifty eight seconds (13:59 pace overall).  I had an unbelievably great experience.  I loved the race, I loved the friends, I loved the day.  My leg didn't hurt that day, and it didn't hurt the next day.  (It hurts off and on and I'm not quite sure what is going on although I have a theory it's inflammation from eating certain foods...more on that in a later post.)  I am more than thrilled I made the decision to run the race.   After it was over I was in a bit of shock. I was in a daze the rest of the day.  I don't think it had anything to do with food.  I think I just couldn't believe it was over and that I had actually done it.  I didn't even have to go home and crash.  It was a really good day all the way around.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction-Shades of Grey

Before I write about my Dizzy experience I want to take a moment to look at my foot/leg "injury".  I put that word (injury) in quotes because I'm not entirely convinced it was a real injury.

There is sometimes a fine line between discomfort and injury.  Discomfort can certainly lead to injury. You will most certainly have discomfort with an injury.  But there is a point at which discomfort turns into actual pain and that is usually when injury is either imminent or has already happened.  Because I'm very much like the Princess in the children's story, for me that fine line is like a vast mountain range.  When something hurts, I generally perceive it as isn't black and white, it's's always grey.

However, in the last four years I have been attempting to learn the difference and embrace inevitable discomfort that comes with endurance sport.  When you cover a large number of miles (large is a relative term...) there WILL be discomfort.  Being able to determine if a sensation is actually pain is difficult if you don't have experience with discomfort in the first place...until you've crossed the line and end up with a diagnosis that confirms actual injury.
Side story...the first athlete I started coaching learned about this dividing line the hard way.  She was feeling something in her leg quite a bit, but she defined that sensation as discomfort (and didn't tell me about it), until the day she realized she couldn't walk properly.  She had more than one stress fracture!! 
The athlete in my side story is much tougher than I am.  See, I don't like to be uncomfortable.  I know some of you are laughing.  How can anyone who doesn't like to be uncomfortable participate in long course triathlon?  How could anyone who doesn't like to be uncomfortable go out in sub-freezing cold and jump in a lake to start a race with 140.6 miles to cover before the finish line?  How can anyone who doesn't like to be uncomfortable run a marathon?  That's why I redefine what is comfortable.

So when I woke up that Saturday morning with undeniable pain in my leg I knew not to run that day. When that pain dissipated it became less clear what to do.  I went to the doctor in the hopes he would tell me the feeling I was having was simple discomfort.

He didn't tell met that.  He said there was a chance it was a stress fracture because when he pressed on the bone in one specific spot it was very tender.  (It wasn't shin splints because the pain wasn't anywhere else except that one spot.)  However, I was most tender on the tendon that runs right beside the bone.  That could have meant it was a fracture right under/beside that spot, or it could have meant the tendon was "irritated" (inflamed or possibly torn).  

He STRONGLY encouraged me to not run the 50K that was to happen just four days later but he didn't have an actual diagnosis for me.  There was about a 70% chance an MRI might give an answer, but there was a 30% chance it would either give a false negative or be completely inconclusive.

I left his office and cried.  I felt like I was right back to where I had been two years ago with my shoulder.  The first doctor I saw for that issue told me I had tendonitis in my bicep tendon and I needed to completely rest it.  I did rest it but, because of a weakness in certain muscles and some bone spurs, even every day movement caused it to be irritated. This new tendon issue (if that is what it was) was likely pretty much the same thing in a different place.  You can't walk without using that tendon.

But I wasn't convinced it was a significant issue.  First of all it had stopped really hurting.  Second of all, it didn't hurt when I walked around.  And third it didn't hurt when he had me put a load on that tendon by pressing my foot into his hand in different ways.  Those same kinds of tests with my shoulder HURT in unmistakable ways.

As convinced as I was it wasn't a significant issue, I was convinced it was on the dangerous side of the "injury continuum".  (If I were better at graphics I would draw a really cool picture to insert here to illustrate this idea, but alas, I'm not!) If no discomfort is "white" and full on injury is "black"...this was more dark grey than light grey.  I knew this because I had been having some issues with the underside of my foot and my calf off and on for a while.  I had attributed it to the discomfort that comes with an increase in mileage.  It was usually gone within around 24 hours so it seemed reasonable.  It made sense that these three issues were all related, quite possibly to the tendon in question.

But, in my mind, I had two distinct options.  I could decide to take the safe path and stay off of it for a while until there was no discomfort at all at any time.  This would assure me, as much as possible, I would go back into the "white" area on the continuum.  Or,  I could test it out to determine how grey the situation really was.  I decided I would not live in fear.  It was silly to me to stay off of my foot in anticipation of it being a full blown injury. I wouldn't really know until I tested it out.  Usually a test would be a short run (or something even less "offensive") but if it was a ("light grey") tendon issue I wanted to give it as much time as possible to resolve before the race.  So I elected to stay off of it as much as possible until the morning of the 50K, and let each mile of that race be the test.  I committed to myself (and my entire support system) that I would not start the race if it hurt that morning, and I would stop if it started hurting.

The hard part was going to be making the delineation between hurt and discomfort.  Doesn't it all go "grey" in a 50K?  I was about to find out. be continued...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Getting to Dizzy

Three weeks ago today I woke up with terrible pain in my left lower leg.  If you look at the was exactly in the spot that is labeled "tibial stress fracture".  Yikes.  

I knew I had pushed some limits the week before with working out at Iron Tribe (specifically running and jumping wearing VERY minimal shoes) on top of my longest run all year (18 miles on trails on Thursday) followed the next day with another longish run (one that was supposed to be 13, but I ended up making it 14.5 for a number of reasons).  

That second run felt GREAT.  I was completely surprised.  About 80% of it was on trails but I ran the other 20% on the road with my worn out, non-stability, trail shoes with their completely worn out inserts.  On trails I don't really seem to need the stability as much, and it usually doesn't matter at all...but running on the road with those shoes was quite obviously a terrible choice.  I have to admit that I did know it at the time, but it felt good so I kept going.

All the choices I had made during the week came flooding back to mind as I tried to make a little hop on that leg (that's a classic "do I have a stress fracture" be clear, I failed that test miserably).  I was scheduled to run that day, but I was smart and not only skipped it, I put my leg up most of the day.  The next morning I woke up and it wasn't much better.  I got on the elliptical for an hour and it seemed to feel okay.  I started telling myself there was no way it was a stress fracture, it was simply sore from the week's work.  

But it hurt.

Monday I tried to stand up in Spin class and felt it acutely so I stayed in the saddle for the entire class.  I had a massage appointment and the therapist really worked my foot and leg over.  She said she really didn't think it was a fracture either.  Whew.

But it hurt.

I tried to run mid week, but the first step HURT so I stopped after 100m.  So I didn't work out that week at all other than Spin class, rowing and modified movements at ITF.  And I started to worry.  I had my first 50K race coming up in a week.  I am signed up for the "Grand Slam" (3 50ks and a marathon in November, December and January).  

I kept telling myself it would be fine...but it hurt.  It didn't hurt all the time so I took that as a very good sign.  But, it did hurt and I couldn't overlook it.  So I went to the doctor 11 days after I failed the "jump test".  After a very thorough examination he told me it might be a stress fracture, or it might be a problem with the tendon.  I'll spare you the details (or I'll put them in another post), but he STRONGLY encouraged me to not run the race.

THAT hurt more than my leg.

I had a heart felt discussion with my husband, my best friend, my coach and another friend who all said it was a very bad idea to run the race.  They all knew I was set on doing it if at all possible and they all tried to talk me out of making a stupid choice.  The doctor had said to let pain be my guide.  The problem with that was that if it was the tendon the worst thing I could do is to have partial healing and then injure it again.  So there was a good chance it would feel fine before and during the race but hurt the next day (like it had done before).

All I could think about was the last two years of dealing with my shoulder...which started out as a diagnosis of tendonitis.  But at the same time I did not want to live by fear.  How on Earth was I going to know if it was going to hurt after the race if I didn't do the race.  I honestly believed if it was really injured it would hurt.  I honestly believed if I hurt I would stop.  And, I honestly believed it was going to be okay.

I made the decision to get up Saturday and go to the start line and see what happened.  I was going to take it mile by mile and be willing to quit if I had to.  I have never quit a race before, but I was willing for this to be the first if that's what had to happen.

So, a week ago today I woke up, got ready and toed the line for my first 50K.  ((I know if you are a reader of my blog, you already know what happened...sorry about that, I should have given a spoiler alert on my last post!)) be continued...


Final Exam and Graduation

I was on a roll there for a while, posting after every Iron Tribe Fitness 101 class...and then life got crazy (as usual!).

We learned several other exercises to finish out the training which will set us up to do the "big kid" workouts.  Then, the last day of 101 was the retest.

If you remember the first night of 101 we learned how to do a proper air squat, kettle bell swing and sit up and we had a baseline test to see where we were starting out with fitness.  I came in "third" out of about 15 with a time of 6:09 (one of the two people who "beat" me was a female...insert glaring competition face here).  During the 4 weeks of 101 I had a few long runs, ended up with a little injury to my leg (more about that in another post) and had a little run in the woods (it was a 50K, 31 miles, a week ago today...I'll write A LOT more about that in another post).

I was more than a little concerned about how I would do in the retest.  I knew my legs were fatigued, and the night before the test I did a WOD with a "Try the Tribe" group* so my upper body was a little sore as well.  My injury didn't seem to be a big factor thankfully, but it wasn't completely gone either.  I not only wanted to beat my original time, I wanted to beat the other gal's baseline time.  ((I can NOT help it...I am competitive.))  Really what I wanted was for her to be at my retest so I could aim to beat her that day, but no such luck.

Anyway, I decided to just give all I had an to be satisfied with whatever result I got.  I started the 200 meter run like a BULLET.  I wish I had timed that run-it was seriously fast.  15 air squats, kettle bell swings (at the prescribed weight not scaled weight**), and situps, then 12 of all three, then 9 of all three...I could tell I was moving faster and I was holding on pretty well the whole time.  The test ends with a 200 meter run.  I was fast the 100 meters going out...but boy was I sucking wind on the way back.  It would have been nice to have someone there to race, but I ended up having to do my retest alone so all I had was my mind to tell me to PUSH.  The air was super cold and I sounded like an asthmatic trying to gulp oxygen into collapsing lungs!!  My chest HURT in that last stretch of run.  I could tell I was slowing down.

The first part of the run, and consequently the last part is a driveway into a parking lot.  You run on a sidewalk, so you go off the curb then back up to start and finish the run.  As I was coming back my mind started telling me I had better slow down or I might fall...what if I break a leg, or worse, my neck...I could hit my head and DIE!!!  ((Yes, I seriously had these thoughts as I was running as top speed.))  Interestingly enough, because of the previous two weeks of dealing with the "injury" I was able to put all of that out of my mind with one little phrase, "I do not live my life in fear."  I was able to push as hard as my body would allow and finish with a time of 5:31.

I cut 38 seconds off what I found out was a good time to start with anyway.  I did beat the other gal's baseline time, but I'm sure she will beat my retest time when she does her test...she is a beast.

Here's the thing...I was amazed at my improvement in the month.  Now, I know there is some speed with comes with familiarity.  But, we didn't do kettle bell swings or sit ups in the regular classes.  We did squats a good bit in conduction with various movements, but, in my opinion, speed wouldn't be a function of being more familiar with a squat.  I truly gave all I had in that baseline test.  I was gassed at the end of it, and I was sore the next day from it.  The improvement I made was even more significant when viewed through the understanding of what I had done in addition to the class in that four weeks.

There is no doubt in my mind that sticking with ITF will allow me to swim, bike and run faster (and more efficiently because I'll be using muscles that have been very under-developed in the past) and do it with less risk of injury.  I have said all along that I needed to add in strength training.  I just haven't done it.  It's very hard for me to go into a gym and do my own thing...and I KNOW what to do.  This "program", for lack of a better word, is more than worth the time and the money it will cost me.  (For the record, I will be going only twice a week since I'll also be swimming, biking and running.  If this were all the exercise someone was getting they would really need to go at least three times a week.)

This is going to be a banner year for me!  I. Can. NOT. Wait!

Until next time...

*What is "Try the Tribe"??  Every month they have a special class where people can come to check the place/program out.  I will be "hosting" my own "Tri the Tribe" event on December 17th.  If you are in the greater Huntsville area and want to come check the place out, please come be my guest.  I will have some door prize drawings and there will be a special offer for any athletes who want to join the Tribe with me.  If your are curious at all...this is the time to check it out!  If you are on FaceBook, you can "join" here.  If you aren't on there, you can comment on this post or email me to let me know you are coming.  There is limited space available and I want to have a good count for some give aways!!  :D

**What is "prescribed" weight and "scaled" weight all about?  Every WOD (workout of the day) has a "prescribed" weight to shoot for.  There is one for men and one for women.  When someone isn't quite strong enough to use the prescribed weight (or do the movement exactly as it should be, like a pull up), they "scale" it down.  So I think the prescribed weight for the kettle bell swing for women is 16lbs (not sure?).  If I couldn't swing that with good form I would go down to 8lbs.  There is "always" a scale or a modification to make an exercise safe and effective.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From Kindergarten to College Math

Yesterday at ITF we warmed up on the rowers, and practiced double unders (I didn't even get one yesterday, but I did manage to spank my own butt with the rope--THAT takes real talent!).  Then we learned how to do the push press and "knees to elbows".

The push press is like the strict press, but with a little dip and jump.  So much of what we do in there is about coordination....making this muscle snap/activate when that other muscle does this other thing.  This move requires the glutes and quads to snap while the arms push the bar up, which also requires the lats to activate.  It's a thing of beauty when it all works together...and all those muscles working together to accomplish the lift means heavier weights can be moved.  

I just realized I added TWENTY POUNDS yesterday to the weight I was struggling with on the strict press last Tuesday!!..

((Sorry...I had to take a moment to do a happy dance!!))

...Then we moved over to the super scary pull up bars.  The rings used for the dips on Monday were on the pull up bars, but they hang down so I wasn't too nervous going over there.  (You think I'm kidding...I'm not really's like going to a Halloween haunted house.  You KNOW there are things in there that are going to jump out at you and you KNOW they are not really going to hurt you, but your blood pressure rises anyway.  That's how I feel when I even think about the pull up bar.)  I started to get nervous, but then the coach broke down the movement.  

Side story about the coach...there are three coaches in this gym, two males and a female.  They all have their own personality (naturally) but the female comes from a gymnastics/dance background.  She really knows how to break movement down in a way that makes it feel like taking baby steps...which is REALLY comforting to me.  It's not "we're going to go over to this bar, jump up and bring our knees  up to our elbows...", it's "we're going to jump up and hang.  Then we are going to activate our shoulders forward and back.  We aren't going to swing like this (demonstrates swinging), but we are going to control our bodies like this (demonstrates the difference and shows us how to tell...)".  
We all had a favorite teacher in far she's my favorite coach in the gym (sorry guys, I know you are the favorites of other people there...).

So...she broke down the movement into pieces I thought I could handle and then I put my big girl pants on and faced that stupid bar.  I hung from it, then I moved back and forth, then I attempted to bring my knees up to my elbows.  I didn't really make it but I sort of did something that almost looked like I was trying to do something like it!  :D

And...theeeen we were introduced to a "new" concept.  


ITF has all kinds of abbreviations for the WOD to making the writing of it simple and easy.  The "!" doesn't mean it's a really excited 10 like I originally thought ("OH--we only have to do 10 really good reps of two things! YAY!!!"  I mean, come on, who wouldn't get excited about that!?) quite.  The coach called it a "differential" but my mathy husband told me it's actually a "factorial".

Whatever it's called, that lovely exclamation point means you do 10 reps of both, then 9 reps of both, then 8 reps of both....and so on down to 1.  If my math is correct that means you are doing 55 of each thing.  I think there should be another way of expressing that because (as everyone who knows me knows) I LOVE the exclamation point!!  (Someone said I AM an exclamation point, and I LOVED that!)  I think seeing that in this WOD and now knowing what it means, and feeling the after effects of it this morning, I don't really think using that symbol is appropriate.  I think it would be better to use something that resembles stairs would be better...or a ladder (although ladders generally go up and down...).

When we got to the WOD I was back to being nervous.  My shoulder didn't REALLY like knees to elbows, but it wasn't hurting.  It was mainly just coming off the bar that it really didn't like at all.  At. ALL.  But once I was off the bar I was pretty okay.  So I decided to just do my best.  I could always take weight off the push press or do V sit instead of K2E (another abbreviation).

I don't think I did, but there is a chance I lost count in there somewhere.  I really tried hard to keep up with what I was doing, but somehow I ended up finishing before the guy in our group.  Now...he was lifting A LOT more weight on that push press that I was, but I was sure he was ahead of me the whole time...but when I thought I was done he was still going.  I have got to get better at that.  (I know it will come with practice because I used to not be able to count swim laps either.)  Either way I didn't take weight off and I didn't do V sits and I didn't hurt myself because I did listen to my body!  

I'm happy to report today that my lats are sore enough I know I worked them pretty hard, but my shoulder does NOT hurt!!!!!  In fact, I would go so far to say it feels a skinch better than usual!!  (I think shoulder day is going to be my hardest and my best day of the workout week.)  Who would have thought?

We also talked about hand care.  I don't know if I talked about it here, but when I was considering doing this ITF thing I watched a video (that I can't find anymore) talking about "hand care" for "rips".  That was almost a non-starter for me but I talked to Turtle (who has been doing CrossFit for years) and she told me rips don't have to happen.  (For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about...when you do a lot of work with barbells or on the pull up bar your hands can get callused and that skin can rip...)  Well...the coach ((I have to think of a name for her)) talked about how to care for your hands to avoid rips, not how to care for them after rips.  (Yet another reason she elevated in my estimation.) I know some of you are thinking it's crazy to do an activity where you have to worry about ripping your hands, but even guitar players have to callus their fingers up in order to play.

One more day and I'll be officially half-way through this introduction.  I'm still loving it....

Until next time...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Double Unders...Not to be Confused with Double Dutch

Tonight at ITF we REALLY went to kindergarten and not only jumped rope, but we also "played" on the rings (at least everyone but me "played" on the rings...I did box dips instead because I was too scared to try the rings since my shoulder is really NOT even close to 100% yet).

Double case you don't know, this is a jump rope thing.  You jump once and swish the rope around twice before your feet hit the ground.  Shockingly it's a wrist movement.  Embarrassingly enough at first I couldn't even get the single under down.  Mercifully the coach told us most people don't get the double under the first night, and many people take months to get it down.  You can guess, I had one goal for the night-to get at least one double under done.

We learned how to do ring dips but I opted out of that one.  The coach said it's not a strength issue for most people but a stability issue.  I can't afford to have my shoulder any more unhappy than it is right now already so I said no to the word "stability", and like I said earlier, I did box dips.  I have to say I didn't think I could do those either.  They didn't feel good, but I did all of the ones I was supposed to do and I'm okay so far.

Lastly we learned how to do a proper weighted front squat.  This seemed to be the thing that hurt my shoulder the most.  Mainly, I think, because the bar is resting on the part of my shoulder that hurts the most.

After we learned our new exercises we partnered up and did the WOD.  A partner workout is one in which you have a set number of rounds/reps and you split it however you want between partners.  We had 3 rounds of: a ridiculous number of double unders ((or WAY more single unders which everyone was doing instead)), some front squats and then ring dips (or box dips in my case).  Only one person could be working at a time and you could switch back and forth as you needed to.   I felt bad for my partner...I was REALLY struggling to jump rope and then my shoe came untied...and then my other shoe came untied!!  I was just glad she didn't beat me with that jump rope!!

On that first round I could't get more than a few jumps in at a time.  But, by the last round I got 40 in a row!!  Then I DID IT...ONE double under!!  I couldn't do another one, but I did ONE!  Goal MET!!  :D  I can't honestly say, but I don't think my partner and I were last tonight.  I think there was one other group that had a little bit harder time than we did.  I was consumed with the fact I couldn't jump rope and with the fact I was too scared to even try a ring dip to really notice anyone else's time.  But, if I don't listen to my body no one else will so it's up to me to decide what I can and can't do...what I will and won't do.

Still lovin it.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

SLURP....(that's me drinking the Koolaid)

Thursday at ITF we got to use the rowing machines!  I know it's silly, but these are the nicest rowers I've used (that's not saying much, I haven't used many...), and I was rocking the row.  And we learned how to do a proper dead lift.
Unlike rowing, I've had experience with the dead lift.  But, as I told my coach when we got started, I know I've never done it correctly because I have NEVER felt it anywhere (except sometimes my lower back, but not in a "oh that's working a muscle" kind of way, more like a "that's not supposed to feel like that" kind of way).  The theme of the day was "you can't recover from a bad set up" we spent a LONG time on proper set up for this exercise.  We build the move from the ground up starting with where our feet belong all the way up to our head.  Since there were only three of us there we got a lot of individual attention along the way.

The WOD was three rounds of rowing/dead lifts/squats-for time.  I came in second (the guy beat me so I'm not crying over it...).  I realized when it was over that I really could have lifted a good bit more weight...but I didn't know what to expect so I went with the standard "women's 101 weight".

I have to say...I'm three classes in and I'm hooked.  I love it.  I absolutely love it.  It's short enough that it's not onerous.  It's varied enough that it's not boring.  It's tough but doable.  And, since you are doing it for time there's an element of competition (with your tribe mates and with yourself).  I love that we encourage each other, we push each other (well, I see the regular classes doing that with each other...we are just starting out so we aren't really there just yet with each other....well, I do it because that's just who I am...)

I can't say that I'm at the point I will tattoo the logo on my chest (I'm not even there with Iron Man)...but I have definitely hit the "Koolaid Point" and I'll be downing another big pitcher full this week.

Running update:  After Thursday's workout I did my long run (18 miles and they were pretty decent trail miles).  Friday I ran another 14.5.  But yesterday I didn't do my run because I am in fact listening to my body over the slurping of the Koolaid.  I hadn't gotten nearly enough sleep all week so I went to bed early Friday night and slept late Saturday (6:30!!).

"Diet" update:  (I really dislike that word...maybe I'll call it the "lifestyle update"?)....Well....I should probably change the title of this blog post to "drinking the Kombucha", but I won't since only a few people would get it.  I have become "that person".  I had a "big cooking day" today in order to get ready for the coming week.  I made a chicken and deboned it.  I made a huge batch of sausage.  I made tuna and chicken salad.  And I have a menu planned for the week.  All-in-all I think it's worth the effort I'm putting into it.  I haven't seen any change on the scale but I have seen a slight change in the way pants are fitting.  More than that, I've felt a change in my brain (no brain fog) and in my gut (although that isn't great's better than it was).  I think the reason it's not great is that there is a group of foods (FODMAPs) that cause digestive issues for a lot of people (i.e. gas, bloating...irritable bowl syndrome...).  Cleaning up my diet has almost spotlighted the fact that FODMAP foods give me trouble.  I have hit a decent groove with food right now so I'm not going to complicate things more by taking that group out too right now.  But I am trying to pay attention to it as much as I can.

Now...let me get back to my Koolaide/Kombucha....  


Until next time... 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I really like it when people know what they are talking about.  There are people who can bluff with the best of them, but when I know material that someone else is talking about and what they say matches what I already know, and it's something that not everyone knows, I'm impressed.  (Did you follow that?)

This morning Blair (operations manager at ITF) talked to us about why they support the Paleo "lifestyle".  He didn't get fuzzy on why, he spelled it out in technical terms and was spot on with what he was saying.  This "fireside chat" was after the WOD...which was after the instruction for the day.

So...let me back up.  I got to the gym a little early so I could see what goes on in a regular class.  I got to see a friend, who is a little bitty thing, clean and jerk what looked like more than her own body weight! (I don't know if it was, but I'm fairly confident it was...)  I got to see big burly guys using straps to do a pull up (which is comforting because I know that's the only way I'll be able to do them--at least for a while...).  I got to see a girl trying really hard to clean and jerk and just not making it, but she kept trying.

As I was wrapping my mind around the possibility of actually EVER being able to attempt any of that, Blair told me it was shoulder day.  I have to admit, I almost suddenly remembered a meeting I had to get crossed my mind to say I could hear my mother calling, but he must have seen the panic in my face because he told me it was going to be fine.  I explained that I had surgery in January and my shoulder isn't 100% just yet.  He reminded me that any movement could be scaled down.  And then it was time for 101 to start so I couldn't duck out.

There were only three of us there (you can go at 6:15am or 7pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday--either time you want...apparently 7pm is a much more popular time to work out.)  We started with a little 200m warm up jog and did some dynamic exercises to get our bodies ready.  Then we learned how to do a proper "strict press" (shoulder press) and a proper push up.  I can really tell I haven't been doing my shoulder PT because I couldn't even do ONE regular push up.

Today's WOD was three rounds of run/presses/push ups.  I was feeling pretty good the first round even though I had to break it down into chunks (I couldn't do 21 shoulder presses at one time, I had to take "mini-breaks".)  It was timed again.  I was feeling fairly decent for the first set.  The second set was a little more taxing and I ended up having to use a thing for the pushups that kept me from going all the way to the floor (because I couldn't get back up!).  The third set did me in.  I came in last this time.  There's a slight chance I lost count.  If so I did extra because I wasn't sure, but I don't think I did...I'm just THAT weak in my shoulders (well the left one anyway).

I'm reminded again why I'm doing this crazy thing.  Is it really important to me to be able to lift heavy things?  Not really...although it is pretty cool to be strong.  But getting stronger will surely help me swim, bike and run faster.  At the very least it will help prevent injury.  As a side note, I'm really thrilled they promote Paleo too.

...after I left the gym I got a beet juice from The Juice Bar before meeting Daisy for a run.  We didn't get to run more than the warm up together because I had a mile repeat workout and she was running steady.  But it was nice to know she was there and we got to cool down together afterward.

Tomorrow is a recovery ride that I will probably replace with a nap.  I'll update you on the "diet" tomorrow as well.

Until next time...

**Not sure what a "clean and jerk" this...

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Think I'm Going to Like it Here

Tonight was the first night of 101 at Iron Tribe Fitness.

Let me first say how much I love the space we work out in.  I know it's a silly thing to start off with, but it's a first impression that hits you when you first pull in from the street.  It's a cool industrial red brick building with an interior that says "I'm here to sweat" (no, not literally).  I'm not a "reviewer" so I won't pretend to be able to describe things about the place in a way that will give you a good mental image. I'm there to work out so I won't be taking pictures either.  I did scroll through about a hundred photos on the Iron Tribe Huntsville Face Book page and came up with this one to show you want the outside looks like.  (I don't know who any of the people are so I blurred out the faces.)

I met some nice people before we got started.  We met the coaches and then we introduced ourselves, telling a bit about why we're there.  (I said "I'm here to practice what I preach.")  We got warmed up with some dynamic movements and then learned the proper way to perform three every day functional movements-the air squat, the kettle bell swing and the sit up.

Now, I know what you are probably thinking.  "I don't do squats or sit ups every day...she's crazy."  But, my guess is that you do.  Almost everyone sits on (and gets up from) the toilet at least once a day (maybe you have to use hand rails to lower/raise yourself?), everyone gets out of bed (maybe you roll out?).  ...I've been trying really hard to think of a movement that resembles the kettle bell swing, but I don't think I do that movement at all much less every day.  But, here's the hips are SUPER weak so just like a person who might roll out of bed and not use their ab muscles (for what ever reason), I don't use my hips as much as I "should" so it's not surprising I can't think of anything I do like that.

After we learned how to do the movements properly, we did a baseline test to get an idea of where we are starting from.  As soon as I found out the test would be timed my competitor kicked in.  I started sizing up the room to see who might be the biggest "threat".  Then I remembered to keep myself in check because I will be getting up in less than 12 hours to go back to the gym for day two, then I'm doing a seven mile run tomorrow (mile repeats, so not a leisurely stroll), not to mention I have an 18 miler -after my strength workout- on Thursday).  ((No, I'm really not doing too much...and I'll explain why I'm saying that in tomorrow's post...))

We started with a little run then did descending sets of the three exercises we learned, and finished off with another little run.  I started a bit slower than I needed to because I didn't know what to expect.  I've got to say that's the most squats I've done in one workout in well over a year and I've never even held a kettle bell before tonight.  (Sit ups aren't an issue, but the way we did them was a little different than I'm used to (in order to get a full range of motion).)  When I got to my last set I realized just how easy I was taking it and picked it up to finish strong.  I felt like I probably gave about 90% effort (knowing I have a heavy workout week ahead and this is not all I'm doing made a difference in what effort I was willing to lay out there).

Well...time for bed because I'll get up early tomorrow to join the morning group at 6:15.  For now I'll leave you with this:

Yeah, yeah, I know it's pretty darn one is going to be drawing me a bath at the gym...but as I drove away I couldn't help but sing to myself, "I think I'm gonna like it here..."

Until next time...

((In case you were wondering, I came in "third" (out of maybe 15ish?) but I'm pretty sure no one really cared; they didn't have medals or awards and there were no ranking or scores being kept.  They did make note of the time because we'll do the same test at the end of the 101 month to see how far we progress.  And, in case you're wondering, the person I thought was going to give me a run for my time came in second.  She's training for the marathon so she probably didn't give all she had either but I want to beat her at the end...I can't help it.  Even if I didn't say it, if you have been reading my blog at all you know, I'm thinking it.))

Friday, October 24, 2014

Who Wants Easy?

not me, not my kitchen
It's been eight days!  I think I may have cooked more home made meals (things that involved measuring and reading a recipe) this week than I did all last month! I have never been a "cook" but I have always wanted to be one.  I finally realized it's like anything else...if you want to do something well, you have to keep doing it and REFINING the way you do it.

I remember the first time I made chicken pot pie (no, not in my current way of eating...this was almost 25 years ago).  I went to the store, bought all the ingredients, went home, followed the recipe and made the dish.  As my husband and I were eating we were talking about how good the flavor was but that it was dry.  I went to the fridge to get something to drink and realized I completely forgot to add the milk!!  FOUR CUPS OF MILK!!!  No wonder it was dry!!  The second time I made it I made sure to pour the milk into cups where I was mixing the veggies on the stove so I wouldn't forget.  That would have worked if only all the milk was in one cup/bowl.  Unfortunately for me it was in two cups...and I only used one of them!!!  But, hey-at least that time it wasn't as dry!

You'd think the third time for the chicken pot pie was a was if you think following the recipe to a T is what it takes.  I used all the ingredients and I followed the recipe, and found it to be WAY too runny!!!  If I had never had it as dry as I had I might not have realized what I needed to
change in order to fix it to make it better.  I might have thought it was good enough.  Instead I knew that 3 cups was about right.

Anything in life we desire to do well will require some mistakes and a learning curve.  Some things have a steeper curve than others.  I have found doing those things to be well worth the time and effort more than doing the easy things.

I am beginning to feel really good again.  I'm breathing easier and I've had a few pain free day, some good runs and a good swim.

MONDAY is the day I go back to kindergarten!!  I better go buy my sleep mat...

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"What DO you eat?"

I've been getting that question for over four years now and the answer hasn't changed a whole lot until last week (upon introduction of the Paleo Approach).

Mid-2010, after a blood test told me I was allergic to/intolerant of a whole host of foods I embarked on a new way of eating.  I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition, Hashimoto's wherein the immune system attacks the thyroid to the point it stops working properly.  I had read that food allergies/intolerances* could cause that problem so I cut out all the foods I tested positive for.  After several months of eating that way (about 85% of the time) and not taking my thyroid hormone, my blood work came back worse than it had ever been.  I was very upset.  I discounted the fact that I felt better than I had in years, and I started this yo-yo thing with my nutrition that has been the bane of my existence.  I would eat "bad" food, enjoy it in the moment, feel bad a day (or three) later, resolve to be "better", start eating "well" for a while then some temptation would come along and derail me all over again.

I was caught in this cycle not only because food tastes good and I like to eat but also because I wasn't convinced this list of food was really all "bad" for me.  I didn't know what they were doing to my body other than this test said they spiked an immunoglobulin (IgG*) at the time of the test.  I had read a lot of research that said the kind of test I took is notoriously unreliable and would likely give different results every time.  I had also read some on "leaky gut" which basically (in a very small nutshell) says that eating "bad" food causes intestinal permeability (leaky gut) which allows microscopic bits of food to enter the blood stream causing the immune system to attack.  The immune system sees that thing as a threat to the body and develops antibodies to it.  Autoimmune conditions develop when the system goes into over drive and/or the antibodies attack tissue in the body that looks like that attacker.  (From what I have read thyroid tissue "looks" very similar to gluten to the immune system.  You know that saying "they all look alike"?  Well, apparently our immune "cells" can't see very well...)

Anyway...every thing I read lead me to believe that I wasn't doing myself any favors by simply replacing all cow's milk with almond milk.  All I might have been doing is developing antibodies to almonds.  I "knew" I needed to heal my gut, but I didn't know how.  The only thing I could really find on that topic basically amounted to "doctors" trying to sell expensive services that may or may not work.

Then along came a friend who told me about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).  She was sold on the "diet" because it had helped her immensely.  I wasn't sure I wanted to try another diet.  What I really wanted was to go back to school to learn about the immune system so I could figure out WHY my body was attacking itself.  I didn't want something that was going to "fix" it as much as I wanted to know why it happened in the first place so I could make sure it didn't happen again.

One day after another big "I-don't-care-if-it-kills-me,-I'm-going-to-eat-whatever-I-want-to" weekend (or month), I read a post on a private AIP Face Book group I'm part of that talked about this woman with Hashimoto's not taking meds and finally feeling really good because she was strictly following the AIP.  I googled AIP and found this:  The Paleo Mom website.  I watched the video describing what's in her book The Paleo Approach and was particularly impressed with all the science in it.  She wasn't just going to tell me what not to eat/what to eat, or give me recipes that were impossible for me to follow, she was going to tell me WHY I shouldn't eat certain things and WHY other things were so good for me.  She was going to tell me WHY my body was attacking itself and what I could do to change that!!  (EXACTLY what I wanted!)

So I ordered the book and have read about 75% of it.  It reads like a very well written textbook.  The Paleo Approach not a cook book...that's a companion book I also bought!  We started this new way of eating Thursday.

The biggest question I get is, "what can you not eat?"  Well...there's a pretty long list right now.  When I start giving that list I invariably get the question, "what DO you eat".  Meat and veggies....but only certain veggies.  There's a good long list of veggies:  broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes....too many to list out really.  I also eat berries and some fruit.  I don't eat ANY grains, seeds or nuts.  (When I tell people this they invariably give me the "whaaaat" look...if they haven't already.)

Will this be forever?  If I feel better and my body starts healing...yes, it will be.  Why wouldn't it?  Are Oreos really worth the price of my health and well-being?  (No...the answer is no...)

Until next time...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Before, Now, and Looking Ahead

I said I was going to be transparent it is.  My before pictures.  Although I did take some pictures of me in a bikini (standard before shots), I am not going to be that transparent.  I decided to take my public pictures in something I would likely be seen in public wearing-a bike top and compression shorts.  

For the record, I'm much happier with these pictures than I am with the bikini pictures.  :D  This top is a little on the snug side and the shorts ride up BAD when I run in them which I like to think will change when I lean up.  Don't send me hate mail, I'm well aware that I am not the typical "before" look.  My overall goal isn't really to lose weight.  I want to lose body fat and increase lean muscle.

Here are my measurements:

Flexed bicep L 10, R 10.5
Waist @ belly button 29
Upper hip 38.5
Widest part of my hips 41.5
Thighs L 22.5 R 23
Calf 14
Weight 135

I don't have number goals.  I know that by chaining the way I am eating and adding in strength training my body is going to change.  I feel a little silly posting this because, again, I know I'm not what most people would think of when they here "before".  But here's where I really started from:

This was my first Cotton Row finish line picture in 2010.  I weighed around 150ish then.  I've worked hard to get to where I am now.  I've been leaner, faster and stronger in the past than where I am right now, but I'm excited to think about where I'm headed.

"Diet" Update

Dwayne and I started the Autoimmune Protocol Thursday.  I have already been able to tell a difference in my gut.  I'm not bloated as usual, and things feel settled.  I'm not used to eating this much protein so we'll see how that goes but for now I'm finding it worth the effort to cook all the time.  I talked to friends of ours (a couple) who have been Paleo (not AIP) for about three years.  The wife said she was having an issue with her shoulder before they started.  It wasn't serious, just achy all the time.  She said once they changed their diet that went completely away.  (It has to do with reduced inflammation.)  I have felt really very good overall.  I can't say I'm significantly better but I ran well Thursday, recovered well for Friday's run and then again for Saturday's run so I'm pleased.

If you want to know more about the "diet" (way of eating...not a "diet" that has a beginning and an end), check out the Paleo Mom's website.

Until next time...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Muddy Waters

Yesterday I told you about starting up strength training at Iron Tribe Fitness.  I got to thinking, I have to update you on all the changes I'm making right now because the water will be a bit muddy when trying to figure out the main reason for me becoming a beast over the next few months!!  :D

I have started a new way of eating (yes, again).  It only took about 10 people telling me about the book "Paleo Approach" for me to decide to check it out.  I couldn't put it down.  It reads like a text book, but a fascinating one.  It's rich with science and the reasons WHY a person (like me) can have an immune system that is attacking it's own host body!  She doesn't just say "eat/don't eat these foods" she goes into what certain foods are doing in the gut.  I'm all in.  My husband is all in (as long as I keep him fed).  My daughter is putting her foot in for now.

Day one was yesterday.  It's too soon to tell anything specific, but I'm pleased with how I'm feeling this morning.  I ran 16 mostly trail miles yesterday (pretty hard for me on trails).  I expected to wake up pretty sore given how I felt last night, but so far so good.  We'll see how I feel when I run my 11 road miles today.*

...I'm counting down the days until I start with ITF...10 days from today!

Who needs a new year to start something radically different?  Not this girl!

Next time I'll tell you about the Grand Slam of races I'm doing the next three months!

Until then...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Going to Kindergarten

Not mine....taken from the internet!
I think my first introduction to strength and conditioning was a physical fitness test I took when I was in elementary school, maybe 3rd or 4th grade.  I remember going to another school's gym on a Saturday and having to do several exercises.  I was told at the time the president wanted to know how fit I was compared to other kids.  I remember feeling very proud that the president cared that much about me!!  :D  I don't remember doing anything prior to that test to get ready for it or following up on it afterwards.  But I did play kickball or chase at recess twice a day every school day (unless it rained and we were forced to stay inside) until 7th grade when we exchanged recess for PE.

Not me...taken from the internet!
I HATED PE.  I hated changing, I hated sweating in the middle of the day (with my new 7th grade stink).  The thought of showering was completely out of the question.  I hated having to display my complete lack of athletic prowess in front of all the kids who just new how to hit a volleyball, throw a baseball or shoot a basketball with the ease of a professional athlete.  I hated the oversized generic brand shoes my mom bought for me thinking I'd grow into them.  I hated the polyester shorts they made us all wear.  I did everything I could to get out of as much as I could, or at least do as little as I could get away

Really me!
Fast forward to my senior year of high school.  My parents were in the Arkansas Army National
Guard.  As a senior, they convinced me enlisting was the route to take to have my college paid for so I signed up.  I knew I would have to go to Basic training which would mean doing a minimum number of pushups and sit-ups and a timed 2 mile run, so I started going to the gym.  I loved sit ups.  I felt like I could do them all day that's what I focused on when I would go.  I would walk around the gym floor 13 times (that was a mile), and I would workout some on the machines, but I spend the better part of my time doing sit-ups.  When I went to Basic training I might have been able to do about 25 pushups in the 2 minute time frame they gave for the test.  Although that wasn't enough, we had to do enough pushups I didn't need extra practice for that!  I was able to keep up in the short runs we did in PT (physical training) enough that I wasn't required to join in "remedial training".  Naturally since I wasn't required, I didn't.  When I took my final PT test, I passed the pushups with ease, came close to maxing on sit-ups and BARELY scraped by on the run (sort of).

I used the Video not the album...
Fast-forward to when I got out of the military.  I have talked before about how I would use physical activity to lose some weight here and there.  I did step aerobics with Jane Fonda, I joined a couple of different gyms along the way, mainly doing group classes.  I would work out on machines every now and then.  I walked; every so often I would try to run.  Sometimes when I got particularly motivated I would tear out the pages of a "SELF" magazine and say I was going to do the 10 minute strengthening workouts they advertised.  (I didn't ever actually do them, at least not ever more than once!).

Fast forward to 2008.  I got a flyer from my local gym advertising personal training.  I went to see Warren Martin who convinced me he could help me get in shape.  And, he DID.  It was amazing.  I started out meeting with him just once a week, but after a couple of weeks stepped that up to twice a week.  He pushed me even when I whined saying I just couldn't do what he was asking me to do.  He also helped me morph my nutrition plan.  In about 10 weeks I lost about 10 pounds and gained a significant amount of strength.  After the 12th week I decided I could do what we were doing on my own and stopped paying for personal training....and very quickly stopped going to the gym.

I tell my husband he can't touch those arms or they'll deflate!
Since I started running, and then triathlon, and then even coaching, I have tried on numerous
occasions to add strength training into my plan.  I became a certified personal trainer and a certified TRX trainer.  I have been a member of three gyms at one time (thanks to teaching and training I am not paying for memberships anymore).  I, of all people, KNOW what to do.  And, when I do it I really enjoy it, and make gains in strength quickly.

And...I don't do it.

I did PT for my shoulder longer than I've done anything, but I stopped even doing that a couple of months ago (and I can tell).  I know I need to do it more now than ever.  I preach all the time to other people that women over 40 NEED strength training to stay healthy.  And I know I need strength training to  prevent injury.  And I know doing it will help me perform better.

And...I just don't do it.

So, when I was invited to try out the program at Iron Tribe Fitness I jumped.

I jumped back actually.  My mind started coming up with all kinds of reasons I shouldn't/couldn't do this thing.   I told Blair (manager/coach) how scared I was and his response was something I'm totally going to steal.  He said, "It's like attending kindergarten...everyone is nervous!  Did you make it through kindergarten?"  So I this time.  I will start "kindergarten" October 27th, three days a week for month long 101 Program.  ((For the record, I OWNED kindergarten like BOSS!!!  That was the very best analogy he could have used!!))

I have decided to be very bold and vulnerable and post about my experience here.  I'm posting for two reasons.  When (not if, but when) I get scared I know I will have this stake in the ground (((yes, I get scared to death even though I'm a coach...haven't you read my posts?!)))  Also, I am positive there will be a major transformation in my body and my abilities;  I want to be able to look back on this time and remember where I started.  And IF I forget I will read this post and REMEMBER WHY I'M HERE!!

Until next time...