July 30, 2012

Hooray Fitness!

New things are brewing and it's getting very exciting over here!

First off, I signed up for Big Sur International Marathon at the end of April. It's a race I've always stared at in the magazines with pictures of the beautiful coast. It won't be a race to make good time, but instead a race to simply have a good time. It is definitely not flat and who would want to whiz past the gorgeous views anyway. (Though I do HOPE I am able to increase my speed from my marathon debut at MCM).

I've finally adjusted to life here in Colorado, just to have it shift again. I've been enjoying my leisurely mornings of sleeping in, making coffee and lazily lounging around the house until I need to clean, do laundry or cook. There has not been much exercising going on. I think I am slightly mentally scarred from my past year of running to convince myself to get back out there and tackle some miles.  Instead, I've been eyeing the cross fit gym that is just a couple miles down the road from the house. Since taking one cross fit class long ago in Macon, GA, I have been interesting in joining the cross fit family but I just haven't been able to commit. It's a lot of money and it never seemed to fit in with my racing schedules. I know you can technically pull up the work outs yourself and manage, but I KNOW I have crap form and I want someone to be there to tell me to squat lower, hold the bar here, etc...

Well, I finally have a job that will begin sometime in the next week. Yay money! This will afford me the opportunity to indulge myself with cross fit classes, buy a bike, and join an indoor pool so I can hone my freestyle swimming skills.  So today, my alarm went off at 5:20 for me to get dressed and head to the gym for my 6am Crossfit Elements Part One of Six intro. We covered air squats, front squats, back squats, overhead squats and burpees, and after we got a hang of everything we did 10 min AMRAP of 5 front squats, 5 burpees, 5 overhead squats.

10 min feels long when you already did tons of practice squats and burpees and then all of a sudden have to throw a workout in after. I completed almost 10 rounds, just shy with 3 overhead squats remaining. I more than held my own, being the only girl in the intro group and narrowly missing the lead amount for completed rounds in our group. Not that that is what cross fit is about, part of what I love about it all. You do it for yourself, you are your only competition. It felt SO good to sweat like that and feel like I was actively moving towards building more muscle and changing my body...which has gotten slightly soft over the past two months I've taken completely off from working out O:) Plus, what a great way to finally meet people in our town! I get to go back again Wednesday morning for part two, pretty excited.

So why would I want a bike and to learn how to competitively swim? Well...I just finished reading a book called Finding Ultra, by Rich Roll...a great, great book about a man who turns forty and decides to change his life around and accomplishes some amazing feats of endurance. He does some Ironmans in the book. Previously before reading that book, I read another book...one of my favorites, The Long Run. Such a great book and very inspiring. He completes an Ironman. I am now reading Heart of Iron and I am quickly moving through it because it is just so good. The things this man is able to overcome and accomplish...just wow. So in the very beginning of the book, he is describing competing as a special interest registrant in the Ironman Championships.

These themes start to get into your head a bit when you are looking to workout again but aren't entirely sure of jumping back into the ultra running scene just yet. Since we moved here, I've been wanting a bike so I can cross train and just recreationally ride. That somehow took on a new life when I started reading Heart of Iron to me just browsing online at the half ironman list in the USA. Then I noticed one that is driving distance, 8 hours, from here in Lawrence, Kansas. And it's in June...so it provides ample time for me to build up my body through crossfit, get endurance on the bike, and become a better swimmer all before the try season rolls back around next year.

So long term goals to work towards, Big Sur Marathon and Half Ironman Kansas.
Short term goals: work on swimming, biking, and running endurance. Keep straightening up my nutrition.

Registration hasn't opened yet for Kansas, but I'm pretty convinced that I will sign up when it does!

July 16, 2012

Reflection

Well just when I thought I was getting back into keeping this thing up to date with the last post, I fell off the writing horse again and into a sloth-like state.

I haven't been running. Like...at all (but I was doing Crossfit Endurance). And that's okay. In fact, it's more than okay. I think it is exactly what my body and my mind needed after the chaos of the past two years:

Started running July 2010
Ran first half October 2010
(seems like a big gap here but I did a few small races)
Ran first trail half September 2011
Ran first marathon October 2011
Ran first 50k May 2012 (wow...after typing that I just realized how soon ago that was...seems like longer)
Attempted first 50 mile June 2012.
Shortly after the 50 mile attempt, I vowed not to run for at least a month to let my body finally heal and give my mind a break from all the torment I have put it through.

It's been a whirlwind running career in my opinion. My first half marathon I ran a little under the weather and a little down in the soul when I hadn't seen my dad or stepmom on the course and missed my mom and friends at the first cheering spot.

I injured myself during my first trail half, twisting my ankle twice. Once at the 6 mile marker with a very audible POP, dusted myself off and kept running only to twist is again at mile 11 at which point damage was definitely done. I had to take off a good stretch of time to let that heal...all before my first full marathon. Needless to say, I ran the marathon but I wasn't in the best condition I could have been, physically or mentally. Life lessons.

The 50k in Bear Mountain was a true test to me. I wouldn't take it back for the world because I saw great inspiration at that race through many of the competitors, and I made a great running friend who motivated me to cross that finish line.  The drawback was that I picked an excruciatingly difficult race only a month before my 50 miler. Very challenging ups and downs left my knee shredded after the race and it definitely took a toll on my training for the month leading up to North Face.

North Face was a completely different beast. Had I not been injured (story of my running life...) and had I not been up to my shins in mud from the downpours of rain the night before the race, I think I would have completed the race with flying colors. I don't doubt my ability anymore. I will always remember how clumsy I am though. I fell more than once that day, as I suspect many people did, but two of the falls resulted in damage to my other ankle and my knee again.

What I am trying to get at here is that clearly I needed a break. Big time. I almost think I needed time away from thinking of it all, strategizing, planning out each run and what to eat, where to go, what to wear, on and on more than my body needed the recovery. I needed a break to reel my mind back in from so much negativity that started circling with each perceived failure. I say perceived because I don't consider bad runs failures anymore. Looking back now after my month plus of reflection, I learned something from every single run. Every trip over a root, every mis-ingested gel, every ill-timed outing. I am now a wealth of running information thanks to all of those blunders and successes.

I am now ready to take all that knowledge back out onto the road and start again. But I want to do things the right way this time. I've been reading Finding Ultra by Rich Roll. I guess you can say I drank the kool-aid on this one because this guy has me convinced that I need to change a few things about my lifestyle. First up and probably the most difficult, I need to alter my diet. Less meat focus, more veggies and fruits. Less processed foods. Time to think more about what I am getting out of everything I'm eating and how it is impacting my body and training and general well being. He makes a very strong case for the plant-based lifestyle, but that's something that I will have to eeeease into, if I ever make it there fully.

Rich Roll also talks about his journey to compete in Ultraman, an intense three day competition that is invitation only for a few lucky competitors. It's insane: day one entails a 6.2 mile swim, followed by a 90 mile bike ride. Day two is a 170 mile bike ride, and Day three culminates with a 52 mile run. Pretty insane (I hope I got those amounts right...). He went from barely active at all in his life to all of a sudden training for six months for this beast of a challenge. His coach taught him how to change his thinking and concentrate in the immediate on changing his lactate threshold (which I know mine is not good at all). He ran for months only in the Zone Two, keeping his heart rate in the aerobic zone. This eventually allowed him to run for much longer, and eventually longer and faster.  It is essential for endurance athletes.

Since I am just getting back on the horse, that's how I intend to start. Slowly, small runs in my Z2, building up time but keeping it in the zone. After I get a job and a paycheck, I also intend on buying a bike so I can cross train and keep my muscles balanced.

I still want to incorporate Crossfit Endurance into my fitness regimen. We'll see how it goes. So far I have Big Sur International Marathon on my list of registered races, April 28, 2013. I've been wanting to run it, so I am extremely excited I was able to register.

Happy trails!