#3 of 40 is in the books

I signed up for the Charlottesville 10-miler yesterday because evidently I hate myself.  As my friend Erin says, “you’ll thank me around mile 8.”  Right, because mile 8 is where I am going to feel thankful that she talked me into a long run!  So, I suspect I will get to the 40th 5K pretty soon in the year, but still want to do many of them with friends, so I will go far over 40 5Ks if I need to!  Running didn’t feel good today (it never really does).  So, I walked about 1/4 mile and then ran until I got to 1 mile and then walked about 1/4 mile, ran until I got to 1 mile, etc until I was at 3.1 miles.  And that definitely couldn’t have come too soon!!!  Here are today’s stats:
13-jan-2019 5k

#3 of 40 is in the books, y’all!!!!

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#2 of 40 is complete

As this week wore on and snow threatened, I wondered when and where I would get 5K #2 for the year in.  It’s cold outside and many of the trails I use would be treacherous in snow or ask that you don’t use them in sloppy weather to prevent erosion.  And I HATE going to the gym just after the new year.  It’s just too crowded to enjoy a workout, especially walking or running around the track 38-ish times.  Going to the gym in January feels #JustLikeThisit-begins

I got lucky this weekend.  I don’t have big plans AND the snow is going to hold off until mid-day today.  It’s cold, but George and I ate a good breakfast, leashed up the dogs and headed to Preddy Creek Trails Park, which is one of my favorite places for a quick and fairly easy hike, to cover the distance.  It’s also one of my favorite places to try to walk/jog/run in under 45 minutes when I am well trained.  So, 5K #2 is DONE.  Thank you to George for making sure I didn’t have to do it alone.  Today’s journey looks kind of like a vulture:
2019 5k number 2

And I wasn’t BSing about donating to the charity of my training companion’s choice.  George chose this family to receive the $10 donation.  This family lost their several generation family home to a fire over Thanksgiving and, while they had insurance, it’s not enough to build back what they had.  George has know them for years from the Charlottesville music scene and I met them through him a few years ago.  The family is so kind and so active in the community and all of them are insanely talented musicians!!!  Today they will receive $10 from me and I would encourage you to make a donation as well if you have a bit you can spare.

2 of 40, in the books, y’all.

Fitness and Philanthropy in 2019

Hello gentle readers (all of you….I think I am up to like 8 now):  2019 is going to be a year of fitness and philanthropy for me (and hopefully also for several of you).  In addition to the likely 7 Spartan Races I will do (I am signed up for 6, currently, and it seems silly to stop 1 Beast short of a 2X Trifecta), I am also completing FORTY 5Ks.  Here’s the premise though, they don’t necessarily have to be run and they don’t necessarily have to be part of an “organized” race.  The goal is just to cover the distance at least 40 times this year.  That could be walking, running, hiking, cartwheeling, swimming…….ok, not really swimming because that is a LONG ASS swim (according to Google, that takes an average swimmer about 2.5 hours and I am a WELL BELOW average swimmer).

Here’s the catch though, I don’t want to do any of them alone.  This is a shout out to anyone willing to complete a 5K with me.  Come, run with me, walk with me, hike with me, cartwheel with me.  If you aren’t able to do any of those things, let’s figure out a way to cover the distance together.  I will even sweeten the pot by making a $10 donation to the charity of your choice if you complete a 5K with me.  Today’s $10 donation went to the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia because that was the beneficiary of the race, and a few cans of food also made their way to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

I completed the first one today.  I ran alone, but I was in a sea of people, with strangers cheering me on; and two of my good friends also ran the race and both finished before me and were there to cheer me on at the end as I was desperately trying to finish in under 33 minutes.  But, guess what, I DID finish in under 33 minutes (I forgot to stop my watch until about a minute after I finished).  1 down……39 to go, y’all:
New Years Day 5K
This is my last race in the 30-39 age bracket and my first of MANY races for 2019!

The new toy

I have been lusting after and pining for a Garmin Fenix 5S Fitness watch for some time now.  My FitBit Blaze was doing it’s job, but it had started to not charge sometimes when I put it on the charger, I questioned it’s accuracy in steps vs distance and it’s not waterproof.  But there is a HUGE price difference between the FitBit Blaze and the Fenix 5S.  I can see why!!!!  This new toy is AWESOME and the user interface gives me WAY more information that the FitBit interface every did!!!

Take a looksie at the information it provided me from my hike today:
26-Dec-2018

Pretty cool, huh?

I love the new toy, y’all!!!!!

Missing the milestone. Finishing the race.

I don’t know how many of you have run a race with an upper time limit, but if you are a slow runner like I am, it can be an anxiety inducer.  With all 2 of my readers, maybe one of you!  I ran a few races like that this past year.  I was, luckily, ahead of the pace needed to falter to the the upper time limit, but it was always in the back of my mind.  Weight loss for me is VERY similar, except that I am WAY slower than the pace needed to beat the upper time limit.  I set a goal at the beginning of 2018 to lose 45 lbs.  Was it achievable?  Possibly.  Did I achieve it?  NOT EVEN CLOSE.  If I were running a marathon it would be something like this:
I ran the first half mile at a decent pace and I have been crawling through the course for the rest of the time, not even remotely close the end.  The little van that follows the racers at the back around has asked if I want a ride numerous times.

Some of you may think that 45 lbs is a lot, and it is, but it takes me to the very top rung of “normal” on the BMI chart.  The BMI chart isn’t a great standard by which to judge a stocky build, such as mine.  Unfortunately, it is the standard that the medical field, insurance companies, etc. use, so it is the guide that I judge myself against.  Though I could probably look rockin’ in the overweight range, I want to be “normal.”  And normal requires a 45 lb weight loss.  That’s right, gentle readers, I currently fall squarely in the obese range.

Is that frustrating?  Absolutely.  Have I stopped moving?  Nope.  The bad news is the I failed at my weight loss goal this year.  The good news is that I will hit it, eventually.  I also learned a lot along the process.  I DID lose 5 lbs in the first 6 weeks of the year and I managed to not gain that back during the year.  *Small victories*  I am no where near as disciplined as I need to be to lose weight at a measurable “rate.”  I eat many meals away from home.  I am rushed to eat meals some of the time.  I eat vending machine meals sometimes.  I eat meals at my desk sometimes.  I have a manfriend and we like to go out to eat and have cocktails together.  We like to go to movies and have snacks while we watch them.  There’s a lot about my lifestyle that doesn’t support super regimented eating, or exercise, for that matter.

Notice I am talking only about the eating when it comes to weight loss.  Because I do ok with the exercise portion that goes along with weight loss.  If that were a BIG portion of weight loss, I would look like a rock star.  But it isn’t.  The majority of weight loss happens at the grocery store and in the kitchen.  I’m sure you have heard this before:
“Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels.”  That might be right, but I know that being skinny probably doesn’t feel as good as NOT feeling hungry.  Because feeling hungry and missing out on treats feels horrible to me.  Hangry is a real “emotion” that this girl feels.  Having said that, I also have no concept of moderation when it comes to things like butter toffee, thumbprint cookies, pizza, wheat thins and anything pumpkin spice.

I’m crawling along, but I will finish the race, y’all!

From couch to Spartan Trifecta

You’ve heard of “from couch to 5K,” right?  It’s where to take a few week or months to go from being a total couch potato to completing a 5K.  The training is hard and most people have to start with just walking and will eventually progress to a walk/run combo.  The most motivated may even be able to run the entire 5K.  But, it’s challenging.  Going from inactivity to any level of exercise is difficult.  Exercise is hard for most people and I know very few who actually put it in their “top 10 fun or pleasurable things to do” list.  I mean, the internet wouldn’t be FULL of memes (here, let me google that for you if you don’t believe me) on the topic if exercise difficulty wasn’t a thing.

Having said that, I exercise because I want to be able to get up from a couch by myself when I am 70.  Seriously, that’s my reason (OK, maybe I want to look good naked also, but I digress).  I want the better mobility that comes with exercise.  I was the better mood and the better sleep that comes with exercise.  A Spartan Trifecta was just a side effect.  I went from couch to 5K.  I even went from couch to 10K.  And from couch to 10 miler.  Don’t get me wrong, there are VERY few races that I have done so far where I have run the entire thing.  Because hills are hard, my friends.
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I have been training fairly seriously for about 20 months now.  I have not really lost weight, but I have gotten stronger and I can finally do some of the exercises my trainer asks of me that I failed at for over a year.  Last year I learned of a Spartan Trifecta.  That’s completing a Sprint (3-5 miles with about 20 obstacles), a Super (8-10 miles with about 25 obstacles) and a Beast (13-15 miles with about 30 obstacles) in one calendar year.  I wanted a Trifecta sooooo badly, but the Super I completed in August of 2017 in West Virginia nearly killed me.  West Virginia has some TOUGH terrain.  I just wasn’t mentally ready in 2017.
2018 was to be my year, though.  I completed 2 Sprints, 2 Supers and finally completed a Beast.  It was an “easy” Beast as far as the Beasts go because there was not nearly the elevation change that some of the other courses have.  But, going for 13.1 miles was the most difficult thing that I have ever done in my life.  My body was SCREAMING for me to stop.  It was so cold and we had to cross through so much waist/chest deep ice cold water.  I did not want to complete any more obstacles.  I hit a wall at about 8.5 miles and sheer willpower, swearing and moaning kept me going for the rest of the race.  It is the longest ANYTHING that I have done to date, by more than 2 miles!  As my race partner, Erin, pointed out to me when I mentioned the wall I had hit……”well, we are closer to the end than we are to the start.”  You have a point there, Erin…….might as well just keep going.  My face at the finish line really tells the story of the day!  On a side note, Erin completed 2 Trifectas this year.  Look how fresh she looks at the end.
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I present to you……what I trained 20 months for…..the Trifecta:
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*FROM COUCH TO SPARTAN TRIFECTA IN 20 MONTHS.

I’m done racing for the year.  My first race in 2019 will likely be a 5K on New Year’s Day.  I have a big year planned for 2019.  I will turn 40 in January.  I want to complete FORTY 5Ks in 2019.  They will not all be organized races, nor will they all be run.  Some will be run, some will be walked, some will be hiked.  But I don’t want to do any of them alone!  I will sweeten the pot for anyone who joins me for them.  I will donate $10 to the charity of your choice!  So, there will be at least forty 5Ks, I plan to complete the C-ville-a-thon again.  And, can I get 2 Trifecta’s completed?

Stay tuned, y’all!

I’m Baaaaaaackkkkkkk

I took some time off from training, both to visit London and because I was trying to heal a minor injury that was painful enough that it was going to keep me from training effectively.  I took just shy of 150,000 steps and walked nearly 80 miles in London.  We also climbed the 528 steps to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  The view was SOOOO worth it:
20180602_143453I actually LOST weight there, despite the fact that I ate whatever I wanted and drank a fair amount of Gin.  There really isn’t processed food available in London, which was fantastic!!!  I am ready to go back tomorrow; it is an amazing city.

I did THIS today:
FitBit

My friend Darcy and I hiked High Top Mountain on the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park.  It was my first time doing the entire hike.  I have only hiked the upper half in the past and wasn’t even aware that there was a lower half.  It was challenging.  We needed to stop and catch our breath a few times.  It was also pretty warm by the time we were descending.

I need to be able to do this 3 times in a row by November.  That’s when my Spartan Beast is.  It will be about 15 miles of pretty challenging terrain with 30+ obstacles.  I have a great group of people to train with, at my gym, at my Karate studio, and numerous individuals cheering on my every hike, including my friend Erin who is completing all of my training races leading up to the big one with me and has promised not to leave me behind when we race the Beast together!

My bestie, Jenn (no, I am not talking in the third person), cheers me on in every workout I embark on.  Darcy actually told me today that she uses me as an inspiration when she doesn’t feel like working out.  I’m glad to hear that and told her that made me happy, but that maybe I wasn’t the best influence, as I shoved a breakfast sandwich, WITH hash-browns (and bacon) on it, into my face as we hiked the trail!  I could not train at the level that I do without the support of my manfriend.  The alarm wakes him up early several days a week and sometimes on the weekend so that I can get up and train, especially now when we are in the thick of summer swelter, because I sure as hell am not going to work out in the conditions of the outside after noon.  Lastly, in this post, I will thank my long distance cheerleader, Paige, who encourages me to move, run, lift, kick, punch, train.  She’s a pretty bad-ass athlete herself and the brains behind Warrior Goddess Gear.  Check it out!!!

I try to find training opportunities in everything physical that I do.  The manfriend and I went on a James River float/row with some friends a few weekends ago.  We put in the river at about 11:30AM.  As daylight was starting to fade at 8PM, we we STILL on the river.  We had capsized twice in rapids (it turns out that going through rapids sideways in a canoe is not a good idea and we had to try it twice before we learned that lesson).  So, I was tired, sore, bruised, bloody, and hangry.  It’s not a far cry from how I feel at the end of a Spartan Race.  It took the same kind of mental fortitude to finish the river trip as it does to finish a Spartan Race.

Everything is a training opportunity, y’all!

Some people love to exercise and train

I am not one of those people.  And some of these people even claim to “like” to exercise early in the morning.  I dislike both.  Given a choice between exercise and sleep, or exercise and laying on the couch watching TV and exercise, or almost anything other than exercise, the almost anything else wins.  So it’s pretty impressive that I wake up twice a week and go to the gym in the AM, with relative consistency.  My spirit animal is a sloth, afterall!
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Now, having said that, I LIKE the part of Spartan training that involves being in the wilderness climbing mountains (or at least Virginia’s version of mountains).  I like being in nature, seeing nature, watching the birds and surveying the beautiful Shenandoah Valley from the top of a mountain.  Yesterday, it was not raining when I finished working, and even though I knew it was supposed to rain more in the evening/night, I took the risk and made the 30 minutes drive so that I could hike High Top Mountain on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  I don’t like to do too many things alone, except going to the bathroom.  Hiking is one of those things I don’t mind doing alone.

I have never made it to the top (which is about 2 miles) without having to stop and rest.  It’s not a hard hike but almost the entire thing is up hill and some parts are fairly steep.  I made it to the top, without stopping in 38 minutes!!!  And then I got to see this:

Notice those storm clouds rolling in.  I did not.  So I stopped a few times along the way down to take some pictures and video.  These centipede things were EVERYWHERE along the trail:

And there were some beautiful flowers:

And then it started to thunderstorm, so I basically jogged down….and I remembered what it is like to jog down a mountain and how my legs needed training in this as well.  And, whew, I got to the bottom JUST about the time the sky really opened up.

To some Shenandoah Valley beauty and unpredictable spring weather, y’all.

Racers need to be morning people

And not just a morning person, but a weekend morning person.  As far as I am concerned, weekend mornings are for sleeping in!!!!!!  I am not a morning person.  But I understand why races start so early.  It’s HARD to race in the heat of the day.  I ran the Spartan Sprint Stadium Race at National’s Stadium in Washington, DC this past Saturday.  It was the hottest day of the year so far.  I figured I would be fairly safe with a 12:45PM start time in mid-May.  I was WRONG.  It was probably 95 degrees in the stadium the entire time we were racing.  It was HOT!  There was sweat…..evidence of that:
5af772820a5f80551060b530-p(yes…this is me sharing my butt sweat with the world)
I tolerated the heat reasonably well because I hydrated well during the week and used hydration tablets the night before and the morning of the race (NUUN – highly recommend them).  And I trained all of last year in brutal heat.  We were a team of 14 with varying levels of fitness and ages.  We stuck together and motivated one another through the race:
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Not stellar times, but also not terrible (and, as you can see, they didn’t fill in the weather conditions, so I went ahead and did that for them):
Results.jpg

I am certain that my training is working.  Obstacles are easier for me than they have been in previous races.  I still struggle with the rope climb, the rings and the spear throw.  But look at me rocking the herc hoist:
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And this, this is the moment I train for.  I put HOURS in the gym, and sweat and pain because I want to feel this:
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I’m headed to London in a few weeks for vacation, but I have to start HIITing it even harder when I get back because I have a Spartan Super (8-10 miles) in August and a Spartan Beast (13-15 miles) in November!

Here’s to the Spartan Trifecta, y’all.