Pikes Peak

Not Quite Love at First Sight…

“Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down.” 
-New Balance

Dear New Trail Shoes,

I am not so in love with you at the moment. You lured me in with your super comfiness in the store and promises of fewer blisters (I believe the direct quote was “you won’t even feel the rocks”); however our maiden voyage left much to be desired.  We have a LONG way to go before you will even come close to holding the esteem of my vibrams…

SOOOO I took the new trail shoes out for a test run.  In retrospect I may have had some delusions of grandeur….  They were SOOOOO COMFY in the store, but that didn’t exactly translate on the trails.  Of course, I’m sure it didn’t help that I wore my cushioned running socks (which did not work well with the shoes because the fit was so snug).

It probably also didn’t help that my legs were so fatigued they felt like lead… possibly related to all the training I’ve done in the past few days and a regimen that morning consisting of P90X Biceps, Back, and Ab Ripper X followed by a 40 min session of running laps and swimming in my mom’s pool (even pulling my sister around at times).  Of course, I didn’t feel fatigued until I tried to get up the first hill (which was steep, rocky, and monstrous for anyone wondering).  I was trying REALLY hard to get my body to cooperate but every time I willed it to move faster, my legs screamed “NO!!!!” and refused to cooperate.

When we finally made it to the top of the endless series of climbs and hit some more level (not exactly flat, but at least not vertical!) ground, I tripped and completely face planted.  It turned out my legs really were fatigued and I was not simply being a whiny wuss. Aside from some skinned knees, I appeared to be in one piece; so a bounced up and headed back down the trail.

I had to stop numerous times to adjust my laces because they kept loosening up why I was running.  Speed laces are a new concept to me, and I suppose it will take some time to adjust.  The problem is, every time the laces would get loose, my feet would slide around in the shoes leading to some serious blisters early in the run.  The arch of my right foot was burning BADLY, but Ikept telling myself it was “just pain.”  I managed over 5 miles in total with a mix of hiking and running. In retrospect, 5 miles was probably a little much for breaking in new shoes, however I was feeling the time crunch with Pike’s Peak just around the corner.

Overall, the route was definitely significantly more technical than the trails closer to home that I usually run on (lots of steep rocks and loose footing…. AND RIDICULOUSLY STEEP,  ENDLESS HILLS!!!)- just the type of training grounds that will help me get prepped for the Ultra Beast!

Prior to running in the new trail shoes, I hadn’t realized just how accustomed I had become to the vibrams.  It was like I had to learn to run all over again!  I was constantly twisting and rolling my ankles because I wasn’t used to having a sole wider than my foot.  I have been assured that they will get significantly more comfortable as I get used to them.  I guess I shouldn’t find that surprising given what torture it was to learn to run in the vibrams!!!  Once I get them broken in I will probably alternate between the two depending on where I’m running, just so I don’t loose the benefits of “barefoot running” (plus they’re so comfy now… aside from all the rocks at Sleeping Giant anyway)

Hopefully the shoe situation will be under control by Pike’s Peak.  🙂  For now, it’s blister treatment and cross training for me!

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Ironman in Training

Adversity causes some men to break and others to break records.”

-William Ward

No one likes facing adversity, but it’s an unfortunately necessary evil.  Adversity is what lets us know just how badly we want (or don’t want) our goals.  No one ever overcomes a great obstacle to victory and says “wow, I wish I had just coasted here instead”.  Why? Because ADVERSITY BUILDS CHARACTER.  It strengthens the mind the way physical demands create a stronger body.  It turns a simple goal into a journey– and journeys are what make up our lives.

That being said, I am still not happy about being sidelined by this shoulder injury!  lol  However, it has given me a chance to reevaluate a few things.  1) I don’t see the purpose in killing myself trying to get in as many Insanity workouts as possible in a week.  That stuff is rough on my joints and would serve me better on cross training days to mix things up.  I have too many other types of workouts going on to try get in their scheduled 6 sessions a week. 2)  I want to going climbing more frequently.  It’s a challenging workout both mentally and physically; and I have really fallen back in love with it over the past few months. Not being able to go has made me realize just how much I miss it.  3) As much as I LOVE boot camp, I seriously need to cut myself some slack when I can’t make it there.  I have a tendency to feel bad when our instructor yells at people for not showing up regularly- but most of them are not pulling multiple sessions a day and working 13+ hr shifts.  Plus, I know he’s not directing it at me personally and knows I make it when I can (AND I still busting my ass even if I’m not there.)

As you may have guessed, with all my downtime I have had LOTS of time to think.  What is ultimately all comes down to is this is my body and my training, so I need to do what works best for me.  Instead of trying to do it everyone else’s way (frequently at the say time) I am going to work on figuring out what is going to get me closest to achieving my goals.  Right now, those goals include Pike’s Peak and the Ultra Beast.  That means lots of running!  However, it also means conditioning myself to function when I’m fatigued and deprived of oxygen, AND building strength and endurance to conquer those obstacles.

Right now, I am pretty limited; but I have been making the most of what I CAN do!  Sunday I went for a long run on the trails and did LOTS of hills.  Initially I had planned on an easy 6, but felt so great I just kept going.  I probably knocked out close to 10 miles in total. IT FELT AMAZING!   I think it was exactly what I needed! (the mental “control-alt-delete” ) I didn’t want to stop, but I was afraid my IPhone would get wet when it started raining hard.  My shoulder held up fine, and the chiropractor said it was okay to keep it up as long as my shoulder wasn’t getting aggravated.  My calves, on the other hand, have been SCREAMING in rebellion.  I’m sure it was thanks to the vibrams, but I’ll happily take it.  I will gladly go down stairs backwards if it means getting to blow off some steam! Plus it’s kind of a relief to have some “normal” muscle soreness for a change.

In order to give my legs a rest from running, yesterday I continued my habit of pedaling like a demon and knocked out 28 miles on the bike.   Today  it was another 16- plus 10 min on the stair climber and a half mile around the parking lot just to loosen things up (it was my “light day”).  The more I pound out miles on the bike, the more resolute I become that I will do Ironman.  It may not happen in the next year, but my mind is made up.  I can see it. I believe it. I can become it. Consider me a woman on a mission! No little bump in the road is going to derail this train. 🙂

I have mountains to climb!

“You have crunchy muscles…”

“A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop.”

-Robert Hughes

I may be injured, but I am not yet defeated!!!!

First, (and most important!) thank you everyone for your comments and words of encouragement! I truly appreciate all the support!!!!!

I did go to see the sports guru chiropractor on Monday, and I’m pretty sure I’M IN LOVE WITH HIM!  (He had me at “Do you do crossfit?”).  Don’t worry, Adam knows, and he’s ok with it. Truthfully, I would have given this man my first born to take that pain away!!!!

IT band humor 🙂

But seriously, he actually listened to what I had to say and then spent time explaining how we were going to fix it. That’s right- he said it’s fixable, AND I should be back to 100% within 6 weeks (no promises, but I’ll take it).  After a quick exam- where he pointed out just how much range of motion I had lost compared to my noninjured side (thanks Ortho for not even checking… you totally suck btw)- he had me use a heating pad and hooked me up to some electric-stim (yippy my fav! not really, but it wasn’t that bad).  

Then he came back and busted up all the scar tissue around my shoulder so I could move.  He warned me several times that it would be really unconfortable, BUT IT FELT AMAZING!!!  It was INSTANT RELIEF!  Maybe not 100% relief, but it was a billion times better than when I walked in.  He popped almost ever knot in my neck and shoulder, and there were definitely a lot of snap-crackle-pop noises going on.  He pointed out that my  “muscles are crunchy” (from all the scar tissue) and that “crunchy” is not a “normal” state for muscles.  I told him he was LIKE A FOAM ROLLER FOR MY SHOULDER (which was obviously the utmost compliment coming from a runner with IT band issues). He just laughed at me and said “sort of.”  He was so personable and down to earth…. gushing… I know.

Think of a goal and commit to it!

THEN he said the three most beautiful words I’ve ever heard from  a man: “You can run.”  So now I have clearance for running and the elliptical. He thought it might actually help maintain the movement I’ve regained.  Plus, he thought there was still a chance I could do the Tough Mudder!  He said start easy “Don’t go crazy and run like 5 miles. Start with a half mile and see how you feel.”   I had to fight to keep quiet, but in my head I was thinking “5 miles is an EASY RUN. Half a mile is BARELY EVEN A WARM UP.  What a tease!”.  I did just under 2 miles at an easy pace when I got home and figured that was a fair compromise.  My shoulder felt fine, so I was pretty excited.  I racked up the rest of my mileage on the bike and then got a ride home from the gym.

Since then I have been destroying the bike at the gym (21 miles on Friday!) and doing some light running and cardio on the elliptical and stair climber.  The more time I spend on the bike, the more I’ve been convincing myself that I can totally get over my fear of cycling and learn to swim.  G-Dawg and Adam have graciously offered to help coach me and teach me the ropes.  They both want to do an Iron Man next year, and I think I may just set that as my next goal.  Of course, I have lots to do in the meantime…. like learning how to swim and cycle… haha

Oh and get my shoulder fixed up…and survive Pike’s Peak… and the Ultra Beast. Looks like I have my work cut out for me!  I’ve never been one to do anything half assed though, so of course I’d set my sights on training for the ultimate triathlon instead of a sprint to ease in! lol

I’m sure this all probably sounds a little crazy coming from someone recovering from an injury; however, am I am not that type of person who believes in limiting myself.  I have already spent too much of my life restricted by what doctors and other people said I couldn’t or shouldn’t do.  I spent over 5 years with a man who tried (rather unsuccessfully in the end) to control my life, and there IS NO WAY anyone is going to put any limits or restrictions on me now!  I am a driven, goal oriented person.  If I am not challenging myself, then I simply don’t feel like I’m living.  Pushing myself is when I’m most authentic and HAPPY.  IT is what makes me feel like I am THRIVING. So if I decide that I am going to run a marathon, up a mountain, or through 26.2 miles of obstacles- you can bet it’s going to take nothing short of an act of God to keep me from that goal. Period. 🙂

Revenge of the Shoulder Blade…

“The pride you gain is worth the pain.”  

-Dennis Ogilvie

Or  “my life on the injury roller coaster” 😉

I am not a super athlete; I’m not even athletic.  Rather, I am an orthopedic disaster.  I am used to being limited by my joints and spending time getting MRIs and Xrays.  I am accustomed to pushing through and blocking out pain.

However, 2 weeks ago when I tweaked my shoulder on that pull-up, I honestly wasn’t having pain.  I had a little soreness, but nothing to write home about.  Since then, I have been taking it pretty easy.  I haven’t done boot camp at all and only did Insanity once.  I’ve also avoided any lifting that might aggravate it..  The only thing I did do, which in retrospect was probably not a great idea, was go climbing a couple times- but I was pretty darn careful.

So yesterday when I woke up and my shoulder was bugging me a little I was kind of surprised.  I hadn’t worked out in 2 days, and hadn’t done anything to really trigger it.  I figured I must have just slept on it wrong.  I ended up sleeping a good part of the day because I was feeling under the weather (with allergy season hitting me like a ton of bricks) and had a hard time getting comfortable.

Then this morning I woke up with pain that literally took my breath away.  I couldn’t even turn my neck!  I managed to make it to work, but found myself cradling my left arm most of the day because it was so painful just to let it hang- even on the max ibuprofen dose.  I left work early to see an ortho doc and it turns out I have some muscle spasm going on.  Apparently it doesn’t take much to aggravate your shoulder muscles (specifically the infraspinatus muscles) and it takes FOREVER for them to heal.  In other words: no climbing, Insanity, boot camp, or lifting for at least the next week.  😦  I wonder if the 4 days I haven’t done anything already this week counts… jk

It looks like the stationary bike and stair climber are going to be my BFFs for a while.  Hopefully I will at least be able to run soon.  I am also hoping to be healed enough in 3 wks to still do the Tough Mudder (even if I have to skip obstacles), but I’m thinking that may be pushing it…

In case anyone is wondering how I am coping… I went for some retail therapy and bought the loudest running shorts I could find (figuring it’s going to be one of the few forms of exercise I’ll be allowed for some time...) 

As much as I am I frustrated about this whole setback, I am really trying to roll with it.  In reality, I am extremely grateful that it is just a muscle spasm and not a tear or neck injury (especially with all the numbness down my arm and in my fingers!).  In the grand scheme of things, a couple weeks of taking it easy is not going to set me way back.  Sure it sucks, but it could be a lot worse.

Normally, I’m a pretty tough cookie when it comes to physical discomfort.  I have spent my whole life with knee caps that pop in and out of place and have put myself through some serious physical torture. BUT THIS PAIN WAS NO JOKE.  If I could have found a spot to curl up and cry at work today I would have.  I don’t ever want to have a muscle spasm EVER AGAIN.  I would rather run a whole marathon TWICE…IN A ROW.

So it’s back to “resting” for me.  Unfortunately, shit happens. No point in getting upset or feeling sorry for myself about it.  Really, there’s not much I can do about it now other than regroup (and brace myself for the onslaught of lectures from the non-exercise inclined community about overtraining and how I push myself too hard… Btw just as you’re entitled to your opinion, I’m entitled to respectfully ignore it.  Your concern is appreciated, but completely unnecessary.  I’m a big girl and I can take care of myself.  I am strong and intelligent enough to make my own decisions about what’s healthy for me.  Exercise is my anti-stress, antidepressant, and instant center.  Risking injury every once in a while to stay sane and love myself is a trade off I am more than willing to make.  Besides, if I don’t ever push to my limits, how will I ever know them?).  Luckily, Pike’s Peak and the Spartan Ultra Beast are still months away with plenty of time to train.

In the meantime, I am going to do my best to reduce my stress and take care of myself.  As much as people like to point the finger at over training anytime I get run down or sick, the truth is my job has really been wearing on me.  My work environment can be toxic at times and being an emotional sponge– it really takes a toll on me.  Add on top of that everything going on with my mom and her dog and my grandmother getting sick, and you can see how a person can get worn thin.  With all the chaos I haven’t been eating that great (or enough) or getting much sleep- (which is generally the key component for me getting sick).

For me, exercise is the one thing that helps me combat all that stress, gives me an appetite (and makes me crave healthy food), and helps me sleep at night.  I feel more sore and miserable when I don’t work out than when I do.  There is no way I am going to let anyone try to convince me it isn’t good for me.

Last night I slept funny and I woke up with a terrible muscle spasm.  It could have happened to anyone.  It’s not a reason to give up or stop pushing.  Before I started really working out again, my knee caps popped out of place, I had crippling anxiety, felt weak and unsafe, and barely knew myself.  I am not about to give up all the ground I’ve made over some silly muscle spasm.  It’s not in me to quit… guess that’s just the beast in me. 😉

Time for an overhaul…

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”

Leonardo Da Vinci
Hi Everyone!!!
I would have posted yesterday, but by the time I got home from work I was too tired to do anything but sleep.
I’m happy to report that Thursday I not only managed to make the morning group training session, but also boot camp.  In a stroke of luck, Randi happened to get out of work at 2, so we were able to have dinner early.  After some much needed girl time, I headed home to find Adam fast asleep and the time still early enough to make class.  In what might have been a foolish (and potentially disastrous move), I headed to boot camp on a full stomach of Mexican- complete with frozen strawberry margarita.  Normally, I’m not someone who drinks (or even over-eats), but rare catch up sessions with a close friend serve as a special occasion in my book.  For better or worse, it was on.
Mike had announced on Facebook that he had a particularly brutal workout planned, something he reiterated to me at the end of our training session.  He told me not to worry about coming because it was going to be awful and I had already put in a good work out.  Of course, this only gave me further incentive to want to come.  I just can’t resist a good challenge!
The torture session consisted of our previous 1000 rep workout with the addition of 500 reps of “grasshoppers”- an exercise that I’m sure was invented by contortionists consisting of touching your right shin to your left forearm (and vice versa) while in the high plank position.  Let’s just say my legs did not want to cooperate on this one.  The 400 lunges that followed went by pretty quickly (I did them in sets of 100- a huge improvement from last time), as did the 300 power jacks (done in sets of 50), and 200 skaters (also in sets of 50).  When I finally reached the 100 burpees, I started to have trouble.  Unlike my previous experience, fatigue was not my main issue.  Rather, it was fighting my stomach not to lose my barely digested meal with all that up and down movement. But, in the end- I MADE IT!!!! It was totally worth the nausea.  While I would never plan to have a large meal and drink before a workout, I can’t say I regret it.  Rather, I’m glad I made the decision to go in spite of it.
The aftermath (2 days later) has left me hating stairs, sitting, and standing.  I told Adam we need to install a motorized chair on the basement stairs so I can get up and down.  In the meantime, I have convinced him to take care of the laundry for me in exchange for laughing at my pathetic inability to move or walk normally.
In other news, I have been starting to work on updating some of the posts and pages on the blog.  I also have been making a mental list of some races and events I’d like to run in the upcoming months.  Potential candidates so far include the Mount Snow Tough Mudder in May, the Pike’s Peak Ascent in August (I know- I’m going to hate myself), and the San Fransisco  Marathon (Adam’s idea).   He’s trying to sell me on running across the Golden Gate Bridge, but I’m not stupid.  I know how hilly it is there and told him if I’m running in San Fran, it won’t be for less than a Tiffany necklace (like Nike Women’s Marathon gives out for finishing).  I’m not sure whether he is seriously considering this demand or not…