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Two Ferries (Plus Some Extra) Recap

“Carpe Diem”Image

There are some experiences in your life that can be described as pivotal: defining moments.  Those moments when you step (or plunge) outside your comfort zone and chose to define yourself on your own terms.  Today I feel like I took a huge leap, and delved full on into the world of cycling.

To be honest, from the moment I arrived at the Two Ferries Ride I felt like an outsider… an imposter even.  Here I was surrounded by all these people who live for cycling, while I am trepidatious at best, and utterly terrified at worst.  Adam had assured me that cycling community would be as friendly as the running community, but I believe he stretched the truth slightly.  The people there were not rude or mean, but they certainly were not as friendly or supportive as the average runner.  Rather, they tended to stick in groups and only socialize with the1369251_10151590400327397_1347518894_o people they already knew.  It was like a great big clique and I wasn’t part of it.  Maybe if I had been a part of the shop’s riding group, it would have been different.  Instead, I was there alone with next to no experience.  I almost cried before we even started.

When we did start, I probably road faster than I ever have in my life.  My fear of being left behind drastically outweighed my fear of moving quickly.  I managed to keep up with the back end of the pack up until the 10 mile rest stop, and then I was left in the dust.  I actually was able to follow the markers without trouble and remain calm despite being alone and completely unfamiliar with the area right up until I missed a turn at mile 19.  I had been climbing a hill for quite some time when I realized I had not seen a marker in a while.  I also noticed that I wasn’t seeing any at the intersections and that I must have gone of course.  If that wasn’t enough of a hint, the cyclists flying down the hill from the opposite direction (with plenty of markers on their side of the road) hammered home the point.  I made it all the way to the top of that hill before I started bawling.

I was faced with two options, I could either back track and find the turn I missed, or follow the markers for the route on the other side of the road.  The problem with option 1 was that I already had missed the marker for the turn once, and now it would be on the opposite side of the road and harder to see.  The problem with option 2: I didn’t know whether the markers I found were for the 66 or 100 mile course.  Worst case scenario I figured I could manage the 66 miles, but I certainly did not want to get stuck on the 100 mile route.  Ultimately, I decided it was better to take a longer route I was sure of than gamble on finding the marker I missed. Since all the rides ended up at the Ferry at some point (or even multiple points) in the ride, I figured that even if I ended up on the longest route I could still get back on track once I found the Ferry.

Luckily, my plan worked out.  The markers led me back the direction I was supposed to be traveling, and I was able to pick up the correct path again once I was off the Ferry.  By the end of it I had been on the bike over 3 hours AND only fell once… though I did have several near misses.  (I suppose if you a clumsy person in general that it tends to carry over in cycling as well)  Many… ok most… of the things I was worried about happening actually did: I fell down, I was clumsy, I was slow, I got lost, and I got left by myself. However, I still survived and finished relatively unscathed.

The people who work in the bike shop were actually impressed that I was able to climb to the top of that hill.  They said I get extra credit in doing so and remarked that “a lot” of people had missed the turn and gotten lost.  1079637_10151590400392397_1128471104_nI suppose that made me feel slightly better.  The one thing that I did feel good about was that fact that everyone else was complaining about the hills while I hadn’t struggled on them.  In fact, they were easier than I expected and TREMENDOUSLY easier than the route I take to the gym.  I figured if these experienced cyclists were complaining about the hills, and I didn’t mind them then maybe I’m not such a complete disaster on my bike after all.

I’m not sure that I will ever love cycling (or anything) as much as I love running, but I am hoping that the more time I spend on my bike the more comfortable I will get both with riding and the cycling community.  I draw hope from the fact that I don’t know anymore who just “likes” cycling.  People tend to either be completely obsessed with it passionate about it, or they don’t ride at all.  This leads me to believe that with enough exposure  therapy practice I too can become a cycle enthusiast and actually ride with a sense of enjoyment rather than a fear of death.  There are fleeting moments now when I forget about the peril and actually enjoy the freedom of the road… primarily areas free of winding turns and intersections.

If nothing else, it is my absolute fear of riding that keeps me coming back to it.  I am determined to conquer my fear and I am willing to accept that it may be a long and arduous process.  This ride was a major step to doing just that,

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A Perfect Day

“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves..”
-Sir Roger Bannister
 
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WARNING: Sorry Betsy, this is not the post you were hoping for!  
 
So maybe today was not a prefect day for running.  It was hot, humid, and sunny- my least favorite combo.  HOWEVER, today was pretty perfect.  Why?  Because today I ran the Petit 5K Road Race as our inaugural run for Team Thriver!
 
How could a day not be perfect when you spend it with women who have overcome so much, who choose to thrive in the face of adversity?  How could you not be joyful, grateful, and inspired by their presence?  Today these ladies set new challenges for themselves, and they all demolished their goals!  For many, it was a first to cover that distance.  The fact that they were able to do so in such brutal conditions is a true testament to their strength- inside and out.
 
When we first discussed having Team Thriver walk and run at the Petit 5 K, I wasn’t sure if Imagewe would have any ladies come other than Christine, Joanna, and I.  I was elated when there were more than double that number between runners and walkers!  To celebrate the occasion I had made my own Team Thriver t-shirt AND super sparkly tutu, or as I like to call it a Thriver Skirt.  
 
I do believe that my festive attire drew some giggles and laughs from the group, but it also drove home the message of what Thriving is about: living life to the fullest and having fun along the way!  A wise runner once told me, “How could you have a bad day in a tutu?” (after finishing the Fairfield Half in similarly hellish conditions).  She makes an excellent point! How could you have a bad day in a tutu?  Well, I imagine it’s darn near impossible.  Tutus are fun and festive!  Mine not only reminded me to have fun, but helped bring smiles to lots of other people’s faces.  More importantly, it was a badge of honor for me to spread our message about Thriving after abuse.  It was my chance to say, “YES it’s 90 degrees out and humid and I am in a sparkly tutu which I have every intention of rocking every inch of this race!!! Why? Because I am a THRIVER and I can do anything…even in a skirt!”
 
That being said, I got a lot of compliments on my attire; and, as far as I could tell, I was the only runner in a tutu.  However, given the envious looks on many of the young girls faces, I don’t think I will be the only one next year. 😉
 
ImageAs far as the race itself, the course was flat and went by pretty quickly given the weather conditions.  There were plenty of spectators angels outside with sprinklers and hoses to cool us off and cheer us on.  I hope they earned some serious brownie points in heaven today because they earned them standing outside in that heat!  My gun time was not bad considering I started at the back of the pack… and seriously crunched/rolled my ankle in the first half mile (out of the blue) and had to hobble-run a little ways before I could put full weight on it.  Don’t worry, I iced it as soon as I got home!
 
In truth, I wasn’t worried about my time anyway.  First, it was too hot and humid out to really push myself, and more importantly that wasn’t my purpose in being there.  I didn’t run that race for myself.  I ran that race for Team Thriver, and for all the victims of violence that the Petit Foundation helps raise money for.  This race, like the Lavery/McDermott Race, was about a cause greater than myself or even our team; and there is something about races organized around a cause- especially one dear to your heart- that other runs just can’t compare with.
 
That being said, being there with Team Thriver was just icing on the cake.  Those ladies knocked it out of the park!  I am so proud of each and every one of them, and honored to know them.  These are the women who inspire me to run on a daily basis.  They are the people who keep me going when all I want is to quit and stop the pain.  I push myself for them.  I do it for the ones who can’t and to show the ones who can that they are capable too.  Sometimes all you need is an example to realize your own potential.  Once you see it’s possible and know someone who has done it, you start believing you can too.  I want each of these women to see (if they haven’t already) they they can conquer any distance or obstacle they set their minds too.  After all, they THRIVERS!
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I Run for Fun

My girl Kelly posted this to my Facebook page today after we conquered her first Tough Mudder at

Mt. Snow with our boot camp crew. 🙂

Since it’s late and I am understandably pooped (having just arrived home) the full Tough Mudder/weekend recap will have to wait….

LATER FOLKS!!!!!

A Fish Belongs in Water…

“I do not run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days.”
–Priscilla. 

Likewise, a trail runner belongs on the trail, and that is exactly where I was this afternoon.  It was sunny and 70 degrees out. Who could ask for more?

Hitting that trail was like being reunited with an old friend.  I savored every dip and bend in the path as I cruised up and down the hills. I was a little surprised by how much the landscape had changed since I was there last; and by how dry everything was for a change… not that I didn’t still find puddles and streams (and mud) to run through.

I know. Shocker! Me find mud... who would have guessed?  They didn’t nickname me the “water witch” as a child for no reason (true story). In fact, when I was the pint sized version of myself, I used to dress in the frilliest of clothes and then promptly head outside and get covered in mud.  I loved being a girlie girl and getting completely covered in mud and dirtclearly not much has changed.  Diva-Fabulous-Obstacle runner in the making? Quite possibly!

BTW Ladies, just for the record- there’s no reason we can’t get out there and make mud look good… and put the boys to shame at the same time.  After all,  “Remember Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, backwards and on high heels”. 😉

Originally, I had planned a short 5 K (to everyone thinking “short? seriously?” trust me, stick with running and soon enough you will be saying it too), but ended up actually doing 10 K instead.  My calves (and body) held up better than I expected, especially since I had already done Insanity this morning (5 weeks done!!!) and have been dragging all week.

That being said, I did have some stomach issues during my run.  I had tried to temporize the leak situation with my reservoir by flipping it upside down, but it didn’t work very well (no big surprise… I know).  Every time I tried to take a sip, I got a bunch of air with it; so by the time a was 5 miles in I was having some serious heartburn. lol

Within an hour of getting home I totally crashed and burned.  I was so exhausted I didn’t even make it to boot camp (gasp!!!) which I am pretty bummed about.  However, I really think a third workout would have been pushing it.  Instead I’ll take an early bedtime and live to fight another day.

Another muddy one for good measure! Here's to getting dirty!

Bad Ass Boot Camp and Weekend Recap

“Success is a marathon, not a sprint.”

~Unknown

(It’s a good thing too cause I suck at sprinting!)

Where to start!!! I’m a little behind in the blogging department, but it’s only because life has been crazy busy (with all good things!).  I am happy to report that I am finally operating at 100% capacity, and it’s lucky because it is 65 degrees out and sunny!

Looking so bad ass in my socks for boot camp!

Saturday we had an AWESOME boot camp session, which I have affectionately dubbed “Bad Ass Boot Camp”.  I had found these bad ass socks online (through some of my Facebook/blog buddies) and got a pair not only for myself, but also two of my favorite boot camp ladies.  We all decided to wear them to boot camp together and it was definitely beast mode on!

The workout consists of 5 min stations consisting of deadlift, clean and press, body saws, burpess, alternating toe touches, treadmill, and pushups.  I deadlifted 95 lbs over 60 times in the allotted time AND managed over 100 pushups on my last station. That was more than Adam, but he insists his form was better. I ran further than him and did more burpees too…just for the record!  I also pointed out to him that I was lifting a higher percentage of my body weight than him (mostly because he has been slacking off with the gym lately, and I was hoping to light a fire under his you-know-what… mission accomplished 😉 )

I was SO ECSTATIC about completing that workout- particularly the pushups (I made this clear to Mike by putting a big smiley face on my paper next to the total and drawing stars around it).  I used to really struggle with real pushups.  When I first started boot camp I could barely do one!  Now I hammer them out like it’s no big deal.  It’s exactly what I remind myself whenever I struggle with another exercise- LIKE PULL-UPS!

Conquering the handstand pushup!

 Sunday, we followed up our kick ass boot camp session with some indoor rock climbing.  Adam and I invited some of our boot camp buddies and his best friend to come too.  We had a pretty good turn out and everyone totally rocked it.  I was pretty impressed with how well everyone climbed, but not really surprised considering what kind of shape everyone is in.

While we were there I managed to knock out 3 (and a half) handstand pushups, which was a major achievement (at least in my mind) because I had done some serious upper body lifting earlier that morning to train for my pull-ups!

I was especially excited to see my girl Kelly kicking butt because she was a little nervous about it at first.  It wasn’t long before she was killing it though.  It was definitely a nice change to add some new people.  Plus, it will be fun to have more of a crowd in the future.  Going in a group added a whole new level of fun (and entertainment).  It also helped everyone push just a little bit harder. 😉

Tonight I’m looking forward to getting back to boot camp.  I already did my Insanity workout this morning, and am thinking about running to the gym to do my pull-up weight training.  I hope everyone is having a great day!

My Body, It’s a Changing

“Ask yourself ‘can I give more?’ The answer is usually ‘Yes'” 
-Paul Tergat 

Usually, but not always.  Today is the last day of February, and the pull-up bar is still winning.  However, it was NOT because I didn’t give it my all.  I did.  I gave my all this whole month, and not just in pull-up training.  I did a month of Insanity, ran a brutal half marathon, started self-defense training, learned how to properly throw a punch, and hit the climbing gym hard.  Am I guilty of overtraining? Possibly… But getting an endurance junkie/fitness fanatic to admit to overdoing it is like getting an alcoholic to admit he/she has a problem.

In endurance training, we frequently won’t rest until our bodies force us too. Why? Because we cling to a delusion that our super human power of mind-over-matter can conquer anything.  We train through pain, fatigue, emotional breakdowns, and injuries until the only thing keeping us going is pure will power.  When our bodies can’t push any longer and our muscles are shaking and numb, we conquer with our hearts.  There is no “can’t”.  There is no “too much”.  There is no “take a break”.  There is only indomitable will.  Good luck trying to reason “overtraining” with that!  Especially when most of the time we get away with it.  We work out 2 or 3 times a day and we aren’t tired.  In fact, we feel great– accomplished even.

After all, just because a person works out more than you might be able to right now, that doesn’t necessarily make it unhealthy.  While it may be true that sometimes I push a little too hard and my body makes me pay, it is also true that most of the time I feel great.  I also get sick significantly less frequently than my friends and coworkers, and when I do it usually for a shorter length of time.  However when I do get sick everyone is so quick to point to overtraining as the culprit, as if that is the only reason an athlete ever gets sick.  (Of course, when you’re sick I don’t point my finger at you and say “see that’s because you DON”T work out.  I told you being sedentary wasn’t good for you!”)

Yup, that's how I roll. No I'm not going to change.

When I do have issues, it’s not generally because I’m doing more than usual.  Instead, it’s me trying to do my typical amount when I’m sick or sleep deprived.  Getting three good workouts in on a day off does not usually send me into a tail-spin.  However add in a stomach bug and some serious dehydration the day before, and yeah it probably wasn’t the greatest idea.  Lesson learned.  No it doesn’t mean I need to work out less.  It means I need to train smarter.

While I may be pretty frustrated with not being able to push hard at the moment, I am trying not to let it detract from what I have accomplished in the past month.  Not making the pull-up deadline has made me feel like I haven’t been improving at times, however then I do something simple like try to put on my skinny jeans and realize that I can’t pull them over my calves or quads!  I tried on a size 2 pair of jeans in the store and they were baggy.  Walking past the mirror I realized I now have definition in both my calf muscles, as in the are two distinct muscle groups (something I hadn’t even achieved running in vibrams). I am stronger and I can feel it.  I am jumping higher, my endurance is better, and my body is changing.  It’s an ongoing process, and as long as I continue to put the work in I know I’ll continue to have results.

Colchester Half Recap

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.” 
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

Yesterday I ran my second “official” half marathon in Colchester.  I have run the distance several times now, but this race was special because it was a first half for a kick ass, amazing friend of mine.  The course was absolutely BRUTAL. It was hills, hills, and more hills.  Steep hills, gradual hills, never-ending hills…  Plus, the wind gusts were up to 50 mph, which is super fun when you’re running up hill into it.  I felt a little guilty for recommending she try it after realizing how tough it was, but she is a boot camper so I knew she could handle it- no matter how tough.

"You train to look good. We train to kick ass."

Our morning started with an uplifting visit from one of our fellow boot campers (Superwoman Kelly) with PRESENTS!  Who doesn’t like surprise presents? Especially when they are awesome “We train to kick ass” t-shirts from your trainer!  I think that definitely helped to get us pumped!  All the support from our boot camp peeps was almost overwhelming.

Despite the less than stellar conditions and brutal hills, we all managed to survive- a HUGE achievement in my book!  I had been feeling pretty crummy the day before and continued to have stomach issues the morning of, but I figured it was just nerves.  However, as the race progressed I realized my stomach pain and nausea were actually getting worse and not better. I literally ran as fast as I could without vomiting.  I had NEVER experienced pain like that on a run before.  I tried to convince myself I was not sick pretty much the entire time, but once the race was over and we got home, I spent a good part of the afternoon curled up in the bathroom or doubled over in pain.  I think it was probably a combination of factors including: GI bug circulating at work, dehydration due to stomach bug and exercise, and running a little harder than I probably should have.  

As of this morning I was still having pain anytime I ate, but it seems to finally be resolving. I did still manage to get through two Insanity workouts this morning and then hit the climbing gym this afternoon with Adam and one of his friends.  I thought the climbing might be a little rough after being sick.. and the half, and the two morning workouts… but it actually felt pretty good and turned out to be a lot of fun.  Plus, I figured it would be good pull-up training!

While we were at the climbing gym, Adam accomplished his February boot camp goal of doing a handstand pushup.  I found this particularly impressive since we had already done quite a bit of climbing.  I figured it was worth a try but only managed to get down about an inch.  For the record though, my handstand totally beat his- and I got into it all by myself. 😉  Anyway, it’s definitely something I’ll be adding to my to do list! – along with the pull-ups, a one handed pushup, and jumping on the tall box with the small box on it.  The fact that Adam made it up on his second try and I’ve been diligently slaving at my goal for weeks makes me feel like maybe he didn’t pick something hard enough- that and his friend totally ratted him out that he used to do them “all the time” in the Marine Corps.  jk- I’m totally proud of him.

 Overall, it was an awesome weekend.  I spent time with a lot of great people and got a lot of tough working out in too!  Adam and I even got to go out for some Hibachi after the half with some of our friends from boot camp which was a real treat!

Also, Adam’s friend gave me a lot of great tips on building the muscle groups for my pull-up and I am super psyched to try them out.  I am still a little frustrated that I haven’t been able to do one, and, consequently, haven’t met my February goal.  However, I have helped several other people conquer their goals and that is equally rewarding.  I’m sure I will get my chance too, but until then I will keep busting my tail to get it done!

In the meantime, I can celebrate the victories of my boot camp buddies, including my friend Melissa who annihilated her February goal and rocked out the half yesterday in 2:14. (Her lofty time goal was 2:15- not too shabby!)  I finished only a couple minutes ahead of her and Adam (not surprisingly) smoked us both.  Our friend Jamie also ran with us and KILLED IT despite not feeling great while running.  It was such a great experience to race with all of them!!!

I hope everyone had an excellent weekend!!!