Ultra beast

Remember When? (aka Big News People!)

What is success?

I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing;

knowing that it is not enough,

that you have got to have hard work

and a certain sense of purpose.
-Margaret Thatcher

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Alright Peeps,

Remember back when I told you all that I had arrived in my blogging career because The Bloggess started following me on Twitter (and some of you likely rolled your eyes and thought I was looney… which I am, but only in the best way)…

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Just in case you missed it the first time…

Well, now Spartan Race has also noted my obvious awesomeness and reached out with a free race entry to give away.  Umm… YOU’RE WELCOME!!!! (TAKE THAT EYE ROLLERS!)

So here is the deal, Dan Krueger from the Spartan Race social media squad sent me an email this morning offering a free race entry for one lucky reader in exchange for me helping to promote their upcoming 2014 Racing Season as well as the new Reebok Spartan Race All-terrain shoes series.  Seriously?  This is like asking me to promote peanut butter… and we all know how much I love peanut butter…

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I know you are thinking too good to be true, right? Me too! But I went ahead and googled him (CSI has nothing on me!), and he is a real person affiliated with Spartan Race.  He has also worked with other bloggers on giveaways, so the only thing that may mess this up for all of you is if he actually reads my blog and realizes what a raving nut I am… then again, what kind of people sign up for Spartan Races anyway? 😉

You may remember my first experience with Spartan Race back when the Hubs and I took on the very first Ultra Beast (and Spartan Race grossly mis-advertised the actual distance of the race… FYI Spartan Race roughly 26.2 miles does not equal 30 miles… not ever… but then Marathon Beast doesn’t have the same ring as Ultra Beast, does it?)

All joking aside, the experience was life changing.  It was one of only a few experiences in my life that has truly tested my limits (physically and emotionally).  Now one of you may have the same opportunity!

For the few of you who have been hiding under a rock are unfamiliar with the Spartan Race Series, here’s a little preview what you are signing up for:

ARE YOU READY TO SPARTAN UP?

If you are watching this video (or read about my experience with the Ultra Beast) and are convinced you could never do it, let me reassure you. Spartan Race has multiple distances and difficulty levels ranging from Sprint (roughly 5k) all the way to Death Race (multiple days).  You should pick a distance that scares the hell out of you and then train for it.  That is how growth happens people!  If you can already comfortably run a 5K and are nervous about the obstacles, try the Sprint distance.  Looking for a challenge, try the Super or Beast course.

For those of you who already have done and love the Spartan Races, this could be your chance to get an extra race in!

Oh and don’t forget the shoes:

  • Strategically placed water drainage ports
  • Rock guard (to protect your feet from sharp rocks and objects)
  • Obstacle grip (which is also invaluable when wet shoes meet slippery rock faces)
  • Spartan Tough

We all know I am a loyal Inov 8 girl, but then a girl can never have too many shoes… especially trail shoes. 😉  BTW Reebok I generally wear a size 7 in running shoes should you decide you would like a review… I have an ultra coming up that would definitely put them to the test… just saying  😉

 

So my question who is excited?

 

PS. For more information on Spartan Race and Obstacle Racing in general, check out these blogs:

Dirt in Your Skirt

On My Way To Sparta 

 

 

 

Ultra Beast on My Mind

“It takes a little courage, and a little self-control… and some grim determination,

If you want to reach the goal.

It takes a deal of striving, and a firm and stern-set chin.

No matter what the battle, If you really want to win.

There’s no easy path to glory, There’s no road to fame.

Life, however we may view it, Is no simple parlor game;

But it’s prizes call for fighting, For endurance and for grit;

For a rugged disposition and don’t know when to quit.”

With the Spartan Ultra Beast only a few weeks away at this point, it’s safe to say it’s on my mind almost 24/7.  I know myself well enough to realize that no matter how much I train, it will never feel like enough.  I mean how are you ever supposed to feel prepared for something you’ve never done before?  Isn’t the whole point of doing an event like this to GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE?  (Mission Accomplished!!! I am SO OUT of my comfort zone lol)

I’ve never done a Spartan Race, so I only have an idea of what to expect. I considered signing up for the Super Spartan next weekend, and even running it twice back to back as training- but it’s almost $150.  That is a lot of money, especially when you’re paying a mortgage and student loans.  Furthermore, realistically, I don’t think running next weekend (or even doing the course twice) is going to dramatically effect whether or not I finish Sept 22nd.  At this point, most of my training is already behind me; and there’s not going to be much I could pull of in the next week or two that is going to alter my chances… other than getting injured!  Plus, I think I would rather not know what I’m getting myself into…

I keep reminding myself that Spartan Headquarters selected me for a reason.  I earned my spot in that race.  Up until completing the Ascent, I wasn’t sure how well I believed I could finish; and it bothered me to read comments about how there were too many unqualified people getting in.

However, now I don’t care if other people think I’m un or under-qualified.  They clearly don’t know me, what I’ve been through, or what I’m capable of accomplishing when my mind is set.  The truth is I don’t need anyone else’s approval to succeed.  The fact that I have never done a Spartan Race has absolutely nothing to do with my worthiness to compete or my ability to finish.  I don’t need to rattle off my credentials or prove myself to anyone.  I am one tough chick, and if they don’t want to see or acknowledge it that’s their problem- not mine.

I didn’t sign up for this race to demonstrate to the world what a badass I am; I signed up to challenge myself.  I wanted to push myself to do something I didn’t think I could.  I figured I’d send in my application and see what happened.  If I got in, I’d take it as a sign from the universe that I could do it and was ready for the challenge.  Never in a million years did I imagine what a (pardon the expression) “pissing contest” it would become.  I guess I was accustomed to the Spartan Chicked group where everyone is encouraging and supportive of each other without the need for competition.

 Maybe it’s the addition of the testosterone, but the Ultra Beast group is constant stream of who is the most awesome, who is going to annihilate the race because “some of us eat courses like this for breakfast”, complaints that there are too many people getting in (I’m sorry, I missed the part about our applications being accepted early on making us superior to everyone else) , and how there are so many unqualified people getting accepted (not sure what credentials are required to be the judge of who is actually qualified, but apparently Spartan Headquarters doesn’t seem to have them). Seriously? Grow up people and worry about yourselves!

I’m not saying that is what every post is like, or even how most of the people in the group are.  In reality, it’s probably only a few people (with a constant need to run their mouths), but the comments are a fairly regular occurrence.  I just don’t understand the concept of needing to trash other people (people you don’t even know in this case!) to make yourself feel good.  Sure, maybe you’re naturally athletic- but did you ever stop and think that maybe that’s your disadvantage?  Do you even know what it’s like to really dig deep and work for something?  Have you ever pushed yourself to your mental or physical limit?  Have you trained through chronic injuries and pain?  Have you ever even attempted anything you didn’t already know you would succeed at?

I’d like to think that if you did, you would be supportive of other people trying to do the same instead of looking down your nose at them as if they’re beneath you in some way.  I know people who have been accepted in the Ultra Beast with fewer races and  less distance covered than me… several, in fact, who have never even covered the distance of a full marathon.   That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the chance to compete; and it certainly doesn’t make them less deserving than me or anyone else to be there.  Running is supposed to be about competing with yourself and having fun in the process.  If you’ve lost sight of that then I sincerely feel sorry for you.

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!

Give ’em Hell

“When life pushes you over, push back harder”

Since I started training for the Ultra Beast, it’s safe to say there have been a lot of set backs.  First my shoulder, then my sister’s miscarriage, then my dad in the hospital, and now frequent extra hours at work… PLUS to top it off- I think I tweaked my back.   (I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that I can avoid the chiropracter on this one) The way things have been going, I’ve been getting stressed at times that I’m not where I should be or pushing as hard as I could be.

However, it seems like the more I push my body, the more it pushes back!  Maybe I’m not designed to work out at maximum intensity for hours a day after all!  I have been doing P90X and recently started hiking with a daypack filled with sand (probably 40lbs in total… may have overdone it the last time = back pain), but nothing I do ever seems like enough.  I’m so terrified of failing that I’m almost not enjoying the workouts.  Instead I look at what everyone else is doing and think “I should be doing more” or pushing harder.  I feel like I have to make up for only having 4 days a week to train; and I find myself feeling guilty when I take any time out to have “fun” instead of workout.

The truth is, I’m being ridiculous because there’s no reason I can’t prepare even if it is only 4 days of intense training a week.  After all, I worked the same schedule when I trained for the marathon, and I survived that.  Sure, I can’t do a pull up (yet) or climb a rope (yet!), but I do have experience with covering long distances. Not that long along, I walked for hours on end and covered a full marathon at the Relay for Life.   Maybe obstacles aren’t a strength of mine, and maybe there are a number of “elite” athletes competing in this event, but that doesn’t mean I’m not qualified.

A while ago, someone posted in the Ultra Beast group on Facebook that the Spartan HQ was intentionally letting in a bunch of under-qualified racers to increase the dropout rate and make the race look harder.  I found the comment a little offensive as I’m sure I fall into that category in this self proclaimed elite (more like elitist) athlete’s eyes.  However, I would venture to guess that anyone who would feel the need to make a comment like that is grossly underestimating the capabilities of many of the registrants.  Sure, I may not have a big name is the obstacle racing world (or anywhere else in the fitness realm for that matter!) and I may not even have been able to train as much as I have wanted. However, I do have one strength that will work in my favor- I can push though physical pain and exhaustion, and even more importantly: mental pain and exhaustion.

I spent over 5 years in an abusive relationship and have experienced betrayal by people I considered family.  I have lived through pain I thought would kill me and have come out on the other end smarter and stronger.  NO PHYSICAL PAIN COULD EVER COMPARE to the pain I endured then.  Strong people don’t just happen.  Strong people are CONDITIONED.  They live through pain no one should have to suffer, pain you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.  If I could come out of a situation like that still standing (and running my mouth… haha) then no marathon length obstacle course is going to take me out, even if I have to crawl!

There’s not much I can’t stand more than quitting.  I would rather risk seriously injuring myself than quit.  I would rather suffer and be miserable than quit.  As much as I would like to have done more physical training, at can at least take solace in the fact that I have had top notch mental conditioning.  If spending five days in a hospital with little to no sleep at a time of crisis in my family didn’t break me, and spending five years with a person who constantly tried to beat me down and make me feel like I wasn’t good enough didn’t break me then this race isn’t going to break me (at least not mentally…)

When life knocks me down, I come back stronger.  All these “curveballs”  are just going to have to serve as fuel to keep pushing because ,at this point, I don’t have time to stress about them.  Anyone who thinks I’m under-qualified or just plain crazy (probably the more likely of the two) will just have to eat their words when I work  that much harder and finish.  I WILL NOT BE DISCOURAGED.  I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED.  As long as there is breath in my lungs, I will continue to drive forward from one goal to the next.  I am a fighter.  I don’t stop when I’m tired (or discouraged!).  I stop when I’m done.  

My New Anthem.

Hiking, It’s Like Heaven but with More Effort

“A key factor is to do training that is fun.”
Bill Toomey

Planking with a weighted pack? Sure, I got that!

I decided to kick my Ultra Beast training up a notch by doing some hiking with a weighted pack.  I love being outside, and anything that adds getting sweaty or dirty (or even better- MUDDY!) is just a bonus.  In other words: hiking + added difficulty= good times.

Getting out on the trail with the pack was actually the first time that I felt like I was actually training for the Ultra Beast.  Caring the extra weight was definitely an added effort in the beginning, but I adjusted pretty quickly.  Once my legs were warmed up, I was ready to go!!!

Instead of going to the trails around my house, we headed over to Sleeping Giant in Hamden (a few towns over) for some more difficult climbs and terrain.  It definitely didn’t disappoint!  Some of the more technical parts were a little tedious with the pack and extra weight, but they were still doable.  My first time out we hiked for about 40 min because I was on a time crunch.  I felt pretty good when we finished and didn’t feel too tired at all.  The second time we went for over two and a half hours and I was DEFINITELY feeling it.  (The pushups and planking during the breaks may have helped…) My shoulders felt life the were being pulling down toward my feet, and my back got pretty sore.  Next time I’ll have to adjust the weight so it stays more centered in the pack to spare my muscles a little.

Overall, I’m looking forward to spending more time out on the trails getting my butt kick by my awesome new day pack!

Relay for Life (A Marathon for Kelly)

“Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.”

-Jean de La Fontaine

This post is a bit late.  I blame the third season of Drop Dead Diva being released on Netflix and the massive amounts of drama going on in my life equally for this!

**I had already written a post about the Relay for Life, but scrapped it because I didn’t want to undermine the cause with all the drama that occurred that day.  Instead I decided to wait a while and start over with a focus on the positive points of the day.**

Last weekend I did the Relay for Life with my super awesome friend Kelly.  It was raining and I was pretty mopey that morning (for obvious reasons), but nothing was going to keep me for getting out there and showing her my support.  I arrived around 10 am and was a little surprised to see just how many people were already there- especially given how cold and rainy it was!  Of course, what’s a little rain when you’ve already battled cancer, right?  These are not your average Joes.

Kelly had already covered several miles by the time I arrived and had a necklace with a bead for each lap to keep track.  Colorful beads!- of course I wanted one!!!!  Which reminds me that I still owe her the $3 for it…. It’s funny how a simple thing like collecting a bead each time around the track could turn something otherwise monotonous and torturous into a fun activity.  In fact, I purpose that they start passing out beads every mile of a marathon. 🙂

I initially planned on staying most of the day to keep Kelly company and make sure she had someone to walk with her the whole time (YES- she walked the FULL 24 HOURS!!!- The girl is a BEAST!!!).  Several friends from boot camp kept us company at various points in the day- including Meghan (Jenna Marble’s doppelganger and my sister from another mother) who (GOD BLESS HER HEART!!!) took the night shift with Kelly. Between the two of us, we were able to keep her company the entire time with some overlap in the middle.

As the day wore on to night, and then the middle of the night, Meghan and I began to get sillier and sillier.  We did the Cuban Shuffle, danced around the field with our glow sticks, and even tried to get Kelly to do the Macarena as we went around the track. I not sure she was as entertained my our antics as we were…  In fact, there is a possibility we may have embarrassed her slightly.

In total I walked 20 miles between 10 am and midnight.  Then, realizing that I was reaching my expiration point in terms of fatigue, I ran the last 6.5  just for the sake of having finished the distance of a marathon.  That’s 106 beads worth for anyone wondering!  I was in some serious pain when I finished (and exhausted, and hungry, and cold, and wet, and cranky… you get the idea lol) I literally could not walk- or move for that matter!

At the same time, though, there was definitely a sense of satisfaction to have covered that kind of distance, especially without having trained for a marathon ahead of time.  After having spent so much time injured, it was a great boost in my confidence.  If I could spend that many hours on my feet in the rain, cold, heat, sun, and still pull out 6.5 miles of running at the end, then maybe there is a good chance I can make in through the Ultra Beast in September.  After all, by then I will have significantly more training under my belt.  While I understand that it is a significantly tougher course than walking on a flat surface, it’s the idea of having to be moving and on my feet for hours on end that was really frightening me.

Despite all the drama of the day, it was an extremely positive and rewarding experience.  No matter what happened, I kept reminding myself that I was there to support Kelly.  There was nothing that was going to distract me from being there for her while I was there… once I got home it was a different story (I basically cried my eyes out).  Even with the drama that occurred, though, I would do it all over again because it was worth it to let her know how much we all care about her.

“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. 🙂