CrossFit and Spartan

It’s finally CrossFit Games time!!

bridges

Anyways.  Any of you people who actually follow CrossFit in the slightest know that I am dreaming big in rooting for Josh Bridges pretty much every year.  I’m pretty sure Rich Froning was manufactured in a CrossFit lab somewhere to win the Games every year without even appearing to try.  But I have to root for my Shipmate.

Anyways.

So tomorrow I’m free on running, so I think I’m going to take the day for Spartan training instead of resting.  Since I run enough and CrossFit plenty, I figure the biggest thing I’m lacking in my training for the upcoming HH12HR  is carrying awkward heavy stuff around.  In the first 12HR in Vegas, athletes were told to take a tire and run the course, keeping in mind that there was a cutoff to be back to the finish line.  This is probably going to be my biggest weakness at the race.  (Technically, the Spartan Hurricane Heat isn’t a “race” per se, but for the purposes of this blog I’m going to continue to call it that.)

 

 

I have a particularly gnarly memory from last year where I competed in a CrossFit-style competition the YMCA put on in conjunction with Team RWB (the super awesome non-profit I am a part of, if you haven’t been paying attention).  One of the events was a sandbag run of about 400m and I can still remember that I was basically ready to give up on life about halfway through.  I finished last in my group (only a group of four, but still) and was completely discouraged.  Something about carrying that awkward weight while running just kills me every time.  AMRAP with a 200m run carrying a wall-ball?  Terrible memories of that one too.

 

So the plan for tomorrow is to take the sandbag to the trails and just get comfortable with it.  I’ll probably take it to the hills at a local park and do some hiking.  Then I’ll head to CrossFit, where tomorrow’s WOD is as follows:

 
Strength/Skill:
Single Arm Kettlebell press
3 x 6 each arm
 
WOD:
10′ AMRAP
10 x Deadlifts
10 x Push Ups
30 x Double Unders
 
Should be a fun one.  Back to the subject of balance from yesterday, I’m gonna play it by ear with this extra Spartan training in conjunction with marathon training + CrossFit.  I don’t want to get too cocky and think that I don’t need to do much else, but I don’t want to end up dealing with overtraining issues.  So I’m just going to work it in when I can, and more importantly when I feel good.  We’ll see what happens.
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Goals, Training, and Pictures that Move

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60 days? That’s forever away. I’ll just eat ice cream.

I now have this fun little “countdown” app.  So just prepare yourselves  to see this crap more times than is even remotely necessary, because for some reason this app pleases me in the same way that looking at graphs and spreadsheets pleases me.

 

I suppose I have a lot on my plate in the coming months.  With the marathon begins a landslide of runcations and inevitable sufferfests – the Fuego y Agua 50k, Hill Country Ragnar (ultra team), my first 50 miler, the 12 Hour Spartan Hurricane Heat, the McDowell Mountain Ragnar Relay (regular team this time – the week of I also plan to visit the Grand Canyon and run R2R).  All that starting from 01 October to 07 September.  I was trying to explain to a co-worker why I was hoarding all my leave instead of just taking a nice long vacation on my marathon trip to Washington when I started to explain all this stuff to her that I had to possibly reserve leave for in Oct-Nov.  I’m pretty sure she didn’t understand most of what I was talking about.  She just stared at me blankly for a moment while trying to find the words, then decided on an appropriate “You are going to die.”

 

I’m trying not to become totally neurotic about my training.  Which is hard when you load up TrainingPeaks and your mid-week medium-long run has a coach’s note that reads “aim for 8:50 pace” (freaking out).  I’m pretty sure Liza thinks I’m a sandbagger at this point, since I complained to her that I just wasn’t confident I could hit all these paces in the Texas heat and she kindly pointed out to me we had been running 8:30-8:45 minute miles the whole time we’d been chatting.  So there’s that.

 

I had a friend who was a bit of a nightmare when it came to her training – she really, REALLY wanted to qualify for Boston and it made her more than a little bit neurotic.  For some reason this left a serious impression on me.  I have to wonder if you’re really even enjoying running anymore when you get to the point where you’re on the cusp of an unholy nervous breakdown at the very thought of trying and failing to do well at your chosen race.  I want to train and do well, but I don’t want it to be a chore, or something that I don’t enjoy doing.  I understand that there’s always going to be a time where I won’t particularly be thrilled about getting up and going running, but that’s just to be expected every now and again (not on the regular).

 

Anyone who was taking themselves entirely too seriously would probably be wise enough to tone it down on the race front (unlike me).  Maybe I’m not wise enough to see something cool I want to do and tell myself that it’s probably smart to wait until next year.  I guess I’m a bit of a hyperactive 12 year old on the inside when it comes to stuff like that.  Waiting isn’t typically my strong suit.

 

Despite all my doubts, training is going well.  Not perfect, but well.  I need to work a bit more on my strength in some areas, but I feel a lot stronger in my running now that I’ve gone back to CrossFitting regularly.  The ever-present battle there is balancing CrossFit and running in such a way that I have something other than limp noodles for legs on days I have to run after CrossFit days.  I’ve been trying to counter this by running in the morning and then going right to CrossFit afterwards.  I want to try and keep up with writing about my training here in the blog, and since we’re going to be doing a blog-o-rama for a while…I think it’ll give me something to ramble about.

 

I was going to write more, but it’s getting late and I have to run in the morning (8:50 m/m are you serious?)…   On a completely unrelated note, Buzzfeed published this article of potential funniest gifs of all time, and it is a very important thing that you might need in your life.

 

imadog

 

lionking

Thinking Out Loud Thursday

Thinking-Out-Loud

 

1.  First, can we talk about how Liza Howard is amazing:

Six months post-partum (so six months of sleep deprivation, plus three ten minute breaks to breast pump during the race), crushing the female record at Umstead 100 in 15:07.  Truly an inspiration to us all!  For further proof please see this What Is Ultra post about her.

 

2.  Buzzfeed posted an article called  75 Thoughts Every Runner Has While Out For A Run a few days ago, and I’m pretty sure during all the very unsightly guffawing I was relating to almost everything on the list:

buzzrun

Most people have probably already seen this, but I need to note this here just in case there’s one poor unfortunate soul out there who hasn’t happened upon this already.  And while we’re talking about hilarious things:

THIS.

“100 miles? I don’t even like to drive that far.”
“Your mom doesn’t like to drive that far.”

#zerolimits

I’ve never ran 100 miles, but I’ve received this clever (not) little line for just doing half marathons, 25ks or 50ks before, so.  PSA to all you out there: NOT FUNNY.  Also I was torn between pride and embarrassment at how much some of these things resonate with me.  Especially the shoe thing.  …so many shoes.

 

3.  WHY CAN’T I RUN A HUNDRED MILES.

 

4.  On a more serious note, there’s this, a photo project by @DearWorld that admittedly had me a little teary eyed.

DEAR SURVIVORS,

When we asked you to return to the finish line, a place that changed your lives, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. You told us some days are harder than others, but that it’s okay to have bad days.

Mostly you told us about the goodness of others. Colleagues who babysat. School kids who sent notes. Neighbors who cooked dinner.

What happened that day was terror. Terror happens when love is absent.

Boston is a city of love stories now.

Thank you for sharing yours here. As you heal, know you inspire the rest of us to be better, still.

Love,

Robert
Founder, Dear World

 

I think it is incredibly important when tragedies like this occur that we highlight the survivors and wonderful people who were there to help others who were suffering.  This is an beautiful example of how to move on when something irreparably terrible happens around you, and if you have even just one moment to spare I would suggest you check it out.  🙂

 

5.  I went back to CrossFit for the first time in almost two months on Monday, and MY BODY IS STILL BROKEN.  Well, not completely, but it’s been quite a long time that I’ve felt so sore.  I tried to run today and still felt a bit off.  The WOD we did was 3 rounds of 5 body weight deadlifts, 25 box jumps, and 10 pull-ups.  Now, the box jumps and deadlifts I can probably get away with a little bit of stiffness for a couple of days, a bit of tired legs, whatever – I’ve been running the whole time I’ve not been doing CrossFit, so those weren’t really a big deal.  I have NOT however been doing upper body, so the short story here is that lifting my arms went from laughably easy pre-WOD to an impossibly post-WOD (the day after) and then to a very uncomfortable chore within the last few days.  So, that’s a thing.  #crossfitkills

 

6.  I really need to get back into cross-training before my body breaks FOR REAL.  Hence the CrossFit.  I even bought a Groupon for 20 yoga classes.  I went to yoga and am not ashamed to say I bitched for like ten minutes after (jokingly, more or less – but still) because yoga is freaking HARD.  Ugh.  I’ve been trolling r/yoga a lot lately, and if that one yoga class I took last week wasn’t proof enough of my distinct lack of flexibility in certain places, seeing something like this makes me feel like an inflexible stone:

twisty

What is this I don’t even.

I’m not even sure what to think of things like this.  What are you, Gumby?!  Meanwhile I can’t even get my heels to the ground in down dog.  Damn.

 

7.  (I had to check to see what number I was on.  Probably a sign this is going too far.)  So I’ve been pretty good at avoiding overpriced workout clothes lately, but today the local lululemon store posted this adorable tank on their FB page, and it’s got my jimmies all rustled.

lulutank

 

This is getting long and soon it won’t even be Thursday anymore.  So I leave you with, number 8:

 

8.)

I think this speaks for itself.

I think this speaks for itself.

Ragnar Trail Summit

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Salt Lake City

Hey strangers.  (Is making that word plural too hopeful?  Hopefully more than one person is reading this.)  Super lax with the blog posting schedule lately.  Freedom The Navy calls.

So, long and short – last Wednesday I was extremely privileged to be invited to Ragnar Relay’s first Trail Summit.  Me and a few others from the Hill Country, Texas area were selected a few months ago to be Ragnar Trail ambassadors (we’re called Trail Warriors – boom!)  We flew in with all the other Trail Warriors from all over the country to get together and learn all about Ragnar’s new Trail Relay series and how Ragnar is making life freaking awesome.  If you have never ran a Ragnar Relay – or any overnight relay at all for that matter – you are in for a seriously awesome time that will leave you coming back for more and more.  I can’t begin to describe all the things I learned at Ragnar/Salomon HQ without saying the words “awesome” or “rad” a completely superfluous amount of times.  I won’t go into every single detail, but suffice to say this trip was more than just a trip for me.  This video always gives me goosebumps:

If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

Besides the obvious mind-blowing radness of visiting Ragnar/Salomon headquarters, I think it’s seriously important for me to note here that I have absolutely never been to Utah, and I have been DREAMING of going there forever.  We stayed in both Ogden and Salt Lake City, and it’s impossible to convey my feelings to people who are constantly surrounded with that sort of beauty how insanely out of this world my experience was.  I have never felt so lucky in my life as I did in Salt Lake City, surrounded by a team of some of the coolest, most passionate people I have ever met.  Something like that is not just an experience, it’s something amazing and special that (you guys are writing me off as crazy and obsessed at this point, bear with me) changes something about you.  I know this sounds completely dramatic, but seeing people who care about sharing their labor of love is awesome.

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This trip was something else.  It made me think about a lot of things – about my running goals, about my goals in general.  You can’t help but feel inspired to do awesome things when you hear the awesome things other people (not just Ragnar staff, but my fellow Trail Warriors as well!) are doing in their lives.  Everyone’s different, and everyone is doing something awesome and special.  So, I guess I’m done gushing – no gagging guys, this is serious!

While we’re telling fun stories…this experience reminded me of another amazing experience I had a few months ago.  I’ve had great luck in having met amazing people doing incredible things in the trail running community.  When I volunteered at Fuego y Agua’s Hunter Gatherer race last year, I was waiting at the cave “obstacle” that I was assigned to, chatting with some of the racers.  The racers were required to climb down into the cave, crawl through a crack (that’s the best I can describe it – let’s just say it was a tight squeeze for a lot of them) and memorize some symbols they discovered at various points in the cave.  The cavern was so tight that travelling through it was slow going and eventually we had to limit the amount of racers who could go inside to two or three, so we had a group of about two or three people hanging out with us volunteers while they waited.

Eventually the guys started asking us volunteers about our running experience, and one of them asked me if I had ever ran an ultra before.  I kind of laughed, telling him I wasn’t quite there yet.  He asked me what was the farthest I had ever raced, I told him I had done a few 25k races, a bunch of halfs, yadda yadda but I really wanted to run a 50k one day.  He shrugged, and told me to just do it.  What’s the worst that could happen?  DNF?  He told me the story of how he went to run the Copper Canyons Ultra, and DNF’ed about five miles from the finish line (or something similar – either way it was extremely close to the finish) and people gave him shit.  “Why did you quit when you were so close?”  “Why didn’t you just run the last few miles?”

The long and short of it is, he DNF’ed for a variety of reasons, but as far as the doubters, who cares?  He ran like 45 freaking miles.  Nobody can talk shit about that, because that’s still amazing.  This sounds so completely freaking obvious, but to me at the time, the confident way he told me “Just do it, you got it.” made me suddenly very aware that…yeah, I could maybe do that too.  So, it would be a bit of an exaggeration to say I went straight home and signed up for my first 50k, but I did do it very soon after.  Which will bring us to the next post.

So this has gone on long enough.  The point of this post is that life is beautiful and people are amazing, so let’s all believe in each other so we can do excellent shit.

salomonshoe

Thinking Out Loud Thursday

So, I’m jumping on the bandwagon for Thinking Out Loud Thursdays, brought to you by the fine blogger Amanda over at Running with Spoons.

Thinking-Out-Loud

    1. Am I the only one who spends totally inordinate amounts of time trolling the internet for awesome races?  I recently discovered the Squamish 50 miler while browsing UltraSignup and have been obsessed with it ever since, especially since they frequently post beautiful images of the trails:squamishDisgustingly beautiful!  I thought I would luck out and it would be in Canada near to where one of my best friends back home is moving to (Toronto I believe), but Squamish is near Vancouver, so uh totally off.  But I’ll get there one day anyways, because this race looks completely beautifully amazing.
    2. Speaking of awesome races I want to do, this one is coming up:
      ultracbI know since Born to Run came out, everyone and their mother probably says they want to do this race, but I seriously want to do this race.  I spoke with a girl at the Fuego y Agua Hunter Gatherer race last year who went down and did it with her boyfriend and it sounds like a totally rad and amazing time.
    3. I’m running the Bandera 25k this weekend and I am completely terrified.  I had a miserable time last year, and I’m determined to make it better this year.  And by miserable I don’t mean “holy shit this is freaking hard why would I do something so hard” but more like “EVERYTHING THAT COULD GO WRONG HAS INDEED GONE WRONG” which is always followed by sadness.

      This is Bandera in one picture.  ROCKS.  And looming at the top, the sotol.

      This is Bandera in one picture. ROCKS. And looming at the top, the sotol.

    4. Can we talk about how cool the Ragnar Trail Relay is?  It’s like all the fun parts of the Texas Independence Relay or Capital to Coast without all the…uh…roads.  I’ll probably talk more about this later.
    5. It’s warming up outside, which is good in a way because it was fourteen freaking degrees on Monday morning (shut up, Northerners) but  bad because I will no longer be able to justify drinking hot chocolate.  /singleteardrop
    6. My dog is creepily staring at me as I write this blog post.

      chloecreep

      …or as I check Facebook. Whatever.

    7. Registration for the CrossFit Open is next week!  I can’t believe it’s that time again.  I’m excited.  I will continue to be excited until the first Open WOD with muscle-ups, then I will become suddenly disinterested and sad I still cannot do muscle-ups.
    8. I’m feeling pretty peer pressured into posting a 2014 Goals post.
    9. Meghann at The Life and Fork needs to make it her 2014 Goal to tell me how to make the allegedly amazing butternut squash bread she made the other day…or else.
    10. I think the fact that I made it to number ten on this post means I’ve gone too far.

Team RWB Trail Running Camp (Part Two)

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Saturday and Sunday brought a whole slew of amazing experiences!

Our first run was at 0700 but coffee was being served at 0615, so my plans of sleeping in a bit were shattered by all the stirring coffee-drinkers at 0600.  I dressed and walked down to the pavilion to chit-chat, where I ended up learning that coming between a trail runner and their coffee is a big fat no-no, as the coffee was still brewing and a mob of coffee-fiending runners was beginning to gather ominously around the brewing pots.

Glad I don’t drink coffee.

Eventually we all gathered in our respective pace groups to head out on the first of many “Focused Running Workouts” – runs where we would receive an on-the-go seminar of sorts from one of the various trail running mentors who were in charge of leading our group.  We learned a bit about trail running form on this one, namely picking up your feet and mostly some general running form that transfers over to trails.  For me personally, being instructed to focus on “quick, light feet” has always been something that has helped me immensely – it’s so easy after long distances to start plodding along.  High cadence, light feet, quick over the rocks.  Easier said than done sometimes, but it helps me out from time to time to remember that.

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Though I learned a lot of new things from the various running workout/seminars, the best part about the runs was easily Camp Eagle’s awesome terrain.  The trails are beautiful but difficult, and once you get done cursing those steep and seemingly never-ending climbs, you’re rewarded with some of the most amazing views.  We did a “Downhill Running Technique” and a “Speed Intervals” workout (two separate seminars, but we sort of combined them since they were in the same trip) later in the day that had us running repeats on a pretty steep hill 3-4 times.  Hills are easily my biggest weakness with trail running, so this was a bit of a tough time for me.  It sounds like a cliche to say the views made it all worth it, but I don’t care because they did!  It also gave me an excuse to stop at the top and be all “reflective” and whatnot (aka, catch my breath because those hills are intense!)

Nikki Kimball speaking to an enthralled crowd

Nikki Kimball speaking to an enthralled crowd

After dinner, we were treated to an amazing presentation by an amazing keynote speaker:  Nikki Kimball, three-time Western States 100 mile champion and a seriously all-around epic woman.  Nikki spoke of her struggles with depression as well as her attempt to beat the record for Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail.  In addition to running and beating the record, she was also trying to raise funds and awareness for the organization Girls on the Run, an awesome non-profit geared towards encouraging young girls to pursue active lifestyles through running.  I’ve volunteered with GotR before and they’re an amazing organization, and it was so awesome to hear that extraordinary women like Nikki are out there supporting them.  

 

Nikki cited the pervasive problem of women being unrecognized in sports as one of her inspirations to beat the record – the women’s record at the time was seven days, while the men’s record that Nikki was shooting to beat was four and a half.  She mentioned when winning Western States, how the male’s race was front page news while her win was barely even a footnote.  As a woman, hearing how Nikki overcame crippling depression to break records and run insane distances was incredibly important for me.  People like Nikki are important to showcasing how powerful and competitive women can be in sports…I really admired her honesty and her strength in describing her struggles, as well as her will to blaze the trail for women aspiring to great things in her wake.

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The next day we started our morning with “Technical Trail Running Skills” – this was easily the most fun I had running the entire camp.  The first half of the run was a challenging uphill, but then the second half was all technical (slight) downhill, switchbacks and crazy speed!  I ran up front with some of the elites, and felt like a little bit of a big deal chit-chatting with them while we sped down the trail (probably infinitely slower than they ever normally run, but I’ll take it haha).

Highlight of this day though, was definitely the presentation by Mike Ehredt.

If you have three minutes (if you’re reading this, you have three minutes!) WATCH THIS.  Mike ran across America TWICE (from Oregon to Maine and then Minnesota to Texas) to commemorate all the military members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He stopped every mile to plant a flag in memory of a specific soldier’s death.  Hearing him speak was completely amazing.  Mike is truly a testament to how one normal guy can do something completely extraordinary when his heart is really in it.

Later that day we did a 5k obstacle course.  After doing this, I really wish Camp Eagle would put something on like this more often!  As I’ve mentioned, the terrain is really gnarly and perfect for this kind of stuff – as someone obsessed with Spartan Race and things of that sort, coming out to Camp Eagle for an actual obstacle race would be loads of fun.  The course itself wasn’t especially challenging (except the ring crossing!  ugh!) but it was loads of fun, which was just what I was looking for.  I was feeling pretty tired by this point, so when my friend said he was going to pass on the obstacle course I almost bowed out with him.  I think Jason Bryant’s enthusiasm at the start really pumped me up to go out and have fun and not worry about my stupid legs and their stupid tiredness.  (I don’t know why they insist on getting like that…sheesh.)  By the time I returned, I was feeling pretty beat.  We had dinner and I contemplated retiring to bed, but decided to join everyone around the camp fire and socialized with some cool new people over beers.

Monday definitely started out differently, as instead of running we did WOD for Warriors.  WOD for Warriors is a CrossFit workout Team RWB does on Veteran’s and Memorial Day – for Veteran’s Day it was as follows:

9 minute AMRAP

100-meter sprint

11 sit-ups

11 air squats

100-meter sprint

22 sit-ups

22 air squats

100-meter sprint

33 sit-ups

33 air squats

 

add 11 to the sit-ups and air squats for each additional round

 

2-minute rest and reflection

then

 

9 minute AMRAP

100-meter sprint

11 pushups

11 box jumps (RX 24”/20”)

100-meter sprint

22 pushups

22 box jumps (RX 24”/20”)

100-meter sprint

33 pushups

33 box jumps (RX 24”/20”)

We did jumping lunges instead of box jumps.  It was really fun and a blast to get “back in my element” of CrossFit after spending the whole weekend being a back of the pack runner, haha.  I love trail running, but I’m no Nikki Kimball!  It was fun to talk and workout with the runners there who had never done CrossFit before.

After breakfast and the last RWB Leadership seminar, we took our leave of Camp Eagle.  I met a lot of awesome, inspiring, amazing people!  So much passion for trail running and Team RWB that it makes me smile just typing this.  I really hope that I am fortunate enough to return next year, as this was truly one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.  A big huge thanks goes out to Liza Howard, Joe and Joyce Prusaitis, all the volunteers and mentors, and most definitely TEAM RWB for allowing this amazing experience to happen!

 

Leaving Camp Eagle, all smiles!

Leaving Camp Eagle, all smiles!