Monday, December 31, 2012

No Resolutions but a Fun-Filled Weekend

While the rest of the blog world today (and the past week) has been going on and on about New Years Resolutions, I am taking a different stance.

I will not be doing a resolution-oriented post. This isn't to say that I don't have goals for the year. Actually, I have some very specific goals. However, as a Type-A perfectionist and grade-A over-achiever, I am hesitant to throw too many goals out there. When I give myself a specific target, I tend to go above and beyond to make it happen, which isn't always healthy. Therefore, my goals will be mine, and I will be throwing them out into the universe as I see fit.

Haha, I sound like a crazy person. Which I probably am, but that's ok!

In other news, I had a great weekend!

I got to puppy-sit for one of my favorite puppies this weekend.

Her name is Daisy and I am always so happy to get to hang out with her. I have to admit, dog-sitting is a pretty selfish activity for me, as I get my dog fix in! Daisy and I had a lot of fun hanging out together. She is a pretty goofy puppy! She will actually sleep under the covers like a human. It cracks me up! Growing up, our dogs weren't allowed on the bed, let alone under the covers!

Saturday, I gave myself my own workout after I got out of work.

I did 21-18-15-12-9 reps of kettlebell swings, pull-ups and rowing (for calories). It's odd. When I start a workout, especially when I'm on my own, I tend to just go through the motions. It usually takes me about 5 minutes to actually get some fire under my *ss and really start powering through. I think this is the endurance athlete in me, but maybe I'm just a little lazy?

I also went to see Les Miserables this weekend. So, I used to be the biggest theater person ever. It was my passion for many years. When I lived in New York, I worked in theater and went to lots of open calls for musicals. All of my friends worked in the theater industry as well, so I was always in the thick of it. Les Miserables is one of my all-time favorite musicals. I have been listening to the London cast album since before I can remember, and have had it memorized for almost my entire life. All this to say I was so excited for the Les Miserables movie, I could barely hold my *hit together!

'Miserables'. Sounds like a good one!
My thoughts?


The only thing I really hated was Russel Crow as Javert. I am not going to bash him for an entire paragraph, but jeepers! Ugh!

The film really was phenomenal, and the acting was amazing. Both Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman blew me away with their emotional range during song. It was everything I could have hoped for in the movie!

Some other workout happenings:

Obviously I ran. Not far, but enjoyable nonetheless.

CrossFit Sunday was maybe one of my least favorite we have ever done. Not because it was hard, but it was all skills that I detest.

After doing 5 sets of 8 deadlifts, we moved on to the partner WOD.

We started by breaking up 800 meters of rowing with your partner. 200 meters each, twice through.

Then we had to carry a barbell loaded with 80 kilograms across the gym.

Then we broke up 50 hanging leg raises between partners and finished by carrying the barbell back across the gym.

And we did that whole thing 4 times through.

Rowing? Hate.
Carrying heavy things? Hate.
Hanging leg raises? Hate in high numbers.

Basically, I was counting the minutes until we finished. And we didn't even get through 4 rounds before our coach cut us off!

At least I was working on things that are weaknesses, right? Silver lining.

In more relaxing news, I made a triumphant return to my yoga mat!

I headed over to Shakti Vinyasa Yoga for an hour and a half flow class. Man oh man did I need this! I'm not sure what made me suddenly crave yoga after months of neglect, but maybe my body was trying to tell me something.

Excited and awkward! Go yoga!
Admittedly, I have a hard time turning off the chatter in my head. For this reason, yoga can be a huge challenge for me. There are many times that I go to class and end up flowing through 90 minutes of yoga with my brain going a million miles a minute. Obviously this isn't ideal. Yesterday I really made the effort to shut off and just be present on my mat.

The class was everything I could have hoped for! I had a great sweat going and was able to find some solace and release in some drawn-out poses.

I was a pretty regular yoga attendee at Shakti this past summer, and am definitely planning a more regular practice.

I really can't say enough good things about Shakti. The teachers are great, the actual studio is well-maintained and nice without being pretentious and I always get a great class when I go. They have studios in Ballad and Redmond, I believe, so head over if you are in the Seattle area and in need of a good class!

I hope everyone has a safe New Years Eve today! On to 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas 2012

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! I know I sure did!

No real tree this year. I did NOT make a fuss.
We had a low key Christmas this year. Most of it was just me and my parents, and it felt more like a quick vacation than a stressful holiday.

Wood stove equals relaxing.
I woke up Christmas morning and, after opening presents, went on a short 10 mile run. It was a glorious morning, and I was happy to be out on the trails. I pretty much hit every hill I could find in my parents' town.

I came home to a lovely brunch filled with some of my favorite foods. Then, because it was raining, my stepmom and I played an epic game of Jenga. We ended up getting to 34 levels, if I remember correctly.

And, boy oh boy, was it stressful! Haha. I don't think either of us expected the game to get so intense, but by the end, we were on the same team and just trying to get the tower as high as possible. Put two anal perfectionists in a room and there's trouble! Our efforts to capture the final collapse on camera didn't happen. We were pretty much on camera standby the whole time!

My Aunt, Uncle and cousins ended up coming for Christmas day dinner, so it was great catching up with them.

The next morning, I took off on the same trails for an 8 mile run. My hips were barking at me from all the hills the previous day.

I did, however, manage to look like a complete stud with capris and neon pink compression socks. Had to get some photo proof of that, obviously.

I also got to try out a new Christmas present I got, a headlamp! Finally no more running in the dark. It was definitely needed while I was running at my parents' house. Goodness gracious it gets dark out in the country!

I tried to secure the lamp around my arm, but it didn't shine in front of me correctly, so I surrendered and put it on my head. It didn't stay exactly like I wanted it to, so I may take it back to REI and see if we can find a solution. By "we", I mean the helpful staff, because they sure are knowledgeable there!

What else did I get for Christmas, you may ask?

My parents made me a photo mug with my puppy (she's actually 13 years old, but I still remember the day I got her, so she will always be my puppy) on it! So cute. I can't wait to use it!

I also got....

Ellen underwear! Totally random, but my stepmom and I both share a love for Ellen and apparently her underwear is super comfortable! I'll let ya know!

Other family happenings included getting my haircut!

Finally! It's only been almost 8 months. Needless to say, my hair was a little scraggly.

Luckily, my aunt is a hair stylist and she is always happy to give me a trim when I see her. Thank goodness because I've got better things to spend my money on! Like race fees. Obviously.

We also played lots of Uno, which I forgot how much I enjoyed! That was, until my stepmom, aunt and I all ended up in a fierce 40 minute game, which we were all happy to finally finish!

The other thing we do when we are bored...hike! My parents live right next to a national park, and we always have a good time taking walks with the pup.

All in all a great Christmas full of lots of family time!

And lots of Jilly cuddles. My favorite kind.

Monday, December 24, 2012

T'was the Weekend Before Christmas

Happy Christmas Eve! Later today I'm heading over to my parents' house for the holiday and I couldn't be more excited for an excuse to chill out a little for a few days.

Before I left, however, I wanted to post some of what I was up to this past weekend!

Friday I headed up to Cougar Mountain for a trail run.

It had been raining off and on all morning, but my favorite running buddies and I headed out and up anyways. It ended up being a nice day for running! A little chilly (I was in 3 layers!), but I like running in cold weather, so it was fine by me!

My faves.
While we were running, it even started snowing! It was so peaceful and we all fell silent just to enjoy hearing the sound of the snow on the leaves and trees. It was also surprisingly green for mid December!

Greenery love!
We were all feeling a little beat up, so we only did an hour and forty five minutes before calling it a day. I just adored being out there. Not only is it nice to be with my friends, but trail running is so much more calming than road running for me. I feel like there is no expectation of time so I can just run how I want to run!

We had a short but sweet Crossfit workout on Friday night. None of us noticed at first, but it was an "end of the world" workout.

Can you spot it? 12.21.2012

I tore through this and the toughest part for me were the box jumps. There weren't any boxes left at the correct height, so I had to use an extra tall one and my coach held my hand so I could get up there. Haha! I'm such a wuss. But at least I did it!

I also got all my gifts wrapped. There aren't very many since I'm just having Christmas with my parents, but I'm glad to have some under my tree at last! My apartment complex is great and has an entire room leading up to Christmas full of wrapping supplies. Otherwise, you better believe I would've just wrapped them when I got to my parent's house!

I've been getting lots of Christmas cards in the mail, all of which are on my fridge, but I just had to share my favorite one! These are my nieces and nephew-pup. Aren't they the cutest? My half-brother is also an amazing photographer, and the picture is just perfect. It makes me smile every time I see that toothy grin from Kylie!

Saturday evening after work I made it down to the gym in my apartment complex for some tabatas!!!
I ended up doing the following. 8 rounds of each exercise, 20 seconds work followed by 10 seconds of rest.

One arm row (4 rounds each arm)
Split lunges
Skater lunges

I was feeling a happy burn by the end! Sunday morning, my hips were definitely letting me know they had been worked!

I also found not one, but TWO shake weights! The "gym" at my complex doesn't have much and I'm always requesting more equipment, so it makes me laugh that we have TWO shake weights. Seriously?!?!

Merry Christmas to all! I hope everyone has a fabulous holiday!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Random Musings

Whew what a Wednesday!

First off, I woke up and it was snowing outside! Of course, I got excited and immediately put on running clothes. I headed downstairs to find that it only took 5 minutes for the snow to turn to rain. 

Le sigh. Ohhhh Seattle!

It's been pretty cold here, though. I have no idea why, but all of a sudden I am rocking the down vests. I am such an 80 year old. 

Selfies at work. Totally normal.
I returned to ballet class at Pacific Northwest Ballet yesterday as well. I'd had a stressful morning and was hoping to get some solitude and escape from the turning wheels of anxiety. It didn't help as much today, but I  am grateful for any day I get to dance.

My class ended up in the biggest studio and it was so much fun to do the grande allegro (big jumps) across the floor. There were lots of students and company members in class who were preparing for the final week of Nutcracker performances. 

I'm so sad I didn't get the chance to see the Nutcracker this year, but at least the accompanist yesterday played lots of music from Tchaikovsky's score. I was reminiscing about previous Nutcracker shows I have been in. Is it wrong that I'm sort of glad I don't have to go through that madness anymore?

I made it to Crossfit yesterday as well. We had two "workouts", or two separate AMRAPs (As Many Rounds As Possible).

For both AMRAPs you are working with a partner and you alternate until the time is up. If you want to do this workout on your own, just rest 30 seconds between rounds. 

The first AMRAP was 3 hanging power cleans and 6 burpees. Usually I like power cleans, along with most barbell complex's. Today, however, I realized that whenever I try to go heavy, as you should if you're only doing 3 cleans, I get scared and fall apart. I'm such a little wuss! Granted, I'm not very strong (yet), so I can't lift much, but I think I may be selling myself short because I am just scared! I'm mostly afraid of hurting myself, which is something I need to get over because no matter what lift I'm doing, I have been taught well by my coaches how to bail out if I have to.

The second AMRAP was 5 pull ups followed by 10 box jumps. Same thing, alternating with partner. And, guess what?! I got through another entire workout doing pull ups with out a band! 

I think my partner and I got in 5 or 6 rounds, so that's 25-30 pull ups, all unassisted! And I remember just months ago, I was excited about getting just 1 pull up! Progress. I've gots it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas, Recovering and Crossfit

There is only one week until Christmas Eve! How did that happen?!

Every year around this time I wonder how the holiday season flew by so quickly? It seems like I just get my tree up, start belting out Celine Dion's Christmas album, and then it's all of a sudden over. Wahhhhh!!!! 

Best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!
Living by myself, however, means I have full control over when the Christmas decorations come down. Past roommates have become enraged with me when I refuse to put the tree away after January 1st. I may or may not be the trashy white girl who has still had her tree up in February (obviously my tree is fake). One year I even tried to convince my roommates (sorry, Shannon and Annie) to keep the tree up year round and swap ornaments for each holiday. Haha. That didn't go over too well!

Christmas-time in my apartment!
I am very excited to head to my parents' house out on the peninsula of Washington for Christmas. Unfortunately I'll only be able to spend about 2 days there, but it's better than nothing! I am so thankful to have family that I can spend holidays with and who welcome me home with open arms each time! It sounds like Christmas is going to be a somewhat quiet affair this year. My cousins and Aunt and Uncle will be coming later Christmas Day, but I'm just going to be happy to have a no-pressure holiday with my parents. 

Switching gears, I'm not sure it has completely sunk in that I ran 31.1 miles on Saturday. Like, who does that?! 

I do, now, I guess! Because as much as I didn't have fun because of my stomach, I'm already searching for more 50k's. Specifically one in February. I have a 50k on Tiger Mountain at the beginning of January, I am planning to pace Ultra-Marathoner Jess at a 24-hour race in March, April is the Eugene Marathon, and I just signed up for the Rock 'n Roll Marathon in June. I used to think half marathons were my favorite distance, but I guess marathons are now!

I definitely felt pretty stiff on Sunday after the race, and I took it easy that day. It was odd, the only part that hurt afterwards were the tops of my feet, right above my arch. Odd place for pain, and I am thinking I may be tying my shoes too tight? 

Shoes too tight? Or too bright?
Anyways, I felt well rested yesterday and managed to get in a short run and a good Crossfit workout. I was thinking back to my first marathon and how I could barely walk for a week afterwards. It's interesting how one's body can adapt to those long distances and learn to recovery quickly. 

Our Crossfit workout yesterday was "long". Our box categorizes our WOD's (workout of the day) as short, long, or intervals. Of course, the first Monday back from a 50k and the coaches tried to kill me. Haha!

Beth and I decided to be partners so we could keep ourselves from going too hard. If you remember, Beth just rocked her first marathon on Saturday. Our workout was as follows:

Start with a 3000 meter countdown on the rower.
In 3 minute intervals:
  • Partner 1, followed by partner 2: 50 wall balls followed by rowing as far as possible in the remaining minutes.
  • Partner 1, followed by partner 2: 50 kettlebell swings followed by rowing as far as possible in the remaining minutes.
  • Partner 1, followed by partner 2: 50 air squats followed by rowing as far as possible in the remaining minutes. 
  • Do 1 burpee for every 100 meters you have left on the rower.
Beth and I didn't take it too easy other than using a lighter medicine ball for the wall balls and a lighter than usual kettlebell. Beth also was smart and did sit-ups instead of air squats for the last interval. We ended up having to do 7 burpees at the end, which I think was better than most of the class.

I didn't particularly feel tired by the end, so I left feeling disappointed that I hadn't pushed myself. This morning when I woke up, however, I was sore! I guess I'm just not a good judge of my own output during a workout!

It may snow here today, which I'm pumped about. I hope you have a great Tuesday!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pigtails 50k Race Recap

I am now an official ultra-marathoner!

I'm not going to say this race was easy, and most of it wasn't even fun. Both of which kind of go against my love of running. But I finished! Let's start at the beginning.

As I mentioned before, I had been having some hip pain since I ran the Seattle Marathon. Friday afternoon, I went to my Crossfit gym, just to see if one of the trainers, Scott, could help me loosen it up a bit. From what he deduced, my TFL (tensor fasciae leatae) muscle in my thigh was causing the hip pain. Apparently, my hip flexors were overworked and my TFL was taking over, which it was apparently very angry about!

Once we figured out the problem, I basically tried to give it some relief by finding a trigger point, moving my leg where it didn't hurt anymore, and then trying to relax it for 30 seconds to a minute.

It seemed to work well! Although I still had a little pain when I left, I was feeling much more confident that I was going to get through 31 miles the next day.

By  Saturday morning, the pain had gone away, but my thigh was aching a little bit. That made me a little worried, but figured that trying to release it the previous evening would leave some residual strain.

I met my favorite running girls bright and early at 6:30am and we headed out to Maple Valley to the Cedar River Trail.

Jess, Me and Beth. Different day. Same awesome friends!
For Beth and I, this race would be a new PDR (personal distance record). Beth was running her first marathon and I was running my first 50k. Ready to run hard and take names!

Ready. To. Go! And also cold. Brrr.
Of course, Ultramarathoner Jess has done too many of these races to count, so she was just looking to get a good 50k in the books.

The race itself was small. After going through numerous races with the New York Road Runners in NYC, I will forever be amazed when I am not in a corral with a billion other runners. There were probably around 100 or 200 participants, and the fun part was, most of them new each other! Apparently the trail running community in Washington is a small and tight-knit group!

We started off with a short mile out and back before hitting the main Cedar River Trail.

After we started down the main trail, it started snowing!!! If you know me in real life, you know I am like a little kid when it comes to snow. I get overly EXCITED!!! Seriously, I'm like Buddy the Elf. SNOW!

I started out with four (!) layers on. Even during my coldest race ever (in Central Park, 14 degrees F), I only had two layers on. Haha. I guess I was cold. I finally felt warm enough by mile 6 to shed my outer fleece so I was in 3 layers for most of the race. Beth flew on ahead because she is a speedy little demon runner! Jess and I had talked about sticking together for the race, both stipulating that the other could run ahead if they ever wanted to.

Photo courtesy of Takao Suzuki.
The first 8 miles flew by, I was loving the snow and just enjoying Jess's company and the other runners around us.

I started getting a dull aching pain on the right side of my stomach around mile 10, and I was hoping it would go away. News flash of the day: it didn't.

From then on, I was in a fierce battle with my stomach. It was complete war. Since the race was so small, there weren't any bathrooms along the course. I was on my own.

Around mile 13 I saw a gas station across the highway, so I told Jess I was going to go do some business and she was welcome to take off. Bless her heart, she said she would walk it out so I could catch up.

Catching up to Jess.
Photo courtesy of Takao Suzuki.
I was able to relieve some of the cramps and unsettling, and felt a bit better by the time I caught back up to her.

We hit the turn-around just before mile 14, and I was happy to be heading back.

The next few miles, I was able to ignore my stomach and enjoy myself. The snow had turned to a rain/sleet mix, which was a little less fun, but I was having fun cheering on the runners going in the opposite direction. Slowly but surely, my stomach decided to cramp back up.

By mile 17, I was not having fun anymore. My usual thought process when it comes to running and racing is: if it's not fun, it's not worth it. Usually I'm having lots of fun, but not this day.

I finally had to stop and walk. I told Jess she would not hurt my feelings if she kept going. But she wasn't having it. She told me we were in it together. Be still my heart =)

Frozen faces.
Every time I started running again, my stomach would cramp up and start bouncing around (best way I can describe it). By the second time we had to walk, I told Jess that I thought I may just have to drop down and just do the marathon instead of the 50k. This was probably around mile 20, and I could hardly fathom 6 more miles of this nonsense, let alone another 10. Jess said just what I needed to hear: that we had all the time in the world, and that we just had a short few miles to the aid station, a short 2.5 mile out and back and then another 4 miles and it would be over. I would be in the car again before I knew it. She knew that I could hit this mileage. Just knowing that and the fact that she was supporting me helped a great deal. I made up my mind to plow on.

Frustratingly enough, my body felt pretty good! My hip was fine, and despite some neuroma pain, I was good to go! Minus that darn stomach.

I tried so hard to keep myself out of a negative mindset, but I have never walked so much in a race before. While that was disappointing, I kept trying to tell myself that there were many more races in my future, and this was just a blip along the line.

We turned up a side road to tack on the extra 5ish miles from the marathoners. We were still alternating between walking and running and I was literally hanging on with everything I had. Everytime we walked and had to start running again, it was so painful. At this point in a race, if I am hurting, I try not to walk because starting up again makes it that much worse. My stomach just couldn't take it this day. All I could think about was getting back to the car and passing out.

I was able to get in a good 2.5 mile stretch of running as we headed back to the main trail, where I knew there was only about 5 miles left.

Same trail, different day.
At this point, both Jess and I were pretty quite, and I was so grateful to have my friend there. Every time I made us stop to walk, she would try to brighten my spirits. I was literally just putting one foot in front of the other. I started giving myself goals: walk for .25 miles, run for 1 mile, etc. We finally took off again about .8 miles from the finish and I just put my head down, tried to ignore the cramping and got the job done.

We finished 31.1 miles in 5:09:55. I think our "official" time was somewhere around 5:18.

The finish line. 
After we finished, I got warm clothes on, and we got on the road back home, I was able to reflect a little bit.
I have to say I am very proud of myself. It would have been easy to have thrown in the towel. I have another 50k planned in January, and I wasn't particularly attached or trained for this race. I wasn't having fun and certainly could have bowed out. But I didn't. I totally credit Jess with this, but I stuck with it and finished my first 50k. I didn't crush it, I wasn't anyone's hero, but I did what I said I was going to do despite some severe setbacks. May this be a lesson for the rest of my life =)

In case you are wondering about Beth, she finished her first marathon with flying colors!!

Trying to get warm. Love this girl!
I am looking forward to many more marathons, 50k's and the like in the future, but for this race, I seriously can't thank my friends enough. Knowing Beth was running her first marathon, and with Jess by my side, I was given a boost of support and inspiration I couldn't have gotten anywhere else.

My running loves. Always up for shenanigans, and spirit-perking!
Aaaaaannnnddddddddd on to the next!

*As a side note, I feel like I need to mention the tragedy in Newton that occurred on Friday. My heart is full of sadness and I am keeping that community in my thoughts and prayers. Senseless killing is never an easy thing to comprehend and I am still processing and trying to wrap my brain around what happened.