Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How Are My Legs Not Dead?

Happy Tuesday!

I lifted again with my a few of my Crossfit trainers yesterday, which was only slightly nutty. Good thing I knew what I was getting myself into this time!

We started with about an hour of warm up drills with the barbell. Some deadlifts and some snatch pulls (just the beginning of the snatch movement). My coach says all the warm-ups are to get our nervous system firing. I tried to think of that every time I snapped my hips forward.

Kapow! Wake up, system!

Then we worked up to 3 sets of 5 back squats. I used 60 kilos. I was told we are following a linear training system. So every week I will add 2 kilos for 3 sets of 5. I guess it's called linear since I'm adding the same amount each week.

After that, we did squats using what I now know is called a safety squat bar.

Safety Squat Bar Source
I feel so silly using this thing, but it really changes the feeling of the squat! Your core definitely has to become more involved! It's nice to have the padding over the back of the bar, though, so it isn't digging into your back.

Again, we super-set sets of 7 safety bar squats with 7 split lunges on each leg. I used 30 pound dumbbells for the split lunges. We did that for 3 rounds.

Holy moly, why do lunges make my legs burn so much?! I loooove it!

And then we headed over to what we are now calling Satan's Tricycle.

This. Thing. Hurts!!!

We did 3 30-second sprint intervals on it and I thought my legs were going to come off! My legs were like Jello afterwards, too. We had to take a walk around the block to flush them out!

I'm really enjoying lifting with my coaches. I'm not sure where it is going, but for now, I am learning so much and maybe my stronger legs will help my running!

This morning I expected to wake up with either lead legs or just super sore legs. And I'm feeling neither! I guess that walk around the block after doing intervals was the ticket, because I'm feeling great today!

My work schedule is a little wonky on Tuesdays, so I took to the treadmill at the gym this morning. I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted to play it today, but I knew I was going to have to do some sort of speed workout if I had any hope of staying on the belt.

I ended up doing 800s. Most of them were around a 7:40 min/mile pace. I jogged for a quarter mile between them. I ended up with 5 miles in 40.2 minutes. Felt great to run fast!

I hope your Tuesday if off to a great start!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Scooter Bowling

I hope everyone had a great weekend! 

I'll begin on Friday at Crossfit. It was a beautiful day, so I begged our coach to let us run outside. And he obliged!

We started with shoulder presses first, though. 5 sets of 3 presses, adding weight each time. I got to 30 kilos for my final round, but could only get 2 reps in. For the fourth set, we took half of our max to failure (as many rounds as you can do). I dropped down to 15 kilos and did 27 reps. Grrr! Shoulders of steel!

Our workout was:
5 rounds, alternating with partner:
200 meter run
6 pull ups
10 kettlebell swings

I was being wimpy and used a band for the pull ups, but I really should have tried doing them without assistance. I had fun, though, and it felt nice to stretch my legs on such a short run!

Saturday I got in a nice run in the morning before working all day.

And Sunday, funday, started out with a Crossfit workout. One of our friends was going, and he didn't know anyone, so I decided to go so he would have a friend. We ended up doing a workout that I really enjoyed, although it was almost the same thing I had done on Friday. This time, however, no pull ups, and no partner to work with.

5 rounds:
3 cleans
9 kettlebell swings
200 meter run

I really didn't work very hard at all because I knew I was heading out for a run afterwards. I only used 27 kilos for the cleans, and a lighter kettlebell. I still had fun, though!

Afterwards, I headed out with Beth to meet Ultramarathoner Jess at Discovery Park for a short run on the trails.

The run was nothing spectacular, and my stomach was sort of upset the whole time. We finished 4.33 miles in 44 minutes, going super slow and just enjoying hanging out.

Because we are crazy beasts, we headed BACK to the Crossfit gym to fool around. There weren't any classes, so the gym was empty. Of course, that means trouble =)

Beth and I ended up playing scooter bowling, which was great fun!

Beth goes in for the kill!
 We set up foam rollers as "pins" and then hopped on scooters to knock them down.

Bowl me up!
 Haha, SO much fun! I wasn't in the mood to do anything workout related by this point, so after bowling I worked on back hip circles on the pull up bar. Back hip circles are an old gymnastics move and have nothing to do with Crossfit, so if you have no clue what I am talking about, here's a video!

I went to go see Zero Dark Thirty Sunday afternoon as well. Has anyone scene this? What did you think? I enjoyed it a lot, the story was great and the main character's journey was interesting to watch develop. It was definitely a stressful 2 hours though!

Have a great Monday!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Zercher Carry and a Friday Workout

It's back to rain in Seattle! But at least it's a little warmer. I'm not sure if I prefer the rain or the freezing cold. But I've found that people complain either way!

We did some new (to me) things at Crossfit last night.

The first one that kind of blew my mind was called the Zercher Carry.

This obviously isn't me, but you get the general idea. We started with the barbells in a racked position, instead of on the ground. It's just about as hard as you think it is! This was something totally new to just about everyone in the class, which I always enjoy. We all have different strength levels, but no one is more "skilled" than another and we are all sort of figuring it out together.

We also did weighted box jumps last night. Yup, you read that right. We held dumbbells while we jumped on boxes. Um, who does that?! Isn't jumping on the box tough enough?! Haha.

After I got over my initial fear of falling on my face (Coach: Allison, jump on the damn box!), I used 10 pound weights and was able to do sets of 5 fairly easily. Talk about having to be extra explosive. Tough for a white girl who cant jump!

Our workout included the Zercher carry, 5 weighted box jumps and 7 kettlebell goblet squats. We did as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes. I can't say I pushed myself very hard, but I enjoyed working on some of the new exercises.

Before the workout, we did back squats. Since my legs are still toasty from Monday, this was pretty tough for me. We did 5 sets of 8. I made it up to 65 kilos for my final set, but only made it to 6 reps. I am probably going to do legs again next Monday, so hopefully I'll recover fast!

I taught my H.I.I.T. class last night, and really enjoyed the workout.

The workout is 3 different AMRAPS (as many rounds as possible), 6 minutes each. We got through all of them with a 1-2 minute break between.

When I pulled out the white boad with this workout written on it, everyone stood looking at me with their mouths open and shaking their heads. But by the time they finished, they were all smiles and thanking me for kicking their butts. That's what I love about teaching fitness. Showing others how to push themselves past what they thought was possible.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Crossfit Benchmarks

I had a great day off yesterday! Finally. I taught so many extra classes last week, I felt like I was on a never-ending work streak for awhile.

I had grand illusions of sleeping in, but my body naturally woke up around 5:30am. That's just disgusting. I was so frustrated with myself that I laid in bed with my eyes closed for another hour before I finally gave in.  Sigh.

I started my day off with a run around Lake Union with my friend Jess. She is running a 100 mile race in a few weeks, so she is on taper time. We had a great 6 mile run that really flew by! It was sprinkling/showering for most of the run, but I have to say I hardly noticed it. It was good to a) be running in the daylight and b) have a friend to run with. My usual runs at 4 am are conducive to neither option.

We had grand discussions for after her race about doing speed work together. Maybe if I have a friend, I'll actually do it! I refueled after my run with another Picky Bar. This time it was "Lauren's Mega Nuts" flavor. I really love these bars. They are quite delicious. It's still a toss up whether I love these or Lara bars more.

I rallied for my evening Crossfit class.

We started off doing 4 sets of 8 bent over rows. I got up to 30 kilos for my last set, but probably should have used more weight.

Our workout included some benchmark Crossfit ladies! Our box hardly ever does benchmark workouts. While I think I would get bored of them quickly, it's nice to see where you're at sometimes. Case in point, our coach had about 7 or 8 of the ladies on the board for us to choose 2 from, and I think I had only done one of them before!

I chose "Grace" and "Diane" for my two workouts.

Grace is simple enough: 30 clean and jerks. I didn't get up to rx (women = 95 lbs.), but I did do 65 kilos for the entire thing, which was tough for me.

"Diane" is 21-15-9 reps of deadlift and handstand pushups. For the deadlift, I used 55 kilos. And the handstand pushups I did on the wall over some stacked abmats.

After Mondays leg extravaganza, the deadlifts were a bit rough, but I made it through!

I didn't get my times for either, but both were around 8 minutes. My new goal is to get to rx on both of these!

If you do Crossfit, what are your favorite benchmark workouts? I think mine is "Helen" (3 rounds: 400 meter run, 21 kettlebell swings, 12 pullups). I love the running aspect, obviously, and I'm anxious for the day that I can do all the pullups without a band.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Work It Wednesday Circuit

My legs are finally feeling recovered from my squat extravaganza Monday. And I'm still super excited to workout again with the dudes. Who knew this former ballet dancer and run-lover would become a lifter? Not me!

There is something to be said for my new found love of weight training. While I still love the endurance high I get from running, I am addicted to the toasty muscles after a good weight session now! I love that shaky feeling, knowing I have tested my muscles and ready to heal them and make them even stronger!

I took it pretty easy yesterday, but I did give my evening H.I.I.T. class a good workout!

Essentially this workout is three separate intervals. So, you could just do one, or do all three! I definitely had some eye rolls in class. Especially the first 2 minutes of long jumps. But everyone finished just fine, and, as usual, were happy to have been pushed.

My agenda today involves a run around Lake Union this morning with Ultra Marathoner Jess.

It has been awhile we've run together, so it'll be good to be back with my running bud! Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Crossfit Fun With My Trainers

Yesterday, I headed over to my Crossfit gym to get my a** handed to me by my trainers. They invited my friend Beth and I to come work out with them for the afternoon.

Not sure about Beth, but I had grand illusions of doing a few squats, some military presses and then rallying for the 4pm class.

That's not exactly what happened!

We started off with squats, yes. But little did I know we were going to do a bagillion! (Yes, bagillion is a legitimate word). We got warmed up with some drills to get our systems firing and then started on back squats.

Oh squat rack, you kick my butt!
My coaches are so knowledgeable. Working with them, watching them and having them critique me, I get so much information. I feel like I should be taking notes! I feel really lucky to have them as teachers and instructors.

When I squat in class, it takes me a million years to figure out the right weights to use and switching them off and on the barbell takes forever. My coaches did it in seconds. It was so fast. I was flabbergasted!

I'm sorry to say I have no idea what the program was we were doing, nor do I remember how much weight I used. The last set for both Beth and I were more difficult for our arms and shoulders than our legs. Holding that dang barbell up on your back is tough work!

All of the squating took us about an hour. I was shocked that time was flying so fast! Oh, but we weren't finished, yet!

Our trainer had us grab dumbells to do split lunges. Split lunges mean you put your back foot on a box, or bench, and do single lunges on one leg. The thought being you can go down even further.

By the third set, I was using 30 pound dumbbells for sets of 7 on each leg! My quads were SHAKING! Beth even did 35 pounds. Um, I guess we haven't been pushing ourselves as hard as we should be during classes?

We superset the lunges with even more squats, using a contraption I can't even remember the name of. It was basically a harness that you held over your shoulders to squat with. Not sure how much weight that was, either (pay attention next time, Allison!), but darn, those sets of 7 were rough!

After all those shenanigans it was "conditioning" time! Oh goodness gracious, I had no idea what I was in for!

Aerodine bike. This ish is CRAZY!
The above "bike" is called an aerodine. There is one at our Crossfit gym, but I had never been on it before yesterday. I figured it was just a regular bike, but OH how I was wrong! We did four 30 second intervals on that thing and I felt like my lungs were going to burst! Aaaaand I loved it, obviously. =)

After the fourth interval, I was so exhausted, but felt awesome! I am definitely going to have to go workout with the dudes more often. They kicked my butt!

Following one of our classes last week, one of our trainers did what is called a back lever. I made him repeat it yesterday so I could get a video of it. He literally looks like superman! Please note the music in the background =)

And with that, I leave you to your Tuesday!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Filling In

Holy exhaustion, what a week!

Every week since New Year's I think I have been complaining about the weeks feeling long, but this week feels like insanity! Everyone at work is sick, so we have been scrounging for covering desk and training shifts and to get fitness classes covered.

Our group fitness classroom. Bring the pain!
I have taught several extra classes this week, which has me feeling fairly run down. I honestly admire instructors who just teach multiple classes every single day. It really takes a lot out of you! Even when you're tired you have to turn on the pep and the cheerleader attitude. Most days that is easy for me, but I have been so tired this week that the extra class hours really felt like a struggle.

Since I have been in teaching mode this week, I thought I'd share the workout I gave to one of my classes this week. I think people enjoyed this because it has the obvious cardio component (box jumps), but mixes in high-rep strength training as well.

Filling you in on the rest of my week:

Wednesday morning, before going in to work to teach a bootcamp class, I managed to get in a 10 mile run. I have some changes on the horizon regarding my running, but I'm sorting through them in my head and will let you know my plans soon! The 10 miles was great until about mile 8, where I started just feeling tired. I made it through, though!

I ran along the Burke Gilman Trail, so it was nice a flat the entire time. I didn't have a pace in mind, so I just ran.

I've had some interesting Crossfit workouts the past few days. Wednesday we did rowing intervals for a variety of time, distance, calories, etc. Essentially we rowed about 250 meters, did 10 thrusters, then rowed again 250 meters. My goal for most of them was to keep the same pace for both rowing segments. I was semi-successful, but I still suffered from positive splits for most rounds. Oh well! Next time!

Thursday at Crossfit was really fun. We got to do some skills that we don't work on everyday. We started with overhead squats, which are a nice change of pace from the usual back squats.

This person looks way to happy doing overhead squats!
Our workout was a 15 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible):

3 snatches
6 toes to bar
9 kettlebell swings

Instead of doing toes to bar (which I generally dislike), I decided to work on "skin the cat". For this move, you hang from the bar and bring your body through your arms, and then back through. After a few tries, I was able to get through by myself, but still needed my coaches help to get myself back over. It was fun trying to get a new skill and not worrying about time or weight. I want more of these workouts!

I hope your Friday goes by quickly and that you have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Music for Motivation

Yesterday started off with 7 glorious miles for me, all before 6 am! Although I run every morning, it's rare for me to get in more than 6 miles. It was so nice to get a long-ish run in to start the week off. I loved every minute of it, after I got out of bed, of course =)

I love getting a running high so early in the day. It just puts me in such a great mood!

I haven't been running with music much, lately, but I ran the entire 7 miles blasting some sweet tunes yesterday. I definitely felt a surge of inspiration during my favorite songs and it got me thinking about music as motivation. It's amazing what a beat or what certain lyrics can do for my workouts.

This year for a holiday gift, my gym gave us all new ipod nano's. At first I wasn't all that enthralled because I already have a very old generation ipod nano, but who doesn't get excited about new electronics?!

I finally busted into my new toy the other day. Oh my goodness, what a difference! There were so many great changes that had been made! I guess I didn't even think about it much, but my ipod is probably about 8 years old. So, duh! Of course it is now a much better product.

I thought I would share some of my current favorite music selections with you. For working out, I am very much a top-40 music lover. I tend to get a lot of flack for this. Especially at my Crossfit box, but I just love the catchy beats!

Thrift Shop - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Scream and Shout - will.i.am
Dancing in the Dark- Dev
Blow - Ke$ha
On the Floor - Jennifer Lopez
Call Your Girlfriend - Robyn
Dancing on my Own - Robyn
S&M - Rihanna
Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO
J'Adore Hardcore - Scooter
We Run the Night - Havana Brown
I Know You Want Me - Pitbull
Bon, Bon - Pitbull
Americano - Lady Gaga
Welcome to the Jungle - Guns and Roses
Devil's Dance Floor - Flogging Molly
On the Dancefloor - David Guetta

I hope that gives you some good music ideas to help with some motivation! Or you can make fun of me. Either works =)

Crossfit last night was another great example of how music can change your mood. I went in kind of feeling in a funk. Nothing in particular was wrong, I just wanted to be off in my own lala world.

Different day. Same Crossfit craziness!
Our workout was in groups of four, as follows:

20 calorie row
20 v-ups
20 box jumps
20 wall ball

We got started and one of the choaches started playing the "Call Me Maybe" station on Pandora. Well, let me tell you. That perked me right up! I started dancing and singing along and immediately my mood was changed! Hooray for music!

Any tunes you think I should be listening to? What are your current favorites?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekend Arm Burner

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

I did some working, per usual. On Saturday, I got to train a really awesome client. She is 60+ years old, but such a bada**! She does back squats, kettlebell swings, etc. You name it and she can probably do it! On top of getting to show her things like kettlebell snatches and thrusters, her enthusiasm for fitness was what got me most excited! She emphasized before we started that she wanted me to be hard on her and really challenge her. Sometimes people will say that, but not really mean it. She actually meant it and it was a pleasure to train someone who loves fitness!

That took care of my personal training high for the week, that's for sure!

I got in some running this weekend, as if there was any doubt. I was hoping to get in a long run, but it didn't really happen. Oh well!

It's been very sunny here, but very cold as well! It's actually my favorite kind of weather. I love crisp, clean days.

Saturday after work, I decided to give myself a little arm workout inspired by GPP Fitness.

And my arms are still sore today! I hardly ever do specialized muscle groups like this. Crossfit has got me doing mostly compound movements that work a variety of muscles. I think my soreness is a sign that I need to incorporate more specificity, too. Although I'm not too worried about it, we'll see if I actually start mixing it up.

Here's to a good Monday!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Mountain Runners

Last night I got the opportunity to stay up past my bedtime (yawn!) to see a documentary called The Mountain Runners.

The film was shown at a local Trail Shoe store called Seven Hills. And I must say I'm excited to go back and get fitted for some actual trail running shoes soon. Goodness knows I can't continue running trails in my road shoes. I need more stability!

The story is about the first trail, or mountain race that happened on Mount Baker in 1911 and the men who conquered such a feat so long ago. It really was a pretty incredible story. The race included cars, trains, and, of course, running. While nowadays it's incredible to complete ultramarathons, I cant imagine how much more difficult it was back then. Without the help of proper nutrition or gear, the men who completed this race ran up Mount Baker, through snow and terrain that is quite unimaginable. It was a pretty inspiring movie, I must say. If you ever get the chance to see it, I'd recommend it!

Earlier in the day, I went to CrossFit (duh). We ended up deadlifting, which is not my favorite. Again, heavy things scare me. My coach, however, started pushing me, and I was challenged to work with a much higher weight than usual. I don't keep track of my PR's (I know, I know. I really need to start), so I'm not sure if it was a record for me or not. I certainly was proud of myself, however, for pushing past my comfort zone!

Our workout was a short, but sweet one. To get the most out of this workout, you have to push yourself as hard as you can while you are working. If you float through with giving it your all, it's not going to be much of a workout.

We did two 45 second intervals per round, always ending with a weighted sit up. And rested for 30 seconds between rounds.

It has been another long week, so I was happy to have a shorter workout today. Short and intense isn't usually my cup of tea, but today I was grateful for it! And now it is finally Friday! Have a great one!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Yoga Buzz

Yesterday, for the third time in two weeks, I made my way to my yoga mat.

One thing I've noticed recently about myself is that I have a hard time just sitting. I think on the surface, that is pretty obvious, but it's difficult for me to sit and notice how I'm feeling, what I'm thinking, etc. My love of running I think stems from a way to escape and usually my best runs are when I can just be out on the trail, leaving behind my concerns.

Lately yoga has been another outlet for me to do that. Except that instead of focusing on my surroundings and the beauty of the trail, I am concentrating on myself and inwardly focusing.

Yesterday's class was perfect. I am still sore sore from Monday's arm insanity workout (yes, that's what I've officially named it), so I went in to class ready to surrender and go into child's pose if I had to.

The class started out perfectly, with the teacher having us focus on our breathing. Throughout the class, she encouraged us to stay in the moment. Multiple times, she said,

"Just stay here, on your mat, in this room. If your mind wanders, direct your attention back to your breath".

I made this my intention for my practice. I was determined not to think about work, bills, running, lunch, appointments etc. Every time I found myself thinking outside of the room, I shifted my attention back to my breathing and the room.

This was such a great exercise for me, and was surprisingly just as challenging as a 50k or marathon!

Of course, within the first 30 minutes after class ended, several stressful situations popped up. I made the effort to breath and stay present, though, taking my yoga lessons with me to the real world! =)

Am I growing up or what?! Haha!

I got a fun new pose on my mat yesterday too! It's called 8 Angle, and I surprised myself by just going for it!

I watched our instructor made her way into the pose and thought "no way am I going to be able to do that". I went through her sequence to get into the pose, however, and when I managed to actually lift my legs off the floor, I was ecstatic! I wish I could have gotten a picture of it!

Lesson of the day: You are more capable than you think you are!

Switching gears, we had a nice, long workout at Crossfit last night. Most people groan about long workouts, but these are the easiest kind for me. Once I get into a grove I just go!

The star of the show was the power clean. In power cleans, you start with the barbell hanging just above your knees. With a slight bend in the knees and hips back, you jerk yourself forward and throw the barbell up to your shoulders. This is actually one of my favorite barbell movements, and I stuck with 25 kilos for the workout, which was as follows:

40 cleans
40 burpees
40 cleans
40 toes to bar
40 cleans
40 wall ball
40 cleans
40 kettlebell swings
40 cleans
40 candlesticks
40 cleans
400 meter run

We worked with a partner and had to split up the reps into sets of 5 for each exercise. I got to work with my buddy Beth and we rocked it. She actually used 35 kilos for her cleans! We were the second group to finish, well before the 25 minute time cut-off!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Goal: Press to Handstand

I have a new goal and it is to be able to do a press to handstand. What the heck is a press to handstand, you may ask?

Basically, it is straddling your legs from the floor, up to a full handstand. Little known fact: I was a gymnast in high school, actually the captain of the team my senior year, and this was always a skill I wanted to have but never took the time to get.

Handstands have become the new thing to practice at my Crossfit gym. Seriously, everyone has started working on them. Luckily, I am pretty good at handstands already, so I decided to take it one step further and learn the press to handstand.

I've been talking to a handstand "pro" at the gym (seriously, this guy is amazing!), and he has given me some ideas on how to work towards my goal.

First, practice my press to headstand. I can do this fairly easily, but I am now working to do several strung together, barely touching my feet to the ground after each press up.

Second, L-sit leg lifts. I'll start by sitting with my legs straight out in front of me.

Engaging and pulling in my abs, I lift my straight legs off the ground and lower. It may sound easy, but it's definitely a lower ab killer!

Third, the stability ball jackknife.

I start in a plank with my feet and shins on a stability ball. I slowly pull my hips up over my head, ending straight above my shoulders, and then slowly lower back to the plank. These are one of my favorite exercises in general. Such an ab killer!

Lastly, I do a handstand straddle down against a wall. I will do this one trying not to touch the wall, and going as slow as possible.

So, what did I do with all this?

I made a circuit, of course!

I did this through 4 times and was definitely sweaty by the end! I added the jump rope in just for a little ab rest. I really enjoyed working through this circuit because the strength is so specific! I'm hoping to do this twice a week and hopefully add in some more exercises targeted for press to handstands.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2012 Running Report and Dead Arms

Recovery since the 25k has been going well. I took Sunday off from running and both Monday and today I have been randomly having great, speedy runs!

I credit my speediness to the several treadmill workouts I did last week.

Treadmill happy. The black spot on my
forehead is hair dye. 
I've talked about this before, but I can only run on the treadmill if I do some sort of speed workout. Usually, I will start around 6.5 speed level and keep bumping it up until I'm done. The longest I can usually stand the treadmill is 5 miles. I also like to mix in some fast 800s with a quarter mile recovery between. Sort of like Yasso 800's, but not 10 of them. I'll do anything to keep the boredom at bay on the treadmill!

I got an email from DailyMile the other day (follow me here if you so desire) recapping my 2012 training.

As you can see, I ran 1770 miles and averaged 43 miles per week. I logged a total of 515 workouts (that included Crossfit, yoga, ballet, etc.)! I have nothing really to compare that to, but it sure seems like a lot!

My highest mileage month was October, where I logged 219 miles. I'm pretty happy with all of those stats and will be excited to to see how I stack up next year!

In other news, today my arms are goners. Literally, they hurt just trying to dry my hair! I have no doubt the pain was inflicted last night at Crossfit. We did one of my favorite upper-body workouts.

The workout was called Every Minute on the Minute, or EMOM, as I like to say. Every minute we did pull-ups, push-ups and squats. The first minute, we started at 3 reps of each, the second minute, 4 reps of each. We continued in this fashion for 16 minutes.

When you failed, or didn't finish a round before the minute was up, you rest the remainder of the minute, cut your reps in half, and start again.

I started off doing the pull-ups unassisted, but after 3 rounds of that, I nearly died. That's an exaggeration  obviously, but I did have to pull out a band.

I've also been trying to work on my push-up technique, so I set myself up with an inclined bar that was on a rack. I made sure with each rep to keep my body straight and get my chest all the way down to the bar.

Woo, my arms are smoking today! And I also should mention we did 5 sets of 5 shoulder presses before all of that. Epic stuff!

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tiger Mountain 25k Race Recap

15.5 miles on Tiger! Actually, this wasn't so much of a race as a fun-run for Seattle-area trail runners who are in-the-know. When I first signed up (actually there was no sign up, so maybe I should just say 'committed') for this race (fun run), my Tough Mudder team from CrossFit was all in. Some of our group weren't runners at all, so it was going to be quite a challenge for them, going from zero to 15 miles in a few months. Needless to say, there only ended up being 3 of the original 6 or 7 who had set out to train. Due to injuries, families, etc. most of our team dropped out. I even dropped down from the 50k to the 25k. Apparently we are all slackers or we are all over-training. Probably the latter for the majority of us!

Anyways, after deciding to do the 25k instead of the 50 early last week, I felt a huge relief. I had run the Tiger Mountain loop before, so I knew what I was getting myself into. After my less than stellar first 50k experience, I think I made the right decision in saying no to 9 hours on a mountain without any facilities. 4 hours I knew I could handle!

Good morning! It's early and dark, but I'm ready
and roaring to run up a mountain!
We started off at 7:30 am. The actual "race" start time was 8 am, but my group wanted to get a head start so we weren't stuck behind slower runners.

We started out as a five-some: Jess, Jim, Van, Matt and I. Van, Jess and, I think, Jim are all seasoned ultra marathon and trail runners, so I was slightly intimidated. I knew, however, that Jess would never have put me in a situation that I couldn't handle, so I wasn't too worried.

Being the amazingly smart person I am, I totally forgot to bring my headlamp. Actually, it didn't even cross my mind. I foolishly assumed it would be light when we started.

We started off, and both Matt and I were lucky that everyone else had remembered lights, so they were able to shine enough light for us to run somewhat safely. Honestly I couldn't see much at all, and was terrified I was going to twist an ankle on a root or something, but I made it just fine. This was the first of several instances where I felt like I was holding everyone back.

It started getting light, luckily, soon after we started. Whew!

I wish I could tell you what trails we took, but I honestly can't remember for the life of me. I have the WORST sense of direction. And it only gets worse when I'm on a mountain. The only trail I remember taking was called the Poo Poo Point Trail, but I can't remember which part it was for the life of me.

What was great about this run was that runners had come out to "mark" it earlier in the week with holiday decorations including bows, ornaments and ribbons. It was a fun little surprise to see what we would find next. Sometimes the markers would be hanging on trees or branches, or just draped over a bush. Pretty original idea, that made the run that much more fun!

Purple ribbon! We're going the right way!
Pretty much straight off, we started heading up. And up and up and up. I LOVE uphills. They are SO much easier for me than downhill, where the loss of control is so uncomfortable for me.

Van taking the lead!
This was definitely the part of the trail that I was most comfortable with. I was following pretty closely behind the leader and was just enjoying my surroundings. This side of the mountain had lots of greenery and fallen leaves (still!), and the ground wasn't very technical. Probably why I enjoyed it so much.

Some neat arching branches. Gorgeous!
After climbing for several miles, my body started screaming at me a bit. Mostly my hamstrings and my back. I was pretty much cursing my Crossfit coach for having us row a 2k on Thursday. But we finally made it past the direct uphills!

Snow! (And Jess's elbow)
I think it was around mile 6 or 7 that we finally saw snow. I've mentioned before, but I become giddy when I see snow. This time was no different, so I obviously pulled out my camera.

Little did I know, because we saw snow almost the rest of the run. At this point, the snow was just along the side of the trail and we didn't have to run through any at all.

When you are running a trail, it is pretty imperative that you look where you are going. Even glancing up for a second can mean disaster. I made sure during this loop, though, to take my time and enjoy what was going on around me. I have the pleasure of living in such a beautiful part of the country and runs like this make me feel so grateful!

I remember thinking during the run how big the world is and how beautiful! I get caught up so much in day to day life and running on the trails helps me put my life in perspective. Your problems become so small and it's easy to escape your thoughts while you are out there. I feel like I can relate it to a yoga class where you are surrendering to and moving with your breath. Well, I always feel like my goal when I go to yoga is to get out of my head, but maybe that's just me! Anyway, while I was running on Saturday, I found myself able to let go a little and just be. T'was nice and just what I needed!

One thing I love about running on Tiger Mountain, this loop especially, is the diversity along the way. Seriously, every side of the mountain is different, so it's impossible to get bored.

Several miles after we first saw snow, it became apparent that it was only going to get worse. By worse, I mean the snow started covering the trail and we had to run (I say the term "run" loosely here) through 6-inch snow drifts.

Following Matt through the snow banks.
Eventually, Matt and I decided just to walk. It actually got pretty hysterical there for awhile. We would try to run and just get stuck or slide out. I couldn't help but burst out laughing. I wish someone had been taping us because it was seriously like Beevis and Butthead.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!
We started heading back uphill again, this time in the snow. Along the way, we passed the "Christmas tree". The tree is adorned with ornaments that it has collected from years of this race. It also had some lights on it. Truly spectacular looking among the snowy scene we were traversing.

Up and up and up. Just the way I like it!
The snow-scene got slightly more hysterical as we kept going up. There were several times when I broke down because I was laughing so hard after getting stuck in a several foot deep snow drift.

Jess and I. All smiles!
I was still feeling great at mile 13! I was worried about my stomach, but it was still holding out and my body was saying "more, more, more!"

Below is a picture from one of my favorite parts of the trail. At this point, you are getting close to one of the summits and you have been traversing slightly up for awhile. You can look up and see sunlight streaming in through the trees while, if you look down, it looks like a dark abyss. It's almost like daylight and darkness in one place. Very cool. If only I could run with my DSLR so I could get a better picture of it!

We finally stepped out to one of the summits to find several feet deep of snow. At this point, we started heading downhill, and I was SO scared! If only I'd known how much worse it was going to get! I took it really slow (again, feeling like I was slowing down the crew). I was amazed as some of the guys started bounding (yes, literally bounding!) down the hill. What took them 30 seconds probably took me 10 minutes at least!

By this time, my feet were a sloppy mess! Luckily it wasn't cold at all, but stepping in all the snow had left my ankles a little chilly!

Jess is wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
I was wearing 3 layers and long pants. Haha!
We finally made it through the huge snow drifts and I found myself in a place slightly more terrifying: ice!

We headed even farther down the mountain in the snow, which had become almost a solid sheet of ice. I was walking at this point, just trying not to break my neck while others were skillfully sliding down the hill next to me. Several people tried to give me advice on running down the ice: leaning slightly forward, and using small, quick steps.

Nothing helped, though. I am already a slow downhill runner, but the ice made it impossible for me. I was just getting more and more frustrated at this point. Mostly at myself because I think it was my inability to lose control (life lesson, obviously) that I couldn't get down the stupid mountain.

The farther we went, the less icy it got, thank goodness. I was finally able to keep up a bit better. It was around this time that my stomach started cramping again. I was expecting this after my 50k several weekends ago, so I guess I was grateful it held out for this long.

The last few miles were tough. Between my stomach and my knee, which had randomly started hurting, I was just putting one foot in front of the other. Every time I took a step, I felt a sharp pain in my knee. Sometimes this happens when I am going downhill, so I knew it wasn't serious, just part of the game.

3:48 FTW! Garmin looses signal in the forest,
so it only caught 13.5 miles instead of the full 15.5
We finally made it back! Almost 4 hours later. To put that in perspective, last time I ran this loop, which was several months ago sans snow, I finished a little over 3 hours. Haha. Silly ice slowing me down!

Matt and I. Matt rocked his first long race!
I must be getting stronger because last time, my legs were such a mess after running this loop. This time, my legs were fine, minus the knee pain! Jess and Jim started gearing up to head back out for another loop, and I felt a slight twinge of jealousy, but knew I would have had a very hard time and my recovery would have taken most of the week. I know I made the right decision to stick with the 25k.

The group! Matt, me, Jess and Jim.
All in all, I had a great run! I was on a running high the first 12 miles, until we hit the ice and my body started showing signs of fatigue. I was very happy, even giddy, most of the time! I feel lucky to have found this trail running community, and can't wait for more and more trails!