Posts tagged races
Posts tagged races
I consider myself an average Jane, PR girl by day, workout warrior by night. I play rec hockey, I throw weight around in a gym, I’ve never finished a race at a record breaking pace or done something unthinkable like an iron man… Sure, I’ve run with bricks and participated in 24-hour fun runs, but let’s be honest, I am not going to be an Olympian or a professional athlete any time soon. I do this for kicks. I find power in the challenge… it gives me a sort of high.
Through CrossFit and food and yoga and racing… I’ve built from within. It isn’t always about looks or even health; I’d say that mirrored images of me in a sports bra and shorts don’t do my personal transformation justice. They don’t show how powerful I feel. Change can be scary… I know that first hand, but the rewards of testing unknown waters can be exhilarating– proving to be completely worth the bumpy ride it takes to get there. I’ve learned to sometimes throw caution to the wind and trust my gut, try new things, go against the grain. Measuring success not by how I look, but how I feel… benchmark accomplishments achieved over time.
Anyone can do a nutrition program like this, anyone. Much like how anyone can sign-up for a race or step into a yoga studio. You just have to be ready to do something different. Test your personal limits and venture out of your comfort zone. Open your mind; erase any prior conceptions about fat or calories or food in general. Flip your thinking… You have to be willing to put aside what you think you know about food and what traditional media and packaging and ‘diets’ parle as fact.
Life is a human experiment. I view it as continual home improvement – be it physical or mental. We are each striving to be better people day in and day out. The only way to achieve new levels is by trying new things. Sure it’s hard… but, quoting A League of Their Own: the hard is what makes it great. If you can get through the hard, then you’re bound to learn something new. You will be forced to grow.
Read this book. Absorb, learn new things… and then go big or go home. Don’t do it half way. You’ll miss the point. If you hate it (or find it doesn’t work) after 8 weeks, go back to the life you lived before… or find the middle ground that works for you – but not before you give this a fighting chance… push yourself through the tough parts. Don’t cheat yourself out of the opportunity to try something different by assuming the outcome before you even get started. It’s like talking yourself out of a race or any adventure before even walking to the starting line or jumping on the plane.
We all think that we have exceptions, but when you start adding them up, you’ll have a list a mile long… over the past 60 days I’ve heard them all… “I could do that, buuuuttttt I can’t live without mystery item X.” Here comes the tough love. Yes, yes you can. You can live without pizza or cheese or ice cream… you can live without beer or chocolate… or whatever it is that tops that list. Those things aren’t foods that are necessary for survival… If I was suggesting someone live without water… well, then maybe that’d be different. Sometimes in life, I find that we make things too easy. We immediately satisfy our every need. The reason why I’ve slept in a van overnight and carried bricks through the Potomac river was to do something tough… put myself through a mini-mental and physical battle to see if I could survive. This is nothing different: a test of will and accountability.
Anyone can do anything for 60 days. In the grand scheme of things, two months isn’t long. It isn’t a lifetime commitment. You aren’t signing in blood on a dotted line.
Track everything. How you feel, what you eat, when you sleep. Daily. It’s an important benchmark you can come back to and adjust time and time again.
Real food can’t hurt you – yup, the things that don’t come in boxes, or shakes, or bar format… the things without food labels – so there is no harm in trying this. You will learn how to cook. You will find time. Promise.
You may not see the benefits until week 8, but they will eventually happen. You may go through withdrawal and you may get frustrated, but if you follow through you may find that in the end, you feel more energized, stronger, less irritable… in control, powerful. You’ll be a survivor of sorts. You may conquer your addiction to hidden sugar. You may recover faster. You may start reading labels. You may jump on a soap box and start questioning what is wrong with our food system.
This isn’t a fad diet or a juice fast. It isn’t a quick fix. It isn’t easy. But getting what you want never happens overnight. There isn’t a magic pill. If there was, we’d all already have taken it. Rewards come to those who put in effort – success is the sum of small actions repeated day in and day out over time.
60 days later… You may be surprised at what you find out about yourself.
Day 270: Set goals. Sign-up for races!
The COO of your company stops you in the elevator and threatens to call your CrossFit coach to tell on you for not taking the stairs.
You’re friends come to town and request to go to 10AM CrossFit with you on Saturday morning.
When your entire laundry basket is filled with workout apparel and multiplies at the speed of light.
When your car looks like a sporting goods store filled with yoga mats, hockey sticks and sneakers and smells like a locker room… okay, so does your apartment.
When brunch conversations are filled with “so this one time at CrossFit…”
Sneakers are your most purchased item.
Your race budget far exceeds your drinking budget.
You come to the shocking realization that a large percentage of your paycheck goes towards your gym membership.
You have a lacrosse ball at your desk and you don’t play lacrosse.
You might as well buy stock in Lululemon.
“Vacation” equals being crammed in a van for 24 hours with 12 of your closest friends.
Your brother casually asks, “so how are the bricks this morning?” during your call to the family on the walk to work.
While in the second period of overtime, onlookers at the floor hockey game say, “Sarah looks like you really found fit tonight.”
Two words: Salad master.
You start getting ‘good luck’ wishes for races you aren’t even running.
Your friends bring 30pound dumbbells and a bag full of bricks to the beach.
You come up with sexy metcons while on vacation because the local Crossfit gym isn’t close enough.
People in your work kitchen are trying to explain this ‘military’ workout called Murph. They turn to you and say, “Sarah’s probably heard of it, she can tell you.”
Your parents sign you up for races when you go home to visit without telling you.
Whole Foods becomes your favorite store.
Friends you haven’t seen since college send you messages asking, “did I see you running through Georgetown tonight?”
Your version of soda is soda water.
When you put your back to the shower and scream in pain due to “ass rash”… yes, essentially rug burn in your butt crack… thank you situps!
When it takes an hour to pick a restaurant because you have to make sure it has paleo options. Then it takes another hour to order because everyone at the table has to ‘modify’ their choices… no bread, no cheese, extra bacon?
Taking a picture a day hasn’t been as hard as one would expect.
Day 89: A handful of stream crossing and steady up-hill climbs… Backyard burning!
Day 67: 54min, 5.5miles, 2 falls… Racing through the woods at Wakefield this morning with a crew of 6!
I pulled up the sleeve of my sweater at work and caught the remnants of number 9979. The permanent marker outline was faded, but still there. I swear I’ve tried to scrub it off in the shower, but in some ways it’s my reminder of the epic Tough Mudder weekend and holding onto it is a sort of badge of honor. Just like my Ragnar tattoo a few weeks back, it’s funny to see it juxtaposed against my business black. Out of place perhaps, but to me a hidden reminder of my other weekend life. Honestly, if it weren’t for it, or the bruises on my underarms and shins, the race feels like a distant memory faded into the florescent sun and conference calls. Much like my other weekend adventures, this was one that not many people would understand. A Sunday race through the woods, perhaps… but a diving into a dumpster of ice? climbing a black diamond? paying to get shocked? The questions would be too many to answer. Yes, I am crazy and yes, I do this for fun.
I’ve done mud runs before, so I must admit the thought of falling into an icy lake in October while attempting monkey bars wasn’t super appealing at first – buuutttt turning down a hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle course? Me? Wasn’t going to happen. I’ve likened my willingness to get talked into races to how others get talked into drugs or drinking… the game plan is simple. Lay the peer pressure on thick, make it sound like a fun adventure, and usually… I fold. This course, designed by British Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie, included 10+ miles and 25 obstacles. Trust me, it lived up to its promise.
The setting was perfect! Beautiful fall day in the mountains… changing leaves… brisk mountain air… limited cell phone service. In expectation of rocks and mud, I’d picked to don running tights and tight long sleeves. After a winding bus ride from the overflow parking field, we were consumed by a crowd of costumes and bare chested men with smatterings of body paint. Upon receiving my registration information, I was asked to pull up my hair and my race number was tattooed to my forehead in permanent marker, then my arm… oh it was going to be one of those types of races!! We met our team, “Health and Wholeness” to shake out a few last minute jitters (aka performance pees) and apply our war stripes. We split into groups of four – mine, which we appropriately named “Team Awesome” during the race, included Dan, TJ, Melina and myself. Since a 4 hour blow-by-blow would take pages… I’ve consolidated my race report into bullets. Here goes:
With our headbands on, we each got a beer as we passed through the finish. Some people got tattoos, others peeled off layers of wet clothes in exchange for a t-shirt… I eventually called my mom, and blurted out, “well, we’re alive.” Somewhere between trying to explain the ice bath and the 12ft walls, I realized that as much as it was a rough race, something about it was super awesome. The toughest event on the planet? Debatable, but definitely one for the record books. Each of us that forged our way to the finish were officially Tough Mudders and those of us that survived have a common bond – a secret hand-shake if you will, maybe a nod, an understanding of the battle it took to get there.
For me, the joy in racing is pushing myself to a new place, stepping out of my comfort zone. On the ride home I realized a few things:
Exhausted, muddy and cold, we finally made it back home. For now, I’ll settle for rocking my orange headband. But I can’t imagine that Mudder 2012 will take too much convincing.
Ragnar: If you haven’t run a relay, you should try it, just once.
It’s the one weekend when… it’s okay to pull an all-nighter under the stars and running in the dark doesn’t just happen just because you didn’t have time to squeeze it in during the day… when headlamps and butt blinkies are cool and reflective vests are sexy… when friends become family, and farting in mixed company is permitted… wait, that is NOT happening in my van! When eating beef jerky and brushing your teeth is better than sex and bathing in baby wipes is considered an effective roadside shower… when “dinner” comes on a plastic tray in a high school cafeteria at 1AM and sleep happens in cat naps on a soccer field full of sleeping bags… when dressing up in costumes on a day that isn’t Halloween is perfectly normal and camaraderie with other teams means collecting flair in the form of magnets… when running becomes a detailed dance of coordinating van rentals and road maps and hotel rooms and coolers full of salami… when “vacation” is crammed seating and sweating along back country roads. When mustaches are a motto echoing Prefontaine…
It’s the one weekend when we embark on a mini-road trip filled with decorated vans and runners and cheers and moments of mayhem… where almost nothing is actually inappropriate… and you learn quickly that necessary items include multiple pairs of underwear, Visine, chapstick and sunscreen. It’s the one weekend when slap bracelets make a comeback and serve as a baton passed from wrist to wrist… when adults wear glow sticks and soul searching happens at 4AM on a lonely road under the stars… when there really aren’t winners or losers, just high-fives and finishers… and a rush of accomplishment that is indescribable.
It’s the one weekend when it’s almost impossible not to lose yourself in a sea of good runners and amazing people who are just as crazy as you… when bars of body glide flow like wine and blisters are seen as a badge of honor. When the race is about survival rather than performance and personal triumph takes second place to crossing the finish line as a team. It’s the one weekend when I can’t even begin explain why I take a day off of work in order to subject myself to “fun” that includes vans and sneakers and running back home…
It’s the one weekend when 12 people come together and manage to canvas more than 200 miles, on foot, in 24 hours (well… maybe 32 hours)… hopefully not in the rain. It’s where I learned that I was a runner.
It’s hard to believe that just one year ago this crazy adventure began with a silly idea to run a relay… and now it’s sort of a tradition. I get goosebumps thinking about how far I’ve come (or run) since last September… and now, tonight, we return to the road. Let the All-Night Mustache Ride begin!
Join the adventure! Van 1: @sarahfindingfit Van 2: @onthebusrunning
3:50 A.M. came faster than imagined and as I pealed myself off of the couch, I realized how dark it was outside. My immediate thought, “uggg, why do I get myself into these things??” After sticking my head in the shower, I pulled on the new race clothes and munched on a baked sweet potato between sips of coffee and water.
After loading the car with bikes and race gear, we made our way up the dark, deer filled roads to Maryland. I almost appreciated having the extra time to wake up, rather than the usual rush of arrive and run. The race parking lot was filled unexpected amounts of “bike porn” and here I’d thought the pack would include others who were out to try their hand at their first multisport event. We were surrounded by fancy tri outfits and even with the smattering of mesh short wearers, I felt a bit self-conscious of my noviceness. I kept reminding myself that while this was my first duathalon, this, by far was not my first race rodeo.
When we arrived at the start area, we assembled our bikes and gear in the transition under our numbers. I found myself next to some biking veterans… the section under my bike looked so minimalist: 1 coconut water, 2 water bottles, some shot blocks, new helmet, biking gloves, sunglasses, lulu pullover. Before we were allowed to exit, we were marked with a giant black sharpie. 480 on each arm. 30 on my calf. I gave my mom a quick pre-race call and wore my green Donate Life bracelet per tradition.
Between three performance enhancing pees and some stretching, it was fun to note who did and didn’t resemble the ages plastered publically on their bodies. As we corralled towards the start line, the announcer went over the long list of race fouls… explained the refs on the course. With a 3-2-1 the men were off… then 4 minutes behind them, we hit the road.
This being my first multi-sport experience, I am starting my race recap with my top 20 lessons learned:
The first 2 miles were the fast, fluid and easy.
The bike started rough with a slice to the back of ankle due to an awkward attempt to get into my cages. Elevation changes and wet roads made for slick turns and long climbs. I was a tad timid on the declines and mile marker 20 was an evil tease when I realized it was meant for those bikers on their second time around the course.
I had a small pit in my stomach as I passed through the exchange and embarked on loop two, but it seemed to fly. Easier, probably in part because most of the rude bikers had already finished, but also because I’d relaxed my shoulders and took some deep breaths. I stopped breaking on the declines and felt stable and comfortable on the bike. Since I was thirsty as hell, I daydreamed about the water sitting at the transition.
The last four, well that’s a whole other story… the sun blistered, my legs fell in heavy thuds, and the small hills felt more like mountains… I remember stumbling out of the transition and dumping a few cups of water on my head. I heard the announcer read 2:10 over the loud speaker as someone finished, and made a mental note that I had 50 minutes to beat my goal. As I embarked on the first loop, I shouted to Brian, “This is much harder than CrossFit!”
I did my best to power up the last incline and across the finish line, seeing the clock close in on 2:59… after subtracting our start time – goal accomplished! Under 3 hours, 15th in my age group. Hot damn! Now, if it weren’t for the sore hamstrings and shoulders as I rolled out of bed this morning… Time use my new knowledge on the next one in September.
When I’d signed up for DUthe2 months ago, I hadn’t really anticipated what I was in for. It seemed easy enough… run, bike, run. Short. Sweet. I’d been looking for something more than a run through the woods or a long, hard fought battle with shin splints and 13.1… a different challenge, a way to switch it up, push myself. After the half marathon, I’d hit a bit of a wall with running… Running forced me to believe that I could accomplish something I’d never thought imaginable, but… my on-again, off-again romance with the pavement was currently on a break and it was time for something new. This Sunday, I’m staring down a “jaunt” of 26 miles on a bike and 6 on the road. Easy! But, after one of my colleagues pointed out the elevation map… it seems a bit longer and more daunting than I’d initially imagined.
Between the time I’d registered and recruited a partner in crime (WOOO Melina!), I’ve bought a bike, logged miles, learned to shift during long climbs… I’ve substituted miles with nights in the CrossFit box and the heated yoga studio. A sharp detour from weeks of 20+ miles on the road. This time there has been no calendar to cross off or days to count down. All of a sudden, July melted into August with the DC heat and it’s time to race. Leaner, meaner. I’d venture to guess that I might be in the best all-around shape of my life… but running shape? This will be the test.
I’d felt almost over prepared for the half (thank you @Onthebusrunning). During the miles alone in the snow and along the DC trails with friends, I’d soul searched. I found confidence in the fact that I could push myself to run 10, then 12 then 13.1 miles. I became a runner under the stars at Ragnar and found my version of fit along muddy trails in the woods. And, by the time we crossed the starting line that frigid March morning, there was no question that I’d finish without walking. It was only a few months ago, but right now, it seems like ancient history.
Last night, after loads of laundry, I laid my clean Duathalon outfit on the floor of my room. The ritual of picking out race apparel the week before felt familiar, but the biking shorts and pocketed jersey were awkward and fresh to the rotation of usual racing favorites. As I loaded the backpack with sunscreen and coconut water, I started to imagine the race… and a twinge of doubt welled in my chest… Am I really ready? I felt the overwhelming urge to immediately lace up the brand new running shoes and hit the pavement… but reminded myself that there is no cramming for races. At this point, I have to trust that I’ve built the base. Instead, I threw the new “Ghosts” in my bag for one last shake out at work, the necessary evil, more than anything to prove to myself that two miles is still “easy.”
In the book Born to Run, there is a quote from Ken Chlouber, Colorado miner and creator of the Leadville Trail 100 which I’ve quoted before: “Make friends with pain, and you will never be alone.”
I’ve learned that the pain is only as bad as you let your mind think it is… if you psych yourself out before you start, you are dead in the water. You’ll never make it. Instead, you have to believe you can… Focus. Push. Breathe! I’ve found my strength in that over the past few years both in finding fit and living life.
This race will be a test. The kick-off of my self-imposed fall race season. It will be my gauge for the next few months of training. Will the new fitness regime with less mileage work? Is there some truth in CrossFit Endurance? Or is it back to the drawing board? My first race on a bike. My first real experience of the bricks. Although I must admit the following combos have been a good warm-up: sled pushes, thrusters, sled pushes, REPEAT; bike, CrossFit, bike; bike, hockey game, bike. My first multisport challenge of sorts.
Tonight: I pray to the weather gods, to please be kind this weekend. Thursday: I taper. Friday: Time to get in the zone. Sunday: Wake up at 4:00 AM. Race. Finish in under 3 hours. Sounds easy enough, right? Bam! Time to make it happen. Legs, don’t fail me now!
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Sometimes I have and intense urge to tackle insane obstacles… so this weekend I plan to venture to the backwoods of Frederick, Maryland to unleash my inner Rebel. Up to 5 miles filled with 22 barricade-climbing, mud-crawling, rope-swinging and fire-jumping obstacles that give me the opportunity to, you gussed it, flirt with danger as well as challange my test physical toughness and mental endurance.
Then, post shower… I’ll taste It, sip it, and pork it at the Beer, Burbon and BBQ Festival. Who writes about Beer, Bourbon and BBQ on a fitness blog? I DO!
Between earning Rebel bragging rights and going hog wild… it proves to be a fearless weekend for sure!