Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I love you even though your feet and hair stink

It's as romantic as fake flowers.

I don't divulge much about my girlfriend or our relationship, but this statement made me realize how lucky I am.. how she is.. even though she says my feet and hair smell at times.

When we went on one of our first dates last year, I did a long run that morning with my sister out in George Washington National Forest. On the way home, we passed a cemetery where a windstorm had blown some of the fake flowers across the road. I wanted to make a good impression and show up with flowers, but didn't know if I'd have time to stop to get real flowers, so instead I picked up the best looking fake flowers I could find on the ground. Let's just say I made quite the impression that night when I pulled them out of the sleeve of my jacket like an amateur magician. I have since surprised her a few more fake flowers from that same cemetary as well as some real flowers. (A girl knows when she's in trouble! ;) And, yes, they were from a store, not from a cemetery.

Even if received with a mix of rolling eyes, head shakes, and smooches on the cheek, I can't pass a cemetery without looking for the best bouquet of flowers for my girl.

We got along well from the start and were never fake with the other person, or did/said something, to appear more appealing (The flowers don't count!). We were very blunt (honest) about our feelings, likes, and dislikes, and just opened our hearts to each other. Now we are so open with each other, we are about as open as the bathroom door. "Are you pooping?" is asked as frequently as "I love you" is spoken. All couples do it, right?? Talking about the last time you had a bowel movement, or what 'sparked' it is a common reply to the question of "how was your day?" Isn't it like that with everyone??

We have a morning routine where we do our own thing - she walks the dog and I run or bike. Having prepared a weeks worth of lunches and snacks on the weekend, another 1/3 of the morning at home includes pulling those items from the fridge and putting them in their respective lunchbags as well as making breakfast. At some point, during the final 1/3 of the morning, while the other is showering/getting dressed, a note is slipped into their lunch bag. Even though it is expected, it is always a nice surprise to get.

"I love you to Pluto and back!"

"Have a good day"

"I had a wonderful weekend with you"

"2 days in a row with a note - don't get used to it"

"I still love you EVEN though you don't listen to me"

"I had a good time in the kitchen even if you tried to tell me what to do"

Mine are a little more heartfelt and sometimes include a cutsey drawing of two people in a hot air balloon, a tree with initials and a plus sign carved into it, or a heart with an arrow through it.

"I finally wrote you a note. Happy now?"

True love.

It hasn't been the easiest of times and we've had a few rough patches, and, sure, we bother the heck out of each other at times, and we get on each others nerves, and she beats me up, and I don't pick up enough, and she doesn't fold my shirts the right way, and I don't make enough 'us time', and I've threatened to sleep on the sofa some nights, and I still don't know how to drive her standard car, and it's not a good thing to laugh when she's singing while scrubbing the kitchen floor even though you think it's cute.. and..

Well, what I'm getting at is that we make it work even though it's not a well oiled machine. It works for us.

Fake flowers, poop talk, stinky feet and the inability to drive a standard might've scared away others (ok, it has). But it was something about that first chai at Murkey Coffee in Eastern Market, discussing the actors that have played James Bond after seeing "Breach", and dinner at Banana Cafe that slowly brought us together and to where we are now.

It was a path with as many ups and downs, rocks and roots as the trails we run/hike on.

Today isn't a special day or anniversary or anything. It was a typical morning with our typical breakfast and typical routine and our typical bickering. After reading the note in my lunch bag, I looked at the picture on my desk of planet formerly known as Pluto in the gawdy frame that my gal gave me, and I know that I am loved that much - to Pluto and back - no matter what.

Stinky feet and all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Does time fly when you're doing Crossfit?

53:25 felt like 20 minutes.

"That's it?" I asked when I finished the following workout Sunday:

5 rounds AFAP

1000m row
BB thrusters - 20 reps
Ring rows - 20 reps

The row was fine. The thrusters.. notsomuch. My form was crappy as I kept leaning forward too much. 'Head through the window' I kept thinking, and 'fully extend the arms'. I started with reps of 10 before eeking out reps of 7 on the last couple rounds.

The rings rows are a big 'you have no upper body strength' punch in the gut. Hey, I get it, and it was evident by ability (or lack thereof) to do them in sets of 5, and later 3. And it was more like little pulses, but at least I was engaging my lats. I was able to get a little more range of motion on the last few sets, but didn't want to take too much time to catch my breath just for a few more inches when I just wanted the workout over with.

I called 'time' and didn't realize it was nearly an hour later.

Either I was suckin big time or the workout really takes that long. I'll wait until I do it again to answer that question.

Putting in the final run touches

This past weekend was my last time out at George Washington National Forest to cover the last 1/3 of The Ring course. For the last few weeks, I've covered all but about 17 miles of the course - the first 8.7 from Signal Knob out to Veach Gap, and then about 8 miles from the top of Short Mountain across, and down to Edinburg. The latter section took me over 5.5 hours during MMT when my feet were so tender I had to limp it in. I was hoping that by covering nearly 3/4 of the course in the weeks leading up to the race, that I would be in good shape come race day. Well, after Saturday's run, I don't know if that's the case.

I hit the trail about an hour earlier than I had the previous weeks. When looking at this map, I started at #13 and finished up at #16. I ran more with the curve of the mountain at the top of the map instead of staying with the blue trail as it jogged right a bit. It's hard to explain that I'm following an orange blazed trail when the map isn't colored as such and doesn't entirely follow the Massanutten Trails. Just trust me on this.

I hadn't been on the Edinburg to Woodstock (13-14) section since the Chocolate Bunny night run in March, and I don't think I had covered Woodstock to Powell's (14-15) since I first ran it in February. It was part of a few MMT training runs that I bailed on. The trails are very runable, so I ran. It wasn't until I got to Woodstock when I checked my phone and found out my GF was bailing on her hike. She had parked over at Signal Knob (16) to do a circuit hike with the dog, but he had other plans. Those plans included lying down on the trail and not moving.

Her day was done in 90 minutes, and I had 4.5 hours to go with little cell phone service.

I made my way from Woodstock to Powell's Fort. I figured it would take me 90 minutes to cover this section, and I was spot on. It's a fairly 'flat' section with only a few ups and downs the closer you get to PF. I took a break at a small spring across from the start of the Mudhole Gap trail to refill all my bottles. It was about 12:30pm at the time and the fire road section of the trail was pretty exposed to the sun. I wanted to stay as hydrated as possible. I had finished 1.5L of my 3L bladder, and about 3/4 of the 24oz other bottles I was carrying. I downed a bottle of water, wiped off my face, refilled everything, and kept moving forward.

This section really bothered my feet in the '07 MMT race, and the pain was coming back. It's not the relentless rocks jutting out of the ground that make it seem like you're playing hopscotch instead of running, it's the 'pea gravel' type rocks that dig into the bottom of your feet. There's no avoiding them, so you keep going even though you know you have blisters.

By the time I got around the reservoir and started up to Signal Knob Overlook, I was finally able to get a signal on my cell phone. I called my GF and left a couple messages regarding my status - where I was and how long it would take me to get back. I was somewhat surprised at the number of people I saw hiking out toward the overlook. I saw more people in that 5 mile stretch than I had had seen in the last 2 weeks on the trail. I was in the minority by going clockwise, as well as the only person running. This section was all downhill, but pretty rocky as well. My downhill running is sub-par at best, but I tried to move as quickly as possible. I got a "where are you??" call from my GF who had been patiently waiting for me in the parking lot. I gave a "30 minutes. Promise!" reply and moved along faster. I had only climbed this section before, but it seemed longer going downhill than it did going uphill.

Thirty five minutes after the last call, I emerged from the woods and made my way across the parking lot to the car. I still had my stick in had that I used to knock down cobwebs, and promptly teased the dog with it. He was tied up to the car dog and could only stretch about 6' out, and I held the stick about 6'3" away. I got the "that's not funny" look from the GF before giving it to him while I changed.

In total, the run was 23 miles in 6:50. Not stellar by any means, but I'll take it. I drank probably 4.5L of water, had 690 calories of CarboPro, another 500 in GU, and fewer salt tabs than I should've taken. I wore Injinji toe socks for the first time since MMT in May. I had no problems with them then, but had mirror image blisters on the ball and big toe of each foot. I don't know if it's the socks to blame, terrain, weather, or what, but it could be my feet saying to me "Wtf.. enough with these trails already. You want me to callous? I'll callous," and with that, I'm getting my hardened trail feet back.

I don't know if I'm ready at all for The Ring. My mileage isn't the greatest, I'm guessing on my nutrition, I haven't done a night run, and I'm still having problems with my feet. I'm really feeling no pressure with this run since there are no cut offs times to beat. I've put in the time on the trail and can only hope it was enough.

I'm taking some R&R Labor Day weekend and will be off the trails for a bit - no running, just hiking. I have mentioned a few goal times to my GF, but haven't written them down yet. I want to take the times I've run certain sections to see if my goals are attainable. I'll have plenty on my plate before the run, but hope that some downtime will help me get in the right frame of mind to successfully cover the distance.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Start of a new (busy) season

Tuesday was the first official practice of the Fall 15's rugby season, and it was nice to come away uninjured. Small victories! I seem to open up the same cut in the same location on the same knee, and looks like it should split nicely on Thursday when we start tackling.

After taking time off from the spring season to focus on trail running, I knew I wanted to come back in the Fall. I've been working hard the past month with Crossfit, as well as increasing my running the last few weeks, to help get me in shape. My sprinting and short speed could still use some work, and I never know how to prepare my body to take the pounding of 80 minute matches.

It's too early to make any predictions on how the teams will do (we have enough people to have a competitive Div 1 and Div 2 team as well as a 'friendly C side), or even what position I'll play, but I think we'll have another good year. It helps that a number of the players have trained with and/or played with the Eagles and others are represented on MARFU All-star team, so we're able to practice against good players. Doing that just makes you, and everyone around you, a better player and a better team.

I'm excited to get going and look forward to playing in a handful of matches this year. I'll miss the first tournament as well as the first matrix match due to a couple races and a wedding, but I'm hoping the season lasts until early November, which is when Nationals are slated to be held.

I look at the calendar of events that my GF and I have set up in Google, and just about every day of the week is colored 'blue', which signifies some sort of event of mine that I have added- Crossfit, yoga, Pilates, and rugby. Anything my GF enters is in 'red'. There isn't a lot of red there, but she does go to Pilates and yoga. The striking thing about the calendar isn't now colorless it is, but how FULL it is. The only day where nothing is listed is Friday, but that doesn't mean nothing is done that day. I'll probably run or bike in the morning, my GF will go for a long walk with her dog, and I might swim after work. And there's always weekend prep to be done on Friday - bottles to be filled, sandwiches made, hydration bladders filled, clothes packed - for weekend runs/hikes. It doesn't seem so busy until you put in on paper, but this is how we operate.

Sometimes I don't understand the meaning of "down time" or "built-in free day". It might go back to the days when I had my first job out of school in Ann Arbor, MI. A few months after starting, I picked up a PT job at Whole Foods stocking shelves. Why? For something to do on the weekends. Some things don't change. But at least I've learned the difference between 'busy' and 'over extended'. And with that little bit of clarity, I've decided not to row this fall for the head race season.

Things will really start picking up in September, but I'm looking forward to getting out of town for a few days for some R&R before things get too busy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The ups and downs of long runs

I was excited to get out on the trails again this past weekend and cover another 18-25 miles of The Ring. Some sections are new to me, some I haven't been on since MMT, and some I haven't done in the clockwise direction. The weather was foggy the closer we got to Luray, but cleared up once we drove up and over Edith's Gap on 675. It was going to be a beautiful day. I figured I'd be going about 23 miles and dropped some extra aid at Moreland Gap. We froze a few water bottles the night before, wrapped them in a plastic bag, and stashed them behind a tree near the trail. I would hit this around mile 15 or so. You can sort of get an idea from this link of where I'm running and on what trails. Think of a U shape starting at #6, down to where blue/green meet, then up to #22.

I didn't leave Camp Roosevelt until 9am. The Massanutten trail was nice and runable; very dry. I wanted to keep splits where the trail intersects other trails to get an idea of how long it will take me race day. I had my camera with me again, so I knew I'd be slower than I'd like to be to stop and take pictures along the way.

About 45 minutes out, I met up with the blue Gap Creek Trail, which I took during MMT, but was passing today. I would stay on orange until it met up with the yellow Scothorn trail. This section from Gap to Scothorn was new to me, and it looked like not many people have been on it. The trail was very overgrown in sections and there was about a 1.5 mile stretch where I was walking through thorn bushes that had grown out and over/across the trail. I even had my web clearing stick with me and that didn't help much with moving the branches to the side. This frustrated me and slowed me down considerably. I came upon a black snake, but he saw me as quickly as I saw him and slithered off the trail before I could ready my camera. Two hunting hound dogs wandered up to me and followed me for about half a mile before bolting from the trail in a furry of hound cries. I continued on to where the trail meets up with Strickler Knob, and then on down to Scothorn.

This section from Scothorn down to the Connector Trail wasn't new to me, but the clockwise direction was. In addition, I haven't been on this section since May and didn't recognize it all covered in green. A handful of times I stopped to turn around to make sure I was on the right trail. Soon enough I came upon clusters of rocks that did look familiar, as well as a stream crossings, and knew I was close to the Connector.

I was mentally down at this point and was contemplating dropping at Moreland. From the Connector, it was a tough 3/4 mile climb up Waterfall toward Crisman Hollow Road. I dreaded going up as much as I did going down it during the race, but I kept plugging away and got to the top. It's a beautiful view once you get there, but didn't do much to lift my spirits.

My GF went up to Edinburg with her dog to hike Powell's Mountain and back for a good 12 or so miles. We were texting updates back and forth when we had service to see how things were going. I had decided at that point to drop at Moreland, but to run the .9 section out/back to kill time if she wasn't there when I got to Moreland. When I got up to Kerns Mountain after crossing Crisman Hollow Road, I found out she had twisted her ankle pretty badly, and her proposed route down a side trail to the ATV road was blocked off. She was heading back the way she came, but going much slower. In addition, the dog was bonking. I wasn't sure if she'd be able to make it to Moreland to pick me up, so I changed game plans and was going to continue pass Moreland, up and over Short Mountain to Edinburg.

Mentally, I switched gears and quickened my pace. About halfway to Jawbone, I saw a yellow and black snack lounging across the trail. If there was a table out on that trail, then I jumped up on it to get the hell away from the snake. *shudder*. I found a few sticks to throw at it to 'shoo' it off the trail before climbing down off my table and continuing on. And wouldn't you know it.. every mother f'in stick I saw for the rest of the run was a snake. I think I ran on my tip toes with my hands close to my body all the way to Jawbone. It's a very intimidating running form.

Skipping to the conversation between my GF and myself on the drive back to DC:

GF: So why didn't you just jump over the snake?
ME: I didn't want it to jump up and bite me.
GF: Snakes can't jump!
ME: Who says!
GF: They don't!
ME: Well, if I did jump over it, that would be the time to find out that they do jump!

So I made my way across Kerns and to Jawbone and took my first bathroom break since starting the run (almost 6 hrs). Jawbone is all downhill and a bit rocky and should take me no more than 30 minutes (20 at best) to descend. Today was a bad day since Charlotte called in the troops to spin a gazillion (I counted) webs across the trail. Again, I felt like Indy Jones minus the cool hat and bullwhip (hat - not very cooling; whip - too much weight and would bounce around). Even my trusty stick wasn't enough to knock them down and I'd find myself with a mouth full of web and a spider on my hat. *shudder*

I get to Moreland and am relieved to find my 2 stashed bottles nice and cold. I only had a couple ounces left in my 3L bladder plus a little bit left in one of the 2 additional bottles I carry. I tried calling my GF but had no reception at Moreland. I started up toward Short Mountain and knew it was going to be a long climb/hike/time. I was keeping my phone off now since it had been flashing 'low battery', and would try calling her again when I got to the top. Like the section to the Connector, I haven't been on this section since the race. As much as I loath it, I have to admit that with some sun and rain and some TLC, it's a really beautiful area (minus the trail webbings). The climb is the same and I really don't mind it. Once at the top, I turned on my cell and had service. YES! So I made a quick call to say how long it would take me from that point (2+ hrs at least) when I saw 2 text messages had come in. After hanging up, I read the messages to find out that she texted me while my phone was off and said she'd be able to pick me up at Moreland. The last message, saying she was 2 miles from the car, was sent 40 minutes ago, so I sent a quick 'see you at Moor' text and headed back down. I was able to go faster since 1. it was downhill and 2. I had already cleared out all the webs strewn across the trail.

The timing was perfect as she pulled up about 2 minutes after I arrived. We headed back to Camp Roosevelt to change and tick check the dog, who was now guzzling my water, before making a quick stop in Luray. It is tradition now to stop at Luray Caverns for a pretzel and sometimes a lemonade. We were lucky enough (at 6pm) to get the last two under the lamps. They were still delicious.

There were a lot of take-aways from this run: good and bad. I was happy to get in about 19 miles, but I should've been moving faster. It's hard to move fast when the trail is covered in webs and overgrown thorny bushes. I seriously look like I've been slashed with a razor blade from the knees on down. I need to work on hydration as well as nutrition. And this might be TMI, but I'm going there anyway - these last 2 runs have left me constipated. I've had the same dinner the night before, I 'get rid of it' before hitting the trails, but I didn't go again until late Sunday night (it was forced) or Monday morning at work (the previous week). We're talking 36-48 hours, if not more, which is tough for someone who is used to droppin trou after 12 hours maximum. I didn't have much of an appetite, but drank a lot, and had the rest of the pre run dinner as my post run dinner. I just don't get it.

Even on the drive back, and at lunch Monday, my GF and I were talking routes for next week. I would like to tackle Short Mountain and end up at Signal Knob, the start/end of The Ring, but might opt to start at Edinburg or Woodstock instead. For the gal pal and the dog, they will most likely stay closer to Signal Knob, but might venture over towards Powell's Fort where there is a spring. We don't want the poor pooch to bonk again.

I'm bad a posting pictures, so I'll try to get some up at some point. Things will be getting busier, so be patient.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Captain Morgan "After"

Wednesday's workout was exhausting. Here's the scoop:

Do AMRAP in 30 minutes of the following -

5 - Hindu push-ups
10 - medicine ball squat cleans (14 lb ball)
15 - pike ups on a stability ball
20 - box step-up jumps

On an online forum, I had predicted that I would complete 7 rounds. I pulled that number out of my butt having no idea how long it would take me, and was happy to finish 7 rounds plus 5 push ups from round 8. When I was done, I struck a Captain Morgan "after" pose – practically passed out on the mats. Earlier in the workout, I struck my Captain Morgan "before" pose, which included one foot up on the plyo box with my hand on my knee before starting a set of the box step-up jumps. The after pose would've been better if I were next to a porcelain receptacle instead of on a dirty, sweat covered mat and had actually ingested some rum.

Or not.

I was quite content with not moving, but had to since I had Pilates right afterwards in the next room. After all those pike-ups I wasn't all too thrilled to hear that the focus would be on the core. I was wiped out, but it felt good. I was hoping to do more stretching and flexibility, but that's stuff I can, and should, do more often on my own. I'll try to make an appointment with the floor and some tubing tonight to do some stretching.

After a 45 minute run in the morning, I'd say Wednesday was a good day. There should be busier days like this to come, and I’'m looking forward to them.

A picture was taking of me in my 'after' pose. Depending on how it turns out and if I get a copy of it, I will consider posting it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Saturday's a running day

Saturday's run made for a long day in general. With The Ring's 71 mile run coming up in 4 weeks, I wanted to make sure I got in some good miles especially on sections of the trail that aren't part of the MMT 100 mile trail run.

We left DC a little later than we had intended, so I didn't get on the trail until 8:50am. The plan was to run from Veach Gap down to Camp Roosevelt for a total of about 18 miles. My GF was going to park at Camp Roosevelt and hike with her dog down the Massanutten Trail (Duncan Hollow) to the Gap Creek Trail to aid station 7/11 on the map. From there, she'd take Crisman Hollow Road back up to her car. I figured the trail would be relatively flat leaving Camp Roos, along water for the dog to play in and hopefully not too overgrown. I knew the climb up and over Catback Mountain would kick her butt, but didn't realize how overgrown the trail was.

I started at the Veach Gap Trail just off of Route 678. The MMT race accesses the MMT trail from 613 on the other side of the ridge via the Tuscarora Trail, which is #3 on the map. I started near #3, but on the other side of the ridge, and then followed it down to #6. I stayed on the ridge the entire time instead of veering off to the road as the MMT course does. The plan was do the run in 6-7 hours. I ran scared a few times since I mentally calculated incorrectly that it would take me 8 hours. I sure didn't want to be on the trail, or on my feet, that long.

I stopped and slowed numerous times to take pictures. The area is just gorgeous. I had a small flock of pheasants fly out of the brush in front of me, a deer run away from the trail, and hawks circling above. I also had to run with a stick in my hand to knock down spider webs spun across the trail. A handful of times I didn't see the web in time and felt like Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." I can almost still feel the stringiness on me. I think I surprised a small group of campers on the trail where it intersects with the Habron Gap trail, but quickly passed by as I wasn't sure if they were friends or foe and didn't want to stick around long enough to find out.

The trail looked unfamiliar at times on sections where I have run before. It was so lush and green. Even on the new parts, it was the same ol' Massanutten trail filled with rocks, rocks, and more rocks. I was excited to finally get to Kennedy Peak Observation tower (2,500 ft), but saddened to see someone basically camping there. Like the earlier campers, I didn't want to stick around long enough to find out if he was a good guy or bad guy, so I took my pictures a little further down the trail. I had sent my GF a text with an update on my status (reception was great up there), and said (before going up toward Kennedy Peak) that I’d be back in a max of 90 minutes. It was 2pm at that point and I took my time the rest of the way and got back in a total time of 6:25.

I have some videos and pictures from the trek that I hope to post soon.

All in all, it was a good day. After a quick tick check (only one on my sock), I changed, got a little bit to eat, and we were on our way back to DC. The times you just want to be home seem to make for the longest rides. Murphy's Law held true as we were stuck in traffic on 66 due to an accident. Wanting even more to get home at this point, we jumped onto 50E to pick up 495S for the Wilson Bridge. Sure enough, we got stuck Redskins traffic going to the game, and spent nearly 45 minutes trying to go 8 miles. It was frustrating as we were both tired and wanted nothing more than to be home, showered, and in bed, relaxing after a good, long day on the trails.

I feel more confident on the trail as my weekly mileage increases. I have plans to run more of Massanutten next weekend with a proposed route of Camp Roosevelt down to the connector, then up Waterfall and Kerns to Moreland Gap. I'm trying to convince myself to continue over Short Mountain to Edinburg, which was the beginning of the end for me at MMT, but might save it for race day. I'd like to end training the following weekend with Woodstock to Elizabeth Furnace with a possible trek up Shawl Gap to the Massanutten Trail before descending down Sherman Gap trail. That would leave me two weeks of taper and much needed time away from the trail after covering about 90% of the course three of the five weekends before the race. I am happy with that total and how things are going so far, and only hope the good can carry over to the day of the race.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Singing “Texaco, Texaco, over the hills to Mexico” would’ve made it more fun.. for sure..

I remember fondly dominating the games of 4 Square during recess. I also remember tying 2 jump ropes together end to end to make one long jump rope so 3-5 kids could jump at the same time while singing about "Texaco" and "Cinderella". It wasn't until after this latest Crossfit workout that I realized singing might've made the workout.. well, easier isn't the right word since there is NO SUCH THING as an easy workout. Yes, I was shouting.

Tolerable. Enjoyable.

Lifting an obscene amount of weight or doing an ungodly number of reps is enjoyable in its own little way. You just do it then collapse on the floor. Once you pick yourself up, or sometimes while still in the fetal position/sprawled out – pick your position of choice – you say what a friggin great workout that was even if you can't lift your arms, uncurl your fingers, get your traps out of your ears, stop walking like you just got off a horse – pick your sore spot.

Like my knotted up calves.

Remember those jump ropes? I sure do, but don't remember my calves feeling like they were about to burst out of the back of my legs. Here's the workout from Wednesday:

500m row
1000 single unders
750m row
750 single unders
1000m row
500 single unders

My time was 34:26. I felt fine on the erg. Cheap ropes suck since they get all raveled up with each hop, skip, and jump. I'd have at least a 6" section at the bottom that was all wrapped up that I'd end up getting my foot caught in. And it's not because I couldn't jump high enough (re: 1-3") to clear the rope.. nooope, not at all. Our trainer, Tony, did the workout with us, which was great motivation. I was hoping I could catch him on the erg, but he out did me on the jump rope by about 1 minute.

We finished up with some ab work - sit ups while tossing a 12lb medicine ball back and forth. First set was with the med ball at our chest, and the second round was with the med ball overhead. Ankles weren't locked, so I had a hard time syncing everything up for a fluid roll back, touch the ball down, then roll back up with the ball overhead, and tossing it off. We did 2 sets of 10 reps each, but near the end I could feel my left shoulder "give" a little bit. It didn't hurt at all, so I finished my set. The final set were 'sit-up/get-ups'. I’m totally making up the name. A partner sits on your feet and holds your legs around your calves and you have to stand up after doing a sit up. The partner really has to hold onto your legs to help you get up. We did a set of 10 and it was pretty tiring.

We finished off the night by heading over to a local school and running some sprints. I hope to incorporate sprints – short speed and longer interval work – into my weekly workout, so this workout was something I made up after looking over a bunch of different programs. I used the satellite image on Map My Run to measure out a 100m route. It was getting dark out and neither of us wanted to risk twisting an ankle, so we cut the workout down to the following:

2x100 easy
1x200 strides
2x100 all out
5x30 ground start

All were run on a 1:1 ratio – resting for as long as it took to cover the distance. I hope to mix things up in the next few weeks with different distances, length of rest, starting positions, etc. It will be good for my training.

I'll try to conjure up memories as a kid of sprinting from the street corner to our sidewalk. All in the name of fun.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It’s been a short weekend if you have to stop and think about what you did

Monday was a tough go at it with Crossfit. Switching to the Mon/Wed 7pm timeslot from Tues/Thurs 5:30pm might take a little getting used to at first. The short but busy weekend started to catch up with me around 4pm when a tired headache crept into my forehead and behind my eyes. I caught the first bus home and flopped in bed for 30 minutes. I hit snooze on the cell phone twice and enjoyed laying there with my GF when she got home. I soooo just wanted to stay in bed and skip the workout, but my sister called and was on her way and would be bringing my Nalgene, made with the finest bisphenol A, that I had left in her car the night before. The thought of a warm, comfy bed versus warm water in an old, scratched up polycarbonate bottle was a tough decision to make.

So I rolled out of bed and got ready to go.

After chatting with my sister and the trainer for a bit, I knew it would be an interesting workout when he asked how my weekend was and I had to look off into the distance to conjure up memories of what exactly I did. It was a daze, as a new week and new set of workouts started. I wasn't sure how things would go or what really to expect. My mind was still in bed.

I had seen the workouts for this week and am excited to be on the erg for the first two days. Sunday is a different story, and I will get to it then. Monday’s workout was the same as the 080802 workout on the main Crossfit site.

1000m erg
21 thrusters (Oly bar)
15 pull-ups (one foot on a plyo box)

750m erg
18 thrusters
12 pull-ups

500 erg
15 thrusters
9 pull-ups

I was, again, happy with my erg times. I went out faster than I should've for the 1k, but held a good SPM rating and had a good overall time. My technique was better, but if I were in a shell, I'd be majorly rushing the slide. Form-wise for the thrusters, I felt really good. I was able to keep a nice, narrow stance, and easily go down - butt to ball - while staying back on my heels. My explosion up was a little slow, but sped up with each rep as I really stressed getting my 'head through the window' and fully extending my arms. I probably could've put some weight on the bar, but this was a good workout to keep my form in check. I don't want to go too heavy too soon and have my shoulders blow up. Pull-ups were just.. eh. I don't know where I'm going with these. One of these days I'll be able to do a pull-up; I've just stopped counting the days. It'll probably happen when I stop caring about them. Sure, a bit of a bad attitude, but I call it acceptance.

I'm already looking forward to this weekend and am sure it will be memorable. I have at least a 20 mile run out in George Washington Nat Forest that I'd like to do in prep for The Ring in a few weeks, as well as a killer Crossfit workout that might take the entire afternoon.

I should be able to remember this upcoming weekend after you peel me up off the floor.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Weekend workouts in review

I always have a lot going on, but wanted to make sure I got a few workouts in before doing a lot of cleaning:

Saturday – run
Sunday – bike
Sunday – Crossfit

Saturday, I headed out to Fountainhead later than expected, but was able to get on the trail after a huge downpour. It rained the entire time, but felt great. I ran out to the 6 mile marker at Bull Run Marina (1:15) and back (1:20) for a total trail time of 2:36. I was hoping to get closer to an even or negative split, but I was happy with it and how I felt. I was also trying to focus more on Pose running instead of my usual 'one foot in front of the other' method. My right knee was a little sore post run, but it could be from thinking more about my technique and form on the hills and flats.

Sunday's ride was epic in the fact that it was the shortest long ride I have probably ever done since Ironman Lake Place last year. It was a total of 15 miles of flatness around West Potomac Park. I can't even remember the last time 15 miles was considered long. Heck, only recently was 12 miles considered my commute! I feel like I've completely fallen off the cycling bandwagon and am starting from scratch. I've really let myself go and have neither strength nor endurance on the bike. It's really, really sad and I can only hope to get better. You have to start somewhere, right?

Speaking of starting somewhere, I feel like I've been making some good strides at Crossfit. Sunday's workout looked like this:

For time:
1000k erg
20 kettlebell swings
800k erg
30 KB swings
600k erg
40 KB swings
400k erg
50 KB swings

My time was 18:33. Please note, though, that I was only using a 20lb KB. On movements such as swings, sumo dead lift high pull, and.. others I can't think of, I might move up a size, but for anything such as military or push press I will stick with the 20lb bell. For the erg pieces, I was able to hold a rating between 1:55-2:03 and a SPM (strokes per minute) of 27-33. My form somewhat went out the window since I was so enamored with getting a fast time. I was thinking legs-back-arms, arms-back-legs, but I could've had more of a layback, used less arms, and not rushed the slide so much. I've seen videos of other CF affiliates and the peoples form on the erg is atrocious! Maybe I need to read up on CF defined technique, but I'm going to stick with the technique that I learned in a shell since it will carry over when I return to rowing.. whenever that may be.

With rugby starting up, my schedule will be changing as well to accommodate/over extend myself. Workouts will need to be moved around and time managed better than it is now. My ride was a bit disappointing, but it can only get better. I would like to start swimming again, so I'm hoping this weekend was a good sign of things to come.

Friday, August 01, 2008

"With this Ring I.." ..I will run!

The Ring

"For the uninitiated, The Ring is a circuit of the entire 71-mile orange-blazed Massanutten Trail in the George Washington National Forest, on the ridgelines of the eastern and western ranges of the Massanutten Mountains around the Fort Valley, roughly between Front Royal and Luray. The "trail" is hard, rocky, and slow. Sections of the trail have been around in some cases for centuries, but the entire, uninterrupted, 71-mile Massanutten Trail was not completed until 2002."

For one who set her limit during a 50k last weekend, ponying up to a 71-mile run in 5 weeks seems unheard of, but that's really not out of my relm. I've done stupider things. This is my train of thought.. "it's not 100".. "it's only 70 or so".. "what could go wrong?".

The last one is my favorite as well as the deadliest. Plenty could go wrong between now and then since I'm getting more involved with Crossfit training and rugby practice will be starting in a couple weeks. I don't have a strong aerobic base, I haven't been running much..

(*knock, knock.. 'who's there?'.. *yeah, it's me, your ITB. I've got a shot plantar fascia with me as well as a weak psoas. Can we come in?")

I'm still on the fence about rowing in the fall since this is already a lot on my plate, but I'm not one to shy from overextending myself from time to time.

It's like standing in front of a buffett with a saucer in hand - just pile it on high.

I'm heading out to Fountainhead or Bull Run Marina this weekend to run part of the Occoquan Trail - the BRR and/or WHM courses. I haven't decided my route or how much. I'd like to get a half-marathon worth of miles in and figure I'll get lost on my way out to the White Loop or Do Loop, so it might be closer to 20 miles. It never fails.

As much as I joke, yes, I might not be ready to cover the distance and am well aware of it. My sights are set on MMT 2009. A bit of me (about 25 miles worth) feels like a failure for dropping out, but I'm trying to be more of an optimist. I look forward to the challage. I look forward to covering sections of the MMT trail that I haven't explored and other sections in the opposite direction. I also hope to finish so I can attempt the Reverse Ring in February to use as a training run for MMT. In February, I passed the Reverse Ringers that were running the trail counter clockwise while I started my run from Woodstock to Elizabeth's Furnace. I was excited to be doing my 20 and could only imagine what it was like to be doing that run. I want to be one of those people in February, but (if I remember/read correctly) you have to complete The Ring before you can attempt The Reverse Ring, thus joining The Fellowship, which includes 54 members since starting in 2002.

I might not have Aragorn or Sam to help guide me along, but I will go as far as my Hobbit feet will take me.