Welcome!Hey there! I'm Holly. A 40+ year old Wife to Garrett, Mom to Holden and a million other things in between. This is the place where I share about our lives, what we are currently loving, books I'm reading, plus-size style, beauty recommendations, health + fitness endeavors and anything else I'm finding interesting at the moment. Thanks for stopping by!
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Category Archives: Running
I am the first to admit I enjoy a good playlist packed full of rap! I mean you already know I’m practically 2Pac’s biggest fan. Something about the words and the beats of a rap heavy mix keep my feet pounding the pavement in a very unique way.
But other times I just want to get out and clear my head underneath the big ol’ bright blue sky and something about seeing where the wind will take me calls for a different type of soundtrack. The bulk of this playlist is what I listened to for all three of my legs when I ran The Relay. At first I was disappointed when I realized that I all my run mixes lacked rap. But I will tell you that the bulk of the reason I survived that words and vibes of some of these songs.
Obviously I had to share.
Playlist can be found on Spotify here.
When I started CrossFit 3 years ago I did it mostly because I was bored. Bored, you ask? Yep. Bored with my fitness routine. Bored at my job. Bored (ok and maybe a little fed up) with being out of shape and overweight despite all the work that I put into changing that. I was in a rut, and I was open to try something different.
Almost immediately just the act of getting into that gym inspired me. For a long time it also scared me, but in a good way, you know? The intensity of the work outs lit a fire in my life that burned WAAAAAY more than my quads after a Body Pump class at Ye Olde 24 Hour Fitness and seeing the changes (big and small) in my body as well as my mind kept me motivated.
As my skills grew sharper, my commitment grew more intense. The best part of this whole thing was that my happiness and accomplishments inside the gym started to run over into my outside life. It was as if the Universe opened up the flood gates of success! I was trying new things that I never had the confidence to try before: I ran my first half marathon, I participated in a spur of the moment 10 miler, I spent a weekend running 20 miles while living out of a van with 7 other people. These were things that I never would have written in the Things I Am Capable Of column prior to Crossfit. And here they were written in indelible ink. Accomplishments that no one could take away from me.
Also notable: somewhere amidst all of that I shed 100 lbs. I say that as an afterthought because honestly, sometimes it felt like it was. I had spent 30 years WORKING HARD (and I mean reeeeeeeeeeally working) at losing weight. And now all of a sudden I tweaked my diet just a bit and showed up at this gym to hang out with cool people who were a great time and did workouts that were fun, where people would cheer me on and encourage me — and with seemingly little effort (aside from showing up and trying hard of course) those hundred pounds dropped off me like a bad habit in the first year and a half.
A year ago when my weight loss hit a bit of a stand still, I was concerned. But I certainly wasn’t obsessed because there were weights to life and races to run and experiences to be had and friends to hang out with and dogs to adopt and let’s be honest: life is about a million other things besides what your scale says — FULL STOP. I believe wholeheartedly in the idea that this website is built on: health is where good food and a good life intersect. And I knew if I pursued a good life, the health results would come. I continued to do what I had been doing, live my life, and of course pursue other avenues of achievement because, well…that’s who I am. I make no apologies that I am a person who sets goals and makes lists and charts paths and checks in and measures progress. I like to tinker with actions/results. While it is sometimes a frustrating process, I am open to change.
In November of last year, while all of that was going on, I had a professional opportunity fall into my lap. It was not something that was part of my long term plan, honestly, and at first I was a little gun shy about it. (I thought about the psychology of that reaction this weekend while reading Lean In, by the way and WOW could that be a whole post in itself.) It took a lot of thinking for me to take the plunge with this job and there were MANY speed bumps. It took quite a few conversations, personal and professional and in the end it took one part convincing and another part stars aligning and as you all know, in February I was in the new role. It was another bullet point that I would not have necessarily written on that list of Things I Am Capable Of but one I was open to. Let’s see where this goes, eh?
I was quickly reminded that growth always has a cost associated with it, right? We see this in our everyday training. The only way to gain muscle is to breakdown the tissue you already have and let it repair itself into something better and stronger, and obviously more capable. This experience was no different. All of the November to February hand-wringing and hemming and hawing and ultimately diving in wholeheartedly felt just like that muscle breakdown and repair cycle. It felt like I was sprinted my heart out and when I got to the finish line, I did so gasping for breath.
When I reached that finish line, I realized that this sprint had only led me to a the starting line of a marathon and that marathon has been something I have been telling the story of for the last six months. Just like an actual race, it has been very, very rewarding at times. The challenge has been mostly enlightening, and of course the monetary benefits are actively helping Garrett and I move towards some of the bigger picture line items on our Life To Do List (You know, Weddings, Babies, Homes, Cars — all of that stuff that AIN’T FREE. :)) But in almost equal measure, it has introduced plenty of moments where I have had to talk myself through doubt just to take one more step. And then another. I have wondered how many more steps so many times. Finding my rhythm has been a constant, and at times downright difficult, task. It has taken its mental toll.
What I didn’t really anticipate — though it seems so obvious to me now in hindsight — is that it has also taken a physical toll. The intensity of my Real Life has amped up a whole helluva lot and especially between the hours of 9 and 5. When I get to my 6pm workouts these days, my mind and body have so much less to give than they did just a couple short years ago. The past 6 months for me have felt like a cascade of poor sleep (I’m back to wearing my super sexy night guard to keep me from grinding my teeth. HAWT!), weight gain (in particular, an increase in body fat all around my mid secion. HAWT!), muscle tension, and less than ideal digestion. (Please, never EVER eat dried cherries after eating brussels sprouts. That is a gift from me to you.) For some time I have been a walking, talking poster child for stress, sugar cravings, and hormonal imbalance.
I have been as proactive as possible about prioritizing sleep when I can, eating fairly cleanly, trying hard but failing miserably at my burgeoning meditation practice, and supporting myself physically with some very specific supplementation. But for the longest time I have completely avoided examining my exercise routine. I’m sure you read the same things that I read and listen to the same podcasts — whether I love doing it or not, it is a fact that high intensity exercise (just like most exercise, actually) causes a cortisol response. And all of that is generally fine until YOUR LIFE starts causing a cortisol response. And I have buried my head to that over the last few months.
But I think it’s an important thing to explore, and more importantly I think it is worth discussing in the context of a blog like this. You have been with me through a lot of my successes over the past few years, and I want to be just as open with you about my opportunities. I have begun the process of actively reevaluating where I need to go with MY fitness. I’m thinking about what my goals are in my life long term (uh…don’t die, lose some body fat, protect fertility, etc) but also what my goals are right now (calm the fuck down and stop being a cortisol factory.) And somewhere between those two things I’m trying to find a fitness routine that will help me strike that balance. I never EVER want to give up CrossFit — sorry, I’m not sorry — it is my first love. But I think my goal of showing up no matter what the workout is and going 100% effort may need some adjusting.
I came across this old Chris Kresser article the other day called Why You May Need To Exercise Less and it really helped me put things into perspective. Maybe I can figure out something specific for ME, at THIS time in MY life. I am still going to keep my CrossFit workouts around at least three times per week (though I plan to be judicious with my metcons) but I am also going incorporate some yoga, some long walks, and a little bit more “Working In” into my Work Out Schedule. I am a little nervous about the change, and to be honest I have no idea where this path is going to take me. But I am hoping as long as I am open, I’ll find my way.
Oof! That middle of the night leg was a beast, wasn’t it?
When we left off I was just about ready to crack! Eventually though, I made my way into the back seat, curled up into one of the comfy captain’s chairs, grabbed my pillow and was able to grab a little shut eye — at least 30 minutes worth — and man, was that a game changer! I say that without an ounce of hyperbole. The biggest challenge of this event, in my humble opinion is the lack of sleep. Part of that was maybe a little bit of poor planning on our parts (it was all of our first times though, so how could we have known?) but also, this is sort of the point. They don’t call these things endurance events for nothing — there will come a point where you (and your body) are expected to feel challenged to endure, ya know?
Anyway, the other game changer? Our next exchange INVOLVED A PLACE WHERE THERE WERE SHOWERS! AND A GYM FOR SLEEPING!
We didn’t have time for both, and honestly if I had to go back and choose – as gross as it sounds – I would choose to sleep and not shower (hindsight being 20/20 and all that) but right there on the campus of Canada College I took the most epic shower of my life! It felt amazing to finally de-gross-ify, sit under the hot water, and to put on my comfy clothes again. I washed my hair twice, just so I wouldn’t have to get out of the shower. And these were like low budget, glad I was wearing flip flops kind of showers but man they felt GREAT! We all waddled back to the car — quad and hip soreness was definitely setting in — (and at that point I was SUPER happy I had packed a pair of compression sleeves for my calves) and then we headed off to breakfast.
We dined at a place called to Alana’s Cafe which was much more memorable than our last meal out. It’s an old restored Victorian, very quaint and cute, and the breakfast menu looked delish! I got a huge plate of potatoes, sausage and eggs (ok, ok and rye toast. I’m a sucker for rye toast!) and began to chow down. Here’s the weird thing about events like this though: when you are going for so long and not sleeping and then running and drinking electrolyte stuff you wouldn’t normally drink or chugging Gu or whatever — your whole body just feels so out of whack. The fueling part was very hard to manage. What ended up happening for me was that I was so hungry when I sat down and so excited to eat, but I took like two bites and felt a little bit sick to my stomach. Not so ideal. The toast was the easiest stuff to get down, but ultimately all that gluten didn’t make me feel great either. It was a bit of a lose/lose. But I forced myself to just keep eating (and I’m glad I did) because I knew that was going to be my last “real meal” before I had to run again.
Right as we placed our orders our other van texted to say their 3rd runner was already on course. Uh oh. That meant we were going to eat quickly just to get to the next exchange on time. Garrett got ready in the car and , once again, got the hand off from Gina. Gina was doing one of the hardest and ugliest legs on the course that was basically 3 miles straight up hill in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was rough but she came up the hill smiling as usual. I think Garrett was still digesting his breakfast.
But just like every other leg, he just put one foot in front of the other and killed it. His last leg was 6.2 miles that was all down hill. “Hey babe, it’ll just a quick 10K,” I said. And he looked at me and said “You better have a better birthday present coming for me.” Oh yeah, didn’t I tell you? This was Garrett’s birthday weekend and I thought this event would be a fun way to say “Hey! You’re 32! Woo hoo!” Next year I will plan a couple’s massage or something. Haha
At that point we were in the Santa Cruz mountains so despite it being warm we were running through a lot of shade, which was nice. Garrett’s downhill leg was a challenge on tired leg/knees but he rolled into the runner exchange like a bat outta hell and passed off to Grace. We celebrated for a minute that, for him, this race was DONE!
Grace started her leg and about a mile into it she rolled her ankle on a tree branch. No bueno! But she powered through her leg like a champ and then it was my turn to get started. I have to be honest, even though I was *mentally* in a much better place than I had been the night prior, this run worried me a little because of its physical considerations. At 6.7 miles it was my longest leg and while it was mostly flat and downhill there were a few places with elevation change. The only thing that kept me going was that my last leg ended at a liquor store. 🙂 (What’s up Ben Lomond Liquors!)
CrossFit Estes Park — I owe you one for that shirt! It’s gotten me through a lot of shit-tastic workouts/runs!
So I hopped to it and just told myself “It’s won’t be more than 90 minutes! You can do anything for 90 minutes and then YOU ARE DONE!” And really, that’s the truth of all of this stuff. It’s so much a test of mental endurance. If you can get your mind right — in fitness, and in life — it can really change everything. The whole weekend was one giant exercise in how the mind affects the body and while I definitely could have physically trained more (and therefore run faster) the mental training that I get day in and day out at my CrossFit box could not have been better for this event. Struggling through wods and having lots of practice at digging deep to find that place in you that just has no quit — that was what helped me be successful this weekend. And I felt really, really grateful for that on my final leg! (Also grateful for my awesome 90 minute playlist! It was such a nice soundtrack for running through the mountains.) I had a friend tell me that the running was the easy part of this relay, and while I didn’t believe her then – it is absolutely the truth!
I passed off at that last runner exchange at about 4pm and it was honestly the best feeling of the whole weekend! Just knowing that I had been doing this relay for 49 hours at that point, that I had made it (with no knee trouble – WOOT!) through 18 miles — well, that was an amazing feeling. We also coincidentally ran into our friend Matt (hi Matt!) at the runner exchange for my leg (he had a team participating as well) so that was fun to see. We got to swap stories for a second and then it was on to the next, because we had 3 runners left to go until we could finally sit in a hot tub with some cocktails.
The last legs were pretty rough for our runners – my friend Megan hurt her knee and Kalie’s race leg was probably not the most memorable run she ever had despite getting to cross the finish line — but in the end, we just celebrated BEING DONE! And that was priceless!
We met up with our other van on the beach at the finish line (which by the way — WHO FINISHES A RUNNING RACE ON THE BEACH? Sand in your sneakers is ANNOYING and not what you want to deal with after being awake for two days, let me tell you!) There were some tears, some high fives, some sighs of relief and also LOTS of blankets Did I mention it was freezing? The weather that whole weekend was so extreme!
It felt great to be done and it was time to head out to our awesome beach front hotel and toast the night away with some sangria and some hot tubbing for our sore muscles. Ok, ok and some pizza! Which despite being a total gluten bomb, was RIDICULOUSLY GOOD.
So, after all of this recap I’m sure you are wondering whether I would do this again, right? Had you asked me the night it ended I would have said HEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLL TO THA NO! And honestly, I’m still firmly in the “Probably Not” and “Once and Done” camp. However, the major challenges I had this time around mostly dealt with the fact that I was inexperienced – so the food/fueling and sleeping issues were INCREDIBLY hard to deal with – and also some last minute course changes by the relay organizers that made things harder to navigate for our van. So — maybe next time could be better? Or maybe running a more organized type relay like the Ragnar series would be better? I don’t really know.
I will tell you this: the experience was memorable. And in the end (now that it is over, ha!) I am glad I did it. But it was also incredibly stressful, and since I was ALREADY dealing with some incredibly stressful stuff in my real life, doing an extra curricular event specifically designed to Add Stress was probably not the best idea. But we committed in December and how could I have known all the changes that would happen during that time — I couldn’t. So in the end it just kind of is what it is. I love the idea of a team relay, but logistically I think I could have been more prepared. I love the idea of an endurance event, but practically speaking maybe I don’t need to be ENDURING for 2 days you know? I like running quite a bit, but whenever I have a running event looming on the horizon preparing for it undoubtedly takes me away from CrossFit, which is my first love — and I hate that. So the jury is still out if I would do it again.
But if you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I NEVER SAY NEVER. 🙂
(My mom just dropped dead reading that I’m sure. Hi, Mom! Sorry I do crazy stuff that you have to stress about. LOVE YOU!)
Any specific questions about this type of thing I can answer in an upcoming post that would be helpful? Let me know. Otherwise I think I’m ready to put this whole experience to bed. Oh man…beds! I have such a great appreciation for my bed after doing that relay. I LOVE YOU BED!!! 🙂
Let’s see, where were we…ah yes, I had just run my first leg in 90 degree heat, was convinced I was dying of heat stroke and had passed the torch to our next runner Ryan who had arguably one of the hardest legs of the race. Of course he nailed it, so I decided I should probably keep quiet about how hard my silly 4.4 mile flat run was — but you guys I really wanted to whine OMG THAT WAS HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARD. Luckily though, like I said, I had worn a tank top. I was glad I wasn’t running in this whacky lizard get up. This is our teammate Grace with some guy running in a unitard. With a mask. I mean, I thought we were crazy for running in this race in this heat, but we weren’t THE CRAZIEST people on the trail by any means!
So our runners 10, 11 and 12 headed out to do their runs (ROCKSTARS, by the way — they had some challenging legs with respect to both distance and terrain — not to mention heat — HAVE I MENTIONED THE HEAT YET?) and then it was time to meet up with our other Van at the next Van exchange. The exchange was at the Marin Cheese Factory, which is ironically a really relaxing place that Garrett and I love to go to when we are in the mood for a day trip.
It’s beautiful, charming and fun, and by the time we got there I don’t think any of us felt beautiful, charming OR fun. 🙂 But we cheered our team on — Carolann (Runner 1) was back out on the course and then it was time to head to our next van exchange. We had about 5-6 hours until we had to run again so we figured we’d get some food, head over to the next van exchange at the Golden Gate bridge and then get some sleep. Things only SORT OF went as planned.
First we drove closer to SF. Our exchange was at the bridge so we figured we’d just find a place to eat that was local. Despite all of us with our fancy, scmhmancy iPhones and apps we couldn’t really find a suitable location. Also — 7 peoples opinions, cravings and nutritional preferences to contend with — so, you know how that goes. We finally found a random restaurant that seemed normal — I can’t even tell you what city we were in because, also? We were all sleepwalking at this point. It was about 7:30 and we had been up for 15 hours and running in the heat with no showers, so um…geography? Not really at the forefront of our minds — but the line was really long. Our time was limited, so we just headed to some other place a few doors down and grabbed a table. I probably have a receipt somewhere that would tell you the restaurant, but rest assured it was not worth remembering. We shared a table with a family that had a rambunctious child, we were right by the bathroom, and all of us were comlete zombies. BUT THE BREAD WAS GLUTEN FREE! (I’m reaching for silver lingings here.) At this point we were so tired that we had to apologize to our waitress for how low energy and anti-social we were. We explained what we were in the middle of doing and she was like “Ah, makes sense. Hey, you don’t smell like runners!” so, you know, that was nice. 🙂
We finally got back on the road and drove down to the bridge where we were supposed to have all sorts of time for sleeping, right? But a few hours had already gone by when we were traveling and eating and then traveling again, so by the time we got to our destination there was only about 2.5 hours until it was time to run again. We tried to get some shut eye, but the attempt was pretty laughable. There were CRAZY (like 40 mile an hour winds) up at the bridge so our van was a rocking (and we sure as shit didn’t want ANYONE to come a knockin!) and the van was FULL. Person in the driver seat. The passenger seat. Both captains chairs in the back seat. And then there were 3 of us in the back bench seat. Garrett on my left. Ryan on my right. AND ME RIDING BITCH! Have you ever tried to get a few hours of sleep while squeezed on a bench seat between 2 other people? I DO NOT RECOMMEND. Look, I can’t even relive those few hours of exhaustion without having some serious PTSD but I will just say this…VERY LITTLE SLEEP. And then it was time for Garrett to get ready to run, because, again, he was the first runner out of our van.
The thing about night runs are that they require a whole mess of different gear — headlamps, reflective vests, flashing butt lights — the works! It was our first time running in all that stuff so we were a little nervous. Garrett again took the hand off from Gina (who had just run over the Golden Gate Bridge in the middle of the night: fun!) and he was off to go 6 miles through the streets of San Francisco, and we would meet him at the next runner exchange. (PS, thanks for the photos Gina!)
Except uh, we didn’t…because we got lost. Call it sleep deprivation or crazy SF streets, but in the time it took for Garrett to go 6 miles on foot, we could not DRIVE to the next location. Things were about to go DOWNHILL. So we were late to pick up Garrett, which meant he had to stand around and wait for Grace to do the pass-off. When we finally showed up, Grace started running and I immediately became nervous about running my night leg because I was next. This was my “hardest” leg as far as difficulty rating, plus it was 6.5 miles, plus I was going to be alone, running in a town I had never been in, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. So um, anxiety. Which meant we high-tailed to the next exchange so I could hit up the porta-potties. Sorry, real talk. I was FREAKING NERVOUS. And right about when I instagrammed this lovely, and oh-so-well-lit porta potty (2:30 am, btw if you are keeping track) a man walked out and said “Sorry. No more toilet paper.”
And then I contemplated murder and suicide, both right in the same moment.
Luckily we had brough TP in our van (BRING TP FOR YOUR VANS, PEOPLE. IT WILL BE NECESSARY.) but right as I went to grab it the van heard from Grace, who was on course, but whose head lamp had just run out of batteries. The van had to leave to go give Grace replacement batteries so I had to grab TP and ALL OF MY FREAKING RUNNING GEAR at once. It was trial by fire and all I can say is I’m glad Garrett was there with a level head because my mind was otherwise occupied with thoughts of “Hey Holly, don’t shit your pants. Mmmmkay?” It was a low point, you all. A really really low point.
But hey — then it was time to go run 6.5 miles. Just like that. It was so freezing out there that I couldn’t even stand at the exchange without Kalie’s super awesome leopard snuggie (Also add to your packing list: LEOPARD SNUGGIES) but then it was my turn, so I let the snuggie go, put one foot in front of other and ran my tail off! And you guys, NO JOKE! It may have been the best singular run of my whole entire life. For about 4.5 miles. It was cool, it was peaceful, and I felt alone but since a runner would pass me every once in a while I knew I wasn’t like ALONE ALONE, you know? I was listening to the best playlist ever (which I will TOTALLY publish shortly) and I was getting in my groove. Then, during the last 2 miles everything sort of got wonky. All of a sudden those crazy gusts of wind that we were feeling at the Golden Gate came back with a vengeance and I felt like I was running into a wind machine — only at the moment I looked much less supermodel and much more Chris Farley yelling “Luuuuuuuuke. I AM YOUR FAAAAAAAAATHER.” One minute I was running a 12 minute mile and the next minute (with no change in effort or “speed”) I looked down at my Garmin and I was running a 16 minute mile. CRAZY headwinds. Mentally, it was brutal. But I huffed and puffed my way to what I thought was the runner exchanged and went to do my hand off…
…but my team wasn’t there. It was a really crowded exchange and I was looking all over for my team but I couldn’t find them anywhere and I was so tired and disoriented that I finally looked at one of the volunteers and said “Am I in the right place” and she looked at me and said “Up the road and to the left.” Ah, ok. This wasn’t the runner exchange. That made sense as to why my team wasn’t there. So I started running again and got half a mile down the road and the course started to turn and I thougt back to the map of my course and my leg of the race HAD NO TURNS. All of a sudden all of these speedy, fresh legged runners were passing and just flying by me. It was then that I realized that the volunteer had given me directions for the START of the following leg. The one my teammate was supposed to be doing when I handed our stuff off to him. SO I HAD TO RUN BACK. And you guys, I just started crying. I don’t know why…tired/disoriented/realizing that I had to run an extra mile, that my team was obviously lost again, that my water bottle was empty, that I just wanted a hot fucking shower and a bed, and that I still had one more leg to run in 12 hours — all of it just got to me in that moment and I really almost lost it. HELLO, BASKET CASE.
The conclusion of this whole saga the next time we chat. I have to go sit in a corner and rock back and forth just from reliving this night to tell the story. haha 🙂
Well after all of the fretting about my knee, half-assed training and having anxiety about WHAT THE HELL I GOT MYSELF INTO — last weekend Garrett and I completed The Relay — and I will tell you what, I feel like I barely lived to tell about it! After 44 hours of no sleep, 18.5 miles of running, poor fueling, dehydration and general suckitude, it took me almost a week to recover. If I had advice for anyone doing something like this in the future it would be: give yourself a few days off when it’s over! I took 3 days off of work and was MIA on the blog and that was almost not enough. But anyway, enough with the complaining — let me breakdown this crazy weekend for you.
First – a quick recap: The Relay is 36 leg relay style run completed over 2 days by teams of 12. Each person runs 3 legs and the total distance covered is just under 200 miles. This particular relay was from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. It promised to be very scenic and have pretty mild, coastal weather. Garrett + I teamed up with 10 other people from our gym and spent about 5 months getting ready to run. On Saturday, our 7am start time up in Calistoga called for a super early wakeup call.
We had spent the prior evening packing all of our food, gear and clothing into the most compact bags possible. The deal with the relay is that your team is split up into 2 vans which carry 6 runners each plus a driver. With 7 people in a van you have to be fairly organized with your space as there is very little of it. You are crammed in there with all of your stuff and as the weekend wears on it just gets messier and messier as the runners get nuttier and nuttier. Let’s be honest though, we started out pretty nutty to begin with 🙂
I consulted a number of different relay type packing lists online to make sure I had everything that I could possibly need and I still ended up needing stuff I didn’t have. This is clearly something that gets better the more experienced you get, and well I was mostly prepared – no list will have all the answers.
So we left Sacramento at about 4:30 am and drove up to meet our team at the start line in Calistoga. It was incredibly beautiful, but also very, VERY warm already. Not super promising when it’s 6:30 in the morning and your run isn’t until 3 in the afternoon, but at this point we were super excited and pumped full of adrenaline so we didn’t waste too much time thinking about it.
I sent this picture to my mom and she said “How fun! It looks like all of you are camping but with less beer.” Which is sort of an accurate description of how the entire weekend felt — camping, but with less beer and a shit-ton more running. Maybe I will just organize a camping trip? 🙂
Our first runner to take off was Carolann, and you could hardly tell she was nervous! There was a little bit of pomp and circumstance at the start line and then the runner’s were off. It was so crazy to think that from moment on, someone from our team would be physically running for the next 36 hours. NUTS!
How it works is each team has 2 vans with 6 runners each. Runners 1-6 are in Van 1 and they each run their first leg (4-8 mile increments) and then pass the baton to the next runner. The van drops off each runner and picks up the runner that has just completed leg while all the other runners hang out inside the van. Often times, with longer legs, the van will stop half way through the course to check on their runner, cheer them on, or give them extra water if it is especially hot (FORESHADOWNING!) Hopefully that makes sense so far.
Then every 6 legs there is a “van exchange” and the second van will get on course with their 6 runners, and the first van can take a little break while Van 2’s runners complete their 6 legs. And this continues on and on until 36 legs have been run. Garrett + I were in Van 2 so after we saw Carolann off, our van had to stay off the course until it was time for Runner 7 to get on the course. Since we had a few hours to kill, we got to decorating our van.
We also added some check boxes so we could track our progress through the run. It felt good to be able to add a checkmark next to your name throughout the process.
After the van was nice and festive, we headed off to get some breakfast at the Napa General Store. I let my hair down a bit and ordered a breakfast sandwich with potatoes. It was amazing, but in my effort to be a little more free with my carbohydrate intake since I was going to be running, I ate a lot more gluten than usual throughout the weekend and it really didn’t do me any favors.
We finished up and decided just to head over the van exchange and wait for our runners. We had a couple hours to kill and in hindsight, we should have laid down some blankets and taken a nap. But instead we just kind of goofed off and hung out. Good for bonding. Not so good for long term energy conservation. 🙂
Finally at around 1pm, we got word from Van 1 that they were approaching our exchange so we had to get our first runner ready. Garrett was Runner 7, so he got pumped and prepped to take on his first leg. He was super nervous since he was the first runner out, and when Van 1 showed up they were very up front about HOW HOT IT WAS! All of there runners had needed water halfway through their legs so they suggested we stop and meet Garrett in the middle. Garrett got ready and the runner exchange, and shortly thereafter Gina came around the corner ready to pass off.
Garrett’s first leg 4.4 miles with a hill in the middle. He ran it like a boss and passed off to Grace, our Runner number 8.
I was Runner number 9, so it was time for me to get ready and I was NERVOUS! It was 89 degrees out so when it came to for me to take my picture (a tradition we did before and after each leg) all I could think to write was this:
I was speaking from the heart. 🙂 My first leg was 4.4 miles and very flat, but the heat was like nothing I’d ever run in. At first I hadn’t even packed a tank top because I’ve been feeling bad about my bingo arms lately, but I’m so glad I did and at 3pm that afternoon I could give a shit about vanity. I donned that tank top gladly and headed out for my first run.
I don’t know what to tell you about that first run except that the heat made me want to die right there on that flat, wine-country road. General running advice tells you to dress for 20 degrees hotter than the temperature that you are running in but let me tell you — there is no way to dress comfortably for 109 degrees, AMIRIGHT? I was instantly super hot/sweaty and the whole run was kind of a drag. I was most looking forward to that leg and I wanted it to set the tone for the weekend and it did not go at all how I planned. That said, I was happy to check it off when I finished!
I was done around 4pm on Saturday and after being up and going for 12 hours, and having only 1/3 of my runs completed, I was starting to freak out about what I had signed up for. There was a long way to go and I wasn’t sure if I was mentally (or physically) prepared for what it would require.
Next time I’ll tell you how the afternoon/evening went and my middle of the night run. EEP!
You guys, I decided yesterday that I have a serious attitude problem when it comes to athletic endeavors. I need one of those awesome 90s motivational posters with a ski slope or Mt. Everest on it to tell me about how life is a very large percentage about attitude. About 3 miles into this race I looked over at my friend Lesley and said something to the effect of “This is why I’m crazy. I dragged my ass out of bed on a Sunday morning when I could be doing many other things, and here I am in the middle of running 10 miles, and instead of telling myself how awesome I am, I’m thinking of all the ways I could have done better — I could have trained more, I could have fueled better, I could have been more organized my stuff better. So no matter how much I do today, I have already decided (3 MILES IN) that I am NOT doing my best.”
I mean, you can imagine that the next 7 miles were loooooong, right?
But let me start back at the beginning. I had signed up for this race about a month ago after my friend Lesley and I had exchanged some fun emails about running. She had run The Relay before, she was making a bunch of running goals for herself this year so we had decided to do some an event together this year and since she is an awesome bad-ass and running coach, she would pace me. She mentioned this race in an email and impulsively, I signed up. I knew it would feel tough but I also knew that 2 weeks before The Relay I should be able to run 10 miles…uh, otherwise I was probably going to be in some trouble. 🙂
The race started early, and it was in a beautiful area downtown, so despite being nervous I just kept telling myself what I always tell myself about running — that:
a) You are lucky that you even have the physical capability to be able to do it at all (OBVIOUSLY after the events of this crazy week, I felt that even more strongly) and
b) You always get to see things on foot that you never get to see just driving around…so be grateful!
So the race started and I instantly had The Panic. The fact was I was undertrained (I haven’t run in almost 3 weeks, nor have I even worked out in almost a week) and instead of hydrating and eating well on Saturday in preparation, I drank wine and ate Mexican Food. BRILLIANT. 1 mile in and my legs were not feeling fresh and I wasn’t feeling super peppy.
The second and third miles were fine. Nothing felt great, but at least I didn’t have “I’M GOING TO DIE OUT HERE ON A RUNNING TRAIL” on loop in my mind. By Mile 4 I was basically ready to stop. The only upside to this, I thought, was that during The Relay I actually *do* get to stop at Mile 4. I’m going to remind myself of this moment when I am running in Sonoma! So I was starting to feel a little defeated, but Lesley just kept telling me to soldier on, so I did. Running is one of the few times in my life where I just want to be bossed around. 🙂
We finally got to cross the Tower Bridge which was a pretty little bonus, but at this point I was still feeling TIRED AS HELL. Also, I had a super immediate and ravenous hunger that was almost making me nauseated. I’m guessing my pre-fuel strategy of “eat one meal on a Saturday and have it be Mexican food” was maybe not ideal. But we were busy on Saturday, and that is what happened — and hey — LESSON LEARNED FOR THE RELAY! Luckily I had an old Peanut Butter Gu with my water bottle so I chugged that down. (FOUL!)
We made it to Mile 5 which is where we saw my friend Grace who is part of my Relay Team and that was AWESOME! I was tired and feeling defeated and sometimes all it takes to turn that round is someone hollering your name and waving. This was also the point where I realized that I had forgotten to Body Glide my boobs. What? TMI? I mean, listen — this is real running talk, my friends and BOOBS NEED BODY GLIDE. Ah well, I managed to get all the other good spots, so don’t worry!
We kept going through a random neighborhood in West Sacramento and at this point I started doing some running and some walking. Anytime there was an incline, I walked. Anytime I wanted to die, I walked. 🙂 My mental fortitude was kind of shot by mile 6, and I was most disappointed by that, but hey — it is what it is. Here’s the thing about mental reserves and stress: when you are using a lot of it during your day job 5 days a week — you don’t have a ton leftover for random weekend 10 milers. Noted.
Mental fortitude running low or not, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and I feel pretty good about that. We finished our last few miles doing some running and some walking and praying the finish line would be soon! (Well maybe the praying was just me. Lesley was mostly just telling me that I could do it, on repeat! She’s a gem!) The last mile was through Old Sacramento which was cute, but also kind of weird terrain to be running on, and my capacity for dealing with weird at mile 9 was sort of low, you know? We came right up on the last quarter of a mile and our two favorite gentlemen were cheering us on, which was VERY cute. Lesley (again, with the gem-ness) had made me a poster and Garrett was doing some crazy town cheering and holding it when we ran by, and seriously you guys: IT MADE ME CRY.
Having the finish line be in sight, knowing that I didn’t die, feeling no knee pain at all (WOO HOOO VICTORY!) and seeing people that I love cheering me on….well, WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! It was just emotional. I also felt like, despite the struggles of the day, getting through that 10 miles made me feel like The Relay is going to be just fine. No matter what I’ll get there. (EVEN IF I HAVE TO DO SOME WALKING!)
Total Time: 2:24:57
It was a slow day, but it was a victory just to finish. The first 5 miles I average about 13:30, but the last 5 miles there was A LOT of walking and having a crappy attitude — so I think I’m going to have to revisit that attitude situation. If you have one of those Mt. Everest posters around, send it my way would ya? HA! Anytime before The Relay would be GREEEEEEEEEEEEEEAT! 🙂
Can we just talk about how calling this recap training for The Relay is getting embarrassing because there is no actual running happening? Yeah. I’m gonna have to reconcile that somehow soon but tonight is not that night.
Do you ever have those days where every single thing you try to do in an effort to be productive ends up foiled? And then, in your failed attempts at productivity, you actually end up creating MORE WORK for yourself? Yes, well that is how today has gone. And how this week has gone actually. And how this training plan is going.
I am not feeling positive about this, if you can’t tell. If you have a pep talk inside of you, I am ALL EARS.
Anyway, here are my workout breakdowns this week:
1 Shoulder Press
3 Push Press
5 Push Jerk
(45, 55, 65, 75, 85 lbs)
AMRAP in 4 minutes:
10 jumping pull-ups
200 m run
Rest 1 minute
AMRAP in 4 minutes:
10 ground release push-ups
250 m row
Rest 1 minute
AMRAP in 4 minutes:
10 toes to bar
Overall Score: 7 rounds
*This was my day to do a double workout and I flaked and took a nap instead. Yep, just being honest.
Spend 10 minutes working on your pistol squats or ps progressions – Hey, guess what? I don’t even need 10 minutes to show you how bad I am at pistols. UGH
800 m run, then
5 Rounds of:
10 hang power cleans (95lbs)
then run 800 m
Time: 16:48. This workout was awful and I loved it.
Rest day if you are testing 13.4 the next day. And apparently this was right where this week went downhill.
I tested 13.4 and I already told you how CRAPTACULAR that went. On top of completely failing to do Toes to Bar AGAIN, I ripped my hands open which royally sucked.
Nancy was on the menu at the gym, which for some strange reason is my FAVORITE workout. My hands were totally screwed up but I decided scale the weight and see if I could do it anyway.
5 Rounds for Time
Run 400 m
15 Overhead Squats (65lbs)
I did the first round at 65lbs and then realized my form was all crappy because I was holding the bar funny with my ripped up hands. I scaled to 45lbs, but mentally my heart just wasn’t in it. My hands hurt, plus it was just me and 3 super speedy dudes doing the workout together which was just enough to make me feel like I was failing at life. (Spoiler Alert: I was not. I was just being melodramatic. But melodramatic at high intensity does not a pleasant workout make.) I finished the workout in 21:45, which is like 2 minutes slower than my old PR (and my old PR is lifting 20 lbs heavier!) so I was basically annoyed.
Saturday and Sunday
We were supposed to be driving to Monterey to see my family and celebrate my cousin Sara’s 30th birthday; however, on Friday my Grandma was checked into the hospital for digestive stuff. I woke up on Saturday feeling stressed, defeated and bummed and also in EXCRUTIATING PAIN from a pinched joint capsule in my neck, which I’m sure was caused by 1 part stress, 1 part exhaustion and 1 part crappy overhead squat form. I’m super lucky that my uncle is a retired chiropractor so he hooked me up with some 911 adjustment, but I was basically immobile most of the day. I woke up this morning feeling slightly better, though still not 100%.
Obviously there was no running or exercising or enjoying life at all really. There was lots of icing, eating ibuprofen and lying supine. Needless to say this, uh, “training week” hasn’t been a high five for the log books. I hope next week has good stuff in store.
HOLLA! Things are getting back to normal! This week I logged 6 workouts (and even a few that had me running) with no knee pain at all. ::::knocks wood:::: I think we are through the worst of it! I also tried something new at the beginning of the week that I think will be helpful moving forward over the next couple of weeks. DOUBLE DAYS! HA…let me tell you about it.
I woke up and worked out at 6am Monday morning, which reminded me how much I LOVE morning workouts! It was as follows:
Overhead Squat: 3-3-3-3-3 (75-85-95-105-115lbs)
3 Rounds for Time
400 m Run
25 KB Swings (35lbs)
50 Air Squats
Finished in 16:47.
Then, because I wanted to start thinking about what it will feel like to run on tired legs (and this was DEFINITELY a leg tiring workout) I went back at 5pm and did the workout again after sitting at my desk all day at work.
It definitely affected my lifting — in the afternoon session I only lifted 65-75-85-95-95 lbs. But I was surprised that during the metcon portion I was only slightly slower….physically. I finished the second one in 17:53, so about an extra minute. But let me tell you, MENTALLY, that shit was rough. So I think it’s going to be a good idea to do that a bit in the coming weeks, just to prepare myself.
Weighted Pull-Ups + Ring Dips (I worked on strict pull ups and dips with the band.) I had another very vivid dream about doing a pull up a few nights before. Unfortunately it didn’t manifest in the gym. 🙂
I was aiming for under 8:47, since that was my previous PR. Unfortunately I got caught up on my double unders during the 40 round which really slowed me down. I finished in 9:47. Super Boo.
Wednesday’s are mandatory rest days at the gym if you are testing the Open WOD on Thursday, so I was happy to oblige.
13.3! I already covered how I performed but let me just underscore again what a GOOD WORKOUT this is!!! It’s only 12 minutes, but man it is a killer! I almost wanted to do it again!
I planned to workout this morning but I woke up and was really tired. Miraculously I wasn’t sore from 13.3, but I was super sleepy when my alarm went off so I just went back to bed! 🙂 Friday afternoon I was doing happy hour at work with my team so I didn’t end up working out at all, which was fine.
Rest and Relaxation Day!
Logged a very easy 2 miler with the pooch and Garrett at the park. It was gorgeous, there were tons of people and dogs out and Buster loved it. Then we came home and Garrett and I did a face off of 100 Kettlebell swings for time with our 53 lb Kettlebell. Garrett won. grumblegrumbegrumble But only by 25 seconds! 🙂
This is the first week in more than a month that my body has just felt like my own. It’s performed when I pushed it and just generally felt really good. I want to keep up that momentum this week and maybe increase the running…so that’s the unofficial plan!
When we last left my Relay Training Recaps it was Week 3 of my 13 Week Training Schedule and my knee was killing me! This put a major damper on my training and obviously the recaps, but I am finally :::knocks wood:::: making some progress so I thought I’d let you know what’s been going on. After Week Three I decided to try and push through the pain and see what happened. It didn’t feel like a serious injury, but it was also uncomfortable so I decided to do things that didn’t hurt my knee and NOT do things that did. Sounds simple enough, but the problem was I would do things that felt fine and then go home and walking would be painful. UGH!
Here’s what happened and how I am resolving it:
I couldn’t run at all this week because my knee was just re-DONK-ulously sore. I went to CrossFit on Tuesday and the workout was full of Cleans and when I got home my knee was feeling awful. I iced and elevated and decided that this would be my week of rest. It actually came at a good time too because that was the week I got my new job and I’ve been telling you for weeks how crazy that week ended up being with regards to work, so it was no big inconvenience to just come home and collapse on the couch without running or working out. That Saturday there was a 3 hour Oly Lifting Seminar at my gym and so I did do that. My knee didn’t feel great afterward, but nothing like it had that Tuesday so I felt like things were on the mend.
Of course as you can see they did NOT end up being on the mend. I pushed a little too hard on Monday’s workout, had to rest Tuesday, tried again Wednesday and then spent Wednesday night feeling really sorry for myself about my knee because it was really hurting. This was what was so annoying: I would be in the gym doing just fine, but then an hour or two later I would get up to walk somewhere and be practically limping. It was frustrating!
But then that night I picked Garrett up from the airport after being out of town FOREVER so that brightened things up! But I didn’t workout the rest of the week. Also: I finally took the plunge and made an appointment to see a Chiropractor who does Active Release Techniques. It was clear that I was not going to be able to just walk this off, so I since I had been wanting to find a good local chiropractor anyway (my uncle is one and retired, but he lives far enough away that I don’t see him regularly for adjustments, just occasionally) so I finally bit the bullet.
It was the best decision EVER! He ran me through a bunch of tests and did an examination and found that my right hip and right calf are really tight. Like CRAZY TIGHT. It was something I could feel to the touch even but to have someone point it out just based on a movement examination they had done was awesome. As he explained it to me, it made sense that I was having the pain I was having and where I was having it because those two muscle groups really contribute to the stability of the knee joint. So it was no wonder I was having pain after the fact and couldn’t pinpoint why in the moment. Repetitive motion with muscles that aren’t stretched properly will cause pain based on how hard I go and how much hip and calf function I’m using. Lightbulb!
So I committed to doing a serious amount of hip and calf stretching, preparation and recovery and things have only looked up since then! But as you’ll see I was still taking it a little bit easy.
I had 2 ART appointments this week so my workouts were limited, but mostly I felt great! Except the first workout of the week involved 70 burpees and WOD 13.1 involved MANY burpees, so it was clearly THE WEEK OF THE BURPEE. But my knee survived. And I dragged myself out for a slow 3 mile jog and it felt GREAT! Which gets us all caught up and up to this past week, which was GREAT!
I still only did 3 workouts, but I mostly had NO PAIN. My knee area felt a little tight after Thursday’s workout, but I iced it and have had no bother since. I even went for a run with the dog on Sunday. It was slow, but we both felt great when we finished!
My Goal From Now On
So here we are, tomorrow starts Week 8 of training, and the truth is with only 6 weeks left and no desire to go SUPER HARD on my knee, I am probably going to be undertrained for this event. But I am lucky my legs are only 4 miles, 6 miles and 6 miles respectively so I think it will be manageable. This week I want to focus on good workouts in the gym and easing back into mileage outside. I think it’s going to be integral to keep up my stretching and recovery routines and looking forward I want to find some strategies during the event to remain really focused on good fueling and stretching…which could be a real challenge when you’re just hanging in a van.
I’m a little bit scared, to be honest, but I’m still going for it (I’m committed!) and I’m going to do my best with the cards I’ve been dealt. It’s a real mind game when your body betrays you, and I have lots to say about injuries and how WOW — the physical part is only half the battle! But this week I’m putting one foot in front of the other, getting myself to the gym, fueling with good eats, and hopping on a treadmill or a trail to work out some of this Spring Fever! Hopefully I’ll have good stuff to report next week! Wish me luck.
Well, last week was a bit anticlimactic. My knee is still bugging me…sometimes. GRR. I’m icing the hell out of it and I’ve made an appointment to see someone this week. Maybe I’ll talk more about that afterwards, but just know that this week I kept it easy. I did no running (well..kinda, you’ll see) and scaled my workouts accordingly at the gym.
Is it weird that Monday is starting to feel like a good rest day? I don’t know, I usually feel completely pumped to get in the gym on Mondays but lately it’s just felt better to ease into the week. Probably because work has been so nuts! We’ll see how that evolves.
Overhead Squat: 5 x 3 (65, 75, 85, 95, 105 lbs)
“Death by Clean” (95lbs) — I completed 11 rounds. Bowed out on number 12. OOF!
1 rep in the first minute, 2 reps in the second minute, 3 reps in the third, etc until you cannot complete the required amount of work within the minute.
4 x 100 m sled pulls (bodyweight)*
*rest as needed between rounds
I actually ended up running 400 m sprints instead of doing sled pulls to test out how my knee felt and OHMYGOD it was NOT GOOD. Ugh. Iced it ALOT afterward. This was the day I decided it was time to involve a professional.
I worked out today because it was something I could scale and didn’t involve running.
Romanian Deadlift: 3-3-3-3-3 (95, 115, 135, 155, 175)
Hey-O…these were fun and new. So…weird feeling. It’s funny how it’s a similar movement but feels so different. I moved much less weight than I normally deadlift but it felt so HEAVY!
Thruster (65 lbs)
Box Jumps (24 in box) I scaled to step ups bc my knee was BUGGING me
Ground Release Push-Ups
Run 800m (I rowed 1000m bc of the knee)
Power Snatch (65 lbs)
Toes 2 Bar — (scaled to knees to elbows)
I was bummed today that my knee was feeling so crappy so I tried to really be careful of it. It doesn’t hurt AT ALL when I’m doing squatty things, but running and jumping are no-gos. UGH. Going to rest tomorrow. Death by cleans this week really did my upper body good, and now my lower body has had enough. BOO.
Can’t stay away. The Lumberjack 20 called my name. I decided to *try* and run and actually my knee felt fine the whole way through.
20 Deadlifts (185lbs)
20 KB swings (53lbs)
20 Overhead Squats (75lbs)
20 Pullups (Chest to Bar) – scaled with band
20 Box jumps (20″) scaled to step ups for my knee
20 DB Squat Cleans (25lbs each) scaled to 20lbs because SERIOUSLY
Weird. I got up today and felt like I had gotten hit by a truck. A lumber truck seems more accurate. 🙂 Rest, ahem.
Rest. This week was rough. On my body and my ego. I miss running.
Workout Total: 3
CrossFit Workouts: 3
Running Workouts: 0, except for the 2 miles in Lumberjack 20
Double Days: 0