The Relay – Part Three

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.

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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!
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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!)

Oh yeah, and my favorite running shirt, of course:
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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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*****

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!)

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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!!! :)

The Relay – Part Two

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!)


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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.”

2:30 am on a Saturday night. No place I'd rather be. OH WAIT...   #therelay

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.

My team finally showed up, we made the pass off and I got in the van. And I can’t even tell you what happened for the next few hours because I just kept saying to myself over and over:
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*****

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 :)

The Relay — Part One

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.
...and so it begins. #therelay

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 :)

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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.

Packing for #TheRelay - I guess that means it is really happening! T-minus 6hours until wake up call! #TeamLongestWODEver

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.
Ready to Run! #therelay #teamlongestwodever

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!
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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. :)

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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.
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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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.
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Next time I’ll tell you how the afternoon/evening went and my middle of the night run. EEP!

Relay Training Recap — Week 9

Relay Training

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:

Monday
LIFT

5 Rounds
1 Shoulder Press
3 Push Press
5 Push Jerk
(45, 55, 65, 75, 85 lbs)

METCON

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
35 double-unders

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.

Tuesday

SKILL

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

METCON
800 m run, then
5 Rounds of:
5 HSPU
10 hang power cleans (95lbs)

then run 800 m

Time: 16:48. This workout was awful and I loved it.

Wednesday

Rest day if you are testing 13.4 the next day. And apparently this was right where this week went downhill.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Relay Training Recap – Week 8

Relay Training

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.

MONDAY
I woke up and worked out at 6am Monday morning, which reminded me how much I LOVE morning workouts! It was as follows:

LIFT
Overhead Squat: 3-3-3-3-3 (75-85-95-105-115lbs)

METCON

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.

TUESDAY

STRENGTH
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. :)

METCON

“Annie”
50-40-30-20-10
Double Unders
Situps

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

Wednesday’s are mandatory rest days at the gym if you are testing the Open WOD on Thursday, so I was happy to oblige.

THURSDAY

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!

FRIDAY

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.

SATURDAY

Rest and Relaxation Day!

SUNDAY

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!

Relay Training Update + Mini-Recaps of Week 4, 5, 6, and 7 (Spoiler: You Didn’t Miss Much)

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:

Week Four

Relay Training - Week 4

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.

Week Five

Relay Training - Week 5

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.

Week 6

Relay Training - Week 6

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!

Week 7

Relay Training - Week 7

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!

Short run, but we are feeling pretty accomplished.

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.

Relay Training Recap – Week Three

workout week 3

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.

Monday
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.

Tuesday

STRENGTH

Overhead Squat: 5 x 3 (65, 75, 85, 95, 105 lbs)

METCON

“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.

BUYOUT

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.

Wednesday
I worked out today because it was something I could scale and didn’t involve running.

STRENGTH

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!

METCON

9-6-3:

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)

3-6-9:

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.

Thursday

REST

Friday

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)
Run 400m
20 KB swings (53lbs)
Run 400m
20 Overhead Squats (75lbs)
Run 400m
20 Burpees
Run 400m
20 Pullups (Chest to Bar) – scaled with band
Run 400m
20 Box jumps (20″) scaled to step ups for my knee
Run 400m
20 DB Squat Cleans (25lbs each) scaled to 20lbs because SERIOUSLY
Run 400m

Saturday

Weird. I got up today and felt like I had gotten hit by a truck. A lumber truck seems more accurate. :) Rest, ahem.

Sunday

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

Relay Training Recap- Week Two

Training Graph - Week Two

Monday
Skipped this workout at the gym because I was feeling SO BEAT after work (why? no idea) But I was bummed because it was one of my favorites that hardly ever gets programmed: “Bear Complex”

We’ll talk more about it later because I vowed to do it later on in the week if the opportunity arose and it did!

Tuesday
Hit the gym!

Strength:
Bench Press 5-5-3-3-3
(65, 75, 85, 95, 100 —- hooooo boy were my shoulders sore from Saturday’s Snatches! I felt old and crotchety doing this. Note to self: shoulder mobility, work on it!)

Metcon:

15 Min AMRAP
400m run
10 clapping pushups (I did scaled pushups)
8 Snatches (75lbs)

Completed 3 Rounds

After this workout though my knee was feeling kind of tender. And for no identifiable reason. BOO

Wednesday
My knee HURT this morning. It doesn’t hurt running or squatting or anything like that, but just walking around, it’s just tender right below my kneecap. Dr. Google says I’m dying. Not really. But then again I haven’t really consulted Dr. Google for fear that it will make me crazy. I’m foam rolling the quads/hams and icing like it’s my religion.

Thursday

My plan was to hit the gym, but I had to travel to Sonoma for work all day and by the time I got home it was too late. I could have run but I was BEAT and my knee was a tiny bit sore still. Funny how so much windshield time can make you exhausted but you are only just sitting down.

Friday

STRENGTH
Snatch
3-3-1-1-1 (65, 75, 85, 90, 95)
Snatch Pull
2-2-2-2-2 (95 for all reps)

METCON
Buy In:
50 Double Unders

3 Rounds of
5 HSPU – (scaled)
10 Burpee Pull Ups (scaled to burpess + banded pull ups)
200m run

Buy Out:
100 Double Unders

That was fun. And sort of awful since I hate burpees and pull ups and it took me a few minutes to get my double under rhythm which mean my ass was COVERED in welts afterward. But fun! :)

I decided on Friday night that I wanted to try running on my knee. Garrett and I headed out after CrossFit to a hilly street by our house. We did a slow one mile warmup and then did 10 hill repeats up this crappy hill that I can’t even fully run up yet (NEW GOAL! GET UP THE HILL!) It was good practice. And also awful. First double day. :) Knee felt fine running. Afterward, still sore when I walk.

Saturday

I vowed to do Monday’s Bear Complex so I headed in to open gym to get some lifting in. The Bear Complex is fun, but pretty tough. This is what it looks like. A quick synopsis from Mel, since she also wrote about it this week coincidentally:

…it’s a workout made up of 5 rounds of a barbell series (a.k.a., “complex”) that includes 7 reps of the following:
power clean — front squat — push press — back squat — push press

You do that SEVEN times to make up one round — and you do five rounds. If you’re doing it as RX’d.

HOLY CRAP that was hard. I did all 5 rounds with a 75lb barbell and my arms were JELLO at the end.

Open gym. Woot! ( that's a fake it til you make it woot. I'm tired.)

Sunday

I had a run on the schedule but my knee (at this point MY GOD DAMN GOOD FOR NOTHING KNEE) was still sore and that started to make me worried. I skipped my run and stayed home and did a cooking wod. :) Also a Kettlebell Century Challenge (aka 100 Kettlebell Swings for time) with our 53 lb kettlebell. That was no slouch of a workout, but I would have rather run.

Workout Total: 4
CrossFit Workouts: 4 (3 in the gym // 1 at home)
Running Workouts: 1
Double Days: 1

And that was the week! Kind of disappointing, but it wasn’t like I was sitting home on the couch, so. Hopefully I’ll figure out what’s going on with my knee and be able to get in some good runs this week.

Golden Gate Relay Training Plan + Week One Recap

Run Relay Run

So I finally made a training plan for The Relay. Last week was my first week of twelve and guess what? I DIDN’T EVEN STICK TO IT! :) We are clearly starting off with a bang here.

In my defense though, I was sick at the beginning of last week and well, that just sort of screwed everything up. This week is a new week, however, and while I’m still not following it *exactly* to a tee, I am making progress and getting in the groove. So I thought I would share what my plan is for the next 12 weeks.

Training Plan

I made this plan with a few things in mind:

*I am not running this race for a time, I am just running to finish
*My legs are flat, but I want to train running hills to improve my pace
*I want to continue CrossFitting 3x per week, at least
*I want to run 2-3x per week, at least
*At least 1 run per week will be a longer run. Endurance is actually a strength, and by the end I want to be back to feeling pretty comfortable running about 8-9 miles at a time. (My longest leg on race day is 6 miles.)
*I want to improve my stamina. Running for a long time is not a struggle for me. Running fast for a long time is. So speed/stamina work will be on my mind. (Hello, hills.)
*I want to get comfortable with the schedule of 3 hard back to back workouts within a short time frame (24-36 hours) to mimic sore race legs/conditions. My Friday/Saturday workouts (double days) are mapped out to help me with that.

And with that, my loose schedule for the next 3 months:

Monday – CrossFit
Tuesday – CrossFit
Wednesday – Rest or Speed Run/Hill Work (3-4 miles at a pace that is hard for me)
Thursday – Rest or Run (depending on what Mon/Tues look like at the box I’ll rest on one of these days and run on one of these days)
Friday – AM treadmill run before work (yuck), PM CrossFit
Saturday – Longer Run
Sunday – REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEST.

Here is how that shook out last week.

Week One Training

Moving forward, I thought I’d share these updates on Sundays. If you are completely uninterested you can skip it, I won’t mind. Or if you’d like to follow in more real time I am tracking them on Daily Mile. For me, knowing that I will be posting these and answering to the internet (Hey, that’s YOU) will help keep me accountable over the next few months. If it’s not useful for you, just walk right on by. :)

Training Graph - Week One

Monday
I spent this evening laying on my couch wanting to die after being at work all day. Making dinner felt like a major effort. No workouts for me!

Tuesday
I felt about 90% on this day but skipped the workout just in case. I was bummed, but it was the right decision.

Wednesday
For the Strength portion we worked on Weighted Pull Ups but since I’m still using a band I worked on banded negatives. Then I did some banded pull ups just for giggles. What was awesome is that I used a smaller band (less help) and just felt like I could do a million. I NEVER feel that way. It’s amazing what difference fat loss makes when doing pull ups. Being 14lbs lighter helped IMMENSELY. The metcon portion of the workout was a pretty freaking hard chipper:

15 calorie row
50 m bear crawl
13 thrusters (65 lbs)
13 box jump overs
13 deadlifts (135 lbs)
13 wall balls (14 lbs)
13 ring dips (I did banded dips)
Then you work your way back down the ladder.
There was a 15 minute time cap and I missed finishing by FOUR CALORIES in the row. Bummer. Good workout though.

Thursday
I should have run and flaked. But I was SUPER SORE from the day before. Totally used my early week sickness as an excuse. Was just being lazy.

Friday
Got up to run before work, per the plan but then read that the Friday night workout was the Filthy Fifty. I need to ease into these double day workouts and there is nothing easy about the Filthy Fifty. So I opted not to run. Friday night I did this:
50 Box jump (20 inch box)
50 Jumping pull-ups
50 Kettlebell swings (26 lbs)
50 Walking Lunges
50 Knees to elbows
50 Push press (33 lbs)
50 Back extensions
50 Wall balls (14 lbs)
50 Burpees
50 Double unders

OOF. That is a brutal workout. Was glad I didn’t run.

Saturday
Met with my running buddies and did a track workout that included sprinting, running some hill repeats and running bleachers. It was a GREAT workout and really fun. Then spent an hour at open gym working on Cleans and Snatches. Lots of heavy lifting. Then GHD sit up work. Really enjoyed myself.

Sunday – REST!

Workout Total: 4
CrossFit Workouts: 3
Running Workouts: 1
Double Days: 0

Crazy Scheme Alert: Let’s Talk About The Relay

photo
Poor Garrett. I have roped him in to another one of my crazy schemes! I am lucky he is such a good sport. Let me tell you all about it so you can sympathize with him — but keep in mind I cook him really delicious food all the time so it’s not like I only bring the crazy to this relationship! :)

I mentioned that part of my fitness goals this year include running more. While I’m not sure I will ever identify myself as a runner — not because I don’t think I have the skills but mostly just because it’s not The Thing I am passionate about — I have to admit training for last year’s half marathon and the metrics involved in that just really made me happy. I enjoyed just about every aspect of it so I wanted to see where that would take me this year. I planned to run another half marathon and specifically on some pace goals, but then a friend at CrossFit threw out the idea of putting a team together to run The Relay, and like a crazy person I thought, “Hey. We should totally do that!”

The Relay

If you’ve never heard of The Relay it is a 200 mile run done in 12 person teams that starts up in Calistoga and ends in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The race is broken into 36 legs and each team member runs 3 legs. We are doing this May 4-5 with 10 other members at our gym and we will get to run through 36 cities including the Napa Valley, Marin County, a night run over the Golden Gate Bridge, through the South Bay and finishing in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Sounds a little nutso, yes? But also — pretty freaking fun, right? Oh how my perception of fun has changed in the last few years!

Route

The total mileage you run depends on the leg that you are assigned but it ranges anywhere from 12.6 miles to 18.5 miles, with varying levels of difficulty in each course. For example just because a leg has less mileage doesn’t mean that it is easier as some of lower mileage runs are straight up hill or in particularly windy areas. There are definitely many things to consider with respect to your own capabilities and the strengths of your team. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little nervous coming into this as a complete novice and not a very strong runner, but luckily my team is not concerned with competitiveness and really just concerned with having fun. Obviously it’s the only way I would do it!

For some perspective, here is how all the legs shake out – and I love how it ranks it by level of difficulty.

Course Summary Table

Initially I felt fairly comfortable with the mileage. Since I had completed a half marathon (damn it still feels good to say that) I knew that I could run 13-ish miles comfortably (Comfortably! Ha! That’s funny.) But it definitely gets dicier when you consider that challenge of this event is that you don’t run it all at once. The legs are broken up and in between you are either sitting in a van for hours, chilling at someone’s house, or trying to get some sleep. (PS — Do you live on that route? Want to host Garrett and I for a nap? ha) So training for this will definitely involve more than being able to run 16 miles in a row. It’s more accurate to say, can you wake up and run 6 miles, go to work, come home and run 6 miles and then get up again the next morning and run another few miles. And THAT, is a whole other beast. But one I’m excited to train for.

My Training Plan:

Oh how cute, to think that I would actually have one already. BAHAHAHAHA. I do not. But I will tell you my approach for now. The first thing is, I’m not trying to be a hero or anything. I am pretty up front that I would like an easy route. Yes running over the Golden Gate sounds nice, but not if I have to spend the last 3 miles of my race running straight up hill. I’m smart enough to know that I’m not ready for that yet. So – easy route, yes please!

Second, I am going to spend the next couple of months really working on my speed. I don’t know how much this will really affect my overall experience, but I would like to be running faster, more consistently before I start doing distance training etc.

Third, I am basically accepting all of the help from anyone who is willing to offer it. Our friend Matt (hi Matt!) has run this race multiple times and he has given us some great insight. My friend Lesley (hi Lesley!) is doing all sorts of running this year and so we are going to hook up to do some running together and she is mucho experienced and also willing to help mentor me a little bit. I LOVE MENTORS! I AM A MENTOR NERD! Plus, all of my teammates are going to be doing some group training so I look forward to enjoying the camaraderie and skills that this will bring with it.

Lastly, I want to keep this fun and I plan to really focus on that. This shouldn’t be stressful and instead should just be an interesting, albeit personally challenging, thing to have on the calendar. And you know how I love stuff like that! Also, we plan to stay down in Santa Cruz after the run is over for a bit because it is Garrett’s birthday weekend and why the hell not celebrate, right? (Again, SUCH A GOOD SPORT ON HIS BIRTHDAY WEEKEND, RIGHT?)

So that’s the scoop! And since I’ll be talking more about it and my running adventures in the coming months I’m sure I just thought I’d give you a little background. Have you ever done a race like this? Have any advice? Think I’m a total nutjob? Talk to me. :)

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