“Travel Blogs” was just added to my menu. A page where you can find a little more about me, links to my other blogs and some exciting news!
Last summer there were a few people in my karate circle encouraging me to join them in an early autumn marathon. I toyed with the idea for a little as I gathered advice from multiple sources. 99.9% of the feedback I got was that I didn’t have enough time to train. Even the hardcore Ironman Finishers steered me away from entering the race without proper training. There was really only one person convincing me it was a good idea and that was my Crossfit coach. Lets call him Jon. Jon, who was suppose to play the role of my most influential fitness leader at the time, was telling me the very opposite of what any responsible coach should. Because he himself had completed a half marathon by only doing Crossfit, he was confident that a full wouldn’t be much different. He even said he would do it to if it wasn’t a day he had to work. Ok Jon. Thankfully his mantra of “power through” and his stolen Nike slogan “just do it” were not convincing enough. Though very knew to the trainer world at the time, I was educated enough not to trust him. For he was the man who came in dead last in a local Crossfit endurance race. He was also the kind of coach who only paid attention to people in the class he had built friendships with. He never graciously offered help when I’d stay after class or dished complements to really anyone. Any good coach knows the Sandwich Method. Positivity goes a long way. In any case, the point that I am trying to make is not only that as a Crossfit leader, Jon seriously sucked, but at his box I had missed the essence of what Crossfit was suppose to be about.
#1 Crossfit is a community.
#2 As a regular Crossfit athlete, one’s goal is not to excel at one thing but be very good at lots of things.
#3 Paleo is encouraged but not strict Paleo, and definitely not enforced. Crossfit recognizes that everyone’s body needs different things
#4 Crossfit movements are all functional exercises and therefor are meant to be for everyone. (Scaling options are always provided)
Number one especially is the most important to me. Even with my negative experience, luckily there was still a big part of me drawn to the sport. After taking 6 months off, I started up again this past August at a new box. All I can say that within one week I finally understood the hype and fell a subject to the addiction. All the coaches are fully dedicated to perfecting our movements. They are encouraging and just overall quality people. I’ll often show up on my own time when I can’t make class and anyone training will invite me to join them. When I was completing our week’s 5 minute burpee challenge solo, I had a whole team of people cheering me on. When I leave the box, I feel accomplished, yet there is always more I want to learn.
This past weekend I decided last minute to attend a Crossfit Level 1 Training Seminar. My weekend experience was truly life changing. I discovered there are parallels between Crossfit and karate. Just like martial arts, Crossfit is about intensity, demands proper movements, and forms passionate and cohesive communities.
The other day I came across a blog post titled Why We All Hate Your 13.1 Stickers.
“It’s amazing how three numbers and a decimal point can single-handedly turn someone into a big, arrogant butthole.” -Bryan Voughn
Though immensely lacking in sophistication and very poorly delivered, the article raised an interesting point. I had purchased my 26.2 bumper sticker within minutes of completing my marathon, unbeknownst to even the idea that it could come across as boastful. When I see anyone sporting an icon like Ironman, something I have never achieved, I don’t resent them. I praise them.
But I get it. Bryan sees it as if high schoolers drove around with their SAT score posted on their windows. Its the specificity of the number that upsets him. He even says a pair of running shoes or simply the word “Run” would not convey the same arrogant message. What Bryan fails to understand is that 13.1 and 26.2 ARE symbols. We aren’t driving around with stickers of our marathon finish times. These stickers aren’t to make us feel superior to naked cars on the road. We post our stickers because we are part of a community.
On my twitter feed the next day was a inspiring public response letter defending the rights of runners to wear these badges proudly. Megan at Miles Over Matter wrote what every runner wanted to say to Bryan. She humorously summed it up, inviting all the non-runners to join in on the culture. “you’ll see that 13.1 and 26.2 aren’t just obnoxious numerals” She wrote, “they’re invitations to an amazing journey”.
It was another rainy day this past Monday. Seems to be a trend this week. So how do you make the most of a rainy autumn day while recovering from a marathon? Make some soup of course.
3 big stalks of broccoli
2 crushed garlics
generous dash of salt
generous dash of pepper
Place your broccoli in a pot, cover it with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and let it simmer. The longer the better. Once your broccoli is super soft transfer the entire contents of the pot to a blender (if you have a plastic blender, first wait for the veggies to cool). Add in your garlic and seasoning and blend on high until smooth. Serve with sprinkled cheese on top.
I had a lot of unrestful nights leading up to my marathon. I had dreams of everything going wrong, from oversleeping to becoming completely immobile at mile 13. Then I had a dream where I crossed the finish line and cried from the overwhelming excitement of my accomplishment.
—Race Day Morning—
I woke up at 4am to pouring rain with more excitement than nerves. I put on my full Nike gear; leggings, dri-fit tank, half-zip pull-over and of course my Pegasus. I grabbed my already packed gear bag and waited for my friend Karina, who was doing the Hartford Half, to pick me up.
We drove up in the pitch black pouring rain making a pit stop at Dunkin Donuts for a pre-race bagel. I was so thankful she was driving. Finally making it up to Hartford we drove around in search of a free lot I had read about. Realizing we were cutting it close to the start, we opted for the $10 parking and made our way over to Bushnell Park. A homeless man in a wheel chair stopped us to ask if we were racing that morning. When we confirmed he began to chuckle. “It’s going to rain ALL day” he said “Its going to pour ALL morning!”. He seemed uncomfortably excited by this.
When we got to the race tent that the Fleet Feet half marathon crew was congregating in, the rain picked up. I aimed to stay under shelter while I figured out which nutrition to take and how to carry everything. (Something that should have been decided the night before). I pinned my race bib to my pant leg just incase it cleared up and I wanted to take off my pullover. We had just enough time to ditch our bags and make a quick port-o-potty stop and then it was over to the start line. By this time I could hardly feel my toes. My shoes were wet and the 40 degree weather was certainly not helping. I found my friend Chloe who was racing the half with her mom and sister. Chloe was my co-worker at Fleet Feet who had planned on doing the Marathon with me until she got plantar fasciitis halfway through the training.
I was more than ready to start at this point and luckily we set off at 8:00 on the dot as scheduled. I stuck with some Fleet Feeters for the first mile until us marathoners were sent another direction. We wished each other luck and I set off for my 25 mile solo journey.
Halfway through mile 2, I gained back feeling in my toes, but it wasn’t until most way through mile 5 that my painfully frozen fingers began to turn back from white to a normal skin tone.
Mile 5 through 10 I played mind games with myself. I calculated the best way to mentally break down the race. Every 2 miles or so we were greeted by a big group of spectators who came out in the rain to cheer us on. Those moments helped a lot. People had signs and yelled out personal compliments to racers. I tried to make friends on the course but most people had headphones in, were already running with a buddy or were in their zone. My chats never lasted more than a minute. Part of the course was out and back so at mile 13, I was able to see some elites getting close to their finish. They looked like they were in pain. They were running the pace of my record 1 mile time for 26 miles! It made me appreciate my mantra of “slow and steady”.
I passed the 4:30 pacer right around the time that I found my mom standing in the sidelines holding this sign. I ran over and gave her a hug, a big smile and two thumbs up. It was mile 19 and this was the point that I knew I could do it.
The rain picked up for the last 7 miles. My hands were numb again, making it impossible to open my gu packages with my fingers, as I literally could not feel them. I resorted to unzipping pockets and ripping everything open with my teeth. My this point I had eaten two GUs, two packages of Clif Gels and chocolate chip Clif Bar. I ran with my Nathans 16 ounce water bottle, which I poured a cupful of water into at every water station. I was hydrated throughout the race but a little hungry. You get to point where you can’t stomach another artificially, obnoxiously sweetened food.
When I hit mile 25, Kevin, who had taken my running clinic, was there to cheer for me. Kevin starting working with me with the goal of a 5k back in the beginning of the summer. He now will be completing his 4th 5k next week! He said it was his turn to cheer me on so he came all the way up to Hartford to watch me run. He jogged next to me along the sidelines for a minute or two, documenting my success in an embarrassing video.
When I got to the final stretch, the rain began to lighten and the streets were packed with supporters. With a miraculous boost of energy I picked up my pace. The severe arch pain that had been effecting me for the last four miles disappeared. I was about to cross the finish line of my first marathon.
I didn’t cry. I wasn’t even in shock. It felt as if I had done this distance before. I retrieved my metal and shuffled around the muddy park to find my mom. She found me, hugged me and told me how proud she was of me. This meant a lot coming from a non runner who happily stood out in awful weather for hours to cheer me on as ran by for 30 seconds. I headed to the food tent, got myself some grilled cheese, peanut butter and a banana and went to gather my belongings. Kevin met up with us, shared his awe and took some pictures.
Originally a goal to cross of my bucket list, this journey played a much bigger role in my life. Chances are it won’t be my last marathon. I’ll be signing up for more, maybe even an ultra one day or a 70.3 triathlon. Most importantly, this confirmed one of the greatest lessons of all. A lesson of determination. You can do anything you put your mind too. I did not have proper training or good weather conditions. I did not have a friend to suffer with or complain too. I kept going because I didn’t want to quit. I completed the marathon because I wanted to with all of my heart.
I took a little hiatus from blogging without a good excuse. But lets focus on the present. I am back in time to share some very exciting things in the horizon.
First and for most. This is the weekend we have all been waiting for. And by “we” I mean
all my friends family and followers! Okay, I mean me. At 8am this Saturday October 11th 2014 I will partake in my first marathon. I will be running a delightful 26.2 miles in the city of Hartford, in my good ole home state of Connecticut’s capital.
If you have an issue with inverted images, my bib number is 2180 if you wish to follow me on this endeavor.
Goals/guidelines for the race
#1 Beat Oprah. In 1994 Oprah completed the Marine Corps Marathon in 4:29:15. She also wore a bra that is worth more than my running shoes.
#2 No matter what kind of pain I may ensue, don’t give up! I have the words “mind over body” tattooed on my wrist for a reason.
#3 Have as much fun as possible. Enjoy the crowd, make friends and eat some fantastic GU.
My IMPACT class is going to hate me tonight. Mwahahaha
Inspired by today’s Crossfit WOD at Carozza Fitness
Keith’s “Filthy fifty”
- 50 box-jumps @24″
- 50 jumping pull ups
- 50 1-pood kettlebell swings
- 50 step walking lunge
- 50 knees to elbows
- 50 push-presses @45/30LBS
- 50 back extensions (or supermans)
- 50 wall-ball shots @20/14LBS
- 50 burpees
- 50 double-unders (or heavy ropes)
After Sunday’s 20.5 miler I decided to give myself a recovery day. Monday I wore my compression socks to work and iced my knees between sessions.
By Tuesday I was feeling okay. I had singed up for an aerial yoga at Kaia were I had my 30 day trial. If you have never done aerial yoga, stop what you are doing right now and sign up. Hanging upside-down in this pose was one of my most freeing experiences. And the instructor Matan is incredible. His regular classes are by far my favorite out of the 20+ teachers I’ve had. Its only in his classes that I can accomplish the yoga goal: connect to the breathe and clear my mind.Then I went to karate for the Tuesday night Black Belt class. I was feeling a little drained at this point especially since I hadn’t slept well the last two nights after my run.
Wednesday I went to Crossfit for a dirty WOD of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 ground to overhead with a 400 meter run in between. Running surprisingly felt great. Then I had a little karate/sparing session with a friend that night. He’s a pro-fighter so he’s quite amazing. He taught me a lot.
Thursday was an Olympic lifting geared Crossfit class. We worked on back squats, strict presses and deadlifts. Though I’ve calmed down a lot with my cardio obsession, I still need to get my heart pumping a little to feel I got an adequate workout so I added a short run after the WOD.
I went back to Crossfit again on Friday for an amazing workout. 50-40-30-20-10 calorie row, single arm KB swings and ring pushups. It took me 33 sweaty minutes.
Saturday started with an outdoor karate class at a nearby school. I wish we could have class outside every week. Its nice getting your feet dirty. It makes me feel like a real ninja. And the weather was spectacular. I couldn’t make it to CF that day because of work so I did my own WOD (loosely based off my box’s WOD) 40 man-makers, 60 burpees, 90 box jumps. Short and intense!
Tomorrow (Sunday) I plan to make it to Crossfit in the morning and then I have my karate friend’s baby shower. Check out the gifts I got for her baby!
So I’ve spent my last several blogging hours sandwiched between a homeless excessive nose-picker and a gigantic tattooed man watching violent YouTube videos. Don’t worry, these are not my new friends. Unless library computer cubical neighbors qualify as friends. Lets back up a little. So my computer Little Miss Mac, went for a swim several weeks ago. Its a messy story involving a water bottle, but long story short, she didn’t make a complete recovery, leaving me computerless. I wasn’t overly devastated as Miss Mac was quite an old lady at this point and was not really in it for the long run we can say. Okay, its just like life pre 2005 before I had my own computer. No bid deal. A small part of me welcomed the challenge. I reasoned; I have a smartphone, I have a computer at work and I live three blocks from the library. So I was finding myself at work on my off hours or pathetically attempting to do some mobile uploads, (also referred as “muploads” by this crazy generation). Wow, I really don’t deserve to own a computer. Then blogging at work began to throw off my mojo. I was constantly interrupted (which is fine, I love my job, just not a conducive atmosphere for blogging). So I went to the library. Its filled with heavy breathers, loud whisperers and some fellas like I mentioned before. But when I got past my surroundings, I found my grove and the library has worked as a great resource.
You may ask why I am sharing this long-winded uneventful story. Well my friends, I’m looking at this situation as a necessary challenge. With technology, everything comes so easily. We can find any answer within seconds just by whipping out our phones. We no longer look up directions when traveling somewhere new. We are encouraged to let a robot ring up our store purchases. Of course there are amazing benefits to this new lifestyle. We can have face-to-face conversations with people across the world. We can wear a bracelet that beeps if we were too inactive that day. And finding answers immediately is definitely something to appreciate. As I’ve said so many times before, with everything in life we need a balance. We shouldn’t be glued to our phones but we also shouldn’t boycott technology if we are trying to be successful. Take some time everyday to put your phone aside and maybe one day a week don’t be afraid to neglect your computer. It won’t miss you. And you might surprise yourself at how refreshed and productive you feel.
I did a 20 (.5) miler this past weekend. Once you get into these big numbers those halves dont really count for much.
What I learned:
Clifgels are the best
I am (maybe) not totally screwed for this marathon
And then of course a post-run smoothie of banana, peanut butter, almond milk and cocoa powder is the greatest.
Then I RICED my lower body at work. Compression socks + ice + foam rolling =quick recovery.