Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Ways of Torture

A couple of weeks ago, there was a deal on DealChicken for 4 weeks of CrossFit.

I heard so much about CrossFit and I am in the off season right now, so I thought I'll give it a go. Actually, both Terry and I got one of those deals to suffer together... How romantic hmmm? ;-)

The gym that offered the deal is a little out of our way, but we thought it would be nice to just try it out and then take it from there.

Last Friday, we went there for the first time. They have organized classes in the morning and then an open gym in the afternoon, where you basically go through the workout of the day (WOD) by yourself or organize yourself in smaller groups.

Going there a day after Thanksgiving and right after the gym opens up in the afternoon turned out to be a good choice, because there was not a lot of traffic, so the owner had plenty of time to explain us stuff and give us a ton of one on one attention, correcting our form and all that.

We warmed up with 500 meters of rowing and then he showed us, what a "CrossFit Cindy" is:

5 pullups, 10 pushup and 15 squats... rinse and repeat two times.

After this little number, my arms already felt like jello.

Then we moved on to strength portion of the workout:

Close grip bench press

And then the real fun started.... At this point I would have been ready to call it a day.

AMRAP (as many rounds as possible in) 20 (minutes)
400m run
10 thruster
10 bar facing burpees
10 SDLHP (sumo deadlift high pull)
2 Wall Climbs pushups for the newbies

In the second round of  thrusters, I almost got sick... This is some hard stuff!

The instructors verdict for me was: Good upper body strength, but bad muscular endurance.... sounds about right.

This is now two days ago, we are supposed to go back tomorrow morning for the 5.15 class... I am scared.

I do believe that this stuff can really make an impact on your strength and general fitness, but it's going to be rough.... On top of it, I still have an 8 mile run on tap for today and I am just so stinking tired and hurting, I don't even want to think about heading out for 8 miles.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Ragnar Relay Tennessee, Part 4

This is part 4 of my lengthy Ragnar TN race report. To read previous installments please click here, here and here.

This time we were ready to go when van 1 pulled in for the final handover. Mike headed out for his final leg as it was dawning, but there was thick fog hanging over TN that morning. While the course was well marked and the markers had blinky lights on top of them, the fog made it hard to navigate and Mike took a little detour... He just loves running so much, that he wanted to run a little more! ;-)

While I was waiting for Mike to come into the exchange zone, I had three small brownies and called it breakfast... Seriously, I had the stomach of steel for this relay.... Didn't want to press my luck though and didn't have the 4th brownie that I really still wanted! ;-)

Mike handed over to me and here I was on the road again for my final 5.2 miles of running. While the brownies settled well in my stomach, the monster hill in mile 1 sucked!!! And the downhill on the other side was so steep that you really couldn't open up completely either. Why to I always seem to have silly hard hills in my last leg of a relay?? (I just re-read that blog myself and it's funny how things have changed since our very first relay....) After going up and down that silly big hill (power walking some of it), the rest of the leg was pretty rolling, twisting and turning through back roads and quiet neighborhoods. I ran through fog and through bright sunshine, the TN weather just really couldn't make up it's mind that morning. Around mile 4, I felt myself running out of steam... Should have had that 4th brownie, but just tried to hold it together for the rest of the leg. I rolled into the next exchange zone with an average pace of 9:50. I was hoping for sub 10 pace, so I am very pleased with this run as well.

Terry still had his sweatpants on, when I got close to the transition area, so I surpised a little with my speed again! ;-) Due to the fog, they also extended the night running hours, so I also had to hand over my head lamp to him. His last leg was close to 9 miles and I sure didn't envy him for that.

Since the fog just didn't want to go away, Kelly also had to head out with a head lamp for her final leg even tought it was already around 10am at this point.

Do you notice something? Whenever I am not running and it's not dark, there are pictures being made! ;-) Unfortunately, that way there are not a ton of pictures of me... Gotta do something about that:

The sun finally decided to make a permanent appearance, but still kind of chilly...

Kelly was plowing through her leg that was hillier than any of us have expected... But, she got to run through some really nice neigborhoods with some really pretty houses. Once Brian was on the road, we made a quick pit stop at a gas station to get some junk food and drink and pump gas before headed out again to not miss him at the next exchange zone. His leg was also very hilly and the sun was out in full force and if you were running, it got kinda hot.

As soon as our last runner was on the road, we booked it to downtown Nashville to the finish area. Van 1 was already partying like rock stars and we wanted to make sure not to miss Eric.

The finish area was right next to the Hard Rock Cafe, right by the river.

Alex has this habit of photo bombing the girl's shots!

Eventually, Eric turned the final corner and we wanted to run over the finish line together... But he was RACING and had total tunnel vision battling out with a bunch of dudes in the last couple of yards! That's the spirit! ;-)

As it turns out, he got lost somehow and probably ran an extra mile. With all the people on the sidewalks in downtown Nashville, I guess it's easy to miss one of the markers and maybe some joksters also move them... Who knows. We made it to the finish and did better than any of us would have thought.


Next up: Post race pig out and race review! Stay tuned!

I wish all of you Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the time with your family and friends!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Ragnar Relay Tennessee, Part 3

My apologies for not knocking these out faster.... Work is super busy right now, so a lot of the time, I don't even want to switch on my computer by the time I get home.

Also, all pics in this post are from the last exchange of the first rotation... Not a lot of picture taking going on at night.

This is part 3 of the race report that will never end. Previously, I have been blabing about pre-race activities and the first rotation of van 2!

So here we were at around 12am Saturday somewhere in Tennessee... The last runner from van 1 was standing in the exchange chute and there was nobody from van 2 to slap the bracelet on. Eventually, Mike (runner 8) made it to the exchange and took off running for his middle of the night leg. That must have been quite a shock to the system.... Waking up, getting dressed, run up to the exchange zone and take off running for 7 miles.

He later said, that he felt so bad for letting Chris (last runner van1) wait, that he booked it... No kidding.

I was standing in next to the exchange chute, but still had my sweatshirt on when he came in. At Ragnar, they do have spotters a quarter mile away from the exchange zone, that walkie talkie the incoming runners number, but sometimes that communication didn't work.

After quickly peeled of my shirts, I was back on the road for a 3 miler with small rolling hills on a fairly calm country road. I always saw runners ahead of me, it's always nice to have company. I also passed through a town or a neighborhood and there were actually some people outside on their patios cheering for the runners... It was around 1am!

While I was a little worried, that I burned all my matches already in the first run, I felt great... Maybe BBQ as running fuel is not such a bad idea after all! ;-)

I ended up with an 8:44 pace for those three miles and I seriously have no idea where that came from. I normally don't run sub 9s for this long.

While Terry was out on the road, I once again did my little change dance under the towel. It just took me 4 relays to figure this out.... Also, I think this time around, I had the perfect amount of clothes with me. Sweet! Now I just need to remember for next time again.

Kelly was up next for a supposedly 2.9 mile run. I was the keeper of the van book, predicting arrival times at exchange zone and when Kelly's predicted time came and went, we started wondering a little. I heard the girl next to my saying, that she's glad that they shortened her upcoming leg. So I asked her, if you leg is short, has the this leg been made longer? The answer was yes and Kelly was running an extra mile.

That's another lesson learned. We did have the van book with all the legs printed out, but obviously, there was a change after we made all the printouts and we should have sat down with the Ragmag and make sure, that everything is still the same.

So when Kelly handed over to Bryan, we headed back to the van and I spend the next couple of minutes making sure that there were no more changes and there were, but at least we knew now what to expect.

On a lonely country intersection, we send off Eric, the last runner in van 2, who would finish our 2nd rotation.

As soon as van 1 was gone and Eric was back in the van, I passed out. The last thing that I heard was, that we would drive to the next exchange zone and get some rest there, too make sure that we no cutting it too close for handover.

Once we got there, we tried to get some shut-eye. It gets crowded in the bus pretty quick when everyone is trying to stretch out and while I got some rest on the way over, I wasn't really able to go back to sleep once we got to the exchange zone. I did have a mat and a thick sleeping bag with me and could still kick myself, that I didn't set-up camp on the lawn.

Eventually even this restless night was over and van 1 rolled in, just when it started dawning. They were now officially done and looked forward to a shower, bed and breakfast... Van 2 still had some running to do.

To be continued.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Ragnar Relay Tennessee, Part 2

This is part 2 of the Ragnar TN race report.... Check out what was going on pre race for van 1 here!

First runner up was Mike.

There he is, waiting on taking over the slap bracelet from van 2. His first leg was basically all uphill, but he did his eight miles with awesome speed and I was surprised how fast it was my turn.

My first leg was 5.9 miles of rolling hills. It was chilly that day and also fairly windy, but once you got moving, it actually wasn't bad at all and I pushed down my arm warmers within the first mile. I got passed by a girl in the first couple of minutes of my run and thought to myself: "Here we go again!" But funny enough, I clocked my first at a 8:37 pace. I guess I scared myself a little here, wondering, if I am burning all my matches within the first mile, but actually was feeling pretty good. The leg was a straight shot along a highway with a good amount of traffic, no turns and pretty rolling. The wind always seemed to blow extra hard when I was about to run uphill. I actually walked for a little almost every mile while going uphill and used the time to drink. Even with those short walk breaks, the next couple of miles came in at 9:08 and 9:21. I saw a couple of people in the distance and noticed, that the gaps were getting smaller. I passed a girl close to one of the water stations and then another girl a mile from the exchange zone. The next miles came in at 9:19 and 9:23. The girl was walking when I passed her, but I felt that she was picking it back up again and I just wanted to make sure that I wouldn't be passed back and ran as hard as I was able to at this point. The last 0.9 miles came in at a 8:07 pace. Whose legs was I running with??? I handed the bracelet over to Terry and looked back and then noticed that it wasn't that girl chasing me, but five girls!! For most runners, this is not a big deal, but for me running 5.9 miles at an 9:08 average pace is unheard of and it made me very happy!!!

The next exchange zone was at an elementary school in the middle of nowhere and school was out when we pulled up. It's always fun to change into dry clothes under a towel with the chance of mooning a bunch of elementary schoolers! ;-)

Kelly was up next and her leg had a whole lot of turns in it. So far the Ragnar people did a great job of marking the course, so even with dawn setting, she was able to stay on course no problem.

Bryan was the first one having to run in night run gear (safety vest, head lamp and rear light) and I guess that's also why I didn't get a picture of him handing over to the last runner in van 2. Eric's leg was downhill for the first couple of miles and then a lot of flat country roads. While we traveled to the next exchange zone, we got stuck at a train crossing and we actually saw runners running detours. Fortunately, by the time Eric got to that spot, the train was gone.

While waiting for our last runner to came in, we reunited with van 1 and did a whole lot shenanigans with our safety equipment. Above you see me dancing Y-M-C-A.

After Eric handed back to van 1, they booked it to the next exchange zone, while we went on a quest to find some food.

When we handed back over, we were close to Winchester TN and there, we stopped in a BBQ place.

We do have a pretty bad track record with BBQ and relays, but the place looked good and we didn't have too wait too long for a table. Even without a long waiting time, it still took us a while to get our food in our bellies and back out of the place. Once we were back in the van we had to book it to the next exchange zone that happened to be at a high school. They had a football game there and because of that, there was a ton of traffic. We got directed to the back of the football field and our attempts to sleep were interrupted by the marching band and people cheering. Who in the world is doing 14 touchdowns?? Hmmmm???

We were in constant communication with van 1 and were told, we had 50 minutes until we were back on. The next thing I know, is that we got a text message saying they were stuck in traffic and we should go ahead.... I was awake within seconds, waking up the next runner and heading out to the exchange zone... Were the last van 1 runner was waiting and the first van 2 runner was still back at the van getting ready... Well, in our 4th relay, we finally got that mess up on our track record as well!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Ragnar Relay Tennessee, Part 1

Ragnar Relay Tennessee from Chattanooga to Nashville 196.1 miles

Team "Do Not Resuscitate"
Total Time: 27h 50m 13s (8:31 pace) -> It wasn't me! ;-)
Overall 56/211
Category 16/33


With the start line in Chattanooga, traveling in the morning of the race was out of question. So I went to work Thursday morning and after I got back home, we headed straight to Walhalla SC to pick up our rental van (we use the same place for rental every time). Van 1 decided to head out a little earlier and the van 2 people decided to meet up at 3pm. It took us a while to get the van stuff sorted out and packed up, but we still were able to hit the road on time.

Seriously, there is no good way to get from the Upstate to Chattanooga. And we chose the scenic route for sure. Van 2 was housing all the newbies of this year's version of DNR and so we spend a good bit of time of just getting to knew each other... Might as well, since we would be looked up in a van for the next couple of days! ;-)

We got to Chattanooga around an hour after van 1 and didn't even bother checking into the hotel first, but met the rest of the team at a steak house across the road.... There was beer! And it was yummie!

After dinner, we finally checked into the hotel, got our AWESOME team sweatshirts. And then talked start line logistics.... While there are advantages and disadvantages to being in van 1 vs van 2, one of the HUGE advantages of van 2? Sleeping in! Especially, since van 1 didn't mind to be at the start line alone! Sweet!

After sleeping in and having a nice breakfast, van 2 rolled into exchange zone 6 were we would take over from van 1 in a couple of hours.

We used the time to get checked in (they actually do check, if you have a safety vest for everyone with you), did the safety briefing....

.... fueled again....

... checked out the swag.... (swag only found at a relay: baby wipes, hand sanitizer and window marker ;-)

... admired the van art...

... and took a van 2 group picture... yes, it was a little chilly! ;-) Those sweat shirts were life savers!

Soon, it was time to reunite with van 1 and take over the slap bracelet...  Stay tuned.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ragnar TN: Van Art

Overnight Relay #4 is in the books.

Team "Do No Resuscitate" finished in 27:50:13 and we really couldn't be happier about the result. We made it 56th out of 211 teams and I think we all were surprised about how good we did.

I am not ready to compose a race report quite yet. My brain is still a little fried with the sleep deprivation.

In the meantime, I want to at least show some of the van art we saw.

Be back with the race report... eventually.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sore is the new Normal

I am sore! I am sore for several days now.

You would think that somebody that has constantly quite a high training volume wouldn't be this sore, but off season and "mixing it up" is officially kicking my butt.

The source of most of the butt kicking, seem to be the "Foundation" exercises that I am trying to do on a daily basis now. I thought, that eventually the soreness has to go away. While the basic exercises are slowly feeling easier (two weeks of basics before moving on to the next level), the soreness continues. Sitting in an office chair all day sure doesn't help... Getting up every couple of hours makes me walk like a cowboy that has been in the saddle for too long until the muscles loosen up a little. It's quite a pitiful sight, that I accompany with a little of colorful lanuage (muttered under my breath - it's the office after all!).

For today, I had a trainer ride or spin class on tap. I opted to ride the spin bike at the Y by myself - meaning, not part of a class. I have been so sore lately, that I didn't want to push it at all and give my legs and butt a chance to finally be not sore... But even the easy spinning felt hard today.

That means, I have to skip a day or two of the "Foundation" workouts or flow through some of the moves faster. One of the exercises is a modified version of the chair pose in yoga and I normally hold it pretty long and by the time I do the 3rd set, it burns... burns like my legs and butt is on fire... In general that's an effect you are looking for, but remember, I do have Ragnar Tennessee coming up and from Friday PM to Saturday PM, I will have to run around to 14 miles over three runs (5.9, 3.0 and 5.2). This is pretty much shortest distance that you can run at Ragnar TN... This way, my team mates don't have to catch up too much after I blew the pace average. Good that we are not competitive.

BUT, we are creative. Actually, only one of our team mates is creative and pretty good with Photoshop, so please enjoy the design for our team sweat shirts.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Month in Review: October

Only two more months left in this year... The holiday season is upon on us and with it comes candy, casseroles and celebrations.... and Christmas decorations and Christmas music... shoot me now! My husband calls me "grinch", which I don't think I am... I am just getting tired of all things Christmas by mid December... I am overdosed by it!!

But before I continue to foresee my mental state a month down the road, let's look back at the month of October first.

October was a solid month in terms of training. I am happy to see the running miles going up and starting to hope that maybe, just maybe I can beat my 2010 running miles after all. This month also saw the return of yoga and I can already see an improvement in how my body feels.

Early October was all about sucking it up and get the last couple of weeks of training in even though I sure didn't feel like it anymore.

I was racing my last triathlon of 2011 and ended the season on a semi high note... Leaving me hungry for more and kicking off the goal setting for the off season.

While the temps have cooled down a little, the fall foliage is still fully blown in the area and I hope, we'll be able to continue to enjoy this throughout November.