Where I’ve Been For Seven Months

Before December 1st my last post was April 24 of this year.  That’s over seven months of silence.  I don’t owe blog posts to anyone, but if I want to start writing again (and I do, so much so) I figured I’d at least try to explain myself, even if it is just for myself.

No post is complete without a picture of Scout

No post is complete without a picture of Scout

In 2012 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  It is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects joints, muscles, organs, tendons – you name it, RA can affect it.  At the time of my diagnosis I was only experiencing pain and inflammation in my hands (also known as sausage fingers), and only mildly at that.  I didn’t trust my doctor and since I had been steadily improving, I decided to forgo mediation and continue my life as normal.

At the beginning of May 2013 my family and I went on a trip to Florida.  The week before I had been trying new running shoes and experienced some wicked pain in the balls of my feet.  I chalked it up to the new shoes, exchanged them, and enjoyed my vacation.  But the pain didn’t get better, it continued to get worse.

Soon it wasn’t just the balls of my feet, but my ankles, knees, hips, wrists, fingers, jaw – etc etc.  It would take me about 20 minutes to work up the courage to get out of bed in the morning, and going up and down stairs was slow and painful.  I couldn’t open jars, I hated driving long distances because it hurt to sit but it hurt even more to get out of the car once I’d reached my destination.   I was tired all the time and, truthfully, sometimes I felt just like staying in bed for days and days, because at least then I wouldn’t have to force a smile and pretend that nothing was wrong.  Because I still don’t think that everyone really got it.

You don’t really understand chronic pain until you experience it yourself.  I couldn’t ever get away from it.  NOTHING over the counter worked.  Advil was the only thing that would take the edge off and I held out for a long time because I hate the idea of being a slave to medication.  I tried to get in with my specialist but the closest appointment he had was August (most of the time I love the Canadian health care system, I swear).

I went on an elimination diet which alleviated some of my symptoms, or at least improved my quality of life.  I now mostly avoid gluten as it causes pain and inflammation in my joints.  I’m off most diary as it makes me feel crappy.

In the midst of all this we decided to move 3 hours away.  So new jobs, a new house, a 14 hour day of moving the last 6 years of our lives across the province.  I wasn’t doing anything blog worthy, and I didn’t want to be someone who only defined themselves by their health issues, and I didn’t want to seem like I was complaining so I didn’t blog.

With our move, however, came a sort of blessing – a new rheumatologist.

I met with my new doctor early in November and the experience was like a breath of fresh air. She WANTED me to feel better, immediately.  And with her help and prescriptions, I did.  The day after that appointment I felt – normal.  Pain and stiffness free.  And now, a month later, I still feel just as good.  I know that RA isn’t curable, and that it can come out of remission just as bad or worse, but I am going to enjoy my reprieve from pain for as long as it lasts.

Now that I have my life back I’m trying to figure out how to ease myself back into exercise.  I started run/walking again in September.  I’ve been swimming a few times and been to a few classes at my local gym, and I completely fell in love with my bike.  But my motivation hasn’t exactly returned to the same level it had been before, and that’s something I hope that blogging can partially help me get back.

So that’s it, in a not-so-nutshell.  Sick, painful, moving – and now I’m back.  I think.

Element CrossFit Team Challenge

This past Saturday I participated in my first CrossFit competition, the Element CrossFit Team Challenge. The teams were comprised of 3 guys and 3 girls, and there was a recreational (that's where we were) as well as a competitive division with about 50 teams in each division.

The day started out early, cold and rainy. We arrived at the venue at around 7:30 am for registration, then wandered off to find the team we were sharing a shelter with to try to stay out of the rain. Our division was supposed to start at 8:30, and our first workout was to be at 9:15am.

8:30 came and went and nothing had started yet. Closer to 9 they had us gather around to watch the demonstrations for the first WOD.

Partner couplets

6 minute amrap: toes through rings and 50 double unders; then

6 minute amrap: 7 burped and 20 air squats; and finally

6 minute amrap: 10 pull ups and 20kbs

The 6 person team was broken up into 3 pairs – I volunteered for the burpees and air squats (I know, who am I?) since I can't do toes to rings, or string many double unders together, or pull ups. Yeah, definitely a candidate for the CrossFit games right here. Our heat didn't start until after 10am – at least by then the rain had stopped.

It was a quick 6 min while our teammates did the toes through rings and double unders, then it was our turn. Fastest 6 min of my life. The burpees were brutal – wet AstroTurf combined with having to jump onto a bumper plate to complete the movement lead to some less than graceful moments. Once our time was up I (again, less than gracefully) ran/shuffled to tag the next pair and they were off.

We were fairly confident with our performance – we had exceeded our own expectations, and really, when you're competing for fun that's all that its about.

Since the first workout had started late we knew that the second wouldn't be on time, either, but as the day progressed the intervals between workouts kept getting longer. We didn't start our second workout until closer to lunch time.

8 min to find 1 rep max thruster, then immediately after:

10 min amrap sandbag carry and sandbag squat ladder (10, 20, 30, etc).

We had 8 min for each member of the team to find our 1 rep max and the final scores were all added together. One member of our group had never even done a thruster before so we spent the few minutes we had to warm up coaching her on the movement.

We started off (for us ladies at least) at 80lbs which was already over the max I had ever tried with a thruster. All three of us got it no problem. Same with 85. At 90 the one who was band new to thrusters failed. We skipped 95 and went straight to 100 which I failed at. I'm not unhappy as 90 is already a 15lb PR for me, and it was pretty surreal to be hitting so close to 100. The boys did awesome and all beat their previous 1 rep maxes and lifted some heavy weight.

The sandbag carry was, again, teams of 2, this time guy/girl. We had to grab our sandbag, run to the designated area, do the required amount of squats with the sandbag, then run back and tag the next pair. My partner and I had the lovely task of 30 and 60 squats. I finished all 60 of mine while my partner was on 58 when time was called.

Hurry up and wait, again. The original time for our final WOD was 1:50, but I don't think we started until closer to 3:30.

6 min amrap: 7 front squats and 80m sprint (men @ 95lbs)

6 min amrap for women, same as men but @ 65lbs for the front squats

I watched a video one of our friends made and let me tell you, I sure felt like I was sprinting but I looked like an idiot while running haha. It was a great WOD, and even though I could barely walk from the over 100 air squats I'd already done, the front squats felt like nothing (at least at first).

The event had live Internet scoring so throughout the day we would occasionally check our scores. The top 10 from each division would compete to see who would be on the podium, and although we are all competitive at heart we didn't really want to be there any longer than we had to. Plus one of our teammates was sick with a cold that progressively got worse (no thanks to the rain and cold) and I had to work at midnight. By 4:30 we were sitting in 12 place so we figured we were safe to leave. Once more scores came in we were bumped up to 6th, then 11, and after the final WOD we ended up 10th (there were some ties in the top 10, so technically we were the 12th team). Pretty awesome for my first competition!

Next up – half marathon in October then looks like a weightlifting competiton in November!

 

The One Where I Realize How Much I Suck

Sometimes I forget how far I've come.

I mean, not just about losing weight, although that is still a significant event itself. I mean in terms of my outlook on life, and healthy living, and exercise, and eating. I wouldn't say it's been a complete 180 but definitely close.

18 months ago, I wouldn't have guessed I would be working out as much as I do. I would never have even given a thought to doing a triathlon, let alone 2, let alone getting a coach for next season. If you'd told me that I would fall in love with Olympic lifting I would have stared at you blankly, especially if you'd mentioned the word 'snatch'.

I've been thinking about goals and where I want to go with both CrossFit and triathlons. With tris it's easy – get better. I need to improve all aspects of the sport before I can really truly see what I'm capable of. But regardless I love it just the same, and I know I can get better, and I will.

With CrossFit it's different. I am deeply, unabashedly in love with CrossFit. Without it I know I wouldn't be where I am today, and as cheesy as it sounds it really did change my life. I doubt i would have ever tried running, or triathlons, without the courage and faith in myself that I've developed through CrossFit. Cheesy, sappy, kool-aid driven, whatever – I love it.

So it's hard for me to admit that I suck at it. Now no need to boost my ego by telling me I don't (although telling me I'm awesome will earn you some brownie points) because I know I do. I'm not good at a lot of aspects of CrossFit and I just don't anticipate getting better. I don't improve as quickly as a lot of others at my gym. My times are slower, the weights are lighter, and I really, really am no good at gymnastics movements.

So there's that. It's hard to set goals for things that I'm horrible at. It's not like triathlon, where i know i can improve but have no delusions of ever standing on the podium. I want so badly to be good at CrossFit but I'm just – not. It's hard to sit back and watch others, so easily, do the things that I struggle with on a daily basis.

But then I still have to remember how far I've come.

And I have to remember to stop comparing myself with others.

I need to remember the things I am good at.

But it's hard sometimes, to remember.

 

Subaru Triathlon Series–Niagara Try A Tri

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So yesterday happened. And it was AWESOME!!

17 minute PR, 6 minute PR on the bike leg, and I crossed the finish line grinning like a fool.

But let’s start at the beginning, where all good stories should start.

The Try A Tri started at 1:15pm, which is the latest I have ever had to be at a race start, but meant we didn’t have to be on the road until about 9:30.  I’m a bit obsessive about being early to things, and wanted time to park and figure out registration before having to rack my bike and set up transition.

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We got to Nelles Beach Park just before 11:30, and parking was easy to find and close to the transition area.  As with both of the Subaru Triathlon Series tris I have been to, registration was easy, simple, and so organized.  It took less than 5 minutes to fill out my waiver, get my numbers and my shirt and be on my way.  I staked out a spot on a rack in my age group, set up transition, and then waited for 1:15.

This time it was a lot easier to figure out the run up from the swim/bike out and bike in/run out areas.  The swim was a point-to-point, and started 375m down the beach from the transition area.  At about 10 to 1 Shawn and I started the trek down the beach towards the swim start.

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Swim 10:27

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This was my first time swimming in Lake Ontario, and that fact in and of itself really creeped me out, but I tried not to think about it (or swallow any water, either).  The water temp was cool, but more refreshing than frigid, and it was nice to see that I was in the majority with my lack of wetsuit.
The swim was along the shoreline, and shallow enough that I could touch the bottom at any point.  This was both good and bad, because as I started swimming I kept running into people that would suddenly put the breaks on and stand up, or people that were walking.  The good part was that this time, instead of hanging onto a kayak for a break, I could just get out of the way and stand for a bit.  I know that this is what saved me a lot of time on the swim.

Bike 26:46

Transition went smoothly, and then it was time to bike!  The bike had been my happy place in my first tri, and I expected it to be the same this time. Yeah, no.
It felt like my back brakes were on the entire ride– the whole bike portion was a struggle.  Also the description “flat as a pancake” was most definitely not accurate.
Near the 5km turnaround I started to play the “who can I pass” game.  Not only did it help me mentally, but I think in the end it helped me push harder (and ultimately go faster) as I picked people off on the way back to transition.

Run 19:18

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Run was uphill for the first 1km, on trails in the woods for 500m, then downhill for the last 1km.  This is where I sucked – slower than last time, but my legs were completely trashed from the swim and bike. I got the same weird cramp at the top of my left calf as I did on the bike previously, and basically I have no real excuse for why my run was crap.

I finished in 1:00:26, a freaking 17 minute improvement over my first Try A Tri. 

What I Learned

So let me preface this section by saying that I really didn’t do that much training for this race.  I did not ride my bike any distances since June 16 (only did some bike handling with the tri club) but I credit my improvement to the horrific magic that is the prowler.  I did some open water swims, and some pool swims, but clearly not enough.  It’s ironic that the part I trained most for, the run, is the one I sucked the most on.  But running is all mental for me, and I can talk myself out of running SO easily.  I need to get over that. So:

- I need to take swim lessons and spend way more time in the pool
- I need to practice running off the bike so that I’m used to running on tired legs (or just run more after doing 100000 deadlifts?)
- I need to get OUT OF MY OWN HEAD on the run and just RUN.
- Bike shorts are a must. Non negotiable. I will be buying these ASAP
- New bike before next year’s season starts

All in all, this race was a success.  I got over my fear of open water swimming, I kicked my own ass on the bike, and I actually PR’d by 10 minutes more than I expected.  I can’t believe it took me this long to find triathlons, and I’m looking forward to training over the winter for next season!

Running Errands (Literally)

(Did you know Rock The Dogs has a Facebook page now? I’d love it if you hopped on over and “liked” it! )

I’m doing my best to pretend I don’t have a race on Sunday. A triathlon. And that I still can’t swim to save my life (that’s a lie – I can save my life, just not swim efficiently or effectively or fast or, or, or…)

Last Friday I was supposed to do a long run of 6km, but I woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating stomach pains. They finally went away midday, so I headed to CrossFit for the 4pm class. The WOD was brutal:

1km run
50 bench press
25 back squat
1km row

I managed the run in 6:03 which I was pretty happy with, given how hot it was and how much I suck at running lately. I did the bench presses at 45# and the squats at 115#. It took around 23 minutes I think.

By the evening my stomach hurt again – I’d even laced up and gone outside to run, but didn’t think I could risk it.

The long weekend happened (I worked), and on Wednesday morning I met up with fellow FitApproach #sweatpink Ambassador Michelle of Push.Pump.Progress for a hilly trail run! It was neat exploring a new area and meeting a new friend, and the hills were ridiculous.

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Wednesday afternoon at CrossFit we did the WOD that I am STILL feeling today:

Every Minute On the Minute
10 deadlifts
100m row penalty for not getting 10 in a minute

I started off with the prescribed weight of 135#, but by the 5th or 6th minute my legs were BURNING and I just couldn’t continue at that weight.  We switched plates and I finished with 115#.  I love deadlifts, but not 100 in 10 minutes. (And I had to row 200m after, too).

And now it’s Friday and my hamstrings and glutes are still in some serious pain from that workout.  It made my long run this morning pretty difficult.

I had 8km planned for today, and the forecast was calling for thunderstorms.  I had gotten permission from a friend I’m cat sitting for to use her treadmill, but when by noon the rain still hadn’t shown up I decided to combine errands and running, and run the 4km to my friend’s house, check on the cats, and run home for a combined distance of 8km.

I gotta say that it was a lot more fun to run with a destination in mind.  I don’t really like out and backs as much as I like loops, or even better, point to point.  My run felt like it had a purpose beyond just covering the 8km.

My screaming hamstrings and glutes made my pace a lot slower than I’d intended, and led to some walking up hills, but overall I was pretty happy to be out running the longest run since my injury in March.

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Tomorrow is Fight Gone Bad at the gym – we are doing it as a fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. At this point I don’t think I’ll be participating, as I’m sore AND have a race on Sunday, but I’ll bring my gym clothes with me, just in case.  In either case there will be lots of pictures and a recap next week!

Have a great weekend!

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Have you ever “run” errands before?
Anyone else racing this weekend?

Uxbridge Run for the Diamond 5K

I suppose this is a few days late but I’m sure no one expects on time posts from me by now!

I have to say that this race was THE MOST fun I’ve had at a race yet – and I’m not just saying that because it’s my first race post runner’s knee.  When I went to bed on Saturday  night (late!) the weather was calling for low of 2C to a high of 8C – great running weather.  However, upon waking on Sunday morning, it definitely felt a lot colder than that, and the skies were threatening rain.  I dressed in my new bad ass knee socks, shorts, and a tank but I wore a hoodie and brought my Running Room jacket as well, just in case.

We left at 7:45 for the 45 min drive north west, for the 9:20am race start.  The instructions for parking were easy to follow, and there were many volunteers (as well as police directing traffic) to help us find our way.  Everyone was super helpful and pleasant.  Found the chip pick up area fairly easily, and then kinda just stood around waiting for the start.  There was a half marathon, a 10km, the 5km as well as a 300m kids dash (and the kids got to look for Easter eggs after their race!).  Once the walkers had set off, they had a fun warm up for the runners, and everything started on time, which was good because it had started to SNOW while we were waiting! Definitely went with the running jacket instead of just the tank.

I was super nervous as I always am before a race, but I turned on the music and just decided to have fun.  It started off with 300m on the road, and then headed into the woods and onto the trail for the next 3km.  As usual, I started out too fast, and my first km was around the 6min/km mark.

Let me tell you, I was not fully prepared for how much trail running can hurt! There were a lot of uphills and running in loose dirt.  I walked most of the uphills as did just about everyone else.  A woman passed me on one of them and tapped me on the shoulder to tell me she loved my socks.

I walked more than I wanted to, but my endurance still isn’t back to where it was pre-injury.  Once out of the woods, there were 2km on the paved golf cart paths of the golf course – I managed to pick up my pace there and started passing people (big ego boost for me).  I crossed the finish line in 35:09, which is 20 seconds slower than my previous 5km time, but not bad for my first race back and my first ever trail run.  I was 20/45 in my age group, and 75/164 in my gender.  The finisher medals were nice, and they had water, Clif bars, and all natural sports drinks at the finish.  I grabbed a water and a Clif bar, and then we were outta there.

The little expo in the parking lot was cute, and had a lot to offer like pizza, popcorn, massage, etc, and if it hadn’t been snowing I would have stuck around to check it out.  Over all, it was a great experience and I will definitely attend this race next year – hopefully in the 10km or the half marathon.

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Tri training started this week, too – but I’ll leave that for another post!

Just Don’t Call It A Comeback–Race Weekend!

One more sleep until race day!

I’m still hesitant to have any kind of finishing time in mind.  I’m a slow runner as it is, and I’m still even slower since starting back running, and it’s a trail run.  As I said before, I’ll be happy to finish upright and smiling.

I ran on one of the many golf courses in Uxbridge Thursday while I was at my parents’ house for the afternoon.  This isn’t the golf course the race will be held on, but the golf cart paths and grassy areas were a nice change from road running, and the hills really worked my legs (and lungs).  It was a gorgeous day, and even thought I got lost on the golf course (who does that?) I still had a great run.

I picked up my race kit from one of the local Running Room stores Thursday evening.  It had a lot of stuff for a smaller-ish race, and I was surprised to see that they actually had samples.

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The race shirt is really nice as well, and it was lovely that they had men and women’s sizes, and not just unisex like a few of the smaller races I’ve done. 

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Since this race is sort of a “comeback” (I guess – I was never really anywhere before, ha) and the start of something new, of course I had to come up with a new playlist.  I’ve been running with the same songs on my old playlist for far too long.  The new stuff definitely makes running more fun (for me – I know a lot of purists won’t run with music), and even hearing the songs on the radio makes me want to hit the pavement – er, trail in this case. 

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On the CrossFit end of things, I had 3 great workouts this week, particularly yesterday’s.  The workout was:

3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x3 of bench press
Then:
6-5-4-3-2-1 of cleans (increasing weight each round, up to 90% of 1 RM)
Between each round, do 5 box jumps

I suck at bench pressing, but managed to do 60lbs for 3 reps. My cleans were as follows: 65lbs – 70 – 75 – 85 – 90 – 95, which is a new PR for me – I had never cleaned 95lbs before! Not only that, but my box jumps (at 20’, not on the tire for once, but used a smaller box and 35lb plates to get up to 20’) were solid, AND I finished first for once, in 10:26.  I’m normally the slowest. It was a killer workout, and talk about a CrossFit high – I don’t think I stopped smiling all afternoon.

Besides the race on Sunday, it’s also my mom’s birthday (hi Mom!) – she comes back from Florida today, and brings with her cinnamon bears for me.  I’ve never had them but have heard a lot about them, and now my desire for cinnamon-y, gummy goodness can be satiated.  I’ll also put the finishing touches on my try-a-tri training plan which I will start on Monday. Oh and I also added a page for the dogs at the top of the blog – check out their cute faces!

So many workouts, so little time.

Have a great weekend!

#SweatPink

Eeeek it’s official!

I’m sure some of you have noticed the new badge at the side of my blog – the “sweat pink” one.  Well I applied and was accepted as a #sweatpink ambassador for Fit Approach! I love their mission, and I’m proud to represent them on this blog and in real life!

From their site:

Sweat Pink Ambassadors live the Fit Approach mission every day: they sweat hard, play hard, and inspire those around them to achieve their best selves.

Feel free to check out my profile on the Fit Approach website, and definitely check out the other ambassadors there, too – I’m in some awe inspiring company.

Interested in becoming an ambassador? Check out the #SweatPink ambassador program.