Thursday, January 31, 2013

Meeting of the Arrogant Bastards...

As I write this I realize that I've neglected to take a photo of myself in my new AB jersey. Drat!  I had to order it online, then have Perla's mom remove the sleeves and tailor it a bit.  Tonight was the first night I got to wear it, so I overkilled it by wearing it to both train and to the monthly team meeting.  Ah well, I can definitely say I like running in it, at least in cool weather!

BASTARDS...tonight's 6:30pm practice will begin in Monrovia Library Park along Myrtle. Immediately following practice we'll head over to T. Phillips Alehouse for our end-of-the-month business meeting. Lots of topics to cover this month. Be in your Jersey for the meeting or pay a fine. RSVP in comments as to which or both events you'll be attending.
So tonight looked relatively easy... Break in to ability groups (we had Linda Z leading our pack, with Joyce, Julie, Lynn, Marleigh and Roadkill), and as a team take a one mile climb up Myrtle to the T, with 10 walking lunges at every intersecting street.  Sounded easy enough, until I got about half way up and found my legs weren't quite as recovered from Tuesday as I had thought.  Marleigh was a trooper and hung back with me through the climb, with the rest of the team pausing at every other crossing.  All in all, we made it to the top right about the same time as the rest of the teams (who all had more lunges, equaling us out).

The return trip was every woman for herself in a race back to Foothill.  Again, Roadkill in the rear, but not by more than a few car lengths.  Thanks Julie, for checking and keeping me on her heels.  When we hit Foothill it was the coolest... we all had a minute chance to catch our breath which revived me enough to race along side them the rest of the way back to Library Park.  Too much fun.  I adore these gals and really look forward to the day when I'm running at their sides and not chasing them... and the day WILL come, of that I have no doubt.

So, my first team meeting... these Bastards sure know how to pack themselves in to a room!  T Phillips gave us the private room but we were still overflowing.  Now, understand I'm not naturally an outgoing gregarious person and when in a new environment am most comfortable taking a corner seat near a friend, watching the hoopla and just interjecting as I settle in.  Eric knows this about me and just loves to push me right in to the center of things whenever he gets an opportunity... like tonight.

Being a newbie and last female to place, I got to stand up and be publicly christened "Roadkill" with a stern warning to all Bastards that my birth name could not be spoken while I held the fine position of last place in the qualifier, which means at least April.  And the penalty for calling me Kellie... they have to buy Eric a beer, because I don't drink.  LMFAO!  That was hysterical and I gotta tell you, I love it.  I love the name Roadkill, I love everything about it.  Roadkill means that I made the grade on to one seriously tough ass team and that's all I care about.  So, I'll wear my new name proudly until April, and then we'll see if anyone wants to step up and try to take it from me.  :-)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Being a Bastard

It's 9am Wednesday morning and I find myself in bed blogging.   Last night's AB training session was by far the hardest yet and I'm definitely feeling my age at the moment...

BASTARDS! Tuesday's 6:30pm practice will be short and well, remember that this Thursday (8pm) will be our first end-of-the-month business meeting for 2013. We'll be voting in a few new members, celebrating Road Kill and That Guy, as well as discussing the new Mt. Wilson Trail Training. Tonight we will meet at the northeast corner (the canon monument) of Sierra Madre's Memorial Park along Sierra Madre Blvd., just east of Lima. RSVP here if you're attending practice...

"Short and Sweet"... are you kidding me?!  Warm up was a two mile run from the canon down to the track at Pasadena High followed by a one mile time trial, then a two mile run home.  The catch... we were teamed in unlike fitness abilities, and I got Tom Augustin.  

The upnote is that Tom is such an easy going and wonderful man, that he just settled in to my snail's pace and chatted with me there and back.  Like Eric, he has a gift for taking my focus off my discomfort and keeping me moving.  We were still last arriving at the track, which meant that I got a whole minute rest before the time trial.  I had a problem getting my watch started and had to estimate my finish time, based off of my recorded laps, and can conservatively say I was under 8:30, and am almost positive it was actually closest to 8:22.  Remarkable to me given the run over.  

When I finished my mile, the whole team was waiting on the track to high-five me through their tunnel.  It was very cool, and I know that even though I'm the slowest on the team, I am also still very much a part of it.  The problem with being last, is you get no rest, and as soon as I crossed the one mile line, everyone grabbed their stuff, and we were running back.  Ugh.  Somehow, I was also able to run the entire distance back, although my left ankle was getting super sore and stiff.  I didn't roll it or anything, so I'm pretty sure it was just my technique deterioration that was causing it.

As I was driving home, Dave O pulled up along side me at a signal... I rolled down my window, said I was tired, and he agreed it was one rough workout.  It seems he was teamed with Eric, which meant he was pushing super hard the whole time too.  Then he said "The good thing is you're now a Bastard, the bad is you're now a Bastard". I love Dave.  He's been a bud of mine since I joined the community and I adore being on the same team with him.

I know down to my toes that this team is by far the hardest personal endeavor I've taken on since I started the whole fitness game in 2006.  And just like then, I know down to my toes that if I just thicken my skin and hang on, it will get easier with time.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Holy Shit, what've I gotten in to!

Today marks the end of my second week on the Arrogant Bastards Trail Race Team.  I've attended 4 of 6 sessions and each one has gotten progressively more challenging.  I realized yesterday as I was laying down and recovering from the hardest yet, that joining this team has created my greatest goal since the AIDSRide in 2007.  It warrants regular blogging of the journey, so let's go backwards before we go forward...

(Eric posts our workouts on the ABTR Facebook page, if you haven't been there yet, I set a link.  I reflect them here in highlight)

Tuesday January 15th:
Bastards! A few notes...
1. There are still about TWENTY Bastards that still need to requalify. You know that you have until this Thursday to get it done.
2. Tonight's 6:30pm practice will be at the Mt. Wilson Trailhead. There will be a quick meeting about the new ability groups and and overview of the next cycle of training.
3. We'll be launching the new line of tech. t-shirts, so be on the lookout for those and zip-up hoodies or jackets.
4. RSVP in comments.

First session with Dave O on Point: Veterans got a nice easy jog up to First Water... Cherries had to race it to The Ropes.   The only cherries were me, Marleigh, Jessica, and I think Chad's brother.  I was the only one of us who knew where we were going, but I knew I wouldn't be fast enough to lead.  Let's start with, it was DARK and the first time I had been on the trails at night in over 3 years.  AMAZINGLY beautiful and scary.  I tailed Perla all the way to First Water, and while I know she wasn't pushing hard, it was all I could to do keep up.  I didn't rest there and kept pushing hard to The Ropes.  I was sure I was the last Bastard up and the rest of my team would be waiting either at the end, or would pass me on their way back down.  Surprisingly, I caught Jessica, Chad and his brother right as they were arriving at the ropes.  A minute later, Marleigh's headlamp came in sight and we were a complete team.  Together we ran back down the mountain, Marleigh leading with a crazy quick pace that we all held until the trail got technical then we started spreading out.  No one opted to pass me in second place, so I must have been holding my own.  It was a VERY GOOD first night out, and reaffirmed for me exactly why I had fought so hard to make the team.

Saturday January 18th
BASTARDS! Early roll-call tomorrow morning. 6am practice at Chantry Flats (yes, due to parking issues). Come prepared to break into Teams of 2 runners (like fitness abilities). We have a great game planned for all those in attendance. RSVP in comments...
Hoegee's Loop with the Twist... Summer changed the game to unlike fitness teams with teammates running in opposite directions.  I was matched with Monty of all people...Super nice, but super competitive!  All of us slower folk opted to run up the mountain first, with the finish line back at the exact gate where we started.  I kept up with the gals for the first mile, then started to fall off.  By the canyon descent, I could only catch the occasional glimpse of Lynn.  So, I ran my fastest while keeping myself in check, the one time I started to panic, I immediately rolled my ankle slightly, and it focused me enough to keep my wits and just not let up.  When I got to the top of the concrete hill, everyone was there cheering, but I still needed to run up to my starting gate... that cost me another 2 minutes, giving me a total time of 1:08.  Monty was only 48 minutes, so we finished at 1:56.  The winning teams were 1:52 but apparently some of the gals in front of me didn't run all the way to their proper finish, so who knows what their true finish time would have been.  Normally, I wouldn't care about rule infringements, but when you put us in a race, it needs to be fair or why bother recording the times at all.  It seemed like the rest of the teams must have been used to that kind of stuff since no one questioned the results, so I kept my mouth shut and put it behind me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013
BASTARDS! Tonight's 6:30pm practice will commence at the top of Baldwin Ave. in Sierra Madre. You may choose street shoes, as 75% of practice will be on cement. If its raining, we'll informally gather at Lucky Baldwin's...RSVP in comments!
Tonight was absolutely spectacular from a team building perspective... there were SEVEN of us back of the packers to form our own unit.  (me, Marleigh, Kathy, Julie, Maggie, Carrie, Joyce)  The goal for our team was 2-3 rounds of  hill repeats and sprints around the grounds of the housing development at the top of Baldwin.  We never ended up going off road, but I was wearing my trail shoes just in case.  The route called for one climb at an easy pace, followed by a second climb at race pace.  Our team held together, with me still pulling up the rear, but not by more than seconds.  We finished our first two rounds and a couple of the gals had to go, leaving the rest of us to finish what we'd decided would just be another half round... instead we peer pressured each other in to finishing the entire route.  After we were done Eric asked me to hang out on his buzzards roost to chat... as I related the highlights of the night, he quietly reminded me that I may be "Road kill" on the team but I am also still the owner of TCA and can not ever take short cuts, quit, or behave badly.  We lead by example, even when it is from the back.  I totally get it and completely agree.  I also appreciate the extra incentive as yet another tool for keeping my head quiet when the going gets rough.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

BASTARDS! For Saturday's 7am practice: I don't care which starting point/parking lot/ or gate you park at but practice STARTS at 7am on the WHITE BRIDGE at Eaton Canyon. Be in uniform and be sharp...RSVP in comments.

Yesterday was the first real day of what I've always visualized the Arrogant Bastards were about... adventure!  We met at the bridge and broke in to ability groups, this time I was teamed with Marleigh, Julie, Maggie, Amy (with Lucy!) and Carrie.  Then Eric double-teamed us with the next fastest team who included Dave O and Jim Siegrist and Linda.  The course.... run down to the horse trail connector, and up the horse trail to the Mt. Wilson Toll Road, up to Henniger Flats for 50 push ups... then back home again.

WOW!  I don't know what the mileage was, but it felt like at least ten.  Hope says is was actually closer to  five. Too funny.  The bottom line was it was HARD.  As soon as we hit the horse trail it turned in to steep single track with lots of switch backs.  The teams spread out and the majority of them slowly started pulling away from me.  At some point Carrie was the only one behind me, and while she never said it, I suspect she was designated sweep for our group.  Whatever her reason for being back there, I was very grateful because it set in my head the game of not letting her catch me.

When we popped out on the toll road I was able to see the majority of our team and realized I wasn't really all that far behind.  As we kept climbing Carrie gained on me and we both gained on Jim and Dave O.  Then Carrie with them pulled away and I had to chase them all most of the way to the top.  It was an amazing climb.  I had no idea I could move so fast for such a distance.  I had no idea I could still break in to a run in the more level areas when I was so tired... but since that was what Carrie, Dave and Jim were doing it I had to.  I was determined to not be left, so I dug deep and held on... Welcome to the true power of the team... I will do for the group what I will never do for myself.  Awesome.

The push-ups were the pits and I'm ashamed to admit that I was the only one on my knees. I didn't like it and I need to change it.  Now.

The way down was absolutely glorious.  Just was we were getting ready to start, the fast teams rolled in... it seems they had an even further checkpoint than we had... not to mention quite a few more push-ups to chew through.  Ugh.

As we started down it began to lightly rain.  Seriously.  I've never run downhill in the rain. It was too damn much fun... except maybe the having to constantly blink part.  The ground was already wet, and perfectly stable in most areas but slippery in others.  I found it easy to find the firm ground and never had trouble with slipping.  Downhill is a whole other animal... and the Bastards are very FAST animals. Dave and Jim quickly pulled away and dusted the entire group.  Julie, Linda and Marleigh were all moving really fast too, so I hung on Carrie's heels and Maggie hung on my heels.  By the time we hit the horse connector Marleigh had fallen back with Maggie... (Marleigh is going to be an absolute trail terror when she figures out how to control her breathing and stops getting side stitches.)  By the time we reached the Eaton Canyon trail the rain had stopped again and we just needed to jog/walk back to the bridge.

I am so grateful for having Carrie there and her willingness to lead. She is a very fast runner and yet she set a beautiful pace the entire course and maintained an attitude and demeanor of staying well within her ability level. I don't think she broke a sweat the entire morning.  I asked her why, and she just said something to the effect that it was just a training day and not one that required race effort.  Whew, it sure did for me!

Afterwards, Hope and I changed into dry clothes and met Amy for a perfectly paleo breakfast.  It was a great ending to the morning and segued nicely in to my much needed noon nap.

I love this team because they are all generous of spirit, giving of their time, and relentless in their pursuit for adventure.  I sent Eric a text yesterday afternoon that said "I can def say joining the AB has created my biggest goal since the AIDSRide.  I have not felt this alive and motivated in years.  Thank you for setting the bar so high."  

I used to think the AB entry was too hard and that they needed to be more accessible to newcomers. I now understand that the Arrogant Bastards can't lower their standard without bringing everyone down which would quickly destroy the cohesiveness of the whole team.

I now understand and am living proof that with sufficient determination and patience anyone can make this team and join us.  It took me a year and it was worth every second of the effort.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Run Less Run Faster...

So, what happened after we moved buildings to help me qualify? As I had promised myself, I diverged.  Here's the back story:

Our Team CrossFit Academy Grand Opening was on October 6, 2012. About a week later I called up my friend Amy and invited her on a "fun run".  I needed to decompress after the stress of the move and just wanted to run trails, she was right there with me since she has an incredibly stressful job every day.  We went up Clamshell and it hooked us both immediately.  We decided to start running 2-3 a week, primarily for mental health.

By the time we had met for the third time, we were talking about training for the January Arrogant Bastard qualifier.  It seems we are both quite ambitious and are most comfortable in a training environment as opposed to exercising for mere fun.  It was then that Amy told me about a book she was reading called Run Less Run Faster.  I bought it and we both bought in to it, deciding to use their 12-week 5k program to prepare for the upcoming qualifier.  I loaded their program in to Excel, added our target times, set the training locations.. Ready, Go!

On October 18th, we ran a 5k race at the Rosebowl.  My time was 31:10.  Super slow.  The program called for using our opening 5k times to set the paces for targets during the week.  Tuesday was speed work at Foothills Middle School, Thursdays were short/mid tempo out on the streets, and Saturdays were long tempo generally on trail.  We also ran the AB course every 3-4 weeks to monitor our progress. 

I only managed about 80% of the training sessions, mostly sacrificing the long tempo runs on Saturdays.  While I have the results of each run stored, the only ones that mattered were those on the AB course.  Here they are:

35:04 July 2012 Qualifier: 
38:53 November 1st, run alone, not recommended
35:24 December 22nd, with Kendall & Perla first attempt
36:55 December 27th, run alone, really not recommended
33:05 January 12th, with Kendall & Perla pacing me

What happened?  Three weeks out from race day, I brought it to Eric.  He was aware and watching what I was doing and while disagreeing with my methods, had been keeping his opinion to himself... until I asked for his help.  He then told me I had 12 running sessions left and had better make the most of them.  The book I was using for created for marathon training and the time hacks I was targeting were too slow to create the change needed to win the AB.  He said to blend the book with the race and make every session at Eaton Canyon.  I followed his advise precisely, but as you can see was still struggling horribly with time trials.  

The problem was two-fold.  One, I wasn't fueling properly.  Two, I was mentally sabotaging myself.  I had gotten it in to my head that I wasn't going to succeed no matter what I did, and I kept having mental breakdowns on the course on the days when I would run alone.

On January 3rd, I let go.  I just let go.  I no longer cared if I made the team or not.  I made peace with not making the team.  What I did NOT do was stop training.  I kept doing exactly what I was supposed to go, I just stopped judging the results and beating myself up.

A couple of days later, Hope commented while running me with that my symptoms were synonymous with lack of fuel.  (Super strong first mile, more than sufficient lung capacity, but complete leg weakness that would not improve much even with walking)  She recommended an energy gel or drink before training to see if it would help.  (Those are products I abandoned when I went paleo and started o-lifting, but used to use regularly when I ran in the past).  I tried a Hammer Gel the next session, and holy smoke, it was like I was on crack.  I ran all the way to the bridge without walking once and wasn't even completely depleted.  Adding fuel gave me a new optimism and in my quiet heart I set myself the goal of PR'ing with a target of 34:10.  I told myself that if I could even qualify for the 2012 race time I would be very satisfied and motivated to continue knowing I would eventually make the grade.

That was it and the next thing I new it was race day.  That morning I ate a gel on the drive to the course, ate a second one while warming up, and when the race started, did my best to block out everything except the sound of Kendall's voice in front of me and Perla's next to me.  At no time did I panic, mentally quit or even allow myself to think about the finish line.  I just ran as fast as I could and did my best to stay on his heels.  I did notice that I wasn't far behind the rest of the girls which was unusual but not necessarily relevant.  Then we cleared the trail and I could hear Eric screaming at the top of his lungs with an urgency that cut through my exhaustion making me push even harder. When we crossed the line and Summer called out 33:05 I was astounded.  I was sure I'd hit the 34:00 range somewhere, but wouldn't have guessed my actual time to save me life.

Miracles do happen and they are the direct result of my hard work, willingness to ask for help, and the love and kindness of my friends and coaches.  I would not be on the Arrogant Bastards without Eric, Kendall, Perla and Hope's assistance.  It truly takes a village to raise this child.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Brain dumping..

So much to write, so little time to write it...

On Jan 10, I celebrated 10 years sobriety. A milestone that means so little to some and so much to others. I'm one of the others and given my years 7&8 am very grateful to still have my seat.

On Jan 12th, I ran the Arrogant Bastards qualifier for the 4th in a year. This time was different. I trained on the course for a month, used pacers and ate race fuel (hammer gel) before the event. I qualified with a 33:05, making it under cut off by 5 seconds, and earned the dubious honor of the title "Roadkill". No one was more surprised than me to hear my finish time. Now I just need to make practices and keep getting faster. I've added my race list to the blog to keep track of the rest of the year's goals.

1/14 I joined TCA's 90 day Paleo Challenge, testing in with weight at 149.85 and BF at 33.5%. My goal is to test out at 28%. Wish me luck. It should be perfectly manageable as long as I stay clean and manage my stressors.

1/16, took my first of 4 cakes at the PG home group. Got more compliments on wearing a short dress than I've ever gotten in my skirts. Note to self: showing a little silhouette and leg is ok.

1/17 set myself up for a painful reality check. Had asked a normie to give me a cake last night. First time I've ever gone out of the rooms but figured 10 was so huge that my outside community would also think so. Nope, they just don't get it.  Oh well, move on as Hilda would say.

My party is scheduled for 2/9 at WOL. I went back out on a limb and asked my brother, sister in law, and dad to give me the cake. My brother and his wife said yes emphatically and immediately started talking about paleo friendly cakes. Maybe my cynicism is unwarranted at least with natal family.

One thing I did learn at last Sunday's discussion with Dallas Hartwig was that humans thrive best with close communities of about 20 people. If we split our communities we are not fully invested in either one. Welcome to my world. I'm slowly seeing how different my two worlds are and beginning to judge their value differently than ever before. Maybe more on those thoughts another day.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Goal tracking...

The AB qualifier is in 9 days.  I'm not optimistic about succeeding this time, but at peace with letting go... because I have a plan.  If I qualify, I will CF Mon-Fri at 9am, and train AB on Tues, Thurs, Sats.  If I don't make it this time, I will adhere to my coach's direction (this time), and CF Mon-Fri 9am, and run Saturday's with the MWTR team that starts next month.  Either way, I've finally let go of the results and am content with my efforts.  Oh, and I am POSITIVE, that if I follow that track, I will make the team by the July qualifier.

Why am I at peace?  Because I know I'm doing everything within my power now.  I'm eating a lot and SUPER clean.  And, as of last night, finally getting enough sleep!  I taped aluminum foil over my windows yesterday and slept almost 9 hours.  OMG, I didn't even think that was possible.  I'm so used to waking up with the sun, regardless of when I go to bed, that it was quite a surprise this am to wake up at 8am.

On a really bizarre and cool note... one of the waitresses at the restaurant I eat breakfast a couple times a week is a Chinese astrologer and she gave me a partial history and forecast this morning.  Left me very optimistic for both my finances and health in 2013.  Very grateful for hope.  It's been a damn hard 3 years and I'm ready for the light!