Monday, August 18, 2014

Bikini Babe Strikes Again! The Long Duree - PROGRESS PHOTOS!

 I'm keeping this one brief since these are long overdue, but it's 'that time again'! PROGRESS PHOTO TIME!

I have admit, I do look forward to these posts. Not because I expect drastic physical changes. In fact, there is a firm argument for the changes being less and less noticable at this point, but taking some time to reflect back reminds me that I'm still on the right track. This past year and 8 months have not  been wasted. Far from it. They have probably been the best investment I've ever made.
While I have lost some weight on the scale, it's not nearly as much as you may think. Here are some quick vital stats:

Dec. 2012: 218lbs
Started Weight Lifting.
July 2013: 226 lbs
That's right - I GAINED weight between those 2 photos.
August 2014: 198 lbsUp about 3lbs from my usual 195ish, but not concerned. I did just finish a Strongman this weekend, so I'm a bit on the fluffy side as my body recovers.

But that number says NOTHING about the kind of progress that has happened.
I'm capable of more than I dreamed possible.

Now, I'll be posting later about a unique type of progress that's happened as well. Stay Tuned.

When will there be an "after" photo?
"After" would assume I'm "done".
This kind of awesome I never want to be "done" with. I hope to be earning badges of badassery long into my golden years, and helping others earn (and celebrate) their own.

Oly Girl Meets Strongman... and Gains Perspective

In case you're new to following the blog, in August of 2013, I competed in my first Strongman competition. (Click here to see the blog about that event specifically.)

This summer, I signed up for another Strongman at a larger gym. But unlike last year, I didn't do a lick of Strongman-specific training. I didn't spend the summer looking like someone beat the snot out of me thanks to flipping tires and throwing around logs bigger than my head. My love of Olympic weight lifting and my goals for that have outlasted and outweighed my desire (and ability) to specifically train the Strongman stuff. It's not that I'm not able - it's just that there are only so many hours in the day (and only so many muscles in the body to exhaust...). Don't get me wrong - Strongman is still a LOT of fun! I just have different goals right now.

This year's support crew looks pretty familiar to last years, missing a few faces and added a few as well -
Left to Right: Headbander, Sunshine, Lady in Grey, me, and Strong Girl.

A few were unable to compete or attend for multiple reasons, but all in all it was a great time. This year, the events went in order, and in a fairly timely fashion.  The ladies in my division (age: 26-40, weight: 171+) flew through the events in about 45 minutes.

The Events
  • 400 lb tire flip (same one from last year) 20 yards up hill (timed)
  • Farmers Walk for 60 yards carrying 155lbs (timed)
  • Sled Drag for 60 yards with 70lbs up hill (timed)
  • Atlas Stone Lift (lifting 51, 71, 94 and 120 lb logs over a 4 foot pole - timed)
  • Rope Pull (pulling a small tire with 25lbs inside it using a heavy rope, and up hill. Timed)
  • Deadlifts of 155lbs for 1 minute (reps)
Before I get into scores, placements, and all that jazz there are few things layman should probably understand about Strongman and Weight Lifting type sports. Generally, they are not really 'team' sports. It's an "every man/woman for him/herself" type of game.  As an athlete, you can't control who is going to show up (and possibly show you up). All you can do is train for it and aim do the best you can on every single event. The rest is up to fate. The only way to compete with no regrets is to give every single event all you have.  There is no half way to success here. There is everything you have, or regret-land. Sure, there is a bit more strategy to that, but that's sort of the nuts and bolts of it.

Here are a few Highlights of the Day, Clips from 2013 - and Lessons I've Learned -
Tire Flip 2014

Rope Pull 2014

Atlas Lifts up to 120lbs (30lbs more then last year)

But here are my REAL highlights....
Watching Headbander and The Lady in Grey setting strong Personal Records in the Tire Flip

This moment - So proud of this Girl. Sheer guts.

When Strong Girl beat me by 1/2 a deadlift. She never ceases to amaze!

She'd never picked up this weight before... and she did it TWICE!

 Although, I won't lie, it felt pretty great to discover that I won my division -

The moments I'll never forget have nothing to do with standing on that platform - and everything to do with being a small part of those Personal Records of friends. More rewarding than the medal is the feeling of seeing someone overcome that struggle and watching something destroy that mental wall that says "I can't do this."  That success is completely theirs.

Though I didn't do any Strongman specific training for this event, the speed and explosive strength gained through Olympic lifting and cross training has paid off in spades for me. It allows me to do whatever I put my mind to. I know my body can handle it. I know I can do just about anything for a minute - as long as I don't quit.

Even though it's a solo sport, sometimes it really does take a village.

And I'm just getting started.
Photo credit: My Sailor. Video Credit: Sunshine

Monday, August 11, 2014

Progress Beyond Photos (Electric Run rundown) and, oh yeah, an Anniversary

I know I've been promising new progress photos for a while, but they will just have to wait a bit longer. Yesterday, I just needed a full on break after the Electric Run in Seattle the night before. It was a blast, and I have a new 5k PR to show for it! 
Just to quickly recap, in September of 2013, I was proud to run with a team through the Zombie Run in Seattle. I set a personal record on that race of 30m31s.  Then I ran the Expedition Everest Challenge in Disney's Animal Kingdom in May, hoping to set a new PR on that one. It was an amazing success. I knocked a full 2 minutes off my time and finished the 5k portion at 28m31s.  Now, those were 2 races I trained for.  This year, I didn't really have time to train for the running part. I mean, I still did my recovery runs at least once a week. Until a few weeks ago I was playing soccer religiously every Sunday, and, of course, I've been doing my Olympic Lifting Crossfit stuff as usual.  So I didn't specifically train for this race. My goal was to meet 28 minutes.   I recruited a team (aptly named "Earning Awesome") consisting of one of my fellow Sub Wives, The Lady in Grey, and My Sailor, and we hit the track. We each had different goals so we didn't run together, but personally, I kinda like running alone and just seeing others along the way to wave "hi" to anyway.
Team Earning Awesome Before The Race
I popped in my earbuds and went for a run. This time, there were no 'obstacles' per say, but each of us ended up stuck behind people as we went through barns (the race was held at the state fair grounds), which added probably a minute or two to our times.
I crossed the finish line having shaved off over a minute from my Everest Experience (despite people walking 4 abreast through barns... don't get be wrong, I don't hate walkers, but can ya leave a lane for the runners?!). I finished at 27m27s.

Sure, I probably CAN go faster, had I focused my training for it. And, yes, these "fun runs" may not be the best way to judge speed, but right now, I'm not competing for a medal. I'm competing to be better than I was the race before. Each race has it's own unique challenges.

Team Earning Awesome Post Race!

From this race, I went home with feet that DIDN'T HURT (unlike during Everest). I went home with my fastest time yet, and I got to celebrate it with great company (all of whom reached their individual goals as well).

But most of all, the biggest 'take home' lesson from the Electric Run 5k was that I'm now fit enough to run a 5k without much added emphasis or training! This experience assured me that my habits are well in place and strong enough to see me through things I might need to do outside of 'the norm'. Sure I was tired and drained the next day, but I wasn't incredibly sore or impossibly achy. For someone like me, who FOUGHT for a 30 minute 5k for about 2 years, it's sort of a big deal. I won't go so far as to say "I love running," but I don't hate it anymore.

And it seems like it no longer hates me.

On a completely different topic, tomorrow is the anniversary of the day My Sailor and I had our wedding! He's around to celebrate this one, so we probably should be celebrating in style, right? Well, while we both had big plans for it, the funds don't quite match up with our high ideals right now, so I'm not sure what in the works for tomorrow. I do know I'll be working -and he'll be working - and the house could use a really good deep cleaning. So my gift to My Sailor will be a spotless house from loft to bathroom probably.  This weekend I have the Strongman Competition and we're probably throwing a yard sale the next day, so... it's just another day in paradise!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Crawling Back

I've been hiding.

I haven't blogged in far too long. Part of it is due to being busy (but that's a lousy excuse - I'm always busy) and a lot of it is due to having too much to say - or not enough. Odd problem for a writer, right?

So much has been going on that specific progress has felt like a complete and utter crawl.  I've been going like a freight train for so long that anything below sub-sonic speed feels agonizingly slow. But let's be real, shall we? Progress is still progress, no matter how slow.
And quite honestly, it's not that slow at all. The steps towards becoming Trainer Girl at the Y's are coming together (yeah!) so that's professional progress in a pretty big way. I'm also looking to get some group classes organized closer to home as well, starting up hopefully in the next week or two. The feeling of stability is slowly creeping its way back in, which is a bit of a relief. (While the only way I'd fail on this new frontier is by giving up, it's always nice when faith and hard work pay off.)

I'm still setting PRs (that's personal records for those that don't speak 'gym') in the gym nearly weekly during the heavy strength training cycle I'm in right now. While I'm pretty excited about them, I'm sometimes unreasonably hard on myself. But ya know, I learn more from failing and am more motivated than ever when I do miss a lift. (No doubt I'll be spending some time between clients working on my Cleans and fixing up my form - advantages of working in a gym!) The tricky thing to keep in mind about Olympic Weight Lifting is that people spend nearly their entire lives working on perfecting their technique - so in the grand scheme of things, my progress (at this age and with this timing) is probably more remarkable than I give it credit for. But it's certainly no time to sit back on my laurels! I've been focusing so much on my goal of a 100 pound Snatch lift that my Clean has slipped a bit. Well, ya can't be good at everything all the time. Still aiming for 150lb Clean and Jerk.

My Sailor has found the joys of Oly as well and is hoping to compete next year! He's in the "quick progress" stage that is super exciting to see (and exciting for him to live through as well). He's already surpassing me in most lifts (but he should - he's, ya know, a 'he') and I'm looking forward to coaching him onward and upward, but it's a little strange to not have weight lifting as 'my thing' anymore. Don't get me wrong; it's great to have company on this journey (though I've never really felt alone). I'm glad he's getting fit - it's just takes some getting used to after flying solo for so long. His journey is his and he owns it. My journey is mine, and I own that. (And, admittedly, it would be kinda cool if he is one of the athletes that helps me earn my Level 2, but that's a few years off - too far to see at this point.)

I don't want this point to be misunderstood. It's fantastic to have him home safe and sound - I'm not complaining about that one bit. But it's different for both of us. For example, I can't make a quick dinner whenever I'm hungry - be it 4pm or 10pm. And I can't work the desk job into the wee hours of the morning (not that I was loving that either, per say). We need time so my schedule has become much more structured, which is healthy and good and all that. I actually get a completely reasonable amount of sleep now. I just get so used to blazing my own trail, that's its been surprising to admit that takes me time to flip the switch back to live-and-in-person couple mode.  The distance thing I'm good at. The live-and-in-person thing is like my lifting - I came into it late in life and I'm still fine tuning. But that's okay. He's in it for the long haul and that makes me pretty darn lucky. He started to use weight lifting as a way to connect with me, and now he's really taken it on as his own.

He's always been my safety net -and I'm glad to have him in my corner -

As for progress on the adoption front - so far the only progress we've made is to decide not to 'progress' until he's on shore duty sometime next year. Then we'll do a recheck and see what we're ready for. We just need a break from the horror stories of friends and the constant battle that it's been - not to mention, assuming we proceed, we'd have to choose a different agency to assist with the search and finishing process. Several have generously offered to help us find our family and finalize the adoption for little to no cost. Since the agency that completed our home study left such a poor impression (and wants about $3k more for the rest of the process) we're going to have to find someone ready to do the wrestling match with them for us - 'cause right now, we're both exhausted with the process.

All in all, things are progressing, just slowly. But ya know, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I was (am...often) criticized about living life at light-speed. When I was single, I was warned that I could never expect anyone to keep up with that pace.  My Sailor does a great job at meeting me where I'm at - but he teaches me to slow down as well. Since our wedding day anniversary is coming up right around the corner (8/12), I'm reminded of all the reasons why he's 'the one'. 
 You see, I'd always said, "The right man will be worth slowing down for."