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Monday, May 27, 2013

CrossFit Regionals, "Jackie", and "Murph"

Happy Memorial Day!

Watching the Women's CrossFit Regionals these past few days has been such a kick in the pants!  I say "kick in the pants" because 1) it's a lot of fun, and 2) it's inspiring and motivating, as in kicking my saggy butt into gear.  There's something about watching someone's hard work, dedication, and unbridled determination come to fruition... especially in athletes.  I just have a huge respect and admiration for athletes, and it's probably because I never was one.  I was in ballet lessons for 13 years!  I competed in speech events and Mock Trial!  I was a total dweeb!  Athletics?  What is that?
Last night I watched the NorCal Women's Event 1 competition {you should watch it too, just click here!}.  The event was CrossFit's "Jackie" workout:

1000m row
50 reps of 45-lb thrusters
30 pull-ups 

Dude, what's a thruster?  

Thruster: Squat while holding a 45-lb barbell, stand up, press the bar overhead.

Dude, that's a pull-up?

Kipping Pull-ups: In the video, the ladies are performing kipping pull-ups as opposed to doing strict dead hang pull-ups.  While it may look easier, it's a skill involving more muscles and coordination. I didn't realize this until recently, but any time a CrossFit workout says to do pull-ups, it means kipping pull-ups...

The first woman off the rowing machine started her thrusters with the clock reading 3:50.  That is just insane to me considering the best time I've gotten on a 1000m row is 4:31!  Seriously amazing!

It was so much fun watching Annie Sakamoto {she's in the thrusters pic above} do this event...a 5-foot, 37-year-old firecracker who knocked out those thrusters like it was sweet potato pie.  She's 37?  She started CrossFit when she was 33?  And she's got two kids?! If that's not inspiring, I really don't know what is! 

The top 3 women finished this event in like, 6 minutes.  I never even thought you could do that many reps of anything in 6 minutes! 

With today being Memorial Day, many CrossFit affiliates choose the "Murph" workout for their workout of the day {WOD}.  The "Murph" workout was created in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005.  Murphy originally called this workout "Body Armor" and it was one of his favorites.  I absolutely love the fact that CrossFit has come up with multiple workouts named after servicemen {and servicewomen too? I'm not sure...I've only seen men's names thus far} who have died while serving our country and protecting our freedom.

1 mile run
100 pull-ups
200 push-ups
300 squats
1 mile run

The thought crossed my mind to try and do this at Gb3 before work today but I only had 30 minutes and there was no way I could physically do the "Murph" workout in 30 minutes!  So I did the "Jackie" instead.  Obviously, I didn't knock it out in no 6 minutes, and no way was I doing any kipping pull-ups...never done 'em in my life!  I hit up the rowing machine and rowed out 1000m in 4:38. Then I walked to the squat rack, grabbed the barbell, and partitioned out 50 reps {12, then 11, then 7, 10, and 10}.  That was so exhausting!  More exhausting than I had anticipated.  Last, I was able to do 3 sets of 10 reps on the assisted pull-up machine, since I can't do a kipping or strict pull-up.  Total time: 15:21 {including walking in between machines}.

So I've basically got a 9-minute difference to work on! {big cheesy smile!}  While I'll probably never be able to get anywhere near the 6- or 7-minute mark for the "Jackie" workout, it's kind of cool to be able to see how I stack up to the world's fittest women.  Plus, it's just nice to have a goal to shoot for.

Oy, definitely going to feel this one tomorrow...

Your homework for this week, ladies {and dudes, if you're out there!}...
*Go here and watch a CrossFit Regionals event!

*Try something you've never done before! 
If you've never used a rowing machine, do it. 
If you've never done a thruster, grab any weight you're comfortable with {hand weights, kettlebells, or a barbell} and do it. 
If you've never tried to do a pull-up on the pull-up machine, do it. 
If you've never done any of those three things, well then get to've got a busy week ahead of you!

*Know that you can partition out your reps, meaning, you don't have to bust out ALL 50 thrusters straight through.  Very few super well-conditioned folks can do something like that. 

*Try "Jackie" or "Murph" {if you have the time and access to the equipment}. Don't worry about trying to get a certain time, just finish!

*Breathe.  Take your time.  And smile!

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Saturday Sister Workout

My sister Summer and I have been meeting up to go to the gym once every couple of weeks or so.  I'm not sure how we're able to get in such a great workout when it seems like all we're doing is laughing and making stupid Simpsons or Friends jokes. This past Saturday we got to the gym, and by reading the blank look on Summer's face when I asked, "What do you want to work on today?", I knew I had to take charge.
"Okay, Tabata sprints or rowing machine?" I asked.
"I don't want to do Tabata sprints!" she giggled.
"Perfect." I wanted to row today anyways! AND, I love being the one to come up with our workouts.  I'm hoping to get a certification in personal training {this year? next year?} so I love having Summer as my guinea pig. She's great at letting me boss her around and pick apart her form! Okay, that just makes me sound evil...

We started with 1000m row at a 7 resistance.  I beat my previous time for 1000m {4:38} by only a few seconds.  I ended up rowing 1019m and my time said 4:36 so I don't know what time I got at exactly 1000m, but I think I calculated it out to about 4:31
I swear Summer looked like Mary freakin' Poppins perfectly perched on the rowing machine, just as giddy and gay as can be, and it was cracking me up.  She definitely makes going to the gym a lot more fun than when I'm by myself!

After catching our breaths, we alternated doing assisted pull-ups and upright rows with a 35- pound weight plate. {3 sets of 8 reps for each}.


Then, one of my favorite parts of a workout...the squat rack.  I love working at the squat rack because there's usually no one using it and it freaks the living daylights out of the muscleheads to see a woman lifting.  

We started with front squats {45 lb x 8 reps, 65 lb x 5, 95 lb x 3, 115 lb x 1}. The trick is to try to keep your weight on your heels instead of the balls of your feet, and you want to drop your butt down far enough so that your thighs go past parallel with the floor. And elbows up!

Then back squats {45 lb x 8 reps, 65 lb x 5, 95 lb, x 3, 115 lb x 3, 125 lb x 1}.  Widen your grip on the bar than your grip for front squats. I was super stoked because 125 lbs is the highest weight I've ever done for back first time lifting more than my bodyweight! Another personal record!  We started to do deadlifts but our legs were pretty tuckered out so we moved on.


Tricep dips and oblique side bends with 35 lb weight plates were next.  For the first time, I was able to do full bodyweight tricep dips for 3 sets of 8 instead of using the assistance from the machine.  We did 2 sets of 15 side bends for each side. 


We finished up with me challenging Summer to a plank {on elbows} contest, and giving her a forewarning that the longest plank I've held was for 5:20.  She made it to 2:45 and I stopped at 3:00.
Here's the day's workout:
1000m row
Alternate assisted pull-ups with 35lb upright row {you can use a weight plate, resistance band, dumbbells, kettlebell, or a barbell} for 3 sets of 8
Front squats {45 lb x 8 reps, 65 lb x 5, 95 lb x 3, 115 x 1}
Back squats {45 lb x 8 reps, 65 lb x 5, 95 lb x 3, 115 lb x 3, 125 lb x 1}
Tricep dips {3 sets of 8}
Oblique side bends with 35 lb weight plate {you can also use dumbbells or kettlebells} for 3 sets of 8
Plank hold on elbows
Let me know how you do if you do this for your workout!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

California Classic: Mel's Half Marathon Edition

Another half marathon with the hubby?!? Yes please! It's such a great bonding experience and I highly recommend it. I have to admit, it is hard for us to both train for marathons while having a 5 and 6 year old who are very active and busy kids. It definitely takes balance, dedication, early mornings, and planning. However, it is truly an amazing thing to experience with your significant other. 

I didn't wake up the morning of the half marathon feeling 100%. For one, I was EXHAUSTED! I had been helping out with a fundraiser with the youth group at my church to raise money for a mission trip to Canada we are going on in July. Then I got less than four hours of sleep two days before the marathon and about 5 hours of sleep the night before the marathon. I felt like I was "drunk tired."

 I also decided to make a super smart choice by having wine and gatorade (which I rarely drink.... the Gatorade, not the wine;)the night before the marathon. Uh, yea..... Not ok! It was super yummy going down, but my tummy did not like me in the morning. 

Between the exhaustion, the wine stomach ache, and the stomach pains from being nervous and anxious.... Lets just say I was in the stinky porta potties by the start line way more than I should of been. 

About 10 minutes before the marathon started, Dawn and I were trying to find each other in the crowd that looked like a herd of wild cattle. There were hundreds of people! Any guess as to where Dawn found me? Keep thinking..... Yup, that's right, I was in the porta potty line AGAIN! This time, it was cutting it way too close to start time because the lines were so long. We had time to talk, take some goofy pictures until I had three minutes to spare. I ran in to the bathroom, took care of business in a hurry, and ran out still pulling up my pants and trying to untuck my shirt from my pants. I was praying I didn't have toilet paper stuck to me somewhere. I gave Dawn a good luck hug, and the husband and I raced to the
 1 hour and 50 minute pacer. It was go time! 

Everyone counted down loud and proud..... 3, 2, 1, Go! The start is always the most difficult and frustrating because you are  running with hundreds of other runners trying to get to your race pace. Everyone is way to close for comfort. We started off running next to the 1:50 pacer, but very shortly after the race started, we gradually got further and further ahead of the pacer. Mike (my husband) set a 1 hour 50 minute goal, and we were well on our way to beating that goal from the beginning. 

We were keeping a pretty steady pace that ranged from 8:05-8:20. Mike was rocking it! My hubby runs faster than your hubby! ;) I couldn't resist. I had to add that in there. 

I love running with Mike, even though we are both at a different paces. We promised each other that if we are running in a race together, we will always stick together no matter what. In all honesty, I sometimes struggle with that. Not because I don't want to run with him, but because my body and mind are not communicating! 
For my runs (1-16 miles) I usually range from a 7:30-7:50 pace (16+ miles I'm around a 7:50-8:00 pace). The higher the mileage, the slower your average pace gets. In my mind, I know what pace I should be at when I'm running with my hubby, but my body tries to go faster! It's beyond frustrating! But once Mike and I get in to that groove, we are right on track with each other. 

Let me describe the race course for you in a nut shell. It took place in Fresno, California. Enough said, right? Fresno is not too exciting. It was perfect temperature, but the sun was beating down on us for a good chunk of the run so it felt much hotter. There were very few spectators compared to any other marathon I've done. But the spectators that were there were amazing! They were loud, playing music, handing out water, and cheering us on! That's what I love! It's what keeps you going.  We were not running through the best part of town in my opinion. However, we did run through the Zoo and through the Sea Lion Cove which was pretty awesome. The finish line was also located in Grizzly stadium on home plate, which was also pretty freaking awesome. 

There were also lots of smells. Now, just so you know, I have a very weak stomach when I'm running. I can't handle different smells. Period. Last year, I was on a 20 mile run with a friend, and she decided we should take a different route. We ended up running past a bunch of cows. The poop smell was so intense I could not tolerate it! I ended up puking, A LOT, all over the dirt. Not very attractive, but we kept on running. No excuses, right?

Ok, back to the race day smells. We smelt trash, bacon, other food items, bad air, cigarette smoke from some of the spectators (No joke! Common courtesy people), and poop as we ran through the Zoo. Even with all of those smells, I did not puke. Thank God! 

Mike and I were going strong and enjoying the experience with each other! We had quiet moments and moments where we were having full conversations with each other. That's what I love about running. You can run with someone for miles, and not say a word to each other. 

We were quickly approaching the finish line. A few miles to go and we were feeling the heat, the tired legs, and the exhaustion. We powered through it! Surprisingly, our last 3 miles were quicker than the first 10. I heard people cheering and the announcer calling out names as runners crossed the finish line. I knew the finish line was right around the corner. We turned right, ran down the hill in to the stadium, and sprinted to the finish line holding hands! We crossed the finish line in 1 hour and 49 minutes, setting a PR for Mike! 

How awesome is that? I got to run with my hubby and witness him set a PR. He truly amazes me more and more each day. I couldn't be more proud of him in all that he does. 

After we crossed, we got a bottle water, our medal, and headed straight for the free food and ice cream from Cold Stones! Peanut butter ice cream, pancakes (I couldn't have any since they didn't have gluten free pancakes there), eggs, sausage, and fruit. It was amazing! Celebrated a victory with the love of my life, food, and ice cream! It couldn't get any better than that. The only thing we were missing, were our sweet babies. We had our babysitter take them to church with her instead of taking them to the marathon. 

Marathon running is such an addiction. You get such a runners high from running that many miles. Only 2% of the world will complete a full marathon (not sure on percentage for 1/2). That is crazy! I absolutely adore the running community! It's a big little community of awesomeness and I'm so proud that my husband and I are a part of that. 

California Classic: Dawn's 5K Edition

The bright beautiful morning sunshine coupled with a slightly chilly breeze couldn't have reflected my pre-race feelings any more perfectly: joyful and happy to be racing my fifth 5k yet jittery with nerves.


My sweet hubby had the better judgment to not to brave the crowds with our rambunctuous 3- and 1-year-old boys so early in the morning, making this the first race I've gone to all by my lonesome. Trying to find Mel and her hubby in the crowd before they took off for the half was like trying to find Bigfoot. In a haystack. A really big runner-filled haystack. There were so many people here! Lots of excitement. Lots of hustle and bustle. Lots of reassuring myself that I can meet my goal of running a 7:45 pace {24 minutes for 3.1 miles}.

Four minutes till go time! Feeling good but was kind of bummed that one of my ear buds decided to die on me at this point. What's up with that?!

3, 2, 1...GO!

I started off pretty strong, amazed at the several children that were ahead of me. Yes, in "haven't hit puberty yet" children! Isn't that awesome? Due to my preoccupation with getting schooled by...well, schookids...I forgot to start my Runmeter app until almost a quarter mile into the race!

The shady downtown streets were eerily barren except for a police officer or water station here and there, making me feel as if I had the streets all to myself. If it wasn't for my music blasting out of one good earbud, I'm sure the silence would have creeped me out and slowed me down.

There was a girl who had to have been no older than 9 who kept pace with me for a good mile or mile and a half. At one point she was just ahead of me, but then I said "So long, sucker! Eat my dust!" and I took off ahead of her. Okay, I didn't really think that but I did overtake her. But I thought it was cool that she literally ran right next to me for awhile. Like, thisclose, right next to me. 

For a majority of the race there was a big gap ahead of me and a big gap behind me, making it feel like it was just another day out for a run versus actually racing. I only got passed up by two other ladies who looked to be in their 30s and that was it. With Chukchansi Park in sight, I kicked my butt into gear, excited to be setting a new PR.

Down the ramp to the baseball field was almost like flying. Onto the grass of the baseball field was pretty much the opposite of flying! Thank goodness the whole race wasn't on grass because there is no way I would be setting any records doing that. 

As I got to the Finish line, I didn't even see the clock because I noticed there were three people on the ground messing with the wiring and not moving out of the way. I had to slow down to avoid body checking any of them. Afterwards I high fived one woman named Tara who had passed me. We chatted for awhile and I find out she's a neonatal nurse just like me and actually worked at Children's Hospital a year before I started! Small world. 

They handed out Half Marathon Finisher medals to a certain number of 5k finishers, which feels really dishonest to be wearing it, but here it is.

My Runmeter recorded 2.88 miles in 21:44 with an average pace of 7:32! Still awaiting official results.

I drove home and pulled up to my boys and hubby on the lawn with signs and my oldest wearing my technical shirt that was given to all runners at the Expo. It was just the sweetest thing ever! My signs said "Momma is #1" and "My Mom Runs Faster Than Your Mom!" It was almost as good as if they had been there at the finish line. I just adore my husband and boys!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why Fitness: Dawn's Edition

From an early age, I’ve always been active. Maybe not exactly what you would call an “athlete”, but I liked to move.  A lot.  

Training in classical ballet from the age of 2 to 15 conditioned me for coordination, balance, flexibility, and wicked calves.  After ballet it was snowboarding and kickboxing, which was an amazing whole-body workout leaving me pooped out and panting on the ground.  Once I went to college I started running on the dorm treadmill, skateboarding and playing racquetball with friends. 

Bouldering at Yosemite Fitness, February 2008
And then came Yosemite Fitness and the indoor climbing gym.  Every physical activity I had ever done up to this point was nowhere near as fun as rock climbing!  My husband and I were engaged at the time and it was so fun to encourage each other on different routes.  Climbing is great for any shape or size person and it’s like trying to figure out a personal puzzle. The tall lanky guy can get to the top just as easily as the petite gal, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to best utilize your body’s strength and flexibility. 

Hiking with Moose, July 2011

I started running because I felt bad for our 50-pound Australian Shepherd. He wasn't getting walked nearly enough but we never leash trained him.  Taking him on walks turned into him taking me on runs.  What surprised me most was how I didn't pass out, puke, or die after jogging with him for a mile. So I started running further and more frequently, even after finding out I was pregnant with our second boy just 4 weeks after I started running. My friend and I entered our first 5k in Shell Beach and I had a huge sense of accomplishment and amazement at what my body was even capable of.

After getting married and popping out your baby {babies}, it does things to you as a woman…



And oh boy, does it ever do something to you physically! 
You feel like you lose a lot of your beauty, strength, and dignity after having a child.  All those things that make you feel like a woman in the first place.

The first thing I learned in nursing school {right after the importance of hand washing} was how detrimental immobility is to the human body. After being completely awestruck but God's amazing handiwork in my Anatomy and Physiology classes, it was plainly obvious that God designed us not just with the capability to move, but to move in amazing ways.  Our bodies are capable of so much more than we think they are!

This season of life is where I'm finding myself to be in the best fitness capacity ever, thanks in large part to a dangerously addicting drug called Crossfit. For anyone who does Crossfit, you know exactly what I mean. For those of you who don't, you really ought to try it ...just once!  Mel and I have been going to classes so more info on why we love Crossfit to come!

I want to praise God everyday for giving me a body that is capable of moving.
I want to be stronger.
I want to set a healthy example for my boys {heck, I just want to keep up with my boys!}.
I want all women to know that they are physically capable of so much more than Zumba and 3 pound dumbbells.

Running, my fourth love! (God, hubby, kids, running)

I grew up in a home where healthy eating and exercise was non existent. I was that "skinny fat" girl who was killing herself from the inside out with bad foods and lots and lots of soda! 

 After having two kids and feeling like a blob of fat, I knew I needed to get healthy! In January 2009 right after my second child turned one, I started running (it was more like jogging, gasping for air, and wanting to pass out) half and full marathons. My first training season, I started training with Team in Training. TNT is an organization that trains you to run marathons and raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I ended up fundraising $3,400 for the LLS. 

I completed my first full marathon in 4 hours and 34 minutes at the San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon in June 2009 with TNT!

(Pretty sure I earned those two free beers at the finish line!)

That was a miracle in itself! I never believed in myself enough to accomplish something like that. I had multiple people in my life saying I couldn't do it. If it weren't for my hubby and kids and their constant love, prayer, and support, I know I would have not crossed that finish line. 
As soon as I crossed that finish line, I burst in to tears and I felt like I was going to collapse . Actually, I started crying at mile 20 until the end, but you get what I'm saying! 

(My hubby. My best friend. My number one fan and number one supporter.  Yes, those are ice packs attached to my knees because I was pretty sure my knees were going to fall off with that toe nail I lost at mile 16.)

After that, I automatically fell in love and with the sport (along with other sports like biking, kettlebells, crossfit, and lifting in general).... Despite the aches, pains, blood, sweat, tears, early mornings, and missing toe nails.  It became my therapy, my escape, my quiet time, and my alone time with the Lord.  
This was after I completed the Two Cities full marathon in 2011. This was a huge accomplishment, but definitely not a PR by no means. I was dealing with a knee injury and I had been sick the entire week before, even the morning of. I had a fever and felt like crap, but I still did it even though I was in pain! I finished in 4 hours and 52 minutes and I was devastated with that time initially. But then I realized, I wasn't trying to beat any record or anything. My goal is always to just finish, even if I have to crawl across that finish line. I was so proud of myself for doing it, especially under my circumstances. 

After that, I was on the verge of wanting to throw in the towel and just give up. I kept telling myself the pain was not worth it! I needed some motivation to lace up and hit the trail again. I ended up taking 3 months off from marathon training. I would run a few miles a week, and do Insanity or go to the gym. My workout routine started to crumble and I noticed my body changing on the outside and I felt it on the inside. But again, I had little motivation to get back out there. 

In February of 2012, I went to the doctor and found out I had pre cancer cells on my cervix, which led me to having an ablation and a cervical cone biopsy to scoop out all the "yucky stuff" on my cervix. After going through this, and being forced to take over a month off from running, in addition to the other three I willingly took off from training, I knew I had to stop making up excuses and just GET OUT THERE!

 I began training harder than ever and changing my eating habits. I went gluten free (not by choice. I really miss it sometimes!) and began juicing. I drink 32 ounces of fresh veggie juice daily.  Between the hard core training and eating healthy, I was able to set a very big PR in the San Francisco Nike Women's Marathon on October 14, 2012. I crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 56 minutes. I thought I was seeing the wrong time as I crossed from being delirious from exhaustion. How could someone like ME get a time like that?!? That's what I truly love about running. You are only competing against yourself. I am proving to myself that I am in better shape now after having two kids, than I have ever been. 
(Seeing my beautiful and amazing family at the finish line brought me to tears of happiness and thankfulness.)

Unfortunately, the ablation and cone biopsy didn't do the trick. I had to have a hysterectomy (leaving my ovaries) on March 22, 2013. I am way too young for this! This was physically and more emotionally painful than most things I've experienced in my life. Oddly enough, after going through this, it has made me so much stronger and determined to NOT STOP MOVING and training. No excuses is my motto. God will carry me and has carried me every step of the way in this crazy game called LIFE! 

God moment: I got cleared to start running and lifting lighter weights TWO WEEKS after my laparoscopic hysterectomy! 

I have continued to run half and full marathons, with a 5k or 10k mixed in here and there. I even convinced the hubby to train for half marathons!! I've been trying to convince him to run fulls, but I'm pretty sure that will take years of bugging him! I ran his first half marathon with him in November of 2012. We ran together every step of the way, even holding hands as we crossed the finish line. ::insert cheesy comment here::  We are running our second half marathon together on May 19, 2013 at the Cal Classic! My husband amazes me in all that he does. I am one blessed woman! 

(Right after we crossed the finish line together in November 2012. Finished in 1 hour 52 minutes 15 seconds.)

There are plenty of mornings, especially those 3:45am double digit run mornings that I wanted to crawl back in to bed and pretend my alarm clock never went off! I wanted to hide my running shoes and blame the kids for hiding them! But, as soon as my feet hit that pavement, and I have worship music blasting in my ear (I only wear the headphones in one ear), I am in my happy place. 

Why do I get up so early to run you ask? It's all about balance and not letting my "me" time take away from my family time! If a run is going to take time away from my family, I won't go! Plain and simple. My family comes before running. 

There are many times I beat myself up for not getting up to run. But I have to remind myself what's more important in my life and be happy with what I'm able to do. I think it's hard for moms, and females in general, to not be our own worst critic. It's a daily struggle for me. I just have to remember how God views me. He thinks we are all awesome and beautiful just the way He made us. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Half to 5k Doesn't Make Me a Loser

It was supposed to be my first half marathon ever. It was supposed to be one of those “look what I did before turning 30!” type things.  But you learn something really quickly when it comes to physical fitness and especially with half marathons: you can’t accomplish what you don’t train for. 

Yesterday, the family and I went to the Expo for this weekend’s California Classic. Among the multiple zig zagging lines, I waited in what seemed like the slowest line ever so that I could switch from running the half to the 5k.  I quietly tried to not beat myself up about it while wrestling with my 3-year-old son clamoring over my back and trying to pull out my pony tail holder.  I switched from a clean, unblemished white bib to am ugly yellow “please don’t look at me like I’m a loser” 5k bib, which I quickly hid in my goodie bag between several sheets of paper. 

Could I be having second thoughts?  I had to quickly remind myself why I was doing this again. I’ve run several 5k races in the past (my first one while I was pregnant) and I absolutely love doing it.  I could even try for a PR this Sunday.  That means so much more to me than just saying that I finished a half marathon. 

It’s hard not to compare myself, not only as a woman to other women, but even more so to other athletes.  But at the end of the day I have to remember that my biggest competitor is just me.