Tag Archives: trail running

End of DAMY Bikini Body… on with Tough Mudder

DONE

I did it… 12 weeks on Bikini Body. 12 Thanksgiving-spanning, Department-lunch covering, three-time-of-the-month encompassing weeks. 12 weeks ago I squinted suspiciously at the impossibly-beautiful Amy Layne and debated whether she was another empty promise and short-lived lie. I sent her my $98. Best thing I ever did. Amy got me back ‘on track’, she taught me to care about overall food intake, not focus and obsess over individual macro- micro- whatevero- nutrients. I followed her workouts, stuck to her eating plan and watched myself change so much. For the first time, people really started commenting on how good I look. Not how slim (how skinny-fat), just how different, and how toned. AND, weirdly, for the first time I way relaxed about what I ate. I stopped dreading social occasions, I stopped fearing my own reactions to food. I think I have covered most of what I learned on this journey, but mostly it was;

-Never, ever resort to quick fixes

-Don’t obsess over the scales

-Stick to it through the ‘water weight days’

-Know that water weight days can last > 10 days in some (my) cases!

-Every time you “fall off the wagon”, just get right back on it, that SECOND. Not “tomorrow”; not “after the weekend” – right then.

-Make sure you do the exercises you HATE (hello squats). You probably hate them for a reason.

-Know that hungry before a meal is OK. Hungry all the time is not.

-Give up those artificial sweetners

-Chillax. Keep doing your best. Be proud of yourself for doing so.

40 mins; 1 weeks’ food to reheat and serve

The best practical tip that I learned was: Cook way in advance. Seriously. I would do a weekly shop, then make lietrally, 10 lunches and 10 dinners (5 for me, 5 for Wes). For example:a giant thing of whole wheat pasta with tuna and tomato; a tray of roasted veg and chicken, a large lasagne and tub of pre-cooked fajita mix. Then, portion out into single servings and store in the fridge. Wes and I could grab ‘n’ go as we liked, and it really only took ~40 mins to do the whole thing on a Sunday. Only one kitchen clean up too 🙂

And, I made my goal: a waist of 26″ without squeezing and pinching. I do have bikini-clad progress pics, but you have to email me for them as I fear future employers / students getting a gander 🙂 So you can have final stats instead:

Starting / after 2 weeks / after 4 weeks / after 6 weeks / after 12 weeks:

Weight: 143.5 lbs. / 138.5 / 135.5 / 137 / 134

Chest: 37 / 37 ” / 37 “ / 37″ / 37″ (good grief; no fecking change)

Waist: 30″ / 29″ / 28″ / 28″ / 26″ (wooooooo!)

Hips: 38″ / 37″ / 37″ / 37″ / 37″

What now? Well, a similar eating style + some wine in the evening, but slightly different workouts. Which leads me too:

Tough Mudder Training

So, for bikini body it has been all low weight, high rep ickiness. (I HATE that – let me move mountains, please!). Lots of interval workouts, and I did reach 15K (ever closer to my half marathon goal).

Now, I am switching it up, as my ADHD-like tendencies… OK, OK, my pure ADHD… does not allow me to stick at one plan too long. Here is a summary:

-Weights: 4 times a week, at a level where I fail on the 12th rep. Lots of ab work for the vanity.

-Interval training: Yes, OK, I will do it. At least 3 times a week. With lots of core work for the health.

-Running: Knee not coping so well. Twice a week: one long, one short run. With one elliptical session for the Chuck Bass ogling.

-Yoga: Twice a week, to help my fairly wrecked body. With one post-yoga glass of wine for the pain.

Finally. Pull up training. New (near impossible) goal: to be able to do a pull up (or four) by Tough Mudder. I’ll keep you posted. With videos for the voyeurism.

This week, I am entering the Lookout Mountain 10K. Kinda nervous about a full 10K on a trail… and how busy it will be. Also, I am in so much weight lifting / interval training pain at the moment, the thought of completing it is currently fairly inconceivable… but hey, this is just usual pre-race jitters, right? And, I have a new race to think about:

New Race!!

Woo-freakin’-Hoo. In January, I shall be running in the Canyonlands Half Marathon. Oh so pretty. Oh so damaging to my credit card. This is AWESOME news. But also quite scary. My goal? 2 hours 45. There. I said it. Wish me luck 🙂

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Battle at Big Creek, Tough Mudder week 7 and reflections on some life choices

A section of Big Creek Trails

The earliest start yet took me to a new state for a trail run; at 3.30 am, the boy packed up some warm jumpers, two fired up puppies, a stash of snacks, and a grumpy ‘just started my TOTM and have cramps’ wife, and started the 3 hour drive to Roswell, Georgia for Xterra’s “Battle at Big Creek”. 8k (me) or 16k ( brave fools) as you wished. I arrived, glad the boy had allowed vast amounts of extra time (which I did not feel glad for at 3.30 am) as we had forgotten the change over from Central to Eastern time. But we made it fine, I got my neat little registration pack, some time to chill and warm away the Raynaud’s in the car, and time to be vaguely disconcerted that I had been registered as a 31 year old.

It was not in a state park this time, rather a “greenway” in a urban area. The trail was OK from a scenic point of view. It was fine, and it was great to be out among the changing trees, but there were no nice views and no sense of being it in endless nature (which is something I do in general love about trail running). It might not have been helped that our route missed the water. Whereas I am already planning the 2 hour drive to take my friends to hike the stunning Monte Sano in Huntsville, I am not especially planning a return trip here, although if passing, I would happily stop for a hike.

So, why did Xterra’s pick it? Well, post race, I read that they do it because of the challenge. It is one of Xterra’s hardest terrains, based on technical difficulties, steepness and condition of the trail. And Xterra’s are hardly known for mollycoddling their participants.

I knew at the start that 2 weeks wasn’t really enough to train for an 8k from 5k standard, but I am traveling much of the rest of this month so this was my only hope of getting a monthly race in. In the blistering cold (my tongue actually went numb) I enthusiastically started somewhere near the middle and slowly picked people off as I made my way to the front. It was uphill, but that was OK, as after my lesson from Monte Sano I had been doing some hill training and practicing on the undulating ground near my house. Undulating. Undulating. Not nearly 3 miles of pure climb that was so steep the trail had to wind its way up it, rather than take a direct path. Hmmmm. About 2 miles into it I was pretty miserable and thinking “I am either going to have to hate hills or train for them more”. I suspect it will be a mixture of both.

I got my head down, and at around 3 miles, started to get in the zone more and enjoy it. I picked people off one by one and felt pretty good about it. I ignored the aid stations and just pushed on, and could see around a few bends, so see that I was doing pretty well among the women – there were only maybe 5 or 6 in front of me, of which the 3 absolute spring chickens told me I was 2 nd or 3 rd in my age group. Time for a final push as I hit the last mile marker – and push I did. I sprinted for that finish line, passing one woman and making myself 2nd, which was a wonderful feeling. I gave it all, and at the last 400 meters I was overjoyed to see the end in sight. Just one more hairpin, which I negotiated with vigor… Until this happened

Ow

Yes it did hurt, although the cold saved me some of the immediate pain. I watched 2nd and 3rd place jump ahead of me

She nixed me to 3rd... fair and square

and even though I sprang up, my intended sprint to the finish line became a running hobble. Ah well, the disappointment of just losing out on a medal as 4th in my age group smarted more than the leg, to be honest.

Definitely a hobbling run

But as ever I learned a lot, and that is an important part of the process. More important than medals, right? Ahem. I learned

*Again, check the course, check the course, check the course. I actually couldn’t have gotten any more info for this one, but it did remind me of the value of knowing the course. I trained how to be able to sprint / run up brief-ish hills and recover on the way down, and the long climb just destroyed me.
*Find it more about the race. This was one of Xterras 3 national qualifier races, where runners who want to run in the Nationals have to place in all 3. So, the were more elite-recreational runners than the just recreational runners I encountered last time
*Better to eat before the race and not need it, than to need it half way around. I ate a light breakfast (200 kcals) at 5 and then ran at 8.30 because it was “just an 8k” and when I train I often do these fasted. But, I don’t train as hard as I race and the hills required extra input, so I could have done with more food
*Along those lines, eat carbs the night before. I tend to avoid all non vegetable carbs in the evening (bar the occasional glass of wine). This works fine for general training, especially as I do a lot of it in the evening as I get often stuck into my work with my morning coffee, whether I intended to or not. Somehow an oatmeal carb up in the morning isn’t quite as efficacious as evening pasta.
*Wear less! Because it was cold I wore a jumper to run. It was great for about 2 minutes, then I spent the next 5 minutes annoyed I was hot and the next 30 secs slowing down and stumbling because I was taking it off. Then the rest of the race struggling to keep it tied around my waist. Recreational Jumper = bad decision. Considering a long-sleeved sorts top for December runs.
* My iPod lies! It cheerfully yelled “1/2 way point”… And then about 6 mins later I came across the actual halfway point which was somewhat deflating. More annoyingly, it yelled ‘1 mile to go’ causing an all out of burst of speed that could only last a mile, when there were in fact about 1.8 miles left. Really deflating was hearing “Congratulations! Workout complete” and not even being able to see the finish line. As someone who does not love running, it is a mind game for me.

*Don’t fall. This may be the best tip of all.

So Tough Mudder training, week 7.

This may have been my best training week yet. I completed the full DAMY complement of workouts, felt great for all of them, and did some extra. I didn’t feel at all worn out, although as I am now in week 8, I am feeling some tiredness and really just doing the set schedule, not throwing anything else in. But, very happy with this week. It went a lil’ something like:

Friday – DAMY weights A, 35 mins steady state – DONE

Saturday – Hill sprints, DAMY weights B – DONE

Sunday – 8K run (+ hills) – DONE

Monday: DAMY C (weights); Interval B – DONE

Tues: Hill sprints; DAMY D (legs) – Changed; no hill sprints due to lack of sleep and an early meeting

Weds:  Functional training (plyos) – DONE

Thurs: Kickboxing (maybe; have a 5 mile (8K) race on Saturday so may be fixing to rest). – DONE. So glad I went, Gabe’s kickboxing is the best 😀

Week 8 plan

Friday – rest for race after a hard week

Saturday – 8 k + DAMY B

Sunday – 8K run (+ hills)

Monday: DAMY C (weights); Interval B

Tues: 5k interval run + DAMY A in the am (arms); DAMY D (legs)

Weds:  Yoga in the am,  Functional training (plyos) pm

Thurs: Kickboxing

And some life choices this week

I am sure you have all heard the industry “pick two of three” paradigm. Is is where you can pick two of these for any given project:

Cheap
Fast
Good

You just can’t have more than 3. So, if something is done cheaply and quickly, it isn’t gong to be done well. Conversely, if it is done well and quickly, then is going to cost a lot. I once turned to David and said “I have had an epiphany. Women cannot be smart, cute and healthy”. It takes some qualifying as I picked catchy words. By smart I meant very successful at work. By cute, I meant well turned out with good clothes with styled hair and neat make up. By healthy I meant regularly active and eating healthy, homemade food. So, if I am going to work long hours and go to the gym a lot, I am going to look a mess. By the time I have packed up all my lunch and filled my bag with that, I don’t have time to co ordinate a decent outfit and shoes or have space in my bag for make-up. I’ll be barefaced and chances are: in my trainers all day. David thought about it and said to me “I think what you are saying, Lekki, is that you can’t do everything in life”. Spot on.

Courtesy of PhDcomics.com

This has recently come back to me as work went crazy for the grant. The grant took up a lot of time, and pushed back my other work, so the crazy-busy schedule will continue while I make up for it. And the lack of evening eats into my weekends as I have to do the cleaning. Tidying, cooking etc has to be done then. Then I have my sport which I love, and also eats my time. I loved my race this weekend, and loved the uninterrupted 6 hours it gave me with my husband. Thing is, I also wanted to go to a friend’s house and watch the game. I knew if I did that, I would not get all my house stuff done, and I would not get as much work done. It hurt, but I declined. I realized I was making a choice. The house is at a stage where it could not be left without environmental protection coming and trying to save us from ourselves, but technically work could be. However – there would not be many serious repercussions if I delayed work a little. I don’t have any immediate deadlines, and my work for today is largely a job app, when I have a promising K award and 2 exciting interviews at places I would love to work on the horizon.

So why do the app? Because I need a back-up, sure. But also because it is for NIH which would be an enormously prestigious position. And one that really allowed to conduct my Science for the next 5 years in a very stimulating academic environment. So, my career is going very well at the moment, yes, and I have better than average career prospects. But I will fight to make my prospects elite. I really care about my latest project and I want every shot to be able to complete it, and to be able to complete it in the best environment possible. I don’t know where that is yet, and I suspect I will only find out through applications and visits and tang to people on visits.

So I guess I am says that I felt I made a decision on Saturday. To prioritize my career over my social life, even though my social life is very woeful at the moment and my career is great. I am surprised how easy this decision came and how well it say with me. We all make choices and we have to live with our choices. I think it helped me to sleep better and enjoy my choices knowing that I was making them, and why.

IMAGE credits

http://alpharetta.ga.us/index.php?p=136

http://vadlo.com/cartoons.php?id=241

My first trail race!

Me with a medal. A day I (and my high school sports teachers) thought we would never see

Yesterday was my first trail race. It was in Huntsville, at Monte Sano state park. One of the reasons I decided to sign up to trail races was to get me to travel the local area and this was a wonderful indictment of that.  Monte Sano state park was breathtakingly beautiful. All my disappointment at the Samford campus was instantly repaid and more with joy at Monte Sano. It helped that the leaves were changing – fall colours in Alabama are incredible (as in other states, ‘tiz true). We were fairly elevated,  and indeed, elevated ourselves somewhat more on the course (ouch) but this lead to this incredible view.

View as I finished the run. Now there is motivation!

I *highly* recommend a visit there, and cannot wait to go back and hike.

So… the race. Well, despite proclaiming my intention to train for races, and not just throw them in my general running plan, I kinda failed. I managed only 1 trail run beforehand, which I took way too lightly and did not simulate race conditions for. I also did not check out the course: hence I was utterly unprepared for many very steep hills, and even a fair few steps.  But, OK, lesson learned.

I also learned to train ‘beyond’ your race. I had been running linger distances at ½ marathon pace, and for faster training, stuck to 5K. I think I would prefer going into a race used to running that pace for a slightly longer distance – I don’t know? Any runners got any thoughts on this?

That was not the only preparation mess up… we got up at the heinously early 4.30 am to get to Huntsville by 7.30 (allowing for gas stops, bathroom breaks and getting lost…). I prepared my usual oatmeal breakfast, but wolfed it at 5.30 am, leaving my hungry and chowing down on a larabar pre-race. I also, out of boredom, drank double my usual morning coffee, and instead of my fairly weak homemade stuff had the strong shop bought stuff, in double quantities. I also ‘didn’t feel’ like rehydrating. Let’s just say: unexpected fiber + a lot of caffeine + hard exercise does not make for a happy tummy on the trails. ‘Nuff said and lesson learned.

My only other mess-up was starting at the back, because I still think of myself as slow. There was a huge bottleneck, and I had to walk for about 3  minutes, before slowly picking off other runners to make my way to the front. I wish I had started near the front: running fast at the beginning and slowing down actually does not tire me out quickly on such a short distance, so next time up front I go.

Me cheerfully standing at the back. Fool.

That all being said, I came 3rd out of all the women, and very close to coming second:

End of the race - I was so close!

Why didn’t I come second? I felt it would be ‘mean’ and cheating’ to sprint past someone (I am actually a super quick sprinter, I just can‘t keep the speed up long) right at the finish line. The girl who tried (and failed – phew) to do that to me taught me otherwise. Placed, and should have done a little better.

Walter was so pleased to see me when I got back!

I loved the overall experience. I loved getting up and out and doing something with my Saturday.  I loved putting my all into a run. I loved seeing somewhere new and I loved placing. I also loved my free swag, which the race organizers where very generous with (T-shirts, drinking glasses, bananas etc). And my winning swag (super nice North face hat, plastic and aluminum water bottles, a medal and all sorts of samples of stuff).

Next? I considered an 8K in Atlanta, but it is 2 weeks away and (1) I can’t really train for it and (2) Alabama play LSU and my husband won’t come meaning much driving (3 hours) by myself and driving back sore and tired. So, I may well skip that, and just shoot for the 10K at lookout mountain in December.  Any takers?

 Tough Mudder training

Finally, my tough mudder training this week. It is going better.  I completed nearly all the DAMY workouts… and kept my long run in. That being said, I didn’t complete them all, and I think it was too much for weeks 5+ of DAMY to up the workouts, but slightly decrease the food. I also was utterly failing to recover – I would be sore for 4/5 days, rather ½ which I am used to. I think I need to support my recovery more. I am going to try to add glutamine supplementation, but I also noticed that when picking from the food lists, I am naturally picking a lot of the lower calorie options (what? I love apples!), so next week, I am going to try to choose higher calorie, permitted foods. Kinda scary, as I don’t want weightloss to stall too much, but if it means I can do more training, at better intensities, I think it will even out.

Tough Mudder training Week 5:

Thursday:  DAMY weights A, (DONE!)

Friday – REST (yuck) – (DONE)

Saturday – Steady state 6 mile jog – (DONE! 6.3 miles, if you’re asking )

Sunday – Steady state cross train (30 min trail run; 2 hour hike); weights DAMY B – CHANGED – no run, the hike was too early. But I did hike for 4 hours…

Monday: 30 min interval run; Weights DAMY D (legs) – CHANGED: Did my DAMY B weights. Then did Interval training, DAMY workout B. This is TOUGH. But worth it.

Tues: REST – CHANGED – DAMY D (legs). Hurt for days

Weds: Steady state (4 miles); DAMY C. – DONE on the hated track, no less… done barefoot too – I am seeing if I can learn to run barefoot so that I can get minimalist shoes.

Tough Mudder training Week 6 plan:

Friday – DAMY weights A, 35 mins steady state

Saturday – 5K, DAMY weights B

Sunday – Steady state 7 mile jog

Monday: DAMY C (weights); Interval B

Tues: REST

Weds:  DAMY D (legs); interval A

Thurs: Kickboxing (this is a good proxy for DAMY’s 6th ‘functional’ workout – lots of core stuff).

So, I am getting better at completing all the workouts. I am hoping some 200 extra calories a day, mostly in the form of whole grains, will spur me on to complete this without deviating!

Just after I decided that I wasn't going to puke...

3 new races… and my first and truest love.

Geniunely. the shoes recommended for me, were bright pink. What could I say?

Ah… I knew you would never do my wrong. Every so often I would stray from you, be tempted by others… romanced by alternatives. These flirtations were fleeting as I always returned to your warm embrace and regretted my transgressions. I am, of course, talking to my shoes.

One of my all-time favourite pairs of shoes

I just bought a pair of proper running shoes and all I want to know is: why didn’t anyone tell me that they can freakin’ change your life? OK, so maybe a few hundreds thousands of you did, but I didn’t listen. Today I stopped running in Wally-world trainers (oh the shame), that were apparently a full size too small (Fleet Feet, who were wonderful and gave top notch service and advice, even begged me not to wear them out of the shop) and started running in proper-sized support trainers. What happened? Well, before it was hard for me to run a full 5K without walking. I could *just* about do it. But I would have to talk myself through it, keep motivating myself, and then walk-jog the rest of the distance. Not anymore. 10K, no walking, no batting an eye lid. Even felt I could continue (I REALLY wanted to, but didn’t as my tendons are a bit ropey). THANK YOU NIKE.

So, here is an update on my upcoming races. It all happened at once.

My friend invited me to run a 5K in December with her, for arthritis research. And as you have to dress up all Christmassy (let’s not forget that I spend the 1st – 24th December one year as the human advent calendar adding a bauble each day) I agreed.

Then I signed up for my first trail run. I want to try trail running, and am aware that unless I force myself to get off my butt and go to a trail, I won’t do it. Which requires significant motivation to do so… which requires a race. So, on October 22nd I am running the XTERRA MONTE SANO STATE PARK TRAIL RUN in Huntsville. Quite nervous for my first trail run! Also, it is at 8 am – 2 hours’ drive away. I’ll either get up early, or camp overnight at the park and road test the brankd spanking new tent and thermarest I have had since Christmas (!). I was nervous about getting there in time, but you gotta do what you gotta do, and certainly, you gotta stop making excuses.

Finally my friend Sasha emailed me fairly last minute to do a 5K road race next weekend. You can’t say no to (1) a dear friend, (2) a dear 10 year old friend, who I love like family and (3) a cause like Diabetes Research when your day job is… diabetes research. So, I am off to do that!

This is going to require some shifts in my training schedule, which is a good thing. My training goal for my next training week (starts on Thursday) is probably to work on being more flexible (mentally, although physically is not a bad thing 😉 ), and to take a rest from long distance running, subbing in swimming and cycling (if I can get hold of a bike after mine was stolen). This should help me step out of the injury zone (my old IT band syndrome is flaring up), should make me stronger mentally (I find it so hard to relax and no stick 100% with what I perceive to be the toughest training plan), give my body a chance to generally recover from a tough step-up in training, and finally, allow me to focus some on my strength training (although no squats!) which has taken a serious back seat, and hence, a serious dip in form.

Finally… a note on fundraising. I do not intend to fund-raise for many of my events… hardly any in fact. I will pay all fees myself and only raise money for causes that seriously close to my heart. That being said, 2 have come up:

Next week I am running for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). I am member of the ADA, attended their annual conference, and the last 2 years my research has been focused almost entirely on insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In December, I am running for Arthritis Research, which I am happy to fund-raise with my friend for as it is one of her main research focuses. Some great friends of mine at UAB head up a research group based on understanding arthritis. If you would like to donate to either (and PLEASE don’t feel obliged) you may click these links:

Diabetes Research (ADA)

Arthritis Research

I doubt there will be many more. Thank you for any help 🙂

AND… I would LOVE company on the trail run… it is only 5K, and you could join me in the morning, or camp out with me (UAB rent cheap tents and equipment people…). Email me if you’d like… or drop me a comment. The more, the merrier 🙂

Oh look, a picture of a pretty shoe I own. How did that get there?