2016 FRESH 15K Race Recap

Fresh 15 RecapThis past weekend I participated in Tyler’s FRESH 15K race, which has become a fast favorite of mine. It is hands down, the best local race I have ever been a part of, even in its inaugural year back in 2014. I wasn’t able to run it last year but decided back in the fall that I was going to get back into running some races and this would be my first one.

The holidays came and went. The start of my 12 week training plan approached and I was so excited.

And then the theme of this whole race preparation began, if you can even call it a theme.

As most of you know, I coach and participate in CrossFit regularly. And you might also know that the CrossFit Open begins the end of February. Also not too tough to guess how much I love CrossFit and what a big part it has had in my fitness journey the last two years. So I began my dance of trying to stay on top of everything. Not that I’m at the point of being remotely a master’s qualifier, I just want to put the very best effort into what I do, especially when the Open comes around. The plan I thought I had in place just didn’t go well. It just didn’t. I’d miss a training run, then get back at it. Got sick. Flareups with my back from an old issue. And the weeks into the training plan kept ticking by. I should also add that we are preparing to sell our house, so free time has been filled with cleaning up, organizing, putting things away….you name it.

Weeks tick by until I’m a week out of the race. Realization sets in that I’ve managed to log a single “long run” topping out at 4 miles as compared to my training plan that finishes with 8. The highlight of the week is when my Newton Gravity V’s arrive (sent to me for review which will be posted in the coming weeks, yay!) so I take those out for a spin or two. They feel fantastic as expected, but I’m beginning to adjust my race expectation. Pick up my race packet two days before….and I’m abnormally nervous.

Then race day is upon us. The morning after one of my nearest and dearest friend’s wedding. I arrive early, without family in tow, park and make my way to the corrals. It did take me more time to park and get things together at my car, so I get to the starting area with not as much time as I anticipated to spare as I’d have liked. And every runner knows where I’m going with this…..the potty line is LONG. So forget it. In a few minutes we are off. I hold back on purpose remembering when’re my long run topped out, in reflection, probably a little too much.Before really settling in before then end of the first mile it’s pretty clear I need a potty stop or I’m going to be hopping on one leg.

At mile 2, I stop. And there’s a line. Of course. what else I gong to do. so I wait, mission accomplished, and back on track. Pretty uneventful up until mile 6 or so. Thinking I feel better than expected! This is good! Shoes are feeling fantastic! See some familiar faces along the way. Remembering why I love the race experience so much.Then we head down Grande and hang the left into Hollytree. It was then I felt that my finish would not be near what I hoped or wished for. It was just going to be what it was. For those last just over three miles. I prayed. I rallied and I faded. And rallied again. I ran some hills, walked some hills. As we crossed back over into Fresh, I knew without even looking at my watch that I was not going to improve nor match that first year’s time. When you’re competitive with yourself, consistently demand improvement from yourself, and are a perfectionist, that hurts. But somewhere in that final 1/4 mile, I made a decision.

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I will celebrate the finish.

Because, you see, there was a time it hurt to run. When 200 pounds didn’t want me to run. When I was trapped in what someone else I loved’s idea of what I should be. Yeah, it wasn’t a finish I was proud of. But it was a finish. A finish that those who can’t run would have loved to been able to claim as theirs. I had nearly forgotten, in the frustration of a training plan gone wrong, why it is I love to run. Because when I took those steps at 200 pounds, running is what saved my life. Putting one foot in front of the other, kept me off meds. Kept me from losing my mind. Gave me myself back.

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So with a smile I crossed that line. For the rest of the day I celebrated that medal, that finish. Appreciating the fact that my fitness is at a level in which running 9 miles without ideal preparation is possible, to that I owe CrossFit. And when I resume training runs in the next few days, I will be working a different plan, still thankful for the lessons learned in those 9 miles, committed at a different level because I owe it to myself. Heartbreak Hill, I’ll be back.

And yes, still thankful for the finish. -m

 

 

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Why Doing the CrossFit Open is Good for You

The Open marks the beginning of the CrossFit competitive season. Here’s what most people think when they read that one word…competitive. “Competitive season, you say….like what I see on ESPN? Haha, funny. No way, that’s not for me.” I’m here to tell you it is, and hear me out because I’m going to explain why.

Some of you reading this may not CrossFit, or be relatively new to it, so here’s a brief background. The Open is the entry level to determining who participates in the year’s CrossFit Games. Anyone can sign up on the Games website, and thousands of people across the globe did last year. CF OpenBeginning the last weekend in February, and spanning the next five weeks, one workout per week is announced and demonstrated each Thursday night live on the Games website. Then athletes in affiliates worldwide perform the workouts between Thursday night and the following Monday, submitting their scores for consideration. The top athletes in their respective regions (geographical areas) with the best combined scores from all five workouts then move on to Regionals, which is a multi workout competition held over a long weekend. Those placing in the top spots at Regionals are then qualified for the CrossFit Games held in Carson, California. The games span over a week, involving multiple workouts each day, to ultimately crown the “fittest on earth”. Over time, this process has evolved and changed into the current Open we participate in today. The most notable recent development to the Open involves the addition of a scaled division, welcoming participation by athletes at all levels.

Most of us have been attracted to CrossFit because of a few simple reasons. Just so happens these are definitely the reasons why you should sign up for the Open. The first of these is community. Lots of us choose CrossFit because of the family element, the choosing to work alongside those that become our friends, cheerleaders, encouragers, our family. The Open brings a gym together. Where I coach, we hold Friday evening sessions where those participating do the Open workouts with a judge, competition floor style, with crowd support from others participating, family, and friends. Those who normally attend classes in the evening get to work alongside the morning folks. It’s energy like I’ve never felt or seen before. Lots of PRs and first time skills are born from this environment. Secondly, if you CrossFit, you’re likely somewhat competitive. Maybe with others, maybe with yourself. Whichever the case, these workouts, in these surroundings, make for quite a competitive experience. Satisfies the question on how you measure up…in your gym…in your age group…around the world. And if you’re not satisfied with the outcome, that brings me to my third reason, and that’s to set new goals. The Open is the perfect tool to use in examining your skill set. What are things I’d like to be doing in these Open workouts that I can’t currently do? Or where do I need to be more efficient to post better scores? Even if you never intend to enter a competition, becoming fitter just to live a better, healthier, longer life is just as important.

In my time being involved in CrossFit, I have heard some of the most incredible stories coming out of the Open. People overcoming things. People showing up to do the work even though they never have seen themselves as an athlete before in their lives. People defying what the world tells them they can do and doing it anyway. People ripping off labels they’ve worn all their lives. People becoming better today than they were yesterday.

And that, is why, my friends, I’m signed up for the 2016 CrossFit Open. And you should be too. -m

Finding Balance

December 1st. Confessional. I want to do it all.

Every year, every month….who am I kidding. Every day this happens. My desire to DO IT ALL. Every fun run, every holiday party, every plan for a goal. All of it. I want to do all of it. But I know I can’t, nor should I. Indeed, I know the outcome. It’s not pretty. You see, all my life, I’vfinding balancee struggled with the same principle of diving in, taking too much on, doing it all.

Because I want to do it all.

And not in just one area, it is everywhere. Especially with my own fitness, as my capacity grows, I want to keep pushing my limits. How much more? How much faster? How much farther? An then you add extra work for specific goals and it turns into trying to do every plan for every goal at once. And that just doesn’t work well. Overtraining happens. Fatigue. And possibly injury. Burnout.

Today I wrote myself out a list of goals for the next couple of months. CrossFit gymnastics skills, weightlifting, and distance running are all sitting there in black and white. Urge to do it all is there, especially seeing those words on paper. But then I stop and remember…..I am a mother, a wife, a daughter of the King….and I use my fitness to live my life, make it better! My life is not defined by this list, but made better by the list! It is December, leading up to Christmas. There are so many distractions, and that’s ok. It’s about finding the right amount of work, finding that balance. Creating a schedule, making and keeping appointments with yourself. Determining that point at which you are putting in consistent, meaningful work but not consumed by it.

So here comes the question. Where is that point? There’s no blanket answer. It’s different for everyone. it comes from trial and error, paying attention to what you can mentally and physically handle. A few posts back I was discussing setting goals and why right now is the perfect time to start working toward those goals. That hasn’t changed, but this is where the element of creating reasonable goals is important. Prioritizing those goals even more so. Pick out what you want to accomplish that will fit into the time you have. Know that yes, you may not keep to a plan perfectly, but also remember this is not the time to throw all caution to the wind. Don’t use that same mentality to turn an off plan meal or missing a workout day into a multi meal feast or a long workout hiatus. Keeping effort consistent and knowing you can maintain a plan will set you up for the coming mother-of-all-goal-setting days, January 1st. You can look back proud that you started going after what you want now instead of putting it off.

So here’s your homework. Take out that list of goals and your calendar. Budget some time to get to work, budget some time to go live that life! -m

Goal Digger

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Lately, goal setting has been on my mind. As a coach, I hear a lot of “I wish I could” or “I want to be able to” fill-in-the-blank. My response is usually to ask, “when is the last time you practiced” or “have you been spending time outside of class”? CrossFit is so effective because it’s highly varied, but if you’re focused in on one particular movement you want to nail, you can’t always wait for that one thing to come around in a class. Our focus should be on well rounded-ness, but I get it personally, there’s those particular things that in your mind you say, I’ll really be an athlete when……and I totally understand. One of the things about CrossFit I love (and shake my fist at sometimes) is how there is always another level to shoot for, a new skill, a new layer to add. If you’re goal oriented at all, then this process of building to the next level can drive you crazy.

So here’s a few tips on setting goals, in CrossFit, in running, fitness in general. It’s been said that a goal is just a dream with a deadline…so true. Goals have meaning when they are specific, they have a timeline, and they are reasonable. So let’s elaborate on that.

First, define the goal reasonably. For example, if I’ve never run more than 2 miles, my first race distance shouldn’t be a marathon. Or if I just started CrossFit, the muscle-up goal wouldn’t be realistic if I couldn’t do a pull-up or a ring dip. Sometimes the first goal is just the first step to a bigger goal. That’s ok! Get after it, mark that sucker off the list and hit the next one.

Second, set a timeline. Don’t get scared here. Lots of folks don’t do this part because they don’t want to disappoint themselves. Think of it this way, even if you fall short on the date, if you’ve been putting in the work, you’re way closer to that goal than when you started. Adjust the timeline and keep going.

Lastly, be specific. Use numbers or benchmarks. It’s like saying I want my legs to be stronger versus I want to back squat 200 pounds. This is the part the scientist part of my brain loves, because frankly, I love specifics! (ask my husband) You’ve got to nail out details here with weight, reps, whatever the case may be.

Once you’ve outlined the goal then it’s time to go to work. This is the part that might not be the most fun, but it’s where the magic happens. If you aren’t sure what this work should consist of for the goal you have in mind, consult your CrossFit coach, a trainer, or someone with expertise in that area, say a running coach. Consistent work gives big changes. Sometimes it is surprising what you can do in 5-10 extra minutes a day. Double unders are a great example. A few minutes a day in practice does so much for perfecting that skill. Other goals, like increasing mileage over time, might require more of a time commitment a few days a week. Carve out what’s reasonable, plan it, schedule it into your day.

Alrighty! Now here’s the fun part. What do YOU want to accomplish in the coming months? It’s exciting to think about, right? If you’re scratching your head about how to put together your goals, reach out! I’m here to help you get set up for a successful start to the new year! Dream big! -m