Category Archives: Becoming Badass

Loving the Long Runs and What Steals My Soul

Rode the assault bike for a 20 min buy-in to a crossfit workout this week so started out pretty hard and after 10 calories, I could feel the life drain out of me.  Love it as I suck at it.  Just have to get through it to find a foothold to do more.  Just like the hills…especially the one in my neighborhood when at night I think the lights I see in the distance are the end and they turn out to be just halfway to the top!  I try to say positive things to myself like “this isn’t so bad” or “I got this.”

I am up to 80 min runs with a few sprints mixed in while in Z2 (ie. slow mode) which I absolutely love now (even in the cold and with some snow – see above pic).  If it wasn’t for this !!&&*%%^ back, I could go on for a long time and will need to.  Lately I’ve been running back and forth and back and forth and thru the cul-de-sacs in my neighborhood.  As long as Kenny leaves the light on in our living room so I THINK he is awake, I know I am not alone out there.  I don’t like music so much when I run – seem to be busy enough watching my heart rate or working in intervals and thinking.

Had a fail yesterday with the Ghirardelli chocolates (caramel filled, raspberry filled squares).  Can’t eat just one.  Ate all the ones in the lawyers’ office at work so bought them to refill it.  Will be a meager offering…. It’s been a week of needing to not eat the same thing every day – have to shake things up once in a while but find a few healthier options!!

Week 6 almost over – heading down to do 80″ on the bike and then will be rooting for the Patriots in the Superbowl!

Chocolate eating, scuba class passing, and honest reporting,

Laura

p.s.  And as I missed the most points in my scuba class despite studying all the quizlet cards, maybe I’m just the hardest working and not that smart after all 🙂

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My Cookie Jar

David Goggins talked in his book “Can’t Hurt Me” about keeping a cookie jar of things you have done and been proud of to use when you are down or need to find the next foothold and get past a hard place athletically or otherwise.  I’m going to keep this list of cookies out front and not forget.

  • Quit GE after 17 years wanting to do something I believed in and no clear way to do it.  Scariest thing I have ever done and  here I am 10 years later in a beautiful house, in a job I love, with a wonderful man and not living on the streets – which is the picture that kept coming to mind immediately after quitting.
  • Moved to Italy in a very difficult job and did the job while learning Italian – leaving the job decently fluent, having found a wonderful Lindy Hop dance partner who was the Rock and Roll champion of Italy.  Found him after I could understand enough Italian to read the newspaper (no internet then) and hunt down the dance studios.
  • Quit GE the first time while I was doing very well and moved to a new city (Chicago) in the hopes of learning something new consulting.  In Chicago, in addition to meeting a great consulting team and friends I still have today, I learned how to dance which opened up a whole new world and friends to me, and learned nutrition/got in the best shape of my life (before now).  Learned to love living in the city and also by keeping my eyes open at the music school I was taking piano at on the weekends, found the most amazing quintet to play in.
  • Learned piano as an adult and worked hard at it – enough to play pieces like Liebestraume by Chopin.
  • Started WISE (Women in Science and Engineering Program) in 1990 which is still serving hundreds of young women every year encouraging them to pursue careers in science and engineering.
  • Realized that the most important place to be is where you are and then found friends in Boston at the community garden and started to be more involved with my neighborhood and people around me.
  • Put a few green roofs on in Boston
  • Hopefully made a difference in the life of my Little Sister from Big Sister Program, who I am so very proud of and so happy to still have her in my life 25 years later – despite having lost her for a year or so along the way.
  • Learned to swim as an adult and went at it hard with daily swim team practice
  • Survived stepmotherhood with myself, kid and husband intact and all doing well – this has been perhaps the hardest thing I have ever done
  • Surviving workout 16.5 during Crossfit Open 21/18/15/12/9/6/3 thruster @65 and burpees over bar in 26.56.
  • Having done 12 strict pullups in a row.
  • Completed a half marathon.
  • All my max lifts to date, deadlift of 265
  • Leaving the executive track at GE and changing the course of my life to take care of myself first and doing what made me happy moving back to Boston in 2003.  This taught me to trust my gut and not listen to anyone but myself.
  • Terrified of giving presentation at Energy conference but did it very successfully and created a new presentation picture based that hopefully was way more impactful than any I have given in the past.

 

After Activity Report Week 6, Jan 27, 2019

Title pic is from my makeup run in Boston on Saturday.

Finished Don’t Hurt Me by David Goggins.  I alternated between being mad at him for being so arrogant, at being afraid I couldn’t be as hardcore as he is, and thinking how much I agree with a lot of what he says.  I’m going to start using two of his tools, an after activity report to analyze last week and I’m going to make a list of my own cookie jar – things I can be proud of that I’ve done throughout my life to use when things get tough.

Week 6 AAR

Good things

  • Beat my 5k by 1:30 with new record of 28:08 with 08:46 pace, avg HR 158/max 169.
  • I can comfortably run in zone 2 now and keep my HR under 118.  In fact, I’m having to work at keeping my HR up in Z3 when I need to now
  • I conquered my fear of scuba and have done well in class – only 2 more to go.  Did all the homework over the weekends and spent 6 hours in class after work
  • I got a note from my CEO Friday night saying what I great job I did talking to our new, largest customer as we opened the new Operations Center I run.  This is a pic of me giving a tour of it
  • Did more than I ever have with bench press since surgery pressing 3@105lb
  • Did the most pullups in 18 yrs with 4 in a row (building up 1 more a week with shoulder coming back)
  • Went to see my skeletal cleaner to help me with my lower back and overall issues
  • Hit new low weight of 138.4 lbs and consistently stayed under 140 lb

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Not so good

  • Missed two days of workouts because I was tired and worked late and chose sleep – although ultimately I didn’t do a good job with that either.  Made up aerobics on weekend but missed two crossfit classes and a strength day – which are important to me.
  • Am not doing a good job meditating daily
  • Did not do max squat because of fears for my rickety lower back
  • Although I have been doing a lot of mobility, I have to do it every day
  • Missed my PT appointment
  • Cheated on eating and had some limoncello and a few stress eating chocolates at work

What to do differently

  • I have to get 7 hours sleep – I am not rested when I wake up.  In bed by 9:30 – no playing on phone if I wake up except to put on music.
  • Move aerobic workouts during the week to the morning – instead of wasting time watching stupid videos, do the workout and get it out of the way.  Wake up at 5am to do this.
  • Add 5 min meditation in am and consistent daily 10 min stretching
  • If back doesn’t improve, need to make appt with Dr. Caddoo
  • Create Good ab routine
  • Drink 2 glasses of water when I wake up

What I need help with

  • Am I not eating enough anymore?  Am not losing that much weight so was keeping at RP base level even if doing 2 hour + workouts a day
  • Mobility routine – not sure mine is right.  I have to improve this this year a lot.  I don’t accept my times have to be slower with age when my mobility is such an issue.
  • Good ab routine

Mostly clean eating, honest reporting and feeling a little down but definitely not out!!!

Laura

Finding Time and Back Update

I got home last Thurs Jan 17 around 8:30 after two previous late nights at scuba class and working out and just ate and went to bed.  What is the right call to make?  Missed my workout but got sleep.  Maybe it was to quit working so late and make myself the priority but not sure I can do that 100% of the time.  Thurs my boss came by my desk looking tired around 4:30 and several sales teams asking me for packaging of our new service offerings so I stayed to come up with the “We’ve Got Your Back” set of services… The night before I had scuba class from 6-9pm and went running after until around 11pm in the cold.

End of week 5 on Jan 20 and a few observations/changes to make:

  • Need to get in the 5-20″ meditation daily.  This hasn’t been going so well.
  • Need to do better with grip strength practice.  Cleaned up basement so can make the rounds down there with the plates when I have a bike workout.
  • Need to ensure daily 20″ of mobility to fix this back – this has been going pretty well and my back definitely feels better than it was but is still pretty sore.  I haven’t had the searing pain in the two spots in my lower back I’ve had before but it still spasms and I’m afraid to wear high heals at work because of it.
  • Has been really fun changing gears and going from a heart rate (HR) zone 2 to 4/5 in practice.  HR2 sure seems slow and my mile times are over 12 min when I am doing that but with a fast cadence, easier to practice the Pose running, which seems like it takes effort still but feels more natural than it did at first.
  • Significant improvements in left shoulder.  I did 3 pullups last week with the briefest pause and no assists.  Slight pain after so I’ll stick with 3 this week until it goes away after.  Deadlifts, squats, push presses no pain at all anymore with increased weight almost weekly.  DL started at 150 and went to 3×10@185.  PP from a hard 45 to 60.  Squat from 65 to 105.  Bench from 65 to 3×10@85.
  • Huge learnings on technology and its issues.  Realized I need my bike fitted so am on the schedule at FitWerx in Peabody.  See last post!
  • My physical therapist couldn’t help but laugh when he saw how inflexible my hamstrings are – see pic at top where I am now staying totally square when stretching hams and can’t even bend over with straight back as I’m already stretching – putting the pipe behind me keeps me honest.  We’ll see where I’m at in a month or so.
  • Pose running:  Still easiest to feel the foot plan and heel kiss while running against a pole but faster cadence and keeping ankles loose helps too.  Huge differences between left and right legs in difficulty of lifting my foot.
  • I am doing really well at the crossfit WODS now with better aerobic capacity and the longer workouts.  Except for snatches, I’m doing the workouts and they are still so much easier than they used to be.

I think the answer for workouts vs. work may be the lunchtime workout.  I like my mornings – I will try to do some meditation and mobility in the morning.

I also just hit a new low weight of 138.8… I think those abs are in there somewhere !!

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Finding the time but it’s not easy – loving the workouts, singing super loud in the basement during the bike workouts and loving the silence during running, trying to not the let the buttonwood hill take my soul!

A lot of talk and haven’t really done $%^& yet but putting in the work so far and trusting in my coach.

I also did great at the 2nd scuba class and didn’t feel uncomfortable at all in scuba gear.  I was facing my fear, walked in and told the instructors I was determined to work on my underwater breathing (my current hypothesis with the panics is that I am afraid I don’t have lung capacity) and their response was “good thing you don’t need to hold your breath!”

Failed at the Lindt vs. ence photo tonite as I ate two Lindt balls at Marguerys house before being thrown out due to politics…these were the Lindt balls I gave her as I couldn’t have them in my house without eating 10-15 at a time.

Not perfect but determined.

Laura

 

 

 

Fu***** Goggins – 4030 pullups in 17 hours

I know I’m always a little late to the party and just found out about this guy David Goggins – ex Navy Seal and Army Ranger etc.  I was listening to him on a podcast and then heard a few things that blew me away and now I’m a big fan.  One is that he did 4030 pullups in 17 hours – that is one of the things that made my jaw drop – never thought anyone could do this.  It, like the Iron Cowboy who did 50 ironmans in 50 days, makes me want to think bigger.

Watch the video below….. This guy Jesse Itzler had Goggins live/train him for one month and it is about the things he had him do.  The motto is basically you have to do things that suck every day.  One of things that made an impression is that there are long races with several folks on a team doing relays over very long distances and Jesse met him because he saw Goggins doing it alone 🙂  Message is real – we hold ourselves back mentally.  I remember when I thought 150 wallballs was a crazy amount and now I do it all the time.

So I’ve organized our company to see how long it will take all of us to do 4000 pullups.  A guy is bringing a pullup bar tomorrow.  My preference was to have one in the main doorway to cubeland and you’d have to do one to enter but I think we’ll put it on a conference door adjacent.  Strict form only, hands under or over but no kipping allowed.  Whiteboard to track folks….

I did 80 last night with blue band and 80 pushups last night as I have to get back to doing regular pullups!  This will also selfishly help me get to that goal if I can train during work also 🙂

Also, got Kenny motivated last night – he is working on getting jacked and back in shape also.  Look at this back!

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Ride on (you Zwifters know what I’m talking about!)

Laura

 

 

The gear you need…and then comes the work

The following is a summary of the gear necessary (so far) for my ultra training and for managing nutrition:

Clothes – Running, Cycling, Crossfit

  • Bike shorts – I am biking in week 3 and my bottom still hurts!  My athletic girlfriend says use triathlon shorts and do not wear underwear….
  • Compression tights – I am a fan of Athleta and having tights with an easily accessible pocket to pull your phone in and out of during runs (NOT the zippers).  If you get tights going just below knee, make sure the lowest band is 2″ wide or it can cut into your leg/back of your knee.  If under 25F, I’ll wear my pair with fleece inside else these are good for normal winter days in New England.
  • A good sports bra – nothing moves in this thing!  I get this “Anita” bra – no underwire WHICH WILL CHAFE AND HURT YOU! at Copley Mall at a store called Rigby and Peller.  If you have underwire, use body butter or something or you will get a burn eventually.
  • I’ll wear cotton shirts for crossfit workouts but if running or hiking, I’ll wear wicking shirts.  I’ve found that one long sleeved shirt plus one medium weight fleece is all you need down to 10F with hat and gloves.
  • I’m in love with smartwool shirts although they have to be the lightest weight to wear to crossfit and you don’t want to get too hot running.
  • I don’t wear gloves unless its below 32F.
  • Good socks – I love Thorlos and also just bought some smartwool and balega socks to try out.  Thorlos have the most cushion so are good for walking around the house and seem to be the least tight as well.
  • Shoes – I like minimalist shoes and use innov8

Running Gear

  • Night visibility equipment:  hand torch with front and rear lights, clip on lights (my favorite are the smiley faces), a high vis vest I also wear in the daytime on every run, a light “harness” which blinks and changes colors, headlamp.
  • For tracking of heart rate, running foot cadence (pace in foot strikes/minute) I am using a Wahoo TICKR chest heart rate monitor that feeds data to a Wahoo Runfit App.  Results for Runt app in first pic and results for fitbit in next three.  RUNFIT is better because fitbit heart rate doesn’t seem accurate once it is high.  The results below are for the same run –

HR issue:  RUNFIT says avg HR 127 with max 154, FITBIT says avg 145 with max 164.

RUNFIT also gives you minutes/mile by mile, cadence and a map of your run. I LOVE that RUNFIT will talk to me and tell me every time I hit a mile and my HR and last mile time in additional to overall time.

FITBIT has a better map showing each mile point.

The problem with using your phone GPS (either with Fitbit or Runfit) is that it runs the battery down fast – I have an iphone and before a 70 min run today, it was at 60% and barely lasted the run.  This will be what forces me to switch over to a Garmin device with longer battery life when workouts get longer!

 

Cycling Gear

  • You don’t need this specific trainer but I got a KICKR Core Smart trainer that I bought with the appropriate cassette (rear gears) for my bike.
  • My Specialized Ruby bike (without rear tire)
  • Application I use to do runs and be with other humans vs. alone in my basement is Zwift.
  • Using the Zwift application on my phone, I mirror results to the tv through Apple tv.
  • The Zwift phone app (or on your computer) will find any sensors you are using and your smart trainer.
  • Wahoo TICKR heart rate monitor- if it isn’t picking up your heart rate, move the sensor down on your body.  My bra was blocking it for awhile before I figured this out.
  • Wahoo cadence sensor (for pedal turns/minute).  The RPM shown in the application without this sensor is not your pedal turns.
  • Sweat Towel
  • Extension Cord to charge your phone and a phone holder to put onto the bicycle handlebars

Overall Setup (we also have a Concept2 Rower):

From the left, a Wahoo cadence sensor (this is one piece only, no mating piece needed to determine cadence), iphone charger and handlebar holder, appletv, wahoo TICKR heart rate monitor.

Other miscellaneous Gear

  • A good journal is indispensable – there doesn’t seem to be one answer to recording all that you do…cycling is in wahoo app (which uploads to strava), crossfit is nowhere I like, running is runfit (which uploads to Strava).  I use a journal to document things I am learning and all I do day to day along with my wall calendar for high level.
  • Jump rope for warmups
  • Fitibit Charge to stay connected with my family – we have weekly step challenges I love plus I was using it for running when I just cared about distance and mile pace which it does a great job at.  Fitbit also give you cool, uplifting messages in the morning when you put it back on after a shower!  It is NOT waterproof
  • A weight bench, 45 lb bar when I have to do a strength or crossfit type workout at home
  • Pullup bars upstairs on a bedroom door
  • Ring rows next to the weight bench
  • Last but not least, a good bed!  We just spent a ridiculous amount on a Sleep Number bed with adjustable base so we can go into zero gravity position.  Got it yesterday and you can see us with cat below trying it out.  Sleep Number can have adjustable hardness by side.  We returned a Tempurpedic memory foam mattress we had just gotten.  A good night sleep is so important!

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Meal planning stuff

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  • Food scale and for travel, a portable food scale and collapsible measuring cup
  • Protein powder and shaker bottle with ball or something to help powder mix (i do it with just water)
  • LEAK PROOF containers – I use Six Pack Fitness Containers shown above
  • Good olive oil – I recommend my neighbors’ who imports it (and I know good olive oil from living in Italy) – Johnny Madge
  • Bathroom scale

Hope this helps as I’ve been struggling to accumulate all this stuff over the last year!

There are no excuses – no hurt shoulder – no lack of equipment – it is just me and the 250 days until the race…

Laura

Taking the Shoulder out for a Spin!

NEARING END OF WEEK 2

Rotator cuff shoulder surgery was June 11, 2018 and I got my final surgeon’s clearance on Dec 7.  It is healed but not at full strength.

Well, it has been an exciting few days as I have achieved quite a few firsts since shoulder surgery doing the strength workouts – goal is to increase weight slowly then if no shoulder pain, increase again.  The mental issue is that there is no prescribed way to go from not doing these to knowing when you can do them and how much weight to use post surgery.  I decided to take the shoulder out for a spin!  I never know if I’m being smart or wimpy with what I do (or don’t do)…. Huge results this week:

  • First time doing Back squat with weights – did 105#, 10 reps (a little challenging)
  • First time doing Wallballs – 150 total with 8# ball.  Very excited about this! Favored right arm a little on catch and push up.
  • Increased Bench press – 75# (easy)
  • First time doing Dead hangs with full weight (no scap pullups yet) – 30 reps.  Needs a good warmup to settle in with partial weight at first – hard to make it comfortable but did it.  Hung from the bar for 2.25 minutes.
  • First time 25# kettlebells 3×12 reps.  Note that early Dec I tried lighter KBs and stopped because I could feel a twinge in the shoulder and now nothing!  What a difference a few weeks makes. patience (not my strong point)

Also, the pose running method started to make more physical sense as I change from a heel striker to a foot ball then heel kiss kind of gal.  I could actually easily do the ball/heel sequence best while running leaning against a wall – this was great as I know what it’s supposed to feel like now.  I also realized that you have to pick up your knees (do proper pose form) to make it work.  Loved that I had a running routine focused on just practicing this (and the sore calves to prove it!!).

Since I’ve been running, I’ve also had some pretty bad lower back soreness (causing me to dread putting on socks in the morning as it’s so stiff) and despite doing a long list of posterior chain mobility, it took this video below to fix it in 5 minutes!!  I’ll be doing all of these daily from now on as well as continuing my other mobility work.  I was working these two painful areas with a lacrosse ball earlier to no avail (as he states in the video!).

 

It’s also been fun to put myself in different gears for once – for a long time I just run with one speed (and OK, get gassed out during the shuttle runs we do sometimes in crossfit) and my new coach and workouts have me varying pace with heart rate.  Two examples below.  First is when I run pretty easy, then do a few accels.  Second was my pose running practice starting at a lower HR and then moving into a higher one for the end of the run.

 

 

I am also back into my strict nutrition plan using the RP templates.  Treating almost all days as light days for now as I try to cut back a little. Have been stagnating at ~140 lbs for a while now.  This picture on my fridge is helping me make the right nutrition decisions….I ate perfectly for 7 months and have been struggling being super strict the last few months but think I am back now.

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Meditation:  I’ve been reading this book and starting to practice for 10-20″ a day.

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  • First time I was scattered and all over the place – 10 min was very hard.
  • Second time 10″ was a snap and went by quickly with a good idea that came to me
  • Tried 20″ which was difficult and ended up the last 3 min under a blanket by the fire but did the 20″.

Loved the quietness though and sitting in front of my crackleflame log (which Kenny says doesn’t belong in the state of NH).

Following the rules:  This my thing.  I’ve always been good at studying and doing the work.  I was not a good student this week –

  • missed the Monday workout because it was changed from a rest day to a work day and I didn’t read the updated schedule carefully enough.
  • Did the wrong strength workout (turns out the Monday one) a different day so am doing a makeup of the Wednesday one on Saturday.
  • Thought the 10 x 1′ on 1′ off intervals meant 10″ of them not 10 reps so I ended up doing the last 3 on the bike as I wasn’t going back out in the cold rain again.  The cover of this blog is me after the run workout with all my lights, running on icy roads in the cold, cold rain.

Having the time of my life 🙂  Dark night, icy road, cold rain – bring it on!

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Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass,

Laura