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Savage Race Charlotte 2019 Recap

Let me preface this with saying I have been bad about posting.  I haven’t even been looking at my own blog.  The funny thing is, other people are.  I used to be so good about just posting every day stuff.  Not sponsored content, but real stuff.  I vow to be better.

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Here we go.  Savage Race 2019.  I did the Blitz (or short course race) in 2018.  After teaching a Flywheel class and running a few miles with friends after class, my husband and I headed up to the course.  We jogged and “monkeyed” around finishing in the top three in both of our age groups.  I suppose it was time for us to move to the competitive wave and hit the long course.

Day of race, our back door knob broke making it impossible for us to shut the door.  With three kids and a babysitter in 90 degree heat it made it difficult for us to leave for over four house to make the trek up to the race and back.  That said, my husband opted to head to Lowes, replace the door knob and take his chances on being late.  I took my own car and gave myself plenty of time to warm up.  Just typing that makes me sound super selfish.  Sorry Jeff.

Race launched at 9 AM sharp.  Men and women competitive athletes start at the same time. I truly don’t like that.  While some men should be at the start line ahead of me, most men need an ego check with how fast some of the women are.  Fellas, let the ladies move to the front.

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The course was all trail running, as evidenced by my Garmin map above.  Disregard the temperature.  That cannot be right.  Little to no shade the first four miles.  We ran quite a bit before we hit the first obstacle.  This was good as it gave people room to make space.  Bear with me.  Some of the obstacle names are inappropriate.  I will do my best to explain and post pictures.

  • Obstacle 1 – Barn Doors – An 8 foot wall with gaps to assist you climbing up and over.  Picture a ladder of two by fours.  No problems here.  At this point everyone is so fresh, obstacles like this can be done by almost anyone without assistance.
  • Obstacle 2 – Low Crawl – Picture a muddy pit with barb wire.  You have to crawl on your knees and elbows under the barb wire in the mud.  Pretty standard obstacle in these types of races.  Easy, but dirty.
  • Obstacle 3 – Squeeze Play –  Sorry – no pictures of this – they had these barrels that were on the ground attached to a pole.  You had to lift the barrels up and crawl underneath them. Easy once you got the hang of it.

By the time we got through obstacle three we had hit mile 1.  Whoop whoop!  I can’t tell by looking at the map where the water stations were, but I can tell you there were a lot of them.  While I am here let me talk about them.

  1. The water was in bottles.  Weird.  I have never seen this.  So whatever you didn’t drink was wasted.  But at least you knew it was clean.  Was it costly?  Probably.
  2. I stopped at EVERY water station.  Trust me when I say you should get water whenever you can in a race longer than one hour.
  3. I drank water, and I also dumped water on my body.  The heat was intense.  Drink 8 ounces, dump 8 ounces over the top of your head or your chest.  Bring core temperature down.

Back to the race.

  • Obstacle 4 – Mud N Guts  – more crawling around in mud on your hands and knees.  I hate getting muddy.  No lie.  I will swim, run, jump off a cliff, but I hate being covered in mud.  Easy for anyone.
  • Obstacle 5 – Back Scratcher – Four alternating five foot walls.  Some you jumped over, some you climbed under.  Again, at this point in the race with or without assistance this should not be an obstacle people struggle with.
  • Obstacle 6 – Big Cheese – Another wall with places to put your hands and feet as you climbed over it.  Again, with basic core strength and little to no assistance this is easy for most.
  • Obstacle 7 – Swamp Donkey – I don’t remember what this is. Can’t really find it. I think it was us running through a bunch of muddy water.  My biggest tip anytime you have to do this:  Run on the outside, not right down the middle.  It’s shallower and you can keep your hands out of the water.  The last thing you want to do is get your hands wet unless you have to – especially muddy.

We are now at mile 2.  I ran the first two miles around a 7:30 min/mile on trails.  That is fast.  With little to no shade, my legs were already starting to feel toast.  We must move on though.  I had my husband within eyesight the first 1-2 miles before I got slowed down on some on the tall people exercises.

  • Obstacle 8 – The Great Wall – I broke my finger on this obstacle the year before.  This year, I cleared it no problem.  96 inches tall. What’s that? 8 feet?  I got this on my first try as this another standard obstacle I have seen in other races.
  • Obstacle 9 – Venus Guy Trap – Inverted walls.  Jumping over straight walls is one thing. Try them at a slant.  It’s a different kind of control.  Again, this was no problem.
  • Obstacle 10 – Teeter Tuber – I was cruising y’all.  I had no doubt I was going to crush this course.  Until the Teeter Tuber.  I wish I had a picture.  I had to shimmy up a slippery tube that would at some point teeter totter over and leave me on the other side.  My biggest advice on this obstacle is to try one tube.  If you can’t catch your feet and hands, move on quickly.  I used SO much energy on my first tube and actually lost a lot of confidence.  The second I moved to another tub, I made it through very quickly.  That was not after I had lost several MINUTES of time though!

At we are at mile 3.  Lots of running to get to obstacle number 11 and 12.

  • Obstacle 11 – Battering Ram – I actually love this obstacle.  See below.  This was a picture from last year.  You have to heave these metal sliders across a pole.  Switching to a different set half way through.  Grip intensive, yet not a problem for me.

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  • Obstacle 12 – Big Ass Cargo – It is what the name implies.  Climb up a cargo ladder suspended in a tall A-frame and back down the other side.  Stay tight to places the ladder is attached to the frame.  It is easier to move up and down the tighter parts o the net rather than the sagging middle parts.
  •  Obstacle 13 – Chopsticks – NEW! – by this obstacle we had looped back around to the “spectator zone”.  It’s always more fun when people are watching. I did not find this obstacle hard, yet a good test of core strength and the ability to slow down enough to get through on try number 1.

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  • Obstacle 14 – Shriveled Richard – I told you the names were inappropriate.  You are literally submerging yourself from head to toe in ice water to swim underneath floating walls.  I’ll let my facial expression do the talking.  The ice bath was a welcome relief to the flaming temperatures.

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  • Obstacle 15 – Slippery Incline – Now that they got us soaking wet, they asked us to scale a slippery inverted wall by using a rope to assist us up and over.  Much harder than it looks, yet doable.  No tips here other than walk your way up the wall allowing your weight to sit into your hips while trusting your grip strength.
  • Obstacle 16 – Inversion Therapy – This was another new obstacle close to the spectator zone.  I wish I had pictures.  Friends, ADVICE – hook your feet around and let the legs slide.  I warped through this fast because I had high socks on and used my hands to let my legs slide.  You are hanging upside down on a tube shimmying backwards to the bell.

Introduce Mile 4.  We ran quite a bit again into the woods before we came across the next obstacle and mile.

  • Obstacle 17 – Wheel World – I had made SPACE between myself and any other ladies and men at this point.  The photographer (who was suspended off the top of the rig) actually directed me down the best lane for photos.  Thank you!  I love this obstacle.  There aren’t enough obstacles like this in OCR.  Thank you Savage Race for this good one.

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  • Obstacle 18 – Lumberjack Lane – Remember this infamous photo? See below.  This log is a joke.  While I was coming around the bend to return my log, I heard a male in front of me scream and yell about a snake.  Um hell no.  I wasn’t about to run through that area by myself.  Y’all I legit stopped and waited for the next guy so I could follow him through the path.  We did not see a snake, but I know one was out there.
  • Obstacle 19 – Davy Jones’ Locker – Here come the height obstacles – Just to get to the top of this structure was a challenge. As seen by the pictures below. By the time I made it to the top, I wasn’t sure how to proceed other than jump out and away from the structure.  My attempt to keep my hands by my side epically failed.  As did my attempt to keep a normal face.

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  • Obstacle 20 – Twirly Bird – I will be the first to admit, I “failed” two obstacles on first attempt.  The tube obstacle I talked about above and the Twirly Bird.  Note, I did get them on second attempt, which in Savage Race rules counts.  I saw another Spartan SGX coach, Sam, at this obstacle and asked for pointers.  The last time I had seen him was when I was pregnant at the Spartan Race obstacle specialist training.  His tip (which was the key to me passing) – hold as high as you can on the netting and hand holds.  I was trying to actually use the hand holds.  Don’t do that.  Use the rope that supports the handles.  I used a flexed arm grip all the way across in the event that I dropped.  Through all of my chatting and failing, another girl caught up with me!
  • Obstacle 21 – Pedal for the Medal – Instead of trying to pass her, I used a new strategy.  I could hear her breathing hard.  I knew I had her beat on the run and we were matched on obstacle efficiency.  So, I followed her.  When I got to this obstacle I destroyed it.  That’s not me below, but that’s what I did.  Put both feet on one side. Not one foot on each side.  I don’t do deadlifts and hamstring curls for nothing.  I legit crushed this.

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  • Obstacle 22 – Twin Peaks – Matched warped walls to run up and over.  They have redone this obstacle and made it easier by placing footing in the ramps.
  • Obstacle 23 – Sawtooth – The infamous Savage Race monkey bars.  Again, now that my upper body strength and grip strength are so solid, I love stuff like this.  Could I do it over and over without failing?  I would rerun the race all day to hit stuff like this.

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  • Obstacle 24 – Nuttsmasher – As the name implies, if you fall you would smash your nuts.  Maybe. If you have them.  Pictures are from last year. We ran through mile 5 by the time we got here.

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  • Obstacle 25 – Colossus – Lots of trail running to get us to the next mile and end of the race.  I kept running behind the same girl. It was kind of fun at that point.  We chatted.  I probably annoyed her.  We climbed up another structure to go down a big slide.  Again, you’ve got to love my facial expressions.

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  • Obstacle 26 – Kiss My Walls – the death obstacle to my husband and many others.  The girl that I had been following tried this obstacle first.  To which she fell.  I took my shot on one wall and completely crushed it.  At that point, I knew I had her.  This is where climbing is important as a component to obstacle training.  And BODY AWARENESS!  Slowing down long enough to move across.  The fastest girl on the course couldn’t get through this obstacle.  That’s money out of her pocket over a basic grip strength obstacle.
  • Obstacle 27 – Piece of Queso – New!  I liked this.  I actually had caught up to 5th place at this point and had a shot at catching her as she worked her way through it and I started.

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  • Obstacle 28 – Blazed – Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time.  I jumped the fire as  she crossed the finish line.

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My takeaways.  I had FUN.  Was I uncomfortable? YES.  Here’s the deal.  I am 3 months out from turning 35.  Moving into a new age group.  There were women from Colorado, Florida, South Carolina.  All over.  I do not focus significantly on my nutrition.  I drink beer and wine quite regularly.  I took an anniversary vacation two weeks before the race.  I walk 20K+ steps a day between doing workouts and taking care of three kids.  I guess what I’m trying to say is I did pretty bad ass for everything I have going on.  No matter how I finished, I am proud.  If you think that is my ego talking, you don’t know me.  I want nothing more than for the people I surround myself with to be proud of themselves.

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What Running Gave Me in 2018

I’m not an emotional person.  However, as my husband broke off from me for the last two miles of the Charlotte half marathon, I found myself starting to tear up.  As I crossed the finish line, I cried.  I have run a few half marathons.  I have even run a marathon.  What made this race different?  A lot of things.  Mostly being the impact my children have had on my life.  Being a good mom, a mom my kids are proud of, ensures a different level of love that will always be in my life.

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When I saw the Charlotte Marathon was looking for ambassadors to represent the city’s race, I felt a calling.  This was something I wanted to be a part of.  I have preached that I am someone who keeps a very diverse training plan.  I am ready to do all types of things during any given week – ride an indoor bike, do an obstacle course race, crush a 5k or finish the competitive wave of beers and burpees.  How could I challenge those who considered themselves “non-runners” to get off a bike, treadmill or out of a crossfit studio to support this event?  I kept my same training regimen and showed up week in and week out at several local running races.

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I ran some of the fastest races of my life.  Will I remember that? Sure.  However, what  I will remember most about running all these races, rather participating in all of these fitness events, is the community. It gave me inclusion.  Access to a new group of inspiring friends that showed me a whole new side of Charlotte.

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Let’s talk race day.  I had been sick for several days leading up to the Saturday race.  I spent most of Thursday and Friday laying on the couch with a low grade fever.  I didn’t intend to dwell on it, which is why most people didn’t even know I was feeling under the weather as race day approached.  I woke up Saturday with the intention that I would run my half marathon without music, without expectation and with the intention of seeing my city.

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I parked in a parking deck that I didn’t plan to park in due to road closures.  I wore shorts based on advice from my husband and other ambassadors and I did less than a half mile warm up.  Nothing went as planned.  I met fellow Flywheel instructor, Abbie Cooper, and the Charlotte Marathon ambassadors at the finish line to take some pre-race pictures.

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Whatever nerves I may have had were released through the ambassador’s version of a 90’s boy band photo op and a short jog over to the start line where I met fellow FiA (Females in Action) friends for a group picture.  I had every intention of starting with the 8:00 min/mile pacer, until I couldn’t find him.  That’s where I was supposed to meet Abbie too.  Couldn’t find her either.

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I did find Katie Gregory (another Charlotte Marathon Ambassador).  We had already talked about trying to run a majority of the race together, so I felt good about having someone who I knew wanted to run an 8:00 min/mile pace near me.  As quick as the national anthem was played, the race started.  We walked across the start line.  There were a TON of people.  The first mile was slow.  Over the course of the mile, Katie and I picked up Alejandro (another Charlotte Marathon Ambassador).  He was running the full marathon, with a goal of sub 3:30.  GREAT.  Someone else who would pace with us.

The energy at the start of the race was fire.  Katie, Alejandro and I chatted, said hello to friends and before we knew it we were done with the first mile (8:10 pace).  Shoutout to all my FiAs we touched that first mile (Lindsey, Natalie, Katharine).  Katie and I joked about giving and getting high fives.  I ran past a group of police officers running down fourth and high fived each one of them.  It was after the first mile that we also passed a man who eventually completed the half with crutches.  SO inspiring.  There truly are no excuses.

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Somewhere in between the transition from mile 2-3, we lost Katie.  Alejandro and I chatted as we rolled down Randolph at the Colville intersection where I saw Shane.  Shane.  His smile so big, his arms extended up in the air, his voice echoing from 100m away.  He jumped in with us.  He documented on Instagram.  He entertained us.  These are the moments you will never know unless you run without music and technology.  Shane followed my pace as we ran with a man wearing American flag running shorts and a camelback.  He typically doesn’t do races on the road, but rather on the trails. We made the turn on to Providence in the midst of a huge crowd of runners (the first relay exchange zone).

We talked about how I was now in my home.  My neighborhood.  The roads that I knew and had trained well on.  We crushed the hills.  I took my first water.  I ran into so many people on this stretch.  Mary Merlin and her jogging stroller, a former co-worker Danny Weiland (I know his wife, Allison, was out there running) and the Lululemon crew! (Lynn and Allyson).

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Before we knew it, we were on to mile 6.  A steady downhill in which I saw my husband all geared up on the side of the road.  I yelled, “HUBS” and the man beside me looked over and said “huh?”.  I said again, “HUBS”.  He jumped in with Shane and I.  It was at that point that we made one of the most important turns of the day.  Queen Road West.  I knew I would see my kids. The most important people out on the course that day.

Y’all Queens Road West was MAGIC.  There were people lining both sides of the street.  Cow bells. Posters.  Cheers.  I saw my girls and ran by giving high fives and smiles.  I was proud of them as I hoped they were proud of me.  Thank you to all my friends and neighbors that we passed through this stretch.   Kelsey, Shelby, Cody.  The FiA station at the bottom of the hill.  If I didn’t say something or wave, it’s because I didn’t see you.  For that I apologize.  I am truly grateful for the warm showing of people out to support the every day runner.  Shane dropped us at this point, and the hubs (Jeff) took the task of leading me to the 10 mile marker.

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I took my first Gu pack as we cruised down Queens. I actually stopped to walk to make sure I got everything in and drank enough water too.  We picked things back up at a quicker pace as such I wouldn’t lose time.  That’s when we got in a fight.  As we cruised down Kings Drive, I told my husband I wanted to slow down to conserve energy for the big hill coming (Morehead).  He offered his advice, which I did not agree with and we stopped talking.  Sometimes big mama needs a time out.

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So I took one.  As I ran straight up Morehead with a chip on my shoulder, I saw one person standing at the top of the hill out cheering people on.  Allison.  She has been riding with me for over four years at Flywheel.  Allison has been through so much in the past year.  I can’t begin to explain to you how special it was for me to hear her yell, “Let’s go Jen” as I pushed to the top.  Just months ago this girl was admitted to the ER for blood clots in her lungs (from birth control, nonetheless).  She and her doctors attribute her ability to survive at her state to her level of fitness.  Read that again.  Her ability to survive.  Allison, thank you for being my inspiration.

We hit Latta park and found the people.  Charlotte Running Company had a set up.  We ran by the Fillnows.  As we passed the Charlotte Hornets painted basketball court in the park, we ran by Jeff’s friend, Scott Williams and his two boys.  He was as surprised to see us as we were to see him.  I walked through yet another water station before I headed to the home stretch.

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As we approached the point of the race that I knew Jeff would drop me to meet me at the finish line, he said to me “Jennifer, your girls were so excited to come cheer for you this morning.  They are proud of you.”  Mind you, we hadn’t said much since I got mad at him on Kings.  I didn’t say much, but I heard him.  I told him that.  I was listening.  So he kept talking to me.  This is why I love this man so much.

We split as I headed to SouthEnd and he headed uptown. By myself.  I had run the entire race with someone else.  I was finally alone.  Fatigue was setting in.  I was no longer distracted by someone  or something else.  I got sad.  Ha. Weird.  I felt like I was going to cry.  People say running is mental.  I kept trying to figure out why I was getting sad.  I was so close to the finish line.  I saw Scott Williams and his two boys again and I was reminded to embrace the experience and just have fun.

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I cruised by the turn into Panthers stadium fulfilled and slow moving, also alone.  I felt emotional again.  This whole season.  This whole experience.  It was almost over.  I wasn’t ready for it.  It was in these last moments that everything came full circle.  Abbie pulled up beside me and said, “Let’s go girl.  WE got this.” WE.  She didn’t say you.  She said we.  We, two moms, would finish together.  Not out to beat each other.  Not worried about time.  Just there to support each other as we finished.  This amazing feeling swept over me.  The end.  End of an incredible season.  End of this race I had been training for for what seemed like forever.  Regardless of time, I felt so loved as I crossed the finish line.  No matter how fast or slow I ran, I felt loved.  What a feeling.  Running gave me that.

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Don’t get me wrong, I feel loved by the ones who love me, but being a mom is hard.  There are a lot of days that go by unappreciated (especially with kids my age).  At my job in corporate America it was often that I was rewarded and recognized for my hard work.  The days are few and far between in my line of work these days.  My kids (and most people) don’t see me working during the hours they are sleeping.  Moving my whole day around to spend a little bit of extra time doing something for someone else.  Working out on a full stomach, when I’m run down or when I really just don’t feel like it.

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To Abbie.  To my moms and dads that work day in and day out.  To my friends and family who made me feel loved on this day.  I’m proud.  Proud of you.  Aim High.  Dream Big. Never settle.

Week 23 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of a small doll.

Weight Gain – 16 pounds.  Check out the difference that a baggy shirt makes in hiding baby bump.  I also included a picture of what my bump looked like during pregnancy number two.

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My second pregnancy at 23 Weeks.

Movement – I have continued to feel more and more movement, some days more than others.  Mostly at night when I lay down.

Sleep – When it rains it pours at our house (quite literally).  It seems like something is always leaking.  The thought of water damage can keep you up at night.  We are still waiting to finalize repairs on a roof leak.  To my surprise, I got in my car Sunday only to realize that my car roof was leaking through a broken seal on my XM antenna.  I felt water dripping onto my leg.

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Maybe being a mom has prepared me for dealing with unexpected situation like this.  Ten years ago I would have had a temper tantrum and thought my life was over.  On this day, I weighed my alternatives and managed to rearrange my schedule a little bit until I can get the car repaired once the rain passes.

What I miss – I have reiterated how much I miss sushi.  Well, this weekend my husband and I went on a date night to CO Sushi where I was able to find not one, but two, fully cooked, low mercury fish rolls.

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One of the menu features is a Wagyu beef roll.  One of my favorites.  I also opted for an eel based roll.  The last time that we went to this restaurant I was not pregnant.  As such, I had never even looked at the non alcoholic section of the menu.  Surprisingly, the menu offers non alcoholic “coolers” that are INCREDIBLE.  I tried the cucumber mint cooler, which was a little sweet, but resembled the flavors of a mojito. Definitely worth checking out.

Best Moments this Week – This week was BUSY!  Not only am I still teaching my full Flywheel class load, but obstacle course training started back up again and I stopped by Myers Park High School to coach the pole vaulters at a home meet.

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Take me back in time.  I think I had just as much anxiety being on the other side of the event (this time not the competitor, but the coach).  The improvements these kids have made in a few short weeks has been amazing.  I am so proud of them.

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Following the track meet, I headed home to prepare for my husband’s birthday celebration.  He is not into social media and definitely not into big birthday blowouts.  As such, we had a family get together at the house.  I picked up chicken and eggplant parmesan, fresh pasta, and kale salad from Pasta & Provisions.  I also ordered him our first donut cake from Suarez Bakery.

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Go ahead and drool.  It was better than it looks.  He is not a fan of cake.  Just donuts.  I am the opposite (I prefer cake over donuts).  I have to admit this cake changed my mind.  Something about the textures and flavors works and it works in an incredible way.  For less than $20 you can get a cake that fed us for up to a week.  The value is there!

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The girls loved helping their dad celebrate his birthday.  My oldest passed him his cards as my youngest attempted on several occasions to unwrap his gifts before he had a chance to get to them.  There is no keeping secrets in our family.  Unfortunately, the baseball game that we were supposed to attend got rained out.  We will go to another one later in the year.

Looking forward to – The month of May!  We are planning some special events to celebrate my husband and I’s anniversary, Mother’s Day and the start of summer.  We will be taking our last trip before baby number three arrives to Isle of Palms later in the month.

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Cravings – No real cravings at this point.  I’m back to eating the foods I enjoyed pre-pregnancy (just a lot more quantity).

Symptoms – I have had mild low back pain on my right side.  I admit that I have had this worked on by a bodywork therapist who I have seen regularly since before I was pregnant at Performance Rehab Associates.  I feel very fortunate that I haven’t had significant symptoms yet.

Workouts – I’m as busy as ever with training others and I still feel good enough to maintain my own regular workout schedule.  I am logging less running miles and spending more time doing strength, riding at Flywheel and jump roping!

  • Monday – I taught my normal 6:30 AM Flywheel class
  • Tuesday – Strength work in the garage before teaching my 3:30 PM Flywheel class.
  • Wednesday – I logged some time on feet (ran) and did some strength work while I was out a local park.
    • 1 mile run
    • Find a grassy hill  – run to top of hill, do 10 burpees (I did squat thrusts), run to bottom of hill do 1 pushup.
    • Repeat decreasing total burpees each round and increasing pushups (9,2 – 8,3, etc).
    • 10 minute EMOM (every minute on the minute) grip strength work on pull up bar:
      • Odd minute – 30 second dead hang
      • Even minute – 5 Pull Ups
    • Run 1.5 miles home
  • Thursday – I joined my running group Thursday morning.  I started the workout feeling okay, but certainly slower.  See workout below:
    • Run 1.5 mile progressive warm up (they ran 1.5, I dropped in and ran 1 mile)
    • 3 x 1 mile (10 minutes to run and rest) – see my stats below.  My warm up mile was an 8:49 pace.  My first mile of the workout was 8:26.  My second mile was 8:55.  As I started mile three I decided I was done.  I felt tired and unmotivated.  I cheered them on as they finished the rest of the workout.
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  • I went on to teach my 3:30 PM Flywheel class that afternoon.
  • Friday – I have adjusted my strength work by listening to what my body needs.  With some lower back pain and a slight anterior tilt in my shoulders due to frontal weight I am working more on posterior strength and mobility/balance.
    • 2 Rounds
      • Jump Rope 2 minutes
      • Band Crossover work x 10
      • Turkish Get Up x 5 each side
      • Miniband around thighs squat to side leg raise x 15 each side
    • 4 Rounds
      • Driveway suicide x 2
      • Unilateral kettlebell carry length of driveway x 1
      • Lunge to kettlebell overhead press x 10 each
      • TRX rows x 15
      • Side plank x 45 seconds each
    • Rig and ring transition work in garage.
  • Saturday – 4 miles EASY run!
  • Sunday – I taught my usual 7:30 AM Flywheel class.

 

Working Out With Purpose

Let’s talk about purpose.  The reason for which something is done.  The intention we set.  I have to admit, when I left college athletics, I was left without a coach for the first time in my life and didn’t really know the direction that I wanted to go with my fitness.  Surely I didn’t need to be in pole vault shape to be healthy in the “real world” while also being able to feel good about the way I looked.  I spent at least two years wandering around gyms all over the United States just going through the motions of exercise.  You know, going to work out because it was something I just did every day.  I didn’t know why I was doing any exercise other than I felt like I needed to each day to feel good about getting on with the rest of my day (it was essentially a routine).

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After taking almost five years off from real competition, I got married and found Flywheel.  It was the first technology driven competition workout that I could do as cross training to my running.  It was in the first year of riding, that I got my competitive edge back.  I also got back into incredible shape.   The biggest advantages of the workout were that I could get numerical information to tell me whether or not I was getting better over time, I could see the impact on my running speed off the bike, and I was in and out in less than 45 minutes. Money can’t buy time.  Time is everything.

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It was over the next 3 years that I had two children and I lost all concept of time.  Fortunately, I was able to exercise through the birth of both of my children, however, the birth of my second daughter had wreaked havoc on my body.  I now had a reason to begin to exercise with purpose.  I always work better under pressure.  My husband suggested that I sign up for a Spartan Race.  With three months to prepare, I opted to completely revise the way I worked out (solely for the purpose of competing in the race).  I focused on strength, only because that was something I had focused less on since leaving the Virginia Tech Strength and Conditioning Room.

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For the first time in my post-collegiate life, I started doing less cardio exercise and picked up some weights.  With the purpose of regaining strength, it came back quick.  I started with just doing 1 pull up.  Over the next few months, I could do 10.  Some days, I couldn’t do any.  You see finding a fulfilling purpose requires having setbacks.  You learn from each setback.  I sure did.

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I did great in my first competitive race post baby number two.  However, I still hadn’t mastered mobility, stretching and recovery.  As such, I found myself at the end of 2015 sitting mostly immobile in my upper body after a freak partial shoulder dislocation doing an obstacle race.  I renewed my purpose.

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Seeing a trend in obstacle racing towards the “runner”, I changed my purpose to getting better at my run.  I have never described myself as a runner.  Sure, I have run every distance up to a marathon, but I spent most of my life building strength to run as fast as possible over less than 90 feet and being able to jump as high off my left leg as possible.  The goals was to build fast twitch muscles. Definitely not slow.

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Prior to this year, my average mile pace during runs or races was somewhere in the 8-9 minute range.  With a renewed, focus on running, I spent 2-3 days a week doing cross conditioning workouts.  What is now my OCR (obstacle course racing) program.  I ran just 2 days a week and I rode the bike at Flywheel 3-4 days a week.  That’s right, even with my renewed focus on running, I didn’t run a lot.  When I did run, I ran with purpose.  One day a week I focused on interval workouts (think speed or hill training) with a group.  I was consistent.  On the other day, I ran longer and slower.  Instead of paying attention to pace, I watched my heart rate.  Always trying to keep it below 160 beats per minute.  I was always trying to keep it aerobic.

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My 2016 race season is officially OVER.  What a ride.  I set several goals at the beginning of the year (see post here).  That said, I could never have imagined how the year would play out for me athletically.  As a recap, see results below:

  • April 2nd – Cooper River Bridge Run (10K) – 46:18 (7:20/mile) PR
  • April 9th – Charlotte Spartan Sprint Race – 14th overall women’s elite
  • June 4 – Charlotte Warrior Dash – 4th overall woman
  • August 6 – Asheville Spartan Super Race – 34th overall women’s elite
  • August 27th – Yiassou Greek Fest 5k -22:12 (7:08/mile) PR
  • October 1 – Lake Tahoe Spartan World Championship Beast – 100 overall women’s elite
  • November 23 – Charlotte Turkey Trot (8K) – 35:34 (7:10/mile) PR

The biggest takeaway?  I didn’t get injured.  I also began sharing my purpose with others.  I guess you could say the biggest things I learned are:

  • Setting a purpose is the first step to achieving a goal.
  • You are never too old to set a goal.
  • Your purpose will almost always change.  Embrace that and enjoy the ride.

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Your reason doesn’t have to be a quantitative.  Let me list a few things that my clients are striving for today:

  • I want to be healthy.
  • I want to look good in a bikini.
  • I want to do a push-up.
  • I want to do a pull-up.
  • I want to lose weight.
  • I want to complete a Spartan Trifecta.
  • I want to live longer.

So what is your purpose?

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