Don't blink. Just run.

Where training meets fandom. And everything in between.

Exploring A Stronger Version Of Myself

 

At Unleashed, their slogan is “Explore A Stronger Version Of You”. What I am about to write is going to be somewhat superficial and then somewhat deep and incredibly difficult. First, I am going to tell you how I am exploring a stronger physical self.

This past Friday, I attended Freestyle Friday at Unleashed which is basically a 2.5 hour free-for-all where you can use anything in the gym that you want to create a workout for yourself, or spend time practicing something. I’ve only been a few times, but it’s a fun time. We’ve come to have some friendly competitions to push each other to always do more – especially with the sled.

After some event specific warm-up and training (more on that in a bit), we started pushing the sled around. The last time I did it, we were at somewhere around 700 lb. This time, we loaded it up with plates and just kept pushing. We eventually added sandbags, then humans, then smaller humans. Here is a pic of me pushing about 1070 lb and below that is a video of me pushing around 1020 lb.

 

 

 

My friends encouraging me to do more, and then being able to do it, makes me feel strong, physically and mentally. Now, let’s talk about that event specific training, shall we? After shadowing the GOREV, I was completely inspired. I told myself I would never do another GORUCK after our Light in October because I felt I didn’t have the mental fortitude to get through it. After witnessing what my friends pushed through, and all that I’ve overcome in the last several months, I decided to register for another GORUCK event, appropriately called a Challenge.

 

 

I have several friends who are going to do it with me and, with their support, I’m going to give it my all. I know they will do everything in their power to see that I don’t fail. On that same note, let’s talk about how I’m exploring mental strength.

It’s no secret I have depression and anxiety. I’ve always been honest about that on here and don’t feel the need to hide it anymore. I’ve decided to share a bit more and, maybe, it might help someone else needing help.

I don’t remember if I’ve spoken about it before, but I also have PTSD. I’m not going to (and never going to) get into why on this blog. What I will tell you is that I also used to cut as a coping mechanism. I started when I was a teenager and did it well into my early 20s. For those who have no experience with it, personally or otherwise, I will just tell you that I did it as a way to distract myself from the mental pain using physical pain. I’ve come to understand that it is a common theme with those who do/did it.

What I’ve only just figured out in the past few months is that cutting is an addiction I just need to keep at bay, not unlike alcoholism or drug abuse. My immediate instinct when having a really bad day, hour, minute is to turn to something that makes that mental pain go away. Luckily, I have Tara and amazing friends and I haven’t resorted to that. The urges were almost daily, but thankfully are getting better with continued therapy and medications I am on. It helps that I have learned better coping skills and am working through what I need to work through, difficult as it may be.

I guess my point in admitting this in such a public forum is that you don’t have to do it. It sucks, and it will hurt, but there are other things you can do. Don’t stuff shit down because it’s not going anywhere. Work through it and come out stronger on the other side. It will get better.

If you need some alternatives, I’ve found this site helpful:  https://casapalmera.com/helping-a-loved-one-who-self-injures/

 

 

 

 

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Spectating The Boston Marathon

 

I’m going to pick up where I left off, when we finished the GOREV event Sunday morning.

Amy B and I were met by our other friend Amy C, who was the one running the marathon the next day. She brought some food for Amy but I had felt pretty sick the last four hours or so of the GOREV, so I couldn’t eat or drink anything for a while. Amy B’s husband came up with their kids to meet us at the finish and she changed into some fresh clothes. I literally dozed off sitting up on the stairs while she was changing. Once we had stopped moving, I lost all adrenaline that had kept me going.

Once everyone got situated, we headed back to the parking lot to pick up Amy B’s car. From there, the two Amys and I drove to my cousin’s house just south of the city. She was nice enough to let us stay there while they were away for the weekend so we didn’t have to pay for a hotel. It was 5 minutes from the T station and it’s not far out of Boston. I think we were able to get in the house and settled down sometime between 10:30-11:00am and Amy B and I were going to get some rest while Amy C did some errands. We laid down on the couches and I think Amy B was asleep before she even finished laying down. I was super restless and still not feeling well and only got rest in 10-15 minute increments. I think I got up 4 or 5 times to either drink or take medicine or whatever. It was not restful at all.

I finally gave up sometime around 1pm and Amy B woke up shortly after that I believe. We sat around chatting for a bit and then all got ready to attend the pasta dinner being held by Amy C’s fundraising team for Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We were thrilled to have a buffet to eat because we were starving, but we all ended up only getting the one plate of food and calling it quits.

 

 

Once we had eaten, we stopped at Target on the way home to pick up some food and last minute supplies for the next day. I think we managed to get to bed around 9pm, but at this point time and days were a blur to me.

Monday morning Amy C got up and got ready and I got up shortly after her around 6am, with Amy B following soon after. Our super runner finished up and then drove up to meet her team and get ready. Amy B and I sat around a bit, had our breakfast and chatted, checked in with people on our phones and then both got ready to head into the city.

Amy C was in the wave to have an approximate 11:15am start. She kept sending us updates and pics and it was really exciting to see what was going on with the athletes. Amy B and I took the T in because driving would have been a nightmare. Our plans we made the night before were to meet her at around mile 16, mile 23 and the finish.

We arrived without much of a delay to mile 16 and starting watching for her based on the text updates we were getting from the BAA and from her occasionally. It was amazing being part of something like that, even just as a spectator. The atmosphere is pure electricity and the sound just never stops. I can’t even imagine running in it.

 

 

 

We got a text from Amy C shortly before she met up with us that she needed some dry socks. We had two runner bags with us that had mid-race supplies and after-race stuff. When she finally came to us, she was soaked through just like everybody else out there. We helped her strip her shirts off and change into something warmer and drier, then she changed out her socks, grabbed some more Swedish fish and kept trucking. She was in some pain from a prior leg injury and had a cough that wouldn’t quit, but there was no way she wasn’t going to finish her first Boston.

Once she took off, one of Amy B’s friends, Adam, took us to near Beacon St where we needed to meet her for mile 23, which should have been where her team cheering area was. There was nobody there. I guess it was team family members and once their runner went by, they were leaving.

 

 

I sort of wish we hadn’t stopped there because that only gave us maybe 30 minutes to get to the finish by T. Yeah – that didn’t happen. We got the text she finished before we even got to the last stop. I was so disappointed and felt like I’d let her down by not making it in time to see her finish. Luckily, we found out afterwards that 3 of her other friends were there at the finish so she did have some support at the end. She did awesome, coming in at 5:16:46.

 

 

Once we knew that we couldn’t see her finish, we re-routed to meet her at Boston Sports Club which was the after destination for her team. Once we got there, we went to the meeting area, but she wasn’t there. We finally got a Facebook message from her that she was in the med room. I, of course, immediately panicked but we asked at the front desk to find out where she was and found her getting her leg looked at and being warmed up. Her phone had been ruined by the rain so she had borrowed a PT aide’s phone to message us.

We got her stuff picked up and she went off to shower before grabbing some food there, then we all headed to the food court in the Prudential Center (where BSC was) to get food because the restaurants in the area had very, very long waits. You would think something was going on in town!

 

 

 

I am so amazingly proud of this girl. She worked her tail off to get there, training through injury and sickness. You did it, Amy! You ran “the fucking Boston Marathon”!!

 

 

 

 

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GORUCK Gorevolution

 

To say that April 18-19, 2015 were life-changing would be an understatement. Let’s just start at the beginning.

You’ve heard me talk about GORUCK before, including the one I took part in back in October. The event that was being held this weekend was a Gorevolution, the second of its kind. It was basically a GORUCK Heavy (24+ hour event), but with a historical twist – we would be following in the footsteps of our ancestors as we walked from Concord to Boston along the Battle Road Trail, Minute Man Bikeway and Freedom Trail.

When they tell you that the event starts at 4am, you get there early. We ended up going to bed later than I planned on Friday night (somewhere around 8:30-9:00?) and I set my alarm for midnight. I knew several people that were doing the event, but was there mainly in support of my friend, Amy. It was her first Heavy. Amy and I stayed at Julie and Dan’s house so we’d be closer to the start and wouldn’t have to drive so far so early in the morning. Once I was up and ready, Amy got up at 1:00 and started getting herself ready. We were out the door just past 2:00 and on our way! We arrived where we were told to park around 3:00 and there was a very nice guy everyone calls Jeans that hooked us up with a ride to the start (about a mile and a half away). We thought we’d have to walk to the start so this was a nice surprise. We were at the start by about 3:30 and just kind of hanging around with others that had arrived early.

All of a sudden, out of the pitch black walk the two Cadre – Andy and Logan. So begins the event. First things first, they lined up to have the roster checked. There were supposed to be 35 people there that had signed up, but only 23 were present. I don’t remember in what order the next two things occurred, but they had their bags inspected to ensure they had the correct weight, food, hydration and safety gear and then were read the rules and precautions to be taken during the event. Cadre Andy then took us shadows aside to advise us on how he wanted us to behave alongside the class.

 

 

 

 

Once everybody was situated and checked in, off we went. The beginning started out deceivingly simple – walk along a little bit, stop at a historical marker, Cadre would tell us a bit about it and then move on. No yelling, no PT yet. This lasted maybe a mile and a half or so as we made our way into Minute Man Historical Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See this picture below? That man in the black coat and evil grin? That would be Cadre Logan. He’s grinning because they are about to bring the suck. Once they got across that bridge, things would get much, much worse.

 

 

 

From here, they needed to get down on the ground to avoid “enemy fire”. They were told to low crawl, roll left, roll right, all while trying not to become a “casualty”. If you become one, you are no longer allowed to move under your own power. In this instance, they had to be dragged by other members of the class to get them to the tree line and cover.

 

 

 

 

 

Once they made it to the tree line, we walked over to the park path to get back to our trek. Not everyone was falling in line with what the Cadre were saying, so some PT needed to be done including up/down with their rucks as well as holding them overhead.

 

 

 

Some bear crawls, lunges and crab walks were next.

 

 

 

 

 

Once we rounded the corner after a quick jog, they got a small break while the Cadre spoke again.

 

 

 

 

Back to the road they went with some low crawls. I thought it was highly amusing watching the runners and bikers come through looking at them like they’re nuts. After that, they played a lovely game called “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” where they had to get up, move for a second, then lay down all to the cadence of saying that phrase.

 

 

 

 

They went around another bend and had another quick refuel and then more crab walks, because it’s fun. After a little more walking, we came across a tunnel where they had to lay down and do 100 flutter kicks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they walked a bit more on the trail, we came to Fiske Hill. Oh, Fiske Hill. They had some fun there. It started out with having to crawl down the embankment from the parking lot into what can only be described as disgusting. They then had to make their way up the hill, stopping here and there for PT and picking up various “weapons” to charge the hill.

 

 

 

 

Near the top of the hill were casualties, so there were lots of buddy carries through here up another short, steep hill.

 

 

 

 

After we left the park, we had a long, boring walk along the main streets until we reached the Lexington Common. We had just missed a re-enactment so we took a break to eat and check feet. We got to see just a bit of the next one starting, but had to keep moving on to stay on track.

 

 

 

 

 

From the Common, we entered the Minute Man Bikeway. There was a lot of just plain rucking on this portion. At times, Logan got them going at a very quick pace. I spent a lot of time shuffle running to keep up in the back. Along the way, they were told to pick up various items like aluminum fence posts and tire rims. Little did they know, they would soon be building “the apparatus”. They would have to use these pieces, along with whatever rope and straps they brought with them, to build some sort of method of transportation for an oil drum that was left on the side of the bikeway.

 

 

 

 

 

We rucked on the bikeway for a long time it seemed and then veered off for a bit to see a few areas of interest before joining back up with it.

 

 

 

 

 

It was nightfall by the time we reached Boston Common. We had another break for food and feet before walking along the Freedom Trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we were past the Old North Church (one if by land, two if by sea), it was time for some very difficult maneuvering. They were to pick up some items and move them to our next location, which was an extended break at a local gym frequented by ruckers.

 

 

 

Once we got there, they were able to leave those items behind. After our rest period to refuel and check feet, off we went to Fort Washington, where they would pick up more items to be carried all the way to the end in Dorchester Heights to build a “cannon”.

 

 

 

 

 

I have to say that I believe this was the most difficult part of the journey. It was a lot of walking through a closed city of Boston. They had to carry these really heavy items for miles with very few breaks because there weren’t enough people. You also have to remember we’ve passed 24 hours during this trek and everyone was exhausted. The smiles during the first few miles had long disappeared and I watched as zombies shuffled past me. I will admit that there are times I don’t remember getting from one block to the next. I could have been sleepwalking for all I know.

23 started, 21 finished with one voluntary withdrawal and one med drop (who pushed it so, so hard and should be proud). At the end, with the sun coming up, they were handed their patches. Tears flowed, cheers erupted and everyone squeezed each other tight. These are a few of my favorite shots from the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is our GPS that I forgot to start at the very beginning, but that’s pretty close to the actual duration and distance.

 

 

What I witnessed was incredible. People pushing through immense pain, working together to get the tasks done. Tears, sure, but no quit. They didn’t know the meaning of the word. I am so, so proud of every member of that class and it was an honor to walk alongside them.

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Talk About Stress

 

If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, or know me in person, you know I’m a gigantic ball of stress. Maybe not 24/7, but a significant amount of the time. I’m a perfectionist and slightly OCD about certain things. Throw in my anxiety and depression and you have a recipe for disaster.

 

 

Recently, I was introduced to Oscar Health Insurance that made me think about tips on reducing my stress. They believe in making things as easy as possible and I’m all about that! For instance, I love that my doctor’s office has a Patient Portal where I can view everything online instead of having to call and be on hold forever. Oscar is trying to make health insurance just as easy. They have more information about their health insurance services here.

April is Stress Awareness Month (who knew!) so I would like to offer up what I personally do to de-stress.

1.  Do one thing at a time. You’re not a superhero, or an octopus for that matter. Try to remember what you’re capable of and just get things in order and do them step by step.

2.  De-clutter. I don’t know about you, but when I find my house getting messy, I get more anxious. Take 15 minutes and tidy up. If you have more time, do a good cleaning and organizing.

 

 

3.  Put on some mellow music. When I say mellow, I don’t mean put on Korn. Listen to some quiet singer/songwriters, instrumentals or the like.

4.  Put on some white noise. I don’t mean the TV. Find an app, or use a device, that creates a calming, soothing tone that is just on in the background. It’s amazing how relaxed you can get. Tara and I listen to an air purifier to fall asleep every night. I also have an app on my phone for when we sleep away from home that has dozens of sounds you can program.

5.  Watch a funny movie with a friend. You can watch a funny movie by yourself, but it’s even better with a friend. Not only will they be there with you, but laughter is contagious.

6.  Run. This is a big one for me. I throw on a podcast and head out for some miles. I always feel better after a run, once those endorphins have kicked in.

 

 

7.  Hike. Get out in nature. Be still in the woods. Listen to the sounds around you and just soak it up.

 

 

8.  Do some yoga. This is a more recent addition for me, but very helpful in not only making me more flexible, but calming me down.

 

Please share how you de-stress in the comments and maybe I’ll try something new!

 

 

I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mini Recap

 

I know that I want to do justice to the events I witnessed this weekend, so I’m not even going to attempt to write my blogs on those just yet. I will say this:  it was incredible. To be a witness to that kind of life-changing stuff is amazing. I am so, so proud of my girls and completely inspired to do more.

Here are a few of my fave pics to hold you over.

 

This is slightly off because I didn’t remember to start it for maybe 1/4 mile or so, but it’s pretty close.

 

At the end of GOREVOLUTION

 

One of me snapping pics

 

 

With the finisher!!!

 

 

 

 

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Face The Music Friday #71

 

Saturday – Raking leaves and yard work for 2.5 hours
Sunday – 6.5 miles
Monday – 1.6 mile lunch ruck
Tuesday – 3.1 miles
Wednesday – 3.5 mile ruck
Thursday – Packing like a maniac
Friday – Running around like a crazy person

 

Not a bad training week. Sunday I had planned 8 miles, but my stomach had other ideas and after about 3.5 I was stuck at almost my halfway point and had to walk back. I called Tara when I knew where I was (that she knew as well) and had her come pick me up. Not cool!

Tuesday was super speedy! I ran with my friend Amy and whenever I run outside with her, I tend to start out too quick. She has a faster pace than I do and I feel bad slowing people up. We started out so fast I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep running, but I finally settled into a groove around 1 mile and was able to straighten myself out. When I realized around 2 miles how fast we were going, I consciously decided to keep pushing it. We sprinted at the end because I was certain I was going to beat my 5K PR, but I missed it by 9 seconds (I thought it was higher than it was). Good, good run!

The rucks were mainly to get used to wearing it again for this weekend, plus to break in my new boots. I’m hoping these bad boys are as good as everyone says they are so I don’t have any issues with my feet. I also bought Trail Tape because that seemed to help more than the Trail Toes at Carry The Fallen.

I’m so excited for this epic weekend! Tonight, I head up to MA to get ready to shadow the GOREV happening tomorrow. I have the easy part – just taking pictures and being there in support. Yes, I’ll be walking for over 24 hours and probably close to 40 miles, but at least I can rest when I’m able to stop. The rest of the class doing this special GORUCK won’t get the breaks I get. I can’t wait to watch Amy crush it!

From there, after we eat our weight in food and try to get some sleep, we’ll be hitting up the pasta dinner with our other friend Amy who is going to run THE FREAKIN’ BOSTON MARATHON on Monday. I’m so excited to watch her, too. All the years I grew up in MA, I never once went to the marathon. I can’t wait!

So for today, I feel this is a rather epic song choice for these amazing friends of mine. I first heard it when we went to the Carnivores Tour last August and fell in love with it. I’ve recently started hearing it on the radio so I think it’s been released as a single now, too. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Path

 

I’m very lucky that I live very close to one of the many bike paths in the state of Rhode Island. This affords me safe running, away from most traffic (other than occasional street crossings). From where I live, I could go in one of two directions. One is absolutely beautiful and the other, not so much. This means I always go left when I run the path.

I actually run through two towns on the path, but it is all part of the Washington Secondary Bike Path. Last night, a friend and I went for nice, slow ruck along the path. I brought along another friend’s camera that I am borrowing for our upcoming epic weekend and decided I would practice using it (it’s “fancy”!).

Enjoy some pictures of the awesome area that I get to run!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Face The Music Friday #70

Saturday – Rest – lots happening
Sunday – 8.5 miles
Monday – Rest
Tuesday – 3 miles
Wednesday – 30 min yoga
Thursday – 5 miles
Friday – probably yoga later

 

Just a quick update today. Last Saturday, there was a lot going on so I never got a workout in, but I wasn’t too worried about it. The rest of the week rounded out OK. I had an eye appt in the morning, then later volunteered at an LLS fundraiser at Unleashed and finally went to a friend’s birthday party that night where I played laser tag for the first time (super fun btw)!

 

 

Back to the training, I was a little disappointed in Sunday’s run. It was nice enough to meet up with a friend at City Park for what I had scheduled to be 10 miles. We went out WAY too fast at the beginning (for me anyway). After I finished a loop and was only 8.5 miles in, I didn’t have anything left to go back around for another 1.5. I was happy I got that close – my legs were like lead weights.

Tuesday and Thursday more than made up for that though. Tuesday night I did those 3 miles on the dreadmill, but I’ve noticed my speed is increasing now and it felt comfortable. Thursday was an amazing, amazing run. I decided since the rain was supposed to hold off that I would run outside. I got my head lamp ready and headed out since it would be dark by the time I finished. I made the call in my head I would do at least 3, but aim for 5.

I started out pretty rough. I typically do for the first mile, but I pushed to keep running and not take any breaks. I settled into a good pace and managed to keep it level the entire time! I ran the whole 5 miles and not only that, of the 30 recorded Runkeeper runs I have for “4-6 miles”, it was my fastest ever with an 11:36 average pace! WHAT! Maybe it was the snow (yes, it snowed on me, on April 10th) or the empty bike paths and solitude but it was an amazing run last night and I’m so happy I kept pushing that pace.

I’ve worked out a new marathon training plan that will start in June, so until then I’ll keep up what I’ve been doing to maintain endurance and maybe pick the speed up even a little more. I’m gonna need all the cushion I can muster for MCM so I finish under 6 hours.

This week’s song is a new one, but I’m really into it. The video is weird, so maybe just listen to it instead of watch it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yoga Studio App Review

There is no way on this earth that you are going to get me to go to an actual yoga studio.

 

 

That being said, I know yoga can only help me become a more flexible runner. Introducing – the Yoga Studio app for iOS. I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I do for yoga, so I’m going to show you a bit about the app. My cousin recommended the app to me initially and I figured it was worth the $3.99 to try it out. It has thousands of reviews and a 5-star rating so that’s a win-win in my book.

There are several ways you can use the app. There are pre-built studio classes that you can download or you can also build your own. I like that they give you the option of choosing a routine based on what it will help you with. I use flexibility the most, but the combos are good, too.

 

 

 

You also have the option of creating your own class by adding together whatever poses you’d like to perform. I have yet to use this feature because I haven’t a clue on how to put them together effectively, but I think it’s a great option to have available.

 

 

I had Tara snap some pics of me doing the 30 min Beginner Flexibility course to show you some of the poses that are incorporated. I’m really happy to see how well my Downward Dog has progressed so that I can almost touch my heels to the ground now. You will also notice my “supervisor” Delilah in the pics on occasion. She gets concerned when I’m on the ground and will spend much of the session coming over to check on me or trying to lay on top of me and get cozy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite pose – Corpse Pose! HAHA!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Face The Music Friday #69

Saturday – Julie’s bday celebration continued
Sunday – 10 miles
Monday – Rest
Tuesday – 3 miles
Wednesday – 1 hr kettlbell class at Unleashed
Thursday – 3 miles
Friday – Probably yoga

Sunday’s long run didn’t exactly go as planned. I met up with a friend to run in City Park but after snow/rain on Saturday and freezing temps overnight it was just sheets of black ice. We opted to run in the neighborhood surrounding the park, but it was so cold we couldn’t feel our hands, even with gloves on. We did one loop of 1.5 miles and called it quits. I later ran near my house in the afternoon and it was a like a totally different day – bright sunshine and temps in the 40s. It was an awesome feeling running outside again and I was able to get the remaining 8.5 miles in.

Tuesday I felt AWESOME. I had a strong run. I ran the fastest I ever have on a treadmill at the end and kept a consistently higher pace as well. Thursday, well, that was another story. After taking kettlebell class on Wednesday night, my legs were like jello. My quads and glutes are verrrry sore. This morning is even worse. Yay for day two of DOMS!

So anyway…that’s my training week. Outside of that, things are not going well. I want to talk about something, but am building up the courage to do so. Even if no one reads it, this is my blog after all. This is where I pour out my thoughts and feelings for myself, if no one else.

We were supposed to have a pretty busy weekend, but now plans have changed and just Saturday will be busy. I have a long run Sunday, hopefully outside with a friend, but we’ll play it by ear and maybe just relax the rest of that day and catch up on the DVR or something chill.

Here is this week’s song. Have a good weekend everybody!

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