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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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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Carry The Fallen 3/21/15

 

It’s really hard to sum up an event like Carry The Fallen. I tried to do so after I participated in my first one in November (here), but I think this time I will let the pictures speak for themselves. We did very well in terms of organization with our new team leader and it was, yet again, a very powerful experience.

Photo credits:  Julie O’Hare, Tara Kilcommons, Mary Khoury-Whitelaw

Video credit:  Sarah Arsenault (you see me walk by at 0:39)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video of the finish line crossing:

 

 

 

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31 Day Blog Challenge – Day 6/Face The Music Friday #65

 

#6 – Your 5 senses right now

We all know what the senses are: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. Let’s get right to it, shall we? (This was based on when I started writing this post on Thursday night)

Sight – the newest issue of Runner’s World on my nightstand

 

I cropped it kind of funny to take out my address label

 

Hearing – my Spotify playlist

 

 

Taste – these amazing roasted chick peas that Tara made

 

 

Touch – the keyboard

 

 

Smell – this awesome Yankee Candle that makes me WISH I was on a Seaside Holiday

 

 

 

 

Day 1 and 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5

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So, there is my challenge for today, now here’s my Friday training update: I’m just getting back into the swing of things. Tuesday was my first “official” workout (if you don’t count shoveling snow) since Saturday, 2/21. I’ve had a horrid cold with an awful cough and when it’s in the lungs, there’s no way I’m pushing my body so I rested. And rested some more. And some more. I still have the cough now, but am trying to slowly work my way back. Let me tell you that Tuesday’s run was horrible. I felt like a beginner runner again.

 

 

I didn’t do anything on Thursday because snow screwed everything up again with about another 8 inches. I had kind of a down day anyway and just wanted to curl up under the covers. I plan on trying to get in a run after work today so hopefully the week will pick back up again. I really need to get my shit together again. I was on a streak and this being sick really put a damper on things.

I need a song that pumps me up and there’s not really anything more epic than this on my playlist…

E.S. Posthumus – Unstoppable

 

 

 

 

 

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Face The Music Friday #62: The One With All The Training

Oh, hey. Hi there. Remember me?

First, let’s get the training out of the way. I’m not gonna use the usual format because there are too many missed weeks to type up, so here’s a screenshot of this month. Not too shabby if I say so myself.

 

January Training

 

Things are going well so far with the running. I can definitely tell my yoga is helping so I’m glad I’ve stuck with it. Running 4 days a week has been tough, but manageable so far. I’ve stuck almost religiously with the plan I’m following with the exception of skipping one long run day to catch up on some rest and skipping my Thursday run this week because my hips were really sore from doing a double workout on Tuesday. I still did yoga in it’s place, so I’ll call it a win.

Let’s move on and be a little more serious. I want to thank my blogger friends who have left comments checking in on me. It makes the interwebs feel a little smaller and it’s nice to know people notice when you’re not around.

Depression and anxiety are a nasty duo. One or the other is bad enough on it’s own. It’s not been a good few months. Every day is a struggle to just get out of bed. I think my training hasn’t suffered only because it’s one thing I can control. I have people to be accountable to as well.

 

 

 

On the plus side, I have an amazing network of friends (who really are family) keeping my head above water. I’m entering into more intensive therapy while taking a leave of absence from work for a short time. I’ve even gone back on medication to help level me out. It’s been a long while since I’ve taken anything and am hoping this will only be temporary.

 

 

Since I’ve missed so many weeks of blogging, I owe you a few songs. These are some of my obsessions lately. Music is a huge part of helping me feel better. Headphones in, volume up, turn off the whirlwind.

 

Robert Delong – Long Way Down

 

 

Fitz & The Tantrums – Fools Gold

 

 

Yelawolf – Till It’s Gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Face The Music Friday #61

Saturday – 2.5 hour hike

Sunday – 4 miles

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – 2 miles

Wednesday – 30 min Yoga

Thursday – 3 miles

Friday – 2 miles

 

So…I made it through Christmas. My first one without celebrating with family. I celebrated with my friends instead.

We celebrated Festivus on Tuesday complete with the airing of grievances (with the pole!) and feats of strength. Christmas Eve was spent with Tara’s family and then that night and Christmas day were spent with our besties (thanks guys).

I got some nice gifts, including some very useful workout stuff. I had gotten Tara two tickets to Celtic Women and that was a big hit as well. I even managed to keep it a secret the last 3 months since I bought them! If you know me, you know I’m horrible with surprises because I just want people to open their stuff right away so this was a major win.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and enjoyed time with those that matter most. Here is this week’s song choice…

Corner – Allie Moss

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Face The Music Friday #60

 

This week has been a really tough one. Let’s get the training update out of the way:

Saturday – 30 min yoga

Sunday – 4 miles

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – 3 miles

Wednesday – 30 min yoga

Thursday – 2 miles

Friday – 3 miles

As for the week, well, a gigantic step was taken in the interest of getting better, of moving forward with my life. This is not some place that I need to share what choice was made, suffice it to say that it was very difficult and will take a little while to sink in what’s been done. It’s very positive at the same time.

I’m hoping this step, along with others I am taking, will take me to a better place. Having this training to focus on is helping. Having the accountability to have to answer for why I would miss a workout is enough to keep me going. Having this gigantic goal – it’s all good.

Tomorrow is the Unleashed Christmas party and I can’t wait. I need the fun, the frivolity, the friends. I’m on vacation all next week and I’m very excited not to have to go to work. I plan on lots of fun stuff with friends whenever possible, keeping up with my workouts and who knows what for the holiday. Normally I’m a planner, but I’m going to try to just enjoy playing it by ear and see what happens.

Here’s your song for this week…

K.Flay – Get It Right

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thoughts On 2014 And 2015

 

With how low I’ve been feeling lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. People keep pointing out what an amazing year I’ve had, but it’s hard for me to feel accomplished when all I focus on are my failures. I decided to put it into writing so I can look back at it when I need a boost.

2014 was a year of firsts. In order of this year, I did: my first trail race, first 10K, first 10 Miler, first Tough Mudder, first (and second and third) Spartan Race, first half marathon and first GORUCK. This was among other road races and OCRs for a total of 20 races on the year (click tabs to the right to see all races).

Normally, at this time, I’d already be scheduling my 2015 events. I’d like to do less this year. My first two years of racing have seen me do 15 races in 2013 and 20 in 2014. It’s very busy and very costly and I think I need to cut down for both of those reasons. I need more focus. I can’t just register for every race I have the desire to run.

On my radar for this year is the Marine Corps Marathon. That’s it. There are a few others I would like to do, but I need to see how my weeks are going to line up. I’d like to do the Ragnar Trail Relay with my team, plus I have a free entry to Battlefrog OCR that I’d like to use. Other than that, I need to develop a take it or leave it attitude. I’ll be spending much more time supporting friends at races and events instead of running them. I’d like to keep rucking with Carry The Fallen, as well as become a shadow for GORUCK events that include my teammates and friends.

I have high hopes for 2015.

 

 

 

 

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