Back at it in Bakersfield, CA

I’m bbbaaaccckk!

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After a 10 day running hiatus, I got back on it with a five miler in Bakersfield, CA!

Life was pretty hectic (in an awesome, fun-filled, whirlwind kind of way) for a few days I had little time left for running. That wrapped up about five days ago though… Whoops.

This is a make-it-or-break-it-week for my marathon training, so the goal is to get all five of my runs in, which includes a 20 or 23 miler to peak training, and finish with a 50 mile week.

I have literally no excuse either – there is a great running path a mile from the hotel door! So far Bakersfield doesn’t stink as much as literally every person has said it was. That trail was pretty nice!

I’ll have to see about the rest of Bakersfield these next few days though.

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CrossFit – Feel the Fear & Do it Anyway

My first CrossFit Experiences and Meeting Jamie Eason Along the Way!

I have been interested in doing CrossFit for months now. Literally, months! As a runner I’m in pretty decent shape. It’s not like I’m gasping for breath going up a flight of stairs. However, being on the road I’m only a runner. All the cross training I used to do, biking and swimming, has stopped because it’s just not as convenient as lacing up the old Mizunos.

As a result, I’m getting skinny fat. I’ve got the middle-aged mom arms going on (no offense!!) and they aren’t as toned as they used to be. I mean, I used to be known as Kelly “Big Guns” Goldthorpe back in the high school swimming days!

CrossFit appealed to me because it seemed like a way to get a full body workout. And, let’s not lie, people who do CrossFit look damn good! The intensity and group aspects were also reasons that I wanted to try it out. That “Type A” personality in me is all about the next challenge!

Well, weeks went by. And months. And frankly I was a big fat chicken. A real “wienie” if you will! Since I didn’t really understand how it worked I was too intimidated to actually try it out. I rationalized it by saying I was focusing on my running. (Anyone knows though that to be a better runner you need to cross train so let’s just acknowledge what a load of B.S. that excuse is!)

Finally, in Boise, Idaho Abe convinced me to come with him to this Box downtown, the CrossFit Refinery. I really was just planning on dropping him off and going grocery shopping, but they had a class that started 10 minutes after we got there. Somehow I ended up roped into the workout.

10 pull-ups
15 sit-ups
10 times
Whoa.

I didn’t think I had it in me to do one round, even with the modified jumping pull-ups I was doing. To be honest, I didn’t think I could even do the sit-ups! But, low-and-behold, I did it! And it felt DAMN. GOOD.

The let me hit the gong for me first workout!

It was so quick! Why didn’t anyone tell me how awesome this was going to be?! After one workout I immediately saw the appeal of CrossFit. It’s like ripping off a bandaid, quick and dirty. It got me sweating and I felt like a champion once it was over!

Abe and I went back last night too. I was still nervous about it but in the locker room I found another source of inspiration. I looked in the mirror and who did I see – none other than JAMIE EASON from BodyBuilding.com! I knew it was her the minute I saw her.

If you want to be impressed, meet this girl. Not only is she a knockout, but the more I talked to her the more I realized what a business mogul she was! Talk about a savvy businesswoman! She really has crafted her own brand and built an empire on it.

So why on earth was this fitness guru at a CrossFit gym in Boise? (Not exactly the first place I’d expect to stumble on her, but not a White Castle either I suppose!) Well, she was on a photoshoot launching her new product line.

Of course after meeting her I couldn’t back out of my second CrossFit workout. Yesterday was 5 dead-lifts, followed by 10 burpees, 5 times. I may have been the last to finish, but I finished! Talk about a post-workout high! It was definitely high-fives all around after that. Luckily all the guys at the gym were excited to share my enthusiasm!

The trainers at the CrossFit Refinery were awesome! They really explained all the movements to me and made sure I understood how to do everything before starting. I was so appreciative of their patience because it made the whole experience much less daunting.

So now I’m hooked! Without a question! I’m ready to find a box in each new city and keep this going! My only concern is how to mix this in with marathon training. I figured I would probably go 2-3 times per week. On my off and easy days. Does anyone have any advice on combining CrossFit with marathon training?

Alright, expect many more CrossFit posts to come! I think I might be addicted!

(Can you believe 15 months ago I almost weighed 200lbs and never exercised? I’m loving the changes this last year has brought in my life!)

Rockford Half Marathon

All the driving aside, this turned out to be a really fun weekend!

Saturday my sister and I drove up to Wisconsin so I could take her back home. We didn’t stop at the World’s Largest Truck Stop near Davenport, Iowa, but we did stop to see the new neighborhood she is moving into!

After dropping my sister off, I decided to drive back to Rockford that night instead of staying in Wisconsin. I didn’t want to make the 2 hr drive at 4:30 in the morning on Sunday. Great choice! I stayed at the Studio Plus hotel after Travelocity booked me at a sold out hotel. Shuttling between hotels wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do at 10 p.m. the night before a race, but it all worked out. For the sake of others who may consider staying in Rockford – book early, soccer tournaments are always buying up the hotel spaces!

I PR’ed at one race after having a few drinks out on the town the night before, so now superstition dictates I have at least one the night before a race. With these single-serve wine glasses you’d think I’m still in college! Sorry for the terrible quality pic!

The expo for the Rockford Marathon was, to be brutally honest, grim. You grabbed your bib and t-shirt and that was it. There were two stands – one for a medal display rack and one for the pace groups. At least I was in-and-out in less than 10 minutes! I know it was a smaller race, but coming directly from the Flying Pig Marathon I couldn’t help but wish there was at least a running store sponsor or some kind of nutrition product giving away free tastes!

Beautiful, albeit hot, day for a race!

Race day I woke up in a funk. I had gotten to bed pretty late, hadn’t really prepared, and was going into the race with some pretty sad training runs. I had been doing 9:30, even 9:45 min pace on almost all of my runs these last two weeks after the marathon. I didn’t have high expectations going into it. As a small town race, there also weren’t many spectators and there was no entertainment along the course. With the heat and boredom, I thought it would be all I could do just to finish this race.

Luckily, one step after crossing the start line I met Kathy! She had just run the Little Rock marathon and I had just read a race report about it on Dan’s Marathon. In unison, we both said “the medals were the size of dinner plates!” I ended up running with her for 12.5 miles until the half and the full marathon split.

What a gem! She was just lovely. Having also lost 50+ lbs and also working toward running in all 50 states, we had a lot to talk about. Toward the end, she did most of the talking though because I was was running on fumes for the last 5k. She held a great pace and really pushed me. I told her, “I’ll run with you until mile 5 and then I might have to slow it down.” Then it was mile 8, then mile 10, and finally I told her she had to run me in! She was just the enthusiasm and motivation I needed for the race!

At mile 12.5 she headed off to finish the rest of the full marathon, but by this point we had caught up with one of her running buddies Tim, who ran with me that last mile. Those two really pushed me in and I finished in just under two hours at 1:59:22! While that wasn’t quite a PR, it was only my second time finishing under 2:00! I also finished 5th in my division, out of 31! This was a huge victory for me because I never suspected age awards would ever be in my grasp. I might have some new goals to train for!

Here was our pacing throughout the race. Not bad – fairly consistent! I wish I had kept a little gas in the tank to power through my last mile and PR, but I was still extremely happy with how this race turned out!

The race was also a success because I ran into two high school teachers. One I had as a teacher only for the second semester of my senior year. I’m surprised he recognized me because I barely made it to class that semester. I was so grateful to have run into him because I was finally able to personally deliver a much needed apology. Full of senioritus, I skipped class more often than I attended back then, and it was so nice to let him know I felt bad for slacking as a student, but that I went on to graduate college with honors and a job! 

The rest of the weekend was just as fun, but I’ll save that for another post!

What races have you done that turned out to be surprisingly more successful or fun than you went into expecting?