Thursday, 29 December 2016

2017 Year of Change

Change is going to be my theme for 2017. It's cliched as hell to go balls to the wall with diet, exercise etc. starting in January, but its good timing for a little push to get me started properly.

I need this because 2016 was a big struggle for me. I had a huge amount of anxiety and stress 24/7. The stupidest things made me anxious, like checking my email, phone or dealing with day to day problems.
 Why do we (and our bodies) do this to ourselves? The only up side is if it had continued I would have got Boomer registered as a therapy dog :) he'd be the naughtiest one ever! Thankfully, I've been feeling so much better, so Boomer is off the hook.

As a result I'm so ready for this next yearLet's get back to kicking ass (even my own) and just get shit done!

Changes I want to make:
* Be happier, more confident and at ease
* Run and work out more
* Move cities. Keep your fingers crossed for LA. It be so great to have something to aim for and a fresh start somewhere new.

So far we are off to an excellent start with improving my diet. Exercise is also getting better. Mostly, down to the fact that Martina is also coming with me (because she is the best). So right now I've been walking the dog for around an hour durning the day by myself and either running (or walking on rest days) at night with Martina.
I don't run as far with Martina cause she can't just throw herself into a 5 or 6 mile run straight away (that's smart :p). However, if that's the motivation I need to get out the door right now then it's much better than nothing! Next week, when classes start again, I'm going to add in a body pump class or two and just keep building up the amount I do from there.

The good thing is I don't have any crazy unrealistic expectations. Really I just want to get back to how I was 1.5-2 years ago...just in a different city he he. So at least my goals for 2017 should be achievable!

Anyone else making any changes in the New Year?

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Too many potential moves

Just when I was happily settling into lazy life of unemployment lots of things started to happen at once.

1) Martina submitted a grant this month that would see us move to Ireland in September if she got it. Its a very, very, very long shot so our thoughts were lets just go for it and if she got it we'll consider it.

2.) Then at a conference a couple of weeks ago she was approached about a job in Los Angeles, which would represent a HUGE opportunity for her career. It'd be a great city, with lots of opportunities for me too, somewhere we could settle down more permanently. Again nothing concrete, until a visit is arranged in the New Year, but this is looking a lot more likely to be a real job offer. It would also be a potential move at the end of next summer.

3.) Then I get an email about a job I applied for here months ago. It wasn't even a response to my original application. My old boss (the nice one) forwarded my details to his friend the company director since he knew he was looking for someone. Now I'm freaking out about applying for a great job because there is a possibility that we'd want to move from here in 8 months time. If only the job was somewhere else.

4.) Martina's current bosses want me to work for them. I've kind of shelved that option even tho the work would suit me and it'd be super convenient. I can see them being pissed if she left for somewhere else. She wouldn't need a good reference from them but I would!

Jeez, I must be the only person I know that doesn't really look for jobs but has them comes to them and then freaks out about it, ha ha. I've submitted my application for number 3 anyhow because we could get all of these opportunities or none of them could work out. Hell, I might not even get an interview. The real challenge would be if I get an interview and offer before we know about any of Martina's potential jobs.

I'd love Martina to get option number two so we could move away from South Carolina, especially since California was one of our top choices to move to in the USA. Its just what do I do in the mean time?

***update Did a phone interview for no. 3. Feel like it went a bit shit to be honest. They were interviewing me for a more junior position. I think my visa status will be a deal breaker but I'm not even sure if I want this different position. So we'll see if they get back to me about an on site interview.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Spartan Trifecta Experience

A Spartan race is an obstacle race over varying distances that go up to ultra (running) type distances. The most common ones are Sprint 3-5 miles, Super 8-10 miles and Beast 12-14 miles with varying numbers of obstacles thrown in. If you complete those three distances within a calendar year you have completed a Trifecta. All that gets you is bragging rights and an extra medal, of which you collect in wedges along with the regular medal at each race. 

I have had three very different experiences 
Sprint (Fort Bragg NC) I did this one first. It was just over 5 miles, mostly flat but hellishly hot (95F). The heat got me toward the end of the race but I enjoyed the whole thing. 1 hour 40 something.
Super (Georgia Horse Park near Atlanta, GA) my most recent. Unlike the other two races I did not run this alone. I was walking to the start when a really nice guy started to chat with me. We ended up in the same heat and ran together. He was amazing on the obstacles but running not so great, so I could prob have done this a bit faster. However, the guy helped hoist me up onto so many walls it probably didn't make too much of a difference to my overall time, considering I would have had to wait for help or do Burpees for some of the walls without him. Much more enjoyable with company and it was motivating to have some else rely on me to help set the pace. 
In the total opposite to the sprint this one was cold. It had got down to freezing the night before so all the mud and water was so cold. The dunk wall completely took my breath away. A hilly course in sections but not bad at all. I also found that I could complete, or at least make a much more respectable try, at obstacles I couldn't do before (practice makes perfect). I really liked the design of this course they used a lot of elements of the horse park, rivers, tunnels, exposed rock etc. that kept it interesting and had the obstacles well spread out. My favorite course by far, I wish I could have done the sprint here. Unlike other the other races this one was towards the lower end of the distance at 8.6 miles. 2 hours 57.

Beast (Carolina Adventure Center, SC) this was very appropriately named. This race was so unbelievably hard. It was so hilly. Almost 15 miles of pure hills. Most so steep there was nothing to do but walk (and even that was hard). That alone would have been enough of a struggle for me. It also had a lot of muddy sections. ...a lot. I almost lost my shoes several times. So for me the general course was the real challenge not the obstacles. A lot of the time we were on single track trails so I also got stuck behind very long lines of people walking when I could have been running flat or downhill sections. I fell once or twice when I was running so maybe that was for the best :) The obstacles were packed into the first and last couple of miles. I didn't like this one bit. The last half of mile In the finish area alone had a very long crawl under wire, a dunk wall, muddy hills, a slip wall (and other stuff I was too deliriously tired to remember). I would have liked to see them more spread out. In general did not enjoy this race one bit I was just glad to have it done. My friend, who was meant to drive with me and run bailed that morning so I went in grumpy and left it grumper and tired ha ha. 5 hours 22 minutes.

I enjoy the races themselves but the overall experience left me appreciating straight up running races that bit more.

I got groupons for all the races that took as much as 40% off the race price. That made the races affordable but full price they are all well over $100. That might seem fair considering the amount of set up and expense that goes into the obstacles but most of their staff are volunteers and they do wave starts every 15-30 minutes meaning in a day they can put far more people onto a course than an average road race.

 I would be fine with the race price if they didn't add in extra charges wherever possible:
Parking was an extra $10 and there was little choice in paying it since all the venues where in the middle of no where. Parking and traffic were also a nightmare at all but the Atlanta venue. 

Insurance wasn't included in the race price, at least not with the groupon, so that was another $14. 

Bag check was another $5 and believe me you want to change your clothes after slogging through muck and water. 

Lastly and I think what annoyed me the most, spectators....yes you read that right spectators were an extra $20 each...can you honestly believe that, asking someone to pay to stand around with pretty much nothing to do for hours. They did have food and drinks at the finish festival (for sale) and you could usually see a couple of obstacles but come on!

I don't know if I'm just being cheap but it felt very money grabbing. Those little things all added up and annoyed me, just roll it all into the overall price. On the plus side it really is a different kind of challenge from running. A fun way to test your strength as well as endurance and try something new. Surprisingly, they do include free race pictures so that was a big plus in my book. Because of the cost and the fact that I really enjoy half marathons obstacle races will not be a regular part of my racing season but I wouldn't mind going back and running a shorter one with friends for fun.

Recommendations: strength train a lot. Women will especially need to work on upper body strength, most women (including myself) struggled on this especially any obstacles that used strength while hanging. If you run as far as the half marathon distance, running won't be too much of a problem but these races are very draining be prepared. A good pair of gloves will help protect your hands and help with grip (mine lowes $5, cut the fingertips off for drainage). If you are running late heats you'll need a headlamp or you'll be pulled from the course. So there you, go my nuggets of wisdom enjoy.

On the radar: very little honestly which is probably a good thing because it's time to lose all the weight I've put on from stress eating and get some fitness back. I've made a decent start on improving my diet but my motivation for exercise is very hit or miss right now. Mostly I want to sleep...maybe I'm a bear...I vote for winter hibernation lol!
I got a good deal on a local half (Palmetto half $30 with discount code HALF, if anyone wants to run it) for April and I'm thinking of another in March when I visit a friend in NYC. So I gotta get my ass in gear and start training for those.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Christmas decorating and getting myself together

We went and got our tree last night and decorated. It was so much fun and it made me look forward to the Christmas break even more.
Also destressing...I finished up at my job last Wednesday. Since I went part-time weeks ago I've been trying and failing miserably at getting anything done, between those extra few hours at home not being as long as you think and being sick on and off for most of the time, everything has been a shambles. Well I'm starting to feel better and after much rest I finally feel like I'm coming back to myself. Martina has been staying up till all hours writing a grant for the last few weeks, so the house was a right mess (not dirty just messy and disorganized) with neither of us really feeling like doing much. I've worked my way through most of the house so far this week and currently I'm tackling the large piles of clean laundry that need to be hung up or folded. I hate doing this stuff, when I'm doing it, but it's so statisfying when it's done. I've had a little stalker while I've done it...who finds my moving around the house disturbs his rest too much.
Slowly, I've also been trying to clean back up my diet which has been a total mess in the last little while. It doesn't mean you can't have the occasional treat tho but I'm trying to make those myself and freeze most of what I make for portion control.
 Next week I'm going to start a December-challenge/or what ever you wanna call it. I'm going to eat better and exercise more consistently. Cause if I don't start now it'll be January before I do. Imagine how much damage I could do unchecked through Christmas :) I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving and is looking forward to the next set of holidays as much as I am. 

Coming up: The last of my Spartan Trifecta races is this Saturday (Super 8-10 mile distance). It will probably be the last of my Spartan career as I just think I enjoying running way more than obstacle racing. The Beast I did last month was meant to be 12-14 miles but ended up being closer to 15 so cross your fingers for me I hope this one is closer to 8. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

New Orleans weekend

We went for a quick visit to New Orleans last weekend. For those of you who might remember I signed up for the Big Easy half marathon a long time ago. Then Martina not so long ago got stuck in Atlanta overnight (when Delta went down) and got a $200 flight voucher from delta. So off we went on Friday evening. There are a ton of options for flights (and choice of airports) for us but the easiest thing was to fly out of Columbia, hop to Atlanta and then onto New Orleans. Surprisingly,  total flight time was a little over two hours, so short flights.
It was too late on Friday to do anything when we got there but it was an early start on Saturday morning for race packet pickup.  The race was well organized and I loved the medal. The course was flat and pretty average (scenery jaunts into the French quarter) except for a short section past the pretty city park. My stomach acted up the whole time (it's been a pain in the butt lately) and I was pretty slow but nothing hurt. I'll count it as a win especially as I changed my shoes back to Pure cadences last week, which I haven't worn in yonks, as Brooks discontinued my pure connects. I'd recommend the race as a decent race and an excuse to visit NOLA. 
After a quick shower we headed back out to the French quarter and wandered around enjoying the scenery and music before going to Cafe du Monde for beignets. These are little fried doughnuts stacked with powdered sugar. I've had them before in places that specialize in creole style southern food but they had nothing on these good. 
As we were short on time, and had much to see, we booked two tours with These are pay what you think the tour is worth type tours. Don't like it, don't pay.  We started off with a 2 hour tour of the French quarter, learning some of the history of Louisiana and NOLA  as well as the local architecture. It was really fun but pretty exhausting after running that morning. We ended the tour at the French market and got some food there. Since my day mostly consisted of sugar and more sugar and not a lot of liquids I ended up with a massive migraine. One that left me a total mess and required sleep. We went back to the hotel and I ended up sleeping for 5 hours, crazy. 
Luckily, the painkillers and sleep got rid of it and it was still early enough to to go out. We went to Hotel Monteleone and their full sized carousel bar. The middle of the bar stays put and the bar top and seats move. Luckily we were able to get a seat and enjoy some yummy Pimms cups. We then strolled back along Bourbon street which is jam packed full of bars with a few strip clubs thrown in. It's a little seedy and full of very drunk people but still kind of fun. 
The next day we did our second tour. This one was of the Loius 1 graveyard, site of the grave of the voodoo queen Marie Laveau. The graves are all above ground to save space as multiple members of families are interred in the same grave (apparently some of them contain up to 80 members of the same family). Again it was nice to learn some of the history so I'd recommend the walking tours.

After that we spent some time shopping, listening to music and going to see the cathedral. We then headed to the airport to fly home only to discover that I'd booked the flights for Monday not Sunday....doh. I think I originally planned them that way but forgot and didn't check when booking the hotel at the last minute. Since neither of us had made any arrangements with work (and it's my last week) and had no hotel, we ended up hiring a car and driving almost 10 hours home. The drive wasn't bad as the roads were quiet but because we started out late we didn't get home til 3am. To compound our adventurous trip, there was a big black mark/scratch on the rental car when we dropped it off. Since we had no accidents, I'm pretty sure it was already there, but we never got the paperwork to check over the car and in our rush to hit the road never thought to ask for it or take pictures of the car. Ekkk...lets hope the insurance we purchased covers that. 
So it was a bit of a crazy trip, putting aside the return journey, New Orleans screams relaxation, and fun so I had an amazing time and cannot wait to go back again. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Stop me, no don't, wait do?...arghhhhhh!

I made a humongous mistake yesterday. I watched the NYC marathon and as if that wasn't bad enough, I then followed that with the highlights of the Dublin marathon. Now I'm considering another marathon. Oh no.
This is the first time that thought has even occurred to me since I ran Disney almost two years ago. Maybe it's because it's been two years I feel the need to renew my membership in the marathon runners club or maybe it's because I have unfinished business, having never really had a good marathon experience. 
I also have really let running slip low on the totem pole this year, partly because I wanted to (for the summer) and mostly because I've been too sad and stressed out to concentrate on anything. Now that my main source of stress is mostly gone I wanna get going again and get back to being in really good running shape, a marathon seems like something I'd never mess around with. 
I'm gonna let this ruminate for a while. Let's just say it'd be a frickin awesome race (like NYC or Chicago or Big Sur) and I'll be trying to put a lot less pressure on myself and enjoy the process.....please tell me something to stop the madness!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Famously Hot Pink Half, Columbia SC 2016

How's that for a half marathon name...Famously Hot Pink! It was on Saturday here in Columbia. I signed up the day before. I wasn't sure how I'd feel after Kentucky but when I was feeling good, I decided I couldn't miss a race right outside my door in aid of breast cancer. The 613k raised by this race went towards the purchase of a digital mammography machine for a local hospital. Since early detection is so key to beating any cancer, what a great cause!!
*My phone died a little into the race so I don't have a whole load of pictures*
The race started at the new Spirit Communications baseball stadium. The expo was also there but I was late for the expo (leaving work and got lost), and subsequently late picking Boomer up from the vet, and literally ran to and from getting my bib so I can't comment too much on its size. I did really like the tshirt tho. 
The combo of the stadium and course was really good. We passed the stadium a couple of times and also finished there. It's also a nice spot for supporters; seats, concessions and wifi. I know Martina appreciated all three (she was a wee bit hungover but still came out). 
The first 10 miles did an almost miraculous job of avoiding any steep hills. This was helped by 2.5 miles at my favorite flat running location along the river. Then it got hiller. Slightly longer, steeper hills but only one really bad one. That bad boy was a struggle just to walk up! There was a little crowd support but also a few spirit stations with cheerleaders etc. Less aid stations than last week but it was also a lot cooler, around 55F my favorite temps to run in. I felt pretty good throughout. More tired towards the end than I'd like but feeling better and better. I think my back and hips are starting to loosen up again as I didn't have any pain in my hips, knees or back. Winning! 
We finished in the middle of the stadium. I got a medal that is probably my favorite Columbia one as it has a lot of elements I'll remember about Columbia when I leave. Like the bridge, canal dam locks, the sun and the breast cancer ribbon (reminding me of some of my research here and Martina''s all about me, joking obvs)! However, the first finisher got a medal encrusted with topaz and diamonds...they must have been donated because those bad boys were valued at 6k each. Now that medal would deserve a whole case to itself!!
I finished at 2.16.49, faster than Dublin and Kentucky. Mostly down to weather and course rather than fitness related but still nice and done at a much more consistent pace. We went and got brunch after and then a nap. I've felt really good after so a nice fun race, I wasn't sure I'd do, but it worked out well in the end :) 

Half number: 34

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Iron Horse Half Marathon, Midway KY, 2016

Finally, Kentucky and I got it together for a race after I missed out on a half I'd registered for there in the spring. Admittedly, I'm not in great shape but I think the timing of this was better than doing the original Kentucky race because we had a gorgeous drive there, mostly through mountains, looking at all the reds and yellows of fall colors. We also had more time to explore the area and see all the beautiful horse farms, as well as do some hiking (well more like hobbling) on the trip home.
On Friday night we drove as far as Asheville, NC and stayed in the KOA on the west side of town. Other than a bit of highway noise it was by far the nicest KOA I've been to. I passed out hard in our cabin by 9pm, WTH! The next morning commenced our long winding drive through the mountains.
We arrived in Lexington, KY for the expo at around 3pm. It was a small expo but I got another long sleeve tech t-shirt for my collection, now I just need to move somewhere with a cooler climate. They also had posters (I have to stop collecting things). That afternoon we spent driving around looking at horses..wishing I had one!! It was really nice to be somewhere that looked so different to the southeast just for a change of scenery.
Sunday morning we paid $5 for parking, in what I think was someones front yard/front field?, which was going to charity. Other than that, parking was a free for all, with a warning not to park near the many churches in town. It was totally worth the money easy in, easy out within walking distance of the start and finish. The race started at 8am, so I did not show up a bazillion hours early like my last race, ha ha. There were portapotties etc at the start but it was pretty low key since this was a smaller race in the tiny really cute town of Midway.  
The course was two out and back stretches in opposite directions, so even though the course was quiet, except for the awesome aid stations, we got to run through Midway at the midway point (puntastic). I saw Martina there and she rubbed out some knots from my dodgy left shoulder that had been annoying me before I continued in my merry way. The aid stations were nice and frequent. Most had water and then some had a sports drink I'd never heard of before, it wasn't bad but the first one had been made so strong that I almost spat it out because it was so salty.

 Like most races I've heard of in this area it was so pretty, especially the first out and back, but also hilly. I know I'm not in great shape right now so I ran small hills and walked big ones. So even though I felt a million times better than I did when I ran in Dublin, in September, I ran even slower. It was only really the last mile that I got sore enough to want to just walk the rest....much better than half way through the race :)
I finished just under 2.25 but I'll get that down in the next while. After next week, I'll be working part time until Thanksgiving. That'll give me more time for the gym, running etc. and now that I don't have to deal with the crap I've been dealing with for the last while my motivation should also come back...the lure of the hiding on the sofa and not dealing with anything might actually go away.
After the race they had some food and drinks at the finish line and further away near the start there was more food, a band and free massages. Of course with a 7 hour drive in front of us I got a massage. It was very light, I'm not even sure if it did anything but better than nothing right. 

I started off the drive home, after some food, with a 2 hour stint to Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. We got out and had a good walk around here. The falls were huge. The river was also really green, maybe from algae, regardless it was pretty. Weirdly, it was super hot that afternoon, high 80s, so we left after an hour and got back on the road with Martina at the wheel. I put my feet up and closed my eyes for a while. A ten minute nap and I felt like a new person. That did not last long lol. We hit so many delays on the way back that the drive took an extra hour. Other than food after the race I didn't eat anything until almost 7pm because of the way the drive was going. Eventually I got so hangry that Martina couldn't take me bitching anymore and got me some food :p We made it home at 9.30pm and everyone was really happy to get into bed and sleep. 

Half Marathon: 33
State Number 15 (+DC)

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Adulting is hard

I did probably one of the hardest things I've ever done today. I handed in my resignation at work. I've stuck it out for over 6 months and I'm not happy. Really not happy. I've toughed out jobs I didn't like before, as if leaving would mark me as some kind of failure, and it made me beyond miserable. 
I refuse to do that to myself again. I don't need a Ph.D (hello did that), a visa or hell even a big academic career out of this job (it's just a job while we are stuck here). So, I put on my big girl pants, had an incredibly awkward conversation and the result is I won't have a job in 6 weeks. 

A less than ideal work or management situation is one thing but when the other people you work with are actively watching, talking about you(proven for a fact) and hoping you'll fail = 0% support + 100% stress, to me that's the tipping point. In good news until I get another job and my stress dials itself back down I'll be able to refocus on running and other good life stuff again. 
It's been a funny year and a half. Stressful, sad at times, and wonderful (hello getting married).  I think even though this time has knocked my confidence, as losing jobs and being unemployed does, it's made me remember that things do work out, it'll be ok and that's given me the confidence to prioritize my happiness. 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Dublin Half Marathon, Ireland Sept 2016

The Dublin Half Marathon, not to be confused with the RnR Dublin Half Marathon, is part of a race series that leads up to the Dublin Marathon in October. The races go all the way from 5 miles up to the half marathon in an effort to give people some good milestones during their marathon training. Entry for the half marathon was 30 euro (around $34) and I think you can get special prices if you register for the entire series.

When I realized I was going to be there at the same time as the half marathon was on, I decided this was as good an opportunity as any to finally run a half marathon in Ireland. The race registration was surprisingly cheap. The packet is mailed out, so no expo, or if you don't register on time I saw some people picking them up that morning. Despite the excellent price, I still got a nice tech t-shirt and medal.
The race was on my last Saturday in Ireland and of course that day was part of a Dublin Bus 48 hour strike. The easiest thing to do was to get a taxi out to the Phoenix Park (where the race was). Unfortunately, I was super stupid ( I blame jet lag) and despite reading multiple things with the start time on it I somehow got it into my head that the race started at 8am. It didn't start until 10 am because you know in Ireland any time is good weather wise for running. We arrived in the park at 6.45 with nothing to do but watch the sunrise (it was really pretty), and try figure out why no one was there. Martina was not impressed...I wasn't either but all you can do is laugh.

Eventually the race start was set up and people started to trickle in and before we knew it the place was overrun with 9,000 runners. 
Around the start area were port-a-potties, not a whole lot but just about enough and a really nice touch was The Last Lap Cafe...hello coffee (as soon as it opened) and last minute tea and granola bar when my tummy started rumbling about a half hour before the start. They had wave starts after the elites and I put myself into wave 3.
It was pretty crowded for most of the race but after the first mile or two it wasn't bad. It was also rainy for most of it...welcome to Ireland he he!  I saw Martina around mile 7 and I was already suffering by then. I was slightly under trained for this race and my hips and back were not in good shape after traveling so my IT bands played up big time after around 5 miles. The scenery in the park was really nice and one of my favorite moments was seeing the parks' herd of deer at around mile 11. Another nice moment was chatting to a older man who has run all the marathons to date (since 1980). He eventually kicked my ass but it was a nice distraction for a while.
The course was a little hilly but none of the hills were bad except for a really long one close to mile 12.
There were aid stations every 3-4 miles. Most handed out little bottles of water, weird after so long in the US where everything is cups, and one handed out Lucozade sport which is like orange gatorade.
What really surprised me was the number of people who I saw with real medical problems, not just sprained ankles or a bit tired. I saw at least 4 people being tended to and I know one person had heart failure but luckily was reached in time to be revived and taken to the hospital. At one point we had to make way for the ambulance for that. That definitely made me feel a lot less sorry for myself!

By the end of the race I was alternating between running, walking and stopping to try stretch myself out. I was very happy to see the finish! After crossing the line I got a bag with a few sports bars etc. and my t-shirt. Further along the finishers shoot I got my medal and some food. 
We had a long hike back home as we used what little public transport was available that day (normally great). That evening, holy crap, my knees hurt. A bath and ibuprofen got rid of that by the next day, still I wasn't entirely in good condition for 16 hours of traveling :) That night Martina's mom made us a huge dinner and dessert in honor of Martina's brothers birthday...the perfect finish to the day!

Finish time: 2:17
Country No: 2
Half No: 32

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Spartan Military Sprint Fort Bragg NC 2016

Hi from a very sore and bruised me!

After signing up for a Spartan Beast (12 miles) a while ago I got sucked in while reading about the races and thought what if I just want to go ahead and run the Trifecta this year (sprint, super and beast distance). I know, crazy and way ahead of myself as usual. I only had one option for a sprint and super to finish the three before 2017. 
Luckily the sprint option was before the beast, providing a practice run since I've never run an obstacle race and a gauge of what it'd take to finish the beast. Holy moly, it was fun but hard. Now I'm afraid, very afraid of the beast :) 
The race was in Fort Bragg, NC. I've done a half here before so we just drove up for the race and drove back that afternoon. Luckily I left a large window of time to get there because getting to the race site and parking was an unbelievable nightmare. It took us well over an hour to go around a mile down the last road to The Smith Lake Area (race site) and get parked. Then it was hard to find the start itself so I actually missed my 1:15pm wave start and ended up starting at 1:30pm. 
At this stage it was hot (prob why the groupon for the race was 40% off for the afternoon slots). I got my arm marked up, an impressive feat considering how much I was already sweating. Then to get into the start area I had to pull myself over a small wall...hello the race hadn't even started. Just that caused my leg to cramp up as I'd had no time to drink or eat as planned before the race. Now I was seriously shitting myself, ha ha. 
We ran along and before a half mile we had to go over "hurdles" or suspended logs around 4.5 feet high. I somehow managed to get over the first one but whatever way I hurled myself on to the thing I really knocked the breath out of myself. The second one was much better. After that it's a blur of obstacles.
I was running on my own so at times I was bewildered as to how I could do some of the obstacles when practically everyone around me was getting help from a friend. In my case volunteers = the best friend a girl could ask for. One let me step on her leg and then shoulder to get myself up on a 8 foot wall. They were great really encouraging people to try an obstacle even when the runner thought there was no way they could do it.
Until around 3 miles I was doing great and then the heat and sunburn (left the sunscreen in the car in the rush) were forcing me to slow down and walk more. There were three water stops on course all with just water (next time I'll bring salt tabs). I finished in 1.47 right in the middle of the overall standing, women and my age group. Still this was tough and a really fit bunch of people so I'm pretty happy.

I couldn't do:
Gymnastics rings: started with a short rope but couldn't get the height for the rings.
Rope climb: I think this one is about technique...I need to practice so I can use my legs rather than my arms.
Horizontal wall traverse: just couldn't get a grip. I hurt my right hand carrying a giant stone ball early in the race. 
Penalty per missed obstacle = 30 Burpees...owee

Surprised myself by being good at:
Walls: smaller ones and especially the inverted wall. I powered up that when a lot of women were pushed the whole way up. Hung a lot at the top trying to get the momentum to get myself over, but considering I didn't think I could do it at all, I did great. 
Pull and drag: pan filled with a heavy weight..pulled through sand then dragged it back...super quick.
I guessed I'd be good at more endurance type stuff like carrying a bucket of gravel or the pancake carry (pancake shaped heavy bag) and I was..I was passing people on these.
Heights: I hate heights. I was slow on really high obstacles, like cargo nets climbs, to be sure of my footing but other than a bit of fear going over the top I felt fine.
Remembering: I remembered KILO-653-6120 for what seemed like forever....this number was matched to the last two digits of my bib Burpees for me here.

It was 95 when I finished the race. I think considering this I'm really happy with how the race went. Technical practice and some more strength work (judging by my pain- triceps, shoulders and chest) on areas I already know are weaker will really help me. Other than bruises my legs are A-ok.

After the finish I got my medal, trifecta wedge, food and drinks. I chugged every drink I got and then went and bought a giant lemonade. I needed anything other than water!  They had hoses set up to get the mud off and a canvas changing room. So I got into some comfy clothes ASAP. I skipped the free beer since the heat and other liquids had my stomach saying no. I was totally exhausted at this stage but really happy!!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Running lately

Hi there!!! I haven't written about running a whole lot lately. As I've mentioned I didn't want to run a whole lot this summer and I haven't. 
I'm working my way through Hal Hidgon's novice one program. It's been a nice step back while the sun blazes outside. I'm up to a long run (if it can be called that) of 7 miles and by the time I go home I'll be just about ready to run a nice slow half marathon . 
The nice thing is that the runs are hard but not mentally they still seem short in my head..if that makes sense to anyone but me. I'm not running super fast but I'm pushing myself regardless. Since I have a spartan race approaching, a lot of my shorter runs I'll break up with some hard leg strength work to get myself used to running on really tired legs. Three days a week are running (2 with strength) then 2 days crosstraining (with strength).

 The gym at my apartment has been a godsend I love having it there. My shorter runs will often be on the treadmill and the longer ones I run as much as I can tolerate (just over half right now) outside and the rest on the treadmill. As it gets a cooler I'll slowly shift the balance back to outdoors.

 I changed my shoes back to PureConnects so some days I have achy shins, but I never got used to the pureflows and they occasionally gave me knee pain which I have zero tolerance for. The extra rest day right now lets me move things around to get better recovery if my shins are bothering me.
None of this is going to leave me crazy fit or ready for any one race but the extra strength work is good and most of all I'm really enjoying working out. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Congaree National Park

Since this weekend was the 100th anniversary weekend of the national parks service and a little destressing was in order we went to the nearest national park. Congaree National Park may not be the most majestic but it's pretty in its own right and only 20 minutes drive away. 
A little outside time is sometimes needed to put life back in to perspective. It was super hot and we hiked around 5 miles but it was the time I needed to get out of my own head.
The last few months have sucked a little. Moving was stressful, the new job has been very much a hit the ground running situation....and then continues to getter faster and faster paced. I'm doing well. I'm not thrilled about the way it is but it's manageable stress and hey it's a pay check. Finding out my workmates were talking about me behind my back for no good reason (when I thought we were becoming friends) was awful. The last straw on my stress-o-meter. I spent probably a good few days crying. Don't worry I've shook it off and I'm just of the attitude that shitty people are just not worth my time or mental energy.  This trip was a mini fresh start, getting back to myself and looking forward to my trip home in 2 and a half weeks. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Moving house

Moving house is meant to be one of the most stressful things you can do. I wholeheartedly agree but it has also been really fun and rewarding.

It has been a 2 month process. Since we were downsizing to an apartment early preparation was essential. We sold a lot of stuff, mostly things we weren't using...too much storage can be a bad thing! Some things went to make way for new furniture, letting us update our look since we've haphazardly build up our decor collection in the last 3 and a half years.
The funny thing is that the biggest change has occurred to what was my favorite room in our old house, the living room. Off went our giant (super comfy) sectional to a new home and in came a smaller Ikea sofa. I've had so many great naps on the old sofa but sadly its a little too big for apartment living.

Now I have some new favorite spots:
 1.) My bedroom. Its been made a bit lighter, dare I say girlier, with the DIY dreamcatcher we made from a hoola hoop and with no more hideous blue carpet all our furniture looks so much better. Some new brighter bedding, which we can now do because we don't have blue carpet, is all this room really needs for now (are you getting the impression that I hate blue carpet yet!).

2.) Our balcony. Its so nice to have a clean outdoor space to sit with no bugs biting me. I'm going to add a big fronded plant for a tropical feel, as if the weather isn't enough, and a footstool of some sort.
The physical move itself was long and exhausting. We got the keys on Friday evening and spent until ten that night moving the kitchen and bathroom stuff with the car and for a few hours after that we unpacked all of that so the place was a functional place to eat (and pee :)).
We already were in love with the place so Friday night we all slept on our camping air mattress. The next day was an early start but I discovered I'm a pretty good van driver. From around 7.30am until 1pm we filled the truck and emptied it multiple times. This wouldn't have been so bad except we now live on the third floor, my shoulders and back still hurt from hauling heavy stuff up 3 flights of stairs. I wouldn't recommend it in over 90 degree heat but I'm sure we'll appreciate living on the top floor when it comes to not having noise though! Then because we wanted everything done that day we had lunch and spent the next  4 hours cleaning the old house.....boy was it grubby after weeks of everything sitting in boxes...and of course cleaning all those places you normally never reach. We must have done a good job though because we got a check for our full deposit back the next day, yay.

Once all of that was done I started to relax. Monday morning coffee on the balcony was a lovely start to the day and being dropped across the street from my work by the shuttle was really nice being sweaty just getting to work/being late because of parking!

Boomer is still adjusting...lots of crying when we leave (it breaks my heart to listen to his little whimpers over skype) but he is slowly realizing this is home. Its taking him less time to settle each time we leave and last night he stole some kitchen paper and ripped it up all over the carpet so he is getting back his normal cheeky self. He is making some friends in the little dog park that is right outside our door...including a baby version of Kitty (what we called our neighborhood's stray cat) and embarrassingly trying to beat up a puppy (can't stand them for some reason but kittens are cool).

We still have so many boxes to unpack and lots of decor to buy  but already I can tell that this was the change that we both needed if we were going to stay in Columbia for another while.