Sunday, June 30, 2013

Playing all weekend

Friday did not end with a WOD/strength training. After work, I went for another bike ride on Rocky Road. Yes! Two days in a row I hit this trail and it still was pretty tough but am glad I got out there because it started pouring rain around 6:30 pm and I knew it was going to be too wet to ride on Saturday.  So I had a good bike ride and then showered, had a protein/raspberry smoothie and then went to Triangle Rock Club for some top-rope climbing.  I only managed to make 3 climbs though because a) I was already tired from my earlier activities b) I belayed quite a few people.  We also practiced our toes-to-bar, bench pressed 95 lbs and struggled to do a pull-up.  Friday was a whopper of a day and I can't believe I actually packed in all of it: a WOD (run), biking, weight lifting and climbing.

Of course, this meant that Saturday morning I woke up a bit tired but I still went on my 5.5 mile run on Company Mill at Umstead- slightly better than last week, I finished it in 1:12 minutes, so I shaved off 3 minutes from my time.  After that, I showered and promptly fell asleep for 3 hours. I guess it was a much needed nap and restoration.  Afterward I ate a late lunch consisting of a chicken rice bowl from Chipotle and then I mowed the lawn and weeded.  Weeding doesn't seem to end but for some reason I find it peaceful and satisfying.  My goal is to take care of the lawn and garden as organically as I can so it's a lot of manual labor and an imperfect (but acceptable) lawn.

Sunday- I finally got out to Angler's Ridge in Danville, VA.  This mountain bike trail system now has 33 miles of trail!  We did about ~13-14 miles of it and it was tough.  Lots of steep climbs, some ridgeline riding and nice switchbacks.  I will definitely be going back there to eventually do the entire 33 miles but today was not that day.  My legs still were a bit tired from Friday and I think in the future I'm going to try and do my heavy squats on a Monday/Tuesday so I'm recovered in time for weekend bike riding.  It was a pretty great weekend and I am so glad I get to have this much fun.

The newest trail: Hidden Hollow Loop

One view from the trail, there was a lot of climbing

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday WOD and some biking

Yesterday I was able to get out and mountain bike on Rocky Road.  The weather was looking iffy for a while but it was nice and sunny when I started so I took my chances since thunderstorms are in the forecast for today and Saturday.  And I'm glad I did, because I didn't get rained on and finished my ride.  It was a very solitary ride, I saw one runner on the trail, one deer, and many squirrels.  One punk ass squirrel even got in front of my wheel and started galloping on the singletrack in front of me! I asked him to move aside otherwise I was going to plow right into him.  I've never seen this happen before, it was surreal, usually the squirrels will just dash across the trail in front of me but this little guy was just racing ahead of me.  It was super humid and I had hard time making many of the steep climbs but it's all good.  I think it took me 1:15 to finish ~6 miles. 

This morning was a Sufferfest:
Run 1 mile (10:23)
Row 2000M (9:45)
100 double unders (I did 300 singles, didn't look at the clock)
100 situps
Time 28:31

The best thing about the jump rope part was I did it unbroken - 300 singles without tripping up the rope once.  The situps took forever and my abs will be sore tomorrow. 

Afterward, I worked on my strength program:
Military Press
55 lbs @5 reps
65 lbs @3 reps
70 lbs @4 reps!
I was happy to get 4 reps since 70 lbs has been giving me trouble.  The trick for me was to get set and make my body rigid and just pump them out without pausing much in between reps, the 4th rep was a struggle but I got it.
Back Squats:
70 lbs @5 reps
80 lbs @3 reps
90 lbs @6 reps
The 5th and 6th rep were tough at 90 lbs and I think my form could have been a little better- I seem to pause mid-way up.  I took video and it doesn't look bad but I think I need someone who actually knows what they are doing to look at it and tell me if I could have done anything differently/better.

This week has been pretty light as far as workouts go. Monday was a Rest day, Tuesday I didn't get up in time to go to the gym in the morning and then had a bike ride at Crabtree in the afternoon. The bike ride was fun but not strenuous at all because I was on a new bike- a Specialized Comp FSR 29er! I finally see the difference between 29" wheels versus 26" wheels because on a smooth trail like Crabtree, it took no effort to just fly through the woods on that 29er. I didn't sweat, I didn't breathe hard. I might have been able to go even faster if I didn't brake or wait for the girls I was riding with! It was a revelation but I am not yet at the point that I want a new bike. I think I'll keep working hard on my little 26" wheels and have fun there. Wednesday also turned out to be a rest day since again I was too sleepy to get up in time and although I intended to go to the gym after work, severe thunderstorms prevented me (I think laziness also had a hand though).

Thursday- back in action. I did a good chunk of strength/skills work this morning:
Snatches 6-6-6-6-6-6
I started off with 33 lbs- 44-55 lbs. I think my form is getting better but still not fully developed for a full squat snatch with 55 lbs (or at least I didn't have the confidence today).
Then Cleans 3-3-3
63 lbs- 68 lbs- 75 lbs
Rested a bit and did my deadlifts:
115 lbs @ 3 reps
135 lbs @ 3 reps
150 lbs @ 11 reps

It felt really good to be able to do 150 lbs with over 10 reps since this was a huge challenge last year- even towards the end of the year when my back was all healed up. I just have to stick with this program on a weekly basis to keep my back strong. More rain in the forecast tonight so I probably won't be able to bike but we shall see.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Weekend adventures

I had a good weekend of rock climbing, running and Mtn biking.  On Friday night, I went to the Triangle Rock Club for some top roping with friends.  Lucky for me, Monica and Alix were patient enough to show me how to belay again and I am again confident in my belaying abilities.  I did  five 5.7+/- climbs which was way more than I expected to do.  Every other time I've been there I quit at 3 or 4 because I get tired and my arms get all pumped.  It was fun, more fun than I expected.  Afterward we attempted pull-ups, kettlebell swings and toes to bars in the little gym there.  

Saturday morning was running Company Mill and it just sucked.  I had no energy and had my slowest time ever- 1:15 for 5.5 miles.  Lisa and Edward did much better than me and both had a good run.  I did get to meet a fellow mountain biker on this run though so that was great because we talked about how fun mountain biking is and which trails to go on.  Later that day, I biked Crabtree and did two things I haven't been able to do:  a mini rock garden on Loop 1 and the rock ledge on loop 3.  I'm hoping to try both  again tonight.  
Sunday was supposed to be a ride at Carolina North Forest (CNF), but it was closed due to rain so we rode 286 instead.   That trail keeps getting longer and longer.  Much fun but I was sweating buckets due to the high humidity.  All in all a pretty great weekend of getting outside and out of my comfort zone (climbing).  

Food wise- I've been pretty good and made a new meal last night of cabbage, potatoes, and angus beef chuck steak. 
Now I need to lift some heavy weights to balance all the cardio.

I read a post on Raptitude that got me thinking about how I approach food.   I no longer make complicated dishes (to be honest, it's been YEARS since I made anything complicated and I'm even talking about stuff like lasagna).  Some of what I cook is labor-intensive because vegetables take much time to chop up but once you have everything chopped up, cooking is pretty easy.
Breakfast is almost always 2 eggs with a cup of chopped broccoli or a cup of chopped spinach with my beloved chai.  Not much variation here although once in a while, I will break out the sun-dried tomato chicken sausages from Trader Joe's, again with broccoli.
Lunch is usually prepared in 1-2 days and batched out into my glass containers, plus some nuts or fruit or additional snack so I don't go crazy at 10 AM or 3 PM.  Sometimes that snack is just a can of tuna with black pepper.
Dinner is again usually batched on the weekends and parsed out over the week.  If I don't have anything prepared, I pop a salmon burger in toaster oven with some green beans and that is dinner.  Dessert is almost always defrosted Cascadian Organic Mixed Berry Mix with 2 tbsp of marscapone cheese.  Now that it is summer time, I'm gravitating more towards Ben & Jerry's ice cream but I am trying to be conservative and not be overly gluttonous.

The batch food is usually some kind of meat/fish: grass-fed ground beef (85/15, trying to drain some of the fat off), organic chicken (haven't tasted the difference between organic and regular chicken though), salmon, and once in a while lamb.  I pair this with sauteed mixed vegetables (collards, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, squash, swiss chard).  Now this still leaves me a little bit hungry and I've noticed that I was low-carbing it too much so I've added back in 1/4-1/2 cup white rice if I'm doing a WOD or biking, running the same day or the next day.  I have not varied from this for probably over a year now.  I rarely have a completely vegetarian meal unless I visit my parents and then it's all out the window and I'm eating fried pakora and stuffing my face with delicious homemade naan.  Basically, it's a heavy carb load full of the comfort foods from my childhood.  I don't do this very often though because it leaves me feeling bloated and sluggish.  But it is quite delicious during!  The point I'm trying to make though is that cooking for myself is an act of efficiency and making sure my basic needs are met without a lot of fuss and choices (being a minimalist).  I don't make anything that takes many steps or many pots or many ingredients.  I like to keep it under 5 ingredients and work from there.  Processed food has mainly been the ice cream and the occasional chocolate bar (once a week on average) plus Diet Coke.  I'm trying to quit the Diet Coke again but it's tough.  It's also tough eating out now since I see all the choices on the menu and I have no idea what I should get- I think this is why I tend to only want to eat out at the same five places given the choice.

So all this healthy diet and exercise I've been doing- how does it measure up to my actual health metrics? I got my blood drawn in a fasted state and this is what I found out:

Reported ValueReference Range
Total Cholesterol190125-200 mg/dL
HDL Cholesterol89> OR = 46 mg/dL
Triglycerides44< 150 mg/dL
LDL Cholesterol92< 130 mg/dL
Glucose10665-99 mg/dL
Vitamin D, 25-OH4530-100 ng/mL
Vitamine B-12461200-1100 pg/mL

Cholesterol levels- awesome, my vitamin D and B12 levels acceptable, my glucose level is "pre-diabetic" since I was not below the 99 mg/dL.  It's considered diabetic if you are over 126 mg/dL in a fasted state.  This means I will have to monitor it on a yearly basis and I should probably stop downing a pint of ice cream in one sitting and quit eating chocolate bars!  It was somewhat surprising since I don't think my diet is shitty. I would say 80% of the time I am a great healthy eater and then there is the 20%  that I don't like to talk about.  I know part of my motivation for exercising is so I can eat "bad" stuff like ice cream and french fries and a hamburger but I will have to be more mindful of volume and maybe dial it down to 10% of my diet.  The other part that plays into this is that there is a history of Type 2 diabetes on my father's side so maybe this was an inevitable warning sign.  I feel pretty confident that if I keep exercising and eating right, I won't get diabetes. 
Typical Lunch

My favorite "dessert", berries with marscapone cheese

Swiss chard is my go-to vegetable

10 min stir-fry shrimp with zucchini and jasmine rice

One of the few all-veg dishes I've made: mustard greens with kidney beans over rice

I wasn't planning on doing a WOD this morning but I felt like I wasn't ready for an intense lifting session so I ended up doing the WOD and then some:
25 burpees
25 weighted situps 20 lb dumbbell
15 push presses 45 lb bar
4 rounds
I think on a normal day I could have done 65 lbs for the push press but I'm still feeling tired from the blood donation and sore from all those knees to elbows yesterday!
Afterward, I worked on my back squats:
3 reps @65 lbs
3 reps @75 lbs
9 reps @85 lbs
Despite knowing my shoulders were fried, I still forged ahead on the military press:
3 reps @55 lbs
3 reps @60 lbs
1 rep @70 lbs, it was all I could do to squeeze out one rep (was shooting for 3+)
I'm definitely going to have to attemp the press again when I am completely fresh and the back squat deserves another round too because I think I should be able to at least hit 10-12 reps at 85 lbs.
After work, I got back into running hill repeats, we did 4 repeats at Umstead and my times were poor compared to the last 2 times.  I am not sure if I just wasn't pushing myself, or if I really was that slow because of giving blood on Monday.  I guess I will have to try again next week and see if my performance changes.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday WOD and blood donation

Monday was a Rest day but I was planning to do some deadlifts since I missed doing them last week.  That did not happen because I scheduled a blood donation also on Monday.  So I gave blood and this now feels like a good routine- every 2 months since last summer I have been donating my blood. And for the week after donating, I give the excuse that I'm not performing as well because I gave blood.  So I had a tough time with the WOD today, I felt like the deadlifts were really hard at 115 lbs when they shouldn't have been but that is the price you pay to help save lives!
Row 400M
15 deadlifts 115 lbs
20 knees to elbows
4 rounds
Still a good day to workout!
Eating has been variable, I gave up on eating healthy these past 3 days- had 2 pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream!!! But I think I'm back on track now. My lunch today was collards, corn, ground beef with zucchini, carrots and yellow squash- delicious.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Biking and Yardwork Weekend

San Lee Twin Peaks
I started my weekend on Friday with a mountain bike ride at Rocky Road and a shorter loop at 286- I think total mileage was 16-17 miles. RR was more challenging than usual because of some giant trees that fell from the storm last week, and since we had to stop several times to bypass or move trees/branches, we weren't getting our usual workout.  However, this did make some climbs that I normally can't do easier and I was able to finally make it up two hills that I never could before and I had several witnesses!  286 was similar- the pace was faster but two areas had washouts and a bridge had disappeared in the storm.  It was good Friday ride and I was tired by the time we were done. So tired that I decided Saturday was a rest day.  But I did a pretty low-intensity workout of gardening/mowing/weeding for four hours on Saturday.  And that was enough! Oddly enough (or maybe not to those who do yardwork), my lower back hurt a lot from all the weeding and was sore for a couple hours after I was done.

I got my energy back on Sunday and had a pretty awesome day of biking- first at San Lee and then at Governor's Creek for a total of 17 miles. Both San Lee and Governor's Creek had trees down so again there was some throw your bike over the tree and climb over to keep on the singletrack.  It was still an amazing day to bike- the weather was perfect, not too humid, and a cool breeze was going.  It really helps to start early though!  The only part that sucked was when a big fat piece of wood got caught up in my bike and flew directly into my left shin- so that is a little sore now. Other than that- no crashes!  I have to say that I much prefer biking where there are no crowds, it was pretty cool to have the trails all to ourselves and we only saw 1-2 other bikers out there.

So no running this past week- which means I definitely need to get back on it this week, I'm hoping Wednesday and Saturday will workl

Friday, June 14, 2013

Strength work and a WOD

On Wednesday I worked on my 5, 3, 1 program Cycle 2 week1:
Back squat:
60 lbs 5 reps
70 lbs 5 reps
80 lbs 12 reps
50 lbs 5 reps
60 lbs 5 reps
65 lbs 6 reps
Then MTb work:
Deadlifts 135 lbs
Floor presses 75 lbs
Kettlebell clean 30 lbs
Plank hold 30 sec each side and standard hold
And that was all I did until Friday morning.  The thunderstorm prevented a bike ride last night so I am doubling up today on a WOD and a bike ride later.

The WOD:
20 min AMRAP
10 hang power cleans 65 lbs
10 back squats 65 lbs
10 ring dips with a band
I finished 8 rounds, it was a big effort but I felt good.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

WOD and Bike

I rested on Monday and was feeling pretty sore from all the back squats on Saturday. Some soreness was still there this morning and I really felt it during the WOD:
Run 400M
20 overhead lunges (15 lb plate held over head) 15 power cleans 75 lbs
15 burpees
4 rounds
I almost regretted doing 75 lbs since it took a lot of effort but I am glad I didn't reduce the weight. Doing 75 lbs in a WOD now feels better than it did last year. I don't make leaps and bounds in my training but I can now see little differences and know that I am improving and getting stronger. After work, I went on my weekly Tuesday night bike ride with the girls and since Crabtree was closed (still too wet from the storms), we did a spin around Umstead. I think we covered about 16 miles and it was at a good clip since everyone who showed up was an intermediate rider (no beginners today). It's nice to have that kind of ride with people who go at your pace and are happy to push it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sunday run and bike

After all that rain, it was hot and humid making for a very sweaty run and bike on Sunday. I ran 5.5 miles of Company Mill at Umstead Park in the morning (8 am start time!) and then ate lunch and biked the bridle trails at Umstead for a 16 mile loop. The running and biking were at a so-so pace, I think I still am pretty slow running but I need to keep at it if I want to do another marathon in the fall. The biking felt better today on the two climbs (Reedy Creek Lake trail, Cemetery Hill) but my average pace did not seem to change much from previous Umstead rides. The Cedar Ridge Trail road was completely closed off due to the massive amounts of water in the creek. Even the ride on the greenway to get to the park was different because so much dirt and sand washed up on the greenway (on parts not even close to the water) and the section to get to the park was closed off due to the water levels being high. I ended up having to re-route and go through my old apartment complex and onto the road to make it into the park. And it rained again last night which means the trails will probably never dry and I will have to learn how to road bike or start rock climbing again! I'm sore from the SOS workout and am going to use Monday as a rest day. So my only activities will be foam rolling and stretching.

I feel like I haven't worked out that much this week but I think I did accomplish my main goals this week:
running hill repeats
mountain bike strength training
3 crossfit WODs
I did not however get much biking in since it has been torrential rain for the past few days. It became quite sunny and hot today (Saturday) but the trails are all a mess and too wet to ride so I left the bike alone (I miss you though).
I ran hill repeats with Ed and Lisa on Wednesday and here is how it looked the last 3 times we ran: 

hill repeats4/25/20135/29/20136/5/2013
Lap 101:54.102:02.801:53.0
Lap 201:52.701:55.401:57.2
Lap 301:47.401:49.101:51.3
Lap 402:03.301:45.701:50.8

So my times are pretty consistent, I hope as we keep doing this, I can get a little faster but that hill is pretty tough for me.

I did absolutely nothing on Thursday! My second rest day for the week.

On Friday I did a WOD and some mtb strength training:
Practiced my snatch with a 45 lb bar
Row 1 min
Rest 30 second
10 rounds
total distance = 2351 M
My mtb training:
Uni kettlebell snatch
Deadlifts 135 lbs
Floor presses 75 lbs
Knees to elbows
pushups (straight leg)

With all the freaking rain, I decided to do the SOS (Suffer on Saturday) WOD at Forged Fitness since I knew I was going to get any biking in:
Run 400M
Deadlifts 55 lbs 50-40-30-20-10
Back Squats 55 lbs 50-40-30-20-10
Hand release pushups 10-20-30-40-50
Run 400M after every set of deadlifts, squats and pushups and end with a 400M run
My time: 43:25

The deadlifts were easy at 55 lbs and the back squats were do-able at 55 lbs but the pushups killed me. Those are hard and still a big weakness for me.  Still it felt good to do the WOD and finish.  And since I did it at the Raleigh gym, there were way more people there and I didn't know most of them but still had a good time doing the workout there since even though they didn't know me, I still got high-fives at the end :) I seriously can't imagine doing this at 75 lbs though, I don't think I'd be able to walk the next day after 150 squat at 75 lbs.  But someday I will be able to crush this WOD at that weight.

Curried mustard greens and kidney beans on a bed of jasmine rice, yum, yum, yum.
I also made a new dish - curried mustard greens and kidney beans (recipe here).  I did substitute light coconut milk for the half and half.  I have felt lately that really watching what I eat and making sure I get enough carbs (150-200 g) and more protein (90-120 g), my workouts have felt a lot better.  I haven't felt tired on the bike and my endurance in the WODs has improved.  Of course, I still have days when I don't take care of my diet and ate a quart of Trader Joe's peanut butter Tracks ice cream over a period of 3 days.

The worst part was not that I ate the entire quart so fast - it was that the ice cream wasn't even that good! There weren't enough peanut butter cups and the vanilla ice cream was average.  I know I should stick to Ben & Jerry's if I want to eat ice cream and be happy but I got tempted while at Trader Joe's and this is what happens.  I did however, try some chocolate at Trader Joe's that was OUTSTANDING: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bar Coconut Caramel New Item with Hints of Black Hawaiian Sea Salt & Cacao Nibs.  This was the really good stuff and I would definitely try this again.  The chocolate was good and the caramel mixed with coconut (not overpowering) was a perfect combination.  So I'm mostly eating right- lots of veggies, lots of chicken, salmon, tuna, grass-fed beef, organic eggs, organic milk (not ready to give up dairy) and a little rice and sweet potatoes to cover the days I need to carb up but I still have to indulge once in a while.  I'm thinking this chocolate bar will be my go-to indulgence.

I took Monday off as a Rest day and am glad I did since my legs were feeling wiped out from all the biking on the weekend.  Tuesday I was back at the gym and did this:
Run 800M then
Reps 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 of
Thrusters 56 lbs (front squat to push press)
Chest to bar pullups (still with a band, struggling to get my chest to bar)
Time 22:20

This got tough by the time I had to do 5 reps and the pullups felt harder than the thrusters, probably because I used a doable weight for the thrusters and was trying hard to get my chest to the bar on the pullups.  I did feel better about my thrusters though, I did a full squat every time and felt pretty strong. 
Afterward, I worked on my mountain bike strength training program:
Uni kettlebell snatch 20 lbs
Renegade rows 25 lbs (hard, you get in a pushup position with arms straight and row the dumbbell driving your elbow back)
One-leg squats (I used the bench, 18" height, and tried to just squat enough to get my butt to touch the bench and come back up, I hope to keep progressing till I can do this with a 12" box)
Handstand press (more like just a handstand but I did try to press down and up)
Kettlebell front squats 45 lbs! I felt strong here.
Dumbbell shoulder press 20 lbs, I tried 25 lbs but couldn't do it, I think because of all the pullups earlier.

And that's not all!  I went biking after work, all the girls bailed on the Tuesday night ride so I made my own singletrack adventure on 286 and it was pretty damn awesome.  I did about 11 miles of the trail in 1 hour 40 minutes and that was with one crash.  The crash didn't hurt and was actually a little funny because I fell onto a big branch and used it to catch myself only to completely crack it from the log it was attached to.  I have a little blemish on my forearm now but I would say that I pretty much beat the crap out of that branch.  Mountain biking is so much fun! 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Trail work, biking and more biking

I had a great weekend and spent a lot of it in the woods.  First up on Saturday morning, I volunteered to do some trail maintenance at Lake Crabtree park which meant walking around all the singletrack trails and lopping off branches and plants that were encroaching on the trail.  We did this for about three hours and managed to get most of the trails in the park cleaned up (~8 miles?).  Then I refueled with lunch and went out again to meet one of the women from my Tuesday night rides for a leisurely ride at 286.  Leisurely because she had never been on the trail and although she was technically very good, she didn't have the stamina to really hammer the trail.  It was still fun though and we got about 10-11 miles done. I might have been able to have gone a little faster but my legs were still sore from the back squats on Friday, I was glad to take it easy!

Rock Nest Monster? Can't remember the name of this rock section
Twin Peaks
Sunday was a two-fer: first a ride at Harris Lake and getting to see people on their bikes doing the half-Ironman Raleigh (it took a good 10 minutes before we could get into the park because of all the bike traffic on the road).  We did about 9 miles at Harris Lake at a good clip, saw the cool new features there (I didn't take a picture!)  and had a good time.  It was a little hot and little humid so I was sweating A LOT but still had a great time.  I changed my clothes and we headed off for lunch- burger and fries! Not the most super healthy but it's hard to find good food close to Harris Lake.  Then we headed out again for our second ride that day- at San Lee Park.  We covered all the trail there except for the 1 mile of Free Fall (big rock garden) and got 10 miles singletrack.  The trail there is still awesome and still challenging.

And that is not all I did, I ended the day mowing the grass and doing some weeding in my backyard and planting more flowers.  I think the weeding will take forever but I'm trying to do it in chunks and hopefully I will be able to keep up.  Pretty good weekend of low intensity work and high intensity mountain biking. 

Unfortunately, even with signs like this, I saw 4 people who did not wear helmets!