Monthly Archives: May 2013

Magic of Gadgets

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TomTom

Ever since my Garmin died at marathon #2, I have been GPS-less.

So, for my 40th birthday, my husband got me the Nike +Sportwatch GPS. I was sold on it because #1 it doesn’t look like a laptop strapped to your wrist and #2 it is powered by TomTom, which seems to be accurate even in the technological black hole of Franconia.

I’ve been playing around with the watch, and while I wish it had automatic scrolling (like my old, dead Garmin), it does seem to track me eerily well through the farm fields.

The watch has been extremely helpful in figuring out just what exactly I’m doing out there for hours, other than deer watching and gummy bear eating.

The results:

My average pace has increased (most likely due to Crossfit training) by 30-45 seconds per mile, which means I will either PR at my next marathon, or I’ll have more time to stop and eat gummy bears and drink cola at the water stations.

I go faster when I run uphill. Weird, but true.

I go slower downhill. Also weird, but equally true.

My heart rate stays in the 150s for my entire run–hills and all.

With four weeks until my next marathon, I have a little time to play around with training.

I need to learn to keep my pace (and my balance) while going downhill, and I can ease off a bit uphill. I can also try moving a little faster during portions of my run, since my heart has promised not to explode.

I am constantly worried about going out too fast, which is my natural tendency. But with the watch, I can accurately monitor myself, until I can ‘feel’ it without the gadget, which is still preferable to me.

When you run through a lovely green countryside, you should actually see more than the back of your wrist. With a GPS watch, you can get obsessed with numbers, and unless you’re a professional, what difference does it really make?

I’m in this for the long haul, and that means as I grow stronger (with crossfit) my running will improve. As I age, the real payoff will be in the health benefits, not the numbers.

While I am always wanting to challenge myself and improve, my life is not made or broken by three-tenths of a second. So even though I am now numbered among the gadget-people, I also want to keep the joy of running alive.

Because it’s the joy that makes the race worth running.

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T2B: None of Us are Pretty in CrossFit

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Runner's Feet

Last Friday, our coach Sibylle tried to kill us with the workout of the day.

Maybe that’s a little harsh, but the WOD left nearly everyone on the ground in a puddle of his or her own sweat. And after the WOD, we had the WOD 2 in the form of 30 toe to bars, which by that point, was a cruel joke.

Toes to bar: you grab the pull-up bar, bend yourself in half 
and touch your feet to the bar overhead; or for beginners, 
you hang there quivering and think: "This was so simple when I was 9!"

The first night I stepped foot in the box, we were supposed to do toes to bar. Naturally, having spaghetti arms and a core comprised mostly of ice cream and gummy bears, all I could do was raise my knees an inch in the general direction of my chest while the coach talked about ‘torque,’ whatever that meant.

I remember thinking I would never be able to do this. It was simply something I’d never envisioned, like real pull-ups (which I STILL can’t do).

Imagine my surprise when after our grueling workout on Friday, I hung from the bar and swung both my feet overhead.

I was shocked.

And like a toddler who just realized she could sling oatmeal at the wall, I did it again.

I ended up touching my toes to the bar 8 times well and 3 more times not-so-well-but-it-still-counted-to-me. I turned giddily to William and asked, “How long do we have to do this?” thinking we were probably nearing the end of our time limit, and I would have a count that wouldn’t make me hang my head in shame, to which he replied, “We’re supposed to do 30.”

Ugh.

That meant I had to work.

Thus, my T2B’s decreased in quality as the reps increased.

By the end I could barely move my knees upward, and I really wanted to complain about the callous that had torn off my hand.

After class, I showed Sibylle the flap of skin hanging from my hand, and in her classic, German, Crossfitter style, she left me with a quote I’ll use for the rest of my life: “We, none of us, are pretty.”

How true.

My hands (like my long-distance runner feet with 3-inch calluses) couldn’t even win Miss Congeniality in a pretty contest, but they are getting stronger.

Being strong can be a beautiful thing. But strength isn’t something that you can simply put on like a new pair of shoes. Real strength, like real beauty, comes from God, and it is demonstrated by the quality of a person’s character.

How we react to challenges shows what we’re really made of, regardless of how long it takes you to do 30 T2B’s. You can never become stronger if you’ve already forfeited the race in your mind.

The important thing is to do your best and not give up, even when you feel weak–and that IS something truly beautiful.

40

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Birthday Banner

I’ve run 4 marathons, but I’ve never run a 10k–until Sunday. The weather was sunny enough to make you happy, cool enough to keep you from wilting.

I’ve been worried that I haven’t been running enough miles, but the 10k gave me more confidence. I was actually passing people UNDER the age of 80 during the race and finished with a smile (and in 56 minutes).

It was a great way to begin my birthday week.

My Crossfit coach gave me a birthday present in the form of 50 burpees, 100 pushups and 150 walking lunges interspersed between sprints of varying lengths.

The good news is that now at age 40, I am healthier than I’ve ever been. And that is exactly how I wanted to begin this next phase of life.

But life is still life. My week has been filled with (mostly) a good kind of chaos, but chaos nonetheless. My actual birthday morning began by scrubbing the dog’s behind at 6:00 am. Then I spent half the morning finding his special food, which he wouldn’t eat anyway. Now we have an emergency vet appointment to find out why he’s not eating or drinking. Poor little thing.

But being at an emergency vet appointment isn’t how I envisioned spending my 40th birthday. Obviously, I love my fluffy little dog, and who cares about a birthday when he is miserable? It’s just not what I ‘planned.’

I’ve had to do all kinds of uncomfortable things this week–specifically, making several appointments in German, which is nearly as taxing to me mentally as burpees are physically.

All I want to do is stay home one day this week, but it doesn’t look like that will happen until Saturday, and even then I’ll have to leave for a few hours for my long run.  I look back on my ‘sick day’ last week with a warped kind of fondness because I got to lay on the couch and eat jello.

As a wife & mom & servant of God, I don’t write my own schedule. I have to interact with other human beings and figure out how I can best help them. I have to talk to God and actually obey Him when He tells me what path to take–and usually, that path isn’t the easy one.

So while my milestone birthday did not include a luxury vacation, it did include a date with my husband; a card from Libby that was so incredibly sweet it made me cry (and scared her a little); gorgeous earrings in my favorite color, and a ‘Mom’ necklace, bought with hard earned teenage money; lots of hugs & an old hat of mine (which I had loaned out); and a custom-made comic strip, with humor that always makes me laugh.

Libby's card made me cry!

Libby’s card made me cry!

Katie went over the top with my beautiful, elegant cake, and all the kids helped decorate to make my birthday morning (once I was done scrubbing the dog) special.

As much as I dreamed of escaping to a beach somewhere, this birthday has been the best one ever because of the pure and simple love that pours out from my family, even though I don’t deserve it.

40 birthdays behind me.

I look forward to 80 more.

No Worries

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footprints

No Worries

When I go to CrossFit, I have no worries for an entire hour.

The only knots in my stomach are from doing a lot of sit-ups in a little amount of time. The only weight on my shoulders is attached to a 20 kg bar. The only thing I have to remember is what rep I’m on.

There are no meetings, no appointments, no long commutes–I am purely living in the moment, and I often feel guilty about it.

I don’t think I’m trying to completely escape my problems, but it IS nice to ‘get away’ for a little while. If I lived closer to the box, I would go five days a week or more. It is THAT refreshing to me. Some people listen to music, or play it; some people watch TV or eat or play video games; they walk the beach or take cruises; but for me, stress-relief is packaged in a CrossFit box.

I walk away from a workout feeling completely relaxed, refocused and re-energized, and I think ultimately, it enables me to deal with stress.

When we were in London, I saw two women at Harrod’s, draped from head to toe in black, with only their eyes and some flashy rings on their hands showing. They were at the jewelry counter. Read that again: the JEWELRY counter.

If you’ve ever been to Harrod’s, and you’re just an average person like me, then you know how thrilling yet painful it is to buy a single truffle from the food counter in the basement. This is a store where a pair of socks costs more than my wedding dress. They probably charge money just to glance at the jewelry counter. I’m sure no matter how rich or poor you are, women everywhere have to deal with stress, and I wondered if shopping was the outlet of choice for these women.

Then my thoughts go back to the woman at the top of the mountain at Petra, Jordan. One of her many sons probably brought jugs of water up the mountain on donkey. She looked as if she had enough to eat. She was just alongside the path, selling her wares in one of the most scenic locations on earth. I don’t think that her life is stress-free, but she probably deals with it differently than I (a spoiled Westerner) would.

I can go to CrossFit, but what does she do? Maybe she daydreams or makes jewelry for tourists. I’m not sure.

It makes me wonder if stress is a luxury? I do think it’s easier to focus on the things that really matter when you don’t have a bunch of junk clogging up your home.

As for us, we’d like to downsize–get a smaller house and live more simply. Think about it: if I have fewer clothes, it’s less laundry. And besides, a family of 6 does NOT need 5 bathrooms!

But what happens next? Move to a developing nation? Learn to be happy with the clothes on my back. I could still do push-ups and squats and lift heavy things (like orphans, ideally). The pressures would be different: like cooking for the family without a supermarket nearby and finding clean water. Internet? That WOULD be a luxury, I’m sure.

For the moment, here I am: an American woman in rural Germany, speeding down the autobahn in my leather-seated van, worrying if the baustelle will make me late for the next appointment. And you will find me at CrossFit, putting down the worries and picking up weights, as often as possible.