Is THIS Bliss?!

Lorina's Blog

Warrior Dash

6 Months, 12 Months and 12 Years Later

December 11th is a milestone date for me. It was on this date a year ago that I decided to get fit enough to do the Warrior Dash six months later on June 11th. One year into my “new lifestyle,” I’ve lost 35 pounds, about six inches off my waist, about six off my hips, and four inches on each thigh. I’ve gained the ability to run at least seven miles straight, and a ton of confidence.

About once a month, I like to check my progress with photos. I have some kind of mental block where I don’t always see changes in the mirror, and I’m on maintenance now, so I don’t see changes on the scale. I’m able to look at myself more objectively in photos.

I lost about 10 pounds since the Warrior Dash, but may have put a few back on since going on maintenance. I fluctuate between 125-130# normally, but since I had pizza and McDonald’s on Thursday (busy day = bad food choices) and my sodium was insanely high, I weighed in at 132.5# this morning. The morning of the Warrior Dash, I was 135#. This goes to show that what the scale says is pretty meaningless. Granted, I wasn’t posing while I was trying desperately to not lose a contact lens getting hosed post-dash, but my belly region is certainly improved!

But what I find MOST amazing is that I’m happier with my body now, at 39 years old, than I was 12 years ago at 27. I was thinner then, but being FIT is sooooooo much better than being skinny. (And the really sad thing? This is after gaining weight… I was around 125-ish in 1999, but a year earlier I was only about 105#!) The 27 year old me couldn’t run 7 miles. She didn’t lift weights. She looked sickly. And her butt was kinda flabby. Who the hell likes their butt better at almost 40 than they did in their mid 20s?! (Oh, yeah… people who work out!)

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9 Months in the Making!

When I first thought this title, it was because it was exactly nine months since my niece’s early Christmas party where I found out about the Warrior Dash and decided to get my ass in gear and get fit.

Last night, that same niece had her first child, a daughter. My great-niece. She’s gorgeous. But it got me thinking, it’s nine months later. Barbie may think “math is hard,” but I can put two and two together! Mistletoe and Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka is a recipe for babies!

All teasing aside, that night changed my life. I’ve lost 32 pounds since then, and met my original weight loss goal in June, just two days before the Warrior Dash, then surpassed it. I surpassed my fitness goals, too, since all I wanted to do was be able to run a 5K, and I can do at least 10K now. In theory. The 10K I plan to run has been cancelled and postponed twice now! I’m pretty sure it’s jinxed.

Along the way, another milestone was buying a new bikini. This was a very big deal for me, because it was the first time I didn’t wait until end of summer clearance sales. Granted, it was already 50% off at Kohls, plus I had a coupon, so it’s not like it was FULL price, but still, it’s a rarity for me to not buy the slim pickin’s left over at the end of season.

Since buying that swimsuit, I lost another 9 pounds. I’m glad it was a string bikini, because I’ve had to readjust the ties on the sides of the bottoms. I maintained my weight through August, but recently decided on a new goal of 126# (or 9 stone, since I like the number 9) for my Halloween party in mid-October. Priorities. I has them. And my priority is to wear a costume that’s not meant to camouflage my trouble zones. I don’t want any damn trouble zones!

Five weeks and two pounds to go. About a half pound a week. Yep. I can do this!

Basic stats for those who give a damn: 5’5 and 39 years old. And now, to the photos…

A birthday party last November, and at my niece’s baby shower last weekend. Yay for having the proper number of chins again!

Last summer before I binged on Halloween candy and gained another 8 pounds or so, and hamming it up last weekend.

Not as dramatic of a change, but 9# lost since I got the swimsuit in May to now. My “natural waistline” is a few inches lower!

My bum has gotten smaller…. little more streamlined in the thighs.

Flatter in the belly, smaller in the waist. And not to brag (oh, who am I kidding? I’m bragging!) but these were taken AFTER gorging myself on buffet foods and tons of goodies – cake, cookies, brownies, etc. – at the baby shower. But it was BEFORE the booze-and-munchies fueled party that caused me to temporarily gain 6.5 pounds overnight.

I was really amazed I not only got back down to my last Saturday morning weight in a week, but also lost another half pound on top of it. After a bacon, egg and hash brown brunch yesterday, and a trip to my favorite Mexican restaurant last night, I’m back up a few pounds. Normal fluctuation. Nothing to worry about.

To answer the inevitable “how’d you do it?” questions…

I try to run at least 3 miles 3 or 4 times a week. My neighborhood is hilly, so most runs include a 100 to 250 foot incline. I started with the Couch to 5k Plan, and moved on from there.

In theory, I like to go to the gym twice a week, where I spend a half hour doing a round of all the weight machines and some hanging reverse crunches in the roman chair, then another hour doing cardio … maybe a half hour on a bike, half hour on a treadmill or elliptical or arc trainer. It takes me a good half hour from when I leave my house to when I hit the gym floor, so I want to make the most of my time there. I’ve been slacking the past week, though, because I live in Northeast PA and while my home wasn’t affected by floods, both the area Planet Fitnesses were in evacuation zones.

And I do EA Active Sports 2 on the Playstation. It’s not a game. It’s pretty much what any exercise DVD would have you do, but interactive and customizable. Cardio, Weights, Calisthenics, maybe a touch of Plyometrics. I mostly do custom or “trainer generated” workouts on that now that I’ve finished their 3 week and 9 week challenges.

Food wise, first, I have to explain about how My Fitness Pal works. That’s the site I use to track my calories consumed and burned. They give you a set number of calories per day by how much you want to lose. That number is based on doing NO exercise at all, so if you stick with the plan, you don’t need to exercise to lose weight. When you do exercise, they add the amount you burned to your food goal for the day. So if you’re supposed to eat 1200 calories, but burn 300 calories, you’d eat 1500, otherwise, you’re body would be trying to run on a net calorie consumption of only 900 calories, which is a bit low. It’s more of that math that Barbie hates so much. A little trial and error is best to find what works best for you. Less calories doesn’t always mean more weight loss. I lost more and felt better at 1400-1500 calories than I did at 1200.

I eat quite a bit. Very likely more than I did before I started losing weight, since I was a lazy lump then. Since hitting my first goal in June, I aimed for 1500 calories, plus exercise calories, so typically around 1800-2000, Monday through Friday, then I ate what I wanted on weekends, without logging my food at all. During August when I maintained, I aimed for 1600+ exercise calories. Now that I want to lose a little more, I’m back to 1500+. Nothing is off limits. I have half a rising crust DiGiorno about once a week. I love bread and pasta, and typically have a bagel for breakfast… I ain’t afraid of no carbs! I don’t pay attention to them or fat. I only try to stay a little under my calories and sodium (but sometimes fail miserably), and go over on my protein and fiber.

Really, it’s not about extreme lifestyle changes. Just moderation. I don’t plow through an entire bag of Butterfingers in 48 hours. In fact, most of the time, I look at the calorie count and decide, “It’s not worth it.” I’d rather have a 130 calorie Fiber Plus bar, which is filling AND delicious, than a 200 calorie candy bar that is just delicious. Or better yet, a cup of grapes or strawberries.

Most of the time.

Sometimes, the chocolate wins. That’s okay. Let it win once in a while. You’ll still win in the end.

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Warrior Dash: Mud, Sweat and Beer!

It started with vodka.

December 11, 2010. An early Christmas party at my niece’s house. I was drunk. Very drunk. And a friend of my niece was talking about some crazy-ass thing called the Warrior Dash. A 5k race in the Poconos with obstacles, mud, fire, beer, turkey drumsticks and viking hats. A light bulb went over in my head. I wanna do that!

The Woad Warrior

The Woad Warrior

Exactly six months later, June 11, 2011, two days after my 39th birthday, I was up before dawn, channeling my ancient Celtic ancestors in tartan, animal pelts, and woad.  I joined my brother, his daughter, her new husband and their friends for The Dash. Fritz came along as photographer. A fractured heel and torn Achilles a few months back sidelined any plans he might have had to join us. While we were running around the woods being nuts, he was standing around waiting for about an hour, watching people getting carted off by medics, convinced his wife was lying in a ditch somewhere.

The Gang's All Here!

The Gang's All Here!

The running part was a snap for me. The obstacles (and bottlenecks resulting in a whole lotta people hitting the obstacles at once) broke things up nicely. Granted, running on wooded paths with felled trees was a little different for me, but I grew up running around those very woods. My family has a little cabin just two miles away. I felt like I was in my element. Like a druid.

The first obstacle wasn’t even an obstacle. It was just a castle we had to run through. Since the doors were small and there were hundreds of folks reaching them at the same time, there was time to breathe. Then there were tarps that we had to crawl under. I was mostly worried about someone stepping on my fingers, and got behind my niece’s husband, who crawls amazingly fast.

The “walk the plank” obstacle, up and down 2×6 ramps, would have been a breeze if it wasn’t wet wood. And it was a little disconcerting seeing them adding reinforcements as we were going over.

I skipped some of the 4 foot “Warrior Walls.” I went over one, and my foot slid way out from under me on top of the wall, and I didn’t want to pull something that early on in the race and not be able to finish. Being short sucks sometimes.

The “Great Warrior Wall” was genuinely scary. I’d say it was about 20 feet high, completely vertical, with 1x4s nailed to the wall for foothold and a knotted rope for climbing. I tackled that sucker, though!

More running in the woods, more mud, then wading through a pond. No obstacles there, other than uneven footing with rocks underfoot. The water was amazingly warm, though. Felt great!

I felt sooooo William Wallace!

I felt sooooo William Wallace!

Then some more running in the woods, and that’s when I fell. I swear a tree root grabbed my ankle and pulled me down. I haven’t trusted trees not to do something like that since seeing Poltergeist when I was 10 years old. Landed on my right knee, cutting it pretty good, but I didn’t know that at the time, with a fallen tree across my left ankle/shin, which I did know at the time. Got right back up and kept going. Didn’t know I was bleeding until later.

Somewhere in there was the spider web… cords strung across the path that you had to crawl under. Maybe being short doesn’t suck after all; some taller folks had to belly crawl through them.
Then was a creek with some trees fallen across that you had to climb over. That water was COLD, but felt great on my boo-boo ankle. Then more woods. I overheard people complaining about their calves and hammies on “these hills” but it didn’t feel like an incline at all to me. Then the tunnels… crawled through some, was able to duck-walk through others. Yay for shortness!

Going over the cargo net...

Going over the cargo net...

Crawling on the cars...

Crawling on the cars...

The last four obstacles were visible to spectators. The cargo net, “road rage” (junker cars and tires), the fire, and the mud pit. I had no idea my husband was taking our pictures until we got in the mud, which might be for the best, since I was just focused on staying alive, not hamming it up for the camera. It had been raining, so even if we weren’t wet and muddy from the race, the cars and tires were slick and slippery. I look so badass in the photos, but all I’m thinking is, “Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don’t fall.”

After the tires was the moment I was waiting for! Leaping the fire! I thought Fritz would be stationed by the fire, so I hauled ass to get there as fast as possible.

Rawr!

Rawr!

Unfortunately, he was still back by the tires, trying to run as fast as he could to try to catch up with me. There was official Warrior Dash photographers here and at the finish line, so my shining moment was captured. (But yikes! Getting the photos was almost as expensive as registering for the race!)

And into the mud. This was horrible. There wasn’t enough water in the mix at the time, and it was literally wet concrete. If anyone is familiar with Pocono dirt, it’s not soil. It’s clay. We could literally not move. I had to ask the big burly guy who got in behind me if he could lift my right leg so I could get it loose! (Bless him!) Once we got the message that the going was easier at the sides, we were able to motor. On the bright side, feeling like dinosaurs stuck in La Brea Tar Pits did give Fritz a chance to get head of us again to take photos.

Oh, what fun!

Oh, what fun!

Then the finish line! Yay! I ran across the line clutching my kilt, which was so wet and heavy from mud, it was in danger of falling right off.

We got our Warrior Medals, and there was water and bananas to refuel. Little problem with that…  we were completely coated in wet brown cement that smelled just a little too much like cowflops. Not exactly an appetite stimulant.

Just a little dirty.

Just a little dirty.

My eyes!

Brrrr!!!!!

So before we ate, we had to get cleaned up. By getting sprayed. With a fire hose. Some say that was the most difficult obstacle of all. The water was freezing, but I didn’t notice and didn’t care. I was too worried about losing a contact lens to even notice the temperature!

The other hosing we got was when we saw how small the free beer was! Ok, so 12 ounces wasn’t much, and $4 for another dixie cup was kind of steep, but otherwise, the food was decently priced. Turkey drumsticks were $6. We got chicken breast sandwiches for $5 each, and since they didn’t have roast beef at the time, they gave us free chips. Monster was giving out free energy drinks (oh, hell yeah!) and Bear Naked was giving out granola trail mix. We ate well for just ten bucks.

Best part? The people watching. Costumes were encouraged, and people did not disappoint. We saw men in kilts, teams in tutus, Vikings, Romans, women in hula skirts, even a Captain Jack Sparrow. And… this guy. Yes, he ran like that.

Where did he pin his number?!

Where did he pin his number?!

All in all… Awesome. There’s no other words to describe it. It wasn’t a race, it was an adventure. It’s been a little over two months, and I still have a lump on my ankle where I hit it, and still have a scar on my knee were I cut it, but I can’t wait to do it again!

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