Into Thin Air – 2nd Highest Peak in the Lower 48

On Sunday I decided to go climb the second highest peak in the lower 48 states. A looming 14,443 feet, complete with snow, strong winds, and about a 24 degree temperature. Oh, and that nasty little thing called altitude sickness that decided to tag along for the ride. To say this was one of the mentally toughest physical activities to get through was an understatement.  I have never before in my life thought I could not physically finish something until this adventure. But, let’s start at the beginning.

My friend from training (who I went paddle boarding with) and two of my friends from Denver decided it would be a tough challenge to go hike a 14er (Colorado speak for mountains over 14,000ft) at the end of September, when it had already snowed up there. We thought it would be badass. And it was. Maybe a bit too badass for me. The hike was 9.2 miles round trip, with a 4,700 foot elevation gain. The 30-45 minutes were in the forest and, while steep, I could still catch my breathe through the panting. We emerged from the woods to see this:

Image

See those peaks? yeah, we had to go over those to get to one further on that we were going to. I definitely didn’t realize when I signed on that the hike would be this long, but I was still excited at this point. So, we trudged on. Once we got past that second tree line the wind picked up. Hard. And it did not stop. It was so strong and so cold that when it hit you head on it literally knocked your breathe out of you. Multiple times I felt like I was suffocating and had to turn my back to take some breathes. This may sound dramatic, but it was 100% real for me. I am VERY sensitive to altitude. For the first couple weeks after I moved to Boulder I would get winded walking up stairs, went to bed by 9:30 because I was so exhausted and would get major headaches.

But we kept going, with my companions being very kind and taking frequent breaks when I needed them to turn my oxygen deprive hyperventilating back to normal panting.

Image

Photo Credit Kristin Burkholder

Around 12,500ft I started feeling nauseous. We stopped to eat and I forced myself to take a bite of a Lara bar, but my mouth would not physically chew it. I ended up spitting it out and just drinking lots of water. If I ever do something like this again, I will definitely bring chicken broth so that I can drink my nutrition and have it heat me up. A couple passed us and we asked, pointing at a peak above us, if that was the summit. The woman shook her head and said that was a “fake summit” (one that appears to be the top, but is followed by others behind it) and that there were 3-4 more fake summits to go.

The guy saw the look on my face at this point and said “Just go 10 more steps. Anyone can do 10 more steps. Then, try to do another 10.” I literally repeated this in my head the whole rest of the way.

Image

Photo Credit Kristin Burkholder

We got to 14,000 feet, with only 400 feet more and I nearly quit. I stopped, sat on the ground, trying to stop my head from spinning and resisting the urge to start dry heaving. I had a conversation with myself in my head about how I was feeling crappy now, but that in about 6 hours I would be home in bed, cuddled up with my dog,  feeling perfectly healthy and would be super pissed off at myself if I had not gone to the top. This was only temporary. With some encouragement from my friends, one of whom was also not feeling so hot at this point, I kept going. And I’m glad I did, because the view at the top was unbelievable. Just like everyone had promised.

Image

I’m pretty sure we only stayed up there about 5 minutes, as it was sub 24 degrees and super windy. Just long enough to snap some pictures and start back down.

Image

The hike down was really fun for me. Going down fake summits is far more fun than going up them, complete with sliding on the ice/snow (as my friend did, on her butt, for a good portion of the way. She had also had some Fireball at the top, which probably made it even more delightful for her ❤ ). With each little bit I felt better and better, and by the time we reached the trees again I was back to myself. And starving.

Overall, I am still very happy I did it. It was definitely a rush.  I don’t think I could have done it without the support of my friends, talking me through it and being willing to stop whenever I needed to.  I’m already planning to do another one next year with the same people… though maybe we will go a bit earlier, so as to avoid the snow and the super cold wind.

On the drive back home my friend asked why people climb 14ers. A lot of people respond with “because they are there”. My friend said because it reminds her that the world is far more beautiful than her everyday life. While valid, that’s not my reason. There are hikes that are just as physically challenging, as far as steepness, that are at much lower elevation and would provide a great workout and time spent in beautiful nature. For me, the reason I have done 14ers is because it’s good to challenge yourself mentally like that sometimes, to push yourself beyond what you think you are capable of in a situation where you can’t just slow down or stop to make it easier (like on a run). Obviously, do that within a safe limit, with the ultimate ability to leave (turn around and walk down) if you really need to.

But sometimes, you need to have that inner battle with yourself to see what you are capable of overcoming.

Hope you all had a great weekend, filled with fun, laughs and love.

Oly Lifting Comp – Training Phase 1 (Partial Workouts Included)

I hope everyone is having a lovely Saturday and enjoying the slowly emerging fall weather. It makes me want to carve pumpkins and go to haunted houses :). To procrastinate the ridiculous amount of reading and homework I have to get done today, I decided to give you guys an updated on how my training is going for my Oly LIfting Comp.

oly

I just finished my hypertrophy (muscle building) phase. It lasted for a total of four weeks, with three weeks of building, then one week of unloading to allow my central nervous system to recover.  During this phase, I did one of two complexes that are designed to build muscle in each of my training sessions. All of the exercises are done back to back, no rest in between, with a weight that you can maintain throughout. My weight was 65lbs and I was dying by the last exercise each time. These exercises contain Front Squats, as those are an important aspect of the clean and will aid in snatches, Jerks/Thrusters/Push Press to build shoulder and back muscles to help in clean and snatch, Front Loaded Reverse Lunges to, once again help with the front squat aspect of cleans and build up my booty, and rows to increase muscle in my back.

photo-1

Each of these complexes/all my training workouts are designed by Rise Up Fitness.

 Complex 1.                                                                       Complex 2.

8 Cleans                                                        8 Total Split jerks (4 with each leg forward)

8 Front Squats                                         16  Front Loaded Reverse Lunge (8 with each leg)

8 Push Press                                                     8 Thrusters (full squat to push press)

8 Back Squats                                                                 8 Bent over Rows

8 Deadlifts

Each of these complexes is repeated three times. In between the complexes I typically did things such as kettle bell swings (to improve my explosiveness/the hip thrust needed with each olympic lift), farmer walks, jump squats (once again, to improve explosiveness/getting under the bar) etc. These are not my total workout, obviously, but were the one consistent aspect of my workout during those three weeks.

I am now onto the Strength Training phase, which includes less reps and higher weight. Even though I am nowhere near how I want to be on my cleans, I decided to give you guys a video of it anyway.

Things I need to work on:

1) getting under the bar/dropping down more quickly. This is really hard for me. I have a long way to go with my long legs and I’m not that flexible. Any tips on improving this would be appreciated 🙂

2) getting my elbows up faster

3) Getting the double knee bend – aka once the bar is over my knees they need to go back to being bent, not straight as they are now

4) Getting down under my jerk more/putting my shoulders back more once in full jerk position.

This is at 103lbs. I know that if I can only figure out how to drop down under the bar more I will be able to go so much heavier, so this is pretty much muscling it up. It’s a lot of small complex motions that requires a lot of coordination and work.  I’ve got 7 weeks to figure it out!

Friday Evening Swim Workouts (2,000 yards)

Yesterday I was supposed to get a long run in, but my legs were so sore that I decided to do a pool workout. Swimming always helps to stretch out my muscles and get some cardio in, without the hard impact of running. After work I went to the CU Pool to do some laps. The CU swim team was practicing at the same time, so it added in some extra motivation (and also made me really conscious of my form and how much worse it’s gotten since my USS days.) My workout contained alotta backstroke, as I wanted to stretch out my chest and lats a little. It’s not a huge amount of yardage, but enough for someone who just wants to swim for some cross training.  (For Swim Workout # 1 go here)

Image

SWIMMING WORKOUT #2

WARMUP:

200 Yd. Freestyle

100 Yd. Free Kick

200 Yd. Backstroke

100 Yd. Back Kick

WORKOUT:

3 *100 IM Order (no free)  (50 Swim, 50 Kick)

2 Rounds:

3 *100 Backstroke for time (1st 100 – 1:45, 2nd 100 – 1:30, 3rd 100 – 1:20)

4*50 Alternate Free/Back 40 seconds each.

200 Lung Buster

(50 yds breathe every 3 strokes, 50 yds breathe every 5, 50 breathe every 7, 25 breathe every 9, 25 yds 1 breathe)

100 Warmdown

After my workout I was walking back to the locker rooms with my bag, looking at my instagram on my phone and walked into what I thought was the girls room. I took about 4 steps in before I looked up from my phone and saw a bunch of guys in different stages of undress staring at me. Turns out I had wandered into the guys locker room and the swim team was in there changing after practice. I muttered an awkward “Oh, this is the mens room” and walked out to the sound of guys cracking up. Whooopsiesss. Hopefully it just provided a good story and no one was actually offended.

As always, I remembered how much I love swimming. The silence of the water makes you really tune in to yourself and the way your body is moving. It also provides a good time to reflect on the day and any work problems I have going on. I think I might incorporate it weekly into my workouts, to help relieve my muscles while still working on my cardio. Gotta love swimming!

Image

Double Trouble: Tips for training for a Lifting Comp and 15K at the same time.

I’ve learned three things about myself over the past couple months. (1) That I have way too many fitness/sport related things I want to try (2) That I have a tendency to spread myself thin and (3) that I’m stubborn. From running to lifting to swimming to hiking to climbing, the list of things I desperately want to get good at goes on and on. Currently I am training for my Oly Lifting Comp on November 16th and the Denver Hot Chocolate 15k on October 6th. Two events that require very different training methods and conflicting body types, all while trying not to flunk out of law school, keep my friends, and succeed at work.

Image

I’ve been having a hard time balancing training. Days after I lift, my legs are too sore to run.  If I devote too much time to running, I start leaning out and don’t make gains in the lifting.  While it’s not an ideal situation at all, I’ve finally managed to strike a small balance with these tips to get through double training:

1) Get enough sleep. I get made fun of for never doing anything in the evenings past 9, but I have actually come to love this lifestyle and rarely feel like I’m missing out on anything. (Hi, I’m secretly 60).  It gives me time to go to dinner/movie/happy hour with friends, while still getting home to be in bed by 10:30. Sleep is necessary to build muscle and will also reduce bad food cravings during the day. It also keeps me from drinking a lot, which leads me to point 2.

2) Don’t drink alcohol more than once a week.  Alcohol keeps you from making gains by dehydrating you (bad for muscle growth), lowering testosterone (bad for muscle growth), and slows down protein synthesis. Depending on how much you consume, it can also make you feel like you are going to die the next day, which is not conducive to training. As I have mentioned before, my body type is not one that naturally puts on muscle. So I want to prevent anything from getting in the way of my muscle growth. (My boyfriend jokes that I am always bulking, because I chow down on food in hopes it will help me grow).

3) Drink at least a gallon of water a day. Water aids in protein synthesis and helps your muscles recover.

4) Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t improving as fast as you want to.  This one is particularly hard for me. I want to be good at everything and improve on things right away(who doesn’t??). I have to keep remind myself patience is a virtue and if I keep going the gains will come.

5) Do short, but faster runs more often. I know I have the muscle to get me through a 15K, but it’s really the cardio aspect I need work on. I’ve been trying to squeeze in shorter (3 miles), but faster runs to build up my lung capacity without cutting into study time, work and without making my legs too sore to lift. So far it’s been working to improve my long runs I do once a week.

6) Find people with similar goals. It can get lonely if all your free time is devoted to activities you do on your own. Try to find people to run/lift with who can help push you through the times you want to give up and who understand the discipline you need to have to succeed. They also can understand that aspect of your humor and provide a lot of laughs to get you through training.

7) Stretching.  Foam roll. Foam roll. Foam roll. Don’t just sit and grab your toes. That’s like taking a knot in a shoe lace and pulling it tighter. Foam Rolling/Active Stretching helps untangle those muscle knots for faster recovery.

8) Supplements.  I don’t usually use supplements, I don’t even really use protein powder. However, today I bought BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) for the first time. They are supposed to help muscle recovery. We will see how those go and I’ll let you know.

Image

So those are my tips to how I’m getting through this strange period of pushing and pulling at my  body in hopes of not having to cut one of the things I love out of my life. I truly get so much pleasure from both lifting and running that I can’t imagine not doing both. I don’t want to get to my competition knowing I could have given it more and wasn’t disciplined enough to reach my full potential. It’s just a matter of training smart, not doing things that will harm my progress (staying up late or partying) but giving myself enough of a break so I don’t get burnt out. It’s a fine line to walk, but I’m slowly starting to find my balance.

SUP: I’m in love

I have a new love. It’s one I’ve been thinking about for a long time but couldn’t get up the courage to make it happen. It’s SUP. Thats right, Stand Up Paddle boarding. Two Saturday’s ago my friend offered to come with me to try it. After our normal Saturday morning workout we headed to the Boulder reservoir, where you can rent paddle boards on the shore for 20$ an hour.

20130913-084651.jpg

It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. I was so nervous about falling over, especially when standing up for the first time. They start you on your knees as you paddle away from the shore, then you move to a standing position. The boards weren’t as tippy as I thought they would be and I managed to stay on the whole time, even with the waves from all the motor boats. In fact, I started loving the challenge of remaining upright when the waves came. I loved the challenge of shifting my weight from side to side to help keep me going straight so I didn’t have to move the paddle from my left to right side as much. I loved the burn in my shoulders as I took the last couple stokes back to shore at the end of the hour. And lastly, I loved how completely relaxed and centered I felt after I was done.

20130917-182156.jpg

If its still warm where you are, try to get out and squeeze in a quick paddle boarding session before fall takes over. I promise it will be worth it.

Let’s Talk about Miley’s Ass

Today is my birthday, I’m feeling a little old and over the hill, so I thought – “what better way to metaphorically tell these youngin’s to get off my lawn then by chiming in too late to comment on people’s reaction to Miley Cyrus’s butt “? I figure if it’ still on the front page of CNN (…) then I have the right to still mention it on here.

I know you all know what I’m talking about, Miley’s now infamous performance at the VMAs where she appeared in a nude skin tight bikini and humped the air with a foam finger. I’m not going to get into the debate about what her performance represented for feminism etc. I have plenty to say on that, but this is a healthy living/fitness blog. What I am going to talk about is the fall out of prancing around in that barely there bikini.  I woke up the next morning to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the blog world posting things like this:

Image

with the caption “At least GaGa squats” and this…

Image

Now my questions is.. Why? Why did countless WOMEN post these pictures solely to shame and criticize another woman’s body? In a world where 24 million America’s are affected by eating disorders, and more money is spent researching boob jobs/viagra than on Alzheimer’s, do we really need to put more focus on image? I’m not perfect, I definitely laughed when I saw this.. but then I took a minute to think about what type of message I was endorsing. Women especially should be congratulating each other, cheering each other on, and helping each other fight the negative media images, not supporting them.

Now I don’t necessarily think that Miley really needed “support” and “cheering on” for her performance, I don’t think I’ve seen a lazier performance in my life. HOWEVER, I do not think that it warrants images of her butt being plastered around the internet only furthering the unrealistic ideal image of what a woman’s body should look like, and enforcing the notion that if it doesn’t look like that then she has the right to be publicly scorned.

I know people might say “it’s her job to look perfect” and I say you are wrong. It is her job to perform, to sing, to dance. But to have a tight ass? I don’t think that’s listed in her contract.

Do you agree/disagree? Why?

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Recipe

In case you don’t have friends who have posted this all over Facebook/Twitter – The Pumpkin Spice Latte is officially back at Starbucks. While I don’t go gaga over this latte, I am absolutely in love with everything Fall. Growing up in New England, I feel like it’s in my blood to love fall. Apple Picking, Cider Donuts, Pumpkin Carving, Hay Rides, Colored Leaves, Vests and Sweaters, Halloween Costumes… I could go on and on.

Although it’s only September, I keep checking weather.com to see when the weather will start its slow change from brutally hot to crisp and amazing. So far, no such luck. But I couldn’t wait any longer, so I decided to do my equivalent of a fall rain dance and make some fall themed food. It’s not paleo but, as I’ve said before, not everything I eat is. It will make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside and tickle your tastebuds.

Image

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

2 Cups water

2 Cups Almond Milk

1 Can Pumpkin Puree (12-14 ounces) with NO added spices/sugars etc

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 cups oatmeal

3 tablesppons raisin

2 tablespoons flaxseeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Maple Syrup to Taste

1. Add water, almond milk and pumpkin puree to a pot and bring to boil.

2. Add oatmeal and pumpkin spice, stir.

3. Lower heat to medium and cook until only a bit of liquid is left. Remove from heat and stir in raisins. Once you divide it into bowls, top it with pumpkin seeds, cover with maple syrup and enjoy!

 

What’s your favorite season?

What is your favorite thing about fall?