Death By Orange Theory

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After viewing perfect pictures of paradise from my runcation, that were marred only by too much of me, I am on a new quest to lose some weight. It’s actually an old quest that has been reincarnated over and over again. Upon yesterday’s epiphany, I decided that it was time buckle down and get my stuff together. However, since global warming has suddenly reneged, it is fahreezing outside. So, I decided that I would sign up for an Orange Theory class. I have been a member of Orange Theory Fitness for three months now, but have only been attending classes sporadically because my butt gets kicked every time. But a butt kicking is what I need. So I picked up my phone and clicked the trusty app only to find that I could only get on the waitlist for the 8:15 class in the morning. It would have to do. As the day wore on I became secretly thankful that I had been closed out of the class because Orange Theory was seeming like too much work … hahahaha, I’ll just have to settle for a treadmill run. Who am I kidding? If I made it to the mill at all, I’d be walking.

I checked my phone at 10:30 p.m. Crikey, there was an email from Orange Theory informing me that I had a spot in the class. Yikes!

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What exactly is this chick doing and who is Kevin?

So this morning, I dragged myself out of bed and headed to Orange Theory like a lamb to the slaughter. I’m being a little melodramatic, it’s not that bad.

Fast forward to 20 minutes into the class. I am dying. NO. I think I am actually dead. Really! Let me explain.

Orange Theory has different workouts every day but they all involve high intensity interval training that consists of a treadmill, water rower and weight room workout. You measure the intensity of your workout with a heart rate monitor that you purchase from Orange Theory. There are five zones, grey, blue, green, orange and red. The idea is to push into the orange zone (84 to 91% of your maximum heart rate) for short intervals during the one hour workout. The theory is that time in the orange zone will ramp up your metabolic rate and it is recommended that you accumulate 12 to 20 minutes in the orange zone. Your orange and red zone minutes are added up at the end of the workout and are called Splat Points. Your zones are accessible on a large screen during your workout and are emailed to you at the conclusion of the session.

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Example of a OTF screen

Back to my demise. Today’s treadmill workout had us running the intervals on an incline. Yes, HILLS. The treadmill workouts are done at three paces:

Base Pace – Warm up/cool down;

Push Pace – Getting your good workout on;

All Out – Just make it stop, NOW.

So they had us running our push pace on 3%, 4% and 5% inclines. Now the thing about the treadmill is that you cannot slow down without making a conscious decision to wuss out and hit the down arrow. So you thug it out and keep your pace.

As I was thugging it on a 5% incline I looked at the screen and it had me in the red zone at 128%. NOOOOOO! The red zone is supposed to be from 92% to 100%. I may not survive this workout! I freaked out and reduced my speed and hoped no one would make the connection between me and the 128 on the board. Yes, I wussed out. There was no need to be a hero. But this is not when I died.

As I staggered over to the row machine from the treadmill, my row machine neighbor asked me if I was okay. I was looking that good. I shrugged it off and got to rowing. I looked at the screen. That thing was registering my heart rate at zero. ZERO. For a fleeting moment I thought I was dead. Dead and clearly gone south of the border because surely there are no row machines and orange lighting in heaven. Right? Then I snapped out off it and fiddled with my heart rate monitor and my box on the screen changed from grey to blue. Thank God, I’m alive.

I will spare you the details of the weight room. Just believe me when I tell you it was bad.

Don’t try this at home kids. There was way too much red.

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A little too hard in the paint

 

 

 

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Countdown to NYC Marathon: The Playlist

ipodSo I have six days to go until my first marathon. There isn’t much that I can do at this point to improve my performance. I have literally run my butt off for the past four and a half months. As much as I dislike strength training, I found a way to get it done. I fell off and got back on the wagon with my nutrition several times. I’m still working on the rest aspect of the training plan and I intend to be in bed an hour from now. But there is one thing left for me to do and that is finalize my playlist.

I ran out of music during my 20 mile training run and that is a no go for the marathon. I need new and fresh musical inspiration to get me through this thing. I’m pretty liberal with my running music genres but a song must have special qualities to make it onto my race playlist. It has to inspire and have the ability to get me up a hill. Unfortunately, this means that I have gospel mixed with secular … judge not. However, I will not include tunes that may cause me to be struck by lightning mid run. I will say that I have some pretty good tunes already. Here are some examples:

This is the Day by Fred Hammond – This song gives me a turbo boost EVERY time. “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I can happily run a hill if this song is playing.

fred

Break my Stride by Matthew Wilder – The lyrics … “Aint nuthin gonna break my stride, nobody gonna slow me down, oh no, I’ve got to keep on moving.” What? Automatic running mantra.

Dreamer by Chris Brown – This song was featured during the 2008 Olympics (before he lost his mind) and always makes me feel like I’m Usain Bolt. “High speed like I’m racing, it’s like lightning. Sky is blazing.”

He even look's saner in the picture
He even look’s more sane in the picture

Souled Out – Hezekiah Walker & LFC – Puhlease, I am souled and soled out!!! “My heart is fixed my mind’s made up. No room, no vacancies I’m all filled up. His spirit lives in me and that’s the reason I’m souled out.”

Show Me What You Got by Jay-Z  –  I take this tune as a personal challenge. He keeps asking me to show him what I got. “Show me what you got li’l mama. Show me what you got pretty lady.” I have a hard time resisting dares and challenges.

Beautiful by Noel Gourdin – The man just keeps calling me “beautiful” and it makes me feel like can conquer the world, or at least the hills.

beautiful

Maniac by Michael Sembello – If you don’t know why this on here I suggest you watch Flashdance on Netflix ASAP. I’m running like I’ve never run be before people.

What a Feeling by Irene Cara – Yes more Flashdance!!! I need to just rename the movie Flashrun. “What a feeling, being’s believing I can have it all, now I’m [running] for my life. Take your passion and make it happen. Pictures come alive, now I’m [running] through my life.”

I Will by Men of Standard – More mantras … “I will never give up. I will keep on holding on. I will never let go. I will always stay strong.”

I will

Victory by Tye Tribbett & G.A. – This song reminds me that there is nothing that I can’t do because God has my back. “Because the devil Is defeated and God be praised,
I got the victory. Every situation I face I win, I got the victory. And everything works for my good in the end, I got the victory.”

The World Keeps Spinning by The Brand New Heavies – A reminder that regardless of what happens, life will go on.

Let me know if you have any suggestions. I don’t have much time to top off my list.

Countdown to My First Marathon

So I never did get around to posting my New Year, New Goal for 2014. But my 2014 goal has been consuming me for the past few months and now its is only 30 days away. On November 2, I will be running the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. Woo hoo, yes I’m counting down to those 26.2 miles in the five boroughs. There was actually a purpose for all of those races in Central Park last year. They were a part of the 9+1 program to secure guaranteed entry into the this year’s NYC Marathon.

Marathon NYC

I have been training with a great coach and awesome team. Dianne Scope of The Fitness Detective has been whipping us into shape for the big day. Her marathon training philosophy of “less is more” is great for our busy lifestyles. Now as race day is quickly approaching, we have to trust that our training will get us to the finish line. That said, I will be doing my longest run tomorrow of 20 miles. Hopefully, it will go well and serve as a confidence booster as I have found that much of running is psychological for me.

Marathon Team
The Team

Even as I type that I’m about to run 20 miles, it doesn’t even seem real. I am reflecting on my first team training run back in February 2012 when I began to train for my first Half Marathon. The run was 2.5 miles. I’ve come a long way baby.

New York City Half Marathon 2014 Recap

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My Path to the NYC Half:   I earned guaranteed entry into the NYC Half through volunteering at the race last year. Volunteering was great, albeit cold. It was a privilege seeing the elite runners live, up close and in motion. They were so focused and ran really close to each other. While I was jumping around in my winter coat trying to get warm, I was baffled by how they managed to run in singlets and tiny shorts. Now fast forward to 2014.

Dread and Trepidation:  I registered for the race with the intent to train and give it my best effort. It is after all the New York City Half. Well things just didn’t quite pan out like I expected. The Northeast got hammered this winter and between the snowstorms, icy trails and freezing temperatures, my training never got off the ground. In fact, my most significant workouts were my frequent trips to the refrigerator. As the race approached, I lapsed into denial that it was even taking place. The only thing dragging my ample waistline and other inflated parts to the race was the thought of forfeiting my registration fee.

Race Day:  I got up in what felt like the dead of night and had breakfast. A boiled egg and slice of toast with Gatorade. I drove to the financial district, parked my car and took the subway up to Central Park. This got a little dicey because I had trouble finding the subway. The area was laced with police officers who didn’t know anything about getting around Manhattan. When I finally got on the train, it was local and stopped at a hundred stations. Yikes. I was comforted only by the other runners who were boarding at the many stops.

I got to the park, and rushed to check my bag, and headed to my corral only to encounter a security check point complete with metal detectors. This was a first. I suppose this is the post-Boston reality and I was reminded of the possible danger of running in such a high profile race. I got to my corral and saw the staff turning away runners who belonged in different corrals. They were not playing. They were splitting up friends. I had an 8:10 a.m. start time and we began on time.

The Run: I started off at a nice slow pace because I knew the Central Park portion of the race would consist of Big Hill, Monster Hill and Bunch of Hills. And Big Hill was right at the start of the race. My iPod kicked in with Fred Hammond’s This is the Day and I conquered Big Hill without even feeling it. Awesomeness. This slow pace strategy might actually be the move. I was ready for Monster Hill. So I’m cruising along but after mile 3 … slow down sister, pump the brakes. The Monster Hill emerged and was soooo menacing it almost broke my spirit. It’s been a while so I must have forgotten the wickedness of Harlem Hill. I was so glad when I finally got to the top. But my joy was short-lived because Bunch of Hills came right after it. I tried to focus on other things, like the awesomeness of the volunteers and spectators. Someone had a sign that read, “Don’t Stop, People are Looking.” I envisioned myself stopping to walk just as the ABC camera zoomed in on me, causing the at home viewers to boo me and turn to NBC in disgust. But after a while it became hard to focus on anything but the run. Is there any good in Central Park? Well goodness and mercy caught up to me at mile 6 as the course exited the park. Oh yeah. Party over here. I pumped my fist and began my internal celebration as I started down Seventh Avenue. I didn’t get very far before I realized that it felt as though the temperature had dropped about 10 degrees outside of the park. Holy coldness! The other down side was that the Seventh Avenue roadway was a little rough and rugged. My new found misery didn’t last very long though as I approached mile 7 and ran into Times Square. The energy and the crowd could not be denied. It was great. I was running down the middle of Seventh Avenue right into Times Square. It was sweet.

Me running in Times Square
Me running in Times Square

We made a right turn onto 42nd Street and headed west. I was feeling good and the adrenaline rush had me running strong so I tried to slow myself down so as not to run out of steam. As I approached the West Side Highway, the wind started to kick up and that cold breeze was brutal. Brutal I tell you. So I have about five more miles to go and I’m cold, cold, cold. At about mile ten the party started to wane a little. Some of the runners were walking or stretching on the side. I walked through the water stations but I was getting it done. Then came mile 12. I mean really, there was only a mile to go. But at mile 12 we entered a tunnel that spat us out onto the FDR. Now for some reason, this tunnel slowed me down considerably. Maybe it was because it was dark in there or that U2’s “Beautiful Day” was playing on my iPod for a second time, meaning I had been out there so long that my playlist had restarted, or that I was just tired. Anyway, I couldn’t even get any comfort from the light at the end of the tunnel because it graced me with an uphill ramp. Ugh! At this point I didn’t care how long it was taking, I just wanted it to be o-v-e-r. But at that moment I saw a left turn up ahead. That signified the beginning of the end of the race. I pressed on. My spirits lifted after I made that turn. The narrow roadway was flanked with flags of various nations and there was a nice crowd of spectators cheering. I was reminded that this was a huge race that had been run by athletes from all over the world. When I finally made it to the turn onto Water Street, I saw that finish line and could hardly contain my excitement. I didn’t speed up … I couldn’t. But I raised my hands and thanked God and Jesus.

Approaching the finish line
Approaching the finish line

It was an amazing finish. I heard them announce my name and my BGR sister placed my medal around my neck. It was a great race. Next up … Power of a Woman Triathlon on April 12.

YEAR IN REVIEW

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It’s already the first day of 2014 and so I feel compelled to speed through my review of 2013. I’m just so ready to move forward and into 2014. So hang onto your seat here it goes.

I signed up for a mini triathlon but oops … couldn’t swim. I flailed, barfed and cried but managed to learn in time for the April triathlon. I more than doubled the allotted swim time limit but I completed the race … losing but winning. In addition to the tri, I ran a million races, most of them in June. There were three half marathons, four 10Ks, one five miler, one four miler and seven 5Ks. It was fun. I fainted, lost a toe nail and got beat by a 5 year old. But the best part was the cha ching bling. Check it out.

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It’s time to get a display rack and rescue those babies from the sock drawer.

Stay tuned for my 2014 New Year, New Goal.

UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Recap

I was a little nervous going into this race. Let’s face it, I’m nervous at every race. When I got up it was raining and so I wasn’t super excited about that. My rain gear consists of a brimmed cap, period. I had a banana and some water for breakfast. That’s as much as I can stomach before a race. You are not supposed to deviate from whatever you’ve been doing on your training runs when going into a race. However, I do most of my training runs on empty, which really can’t be a good thing. So, I sometimes I do the banana thing because I know I’m supposed to fuel the tank before a run. I’m still working on my running fuel.

Speaking of fuel, I tried out Bikram Yoga the day before the race. I knew that was a risky proposition but I’ve been wanting to do it for so long and I was up early enough to make it, so I went. It was cool, well not really cool because they heat the room to 105 degrees. But it was an interesting experience. Who knew stretching could be so strenuous? I was dripping sweat early in the session. Due to the yoga water loss, I tried my best to rehydrate during the course of the day and decided that I would stop at all the hydration stations during the race. Otherwise, would probably only stop at one or two for a 6 mile run.

The race was in my favorite place to run, [cue sarcasm] Central Park. So I knew there were going to be rough times ahead. I am so unfamiliar with Central Park that I never quite know where I’m going so I followed a guy who looked familiar with his surroundings. I checked my bag and started off to my corral and was greeted by this sight:002

Yes, an obscenely long line of porta potties. I could immediately hear angels singing and all was well in the running world. If you’re around runners long enough, you’ll realize that runners can get obsessed with porta potties … they are our friends. My personal feelings toward porta potties could be described as a love/hate relationship and so I was thankful that I didn’t need to make a visitation.

Race corrals sort the runners so the fastest runners are in the front and the slowest are in the back. My corral was so far back that they didn’t even put out a number for it. So, I went to the last corral and waited for the gun, which occurred right after the national anthem was sung. I think the singer of the anthem may have been having a bad day. That’s all I have to say about that. Then the race began.

When we finally crossed the start line, the woman in front of me saw family and/or friends cheering for her and decided to stop and cut across to greet them. There is always one. This happened during the Scotland Run but I have to say that this race was not congested like that one. Maybe they made the running lane wider. After getting by the greeter, I was off to a good start. I was feeling great and oops, I missed the first hydration station. It was less than a mile out and by the time I saw it I was too far to the right to cross over and safely get water. No worries, I was having a wonderful time and figured this is probably how Mo Farah feels when he’s running but decided to run closer to my left so as not to miss the other stations. Cat Hill was conquered and I caught the next hydration station and before knew it mile two was completed.

At this rate, I was looking at a PR. I was a little hot and sweaty and considered tossing my hat. No chance. I paid good money for that. But I felt like my form was good and was picturing myself bounding along like a gazelle and then … stop the presses. Before me was the ugliest hill ever. As I started to tackle it, I thanked God that I stopped at he last station. Then I realized that what I thought was the top of the hill was not, it just seemed to keep going and going. Then, I saw a woman about 50 meters in front of me throw up her hands in victory. At this point I’m dying and I’m thinking, “Does this idiot not realize that we still have almost four miles to go?” Then it dawn on me that she was celebrating the fact that she had finally reached the top of the hill. I was encouraged and kept going and sure enough I too was on top of the world. Yay, turns out I had just run Harlem Hill. I tried to enjoy the downhill but I was so wiped from the climb that even that seemed hard. I started to get my legs back and BAM, another hill. At this point, I realize I am sweating like crazy and I am not liking this race.

By the time I got to the third hydration station, I walked through it and made sure I got good drink. I had a hard time getting my running rhythm back, which is why I don’t like to stop a the hydration stations and if I do I try to keep running even if it is at a much slower pace. And of course there were more hills. I passed quite a few people who were walking. I was almost at mile four when I got to the fourth hydration station and I walked through but got most of the water on my face anyway because I just didn’t have the energy to focus on swallowing it. Mercifully the next mile wasn’t so bad but by this time I was so tired and was mad at myself for the whole Bikram yoga thing. I didn’t even see the five mile marker but I did stop at the fifth hydration station. I was probably delirious. I remember seeing the 800 meter marker and equating it to twice around the track. Quantifying that way just made it seem more attainable. When I finally crossed the finish line I started to feel light headed. I grabbed more water and wished it was Gatorade. A guy told me to take a bagel and said it tasted like French toast. I nibbled on the bagel. The guy lied. I managed to retrieve my bag from the baggage check and broke out my trusty chocolate milk. Bye, bye bagel. The milk was still cold and just a few sips hit the spot. For me, there is nothing like chocolate milk for post race recovery. I was still thirsty for Gatorade and remembered that I had a six pack in my trunk. I whipped out the GPS to figure out how to get out of the park and that’s when I realized that even after all of that pounding my achilles felt fine. Maybe Bikram wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I just won’t be doing it the day before a race. Turns out humidity was at 97%, so maybe all that sweating wasn’t from the Bikram class.

Next stop: THE BROOKLYN HALF MARATHON on May 18th … yes next week. And yes, I’m nuts.

IN OVER MY HEAD

Deep End

Let me start with something different … running. This past weekend I completed my first official 10K race at the Scotland Run in Central Park. I say my first official because I ran the 6.2 distance last fall in a 50 mile relay race. I was pleased with my time of 1:02:45 but felt as though I could have done better. The race course was very congested in places, especially the first mile, and there was a bottleneck towards the end. This was a little annoying. A few people actually stopped during the race to take pictures and one man started running backwards to look for and wave at his cheering family and/or friends. I had to run outside the cones quite a bit to pass people. I’m such a rebel.

I wasn’t feeling so rebellious when I actually got around to doing a brick workout outside. Yikes!!! It was not pleasant at all. I only had time to run for a mile and it was the most draining mile ever.

Now back to my favorite topic … swimming. There are now only ten days to go to the Mini Mighty Man Triathlon. And yes, I am still struggling with my swimming. However, I have made some major strides in that I stared down my fear and ventured into the deep end. In actuality, the “deep end” is the pool in which the triathlon swim will take place. My first visit consisted of me getting accustomed to being in deep water. One of my training partners encouraged me to let my feet touch the bottom of the pool. It was an interesting exercise because I was in eleven feet of water but had the hardest time getting down to the bottom. This helped to relax me a little because I realized that since I had to work so hard to get to the bottom of the pool, the chances of me accidently sinking eleven feet were slim to none. With that done, I was able to swim a few 25 meter laps in the deep end. Yay me.

Fast forward to tonight. The task at hand was to swim the length of the 50 meter pool without stopping. Until now, all of my training swims have been in pools with the length of 25 meters or less. Once again, I would be swimming at the venue of the actual triathlon, only this time the pool had been extended to 50 meters as it will be on the day of the race and it got as deep as 17 feet.

Before I even began, things started to go bad. I somehow managed to slip and fall in the locker room and banged up my knee. This actually sounds like the makings of a joke, “a lawyer slips and falls at the pool and then …” Only it wasn’t really funny because I whacked my knee and wound up on my back. Talk about an ugly fall. I guess it might have been funny if it wasn’t happening to me. Anyway, I hobbled out to the pool and eventually commenced my 50 meter mission, making sure I was swimming close to the wall at all times. It took me a few times to make it across without stopping. I bumped into the wall a few times and had some water choking incidents. After a few tries and a good pep talk from one of my teammates, I made it across without stopping but it was probably the most ugliest 50 meters known to man. There was some freestyle, some flailing, a little funky breast stroke and more flailing but I got to the other side. The lifeguard was watching me closely and looked like he was considering whether he should rescue me. After I caught my breath and received another inspiring pep talk from my patient teammate, I tried it again. It was a little more graceful this time and I made it across. Yay me again. Now, I just have to figure out how to do it like that seven more times in the inner lanes to complete the race.