Saddle sore

Me, Greg and Mads in downtown Austin.
Me, Greg and Mads in downtown Austin.

My brother came in town for Christmas and stayed for the cycling. He keeps a fixed gear here (at my folks), but decided to rent a road bike to tackle Austin’s hills better — the route from downtown to my folks house has some really gnarly hills.

He’s been trying to put in 40 miles every day.

The last time my brother came to town he shook his head at the condition of my bike. My little road bike had been neglected and abused — sitting out on the back porch, open to the elements. He carried it to a downtown bike shop and asked them to give it an overhaul. It came back looking shiny brand new and riding beautifully. But I’ve only had the opportunity to take it out once or twice. So the other day, my brother texted me that he was five miles away and he wanted me to pull out my bike and go for a spin around the neighborhood.

I hooked up the bike trailer and loaded Mads into it, then we took off down the street with Greg.

I wish I had taken photos — because it was a great day for a ride. I was surprised at how strong I felt. I know that I’ve been working out and running, but bike legs are not the same as cycling legs. And pulling the trailer made it a bit harder — in a good way!

We didn’t go that far — just 11 miles. We wound our way through my neighborhood, across into Allandale, down to Rosedale and around back home. I knew I would be saddle sore, because I did not bother to pull out my riding shorts.

The next day I ran 5 miles on the treadmill. I thought I would not be able to handle it, but once I got started, I felt good and strong. I followed up with a bodyweight workout.

Today I’m pretty sore. I’m scheduled to lift weights, which I think I’ll do once it warms up a little. But sleeping more has helped me recover faster.

I’m on vacation, and I’ve been relaxing (well, I’m working a little). Over the past week I’ve been trying to sleep longer. It’s made a difference.

I think I’ll take the kids out for a ride a little later — I don’t often get a chance to do that.

In just a few days the mad schedule begins again — early morning workouts, long days and late nights of working and trying to keep pace for the family. Right now, recharging and having fun are exactly what I need.

Me and The Rooster

I have a new neighbor. It’s a rooster.

I’m not sure he knows that I exist. But I sure know he does.

He lives with the neighbors who live right behind me. They’ve had a chicken coop for a while. They warned us a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, they did not share the news by sharing their eggs.

Instead, they sent a polite note telling us they thought he was a hen when they first brought him home as a chick, but as it turns out… he wasn’t. But, of course, they’ve grown attached to him and would like him to stay if no one objects. They asked us to let them know if he bothers anyone or wakes them up.

I think they said his name is Cal. And they said dogs bark louder than he crows. (Ahem. I have to wonder if they were referring to my dogs.)

Of course, The Rooster laid low for a couple of days. Then I finally heard him. The bird gets up earlier than I do — and that’s saying something! He usually gets up before 4am, gets quiet, then starts crowing again around 6am. One night he crowed at midnight!

Stupid bird.

At first I thought I was going to go crazy, and I planned to let my neighbors know he was a nuisance. But in the past few days, I’ve softened a bit. It’s not that he’s not a nuisance anymore, but he’s starting to amuse me. He’s inspired me in a way. I even shot a little video. (Excuse the darkness — it was EARLY.)

I think I might have a love-hate relationship with The Rooster. This could be fun… hee-hee!

My Workout World: Tools for mobility

PVC pipe and lacrosse ball
Two of my mobility tools

Keeping my muscles, joints and ligaments healthy is really important. Over the past several months I’ve added daily mobility, stretching and strengthening exercises to my routine. As a result, I’ve noticed I’m not as sore and uncomfortable after workouts as I used to be. Since I work out 5 or 6 times a week, often with no rest days in between Crossfit and Olympic Lifting, alleviating soreness is a must.

I think I overdid it Saturday, though. Some of the muscles in my left hip and glutes started tweaking while lifting weights at home. I should have stopped, but I kept going, and by Saturday night everything in that area was tight. I pulled out my mobility tools and worked on loosening the tension. I was still sore the next morning, so instead of my planned workout, I spent 30 minutes rolling out again. I’m hoping it will help so I don’t have to miss Olympic Lifting on Monday.

I’ve learned a lot about rolling out from the folks at Crossfit Central, the Mobility WOD, and my chiropractors over at Next Level Chiropractic. I bought a Trigger Point kit years ago after a seminar, but I rarely use it. My favorite tools were actually really cheap.

  • PVC pipe
    We picked up a 4-5 inch PVC pipe at Home Depot and cut it down to 2 feet. I use this a lot for major muscle groups, like my quads, lats, hamstrings, calves, etc.
  • Lacrosse ball
    I used to use the Trigger Point ball, but I found it was too soft. Tennis balls are also too soft, but lacrosse balls are perfect for digging in and getting those small areas. My chiropractors have me working on my TFLs (in my hips) every day, but it’s also great for pectorals, biceps, triceps, etc. I picked up a used Lacrosse ball at Play It Again Sports for only 99 cents – deal!

So what was the workout that has me spending extra time rolling out and stretching?

Back squats w/ 5 sec pause 50% 5×2, 55% 5×2, 60% 5×1 → 75/75/80/80/85
Snatch balance + OHS 3+3×4 → 55/55/60/65
Push press + jerk 65% 2+1×2, 70% 2+1×2 → 55/55/60/65
Snatch grip deadlift 3×4 (by feel) → 65/85/95/100
3 rounds: 200m run / 1 min rest

No, it wasn’t the deadlifts. I think it was the back squats. We still don’t have a rack, and my max clean is right around 85# – so I may be feeling the strain from cleaning the bar up and then pressing it over my head into position. I’m hoping to stay active today, keep my muscles from freezing up and becoming even more painful.

How do you know your limits?

I was at a social gathering over the weekend where I was asked about the Tough Mudder.

Several ladies gathered around me as I showed them my arms and told them about the challenge.

I intentionally kept my description nonchalant and short, knowing reaction would be mixed. My audience was SHOCKED — SHOCKED I say — that such an event exists, let alone that anyone would want to participate. One response hung with me.  “I don’t know why anyone would want to do that.”

At first I thought it was something about the remark itself that bothered me, but later I realized it was that I didn’t get a chance to answer.

I think Andy’s response would have summed it up well:

“How do you know your limits?”

I learned a lot about myself on Saturday. And I am a better person for it. Here are the top three things I learned:

  1. I am able to accomplish whatever I set my mind to. It might take time, but I have determination, and I don’t easily give up. When I set my mind to a task, I can be successful.
  2. I can ask for help when I need it. This was huge. I tend to be a loner, and I lean toward doing things on my own rather than asking for help. But on Saturday, I NEEDED help. I couldn’t have scaled those walls without it.  And I was grateful to each and every person who helped me.
  3. It’s OK to ask for help.  Again — huge for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and so used to people dismissing me, or because some subjects or activities aren’t immediately easy for me, but I tend to want to prove myself and not ask for help. But it’s OK. It doesn’t make me weaker. It actually makes me stronger.

Yes, I did walk away really beat up. REALLY BEAT UP. But as the Black Knight from Monty Python said, “It’s just a flesh wound!” I will heal.  And I will heal stronger. (Because I still have my limbs, unlike the Black Knight.

Is the Tough Mudder an insane challenge? Absolutely. Is it for everyone? Hell no.

My goals were to attempt every obstacle, overcome some fears and finish the damn thing, and I achieved them.  I’m really proud of what I accomplished, and no one can take that away from me.

Bruised and bloody… but I FINISHED

I accomplished a goal today.

I finished the Tough Mudder and I came home with mere bruises, cuts and scrapes.  No broken bones or more serious injuries. Don’t get me wrong… my arms and legs look like hamburger and I’m hobbling. But I didn’t sprain or break anything.  That’s an accomplishment.

The Tough Mudder was no joke. And I’m glad it wasn’t. I was so disappointed with the Diva Dash, I did not want to go through anything like it. But the Tough Mudder wasn’t anything like the Diva Dash. It was very serious.

We had to recite the Mudder oath at the start line. It was all about how the event is not a race– it’s a challenge. It’s about teamwork and camaraderie. And it’s very true.

I’m not going to list off all of the obstacles I went through. You can read the obstacles here. But I will say that I would not have made it through many of the obstacles without the help of others, especially anything that required scaling walls.

We had to scale walls about 4 different times on the course. Andy was there to help give me a boost, but others helped, as well. Once I was at the top of the wall, I was able to swing my body over and lower myself down. And, I swear, the walls kelp getting taller each time we encountered them. I think that last one was 15 feet.

There was a half pipe that we had to run up and pull ourselves to the top. I tried this one twice before the guys at the top managed to grab my hands and help me pull myself up. There were so many mud ponds, slogs and other muddy obstacles, I lost count. We slid down mud hills into water (sometimes icy cold water!) and crawled on our bellies under barbed wire over mud and gravel (ouch! my legs and arms are so cut and bruised!)

But there are 2 obstacles I did that scared the crap out of me and I’m so proud of myself for accomplishing them. The first happened early on — “Walk the Plank.” We scaled a tall wall – about 15 feet – and at the top we had to jump – about 15 feet – into a pool of water.

I stood briefly at the top going “Oh my God, oh my God” because I am very afraid of heights. One of the volunteers said, “Ma’am you have to jump, now!” So I did. I held my breath and jumped. It was scary. but I did it!

The second one I’m proud of myself for not just attempting, but also succeeding was called “Twinkle Toes.” It was 50 feet of balance beam over water, which was about 10-12 feet below. I remember telling Andy that I didn’t want to do it, but I stood in line and waited my turn, just like everyone else. When it was my turn, I just held my arms out and walked. The board (which was only about 2 inches wide) was warped and it swayed when other people on other boards fell off, but I managed to keep my balance and make it all the way across. I wanted to cry at the end, it was that hard for me.

The running part? Piece of cake. There was so much resting at the obstacles that the running was no big deal. However, Andy’s leg was bothering him and then he hurt his knee falling into the water on “Twinkle Toes,” so we walked the rest of the course as fast as possible.

I attempted every obstacle. I failed to accomplish just a few: I fell into the water while going across the water while balancing on a cable and holding onto a rope. I fell off the hay bales on the jumping hay bales. And I fell off the monkey bars into the water. Everything else I succeeded, including “Electro-Shock Therapy.” I didn’t even get shocked.

This was definitely a challenge. It wasn’t intense like a Crossfit workout, and at no point  did I feel like I couldn’t go on or that I needed to shore up my energy to make it through. But it was very long, and I was ready for it to be done about halfway through. I knew I had more in me, and I was determined to finish, so I kept going. It really was all about mental grit and determination.

I’m really glad I did this event. It was NO JOKE. And I was happy to earn my orange headband. I came home with lots of gear for me and the kids.

And I’m happy to be able to say: I AM A TOUGH MUDDER.

My oath for the Tough Mudder

Dear Big Mudder,

Tough Mudder logoI’m really intimidated by what I have signed up to endure tomorrow. (Texas-Central Tough Mudder).

I understand that this is a once-in-a-lifetime event and that I could potentially crush some of my fears.

It would be stupid to ignore my fears or pretend the Tough Mudder doesn’t scare me. I may have been preparing for the past several months, but I still don’t feel like I’ll ever be ready. So instead of pretending, I’m going to embrace my fears — celebrate them even — and I make the following vow.

I will focus on the present, taking each step one at a time.
I will face every obstacle with grit and determination.
I will attempt every obstacle.
I will not say “I quit.”
I will tell myself “I can,” rather than “I can’t.”
I will not whine.
I will treat my teammates and fellow mudders with respect and help when I can.
I will accept help when it is offered.
I will remember it’s about finishing the course, not how fast I go.
I will not cry until the end.
I will smile.

Sincerely yours,

Cindy Brummer
A humble mudder and member of Team Brummer

Intervals in the garden

Ever since I went back to work, I have neglected my wonderful vegetable garden. Less time plus insane heat left me with little motivation to spend time sweating, weeding and digging among the raised beds in our front yard.

Luke and Andy look at camera while sitting next to a garden bed
Fortunately for me, Andy has taken on the garden with gusto, and he’s managed to keep it alive through this long hot summer. He’s been more successful than I was, starting seeds in the house and transplanting them to the garden. His goal is to grow enough greens and other vegetables to feed not just our own insatiable appetite for vegetables but also donate to other families.

This morning, it was cool enough for us all to spend outside in the garden. Mads and I explored and watched as Luke and Andy mixed up soil and planted new seedlings in the garden. Hopefully those veggies will fuel our paleo meals!

I took advantage of the cool temps this morning, too, with some interval sprints before dawn. I was nearly done before the kids woke up, but they managed to entertain themselves for a little while so I could finish.

8 x 200m
5 x 50m

200s – 1:11 / 1:09 / 1:10 / 1:09 / 1:10 / 1:11 / 1:11 / 1:12
50s – 11 sec each sprint

I also did core training this morning.

3 sets: 5 flags / 6 deadlift twists (each side) / 15 supermans / 8 DB twists (each side)
1 min plank hold

I could get used to these cooler temperatures. It’s been such a relief after that crazy and very long summer.

Shameless fundraising for FGB6

FGB 6 - 9/17/11I really hate fundraising.

It’s not that I am against causes and stuff like that.  I’m happy to give.  But asking people for money really makes me uncomfortable. Every year I sign up for at least one (usually more) event that requires me to beg my friends and family in person or via social networks and blogs to give me money so I can hopefully make a difference.

I guess you can see where this is going.

I’m doing Fight Gone Bad 6.  I’ve joined my gym’s team. I know several people who are also doing this even on September 17, and they’ve already been on Facebook, begging for money.

Look.  Here’s the deal. The folks who run Fight Gone Bad 6 have pledged to fund college scholarships for ALL of the children who lost their fathers in the recent helicopter crash in Afghanistan.  That’s 30 scholarships.  Plus, funds raised will also go to benefit CrossFit Kids (which my Luke is a part of!), Camp Patriot and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

That’s where the money is going. All are amazing causes.

I did this workout in 2009, took 2010 off to give birth, and now I’m back.  I’m really looking forward to it.

I have to raise $150 in just a few weeks. (September 17, 2011.)  If you read my blog, you know I’m serious about participating.  I would love for you to donate to me, even just a few dollars.  Every little bit helps.

I also commit to NOT begging. But I hope you will help lift some of the monetary burden off my shoulders.

So if you have the inclination, please head over to my fundraising page to donate.

Thank you for your consideration.

My Fight For Air (and busting out some WODs)

Saturday morning was the Fight For Air Climb.

I felt half-hearted about this event, since I didn’t know anyone else who was doing it and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.  But two people donated money for me to climb, including one of my best friends, so I kinda felt obligated to follow through.

It was actually chilly Saturday morning, and since there was a whole lot of standing around, it was kind of uncomfortable.  But the people on my team (whom I had never met) were really cool, and it made the time pass by much more quickly. My team (Relentless Boot Camp — which is run by Crossfit Central) led some warmups, and then we managed to get to the front of the line for the climb pretty quickly.  They let groups of 2 and 3 go up about every 2 minutes.  We started from the street level entrance to a stairwell in the Frost Bank Tower in downtown Austin.

I had been nervous that I would need to slow down or stop, but that turned out not to be necessary.  In fact, I was well-prepared for the climb without even training.  I took the first 10 or so flight two steps at a time, then I settled into a fast step-at-a-time climb most of the way — running a flight or two as I went.  I climbed 31 stories — about 60 flights of stairs — to the top.  It felt like it flew by.

I was feeling fine at the top — a little shaky in my legs, but otherwise OK.  At the bottom ( everyone took the elevator down), I felt some burning in my lungs, and I coughed a bit — which was the point.  You’re supposed to understand the challenges of breathing problems.

But when I got to the bottom I also realized I was supposed to pick up a chip timeer.  Which I hadn’t done.  D’oh.  No official time for me.  I could have kicked myself.  It was my first even where the chip was separate from the bib, so I didn’t even think about it.  Sucks.

I know I was done in under 10 minutes.  I estimate it was around 8 minutes.

Did I like this event?  Yes.  It was a little weird and running behind, but otherwise well organized and well planned.  I think I might do it again next year if they offer it.

I still wanted to do a WOD with Andy on Saturday, so we did a retest of on we did back on April 23.  I wrote about it here.  My goal was to beat my previous time, and I ended up blowing it out of the water.

3 rounds
200m Farmer carry (2-25# DBs)
25 Russian swings (1 pood KB)

Time 12:50

We started off the evening with some strength work.

Push Press 3-3-2-2-1

Results: 65-70-75-80-85

There wasn’t anything remarkable about my results — I did the exact same weights as last time.  Maybe next time I’ll do more.

Sunday morning I went for a run with Jenny for the first time in weeks.  It was so nice to be out on the trail again.  We had tons to catch up on, and we started off really strong.  But Jenny’s been sick, we wwe walked halfway around our usual loop.  No matter — the girl gossip time was well worth walking.

After I got home and had breakfast, Andy and I headed out to the backyard for a workout.  It was nice to exercise in some BEAUTFiUL weather.

We started with strength:

Overhead squat

Results: 50-55-60-65-70

I think that’s a PR for me!

Then we did another retest (it’s been a weekend of testing!).  And yet again — I blew my previous time/score out of the water.

AMRAP 12 min
3 Handstand pushups
6 Power clean (75#)
9 Box jumps

Results: 7 rounds + 3 HSPU + 6 Power cleans (compare to 3-31-11)

Wow — I guess I’m strong, because I certainly am not more rested.  Speaking of rest, I’m already up way too late.  I better get my butt to bed.  G’night!