Great Twitter Row Race: Week One

MPC_RowRaceThe wall is in your head.

Surely you’ve said it before during physical challenges, “I hit the wall!”

Today was the first 2000m component of the Great Twitter Row Race for My Peak Challenge prep program 2016. Kim has a bye today because she’s doing the Princess Half Marathon at Disney this weekend, lucky duck.

On Tuesday she beat my 1000m time by a full 54 seconds. I knew that I was going to win by default today, but that didn’t seem to do much to ease my mind. I went in thinking “Kim is going to win anyway, so I’ll just do what I can.” This is backwards positivity. Yes, I can only work within my own limits but I basically started today’s challenge having already given up.

For the majority of the 2000m I was able to keep pace with my time from Tuesday, but suddenly just before the 1500m mark…I hit the wall.

The wall feels physical – a sudden onset of extreme fatigue, muscle pain, laboured breathing, energy running on absolute fumes. For me, my only hope of pushing through hinges on what is happening in my head. Today, my mind was working against me. When that moment came I thought, “I can’t” and it was my kryptonite.

I watched as 38 strokes/min dropped to 20, my estimated 10:05 finish time jumped to 10:30, 10:40, 11:00 and continued to climb – I completely gave up. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, only something to improve from.

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Final time: 11:30 (Yikes!)

I kept saying to myself, “If this was a powerlifting competition, I would own this!” – but it’s not. It’s The Great Twitter Row Race. The whole point is about taking the absolute weakest part of my overall fitness and pushing myself past my comfort zone to improve it and doing it with my friend Kim, who not only challenges me but encourages me.

I can, and I will. I may not be the fastest, but I’ll still be there at the finish.

The one on the exhale…part II

Asthma Story_0In my last post, The one on the exhale…, I spoke about my history of asthma and the frustrating judgement I feel when people immediately connect the limitations of my lungs with my overall physical fitness. As I mentioned in that post, I usually try to avoid doing cardio in public because of the embarrassment I feel looking weak and out of shape while struggling to keep up.

A coworker recently invited me to attended a new class that was starting up at the gym. She describe it as being a mix of spin and circuit training and I thought I might check it out because at least on a spin bike I don’t need to worry about falling behind. The class, which is mostly attended by experienced endurance athletes, is by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.

Don’t get me wrong, challenging is a great thing. The first couple classes we went through a nine-station circuit including kettle bell swings, ball slams, battle ropes, Bosu hopscotch and a slew of other things, mixed in with 15-minute sessions of intervals on the spin bike. I didn’t in any way feel strong throughout that 90-minutes, but I finished and felt accomplished for having done so.

This week, things changed a bit. The class was taken outside, which is something I had been dreading. All day at work I prayed it would rain so we wouldn’t have to do the class outdoors. Breathing outside is an entirely different scenario compared to inside. I suddenly have to contend not only with my usual exercise-related asthma challenges, but also with the environment. Allergens in the air, the wind, the temperature, humidity (or lack thereof) and a host of other factors all irritate the delicate bronchial lining of my lungs, leading to increased mucus production and airway inflammation.

The plan for the class was a trail run to a steep set of stairs, followed by stair sprints, some flat sprints then a trail run back to the gym for a spin session and a bodyweight circuit. I had kind of hoped there would be at least one person in the class who was not a runner, like myself, and that I wouldn’t be the only person holding everyone back. The last thing I wanted was to draw attention to myself. Unfortunately, that’s what happened.

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The one on the exhale…

asthma_inhalerPicture yourself at the gym, on a treadmill next to someone else. The person next to you doesn’t appear to be exerting that much effort but is red-faced, winded and wheezing. Most people’s first thought would be to assume that person is out of shape, maybe even lazy, especially if they happen to also be overweight. A lot of people avoid going to the gym because they assume these thoughts are rampantly playing through other people’s minds as they work out. For me, it’s why I avoid doing cardio in front of other people.

Anyone who knows I am a regular to the gym would assume that I am in shape, given that I have been a frequent gym goer for more than a third of my life. When I do cardio though, I become the dictionary definition of what so many people think of as “out of shape.” I wheeze, huff and puff and get red in the face while doing something as simple as walking on an incline or pushing the stepmill up to level 2.

Like 3 million Canadians and 15 million Americans, I am asthmatic.

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The one with a touch of guilt…

I’m a bit of a hypocrite.

I’m putting the finishing touches on a presentation I’m giving tomorrow and much of the sound advice I plan on giving to the audience are things I have been unable to do myself in the past couple of months.

The presentation is about social media marketing and is for those attending the WBFF seminar in Halifax tomorrow afternoon. I’m very excited about having the opportunity to share some of my promotions and public relations expertise with an audience but as I was writing down tidbits of wisdom I thought ‘wow, I suck’.

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Vb6: The start and the finish

Greetings Blogville.

Apologies for my absence. I’m certain it went completely unnoticed. LOL

In case anyone has forgotten (since it has been FOREVER) when I last wrote, I was still using the summer to play around with various styles of eating to see what works – and doesn’t work – for me. I had finished up my experimentation with Intermittent Fasting (which you can read about in the last couple of posts) and began the transition into Vb6, or “Vegan before 6”.

One of the valuable lessons I have learned over the course of the summer is that it’s really important to experiment to find out what works best for you. I also learned that there are plans that work for your schedule, plans that work for your body and plans that work for your goals. You may think that the last two are synonymous, but they’re not.

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IF: The Finale

I will start this post with a disclaimer – every person is individual and what works and doesn’t work for one person may not be the same for the next.

I see a lot of posts on social media these days relating to the way that people diet and train, making it out as though their way is the only way that works and the only thing you can do to achieve your goals. It’s just wrong. There’s plenty of scientific evidence to support a variety of different ways you can eat whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight or stay the same (and the same goes for fitness.) Ultimately, you have to go by trial and error to find out what works best for you and when you find it don’t be afraid to stick with it even if someone else says their way is better.

That’s part of the reason I have dedicated this summer to experimenting with different meal plans, different styles of eating because I don’t feel as though I’ve found the diet that best suits me. Yes, some of them have been effective but I wasn’t happy on them so it wasn’t something I wanted to stick with for the rest of my life. Regardless of what my goals are for this year or the next, I want to be fit and healthy for years to come and that means finding something that I can stick with both now and 25 years from now.

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The one about the show…

The time has finally come. Tomorrow is the big day!

I am full of anticipation, waiting to see my beautiful Team Fit Starts Here teammates hit the stage at the WBFF Nova Scotia Championships tomorrow morning. Even though I’m not competing I still feel like I’ve come on this journey with them, listening to their stories, reading hilarious texts about the less than desirable body changes that come along with the positive ones and feeling like even though I’m not going to be standing up there next to them that I am still part of the team.

I won’t lie and say I didn’t deal with some jealousy woes shortly after my decision to not compete. I am only human. At this point though, I don’t feel anything but elation. I’m not their coach and they did all the work but I still feel an unusual sense of pride when I see how far they’ve all come these past couple of weeks. Maybe it’s because I know how hard they’ve worked and I know there’s been struggles along the way and I know, at times, they were punching well above their weight (at this point, you can take that quite literally – tiny waists everywhere!)

Without a doubt I know that I’ve met some of the women that I’m going to be friends with for many years to come through this process and, while I know that web will only grow larger over time, there will always be something special about the originals.

With that, I want to wish Abbie, Jenna, Jill, Jade, Cora, Lindsay and Stephany the best of luck tomorrow. (I know it’s bad to wish good luck but saying break a leg seems just as risky when you consider how many pairs of six-inch stripper heels are involved.) You all look beautiful and although only one person can win the trophy, you’ve all won the first stage of the contest – getting up there. Good job. <3