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My First “Murph” June 2, 2015

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When I visited my cousin in Chicago recently, he gave me a hard time (in the most loving way possible, of course) for talking about CrossFit so much.  As much as I try to keep that sort of thing under control, I’ve started to realize that the reason for all of the CrossFit talk is that it constantly inserts itself into your life and puts things in perspective.  Prime example?  My first Memorial Day Murph.

I knew that CrossFit did “hero workouts,” but I hadn’t yet encountered one until a few weeks ago.  We were doing a WOD my coach called “interval Cindy.”  He took the regular Cindy workout – a 20-minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats – and broke it down into 5-minute intervals, after each of which we got one minute to rest.  I wound up getting through 14 rounds, and I really enjoyed the workout.  So, coach said that if I liked Cindy, I should come out for Murph on Memorial Day.  When I looked it up later, my jaw dropped: Murph consists of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and then another one-mile run, all for time (meaning, as quickly as possible).  Holy cow!

Then, it occurred to me – coach wouldn’t have told me to come out for Murph if he didn’t think I could do it.  Right?  Sure, I would have to scale it – I don’t have a real pull-up yet – but could I do it?  The more I thought about it, the more I felt like I could do it, and that I really wanted to prove that to myself.

Learning about the workout wasn’t enough for me – I had to learn about Murph himself.  After all, the hero workouts are named after fallen soldiers and first responders, so what better way to motivate myself than to understand more about Lt. Murphy and his ultimate sacrifice?

memorial-day-murph

Rather than trying to paraphrase, here’s the best information about Murph:

http://www.navy.mil/moh/mpmurphy/

Clearly, Lt. Murphy’s actions during Operation Red Wings were more heroic than anything I will ever accomplish.  As I got ready to head to the box on Memorial Day, I knew that keeping Murph in mind was the only way to focus my energy, complete the tough workout, and honor all of those who gave their lives in service to this country.

After some stretching and strategizing (I decided to break up my Murph like interval Cindy – 20 rounds of 5/10/15), we were off – the first mile didn’t feel super fast, but when I got back up to the box, I saw that only 8:30-ish had gone by.  I started in on the ring rows, push-ups, and squats – and I had set up a little squat station (consisting of a wall ball atop a 45-pound plate), so my form wouldn’t suffer when I got tired.  The first 5 rounds flew by – there was so much activity, and the coaches were all cheering us on, so it was a chaotic but encouraging environment.  Once I got to rounds 10-15 or so, I started to really “feel the burn,” as they say.  The push-ups were starting to get very challenging (everyone said that would be the case), and I had a pesky crampy stitch thing in my side.  I kept thinking about Murph, certain that a lousy little side stitch wouldn’t have even registered for him.

When I finished round number 20, I grabbed my sunglasses and headed outside.  I tried to run, but my legs just wouldn’t cooperate.  So, I decided to walk quickly for a lap or two until my muscles loosened out from all of those squats.  My first half mile was pretty slow, but then I knew I was almost to the finish line, so I tried to go as fast as I could.

I knew that I had lost some time during the workout, so I had no idea what I was going to see on the clock when I got back upstairs.  When I yelled “time,” I got super excited – I had finished in 56:53!  Not only did I finish the Murph workout, but I did it in under an hour.  Yippee!

I am so proud of everyone who participated in the workout – it really brought an added sense of purpose to the Memorial Day weekend.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to complete 100 real pull-ups, and who knows?  Maybe I’ll eventually be able to do the workout while wearing a 20-pound vest, which is technically the full Rx.  The greatest part about CrossFit is that it makes anything seem possible, as long as you are willing to work hard and push yourself.

And in my mind?  That’s worth talking about.

Progress April 20, 2015

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Noun:

* movement forward or toward a place

* the process of improving or developing something over a period of time

Progress is one of those funny words – based on its definition(s), it is a completely positive concept.  But somehow, in this time and place in which attention spans are short and instant gratification is the goal, progress has been belittled.  Just think about it – if you asked someone how they were doing on a task, you’d be less than thrilled if they said “I’m making progress” (instead, you’d probably hope to hear that they were finished so you could move on to the next thing).

I’ve learned a lot about how to be proud of progress by doing CrossFit.  More importantly, I’ve started celebrating even the smallest steps in the right direction – progress doesn’t have to be monumental to be meaningful.  When I started going to the box, I couldn’t do a proper push-up, and the thought of lifting weights was enough to send me into a panic.  Now, after 2-3 months (of 3x weekly workouts), I am still (usually) the slowest/least talented athlete in the room, but I am better than the day before.  Or, as my husband told me when I got started, “CrossFit doesn’t get easier – it just starts to suck a little bit less.”  Ha!

stronger-than-yesterday

So…what are you doing to be stronger than yesterday?

Seriously, Mother Nature??? March 28, 2015

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winter-spring-clothing-closets-seasonal-ecards-someecards

This blogger is dreaming about maxi dresses, taking my dog swimming, strappy sandals, running outside, and patio drinks.  How about you?

Cross(fit) my heart, hope (not) to die March 9, 2015

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Over the years, I have tried a lot of different exercise methods and classes and programs and whatnot.  I always attempted to be open-minded, but the one genre I never warmed to was the boot camp/CrossFit style.  Even though my husband loved his experiences, I chalked that endorsement up to his military background – after all, having been in the Air Force, he was used to being yelled at and “motivated” to action in less than positive ways.

When we moved to Hill East at the end of 2014, we noticed that there was a CrossFit studio less than 3 blocks away from our house.  Since we had fallen very much out of shape, and since the convenience factor was high, I finally relented and signed us up.  You know what?  I am woman enough to admit when I am wrong…and I was definitely wrong about CrossFit.

CrossFit Inc. defines itself as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains.”  Whiiiiiich basically means that you do a little of everything!  The hour-long workouts are intense and can include everything from jump ropes to indoor rowing machines to barbells to resistance bands, and everything in between.  Oh, and speaking of the workouts, there is some CrossFit lingo to know – for example, “WOD” means “workout of the day,” which is only one component of the session (the highest-intensity component).  There’s also generally a warm-up, a skill development segment, strength work, and some stretching.  It’s a lot of work for one hour, but it’s varied and interesting and slightly different every time.  CrossFit facilities aren’t called gyms, they’re called “boxes” – and each box has its own personality.  Thankfully, I found a box that is small, encouraging, and fun!

The great thing about CrossFit – which is one of the major things I didn’t know – is that it is scalable.  I thought you had to be a super weightlifter, or be able to do 300 pushups without a break, to be able to handle CrossFit.  But, thankfully, that’s just not true.  The components of each workout have a prescribed (or Rx) level, and then there’s always an option for less than prescribed (or Rx2).  Can’t even do Rx2?  That’s okay, too – you just do what you can and try to push yourself to YOUR limits.  It’s competitive, but in the right way (for me, at least) – it encourages me to compete with myself.  It’s nice to be able to see improvements in your time/reps after you have practiced movements for a while.

Right now, we’re pretty routinely attending CrossFit 2-3 times a week, and hopefully soon we’ll be able to bump up to the full 4.  Regardless, it’s safe to say that this CrossFit convert will be WOD-ing for a long time to come.

Who else out there does CrossFit?  What do you like best about it?

keep-calm-and-crossfit-workout-training

Gotta Love the Globes January 12, 2015

Posted by bettyjoan in Pretty.
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Much to my husband’s dismay, award season has officially kicked off with last night’s Golden Globe Awards.  I found the show itself to be pretty flat (minus George Clooney’s speech – could he be any more gosh darned adorable?), but there were some noteworthy fashion moments on the carpet.

Couples were really knocking it out of the part last night – here are some of my favorites –

Legend PaceyTatum

I mean, how cute are these lovebirds?  And Pacey Witter all grown up?  Rawr.  Diane, you are a lucky lady.

George and Amal also looked great – NO ONE rocks a tuxedo like Mr. Clooney.

Clooney

My overall favorite look of the night had to go to Naomi Watts – Ah. May. Zing.  That necklace!  The color of the dress!  So gorgeous.

Naomi

Seriously, the necklace…WANT.

necklace

Lorde and Emma Stone both wowed me with their twists on pantsuits.

Lordejumpsuit

And Emily Blunt was absolute perfection in her white criss-cross dress, braided up-do, and gorgeous turquoise-colored earrings.

Blunt

Agree?  Disagree?  Did you miss Joan Rivers as much as I did (I think I’ll miss her even more during the post-show Fashion Police episode – sniff)?  Sound off!

 

Grocery shopping in the modern age December 22, 2014

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When we chose our apartment, a big factor was how convenient it was to the grocery store.  The Harris Teeter is literally right downstairs (we don’t even have to go outside to get there, if the weather is crummy), so I’ve gotten pretty spoiled.  Unfortunately, when the store was closed down by the health department recently – yes, you read that right – I was faced with the challenge of finding another option.  Thankfully, this article had recently stoked my curiosity about some new delivery options in town, so it was a perfect opportunity to test some of them out.

First, I decided to grab some basics from Safeway via Instacart.  Instacart gave me the option of about 6 nearby grocery stores, including Whole Foods and Costco (for which you do NOT have to have a membership, as it turns out).  You can get things as quickly as within one or two hours, but I chose a later delivery window since I wasn’t in a huge hurry.  The website is super easy to navigate, so ordering was a breeze.  Some items were marked up, but overall, I didn’t feel like I was getting completely robbed (especially considering the time and energy I saved).  My delivery was free, but it generally ranges in the $4-$10 range, depending on how quickly you need your items.  My courier texted me a couple of times with questions about substitutions, and I appreciated the desire to get things right.  I can definitely see myself using Instacart for parties or other time-sensitive moments, but I like grocery shopping too much to give it up completely.  :-)

Then there’s Postmates.  Postmates isn’t just groceries – it basically turns every store and restaurant in the area into a take-out joint.  When I used it first, I opted to get some of my favorite items from Trader Joe’s.  The actual items on the app (no website here – you have to do everything from the phone) were more limited than in the store, but it saved me a schlep to TJ’s, which was awesome.  There is a delivery fee (which varies) and a 9% service fee, so the charges can add up.  But…Shake Shack, delivered straight to my door?  Worth the premium, especially when I’m in the middle of a move and have no plates or silverware.

Next service to try – delivery booze from Klink!  Anyone tried it?

And the leaves that are green turn to brown November 16, 2014

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Fall in DC really is beautiful, though it tends to be short-lived.  It seems like this fall will be no exception.  Frankly, it didn’t even feel like fall until right around Halloween, and then this weekend, less than two weeks before Thanksgiving, felt more like winter.  The leaves are in big crunchy piles on the sidewalk, it is dark when I leave for AND come home from work, and folks have broken out their scarves and knee-high boots – so, I guess there’s no mistaking the season.

Some animals prepare for winter by hoarding.  In our household, we seem to be doing just the opposite – we have decided to buy a house, so we are thinking about what we can eliminate, reduce, and streamline.  While that process unfolds, I find myself looking and feeling a lot like the many neighborhood squirrels – like I have packed on extra heft to protect myself from the impending cold.  I have been exercising less and less – not only because other things have been more pressing, but also because I seem to have lost the inherent drive to better my body.  Is it unreasonable to think I might get that drive back during the short, cold days of winter?  Past patterns do not give me hope in that regard.

In any case, I will write here when I can – about training, yes, but also about life in our new neighborhood, as we put down real roots and try to become a part of a larger community.  Perhaps our neighbors will turn out to be running partners, or I will find that biking to work is more rewarding on the new route.  Who knows?  Anything is possible.

And, of course, there is always spring to look forward to…

RTR Unlimited review September 22, 2014

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My love for Rent the Runway is well-known.  So, when they announced their “Unlimited” service, I was one of the first people in line.  Basically, you fill your queue with as many items as you like from their VERY impressive selection of accessories (handbags, scarves, jewelry, sunglasses, jackets, FUN!!!), and they send you three at a time.  Shipping – both ways – is free, just like with their dresses.  You can keep the pieces as long as you want.  Whenever you want to return 1, 2, or all 3 items, they will send you others from your queue to replace them (so you always have 3 items).  The monthly fee is $75, and you can cancel anytime, as long as you return all of the items you have first.  Simple!

Here’s what I got in my first shipment:

DNJPE7

These Dannijo earrings were super fun, but VERY heavy, and not particularly practical for everyday wear.

ODLRPE26

These OScar de la Renta earrings were awesome – the only downside was that they were clip-ons.  Then again, they’re a lot lighter than they look, so it wasn’t a big deal.

GNYHNB2GNYHNB3

I think the Gigi New York satchel was the best part of the delivery.  It fit all of my stuff (and I have a LOT that I carry in my everyday bag), and the leather looked and smelled so amazing.  It was obviously a very high-quality item – in fact, it was brand new with the tags when I got it, so I’m pretty sure I was the first renter to get it!  I didn’t want to give it back.  :-)

I kept the bag for longer than the earrings, even taking it on my West Coast adventure this summer.  Then I got my next bundle:

AVMBRC12 LFPE8 ODLRNK12

This grouping wasn’t my favorite.  The bracelet is awesome (I still have it, actually), but the earrings were kind of blah and the necklace arrived damaged.  But, in true RTR fashion, I got replacements very quickly and without any extra hassle on my part.

I hope I continue to get handbags (I haven’t gotten any since the first one), since it’s nice to spruce up that part of my wardrobe without having to commit to a large purchase.  I like the jewelry as well, but I have plenty of accessories already in my closet.  Hopefully, I’ll get to try out some of the jackets during the fall – if I keep getting a good variety, and if RTR keeps adding more goodies to their vaults, I imagine I will continue to be an Unlimited member.

Has anyone else tried the service?  What did you think?

How to have a Ragnarly, dude! relay race September 5, 2014

Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Running.
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Today, we are a week out from Ragnar DC – squee!  I started re-reading posts this morning from Ragnar TN back in 2012, and it got me all excited for the fun that is to come.  But, I also started getting a little anxious about logistics and packing – after all, there are a LOT of moving parts when you’re talking about 12 people, 2 vans, 200 miles, and zero sleep.

There are oodles of blog posts about how to pack for Ragnar.  When I was prepping for Tennessee, the chronic overpacker in me got really frustrated – you want to have everything you could possibly need for 3 different “mini” races (and for lots of potential weather scenarios), but you also can’t take up so much room in the van that you don’t have any left for the really important stuff (otherwise known as your teammates and a cooler).

So, rather than put together yet another in-depth packing list, I’m going to talk about the things you probably DON’T need to bring to Ragnar…

Lounging/non-running clothes – Okay, so I’m not talking about clothes for partying after you finish the race, or PJs for in the hotel the night before the start.  I’m talking about clothes for DURING the race, after you have completed one of your legs and the waiting begins.  While I definitely recommend bringing three separate running outfits, there is no point in putting on “regular” clothes in between.  You probably won’t have time anyway.  Make sure you have flip flops or slippers or other comfortable non-running shoes, and call it a day.

Enough food for a small army – Yes, you will definitely eat a lot during Ragnar.  But, not everyone likes the same things, and even ONE person’s tastes will vary during a 30+hour period (for example, I liked pumpkin muffins at the beginning of Ragnar TN, but I had eaten so many of them by the end of my second leg that I never wanted to see another one as long as I lived).  Make sure you have plenty of hydration, and sure, pack some portable and chewable fuel, but remember that you can usually stop for food at least once or twice during the journey.  I distinctly recall both a Zaxby’s AND a Cracker Barrel stop during our van’s off time.  At the time, they were both the best meals I have ever had.

Full size pillows – They take up a LOT of room.  Chances are, not everyone will be sleeping at the same time, so you could always use folded up sleeping bags and/or blankets to rest your head.  If you have one of those airplane neck pillow things, all the better – it’s small, and it works for both sitting up sleep AND laying down sleep!

Your pet – I love my furbabies as much as the next person.  Probably more, come to think about it.  But as much as you don’t want to take Fifi to the kennel while you run around the countryside, do the humane thing and spare your dogs/cats/cockatoos the misery of being crammed into a van with a bunch of crazy, delirious humans.  Plus, you don’t want your best buddy breaking loose when one of your teammates, in a sleep deprived haze, opens the door to the van before you’ve actually put the leash on.

A bad attitude – Seriously, just don’t.  Ragnar is FUN!!!  If you come expecting to have a good time, meet some cool people, and enhance your existing friendships, you’ll be in great shape.  The opportunity to be tired and cranky will most certainly present itself, but don’t take the bait!

Anyone else have tips on what not to bring?

Running Up(s) and Down(s) September 4, 2014

Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Running.
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The downer is that I decided not to run the Marine Corps Marathon this year (booooo).  As thrilled as I was to win a spot in the lottery, the summer turned out to be way busier than I was anticipating, and training fell by the wayside.  There was no way I was prepared to run 26.2 miles, and I didn’t want to do it unless I could really do it well.  The good news is that MCM has a deferral program, so I paid a fee to guarantee my entry in the 2015 race.

So, what am I going to do to ensure that 2015 doesn’t go the way of 2014?  First things first, I had a consultation with a personal trainer last night – I think losing some weight and incorporating strength training into my fitness routine are both excellent ways to make progress towards next years race(s).  The workout was TOUGH, and I am still hurting today, but my miserable excuses for push-ups demonstrated that I need to get some expert help and not just focus on cardio.

Second, I am going to try to have a BLAST at Ragnar DC next weekend – hopefully, that will kick-start my get-back-in-shape campaign and renew my love of running and fitness.  Even reading some blog entries and recaps of last year’s DC Ragnar has started to get me in the spirit – so look for a post in the near future about things I am looking forward to (and hoping to do differently) during my second relay experience!

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