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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?


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


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.


Running out of time December 30, 2013

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling, Races, Running.
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When I sat down and began reflecting upon 2013 in terms of training and racing, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed.  Sure, I ran a half-marathon, a ten-miler, and a 10K, but they were some of my slowest races to date.  AND I backed out of the triathlon I was planning on doing in April.  I gained weight.  I didn’t incorporate exercise into my daily routine in as meaningful a way as I had in the past.  Overall, I felt like the year was…I don’t know…wasted?

Then again, this past year, I moved my career and my family and my LIFE to Washington, DC.  That kind of change is bound to take the wind out of your sails for a while, right?

On balance, while I may not have made as much progress in my training as I would have hoped in 2013, I think I made some important strides.  I joined Team In Training in DC and started working to build a new legacy of fundraising and racing for an amazing cause.  I started cycling to/from the office, when the weather permitted.  I definitely led a more active lifestyle in general, since we rarely drove and did a lot of wonderful walking with our pupster.

And, when I did run, I got views like this:

Wash Mon

And this:

photo 2

And, of course, this:

photo 1

So, I guess I’ll take it.  I won’t write 2013 completely off, but I will definitely strive to improve in 2014.  I would love to run the Rock & Roll USA Marathon in March in under five hours.  I’d love to run a sub-two hour half marathon at the Nike Women’s Half in April.  I’d love to join some other area running groups and build my training AND social circles.  I’d love to up my cycling game, not only by biking more, but also by moving from my bikeshare bike to my road bike for everyday commuting.

What are YOUR training goals for 2014?

Sitting pretty December 25, 2013

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One of the funniest things about running is when you see your running friends under “normal” circumstances.  That is, it can be very disarming to see your marathon training buddies all spruced up and sparkly – after all, they have seen you in all of your sweaty, spandex-clad, ponytailed glory, and vice versa.  Who knew they were all regular people with real, non-wicking clothing???

I happen to love clothes and shoes and makeup and accessories, despite not having an unlimited budget for any of it.  I did, however, find some great websites and products this year, so here are my 2013 fashion and beauty picks!

Birchbox – Ever want to try new products without having to commit tons of bucks?  If so, Birchbox is for you.  For $10/month, they will send you 4-5 nice-sized samples at a time, based on your subscription preferences (for example, I don’t like hair products as much, so I get less of them and more of things like makeup and skin care).  I’ve gotten everything from nail polish to perfume to dry shampoo to facial cleansers, and everything in between!  In addition to just enjoying getting the box every month, I have actually found a few products that I now swear by.  My faves: Harvey Prince “Hello” perfume, Liz Earle cleanse & polish hot cloth cleanser, Vasanti Brighten Up! enzmatic face rejuvenator, and the whole Eyeko liner/mascara collection.

Putting Me Together – This blog was recommended to me by a work colleague, and I love checking it every day.  Audrey’s style is accessible but still very chic and cool, and I have gotten a lot of ideas about “shopping my closet” from reading her posts.

Rent the Runway – I cannot believe I haven’t used this service before now.  RTR allows you to rent designer frocks for a variety of occasions and for a fraction of the retail price.  Yes, you have to give the clothes back, but seriously – how often are you going to wear a formal or semiformal gown?  I ordered a dress for NYE (even though I have a backup dress in my closet) while they were doing a $20.14 (!!!) special.  It’s this one, and it gets here on Friday – hope it fits (usually, RTR allows you to get a backup size for free, but this dress was only available in one of my target sizes)!

Bumble & Bumble – Remember how I said I don’t love hair products?  Well, especially since I have been growing out a super short cut for what seems like forever, I haven’t spent much time on my locks.  As in, use hotel shampoo/conditioner (I travel a lot for work and have quite the selection) and never blowdry or style.  I got to a point where that just wasn’t doing anything for my overall look, so my stylist (more on her in a minute) recommended the Gentle and Rich lines from B&B, in addition to their Prep styling spray.  One word: GENIUS.  My hair looks and feels so much healthier, and the color stays a lot richer, longer.  I started out with sample sized bottles, but now I am all in and I buy the HUGE pump bottles.

Trim Salon (Erin) – I got this referral from a friend whose hair I very much admire, and I am so very glad.  Erin is amazing!  Not only is she great with my hair (which can be challenging), but she is super fun to talk to.  The salon is small but very neat and chic, and I never feel pressured or rushed in any way.

Commando – Now that I am living in cold(er) DC winters, hosiery is an unavoidable necessity.  But man, tights are such a downer – they snag, they stretch, and they always seem to bunch and hug exactly where you need it the least.  Then, one day, I read a Buzzfeed article about great “beauty hacks,” and thus began my relationship with the best tights EVER.  Seriously.  They are comfortable and very well-made, and I don’t know how I’m ever going to wear any other tights ever again.  They are pricey, but they really do the trick – no lumps, no bumps, period.

As 2014 approaches, I want to continue spending the time and effort to express my personal style – I always feel better when I do.  I’m going to try to be more judicious with my purchases, making sure I am getting the most out of my existsing wardrobe AND only splurging on pieces that are timeless and well-made, and that fit my body and my personality.  I would also like to write a bit more about fashion and beauty – even though this blog was started to track my training endeavors, I really do believe that exercise is only one part of overall wellness.

What do you all think?

And now for something completely different! December 23, 2013

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So, it’s nearing the end of 2013, so that means it’s time for me to think about all of the things I accomplished over the past year (and to set new goals for 2014 – that part is way harder).  Since this blog is called “The Hungry Triathlete,” clearly I need to do some kind of training/racing-related recap – and I will – but I figured I’d also use this space to round up some end-of-year thoughts as they relate to other areas of my life.  After all, I think of this website as having a more general wellness focus anyway.

For today, I’ll hone in on the “Hungry” part of the name and revel in my best food experiences of 2013…

* Lazy Bear, San Francisco, CA – Since I didn’t do much traveling this year, our trip to California (to visit my sister and to run a half-marathon) was the only time we really got to splurge on a restaurant outside of our usual radius.  To be fair, we didn’t really splurge financially (the underground restaurant is my brother-in-law’s, and we were being treated), but from a culinary standpoint, this meal took the cake by a long shot.  Every course was thoughtful, whimsical, creative, beautiful to look at, and DELICIOUS.  And the food just kept coming, and coming, and coming…I don’t know if I have ever felt so full.  The experience itself was super fun as well, since it is communal dining with strangers who also love food.

* Fiola, Washington, DC – In addition to frequently visiting the bar at Fiola, we actually had a sit-down meal in the dining room when my parents were visiting over the summer.  It was some of the best service I have ever received – precise and professional, but not pretentious.  Food was fantastic.  The ahi tuna carpaccio was divine, as always (it is maybe my favorite dish at Fiola) – so beautifully presented and full of flavor.  Pastas were decadent.  The veal chop, while pricey, was a show-stopper – I mean, the presentation, the flavors, the sheer AMOUNT of food, it was all just astounding.  And who can pass up the bomboloni for dessert (hint: not me)???

* DGS Delicatessen, Washington, DC – Any restaurant whose tagline is “Modern Jewish Cookery” was bound to make my list.  One of my favorite dishes in the DC area is their Benedictburg, which is poached eggs over latkes with house-smoked salmon and sumac hollandaise.  So stupid good.  Their matzoh ball soup is legit as well.

* Boqueria, Washington, DC – I was very skeptical about a Spanish restaurant serving all-you-can-eat (and drink) brunch, but I was pleasantly surprised – the tapas are actually pretty darn authentic, AND tasty!  I dream about their pan con tomate and churros.  For $39 bucks, it is a great cure for what ails ya.

* The Big Board, Washington, DC – The Big Board is our Cheers.  When we roll up, the beers are already poured for us and the amazing staff are directing us to the specials they think we’ll like.  We happened upon it by chance, as a stop on a “beer crawl” earlier in the year, but it has become our go-to hangout (they even helped us host a fundraiser during happy hour).  In addition to treating us like rock stars, they have some AMAZING burgers and fries.  We’re there at least once a week, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon – waistline be damned!

* Tortas Frontera, Chicago-O’Hare Airport – Yes, I know, it is ridiculous that food from an airport is making my “best of” list.  But if you are ever laid over in Chicago, this is the place to go.  The milanesa sandwich, which is a crispy-crunchy chicken breast, pickled jalapeños, Chihuahua cheese, cilantro crema, and avocado, all pressed between a wide, flat bolillo roll, was made-to-order (you have to be prepared to wait 15-20 minutes) and delicious.  I also enjoyed the raspberry-prickly pear agua fresca.  My colleagues were definitely jealous!

I also had some home-cooking successes this year (most notably, re-learning how to cook in an apartment sized kitchen with an electric range), but probably my favorite food memory of 2013 is from when we were in Sonoma with some of our dear friends (we all rented a big house and ran the half-marathon together).  The weather was gorgeous, so we decided to cook instead of going to a restaurant.  I made a sweet pea and scallop risotto with fresh corn, along with a fresh green salad, and we ate al fresco with candles and starlight.  It was so much fun, and it reminded me how much sharing a meal with those you love can nourish your body AND your soul.

As far as goals for 2014, I want to continue to learn how to incorporate more (and more varied) produce into my cooking.  We joined a CSA in November, and that has gotten me off to a great start so far.

What about y’all?  Did everyone eat well in 2013, and what are you craving in 2014?

Okay, now I really am hungry…

Let’s Move! March 17, 2013

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The words “moving” and “movement” have been in the news a lot lately, what with the First Lady’s initiative to end childhood obesity through exercise and nutrition.  I’ve been using those same words quite a bit recently as well, though my context is somewhat different.  Because, you see, on February 23, I packed up a couple of suitcases and moved back to Washington, DC.

Of course the move was job-related, and I’m not going to get into those details in this forum.  But, I have been here for three weeks now, and I can definitely confirm that moving – the relocation kind, anyway – is one of the most stressful life events there is.  We are getting a lot of help from my employer, which certainly takes the anxiety down a notch, but between selling our house, finding an apartment, figuring out how to move the critters, and remembering little things like address changes and utility shutoffs and where in the goodness gracious we stored our important documents, it is enough to keep you up at night.

At this point, we are progressing as smoothly as we possibly can, with me and the cat here in our nation’s capital and husband and the pupster still in Atlanta.  I’m sure the rest of the process will flash before our eyes, and we will be one big happy DC family soon enough.  Until then, our race schedules will likely get tweaked and our training routines will probably suffer – and I don’t know what will become of this blog.  I hope to pick it up again soon, refreshed and renewed and race-ready for this new phase of our lives.

2011: A Run-Through January 1, 2012

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I know I probably should have written this “year in review” BEFORE the clock turned over to 2012, but I still think it’s worthwhile to look back and see what this past year has held in terms of my athletic pursuits.

At the beginning of 2011, I was preparing to run the Publix Half Marathon here in Atlanta, and it was to be my first big race since Chicago AND my first 13.1 with my husband (he’d never done a half before, and after watching me run Chicago, he decided it was time to get on the bandwagon).  Unfortunately, I broke my ankle in early March and had to watch from the sidelines as hubby completed his first half marathon.  Truthfully, I’m really grateful to have gotten that experience – it was so amazing to see him and cheer him on at different points on the course.

Once I was healed, we did a couple of smaller races together – the Floppin’ Flounder 5K (PR) and the infamous Peachtree Road Race 10K (PR).  Talk about two totally opposite races!  The 5K was a small race in Charleston (we were there for a wedding), and the Peachtree…well, everyone knows what a shitshow THAT is.  Both were beastly hot, so they had that in common.

The first race hubby and I ran together ended up being the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon, which was an absolute blast.  Not only did we PR, but we enjoyed gorgeous scenery (seriously, the race felt like it went by in a snap because the surroundings were so lovely) AND a post-race wine tasting festival.  The fact that the race was an excuse to hang out with my sis who lives in San Francisco was an extra special bonus.

In August, I decided to jump back into the tri world, and a girlfriend and I competed in the Tri to Beat Cancer in Athens, Georgia.  Considering how limited my swimming and cycling had been, the race went pretty well – and I was rewarded with a photo op with the great Vince Dooley!  I will always have a special place in my heart for triathlon, because it’s really how I got started with endurance events in the first place, but I think I’ll be focusing on running for a while – it’s just so much simpler than having to remember all that gear!

September was a big month, with the Bike MS at Callaway Gardens (more of a social event than a race, but it got me back on my bike at least) and a first for hubby and me – a 5K and a 10K in the same day, with PRs for both!  The courses were very tough, but it was a fun challenge and one that I’m glad we got to do together.

The last race of the year was the Savannah Rock & Roll Half Marathon.  Even though we PR’d, it was probably my toughest race of the year.  BUT, it was an incredibly fun race weekend, since we ended up renting a beach house with friends and having a terrific time.

So, that adds up to 2 half marathons, 2 5Ks, 2 10Ks, a sprint triathlon, a bike race, and a broken ankle.  I’d say it was an eventful year!

What does 2012 have in store?  Stay tuned to find out!