becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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there’s no crying in powerlifting!

i’m currently sitting in the airport, waiting to catch a 7am flight for a speedy day trip. since friday is the day i usually squat with my coach, we moved my session up to last night. which meant skipping wednesday’s rest day and doing thursday’s double instead.

even with my right quad still a little rough around the edges (i’m unbelievably thankful that our boss at the gym bought one of these for the trainers to use/me to sneak when the trainers aren’t using it) Week 3 of STV had me feeling great. my body fat is dropping and im putting on noticeable size in my shoulders and width to my back.

last night i showed up at 8pm to squat. we had been doing sticking point/1.25 squats for the past three weeks. to start Week 4 of STV we were going back to, as my coach calls it, “R.A.S.” – Regular-Ass Squats.

warm-ups felt good and we jumped from open bar to 95# to 135# without a problem. less than a year ago my max squat was 130# – i was waiting for the day when i could squat wheels (the 45s). now that’s my second warm-up after open bar work.

we hit 165# for a triple and it felt super, super solid. i belted up and we hit five triples at 185#. everything felt light and fast, i’m getting much better at driving into the bar and keeping my chest up, and i’m actually (finally!) getting some decent bounce out of the hole.

i looked up and caught myself in the mirror as i was getting under the bar and had to squint for a second. i look so different from the person i’m used to. my shoulders are significant, my quads are the kind you grow when you move heavy weight regularly – aka, feet apart, thighs together! – and my arms don’t hang at my sides any more because of the width of my lats.

never in a million years did i think i could look like this. never in a million years would i have imagined i would be standing in a fancy gym on a thursday evening putting almost 200# on my back and moving it around for easy triples.

and i am so grateful. sometimes i think about this sports and how much it has brought me and i get that little flutter in my chest and hitch in my throat like i’m about to cry out of sheer happiness.

five years ago, yoga saved me from myself when i was grasping at straws to finally get my eating disorder under control and out of my life.

two and a half years ago, running saved me from the avalanche of grief after my mom died.

and now…i don’t know what powerlifting is saving me from, but it’s sure doing something.


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throwin’ it back.

here’s a little throwback thursday for ya!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWEpu1qhKRM (sorry, i can’t figure out how to embed videos!)

this was nearly exactly a year ago, when my other yogi colleagues and myself made a promo video for campus recreation! here i am in my power yoga teaching glory. : )

i actually had a good chuckle watching this, and it’s crazy to think that was an entire year ago!

  • my hair, thank goodness, has grown out of that horrid awkward phase. (new friends, i donate my hair every couple of years. i was, and still am, growing out this particular chop.)
  • i was just beginning my training cycle for the derby half marathon when this was filmed. running ~3o miles a week; lifting minimally. you can tell the difference in my body – i’ve put on 10-15lbs. since then, my back is broader, my quads are bigger, and i’m slightly fluffier. : )
  • i hate my voice but i guess i’m stuck with it.

a lot can happen in a year! (just ask my hairdresser – she’s always marveling at how quickly my mop grows.)

i have some interesting/fun things on the horizon that i’m getting ready to post about. until then, finishing up these first few days back to the class and teaching grind, and getting ready for some heavy squats tomorrow!


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survival and spitting fire.

Don’t worry about your body.
It isn’t as small as it once was,
But honestly, the world needs more of you.
You look in the mirror
like you’ve done something wrong,
But you look perfect.
Anyone who says otherwise is telling a lie
to make you feel weak.
And you know better.
You’ve survived every single day,
for as long as you’ve been alive.
You could spit fire if you wanted.

- clementine von radics

first off, i love clementine von radics’ work, and if you haven’t heard of her, go here instead of reading the rest of this post.

something i haven’t talked about much (or at all) is how my shift in training, from distance running to powerlifting, has changed my body.

even when i was training for my half marathons i never had that endurance runner “look.” i’ve never been lanky and lean, that’s just not the way my body exists. i was seeded in the first wave (sub-8:00 pace) both times i ran the derby half, and looking around the corral as we were getting ready to go i remember thinking, “i am such a little brick compared to these people!”

then i got into powerlifting.

since july i have been training exclusively in powerlifting; i lift heavy most days of the week, and my cardio consists of lifting faster. i knew my body would change, but i have been honestly and consistently surprised by just how much.

without going into great boring detail, i have gotten bigger. there’s no sugar-coating it – my quads are bigger, my butt is bigger, my shoulders and back have gotten significantly broader.

and i’ll be honest, it’s been a huge adjustment mentally. i feel the most comfortable when i’m in the gym – partly because spandex is comfy (i know that seems counter-intuitive to some people, but if i could live in compression shorts and bro tanks, i would), and partly because when i’m in the gym throwing weight around, i don’t give two shits what i look like. all i know in that moment is i feel strong, and that’s all that matters.

but i definitely struggle in the mornings when i’m getting ready for work. we’re not in sundress weather any more; i’m stuck with a whole lot of separates, and they fit a lot differently than they used to. there are certain things i simply can’t wear right now – blazers that can’t contain my lats, jeans that have no prayer of holding my butt and thighs. and i’m not gonna lie, it’s tough. it’s difficult to intercept those thoughts of “oh my god i gained weight this is awful i’m fat” when they’re still – even after all this time – somewhat ingrained.

but then i get in the gym and i pull 250 pounds off the ground and think, “well shit, who cares if i have a big butt?! this body does some pretty damn cool stuff.”

so yes – my body is not as small as it once was. but when i think of all it can do, all it has survived, its size suddenly becomes irrelevant. and i know, damn well, that i could spit fire if i wanted.

(also, as an aside: fit and feminist linked my last post to their facebook page, and it generated a ridiculous amount of traffic last week. so thanks to the ladies there for the publicity, and thanks to all of you who visited and any of you who came back a second time!!)


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thoughts on taking up space.

when i decided to make the switch from distance running to powerlifting – even if just until my meet in october – i did so knowing that my body was about to change. i guess i didn’t realize how quickly and drastically that would happen.

my eating has also changed, which is a fun kind of adventure. in order to continue to make gains in my lifts, i needed to up my protein, and change my mindset from “long run give me ALL THE CARBS!!” to “meat lover’s omelet with a side of fruit, please.”

in the past month since i made the shift, three significant physical changes have occurred: (1) i gained about 5 pounds; (2) i lost a full percentage off my body fat; and (3) i experienced a quad/hamstring/butt expansion that i didn’t think possible in such a short amount of time.

i’m still adjusting to this newly changing body, whose changes are, i’m sure, just beginning. i walk differently – my legs are bigger and it has changed my gait considerably. my lats and upper back have expanded, giving me a hint of an hourglass silhouette (the kind one gets from lats rather than cleavage). i no longer have that long, lean look of a distance runner; i’m more compact, wider…i take up more space.

i certainly battle with this notion, this fact: i am bigger than i was in the not-too-distant past. and, more than likely, i will continue to get bigger as my training moves along.

and sometimes i panic.

“i don’t WANT to be bigger!”
“what if people don’t realize it’s MUSCLE and not FAT that i gained?!”
“can’t i just keep my runner’s body but lift heavy?”

i’ve spent a lot of my life equating “getting bigger” with some sort of failure, an outward sign that you’re unable to control your body’s very simple and basic desires and needs. and this is, of course, a load of bullshit. but it’s bullshit to which i faithfully subscribed for well over a decade.

old habits die hard.

last week i deadlifted 175#, EMOM (every minute on the minute) for 12, and then did a final set of reps to failure, where i pulled six. that’s six reps at 175#, after having pulled it off the ground 12 times prior to that. four weeks ago i struggled to pull that weight for a triple.

i’m getting stronger. yes, i’m getting bigger, but more importantly, i’m getting stronger. i can’t help but be excited by that.

there is nothing wrong with taking up space – more space than before or any space at all. it’s my body’s way of saying “i’m here, and i matter.” because i am. and i do.

 


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my first DNF, and why it was worth it.

i’m still in my race gear, minus my sneakers and bib. i wanted to get this all down before i lose my nerve or get distracted.

this morning was the bluegrass 10,000. it’s a big local race, been going on for decades. i was a seeded runner – fancy – and had been training since taking a week off after the derby half. my training schedule was lighter than for the derby, since my legs had been feeling pretty beat up, and even then i didn’t feel any pressure to stick to it too religiously. i was just running and having fun.

i’m going to skip ahead to this morning. the race started at 7:30. it was drizzling, moving quickly towards steady rain. not cold, just wet. the gun – this obnoxious ‘murrica-style rifle that was completely unnecessary – went off and so did we. i was shooting for a 45:00ish finish, so about 7:25 pace. my first mile was 7:12.

i never got a second mile split.

we got through the first loop and were coming down vine street, and where it veered left to become main street…i veered right, clicked off my garmin, and walked the half mile to my car.

just like that, i decided i wasn’t going to finish. 35$ and ten weeks of training. and for what reason?

i wasn’t having fun.

not just that – i was fucking miserable.

now, i know that there are athletic purists out there who are sitting, reading this and thinking smugly, “well she’s not a real athlete. a real runner would have pushed through the pain.” so let me clarify something for you all: i didn’t stop because of my legs; they felt fine. i didn’t stop because it was hard; let’s recall that i ran a 7:51-pace half marathon ten weeks ago. i stopped because, quite frankly, i race for the fun of it. and when it stops being fun, it’s no longer worth it to me.

i’m a type A perfectionist. i don’t quit things, as a general rule. so i knew that, when i found myself jogging off the course and felt not the slightest bit of regret or uncertainty, that it was the right move for me at that moment.

i could easily tick off a laundry list of reasons why i “didn’t feel like” running: it was raining, my stomach didn’t feel well (thanks, uterus/ovaries), my mind has been all over the place with grandma’s passing and my pending trip home, etc. etc.. but honestly, that’s all irrelevant. i stopped - i DNFed my first race – for the very simple reason that this thing that i love was suddenly not making me happy. and life is too damn short for that.

so yes, i could sit here and think, “i’m a quitter.” or i could sit back and reflect on the fact that, for the first time in my adult life, i am learning to listen to my heart. could i have pushed through it and run the entire race? of course. would i have been miserable for the entire time? it’s possible, sure. would that have been the worst thing ever? no, not at all. but when i take a look at why i run, and why i race…i run because it heals me; i race because it’s fun. the running part is not always fun – speedwork sucks, long runs wipe out half of your day, there are blisters and sore muscles and black-toe to contend with. but that’s just part of the package, and it’s a part i don’t mind very much at all.

for me, racing has always been fun. i love the energy, i love the anticipation and the excitement. i love training for a goal. but when it is no longer fun…for me, it’s lost it’s purpose in my life.

today i learned a really great lesson. on a day that’s all about freedom, i realized that i am, and have always been, free to decide when enough is enough. i’m sure i’ll race again, maybe in the near future, who knows. and i’ll probably go for a run tomorrow. but today, it didn’t feel right. and that’s okay.


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recap and precap.

in a nutshell: my grandmother passed away on friday and i have had zero interest in the internet machine. on thursday i wrote her what i knew was going to be the last letter i would ever send. i mailed it to her, but also emailed it to my uncle, who read it to her that night, because we were pretty sure she wouldn’t make it until it arrived on saturday.

we were correct.

i have cried so much since thursday that my eyelashes have been falling out.

my uncle asked if i would speak at the funeral, which is next friday.

i’m driving home on tuesday.

i have a race tomorrow and it’s supposed to be a complete washout but i don’t care. i’ll run in a monsoon. i need to just lace up and go.

i’ll be back, and i might even write something coherent and possibly witty or thought-provoking. but right now i’m going to cry some more of my eyelashes out as i head to bed for my early race-time tomorrow.


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a tale of two loyalties (and why i can’t choose just yet).

this has been brewing for about a week and it’s been driving me crazy to not write about it – but i wanted to make sure it was a go before i got all excited and things.

if you’ve been here for a while, you know that since my surgery i’ve gotten more and more into strength training and lifting. since, ya know, i couldn’t run. (or walk.) and now that running has been safely integrated back into my life for the past six months, i’ve had a really hard time reconciling two very different training styles and goals.

running has been incredibly important to me, especially since my mom died. it’s how i work through sadness, grief, confusion, general malaise…it has, in many ways, been a lifesaver.

lifting, on the other hand, has been this crazy fun journey. every morning i feel like i’m going to the playground – what can i add to my plan? can i go up in weight or reps? how am i going to get stronger today?

i started out barely able to bench an open bar; yesterday i pressed three singles at 105# comfortably. in november or so i deadlifted for the first time, at 65# – the bar and a 10# bumper plate on each side; last week i pulled 225#, albeit with the ugliest lockout in the world. i love conquering new things, new weights; i love seeing the growth and feeling strong and powerful.

one of my favorite parts of running is the actual training leading up to – my ultimate favorite – race day. i love getting to the start line and knowing that, at the end of the day, you’re competing with nobody but yourself and your PRs. and i love racing – the adrenaline, the high, the accomplishment, even the shitty finish line photos.

and i’ve started thinking – what about lifting? how freaking awesome would i be to get out there and compete in a powerlifting competition?

answer: pretty damn awesome, i’m sure. problem? (a) i have no clue if i’m doing this shit correctly; (b) my squat, ever since surgery, is beyond abyssmal; and (c) i wouldn’t have the first idea about how to go about actually competing.

which led me to my friend google. which led me to this guy. which led to a verbose and awkward email on my part, followed by a meet-and-greet this past monday. we talked all about my athletic history, my surgery, my goals. i told him i want to compete; we agreed to meet today.

he asked what i was concerned about; i answered that 156% that would be my squat. so of course, today we would squat.

in case i haven’t bitched about it sufficiently, my squat is a measly 130#. like, that’s my 1RM. poop on a stick. justin told me we would triple that today. i laughed.

i tripled 135# three times.

we worked out two kinks right away – bar placement (moved it down a smidge) and driving my knees out. i always thought i did, but when he told me to exaggerate it, 115# flew up like air. and then…135# happened.

we did a ton of hamstring and glute work and i’m not going to be able to walk tomorrow. but i couldn’t care less because i am THAT excited over my squats.

there’s a powerlifting meet in lexington on october 12th. and i want in. badly.

i love running, and i love racing…but i want to try this, i feel almost as though i need to. it’s not going to be cheap, by any means – running is about the cheapest damn sport you can find. powerlifting, not so much. but i’m frugal to a fault and have a nice nest egg built up. i’m okay with chipping into it a bit, and picking up as many extra classes as possible at the gym this summer.

i don’t know quite how to articulate it, but this is something that i want so badly to try out. maybe i’ll hate it and never want to do another one, in which case – it was an experience, and no harm no foul.

but maybe – and i feel like this is much more likely – maybe i’ll love it.

you can’t pass up an opportunity to try something you might love.

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