Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Future Adventure Racer

This cutie pie is the reason I'm in Florida right now. His mommy is an Art Director for New Beauty magazine and I'm covering for her while she's on maternity leave. Baby Owen was delivered on July 28 at about 6:30pm and weighed in at 8lbs. 1 oz. Krisann is doing fine and is recovering from the grueling labor process.

Bill, her husband, is a fireman and adventure racer. It was his Swamp Stomp race story that originally inspired me to see what adventure racing was all about. Since both parents are very active, it seems likely that little Owen will follow suit.

Workouts so far this week:

5 rounds for time:
-400 meter run
-25# overhead squat
Time: 16:25

As many reps as possible in 20 minutes:
-5 pull-ups (jumping)
-10 push-ups
-15 squats
Total: 18 rounds
2.6 mile run
Time 24:04

Muay Thai Kickboxing
2.6 mile run
Time 24:08

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What is Adventure?

When I was 16, my dad took me on a boating adventure. It was to become one of my most memorable experiences this lifetime. During that trip, I almost died twice and was almost stranded on an uninhabited island. It defined adventure to me--facing the unknown, learning from it, and surviving. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. These are the things that make life exciting, challenging, and test one's resourcefulness. They define you.

The trip consisted of 4 boats each with a 2-person crew. My dad and I had the smallest boat, a 24-foot Thunderbird. We started from Ft. Lauderdale, FL and the plan was to tour the Abaco islands. Boat problems prevented the full tour, but we definitely got our money's worth. For the most part the weather was great, the fishing was bountiful and the group's energy was positive.

It was a strange mix of people, but a good group nonetheless. A 50-ish year old man with his 20-ish year old girlfriend (I don't think she had been on many boating trips), a seasoned boater with his wife, and my best friend's parents who drink a lot, but know how to make the best conch fritters around.

The first few days were amazing. The water is crystal clear and it was so tempting to stop everywhere just to go in the water. We caught so much fish that we ran out of room in our coolers. Every night we cooked the food we caught and slept in the boats. It was like camping on the water. When we stopped for gas we would resupply with fresh water and take showers. The only clothing we wore was our bathing suit, pretty much the whole time.

On about the 5th day, we stopped for some snorkeling and diving along this incredible reef. There was so much to see, I felt like I could stay down forever. Ben, my friend's father had gone spearfishing and caught a flounder. He went back up to his boat and started cleaning it. He forgot that I was still in the water below him. Suddenly I become surrounded by barracuda. I had no fear of barracuda, but had never experienced being in the water with so many of them--20 or so. I decided to get out.

As I was climbing the ladder I looked back down in the water and what did I see? Sharks. Baby sharks. A whole school of them. They were hungry, vicious and in a complete frenzy. Had I delayed my exit by a mere 5 seconds, I would have been eaten alive. The thought was quite nerve-racking. Apparently when blood is sensed in the water, barracuda arrive first on the scene, with sharks arriving shortly thereafter. Lesson learned, thankfully without any injury.

A couple of days later we had anchored for the night with our boats all tied together as we normally did. It was in a seemingly protected natural harbor next to an uninhabited island. A storm approached, the boats started violently rocking and banging together. We jump out of bed. We hear yelling, it is completely black. My dad sees the 50-year old man (don't remember his name) swing an axe and cut off our rope. None of the boats' anchors held. We all drift apart, separated from each other, left alone to weather the storm. We know there are rocks along the harbor edge and that we can't let the boats get near it. We can't see anything. And by now our little 24-foot boat is rocking violently back and forth to the point where it appears we might flip over.

My dad asks me to go up to the bow of the boat and get the anchor line though the bow eye. I thought he was crazy. For sure I would have fallen off the boat never to be seen again. By this time I started to panic because our situation was pretty desperate. Change of plans. I was to steer the boat and he was going to go do it. Now I really started to panic. It seemed worse that HE might fall in leaving me all alone. My entire thought process was "we are going to die." Thank goodness my dad had more survival instinct than I did at the time. He carefully crawled onto the bow of the boat looking like spider man with his legs stretched out along the rails. The boat was still violently swinging from left to right. I was crying by now for fear of losing my father. He was amazingly calm...concentrating on what he had to do. I can't even imagine the strength it required to do what he did (thankfully he used to be a gymnast). He succeeded. The anchor was down and we weren't going to crash into the rocks. Sleeping was futile. As we lied down in bed, the motion of the waves just lifted our bodies entirely off the bed. All we could do was hold on and wait it out.

The next morning we learned that Ben's boat was struck by lightening. They were lucky to be alive. All electrical controls were lost, but they had the foresight to bring an extra boat battery. The other two boats seemed to have gotten through the night ok with no harm done. But it was a night none of us would ever forget. We were all very lucky to be alive. After a few hours we were on our way again, as if nothing had ever happened. We stopped at Green Turtle and took a much needed "land" break.

Over the next week we continued to explore the islands...catching more fish, diving for conch, and just enjoying the water. At one of the uninhabited islands we visited, we weren't paying attention. We had anchored all the boats and swam to shore. While at shore the current changed and all of our boats started drifting away. We would have been stuck there for God only knows how long without any food or water had it not been for the strong swimming skills of the seasoned boater. He managed to get to his boat and bring them all back. Luck was on our side once again.

After that though he ran his boat aground and messed up his motor. We were able to make it to Jones town where we stayed until he could get it fixed. The locals were very nice. But anyone who has ever been to the Bahamas would know there is a different meaning of time over there. It's called Bahama time. And it's like molasses. Everything takes 2-3 times as long. And no one is ever in a hurry. It's a whole different pace of life.

Eventually we were able to get going again. After that we continued on to Treasure Cay where my brother and my friend Renee flew in to catch up with our trip. At this point my brother took over the boat tour with my dad and I flew back to Florida. They continued on to Hope Town but due to boat troubles with Ben and the seasoned boater, turned around and headed back home.

Dad and I still reminisce about this experience. We saw the beauty of the islands, the diversity of underwater life, explored unknown lands, experienced mother nature, witnessed human courage and resourcefulness, and made new friends. We lived. And survived. To me, that's real adventure.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

Florida is f%!@ing hot. Even last night when I went dancing my clothes got soaked. Well, maybe it had something to do with the way I was dancing. ;)

For the second time this week, I've had this burst of energy come out of nowhere. I danced for almost 3 hours straight and it wasn't some mild, mellow, swing your hips thing. It was all-out, no holding back, jumping up and down, boody-shaking, hardcore dancing. I wore more than a few guys out.....even got a $20 tip from a guy from Romania when I got up on the bar and started dancing. It didn't last long though. The security guard kicked me off so I just went back to the dance floor.

And no, I wasn't drunk. It was all just fun and enjoying the moment. I would just like to know where these energy bursts come from so I can capture them when it really counts--for ADVENTURE RACING!

Today, however is rest day. And was much needed. Here's my week in review:

7am workout
10 rounds of:
75lb. deadlift
15 push-ups
Time: 16:04

7pm workout
Cardio Kickboxing

7am workout
Start with 500 meter row
then do sets of 15-13-11-9-7-5-3 of
pull-ups (jumping)
20" box jumps
26lb. kettlebell swings
20lb dumbell thrusters
End with 500 meter row
Time: 38:04

7pm workout
Muai Thai Kickboxing

7am workout
Three rounds of
run 800 meters
50 back extensions
50 sit-ups
Time: 21:41

7pm workout

7am workout
Shoulder Press 1-1-1-1-1
Push Press 3-3-3-3-3
Push Jerk 5-5-5-5-5

Weights were:
Shoulder Press 35-45-55-55f-55
Push Press 35-45-55-55-65f
Push Jerk 35-45-55-55-65

This week was a little hard on the body: Bruises and scrapes to the legs from the deadlifts; a strained right knee from the Capoeira class, strained shoulder muscles from the heavy lifting; and blisters on the bottoms of both big toes from the dancing. Only one more day of rest and then I'm back for more on Monday. The body will just have to learn to keep up with me because this girl ain't gonna just sit around.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Killer Within

Last night I must have spaced out because I set my alarm for the wrong time...I thought I was back in California. Well anyway, I got up 15 minutes before CrossFit, changed as quickly as possible and made it to the class just 2 minutes late! We did four rounds of 800 meter runs and my times were:

#1 - 4:07
#2 - 4:05
#3 - 4:01
#4 - 4:09

I felt like crap and am pretty sure it had to do with my nutrition yesterday. The only "off" thing I had was lasagna and I've realized that pasta is NOT doing my body any good. So out it goes...along with sugar, bread, caffeine, and a whole bunch of other things I've been slowly but surely eliminating. If I want to play this game, it needs to be done right. And now that I'm reading "The Paleo Diet for Athletes" a new viewpoint on food is coming into view.

Even my Muay Thai kickboxing class was rough. We used weights with our workout tonight, and although my arms were burning like crazy, I stuck with it the whole way through. The instructor is tough, and doesn't let us break for a moment (except when we go to put on our gloves). We are either punching, kicking, doing push-ups, sit-ups, squats, running, or holding extremely painful postions the entire 60-minute workout.

The last 15 minutes or so, we go to the bags, and here's where it gets interesting. So here I am, exhausted, with practically no energy and it's time to punch and kick the bags. All of a sudden this burst of energy comes out of nowhere when I go to punch the bag. I wasn't even thinking of anything (or anyone) in particular, but I just start KILLING the bag. I mean like with REAL strength, REAL power. It was PURE INTENTION. I must have looked like a madwoman hitting that bag! Maybe my arms felt super strong because I wasn't holding a 5lb weight in each hand anymore. Or maybe I had some repressed anger/hostility coming out. I don't know. But I felt like the Rage Against the Machine's song "How I Could Just Kill a Man."

It's actually kind of funny, because those who know me well, know that I'm a calm, even-tempered person. Hardly anything "gets" to me because I don't take life very seriously. I know it's just a game. But there seems to be this other side of Lisa now with these new fitness goals... a more competitive nature....disappointment when I don't do well... empowerment when I improve....frustration when my arms don't want to lift more...pleasure in gut-wrenching workouts, and pure enjoyment of killing the bag. Actually, hitting the bag is a pretty cathartic activity. I'm going to get one when I get home.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Assaulted by a Duck

This morning I opted for TAP OUT: CONDITIONING FOR COMBAT SPORTS. It's meant strictly for the person who likes their workouts to be gut-wrenching and I was curious to see how it compared with CrossFit.

Although the sledge hammers weren't used today (probably because it was raining), it was still a great 60-minute workout leaving me sweaty, wet and very dirty. The component parts were:

Air squats
Jump roping
Twisting with a 20lb. bar on the shoulders
Wall balls over head (the small wall balls) from about 10 feet to the wall
Wall balls under hand to the wall with a forward leap
Wall balls close to the wall right hand only, then left hand only
Moving tires across the parking lot (by squatting, lifting and flipping)
Jogging and Sprinting
Running in place followed by side stepping, forward and backwards running
The Bear Walk
The Duck Walk
The Crab Walk
Shadow Boxing
and finally boxing on the bags as fast and as hard as you can

This was definitely high intensity and constantly varied. The big difference I noticed was that there was much longer recovery times between the component parts. Where I did really well was with the tires. I pretty much blew everyone away with this one thanks to my CrossFit training.

What killed my legs though was the Duck Walk. Oh my God, did that take it out of me. It's like getting in the squat position all the way down to where you are practically sitting on the ground, then walking in that position. It's pure pain and a definite energy zapper. Took me awhile to recover from that.

Well not too long. Right afterwards I went on to do Capoeira. The movements were slightly easier today and I'm starting to get the feel of the spinning kicks. It's amazing how dizzy you get with these.

Later in the day, my dad and I went to the shooting range so he could try out his new glock. I rented one as well just to try it, and LOVED it! I think it's so great that he and I can share this kind of stuff together. He used to be just as crazy as me when he was younger and so he appreciates my adventerous spirit. He shot really well today...way to go Dad!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cartwheels, The Matrix, and a Guy Named Indigo

Ok, so my favorite movie is the Matrix and I still want to be like Trinity. I remember seeing that movie for the first time and just being in complete AWE. What I was really impressed with was the martial art acrobatics performed in that movie and always wondered "how do they do that?"

Well golly gee, I found out tonight in my Capoeira class, the Brazilian martial art that uses acrobatics, groundwork including sweeps, kicks and sparring. Indigo (pronounced in-djo) is the instructor and he is amazingly fluid with his movements. His name makes me think of my favorite fiction book series--"Indigo" by Louise Cooper.

The first half hour of the class was ALL stretching. It was actually quite nice, since I worked out so much this week. Then came the fun part....

First was cartwheels! I couldn't believe it! I haven't done these since I was a kid and amazingly enough I can still do them! Then movement by movement we added kicks, spinning kicks, and eventually "the dance" such as in the above video (although not quite as advanced!). I felt pretty clumsy for a lot of it--trying to coordinate my hands with my legs and keeping the regular rhythm, but I started to get it and now can't wait for more. We'll see how far I get in the 8 weeks I'll be spending here in Florida...

Earlier today at CrossFit we did the following:

for time:
-2000 meter row
-50 wall balls
-1000 meter row
-35 wall balls
-500 meter row
-20 wall balls
Time was 32:08

This was a tough workout. For the wall balls I used a 10lb medicine ball and aimed for the 10' mark in order to push beyond what I had been doing. About 50% of them were at about 9.5 feet so technically I'm still at an 8' wall ball. Nonetheless it was still an improvement.

Tomorrow will be rest day....darn.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Most Painful Sit-Ups Ever!

Last night I registered for my boxing classes at My work schedule is keeping me from attending a lot of the one's I'm interested in, but I should be able to make the Muay Thai Kickbox Conditioning and Capoeira classes on a regular basis.

This place is so much fun! I found it the last time I worked in Florida and just had to go back. They have these special classes from time to time, like kite surfing workouts, combat challenge training, Krav Maga self-defense training, and a workout called TAP OUT. In this one, you get down and dirty with tires, sand bags, sledgehammers, and more. There's strongman training, some speed work, and a lot of core exercises. It's for those who like their workouts to be gut-wrenching. Hmmm, sounds a bit like a CrossFit workout!

I decided to do both CrossFit AND the boxing classes while I'm here in Florida. Doesn't leave me much time to rest (or blog for that matter).

Anyway, we did a lot of kickboxing last night and towards the end of the workout the instructor had us do sit-ups with the punching bag. I had done most of these before...sit-ups with feet under the bag, hold in a 3/4 postition for what seems like a million years, twists, etc. But then came the real clencher. Put your feet up off the ground and hold the sides of the bag while doing these same sit-ups. Holy Moly! Pure pain! I couldn't even stick with it (bad Lisa). Need some practice on this one...

Ok, now for my last couple of workouts:


4 rounds for time:
-400 meter run
-50 air squats
Time was 15:58


3 rounds for time:
-400 meter run
-21 kettlebell swings
-12 jumping pull-ups
Time was 11:15

After work:
Run 2.6 miles Riverland loop
Time 24:36

The run felt really good. I opted for a steady pace the whole way. As I was running I kept thinking about what it would be like to run for hours and decided I need to start some longer runs. Perhaps this weekend I'll go for a 6-8 mile run for starters. I want to do a marathon. Doesn't look like I'll be ready (or in town) for the Pasadena one in November, but the LA marathon should be a pretty realistic goal. Maybe it's time I took a serious look at what the CrossFitters are using as their guide. Hmmmm.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Repressed Energy

Yesterday I thought for sure my stopwatch had broken. My run time was just too much faster to believe, so I decided to test it out today on a much more challenging run--4.43 miles going straight up and back in the Tujunga mountains off of La Tuna Canyon Blvd. I haven't checked it, but was told it's a one-mile elevation increase.

I started off with an easy pace so I wouldn't wear myself out too quickly. Well this seemed to work because as I got farther up the hill I found that I felt stronger. So I pushed it and as I neared the top was strong enough to do a really fast running pace for the last leg. On the way down, I really booked, trying not to run over the local hikers on the trail.

Well to my complete amazement I kept the same pace as yesterday....10:24 per mile, and knocked off 7:56 minutes from my last best time on this trail. Total time for the run was 46:03. The stopwatch isn't broken! That's f!#*ing awesome!

I believe I'm capitalizing on a lot of repressed energy right now. On Tuesday I start my boxing lessons again which will give me the opportunity to really let loose on this energy. WooHoo. Then it's crossfit 5 days on 2 days off at a new location in Ft. Lauderdale, FL while I'm away for work. Can't wait to give the report on that!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


How exciting...I just got my Blecksmith 5K photos today! Boy, I never realized how intense I looked while running. I've always had a lot of determination, but it was funny to actually see it in a photo. This race was on the 4th of July. Time was 28:08, just over 9 minutes a mile. Started strong, but started wimping out after the 1st mile.

On another note, we did the Crossfit Total (Back squat, 1 rep; Shoulder Press, 1 rep; Deadlift, 1 rep) today. I always wondered what kind of workout would only involve 1 repetition. It seemed weird....but now I know what it's all about....and it sure is intense!

My results:
Back squat - 105lbs.
Shoulder Press - 45 lbs.
Deadlift - 155 lbs.

I really suck on the shoulder press. Right arm is willing to work with me, but the left arm is a total wimp. So if the point of these workouts is to find my weaknesses, I really found one today.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Throwing Rocks

Above is what I encountered on my 4.2 mile trail run this morning. At the time I didn't know what he was so caution was in order. Because he was taking his nap all stretched out across the trail, I didn't really have enough room to maneuver around him (he was pretty big...about 4 feet). So I did the first thing that came to mind.....start throwing rocks at him. It took a few rounds, but he finally moved out of my way.

I didn't have any fear of the snake--I was more angry that he was in my way, and messing up my timed-run! It was a really strong run today....good pace and not winded and it got me thinking about what my successful actions might have been for feeling so strong. So looking at nutrition from the day before, I had:

Breakfast: cereal with nuts and turkey
Snack: Fruit smoothie
Lunch: Chicken sausage and spinach
Dinner: Chicken salad

Also, I had decent sleep. What I had done the night before to make sure I slept was:

100 air squats
100 sit ups
30 push ups

The 3rd factor could have been all the new tunes I put in my iPod shuffle.... by Rage Against the Machine, the Foo Fighters, Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park, Nickelback, Puddle of Mudd, Buckcherry, Seether, and Finger Eleven.

Oh, turns out the snake is a King Snake, completely harmless. Makes me think I should get educated on snakes and other critters I might encounter. So if I see one of these again, I'll know to just run right over him.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Super Women

Shannon (left) and Stacia (right) are my roommates. They are probably going to kill me once they see their pictures on my blog...oh well! This was an impromtu photo I just had to get when I saw them both wearing their superman t-shirts one day. Just so I didn't feel left out, they bought me my own superman shirt a week later. They are so cool!

Anyway, Shannon decided to join me at CrossFit today. She did great, and will be back for more. So if any of you reading this see her, say "hi" and tease her about the shirt. :) Her background is running and cycling, but like me she was getting bored with the same routine.

Now we've decided it's time to really pump up the volume on getting in shape for all the fun activities we want to do. It's so cool to have friends that enjoy the same things. And I am making so many more with the CrossFit family. You guys rock!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sleepless in Tujunga

It's 2:45am and I should be sleeping right now. This has been going on for the last week or so and totally sucks. Since I can't sleep and I refuse to take any drugs--including aspirin--I'll blog. It's better than tossing and turning for hours with an overly restless mind.

One of my friends took this photo when we went to a fair in Santa Clarita last weekend. It was a blast, and to my surprise the rock wall was a piece of cake. Last time I had done one my legs starting shaking and I didn't have enough strength to make it to the top. Now my legs are much stronger, however they still have a long way to go which I discovered earlier today when I went for my long run (see The Water Tower post).

What was interesting was I began to recognize that my cardio respiratory endurance was improving, but the strength in my legs was now falling behind. I ran at about the same pace as the last time (actually :15 seconds faster), but didn't have any heavy breathing. The only thing slowing me down was this weak feeling in my legs. All that CrossFit drilling about optimizing one's physical competence in each of the ten recognized fitness skills (Flexibility, Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy) was starting to sink in. Time for more leg strengthening. And sleep.....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bye Bye Box Jump Monster

Thursday was the 1-2-3 Punch at Cross Fit where you get to pick your own torture (sorry, I mean workout). That's number 1. If you fail that you take a Cross Fit written test (#2) and failing that you do something like 100 burpees. I have no love for burpees and I pretty much knew I would fail the written test, so completing number 1 was the only solution.

I chose Christine.

3 rounds of
500m row
12 Deadlifts at 95 lbs.
21 Box jumps.

I only had one problem.......a fear of the box jumps. Everytime I thought about jumping on one of those things I would get this image of bloody skinless shins. Not a pretty thought. Well thankfully Eric talked me through it (and yes, even held my hand) until I actually did it. The first few times I was pretty near the edge, but at least my feet were making it all the way up. Once I felt a correct one, I was good to go and went on to complete Christine. Thank God, no 100 burpees!

And the best news is I'M ON THE BOARD finally. That's happiness for this Cross Fit newbie.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Damn the Bandana

After yesterday's Cross Fit workout I decided I needed to handle my head gear. I had been using a bandana to keep the hair out of my eyes, but the damn thing kept coming off during my sit-ups. Had I moved my hands to fix it I would have failed the test and that was NOT an option. So today on my run I tried out a new hat I got at REI. It was great! And I noticed a big difference in my body temperature--not that it kept me cool or anything, but I felt less hot during the run.

This is one my normal runs. It's a 2.8 mile run from my house going out on the fire roads to a point I have arbitrarily called the helicopter landing and then back again. There's this big white cross on the ground (the medical symbol) and it looks like a good place to land a helicopter if needed. Anyway, it was a good run...not super efforty, yet still working the body pretty good. I was again amazed at my time. I cut off :59 seconds since the last time I did this run on June 20th. Time was 31:52. Whatever I'm doing, I'm doing right. Now the trick will be to just keep it up!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Army Physical Fitness Standard

Today at Cross Fit we took the Army Physical Fitness Standard Test. The APFT consists of three tasks: two minutes of max reps push-ups, two minutes of max reps sit-ups, and a two-mile run. This test is used across the Army, with a passing score of 60 percent of the standard for each event, scaled by sex and age. I wasn't really sure that I would pass because all the push-ups I've ever done were completely wrong. And at no time can your knees touch the ground. The only resting position is the plank position. After watching my partner give it her all, but completely fail I was nervous. But I went for it.

Here's how I did:
16 push-ups (score of 66)
57 sit-ups (score of 85)
17:47 2-mile run (score of 97)

To be at 100% in each category I would need to do:
37 push-ups
72 sit-ups
17:24 2-mile run

Obviously the push-ups are my weak point.....something to work on for sure! As far as the running goes, I smoked my last flat run by coming under a 9-minute mile. A few weeks ago I had done a 5K with a 10+ minute mile. Not too shabby for someone who doesn't consider herself an athlete! And if I ever decide to join the Army, they'll let me in!