46 Years

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” ~Ashley Montagu

Today is my 46th birthday.

I hadn’t given much thought to the day or what I might want to do to celebrate. As I have been dealing with my injury for the past two months, my attention has been focused more on pain and recovery than on an impending birthday. As 2017 drew to a close, birthday thoughts did start to run through my mind; however, those thoughts were like mist. It’s bad enough that my birthday is during the awkward post-Christmas/New Year’s bustle. The weather can be iffy. People are exhausted from the holidays, or they are out of town or still hosting company. And then there is the sickness that always seems to make the rounds over the holidays! Even if I had wanted to make something out of my birthday, my plans would have been defeated by the illness inside my house. I’m not sick but almost everyone else is.

I went to the gym this morning, both excited and nervous about new exercises in my program for the week. As is often the case with a new exercise, the weight was left for me to choose and I chose cautiously. It’s been some time since I last did these types of exercises, but they felt better than I thought they might and I actually upped the weight on a couple of them.

The rest of my day was hardly worth commenting on…recline (while wincing in pain), putter around the house aimlessly (limping actually), drinking coffee, drinking water, nibbling on food, watching my son fold the laundry that he washed (bless him), watched the US lose to Sweden, more reclining, more puttering, ate pizza and cake, and watched Canada beat the Czechs. Real exciting, right! And all this while my husband and daughter moaned, groaned, coughed, ate soup, slept, and blew noses. Happy birthday to me!

But the day hasn’t been horrible. It may have been less than I hoped for, but it was still an okay day. My phone was alive with the sounds of Star Wars. I received plenty of birthday love on Facebook and Instagram.


Did I Shave My Legs For This?

I finally worked up the courage to call my doctor’s office today to ask about my MRI results. Not surprisingly, my doctor had not left any instructions to call me about the results; however, I was offered the opportunity to come in today to talk to him about it. The appointment went about as well as I expected. There is no significant impact on any nerves, which means that my doctor’s opinion is that time is the only option for healing. Maybe some traction and he gave me another prescription. An opiate to take before bed. He also told me to double up my doses of Gabapentin. <sigh>

I don’t know how to feel about that appointment this afternoon. I’m not keen on taking an opiate, but I would also like to lie down without constant pain running down both legs. I guess my emotions feel rather much like my left leg. Numb.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I have big plans but not really. Gym. Hopefully some laundry. Maybe watch a hockey game in the afternoon. Dinner will likely need to be made by me, except that I might be the only one capable of eating it. Three of five family members have been sick for a couple of days now, and I’m in pain. Sounds exciting, right?

I am nearly at 9 weeks since herniating my disc, which means it has also been 9 weeks since I last shaved my legs. In light of the fact that it is my birthday tomorrow, I decided that I would force myself to endure sitting in a bath and bending like a pretzel to make my legs smoothish again. It wasn’t comfortable or without difficulties, but I got the job done, more or less. Actually, I’m fairly certain my inability to adequately bend my back or lift my leg will have resulted in a few misses. Also, I have to say that dragging a razor over my numb calf was a particular weird sensation.

So here I am in my pajamas with clean hair and smoothish legs…and nowhere to go, nothing to do. Kind of makes me wonder why I bothered going to all the trouble, but I’m also glad I did.


10 Hours?!

It’s almost as if my body is gunning for new personal records when it comes to how many hours of sleep it can get while still being physically exhausted. I was yawning by 3pm yesterday. Last night I had 10 hours of sleep. Yes, I said TEN! While sleep is as precious to me as the ring is to Gollum, ten hours of sleep is excessive and not my normal. The trend of waking up reluctantly and still in need of sleep continues. It is now 11:00am, and I desperately want to close my eyes for a long winter’s nap, which would be quite easy to do since I am already practically horizontal. But I start work in two hours. I could be, should be productive with my time between now and then. Ha!

The only thing that did get me out of bed this morning was the fact that I had to go to the gym. At this point, I don’t think I am sick enough to skip going to the gym; however, I feel sick enough to recognize that my performance might be impacted.

1. competition bench (2-2×0) 5-7 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 7

main event: 90 lbs x 7, 90 x 7, 90 x 7

These felt solid today and easier than Thursday’s bench at the same weight. Of course, Thursday’s sets had a different tempo (3-1×0), which could possibly explain the tougher feeling; however, the pause was longer today. I don’t know! Today was a good bench day, I guess.

2. competition squat (3-0x0) 5-7 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 95 x 7

main event: 125 lbs x 7, 125 x 7, 125 x 7

The working sets today were 20 pounds heavier than the previous weeks, so I was anticipating a more difficult experience than what I had. The warm up sets felt okay, but the first working set actually felt better than the warm ups. Of course, the weight wasn’t really all that heavy. Sometimes I have to remind myself of what I can actually do.

3. close grip bench (3-1×0) 6-8 reps

90 lbs x 8, 90 x 8, 90 x 8

These were also decent today, although probably an RPE of 8/9 by the final rep each set.

4a. back extensions

x 13, x 12

4b. leg raises

x 15, x 12

Whatever battle is going on inside of my body, I sure hope it resolves itself before Day 1 of next week’s training week. Day 1 tends to be the day that takes the longest amount of time to complete and takes the most out of me physically. Actually, I’m thinking of pushing Monday’s training to Tuesday again next week, because Monday is a holiday. I start work earlier than usual that day and the gym’s hours are reduced, which would mean I’d be rushed and stressed trying to get my training done before work. Right now, I think I can squeeze in a short nap before work…I need it.

Of Exhaustion and an Ear

It was difficult to get out of bed again this morning, even after more than 9 hours of sleep. My sleep quality was a little less than the previous night but still a respectable 75%. Some eucalyptus helped with the nasal congestion, but I could still feel that lingering headache. Then my right ear began to bother me at some point in the night. I wear earplugs when I sleep, because I cannot fall asleep with noise or snoring. There was occasional painful pressure in the right ear which had me wanting to remove the earplug; however, the snoring beside me wouldn’t allow me to fall back asleep if I did. Right now I feel nothing in my ear, so I’m not sure if that was just a random experience or a part of whatever is trying to attack my body. At any rate, I slept until almost 8:30 and honestly could have stayed in bed to sleep some more, but I had to go to the gym.

1. deadlifts (2-2×1) 4-6 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 95 x 8, 135 x 4, 165 x 3

main event, with belt: 190 x 6, 190 x 6, 190 x 6, 190 x 4

Generally these felt good. I did feel a little exhausted by the third working set, but I was mentally prepared to go the distance on the final set. The first rep of the final set felt strong, so I thought I’d be able to get the full six reps. Take my little pause before the fifth rep, breathe and create tension, and realize that I can’t. No tension. No lift.

2. competition bench (3-1×0) 6-8 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 8

main event: 90 lbs x 6, 90 x 6, 90 x 6

These felt okay for the first few reps of each set, but the sixth rep always felt like an RPE of 9. It was possible that I could have squeaked out at least one more rep each set, but the likelihood of finding myself unable to press that extra rep was just as possible.

3. stiff leg deadlifts (3-1×0) 8-12 reps

115 lbs x 10, 115 x 8, 115 x 6

I should have been able to do more here, but I dropped reps because of fatigue and the arrival of some aching in my lower back. The lower back has been feeling pretty good lately and was fine until the stiff legged deadlifts.

4. barbell shoulder press (2-0x1) 8-12 reps

45 lbs x 12, 50 lbs x 8

It’s been a while since I’ve done overhead pressing, and overhead pressing is not something I enjoy or excel at, which meant that I wasn’t completely sure where to begin in terms of weight. My coach left the weight blank for me to decide. That’s a good thing since he doesn’t know how much I suck at them, but then it leaves me to decide whether I want to play it conservatively or push myself. Oh boy! I did flip through my old training logs to see what I have done in the past, so I knew that I’ve not done a heck of a lot of multiple sets of high reps with significant weight. Play it conservatively, Angela! And that’s what I did. I used just the bar for the first set and managed to max out on the reps. It felt okay, but I could also tell that my shoulders were fatiguing by the final rep. I had thought about sticking to the same weight for the final set, but I figured an extra 5 pounds should be a reasonable increase.

5. plank

x 37 seconds, x 40 seconds


Big S, Little S

I love Doctor Seuss. For whatever unexplainable reason, I shall never forgot this:

Big S, little S, what begins with S? Silly Sammy Slick sipped six sodas and got sick, sick, sick!

I rarely get sick. Occasionally I will get mild symptoms of a cold that linger for a few days before fading silently into oblivion. The last time I was actually knocked out by a flu was at the very end of December 2010, which I only remember because I was registered to run in The Running Room’s 5K Resolution Run on January 1st and I was worried that I might not be well enough to take part. While I may not have been fully recovered by New Year’s Day, I did run and did okay. My previous bout with a flu was several years earlier. While I cannot remember the year, I do know that I missed some of my son’s hockey tournament because I was too sick to get off the couch. Before that I don’t remember being sick aside from repeated gallbladder attacks while pregnant in 1995. I might get a stuffy nose or a sore throat, maybe a slight cough, but I seldom miss a beat in terms of energy or ability to perform.

The back of my throat began to feel sore and scratchy Sunday afternoon while I was at work. It wasn’t super bad, more of an annoyance than a problem; however, the throat was the same, possibly even slightly worse the next day and the next. The nasal congestion arrived on Monday. A dry, sore throat and a stuffed up nose are not conducive for a good night’s sleep, so I haven’t been sleeping well for a few nights now. My ability to function hasn’t been hampered, although I have had to resort to the occasional throat lozenge at work to keep my throat moist enough to allow me to talk without coughing. Yesterday at the gym I squatted, pressed, glute bridged, and rowed more than 15 000 pounds, which left me feeling a little exhausted but otherwise okay. I guess I had thought that I might struggle more since I was tired and “under the weather”, but I reasoned that I don’t get truly sick.

Today and tomorrow are my days off. Since I trained yesterday, I knew that I wouldn’t be going to the gym today like usual but on Thursday instead, allowing me the luxury of foregoing an alarm and sleeping as long as my body would let me. I wasn’t expecting to sleep much past 8 at the latest, because, after years of starting work around 5:00 AM, my body has become conditioned to waking up around 4AM and staying awake around 7AM. It has taken almost a year to re-train my body to simply roll over and resume sleeping when it wakes up at 4, but the ability to sleep past 7 has been much harder to achieve. Except for today.

Last night I had 9 hours of sleep! It is quite normal for me to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. (My average is actually 8 hours and 25 minutes, which I know from my Sleep Cycle app.) Although I finally dragged myself out of bed at 8:46, the temptation to stay in bed, roll over, and go back to sleep was intense. Considering the sore throat and stuffy nose, my quality of sleep last night was actually decent…it just didn’t seem like enough. For the first time in longer than I can remember, I probably could have slept the morning away. But I didn’t. I got up, made coffee, and had a bath. I started on the laundry, including my bedding which the cat had thrown up on the night before that I didn’t discover until I was about to crawl into bed and couldn’t be bothered to deal with in the moment, except to wipe it up and throw a towel over the wet spot. Yes, I did.

Mid-morning I began to feel the stirrings of a headache, but it was low grade and nothing I thought I’d need to get worked up about. On a 1-10 scale, it was only a one. A couple of hours later, that headache went from 1 to 100 in about 10 minutes. Now I don’t like to pop pills unnecessarily and will avoid taking anything if possible, but the headache was screaming and only getting louder. I took an Ibuprofen and began to feel some relief within 20-30 minutes. Even now at the end of the night, I can still feel the headache lingering just below the surface, simmering away at a 1 again. The throat isn’t sore like it had been the previous days, but it feels swollen when I swallow. The nose is still mostly stuffy. Do I feel sick? Not really. Yes, I’ve got a couple of minor symptoms. I feel wiped out today, but I wouldn’t define myself as being sick.

I should have another 8+ hours of sleep tonight with no alarm in the morning. Hopefully my sleep quality will be decent. At some point tomorrow morning I will go to the gym for some deadlifts and bench press. Oh, and overhead pressing…which is not a favourite and I’m not excited about at all. I have grand illusions to plan dinners for the next several days, including some of my upcoming closing shifts when I won’t be home to make dinner. It’s time to get my eating habits under control again, which is both exciting and desirable but also slightly overwhelming when I look at how many nights I close each week. But that’s a blog post for another day.

SI Sighs

Today felt a little rough, or I felt rough. A headache settled in fairly early and stuck around all day. As my work day wore on, I deteriorated. I’m not sure if I was feeling a lack of caffeine, mere fatigue, a tight neck, or finally succumbing to something. I’ve woken up with a touch of a sore throat the past couple of days. While the throat hasn’t been too bad, it’s enough of a bother to make me desperately hope that I am not getting sick. The sore throat, the headache, and a sense of being overly warm made my work day feel long. I almost never get sick, and I don’t have time for getting sick. I am not sick. I refuse to get sick!

I arrived at the gym this afternoon feeling okay…of course, I arrived sipping a quad tall Americano (my second one of the day). I wasn’t feeling super amazing, but I was at my happy place. As is often the case, a training session has a practically magical ability to make me feel better, no matter what the issue may be. So, I left the gym feeling better than when I arrived. See, I refuse to get sick! 😉

1a. front squats

43 lbs x 8, 73 x 6, 93 x 6

with belt: 123 x 6, 143 x 5, 143 x 5, 143 x 5

I might have had some minor difficulties with the front squats today. I had to re-rack the bar at the start of a couple of sets, because I realized upon un-racking that I wasn’t properly centred. The sets at 143 pounds were a little challenging but still not maximal. I suppose it makes sense that they were more of a struggle considering how I felt today. Michael wanted me to use my belt today for every set over 100 pounds. The first set felt a little weird merely due to re-familiarizing myself with my belt. The lower back felt fine though, and that’s really my main concern.

1b. incline close grip bench press

43 lbs x 10, 63 x 6, 73 x 8, 83 x 5, 83 x 7PR, 83 x 7

For incline, I think these were pretty good. The range of motion was ginormous, but I am generally happy with how these moved. And I just looked in my little book of PRs…to discover that I set a new PR!

1c. rope face pulls

30 lbs x 15 x 6 sets

These felt easier today, almost too easy really.

2a. hip thrusts

95 lbs x 7

This first set was with a barbell and really should have been easy-peasy. I’m capable of using significantly more weight for hip thrusts, but the lower back was not happy with the barbell hip thrusts today.

bodyweight with hip circle x 20, x 20

For reasons unknown, the lower back was completely fine with bodyweight hip thrusts! I did these with a sandbag a few weeks ago without any bother to the back, so we thought we’d try a set with the sandbag. Or at least a rep or two…

70ish lb sandbag with hip circle x 20

And no bother to the lower back at all! I really don’t understand why the barbell caused such a bother to the back. Actually, there’s a lot that I don’t understand about the ongoing issues with my SI joints. I’ve tried to be patient. I’ve done everything that I need to be doing to help the issue. I’ve not been sitting anymore than absolutely necessary, like for driving. Heck, I don’t even sit while on my break at work! I have a competition in 3 months…kind of need to start lifting heavy things soon.

2b. hanging knee raises

overhand grip x 12, x 12

neutral grip x 12

Despite my angst with the SI joints and lower back, I am happy to say that the back didn’t bother me doing the hanging knee raises today, which has not been the case since the back issue started. The back actually felt okay with these today. I guess that’s improvement! The right shoulder felt a bit sore after each of the first two sets, so I thought I’d try a neutral grip on the final set. I think the neutral grip helped, although it is really difficult to say that with certainty. In all honesty, I’m just relieved that I was able to do an exercise that I haven’t been able to do since the SI joint issue first presented.

And you, despite how I felt for most of the day, I left the gym feeling better than when I arrived. I’m one more day away from a long weekend. I am not going to get sick!



Squat Sumo Sick

Today wasn’t quite the day that I thought it would be. I woke up feeling fine, had breakfast and went to work still feeling fine, but it wasn’t long before I began to feel less than fine. A headache formed and my gut was a swirling mess of nausea. I was hot, sweaty and my hands were shaky. I’d be relatively fine for a bit and then a wave would hit me with ferocity. I was able to leave work roughly midway through my shift, so I went home and went to bed. Sleep was elusive though, and I only managed about a half hour of a somewhat sleepy state before my brain was once again alert and awake. Still, I had a very low-key afternoon. The headache was still present, the waves of nausea less pronounced. By the time I had to leave for my training session, I felt quite a bit better than I did in the morning although still not perfect.

1a. front squats with sleeves and a 3 second eccentric

45 x 5, 75 x 5, 100 x 5, 125 x 4, 145 x 4, 155 x 4, 165 x 4

Michael was all about slowing down my eccentric movements today, which wasn’t so bad in the earlier sets but was a little more challenging for the last set. I get the feeling that Michael is trying to convince me that front squats are just as much fun as back squats, since he is removing the back squats from my programming for the next 6 weeks. I like front squats, really I do! The only thing I don’t enjoy is “front squat induced asthma!” My brain has been fuzzy today, but I think Michael said that Mondays will be higher volume and Fridays heavier weight for the front squats. Whatever he said, I get to front squat twice a week, and, as Michael pointed out, I still get to do a squat with a barbell.

1b. close grip bench press with a 3 second eccentric and 1 second pause

45 x 5, 65 x 6, 80 x 6 or 7 (we both lost count but I think it was 7), 95 x 6, 100 x 6, 100 x 6

My bench was good today. The slower eccentric really seemed to help me keep the bar well-positioned and level. There was one tougher rep somewhere in one of the sets, but it was only because I misgrooved the rep.

2a. sumo deadlifts

135 x 6 plus 2 more to nail down the form, 165 x 5

with straps: 195 x 5, 205 x 5

The first set wasn’t super great. Too much back, not enough legs. The next set was better but grip was definitely starting to go. I think the final two sets were the best. It’s been about a month since I last did sumo deadlifts, and I think that my technique improves with familiarity.

2b. single arm dumbbell presses

20 lb x 10 each, 25 lb x 6 each, 25 x 6 each

I tried to sneak the 20 pound dumbbell into the second set, but Michael shut that down pretty quick. The left arm was definitely the weaker of the two, so it was good that Michael said to start with that arm. I could have easily done 8 reps, possibly even 10, with the right arm. The left arm on the final set felt a bit stronger and the reps moved more smoothly. I thought I might be able to get one extra rep but no.

2c. TRX supine rows with a controlled eccentric

3 or 4 reps using a bar

on the TRX: 6 with legs straight out + 3 or 4 with legs bent, 4 + 5

Still not a fan of these.

3a. GHD sit-ups

3 with just bodyweight + 10 with 10kg kettle bell, 8 with 12 kg kettle bell

3b. Stir the Pot

3 circles each direction x 2 sets

And I am done! I might have been a bad girl and not mentioned to Michael how I had been feeling most of the day. That might have been intentional…maybe. However, in my defense, I would have mentioned it if I felt like it would have impacted my performance. Yes, I would have said something then! I was feeling quite a bit better by the time I got to the gym, and I think I was able to perform as if I was feeling perfectly fine. My food log for today will be on the sparse side though, because I haven’t eaten much today. I think I ate more for dinner, post-training session, than I ate all day, and I really didn’t eat all that much for dinner! I might be starving in the morning, but I think I should feel much better, too. I so seldom get sick…can this even be called being sick? I don’t think so. Tomorrow will be a better day. A good night’s sleep cures almost everything.