Fleeing the City

I am currently sitting in a motel room in Hope after consuming a delicious, late dinner at an Italian restaurant across the street. My husband had previously made plans for us to go to Harrison for the weekend to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Before he left for work this morning he said he’d really like to leave today and spend the night in Hope. Even though I am generally the sort of person who likes carefully laid plans, I am still able to be flexible and fly by the seat of my pants…even if I’m praying the entire way that we’ll be able to find an available hotel room! We did. It’s nothing fancy, but we have a king-sized bed and I’m drinking some wine out of a small glass that was wrapped in paper on the bathroom counter. And all of this is perfectly lovely! We aren’t high-faluting kind of people and, when this is your first kid-free, sporting event-free, multi-night trip away from home as a couple, well, let’s just say that we’re grinning like idiots. The rest of our weekend should be a little bit fancier, at least the hotel room, but we shall have a good time regardless.

Since we had already planned on heading out Friday morning, I knew that I’d need to get my final training session of the week done today. My work day was short and sweet, and I was at the gym within a half hour of finishing work.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0) 4 sets @6-10 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 65 x 6, 85 x 5

main event: 90 lbs x 10, 95 x 10, 90 x 9, 90 x 7

Surprisingly enough, the back was probably the least achy while arching in several weeks, which was nice and enabled me to pretty much do my normal bench set-up.

2. high bar squats (3-0x0) 3 sets @8-12 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 6, 95 x 6

main event: 105 lbs x 11, 105 x 12, 105 x 8

Something is going on with my left leg/knee, sporadically and annoyingly. It began to be a bother again during these squats, mostly as I’d finish each rep and lock it out. Even with walking later it would randomly hurt. <sigh>

3. close grip bench (3-1×0) 2 sets @8-12

80 lbs x 11, 80 x 8

4a. back extensions

x 12, x 12, x 12

4b. leg raises

x 12, x 12, x 12

The leg raises were less of a bother on the back today as well! Can I call that progress?

 

Friday Fatigued?

It’s been a rather good day. With my current work schedule, Fridays are my Mondays. I don’t often get too caught up in negative feelings about particular days of the week. Sure I look forward to my weekends as much as anyone else, but Mondays have the same potential to be good days as any other day of the week. I slept okay last night but was awake more than asleep for at least an hour before my alarm, which isn’t a good thing when the alarm is set for 4:45 AM, but I got out of bed feeling mostly rested and ready for the day. Work was good, a smooth day with lots of laughter and connections. After work I hit the gym for my final session of week 3. This week was about incurring fatigue; however, for the most part, I felt stronger this week than I have for a while.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 6, 85 x 4

main event: 100 lbs x 6, 100 x 6, 100 x 6, 100 x 6

2. high bar squats (3-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 7, 65 x 5

main event: 95 lbs x 12, 95 x 12, 95 x 12

3. close grip bench (3-1×0)

75 lbs x 12, 75 x 11

4a. 45 degree back extensions

x 12, x 12, x 12

4b. leg raises

x 12, x 12, x 10

Choosing Hope

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” ~Nelson Mandela

About this time last year I was in the midst of an unexpected choice to leave the job I had held for 12 years. I hadn’t sought out this opportunity, but I couldn’t help but feel optimism and hope when the possibility was dangled in front of me. Such a decision could not be made lightly, no matter how sweet. As frustrated as I was in my job, there was still fear in leaving and losing all that was familiar and comfortable in my position there. I could have allowed that fear to paralyze me. I could have simply remained where I was, feeling stuck and frustrated, but I chose differently.

Although my official 1 year anniversary at my current job isn’t until September 1st, today is the anniversary of two out of three interviews. I remember the nervousness I felt going into each interview and the growing excitement I felt over the very real possibility of making a career change. There was a measure of anxiety and sadness mixed with the excitement knowing that I might need to give notice and disappoint my co-workers. Still, the hope and excitement outweighed the potential negatives, and I have never looked back.

I am definitely more comfortable in my “new” job after 11 months, but I am very much aware that there is still, and always, more to learn! Sometimes I feel frustrated that I don’t know everything by now…until I remember that I had 12 years to learn and grow comfortable in my previous job. It isn’t often that I walk into my old stomping grounds, but when I do I am quickly reminded of all of the reasons why leaving was so desirable and easy. I know that I made the right choice at the right time. Is my new job perfect? Of course not! However, I am happy to be where I am now, and I am proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone and fear to make a choice based on hope.

A New Beginning

I received week one of my new online coaching program yesterday, but I wasn’t able to get to the gym until after work today. It probably wasn’t the best time to train, but sometimes you just got to do what you gotta do! I worked a closing shift last night, and the night owl woke up pretty much as soon as I slipped into bed. Between a brain that wouldn’t shut off and shoulders that couldn’t quite seem to get comfortable, I didn’t sleep too well. I worked until 5:00 tonight, which meant I wanted to hit the gym as soon as possible, before eating dinner and winding down for the night and my weekend. I was under-caffeinated, tired, and feeling sluggish.

I am actually quite excited with my new program. The first day didn’t feel super great, at least not all of it, and I did drop some weight and sets. It will get better. I know it will. My most recent training had a different focus, so my body has forgotten what it is like to do these sorts of things. It will remember!

1. high bar squats

warm up: 95 x 6, 135 x 6, 165 x 4

main event: 185 x 2, 165 x 4, 165 x 4

The warm up set at 165 felt tough, so I put my belt on for my working sets. 185 pounds felt tough and ugly. Ironically, when I looked at the video after, my form actually looked good, certainly better than how it felt. Still, that weight was tough and I was supposed to do 4-6 reps. I dropped the weight in the hopes that I could at least get more reps in, but the second set still felt quite tough and ugly, especially the fourth rep where I’m sure my chest was lagging behind. The final set was the best. It didn’t exactly feel easy, but the reps felt better.

2. bench press, close grip

warm up: 45 x 8, 65 x 6, 85 x 6

main event: 100 x 6, 100 x 5, 100 x 4

Warm ups felt great. The first working set felt good. The fifth rep on the second set misgrooved a bit and felt tough enough to call the set, and I was basically done after the fourth rep on the final set.

3. front squats

65 x 15, 65 x 10

I was given a decent weight range for the front squats, since my new coach is only just learning what I’m capable of and what works for me. Since the front squats have been feeling tough lately, I stuck with the lowest weight in the range…well, for that reason and also that I was feeling wiped out and weak already!

4a. walking lunges

40 lbs x 15, 50 lbs x 15

4b. dumbbell rows

20 lbs x 12, 25 lbs x 12

4c. plank

x 30 seconds, x 30 seconds

4d. dumbbell rear delts

8 lbs x 12, 8 lbs x 12

These four exercises were supposed to be done for 3 sets, but I cut it at 2.

First day done and so am I. Tomorrow I’ll be back for day 2, and then I can get back on track with my regular training days.

The Unexpected Deload

A lot can happen in a week, and this past week has seen its’ share of happenings. The week had a bit of a rough start with several unexpected ups and downs, but it smoothed out quite quickly and easily. In a way, everything changed, or at least one thing did. My coach of the past 3.5 years let me go as a client, saying that he felt he was holding me back and could do no more for me.

I could have been devastated by that announcement, but I wasn’t. While I did cry a few tears that night, the tear ducts actually dried up quite quickly and I never did feel devastated. Was my coach holding me back? I don’t know, and it doesn’t even matter. I am at peace with the decision, at peace with myself, and I’m looking forward to this next stage.

Needless to say, I haven’t trained at all this week. No gym. No coach. No big deal. I put out some feelers in search of a new coach and gathered information. I took advantage of the opportunity to sleep in on the days I didn’t have to work early in the morning. (Actually, I’ve been sleeping very well all week long.) I was able to get together with a friend for an overdue catch-up. It’s generally been a good week, despite a couple of family matters, like stitches (not me!).

Yesterday, I finally decided on a new coach. I will be doing online coaching, which is something completely new to me, but I think I have a decent understanding of the essentials now. It will be different. It will be okay. Maybe even better than okay. I am always up for a challenge, and I do have goals!

Dippity-Do

For a while now Mondays had been the end of my weekend, but that has now changed. This is my first Monday which is actually my Thursday. It was odd working yesterday, and I frequently found myself thinking it was Saturday rather than Sunday. I am not used to working on a Sunday, but I will adapt.

1a. tempo squats-high bar, flat shoes, closer grip

45 lbs x 6, 95 x 6, 115 x 8, 135 x 6, 145 x 6, 145 x 6

My hand position when I squat usually has the outside of my hands touching the outer rings. Of course, I have often noticed that many powerlifters squat with their hands in much closer to their shoulders, so last week I started using a slightly closer hand position with my tempo squats and continued with that today. My hands were roughly a thumbs length from the inner edge of the knurling. The position certainly helps keep my elbows from flaring back, but it is also harder on the shoulders. So far the shoulders are doing okay.

The tempo squats were somewhat easier today compared to last week, although I did a few sets of single leg box step downs prior to last week’s squats. Today my coach let me do the squats before any single leg work. Maybe that made the difference or maybe I was just more familiar with the movement. Really, the breathing is the hardest part of the tempo squats. They were done with a 4 second eccentric, a 1 second pause, and a 2 second rise.

1b. incline bench press, grip about a thumbs length from inner knurling

45 lbs x 10, 65 x 8, 70 x 6, 70 x 6, 75 x 6, 75 x 5 + 1

The second set at 70 pounds was faster and easier than the first set at the same weight. That could be because my coach told me to blast through my sticking point as I was setting up for the set. Sometimes the little cues will help me. Sometimes they won’t. I ran into a positioning problem on the fifth rep of the final set. I had to rack the bar, take a couple seconds to regroup, and then finish the final rep.

2a. barbell split squats-high bar, same closer grip

75 lbs x 10 each, 85 x 10 each, 85 x 10 each

After the tempo squats, I had expected the single leg work to suck. These did not suck. Sure, I was breathing hard, dripping sweat, and shaking like jelly after each set, but the actual work wasn’t too difficult.

2b. hip thrusts with hip circle

with circle below knees x 30, with circle above knees x 30

2c. barbell rows-wider grip comparable to my bench press, trying to keep the elbows out

65 lbs x 12, 75 x 12, 75 x 10

2d. dips

with blue band x 7, with orange band x 7, with orange x 6

Dips are one of those things that always intimidate me a bit, because I imagine that they are too difficult for me to do. The set with the blue band was easy enough. As I was setting up for the second set and felt how little resistance there was with the orange band, I imagined that I would not be able to do many reps. That first set of orange band reps actually surprised me. It wasn’t super easy, but it wasn’t as tough as I had expected. The final set was tougher, but my entire body was mostly jelly by this point.

There is still lots of time ahead me, but I have begun to allow trickles of competition thoughts to seep through my protective barriers. My next competition is 4 months away minus a few days. But what took me by surprise was realizing that Nationals will be about 3.5 months following that! It’s still plenty of time, more time than I had between competitions last year. In fact, last year I did 3 competitions within a 3 month span! That was just a little crazy and definitely not ideal. This year is certainly moving at a different pace than the previous year, but I’m okay with it.

Seeking Serenity

I don’t know exactly why I look to the sky on my way to work in the early hours after our opening time, but I do just that every morning when the sky is clear blue and cloudless. I am looking for a hot air balloon, which is perhaps an odd thing to be looking for so frequently, since hot air balloons are not an everyday sighting. Yesterday, as I drove to work at 5:15 AM, I finally became aware of the fact that I was looking towards a specific portion of the sky in hopes of seeing a hot air balloon. Of course, there wasn’t one to be seen yesterday morning, but I found it somewhat amusing to realize what I had been subconsciously doing for many months now.

I didn’t open this morning, but I was still headed for work around 7:30 AM. As I turned the corner, I looked up to the sky as I always do and there it was…a hot air balloon! Although my emotions are not nearly as heavy and gloomy as they were last week, I am still rather a mess of eating poorly, sleeping even more poorly, a hurricane of thoughts inside my head, and emotions still tender to the touch. The sight of the hot air balloon this morning, especially after yesterday’s realization of what I am looking for, almost reduced me to tears. But why? What is it about a hot air balloon that had me unconsciously looking for one? Between work, training, and all the stuff raging inside me, I realized that I find the sight of a hot air balloon in the sky to be simply serene. Peaceful. Calm. Soothing. As much as I am the kind of girl who prefers her feet on the ground, a hot air balloon is free to just flow with the breeze. You don’t see hot air balloons out in high winds or storms. I know what it is like to stand in the midst of strong winds and storms. I know I am capable of standing, but sometimes I just want to float in quiet peace above this crazy, hectic insane world and the storms that rage inside my heart and head, at least for a while. And I am choosing to believe that this morning’s hot air balloon was a little reminder from my God that I am not alone or forgotten or unloved, that He sees deep inside of my heart and He has known from the beginning why I keep looking to the sky.

1a. single leg box step downs + single leg glute bridges, with the box on top of a block

x 10 + 10, x 12 + 10

1b. standing single arm kettle bell presses

10kg x 8 each, 12kg x 8 each

2a. tempo squats, high bar with flat shoes

45 lbs x 6, 95 x 8, 105 x 7, 105 x 6, 105 x 6, 105 x 6

These were done with a 4 second eccentric, a 1 second pause, and a controlled rise. While the weight itself wasn’t taxing, I did find these challenging as I was essentially holding my breath for the roughly 6 seconds of each rep.

2b. flat dumbbell presses

25 lbs x 15, 34 lbs x 10, 34 x 10, 34 x 9

The right hip threatened to cramp on me during the second set at 34 pounds, while the left hip threatened to cramp as I set up for the final set.

3a. TRX T’s

3 sets of 8

3b. seated cable rows

90 lbs x 10, 90 x 6 + 80 lbs x 4, 80 x 9

3c. floor kettlebell triceps extensions

6kg x 11, x 9, x 9