Archive for March, 2011

Race Day… Sunday, March 20th 2011… 9:00am start time.

I was entering the unknown.  Having always raced in the great outdoors, it was quite a different experience for me entering the narrow stairwells of the tallest skyscraper in Seattle.  I had a new challenge in front of me and I had no idea what to expect.  Adrenaline was high, so it was essential for me to focus on the fact that I had trained for this moment.  Between the gym, kettlebells, and outdoor stair climbing, I had put in my time and I had to be confident in that.  But nonetheless… my heart was racing!

They took my picture, and then I set off into the stairwell.  I never have liked stairwells much… they actually creep me out.  Not as much as spiders do… but still, one time, many years ago, I got locked in a parking garage stair well and I got that claustrophobic panicky feeling you get when you think you might spend a decent amount of time in a dark, dank place by yourself until someone realizes you are missing.  It ended well, but that feeling still freaks me out a bit.  I actually hadn’t even thought about it until that morning…  I don’t know why. 

Anyhow, they spaced the runners by 5 seconds, but by floor 10 I had already passed a few people.  I started to worry that maybe I had started off too strong.  I eased up a bit, and alternated my pace between taking the stairs 2 at a time and one at a time.  By about the 20th floor I felt my pace slow a bit more, and I think it dawned on me that I had really just begun this climb. 

But by the time I reached the half-way point, about the 35th floor, I felt a surge of energy… and then started passing a few more folks.  By this time, a couple of runners were being carried out on stretchers (probably from lack of oxygen) so I tried not to focus on that and found myself in somewhat of a head-game.  I had to psych myself up to continue to push it, regardless of what I was seeing around me.  Again… I had trained for this, and I had to shake the odd temptation to take it easy.  Everything was going as planned.  Better than planned, actually, because by the time I reached the sign that read “10 floors to go” I was only on my third song on the MP3 player!  That was a great moment in the race!  I kicked it into high gear and started pushing it… I got into a great rhythm of taking the stairs two at a time and staying strong on my pace.  By that time, Jai Ho was on (the song from the closing credits of Slumdog Millionaire.  if you haven’t seen it, check it out… it’s very powerful.)  And this was bliss!  I was almost to the top and I had the energy I needed to complete this race strong.

I finished at 13:34.  A respectable finish for a first-timer.  It’s just short of 100 steps per minute… which was my stretch goal!  My ACTUAL goal was to finish in less than 20 minutes, because that’s the time that Dr. Dan did it with full firefighting gear on, which weighs about 58 pounds!!  So, reason would tell me that I had to beat that… but still had no idea what to expect.  (Anyway, you remember Dr. Dan from previous posts… Kettlebell Trainer extraordinaire… and our own local firefighter here in NE Seattle.  Our team was the “Kettlebell Climbers” and fyi.. we’re doing it again next year!)

A final word about music:  the night before the race I hit Napster to finalize my race-day playlist and I counted about 50 songs!!  Crazy right?  I realized that the race could be over before I had a chance to listen to 4 or 5 songs.  This was serious stuff!  I am very motivated by music, and I use it every time I run to push me harder.  I needed 4 songs.  4 amazing songs.  4 songs that would push me.  And that became my goal the next morning too… finish in 4 songs.  I finished in 3 1/3 songs! 

The Big Climb was really amazing.  I am now finding it difficult to think that I have to wait a full year to do it again.  I may have to travel… NY… Chicago… hmm..

Happy times!!  Thanks for sharing this experience with me!

Peace Out,

There is much debate about how much you should train the week before a race.  Everyone has a different opinion, but let me just say that I’m not in the camp of those who recommend rest.  I do think it’s wise to ramp your training down a bit, but I think one day of rest is just fine.  My preference is for a single day of rest two days before race day.  The day before the race I like to do a very low-key run, just to warm up the muscles and keep everything loose.  I also like to do a lot of stretching the day before (try five or six 10-minute “stretch-breaks”). 

One word of caution: just don’t do anything wacky during the last week that may cause injury.  Don’t try any new classes or run new routes or hazardous terrain.  For example, avoid trail runs if you’re doing a road race.  Stumps and roots could trip you up if you’re not used to training on them.  The very last thing you want to do is squander months of training in the last few days.  

Let me try to summarize how I “ramped down” my training the week before the BIG CLIMB!

Monday:  Intense core yoga that kicked my butt and a bunch of kettlebells. (hey, the race is still 6 days away!)

Tuesday:  Farida and I did light stair training… 5 or 6 sets of 300 stairs.  (Farida joined Kettlebell Climbers and we’ve been training together for about 5 weeks now) Afterward we got some coffee at our favorite little joint (Joe Bar on Roy)… we did a few other things while I waited for the espresso shots to kick in, then I went back to the stairs to knock out a few fast sets.  I timed myself.  The first one was a warm up, then second one I did in 2 minutes and 20 seconds.  The third set I did in 2 minutes and 15 seconds.  It felt amazing!   I figured this wouldn’t translate to 1300 stairs, but I have to admit that I did think about the math:  2:15 for 300 equals 9 minutes for 1200… add a few more to get to 1311… that’s still less than 10 minutes… hmm…  Exciting!!!

Wednesday: Light kettlebells, no running.

Thursday: Light stair work again with Miss Farida.  I think we did 5 sets.  then more coffee…

Friday: Day of rest

Saturday: Light run, 3 miles through the Ravenna trail system.  (it was technical, but probably not wise before a stair climb as I mentioned above.) 

RACE DAY!!!  see my next entry for all the amazing details!!!

Time and time again I am reminded of how important setting goals are in training… and how even MORE important it is to keep those goals QUIET!!!!  Goals are personal… and only YOU can determine #1: what is a reasonable goal for you  #2: what goal is going to motivate you to train harder #3: what goal is going to get you to the finish line on race day. 

More on this post later… but I just finished an awesome training run and didn’t want to forget a lesson “re-learned” today…  Set a goal and keep it quiet. 

In fact: there is actually research to support this stretching back to the 1920’s.  (However, at the moment I am indulging in the ritual of cooking corned beef and cabbage in a nice stout on St. Patrick’s Day… so I will edit this post later tonight to fill you in on the details.) 


Ok, here is the “TED TALK” about the research behind keeping your goals quiet:


I am interested in his point about the mind being ‘tricked’ into a feeling of completion, or a certain level of accomplishment, after merely telling someone about your goal.  I have always thought that telling others, like blogging about it, would then keep one more honest about going forward and working on it.  (I suppose that’s assuming the people you tell will then be interested enough to ask you a few weeks later, “hey, how’s that training going?”  Not wanting to tell them how lazy you’ve been, perhaps that would motivate you into action. 

However, all that aside, my personal reasons for keeping goals quiet are simple.  I want to avoid the inevitable criticism and/or cynicism by other people who have no earthly idea what I am made of, yet they can’t seem to keep their pessimistic mouth shut!   Am I ranting?  Well… let me explain.  For as far back as I can remember I have always “dreamed big”.   Although this may seem like a good quality (and it is, to be sure) it does have a side effect:  A lifetime of experience watching human behavior react to my goals and dreams and ideas.

As one commentator wrote: “Keeping goals to yourself also helps you avoid criticism. If you’re the type of person that holds other people’s opinions of you in high regard, then a critical thought can be a deadly blow. Most entrepreneurs know how tough it can be to fight such criticism.”

This is a true statement, and I can personally relate. 

This is why I will get up on my soap box one more time and say: “Only YOU can determine your goals, because only you know what you’ve got inside.  You know what you’re made of, and what motivates you, and what is going to get you to the next level.  Don’t ever, for a minute, consider somebody else’s notion of how big that fire is inside you!” 

Keep it quiet, and go forth and conquer!



Tear it up!

Posted: March 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

I tore it up on the dance floor Saturday night with the “twenty-somethings” at Havana in Capitol Hill, and that took the place of my workout on Sunday.  What?  You think that’s cheating??  Hey, I was wearing platform heels and my legs are still talking to me!   

But tonight it’s big salad night and a 10pm kettlebell workout…

I’m planning to tear it up with two of my favorites: 15 minutes of lunges and then 25 reps per side of get-ups to side plank.  A good primer for my stair run in the morning.

Music: Liquid Soul

Salad: lot’s of raw stuff… including sesame and pumpkin seeds from GoRaw… my new favorite addiction.  

Do it with me!


Squeeze out the fear, because otherwise the fear will just paralyze you.
–Lewis Pugh

As for any new challenge, you have to get your head in the right place before you begin.  This is important:  If you go into something thinking of a “Plan B”, or an “escape route”, you are not fueling your mind to help your body. 

The mind-body connection is strong.  Feed it… fuel it… with the right thoughts, and you will finish!  However, if you enter a race thinking: “If I can’t run the whole thing I can always walk to the end”, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Even during a training run, if you set out to do a 10-mile loop, but think: “I can always turn around at mile 3 for a shorter run”… you are setting yourself up to fall short of your goal.  Mentally and physically.

One of the best pieces of advice I have heard on this topic is from an interview with Lewis Pugh.  see link below:

Here’s a section from Lewis’ interview:

As he was about to dive into the Arctic, he says, that mental attitude came into play. “The most immediate thing you have to do is to just squeeze out the fear, because otherwise the fear will just paralyze you. And then commit 100 percent…. I wanted to swim a kilometer across the North Pole. And I wanted to do it to demonstrate graphically to the world what was happening in the Arctic, because the North Pole should be frozen over.

“I remember thinking to myself, if things go bad, I’ll get out after 500 meters…if you think about a swim like that, that’s the worst way of thinking. What you’re doing is confusing your subconscious, because you’re planning for victory and defeat at the same time.

“So the only way I could get into that water was to get as aggressive as possible — not wild aggression, controlled aggression — and to get really focused, and then commit 100 percent to doing the full kilometer and then just dive in, go for it.”

“I just never, ever want to give up. Most battles are won in the 11th hour, and most people give up,” he says. “If you give up once, it’s quite hard. If you give up a second time, it’s a little bit easier. Give up a third time, it’s starting to become a habit.”

Pugh is planning for another epic challenge, but he won’t say what it will be. The only hint he will give is that it will dramatize a threat to another of the world’s major ecosystems.

Figure 8’s

Posted: March 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

There are several ways to effectively do a Figure Eight, and there’s also a version called “Figure Eight to a Hold”, which is good… but for today’s purposes, I’d like to talk about the basic figure 8 which is shown in this short video.  The kettlebell is passed from hand to hand as you form a figure 8 through your legs.  After knocking out 20 or so, switch directions. 

Be sure to keep your body low to the ground in a good wide squat.  I also have a few other modifications of my own borrowed from my yoga practice:

1.  Make sure your knee is tracking over your second toe.  (very important to avoid tweaking your knee)

2. As you pass under your right knee, bend your right leg into side-lunge (knee tracking over 2nd toe).  Then straighten as you move over to the left side, and create a side-lunge on the left.

3. My yoga instructor always reminds us to “suck navel into spine”.  Basically, pulling in abs.  I am always appreciative of this reminder, because it really helps me get my abdominals into the game by visualizing “front body” suctioning into “back body”, so to speak.  Visualization is so important during exercise, I’ve talked about this before, but it allows us to reach greater levels of fitness.  So, when doing the figure 8’s, “suck navel to spine!”

Put on a good CD and power through several songs with at least 12 KG and I guarantee you’ll get an amazing abdominal workout!

Peace Out,

It’s two weeks before race day… and everyone around you is coughing and sneezing… and it’s becoming increasingly important to stay healthy.  How do you continue to train hard every day, yet keep from feeling run-down and possibly getting sick? 

I’ve been reading up on this because I have two children in school who come in contact with everything… and then they bring it all home!  We need to boost our defenses!   But I don’t like spending too much time thinking about it, or spending too much money on things that don’t work.  And I don’t like the idea of drastically changing my diet either.  Supporting your immune system shouldn’t become a big task.  I’ve done pretty well by simply adding a few “little extras” to what I’m already eating, and I’m stepping it up a notch in the weeks before race day. 

Here are my suggestions (secrets!) to stay healthy: 

  • Drink a small glass of Kefir (probiotics), or add it to your yogurt in the morning.
  • Add about 40-50 drops of Echinacia/Goldenseal to your orange juice. 
  • Add a tablespoon or two of Whey Protein powder to your oatmeal after it’s finished cooking.  Add fresh strawberries for extra vitamin C. 
  • Add a teaspoon or two of Green Match Powder to your afternoon tea.
  • Add raw kale to almost anything (smoothies, salad, veggie saute, etc.) 
  • Take a tablespoon of Manuka Honey (active 15+ or more) several times a day and let it dissolve under your tongue.  I am partial to the “Healing Honey” brand from New Zealand.

Also, don’t forget about some very old, but highly effective, remedies:  using a Neti Pot and a tongue scraper every morning!  Try it out… so far, so good… my whole family has successfully managed to avoid getting sick throughout the entire fall and winter with the above additions!

Be well,

Turkish Get-Ups

Posted: March 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is an excellent video of how to do a Turkish Get Up safely.  Tonight I needed a quick workout, so I only did about 20 minutes of kettlebells.  I decided that most of that time would be spent knocking out some get-ups with the yellow kettlebell.  (they are harder than they look, my friends!)  I still broke a sweat in the first 5 minutes and feel primed for my training tomorrow morning on stairs.