Sunday, September 25, 2011

RUN Stella. RUN!

Before the race.
Today the Palomino girls participated in the Run of Hope Seattle 5k Race/3K walk. This fundraising event benefits and supports pediatric brain tumor research at Seattle Children’s Hospital. This hits very close to home for our family. Peyton Rudkin, a child very close to us, was diagnosed last November with DIPG or Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. This is a rare inoperable brain tumor. Today we ran and walked for Peyton and the non-profit corporation, set up in her name, Peyton’s Ranch and Comfort Critters.

I had signed up for the run a couple months ago. I was planning on having the girls walk with one of the other families that were going. On our way to Seattle this morning, Stella said, “I want to do the run with you Mom.” My first response was “No, Stella, I don’t think you are ready to run that distance.” She kept begging to do it. We drove a few more miles while I thought about this. I said, “Okay, Stella. Let’s do it. But you have to try and do your best. No wimping out. No complaining.” I decided that because she and Peyton have been close since they were one and two years old, it would be a great experience to support  her dear friend. Sophia decided to do the walk with her other friends that were participating.

Happy to finish!
So once I agreed, Stella began predicting how the race would go. I have run with Stella a few times. She’s quick, but her endurance isn’t very good. She was chiding me saying things, like, “What if I beat you Mom? What if I have to leave you behind?” I said, “No, Stella, no matter what, we are running together, side by side, and we will cross the finish line together.” She giggled and reminded me of what a great runner she is. Where does she get this ultra competitive nature? I have no idea, whatsoever. . .

We get Stella registered for the 5K. She was so tickled to get her timing chip on her shoe and her number pinned on her shirt. She was ready! I warned her, “We are going to start out slow to keep our pace. I don’t want you getting too tired, too quick.” She assured me, this was not going happen.

The race begins. We are around a quarter mile in and she looks at me and says, “I have a side ache.” I told her to keep breathing, relax, and it would go away. And we were not stopping. Another quarter mile goes by. She is not having fun at this point because she has realized that running is hard. She says to me, “I’m not having fun. This hurts. This sucks.” I say to her, “We will slow down. You will be fine.” Another quarter mile. “I want to stop.” I said, “No. Keep going.” She didn’t want to be left behind, so she kept up. Let me assure you that I have run over a mile with Stella several times so I know what she’s capable of. This wasn’t child abuse.

I told her at one mile, we could walk a few steps. It was during this last leg of the first mile that I was thinking about what life lesson this was teaching her. I began talking to her to keep her mind occupied. I told her that we were running for all of the little children that didn’t get to use their legs anymore. I reminded her how much Peyton wishes she could still run through the neighborhood with her. I told her that we were blessed to be able to use our bodies this way. I said, “Keep going for Peyton.” She did.

What I didn’t say to her, was the realization that came to me while thinking of the finish. These children didn’t get to choose this path – this distance. They don’t get to quit when it becomes unbearable. Neither do their parents. They are forced to endure the pain. They are forced to keep going until they reach what is to be their finish line. And I was more determined than ever to make Stella finish this race and understand why we have to suffer through what is sometimes very hard for us.

At mile two, we turned a corner and I saw a big, nasty hill ahead of us. Stella looked up and said, “Oh my gosh, Mom!” Then she started crying. I told her I was proud of her and we needed to run up it until she really needed a break. She made it half way up. We walked a bit. I told her the great thing about hills, is that we get to head back down it on the other side! She was not convinced. She was tired. Working those little legs! Her face was red and she was breathing hard. But she was fine. And I was certain of this, or I wouldn’t have kept pushing her.

Nearing mile 3, I told her we were almost there. Her response was, “How the heck far is .1 miles?!” I said, “Not very far baby.” I told her again, how proud of her I was. I spotted the finish line. She said she needed to walk, but she could see it up ahead. We took 5 steps and I said, “We are going to run the rest! Let’s go!”

We crossed the finish line. People cheered us on. I could see the smile of accomplishment on her face. We were both exhausted – me, mentally, her, physically. We finished in 37:52. The anger she felt toward me during the run, for pushing her so hard, melted away. She hugged me and said, “We did it Mom!”

When we got home, we talked again about why we did this. How we did it for the kids that can’t. Why our bodies are blessings. Why moving freely is a gift, that unfortunately, can be taken from us. And as she curled up in a blanket on the couch, she said to me, “I get it.” But does she? At eight? I doubt it. How can she, possibly? I can hardly grasp the unfairness of life at 41.

But I tried to make her understand. And someday she will. She will look back and recall the day her Mom made her keep going when she wanted to stop.

I hope she will be grateful for what I was trying to teach her.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Suck it up, Butter Cup.

Not scary, until you meet her.
When I show new people (meaning women), the jump rope, I can see the fear in their eyes. And I can almost always, without fail, tell you what the first words out of their mouths with be.

“I can’t jump rope.” And every time, here is my response, “Because you’ll pee your pants?”

Let me tell you about my first experience with a jump rope, since I was in grade school. I had started CrossFit, but had yet to come across anything I wasn’t super excited to try. Enter double-unders. Can’t you hear the theme to Jaws that was playing in my head?

Anyway, I took one look at that thing and I knew what would be the unfortunate outcome of my attempting repetitive bouncing. So, I say to Brady Hubler, my coach at CrossFit Lake Tapps, “I have issues with bouncing.” I didn’t think I needed to explain in great detail, that I feared that I would pee my pants, in pretty short order, after a few brief moments with said jump rope. I was thinking that my admission would be met with compassion and understanding, considering my brave honesty.

“Well, Lori, that’s why we are jumping on rubber mats. They dry.” He smiled, and then handed me my jump rope. “Oh shit” was playing on repeat in my mind. “Oh piss,” would have been a more accurate statement, but you get where I am coming from. I jumped. I peed. I did what was expected of me. I am now pretty good at double-unders.

It’s just not jumping rope that can bring on the pee. So can jumping pull-ups, hard sprints, jumping squats/lunges, screaming at your children, gut busting laughter, sneezing, and coughing. If you’ve had children, you will probably experience this consequence. But you can’t let it stop you. No, don’t you let the pee win! Anyway, this brings me to a funny story that I would only share with my friends -- and everyone else who stumbles upon this blog.

One night, Cari and I see that double-unders are in the next day wod. So she says to me, “Hey friend, try wearing panties and a liner on double-under days.” I don’t wear panties with workout pants – because the last thing I need to worry about is panty lines or something crawling where it wasn’t meant to be during a hard wod. That’s another topic, however. But I say, “Okay. Sure.” Great plan, huh? All I will say is that, no, it did not work. And my panties were disposed of in a Wal-Mart bathroom garbage can after the fact. Yes. I had to run errands directly after my workout. And no, I wasn’t going to leave these panties in my trainer’s garbage!

So, one might assume that I’m extremely compassionate about this issue – but I’m actually not much different with new people than Brady was with me. My response is different, however, because whereas he had never peed his pants, I have. Numerous times. So instead of the words of wisdom that my trainer imparted to me at the time, I will give other words of advice. And this doesn’t just speak to CrossFit women -- Im talking to any woman who has to get on a trampoline, or show the neighborhood girls that you can do “Not this night, but the night before, 24 robbers came knocking at my door,” with the best of them.

Here is my advice, and it’s not great or fool-proof, but it’s all I have:

Dri-Fit-Fabric. In black. Wow. A brilliant material, that I am certain, a woman designed. I could be wrong and talking out of my ass, as I am occasionally known to do. So if a man came up with this concept for different purposes, kudos to him!

“Clamp that shit down.” What I mean by this, is to say, close off the girly parts, to the best of your ability. Lock your legs together. Hold that Kegel like your life depends on it.

Pee beforehand. Obvious, I know. And this doesn’t always work, but do it anyway. Pee is sneaky and likes to hide until the first jump. I swear there is a little space in my bladder reserved especially for workouts.

And finally, “suck it up buttercup.” That was posted, by my trainer, on our webpage as a personal message to me. Making the point that, a bit of pee in your pants won’t kill you. Or prevent you from finishing a wod.

Today, I PR’d doing double-unders. I did 35 consecutive repetitions. It may have cost me some tinkle, but I can always change my pants. I can’t always PR. It was worth it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ass to ankles, baby!

My current squat. Always a work in progress.
If you do not have a good squat, you don't have much. Because if you can't squat, you can't snatch. If you can't squat, you can't clean & jerk. And if you can't lift, life is not worth living. Because why? Let's say it together... "Because Olympic weightlifting is the coolest sport on the planet." Period. Yes, you may quote me.

Seriously, without a good squat, there are around a gazillion things you can't do. Well maybe not a gazillion, but heck of a lot of really cool stuff.

The squat is THE foundation movement for Olympic weightlifting. Just listen to what Greg Everett has to say about this -- “The squat is foundational to the Olympic lifts as a position, a movement and a strength exercise. Without a well-developed and consistent squat, neither pulling technique nor pulling power will produce entirely successful Olympic weightlifting.”

Sounds like a squat is a pretty big deal, huh? So, to reiterate, if you can’t squat, you don’t have much.

Okay, I know what you are thinking "can't I just power snatch and power clean, if my squat sucks?" Well, technically, sure -- if you want to remain a wussy forever --because you'll never reach your true max lift. So if you don't care about living up to your max potential, stop reading at this point. But if you're like the rest of us total badass (or admittedly wannabe badass) Oly lifters, you'd remove a rib to PR on a lift. So if you fall in to this camp, perfect your squat.

So, what distinguishes a power snatch or a power clean from a snatch and a clean? To give a simple answer is to say, it is the height at which you receive the weight. “Power” indicates that the bar was received above parallel. But what really determines where the lift is received? Well, that comes down to the combination of the force applied to the lift, the amount of weight on the bar and the mass/strength of the lifter. So this basically means that the lighter the load, generally speaking, the higher you will be able to receive the weight. As the load gets heavier, the bar “will accelerate less and not travel as high” (Greg Everett). So here is the deal. The heavier you lift, in proportion to your strength, you will receive the bar in a lower position. You will find it necessary to get under it and receive it in a full squat.

The amazing Aimee Anaya-Everett
What exactly is the Olympic squat? The elements are defined by depth, foot position, hip position, the back, weight distribution, head, bounce, and breath – all of which take a considerable time to define. And this is a blog, not a novel, so I won’t go into the details of each, but urge you to read up on this stuff. It is super important, friends.

So, if you care as much as I do, and why the heck wouldn’t you? I would suggest that you purchase the bible of this very awesome sport, “Olympic Weightlifting, a complete guide for coaches and athletes, second edition,” written by Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics. I don’t actually know if it’s the best book out there, but I have certainly gotten more use out of it than I’d ever thought possible. But hey, I am a chick who reads about this stuff for fun. I will assure you, however, that it’s easy to understand and it gives clear and concise information for beginners to advanced lifters. It is a must-have in my humble opinion. And we all know how humble I am.

Anyway, some lucky people are blessed with the natural flexibility to achieve the proper squat depth necessary while maintaining an upright torso posture. Others have to work hard to get there. It can be a lengthy process. Well worth the work, however. If the payoff is a killer heavy snatch, and clean and jerk? Or at the very least, you’ll look super cool doing it? Need I say more?

So, I do not want to be completely repetitive, but I will, and stress again . . . perfect your squat. How do we do this? Practice. Practice. Practice. And get some good coaching. Find someone who can recognize good/poor positioning, solid technique and therapies for individual issues. If you don’t have access to a trainer, then get on the internet and read. Buy books, watch videos. There is a lot of great information out there. Check out Catalyst Athletics. They are a super great resource for articles and videos.

I will leave you with one final thought. In the infamous words of Snoop Dogg, "drop it like it's hot." I mean your ass, not the bar.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Life is short.

The girls have been fighting all day. It started before I’d even finished my first cup of coffee this morning. I was upstairs trying to get ready and I could hear them screaming at each other and beating the crap out of one another. Well, hitting in the very girly way they do. Did I intervene? Nope. I turned up the radio. I took them to a dentist apt. Then to Wal-Mart for school supply shopping. Which is a little piece of fresh hell all on its own -- made even more fun when my lovely children won’t stop pushing each other and saying nasty things in low voices. So I matched the nasty low voices and said in my most threatening manner, “Would you like your fanny's beat in the middle of the crayon aisle right now?!” After Wal-Mart, we made our way to a middle school open house. Chaos is the only word that would describe that experience. Or maybe it just felt that way to me. We drove home. I heard the words, “I hate you (insert either Sophia or Stella)” several times. We pulled in the driveway. We unloaded the car. I poured a glass of wine and went up stairs. I heard the calamity of them sorting school supplies. More screaming at one another. I decided to escort them, ever so gently, into their rooms. With the instructions, “Do not come out, under any circumstances.”

And uttered the words, “I want to jump off a bridge.”

I came in to the office to sit and write a blog on “squatting,” for a bit of a mental escape, but decided to first check my email. I saw that my friend, Elizabeth had posted a new journal entry and a birthday video about Peyton. Peyton has a rare, inoperable brain tumor. I read it and cried. I’ve known Peyton since she was one. She turned 7 yesterday. She and Stella have grown up together. We live 2 houses apart. I love this child. And I felt guilty for saying that I want to "jump off a bridge” when I have perfectly, healthy kids. Even after a day like this. I have my kids. They are healthy.

Elizabeth & Peyton
My friend, Elizabeth, has taught me so many lessons in the last several months since Peyton was diagnosed. I am in awe of this woman. She has handled this unbelievably painful situation with dignity, and grace and almost always has a smile for everyone. She has shown me to appreciate the small things. The day to day things that we all take for granted.

About a week ago, Elizabeth asked me if the girls and I wanted to go and stay with them as their house in Preist Lake, Idaho. My first response was that I couldn’t because I’d have to cancel classes last minute. She looked at me and smiled, and said, “Life is short, Lori.”

I cancelled classes. We packed our bags. We had the most amazing journey. In so many ways. It was a once in a lifetime visit. I know this now. Life is short. And I am so blessed to have shared a wonderful, five days with Elizabeth and Chad and Peyton and Ryan, and all of the other wonderful people who were there. We had so much laughter. We had tears. We shared stories. We made memories. We lived.

Ryan, Stella, Peyton, Sophia
I’d like to freeze those moments. I want to feel the hot sun. I want to feel the sand in my toes. I want to see my friend smiling and laughing with her daughter. I want to see our kids playing in the water, making childhood memories that will last forever.

I want to stand on the edge of the dock. I want to stand there with that feeling of anticipation, wondering how it will feel when my body is submerged in the cool, clear, lake water. I want to take that leap. I want to be suspended in air for that brief moment. I want to hit the water and come to the surface, laughing and saying “woo hoo!” I want to remember that feeling of peace and simplicity and pure joy.

So, I will correct myself. I do not want to “jump off a bridge.” I want to dive of the dock at Elizabeth’s house in Priest Lake, Idaho. I want life to stay in that moment. Just the way it was. I want life.

Giving Peyton a squeeze!

For more information on Peyton Rudkin and Peyton’s Ranch, please visit