#15 – Design and build my own home gym. Check.

Friends keep texting me, “Are you caught up on Handmaid’s Tale?” “Have you seen the latest Westworld?” “Are there any more episodes of the Roseanne reboot?” “Have you watched that new show _______?”

No dudes, things have been a bit…busy.

I’ve officially been getting dressed out of moving boxes going on seven weeks, and tomorrow is the last day of school. Yet somehow between moving, working, and currying my dad to appointments, I’ve also managed to build the foundation of my new home gym in our garage.

I’m not joking when I say we are getting dressed out of boxes – we literally have no furniture for our clothing. You would think that is priority #1, but buying a bonfire for the back patio and picking out exercise equipment is more fun.

First, I enlisted my friend, Kerrie, to help me paint the garage walls (they were pretty gnarly) a basic beige. Then I did my research on gym flooring, which is considerably more expensive than I anticipated. After reading many, many online reviews and getting feedback from the trainers at my gym, I settled on interlocking square tiles, which were equally (or even less) expensive as buying used scraps on Craigslist.

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But just plain black tiles sounded boring, and maybe not versatile enough for all of the activities I have planned. I also opted for a swatch of turf tiles…the picture of the guy with the tractor tire basically sold me.

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Truly, 2018 is a great year. I was able to cross-reference prices and shop multiple vendors, order everything on Friday and have it delivered on Tuesday. What a world we live in.

Of course, the plan was the spend the following weekend installing said flooring, but by the next afternoon the boxes were calling to me. It was also important that I install them all myself – while I know Thor would help me, this is my project. Spoiler alert: the tiles didn’t fit perfectly together (especially when I laid down the turf), but with a little trimming here and jamming there, I had a finished product. The whole floor process took me about four hours, which is also equivalent to eight listenings of the new Kanye album.

Let’s remember the old:

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And now the new:

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Our bevy of Nike posters also found their home. We don’t have a single picture hanging in the house, mind you, just the garage.

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Finally, we can move onto the fun part – the equipment. I’ll be picking up a spin bike soon, and Thor will be installing some boxing stuff and my TRX. As I’m officially broke, things like a weight bench or weights will have to come later. Guess I’ll be lifting the cats for reps.

Got any exercise equipment that you want to get rid of? Let me know. Have an Arnold Schwarzenegger poster you want taken off your hands? Send it my way.

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#7 – Learn to split firewood. Check.

Years ago, one of my colleagues kept talking about how he wanted abs like Chris Hemsworth. I happened across a “Thor” workout in a fitness magazine and left it on his desk and he proceeded to spend a whole weekend working on his “Thor abs”. Sadly, I can’t seem to find this workout online today, but it had A LOT of woodchopping to prepare for the constant hammer throw downs.

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It seems like pretty much every guy I know has chopped some firewood in their life, and I’ve never been given that opportunity. Despite my hearty “let-me-try” attitude, my upbringing was still sexist enough to deny me the opportunity to find my calling in the ESPN Lumberjack games. This is Oregon, aren’t we supposed to be born with an axe in our hand? SandyPracticalAmazondolphin-max-1mb.gif

As “Learn to split firewood” landed on my 2018 Bucket List, my personal trainer helped me prepare for the real thing. Every week, we would practice with a sledgehammer and a tractor tire, and he would graciously hold back his amusement as I muddled my way through the wood chop motions. Maybe it comes naturally to some, but not me.

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But over time, the muscle memory set-in and my endurance improved. It was time for the real thing…and who better to take me ACTUAL woodchopping than my husband, Thor.

We settled on his sister’s house, which is more like a suburban amusement camp than a regular house. Their property spans into a natural wooded-setting, complete with a fire pit and zip line. The family gathered around and gave me several pointers, and then proceeded to watch me fruitlessly hack at a piece of wood. But eventually, I got over the fear of blinding splinters or accidentally hacking off my leg.

Here’s my proof:

Unfortunately, the only thing sore today are my hands so I don’t think I’ll be rocking “Thor abs” anytime soon, but it was definitely still a workout. Chopping wood is deceptively hard, IMHO.

Want to see how the real-life Thor chops wood?

100 Burpees Will Be the Death of Me

Let me tell you, nothing throws off your training schedule like half a week in Vegas. Between the casino smoke and the two foot daiquiris, my mornings weren’t exactly primed for burpees (although decimating a cornish game hen at Tournament of Kings is killer protein).

Now that I’m back in town and back to work, I’m feeling the pressure to close-in on my goal of 100 burpees in one set…ideally by December 1st.

Once again, I ask myself WHY DID I SET THIS GOAL?! It’s really, really hard. Not exactly fun. Not very motivating.

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My thinking was that if you can do 100 burpees without stopping, you’re basically a badass. Am I right?

Tonight I gave myself a burpee midterm and made it to 50 without stopping, my arms straining around 37. I also did not feel a distinct need to barf, so that was a win right there. Once I caught my breath, I did two more sets of 25.

At this point in the process, it’s more than physical. It’s straight mental, meaning I might need a partner to push me to the very end of my training. But then again, if I’m going to throw up I might want to do it in secret.

 

Run #10 -Apple Valley, California

My running the last few months has really been on and off, due to my nagging knee issues, so it’s crunch time for my goal of running twelve different cities by the end of the year. Luckily, I’ve started my first prolotherapy injections (blog post to come soon on that) and have been able to get back out on the road pretty successfully.

Though I traveled to both Dallas and Vegas last month, running wasn’t really possible, but these last couple days I was working with the Apple Valley School District in California and was able to sneak in a run. Although my rental car reservation didn’t go through, the assistant superintendent insisted that I borrow his truck and drew me a very specific map where I could go running. Although I was hesitant to borrow the keys and drive around a strange town, he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

His map took me up through a relatively suburban (and safe) neighborhood, that went straight up so that I could get a view of Apple Valley. While not exactly the most picturesque town, it was nice to get out and see something different.

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The roads were super wide, but apparently the town doesn’t do sidewalks. The locals told me this had something to do with equestrians and that a lot of people ride horses around town…and I did notice that two of the principals I met were wearing cowboy boots.

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It was hardly like my more glamorous runs earlier this year (i.e. Barcelona), but it was a nice solid loop and if I’m in town again, I’ll probably do it again. Regardless of how “glamorous” or “non glamorous” my runs in each city have been, they are a way of getting to know a little bit more about the place I’m staying. You can drive around, but running really makes you notice where you are and how people are living.

This also means that I have just two more city runs to complete this goal! (I kind of have a plan for run #12, but I might need to take a day trip to the coast or something to get in the other one).

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Also, anyone else get that urge to blow through this on their dirt bike as a Terminator chases them in a semi truck? Just me…?

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#1 – Learn to dribble and shoot a basketball. Check.

Out of all the goals I had this year, shooting a basketball seemed the most intimidating. Coming in at five foot zero, that net is so far away. And let’s be real, my arm-sport game is pretty weak. Although I did learn to throw a ball better last year, it’s far from a bragging right.

The first time Thor took me to the basketball court was embarrassing to say the least. He started modeling how to shoot a basket and I was like, “No back it up – how do I even hold a basketball?” but with a few sessions of practice, I was getting the hang of it.

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Question: Why do I even care about shooting a basketball?

After watching so much NBA with the men of my life, I repeatedly failed to understand how anyone could miss a free throw. Isn’t that what they are paid MILLION$ of dollars for? And everyone is lined up on the side, you can take your time – what is so hard about a free throw?!

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And people would explain to me that there is so much more to basketball, and blah blah blah. But seriously, isn’t a free throw basically FREE?! (My head is still exploding over this).

Answer: If I want to talk shit about free throws, I should be able to make them myself.

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Now that Beaverton built a fancy new school in my backyard, I can practice free throws all I want. Thor has shown me the ropes, but I need to demonstrate mastery independently; in the teacher world, we call this gradual release of responsibility. I believe my learning target is, “I can dribble a basketball and shoot free throws at 80% accuracy.” Sound fair?

I’ve been practicing a lot on my own, and consistently I am able to sink (is that the right term?) eight out of ten baskets. AND I can demonstrate from multiple points of entry on the court (all the PE teachers around the world right now should be taking note that differentiating for proficiency isn’t hard at all!). I can even adjust for wind interference. Whaaaaaaaaat. I said it: wind.

Here we go, not exactly the most exciting video – but you get the idea:

And just in time for the new basketball season, here are some big fails. (Ugh – so many Blazers featured in here…)

Run #6 – Springdale, OR

This week I’m pulled from civilization to accompany 25 students from my school at Outdoor School. Five nights, six days of camp songs, camp food, and really peppy high schoolers. The weather is probably the best I’ve ever experienced in all my years at ODS so I’m trying to take advantage of being outdoors and away from the normal life within my office walls.

On Monday, I snuck out for a little while to jog around and find a running route. Unfortunately, the longest trail loop within the camp is less than half a mile (and littered with groups of students) so the road in and out of camp is about the only thing I could find.

Today, I went out in search of something longer and more exciting. The road out of the camp is about a mile straight up, although I did stop several times to check out the baby cows. At a mile and a half, I made it to the highway but there was no shoulder and cars were ripping by so I turned around and headed back.

The road was well-paved and surrounded by farms so it was an enjoyable three miles, despite the near 400 ft elevation climb.

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This run is not as exciting as Barcelona or as nostalgic as the KU campus, and it wasn’t for speed or distance (I stopped to ogle baby cows), but while all the other teachers are filling up on carbs and doing their grading, at least I’ve gotten out there.

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This means I’m officially half-way through my goal of running in 12 different cities by the end of the year. Next week, I’m signed up for a 5k at the Oregon State Penitentiary and I’m headed to Greece in June so I’ve got a couple runs to look forward to in the immediate future.

2015 was the first year I didn’t really make any specific fitness goals (at least on my official “list”). I thought and thought and thought…and decided that maybe my unofficial goal would just be to enjoy exercising, and not push myself to a point where I might get injured again.

(Of course, that didn’t really work out when I totally tweaked my knee in May and took the advice of my surgeon to take a break from running. BUT WHATEVER – I’m better now.)

But you didn’t think I wasn’t still tracking, did you? My compulsive personality just won’t allow that. Maybe I didn’t blog about it, but I certainly knew in the back of my mind where I was going.

So this year, for the record, I still ran 162 miles (down from 280 miles in 2014) outside on the road.

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And I biked 181 miles (up from zero miles in 2014…..) inside at the gym on the Expresso bike.

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I also did something like 10,000 burpees all over the place. For real.

Sadly, I didn’t get to run the Oregon State Penitentiary Race because my knee was out of commission (although my friend, Courtney, did it all by herself!).

Some of my friends made the goal of running 1000 miles over the course of the year, and that astounds me. You would have to run sooooo much! Did any of you make the goal?! Do your feet still work?! Would you do it again??

I’ve got some ideas of what I want to do for 2016, but for now, I can look back and at least know that I did things in moderation. A little running here, a little biking there, and a lot of burpees everywhere.