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  1. May 25, 2013 I have been doing a lot of restructuring of my Epic Quest, and have updated it as follows: Retitled to "ShadowLion Weaves the Strands Together," to reflect the more complete version of my epic quest that has evolved since I started this post. It now includes more of a life list and various modules for different aspects of my life that will be showing up in challenges as Life Quests. The "ShadowLion Returns to the Fireline" title has a narrower focus than what I currently see as my epic quest. I am now thinking of that as my Main Quest for the 40 week period that begins June 2, 2014 and ends in mid-March 2015, just in time for the Arizona Wildfire Academy. My plan for that portion of my epic quest is outlined in the next post of this thread and will be called "Forty Weeks to Fire Fit," so that I can abbreviate it to 40W2FF. Writing up this epic quest has been a time of intense and valuable reflection on my values and a realization of my own unique perspective that has grown out of my life experiences and choices to date. Oddly enough, I seem to have come back around full-circle (spiral, maybe?) to a new appreciation of the poem "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. More than 38 years ago, I hung a poster with the following excerpt on the wall of my dorm room above the head of my bed. I dreamed of what I would do when I was out of school, the places I would travel, the adventures I would have someday, somewhere. Some of those dreams have happened, some have changed, some have been left behind in favor of other dreams...but the same words still inspire and guide me. And, as I write this, a line from a popular rock song of the time is running through my head..."You're still the same old girl you used to be." Yeah, I guess so! Ulysses (excerpt) I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades Vext the dim sea: I am become a name; For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known; cities of men And manners, climates, councils, governments, Myself not least, but honour'd of them all; And drunk delight of battle with my peers, Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades For ever and forever when I move. How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use! As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life Were all too little, and of one to me Little remains: but every hour is saved From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things; and vile it were For some three suns to store and hoard myself, And this gray spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. As I get older, other parts of the poem take on new meaning, yet this fragment is still a polestar, a wish, a dream, and a reflection…
  2. Last challenge, I decided that I was going to add an appearance goal to my next quest. Because, hey, every gal wants to look good when she's got a big night out... Whether it's a smokin' date... with a hot guy... Or just an excuse to go out with the girls To check out the latest in fashionable footwear. Let's face it. A power suit conveys authority. But there are those times when you just want to get down and dirty... And cruise through town driving a screaming red truck with the biggest engine you can find. Even if no one understands what you really do... The celebrities you admire... Why you go to places everyone else is leaving They don't understand what's important to you: "They're just some old trees," they say. "What's one deer worth?" "There are so many other ways to make friends and serve your community..." There are just some things you can't explain. Things that go deeper than words, That may appear unrealistic, foolish, even dangerous to others. But if it is your quest, your destiny, you must pursue it. Or forever wonder what might have been... Motivation My motivation is simple: I want to fight fires again. To that end, my current Main Quest encompasses a 40 week program to get me "fire fit" - physically, mentally and spiritually - and ends in my attending the Arizona Wildfire Academy in mid-March of 2015 ready to pass my Work Capacity Test, so that I can re-qualify as a wildland firefighter. I plan to be ready to go for wildfire season 2015 in the southwest U.S on either a Type 2 hand crew or a wildland engine crew. Additional details in my Battle Log. (Many additional details - you have been warned.) Firefighters Train Hard to Work Hard STA-3, STR-2 This challenge overlaps Weeks 2 - 7 of my "Forty Weeks to Fire Fit" program, subsequently referred to as "40W2FF." Included in my program is a gradual ramp up in order to build the necessary heat tolerance for exercising outdoors in the high temperatures of a Phoenix, AZ summer and altitude tolerance for the 4 - 6 days per month that I will be at 7,000 ft. above sea level in Flagstaff, AZ. I will provide details of my use of a breathing trainer, heart rate monitor, and all the other geeky stat stuff of my program. (Oh, ye Gods and Goddesses! The Nomograms!) If you have a particular question, just ask. Many moons ago I used to be the training officer in my department and I love to pontificate... Endurance Just Might Save Your Life (STA-3) For wildland fire suppression, endurance is the primary focus, as opposed to the sheer strength demanded by structural firefighting. Weeks 2 - 7 of Phase 1 coincide with this challenge. Phase 1 - 8 week program of walking transitioning to walk/jog intervals. Success will be being able to walk/jog in intervals for a distance of 5K, with an average heart rate of 145 or below, and a peak HR under 155. Goal time: < 45 minutes Strength Could Well Save Someone Else's (STR-2) A pre-conditioning program and two additional phases of a body weight strength program timed to reach the goal of starting the Hotshot Strength program (Phase 3) at Week 29 of my 40 week program. Weeks 2 - 4 of Phase 0, and Weeks 1 - 3 of Phase 1 coincide with this challenge. Phase 0 - 4 weeks of continued injury recovery and pre-conditioning program utilizing exercises from “Durability†section below. Focus on getting elbows to withstand pushups and pull-ups by dropping back and then gradually progressing from wall pushups and lightly weighted rows; establishing base of low set and rep numbers on the other exercises. This is early stage stuff while I establish my top priority right now, the base aerobic levels of my endurance program. Phase 1 - 12 week assisted exercise program of knee-pushups; assisted pull-ups, grip hangs and rows; modified dips; lunges and variations. Additionally - squats, planks, sit-ups, burpees and variations. This will kick things up a notch and prepare me for an increased focus on strength training in Phase 2. Firefighters Take Good Care of Their Rigs CON-5 Care of your vehicle is mission critical. Fueling it right, maintaining all of its systems, having every piece of equipment anchored, in the right place, and in good working order is of the highest priority. I will fuel my vehicle with high-quality, nutrient dense foods with an eye to maintaining endurance and muscle, while trimming off excess weight. I will learn to tailor my macros to the phases of my training. Keep the Crud Out of the Tank! (CON-1) No Soda PVP Achieve another 42 days of my 365 total on the No Soda PVP. This is a reduced point number from last challenge (CON-5) because it is so much easier now! Change the Oil and Lube the Chassis Regularly, Check All Fluids and Maintain Recommended Levels (CON-2) Durability (CON-1) Comprehensive set of warmups, mobility/stability, and “prehab†exercises for an older female athlete. Bone-builders (including jumping exercises); spine/shoulder//hip/knee exercises to maintain joint health; dynamic stretching to increase ROM and overall flexibility; specific exercises for identified weak areas including head/neck/spine alignment and bi-lateral muscle balance, ankles, wrists/hand/grip, pelvic floor, and elbows. I MUST warm up before every exercise session. Fluids (CON-1) Optimize H2O intake. Consume between 80 and 96 oz. of water on "normal" days; up to 128 oz. or more on high activity days in hot, dry conditions. Keep in mind that, if I were a vehicle manufactured in 1958, I would be considered an antique. Humpf... There are those that would consider me irreparable, over-the-hill, not worth restoring... Or only fit for a parade... I aim to prove them wrong! Body Composition Mission (CON-2) My 40 week end goal is a bodyweight of ~150#, +/-5# as long as my body fat % is at 20% or less using the U.S. Navy Body Fat Calculator. This tends to be a little under actual, so a DEXA scan would be even better, acceptable BF% < 24%. Goal for this challenge is to drop my BF% by at least 3 percentage points, to 36% or less. This will be from a combination of fat loss (primarily) and lean mass gain. (The following was calculated using US Navy Body Fat Calculator, it is an estimate. I think the calculator is somewhat overestimating my recent fat loss/lean muscle gain, but that it will all even out by the time I reach my goal weight.) Body Composition - Current Total Mass: 190 lbs. Lean Mass: 116 lbs. Fat Mass: 74 lbs. BF% = 39% Waist = 37" Hips = 43" Neck = 15" Height: 5'6 1/2" One Year Ago Total Mass: 206 lbs. Lean Mass: 107 lbs. Fat Mass: 99 lbs. BF% = 48% Waist = 42" Hips = 46" Neck = 16" Height: 5'5 3/4" 2004 (Fire Academy) Total Mass: 152 lbs. Lean Mass: 117 lbs. Fat Mass: 35 lbs. BF% = 23% Waist = 28" Hips = 37" Neck = 13" Height: 5'6 3/4" GOAL Total Mass: 150 lbs. Lean Mass: 120 lbs. Fat Mass: 30 lbs. BF% = 20% Waist = 27" Hips = 37" Neck = 14" Height: 5'6 3/4" Non-graded extras I want to experiment with at least one day per week of vegetarian eating and play with various combinations of macros to see how my body responds at different points in my training. Ideally, I will figure out an eating plan that will be useful as the intensity of my endurance and strength training increases. Firefighters Always Keep A Reserve of Water in Their Tank; They Top Off Their Tank at Every Opportunity DEX-1, WIS-2, CHA-2 You never run your water tank or other water source completely dry. Never. Otherwise you risk not having enough water for your own protection if things suddenly go south. You always keep that 100 gallon reserve available and you top off your tank at every opportunity. This may well be the hardest part of my challenge. I tend to go all out and to burn the candle at both ends. I will not succeed in my quest if I continue to do that. If I do, I will get injured or sick and will not be able to keep the pace I need to keep. I need to change my habit of staying up late to work or research or write or whatever until the wee hours of the morning and then turnaround and be up at 6:30 or 7 am. I regularly get by on just 4 or 5 hours of sleep during the week, then crash on the weekends. Rest, Recovery & Relaxation (WIS-2, CHA-1) Adequate rest and recovery will be critical to my success, as will providing for regular relaxation and recreation. Rest (WIS-1) Curfew/Bedtime/Lights Out - These are not synonymous. Curfew means I must "be in the house." Screens connected to the outside world must be turned off. Bedtime means actually in bed, but I may read, journal, meditate, or pray until lights out. Lights out - Dark, quiet, eyes shut, and brain powered down. Curfew is one hour before Lights Out. Bedtime can be any time between Curfew and Lights Out. Lights Out for Week One is 1:30 am, Week Two - 1:00 am, Week Three - 12:30 am, Week Four - midnight. At the end of Week Four, I will determine if I want or need to go any earlier for Lights Out. Going to bed much earlier messes with my wind down from work. (Often don't get home until 9:30 or so at night.) Wake Up Time is 7 am for Week One, 6:45 am for Week Two, 6:30 for Weeks Three through Six. Naps are fine, if needed. And, I reserve the right to adjust these times as I go along, as long as it is to increase my total sleep time overall. Recovery (WIS-1) Two cheat meals and one indulgent treat per week are not only allowed, they are encouraged. I am required to take at least one full day off of exercise per week, two if showing signs of undue fatigue or of developing any injury. (Situational Awareness applies to one's body, too!) Recreation (CHA-1) I must take a daily half-hour of recreation time and at least half a day per week of complete restorative down time, preferably much of that fully present with my partner. This is the time for all/any of those fun, relaxing, entertaining and/or creative things that get shoved aside by extra work, low priority household projects, ruminating, obsessing, surfing the net, mindlessly playing games or watching TV that one or the other or both of us don't even enjoy all that much. It's just habit. No more. No multi-tasking, no computer. No business activities, no studying, no housework or little nagging projects, or vegging out in front of the tube. No exceptions, no excuses. This time is my 100 gallon reserve. Attitude and Stress Management (DEX-1, CHA-1) To stay positive and not succumb to my depressive tendencies, or my doubts or fears about what I am attempting, I must cultivate inner strength and resilience. To stay peaceful and calm in the midst of great change and effort, I will manage my schedule and environment for enhanced productivity and streamlined maintenance. I will utilize the fantastic support network that is Nerd Fitness by actively participating in my guild, my accountabilibuddy groups and my PVPs. (Linked in my signature.) Daily Routines (CHA-1) Keep to a set of morning and evening routines that encapsulate recurring chores and desired actions into a simple, easy to follow checklist format. Besides carrying forward my kanban board, clutter patrol, and other good habits I have built in the last year, these routines also include a choice of tools for mental resilience and stress reduction - meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, inspirational reading, etc - of which I will do at least one once per day for a minimum of 10 minutes. These are mix and match, in any combination to reach the 10 minutes, for now. I hope that experimentation this challenge will give me clues as to which ones to focus on in more depth in future challenges. And I have set the bar low. I can always do more if time allows or I need the boost. Tai Chi (DEX-1) I considered including this under "Durability", but decided that it deserved a point of it's own. It is moving meditation, stress reduction, and a workout that can range from light recovery to challenging dynamic strength and flexibility, all in one. At least twice per week. This challenge is far more complex than I originally intended, and that is after I cut out a lot of stuff! I had great success last challenge with simpler, more focused goals, but I believe the quest I have chosen requires all of the above, and probably quite a bit more. For now, it is enough. The studying that I need to do, the drills, all of the other things can wait a little while so that I can get the central component firmly in place, my physical training. Everything else must serve and support the establishment of that. Once I am sure that is complete, then I can add in other things. Oh, and that appearance goal is going to be an un-graded mini-quest with the Renaissance Rebels. All of my activities for this challenge are quite simple to determine on a day-to-day basis: "Was X scheduled for today? Did I do X today?" Yes or no. I will log my progress in my challenge spreadsheet (currently under construction and to be finished prior to the challenge start). Each goal will be graded with the standard A, B, C, D, or F system using the usual percentages, and points awarded accordingly. And just because this is Nerd Fitness: (Cue Star Wars Theme...) Heh, heh. After three challenges of trying, I'm putting some of that Digital Storytellers learnin' to use. I've finally got myself a themed quest... And, oh, the truck porn that awaits!
  3. So, a little bit about me and my current situation first: Just going into my final year of university study (Russian, to answer your question!) and I've managed to build up quite the running habit since I got back from my year abroad in Russia at the end of June. So with several months' of regular running under my belt, and having managed to increase my average distance from 2km to 6.3km, I'm ready to start upping the ante. The MAIN QUEST: To improve all areas of my stamina, strength, flexibility, and mental integrity so that I could pass the physical fitness tests for entry into the Fire and Rescue service (UK). Goals: 1. Run 10km in under 1 hour. 2. Weight/bodyweight train at least 3 times a week, for 1 hour per session. 3. Either attend at least one martial arts class or one stretching session each week, to improve flexibility. 4. Run intervals at least twice a week, to bring average pace down to 6:10/km. LIFE SIDE QUEST: Complete my university Russian presentations far enough in advance that I can practise, practise, practise until I can talk freely about the subjects and answer any questions I might be asked about them. MOTIVATION The aim is that I could easily pass the physical fitness test for entry into the Fire and Rescue service (should any vacancies arise). Whilst they rarely recruit now, I can still make sure I'd be ready to take the test at a moment's notice, and I'll keep my eyes peeled for openings.
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