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WolfDreamer

WolfDreamer Continues to Master the Four Elements

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10 minutes ago, WolfDreamer said:

 

I have an antique rotary phone next to my desk at work. It is fun watching my students play with it and try to figure it out. It also makes me feel old.

 

The vest is great. I knew I couldn't swing for a more expensive vest (i.e. something made my Salomon), and this one had really good reviews. Other than getting used to wearing it during my runs (which is why I'm testing it out, even on short runs), it's really great. It's light, even after I put some energy bars and gels in the back pouch. It has two spots for water bottles. As of now I just have two small plastic bottles, but maybe eventually I'll buy some collapsible ones. It also can fit a 2.5L bladder in the back, but I'm not a big fan of bladders for running. I have a hiking pack with a bladder that I wore once and tried out some running with it, but it sloshed around a lot and rubbed my shoulders. I mean, it wasn't meant for running, but I have read complaints from others about using bladders when running.

 

This guy posted a pretty great review of the vest:

 

 

I use a packable day bag that folds in on itself for hikes but sometimes the cheap shouoders hurt. This could be a nice solution but now I realize I need a place for extra layers to get stashed in when I am sweaty lol

 

also, nice find on a rotary phone!

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3 hours ago, Snarkyfishguts said:

I’m turning 40 in november! I had a conversation with a girl who grew up with facebook, amd I’m like noooooo I remember dial up!

 

That screeching noise will follow me to my grave, lol. Ah, the good old days when you couldn't get online while talking on the phone at the same time...

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21 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

I'm glad church was a good experience for you.

 

Thanks, Tank. It really was a pleasant experience.

 

Update for Week 2, Tuesday:

 

Water:

  • took a cold shower (1:30 warm, 2:30 cold)
  • drank plenty of water
  • took the dogs outside while shirtless and shoeless; it rained heavily the night before and was still drizzly, so everything was wet and squishy
  • enjoyed the feel of light rain on bare skin and the damp ground beneath my feet
  • worked through some stretches and movements
  • continuing to read The Mindful Art of Wild Swimming
  • sat in silence in my classroom, watched the and listened to the rain and the wind 

Earth:

  • stood outside barefoot and felt the squishy earth between my toes
  • lunch was guacamole on toast
  • wore "barefoot" shoes during my trail run:

41gp8fjrnxl._sl1500_.jpg

  • sprinted up a hill during my trail run
  • HIIT included ground movements, as well as mountain climbers and some planking
  • read a segment of Spartan Fit! that talked about why mud is often one of the most psychological blocks for a lot of people during a Spartan race, because it is counterintuitive. 

Fire:

  • not much sunlight, but I still walked around campus to get some light
  • continuing to get nervous and excited about the 13+ mile trail run; it's a lot, and even the other two guys are asking things like, "Are we sure we want to do this?"
  • completed an HIIT workout; warmup and four rounds of:
    • 50 jumping jacks
    • 10 push-ups
    • 20 mountain climbers
    • 30s wall sit
    • 10 plank up downs
    • 60s pause
  • drizzled salsa and olive oil on top of my guacamole toast
  • sprinted uphill a few times during my trail run, feeling my body warm in spite of the cool rain
  • took a hot bath before bed and relaxed in the steam

Air

  • three rounds of WHM breathing; did not time my holds
  • went for a 2 mile trail run after work, mindful of the cool breeze on my skin
  • cardio: during my warmup and HIIT workout, as well as my trail run
  • snacked on popcorn
  • read the poem "The War in the Air" by Howard Nemerov
  • listened to a 10 minute meditation called "Canyon," which was mostly wind sounds

 

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Week 2 Review:

 

As you can tell, the second half of every week is rough for me. I have one assignment due every Friday, but it's due in the morning so I try to get it submitted by Thursday night. And another one is due by 11:59 pm every Saturday. But I miss posting here because I have really appreciated the comments and encouragement from members here.

 

I stayed mostly balanced during Week 2, spending as much time as possible outside, barefoot, getting as much sunshine as I can (even though we really have had mostly overcast weather). I completed some type of HIIT/Tabata workout every weekday during Week 2. I even created my own workout on one of my apps that I call "Evenflow." If you want to know what it is, I'll post in in a spoiler below:

 

Spoiler

Warmup using dynamic stretches, then four rounds of the following:

  • deadbugs (30s)
  • push-ups w/ twist kick (30s)
  • bodyweight squats (30s)
  • cross legged seated raises (30s)
  • hip raise hold (30s)
  • inch worm push-ups (30s)
  • rest (30s)

 

For those who don't know, my buddy Rick and I have started running trails together every Saturday morning regardless of the weather. Our only obstacle so far has been family events (Rick had to cancel last week because he and his family were going out of town). Saturday was cold (21F) and snowy, but we managed just over 4 miles on the trails at Ridenour Lake. Sunrise is coming sooner this time of year, so we were blessed with about 10 minutes of morning glow in which we could see the woods covered in snow.

 

I have been reading Spartan Fit! by Joe De Sena, and I think it may at least influence my next challenge. I still don't know what my chances are of participating in a Spartan race because the timing is almost always bad. Some of you remember that I offered to volunteer a few years ago and then realized I had to appear for training during a work day. And then the following year I was going to volunteer but we had to move my daughter into her new dorm, so... But my wife and I have discussed the chances of me traveling to some of the nearby races (Ohio, Virginia, etc.), and her words were, "We will see." It's not that she doesn't want me to race; it's because when you have four kids life really is unpredictable. It is hard even to plan ahead and save money because someone could get sick, something could break down, and life just gets right in the way. Regardless, training for a Spartan will most definitely make me fitter and healthier, so that's good.

 

I have started listening to some motivation podcasts in the morning, especially right before my workouts. I'm a fan of some of the stuff that Fearless Motivation creates, as well as stuff by creator Ben Lionel Scott. Most of these are edited cuts of motivational speakers and big names in the health and fitness world, and they really do get me in the right mindset. Admittedly, I often skip when I come across ones about becoming wealthy or getting rich because that is genuinely not an interest of mine.

 

I am still meditating at least once a day.  On two occasions that meditation became a power nap because I was clearly exhausted. It usually only happens if I meditate laying down. But on one of those occasions I was sitting up, and I remember losing the guided voice and then snoring myself awake a few minutes later.

 

I'll try my best to post an update for yesterday (Monday), but it will more than likely be lumped in with my update for today (Tuesday). Thanks again to those of you who follow me regularly.

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Striving for balance is cool! We’ll be here to cheer you on when you do post. :) i think I might try meditation before going to bed tonight. It sounds really relaxing!

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25 minutes ago, Snarkyfishguts said:

i think I might try meditation before going to bed tonight. It sounds really relaxing!

 

I can recommend some resources, unless you just want to try it on your own.

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2 hours ago, Snarkyfishguts said:

Recommend away, neighbor!

 

If you're looking for a free resource, I recommend Insight Timer. It has thousands of guided meditations of all types, as well as music and a meditation timer with ambient sounds, as well as timer alerts. It was my first meditation app.

 

I also use Calm, but the free version is limited. It is good for beginners, but if you want the full benefits of the app, you would have to pay for the full version.

 

And of course there are plenty of meditation videos on Youtube. My personal advice would be to be patient with yourself. Meditation is not about measuring your session time or worrying about if you're "doing it right." Meditation is also not just about sitting still with your eyes closed for however long. It's about finding an intentional moment of calm, whether that it 10 minutes or 10 seconds. This is why so many meditations focus on the breath, because breathing is something we all do, and taking a moment to just focus on our breath is a very powerful way to meditate.

 

I'll recommend some books and articles for you later.

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On 3/3/2020 at 2:46 PM, WolfDreamer said:

 

If you're looking for a free resource, I recommend Insight Timer. It has thousands of guided meditations of all types, as well as music and a meditation timer with ambient sounds, as well as timer alerts. It was my first meditation app.

 

I also use Calm, but the free version is limited. It is good for beginners, but if you want the full benefits of the app, you would have to pay for the full version.

 

And of course there are plenty of meditation videos on Youtube. My personal advice would be to be patient with yourself. Meditation is not about measuring your session time or worrying about if you're "doing it right." Meditation is also not just about sitting still with your eyes closed for however long. It's about finding an intentional moment of calm, whether that it 10 minutes or 10 seconds. This is why so many meditations focus on the breath, because breathing is something we all do, and taking a moment to just focus on our breath is a very powerful way to meditate.

 

I'll recommend some books and articles for you later.

Thank you! I am  going to do this tonight! 

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Wow, do I have some things to share with you all.

 

Week 3 was eventful. For the most part, I stuck to my routine as usual. I stayed balanced within the elements, taking my usual daily cold showers, spending time outside barefoot, doing some breathing exercises, drinking water, meditating, reading, listening to podcasts.

 

But... Friday afternoon I met my wife and daughters at my mother's house and helped them pack up their rental car so they could be on their way to start their spring break vacation. Yes, that's right: my wife and daughters are going on a spring break vacation without me. This was something my wife and I discussed last year because we remembered two things: spring break is ridiculously early because it isn't even spring yet, and my spring break is not the same as hers and the girls'. She asked me how I felt about them taking a trip without me, if I would be disappointed if they took a cruise without me. After some thinking, I really was okay with it because it would be an amazing opportunity for our daughters to get to travel out of the country (an opportunity even I have not yet had). After checking our budget, my wife realized she could afford to book another cruise for June for the two of us to celebrate our 20th anniversary. So she booked a three day cruise to the Bahamas for us. 

 

So, I saw them off, and I have been home alone for the past two days. This will be the longest time I have been alone since I got married. My wife has called several times to check in. But I have been having my own adventures.

 

Saturday was my long trail run. I picked up two of my friends who are also runners, Rick and Brandon. Rick is the guy I have been running trails with every Saturday morning; he has completed several Spartan races and earned his trifecta two years in a row. Brandon is a disarmingly strong runner for a guy his size (6'2", 290 lbs.). He was concerned because he knows he is out of shape and that his weight is a problem. He has never claimed to be a fast runner, but he admits he is "pretty quick for a fat black dude." We met up with some runners I connected with online a little over a week ago. These people were serious runners, lean and strong, and several of them had participated in some local ultra-marathons. One of them even had the nickname Ultra Brandon (which my friend Brandon joked would be an awesome nickname to have). They guided us up and down the trails on the first mountain, including up a stretch of difficult trail aptly named Trail of Doom (not the toughest trail I have ever been on, but it was one of the more difficult ascents of this run). About two miles in, my friend Brandon said he busted his toe on a root and thought he had torn the toenail off. We were still a few miles from the bottom of the mountain, so I made sure he was okay to continue. We jogged at an easy pace, Brandon grimacing and grunting the whole way down, until we reached the lake. Brandon removed his shoe, and sure enough the toenail was off. He was bummed, but Brandon had to tap out. I felt bad about leaving him there, but he insisted that we continue our adventure. I learned later that in spite of his hurt toe, he continued running on some flatter areas and managed to get a total of 10 miles. I checked my phone and realized the app I was using crapped out on me, so I just turned it off. We continued along a section of trail that follows the Guyandotte River. After that, we ran a small stretch of road before reaching another trailhead and starting up the other mountain. This climb... ugh... I thought maybe I was just feeling the effects of having been running for close to 8 miles, but I looked back at our elevation map later and realized it was a steeper (although not higher) climb than the other mountain. I started walking more than running, and every minute or so I would attempt to jog, but I felt like my body was mostly done with running. The other runners got well ahead of me and Rick, who was also getting tired but still had more energy then me. He stuck with me, though, and every time I had to walk he walked with me. Then, on our way back down I was able to run again. Once we got to the bottom, we were just over 10 miles. Rick had the idea of running 1.5 along the river trail and back to get our 13.1. I was exhausted, so I spent most of the river trail run switching back and forth from jogging to walking. When we turned to head back, Rick asked if I minded if he ran ahead of me to finish up. I did not mind, and I continued my jog/walk intervals until I finally reached the trailhead where Rick was waiting. 13.1 freaking miles. A half marathon. It was messy, but I did it. My final numbers were 13.1 miles in 3:06:38 with an average pace of 14:15 and 1,050 feet of elevation gain.

 

Yesterday, I drove an hour and a half to the mountains, to the New River Gorge, and hiked the Endless Wall Trail, which is a 5 mile out and back that follows a ridge overlooking the gorge. I took some pics:

 

 

As you can see, there is still snow on the ground, but that did not stop me from running most of the trail shirtless or from taking a dip in the appropriately named Fern Creek, a clear stream surrounded by ferns and rhododendron that flows down and eventually over the mountain. The water was cool and crisp. It was like being baptized by the mountain; my soul and body both felt refreshed.

 

Today, I did all my usual daily routines, as well. After work, I had to take my glasses to Eyemart Express to replace a scratched lens. So while waiting, I hiked down an unofficial trail that drops down the mountain to nearby Little Creek Park and ran about a mile and a half through the park, including a 355 ft. climb in less than 1/2 mile. The most adventurous part, though, was getting back up the unofficial trail, which was barely cleared. I walked out with some scratched up shins.

 

Thanks to those of you who have dropped in on my threads. I have some schoolwork due Thursday and Saturday, so I may be too busy to keep posting. But I appreciate your presence and your support.

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So... today was difficult. I was really missing my wife today, and it got worse because she was out of signal range and could not contact me until they returned to the ship. I reached out to a fellow Adventurer to express my feelings, and they allowed me to vent. I wasn't searching for sympathy, but I needed to get it off my chest without sounding like I was complaining. I'm glad they're having a great time, really. She was able to Facebook call me a few hours later, so I felt much better. And they will be home in just three days.

 

This morning, I did my first HIIT workout with kettlebells. I focused on upper body, and I really felt it. I'm definitely experiencing some DOMS, even though the kettlebells were only 24 lbs. and 30 lbs. (I alternated depending on my limits).

 

I also ran today, just over 2.5 miles on the trails at Ridenour Lake. I pauses my run to climb some large boulders (literally giant pieces of the mountain that broke off long ago) along the path. I had to balance along a downed tree to get to the top of one of the boulders and had to use grip strength and proper footing to get to the top of another one. It felt great to use my body carefully in order to reduce the risk of falling.

 

I'm continuing with cold showers, going outside barefoot, reading books, articles, and listening to podcasts. I am pretty certain winter is over and spring has sprung. As I sit here, a thunderstorm is passing through, and recently the spring peepers have been croaking in the evenings. Next challenge rotation, I might have to break out a favorite challenge that is perfect for springtime (if I don't go with the Spartan Fit! 30 day challenge).

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Keep evolving, Man! All of this is part of your journey...It may not feel like it, but every single thing (good and bad) has a part to play. 

 

At the same time, LIVE IT. When you feel angry or mad, be angry or mad. If you need to get something off your chest, get it off! 

 

Deal with the NOW. Learn from the LATER

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I started using the app, Calm, and it is very helpful! I use it now more in the daytime than before sleeping, but I think addressing the stress and chilling out a little has really helped.

 

It's good to miss your family, but I am really happy to read that you were supportive in their going away without you. That is something my dad struggles with, he'll say he's okay with my mom and I taking a hiking trip without him, but then he often gets passive aggressive about it, and he's really NOT okay, and it leaves this cloud over what was going to be a fun mother-daughter trip. So the fact that you could reach out to someone else and process your feelings instead of putting that on your family (who I bet are missing you) was really thoughtful.

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On 3/13/2020 at 9:03 PM, ctfranklin28 said:

Keep evolving, Man! All of this is part of your journey...It may not feel like it, but every single thing (good and bad) has a part to play. 

 

At the same time, LIVE IT. When you feel angry or mad, be angry or mad. If you need to get something off your chest, get it off! 

 

Deal with the NOW. Learn from the LATER

 

On 3/14/2020 at 8:31 AM, Snarkyfishguts said:

I started using the app, Calm, and it is very helpful! I use it now more in the daytime than before sleeping, but I think addressing the stress and chilling out a little has really helped.

 

It's good to miss your family, but I am really happy to read that you were supportive in their going away without you. That is something my dad struggles with, he'll say he's okay with my mom and I taking a hiking trip without him, but then he often gets passive aggressive about it, and he's really NOT okay, and it leaves this cloud over what was going to be a fun mother-daughter trip. So the fact that you could reach out to someone else and process your feelings instead of putting that on your family (who I bet are missing you) was really thoughtful.

 

Thank you both. I appreciate it, I really do.

 

So everyone got home safely. And now, like nearly everyone else, we are enjoying plenty of quality time at home together. Since I am a teacher, I am going to be home for a while. The good news is that I am tech savvy, so working virtually with my students is going to be a challenge but one I can handle. It's my colleagues I am most concerned about. They are very much not tech savvy. I am basically tech support for our program because no one else is even close to my skill level (which really isn't exceptionally high). Regardless, everyone has to learn how to adjust to our "new normal." The only other option is to give up. I worry that this is the kind of crisis that will drive one of my colleagues to early retirement and another back into retirement. I'm going to have to figure out the simplest way for them to teach from home so they don't feel overwhelmed when they are required to use technology in order to do so.

 

On a bright note, the week my wife and girls were on their cruise, I drove around looking for some specific items: a log and a stone. I found the log along a hillside up the road from my house and the stone in a pile of busted concrete next to the river. I also drove to Lowe's and bought a 60 lb. sandbag. My mentor had some five-gallon buckets filled with sand or with gravel. I grabbed one of each. The other day, I took my daughters hiking, and we collected some stones from a creek. Since the COVID-19 recommended lockdown, I have been doing a lot of bodyweight work and going outside to get creative with the items I collected. So far I have done presses, lifts, and shoulder carries with the log, and with the concrete block I have done curls, presses, carries, throws, and squats. I've used the smaller stones from the creek like dumbbells and done flys as well as clean and press. This is the kind of stuff that is taking me back to my MovNat workouts, using objects from nature creatively to build strength and endurance. I challenge anyone who has limited their lifting to free-weights or barbells to carry a block of concrete 100 yards, set it down, do some burpees, and then pick it up and carry it back. No matter how strong you are, if you've never carried a block of concrete before you'll be introduced to the necessity of moving mindfully. You can't just pick up a log like a barebell or grip stones like dumbbells. 

 

In spite of the lockdown recommendations, I have taken my two youngest daughters on several hiking trips, being mindful to choose trails where we would be the only people out in the woods but also trails that aren't too challenging for an 8 year old and a 9 year old. We turned each hike into a Science lesson. We found an inchworm, a salamander, moss, some sandstone and limestone rocks, we climbed around a huge rock formation and ate lunch on top of a rock overlooking the Davis Creek valley. We wrote words for what we saw and practiced spelling them. They really wanted to go to the playground, and it was a bummer but I explained why it wasn't a good idea.

 

I've also been listening to a lot of podcasts that have talked about COVID-19 from a more objective and less panicked perspective. Spartan has a really great thing going right now that they're calling Be Unbreakable. Every day, there are various livestreams from some Spartan elites, including Joe De Sena himself. If you've ever wanted to workout with Joe, he goes live every morning at 6:00 EST, and there are several other live videos about fitness, health, nutrition, all free for anyone to access. And they're archiving these on the link I posted above. I'm really impressed overall with the content being put out by other fitness and health trainers and podcasters because, like all other areas of life, this pandemic is going to absolutely transform how we view fitness and health. 

 

Still trail running on Saturday mornings with my buddy Rick. Last week we ran 10k and today we ran 4 miles. Our pace was slow because we brought one other guy along who is bigger (muscle mass, mostly) and because Rick's hip has been bugging him. But we managed it.

 

Otherwise, I'm not venturing out unless necessary. We have plenty of food, toilet paper (my wife always kept us stocked in TP even before COVID-19), and ways to keep ourselves entertained and to stay sane. 

 

you-have-died-of-coronavirus-meme.jpg

 

And of course I'm washing my damn hands.

 

Anyway, in retrospect, this past challenge was a good one, even if my posts have been sparse. I was always mindful of the elements and of the challenge goals I set for myself. I would give myself a B for this challenge. I'm not really certain what my goals will be for my next challenge other than it will probably be the same as a lot of people: navigate the new normal. I'll probably start some Spartan-style training with a lot of bodyweight strength work.

 

Hope everyone else is doing well.

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