Monday, December 4, 2017

Fossil Creek Hike - Epic Indeed

Do. Epic. Shit.  I used to loath that statement. It gained popularity among the redbull crew fitness blogger crew a half dozen years back as a way to explain grandiose adventures.  I think the reason that I wasn't a fan is that I rarely do things that are over the top...at least over the top in my book.  That is probably why I'm a great friend, a pretty good husband, and just a sweaty an okay boyfriend - I try to make every day amazing vs one day every few months being over the top. That doesn't play well on the dating scene. Thank god my dad jokes do!! That said, I do believe that Sunday ... last week ... a few weeks ago was at least a 10 on the amazing scale...maybe an 11. I hiked fossil creek.  Epic shit indeed

In spite of my old man stance on 'Epic Shit', I have consciously tried to get out and explore the last 6 months or so.  I've pretended like it was under the guise of fitness, but mostly it was to get out of the house and away from the city.  The Phoenix summer heat was especially taxing and I just wanted to breath a bit of fresh air.

Looking out over the valley about half way down.  Fresh air abounds!


Fossil Creek was always something that I had heard of but had never been.  It is a 9 mile out and back hike (this time of year) that starts at the top of a valley around 5700 feet and drops ~2000 feet to natural springs and eventually a 20 foot waterfall.  Fortunately, the trail head is only an hour and 45 min from my house.  If you take into consideration that my daily commute is 60 karaoke filled minutes each way, 1:45 is barely worth mentioning.

If you don't take a selfie, did it even really happen? Answer: no.

I left the house around 5am because I'm a masochist because I'm a morning person and wanted to be able to hike all day if I wanted to.  Of course, by "hike all day" I mean "maybe I'll get lost and will need all day to find my way back".  This meant that I got to the trail head just after dawn. I had a camelback full of water and a granola bar with me....basically ready to tackle the world....or hike 24 miles like I did the last time I got lost.

The thing I love about getting outside of the city is that everything is always so green.  This hike had nearly every type of environment - from desert prairie, to aspen trees, and even lush green leafy plants.

Was waiting for goblins to jump out of these vines at literally ANY moment
Or snakes.  Actually, snakes are much more likely. 

I'm normally "that guy" at parties who talks to everyone about anything so I honestly relish time spent to myself inside of my head thinking about what I should have said to that girl that one time and oh my god Adam you're so dorky thinking about nothing at all. In fact, I literally saw no one the entire way down and only saw a boy scout troop hiking back up as my only human interaction for the morning. I was a scant moment away from fully devolving into grunts and farts as a way of primary communication.

Water falling

I'm a sucker for water. Put me in a boat or on a beach and I will be happy for hours.  That said, I will always struggle to accurately describe the power of waterfalls.  There is nothing to them - water goes from up there, to down below.  However, the seeming calm at the top mixed with the roar of the water landing down below is consistently mesmerizing. It was certainly worth the 3.5 hour drive and the 3 hour hike.

Since pictures rarely do things justice, a video!


Okay, maybe one more photo... water falling.

The thing I didn't realize about this hike until I was about 2/3 of the way down is that I hadn't gone uphill, or honestly even flat, for like.....ever.  This meant that the entire way back was all uphill.  While steep at times, it was gradual enough that I was able to maintain a pretty good pace while still being thankful that it wasn't the heat of the summer.  Because, while the first mile was somewhat shaded, like most Arizona hiking, the remainder was fully exposed.

The last of the fall colors

This was honestly one of my most favorite hikes I've done. I loved that it had a 'destination' but at the same time was gorgeous along the way. So, while I'm not sure that I fit in with the fitness blogger crew, every soft often I too indeed get my taste of epic shit!!  Wait...no.




Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday Mixins - NYC Marathon and being a millennial

The NYC Marathon was yesterday.  As is usually the case with these things, I jogged around the house and made my son pretend to cheer for me as I came in first place I caught a pretty hard case of the feels when Shalane won. It got me thinking about my own NYC marathon experience.  Looking back (wayyy back - it was 2013 - eesh) it was probably my favorite big city marathon. The irony of that memory is if you go back and read my race report, it was a miserable race.

There is something about the aura of New York that is all consuming.  The people, the food, the energy (all of which likely contributed to my terrible race) all combine for an amazing experience (but, again...terrible races).  So, while I'm not sure I'll ever run the marathon again I sure do miss the thousands of people screaming at me as I ran down First Ave.  I remember it like it was last week... "dude, stop walking and RUN!"  Ah, memories...

I still remember the Jersey cat calls (from guys): Eyy butty!! Luvin' the hat, man!!!


I FOUND SOMETHING WITH CROSSFIT I AM GOOD AT!!!  Rowing.  I am better than average at rowing!!  Rowing for longer distances that is.  About a week ago, the workout was a 5K row and I came in 3rd overall. That isn't a thing that normally happens.  The gym I belong to has a lot of bigger guys that are amazing at doing a lot of heavy weights but aren't very good at doing endurance.  If only I could find a sport that is almost all endurance related.... 

Awww, someone at the gym caught a pic of me last week
I'm the skinny guy w/ the judge shirt on


Each Halloween I try to do a costume that is 1) homemade and 2) stupid and/or funny.  I've gone as Mario, the Oxy Clean guy, a jedi, Napoleon Dynamite, etc.  This year it would seem takes the cake.  I went as.... a millennial.  The costume included Ugg boots, inspirational shirt, participation award, pumpkin spiced late, yoga mat, infinity scarf, and a lack of self awareness. It.Was.Amazing. 

LETS DO BRUNCH!

Finally, in spite of the chaos of my life lately, I've tried really hard to make time for the small things with my son.  By that I mean looking at my small phone screen surfing instagram while he plays with knives or whatever. He has really gotten into any and all sports lately which means we've spent a lot of time tossing baseballs, footballs, even passing basketballs back and forth to each other.  "I need to practice passing, dad".  Who am I to argue? He isn't likely to be drafted by any professional sports teams any time soon, but he tries hard and has fun, and that is good enough for me....Unless he goes pro and buys me a boat.

No footballs to the face. WHEW




Sunday, October 22, 2017

Camelback at Dawn

Regrettably, for the last week, I've been doing nothing except sitting around getting fatter. Flab is the new 40.

I was out of town for work two weeks ago and caught a nasty bug which turned into a sinus infection and bronchitis. So, while I have wanted to do something/anything, even walking up the stairs put me into a coughing fit that seemed to go on for hours. So, what to do if you can't do something? Reminisce about old glory days! If only my HS coach would have put me in.....we would have totally won state.

Having lived in Phoenix for nearly 10 years, there are a few things that I've always wanted to do but never had the chance.  Ride a dolphin like a pony at the aquarium. One of the things at the very top of the list was hike to the top of Camelback Mountain at dawn and watch the sunrise. So, with nothing better to do two weeks ago, I set my alarm for 4am and was off!

Camelback Mountain is one of the central landmarks in the greater Phoenix area. It separates Scottsdale from Phoenix and sticks out like Mt Rainier in the middle of the city. There are two trails to the top, both somewhat short at 1.5 miles each way, but somewhat technical with a few bits of hand over hand climbing. Of course, that doesn't seem to phase the old guys in jeans with a 20oz water bottle and not much else power walking past me in the 110 degree heat...


Probably my favorite non-kid pic of the year

Hiking in the dark is honestly a bit scary - mostly because I'm afraid of snakes.  I didn't have a headlamp, so like most things I do in the dark, I was terrified, did it mostly by feel, sobbed and apologized for it being so fast afterwards, and tried to pretend like I knew what I was doing.  Thankfully the trail is pretty straight forward at the beginning and there was a full moon so there was plenty of light.  I was surprised that there weren't any more hikers on the trail than there were.  Oh, how wrong I was....

Me and one other person at the top waiting for the action to start

The hike itself wasn't bad at all.  I was able to maintain a consistent pace - running the flats and power hiking the uphills.  The tick tock of a 6:25am sunrise provided all of the motivation I needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other. In fact, at a total of 75 minutes of actual hiking time, it was a new record for fastest time top to bottom.

I made it to the top with 15 minutes to spare and secured a prime spot to stare at the sun Donald Trump style. You're not a true American unless you burn your eyeballs staring at the sun. The sky went from blue and orange hues to increasingly more ambers and yellows. And, before I knew it, the sun was cresting over the horizon lighting up the sky.

Another day begins. Just kidding it began 90 min before when my alarm went off

As the morning went on, the number of people hanging out on the top of the mountain grew and grew.  But, the views didn't get any less amazing - in spite of the people in the foreground of all of my pictures.

Panorama looking east

While the sunrise was cool, I have to admit that some of the prettiest things were not the actual sky but instead what the daybreak sun did to the rest of the city.  If I looked west, I could see shadows of buildings and even the shadow of the mountain I was standing on cast across central Phoenix.

Shadow of the mountain

Finally, with the number of people on the top of the mountain reaching critical mass, it was time to head down.  The nice thing about being one of the few people going down while everyone was going up was that I was able to run most of the way. What were once tough boulders that I was stair-stepping on were now the perfect distance apart to gazelle jump on all the way down.

Overall, I'm really glad I finally made the time to go on the hike. I've actually since started to look for other hikes that I could do early in the morning without fear of getting bit by a snake. I'm not sure there are any, but I'm willing to stumble around in the dark taking the chance if pictures like these are my reward!

They needed a meat counter ticket system.  "Now serving: Hiker number 302"

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pic of the day outcasts

As I close in on my 4th year of taking a photo a day, I can't help but sometimes look back at what  made its way to the cutting room floor. As I've mentioned before, most days I take 3-4 pictures out of habit. Just like brushing your teeth every other day whether they feel dirty or not, its almost impossible not to form a habit after doing something 1,400 times.

So, since I haven't been to crossfit as much as I would like in the last week, I thought that looking back at some of the would-be photos of the day would be a good blog filler would be interesting!

---------------------------

The last two weeks at work have been a struggle. There have been system outages, personnel challenges, and generally just a lot of work going on.  I haven't even had time to keep up on twitter or facebook!!! :( :( To say that I've been living on a diet of horse steroids and caffeine would be the understatement of the year. So, while I rarely buy Starbucks, some random day two weeks ago was an exception. A lovely photo of purple flowers while on a walkabout meeting was what was ultimately posted, but the coffee was a close second.

Living the Pumpkin Spiced Latte Americano Life 

Last weekend Iowa State University beat the 30.5 point favorite OU Sooners. (Fun fact, if you go to http://adamrISU.blogspot.com/ you'll be taken to my blog.) I was at an OU watch party with a buddy and his husband and afterwards went to lunch with them both to calm his nerves due to the loss.  No. Really... It was in a trendy part of Scottsdale near the civic center. Art abounded and a NYC style LOVE sculpture made the cut, but this creepy statute dumping paint on herself was nearly selected.

Art is.....terrifying

The weekend before last, I did something that I've always wanted to do: I did a predawn hike to the top of camelback mountain and watched the sunrise. While rubbing crystals together talking about how Mercury is in retrograde. I'm hoping to draft a full blog post about the hike, so I'll save the details for then.  But, a gorgeous daybreak photo of the city made the cut while all of my actual sunrise photos remain trapped on my phone.

Another day begins

This last week I was in the boot heel (south eastern tip) of Missouri for work.  It made for a long week with longer days of travel.  Fortunately, I always enjoy seeing my team there which makes the travel bearable. Unfortunately, the weather isn't exactly as predictable there as it is in Phoenix. While a post-crossfit photo of me sweating made the cut, this photo of it POURING down rain was much more representative of my time there.

Ummm, mom ignore that speedometer in this pic. 
It was broken, I was totally stopped and in park

Finally, a photo that I really wanted to use but didn't end up actually posting it was this sunset over the town I was staying in.  I was actually standing in the crossfit gym (is there anything crossfit can't do?) looking west after it had been raining all day. Me chasing ducks away trying to get a picture was what won out because it was hilarious, but there was something about this sunset that gave me a case of the feels.

A rainy day MIGHT be worth a sunset like this. At least every once in a while


As a postcript, while not a photo a friend posted something on Twitter the other day that made me do a double take.  "I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet".  I commented that while on Thursday my pic of the day was me outside in front of a fire at a very fun winebar, I had actually spent two hours at an urgent care earlier and received not one but two shots in the butt for a nasty sinus infection.  (Steroid shot gave me a second wind to power through to the winebar!) So, just like only 1/3 of my photos of the day see the light of day, you can't always trust what you see online. There is usually much more than what actually bubbles to the surface.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Three Things Thursday: Doctors, Crossfit, and Fall

Back when I started this blog a few things were a certainty: Blogs were personal and engaging and never tried to 'influence', only 35% of the guys online were creeps (95% of the guys who claimed to be boring were creeps, obviously), and people posted three random things on Thursday. Welp, here are three things that are all three of those - personal, creepy, and Thursday!



I don't like doctors. Whenever I go to them, they tell me to stop doing things I like to do like horse steroids, make me feel bad for having a few bottles of wine here and there, and order a bunch of tests that I don't feel are needed.  Well, enough people convinced me that I'm "at the age" where I should stop using words like Ratchet and Fetch find a full time doctor vs various urgent cares so a few weeks back I went to a general practitioner for the first time in 10+ years. Do you want to know what happened? I was made to feel bad about having a few bottles of wine in one sitting here and there, she totally didn't write me another horse steroid prescription, told me I should eat less salt, and I now have ultrasound scheduled for my kidneys. Lovely. The kidney thing is because my blood pressure is higher than a 15 year old's at Hooters.  Whatever, pass the salt. Doctors are so ratchet.



Crossfit is coming along. If, by coming along you mean "any day I don't come in last is a good day". No. Seriously. But in spite of my performance challenges, like any other new activity in my carefully choreographed life, one of the things I'm struggling with most is locking in a schedule. Work has been absolutely bonkers which has not only put a strain on my sanity but also my gym routine.  So, while I wish that I was getting there 5x a week, it is usually closer to 4. I'm still purposely not doing a ton of weight because I'm still so terrible at all of the lifts. The good news is that I am indeed getting better and, dare I say, stronger. I would imagine the first 6 months will produce most of the big gains and then after that I'll just coast on my good looks and my newfound fitness modeling career.

Finally, to end on a positive note, this is probably one of my least favorite times of year in Arizona. Now, to be clear, fall (autumn?) is my most most favorite time of year.  But, in Arizona fall is 95 degrees and I have to put up with everyone else posting things like "omg, pumpkin spice and 55 degrees is amazorbs!"  Truth is I'm jealous. I want to be able to be able to eat a pumpkin spiced bagel while wearing my ugg boots and posting a follow me pic. Instead I'm relegated to sweating it out while dreaming of cooler temps. Don't worry though, I'll be sure to point out when it is 70 degrees in January!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Working to Rx my WOD in the Box

Bro: How many plates can you clean?
Me: Um, I have a dishwasher? So probably like 15? But I only have like 8 plates right now, I don't have a lot of dinner parties and my formal table only seats 8. Wait, do you have more than 8 friends!?

Every hobby has its own language. While never meant to be elitist, this is often done to foster a sense of community among people with common interests. If you know the lexicon, you are one with the tribe. So, while I am working very hard to learn the language of crossfit (WOD BOX Snatch!), I'm still struggling to learn how much weight I can do for each workout. How many plates can I do?  Zero, the answer is always zero.  Quickly followed by: Well, how much does the bar weigh? Lets start there....

When I first started running I had a similar problem (Fartlek, interval, stride, 8x400 what?). How fast should I run this training run? Usually, the answer was "figure out how fast will kill you and back it off a bit".  Hell, even when I was an experienced runner I often struggled with how fast to run.  Never did I have a more confused look on my face than when I was trying to figure out a pace for a 12k race or answer the question "how fast can you run?".  Usually I would fumble around with pacing like in the bedroom and come up with some sort of middle ground between what I think would be too fast and what would be too slow and completely blowing up 2/3 of the way through also like in the bedroom.  Crossfit has been no different.



With the wide variety of lifts, movements, and frankly things I haven't done in 10 years, I'm constantly trying to figure out how much would be too much and how much would be too easy.  In all seriousness, the strategy thus far has been to take the suggested weight for females and use that. Most of the time it works, but often times I have to drop it down even from there - especially for leg workouts.

I'm finding that anything that has super high reps I'm good at.  Anything that has super high weight, I am terrible at. Which, makes sense. I haven't lifted anything other than my skinny legs for 10 years so I have a LOT of slow twitch muscles built up. Unfortunately, while logical, it is still tough on the ego to see almost everyone else doing more than you.

But, never to back away from a challenge, I'm willing to put in the work to make it better. Afterall, if I can Rx my next power clean workout, maybe my friends at the box will finally see me be on top of the next AMRAP.