Posts Tagged ‘warrior’

The Story of Corrie

So, my Corrie Vest kit arrived back around September 13th. Only a couple of weeks before Coronation and before the Warrior Dash and Montpelier Fiber Festival weekend. I dove straight into knitting it, just going with it.

For whatever reason, stranded knitting goes extremely fast for me. I think it has more to do with keeping highly focused and the frequency with which the pattern changes, and less to do with the actual technique. I am much more likely to set a plain knitting project down for just about anything than I am to set down a fair isle project because I don’t want to get lost where I am in the pattern. Also, I am more likely to say “Just keep going until you change that left hand yarn.”

Closing in on Coronation, I was knitting a couple of hours per night, but the weekend of the event itself, I was barely able to knit at all. In the back of my mind was this fleeting fantasy that maybe the sweater could be done in time for me to wear it to Montpelier, but you have to understand that it seemed impossible at that point. I had steeks and short row shaping, and purling in pattern and 3 needle bind offs in my future, most of which I was completely unfamiliar with.

But I didn’t let go of the little idea in the back of my head.

So I knit. And knit. And knit. Fiendishly knit.

Tuesday night last week, another knitter looked at it and agreed with my assessment that completion by Sunday was exceedingly unlikely. But I kept knitting.

By Thursday, I had completed the body of the sweater and it was time to steek. I found my sharpest sewing scissors, my silk sewing thread, which I then quadrupled, and started backstitching along each side of my cuts. That took a good long while. Then, after pacing around, wringing my hands, forcing back a nervous tear or two, and 3 or 4 false starts, I made the very first snip. The world didn’t end. The sweater didn’t instantly unravel or turn to dust in my hands. So, I kept going.

Snip, snip, snip. One stitch at a time, one float at a time. Snip. Snip. Snip.
When it was totally cut, I had a beer and didn’t look at it again until morning.

Friday was a desperately slow day at work, and I knew I was 90% of the way to home plate. With the race on Saturday morning and going to the State Fair on Saturday night, I knew Friday was my do-or-die day to finish the vest if I wanted to wear it to Montpelier on Sunday morning.

I picked up and knit the first armscye with my longest 2.75mm circular needle was which just too long and uncomfortable to knit with. The shorter, 24″ one was holding the live stitches on the neck line, so rather than go on to the second armscye like the instructions said, I went ahead and picked up and knit the neckline with the longer needle, freeing up the shorter one for the second armscye. Worked like a charm. I left work about half way done with the second armscye, and, probably to my family’s dismay, proceeded to knit through our lovely dinner at the Mexican restaurant, knit in the quickly darkening backseat, and cast off while we were waiting at the pharmacy for some medicines.

I broke the yarn in the dark in the car, and we came home from our evening out and I displayed my now finished sweater vest.

When I pulled it over my head and it fit perfectly, I could have cried.
Photobucket Photobucket
I wove in some ends while Grace was in the bath and while Byram was putting her in bed. The whole body is woven in, but I still have a lot of loose ends around the upper left armscye and the back of the neck. That was fine. I could wear it like that.

And I did. I wore it to the State Fair on Saturday night.
Its Under There
I wore it around the house.
(Grace took the photo which partially accounts for my completely amused expression.)

And best of all, I wore it to Montpelier on Sunday morning.
One of the highest compliments I think a knitter can receive is to go to a fiber-centric festival and have people look at the knits you are wearing and then be shocked when you tell them that yes, indeed, you did handknit that vest. When seasoned knitters gasp with delight, you know you have done good work.

I wore it to work yesterday along with my Warrior Dash finisher’s medal. Almost no one at my office understood the importance or the pride I took in each of my hard-won accessories, but I knew.

This past weekend will go down as the most insane and wonderful weekends in my memory. In fact, the whole month of September 2011, will be firmly stuck in my memory as one of the most extreme months of my life, between beginning with an extended power outage, a wonderful family BBQ over Labor Day weekend, fun in the mud at Coronation, fun in the mud this past weekend, and lots of ups and downs in between. Onward now into October, my favorite month of the year usually, and I am particularly looking forward to a week off from work next week. I opted for a “stay-cation” to get my house in order and hopefully some personal time to recover from the insane summer and get my head and heart ready for the holidays to come.

Holy Sh*t. I Totally Did It.

(Please forgive the dirty language, but this is a very dirty story to tell…I hope you won’t think less of me for it.)

I have two incredibly epic adventures to tell you about: the completion of the Corrie Vest and my Warrior Dash run.

I am going to have to start with Warrior Dash because it is fresher in my mind and I have better photos to show you.

I have been planning and training for this since January when it became the closest thing I had to a New Year’s resolution. It was a challenge to myself. A challenge to stay focused on something for almost 10 months. A challenge to get myself physically and mentally ready for this race.

It is hard to describe in words just how proud I am to say I did it. Was I 100% focused all year on the race? No. There was so much in my world that happened over the past nine months that there was no way for it always to be in the forefront of my thoughts. But it was always lingering back there, sometimes filling me with fear, sometimes with doubt, and sometimes with a fierce determination.

By the time I got there, fear and doubt had dispersed, and all that remained was nervous excitement.
There were twelve different obstacles. The first one was about a mile in, and I was making great time at that point. I called it the over/under. You had to go over a 4 foot wall, then under an 18 inch gap under barbed wire. And you did this 4 or 5 times. It was probably my least favorite obstacle because it just went on and on.

Next was called the Rubber Ricochet, and you basically ran through a gauntlet of swinging tires. This was probably the easiest obstacle.

Third came the Road Rage, which involved running through a bunch of tires on the ground, then climbing over three junked (and crazy mud-slick) cars, then more tires. This one was where I was most worried about slipping and busting a knee.

The fourth obstacle was the Chaotic Crossover. Just a 20 foot stretch of rope net suspended 4 feet in the air, parallel to the ground. You had to scramble over it. This one took a lot of concentration and was very slow going.

The fifth challenge was the most unexpected challenge. It was supposed to be a waist deep dash through the river, climbing over floating logs. Well, thanks to the 10 inches of rain in the past 10 days, waist deep became six feet deep at the center. There was no touching bottom for most of us. I was not expecting a full on swim, but that’s what I had to do. This was the probably most challenging obstacle simply because I was so mentally and physically unprepared for it. I would not have made it over the last log if a very tall man hadn’t laid himself across it and forced it low enough in the water for me to get over it. I helped keep him and his buddy motivated later on through the race and stuck with them a long time from that point on since we had a matching pace.

Sixth up was the Teetering Traverse. This one was a little mentally scary since it was going up a maybe 6 inch wide plank to about 4 feet in the air, and going about 20 feet on a 6 inch wide board, then coming back down. I didn’t think too hard and I didn’t look down a whole lot. Zoom, on to the next one. I was getting really tired by this point.

Seventh (lucky number 7) was Deadman’s Drop. You clambered up a maybe 12 foot wall first. It had rungs on the front side until you reached the top with a solid 4 foot barrier to climb over. On the other side, there was a ledge at the base of that barrier, then you had to drop from there. I had no idea how to safely drop all that way so I chose the dumbest way. I let myself drop far enough to grasp that ledge at the base of the solid barrier, injuring my hand and damn near yanking my left shoulder out of socket, and then let myself slide down the last several feet. Other people were way smarter or braver than me.

You didn’t get a break between walls because next came the Great Warrior Wall. Another 12 foot barrier with ropes and 2×4 beams across the wall to use for footholds. I lost several minutes at this obstacle because I was waiting for the longest rope (I was feeling rather short at that point.). Unfortunately, a woman had used it and reached the top and froze. She couldn’t bring herself over and couldn’t work her way back down. Several people tried to help her and encourage her, but she was just frozen. I really felt for her, but I couldn’t do anything to help. I don’t know how it worked out but I know I finally gave up waiting for that rope and took a shorter one, and hauled myself up and over the wall.

The ninth “obstacle” was the Rio Run, which was just a long splash along the James River. There were sudden and unexpected “drops” to navigate, going as deep as shoulder deep on me at one point, and lots of hidden tree stumps. I probably tripped 5 or 6 times, generating much laughter and mirth behind me as I served as the “early warning system.” This was the most fun (and relatively comfortable) challenge. The water was much warmer than the air and it felt good to wash off a lot of the dirt and mud to that point.

At that point, we were coming back to the spectators and closing in on the finish line. My Mom was handling the camera and caught me as I was exiting the river and heading in towards the last three obstacles.
The tenth obstacle was called the Cargo Climb and it was at the finish. I will let the pictures my Mom got speak for themselves.
I could hear Duane, Mom, and Grace yelling “Go, Mommy, go!” from below but I could not stop to look for them. Note the concentration (I swear it is not fear) on my face.
After the last climb, my legs and arms were mushy rubber and I was beyond tired. I looked ahead and saw two lines of burning wood ahead for me to jump over. By the 11th obstacle, my brain was pretty much mush too. I thought that was the finish line, but also, the fires looked 3 feet high to my worn out body. I aimed for the edge which looked slightly lower and jumped as best as I could. It turned out they weren’t all THAT high. Mom got a great shot of me clearing the first line.
I thought it was over but I was wrong; my brain had forgotten about the muddy finish. I was directed to turn left and that was when I remembered the mud crawl. I plunged ahead to dive into the mud and under the barbed wire…and splashed straight down into 4 FEET of mud. I had NO idea it would be so deep. I made my way slowly forward, pretty much just swimming along until it got shallower near the end, cleared the last wire, and headed up to the finish line.

They handed me a cup of water and I declined the banana. I took my first sip of water, then the second, and after that, I looked down into my once clear cup of water and saw…
Only mud. It’s written all over my face. The thought going through my head in that photo runs like this: “Really?” then “Well, it’s only mud and I am still thirsty.” followed by “Holy crap, there must be a lot of mud on my face.”

And there was.
At some point, someone pushed a finisher’s medallion into my hand. I am guessing around the same time they handed me the water, but I don’t have a clear memory of it. I was gagging and dry heaving a bit between the mud I had swallowed and the gut-busting effort I had put out.

I am still wearing that finisher’s medal today, 48 hours later. Mud-stained and all.

Warrior Dash was insane amounts of fun. Not to say it wasn’t difficult. It was. But I just cannot deflate the sense of accomplishment I have come home with, especially when I look back on the second wall climb. I remember looking at that rope wall and thinking “I really don’t think I can do this.” When my feet touched down on the other side, my internal monologue apparently became external and I said aloud, “Holy shit, I did it.” One of the guys I had been pacing along with said “Hell yeah, baby, you totally did.”

Thinking back, that was probably the highest point of the whole race for me, even though I didn’t have time to give his comment much thought.

Holy shit. I totally did it.

I am already stalking their website looking for signups for next year. Anyone want to come with me next time?

Up She Goes

Too tired to form words today.

But there’s this:
Corrie Kit
I would describe the comedy of errors that have lead up to the point we are at with the vest (about 9 rows of ribbing so far) but that takes too much brainpower.

I left most of my brain on top in Libby Hill Park, on top of Church Hill. The haul up the hill from Poe’s Pub to the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument is only 70 feet. Ha. Only. Those are 70 gut busting feet. But the view was spectacular.

Next time, I will try and remember a camera.

Tomorrow, I want to do the long 3.5 mile run around Belle Isle. I am cycling right now between fast runs, hard runs, and long runs to get ready for Warrior Dash. Looking forward to the 60 degree weather that should help speed that run along tomorrow.

I do so love autumn once it gets started. I love the smell of the air, the falling leaves, the taste of winter squashes, and best of all seasonal beers.
That was my view from the deck at Legend Brewery last Friday evening. We couldn’t get sunlight to shine through my Smoked Chocolate Stout. A very tasty beverage.

All that beer explains all the gut busting I have to do before October 1st, of course.

Most Anything But Knitting

I am not knitting. At all. I haven’t knit a stitch in a week or so. Right now, I am in autocrat survival mode and my world is pretty much nothing except schlepping through my 8-5 work day, then juggling parenting and event planning, before crashing into bed, where I then dream about the event until about 4am when tossing and turning begins until I stumble out of bed bleary-eyed at some point before dawn on many mornings.

My primary source of stress relief is working out, mostly running. My long runs are up to a 3.5 mile loop around Belle Isle a couple of times a week, and my short runs are over 2 miles these days. Tuesday nights are for yoga and pilates after the living room is vacant. Wednesday is my rest day from running; I lifted weights at the Y yesterday. Last Wednesday, I climbed the stairs of my building a couple of times, then took a long walk. On the weekends, I am trying to make sure I get some kind of activity in, even if it is just long (60 minutes or more) slow walks. One day a week, I like to hit a treadmill for a very fast run, and for a break from only running on sidewalks, pavement, and graveled trails.

Much of my time is spent reading about nutrition, resting, recovery, cross-training, and injury prevention, or studying Google Earth maps of the areas I frequent to map out runs.

Introducing yoga has been an attempt to prevent injury and ease muscle soreness. I have never loved yoga, but I am developing an appreciation for the benefits, if not quite a love for the activity yet. I have noticed in only 3 weeks practicing it, my flexibility is starting to increase, and I have noticed that my soreness decreases about a day after a yoga practice. I am considering adding a second practice to the week; maybe making one specifically pilates and the other one specifically yoga, instead of mixing up the two.

In June, I am going to send in my payment not only for the McDonald’s Half Marathon, but I am going to sign up for a formal, professionally-coached training team.

They meet on Saturdays at 8am, and I am going to flat out miss the first two weeks of training because I am going to be in Slippery Rock, PA, both weekends. There are at least two other Saturdays I am going to miss as well; probably the Saturday of Fall Coronation, and the weekend immediately after it when I am running the Warrior Dash race at Berkley Plantation. Not much I can do about that. I hate the idea of missing 4 weeks out of the 14 week training program, but that is life.

This really sums up my whole life right now. When not doing one of the things I mentioned above, I am playing ignorant online games that involve a monkey popping many thousands of balloons and imbibing more than I should. I believe both the Bloon-Popping Monkey obsession and the imbibing will come within more reasonable parameters by the end of the month.

Otherwise, I am going to end up posting some weird YouTube videos about “winning” and my Supermonkey Goddesses, and the next stop will be some kind of Booze/B’loon rehab center, looking like Amy Winehouse after a party, sharing drink recipes with Lindsey Lohan. If I had tiger blood coursing through my veins, this would be okay, but I don’t. So‚Ķmoving on.

Chances are good you won’t hear much from me between now and June. Forget the Post A Week goal. Forget knitting. Forget writing and better blogging. I have an event to run and several hundred people who are counting on me to make sure they have an excellent Memorial Day weekend. See you there or most likely I won’t see you until June.

Mind Over Mileage

Few things in this world make me quite as giddy as when someone “hearts” or selects one of my projects on my Ravelry Project Page as a favorite. Those little hearts next to the picture of my project just make me smile. It is why I make sure I “heart” other people’s projects (not just the pattern itself). It feels really good to know that someone randomly came across your project and thought it was nice enough that they favorited it; they put it on a list that they can look back on for inspiration and enjoyment of the art of knitting.

Encouragement is one of the greatest gifts we can give to another individual. When someone favorites my work on Ravelry, leaves a kindhearted comment on my blog, or says something unexpectedly kind and encouraging on Facebook, my mood is instantly lifted and I am reminded that I owe that same kindness to others.

I have received a lot of encouragement this week. A lot. The fire that was lit when I crossed the finish line last weekend is burning away a lot of the fears and insecurities that I have harbored for so long. Conquering the 5k was a big thing, and something I will definitely do again (I have been signed up for the Warrior Dash in October for 3 months already). But now, inspired by the amount of time I have to train for it, the success I had with the 5k, and the very deep seated desire to challenge myself to accomplish something extraordinary, I am planning on registering for the McDonald’s Half Marathon, set for November 12, 2011.

A whole marathon is no joke and hardcore, and also, strangely of interest to me for the future, but just not yet. A half marathon is still serious business without necessarily being the life-consuming business that 26.2 miles can be.

My encouragement came first from my husband, who I had to run this by before anything else. He said of course, he would support me and thought I should do it, recognizing it would be a time commitment and probably an inconvenience. Later, after confiding to one running enthusiast co-worker my thoughts about it, he said “Yeah you should do it. You need to start now, but you can definitely do it.” I appreciated his honesty about needing to start now. He’s right, I do. Another co-worker who I didn’t even know was a runner saw my race number I have proudly posted on the wall of my cube from last week asked me about my race, and then told me he is a regular racer and has signed up for the Chicago Marathon. We talked about the Richmond Half, and he was very encouraging, to the point of offering to train with me, and said if he doesn’t run the 26.2, he will come run the 13.1 with me. Kitty has been thinking of lacing up her trainers again, and has been very encouraging too, and may also sign up to come do it too.

I have a lot of work to put in. Lots of miles ahead of me and below my feet. Lots of questions that need answers; being a unique little snowflake with a surgically “enhanced” gastrointestinal tract, I can’t just pound 120 ounces of water a day or slam back an energy gel every 5 or 6 miles without risking dumping syndrome. I don’t have room to eat 3000 calories or even 2000 calories a day. I have to have a real talk with my surgeon’s office about nutrition and training. She might even refer me to the nutritionist I saw before my surgery; and it might be worth the cost of doing so, given the specific challenges I face.

Beyond that, there is all the training. For every running coach and self-labeled expert, there is a training plan. There are 6 week plans, 6 month plans. More often, 10 week and 14 week plans. Plans for advanced, intermediate, beginning, and recreational (that’s me) runners. Knowing me, I will probably mash a couple of plans together to create something that works best with what I have available to me (I lack access to a treadmill but I have access to lots of hills, etc.) and the time I have to train in. I have access to successful runners in my office and among my friends, all of whom have experience and knowledge to share.

I am looking forward to the challenge. I am even looking forward to the hot sweaty summer runs, the early a.m. runs, the effort of finding ways to squeeze mileage in on weekends spent at SCA events. I would be lying if I said the thought of 13 miles didn’t make me a little nervous, but I will overcome that too.

I am going to do it. I am going to because the Fat Chick (Fat Chick is a state of mind, not a state of being; I know several twiggy thin Fat Chicks) I used to be always wanted to do this, but had one excuse after another, some valid, most were not, as to why I couldn’t do this. I am going to do this because if finishing a 5k inspired this in me, who knows what finishing a half marathon will inspire me to do.

But do you want to know really why I want to do it?
Because of her. Because she inspires me. Because I want to be the right kind of example to her. Because I don’t want her to have to go down the same “surgically enhanced gastrointestinal tract” road that I did. Because I want her to know that while there are a few very real limits in each of our lives, a lot of the limits we think we have exist only in our own minds.

The Sound of Silence

The past few weeks have been very heavy weeks. I broke my Post Per Week goal last week, but I had noticed that the flow of words was drying up in the previous weeks. It was hard to know what to say in the face of Japan’s triple disasters, war in Libya, the Middle East and North Africa erupting into turmoil and violence, and the very quickly rising costs of fuel and food at home. Then, we lost not just one but two bulwarks of the Society. I have been hip-deep in working out the details of Sapphire Joust XII, as well.

Like every spring, knitting takes a back seat to the SCA, my garden, my actual job, and other random things. I am still plugging away at my March SCSC2011 socks. Thankfully, one is off the needles, but I cast it off on March 11, eleven days ago, and I haven’t even reached the heel of the second sock yet. Like I said at the beginning of the month, I had a bad feeling about this pair, and whether it is a self-fulfilling prophecy or not, they might not get finished by April 1.

I do have a question, and I would appreciate any advice/thoughts any of you might have on this. I have some nice running gear; specifically a nice Underarmour-type long sleeved shirt, some nice runner’s tights, and then a myriad of other less-fancy gear, but much of which has the same moisture-wicking qualities woven into it. I like this stuff and I want it to last, but contrary to the popular myth, girls do sweat, and this girl tends to sweat a lot. And with my propensity for wearing a hippie-type of deodorant, I tend to *ahem* stink up my gear. I have noticed that just washing my stuff does not completely dispel the funk. Ordinary Febreeze after washing did “perfume” everything up really only hiding the smell, but I am highly sensitive to perfumes and see the above comment about hippie-deodorant; it’s just not how I roll. I know there are “sports detergents” out there with special enzymes in them designed to help fight the funk and also to help make your special Dri-Fit/Underarmour/high-tech (read: expensive) fabrics last longer. What I want to know is has anyone tried one of them? Did it work? How much did it cost and where did you get it? I am willing to try it if it will make my gear last longer, since that stuff can be expensive to replace (unless I am lucky enough to get it on clearance or lightly worn from the thrift store), but not if the general consensus is that it is just a gimmick.

There has not been a whole lot else to report. I am learning to cook new-to-me cuts of beef since we went in with 4 other families and purchased a whole butchered cow. I made braised short ribs last night, which were quite tasty, but not something I have ever eaten in my life, so it was difficult to know what I was doing, having no context for how they are generally cooked and eaten. I did a London Broil-style flank steak two weekends ago; I was sincerely surprised to learn that London Broil is NOT a cut of meat but a method of cooking. Each week, I am trying a new cut. I think next week we will try the sirloin tip roast; any suggestions?

I keep thinking I should write something more profound. I have lots on my mind, but none of it is really relevant or anything more than unhappy speculation, which I tend to save for putting pen to paper. So that’s all I have for now. I hope to get back to at least one post per week. The Daily Post topic suggestions from WordPress are pretty uninspiring, so if you have a topic suggestion, leave me a comment and help my brain become de-tongue tied.


I gave up New Year’s Resolutions several years ago. I always resolved to lose weight and I always ended up gaining. To me, the word “resolution” has only negative connotations as a result. The fastest way, in my own mind, to set myself up for failure is to make a resolution to do something.

Now, I choose to set myself annual “challenges.” These challenges are focused on myself and not included in the goals I have for my family. I actually did pretty well with last year’s challenges, but my standards were pretty low. This year, I am kicking them up a little I have higher expectations for myself, overall.

This year, my challenges are to write more, complete my Self-Created Sock Club projects each month on time, rebuild the strength and muscle mass I have lost due to gastric bypass, and participate in at least one formal race.

In order to meet any of those goals, I have to work at them and stay motivated. To aid in my writing goal, I have joined WordPress’ Blog a Week challenge. I chose the weekly challenge rather than the daily challenge because I recognize that I cannot commit to a post per day, but once a week is much more achievable. Obviously, I am going above and beyond that goal right now, but wait until those months of April and May hit; normally writing dry spells for me anyway, and this year, likely to be consumed by Sapphire preparation. Let’s see if I can do it then. I do love a challenge.

The Sock Club goal is purely to help my overall sanity levels throughout the year. I think it will help me in those months when it is easy to get overwhelmed by work, SCA, Pennsic, and other non-knitting activities. Knitting keep me calm, focused, and gives a mind and hand diverting activity when things are very stressful, but tends to be the first thing I drop when the going gets tough (actually, I think exercise goes first, then knitting). It will also make sure Christmas knitting is mostly done without waiting until October first to start coming up with 10 projects all due to be finished and under the Christmas tree in 2.5 months.

The strength training goal is related to two factors: first, I am shocked by how much functional strength I have lost, and second, without muscle mass, it is much easier to put weight on because your body uses more calories to feed muscle. I hate that I can see the outline of my ribs where pectoral muscles should be. I hate that picking up a 50 lb sack of flour is a test of fortitude for me. I hate that my forearms are a little stick-like. The only way to change that is to put some muscle on. Also, I need muscle mass and functional strength to fulfill my last challenge.

I decided this week what race I am going to enter. I just paid my registration fees and will be in the 10:30 a.m. wave of the Warrior Dash in Warsaw, Virginia on October 1.

If you have never heard of the Warrior Dash, it is seriously not your average 5K. It is a little longer than a 5K (3.26 miles at this Virginia location), and it contains an obstacle course. Not some cushy padded gauntlet to run through either; we are talking cargo nets, a wall, a junkyard to climb over, fire to leap over, a run through a creek, and a long crawl through the mud under barbed wire to finish out.

At the finish line, you receive a race t-shirt, a Warrior Helmet (think a fuzzy viking helmet with horns!), and, I kid you not, a beer. Sounds precisely like my kind of race.

I am going to blog my training and preparations on a separate blog, just for between now and October, so feel free to follow it if you are interested, but I don’t plan to link it to Facebook so I am not spam bombing my FB friends with even more blog posts each week.

The Mud Dauber in Training