Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Primal Overseas

Spain continues to drive me. The two weeks I spent overseas has increase my desire to see the rest of the world, but not just see it in the form of photo ops and tour buses like a tourist, but to conquer it with no fear like a proper traveller. When my insecurities were not an option, because well.. there was only myself, I discovered strengths and a confidence I thought were still years off. For whatever reason. There were a few times, when I found myself lost and overwhelmed, that I quickly reminded myself to breath and take control of the situation.

This all comes from the discipline I have gained from taking control of my diet and of the surprise lessons I learned at Crossfit Asheville.

The intensity of life, and oh! is it, is a gift we often run from. What a burden to not be comfortable! But the lessons of experiences, of finding yourself in a new moment, becoming a new person, and overcoming stress breaths life into staleness. I only awoke because I was prepared. Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally. Rick Steves guide book was also my bible.

Let me see if I can remember all the 'if I wasnt as fit, it wouldnt have happened' moments.'

I didnt want to check a bag, Rick Steves says best not to, travel light. I had my shoulder travel bag and a carry on (roughly 35lbs) which became the child I tended to the whole trip. Countless times I was left with only option of hauling it up steep narrow stairs at homes, in hostels, at the Metro and even at the airport. There is no way I could have done it safely and without injury if it wasnt for my training. I know this because as I lifted it overhead into cabinets and closets, I totally did it to form. Squat, Clean and Over!

Oh, and the stairs at Madrid Metro... Sumo Deadlift highpull.

However it is the endurance that was tested that lead me to realize I was having a better life. Walking miles, climbing up forts, and most importantly... running after buses and taxis.

When I got off the bus from Madrid to Granada, after knocking my head on the underside carriage getting out my bag, feeling more embarrassed then hurt.. I hurried past a group of cops checking passports and was stopped by an older gentleman. I remembered him sitting towards the front of the bus but I spent most of my time enjoying the spanish movies instead of socializing. The Romania woman next to me was clearly disappointed when I put my earphones on.. but at that point, I wanted to be away.

"You must go to San Nicolas in Albacin at sundown" I smiled and said I had heard that, but he persisted "you really must not miss it". So I settled into Granada, the days passed and I kept missing sundown. The Polish student studying in my hostel room was quick to tell me I should go with him to a non touristy spot, that San Nicolas was crap. He also told me the Alhambra was overrated... so, whatever, he was losing credibility fast although he was an excellent roomie. I had fears of being roomed with party animals... So when I told my hosts in Madrid I was staying an extra day, he too pressed I should go to San Nicolas.

I went on my last full day, at like 4pm.. I gasped at the view and wandered around the narrow streets with grand adventure. But I was burnt, so I headed back to the hostel around 6. At 7, I started to think.. I didnt go at sundown! The view of the Alhambra apparently turns red with the setting sun. Rick Steves, old guy in the bus station, hosts, my husband and President Clinton say its a must. So I washed up.. and when I stepped outside I realized I was losing light FAST. I started running to the main drag. and then got turned around.. and started running in the right direction. I AM GOING TO MISS THE SHOT. THE MOMENT!

I was darting through the crowds of locals, tourists, children and pooches, sprinting to the little red #31 bus that would take me to the viewpoint. It was several blocks ahead of me, like a rabbit in front of a dog, and moving fast. Who is the crazy tourist running? me.
This little 'never been athletic' caught the bus, just as it was closing the doors at the last plaza heading up to Albacin. I settled in, but my heart pounded knowing it was going to be close. At the stop I raced past confused tourists, knowing where to head at BAM! THE VIEW! Bursting with a deep red, it wasnt just the palace, it was the mountains, and the sky. The world was on fire, and I took one quick shot with my camera. The next one was not as vivid, and the next and next... I caught it in right in time.

That adventure would not even have happened last year. I would have never caught the bus, or raised past confused tourists on steep stairs. I could breath, I could experience. It was awesome.

Diet overseas reinforced the importance of eating clean. I went with the intentions I would do my best, and about a week into the trip, while I was not eating packaged crap, grains and sugar had become a daily occurrence. I could have stayed clean, but was trying to be balanced in the experience of all the new food... And I started to get really sick. I picked up on my body's cues.. I was getting allergies again, an ear ache, acne, stomach cramps (all the old daily symptoms of unhealthy Heather) and I panicked. I had gotten really sick the last time I was overseas and this time I didnt have Justin to protect me. I scouted out the local Pharmacies, looked up key words in my spanish book, and started to eat clean. Besides vino. And guess what, I immediately started to heal right up. I made it to my flight, and then got a sinus infection on the flight. Oh well.

One day of rest at home, two rough workouts with some coughing, and now I am 100%. I am vino-less for a week now, going for 30-60-?. That clarity only lead to positive things happening for me, especially training wise. and professionally.

Eating clean (Paleo, Primal, whatever) is now more about health then appearance. Good thing too.. I feel like my weight loss has stalled. I wouldnt know though, and hell.. I dont care. My body is shaping still and my muscles are doing cool things like being there. But to not be sick, and wonder anymore why my body is my enemy is such a huge relief. I know what I eat effects my whole self.

I did do squats and pushups while I was away. Maybe 8/14 days of my trip. I thought all that walking would keep me fit, but coming back to Crossfit was a total shock on my body.

I was so sore last week. Now I feel back in the groove and perhaps the Charleston Bridge 10K in April is a resonable goal for me. I did the mile trial when I got back and I didnt do as well as I expected to. I cut off some time but my body was still recovering. I am going to go back to my weekly extra sprint drills. and just keep moving forward.

For the duration.

If one thing I did really learn in Spain was I need not to fret. It is best to have confidence and find a solution than worry and fear. Part of it was their relaxed lifestyle, but most of it was realizing that there is no point to have your heart race to feel you are doing your best. My best comes with balance, health, and knowledge. All things I can control.

It still sticks with me. I am bringing it to work, and to all my daily challenges.

Nowhere to really go, ever, but up.


  1. what powerful words that resonate with my spirit!

  2. Hell yeah Heather. Loved your words & your introspective outlook. Travel always changes me for the better. You are a powerhouse taking on the world. Love it.

  3. Two incredible pictures and beautiful words. So great to have you back at CFA! Perhaps we can travel abroad together one day?? I have never been. Can you be my translator?