National Trail Trek

Friday night my trainer sent me this:


My trainer is more awesome than your trainer!

Yesterday morning I got up at my regular time for work and commenced to getting myself ready for the National Trail Trek! It was finally upon me! I packed the Gatorade, my snacks, got my car packed, got me dressed, and ate breakfast. During this process Gladys sat herself in front of the door that leads to the garage and was all “You are NOT going on a hike without me.” I literally had to pick her little ass up and put her in her pen. That’s how determined she was to go. And because of the text Tyler sent me, I totally stretched and foam rolled a bit before I left.

I arrived at the Activity Complex 30 minutes earlier than scheduled which meant I stood around there for an hour since the first bus wasn’t set to leave until 7ish.

Waiting for the buses with the silhouette of South Mountain in the background.

Waiting for the buses with the silhouette of South Mountain in the background.

Once we were all on the bus we realized none of us had been on a school bus since we were kids and it was quickly determined that those things are NOT designed for adults. My knees almost became a permanent fixture of the back of the seat. Ouch.

They dropped us off at the start of the trail and we all stood around and waited for as much of the Trail Mix group as we could to get a group photo:

Trail Mix! I do not know all of these people!

Trail Mix! I do not know all of these people!

After this we started up the trail right around 8am.

I passed some of the group early on that I never in a million years thought I would pass. And I somehow wound up doing the initial incline by myself in the middle of two other smaller groups. The group behind me was talking about redecorating their homes, a friend of theirs that had to have their breast implants repaired and then got larger ones and then she said “They’re big boaters.” And I was all “Wait…what? The boobs?” So you know I turned around and said “Her fake boobs are called big boaters? What does that even mean?!?!” Turns out the fake boobed girl and her husband like to go boating a lot. It was just an interjected comment. You know I’m gonna start calling my boobs the Big Boaters, though, right? Because I so am. I should make that my trail name. Big Boater. Right now it’s Smelly Cat. It’s not my fault.

I caught up with Jodie and Mike and we became a trio! Which was nice. I liked that I was hiking with part of my group. We started stopping at all of the mileage posts and posing with them, too. You can see our energy level wane as you look through them. It’s amusing.

So far, so good!

So far, so good!

We stopped at the five-ish mile point for the portapotties.

Hikers gotta pee!!

Hikers gotta pee!!

The trail before and after this is significantly different than what the beginning of the trail is like. The beginning is nicely groomed, even though it is a very rocky type trail with lots of stepping up and over rocks. But it’s wide and feels pretty good. It’s just a workout with the legs, man.

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Not even halfway yet!

The trail after this and leading to the lunch stop was narrow and steep and rocky and at one point I proclaimed “What bullshit is this?!?!?” And we decided that should be a hashtag. I took no photos of this portion of the trail because I really had to focus on my walking. At one point I happened to realize that the trail was way narrow and there was just wide open air beside me and I was all “eeep!” But I did it.

When we descended that area for lunch we were kinda thinking we’d just get our lunch and head up the next major incline and eat it up there. But something took over us and as soon as the food was in our hands we attacked it like wild animals. I guess all of that work makes one hungry.

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The best basic sandwich EVER.

I also drank half of my Gatorade and it was actually very good. That is good to know.

After lunch we hit the portapotties again and the person that went before me had diarrhea and the smell was so bad that I damn near barfed. Like, I coughed and gagged and thought I was going to have to run out of there with my pants partially down. Ugh.


Now, before I talk about this up I want to explain that we were told that there are only two major inclines on this hike. I’m here to tell you that the majority of this hike is a lot of walking up hills and climbing up and over rocks. Sure, there are only two major inclines but that does not mean there are only two inclines. I spent most of my day walking up hill.

So we climb. And it’s steep and rocky but I’m OK and then we reach the top and we’re all “Yay! No more inclines!” and I finished the rest of my Gatorade and took off the bottom of my pants.

By this point my group of three had met up with another group of us and we became more like a group of ten or so. And it was fantastic. We’d all trained together. We all supported one another. And I’m glad we all joined up for the last six miles and finished this thing together.

Awesome people!

Awesome people!

This part of the trail is not used as much as the initial part so it is more rugged. There’s more narrowness and vast open spaces and steep. And I somehow managed it all just fine. I freaked out a wee bit but nothing that made me totally freeze.

When we reached the ten-ish mile mark the two friends I’d been hiking with initially were ahead of me but they stopped because we’d all been looking forward to making it to the double digits.



It was at this point that once I was alone with my thoughts I looked around and the mountains that were surrounding me, I looked at the trail I was on and realized I was walking on top of South Mountain along a ridge line, and that I was actually going to finish this thing and I cried a bit. I was just so damn proud of myself.

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We've reached the end of the top. Let's start going down, shall we?

We’ve reached the end of the top. Let’s start going down, shall we?

Part of the descent went by an old mining shaft that is not roped off or closed and is in a curve and not marked. And my initial thought was that the trail was going into that hole and then I was all “Well…it’s been a good time, but I’m done.” But then I realized the trail curved around the mountain and I got less silly. This part of the trail was narrow but I somehow just walked along like it was a normal trail. I kept my eyes ahead and didn’t glance to the side too often, though. It was beautiful when I did and I kinda wish I could just look and not feel that fear and take photos but those narrow spaces really do scare me. Plunging death, you know.

I was slow going down, as usual, but not like I’ve been in the past. And everyone was so nice and supportive and told me not to sweat it. And one part of the down was really rough and not super smooth at all and I somehow managed to not freak out there, either. People cheered when I got down it because they know.

You can see them waiting at the bottom for me to start my way down.

You can see them waiting at the bottom for me to start my way down.





So. We get down and we realize, we’re not longer on the mountain! So there’s a three mile section that is just this flat, ugly, nothing trail that takes us to where the finish line is. It is, actually, part of the National Trail even though we have NO idea why. It was terrible. Before we got there I was looking forward to it. No more climbing. No more inclines. No more declines. Just nice flat trail. But it was three miles and we were all so tired and the Sun was out and the breeze we’d had all day was gone and UGH! We hated it. We all just talked incessantly to keep ourselves and everyone else’s minds occupied. But, damn. During these last few miles I was all “I’m done. I’m done. I’m done.” in my head. Because my legs, man. They were wore out. We even kicked into high gear and walked faster than we had all day. Despite the tired. Because this part is terrible. It’s death valley.

Then we see the 14-ish mile marker and was all “WE ARE SO CLOSE!!!”

Joy! And Pain!

Joy! And Pain!

Then we see the end is in sight! And we rejoice. And Jodie stopped and waited for me and we talked about how tired we were and that we just wanted to be done and even though we could literally SEE the end we were both kinda, like, can we just be done now? Now, yeah? But we were not. So up the hill we went and we heard people cheering as our group crossed the line and that pushed up to make it! AND WE DID!


I DID IT!!!!

I DID IT!!!!

I have the shirt to prove it!

I have the shirt to prove it!

We all hugged and high fived and took photos and hung out for a bit and just, generally, marveled at what we just accomplished and gave each other props and it was fantastic.

The van ride back to our vars was full of cheerful chatter. When we arrived to our cars we all head out to our Mexican food celebration dinner! Much chips and queso was enjoyed.

The day could not have been more perfect for a long hike. The air was nice and clean, the sky was blue and clear, and there was a nice, constant breeze for most of the day. Just really perfect.

When I got home, I was welcomed by this face:

Walk me? Please?

Walk me? Please?

I could not. I could only shower then get on the couch. I was so tired.

I managed to do laundry and things like that and went to bed at my usual time. Then I got up this morning and took her on our 4 mile recovery/keep ourselves loose hike.

Let's goooooooo!

Let’s goooooooo!

Even though this was a short hike and it is a really good idea to do a small hike after a big event like I did on Saturday, my legs were just so tired and heavy. And there was a lot of chatter. So I’m glad I have the rest of today to just be me and my girl. I need some quiet, I think. Just rest and relax and process what I accomplished yesterday.

So, there’s one accomplishment under my belt! And Sabrina said “You know Andrea…you’ll not be hiking this far on any of your days in the canyon. So, that will be a breeze now!” I tend to agree.

I did it!!


butterfly belly

The other day I was waiting for Tyler to be ready to start our session and I heard two of the trainers talking about their weight. One was all “Yeah, I’m up to 217 and bro friend is mad since I’m heavier than him but mine’s fat. What are you up to now?” The other answered “205!” and the first was all “Nooice!” And I was all “The fuck is happening here?” It was not anything you’d hear between two lady friends. I was amused.

Then we got to work. And we did A LOT!

Vertical chest press 80×10 80×10 80×10
BM incline chest press 40×10 40×10 30×10
BM seated row 60×10 80×10 80×10
SB DB shoulder press 10×10 10×10 10×10
SB DB Bicep curls 10×10 10×10 10×10
SB DB crunch 10×10 10×10 10×10
Rope jumping jacks 15 15 15
Rope single arm slams 10 10 10
Single arm med ball slams 2 4×16 10×20
Bosu ball crunch 2 15 15
Bosu ball alt knee to elbow 2 20 20
Bosu ball alt hand to foot 2 20 20

That vertical chest press? I am only giving myself credit for 70lbs because he helped. Not a lot but he was involved.

The BM incline chest press KICKED MY ASS. I have no idea why. It made me feel weak and ineffectual.

I hate the rope jumping jacks. It’s awkward. I feel awkward and he wouldn’t tell me if I look as awkward as I feel so that totally means I do.

Then a lady trainer was all “Oh, I like your Brooks! Are those this season’s Ghosts?” and I was all “No! This is last year’s and I love them” and she was all “Oh, me, too!” and I finally got to actually discuss the latest fashion trends in a manner that made sense to me. About gym shoes. I can’t even begin to tell you how amusing all of this paragraph is to me.

While I was doing the single arm rope slams I was killing it with the right arm. We had to train the left arm to go straight up and down in a slamming motion instead of a circular pulling the rope to me motion. My left side is weird, y’all.

After that he wanted me to do single arm medicine ball slams. I tried to explain that my hand is not large enough to palm a ball and that was why I wasn’t a Harlem Globetrotter and he was all “That’s the ONLY reason?” and I was all “Yeah. The only one.” But then I finally got the motion down with the 4 pound ball and then he made me do them for real with the 10 pound and I slammed and slammed and slammed.

We finished the evening with him killing my abs. Two ab circuits in a week. Under my belly flab are some nice abs, I just know it!

Once we were done with that I rushed to my car and got into traffic and went to dinner with my hiking group to discuss the plan for tomorrow. The big event!! It’s tomorrow!! Woooo! We’re meeting at 6:30am so I should go to bed soon. But only after I catch up with Oliver Queen.

I walked Gladys this evening and I’ll foam roll and then that’ll be that.

Tomorrow is so serious that I even bought Gatorade! My first one ever!

Fruit punch won't be gross, yeah?

Fruit punch won’t be gross, yeah?

I’ve had some Gatorade, sure. And it was yuck. But I’ve never willingly bought it. Or needed to buy it. Until now! I’m a person that has to rehydrate, y’all!

Tomorrow is a big deal for me. I think it’s because this is a mountain that I can actually point to and say “You see that? I walked from one end to the other.” All of my other hikes have been in places that are tucked away so they don’t feel as tangible or something? But this I see as I drive around. You can see it as you land at Sky Harbor. And? It’s something that just a year ago I would never have even have been able to fathom me doing. And now I can. I am so proud of myself. I wish that was enough, though. I find myself wanting to hear from all of the people that they’re proud of me, too. I guess I’m likely to never ever stop looking for approval and acceptance. That may just be who I am.

Who I am is ok, though.

what doesn’t kill me and all of that bullshit

This week at work is just kinda crazy and I have to use my brain a lot and get pulled in all of the directions and take my brain with me in those directions and by the end of the day I’m kinda just really tired. But that hasn’t stopped me from taking care of business.

Yesterday was gym day. So, I gymmed!

Foam roller
FM hack squat 70×15 70×15 70×15
Step ups quick 15 15 15
Leg press 90×10 90×10 90×10
Single leg hamstring curl 20×8 10×10 10×10
Ab circuit
Med ball ab toss 4×10

I did my usual five minutes on the stairmaster and then the shoulder warm ups. My neck was still quite sore but nowhere near the level of ouch from Monday. But I told him about the neck pain and about me actually using my foam roller at home and doing my shoulder stretches but I couldn’t remember all of the areas to roll or how to roll them. So we started out by doing that. And now I know and I shall roll my body top to bottom!

Then he made me stretch my neck and the first move made me say “OOOOWWW!!!!” and him say “SHHH!!!” and tears sprung to my eyes. So he then made me stretch my neck after every set of exercises. It feels better today but still not 100%. He feels that I made it full of ouch by hiking 14 miles with my head down watching the trail. He may be on to something there.

I just now realized I did the leg press with 90lbs! WOOO!

The ab circuit was me doing standard situps, then me holding a 30lb dumbbell straight up in the air while I did knee raises, then knee to ab crunches. Wow.

The medicine ball ab toss consisted of me doing a V sit while he tossed me the ball from the right, I twist to the left to tap it on the ground then twist back to toss it back to him ten times. Repeat on the left side. Repeat from the front. Ouch. On the very last set on the very last little bit I totally lost my V sit and he didn’t realize I’d put my hands down and he tossed the ball and it went “THUD!” right on my abs, man. It didn’t hurt. I laughed a lot. That means my abs are rockin’, is what I think.

Thursday will be upper body day to ensure my legs are not tired for the National Trail Trek on Saturday! You’ll be happy when I stop mentioning the National Trail Trek, I just know it.

Since this is a “watch how healthy Andrea is!” blog I’m gonna go ahead and document that I had to have a fun ultrasound this morning of my lady parts and I have a cyst on one ovary and a fresh new fibroid growing in my uterus. My uterus is determined to be a mom, my feelings on the subject be damned. So I have to go back in to have another ultrasound in four to six weeks to see how aggressive this fibroid is. None of this is really horrible news. It just explains why the past few months have felt really bad during that time, why nothing is regular, and prepare me for that to continue a bit. It just makes me want to tell women who have nice, normal, regular periods to not take them for granted and to stop acting like I’m some baby for having cramps. So, yeah. Consider yourself told if that’s you.

Then I worked all of the works and then I came home and Gladys did her best “OMG TAKE ME FOR A WALK!!!!” dance and cry around the house until I actually get the leash to put on her and she then looks like the most abused dog from the saddest of the Sarah McLachlan dog commercials. She acts this way until we close and lock the door and then blammo! Happy dog again. She’s a weirdo. I raised her. We’re not surprised here.

I will spend the evening rolling around on my foam roller and not at all feeling sad for myself that it’s some silly National Hug Day and I got nobody to hug me on a day that I could really just use a damned hug. Blah. That’s right. I said blah. I meant it.

What a Pain in the Neck!

I noticed yesterday that my neck hurt. I’m not sure when that started or why but today it’s been so bad that it made me grumpy. The pain was really bad and my range of motion is severely limited and work was really busy and not everything worked the way it should and I wanted to deal with all of that by crying like a toddler. That’s how I get. So I did. I cried. Guess what? My neck still hurts.

On the hike Saturday Heather let me try some of her snack that she bought at Costco and it was so damned delicious that it didn’t matter how much my neck hurt, I went there after work and bought a bag of my own!

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These things taste like peanut brittle! But they have way, way less sugar than peanut brittle does. In fact, they have less ingredients that my Cliff bars seem to! And these are way more delicious. Hello there good trail snack!

Then I came home and walked Gladys because she wins. She looked at her leash, looked at me, then went and sat in front of the door and cried. How can I say no to that? I can’t. So, we compromised and we did a shorter walk. Because ouch.

Earlier today I saw another photo of myself from Saturday that doesn’t make me look like a fat fatty. I’m starting to think that in that other photo I was a slouching sloucher that slouches and in this one I’m a person with good posture who needs to just lose a few pounds but isn’t about to set her kitchen on fire so she can never eat again.

This girl isn't so bad. This girl is me.

This girl isn’t so bad. This girl is me.

So, other than the severe mystery pain in my neck and the frustrated tears of woe, today was ok. It’s not over, though. I have to make it all the way through. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Desert Dog

My hiking companion.

My hiking companion.

Since today was a nice, easy, four mile hike on a really easy trail I decided to take my girl Gladys for her very first hike to see if she’d enjoy it.

I share a lot of photos of her on Facebook so as people showed up and saw her they all proclaimed “GLADYS!” and gave her love and she gave them love in return. She’s really a very sweet dog.

Overall she did great. She didn’t get tired or act like a turd. My only complaint is that she zig zags as she walks and I was afraid she may trip someone. So I shortened her leash a bit and kept her closer to me. But she hiked well in a group as well as up and down hills and when there was space between us all. She just did really good and listened to me well. And? Most importantly? She didn’t get into any cactus! Which is more than about six of our group can say!

I didn’t start my app on this hike so there’s another short hike not being counted. Ah well.

The rest of the day will see me use my foam roller. I am planning to roll every day to limber and loosen up for the event on Saturday. I’ll go to the store, do some cooking, and be chill. A nice chill Sunday.

She's not much for posing yet. We'll get there.

She’s not much for posing yet. We’ll get there.

to be the man that knocks on your door

Today I went and hiked 14 miles. Miles and miles. So many miles. And my body hurts.

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This was our last training hike before next Saturday’s National Trail Trek! So, since I just successfully hiked 14 miles I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to complete the hike next week. I may be all tore up from the floor up before it’s over but I will fucking finish!!

Today’s hike was in a beautiful location in the Sonoran Preserve.


1-17-15-3And this is how I looked during the hike before I saw the next photo I will post:

Happy, blissful, ignorant face!

Happy, blissful, ignorant face!

Then I got home and people started uploading the photos they took and I saw one with me and I clicked and looked and now I have photographic proof indicating that I am, in fact, fat and am justified in my current state of frustration and what the fuck-titude over it.

I'm not pleased.

I’m not pleased.

I’m just not happy about that at all. I know that I’m stronger and healthier than I’ve ever ever been and I’m so happy with all of my accomplishments, I really am. I’m so proud of myself and I hate that I keep overshadowing all of that good by harping on my weight but when I see shit like this or I try to put on my pants and they don’t fit or I just wanna feel cute or pretty and desirable at all in any way then see this? It just kinda kicks me. I don’t like it.

But, hey, a year ago I couldn’t hike 3 miles without a serious break! So…there’s that and that is HUGE! Huger than I am, even.

have faith in you

I kept healthy snacks at my office this week. But that didn’t matter because I was also in the presence of free Mexican food for two days and that makes me weak. But this is what my healthy snack looked like:

This is delicious. But it cannot fight the power that Mexican foods have over me.

This is delicious. But it cannot fight the power that Mexican foods have over me.

But I gymmed Tuesday and Thursday and walked Gladys Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so I was active every damn day! Woo!

Tuesday gym:

Walking lunges 1/3 turf 1/3 turf 1/3 turf 1/3 turf 1/3 turf 1/3 turf
Jump squat / wall sit 10 10 30s 10 10 30s
Rope stuff 10 30 30
Decline reverse crunch 10 10 10
Side hip raises off bench 10 10 10
Bench hop ups 10 15 15
FM standing crunch 40×15 40×15 40×15

OK, so, the walking lunges, jump squats, and wall sits were done together. I’d walk lunge 1/3 of the turf field then do jump squats then walk lunge then jump squats then walk lunge to the end. Then I’d wall sit for 30 seconds and be groovy.

The rope stuff doesn’t mean I was a cowgirl roping stuff. It means the first set was rope slams, the second set was in and out, then the third set was waves. I kicked ass at the rope slams, by the way.

The side hop raises? HOLY SHIT. This was the first time I had to do them and they are hard and right now my hips still hurt from them. Damn.

I wasn’t laying on the ground, though. I was resting my arm on a bench and then my feet were on the ground and then I’d dip down then raise the hips and it was hard and damn. But I already said that.

Tuesday was an ass kicker. Lots of new stuff. But I did it!

This is Thursday’s gym stuff:

HS incline chest press 20×15 20×15 20×15
Bicep curls (straight bar) 30×15 30×12 30×12
Lat pull down behind the head 40×15 40×15
Tricep push downs (back rest) 30×15 30×15

This is NOT the entire Thursday list. The spreadsheet is NOT complete. OH, THE HUEMANATEE!

It was a lot of upper body work and while I was doing one of the things I could see the muscles in my arms working! Yay!

So, let’s see…in addition to what is there I also did the seated rows with about 40lbs, I guess.

And then I did this thing where I picked up a barbell in a manner that made my elbows higher than my shoulders. As I did this one my left wrist would move weird and I was all “Why am I doing that? That’s just weird!” and he was all “It’s likely just you being weird.” He gets it.

Then I did this other machine that worked my triceps and that may be it? I dunno. I thought he said I did 9 moves but that’s just 7 so who knows. Dumb incomplete spreadsheet. He was filling it in. I saw him doing it. It’s just not saving. That’s nerdy IT talk and I’m gonna stop now.

Tonight, after walking Gladys, I made pesto tilapia and it was delish.

Tomorrow? THIRTEEN MILE HIKE!!! My last training hike before next week’s big 15.5 mile one. The National Trail Trek! WOO! I also get to pick up my event package tomorrow. Fun times, fun times.