Tag Archives: success

Welcome To Hell (or Pushing Myself Even More)

This past week of workouts was the beginning of Hell Week. Today is actually the last Hell Week workout for me so I can earn my free shirt, but I did 4 of the 5 workouts I need to earn that shirt this past week. And because Hell Week was going from Tuesday to Tuesday, I ended up doing my first ever 5 workout week in order to get in the workouts I needed!

Monday was my only non-Hell Week workout. It was a mix of power and strength and it was a 3 group class. Because I knew that I’d be doing 4 Hell Week workouts that week and this was the beginning of 3 workouts in a row, I knew it was in my best interest to walk all the treadmill work. We had 2 blocks on the treadmill. The first block was longer pushes that I did at 6, 8, and 10% incline. The second block started with 30 second intervals and ended with 45 second intervals. But that second block was a bit tough so I ended up doing everything at 6% incline instead of working on my inclines like I did for the first block.

The floor had a very interesting first block. It was one long move that included bicep curls, squats, shoulder presses, and lunges in a fluid motion. So instead of doing a set of each thing before moving on, it was just one long movement. I was surprised that I didn’t find this as difficult as I thought it would be. Something about the order of the movements and continuously going helped me and it felt kind of badass to be doing it! The second block was more of a normal format with squats, row work with weights and straps, and mountain climbers. And on the rower the first block was 500 meter rows with lunges between each set and the second block was 250 meter rows were we worked on stroke counts.

Tuesday was day 1 of Hell Week and the name of the workout was Don’t Fear The Burpees. While the burpees were bad, it seems like the rower is what I needed to be scared of that day. I had run into one of my coaches in the parking garage before the workout and he recommended that I start on the rower instead of the treadmill for this workout. And I’m so glad I listened. On the rower, we had 3 rounds of 6.5 minute rows for distance. The first 2 rounds were coached where we were told when to do base, push, or all out paces on the rower. And the last round was on our own and just trying to get the best distance possible. Round 1 I got 1335 meters, round 2 I got 1354 meters, and round 3 I got 1372 meters so I was very happy to have made improvement with each endurance row.

After doing all that rowing, I was very nervous about the treadmill workout which had all the burpees in it. My legs felt like jello and I knew that I had to walk on the treadmill. The fact that I walked at my normal power walking speed was a victory enough for me because I was feeling so tired. The treadmill segments were all pretty short and after each segment we headed to the floor to work on burpees. There were 4 types of burpees we had to do and each round we did more of each type. I only made it to the third round because I was taking a lot of breaks. But I was still glad I did the rowing first because I don’t think I would have done any better if I had done things in the opposite order.

Wednesday’s Hell Week workout was called Don’t Breathe. This was originally going to be another walking day for me since this was my 3rd workout in a row, but as soon as I saw what the workout would be I decided to work on running. The first block on the treadmill was 8 rounds of 30 second all out paces followed by 30 second walking recovery. I was able to do all 8 of those at 5mph. The next block was 5 rounds of 45 second all out paces followed by 45 second walking recovery. And the last block was 3 rounds of 1 minute all out paces with 1 minute of walking recovery. And we ended with a 90 second all out. For the second and third block, I did all the running at my normal push pace of 4.5mph. But to do that much running felt awesome and I was so glad that I was there for that workout!

The floor was 1 long block with progressive work. Every round started with the same 3 things (bicep curls, tricep work, and rows on the straps) and each round we added one more core movement to the end of that. The core work included bicycle crunches, regular crunches, heel taps, and hip dips. Also, each round we had increased the number of reps we had with the first 3 moves of the round. We started at 10 reps and the last round was 25 reps. It didn’t seem too bad in the beginning, but at the end it was very difficult to do 25 bicep curls or rows on the straps. While this wasn’t the hardest Hell Week workout, it was still tough and I pushed myself a bit more than I normally would.

Friday’s workout was called 28 Reps Later. I wanted to run, but I was dealing with a bit of lack of sleep and just wasn’t feeling like I could. The treadmill work was all runs for distance which I usually love for running but this day was just something I had to get through. We had a 3, 4, 5, and 6 minute run for distance and I really didn’t focus too much on the distances I was getting. But I did try to play with both incline and speed with my walking. So when we were doing longer pushes, I would first increase my speed from 3.5 to 3.6mph and the next minute I would bring the speed back down but increase my incline. It was something different from what I normally do and it helped to make the distance runs more interesting since I wasn’t focused on the distance.

The floor work is where the name for the workout came from. We had a slightly different format where we did 28 reps of one thing before going to the rower to do a 280 meter row. Then we’d come back to the floor and do 28 reps of another thing and did the rower. So it felt a bit long since there wasn’t any variety in the floor work between each row, but I tried to break things down in my head so I wasn’t just waiting to get to 28 reps. The moves on the floor includes walk outs to push ups, lunges, side plank crunches, and pop jacks. My rowing wasn’t anything great and I was almost using it as recovery time after doing so many reps on the floor.

And Saturday was my first time having a 5th workout in a week! I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it, but I’m so glad I did. I had to take it easy because I was dealing with a bit of hip pain that day, but that was ok because it was a 3 group workout. This one was called Thighday The 13th and I really felt like my thighs were on fire. Every section had 2 blocks and I started on the treadmill. The first block was rounds of 90 second push paces with inclines. The idea was to get to 13%, but I was keeping it at 6 and 8%. And the second block was rounds of 45 seconds at 13% incline and then we went behind our treadmills where we did 13 goblet squats and then 13 normal squats. For this block, I did have the treadmill at 13% since it was only for 45 seconds but I decreased my speed a bit.

On the floor, the first block started with hop overs and then had skier swings, tricep work, and push ups. The second block was mountain climbers, squats, froggers, and lateral raises. I felt pretty good on the floor and it didn’t seem too tough for me, but that could be that I wasn’t feeling as tired from the treadmill work. And the rower was kind of the opposite of the treadmill. The first block was either 130 or 260 meter rows with 13 goblet squats and 13 regular squats after each row. And the second block was 90 second rows for distance. We had 3 rounds of those and I got 315, 325, and 349 meters on those. I was very happy to get better with each row even though I was getting more tired each row.

By the time you are reading this, I’m probably done with my workout today so I got my Hell Week shirt! But to know that I did my first 5 workout week this past week was almost a bigger victory. It wasn’t that long ago that a 4 workout week seemed to be impossible and that is now the norm for me. I don’t think a 5 workout week will become the norm for me, but I’m not saying never. But to prove to myself that I am stronger than I thought I could be is exactly what Hell Week is all about. And to not only do those workouts successfully but to do more workouts in a week than I ever have is the best thing ever!

An Easier Workout Week (or Ignoring My Head And Listening To My Body)

After doing a couple of 4 workout weeks, it was really nice to have a 3 workout week this past week. I had actually originally planned this past week to be a 4 workout week, but due to scheduling issues and street closures from the LA marathon it wasn’t possible. But I know my body needed a bit of an easier week, so I enjoyed my 3 workouts and taking things a bit easy.

I was so happy on Monday that we got to switch between blocks. I’ve been saying that I feel like we are switching between blocks less often than we had in the past, and I have been missing those. It seems to help me do better on the treadmill because it breaks up the treadmill block and I don’t get as tired as easily (but I think getting over being tired is the reason I probably need the solid 30 minute treadmill blocks).

During the treadmill blocks, we had some 3 minute push paces to do. I think 3 minutes is the longest push pace we ever have (except when we are doing timed or distance challenges where you set your own pace the entire time), and 3 minutes is a long time! I’m pretty ok doing my 3.5 miles an hour push during 2 minutes or less, but that 3rd minute seems so difficult and I really want to break through that time barrier. I think I did pretty ok with my pushes, but I’m pretty hard on myself and I wish that I was doing my pushes (and base pace) faster by now). Besides those long treadmill blocks, I was using 20 pound weights for all of my arm work today. And I’ll admit that I feel like a bit of a badass using 20 pound weights for my bicep work (I started at 10 pounds).

The end of the workout on Monday was pretty fun with a partner challenge. The partner work was a combination of treadmill, rowing, and lunges on the floor. One partner was on the treadmill while the other person did 200 meters on the row and then did a lap of walking lunges around the floor space. Many people used weights during the lunges, but since walking lunges are very tough on my balance I kept my hands free. I worked really hard to make sure my partner wasn’t stuck on the treadmill any longer than I was, and that was a great motivator!

Wednesday was back to a 30 minute treadmill block. There was nothing spectacular for me about that treadmill block. I know I can do better in my mind, but my body isn’t ready for it and that’s such a tough thing to battle through. I was pushing things a bit more with my all outs and picking up the speed, but that was always a short sprint and not something that I feel like I can maintain for a decent amount of the treadmill time.

I was pretty happy with my floor work that day though. We did a lot on the Bosu and that’s one of pieces of workout equipment I have a love/hate relationship with. I know I can do Bosu work because I have done it before, but the condition of my hips have gotten worse since then so I’m struggling a lot. I want to improve my balance because I think that will help so much more, but it’s baby steps. We had to do sit-ups to standing on the Bosu, but my body can’t do that combination yet. So I do a round of sit-ups and then a round of squats. Still the same motions, just broken down a bit. But when we used the Bosu for the arm work, I felt amazing! I was having a bit of balance issues, but I was able to correct myself much quicker than I have in the past and I felt like it was less of a balance change and more of an arm workout.

I wasn’t able to work out on Friday (more on that tomorrow), so I went in on Thursday for my 3rd workout of the week. Again, we had 30 minutes straight on the treadmill. There were a bunch of treadmill blocks and each one started with a 2 minute push pace. I toyed with being at 3.6 miles an hour (instead of 3.5), but I wasn’t able to maintain that for the entire 2 minute push. But just doing those sprints within the push of a couple of seconds each was a good step forward and helping me hopefully reach my goal of increasing my treadmill speed soon.

While I didn’t love the 30 minute treadmill block, there was a good reason for it this time. The floor block was 22 minutes straight with 8 different exercises to work through. It was kind of similar to the idea of a run/row, but it was weights/row. We had 3 floor work exercises followed by a 400 meter row, then 3 different floor work exercises followed by a 200 meter row. Then we repeated that cycle as many times as we could. It seemed easy enough to me and I was really looking forward to the weights/row segment. But as soon I did my first row I started to feel off. I thought maybe I had overdone it, but then I noticed that I wasn’t recovering as quickly from the row that I’m used to. I pushed through and kept feeling a bit off. By the second row I realized that there was a good chance that I didn’t eat enough before class. When I looked back at my food diary after class, I had only about 600 calories between my breakfast and lunch when I usually try to get more than that on a workout day. So clearly I was light-headed due to that and I had to keep taking it easy. I ended up skipping my last row because it’s not so easy for me to take it easy on the row and just moved on to the next round of floor exercises.

Even though my Thursday workout ended on a bit of a not-so-great note, I still consider this entire week a week of wins for me. There were so many times I could have been frustrated and given up, but I didn’t. I modified what I needed to and kept going. Despite my head and body disagreeing in what I could do, I focused more on what my body was saying and I know that it was for the best.

This coming week is a 4 workout week, plus there will be 3 workouts in a row! I’m thinking about some ideas for how to make this coming week another successful workout week for me, and I’ll share what I end up doing next week!

Graduation Show (or Completing Improv 101)

This past Sunday was the graduation show for my improv class. The way that UCB runs their classes is that the class has 8 classes that are 3 hours each (typically 1 class a week unless it’s the intensive class which means 4 times a week for 2 weeks) and at the end you have a graduation show.

I had been a bit nervous about the graduation show because it felt like we hadn’t been told too much about how it would work. But I’m used to short-form improv where it is game based and not scene based. So the nerves were unnecessary because we pretty much did the same thing that we had been doing in the past few classes.

Our class was split into 2 groups (there were 12 of us doing the graduation show) and each group thought of a team name. My group was going second so we sat in the audience for the first half and got to watch our classmates perform. The audience was made up of us from the other group and friends and family that we invited to the show (I didn’t have any friends or family in the audience, but I only told people about it a few days in advance). Before I knew it, it was our turn to go backstage and get ready.

When my group started, we got a suggestion of one word to start things off. Then one person said a personal monologue and we created 3 scenes from that monologue. After the 3 scenes were done, another monologue was done followed by 3 scenes. In total, my group had 3 monologues and 8 or 9 scenes. And I initiated a few, joined in on a few, and did walk ons in a few. We had about 25 minutes on stage, and it rushed by so fast. And since the lights on the stage were so bright, I never felt like I was performing for an audience. I felt like we were performing to our classmates the way we did in the classroom.

Overall, I feel pretty good about how I did and how the entire class did as a whole. And I think that we were all pretty excited about completing the graduation show.

UCB 101

The only thing that I was a bit sad about was that we didn’t really seem to bond as a group until the last week or so. There was the awkwardness at the beginning and then just feeling the personalities of the group out. And we really felt like a team at our last class and then again in the show. I’m not sure if making the class longer than 8 weeks would have helped, but it was a bit sad to say goodbye to everyone when I felt like I was just getting to know them.

UCB Graduation

We don’t find out if we failed the first level of improv until we register for the next class (if we failed, they will let us know that there was a problem). I’m still thinking that I’d like to go on to the next level and possibly do all 4 levels eventually. I’ve got a year to sign up for level 201 before I have to repeat 101 and I have a feeling that I’ll be signing up sooner than next fall. I just need to get the money together for it (I might have extra money left over after I pay my 2015 taxes) and figure out a time that works with my schedule.

I’m so glad that I finally jumped in and took another improv class. While I still miss Kip all the time and wished I had heard his laugh in the audience (he had the best and most distinctive laugh), I think he would have been happy that I moved on and continued my education. I don’t know if I want to join a troupe after I complete all the levels (if I do that), but I’m taking things one step at a time and just focusing on taking level 201 now.

Setting Some New Personal Records (or Getting Closer To My Old Self)

I’m happy to share that I actually had a pretty amazing workout week! I’m actually surprised that I feel so great about my workout week because I had a setback on the treadmill and that’s how I’ve been measuring my success for a while now.

I’m not doing horribly on the treadmill, but I’m back to 3.4 miles an hour. I can do some moments of 3.5 miles an hour, but it’s starting to hurt again. But I’m starting to not stress about that as much as I was before. At 3.4 miles an hour, I’m about 30 seconds slower than my 5K PR time. And I know that I have a tendency to be faster on race days and my treadmill training is at 4% incline (at least) and my race day is pretty much a flat road. So knowing that, there is still a decent chance that I will PR at my race in a few weeks even if all my treadmill training until then is at 3.4 miles an hour (although I’m not going to stop pushing myself to go faster).

While I had a small setback on the treadmill, I had jumps forward in everything else. My strength work was much more fluid and less jerky than it was in the past. I also finally conquered my fear of using the next set of weights when I was doing arm work. I finally did some of my upper body weights with the 20 pound weights! I’m not going to do that for everything, but it’s nice to prove to myself that I can do it and that it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.

I also had to use fewer modifications this past week. Some of that was because of what the workout programs were during the week, but there are some things (like certain types of planks) that I was able to do the normal way instead of the way I’ve been doing them. I still had to do a modification on one move on the Bosu (where you do a sit up and then stand), but that’s something that I’m aware will likely always be very difficult or impossible to do. And I did burpees much cleaner than I think I ever have!

But my biggest success of the week was my rowing. Yes, it shocked me as well that I have good rowing news to share. We had a ton of rowing to do this past week. And while most of my rowing kind of kicked serious butt (including getting a higher wattage than I can ever remember), I mainly want to share about my rowing victory on Wednesday.

Part of the workout routine on Wednesday was a 1,000 meter row. Those intimidate me so much. I know that if I want to do a Dri-Tri that I’ll have to do a 2,000 meter row, but for some reason that doesn’t scare me as much as the 1,000 meter row.

Whenever rowing is part of the workout plan, there is a guideline for how long it should take you to complete it. Beginners should average 100 meters every 30 seconds. For the shorter rows, I can do that pretty much all the time. But when I have to do the longer rows, it normally doesn’t happen.

So going into the 1,000 meter row, I just wanted to be under 5 minutes. I knew that I could maintain that pace for at least the first half of the row, but the second half would be a struggle. So I set up my rower so it would count down the meters and stop when I got to 1,000 (instead of just continuing to go as long as I don’t reset it). With the rower set up that way, I could focus on other things in the room and not really pay attention to the countdown. I also knew that with it set that way I would see exactly how long it took me to complete it versus making a guess.

When I started, I just counted each stroke in my head. It doesn’t really mean anything to me, but it’s a good distraction. The first time I checked the monitor I was about a quarter of the way done. I just kept going and trying to not slow down. It was so hard. I was sweating like crazy (and not stopping to wipe off the sweat) and my heart rate got a bit higher than I like it to be. But I managed to complete the 1,000 meters with pretty much no breaks.

And when I looked at the monitor (and I regret not having a picture of this), it said 4:58.9. I was just over a second under my 5 minute goal!

Of course, the rest of the workout was a struggle for me because I was exhausted from the row, but I was also on such a high from accomplishing something that I wasn’t sure would be possible.

Of course, I had to take a post-workout selfie to celebrate this accomplishment!

Post Workout

I’m excited to see what this week of workouts will bring. I have to start doing very early workouts on Mondays for a while (more on that tomorrow), so hopefully I won’t have too many issues with that.

New Workout Gadgets And Records (or Improving On My Workouts)

This past week brought some fun things to my Orangetheory workouts. The first thing was at my Monday workout.

Since I started at Orangetheory, there has always been heart rate monitors. This is part of the reason why I love Orangetheory. The heart monitors that have been used in the past are by Polar. I owned my own strap and every time I worked out, I got a pod (the device that hooks on to the strap) from the front desk. The pods belonged to Orangetheory and had to be turned in after each class.

But on Monday, we all got a nice present waiting for us at the front desk.


We got new heart rate monitors! This is the OTBeat system. It uses Bluetooth to connect in class and you can even use it for workouts outside of class (which is perfect since the battery in my other heart rate monitor still needs replacing). And now I don’t have to get a pod from the front desk (or remember to turn it back in) each workout!

The only possible glitch with the new heart rate monitor for me is the calorie count. It’s saying that I’m burning about 200-300 calories less than the old system did. And when I use the app on my phone with the heart rate monitor (while I’m in class), it says I do burn those extra 200-300 calories. I’ve told the management at my Orangetheory and we are trying to figure out why this is happening. I’m not sure if I should trust what the class calorie burn is or the app calorie burn is. Hopefully this will be resolved this week.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to do the Monday Challenge this past week. It was a 1/4 mile on the treadmill at 10%, but you couldn’t hold on to the treadmill while you did it. Since I have so many balance and walking straight issues, it was more important for me to hold on and not fall than to try the Monday Challenge.

Other than not being able to do the Monday Challenge, I had a great workout.

Wednesday I pushed myself to some new limits with my weights. The new OTBeat system shows how long you have been in the orange and red zones (the zones that help your body burn calories post-workout), so I wanted to see if I could get more time in those zones. In the past, you only knew how long you were in those zones after the workout, but now that I can see how close I am to my goals throughout the workout, I feel extra motivated to push myself farther and farther.

And pushing myself was the theme of my Friday workout. For the treadmill block, we had some distance races. The first and last 7 minutes of the treadmill block were for distance. The first 7 minutes, I got to .401 miles. My goal was .4 miles, so getting that little extra was super motivating. When we had the next 7 minute race, I made myself go even faster than last time (so much easier to do that on a treadmill where it forces me to go faster if I increase the speed on the machine).

Going faster (and at 6% incline instead of 3% which is the norm), was painful at times, but all I really wanted to do is to go for the full 7 minutes without taking a break. And somehow, I managed to do that.

When I looked at the treadmill to see how far I went, I was in shock.


That’s so much better than the first time, and I was exhausted this time from doing the first 7 minute race and the intervals we had between the 2 races.

Honestly, the rest of my workout after that was a bit of a blur. It was a blur of pain and happiness that I was able to go so much farther than I ever expected.

This coming week, I’m going to be calling Kaiser to try to get an appointment with a potential hip surgeon. I know what my old surgeon had as a plan for me, but since he isn’t at Kaiser anymore and that plan was created almost 8 years ago, I want to know what else is possible for me. My goal is to find a way to be able to walk faster without pain and to perhaps find more ways to delay the 3 surgeries that I was told that I need. Seeing how far I can push myself when I’m in pain in a workout has really motivated me to work with a new doctor to make my future workouts even better.

Beverly Hills Shorts Festival (or Remembering To Breathe After Being So Stressed)

Saturday was the actual screenings for the film festival. In the past, we’ve had screenings the entire weekend, but since this was my first time running the festival, the other co-directors agreed that we should cut it back to one day (I’m very grateful that they made that decision).

The screenings were at 3, 5, and 7 with an awards ceremony at 9. But I wanted to get to Busby’s super early so I could make sure that everything was in order. When I arrived, the ballroom was all set up for the screenings.


It was only bright in there because the curtains were still open. While the screenings were going on it was nice and dark.

I also tested the DVDs we were using. The biggest fear that I had was that there would be some sort of technical issue during a screenings. It’s happened before and I’m sure it’s happened again. But I’ve never been the person who had to fix it (or who had to listen to an angry filmmaker yelling).

I tried to stay calm while waiting for the volunteers to show up for the first shift. I killed time by making phone calls and playing a couple of rounds of Candy Crush.

And before I knew it, the festival was starting. Since I couldn’t be in 2 places at once, I stayed outside at the check in table while the films were going. But I always had a volunteer inside in charge of making sure there were no technical issues. I also had a volunteer run the Q&A after the screening.

While I didn’t get to see any of the films during the festival, I’ve been told by the volunteers and filmmakers that there were no technical issues during the entire thing. I had no angry filmmakers and nobody demanded a refund of their ticket (yes, that’s happened in the past as well).

I got to host the awards ceremony for the first time (I’m normally just hanging out watching it). It was so much fun getting to pass out awards (not all the winners were present, but those who were were so enthusiastic that they won).

And then it was done.

I’m still in shock that I managed to do it. I’ve been nervous for so long about this and honestly, I think it went smoother this year than any other year (that could be due to the fact that we ran all the screenings off of DVDs and only had one day of screenings). There are a couple of things that I’m hoping to improve on for next year, but I’ll have an entire year to prep for that festival.

I also wanted to just say on here how grateful I am to all my volunteers this year. I know that the festival would have been a disaster without them. Not only were they rockstars in doing their jobs, they also helped to calm me down.

Now I get to relax at Thanksgiving with most of my family.

BTW, if you are a filmmaker and want to submit your film for next year, let me know!