Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28, 2015
Over the past two weeks my workouts have consisted of a warm up that included ten minutes of cardio and a few core exercises, followed by two upper and two lower body exercises using weights near the upper limit of my ability.  These 'max strength' exercises are designed to build strength in the key muscles that I will need for climbing without increasing bulk.  That last part is important because usually somewhere around the middle of my training regimen, my quads are too big for my pants.   

Today I completed the first max strength workout of the week, and I am thrilled that I was able to complete all exercises, even push-ups and pull-ups without any modification! Ha! Take that cancer!

Tomorrow I'm planning my first trail run - even though there is a 60% chance of rain! 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26, 2015
Today I am incredibly thankful that my workouts this week were 99.9% equivalent to my pre-surgery workouts.  The only slight modification being pull-ups and chin-ups.  I'm doing them with the assistance of a thick rubber band which probably reduces the load by 30 pounds or so.  I've felt really good after each workout, and have begun working more closely with  Scott Johnston, co-author of Training for the New Alpinism.  Scott has been incredibly helpful at designing workouts that push me just the right amount.  

I'm finding that my body is in better shape than my mind when it comes to certain exercises, like pull-ups.  I know that it's completely irrational, but I have this vision of my arms detaching from their sockets like a Saturday Night Life sketch.  I really didn't expect to have confidence issues, so I'm taking it slow but still pushing myself.  

Today I hiked up the snow-covered trail to  the lookout atop Granite Mountain.  Even though I knew that there would be snow, I seriously considered wearing my trail runners because I love them - so much that I've worn a gash in the side of each of them.  I'm very happy; though, that I opted for proper boots because there was much more snow than I expected and the route near the lookout was very steep, requiring me to kick steps, which would not have felt good wearing tennis shoes.

The snow was beautiful and pristine and glistened in the sun, which makes me happy.  What a beautiful day to be in the mountains!

Granite Mountain Lookout (left behind trees) and Mount Rainier
Photo:  Lisa White
 Next week's goals are to resume trail running, wear a pack, and do pull-ups without assistance! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hooray for beautiful, warm Spring weather!  This weekend Seattlites we rewarded with uncharacteristically nice weather, perfect for my first real hike.   I feel very fortunate that I have been able to walk from my house to in a beautiful wooded park during my recovery.  Spending time exploring in the woods, listening to the birds, noticing small plants just waking up from winter, feeling the rain and occasionally sun on my skin was probably the best medicine I could have.  

But now it's time to switch gears and elevate my heart rate!  

We hiked up Mailbox peak in just over two hours, a respectable pace, and I know that I could have pushed harder if I needed to.  There's an asterisk on this statement; however as I was not carrying a pack, which makes a significant difference.  I still need to work up to carrying one since my incisions are in the direct path of its shoulder straps.  

Descending Mailbox's twisted, muddy roots and loose rocks is always a challenge, and for some reason I decided that forgoing a hiking pole would be best, which I regret.  I found myself being overly protective with every step.  Slipping really is inevitable, and when the rocks under my feel began to roll and it happened I landed on my hip, instinctively outstretching my right arm to brace myself.  Behind me Darrin shrieked and I shot him a "I'm not a porcelain doll" look as I got to my feet.  I was truly fine, and I realized just how protective I had been, it was probably good for both of us to see my fall just to know that it would be ok, and it was.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15, 2015
I've continued my cardio workouts, planning to build on last week's 7 hours by accomplishing 10 this week.  I'm still not cleared to run, so I've been putting in the time on the treadmill, elevating it and adjusting the speed to keep my heart rate between 130 & 150 bpm while walking.  Two hours on a treadmill is tough, especially when it's sunny outside, but I've been sticking to it in the hopes that next week I can begin trail running again.

Yesterday I also tested my body to see if I could tolerate any of the strength training that I was doing pre-surgery.  Pull-ups and most of the upper body exercises are still on hold, but it did feel good to do squats with 85% of my pre-surgery weight and box step-ups with very light weight in my new weight vest.  I'm still adjusting its fit on my chest to be sure that it's not painful, but I think that it will do the trick until I'm able to hold weights or wear a weighted pack.

New weight vest - a good substitute until I can wear a weighted backpack
Photo:  Lisa White

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015

If Colin Haley (left), Alex Honnold (middle) and Mike Gauthier (right) raced on a Tyrolean traverse, who would win?

Since I'm unable to climb right now, I've got to find another outlet ... Saturday night's Breakthrough event hosted by The Mountaineers was the perfect fix!  What a great way to inspire mountaineers to explore, conserve, and learn about the natural world.  

Next weekend, I'll be back in the mountains!

Friday, April 10, 2015

April 10, 2015
I don't think it was Nike's intention, but the pockets in their running pants are the perfect size for my post-surgical drains, which really are kind of disgusting little things to be carrying around with me everywhere that I go, but since they're attached to a foot of perforated tubing embedded in either side of my chest, I hardly have a choice right now. 

The perfect pocket for my drains
Photo:  Darrin White

I've met my goal of completing five hours of cardio workouts this week, including a two hour workout today.  So far I've felt really good after, I'm hoping just to maintain my cardiovascular fitness by logging the same number of hours pre-surgery at the same heart rate.  As for strength training, I haven't been able to do much, so I'm primarily focused on stretching and improving the range of motion in my arms.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

There are times in life when you're reminded that you're not in control, and that despite immaculate planning, things can change in dramatic ways.  Breast cancer was not on my list of things to do this year ... or ever.  But this week I dealt with my diagnosis by having a bilateral mastectomy.  Needless to say, it has put a damper on my training plans.  

Despite a hectic week of doctor's appointments and difficult decisions, I finished most of my scheduled training before Thursday's surgery, and completed the alpine combine the morning of surgery so that I would have a means of measuring how much my fitness had declined when I'm able to resume training.  I started the day doing weighted pull-ups and by Thursday evening, my exercise goal was to walk around the ICU, pushing my IV pole.

Recovering Thursday evening
Photo:  Darrin White

My focus now is to recover quickly, and stretch my chest and arm muscles in order to regain their full range of motion as quickly as possible.  I'm hoping to begin to increase my heart rate by walking on an incline (and keeping my arms still  :)) next week.

Mostly, I'm determined not to let cancer determine my goals.