P90E Week 5.5: Brought

Monday: I knocked out CORE SYNERGISTICS like it ain’t no thing.  Only minimal groaning, but plenty of making fun of the way Tony talks about Core Synergistics and swoons over Dreya.  Shane was reorganizing the basement while I worked out, and he was so annoyed by Tony that I don’t think he’s going to finish P90X.  He’s also been reading The 4-Hour Body, and I think all the talk of minimum effective dosage and also becoming superhuman has him questioning whether or not he wants to follow the P90X model.  Me? I’m sticking with it.  While I haven’t seen much change in inches, I can definitely tell that I’ve gained core and upper body strength – and that, my friends, is CORE SYNERGISTICS at work.

Tuesday: 2.25 miles in my new shoes, picked up for $45 this weekend at Elite Feet thanks to a Groupon and Groupon credit. Before they fitted me for shoes, they had me run on the treadmill, then had me try running with a metronome in order to shorten my stride, increase my cadence, and generally force me to run further forward on my feet.  I tried to do all of these things in my old shoes on my run home from work.  It wasn’t a fast run, but I certainly felt like I was working very hard and was very sweaty when I got home.

Wednesday: Legs & Back kicked my butt, especially the brutal sequence of 15 slow, 10 fast calf raises in 3 positions: feet wide, feet parallel, feet pigeon-toed.  I upped my weight, though, and am really liking pull-downs with increasing weight as a replacement for the bands.

Thursday: Woke up, ate breakfast, felt weird, and went straight back to bed with miserable abdominal stuff.  By the end of the absolutely gorgeous day, I was feeling stir-crazy but definitely not good enough to run, so I walked downtown and back to do an errand.  Better than nothing, and better than pushing myself when I was already not feeling good.

Friday: Still not feeling 100%, so I worked from the comfort and privacy of my bed, then BROUGHT IT to Chest, Shoulders and Triceps.  Upped my weights on almost every exercise, and only fell on my face once.  That’s right: I fell on my face.  I was feeling cocky and tried a one-arm push-up and then…splat.  I guess the tip of the day from Shoulders and Arms also applies: don’t break your face.

Saturday: Second cheat day since we started on the slow carb diet.  My parents came for the weekend, so we spent most of the day walking around the Henry Ford and generally indulging in things like pistachio-rosewater ice cream at Shatila Bakery and a South Pacific pizza at Jolly Pumpkin.  We took a break from familial togetherness in the afternoon, and I put in a surprisingly fast run: 3.2 miles in 29 minutes flat.  Three years ago, I ran my first 5K in 31:28.  I’m delighted by how far I’ve come.

Sunday: Between the family visit and general crampiness, I didn’t get a long run done this weekend.  That’s OK.  I was going to take today off entirely, but I didn’t feel like I could really enjoy snack dinner – wine, salami, flackers, cheese from Fromagination, and Bittman’s roasted chickpeas – if I hadn’t exercised.  For 2.5 quick miles, I focused on a quick cadence – and am now comfy on the couch, watching The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

P90E Do Over Week 5: BROUGHT


P90E Week 5: Umm…

This week was kind of a wash in terms of fitness.  I spent the week feeling totally exhausted – not sure if that’s an artifact of returning (and restressing) from vacation or of the new diet plan we’ve both started – but suffice to say that it sucks.  When I did manage to work out, I felt extremely fatigued, but pushed myself to finish what I started – that is, when I managed to start in the first place.

Monday: Tired all day and just could not BRING IT, especially not after the onset of a bad headache in the late afternoon.  Instead I ran errands and planned tasty low-carb meals and went to bed at a reasonable hour.

Tuesday: Biked to and from work, then did Core Synergistics.  I can tell that I’m gaining strength, but I struggled to finish.  No Dreya rolls.

Wednesday: Left work early so that I could lie on the heating pad.  No workout.

Thursday: Difficult 4 mile run home from work plus .5 mile cool-down.  My legs felt like lead weights.

Friday: Worked from home in the afternoon, so didn’t get to the gym until 8 with dinner after that.  Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps is so hard!  I swear Tony wants me to fall on my face and break my nose.  By the end of the umpteenth pushup variation, I was shaking with exhaustion, despite feeling pretty good throughout the workout.  I think I’m going to have to switch up the order of the Phase 2 workouts if I want to have any hope of bringing it.

Saturday: 7 mile run first thing in the morning on my first slow carb cheat day.  The cheat day was amazing.  The run? Not so much.  My legs felt like lead weights, especially on the hills in the last third of the run.  I stopped at 5 miles for a gel, and allowed myself to walk the steepest of the hills.  That was the trade-off for finishing.

Sunday: I had good intentions for doing Legs & Back, but instead I cleaned the house for four hours.

An important lesson I’ve learned about diet, fitness, and my emotional state is that I need to remember to be kind to myself.  Gaining or losing a few pounds, missing a workout or two – these are small triumphs and defeats in the grand scheme of things.  One tired week won’t undo months of good effort.  Or, as Tony says, “do your best and forget the rest!”  So that’s what I’m going to do.  The coming week will be a do-over for week 5, and I plan to BRING IT.

P90E Week 4: Brought

This was Phase 1 recovery week, meaning that next week I should be ramping up to Phase 2, where I work to failure at 10-12 reps and do a bunch of new exercises.  Instead, we’re going on vacation, so the only reps I’ll be doing will be zipping and unzipping the tent.  I’m hoping for lots of hiking, swimming, and relaxing and not one minute of P90X, though I suspect I’ll miss Tony, Dreya, and the gang.

Monday: Yoga X.  Now, I’m not really sure how yoga can be EXTREME, but I was impressed by the sequences in this video.  I did 75 minutes and would’ve done more, but Shane was done with his workout, we were both hungry, and my butt hurt from the previous day’s Legs and Back.

Tuesday: 2 fast miles home from work so that I could make a 4:15 conference call.  Not the best of runs, but it was almost 90 out and I had to dodge Art Fair traffic.  I made it home in time to get a cold drink, take off my shirt, and answer my phone.  By the time the conference call ended at 5, I had mostly stopped sweating.  Did I mention that my butt still hurts?

Wednesday: Core Synergistics.  I still hate it, but each time I do it, I notice I’m able to do more.  For that reason, it’s nice to have a single workout that is repeated every week.  I still can’t do full pushups, and it was way too damned hot – even at 10pm – to do Dreya rolls, but I brought it and was glad that I did.

Thursday: The heat index was 115.  My building was closed due to electrical problems in a cooling facility.  We don’t have air conditioning.  The closest thing to exercise that I could manage was slowly walking from Shane’s air conditioned office to the Union for my blood donation appointment and back while drinking a lot of water.  This heat wave has been brutal, and I can’t wait for it to pass.

Friday: We took the 30 day photos and measurements this morning before leaving for vacation.  My weight is exactly the same, but I’ve lost an inch or two between arms, waist, hips, and thighs.  I gained an inch around my chest, and I’m not sure if that’s because I have pecs or because I was wearing a different sports bra.  Not as much progress as I would’ve liked, but then I haven’t been super serious about the diet either.  That’s what August is for.  I ran 2.5 miles and got overheated and winded, so had to stop for water and a walking cool down.  My butt still hurts.

P90E Week 3: Brought

Monday: Core Synergistics, I WILL own you. Tonight was sooooooooo much better than last week. Like, exponentially better. I’ve figured out modifications for the hard stuff I can’t manage (read: pushups), and did those until my arms burned. CORE SYNERGISTICS.

Tuesday: 3 tough miles home in the heat.  I’m developing a serious stop at the bodega, buy a Powerade habit.  I feel bad for spending the money on something with basically no nutritional or recovery value AND ALSO for the fact that I only go to the bodega when I’m ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING, but not bad enough to stop.  I chugged the liter of cold and delicious “grape” on the way to the garden.

Wednesday: So I had good intentions of catching the 3:48 bus home and doing Shoulders & Arms before Shane got home from work.  Instead I missed the dang bus – after running for the morning bus in absurd platform sandals – and so walked home in said absurd sandals.  Which is to say that I walked 1.25 miles in absurd sandals, and an additional 1 mile barefoot.  After that, I felt justified in literally putting up my feet and skipping a night with Tony, even if it meant back to back punishing workouts over the weekend.

Thursday: A totally lovely day, and 5 miles home on a new route.  True to form, it all got easier after mile 3, though I still stopped for a Powerade during my cool-down.

Friday: Woke up feeling iffy, so went back to bed for a few hours.  By late morning, I felt well enough to spend some quality time outside, followed by a quality hour in the basement with Tony and the Shoulders & Arms crew.  I learned the meaning of lifting til failure, and wrote down a few WOWs on my worksheet when I finished exercises I couldn’t manage during 30DS.  A good, good workout.  I even managed half of Ab Ripper X!

Saturday: 6.5 miles at 7:30 am while Shane, Orin, and Derek slept in.  It was warm.  I was really, really tired.  I meant to go 7 miles, but was happy with what I managed, and then ate the hell out of a Veggie Delight.  I’m really liking this Saturday morning run, breakfast at Afternoon Delight, trip to the Farmers’ Market routine we’re in.

Sunday: SHOULD be the day of rest, but instead I did Legs & Back.  This workout is hard, guys, especially since my legs were still aching from yesterday’s run.  I did my best, switched out the bands for the pull-down bar, and sweat through three rags in my 60 minutes.  No Ab Ripper X.  Sorry, Tony.

This next week marks the end of Phase 1.  I had planned on jumping right into Phase 2 since we’ll be on vacation the following week, but instead I think I’m going to stick with the program and start Phase 2 when we get back from our trip.  And with that, I’m going to go fall over.

P90E Week 2: Brought

Monday: Logged my fastest 5K ever in 26:18, despite having sampled all the beer the night before.  Before the race, Shane asked if I was going to run a 9 minute pace, then bet me that I could do 8:30.  I said no way – and then did it.  I was exhausted and definitely needed the Rice Krispies treat and banana that I picked up at the finish line, but felt so awesome for (1) getting up and bringing it and (2) running a faster pace than I thought possible.

Firecracker 5K

Tuesday: Followed up Monday’s awesome race with a terrible, terrible round of CORE SYNERGISTICS.  If last week was hard, this week was impossible.  Or very nearly impossible.  Like, collapsed on the floor sobbing between sets impossible.  I got through the last 10 minutes by imagining that I was at boot camp and that Tony was the drill sergeant – and then I slammed a healthy dinner, took a long walk for ice cream, and went to bed frustrated and discouraged at 10pm.

Wednesday: Shoulders & Arms, take two.  So far this is my favorite workout in the series – it’s tough, but I can feel and see progress, and I don’t generally get confused.  Also there’s no pushups or pullups.  I was awake early, so I hit the gym at 6:15 and was finished BRINGING IT by 7:30.  Happy days.

Thursday: 40 minute run, or a bit over 4 miles and feeling good.  Diet stuff is making me crazy, so it was good to have some time to clear my head.  Shane, on the other hand, has been doing really well with his diet and P90X – I’m really proud of him!

Friday: Up early for Legs & Back, which was soooo much better the second time around.  I wasn’t as sore, and only needed minimal support on the one-legged squats.  Totally brought, then off to Chicago for Keem and Paul’s wedding and dancing til I felt like my feet might fall off.

Saturday: Woke up at 8.  Thought “I should really get up and go run before it gets too hot.”  Had a moment of panic that we hadn’t confirmed that we could park where we were parked and so went outside to check.  Car was still there.  Went back to bed.  Woke up at 9.  Thought, “I should really go running.  If I don’t fall back to sleep in 10 minutes, I will go run.”  Fell back asleep.  Woke up at 10.  Realized that if I didn’t get out of bed and run RIGHT AWAY, it wasn’t going to happen.  My prescribed long run was out, but there was still time for a few miles – maybe even enough to get me to Lake Michigan and back.  Didn’t quite make it there, but did get in 4 fast and sweaty miles, a 10 minute turn around from run to car, and out to the burbs (still sweating) for brunch with Mom, Jenn, Max, and Fubs.  Success!

Sunday: Rest.  I wanted to do 3-4 miles by the lake, but lunch plans and laziness won out.  That’s OK – after sun and driving and friends and late nights, I needed time off.

p90E week 2: BROUGHT.

P90E Week 1: Brought

I realized that some of you probably aren’t in the slightest bit interested in this particular travelogue.  So why am I doing it?  A couple of reasons, all of which boil down to this: accountability.  If I’m in the habit of posting about my workouts and I know people are reading it, then I feel like it’s part of the program, and like you’re keeping me honest.  I know that my friend Natalie’s daily P90X reports have been a strong motivator for me to try the program, and I know that at least a handful of you have talked to me about trying the 30 Day Shred after I posted and talked about it.

So for those of you not interested in this stuff: feel free to skim/skip.  For the rest of you, let’s talk about it.

Day 4: my first attempt at intervals on a post-work run.  Instead of putting in the prescribed 5 miles, I strapped on my heart monitor, attended an impromptu wedding, then ran laps at Palmer Field, alternating between running a lap as fast as I steadily could (7:45-8 minute pace) with a lap at race pace (9-9:30) for 1.25 miles, then ran the rest of the way home near my race pace.  My heart rate monitor showed an average bpm of 163, nearly 100 beats above my resting rate.  Success!

Day 5: Up early to knock out Legs & Back before work.  Some parts were fun – like the ‘sneaky lunges’, which are basically walking lunges done on your tip-toes – but others made me groan and cry with exhaustion and frustration.  My balance sucks.  The exercise bands I was using in lieu of pullups pinched my fingers.  I didn’t even attempt the Ab Ripper.  Despite this, I felt awesome about myself all day – and also famished and tired.

Day 6: I’m starting to question the wisdom of following Legs & Back with my long run.  I was up early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I hit the road and put in my miles before Shane really woke up. I hadn’t taken this particular route in a while – not since the snow melted – and so had forgotten about the effing hills that were at points so steep that I had to walk. I was thankful for my GPS, which confirmed that I had indeed gone up a giant-ass hill and wasn’t just being a baby about it. On the bright side, I got to see the river in the peaceful early morning:

Saturday Morning Run

And then have the Morning Delight for breakfast:

Morning Delight

Day 7: Having totally earned the day off, we walked downtown and back for breakfast and coffee, then ate all the food and drank all the drinks with friends in celebration of the long weekend.

Week 1: Brought.  Exhausted, hungry, and sore, but brought.

P90E Day 3: Shoulders & Arms

After Monday’s workout, I felt pretty good!  Sure, I could barely do any of the push-up type moves, but I rolled and banana’d and lunged my way through the rest of it without feeling like I was going to barf.  I had a bit of residual soreness on Tuesday – just enough to remind me that I’d used muscles I don’t use very often.  I was feeling good!

And then came the 3.25 mile run home.  As I mentioned, I’m subbing in running for the Cardio X, Kenpo X, and Yoga X workouts, with progressively longer distances and/or intervals as the week goes on.  I headed east from work and looped around the track at Palmer Field, where I expect to start running intervals on Thursday.  At some point between Kerrytown and home, my belly started aching.  Was I hungry? Was this runner’s gut?  No.  This was CORE SYNERGISTICS coming back to haunt me.  Hello little core muscles!  Thanks for making it painful to cough, sneeze, or laugh!

Tonight I came straight home with my delicious farmers’ market goodies (sweet cherries, sour cherries, tomato, cabbage, and SMOKED FISH), plopped everything in the fridge, and hit the deck for Shoulders & Arms.  And man, did I bring it.  I’m still figuring out the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells, but I did my best and upped the weight on most of my second sets.  I even did the bonus round, grunting my way through the last few reps.  I am going to be S O R E tomorrow!

After checking in with Shane on dinner, I tried my best to bring it with Ab Ripper X, but only made it about halfway through before I had a danger sign: my hip popped.  This isn’t uncommon for me, but does give me a very legitimate reason to pause the workout.  I’m going to have to figure out how to make this work.

Days 2 and 3: Brought.

P90E Day 1: Core Synergistics

I feel like I need to write it in all caps. CORE SYNERGISTICS.  CORE SYNERGISTICS! If the blink tag weren’t deprecated, I’d be all up in that right now. ::blink:: CORE SYNERGISTICS ::blink:: CORE SYNERGISTICS

And that, my friends, is what they call “fake it til you make it”. Because that is what I had to do to get through CORE SYNERGISTICS tonight, what with the five or six kinds of pushups and the “superman banana” sequence. If I can set one goal for myself for this whole P90E process, it will be to be able to do a real push up and also a real pull up. Right now I can do neither, and it showed in this workout.

Day 1: Brought.


So hey, remember how I was going to start working out before work? Yeah, that hasn’t happened.

Which is to say that I woke up and ran before work once, and have every day since set the alarm for 6am but dragged my ass out of bed closer to 7am. I’ve been walking or biking every day that I haven’t had to take someone to the airport – but that’s not the same as getting in a run. Oh well.

Which brings me to my next point: P90X.

P90X – or POWER 90 EXTREME (all caps necessary) – is a crazily intense 90 day boot camp-esque program that promises significant change through muscle confusion. My friend Natalie started P90X two weeks ago and has been blogging her experience, which I’ve found totally amusing and inspiring. A colleague at a previous job lost at least 20 pounds doing it. We’ve been talking about it for a while, mostly because it’s an intense regimen of both strength training (which Shane prefers) and cardio (which I prefer). And this week, we’re bringing it.

Well, sort of. Shane is bringing it – P90X vernacular for what you do in your workout – while I’m still testing the waters. I want to keep running, but I need to build in strength training and core work as well. And we both could use a good kick in the butt, diet-wise. So while Shane is BRINGING IT P90X-style, I will be doing what I’m calling P90E – my mod of the program, subbing in running for the prescribed cardio. I’m also going to do the “Lean” program, which emphasizes cardio, working out to 3 days of strength training and 3 days of running, with alternating distances on alternating weeks: 3-5-7 miles or 4-6-8 miles. Distance-wise, this should segue nicely into my training for the Detroit half in the fall – and I should be in amazing shape for it to boot.

So, that’s what I’m doing. Last night we took hilarious “before” shots and measurements. I did the fit test. I’m ready to BRING IT, starting in 10 days when we get back from Cleveland. Stay tuned.

Endorphin Report

There are at least half a dozen things I should be doing right now, but instead I’d like to sit here and drink my fizzy water with lime and tell you about the half marathon.

Pre-Race Flexing

First, it was nothing like what I expected.  I expected it to be punishingly hard.  I expected long periods of the sort of pain and exhaustion that I experienced in the last half mile of the 10 Miler.  I expected that my knees would ache as they have after short runs, and that I’d have to walk at least the hills, if not part of the flats.  I expected to break into tears if I made it to the finish line.

Starting Line

What I did not expect was pure joy. I did not expect that at all. I stayed with Tina for the first 1.5 miles, pacing at 11:30 per mile, much slower than my usual runs but consistent with advice that Stephen’s given me in the past. We wound around through downtown Dexter, past a marching band and a tiny cheerleader and many folks watching from folding chairs in their front lawns. Before we made it to the cider mill, we wished each other a good race and I eased into my pace: around 10:30 for the duration of the run, still slower than usual but maintainable for the distance.

Team Astronaut Mike Dexter

There were hills – more than I expected. In the week after the 10 Miler, I meditated on my gratitude for my feet and legs: stronger and more resilient than I ever imagined, able to carry me for ten miles without faltering. As I ran up those hills, I meditated on my butt, feeling the muscles stretch and propel me forward, passing runners on the inside of the curve.

Finish Line!

I chewed gum – the same piece for 3 hours – and I listened to Four Tet. I soaked up the sun, relishing the warmth on my skin. I took Gatorade at mile 6, and water at 8, 10, and 12. Between those miles, someone had a hose hooked up to their mailbox, and I splashed my face with the cold sulphuric water. I took my only gel at mile 11 – chocolate, warm from the sun and my body.

Our names were printed on our bibs. I didn’t really understand why – until I started passing bystanders who were cheering for runners by name. Every time I heard my name, I wanted to cry with happiness. These total strangers gave me small bursts of energy and joy, which I tried to pay forward along the course – complimenting tattoos or cute running jerseys, encouraging runners who stopped and started. I made a friend at around 11.5 – he asked how I was feeling, and I said that I felt amazing and that this was the furthest I’d ever run in my life. We stayed together around the curve from Huron River Drive up onto Main Street, when he broke out ahead. He found me at the finish line, shook my hand, and congratulated me on my first half.

The last hill – I didn’t know if I could make it. Half a mile uphill into downtown – so difficult during the 5K last year, almost impossible after 12.6 miles of running. And then I saw Karl and Cara on the sidelines, Karl with his medal already around his neck. I shouted out to them, and they cheered for me. Another burst of energy and happiness to carry me over the finish line, where Shane was waiting with the camera.


Water. My medal. Kissing my medal in front of the flag for the official photographer. Food. Hugs. Chocolate chip cookies and chocolate-cherry sourdough from Zingerman’s. More water. And then standing on the sidelines with Shane waiting for Tina to finish. Cheering for people struggling to the end. Enjoying the happiness on the faces of loved ones as their runners finished. Soaking up the moment. Spotting Tina heading up the hill, whipping off my bib, and running back to join her.

Crossing the finish line a second time, with energy I didn’t think I had.


And then spending the rest of the day in the sort of intense glow that I couldn’t have possibly imagined. Warm from happiness, exhaustion, and sunburn. Cocktails, biscuits with chocolate-bacon gravy, and a salad at the Roadhouse while wearing my medal. A nap while wearing my medal. Beers, fruit, guacamole, a cute drooly baby, an energetic big sister, and lots of conversation with friends while wearing my medal. Snacks and loud music at Ashley’s while wearing my medal. An early bedtime (sans medal).

Team Astronaut Mike Dexter

Was it worth the pain and exhaustion I’ve experienced all day today? Definitely. Will I do it again? Yes – in Detroit in October. Have I done a good job of expressing the full-body elation I experienced in this post? Not even remotely.