Saturday, June 29, 2013

Better than Yesterday

Today was Hero WOD "White" skills class, the last one before the actual test WOD. This class has been by far the most difficult thing I have done at CF, but not only because the skills themselves are difficult, but because of the mental toughness that I have needed to face it. Through most of it I have suffered with a debilitating lack of confidence, mostly due to the rope, though I have struggled with kipping a bit as well. 

I have climbed the rope successfully once before. It was after the kids' class and their coach saw me head over to the rope and start to climb and she (in her very subdued manner) strolled over, and talked me through every pull. Before I knew it I was at the top. I thought for sure after this I would always be able to climb the rope, but it was not so. Every time since then I have failed miserably. I would be unable to catch the rope between my feet, I would lose strength, my grip would slip and slide uncontrollably down the rope. I felt like such a dork, and even though I knew that the other women in the class were not in any way judging my efforts, my lame attempts felt so conspicuous. 

Something was different today, and I'm not sure what it was but I'll try to unpack it...

First I had a profound realization when I wrote my last post about kayaking with my kids and the newfound freedom I experienced in that. I realized that I am not doing CrossFit to impress any coaches, classmates or even myself. I am doing CrossFit for life. This is not a competition for me, it's a lifestyle, and if I allow myself to be discouraged by comparison, it won't last.

Second, I was encouraged just walking into the box. I am getting to know more and more people, it was friendly and noisy with people chatting and laughing, and several people came up to me and commented that they were enjoying reading my blog. If you are one of those people, THANK YOU! You should know how much that matters! In addition, both my kids had great WODs and were pleased at the end of their class with their work. This made me want to do work that would make them proud of me, in return. 

I did struggle at first with the rope, but then something clicked...I jumped up, locked my feet and got a couple of pulls. I was able to do this several times. When it came time for the WOD, Sara said we had to make an attempt to climb the rope every round before doing walkups. In the first round I got a pull, then did walk ups. In the second round I jumped up and got my feet hooked, and Evy (the kids coach) strolled over and started talking me through again. Something in me clicked into gear and I got within one pull of the red line, then slipped. I managed to catch myself (sort of) but Sara was waiting at the bottom to break my fall! Even so, I was so happy to have made it that far...happy, and utterly exhausted by the effort. 

These things take practice, plain and simple. They take time to build up strength. It takes humility to keep trying and not quit. I have improved, there is no doubt. In spite of feeling really anxious before every class, I am really glad that I did it and stuck it out. I will absolutely, positively thrilled to be done with that final WOD next Saturday. I will post my results!

Today: make an attempt at climbing each round, then 3 walkups for every climb to scale

4 rope climbs 
20 walking lunges
10 T2B
5 burpees
Ladder down rope climbs 3, 2, 1, all else remains the same

time: 22:34

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Benchmark #5: Freedom

I wish I had a picture to show you of me with my kids kayaking on the river where I spent so much time when I was a kid, but I didn't want to risk taking my iPhone with me. I did take some shots of them before I jumped into the one-man kayak and headed up the river with them.

Two things compelled me, not the least of which was that their uncle allowed them to go in the kayak alone, while he watched from the dock. This freaked me out a little though he wasn't allowing them to go out of earshot. When I came down to the dock, however, I could not see how far they had gone, and I realized that they were feeling a little over-confident. These are city kids, see. They swim in swimming pools, and there are snapping turtles in that river water!

After calling them back and taking a few photos, another thing compelled me. It was the simple knowledge that "I can do this!" I hopped into the one-man kayak, grabbed a paddle and to their delight, said to the kids "C'mon! Let's go!" In the past I would have never done more than a short, somewhat disappointing paddle up the river if I even went at all, and I would have come home sore and stayed that way for days.

This time, however, I paddled as far as my Crossfitting son could go, and then pushed him a little more. The tide turned at just the right time and we paddled home with a light, favorable current. It was a gorgeous ride up to the "secret" part of the river where motor boats can't navigate well due to the shallow water and narrow passes between fallen trees. It was like having a huge, gorgeous garden, heavy with summer and noisy with wildlife all to ourselves! Turtles, fish, heron, ducks, blue dragonflies, birds, and spiders...It was all wonderful, except for the spiders. Time slipped away quickly, and I don't actually know how long we were gone, though my sister said it was quite a while. I came home with nothing worse than a blister. While we were going we felt like real adventurers paddling on the Amazon, discovering new worlds, but the river was a place so familiar to me--the memories of my childhood, and I was sharing it with my children.

We enjoyed this adventure so much that we repeated it, and went even farther today.

Upon my return home, I ran upstairs, changed my clothes, and ran off to CrossFit to try my one rep max deadlift. I PR'ed at 215 lbs, then endured 12 minutes of excruciating core work.

CrossFit espouses the notion that we are training for life, whether it is paddling with my kids, hauling kayaks onto a dock, or dead lifting at the box. It's pushing myself to be better, stronger, faster, and along with that sharper, wiser, and smarter. It's the the ability to be free from physical limitations and laziness. It's the physical stamina to remain a mentally acute student of life.

There are no guarantees in life, to be sure. My main objective in going to my hometown was to visit my mom, who has Alzheimer's and is living in specialized care. It is painful beyond description to watch the strongest, most influential person in my life deteriorate in such a horrible way. I watched her battle rheumatoid arthritis for all of my life, and the added blow of Alzheimer's seems an unjust and wicked sentence.

I don't know how we could have changed Mom's outcome. There are so many "if only's." Even so, as I look back on her life and the things that may have affected her health and her strength, I see where I can make radical course corrections in my life and can hope that I have made them in time. I want the freedom to enjoy my whole life, my children, my grandchildren, and even the wisdom and activity of my old age. I want to live my whole life free, in good health, with the people I love. I don't want my kids to suffer what I am suffering with my mom.

This is why I CrossFit. Thank you, CrossFit Woodbridge for being the place that has strengthened me to be able to have moments like this with my kids, my family, my life.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's Not That Bad...Yes It Is...No, It's Not

Welcome to summer in VA! It is now officially hot and humid, and the air sticks to you like a wet bathing suit when you need to pee really badly. It's a desperate feeling.

The last two days have been tough. The WODs have not made me want to rush over to CF and "do work." I don't mind a good work out, but the heat plus the intensity of these particular WODs have made me feel a little depressed. I was much less depressed, though when my friend said enthusiastically that she would be my partner for the WOD yesterday. I had never partnered with her before, but she is more experienced than I and has a way of encouraging that just got me through it! I want to be her partner every day!

50 Bench presses @body weight (hahaha! We used 65#)
every time you stop, 10 hand release pushups
50 front rack step-ups @1/2 body weight (we used 35#)
every time you stop 20 air squats
accumulate 2:00 minutes in an L-sit bar hang
every time you drop, 15 sit ups

So I came home feeling like I had been pressed through a giant clothes presser and thinking that I would wake up like Flat Stanley, but folded lengthwise in half. 50 bench presses! My husband pointed out, though, that I was still upright and walking, and said he was proud of me. When I woke this morning, I was not folded in half--I am feeling a bit sore, but nothing horrible.

Thanks Jen for helping me through that WOD--You're the best!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Dan! For Your Birthday...

Lloyd wrote up the nastiest WOD I've ever done! But I have to confess that I got through it better thinking that it was Dan's birthday and must have been his "Birthday WOD." I'm not sure if it was or not, but it gave me a tiny bit more something to get through it. Even so, I couldn't help just wondering "why?" when we went over this WOD.

EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute) for 12 minutes

Even minutes: 3 muscle ups or 3 chest-to-bar pullups and 3 ring dips
Odd Minutes: 3 squat cleans, 5 burpees

then at minute 13, begin a 10 min. AMRAP

5 hand-stand pushups (I did regular pushups, as even the scaled inclined were kicking me)
10 KB swings (35#)
20 double unders (60 singles)

I have never sweat so hard during a WOD. Typically I am not a big "sweater" (probably because I have until CF I seldom exerted myself), but today I had sweat running off of my face to the floor and my hair was soaked. For that I was proud.

I told Lloyd immediately after the WOD that I thought he was sadistic. He laughed sadistically, proving my point.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sometimes You Eat the Bear...

...And Sometimes the Bear Eats You...

Today, was a "bear eats me" kind of day.

My butt was already beaten down from yesterday's hero WOD practice. My arms were super-sore from rope climb practice, and today's WOD involved lots of snatches.

20 minutes to find the 1RM snatch, then
at 85% of that max, one power snatch every 30 seconds for 4 minutes.

My 1RM is 75#, but today I could not get past 65#. My form was way off, and I had great difficulty getting the "click." When I was done my joints hurt tremendously.

There are two kinds of WODs: The ones in which you go so hard you are left in a puddle of sweat, lying on the floor breathing like a dying animal, and the ones that force you to use your brain and execute difficult moves over and over. These leave you wanting to go off in a corner of the room and lick your wounded pride. Tonight was that WOD.

Let's just say the bear ate me. Next time I'll be feasting on the bear...I hope.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hitting a Wall...

Summer is here, folks. The reason I know this is because I have been on one week of beautiful, incredible beach vacation and I am back home, looking at my LIST of things I need to get done before I resume lessons with the kids. My CF schedule is all whack as a result. I did a WOD on Monday--LOVED IT! Rested yesterday because I knew I would have to do a Hero WOD training class at 6:30 p.m. and those are invariably tough, not to mention I do not prefer working out in the evening. I am going away this weekend to visit my mom, and so my normal Friday schedule is also off. I don't like this kind of disruption to my routine, but what is interesting is that in the past, the exercise would always be the first thing to go, but not only would it go, it would stay gone along with a truckload of excuses. For the first time in my life I'm seeing that I will rework the schedule to make space for my workouts, and unless I'm sick, refuse to accept less than three per week.

On Monday we did a lifting WOD

3x3x3x3x3 front squats. I PRed at 105#.
5x5x5...bench press. I PRed that at 95#.

I worked out with two great friends and we had fun!

This hero WOD training, though, is kicking my butt. Sometimes I feel as if I am taking steps backward. The last time I did the class I utterly failed at something I have actually gotten the hang (no pun intended) of, and that is kipping. The WOD included toes-to-bar (in my case, knees to elbows or as high as I can get them) and for some bizarre reason I could not kip. I was flopping like a fish on the bar. Tonight's WOD had this also, and in the first round of ten reps I experienced the same thing! As I ran the track I prayed, "God, I have lost my kip--I need your help on this" and in the next set I turned my back to the coach, jumped on the bar, and kipped out 10 knee-raises.

There is something very psychological going on with this hero-WOD class and challenge. It involves rope climbing. I have successfully climbed the rope before, but for some reason when I am in the class, I  feel completely inept and cannot get up the rope. I have no doubt that I will conquer this, but at the moment, I feel stuck.

I remember getting my first box jump. I felt so confident and proud going into the next WOD that had box jumps. When I got there, though, I just stared at the box. I did a few, then when the coach called 3-2-1 I only had the courage to step up. I have only recently broken through that mental barrier, nearly 6 months later, when I can face a box jump WOD and actually jump the reps instead of stepping up.

I don't expect that I'll be doing the 15 (no I'm not's 15) rope climbs in this WOD on July 6. I'll be really stoked, though, if I can manage one, and then do walk-ups.

I will be so glad when this is over. I am absolutely sure that it was right to push myself with this challenge. I know that there is a certain amount of mental pressure we must face sometimes to push us past our comfort zone into a new level of performance. It's just that at the moment I feel as though I am beating against a wall and wonder how much I can improve...

Tonight's WOD:

5 rounds for time
1 lap around the track
10 toes to bar (scaled to knee-raises)
10 wall-balls (I used 10 lb. ball)
10 hand-release pushups

time: 15:40

Friday, June 14, 2013

I Heard Myself Say...

I heard myself say to a friend as we rolled out our backs after the WOD on Wednesday,

"I need this more than I hate to sweat."

Truly, it is Providence that brought me to CrossFit in October. The only real issue I have with cold weather is that I tend to wheeze when I run in temperatures under 40 degrees, but an inhaler helps with that. As long as I'm warm, I'm okay.

Hot weather is not my friend. I happen to live in an area of the country that specializes in 90-degree, 90 percent humidity, and I absolutely hate to sweat. I truly believe that if I had begun CF in this time of year, I would not have lasted long. However, I have been showing up for the torture treatment consistently for 7 full months now, and the gains I have made make me fear what life would be like without CF, so I am actually willing to sweat in the heat and humidity to keep what I have.

Which brings me to the other thing I heard myself say:

"Because of CrossFit, I finally feel like myself."

Okay, so it's not the most articulate or profound sentence in the world--it's actually hard to put this feeling into words, but the truth is, I have no reasons to be down on myself, lots of reasons to be confident, and every reason to keep going. I have more energy, I feel good, I'm eating really well (as in not only am I eating clean, I'm enjoying my food completely and I'm not hungry). I feel mentally and physically tough. I've let go of so many stupid OCD things that don't matter, because frankly, I just don't have time to fuss over them. I have to choose between every little thing being in order or me being in order.

I don't love every WOD. I don't crush every WOD. On days like today I may even leave and say "That was the worst WOD ever," but I keep showing up, keep moving, keep improving. I need this.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hero WOD: White Challenge.

Lord. Have. Mercy.

What have I signed up for?

I plopped down my $45 for a "Hero WOD Challenge" at The Box which includes an extra day of skills classes each week for the month of June. I really wanted the skills classes. The WOD--not so much.

All during vacation I had nightmares (literally) about doing this WOD. I would wake up at that miserable 3:30 a.m. time thinking of how I could get out of it. I had a wave of understanding today that told me that I just didn't have to go. I wouldn't show up. I just need to stay home and avoid the stress.

I showed up--the sign of a true addict. I went to what I thought was going to be a skills class and Sara said, "How was vacation?" I was lulled back into jellyfish mode, smiling, relaxed and happy, without a care in the world. A second later she asked me, "Have you done the baseline yet?" and I was reduced to a groveling, begging, Gollum, pleading with her not to make me do the WOD tonight. You think I'm kidding? I am dead serious. She stood there with a smile on her face and said, "Everyone has to do the baseline. It's cool tonight, it won't be that bad." Mentally I was swearing at her and I'm not given to swearing as a general rule. And now, to make matters worse, I was responsible. I had talked good ol' Rachel Rae into doing the "skills class" with me instead of the WOD, which was hideous. She thought she was getting off easy. Turns out she hadn't done the baseline either. (Sorry, friend!)

Here's the WOD:
5 rounds for time:

3 rope climbs (in my case, 9 rope walk-ups)
10 toes-to-bar
21 overhead walking lunges
400 m run

score: 35:56

I couldn't even look at my BFF for encouragement I was so mad. I told another good friend that I felt like I was in hell somewhere around round 3. I came home and told my dear husband what happened and he burst out laughing...but then said how proud of me he was. He poured me a glass of wine and I told him that I felt like a real "badass" as they say around CrossFit. There really isn't another good word for the feeling, truthfully.

I guess I'm glad I did it. I'm surprised that I don't feel worse than I do. It is hard to shake the belief that I am weak and out of shape, but the truth is, I am no longer weak and out of shape. I just did three freakin' WODs in a row this week, and I am still upright, and not in agony. We'll see tomorrow...

My son said when I came home, "You know how Staples has the "That Was Easy" button? CrossFit should have one that says, "That Was Painful!" LOL...oh, how sincerely I agree with you, Son!

Coming Back Strong


So this is where I spent last week...under an umbrella on the sand in the Outer Banks, sinking into something of a jelly-like state in which I neither read, nor thought, nor made anything resembling a decision. I did very little cooking, and very little shopping except for the daily run to the grocery store, which for some reason is always kind of fun when I'm on vacation. After all it's not my usual grocery store. We drove go-carts and played mini-golf and ate food that other people had cooked. We drank wine and talked and talked and laughed with the friends that were there with us. We enjoyed watching our kids be completely carefree and goofy, fly kites, boogie board, bury each other in sand, catch crabs--that was hilarious. 

My goal was to not lose too much ground with CrossFit, but not kill myself either. I really wanted to give my body a good rest and actually experience not feeling sore for a few days. I achieved the first thing. I did rest. I did a travel WOD on Monday, and on Thursday I tried running on the beach. So much for not feeling sore! Running on the beach is different! I felt all kinds of sore in my legs! One more running / squatting type workout was done on Saturday and voila! It was vacation without becoming a slug. There's a first time for everything. 

Even so, I figured I had not done enough and was dreading going back to CrossFit on Monday. Much to my surprise, however, I felt stronger and better and actually liked doing snatches (another first!) I PR'ed the snatch at 75# and felt much better in my form. I went back yesterday and did another personal best. Yetersday's WOD was 21-15-9 deadlifts and box jumps. Normally I warm up with box jumps and then step up for most of the WOD because I feel to weak to get through the whole thing with jumps. Yesterday the Rx was for women to do 24" box jumps and men to do 30", so I set up the box at 24" and planned to do the tall step-ups. Nick said asked if I was able to jump 20" and I said yes, but not all those reps, and he said, "I think you've got 21 jumps in you." 

pause for effect. 

Different coaches affect me differently, as they all have their own style. Nick's style is to declare that I can do something (with the implication that I had better share that understanding). Funny thing is that I believe him when he makes these declarations, and invariably, I do it.

In addition to lifting heavy, I jumped all but 5 of the reps yesterday. Those five were because I was still seeing stars from the dead lifts and needed to regain my balance. I came home so pumped and so proud. The smile of pride and approval I got from my husband when I told him was an even greater reward. 

So much for being worried about not being able to work out after vacation! Maybe I should go more often. There's a thought...