Why I Stayed

I log in, after scribbling a few bullet points on professional hopes and dreams in a notebook.

The button reads, “Write.”

Click.

That brings us to now. (I told you I wasn’t leaving.)

Several months… okay, almost two years ago, I wrote about my departure from higher education and student affairs. Almost two years later, I am still with my “new” employer, and I continue to build upon the foundation set by my learning and experience in student affairs.

I have also learned a fair amount about myself, about how to be more honest with what I want and what I need. Recently, I have been having conversations about what comes next for me; this requires multiple conversations and layers of unpacking, as I cannot seem to travel down a linear pathway. In my world, linear pathways just don’t exist.

I’ve learned that, while I certainly have a propensity to gravitate towards service roles, working with customers, students, and clients directly, there are strengths and interests I need to tend to and cultivate. I miss research and writing–activities nearly exclusive to my undergraduate and graduate career; I miss those hours spent synthesizing disparate sources to compose and share knowledge, and to create further questions and learning for myself and others. I have not had the space to be as intensely passionate (oh dear, I used that word) as I was about spiritual development or identity development or even the idea of how a concept as abstract as “trust” plays into the development or lack of relationships. I crave it.

Today, I shared with another person a sliver of my dreams, and as soon as I had a moment to start to elaborate on an idea I had, about a topic I thought I had a remote interest in, I found myself speaking without taking a breath, engrossed in elaborating on the questions I wanted to know more about. That spark I knew I still had is very much alive, and it’s up to me to continue to stoke the fire. Somehow, somewhere along my recent professional journey, I didn’t allow myself to truly pursue that which gave me energy because those things were “scary” or because I believe myself to be woefully unqualified.

Now, this isn’t to say that I’m bad at the jobs I held or what I currently do. It isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy what I do or the organization I’m at. In fact, everything I process in my head and put down on paper confirms that I am exactly where I want to be. Because of that, I also have the ability to finally allow myself to pursue ways in which my dominant strengths will flourish.

So what if I don’t have an MFA, nor have I ever held a position in which learning and development or training or writing were a significant component. Do I possess the skills to excel in roles that might demand these things? Sure. Do I possess an amount of confidence in myself to continue to learn, explore, and make positive impact on the community around me? Of course.

Am I committed to cultivating a mindset for success?

Well, I sure hope so. The only way to know is to stay long enough to find out.

A Study in Being

This weekend was a downer in many ways. For starters, I opened the CrossFit Open with a pretty sad score.

The CrossFit Open 14.1 WOD:
AMRAP10 – 30 double-unders; 15 power snatches (or ground-to-overhead) @ 55lbs.

The WOD began with double-unders, which if you recall, are one of three key elements that are holding me back. This is mostly my fault, as I spent about a year and a half not working on them; I have just started to really consistently work on double-unders in the last few weeks, so I was not expecting to do so well. Regardless, I wanted to do well. I can usually do a single-under followed by a double-under, so that was my method going in to the WOD. Naturally, I got tired mere moments into the WOD and started losing my rhythm. I just wanted to finish my first set of DUs and get to the bar because I’ve been able to snatch 55lbs. since last year’s Open; those were guaranteed reps for me.

I didn’t even complete three rounds in this WOD, and while I know this is a huge area of opportunity for me, it also just felt… well, bad. It wasn’t how I wanted to start the Open this year. Final rep count: 114. There are people throughout the world who have been doing CrossFit for a shorter amount of time, who had–before 14.1–never gotten a DU before, and then went on to string together sets in the double-digits. I wanted to scream and kick and punch my uncoordinated body when I saw those posts, and then I wanted to sulk in the corner while muttering to myself about how it’s just not. fair. However, that’s called being a poor sport, and it’s actually exciting for all those folks to have that kind of breakthrough in the Open! I happen to have a lot of coordination issues with these kinds of things; it’s not surprising that double-unders are taking me so much longer.

However, I am worried 14.2 will just be wall ball shots and chest-to-bar pull-ups–a sure-fire way to further crush me.

But, on the bright side, I spent Saturday and Sunday in open gym sessions, just working on my double-under timing. No huge breakthroughs, except for starting to fix the way I hold the jump rope and how slowly and high I need to jump. Of course, now I pretty much have shin splints again (huzzah), which is the result of being lazy and not taping my arches. Lesson learned.

Because I was so down on my double-unders, I let other things get to me. Even though I had a great time Friday and Saturday out with friends, I moped around during most of my free time, stressed about moving houses so soon. The new owners even came by on Sunday, and I was incredibly detached and depressing to talk to. How am I doing? I’ll tell you how I’m doing, which will go against everything considered culturally acceptable when conversing with strangers; the market is crap, you’re kicking us out six months early so I don’t know if I have the money saved up for another deposit, I just got the news that my student loan payments are about five times higher than I expected under my income-based plan, and I suck at the one thing I really care about right now, which is CrossFit. Also, I still can’t seem to meet guys that are interested in investing in me and vice versa. That, new owner who keeps remarking on how lovely and nice the interior of the house you are forcing me to vacate ahead of the mandatory sixty days, is how I am doing.

Bleh.

After that, I stayed in my sweats (which were actually just my workout clothes from that morning. Yes, I know, I’m gross, whatever, let’s move on), and sat on the couch and watched the Oscars. There are four things that can make me smile when I’m that bummed on life: Ellen, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Benedict Cumberbatch. (I don’t put Doctor Who on that list because that show usually makes me cry, as well.) See also: Benedict Cumberbatch at the Oscars.

My bad mood carried over into the morning, which started with me not even knowing what day of the week it was. Things slowly improved after a second cup of coffee, some venting to my co-workers, a slice of cake, and a really awesome workout tonight. (Strict pull-ups, unassisted? More than 2?? 16 total?! That’s a first.)

SEAtown CrossFit – 3/3/14 WOD
For time: 21-15-9
Kettlebell swings (44lbs.)Box jumps (20″)
Burpees

Time: 8 minutes, 18 seconds

I felt like I pushed myself harder than normal. Maybe it was to overcome the blerch, and maybe it was to prove to myself that there are still skills I am making significant improvements on (and to remind myself that it’s because I’ve worked on them).

We all have our weaknesses. As I grow up, I’m learning more about mine. Some weaknesses take lots of time to patch up, and it can be difficult to remember that when it seems everything else is falling apart. I don’t want to say that it will all be okay, though, because that seems so passive and dismissive. No, it will be okay because I’ve learned to face things head-on. That’s what CrossFit and these last few years really taught* me.

 

 

 

*Also, British television is awesome. That’s another very valuable lesson.

 

 

Steel Yourself

Wall balls.

Double-unders.

Strict press.

It’s taken a little awhile to figure it out, to really shake things out, but those three things are my absolute most-hated CrossFit elements.

Strict press is upsetting because it’s a lift where I should be able to lift more above my head, given my other shoulder-to-overhead motions, but my raw upper-body strength is lagging. It’s so sad, holding a measly 75# just below my chin, body shaking, knowing full well I’ve put forty more pounds over my head in other movements. But take the legs away, and all I’m left with are these “pretty arms”–my arms which are showing more and more definition, but which haven’t convinced me they do more than look pretty. I haven’t strict pressed much lately, either, so whenever it does come around, it feels like I haven’t improved. Need more days in the gym where I run through a quick 3×10 or spend part of an open gym session on strength. Maybe some fractional plates, too, would help. Either way, ugh. Strict press.

Double-unders (i.e., passing a jump rope under yourself twice during one jump) are–as Coach K always said–all neurological. I haven’t quite cracked the code on these. I can skip between alternating single-unders and double-unders fairly easily, but as soon as I try to link doubles together, my form falls apart, I rush my jumps, and then I crack myself with my own rope. (Tonight, it caught on my shoe and hit me in the lip. Not a great thing when you’ve got a slick speed rope from Momentum.) I try to practice these for a few minutes every time I step in the gym, but IT’S NOT ENOUGH. I almost cried watching a bunch of newbies bust out their unbroken double-unders the other night while I kept catching the rope and whipping myself and failing over and over and over AND OVER. Jump higher! Wrists looser! Arms forward more! I make one adjustment and screw something else up, I swear. Oh double-unders! Why do you foresake me?! The day I get double-unders, I will post about it on every, single, no-good social media outlet out there.

But no matter how much I hate double-unders because of my uncoordination and my mental blocks, there is one element that remains my most hated:

Wall balls.

For the uninitiated, wall balls are a move where an athlete squats and then tosses a big medicine ball at a target, catches the ball and transitions into a squat, and then throws the ball at the target again. Over and over. Men usually utilize a 20lb. ball, and women usually utilize a 14lb. ball. The target often remains 10′ for both genders’ standards, although women sometimes are prescribed to shoot at a 9′ target in a given WOD. At HEL, part of the Basic skill test was 25 unbroken wall ball shots at a 10′ target with the appropriate weight. I never passed that part (along with pull-ups, but pull-ups are pull-ups, so whatever; they get a free pass today). The two times I attempted the skill, I was no-repped by maybe the second or third rep. Why? Well, a couple of things. For one, my system is imbalanced. My legs are fairly powerful, but my upper body (core and arms) are lagging behind, so even with the energy transfer, I’m still working way harder than I should to get the ball launched.

Oh, and of course, I’m 5’1″, well below average height for my sex. To make up for my systematic imbalance and my height, I have to jump the wall ball shots nearly every time. As you can imagine, though, those weighted jumping squats burn out the legs rather quickly. I don’t have really great endurance through the burning suck yet, so I usually have to rest. Ergo, 25 unbroken shots is a lot to ask. 25 unbroken shots at 10′ target feels impossible. I’ve never wanted to kick tall people in the shins more than when I’m stationed next to a 6-foot-infinite giant during wall balls.

I did 13.3 (the third workout in 2013’s CrossFit Open) on Monday. 13.3 is an AMRAP12 consisting of 150 wall ball shots (and for women in this WOD, it’s a 9′ target), 90 double-unders (RUDE), and 30 muscle-ups. Oh, fantastic! Two of my most hated moves and one more element that I cannot do at all. Period. Google “CrossFit Muscle Up” if you must know. Last year, I completed only 86 wall balls. This year, at the 12-minute mark, I had completed 126 wall ball shots, and continued until I hit 150, since 150 wall ball shots is a benchmark WOD in and of itself (called “Karen”). It “only” took 14:59.

That time means it took nearly twice as long for me to complete, if you’re comparing my score to other people who are about my skill level in other elements. Wall balls are not just physically taxing because of my imbalance and my height, but they break me down mentally. Mental fortitude falls apart for me during wall balls (and, as it turns out, double-unders and V-ups). Even with a 9′ target, one foot shorter than I normally aim for, every shot felt like the world of CrossFit and that stupid medicine ball were laughing at me, taunting me. One, two, three, drop the ball, walk away from the wall, and try not to think about how many reps are left: that was my strategy for Monday night. Pretty awful when you’re looking at such a large number to begin with. It feels as if no matter how perfect my form, no matter how heavy I can squat and how heavy I can press, that ball will barely reach that target. And it will barely reach that target now even with a big ol’ jump out of the squat.

They feel, in one word, impossible.

These things all feel impossible.

So that’s why these are my new priorities. These are my greatest weaknesses, and currently, I’m letting them get to me. I’m letting them take away the joy I’m feeling from PRing my back squat, getting rope climbs down consistently, feeling more comfortable in the elements of the snatch, etc. etc. and so forth and so on. I’ve done so much in the past year and a half! And these three things will not be what keeps me from progressing. I can’t let them.

If I can break through these walls*… well, I don’t know what will happen if I can do it. There’s only one way to find out, right?

My new CrossFit motto.

My new CrossFit motto.

* like a wrecking ball!

WELLNESS

I’m doing so much of it. I’ve been on this modified paleo-esque lifestyle switch/challenge for almost two weeks, and it’s going well. Minus the whole “this is a really bad time of year financially,” but I digress. With the challenge comes the additional challenge of being active every day. In fewer details, here’s the gist of things:

Saturday, Jan. 19th
I got a massage primarily for my aching shoulders. Later in the day, I walked in the oh-so-cold weather from SW Portland to NW. Not a hardcore day, but it was a rest day with activity built in.

Sunday, Jan. 20th
Two-a-day!
Test run the first day of a 5K training plan with a walk/run that took me across roughly 2mi. Later in the day, I attended a 60-minute yoga session. It wasn’t hot yoga, but there were so many people in the room that I left drenched from the humidity anyway.

Monday, Jan. 21st
This was a fine day for walking. I was going to buck up and hit the CrossFit HEL workout, which involved at least a mile of running interlaced with different taxing activities, but in the middle of my walk, I felt the egg intolerance rearing its nasty little ugly head. Turns out, two paleo pancakes with eggs in the batter is too much for me.

Still, a mile-long walk? I will take it.

Tuesday, Jan. 22nd
1.5mi walk/run first thing in the morning.
So. Slow. SO. Cold.
But, I did it. I ran really easy, walked really easy. Still, I did it. And I was still sweaty.

Wednesday, Jan. 23rd
CrossFit HEL – Partner WOD

Killer. Remember Fight Gone Bad?
Well, Coach took the elements of that, threw in a 500m. row between each thing, and set us loose.
While one partner rowed for 500m., the other took on one round of the FGB elements. In order, they were:
– wall ball shots (load: 14lbs.)
– sumo dead high-pull (load: 55lbs.)
– push press (load: 55lbs.)
– box jumps (mod: step-ups)
– double-unders (mod: single-unders)

Combined, my partner and I got 571 reps. I was on the lower end for push presses, and while I didn’t do the whole thing as prescribed, due to the mods, I have to report something awesome:

prescribed weight for wall ball shots, SDHP, and push press!

And that’s doubly-awesome because I had to scale my weights back when I did FGB a few weeks back due to my shoulders. YAY!

Weekly Weigh-In
Latest numbers:

130.8lbs.
28.3% BF

 

Battle of the Bleh

Late on the workout post. This week was a total give-in to the holidays, too. That needs to change if I want to see a change. Hold me accountable. Also, buy me a green resistance band so I can work on pull-ups.

Friday, Dec. 7th
CrossFit HEL – Skills Day

We started with a three station rotation, with four rounds of 30 seconds at each station.

1: L-sit
2: Handstand hold
3: Handstand spotting

Surprisingly, I was able to lock out on the L-sits. It’s not a perfect “L” shape, but hey! Something I can do.
Handstands are okay, too. I’m still not trustful enough to do an unsupported handstand on my own, but with a spotter, I do a pretty good job. Instead of kicking/levering into handstands this day, we started in somewhat of a downward dog position and kicked up. Surprise–I made it to vertical on the first try with this method.

Handstand spotting was actually the hardest part of the rotation, given that I was usually paired with a real tall person. I have a lot of active spotting habit left it me, given my background and some of those unfortunate tumbles I saw, so it took a bit of trust back off and let my partner do his own thing. I didn’t want to be responsible for him crashing and burning. Not the case, although I did have to apologize for stepping on his hands, to which he brushed off by underestimating my actual weight.

Stations were followed by a partner work-out of as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:

1: 300m Run w/ Sledgehammer
2: AMRAP of “The Chief” (3 power cleans, 6 push-ups, and 9 squats)

I am still, by no means, a runner, so carrying an 8lb. sledgehammer was a challenge. I found it easiest to rest the hammer over my shoulder blades and carry it that way. Being that this was a partner workout, I let my partner set the weight for the power cleans. 65lbs., a good 13lbs. heavier than my last power clean attempts, was our weight. By my last time through The Chief, I was near failing. I think our overall rounds came out to 19–that is, my partner did 12, and I did 7. Yiiiiikes. Imbalance, much? Again, a ways to go for me.

Monday, Dec. 10th
CrossFit HEL – Citrus Fruit

Deadlifts
3-2-2 – working load: 135lbs.

then:

5 rounds For Time of:
7 deadlifts – 115lbs.
30 squats
7 handstand push-ups, modified from a box

I can’t remember my time, as my notebook is in my locker right now, so I think it was 10:57 or so

Wednesday, Dec. 12th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Can You Smell the Carrot?

Shoulder Press
3-2-2 – attempt and fail: 65lbs.; actual weight: 60lbs.
I found my first ceiling! Now to break through.

then:

25 Wall Ball Shots – modified from 14lb. medicine ball to 12lb. med ball
50×3 = 150 single-unders
100m Run

20 Wall Ball Shots (20/14)
40×3 = 120 single-unders
100m Run

15 Wall Ball Shots
30×3 = 90 single-unders
100m Run

10 Wall Ball Shots
20×3 = 60 single-unders
100m Run

5 Wall Ball Shots
10×3 = 30 single-unders
100m Run

Time: 13 minutes, 59 seconds

Slow as Hell. It didn’t help that I diverted to: 1. tie my shoe halfway through one of the runs; 2. take a hit off my inhaler; and 3. trip over the jump rope multiple times. That said, no excuses. In essence, this WOD was another one at which I am not good at most of the components! However, I do see a marked improvement in my wall ball shots, as in they are going farther up the wall, and I can deal with the high volume (one way or another).

The lab was closed Friday-Sunday, and I had a prior commitment on Thursday. I headed back on…

Monday, Dec. 17th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Jackie

Another one of the CrossFit benchmark WOD days. We started with our lifts, though.

Back Squats
3 reps – 2 reps – 2 reps

Final numbers for my working loads: 100lbs./105lbs./115lbs.

then:

Jackie:
1000m Row
50 Thrusters (45lbs.) – Managed to use the prescribed weight for this portion! Yippee!
30 Pull-ups (C2B) – Modified pull-ups: jumping pull-ups from a box
For Time: 12 minutes, 49 seconds

Tuesday, Dec. 18th was a bust for me. It was bench press and a WOD w/ deadlifts. I was looking forward to trying it out until midway through the day when I noticed my neck was really tender. It got more and more tender, and my sinuses starting building up pressure. Hoping it’s a minor thing and not the start of a flu bug or similar, so I spent the night with some tea and How I Met Your Mother. (PS – The holiday episode? OMG. Cried like a fool at the end.)

Thursday, Dec. 20th
CrossFitHEL – HEL5

The HEL5 is my gym’s one rep max workout. It takes the CrossFit Total and adds in two other lifts: the bench press and the overhead squat. You get two attempts at each lift. After the workout, you total the best of your two attempts and that’s your number.

Here’s my breakdown:

Back squat – 130lbs.
Press – 65lbs. (I broke through the ceiling!)
Deadlift – 170lbs.
Bench press – 85lbs.
Overhead squat – 75lbs.

All these numbers were PRs for me, and although my total (525) was the smallest on the board, I did some digging and found a CrossFit Total table. Based on my body weight and the total for my first three lifts places me right in the Intermediate category. Whaaat? Awesome. I’ll take that as a definite sign of progress. Onward!
****
Questions for Other Beginning CrossFitters:
What are your goals?
How are you measuring success?
What’s your nutrition plan look like?
How are you staying motivated as a beginner (especially if you either started w/ low baseline fitness or are working through injuries, etc.)?

Now that I have an idea of where I’m at, I feel good about moving forward and pushing myself. I’m still trying to work through not aggravating old injuries, so that is a hurdle I have to face. At least I know I am competing with myself and not against my advanced counterparts.

There are definitely areas where I would like to see better tone. The fat doesn’t simply melt away, and I surmise a change in diet and adding in more active rest days will help. On the other hand, though, I can see better muscle tone in my quads and triceps; my arms aren’t as “flappy” as they were just a few months ago. Even my abs look a bit better. And of course, there’s the squat effect in which my rear end is a lot nicer than it has been recently. (But then again… I just ate some more Salt & Straw ice cream [cheddar apple pie, son!] after gnawing on a piece of pizza provided by Coach.)

The results are coming a bit slower than I’d like, but I also know that I’m doing what I can to be conscious of my limitations. Yes, I scale back a lot of things, but I also know I’ve been in PT for bad knees and hips, and my shoulders, ankles, and elbows are all very prone to injury. If I hurt myself, then it’s back to the baseline, so I’m going with slow and steady wins this race (for myself).

Better Late Than…

First, I accidentally scheduled my Monday post to go live on Sunday. Then, I missed my Wednesday post because I was having too much fun.

This last week has seemed long, given the holiday weekend and a break from the usual routine. I tried to be intentional in my wellness throughout, although I doubt the Thanksgiving dinner and leftovers did anything towards health. Wellness, sure. I can’t complain when presented with green bean casserole, dark meat turkey, sweet potatoes, and homemade pumpkin and apple pies.

Here is what I did accomplish over the past several days.

Thursday, Nov. 22nd (Thanksgiving Day)
Individual track day

I woke up somewhat early and drove myself to a nearby park where there happens to be a nice track. I spent the day focusing on my running form because I know traditionally, I have been a heel-striker, even though all I ever learned in dance said this was wrong. I watched some running tutorials (yup) the night before and got some good ideas for mobility and form drills.

One of the videos placed a lot of emphasis on good, proper warm-ups for running. For short distances, the coach said about 30 minutes is needed; those 30 minutes were broken down into different segments. I did what I could to incorporate increasing my pace, mobility, dynamic stretching, and other drills into the warm-up. My warm-up took me through about 1600m, and then my workout was another 1600m. I ran 400m, concentrating on making sure the middle of my foot, not my heel, made contact first, then walked 400m and threw 20 air squats in at the close of the walk. I repeated this, and then stretched. I was out at the track long enough that the informal “Turkey Bowl” games concluded, then it was off to prepare for Thanksgiving in Beaverton.

I found it mentally challenging to push myself to run–since running is not my favorite activity–and also concentrate on improving my form. The walks were mostly to give my shins a rest since over-doing it easily leads to shin splints in my world. My legs were spent for the remainder of the day.

Friday, Nov. 23rd
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Fran

My first Fran!

We started the day with a 3×3 front squat workout (three rounds of three reps). I lifted 70lbs. which was an increase from the last time I’d done front squats (40lbs. during an EMOM5 of five reps each).

Then Fran went like this:
21-15-9 reps for time of:
Thrusters
Pull-ups

I scaled thrusters to 50lbs. and used the box for jumping pull-ups. I wanted to use a green resistance band (60lbs. resistance, I think) but I couldn’t spot one in time; I may or may not have added resistance bands to my holiday wishlist. Next time, I’m looking to increase weight and get off the box for pull-ups.

Overall time was 7 minutes and 20 seconds.

Monday, Nov. 26th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Annie

Monday’s workout started with lifting. We did back squats, working to a 2 rep working load, then scaling back for a round of 10 reps. My 2 rep load was 85lbs. and my 10 rep round was at 65lbs. My shoulders felt a lot better than they did the first time I attempted back squats, although the flexibility isn’t quite there. I still have to spend a lot of time shaking out my shoulders after my workouts.

After our back squats, we went to an “Every Minute On the Minute for 6 mins.” segment. With the 45lb. bar on my back, it was five lunges per leg on the minute. I felt good despite the occasional popping in my knee. That only happened a few times; I made sure to position myself better so I could avoid the sensation.

Annie was next, with a “50-40-30-20-10” structure of double-unders and sit-ups. I have not learned how to do double-unders yet, so I did single-unders (jump rope) with three times the required reps. I positioned my ab mat wrong, so my first 50 sit-ups were pretty difficult. After Coach pointed out the positioning error, sit-ups went a lot better. Overall time with mods: 12 minutes and 31 seconds.

Tuesday, Nov. 27th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: B2B Tabata Squats

I don’t really mind tabata work-outs. They’re good discipline, and they give me a chance to focus on my form.

We started the night with lifting. This time, it was a 3×3 press. Presses are a difficult lift for me, since you’re not allowed to use your legs (except to stand). However, last night in the 3×3, I pressed 55lbs. That’s a jump from the 35lbs. I was used to.

Next came an EMOM for 10 minutes. 5 push presses (read: you get to use your legs!) every minute for a total of 50. Most of us scaled down a bit, so I went to 50lbs. for push press.

Then there was the Tabata portion of push-ups and “bottom to bottom” squats. No, they are not team-building back-to-back squats. It just meant that our resting position was in a squat or “paleo chair.” 8 intervals of each, so the work-out itself was fairly short, clocking in at eight minutes total. My lowest number of repetitions in a given interval was 9 for push-ups (modified from the knee) and 7 for squats (which, after about the fourth interval, started to burn like fire in my quads).

There was much stretching afterwards. Especially of the quads.

Wednesday, Nov. 28th
Holiday Ale Fest

Nope. Not actually a work-out. Just a fun event with friends that caused my Thursday to be very, very tired.

Thursday, Nov. 29th
CrossFit HEL – Agility Course

There are probably better days to try an agility/obstacle course. Preferably not days when you’re still feeling the effects of some strong, tasty holiday ales. But, I went because I: (a) needed to work-out; (b) needed to challenge myself mentally.

One of my teammates is also in a similar boat where a lot of the skills in the A-courses are intimidating. My coordination is coming, but as in gymnastics, a lot of skills still require me to build trust with myself. My body has disowned me in many ways, and mentally, it’s a hurdle to overcome those limitations.

Now, granted, I only got through the full course twice during the thirty minutes. There were quite a few instances where I had to negotiate with myself to try something new. “Spider wall.” Swinging from Olympic rings in a monkey bar fashion. A balance beam suspended from the rafters. Jumping from the tops of boxes onto other boxes.

In regards to jumping from box to box, I noticed a lot of the same hesitation in commitment that I had in gymnastics classes. My first round comprised of a lot of analyzing of my next moves, weighing possibilities before executing a skill. During my second round, I tried envisioning myself making it to the next step. I know I can leap from point A to point B, at least in a jete-type fashion; so, I thought of bridging the gap between two boxes as a leap, and it worked.

The balance beam was tricky, partially because it was suspended from the ceiling. The first time I tried it out, it took me a long time to even figure out how to get up to the beam and then step around the first supporting strap. But, I got better each time.

Olympic rings were my biggest challenge. I never figured out how to climb monkey bars correctly as a child, and that movement was probably something I needed on those rings tonight. Coach helped me get the swinging motion right, but when it came to letting go and reaching out, I hesitated again, and eventually just had to do a straight drop onto the mats. However, I was up there, I thought about it, and now I know another skill to practice.

As I said tonight, I showed up. I could have easily skipped, but I didn’t. The rounds weren’t perfect, but I tried. I’ll get better with time, and again, those lessons are applicable to all I do.

Then, after my work-out, I hunted down some pho to round out the night. Not bad; not bad at all.

Hit the Road

My body is conflicted right now. On one hand, I am sore and my knees and shoulders are grumbling a little bit. On the other hand, I’ve been in the gym four times, and that’s with a conference that lasted from Wednesday through Friday in Bellingham, WA, followed by a super-lazy weekend.

Let’s recap.

Thursday, Nov. 1st
Independent Workout at the Hotel Fitness Center

I woke up early to get my workout in on this particular day. The fitness center at my hotel was small, but adequate. I warmed up for a few minutes on the elliptical machine, then went through some dynamic stretches. For my warm-up, I used a light dumbbell to go through some sumo pulls (one arm at a time), then did some squats with the dumbbells overhead to work on balance and core, and threw in a few burpees. For my quick workout, I just did the following:

3 rounds of:
21 sit-ups
14 hand-release push-ups
7 overhead squats with 12lb. dumbbells

It was a really short workout, and I finished in under ten minutes. I still managed to get really sweaty in the short time I was in the center, so that’s a good sign, I think. I wrapped up with some stretches, and then it was off to my conference for the entire day. Surprisingly, I even made it to the breakfast buffet where there was still much bacon and sausage for me to enjoy.
Oh, and later that night, I danced for a good while, and I’m going to count that as something because I wore wedges.

Monday, Oct. 5th
CrossFit – WOD: Iron Oxide

Before we started this workout, Coach gave us the heads-up that the first half was all mental. It was. We started out with a seemingly easy exercise, which went like this:

Every 30 seconds for 5 minutes:
3 Back Squats
*bar may not be racked for entire 5 minutes
The total count worked out to 30 reps. However, we could not do more than 3 reps in a 30-second span. Therefore, we spent a lot of time holding the barbell across our backs. My hands started to tingle during the first half, and I had to readjust quite a bit to find a good grip that didn’t cause my old shoulder injuries to ruin my circulation. I got through this portion with 50lbs.

Next came the following:

10 rounds for time of:
3 Power Cleans
1 Box Jump (for me, modified to a step-up) – maximum height
10 Double Unders (or 3x single unders)

I came out of this portion of the workout with a time of 8 minutes, 2 seconds.The load I used for the power clean was 50lbs., and for the box, I added a weight plate to make my step-up 21 inches. I did single unders because I suck at jump roping.

Tuesday, Oct. 6th
CrossFit – WOD: Dueling Banjos (a.k.a., “Quite Nearly Hell”)

The good thing about WODs is, once I’ve survived through a workout, I get this feeling of, “Even though I scaled back and made some modifications, I got through that.” It’s a bit crazy. Especially when one considers what Tuesday’s workout looked like.

We started with rack jerks, which are basically the jerk lift with the bar starting behind your back. We did max weight for single reps, and repeated the single reps five times. I worked up to 75lbs. I need some more speed and punch before moving up in weight, that’s for sure.

The biggest challenge came next. It was broken into four rounds, for overall time. Those rounds went, simply, like this:

1. 510m Run (around the block)
15 Overhead Squats

2. 300m Run (down to the corner and back)
15 Overhead Squats

3. 510m Run
15 Overhead Squats

4. 300m Run
15 Overhead Squats

Coach has a real funny way of crafting a mile run into a workout. As I told a close friend, this workout was like running a beer mile, but instead of chugging a beer between the runs, you had to lift weights. And the thing about overhead squats is, they’re incredibly difficult for me! I used the 22lb. bar, and with 15 reps on top of already aching legs, it was a miracle I didn’t fall over. The form is coming, and I am glad to be improving both flexibility and balance with this type of exercise. Running is still the bane of my existence, but I doubt that will ever change. Good news, though: no asthma attack in the middle of any of my laps!

Overall time: 14 minutes, 20 seconds.

Wednesday, Oct. 7th
CrossFit – Partner WOD

Tonight’s workout was kind of fun. Maybe I think that because it came right after the hellish running workout.

We started with some standing rows. I got up to 60lbs. comfortably and did several sets of 7 reps. In between those, we all practiced “skin the cats” on the rings.

Funny story about “skin the cat” is that in junior high, we learned how to do this move as part of the gymnastics unit. In evaluation, I got all the way over, but instead of dropping down to the floor or reversing so I was in my starting position, I just kept rotating until I popped both my shoulders. It was the worst dislocate on the rings in gymnastics history, I’m sure (“dislocate” actually being a move, not a thing that I did to my body). The creepy thing is that there was a mild moment of hurt, but then I felt fine. Same thing happened several years earlier when I rolled my left ankle. Momentary hurt, then nothing. Granted, now I know I have a ton of scar tissue in that ankle, and I know my poor coordination and lack of judgement is what has caused my shoulders to be in the state they currently are.

Anyway. Back to today’s gymnastics practice. Coach spotted me the entire time, and I could tell in an early pass that my shoulders felt really weak and unstable once I came around. I modified the rest of the time, going only halfway over, keeping the shoulders stronger. I could definitely feel my body wanting to make that same stupid mistake of going all the way around without letting go, so thank goodness for a tentative coach.

After all of that came the 14-minute partner workout. We had an “Every Minute on the Minute” of:
P1: Max calorie row
P2: 10 kettlebell swings + 5 Ring Push-ups

We switched tasks every minute, so each round was performed 7 times. My partner and I hit a maximum total of 139 calories burned on our row, which we blame partially on being the shortest team. 😉 For KB swings, I challenged myself up to the 16kg. bell, although it was quite a bit heavier than my usual 12kg. Still made it through, although I know my height at the top of the swing suffered. Ring push-ups weren’t too bad, although I did them from the knee to focus on keeping my arms and shoulders stable and strong.

I felt good after the workout, and I was very thankful that we had a larger group tonight, as it meant more stretching at the end. Each of us calls out a stretch to perform. I picked straddle split tonight, and it kind of makes me giggle to hear my big burly male teammates groan about some of the stretches I call. Coach said it best when he told the new guys, “The dancer will always bring the pain during the stretches,” to which I responded, “Well… I could have called out ‘Wheel.'” Then I got a lot of blank stares so instead of explaining, I demonstrated. (And it actually felt really, really good tonight to move into bridge/wheel.)

After tonight’s workout, I met up with Snugs to try out a sushi place by my house. It’s the “funky” one, connected to what seems to be a divey little cafe. The sushi place has great reviews on Yelp, and after dinner, I could see why. We got an order of salmon sashimi, and it was some of the best I’ve had in the Northwest. All the rolls we ordered were delicious and well-made, and as it was a weeknight, we pretty much had the little joint to ourselves. Not a bad way to round out the day.

I’ll leave you with one take-away from tonight’s dinner conversation. Snugs and I were discussed working out, and he mentioned something about how supplements, like protein, could be really screwy in terms of what it does to people’s bodies. However, they can get people in good physical shape, even with the side effects. I thought about it for a second and said, “Yeah, but I guess there’s really a difference between being ‘in shape’ and being ‘well.'”

We both agreed that being well is a much better priority to have.