The Most Important CrossFit Open Post You Will Read

The Open is nigh, my friends. Are you ready?

Well, ready or not, doesn’t matter, because it’s happening.

Now that I have you here (oh, and this is the most important CrossFit Open post for me, but I was maybe exaggerating in the title), let me tell you that I’m not ready at all this year. This year is my third year participating in the CrossFit Open, and the second time I have officially signed up online. In 2013, I was still scaling for the majority of my WODs; in 2014, I had just started Rx’ing things more often. This year, I’m a solid intermediate, with many standard movements at Rx level; more technical and advanced moves like muscle-ups and 95# power snatches are not in my repertoire at this time. I have better endurance now and better proficiency, even though I am not a Firebreather by any means.

What can I expect this year?

Well, who knows. I’m no longer in the bracket where I will be likely celebrating my first [insert CrossFit move here], and I know I won’t be celebrating my first muscle-up because I’ve not worked on the technique much since tweaking my shoulder back in November. I won’t be qualifying for Regionals nor winning the state championship. That’s not counting myself out; it’s called “being real.” I will likely be fighting for one more rep each time the clock counts down; that much I know.

I also know are where my weaknesses and strengths lie. CrossFit is difficult for me in many regards, and I acknowledge my challenges and try to face them each day I’m in the gym. Knowing where I am physically and mentally is going to help me get through these next few weeks, as well as guide my training for the rest of the year, I’m sure.

Known Weaknesses

Double-unders: Double-unders are my goat. “Goat” isn’t even appropriate in this case. Double-unders are not just a move at which I am weak; they are seemingly strong enough to break my will. They are a nasty thing that frustrate me beyond belief. They have the ability to deflate me during an otherwise manageable WOD. Nothing makes me want to cry more than double-unders. What’s worse–it’s not even so much that I’m bad at them; it’s that my biomechanics make it painful to work on them for more than a few minutes each week. No practice means no progress. And it’s shin splints that keep me from getting after this goat.

Shin splints are a recurring injury for me. I never had them until cheerleading in my senior year of high school. At that time, ill-fitting shoes were the problem, along with the bouncy nature of high school cheer. They disappeared after proper taping, and they were rarely an issue, save for a few minor incidents later on involving brief stints with running. However, something about the way I take off and land while jumping rope aggravates my lower legs. I have posterior shin splints, and taping hasn’t seemed to resolve the issue too much. I feel like I need an expert opinion and hours of video analysis, and I also need desperately to fix my technique. It all snowballs together, and it’s routinely compounded by everyone else wanting to help me feel less frustrated. I know my positioning is off; I know my timing is off. But more than that, I know jumping too high or too many times will hurt me and render me useless for several days, and it seems almost more productive to just not try.

However, not trying will not be an option. To combat the issue in the short-term, it will take the following: KT tape, my rope and a backup rope, and iron will. Completing the inevitable double-under WOD will be a triumph; I must remind myself of that, and just get through it. Stress factor: 9.99/10.00

Strict press: The chances of strict press being in The Open are not high. This is still a known weakness, and I have been trying to strict press at least once a week to encourage those muscles to grow, grow, grow. Likelihood of strict press showing up, though, is low, so the actual move itself is not a problem; the associated muscles and their weaknesses, though, are a stressor. Stress factor: 3.00/10.00

Wall balls: Unlike strict press, wall balls have been a staple in The Open. Wall balls to a 9′ target are manageable; wall balls to the 10′ target are a bit more “out of reach” (har har har) because I’m an overwhelming 5’1″. My wall ball stamina has gotten much better in recent months, but if the number “100” or high appears in front of the phrase “wall balls,” it’s going to be a mental struggle.

Wall balls feel a bit like grade school punishment. The proximity to the wall, the repetition, the physical burn, the frustration of being just shy of the target–those are the elements that lead to the wall ball being a hard movement for me. Stress factor: 7.00/10.00

Known Strengths

First of all, I spend a lot of time talking about tackling weaknesses. I never spend time celebrating my strengths. Although I don’t feel like I am naturally gifted in the CrossFit and lifting world, there are things I bring to the table because of my natural traits and my limited athletic background.

Deadlifts: I love deadlifts. Deadlifts were something that my first coach spent lots of time on, and it paid off. I like deadlifts because they get really heavy really quickly, but most of the time, I can get through them. The technique just clicks with me. I haven’t been working on my hamstring strength as much in the last few months, so there is a bit of worry there, but I hope deads come up in The Open so I can again feel proficient during that WOD. Last year’s 14.3, which so many folks dreaded, was exactly what I had been begging the CrossFit gods for: box jumps and deadlifts!! I know high reps and heavy weights are still difficult and carry an element of danger to negotiate, so don’t get me wrong–I don’t feel cocky about deadlifts. Stress factor: 4.00/10.00

Burpees: “BURPEES?!” Yeah. It turns out that being really short and retaining flexibility from all those years of dance and cheer helps with this one. I don’t have very far to go when I have to get my entire body onto the floor and back up again. It is a problem when burpees show up near the end of an already taxing work-out, due to my endurance. However, I have been able to dig deeper into burpees than some end-of-WOD movements, so I know I can manage these, even if it feels terrible in the moment. Castro likes to come up with something really awful to pair with burpees (or just make it seven minutes of burpees), so I’m mostly concerned about endurance. Stress factor: 6.00/10.00

Ring dips: Not sure if these will show up because, like kettlebell swings in The Open, it might be hard to judge them. These are a hard move, and I can’t do more than five at a time (and even then, I can do that once before the sets break down into 3’s, 2’s, and 1’s), but I can do them, weirdly enough. If they come up, fantastic; I can probably get a few. If they don’t come up, which they probably won’t, even better. Stress factor: 1.00/10.00

Squats: Short legs come in handy again. So does all that time spent in dance class. I have a proficient squat, although at heavy loads I get just to or minimally below parallel sometimes (which I’m actively working on getting past–oopsies!). When you spend a good percentage of your life learning to plie, you learn to keep your chest up and knees tracking over your toes; while I was not the most amazing dancer, even that foundational knowledge plays a part. We’ve seen thrusters and overhead squats in recent years, so I expect something similar; again, endurance is a consideration for how well I’ll do, as is the required load. There are a lot of variables that go into what kind of squat we’ll see, so that uncertainty ups the anxiety. Stress factor: 5.00/10.00

Neutral Ground

There are plenty of other elements that we could see in The Open, and there are plenty of them that I don’t consider strengths nor major weaknesses of concern. Several of those things include chest-to-bar pull-ups, rowing, toes-to-bar, and snatches. These are all things at which I am getting better, but not up to competition standards. That’s okay.

Chest-to-bar pull-ups are inconsistent for me. Sometimes, I can get the height but not the required contact; other times, I can link three in a row. That’s fine; they will come with practice. They don’t give me shin splints.

Rowing is hard for me, given my size. When I was in college, I was actually approached by some girls on the crew team who said I should consider crew because I was the perfect size to be a coxswain. I can haul as fast as my little legs will go if needed, but most competition WODs are not won on the rower, especially not in my case.

Toes-to-bar are another move that are slowly coming along, now that I have the full range of motion. Some days I can link my first sets of reps together before my grip weakens and I switch to single reps. Other days, it’s steady singles. Toes-to-bar will be an element like they were during 14.2 when I was fighting for each additional rep. I accept that, and I will do what I can to string together a few in the first sets. If it doesn’t happen, that’s okay. I’ll analyze what happened after I get through the work-out to look for areas of improvement.

Snatches are technically demanding. It’s a hard Olympic lift. Depending on the weight we see for snatches in The Open, I might get one or I might get several. I might be able to power them up, or my “work in progress” technique might stop me in my tracks. We will see. However, this is a lift that I’ve been spending more time with, and it is a humbling lift, especially when it takes me so long to establish positioning and movement through those positions. It is what it is, when it comes to snatches in The Open.

The Open will be a time to test mental fortitude, foundations, lungs, and spirit. I’m anxious to see what we’ll be doing, and I’m anxious to see how I’ll feel and move through everything. It’s a wonderful yet taxing time of the year. I’m glad to be a part of it, to have the teammates and friends that I do, and to really be doing something that pushes me out of my comfort zone.

This is my time to shine, and by that I mean, prove to myself that I don’t just suck less than yesterday, but that I am better every day.

May the WODs be ever in your favor.

Flex Appeal and the Double Down Competition

It’s not easy being me.

What I mean by that is that I spent most of last week sick with an energy-draining cold, and because of that, I haven’t even had a chance to recap the competition from the 11th. CrossFit425 hosted their first annual Double Down competition, and it was a mixed-pairs (i.e., two-person teams consisting of one guy and one gal) competition with divisions for Rx and Rx+ (a.k.a., awesomely elite athletes). JD and I signed up for Rx, after convincing him it would be a great first competition.

The day started early, leaving my house around 6:30AM to get to Bellevue. We signed in, got settled into the athletes’ holding area, connected with our friends who were volunteering at the event, and eventually were briefed on the day. Then it was on to warm-ups and the first work-out at 8:40AM. We probably could have warmed up more, and we probably could have come out harder in the first work-out, but hindsight is 20/20. WOD 2 followed the first work-out immediately, though, and we did go all out there, which then warranted about an hour of rest until our third workout.

Teamwork

The pace of the competition, I should say now, was also very good. Although the length of the work-outs and all the heat times left about an hour between each of our work-outs, it felt like we had just enough time to recover with a quick snack and some water and watch some of the competition before it was time to get back onto the floor. The competition actually ended up running ahead of schedule, too, which is virtually unheard of, as anyone who has ever done anything competitive might know.

Our third workout was, by far, the hardest for me. Overhead squats and wall balls were right in the middle, and those two movements are notorious for slowing me down. However, pull-ups went quite well for both of us, especially considering that neither one of us utilizes the butterfly technique. (Side note: say what you will about the utilization of “fake” pull-ups in CrossFit, strict and kipping pull-ups are both burners in their own special ways–and yes, I can do both.) I was able to hit all of my sets unbroken, partially because the pull-up bars at 425 are high enough off the ground that I needed assistance getting up to the bar! Talk about motivation. Anyway, we got through the full 11 minutes without too much of a meltdown from me, although I was definitely running on empty at the end.

We had some time between finishing the third workout and starting the last workout, and that’s when we took care of the Wildcard WOD. Braxton had arranged a mini obstacle course consisting of a wall, a tire, and a weighted sled. Each partner had to go through the course once, and the team’s time was recorded. For the Rx division, partners could assist one another over the wall if needed, and thank goodness for that (well, for me). We completed the course, and I did not get stuck at the top of the wall, which is what I was most concerned about.

Train for chaos, right?

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The last work-out for us was a down-and-back chipper. When the WODs were released, I thought the chipper was going to be the hardest. Chippers almost always are for me, because the rep schemes always include numbers like “50” and “100” and “you’re probably going to die midway through this set.” However, the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that maybe it would be a good one for us. Certainly it would not be easy, but it could be a workout that played to some of our collective strengths, I thought. JD is very good at double-unders and quick on box jumps, and I enjoy deadlifting quite a bit. Partner push-ups were of concern, though, since I know JD can outpace me by a ways. We knew we needed to stick together on those, so during a strategy session prior to the competition, we agreed to pace the push-ups off of me. We also agreed that I would do more deadlifts, and he would take on a larger share of box jumps and all of the jump rope work since he can typically go unbroken or at least work in large sets, whereas jump rope is still a major sticking point for me.

Once the work-out began, we started flying. JD went unbroken on the first set of dubs, and I picked up on box jumps. I felt faster than I usually do, finishing twenty and moving on to set up for deadlift while JD finished up box jumps. We covered some major ground on the deadlifts (I love me some deadlifing) and got to the push-ups with plenty of time. Maybe it was adrenaline, and maybe it was because they were hand-release push-ups, but we also got through those quickly, without me burning out. And then it was back to deadlifts, a little bit slower this time, but still at a good speed. Then we moved onto box jumps–in which I realized my hamstrings would no longer fire properly because of all my deadlifts–and JD took control, went all-out on the remaining reps, and transitioned smoothly back to the jump rope, going unbroken, and giving us a final time of 7 minutes, 58 seconds (at least from what I could discern). We had a full two minutes to lie around on the ground and congratulate each other on a job well-done. It was a fantastic work-out to close out the day and an absolute testament to what teamwork is about.

Even with strategy sessions, things came up that we needed to work around. We adjusted on-the-fly, and we communicated. We anticipated where our individual strengths were and how we could capitalize on those. We anticipated sticking points, and how we could work around that. And most of all, we went in with the right mindset: to have fun and challenge ourselves. It didn’t hurt one bit to also have a few good friends there, and the atmosphere of the competition was positive and vibrant.

Oh, and our reward after all that work? Korean barbeque. Absolutely the right choice.

If you’re curious, here are the work-outs we completed. WOD 2 (Max Kettlebell Swings) and WOD 4 (The Chipper) were our best showings, finishing tied for 2nd and holding down 4th place, respectively. Our other scores were no lower than 24th, so at the end of the day, we shook out to 12th out of 34 teams in the Rx division. Not bad, not bad.

WOD 1:
AMRAP5
Max ground-to-overhead (85#/135#)
Only one person working at a time
Score is pounds lifted, e.g., (85*27) + (135*39) = final score

60 seconds rest, then…

WOD 2:
AMRAP2
Max kettlebell swings (35/53)
One partner is swings while other partner holds their KB in one hand locked-out overhead
Score is total # of reps

WOD 3:
AMRAP1121 Pull-ups
21 Hang Cleans (65/95)
21 OHS (RX: 65/95)
21 Partner wall ball burpees (RX: 14#)
21 Med-ball partner sit ups (RX: 14#)
Reps MUST be split 10/11; doesn’t matter which partner goes first on each exercise, however, partner A must complete 10 reps before partner B can start their 11 reps (not applicable to partner sit-ups and wall ball burpees)
Score is total # of reps

WOD 4:
Chipper, 10 minute time-cap75 Double-Unders
50 Box jumps (20/24”)
40 Deadlifts (135/205#)
30 Partner push-ups
40 DL
50 Box Jumps
75 Double-Unders
Reps can be split up however teams want to; ex: one partner may do all the double-unders, deadlifts can be split 35/15, etc.
Score is for time (results sheet showed # of reps completed, with time used as tie-breaker for teams who completed)

Wildcard:
Obstacle course
Partner A climbs up and over barrier
3 tire flips
1 sled pull down and back (45#/70#)
3 tire flips, then tag teammate
Partner B climbs up and over
3 tire flips
1 sled pull down and back
3 tire flips
Score is for time

Did I actually mention our team name was “Flex Appeal?” No? Well, it was.

Flex Appeal.

🙂

Reaching for Good

“I just wonder, when will I stop feeling like I’m bad at this,” I said, lamenting to that boy on the phone about my lack of confidence in all things CrossFit.

I noted that two years ago, I couldn’t do a single box jump, pull-up, rope climb, double-under, or wall ball, and I sure as heck couldn’t tell the difference between a clean, a jerk, and a snatch (no, not like that, come on). My work clothes didn’t fit, I thought pasta and low-fat dairy would solve all my problems, and yoga was my only tie to physical activity.

Nowadays, I complain about different things: that I can’t string 10 double-unders together, that my box jumps aren’t fast enough, that my unbroken sets of pull-ups are too small, that my wall ball shots aren’t high enough, that I should lift heavier. I can critique my errors in the full and power versions of the clean and the snatch, and my front squat has emerged as my best lift. My diet has evolved (although I did have ramen at Samurai Noodle today–worth it. And then I had some Seahawks game day brews. Whoops!), my workouts have evolved (although I still like the occasional yoga session as sharp contrast to my CrossFit training), and I definitely fit differently into my clothes.

But I still want more. I want bigger sets, more advanced skills, heavier weights, faster times. I want to “level up” and to catch up with some of the rabbits I’m chasing.

And still, I have it in my mind that I’m an imposter. Will I only believe I’m decent when I have 50+ unbroken double-unders, a muscle-up, and a heavier-than-bodyweight clean & jerk? Or will I get to that point and still think, “Still not good enough.”

Burpees over the bar. Yay.

Burpees over the bar. Yay.

I don’t believe this to a be a problem for everyone. This is a product of my own remnants of perfectionism. For example, I was good at piano–but in my mind, I was never that great because memorization didn’t come easy, I wasn’t winning local competitions, I never mastered the most difficult pieces. In my mind, I was never good at dance because my proficiency in ballet lagged behind my tap skills, I couldn’t turn and leap, my splits were never as far down as I wanted.

And maybe that’s just me. Always setting my definition of “good” just out of reach. I’m trying to break my self-deprecating mindset, to have confidence in growth and progression, to remember that developing skill takes hard work and dedication.

And that means pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Come see for yourself. I’m competing on Sunday in the Elysian Games, which is my first time competing in an Open division as opposed to Scaled. The idea is that it’s an Rx division, but if you absolutely need to scale any of the movements, you can–great for a first competition, or the first time out of a Scaled competition! I’m nervous, of course, seeing that there aren’t many movements I consider to be “in my wheelhouse.” (If you’re wondering, right now, my wheelhouse consists of exactly two things: deadlifts and burpees. Lucky me.) However, it’s a good way to push myself out of my comfort zone and into a setting that will challenge me physically and mentally.

I didn’t come into CrossFit with a ton of talent. In fact, I’d say maybe the only thing I had were my flexible hips. But I’ve found something that keeps my attention, and it keeps me coming back day after day to tackle another weakness.

And that, I suppose, is good enough for now.

You Gotta Have Heart

All you you really need is heart.

Another competition in the books. This time, it was a team competition (Capitol City Throwdown) down in Salem, Oregon at CrossFit Salem. It was an all-scaled event, meaning it was intended for athletes that usually do not perform WODs Rx’d. Four of us who “grew up” at CrossFit HEL and are now at different boxes in Portland and Seattle decided to band together to light yet another fire underneath ourselves. (Also to spend quality time with each other!)

The disadvantage to being far apart and at various gyms is that our time physically training together was limited, and we also had to form our WOD strategies on our own. However, these ladies are all incredibly amazing people; we are all growing in this sport, and this was a great opportunity to test not just our physical limits, but also present us the opportunity to come together and work together mentally.

And of course, it was a blast.

We didn’t finish first, and we definitely didn’t finish last. We did the very best we could, flipping tires that weighed over 400lbs., performing what I’m sure was nearly a thousand box jumps, snatching kettlebells over and over, and setting PRs on several heavy lifts. And the whole time, there were high-fives, terrible jokes, and lots of positive encouragement (and yelling).

I’m excited for the Squat Squad (a.k.a., Magical Whiskey Unicorns, a.k.a. TBO&KS) to continue seeking out competitions in various formats and iterations. I’m also excited for us to watch each other progress through our different training programs with our respective gyms (which, by the way, are all full of super-awesome people. This community seriously blows me away.).

Thanks for being amazing, ladies. Let’s go places.*

Squat Squad!

Squat Squad!

Pretty much sums us up.

Pretty much sums us up.

The socks!

The socks!

This is my PR face. Lovely.

This is my PR face. Lovely.

 

*And cause some trouble. (Train for chaos, right?)

A Challenger Appears

I’m icing my right knee as I type this. Hard to believe I’ve gone almost 7 months without aggravating it. My left knee’s the “bad” one, but the patella strap is helping. I bought another strap tonight. Symmetry at its best.

What did I do to bother my knee? Well! Since it’s Wednesday, it’s time to share more about Adventures in CrossFit with Ardith Laverne!

I competed in my first CrossFit competition (duh) this past weekend. The competition was held at CrossFit 45 North out in Hillsboro, OR. It was a Garage Games event, and I was nervous. (It was a week of high stakes, regardless; I presented at my very first conference on Friday, and it went incredibly well!).

Here’s how the event shook out…

I left my house around 5:45AM on Saturday and eventually made it to the venue. I checked in, prepared to put in a long day, not unlike my history with dance competitions. All athletes received documents briefing the three WODs that were programmed for Saturday, and that’s about the time my palms began to sweat.

Staring down the barrel

Staring down the barrel

I competed in the Women’s Scaled division, which means the movements were scaled down a bit in weight and technical skill. By no means was it easy.

The first WOD was an AMRAP7, consisting of a power clean and front squat complex:
1 power clean: 1 front squat
2 power cleans: 1 front squat
3 power cleans: 1 front squat
4 power cleans: 1 front squat
5 power cleans: 1 front squat

Then, add 10lbs. and repeat the set.
Starting weight: 55lbs.
Max weight: 85lbs.
Athletes completing 5 PCs: 1FS at 85lbs. were allowed to continue, 7:1, 8:1, etc.

I got held up changing the metal clamps on the barbells and lost a ton of time. However, I got 1 power clean: 1 front squat at 85lbs. right before the clock ran out. So, that was… 62 reps. Cool. I didn’t quit, even with my cruddy clamp-changing skills.

After the Rx’d Women, Scaled Men, and Rx’d Men completed their WODs–and Rx’d went to a snatch and overhead squat complex–there was Hell.

I mean, WOD #2. Double AMRAP6 with some “fun” elements thrown in.

AMRAP6 (#1)
Begin with a sprint (roughly 200m)
Then, with the remaining time, perform AMRAP of:
10KB swings (16kg.)
10 box jumps (20″)

Then, when the air horn sounds to conclude the first 6 minutes, drop to the ground for max effort burpees.

When the horn sounds again, that begins the second AMRAP6
Begin with 25 double-unders or 75 single-unders (I opted for single-unders with this environment)
Then, with the remaining time, perform AMRAP of:10 KB sumo-dead high-pulls (16kg.)
10 air squats

THEN, when the horn sounds the end of this six minutes, drop to the ground for a second max effort burpees.

I have no idea what my final count was, but it was good enough to place me 30th out of 40 for that WOD. I had the help of my judge and another CrossFit coach who just happened to be watching next to me. I may not be the most elite athlete, but I’ll be darned, I can be coached. This particular WOD ended up being my best showing place-wise, and it happened to feel the most challenging, but I completed it. And I did awesome in it.

WOD #3 was a deadlift ladder. Essentially, we all starting by filing in to the first bar one-by-one. We had 45 seconds to complete 3 hand-release push-ups and 2 deadlifts without resetting between lifts; then, 15 seconds were left to rotate to the next weight up.

The ladder begin at 125lbs. and increased by 20lbs. at each station. Prior to the event, I had only lifted 170lbs. at three reps.

When I reached 175lbs., I made it through my pushups, picked up the bar, and busted out two reps. Next up was 195lbs.

And you know what? I got it. I PR’d at the competition with a two-rep max. I was unable to move the bar at 215lbs., but I am so close to breaking 200lbs. on this lift now, it was impossible to be upset at my showing.

On Sunday, there was only one WOD to complete. I walked in, saw the barbells set up the same way as they were the day before, but without the additional weight plates.

Two things crossed my mind: 1. “No clamps to fight with!”; and 2. “Oh no. Thrusters.”

And of course, there were thrusters. And sprints. The coordinators had decided on a “Running Fran WOD. Instead of pull-ups, there were sprints.

So, we started out by sprinting the ~200m. around half of the building, and launched into 21 55lb. thrusters (which is actually 10lbs. lighter than the Rx’d weight–they upped the weigh for the Rx’d Women to 85lbs. when they competed! Cruel). We ran, performed 15 more thrusters, ran one last time, and hit 9 thrusters.

The time cap was 8 minutes, and I was somewhat worried that I would get cut-off. Luckily, my sprints were fairly fast each time, and I got through my biggest set of thrusters with little rest. I “no rep’d” my very last thruster, though, costing me several seconds as I reset and stared at the bar. I picked up the bar, squatted, then popped the bar overhead to finally finish. Overall, I finished at 6 minutes and 14 seconds, good enough for 35 out of 40.

Not bad for a rookie. Not bad for a rookie who’s been CrossFitting for right around six-and-a-half months. After all the points were calculated, I came in at 38/40, but again–that’s a victory in my books. If 2012 Ardith had been competing, none of these skills could have been performed. Period. 2012 Ardith would have stormed off and maybe flipped a table. (Just kidding–I wouldn’t have been able to flip a table back then.)

I’m already looking forward to my next competition. Twerk Team?!
***
In other news, I shaved a second off my best 400m run time last night. It now stands at 1 minute and 30 seconds.
Other times established last night:
800m: 3 minutes, 33 seconds
100m: 16.5 seconds

Where We Left Off

Thursday, Nov. 15th
Yoga

I was still working on East Coast time for a few days, so on Thursday, I woke up early and did a quick 15-minute yoga workout. I also had some friends I was meeting up with after work, so I needed to forgo my usual trip to the box. I utilize Yoga Journal’s videos most often for home yoga practice. They break things down by level and also by length of video.

I noticed I felt more stable in my poses this time. Tree still gives me a lot of trouble, partially because I can’t quite get the placement of my foot on the opposite thigh. My foot either slips or it’s painful. Tips on what’s going on here? I’m very stable if I drop my foot to knee- or calf-level.

Friday, Nov. 16th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: D.T. (Hero WOD)

CrossFit HEL ran an all-Hero WOD week in honor of Veterans’ Day this week. I have never participated in a Hero WOD (they tend to be even more intense than usual), but seeing that I was out for a week, I bucked up and went anyway.

Every Minute On the Minute for 5 minutes:
2 Power Cleans
1 Jerk
*increase load each minute

I worked this first portion at a starting weight of 45lbs., increasing by 5lbs. until I reached 65lbs. Cleans are the difficult for me in several key spots. I sometimes bring the bar up without fully extending through my hips, and it’s a challenge to get my elbows out to the correct level once the bar’s at my shoulders. However, Monday’s workout helped with my timing, and I think the motion is starting to come more naturally. It’s going to take a visualization of actually jumping straight up to get that motion right, I think.

Okay, so then we did this:

DT
5 rounds “for time” of:
12 Deadlifts
9 Hang Power Cleans
6 shoulder to overhead (basically, any move–I think I chose jerk–to get the bar above your head)

Utilizing a weight of 50lbs., I got through the WOD in 9 minutes and 34 seconds. The prescribed weight is 105lbs. for women, so I’ve got a ways to go. Slowly but surely…

Monday, Nov. 19th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Grace

Grace was the very first WOD I ever attempted, so tonight was my second chance to compete against myself (the first being the last time Filthy Fifty came around). In my first time through Grace, back in August, I used the 22lb. barbell (yippee!) and finished in 10 minutes and 26 seconds. I also couldn’t walk properly for about three days afterwards.

Monday also happened to be a night where I was the only team member who showed up. Coach and I worked extensively on form for the first part of the night, so I ended up doing more than the 3×3 squat clean and jerk. I started with the 22lb. bar again purely for form reasons, and as things looked better, we tacked on some weight.

Grace goes like this:
30 Squat Clean & Jerks “for time”

Pretty straight forward.

Coach recommended going through Grace at 42lbs. (two 10lb. plates on the 22lb. bar), and considering that was a 20lb. increase from last time, I figured that would be reasonable.We talked about staying consistent through the workout, not getting sloppy with the transition between reps. I was attentive to what my legs and feet were doing, as well as my hands and wrists and elbows.

Turns out, 42lbs. was incredibly light for me this time around. At that weight, I finished the WOD in 6 minutes and 37 seconds. Average times were between 8 and 10 minutes, and considering that my first time through Grace took around 10 and a half minutes, I could definitely up the stakes next time.

Even though the load was light, it feels good to know I’ve made progress. It’s hard to see it day by day, but it’s encouraging nonetheless. I know that I’m coming off some deficiencies and injuries that make this type of training hard, and it’s a challenge not to compare myself to others who are much, much stronger or who progress quicker than myself. The bottom line is that I am competing against myself, challenging myself, making myself reach for goals I never even knew existed. That’s a lesson to apply to life, if I’ve ever seen one.

CrossFit also reminds me to be humble in all that I do. Take the following:

Tuesday, Nov. 20th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Shrinking Weakness

Shrinking Weakness? More like “remember how you really need more upper-body strength, Ardith?”
Here’s the run-down:
Bench Press:
3 rounds x 3 reps – 75lbs.Every Minute On the Minute for 10:
5 Bench Presses – 60lbs.

then:

5 rounds “For Time” and Reps of:
12 Wall Ball Shots – 10lb. med ball
1 Rope Ascent – rope ladder
Ring Rows – max reps (modified: heels on the ground, kipping motions)

(And for those of you who are totally confused by the terms here… just Google the term and put “CrossFit” after it. Trust me–I have to do it nearly every day.)

Today’s WOD was a killer. The bench presses were great, though! I’ve never benched more than 65lbs. I got up to 75lbs. tonight on my heavy sets, and Coach (who was spotting me tonight) said, “Yeah, even that still looks a bit light.” Breakthrough! Finally. (65lbs. was my max in junior high, so take that, personal record that stood for like 13 years.)

The EMOM portion was fine, as well. 50 reps at 60lbs.? I’ll take that.

The WOD, though. Woof. Here’s what happened in my world.

First of all, wall ball shots suck. I always scale down from the prescribed weight, and I have a hard time hitting the targets. What is it, ten feet up? Usually, about half my shots make it close to the target, and the others just kind of… hit the wall… somewhere. Again, I’m working on form, and I know I’m working on form, but yeesh. I used the 10lb. medicine ball and to be fair, it seemed a higher portion of my shots made it to a decent height. So that’s good.

Then, there was a rope ladder. I’ve only used the rope ladders three times after tonight, but those things are difficult to deal with. I can’t quite get the coordination, and once I start making my way up, I usually sputter about halfway up and have to come back down. HOWEVER, considering that I’ve lived almost 27 years and can only recall one time ever having previously attempted a rope ascent, I think that’s okay. Halfway up is better than not at all. I’m just impatient, but again, I’m competing against myself, and the day I make it all the way up the rope ladder will be a big deal. It just might be awhile.

Ring rows were fine. It was a completely new move to me, and I was inconsistent on how many reps I could muster through each round. My lowest was 5, but my last attempt had me at 12. Overall, I managed just 38 modified reps, but again, 38 is more than zero. So, I’ll take that, too.

My overall time for the workout was 10 minutes and 19 seconds. Not half bad, all things considered. I know where that benchmark is set for the future.

The hardest part about tonight, though, was coming home and trying to pierce several eggplants, then peel garlic cloves, and then stuff those garlic cloves into the eggplant. It is a beast to cook when your arms are shot!