And That Was It: 15.5 and the Close of the 2015 CrossFit Open

I’ve had some time to recover since the Open concluded on March 30th. Well, it concluded for me on March 27th because I had plans that weekend. I’m so glad this year’s Open is done.

15.5 was…

27-21-15-9
Row for Calories
Thrusters (95/65lb.)

Thrusters! Yay! (Kind of.) Rowing! Eh.

Nothing in 15.5 surprised me when it was announced. It was a for-time work-out, meaning I had to get through every single rep to earn a score. It had two movements which work the same muscle groups, which I knew would burn quite quickly. And so, I knew this would be a mental grind, and the longer I could hold onto the bar, the sooner it would all be done.

Last year’s 14.5 was very similar: 21-18-15-12-9-6 of thrusters and bar-facing burpees. Those were moves that weren’t technically too demanding, but moves that would nonetheless sap your energy levels and get you inside your own head. Last year, I unfortunately got sick right before the announcement of 14.5, and I delayed my attempt at the last WOD until I felt better. However, I was still stuffy and low-energy, so while it was my best showing in the 2014 Open, it was not a good time.

This year, I at least stayed healthy enough not to endure an Open WOD with a cold. Mentally, knowing that I was 100% healthy helped quite a bit.

Again, the for-time WOD resulted in my best placement overall and in the Region. While I am by far an average CrossFit athlete, I was able to tap into my slight advantage in the thruster, which is my shortness, working hard enough to at least displace my disadvantage in rowing, which is also my shortness.

15.5 concluded in just under 13 minutes for me, at 12 minutes and 58 seconds. Both my boyfriend and my coach were urging me to pick up the barbell as the clock approached 13 minutes, and I willed my light-headed self to power clean the bar, squat it, and push it back overhead as I stood up time and time again. Why I didn’t utilize a full clean into the thruster at this weight (65lbs.) is beyond me, and I wonder if I could have held on for longer sets. But I remember a competition where I “no-repped” my last thruster and finished nearly 20 seconds slower because of the missed attempt, so I’m confident that the way I broke up my sets was necessary. I broke up sets before failure, but I pushed myself in a way I only do in competition settings. I was able to quiet the pleading voice in my head that was urging me to wait three more seconds in-between everything. A different voice told it to shut up, because we’re getting this over with now. 

Well, it worked fine enough. End result? I was proud of my effort in 15.5; it felt like it made up for my disappointments in 15.2 and 15.3. It felt like I took control of the WOD, even while knowing it was going to be unpleasant. It felt like I had done my work throughout the year.

It felt like I was a legit athlete in the space I frequent. 

It also felt a bit like I was dying. I spent a good while rolling around on the ground, complaining about the burning sensation in my glutes. That was to be expected.

After I finally peeled myself off the ground, I rummaged around in my belongings for the giant maple bar I had taken with me from work. I wasted little time consuming about half of the doughnut, but not before I could get my commemorative photo taken. (Thanks, John.)

Another roller coaster ride of emotions and sweat in the books. I reveled in the conclusion of the Open, and then, a few days later, registered for my next competition.

It never really ends.

15.4: Upside-down and inside-out

A little late, given that the Open is now done. However, I’ll keep with the “tradition” and recap things individually. I started this just a few days after 15.4, so excuse my tardiness.

Before 15.4 was announced, I predicted handstand push-ups (HSPU) would be in the WOD. Given this year’s inclusion of several more demanding technical moves, I thought HSPU would be a given.

I was right.

15.4 was only an 8-minute AMRAP, but it comprised of HSPU and heavy cleans. It opened with HSPU, which meant for the second week in a row, the Open WOD began with a move I had never successfully completed at the Rx level.

Everyone knows I have a lifting bias; I understand the power lifts easily enough, and compared to the other things required in CrossFit, lifts are more natural. Granted, the Oly lifts are very technical, and much of what I’ve done in them up to now has been with some questionable form. Most people should also know that I tend to suffer from self-inflicted analysis paralysis, meaning that my perfectionism rears its head and I stunt my progress by getting bogged down in the details. Case in point, I’m currently stalled out in my Oly lifts at about 25lbs. under my maximum lifts while I work through eliminating an early arm pull. Meaning I can currently clean about 105lbs. with good form and have failed all but two or three attempts at 115lbs., which in the past few months was beginning to look like a routine weight. (A week after 15.4, I attempted lifts at 115, 120, and 125lbs., and I hit them all–the video showed, though, that I pull early, don’t extend fully, jump backwards, and all-around lose my form at those heavy percentages.)

Sigh. Anyway. 15.4 called for 125lb. cleans, which meant I was probably looking at an embarrassingly out-of-character struggle with the barbell.

Luckily(?), I never made it to 15.4’s barbell task at-hand. Instead, I managed to successfully complete an 8-minute crash-course in kipping HSPU. Inversions aren’t really my thing, as in, I have little idea as to how I’m oriented when inverted. So, slow and steady–as much as possible–in 8 minutes was the key. Thanks to the encouragement of my judge/boyfriend, I was able to finally lower myself all the way. Stuck upside down, there were only two options: fall over, or press myself back up against the wall. I could tell a strict HSPU wasn’t going to happen, so the only way up was with a kip.

I had watched a few 15.4 strategy videos, and one of them had some great tips on how to kip the HSPU. However, I couldn’t exactly invert myself and follow along while watching, so I tried to remember everything I watched. Most of my attempts were mistimed, and finally, there was one rep where everything came together, and I found myself at a point where I knew I could lock out and finish the rep.

“One.”

That was all I would end up getting that night. I spent a few more minutes flopping around as my teammates seemed to magically absorb all the techniques and tricks of the HSPU, moving off the wall, onto that heavy barbell that likely would have eluded me anyway.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I was stoked to finally get my first Rx HSPU. But part of me was disappointed that I hadn’t taken the plunge into full range of motion earlier on. What was really stopping me? Fear? A stunted idea of progress in the move? Was I blaming perceived lack of strength when really it was fear of dropping down too fast?

Honestly, these are things that I wonder about a lot of the technical challenges now facing me. I don’t want to get fixated too much on one detail and stall myself out, and at the same time, I don’t want to bypass foundations in order get that heavier weight, to get that Rx motion, to get that faster time.

In other words, I need to find my balance again. It’s time to get a little more uncomfortable, and yet it’s also time to trust myself.

What am I waiting for?

ReFLEXions on CrossFit Open WOD 15.1

See what I did there? I think I’m going to make this a regular thing.

The 2015 CrossFit Open is underway, everyone! For those of you who don’t participate in CrossFit, this is probably the start of the most annoying season of all. All of us CrossFit nerds are going to be geeking out on workouts, our favorite athletes, and of course the Regional and Games events. So, without further apologies, here’s a recap of how your favorite average CrossFitter did. (That would be me, you guys.)

15.1 (shorthand for “2015 Open” and “Workout #1”) turned out to be 15.1 + 15.1a (Addendum? Appendix? Add-on? Isn’t it really 15.1a and 15.1b? Whatever.).

15.1 was:
AMRAP9
15 toes-to-bar
10 deadlifts @ 75# (women’s Rx weight)
5 snatches @ 75#

15.1a immediately followed 15.1 and was:
6 minutes to find a 1-rep maximum clean-and-jerk

The clock ran continuously up to 15:00.

After the workout was announced, I felt okay about it. I had already conceded that toes-to-bar (T2B) are not in my wheelhouse in my previous post, and when they showed up in this particular WOD, I knew that I could grind through, and I would just have to see how many I could complete.

I chose to do the WOD on Friday night during my gym’s “Friday Night Lights” block. It’s a block of time where we all come in to tackle the Open WOD in heats, as well as judge and count for each other. It’s a fun time, although it adds a bit of extra pressure since the spectator dynamic comes in; however, for someone who aspires to compete in local recreational competitions, the exposure is necessary.

The hours leading up to Friday Night Lights were fine, but as soon as I got to the gym, I felt butterflies. I had slightly injured my quad during 1RM jerks the previous week, and I hadn’t attempted a heavy jerk or really even an all-out workout since, so that was a nagging thought. There was also the uncertainty of how I would do. Would I fizzle out after one round of T2B? Would my grip be shot to the point where I could only clean a weight 15lbs. under my current best in the C&J? There was only one way to find out.

Now, I wouldn’t say it’s a tradition, but because the Open does incorporate some form of performance, I like to plan my outfits. Sometimes they’re silly, and sometimes they’re just for me to get my mind in the right place. For 15.1, I chose something simple, and went with all black: black top, black headband, blank capris, black socks. Changing into an all-black outfit and harkening back to my dancer days somewhat helped me calm down. One settled into my uniform of choice, I warmed up and watched several heats go, including my boyfriend’s heat. I got set up, ran through a few reps of each element, got my gear ready, and tried to breathe. My counter and judge happened to be my man, so that helped ease my mind, as well.

When it was my turn, I stepped up onto my platform of several 45lb. plates stacked on each other; I can’t reach our pull-up bars without a platform. The clock counted down, and I hopped up and grabbed onto the bars. I took a controlled swing back, and then brought both my feet to the bar. I did it again, and a few seconds later, I had my first set of 5 reps done. I popped off the bar to shake my forearms out, even though I was early into the workout. I know myself, and while I probably could have linked together just a few more reps, I also know that I fatigue very easily in T2B. My grip will go, and I’ll stop being able to link reps together. Then my core will go, and maintaining enough momentum to make contact with the bar becomes difficult. However, I was able to get through three sets of 5 to complete my first 15 T2B, and then it was barbell time.

Deadlifts and snatches were both manageable; it was the T2B that I didn’t look forward to each time, because I knew the quality would deteriorate each round. Sure enough, partway through round two, my rep schemes were changing, and my kipping patterns were changing. Barbell work remained the same throughout. By round three of the T2B, I was hanging on for single reps, but trying to group them in 5s, 3s, and 2s. I made it through and back to the barbell.

And then I started round four. That’s when my core started to give out. I swung, and my toes came up inches short. Several people encouraged me, telling me to get back up and get another rep, but with T2B, if I’m not rested enough, I will continue to miss, and there was no way I was going to have more no-reps than good reps in this round.

Time wound down, and I managed to get 9 reps into the fourth round. I was one rep shy of hitting triple digits, which I had wanted, but I also met my goal of making it through three complete rounds. But the WOD wasn’t over at 9 minutes; I still had to lift a heavy barbell.

Six minutes to build up to a 1RM isn’t a lot of time, and it takes strategy. In a situation with a workout preceding the lift, there’s even more strategy involved. How light should an athlete start? How long should they rest before even attempting a lift? Do you go really light just to put up a number at first, or do you jump right in to a heavy but manageable weight? In hindsight, I probably wasted energy by opening with 105lbs. but I wanted a number. I knew that several months earlier, I had failed multiple attempts on a 125lb. clean after a buy-in that included burpees and max reps of cleans at lighter weights. I didn’t want to open too heavy and fail immediately.

115lbs. went up just fine, so I loaded the bar to 125lbs. This was the moment of truth. Would I fail 125 like I had in the autumn? The answer was, “No.” In fact, a teammate would say that 125 looked incredibly solid. Since 125 went up, it was time to make another decision.

My established 1RM for the clean-and-jerk is 130lbs. I have also, on separate occasions, cleaned 140lbs. and jerked 140lbs. The question was whether I would continue with 10lb. jumps and attempt a 135lb. C&J, which would be a PR, or if I would attempt 130lbs. to match my PR and add 5lbs. to my score. I took a risk and chose 135.

Unfortunately, I didn’t complete the lift at 135lbs. I did clean the weight–power cleaned it, in fact. Once it was in the rack position, though, it felt heavier than ever. I had just done a 135lb. jerk from the blocks the previous week, and I didn’t remember it feeling like that at all. I tried shifting my hand placement, but popping the bar up and bringing it back down seemed to drive me further into the floor. I knew that if I kept standing there with the bar in my hands that it really would never happen, so I dipped, drove, and bailed.

Bummer. That was it. I had several more seconds to try it again, but that time, I couldn’t get myself under the bar in the clean. Time expired. I finished the lift 5lbs. shy of my 1RM, and 10-20lbs. under many of the ladies with whom I try to keep up in my gym.

However, I was thrilled. This time last year, I was struggling to hit 120lbs. in my C&J. A bodyweight C&J was still several months off. And this year, I’m aiming to improve my form and get up above bodyweight. I’ve now cleaned 135lbs. multiple times since August, and I’ve jerked 135 and 140 once each. I can do this; I have it in me. It will come in time.

In the end, I finished 15.1 with 99 reps and 15.1a with 125lbs. Not an earth-shattering score, but one I can feel proud about. In last year’s Open, I struggled to complete 33 T2B in 14.4 (not 14.2 like I mistakenly wrote last time); this year, I completed a total of 54 T2B. 125lbs. is short of my PR, which means I’m capable of lifting heavier than the leaderboard shows. That’s different than 2013, when 95lbs. was a nearly-impossible C&J (although I did it six times that time). While some people’s jumps and gains are bigger, they aren’t really my concern. What I’m interested in is improving myself and doing this to challenge myself to continue to get better and better. The Open gives me that yearly “check-in,” and the chance to recommit to something that truly has been lift-changing, regardless of whatever numbers I post. Let’s see what’s in store for next week.

Yes, the most appropriate thing to do after 15.1 is the jerk your scoreboard.

Yes, the most appropriate thing to do after 15.1 is to jerk your scoreboard.

(But I also do love lifting, and I want to keep doing this because, man, I love lifting.)

(Oh, and for the record, I used today as active recovery and all I did was bench press and strict press. It might be Open season, but it’s also the season to reFLEX. Or something. I’m done now.)

From Whence You Came

Hi there.

I’ve been out of blogging action again, for all the same reasons I’ve stated before: writer’s block, being too busy living, spending most of my time processing aloud with my colleagues and friends and significant other instead of in my head and onto the blog.

But.

What better activity for yet another sick day than to finally get back to writing? Armed with Kleenex, some tea, and a warm blanket, I’m dazed enough to share thoughts with the world wide web.

First of all, yes, I am upset that my Seattle Seahawks lost by way of a heartbreaking late-game interception thrown by little Russell Wilson, when the obvious choice to us fans was to hand the ball off to Beast Mode and pound the stupid thing into the end zone. But understanding our time-outs, the time left on the clock, the strategy, the downs, and the fact that it’s a team sport where the guys trust each other to make the plays make the situation sting a little bit less. They tried, and unfortunately for them (and for us) it didn’t work, and hindsight is 20/20.

Anyway. Proud of them for making it to where they did when, really, the talk went from “They won’t make playoffs” to “They won’t make the Super Bowl” to “Oh my, they could really win it back-to-back.” The team didn’t come away with that one last trophy, but, my oh my, they did so much this year. My fondness for American football has been growing exponentially since the mid-2000s, and I’m lamenting the time that exists between now and the start of the new season.

Anyway. That’s all I’ll say on the subject for now, except for I believe I would make an amazing defensive player in an alternate timeline where it’s largely acceptable for young women to play football.

Anyway.

It’s been a wild fitness ride, you know?

Two years ago, 65# hang power cleans killed me in a workout. Several months later, I struggled through 95# clean-and-jerks. I could barely overhead squat 45#. I couldn’t do a single pull-up. And all I wanted was to stop feeling like dying on every warm-up run.

Every time I start doubting my progress, I comb through my old training journals. I’ve passed the “beginner’s gains” nowadays and am making PRs of 5, 10 pounds here and there, so it’s good to remind myself of the overall journey.

I started my fitness journey at around 137lbs., with a lifetime bench press max of 65#, arms that looked nice but felt useless, and the mentality that I was never and would never be an athlete.

Now 2015 is here, I’m roughly 130lbs. but packing more muscle than ever before, working towards being able to bench press my own body weight*, and pondering how to design my training more deliberately because I keep feeling the need to compete. I also keep Googling powerlifting competitions and thinking that I should build all three pillars of the powerlifting trio, since 2+ years of training has led me to discover that my strengths seemingly lie in those lifts. Also, I can do multiple dead-hang pull-ups; it’s so awesome to finally have those, after nearly three full decades on Earth.

Running is still not a strength of mine, but it’s better than it used to be. I’ve run several 5k races because I’m a glutton for pain under 30 minutes, and that’s pretty good for my plodding pace. I would love to increase my speed on the short distances (400m and under), as well as hit a 7:00 mile, but I also have faulty mechanics in my foot and ankles, which means shin splits and knee pain come into play if I run and jump rope too many days out of the week. I suppose one 2015 goal is to work on remedying that situation.

I’ve set quite a few goals for myself in 2015, and many of them boil down to strengthening my foundations: strengthening basic gymnastics moves, increasing my work capacity in things like pull-ups and push-ups, increasing my power-lifting numbers (particularly the back squat), fixing my technique and form in my Olympic lifts, maintaining and improving flexibility/mobility, and overall increasing endurance and speed.

It’s a lot to work on.

The numbers may not be stacking up as quickly now, but the challenge still entices me. The continual self-improvement still brings me in, day after day. And the team keeps me there, grounding me, cheering me on, and helping me to simultaneously work hard and never take myself too seriously.

I’m thankful that 2012 Ardith decided to make a change; I’m happy that 2015 Ardith continues to prove herself wrong.

That said, some days, I just need to rest up and heal, and I’m hopeful that self-care will hold off any more illnesses for the remainder of the winter. Sniff sniff.

*I hit 120lbs. on my bench press on Saturday while coming down with a cold. Unfortunately, the light working out did not “sweat it out,” and I have since become a human snot factory. It’s lovely.

Checked Baggage

My biggest piece of advice when it comes to CrossFit has always been, “Listen to your body.” My next piece of advice in all that I do has always been, “Leave your ego at the door.”

Well, it turns out, I really have to do both things this month, and I swear to all that is holy that it is the most frustrating, infuriating, and humbling process.

After two years of making steady progress in my fitness abilities despite coming to the table with a boatload of chronic injuries, I managed to piss off my left shoulder. I pulled too hard in some drill (a drill! a skill-building, strength-building drill!), and for three days, my arm felt just a bit more sore than usual. Then I noticed the pronounced asymmetry in strength in a behind-the-neck press. I forced myself to go light and not push like normal in that particular lift, and then I rested my shoulder for a few days. I tried to to do a workout like normal near the end of the week, and the next day, my arm was so sore and so tired, I had to use my other arm to move my left!

I scheduled a doctor’s visit for several weeks out, finally resigning that it was time to get a PT referral and have an expert tell me exactly what I damaged fifteen years ago in junior high PE.

Since scheduling the appointment, my shoulder has improved quite a bit through stretching and rest and backing off on weight. Most movements don’t even bother me, just like normal, but now I’m wary of tweaking it again. I’ve always been wary of tweaking it, which is why I suppose I’m so frustrated with this set-back; I’ve done almost everything possible to build my foundations (or so I thought) to avoid something like this.

Beyond that, I’ve found that double-unders cause my shin splints to flare up. Usually, I can mitigate the situation with proper taping and footwear, but for some reason, last night, I could barely do fifty double-unders before having to call it quits. I was pissed and found myself close to tears on a run, only the second time I’ve felt like crying during a workout (which is surprising, considering my slow attainment of skills and chronic injuries for which I compensate).

On top of these things, I’ve gotten very stubborn about fixing my shoddy technique in my Olympic lifts. I’ve achieved some great numbers in my clean, but with a shaky technical foundation. If I want to get where I want to be, it’s going to take stepping back a few notches to unlearn some bad habits.

And on top of that, I’m keen to fix my technical and foundation in a lot of other skills. There are a decent set of skills where I felt like I adequately mastered the progressions, but in actuality, I was tired of the modified or scaled version–especially because other people have been advancing more quickly, relative to their starting the sport.

This flies in the face of what I actually believe and know to be beneficial.

So now what?

I recognize my challenges, but I’m re-committing to tackling the underlying weaknesses in the foundation. Yes, I have progressed. Yes, I have gotten stronger. But at the same time, I’ve been compensating for injuries I never properly rehabilitated. I’ve been compensating for holes in my skill sets. And I’ve gotten by, utilizing my strengths in very particular areas.

But you know me–it’s not enough. I want more. And to get more, it means re-examining my goals, readjusting my necessary work, and basically being the over-analytic “trends-towards-perfectionism,” “how does this fit into the big picture?” scholar I am.

If I want to get stronger, master more skills, get faster, and all that good stuff, I need to check myself and do the work I need to do, put in the time, practice smart, and listen to my body. No over-training, but no skipping the foundational work that will help my shoulder and my ankles. No getting grumpy and giving up because I don’t like the standards I’ve set for myself. Instead, it’s lots of organization, tracking, goal-setting, time frame-setting, dedication, and work–oh, and remembering to learn from the experience, reflect on the experience, and find joy even in the suck.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and productive 2015.

…And maybe some one-armed clean and jerks.

Two Years’ Time

September 19th, 2012 is the day to which I ascribe my CrossFit anniversary. Two years ago, I wrote:

Finally made it back in to the local box. The coach at this particular box is fantastic, and the team members are fairly easy-going. Now, I’m no strength trainer. Never have been. The prescribed weight for today’s Workout of the Day (WOD) [The Chief] was 95 lbs. for females during hang power cleans. Guess what I used? A 35-pound bar. And that was still difficult. It’s okay, though. Weights are something that I have always avoided. That said, I got through the work-out. It broke down to this: one round consists of 3 hang power cleans, 6 push-ups with hand release, and 9 squats; there were 5 segments at 3 minutes each; in those 3 minutes, you would complete as many rounds as possible. I got through 3 rounds each time, grand total of 15 rounds. Which at baby weight and slow-ish pace isn’t all that impressive, but it’s impressive for a chronically-injured ex-dancer… with asthma.

Yeah, I busted out the inhaler today. Cool, right?
Again, it’s okay. I’m making progress towards wellness and trying to get back in the routine of challenging myself.

I had done two other WODs previously, Grace and the Filthy Fifty. Grace was modified to 22lbs., and I halved all the reps in the Filthy Fifty. My third WOD, the “sticking point,” apparently, was The Chief, completed with a 35lb. bar and what I’m sure were push-ups from the knee.

To be completely honest, I haven’t attempted any of these WODs in the last year, let alone attempted them as Rx. However, I’m to the point where I can Rx all of these things (yes, even the double-unders in the Filthy Fifty). That’s not to say I would have an amazing end result after each WOD, but Rx’ing those things is sure as heck progress when I consider where I started (which was essentially several levels below rock bottom).

In two years, strength has become my bias, particularly squats. Maybe I should have been doing strength training all along. I would have definitely developed a much better snatch technique if I had started at 16 rather than 26, right? Then again, who knows. My athletic trajectory wasn’t calibrated correctly, and I suppose I should have at least been lifting weights and lifting heavy many, many years ago, but so it goes.

I’d say I’ve made leaps and bounds towards wellness and challenging myself. As far as challenges go, every day I’m in the gym, I’m facing a seemingly-impossible task list. Every day, I come away with more goes. The biggest pitfall for CrossFit and me is that I don’t seem to have enough hours in my day to add in the skill work I need and want without over-training. I have to do things in bits and pieces, and my next goal is to keep myself on track. I need to set small goals, work on those, level up, and then take on a new skill. Then I need to revisit those other skills, refine them, advance them, and so forth and so on. For example, I set a goal to get my double-unders and ring dips several months ago. After trying a new rope and working for several weekends on ring dip negatives, I have double-unders and ring dips; I don’t have big sets of those yet, but that will do for now. Right now, it’s toes-to-bar and handstand push-ups that are big gymnastic hurdles. I need to work on my advanced pull-up technique and muscle-up technique. I need to get comfortable in executing the full snatch, not copping out on power snatches every time.

I’ve also decided to compete more. I’m not bringing an incredible athletic background nor natural talent to the field; instead, what I have are sets of skills that I am continuing to work on and improve. They’re not elite by any means. I just simply like seeing where the gaps are in my skills compared to others–all with the additional element of other people watching as I do so. It makes me grumpy yet excited, and it’s a way to cultivate relationships with my friends, both here in Seattle and elsewhere. I’ve done a number of competitions in Oregon, even competing recently with a former teammate from Human Evolution Labs (which, by the way, has since closed its doors) in a team competition. Recently, on September 7th, I competed in the women’s open division in the Elysian Games, which was an absolute blast. It was a challenging competition, and to just finish most of the workouts felt amazing. Granted, I got pretty cranky after my first two workouts, but as soon as it was my turn to get back out there, I perked up and started joking with the judges. Once I was done with the last two workouts, I was in a completely different state of mind; I was elated to have gotten through the competition. Overall, I finished 15th out of 30 women. Not bad for my first non-scaled event (although I did modify rope climbs halfway through the last WOD; most of us had to, as our grips had been taxed in all three previous WODs. Even so, by taking the modification, I was able to continue through all the movements, including my new favorite skill: toes to rings).

Toes-to-rings, comin' right up.

Toes-to-rings, comin’ right up.

Wellness is definitely a centerpiece in my life still. I feel very strongly about holistic wellness, and finding CrossFit was a catalyst in changing my priorities. Sadly, there is much less whiskey and craft beer in my life; when I do seek it out, I go for the good stuff, at least. I found my “third space,” and “meet me at the bar” has much different meaning. My social circle is heavily influenced by my friends from the gym, and yes, I met someone amazing and wonderful and fantastic–I could go on, but I’ll reign it in–at my gym.

And the best part is that it’s the healthiest relationship I’ve been in. I’m in an entirely different mindset compared to all prior relationships and quasi-relationships and whatever you want to call that period of time from [insert which of my prior relationships you had the biggest qualms with]. Seriously, just read my blog from, like, 2010 until early 2014. Those were some dark times for heartache and my mental well-being. There were some things that happened in there that had repercussions for many years afterwards, and I’m glad that sometime around the start of 2014, the fog finally started to lift. I’ve healed for the most part. Things are better within me. And because of that, things around me are better, too.

In the past two years, my life hasn’t gone from godawful to perfect. No, it’s morphed from “it has its peaks and valleys” to “it still has its peaks and valleys, but I feel much better about myself.” I feel more sound, although I still battle some nagging insecurities and stresses. I finally figured out what it meant to truly care and love myself first, even though I knew that’s what I was striving for. It finally manifested, even though it was a rocky ride to get to that point.

I’ve endured a lot, and I always anticipate the Universe’s next great blow. After all, that’s what I’ve come to expect. But I think that I’m learning to expect happy things, too–although I’m still wary of that (with good reason. I mean, come on). This weird little multidisciplinary cross-training fitness modality I discovered helped me cultivate strong, positive traits that I’ve had all along, but that have been suppressed.

So, I suppose you could say I was saved by Grace…

and the Filthy Fifty…

and The Chief.

Because here I am. I’ve stuck with it. Let’s see where this crazy journey takes me next.

Know Pain. Know Gain.

Thanks for bearing with me, friends. Sometimes a lady just has to process her errors, and I process by writing things out. I’m alright; I’m always alright.

I haven’t made any major gains at the gym in the last two weeks. My body has been majorly sapped from the high levels of stress. I spent most of the weekend sleeping to recover, and I am running at about 75% currently. I dropped out of the nutrition challenge pretty majorly, although I made it through last Sunday and most of last Monday before letting the stress of life overwhelm the stress of blocking out every meal. I still was mindful, for the most part, and today’s meals have been intentionally portioned even though the challenge is over.

Last Monday’s WOD was rough, but I busted out some banded handstand push-ups, and the previous Tuesday’s WOD had snatches in it, and those are fairly fun. Difficult lift to get heavy with, especially with overhead squats thrown in, but I used the 45lb. bar and got through a decent amount of work.

I was on the road for a portion of the week, and my guest workout included back squats followed by weighted lunges and V-ups. I was sore for a few days.

The weekend was mentally much-needed. It was an escape to the coast for a few nights, and there was wine and hot tubbing and a lot of good, productive conversation. I feel a lot better, although I could use a few more decompression sessions.

This Monday’s WOD was OK. Deadlifts for strength, in which I matched my current best, then some running followed by 75lb. power cleans, squat cleans, and jerks. My shoulders felt it, and I was beating myself up for my cruddy form throughout the whole night. Again, no significant progress with those lifts, but I could tell things are feeling a bit better as I work at those weights.

Important update, though! On Tuesday night, I made a small breakthrough on my strict press. For the first time ever, I hit a solid rep at 65lbs. and then threw one more rep up. I next failed my 70lb. attempt, and then got one more rep at 65lbs. That is a teeny step in the right direction with that cursed lift. I gave it a shot, knowing full well that strict press is my nemesis; I’ll keep facing it head-on. I will not necessarily enjoy it, but I will do it.

Knowing who you are is always necessary in working through hurdles and barriers. In many ways, I am still getting to know this newer version of me, the woman who is so strong and so driven in all she does, but who also feels the full weight of emotions and other outside factors. I have never been non-feeling, and I often feel this guilt in revealing the side of myself that isn’t “just funny” or “just smart.” I don’t want people to be afraid of it, so I try to keep it hidden–until something allows that dam to break again. When I apologize for the way I feel and the way I process, I mean it, because it’s a lot to take in for folks who have only seen a portion of my personality and full identity.

I am working to embrace all these sides of myself because they are me. I am working to make all those sides healthy and respectable. And always, I am working on this because I want to be my best for myself and for my friends.

So, stick with me. No one said progress was easy.