18.2 … or how crossfit humbled me yet again

Just last week I was discussing how good I felt about two different workouts. I was riding a crossfit high that doesn’t happen very often, except perhaps on back squat day. I even was proud of something with burpees!

And … then 18.2 was announced. Twelve minutes. Burpees, dumbbell squats and cleans. Dumbbell squats? Oh cool! Burpees? Yuck, but doable. Cleans? An opportunity to work on my form, right? So go me, something I can Rx! Assuming I can get through the burpees that is. I knew going in there was no point to scaling because it wasn’t going to be the dumbbell that was the issue.

Burpees are my nemesis (I have many crossfit nemeses, but burpees make the top of the list every time). I’m not fast, jumping over the bar will slow me down even more. I’m always worried I will trip over the bar, or hit my head on it, or my calf will hurt… or or or …

I did the workout Friday in class and managed 101 total reps. Nine shy of even getting to the cleans. I watched all these ladies in the box get through and get several cleans in. So what is wrong with me?

Pondered all weekend whether or not to go again. I’ve never repeated an Open workout because, let’s face it, I’m not and never will be a Games athlete so what does it matter? It mattered because I didn’t even finish the first workout, much less get to the second part.

Driving out of town gave me hours to think. And I basically decided I was going to do it again Monday (unless back squats were on the menu). I mentally prepped for, if not moving factor, then at least not stopping. I somehow needed to find two minutes. One would work, two would be better.

3-2-1 Go. I felt I was moving pretty well. My tests were a lot shorter, I was more efficient at getting the dumbbells to my shoulders and they were closer so I was wasting less time with them.

I’m not great at burpees, but I tried to keep moving, even though by round 7 I wanted to throw up. I also knew there was no way I was finishing at that point. I wasn’t moving fast enough. I picked up the squats, but couldn’t find the speed in the burpees.

I DID get 4 more burpees, so I did do better. But once again, I’m left feeling like a failure for not finishing, while all around me people are getting PR’s.

So I’m walking out beating myself up for not being faster, for not being stronger, for doing crossfit for 3 and a half years and still can’t do: toes to bar, pull-ups, box jumps, double unders, rope climbs, and the Olympic lifts. I know deep down I’m not a failure and I will get over this, but it’s frustrating.

My coaches are all about PMA. I get that attitude can make a difference, but I’m a realist, I know my limitations in terms of workout engine. I can be all “I can do a muscle up” all day long and it’s not going to happen as I don’t have the strength nor the coordination. Does that mean I cannot work on those things? No. But simply believing isn’t going to make that a reality.

So I will mentally beat myself up today. And tomorrow I will show up, and do my best at the workout the coaches have in mind for us, like I always do.

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So much to talk about

So a very rare thing happened TWICE in the last week. I was actually proud of something I did in the box.

First, 18.1. My initial feelings and thoughts were anger at yet another move that I cannot do, relegating me to the scaled arena once again. Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely don’t believe there is anything wrong with scaling a workout where appropriate. But the reality is, I’m starting to think there is something wrong with me that after 3+ years, I cannot do one of the most basic of gymnastic moves, toes to bar. So it being the very first move of The Open, really upset me. Dumbbell clean and jerk? Ok. Fine. Rowing? Yuck, but fine. Twenty minute grinder? Again, yuck, but fine. It was obvious from the very beginning that the obvious strategy is find a pace that you can keep and just keep moving.

So get over yourself. You are doing scaled, end of story. Buck up and set a goal for yourself, and do that quickly. So I pondered my engine. I watched the “big wigs” perform and get into their 13th round and pondered my engine some more. My engine is more akin to a cheetah than an African wild dog. Meaning I can go fast, but not long. I am hella strong (particularly for my “advanced” age), but I don’t have distance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on myself as my cardio is well above where it used to be, but it’s certainly not my strong suit.

So my initial goal was five rounds. 150 total reps. Many of my friends were thinking more like 8 rounds, which I felt was very much out of reach because of the rowing. I wasn’t worried about the dumbbell at all. I was concerned the rowing would tax my engine to the point I wouldn’t be able to keep going. I asked my friend to use what I call his “Sargent” voice to yell at me so I would keep going.

In the end, despite all my fears, I got 8 reps into round 10. 278 total reps, darn close to TWICE what I initially thought and even past what others predicted for me! I was so proud of myself. THAT is the feeling that I’m not used to. Something I did, me. Old, still overweight, with a engine that doesn’t run long distances, with the coordination of a drunken, one-legged penguin trying to fly through maple syrup. And yet here I was , proud of 278 scaled reps. I’m not used to this feeling at all. I’m used to saying something sarcastic to cover up my feelings of inadequacy. And yet there I was, lying on the floor, incapable of breathing, of moving, smiling. Happy.

Incident 2 happened today. Today was a 21 min EMOM. Min 1 was 8-10 DB cleans, min 2 was 8-10 burpees over the DB and min 3 was 12-16 box jumps. Okay, so I don’t have box jumps in my brain anymore after falling over them one too many times. I’m okay with scaling to step-ups. I elected to use the 30 pound dumbbell over the prescribed 35 pounds mostly because (or so I told myself) that I wanted to leave those for the people who could Rx the workout. Looking back, I should have used the 35 pound weights, but that is a story for another day. Burpees. Oh goody. I HATE burpees. HATE HATE HATE them. They demoralize me, tax my small engine and in general make me hate everything about me and crossfit.

One day, one of the coaches said she could tell a change in attitude between movements from deadlifts to burbees. She could read it on my face. Yep. That would be my hatred toward burpees.

Today, on round one, I slogged through them with my usual attitude. Step back, flop on the ground, drag myself up, step up, turn to face the DB, barely hop over, heavy sigh, repeat. I got 6 in a minute doing this. Could I move any slower? Seriously…it was the proof I needed that I wasn’t a worthy crossfit athlete. And my coach’s voice popped into my head about changing my attitude toward burpees, something about working on my opportunities. My inner voice started cussing up, down, left, right and center. And then I made a conscious decision to change my mind.

I made the conscious decision to continue to do “only” 6 burpees (not the prescribed 8), but I would do them as fast as I could, every round. Guess what happened? I did 6 in less than 30 seconds each of the last rounds. By the end of the workout, I recognized that I could have done the 8 within the time! In addition, I was actually HAPPY about how I did. Was it as the coach wrote? No. Was it scaled? Yes. Do I care? Nope, not at all. I did six rounds of 6 burpees and felt good about it. Meaning this was the first time in over two years that I felt good about a workout with burpees.

So basically twice in the past five days I’ve felt good about a crossfit performance. Who am I and what has happened to me? I will say, it’s a feeling I could get used to.

The Open is Coming

Another year, another Open is upon the athletes of crossfit-Land. Once again, perhaps against my better judgement, I’ve signed up.

This past year, I’ve watched all these women move well past me in terms of abilities and skills. And here I am stuck in the same spot (I’m not really, but it often seems that way). I jokingly call that “The Overachievers Club”. I’m mostly jealous of them. Why do I have to try to find time outside of class to learn pull-ups and double unders? These ladies did it in class!!

Ok, ok… it’s possible they worked at home on these skills too.

Today we did 17.5. (10 rounds of 9 thrusters and 35 singles/double unders). My coach didn’t let me do this one last year due to my nagging calf injury. And while I wouldn’t say I’m 100%, I’m about 95%, and did the scaled version today with no issues.

That workout has a 40 min time cap. And I went in there going (please beat the cap). Then I thought, please get under 20 min. Then it was, please under 15. I did it in 14:42. Since I didn’t have a baseline, I was actually happy with this number. I was even happier that I did all the jumping and didn’t hurt afterwards.

And …. then I looked at the whiteboard. I know! Don’t remind me. I’m not supposed to compare. And my very last post was all about how happy I was with my performance! Turns out, my time really wasn’t all that good, and I find myself in a funk because I know I could have pushed harder, but I also know I wanted to make sure I paced myself due to fear of re-injury.

I guess in the end, it doesn’t matter. My score is my score and I can work to improve my mental game next time.

Bring on the open.

The Open, RX’d

Another Open has come and gone! Quite unexpectedly, I decided to RX every workout. This decision was, in itself, my major 2017 Open victory. I did not have any PRs or remarkable scores, but I did take on some movements that I couldn’t do last year (chest-to-bar pull-ups, handstand push-ups). I also identified several movements that need additional work (double-unders, snatches) and, of course, I’m still on a quest for that first muscle-up. But the Open has reinforced some of the most salient lessons I’ve learned from Crossfit:

  1. Be humble. I was very enthusiastic about 17.1. I felt super prepared because last year a shoulder injury resulted in a great deal of single-arm snatching. I was confident that I would crush that workout right up until the fourth round of snatches when my vision began to narrow and I started gasping for air. My cockiness melted onto the floor in rivers of sweat as I fought for every rep and realized that I had a long way to go both in the WOD and in my Crossfit journey.
  2. Laugh at yourself. I laughed during the 17.2 announcement because I knew it was going to create an uproar among both scaled athletes who were still working toward pull-ups and RX athletes desperate for a muscle-up. I love a good uproar. Following 17.1, I was feeling quite philosophical and decided that I would RX the workout (why waste those toes-to-bar I’ve tried to master all year?), but not worry about the muscle-ups and have fun. After all, I’ve lived 31 years of my life without a muscle-up, so what was one more day? I relished those first 78 reps and then did my best swinging, kicking, and flailing to try and get up and over that bar. My husband stood nearby, vacillating between chuckling and offering encouragement. Eventually, my coach came over and gave me a helpful boost so I could hang out in a muscle-up for awhile and feel happy to be part of such a fun group of people.
  3. Try hard things, fail, and try again. I’m not good at snatches. My 2016 goal was to get all of my lifts at or over 100lbs, and I succeeded with everything except snatches. Indeed, I entered 2016 with a 1-rep max snatch of 75lbs and concluded the year with a 1 rep max of 80lbs. So I suspected 17.3 was going to be brief if I RX’d, but I had worked very hard last summer on chest-to-bar pull-ups so I was certainly not going to give up my chance to show them off in the Open! I mustered my way through the round of 65lbs with only a couple of no-repped snatches. I reached the 95lb snatch with just over 30 seconds to spare and failed twice before reaching the time cap. So I took ten pounds off the bar and got a few reps at 85lbs– a small but real PR!
  4. Trust the process. 17.4 repeated my favorite 2016 Open workout, and I was super excited! Last year I scaled this workout and got a few deadlifts into the second round. This year, I RX’d and pushed through as fast as possible so I could try a few of my newly-acquired handstand push-ups. My reps were significantly lower this year, but 17.4 showed me that my overall fitness has definitely improved. This workout was a great reminder to trust my coaches and the programming they have planned, even when it’s painful. I’m very excited to work hard for another year and then try this workout again!
  5. Surround yourself with positivity. In a painful workout with both double-unders and thrusters, the positive community at my gym really shined. I loved watching my friends take on 17.5 with gusto and celebrate each other’s successes. I am grateful that this atmosphere is not exclusive to the Open; the joyful energy that radiates around the box buoys the athletes every day. It accompanies us in our jobs and homes and gives us courage to face life challenges beyond thrusters. I feel a great comfort in knowing that I get to visit such an uplifting space and such inspiring people daily.

Happy end of the 2017 Open, everyone! Onward!

Post Open Thoughts

So…The Open didn’t quite go as planned. I was hoping to Rx more workouts and if a repeat was in the schedule (which has happened for several years now), I was hoping to do better. None of these things happened. And while I feel I have let a lot of people down (mostly myself), in reality this likely isn’t the case.

I am still dealing with this dang, blasted calf injury, and my coach told me he wasn’t letting me do 17.5. Here’s the thing, I was about 98% of the way to this decision on my own, so when he told me, I really wasn’t upset. Correction, I was upset for about 0.15 seconds; but, in reality, I knew it would be the best thing. Seriously, rowing was problematic the week before; one of the other coaches watched me back squat and noticed my body mechanics were off because of the pain. I have no one to blame but myself for this injury and for it lasting so long. Back in December during a workout with the dreaded double unders, I did the first 100 with few issues. But I was struggling with the second 100 and when I got to 150, the cramps moved from pulled muscles into what I could feel was rapidly moving into serious injury and rather than take the blow to my ego and simply stop the workout, I stubbornly (stupidly) kept going and followed that up with thrusters. I literally could not walk for 2 days. The coaches modified workouts for me and the instant I would feel even slightly better, it was ‘balls to the wall’ again, and right back to being injured.

Well…that has gotten me nowhere. I didn’t complete The Open; I didn’t do as well as I’d wanted. And I have only myself to blame. I’m okay with this realization, but now is the time for me to (finally) listen to the coaches, modify workouts for several weeks and go see the deep tissue massage therapist regularly.  I need to get healthy again so that I can start working on those gainz and goalz from the beginning of the year.

One final thought, I have to recognize that I’m not 20; I’m not thirty; I’m not even 40. Thus my age may mean that I need to ramp down the intensity a little bit. That doesn’t mean stopping; that doesn’t mean not going for PR’s and faster times. That means recognizing when I need to take a break; it means recognizing when I need to stop a workout. It might mean scaling something in order to stay healthy. Mentally, I will need to come to grips with this because I still have all those goalz to attain. It just might take me a bit longer to get there since I’m not just fighting a lack of coordination and grace, but time.

Slow progress is still progress, right?

17.5 Worries

Oh lovely. Double Unders. My crossfit nemesis. (well…if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you are aware that I have many crossfit nemeses…) But especially since I have a lower leg “thing”, mostly in my shins.

Thrusters? Okay…I might be nuts, but I’m one of the few people who kinda LIKES thrusters. And the weight is totally doable. We’ve been practicing in class doing reps unbroken for a lot of things, so for at least the first couple of rounds, I will shoot for doing them unbroken.

But double unders? Ok…I can do them a few at a time, generally with a lot of singles that won’t count. So do I scale this and just do singles?  That seems a cop out for me, since I am so close. Plus it’s 350 total and that is a large number….I know for a fact that this injury will kill me. ugh…

On top of this, I’m in the recovery phase from a cold, so I have basically one shot, probably on Monday morning. Though that does give me a few more days to rest my leg, since I haven’t been to the gym since Monday. Though that will also probably work against me; I haven’t  been to the gym since Monday!

Oh I am so torn here. But in the end, who needs to walk afterwards?

WHYNBTYW

Today’s episode of “go buy this” comes courtesy of the plague! Or simply the common cold, though it feels like the plague to me.

The world would appear to not be happy with the fact that after starting crossfit and eating healthier, I rarely got sick. So this year, I’ve been sick TWICE. Personally, I find this cruel and unusual punishment. I also feel these particular colds are hitting me harder because I’m not as used to getting sick, which seems so odd.

So today, go buy some DayQuil and some NyQuil. Seriously, they are about the best drugs around and have me up and at least moving around, and also sleeping (more) soundly at night.

Better living through chemistry.

This dang thing better go away soon because 17.5 is coming up and I would at least like to participate!