June 2013


Why did I start this? It was sheer folly. There was nothing I could do, nothing I could manage. Nothing I could master. So why would I start this.

My son has been lifting weights and working at fitness since he was in high school. This year is his 20 year reunion if he chose to participate. I don’t remember if he was a freshman or sophomore when he started, but he has been lifting for over two decades. Back when he started this path, I was playing racquetball and was a pretty good player. I was strong and muscled and I could place the ball where I aimed. I didn’t win all my games, but I won many of them.

We moved away from there and my new home didn’t have a place to play. My weightlifting son went off to college and I went to work full time. All in all, I just lived my life instead of making a life to live in. I turned old in a matter of months and stopped all my athletic endeavors.

Amazingly enough, after years and years passed, I was fatter than I wanted to be, weaker than I needed to be, and dissatisfied with the life I had created. By this time, my son was on his third or fourth iteration of fitness regimes and had actually opened his own fitness business. He owned and operated CrossFit Hilton Head (and still does). I looked at his box and dreamed of being able to do the stuff his athletes did. I watched videos of people achieving things I only dreamed of.

I got tired of dreaming. When Craig first started CrossFit there wasn’t a box near me. He pointed out that there was one now and I went to CrossFit Summerville for the free Saturday class. It was awful. I could do nothing. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t lunge, I couldn’t do a push-up, I couldn’t do a pull-up, I couldn’t do a burpee, I couldn’t finish the hour. I signed up.

My goals were to lose some weight and to be able to open my own jars. That was all I was brave enough to admit at the time or perhaps my view was so narrow, that’s all I thought I needed or perhaps even sadder, that was all I thought I could achieve.

I’ve lost some weight but would like to lose five more pounds. I promised myself I would never weigh more than 130 pounds and I would like to get back under that number. I still would have a proper BMI and all that other nonsense. But I would finally be where I told my younger self I would stay forever. I used to weigh under 130 and was full of muscle and energy. I was also much younger, but that’s a different story.

I can get the lids off jars – most of the time. I still have to whack the lid with a knife sometimes to break the vacuum, but I can then get the lid off.

So I have achieved my stated goals and I could, at least in theory, quit. But I can’t. I have come to love the fear. You see, I am still consistent in only one area. I am always afraid. I look at a WOD and I say to myself, “I can’t do that.” Then I worry and obsess and live in fear until I get to the box and do whatever it said, although in a scaled version. I would love it if my box posted different versions of the WODs so I could see what I might achieve. I would love to see it written down so I could know I wasn’t cheating myself by scaling back too much or killing myself by not scaling back enough. I worry about the latter before the WOD and the former after the WOD.

I still can’t run very far, but I run farther than when I started, I can lunge without falling over and actually held a small plate overhead and managed to not kill myself or hurt my knees (form before function), I can do push-ups by the boatload now and not just girl ones but the real boy ones, I can do band assisted pull-ups without slingshot after effects, I can do burpees and I still think they suck just like everyone else in the world. I finish my hours day after day after day.

I want to deadlift my own weight next time we max effort. I should be able to get that since I can deadlift a Monica already. I want to get the pull-ups done with smaller bands and I know I can do that. Someday, I’m going to walk into Joe’s garage and grab that plumping pipe he put up and just do a couple pull-ups to shock him. I’m going to box jump on a 20″ box instead of my current 16″ contraption.

I’m going to do all this because I’m going to keep being afraid. I’ve learned to accept the fear, work through it. I said last week that I come to the box each day as a failure but I leave each day as a hero. I’ve thought about that statement a few times and perhaps I was a bit too harsh. I come to the box four times a week, quaking with fear and groaning at the mention of something difficult to do. And then, most amazingly of all, I do it.

I’m not the fittest or the fastest. I am the oldest, at least at my box. I am also a repeat offender. I keep killing my WODs.

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I’m about wore out and that was before I went to the box. There was no WOD posted last night and so I had to see what I would be doing this morning. After looking, I hoped like hell Sabre would show up. She didn’t, much to my dismay.

Warm-up was a 400 meter run and I managed the 300ish thing I do instead but was feeling awful by the time I got back to the box. Not even my brain was functioning and after ten months, I couldn’t remember the Ryan complex and had to ask what I was doing next because I couldn’t remember the sequence. Ryan complex down the mat was completed after reminding me what to do next. I was so fixated on doing more lunges in the warm-up that I couldn’t get past anything else.

Next was ten cherry pickers, ten baby makers, ten med ball cleans, ten wall balls, and then end with dislocates and passthroughs. I was already exhausted and dizzy and dripping. It was only 79 degrees which isn’t that bad and it was not raining or anything. I have no idea why I was so sickish.

The WOD as written:
High Bar Back Squat 8 x 4 @ 80%
If you were able to complete all reps last week without any problems, you may add 10-20 lbs.
If you were struggling with some of the reps or with minor form breaks and experienced some soreness, you may add 5-10 lbs.
If your form OR depth were not there or you were unable to complete the reps OR were really sore, do not add weight.
then
12 minute AMRAP of:
100′ Burpee Broad Jumps
100′ OH Walking Lunges 45/25# (plate)
You can partner WOD this one if you want but you must stay together and only one person can be working at a time.

I just squatted with the bar and it felt like nothing. Then I added 20 pounds and was still okay. My max is 82 so 64 would be my 80% and I loaded another 20 on the bar for 62 pounds. I did three but couldn’t break parallel nor get the fourth one done. Coach said to take off 20 pounds and just get the eight rounds at a lower weight. My right arm was squealing and I was just pitiful. I did, however, manage to get all eight done with about 75 to 90 seconds rests between rounds.

Maybe what was making me so sick was knowing the AMRAP that followed. Coach said “Henry can do the burpee broad jump with just four burpees and he is down the mat (50′).” Well, wanna guess who can’t do just four jumps and be down the mat? I think I did about ten to twelve burpees down and ten to twelve more back. I have never done lunges with an overhead weight and manage to actually do them – until today. I only used a 5 pound weight but I managed to lunge down the mat with that overhead and didn’t fall over once. I did have to stop several times due to beeping.

All in all I really sucked. I don’t know what type of scores anyone else is going to get. I got 1+25 feet and was lucky to get that far. I really could have used Sabre’s help this morning. It would have been wonderful to have a second person moving along with me and picking up my down time. I’m sure we could have managed more than twice the score with the two of us working together.

Steve and Ricky were hopping around and lugging heavy weights. They got higher scores than me, but I can assure you (did you hear Cheri there?) I worked just as hard as they did and was dripping just as much by the end.

Two more workouts before vacation starts. I can do two more even with a sore arm. Perhaps if I baby my arm this weekend, it will be better on Monday.

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The WOD for today wasn’t posted before I fell asleep last night. I don’t know why I was so tired, but I was and so I slept blissfully unaware of the fresh new hell waiting for me today. The alarm went off and I went to see what I would be doing.

As I shoved my fat ass out of bed, I noticed my arm was hurting. I stumbled to Command Central and powered up the computer so I could see what was ahead. It was all arms. I was still tired. I told myself I could just skip today and go tomorrow. Then inside my head was this little argument with myself. If I was going to skip a day, it should not be after I already woke up. But my arm is already sore. I stumbled back toward the bedroom and before I even got to the living room, I knew I was going to the box today and tomorrow. I can rest my arm on my sister vacation.

Warm-up was a 200 meter run and 250 meter row in any order and there were six of us and five rowing machines. I rowed first and then ran while everyone else did the opposite. That way it worked. I got back to the box to see we would do lunge down the mat with passthroughs. Then ten thrusters with a PVC pipe and then dislocates. Then ten good mornings. We did some stretches and rolled out our arms for a few minutes, too.

The WOD as written:
The Thruster
Spend 20 minutes working on the thruster. You may power clean the bar to get into the front rack position. Focus on your form on the descent into the bottom of the front squat portion of the movement and the powerful launch out of the bottom through the transition to the overhead extension. If you cannot reach full depth in the squat, do not add weight. Once you have shown the coach proficiency in the movement, work to a 3 rep max.
then
AMRAP in 12 minutes of:
200 meter run
6 power cleans (135/95)
10 abmat sit-ups

Even during the warm-up I was getting dizzy and lightheaded. It wasn’t that hot this morning and although it is muggy, it isn’t any worse than it has been. It rained again during the night but I didn’t see any steam rising yet. But I kept feeling dizzy anyway.

I began with the baby bar to work on just form and then managed my 22# bar with a 3 rep max at that weight. It isn’t all that much, but I couldn’t full squat with a bar at all before, so I’m getting there. My right knee would come in and I would concentrate on maintaining that and then my elbows would drop. There is just so much I can focus on at a time. I would work on my elbows and then come out on my toes. By the end, it was better but still not poetry in motion or anything.

For the AMRAP I did parking lot runs, used a 27# bar and did sit-ups. We did not have to break parallel so I could manage a bit more weight. I’m glad I didn’t try going to 32# because my arm is cranky with just this weight.

I really ran the parking lot the first time and managed the six clean before beeping. I had to rest before sit-ups and went through those quickly. But I walked the parking lot so I would have enough heart rate left to make the six cleans without stopping. That worked. Time marched on. I finished the fourth round and was out for my stroll through the parking lot. One minute left as I reached the farthest point out. I ran back and cranked out the cleans before time was up. The last one was pitiful but I took it. I have no idea what my heart rate was at the end. I wasn’t having any problems so I just figured I could rest after the clock stopped. My score was 4+7.

I did notice that when I got finished creating a beautiful sweat angel and finally opened my eyes, that Kim was standing right there just in case. But I was fine – except for, you know, my arm hurts.

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I was awake at 4.30 and then fell soundly back to sleep. It was so difficult to get out of bed when the alarm went off, but it is Tuesday and so I had to drag myself off to the box.

The warm-up today was an 800 meter run and I went to the second driveway for Innovate or whatever that is over there or about 500 meters. I ran at most of it, but did have to walk in the middle. Next was Ryan complex down the mat and then dislocates and passthroughs. We then spent 15 minutes of stretching to get ourselves loosened up.

Good thing, too. My quads were not happy about all that squatting yesterday and needed to be persuaded to do some more today. As I sit here on my sore butt with my legs screaming, I know I worked hard. Maybe a stretch later would be a good thing.

We discussed the first part of the WOD while stretching.

The WOD as written:
Spend 15 minutes working on your clean from the high-hang, the hang, the floor or the 3 position clean (if you have shown the coach proficiency in all three).  If you are not catching your clean in a full front squat with an upright torso, you are not proficient enough to move to the next position.  Work on technique at your positions not weight.  If you have the 3 position down, find a 3 rep max.
then
3 rounds for total reps:
1 minute ME HSPU
immediately followed by
AMRAP in 2 minutes:
8 T2B
8 Push Press (95/65)
1 minute rest

Ed mentioned that rope climbs and HSPU were bad days because he came to the box as a failure since he struggled with the moves.  I could not believe he said that in front of me. I said, “I come here every day as a failure.” Kim said, “You are NOT a failure.” I replied, “I come in as a failure. I can’t do anything. I leave as a hero.” I believe that. I keep showing up and I keep trying and I keep doing more and more, only incrementally, but still. I don’t believe I’m ever going to climb a rope or do even a single HSPU. I do intend to conquer double unders at some point.

I said I could not do the cleans with a bar and Kim said she was sure I could. I said I couldn’t full squat with the weight. She remembered that last time I used a box. Instead of the 20″ box, she set me up the 12″ box with a 45# plate and a 25# plate stacked on top of it so I had 18″ for a squat.

I did that a few times without problem. I traded the 25# plate for a 10# one. Then I took that off. Then I switched out the 25 for the 45 and finally just had the 10 on the box and was still touching and able to bounce back up. With just a minute left, I got my fat ass all the way down to the 12″ box without any plates at all. All were high hang cleans. See, I’m a hero.

Christy and Wade were new to 6 AM and relatively new to the box. They needed a lot of help with understanding how to scale the WOD and what to substitute. We got started with my scaled version being very scaled.

I could have done the thing on the box, but I didn’t really need the head rush. I was doing just push-ups and cranked out 20 in the first minute. Then I did a hang from the bar and pull me knees up to my waist and used a 22# bar for the push press. I managed two whole rounds and only beeped a couple times.

The minute rest was wonderful. I only squeaked out 12 push-ups the second time and could only managed 1 round plus 8. I still had 15 seconds, but I was beeping and I opted instead to take the time to really get my heart rate back down before starting the third round.

I managed 13 push-ups and then missed just one rep for two full rounds of the AMRAP. I was beeping like crazy and my arms were spaghetti – overcooked, to boot. But that gave me 132 for a score.

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I had a wonderful weekend and went shopping. I purchased a new pair of shoes. I was hoping that Reebok sold Inov-8 shoes, but they don’t. I explained that I wanted to get a shoe with a flat heel as my cushioned running shoe kept pushing me forward on my squats.

Amazingly enough, Reebok sells a shoe that was designed by CrossFitters for CrossFitters. The heel is 3 mm higher than the toe. There is mesh across the toes so that your feet can breathe. There is enough padding so running isn’t painful. They are built for all ten areas of fitness – or so said the sales rep. I bought a pair with the caveat that I could return them if I didn’t like them.

I wore my new shoes today. They were great. They were flat and so didn’t tilt me forward on my squats and they are so light and yet cushioned enough that running wasn’t any more suckass than it always is. I’m keeping the shoes.

Warm-up was a 400 meter run and I did my 275ish meter run. Jason was a participant rather than a coach today and he beat me back to the box, but I was slightly ahead of Ricky. I had a few minutes to catch my breath before Ed and Teri were back. We did lunge down the mat using a PVC pipe to do passthroughs with each lunge. I made it to the end without beeping and then Coach Ryan had us do the same thing back down the mat the other way. I beeped about four lunges before the end.

Next was ten cherry pickers, curl up into a ball and rock back and forth ten times, ten baby makers with both feet planted, ten with right and then with left leg pulled up. Roll over and grab your ankles from behind and stretch out ten times, then hold the child yoga pose for fifteen seconds or so, then lay on your back and put your hands over your head and arch your back up off the ground five times. I could do this twenty years ago easily. I cannot manage to do it today. I modified it.

The WOD as written:
High Bar Back Squat 6 x 6 @ 70%
If you were able to complete all reps last week without any problems, you may add 10-20 lbs.
If you were struggling with some of the reps or with minor form breaks and experienced some soreness, you may add 5-10 lbs.
If you’re form OR depth were not there or you unable to complete the reps OR were really sore, do not add weight.
then
3 rounds for time:
50 Kettlebell Swings (53/35)
100 Double Unders

The back squats were done last week on Wednesday. I don’t go to the box on Wednesday. So I did some math and did my best today. My max is 82# and today I worked with 52# and struggled with that. The first three or four were not bad, it was the last two each round that killed me. I made it but it was a struggle, which I think is the point.

During this time, it was mentioned that we are doing Smolov and not just Outlaw because why the hell not. One of my blogging friends, Warrior Girl, is doing Smolov and very excited about it. I have watched as she readies herself for this and can almost feel her thrill of conquering. I’m not going to conquer anything and I really have no goal consistent with Olympic weightlifting. So for me, this is just yuck, maybe even with an F.

I asked about scaling the WOD and if it would be better to keep the reps the same and do two rounds or to do 2/3 of the reps and do three rounds, which would be the same reps, but spaced differently. I also asked why this box is different from every other box with the single unders to double unders ratio. It seems Kim can jump singles really, really fast and she would beat Ryan doing double unders so they upped the ratio. What this has to do with me is beyond my understanding. But today, we were doing a two to one ratio anyway.

My rounds were 34 KB swings with a 15# weight and 67 double unders which translated in 134 single unders. First round I managed to do the KB in two pieces and the jumps in four. After that it was three and four bursts and wait for my heart rate to subside to something compatible with life and start some more. I finished in 21.32.

Ricky couldn’t do double unders a month ago. Today, he did 300 of them. I love watching people get better at this. We all work so hard and it is great to see progress, even when it isn’t mine.

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Last Friday was partner WOD with Houston for the firefighters killed there. Today’s WOD has been advertised for days. We were doing the Charleston 9.

I slept like a log and was so groggy when the alarm went off that it was difficult to actually crawl out of bed. But I had to get to the box so I managed somehow.

I got there and Cindy and Todd as well as Sabre were already there. I saw Ricky’s truck in the parking lot, so I went around the corner and asked if he had a strategy for the day. He asked what I meant. I said there were five of us. He could pick either me or Sabre for a partner or do it alone. By the time we got back to the board Chris had showed up. Ricky asked him what his plan was and he said he was going solo. Ricky opted for that, too. That meant Sabre and I would be partners. The two worst people at the box would perform together. At least we were pretty evenly matched.

Sabre broke her ankle and hurt her back getting out of a car. She has been back to the box once or twice since recovering, but not on days that I was there. It was nice to see her again.

Warm-up was a 400 meter run and I did about 275 to 300 or whatever that extra distance gives me and barely beat Ricky back to the box. Once we are all back at the box, we did a bear crawl down the mat, ten cherry pickers, ten air squats, and dislocates and passthroughs. Then we discussed the various parts of the WOD and how to modify for all us putzes.

The WOD as written:
Charleston 9″
9 Rounds For Time
3 Rope Ascents
6 HSPU
9 Box Jumps (30/24)
6 Toes to Bar
3 Dead Lift (275/225)

June 18th 2007 a fire in Charleston, SC claimed the lives of 9 firefighters after a flashover and structural collapse. 
From the time of the initial call to the collapse was 37 minutes.  
“The Charleston 9″
Captain Louis Mulkey
Captain Mike Benke
Firefighter Melven Champaign
Captain Billy Hutchinson
Engineer Brad Baity
Firefighter Earl Drayton
Engineer Mark Kelsey
Engineer Michael French
Firefighter Brandon Thompson

There was an option for five pull-ups instead of the rope climbs and I about fainted. I asked about rope progressions and those were permitted and still three for one. Then the hand stand push-ups could be done from a box and that was our choice. Sabre needed just the 12 inch box for box jumps and so we used that. I had a plate under the lower bar so I could grab the bar for the toes to bar and we did knees as high as we could manage. Coach and I discussed the weight for the deadlift prior to the hour starting and he suggested 40 to 50 pounds. I had a 33# bar with two ten pound plates and Sabre was good with that.

Sabre and I both worked every single second. The partner part of this was only one person could work at a time and we made sure all the time had one of us working. She struggled with the rope progressions and so, get this, I picked up the slack. I have always been the slack. But I could actually do something to help someone else out. Amazing.

When I needed to rest, Sabre took over the moves and never said she was too tired. We were at the next station and ready to go when the other person finished whatever they were doing. I did all three rope progressions the first round, but after that, it was too much. On the second round Sabre did one, I did one but was beeping because of poor planning, and so she did the third. After that, we made sure I could squeak out two. On one of the rounds I did one, she did one, then I did one but on most, she would do one and I would do two.

Box jumps just make my heart race, but I managed to keep jumping (most of the time for only part of the reps) up until round eight. On that one I did step ups on the 20″ box we were using for the modified HSPU move. It was more work than jumping on the 12″ box. Who knew? Last round I just did step ups on the lower box.

Our strategy paid off. We were finished in 25.21 and we were the first ones done. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never been first. Cindy and Todd had been trading off only when a move switched. So they were spending time resting to complete the reps for rope climbs or box jumps (which were the two killers, in my opinion). They finished in 31 something.

It was 6.59 when I left. Ricky was on round seven and Chris was on round six. Both of them were doing Rx.

This was simply an amazing day. My arm hurts like hell and my hands are on fire. And I loved it. Thanks Sabre. We rocked!

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I looked at the WOD last night when it finally posted and just about cried. Then I thought that I really didn’t have to do this at all. Then I thought about how it was Thursday and I go to the box on Thursday.

This is so outside my comfort zone, I really don’t know where to go with this. So I went with the magic. I set my alarm.

At least it was in the low 70s this morning. But it was rainy and steamy and humid and still not exactly perfect weather for a relaxing workout. I put the first load of laundry into the washer and took off for the box and figured they were just going to have to deal with me. I pay my dues and it is all scalable.

Warm-up was an 800 meter run. I cannot go that far. Well, I can. I can’t run that far and they would all be waiting for me back at the box. I did about a 500 meter run/walk and I really ran more than I walked. I barely beat Ricky back to the box.

Then we did ten cherry pickers, lunge down the mat, and dislocates and passthroughs. Then we did the backwards passthroughs. We worked on some shoulder stretches for about ten minutes.

The WOD as written:
Spent 30 minutes learning the various rope climbing techniques and strength building exercises and practicing your skills.
then
AMRAP in 3 minutes
Burpee Rope Climbs – RX is touching the metal trusses.
If you cannot RX, substitute jumping up as high as possible and grabbing the rope with your hands and locking the rope with your feet showing you have your weight in your feet and not in your hands.  Then dismount and drop for the burpee.

We started with strict pull-ups and I used a green band. I just had a massage yesterday. What used to hurt didn’t hurt, but it moved to a different part of my upper arm. I think it is my biceps that is hurting today. I could do ring rows without a problem but pull-ups hurt even doing one. I could hang from the bar and lift my knees to waist height without a problem.

We moved to the ropes and I can lace the rope around my foot, but I can’t seem to find the anchor position with my other foot. I’m completely uncoordinated and have no idea how to master this one. I guess I just have to practice. I tried several times and I can’t find the place for my other foot.

For the WOD, there were four ropes and five people. Ricky can really climb a rope. Todd and Cindy could grab the rope and lace their feet. They went first and did their three minutes. Then Sonja and I went. She could also grab the rope and lace it through her feet. I had to do lay on the ground, pull my ass up and down, get back up to do a burpee and then back to the ground to do a pseudo climb. At least it didn’t hurt my arm.

I did the first four burpees jumping out and back, the last three I did with walking them out and back. I had to rest a few seconds after the fourth round, making the walking thing a better option. I would only need about five seconds to get low enough for another round so that worked.

My score was 14 which was so much better than I thought I could do. I thought I could do nothing.

I need to have more faith in myself. It all looks so impossible when I see it written out. I know it is all scalable, but it is also all scary.

There was magic today. I didn’t wimp out. I went, I did stuff.

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