May 2016


My irrational struggle with CrossFit is entirely self-made and often self-defeating. My gym is now posting the WODs for the entire week on Sunday evening. To me, it doesn’t make a bit of difference because they are only open at 8 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays so those are the days I work out. I can’t cherry pick because I’m not getting up for a 6 AM class and by noon, I’m completely over it.

So, I looked because I always look. I have no idea exactly who this is being programmed for, but I know who it is not. Me. I’m a Little Old Lady and am not trying to get all testosteroned out or anything. I do this to feel better, not to destroy myself. And these are destroying WODs.

We have been having at least one named WOD per week. These benchmark WODs aren’t really a weekly event type of thing – usually. But for us, they are. I don’t know why. But it is.

Then there will be many Turkish getups and ten rounds of pistols. Ten rounds. You read that right. We are going to be doing a WOD with 10 RFT.

I spent the morning looking at other local gym’s WOD pages. The other really close gym also likes to prove how manly we all are with a bunch of boorah horseshit. The next gym over is really farther away than I would like to drive, but I did like their programming more. But there it is.

So today’s WOD was Kelly
5 RFT
400 meter run
30 box jumps 42/20
30 wall balls 20/14

That’s 1.25 miles of running and 150 each of box jumps and wall balls. Quite frankly, I was hoping to be able to walk tomorrow and this was all just too much. 150 wall balls is Karen which is bad enough without all the other stuff. I was defeated and mad and thought about not going. But I go on Mondays and so I got my fat ass over to the box.

During the prior classes, some people opted to just do three rounds. I mentioned that even that was more than I had intended to do. I was looking at 5 rounds with half the stuff. Coach liked that and so that’s what we all did.

Shit. We all did the same things. All the youngsters and me, the old fart. I knew I would be the last one done. I was doing the same thing as people young enough to be my children. I was going to be last once again. Always last. Always the slowest and the weakest and … if I was on one of the Planet Hunters shows, the one who would be eaten by coyotes.

And I was struggling with the wall balls, just like I knew I would. They jack my heart rate up. I knew I was walking the distance and so that would be slower, but I knew I was going to have to split the wall balls and box breathe and get my heart rate down to “no longer at death’s door” rate so I could go on to the next thing.

Somewhere in there, instead of being mad about it, I started to remember that angry large black man who yells a lot. ISYMFWO. This was my work out. My plan. I could do it. Many old fart women couldn’t manage it, but I could. I would be the last one done, of course, but did that really matter? I was doing my workout. I was working my own plan. The fact that everyone else adopted it didn’t really have anything to do with me or my plan for the day. I was old and feeble and I was doing this awesome shit.

So, for five times, I walked 200 meters. I did 15 consecutive step-ups on an 18” box and then I split the wall balls into eight and seven. I used a 10 pound med ball and hit the nine foot line each time. I had to pause and box breathe and get my heart rate down before I started the wall balls and in the middle. I would be anywhere from one-third to three-quarters done with my walk before my monitor stopped beeping – each round taking longer and longer.

But I did the workout I had intended to do. I finished last, but I finished. I worked really hard and succeeded mostly by not quitting.

And then I came home, ate breakfast, and walked a 5K mostly because I still needed steps for the damn FitBit and I also needed mushrooms and artichoke hearts for dinner tonight. A walk up to the store and back is 5K and it was the slowest time ever. But I did that, too. And I can now make dinner.

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This is an open letter to everyone who might think I’m awesome because I do CrossFit. I am. But I am not unique. You can be awesome, too. You. Can be awesome. You. Really. It is all scalable and you can do stuff you didn’t even know you could.

How do I know this? Because when I started I couldn’t do squat. I couldn’t do a lift. I couldn’t even get through the warm-up. But I kept working on it. And now I can. There are still many things I can’t do. I can’t climb a rope or do a handstand push-up. I can’t do a pull-up. But I can lunge down the mat without a PVC pipe as a cane. In fact, I can do it with weight, albeit a light weight.

The CrossFit Games are elite athletes who are phenomenal and I will never be those people. But I used to work out with a guy who was at the Games and should be there again this summer. He is awesome. He does amazing things.

I am awesome and I do amazing things. Not the same things he does, but amazing all the same. Mostly, the things I do are amazing exactly because I’m not an elite athlete. I was just a little old lady who decided one day to do this. And I have.

My one rep maxes are low numbers, but I never did anything at all even remotely like this before I was 59. So I was starting on square one but old and feeble to boot.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve sweat, hurt myself, and cried. The biggest injuries have been to my ego or pride. I’ve never tried anything so far outside my comfort zone before and so there were so many times I was ready to quit. But I always had a good reason to keep going. Things like I had just bought a new bag of protein shake powder and what else was I going to do with it? So I keep going back.

And it has been amazing. I have trouble getting more than 50 pounds over my head, but when I started I couldn’t even lift 50 pounds off the floor, so it’s a real improvement. I have to modify many of the moves and because of my heart rate, I often even scale the number of reps I do. But I do stuff. Amazing stuff. Stuff I couldn’t even begin to do when I started.

It’s really hard to fail your way to success. Each disappointment is a cruel reminder that I’m only 35 inside my head. Well, since both my sons are over 35, that’s also a reminder but not usually anything I think about at the box.

One of my goals when I began this nonsense was to lose weight. I haven’t. Well, two pounds, but that really doesn’t count, now does it? I have dropped two pants sizes. My shirt size is the same (unless it sleeveless) because – get this – the guns are too big to get into a small. Who would have ever thought muscles would be an issue at my age?

And I have muscles. Not Arnold Schwarzenegger muscles, but visible honest to goodness muscles just the same. And it’s the muscles that account for the drop in clothing size because they are so much  more compact than the flab I was carrying around with me.

My balance is so much better. This alone is reason to sign up. People my age, especially women, tend to fall over more frequently and then hurt themselves. Bone density lessens with age – but with the weightlifting, I’m also reversing that issue. But because I lift, I need a tight core which is what gives us balance. So rather than fall down and break a hip, I do awesome things that amaze people – including myself.

I feel rather sad each time I hear someone say they can’t do this. They can. There are people in wheelchairs who do CrossFit. There are all sorts of ways to modify the moves, modify the reps, modify the weights. And the advantages are vast and far-reaching and way beyond what you might think can happen.

The work has been worth it. I sound like I’m proselytizing, and perhaps I am. I know how much better off I am today. I have the community of the people at the box along with the skills and know how to move iron around. I wish everyone could have this feeling of accomplishment.

I started with nothing. Today, I did a named WOD for the fifth time. Each time has seen an improvement. Looking backwards I can see how very far I’ve come. It’s been one hell of a ride and worth all the bumps and bruises to my body and my pride. I wish you could see me now. I wish you could be like me – awesome.

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