May 2017

I like to think of myself as invincible. I have no idea why since it has been proven repeatedly, that I’m not. Not even close. I’m pretty much capable of injuring myself while standing still. But, in my mind, I’m invincible.

I do CrossFit which is pretty damn a) incredible and b) stupid when one considers my age and natural proclivities. I’m fairly klutzy and lack in both the coordination and muscle requirements for athletic endeavors. But still, I persist.

Last week, I was doing a power snatch and decided, for unknown reasons, to just add a little ballet type step to the bar overhead part. I twisted myself half around and injured my left lower back. So for the rest of the week, I tried to take things easy and I worked on mobility things at home. The workouts were in my favor and my back wasn’t too bad, it was just a bit ouchy.

By Monday of this week, I was back to my old self and I mean that in every sense of the word. I was back to how I am most of the time, which is old.

The WOD had dumbbell snatches in it. I’ve done these twice before and each time, I’ve strained my back. I know to keep my butt low in the squat and to lead with my elbow coming up. I also knew I had managed 55 of these during the open and although I was a bit stiff and sore afterwards, it’s not uncommon for me. See the “I’m old” part above.

This week, there were “only” 45 and so I was sure I could manage this. I thought to myself on each rep, “butt down” and I believe I really was keeping my butt down. I got through the 21 without any problems. I had a sore back at the end of the 15, but there were only 9 more to do and I kept up my mantra. Butt low. Butt low. And I thought I would be okay.

I wasn’t. Apparently, based on when things hurt even worse, I was twisting as I switched hands with each rep and I somehow totally destroyed my right lower back, but not really. I totally destroyed my right butt cheek, but that just sounds pitiful to my ears.

My back/butt hurt me so bad, it kept waking me up Monday night/Tuesday morning. My alarm went off and when I almost cried getting out of bed, I pretended I had the sense God gave spit, and I crawled back under the covers and stayed there.

I rolled on a lacrosse ball. I used essential oils. I used a foam roller. I winced with every step I took and gasped each time I got out of any chair. I did show up for yin yoga Tuesday evening and stretching helped tremendously. So, of course, I figured, showing up on Wednesday would be fine. I had already missed a day.

The WOD was deadlifts, power cleans, thrusters, and overhead squats in a Tabata routine. Two rounds. So eighty seconds of each move, total. I was sure this would be okay. I thought I would do the deadlifts and power cleans using a light weight and just get my heart rate down during the thrusters and overhead squats. Warm-up included some push press wall balls and even that hurt my back/butt. So, instead of doing something fun, I pretended I was not an idiot and I did 20 seconds of child’s pose interchanged with 20 seconds of downward dog.

Thursday, is my normal day off and I had a massage scheduled. Catherine did a great job fixing the remnants of my invincibility gone wrong. I could actually move without pain. It was heavenly.

I showed up today and we were doing Annie with extra rope climbs between each round. I did the warm-up gingerly and tried a few sit-ups. It worked without hurting, although V-ups were still not a good idea. I tried jumping rope and that didn’t hurt either. But there are 150 of each. I knew I wasn’t doing anything like a rope climb because that would just hurt me. I had to promise I would stop if I was in any pain.

I was in pain, but it was the front, not the back, and so I finished. Then, after the WOD, we had another class of yin yoga. I felt a few pulls in that and would back off from the stretch. As I sit here, I am feeling pretty good.

I’m going to guess my stomach is going to be sore tomorrow, but it is the good kind, not the “you dumb old fart, what did you think you were doing” kind. My real goal is to be ready to honor all the fallen soldiers and do my version of Murph on Monday. Maybe I am invincible.


What do I want from CrossFit? I want greater cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. That’s what they advertise. Those are the ten areas of fitness one should improve upon with a well balanced cross training program.

What do I get from CrossFit? Coaching. It is what I pay all that money for. It is why I don’t just workout in the garage. It is the basis for CrossFit. Coaches right there to make sure you are doing it right.

And the coach was right. I hate that. I mean, it’s what I pay for and I should be coachable. And I did what the coach said I should do. But I resented it. I hate that even after all this time and all this effort and showing up even when I’m defeated and doing all I can do, I still suck.

But the coach was right. I didn’t believe it at the time, but now I do. Why? Because last week when I did things my way, I was fine the next day. Nothing ached. There were no “growth” pains. I was absolutely fine. In my mind, it was because I was stronger.

This week, when I unhappily did what the coach said I should be doing, I hurt. In the right places. I was using the muscles intended to do the work in the WOD. It’s not terrible hurt. It’s not much more than a slight twinge every now and again to remind me the coach was right and I was, once again, wrong.

Or, perhaps, in a more generous vein, I was coachable.

What I really want to be is competent. I want to be able to do all the things. There are many things in CrossFit and some of them are super stupid. When I started, I couldn’t squat and now I can get ass to grass, so it’s not like I haven’t improved. But I still can’t do a pistol or a one-legged squat to below parallel.

And I can’t do a HSPU or a rope climb or any number of weird things that I have no real desire to do outside of the box. I have no idea in what odd world I would find myself where I would be required to stand on my head and do a push-up from there or else all would be lost. But if it ever happens, all will be lost.

If I can’t do a HSPU, you can bet your sweet Aunt Fanny I can’t do a handstand walk, either.

I’m not even sure these things are that important. But I would like to be able to be partially competent at this. After almost five years, shouldn’t I be almost competent? Inside my head, I got this. Apparently, from the outside, not so much. And according to the slight ouchiness of today, the outside is correct.

While I focus mostly on my heart rate and how it slows me down, the truth is that my power isn’t as powerful as I would like. Yes, I’m old and I’m doing amazing things considering everything else I can add to the pot to give me a list of excuses, but what I really want is to be better. Now.

I am better. But not enough better. I want to be betterer. I want to be 25 and have ten years of experience and have the aerobic engine of a beast and muscles on my muscles. I want the impossible.

On some days, I can be thrilled with the possible I have worked so hard to achieve. On some days, I can be okay with the possible. On some days, I just want the impossible and not only do I want the impossible, but I want it now. No wait. Yesterday. I want it yesterday.

I have never in my life worked so hard to be so below average. I have no idea why I believe I’m below average, either. Maybe I am amazing and awesome and competent. But if I am, I would sure like to feel like it.

The only thing I can do to get there, wherever the hell there is, is to show up and be coachable. So, I do. But I can’t say I’m a real big fan of that shit.


Be nice. I can’t even pretend to count how many times this order was issued. It was a cornerstone for all other orders. You don’t have to be the best or the greatest. But you always have to be nice. You don’t have to be a doormat, but you do have to be nice. Just, for the love of God, be nice. It’s important. You can stand up for yourself, politely. You can defend others, with compassion. You can move through life and achieve your dreams and still be nice. No man is an island. For all of us to live together, it is easier if we are all nice. Since we can’t control other people, at least you can be nice. So, in short, be nice.

Be neat. You don’t have to be spotless. You don’t have to scrub the corners of baseboards. But you do need to be orderly and neat. You save hours of time if you put things away so you can find them when you need them. If you just set your crap down, it gets lost, misplaced, and even thrown out. But if you put it away, you have safely taken care of whatever it is. Corollary; make your bed every day. It takes under five minutes and it sets up your day for order. Second corollary; laundry baskets are a thing, use them. Hangers are a thing, use them, too. Also be neat in your appearance. It matters.

Be industrious. Everyone needs down time but we don’t need down lives. This is your only chance to be on Earth and you have a limited time here. Make use of it. Relax when you need to, but don’t relax all the time. That’s not relaxing. That’s sloth. Side note: I love sloth. But when I sit for too long, there is my mother’s voice nagging inside my head telling me to DO something. You can’t just sit there – unless you are reading. Then you can, because reading is a good thing.

Be helpful. Open the door for the person with the full hands. Smile your thanks, or better yet vocalize your thanks when someone helps you. Look for ways to be of service to others. It doesn’t have to be a big, major undertaking although choosing a career of helpfulness might be ideal, there are still plenty of ways to be helpful outside of career choices. Every single day there are less fortunate people surrounding you. Reach out and help.

Be patient. Yes, it would be lovely if everything you ever wanted was available for you right this instant. Of course, that would take all the fun out of it. Anticipation is key to much of our enjoyment. Earning the thing, even when it takes time and effort, also adds to the lusciousness, the savoring of the treat you worked to earn. Waiting is part of life. Get used to it. And spend your time in reveling in the upcoming thrill, whatever that may be.

Be fearless. This lesson was not just voiced. She lived it. She went back to college after getting her own kids in school. She was a mostly single parent (as most women of the era were in charge of everything domestic, but also because our dad travelled across the state for his job), newly returned to college, and worked a full time job. She mastered the whole adult student thing. She changed her job three times after she turned forty, always keeping her goal of helping children become adequate adults at the center. Her choices were inspirational.

There were many small lessons, given on the fly. Examples lived in order to teach us how to be the kind of people who make the world a better place. The smiles bestowed, the tears dried, the caring hands reaching out to fix what little bit was near. While it is impossible for us to make the entire world better, it is not only possible, but desperately needed, for us to fix the part right here.

Thanks, Mom. I hope you are proud of my meager ability to practice the lessons you so patiently taught. Happy birthday. You made the world a better place. There isn’t anything better to say than that.


Mom getting ready to go into the mines. She was always up for any adventure.             Living large.