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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.

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

Why do we think life is supposed to be easy and carefree? We do. But I don’t know why. Are we so far removed from our history as to be completely unaware of what a risky thing life is? It is fraught with danger.

I’m almost 64 years old. That means I’m over 23,300 days old. That’s a lot of days. And on all of those days – except one – any car in my possession or my immediate family’s possession did not blow an engine. However, just once, a little more than a week ago, one of my cars did blow an engine and I was furious at the universe for being so capriciously unkind.

For 23,299 days I did not thank the universe for not blowing up one of my car’s engines. I was not thankful that my cars kept running. I expect my cars to keep running. Always. Regardless of the number of miles on them. They are supposed to be running. That’s what cars do.

They also break down. And I was affronted in a universe where that happened. I was not at all amazed for the tens of thousands of days when it didn’t happen.

And that explains us. When it all goes well, which is most of the time, we take it for granted. Things are supposed to go well, we think. I don’t really know why we think that.

I have watched all the BBC nature series with David Attenborough. There are lots of confrontations between predator and prey and each and every single one of them ends in sadness. Sometimes that sadness is that the prey is caught and killed. Sometimes it is that the predator did not manage to capture any prey and expended all that energy for no dinner at all, making death that much more imminent. Sadness. Every. Single. Time.

And somehow, we have built societies and civilization and mitigated many of the dangers of the wild kingdoms. By banding together, we have a surplus of food and don’t have to know how to do everything ourselves. Specialization comes with the freedom of mutual support.

With this greater society, with civilization, we have told ourselves that life is supposed to be wonderful. We may, in fact, build a perfectly wonderful life. But it isn’t a given and it isn’t just supposed to happen. And you don’t deserve a damn thing. The world owes you nothing; it was here first.

We don’t have to hunt for dinner which used to take up a large portion of our ancestors’ lives. Dinner can be picked up at the grocery store or through the drive-in. And with all this security and surplus, we aren’t ecstatic every day of our lives. Instead, we think we deserve more. We tell ourselves that our lives are in a mess far too often when all our lives are is the human existence.

We aren’t supposed to skate through life unscathed. We are supposed to push the limits and test the waters and have things happen. When our normal routine is upset, we notice what we don’t have available. But when it all works – which is most of the time – we assume that is the way life is supposed to be.

Life really is one damn thing after another. The respite in between catastrophes is there for us to catch our breath and prepare for the next one. For there will always be a next one.

Take a moment today to think about your car and it’s engine.

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An example of a blown engine, since I don’t have a picture of my own. 

Hurricane Matthew is heading towards us. Are we going to pack up and leave or are we going to stay and what makes either decision better?

I am, in fact, supposed to leave. The governor has made it a mandatory evacuation for my area. I’m twenty miles inland and I should go another 80 miles west. To where?

There isn’t any place there to actually go to. There is an order to leave, but then live in my car for the next few days. There aren’t a quarter million (figuring four people per room and the one million ordered to leave) hotel rooms available at least 100 miles from the ocean. The ocean is what people come to see and most of the hotel rooms in South Carolina are oceanside from Myrtle Beach to Charleston to Hilton Head Island. All places that have been ordered to evacuate.

So the first issue is where to go.

The second issue is why to go.

There is a fable about a Little Boy Who Cried “Wolf” where after screaming for help several times out of boredom or loneliness, there is finally a real wolf but no one comes when he calls because they figure it’s just another prank.

The news, the social media, the clickbait have all taught us that everyone is “shocked” and “couldn’t believe” and are generally amazed that life happens. The catastrophizing of everyday events has left us all jaded and unwilling to click on the 5 foods that can kill you or even the 5 foods that will save your life. It’s all just clickbait and we are tired of clicking for nothing (or worse, a slideshow). So we scroll past.

So the outlets crank things up even higher in the hopes of getting our eyes on the ads, something we have assiduously trained ourselves to not do.

And the spiral goes ever upwards. “This is bad” used to get our notice. Then it didn’t. “This is worse” used to get our notice. Then it didn’t. “This is disastrous” used to get our notice. Then it didn’t. So they keep trying and we keep not listening even when it may be in our best interest to heed the warning.

I’m torn. I’ve looked at NOAA’s maps. The storm is supposed to stay off the coast. I’m twenty miles inland. I’m not on the water. But … I’ve lived through a Cat 2 making landfall right here and it wasn’t that bad. But …  I’ve listened, as nauseum, to the tales of Hurricane Hugo. I saw what happened with Hurricane Katrina. I realize that hurricanes are monstrous storms.

But there is no place to actually go and I am twenty miles inland. The order to evacuate is because no one wants to come and rescue me. But will I really need rescuing? Am I safer in my built to hurricane standards house or my crappy little car someplace farther inland?

Is this evacuation for me or for the protection of the state against lawsuits? Everyone sues everything for any untoward event. Is this just to keep a lawsuit from happening regardless of how inconvenient or unhelpful it is for the evacuees or is this for my safety?

All this is running through my head. I know I can’t trust my government to help me. I can only trust my government to cover its own ass. So I am left without enough information to make a good decision. I don’t like being in a position of so much doubt. I know a hurricane is coming. I don’t know the best place for my ass to be when it hits.

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I spent nearly four weeks, four glorious weeks, with my family. First I went to Arizona for Sistercation and had time with the people who have known me longer than anybody else on the planet. We laughed and shopped and laughed and traveled and laughed and museumed. Mostly we laughed together.

Then I went to Ohio and visited my son and his family. More laughter, more shopping, more traveling, and mostly loving every minute together.

I loved my vacation. I’m not all that fond of flying – it makes me nervous and cranky. I’m not fond of hours and hours in the car, either. It doesn’t make me that nervous, but it’s boring as hell and makes me cranky. There is a pattern there. Lots of things make me cranky. I’m a cranky old lady.

So I flew around the country and was encased in a car for twelve hours. The other price I paid for this wondrous and much-loved vacation was four weeks away from the gym. I did some stuff while I was away, but nothing at all like a CrossFit WOD.

I came back to two named WODs and managed to get through those. Monday’s WOD was overhead squats and over the bar burpees. Killed my legs on that one even though I cut the reps way back. But I had a massage on Tuesday and managed to hobble into the box again today.

Today’s WOD as written:
Strict pull-ups

3 x 10
then
12 minute AMRAP
3 deadlifts 315/225
6 HSPU
9 box jumps 24/20

I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things. So although the weight on the deadlift was supposed to be heavy, I stuck at 93#. I did my HSPU from a box to one mat. I did step-ups onto the same 20” box.

I got a respectable score. Nothing great, but not horrible. But I’m unhappy with it. I’m always unhappy with my score. I work so very hard and I have come an enormous distance. It took me weeks to deadlift 42# and I was lightening my lift today with 93# because I’m just coming back from vacation. My scaled HSPUs were executed well (except by the fourth round, my knees were slipping from all the “glow” involved in working out in South Carolina in the summer).

But I’m unhappy with myself. I don’t know why or what to do to realize that I’m freaking awesome. I can say the words, but I can’t feel the awesome. I only feel the failure. The failure of not being as strong or flexible or possess the endurance I wish to have. Being old.

Most women my age are knitting. While I can knit, too, I do this weightlifting stuff. But I never feel like I’m doing enough. Kim has listened to my doubts for four years now; she is a saint. And no matter how much I improve; I never feel “enough” to be happy.

I realize that this is a process and I’m not looking for complacency. There will always be a higher weight to move and I will never be the person to move it. But I honestly don’t know what I’m supposed to be able to achieve and how I will know when I’m to a place that is truly awesome instead of a atta girl pat on the head sort of whoop dee do thing. I don’t know what my expectations are.

I’m the best old fart at my box simply by the fact of being the only one. I’m sure everyone’s heart rate is way over mid-160s on these WODs, but I’m the one who has a cardiologist who has put that type of cap on my exertion. That means I should get a pass, right? But how much of a pass do I allow myself? When do I know that I’m approaching real awesome and not some self-induced lying awesome?

Why can’t I be happy with everything I’ve accomplished? I’m never happy with my performance. It’s slow and light and even with all the scaling in the world, a score has to go on the board that is, in a raw number format, pitiful. I know that is part of my problem. Scoring.

As I was watching my heart rate stay too high despite box breathing today, I had to keep telling myself that the score was unimportant and what mattered was that I was working really hard and doing my best. Do your best. Isn’t that what they say to the less bright kids in school? “Just do your best!” And here I am, doing my best and it isn’t nearly good enough.

I want to be better. I’m betting Rich Froning and Annie Thorisdottir want to be better, too. It’s what we do; we work hard to get better. I just wish I could feel like I was good enough now.

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I had a massage yesterday and it helped my knee quite a bit. But my knee is not completely better. I know part of my problem is Command Central. I need a desk to sit at and being in this recliner all the time is not helping. I ordered a desk from Amazon yesterday. It will be here next week.

I looked at the WOD last night. I read it again. I read it a third time. I didn’t understand what we were supposed to do, but I show up on Fridays and so I knew I had to show up today, what with it being Friday and all.

I went to bed at a reasonable time. I woke up at 11.30 for no good reason. I woke up at 3 AM with a nightmare. I usually don’t remember my dreams and I would have been grateful if I hadn’t remembered this one. It took me over 1.5 hours to fall back to sleep. I woke up right around 7 AM. I had a cup of coffee, my banana, and my protein shake before leaving the house at 7.45 for the 8 AM class. This is going to prove problematic.

It was just me with Betsy coaching today. But she worked out with me which was a good thing. Kim was there with a new client who just moved here from Tennessee. I can’t remember her name because I’m horrible with names. I hope she liked it and will be back and I hope 8 AM is a good time for her. That would be great.

Betsy and I warmed up together. I managed a bear crawl, but inchworm and push-up stuff immediately after with my stomach full of coffee and protein shake was not the best idea I’ve ever had. I had to switch to something that wasn’t head down. Or else I wouldn’t have had a full stomach for much longer.

Today’s WOD as written:
Superset A:
Close grip bench press/strict pull ups
3X6 with superset of 6 strict pull ups (palms facing you)
Superset B: Bar dips (with the bar on resting on the rack)/Penley rows
5X10 with legs straight in front of you (not bent) bar dips with a superset of penley rows. Weight should start light. Can move up if you can knock out of set of 10 easily. However, do not get extremely heavy.
Superset C: Barbell bicep curls (yes, bicep curls/)/ tricep push ups
3 X 10 with moderate weight curls with a superset of 8 tricep push ups (fingers form a triangle, placements of hands is directly at chest level during the movement.
Superset D: GHD/walking planks
3 X 10 GHD (or v-ups for progression) with a superset of 10 walking planks (start with plank on palms, one arm at a time go to elbows. Return to palms. That is one rep). Be sure that core stays activated, and plank is perfect form.

I had no freaking idea what this crap was. I knew that some of it was beyond me. I figured I didn’t have to know what stuff was because I was not the coach. Betsy and I discussed some of this before 8 AM and even the coach didn’t know what in the hell some of this shit was. She went and asked about bar dips and got instructions from Kim.

So we started to work. And we were doing it wrong. We would have continued to do it wrong, but Betsy asked about the sets. I read this as bench press for three sets and then one set of pull-ups done funky. Instead, it was supposed to be a superset of the two moves interspersed. So we finished up the superset A as not a superset but did the rest as we were supposed to do them.

We don’t really have a bench and so floor presses were done. I used 32# for them and they were a bit awkward with my hands closer together. The bar was far more tippy in that manner. I managed the reversed hand grip pull-ups with a green band even though I had no real hope for them. I was supposed to try at least and so I did and I managed them. I can’t say I’m a big fan. But I did all of them.

I couldn’t have my legs straight for the bar dips, but I did manage them with bent knees and I managed the Pendlay rows with the same bar but by the end, my back was tight and not happy with me. It was nice going back and forth between the two moves instead of three sets of one move and three of the other.

I tried just the 22# bar for the biceps curls and I could manage them if I arched my back, but if I tucked my hips under, no such luck. Betsy had me use just 5# dumbbells and raise them together. I might have been able to do the 8# dumbbells, but I was struggling at the end of the ten reps, so maybe not. There was no chance in hell that I could do the funny push-ups. Betsy struggled through them. I tried them on the bar and couldn’t do one. I did something with a 10# dumbbell with it behind my head and then raising it overhead ten times.

I then did the V-ups and they weren’t exactly full ones because I have to bend my knees. And I tried that up and down shit on the planks and it was not happening. I held a plank for as long as I could and called that my sub. We both made it through all the rounds and were so happy this crapload of shit was done.

This whole week was supposed to be a deload week. And one of the things a deload week can be is lots of various moves that haven’t been done recently. I understand that. But I really, really wanted a deload week that had just a bit of work without trying to kill me. I’m not sure this was really any different than any other week. I didn’t get a sense of light work so my body could recover from all the hard work we have been doing. All I sensed was a lot of hard work, just like every time I walk into the box.

What a winner looks like. Frankie with her Spartan race medal

What a winner looks like. Frankie with her Spartan race medal

It’s raining. It started yesterday afternoon and has been steadily raining since. My phone woke me up with a weather alert to let me know there could be flash flooding in the Low Country. Really? With a number of rivers coursing to the ocean and an elevation of about 10 feet above sea level, there might be flooding after 18 hours of rain? Who knew?

But I knew where the one place that has a dip in the road that floods and where the water normally pools and how to drive to miss these hazards and so I went to the box and braved the elements. I’m such a badass. It is the first time I’ve driven my new car in the rain. I learned how to use the rear window wiper, so that was cool.

Today was Leslie and me (Kat hurt herself yesterday) with Kim coaching. There had been 13 people at 5 AM and four or five people paying for a private session at 7 AM. And then two of us at 8 AM.  On Facebook, Kim had posted about a deload week and hoped to see all our beautiful faces at the box. Unfortunately, I had to bring my old and wrinkled face with me since I don’t have any other kind.

Since it was raining, we began the day with a row and did weird stuff with it. Then we did stuff and then we did 3 rounds of 3 ring rows, 6 push-ups, and 9 squats and at the push-ups my heart rate went too high for the first (but definitely not the last) time for the day. Dislocates and passthroughs ended the warm-up and we were ready for the day’s work.

Today’s WOD as written:
We have all been hitting the weights very hard for the last 4 weeks, and now it is time for a deload week. Deloads are periods of time where you give your body an “active rest” to ensure a healthy progression in your training. This is designed to help you reduce the possibility of injury, and break through plateaus. Your body will have a chance to recuperate, let your muscle rebuild, and give your joints time to heal and grow stronger. We will be hitting some accessory muscle exercises as well in order to build your strength.

READ ABOUT WHY HERE!!!

Strength: 3X8 glute bridges (at the top of each rep, hold the bridge for no less than 10 seconds).
Using a barbell and lying on the floor, you will slowly add a little weight to your glute bridges. These are important to strengthen the glutes and the lower back. These should not be so heavy that you have to pause in the middle of the sets. Form is key.
WOD:
EMOM 16 min
20 Double unders (30 sec time cap)
4 slam balls (45/20) [We only have 45 and 25# slam balls]

For the glute bridges, we began with an empty bar. Me with a 22 and Leslie with a 33# one. We did ten practice ones. Leslie has a bad back and the move was bothering her some. We each added ten pound plates to the bars and did the next set. After moving 42# with just a touch and go, I learned I was allowed a 5 second rest in between lifts. Since I could manage a touch a go, Kim and I thought I should add another ten pounds. So I was working with 52# on the last set. Leslie stayed with her 53#. Her back was really getting cranky and so we stopped at this point, although I could have managed another set at that weight, I don’t think I could have managed more weight.

I looked at the WOD last night and there were myriad ways for me to play the EMOM. My biggest problem was going to be my damn heart rate. I need time to box breathe and get it back down, but I always think I’m stronger than I am. I went with doing 20 single unders and 3 slam balls per minute, thinking that should be okay. I waited for a heart rate to lower to 120 to start.

After the first round my heart rate was already 163. I knew I was in trouble, but with box breathing I was able to get it down enough to do the same thing. I managed to do round three like that but my heart rate was 177 after the slam balls so I figured I had to do something different.

On the next minute I just did 20 jumps. Since my heart rate was 159 when I began, it was over 170 when I stopped. I got it down to just under 160 and did 2 slam balls. Since that took next to no time, I had a low enough heart rate to do both moves again. Then my heart rate was over 170 again and it was ridiculous.

For the rest of the time I did 40 single unders in a minute and then 4 slam balls in the next minute. It gave me enough resting time to get my heart rate low enough to manage the next minute and I just kept plodding along, pitiful and old.

I finished the day and managed to do something for the whole time. My reward was bacon and eggs when I got home.

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I went for another walk yesterday morning. Same route; different temperature. It was hotter and more humid and I was dripping by the time I got home. But even with stopping to talk to a neighbor for a few seconds, my time was 5% faster which sounds much better than two minutes less.

I lost my mind and each time crab legs were on sale, I bought some not realizing there was already more than enough in the freezer. Which means we have way too many crab clusters. So my goal is every other week, when it is my turn to cook, to serve crab on Tuesday – the day before the garbage is picked up. We will continue this until the crab is gone.

That means we had crab last night for dinner and it was wonderful. I met my writing goal for the day. I was able to get quite a bit done on the afghan. Things were going along great. Then at 8 PM, the WOD for today was posted and just shit. That’s really all can say. Just shit.

I was awake at 2 AM for no good reason and it took me over an hour to fall back to sleep. I didn’t wake up until after 7 AM. I got out of bed at 7.07 and I was already aware of a caffeine headache starting. I really couldn’t wait two hours for coffee. Luckily, Dick was awake and had brewed a pot. So I poured a cup and tried to guzzle it. But when my alarm goes off at 7.15 AM it means it is time to eat a banana and drink my protein shake.

So I drank my coffee and my protein shake and hoped like hell I wouldn’t wet my pants at the box. It’s always something.

Leslie was there again today and Kat showed up. Kim was coaching. We were sent out for a run and they went 400 but I turned around at the 200 meter mark. There was a middle school girl on the sidewalk who wanted to know where some street was. I had no freaking idea. I’m lucky I know the names of the major roads and side streets are beyond me. I told her she could follow me back to the gym and maybe Kim would know. She didn’t. I asked if her phone had maps and it did. They found the place. The kid was too far from her bus stop to get back in time for the bus so Kim asked if we cared if she drove the kid to where she was going. She was new to the area and had already missed a couple days of school. She was obviously stressed/nervous. But she got in the car with a stranger who took her to her bus stop. When Kim got back, she mentioned that last part. But there we were. She talked first to a gray-haired grandma type and the rest of us were safe looking mommy types and what the hell, she needed to get to school.

I understand the whole Stranger Danger thing. But I also understand the Good Samaritan thing and most people are good. I’m glad she let us help her and I hope the rest of the day went well for the kid. She could use a break after that crappy start. And when she leaves her apartment tomorrow, she will know to turn left, not right, and get to where she needs to be.

We warmed ourselves up in Kim’s absence and when she came back we were as ready as we were going to get for the day.

Today’s WOD as written:
Strength:
Hang snatch (full)
3×3 Unbroken
WOD:
24 min EMOM
:
Min 1: 5 burpees+6 pull ups (or 2 muscle ups)
Min 2: 3 each leg front rack walking lunges (95/65)
Min 3: 10 push press (95/65)

Oh, great. Something overhead again. I’m so glad we are working consistently to the point of broken shoulders on snatches or overhead squats. I really suck at full snatches because I feel so off balance. I took off my one shoe and just used a 22# bar. I managed them and didn’t try to put on any more weight.

I studied that next part and had two options for myself. I was unsure which would be better, but I knew that as written, it was impossible for me and my heart rate. I could either be out of synch and do a four minute thing by breaking up the burpees and pull-ups, or I could alternate rounds with burpees on one round and then pull-ups on the other. Kim preferred that.

That meant I did the eight rounds instead of breaking it into six rounds. I did four real burpees and then did walking lunges without weights and kept them at six. I did only 8 push press and used just a 22# bar because of the problems with my heart rate. Then I did four jumping pull-ups and made sure my reverse was a bit slower so I could get some real pull in there, and the walking lunges and push press.

On the third round, I was feeling a bit cocky and decided to hold 5# dumbbells at shoulder height and do the lunges, but when I did six like that, I had a heart rate of 167 at the end and I couldn’t get it down enough to start the push press so by the end of the push press, my heart rate was over 170.

I asked Kim if she thought I was better off with sticking with six unweighted lunges or do the weights and only do four. She thought for a bit and said to go with the four. My heart rate never went over 170 again and I could manage the rest of the WOD doing that.

I was exhausted by the end but I managed the whole thing in my scaled, masters way.

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