Sooner or later I’m going to have to admit that more than four years of committed, difficult work has paid off and I’m adequate. That’s scary. I might even have to admit that I have passed adequate and moved on toward awesome. I might even have to claim awesome status.

Today’s WOD as written:
Strength
Deadlift
1 X 2 @ 90%
Deadlift
6 X 3 @ 75%
Touch and go reps, 90 -120 seconds rest between sets.

WOD
AMRAP 10 minutes
Bar Facing burpees
Shoulder to overhead 135/95
3-6-9-12-15-18-21……..

My 90% was 148# pounds. I used to dream big and think some day I might be able to get sort of close to my body weight and lift it. That 90% is over my body weight and I not only lifted it up, but controlled it for a touch and go. I can remember the absolute thrill when I got to three digits and managed to lift over 100# and today that’s my normal WOD weight for a deadlift.

I entered the Masters Garage Games a couple years ago. There were only 7 scaled women in my age group throughout the country. So there weren’t many of us brave enough to do that nonsense. I was one of them. The last workout was a 45# shoulder to overhead move and I could maybe get two to three of them at a time and then I had to sit on the floor and box breathe. It was pitiful. It was part of the reason I came in seventh overall for the event. I did take second place on the day since it was just me and Cheryl in our age group.

I asked about weight today and was told the 22# bar with 10# plates should work for me. So I did my modified burpees and then did shoulder to overhead with 42# which is the equipment we have.

I did the 3s without stopping and then did the six burpees. Then I rested and got my heart rate down and did the 6 shoulder to overhead. I then had to rest a bit, but not much, and then got the 9 burpees. I did my box breathing and got my heart rate down and then managed – without setting the bar down, all 9 shoulder to overhead. I couldn’t manage more than three at the Masters Garage Games and today I did 9. That’s a pretty impressive improvement. I did the 12 burpees, rested, had to break the 12 shoulder to overhead into two sets of six, and then I managed to plod through all 15 burpees after I got my heart rate under control. The time ended with me getting 75 reps (30 shoulder to overhead and 45 modified burpees). All that work in 10 minutes.

That’s pretty damn adequate. Inside my head is still the small voice that says they were MODIFIED burpees. Inside my head is a voice that nags and says I probably could have managed either 47 or maybe even 53# on the shoulder to overhead. Inside my head is the critic that always says I could/should have done more or better. Perhaps I didn’t get that A+ and only got an A or even an A- and surely I could do more or better.

And that voice tries to rob me of any joy I may have achieved and I have to silence it because the thing is, I’m supposed to scale things and that doesn’t make me not awesome. In fact, the people who can just bang this stuff out aren’t any more awesome than me. They may be younger, fitter, stronger, and more athletic, but can they write about it later and then crochet a fancy scarf? Can they be a grandparent? Can they do any of the multitudinous things I also do beside lift some weights? Do they even have a cardiologist?

I might have to realize that all the work I’ve put in has insisted I pay the price and give up the negative self talk. I did good today.

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What sort of life goals can a retired person have? This has bothered me ever since I gave up my real adult job almost twenty years ago. I’ve done other adult jobs over the years and some of them were even really worth the effort. But my real job, my real calling, was saving lives and conquering disease. It’s what I did and who I was and what I was meant to do.

But now, I’m completely retired and not even doing the menial task of paperwork for the benefit of others. So what sorts of goals can I pursue?

I suppose I want to live healthily as long as possible. But that’s such a stupid underlying thing that all of us want. I wanted that when I had a real goal in life to save other lives, etc. Absent being alive, all other goals are meaningless. I can’t think of a single thing to do with all my time that is beneficial to the real world outside my curtained windows.

I write my histories. I like that. I didn’t like it when I took last year off. It gives me at least a bit of structure to my days. I have a task to complete, something to check off my to do list. Something tangible. I don’t know if it really benefits the world at large. Knowing more stuff is always good. Knowing the problems we face today are not unique to our time may be of some benefit.

I could create of goal of publishing me work for remuneration. I’ve actually thought about it many, many times. But it would be more work than I’m willing to put into it. And right now, I am happy to write with the occasional typo remaining and not feel bad about it. My OCD would be exacerbated by publishing for money. Essentially, this is not a goal I have. It might be a goal I should have, but I don’t think should is part of goal setting.

I know I could set some goals for projects around the house. These are not goals, however, they are to do lists. We have talked about repainting the inside of the house. That’s as far as that particular item has gotten. It might even be a really good idea to repaint. But that’s a not a goal item.

I don’t have a five or ten year plan. It seems entirely pointless. I’m not yet to the point where I won’t buy green bananas, but to plan out something that long term is incredibly ludicrous. I don’t even know what I want to do this weekend and it really doesn’t matter what I choose.

I’m not sure how other retired people manage all their time. I can remember my mother saying how one day, we would look back and wish we had some of the busy stuff to do. She was bored, too. Not all the time and not every single day, but when she was called with a “Do you want to” question she always said yes before the doing part was mentioned. She always had time to do or go or help.

There are myriad books written for the young and middle aged to help them get their lives focused and their chance for happiness increased. I don’t even know if there is any wisdom out there for retired folks. We tell younger people to plan for retirement. What we don’t say is that most of what you have to plan for is boredom.

I’ve been told many negative things about boredom. These are repeated by people who have their days so overscheduled they have to check their calendar for a time to go to the bathroom. When days stretch out endlessly, there is really only whatever it is you can think of to do with yourself. And the less you have to do, the harder it is to find any motivation to do it.

Every motivational book, every motivational talk, tells you to focus on your goals. Determine where you are going and then build a map to get there. I’ve already been there. I’m going home and I know the way. And there is nothing to do when I get there. Just not a real exciting goal.

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I have no idea what the real numbers are, but I’m going to guess that most of the world does not participate in CrossFit. I’m going to also guess that the percentage of old women around the world is even lower than simply the percentage for all people around the world. This is not a usual pursuit for old women.

I also know I’m not the only old woman who does this stuff. The CrossFit Games has a whole slew of women from my age group. I know because lately we’ve been revisiting WODs from the Opens of years past. And there were many, many women brave enough to participate and post scores for the entire world to see.

I am not that brave.

I am still brave enough to show up. I’ve been showing up for over four years now. Just today, we were talking about CrossFit memberships and the perseverance of the members. When I showed up on that hot August Saturday to try a class, I couldn’t even finish. I cried the first time I was there. Ryan said it was all scalable and as long as I showed up, they would work with me.

There were several people there that day, all doing better than I did. I’m the only one still there, still getting by as best as I can. Still showing up. I should be really proud of that. I didn’t quit. Not any of the times I’ve felt like just quitting. I always found an excuse to try again even in the face of abject failure and complete disappointment.

I began in the valley, far below sea level. I began to inch my way higher and higher. I’ve worked hard to push myself past obstacles which seemed totally insurmountable. Instead, I overcame them.

Not a single one of my one rep maxes is over the top impressive, generally speaking. They are all so much more than I had ever imagined possible for this old fart. I dreamed the impossible dream of some day finally being able to deadlift my body weight. Hell, I’m past that by almost 20%. I’m overachieving.

This week we did the workout from the 2015 Open. The last time I did 15.4 I got 40 reps. Not really two years later, but almost, I did it again. This time, doing it exactly as I did back then, I got 60 reps. I improved by 50% over the course of two years. That was freaking awesome and I’m thrilled and elated and I was ready to jump for joy except my heart rate was too high and I had to just sit and box breathe.

And yet, I’m still afraid to say anything too positive about my progress. I’ve reached the foothills. That’s all. I’ve climbed out of the valley and gotten farther than I dreamed possible. But up there, right in front of me, is still an entire mountain to be climbed and I don’t even have any hiking boots.

If I say with any conviction that I’m awesome, someone will point out that I’m just in the foothills and haven’t really done anything worthy of that tag. I’m certain they will. I even know who will be the person to say it. Me. I tell myself this all the time. I don’t know why because I certainly wouldn’t say it to anyone else. But, there I am, talking smack to myself.

I am terrified of success because it might not look like success to anyone else. But who the hell am I trying to impress? I’m the only person who needs to be happy with me. Anyone else happy with me is a bonus. I have to learn to like what I have accomplished. Especially considering how much that is.

Today’s WOD wasn’t nearly as impressive as Tuesday’s was. It wasn’t anything I could compare to an earlier time. It was one of those slog it out things and I scaled it appropriately to allow myself and my heart to get through it. I did. I was awesome. (Right?)

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So does chocolate. How many calories did 37 burpees burn? 

I am climbing the mountain of CrossFit. It has no top limit because there is always, always, always the possibility of more – more weight, more reps, less time. There is room for continual improvement. There is no limit to how far we can go.

And that’s my problem. I’m in the foothills struggling to climb an insurmountable obstacle. This mountain has no peak.

I started down in the valley, below sea level, and worked incredibly hard to get to these foothills. What I do today would have stunned me in times past. I am awesome. Maybe. See? I know I’ve come really far and achieved many things. I also know there is a whole mountain in front of me.

I recently got a one rep max on a clean and jerk and it was a whopping 73#. You can read that any way you like. It was a huge improvement over my first clean and jerk which was a poorly executed one done with a PVC pipe becaise I couldn’t get the 22# bar over my head. And I executed a good form clean and jerk with 73#.

But, the WOD weight for women on a clean and jerk is 95#. That’s not the top weight for women to do a clean and jerk, but what is expected during a WOD with repeated lifts. So perhaps the “whopping” up there has a sarcastic read to it.

Comparison is the thief of joy. But CrossFit, according to CrossFit, is all about comparison. Write your score on the board. My box has a penalty if you don’t tattle on yourself and put your score up there. This is something we would never do to our children at school. I wouldn’t have minded there. I would have had if not THE highest score, at least up there near the top. Here, I’m usually near or at the bottom.

We even have a website where we can record our scores and it posts them to a “Leader Board” where there are two leaders, one male and one female, and the rest are not the leaders. I’m not supposed to say losers here, but …

Inside my head are two competing ideas. I’m awesome for doing this crap. I’m old and feeble and have heart rate issues and I keep on with the work. I’ve come from the depths of the valley into the sunshine of the foothills. I’ve worked hard and consistently. And then there is the other side. There is this mountain in front of me. A mountain I will never climb to the top because I will not work as hard as it takes to get to the top and because I’m old and feeble and have heart rate issues.

There is only one person who has said, after I say something like I just got a one rep max clean and jerk of 73#, “Well, the WOD weight is 95#.” That person is me. No one has ever been anything more than supportive and encouraging. Except me. I’m the only one obsessed with this mountain in my face.

I have no idea how to appreciate myself. I’m terrified someone else is going to see the mountain and say, “That’s not so good, chicklette. You aren’t even up to WOD weights here. Can’t you do better?” The only person saying that is good old me.

There are blogs and videos and they all celebrate the awesome achievements of people who are way more committed to this than I am. I’m guessing the woman who at my age did a 127# thruster works a lot harder at this than I am willing to work. She probably spends a bit more than four hours a week at the gym. She probably doesn’t eat chocolate every day. She probably has a whole different attitude about the mountain and she may have never even visited the valley below, let alone wallowed there for more than a decade.

I love my workouts and how much I can accomplish. I’m thrilled with how far I’ve come. I’m terrified someone is going to point out that I’m giving myself a trophy without having earned it. I can’t even do the WOD weights.

But I didn’t die, which is a plus. I didn’t quit, which is amazing.

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I made no resolutions. Yesterday wasn’t a demarcation line, but rather one more day in a lifetime of days. If I was going to put a mark in the sand, it would probably have been two days earlier when it was my birth date, a true beginning. But I didn’t make any resolutions then, either.

About six months ago I decided – I did not resolve or wish or hope or dream – I decided that CrossFit had to change. I was killing myself with negativity. I was an old fart doing awesome stuff and all I saw was the failure and disappointment. I have no idea who I was failing or disappointing, but it clouded my every moment.

And so I decided to have fun instead. Just like that. I have slipped once or twice in the last half year, but overall, I just go and work hard and have as much fun as I can. It only took me years to learn the very basic lesson of CrossFit, it’s for everyone and we can all succeed.

Today, my light back squats were more than one-and-a-half times my first deadlift weight. They were low weight and high reps and I managed without any problems at all. And it was fun. And it was alarming when I thought about how easy it was and how much I have grown and changed and progressed and then I thought how sad it was that other people I know have just gotten older in the last four years.

I would beseech all my friends to do something. It doesn’t have to be CrossFit although it is awesome and you get to learn incredible things and do stuff you never even imagined you could do. But if it isn’t for you – and it isn’t for everybody and I get that – then please do something else. Do something to push yourself away from the American dream of fast crappy food and immobility while watching the television selling fast crappy food.

I beg you to get out of your comfort zone. Walk. Run. Skip. Jump rope. Dance. Squat. Lunge. Do push-ups or sit-ups or anything at all. Buy some equipment for the house – dumbbells or a kettle bell or some bands or anything. Please. This is your only chance to be here and I would wish you a long and healthy life. Our sedentary American dream is killing us all. Even I sit too much after I’m done with the gym for the day.

Our bodies were meant to move. We are built to be mobile. So be mobile. Get out of the chair or off the sofa. Please try some of the daring things out there. There are You Tube videos showing you how to manage certain moves. You can go online and find yoga videos. You can find CrossFit how to videos. You can simply get up and walk. There is an actual proper technique to running and you can find that online and improve your runs by falling forward into your gait.

Whatever it is you think might be able to manage – manage it. Dare it. Live your life better. You aren’t getting any younger, but you can trick your body into thinking it is. I know because I have done it and I want this gift for you. I can walk easier and with greater stability. I can manage my daily activities without the stresses because my body works like it used to back when I was younger.

I don’t take the stairs two at a time anymore. I can’t run as fast or as far. I can’t be thirty because even my kids are older than that. But I can do so many things I couldn’t manage four years ago. It hasn’t been easy and because of my own mindset, it wasn’t always fun. But after I decided to make it fun – it’s been wonderful. Fun times; good times. I’ve gotten stronger and more confident.

Whatever it is you can manage, please go do it. Not because it is a new year, but because this is your only life and you should get to live it to the fullest. Enjoy the journey. This is done by conquering your fears and overcoming obstacles. Don’t let the biggest obstacle in your one precious life be you.

Carpe diem. You deserve it.

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I want to be successful.

That’s pretty much the whole ball of wax. And now I want to look up what in the hell that stupid little phrase means and why the wax is in a ball and why losing a ball of wax is important in any way, shape, or form. Now I want to know where that phrase is from.

And that is my life in a paragraph. Curiosity is important until it is just a means to avoiding what is really important. There are a million, bazillion questions and only some of them are important. Learning which paths to follow and which to ignore is how you become successful.

That’s not the only thing one must do in order to succeed. You have fail your way to success.

No one, absolutely no one, is an overnight success. Success doesn’t come overnight. There is no UPS or FedEx delivery system to bring it to you. You have to go out and earn success one misstep after another. And then, bam, there you are, almost competent at what you do twenty years later.

I want to be a writer. I would really like to be a remunerated writer, but that means too much work. And too little expertise. And scary, frightening things. It means learning how to market myself and brand my writing and on and on and on and what I really want to do is put words on a page and have others read them and like them. Learning something would be a bonus.

I would also like to never, ever, ever have a typo. This isn’t so much about success but about perfectionism. But I would like it. And I can’t sell writing that isn’t perfect (I tell myself) even though I have paid for writing that isn’t perfect and am fine with it.

I want to be an athlete. Not the “everyone who moves” kind of athlete, but a real athlete. I want to be strong and capable and be able to do athletic things. Really, want I want to do is get through a WOD without sitting around and box breathing half the time.

Bragging note: I managed an entire WOD, for the very first time ever, without having to sit down. I did this by walking the runs but I did it. And I walk pretty fast, so I could manage to flip tires and do a rope climb sub without actually having to sit down.

I’ve been a CrossFitter for over four years and this finally happened. This is the type of athlete I want to be. Just step back, breathe for ten seconds, and then get back to work.

But, because of my heart rate, I can’t. It’s not that I don’t want to, it is that I literally can’t physically do it most of the time.

So can I ever be successful? What if I reframed my definition of success? Is that cheating? Is it just a way for everyone to get a trophy? Do I need a trophy? How do I know when I’ve been successful?

I’ve been writing for years, giving most of it away for free. I’ve made a little money at it but decided that was worse than giving it away. I made the choice to not make money. So if I want readers, and I have them, am I successful?

I show up at the box and do the WOD, scaled for a Little Old Lady, and do things most people don’t. And I do things many more people my age don’t do. So am I successful? I didn’t give up any of the many, many times I have thought about giving up. I show up, scared, and then do something.

I want to be successful. Maybe I am. How would I ever know?

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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.