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 am I most afraid of? Seems like it might be success. Well, not really success itself, but someone else pointing out my success isn’t all that successful.

This is the crux of my issues with awesomeness. You see, I have no idea where the bar is so I can’t tell if I’ve cleared it with room to spare, just got over, or knocked it to the ground.

I do CrossFit. I’ve been at this for nearly four years. I’ve improved greatly. I can do things today that I could only dream of when I started. I’m much improved. But … and there is always a but in here … I have no idea what it is that I should be doing.

My deadlift is half my son’s back squat. Is that any good? For either of us? I don’t know. And I don’t know where to find this information. Surely there must be some chart with what it is that a Little Old Lady with a cardiologist should be able to perform after nearly four years of practice. But … and there is always a but … there isn’t. There is no magic chart that tells me where the line is.

I have no way to figure out how to tell if I’m giving myself too much leeway to account for my age/condition/heart rate or if I’m not giving myself enough. If I claim awesomeness, will someone come by and point out that my weights are low, my reps are low, my performance is not up to par? Why can’t I find a par for me? That’s really what I need.

This is driving me crazy. I have always been able to find a par and then meet or exceed it. That’s been my life. And this whole CrossFit thing doesn’t do that. It makes me work to my own capacity and know that I’m doing all I can do with what I have to work with on this day and at this time. And then, be happy with the results.

I’m proud of all my hard work. I’ve come so far. And yet, I’m still in the foothills. I haven’t even started to climb the mountain. And if I proclaim my abilities, will someone unkindly point out that there is a whole mountain in front of me. And how can I not see the mountain myself.

Am I supposed to be climbing mountains at my age? Shouldn’t I be happy with navigating the foothills? I’ve done so much to get to this point. But … and there is always a but … there is that mountain. How can I be awesome with a whole mountain in front of me?

There is one thing that Coach Craig, Coach Kim, and all my friends seem to agree on. I don’t give myself enough credit for what I manage to do. I’m at the gym on a regular basis and working as hard as my aging body and cantankerous heart will allow. That’s pretty awesome since I could be on the couch or in front of the computer.

But … and there is always a but … that computer will allow me to look and see what Little Old Ladies did at the CrossFit Games. The leader in the one rep max for a squat clean managed 142# for that. I can deadlift 153# max. But … and there is always a but … I have no idea how long this 60 year old has been working at this stuff and what her history is and what she does has nothing to do with me anyway.

Intellectually, I know all this. The people at the games are freaking amazing. They are like Olympians in that this is really, really important to them and they work much harder, for much longer at getting to their peak performance than I ever will or ever want to. So comparing myself to the world’s best athletes from any arena is stupid.

But … and there is always a but … I still have no idea what to expect from myself. I’m not sure how to figure out the chart I need to work from. I want to push myself to successfully complete my WODs. I want to also be able to move the next day or the day after. I need to work hard but not injure myself because I’m old and it takes me longer to heal.

I just don’t know where that mark is. And to claim I’m awesome just because I try seems like giving myself an honor I haven’t earned. Unless, I have earned it somehow and just don’t understand the rules.

I am afraid. I’m afraid that if I call myself awesome for doing all the awesome stuff I do, someone will unkindly point out that it isn’t really all that much – compared to the elite athletes at the Games or the twentysomething young men, or the fortysomething women out there.

I really wish I knew how to give myself credit for all the shit I’ve accomplished. I need a chart.

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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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