I’ve ignored this blog for a while not because I’m not writing, but because I really couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say here. I have this space and I can use it for whatever I want. I can talk about my obsession with CrossFit and my desperation to not “fail” at the Open. I am not sure how one would actually go about failing the Open, but I was fairly certain I would be that person.

I did not fail, but I think I got a D- or maybe … I did fail. I was in the bottom third of any category I could sort by – worldwide, region, state, my own box. But that speaks to something else. Something I have tried to tell myself over and over about the Masters Garage Games. While I came in last in the world for that, I did get off my fat ass and participate, which is more than most women my age managed. Still, I was last. In the world. That sucked and I desperately didn’t want to do that again.

I didn’t come in last in any listing – worldwide, region, state, or my own box. Part of the reason for that is simply I didn’t quit. I did all five WODs and no matter how scared I was or how much it sucked, I gave it my best shot. Whether or not I thought it was equitable or even fair, I was stuck with it and I complained my way through it.

And I suppose there is some saving grace in that. I did not give up. I wanted to. I was so frightened by the entire prospect of failure, it would have been so much easier to not even have tried. But instead, I did try and I made it through to the other side.

But that part is over and done and there isn’t really anything else to do with the entire mess. I learned some things and I remembered some more things I had learned before. And I struggled and overcame. And now I have to find something else.

I would like to write about uplifting ideas. I have tried several times to write something like that and I almost had to get the insulin out and inject myself. I’m not really a sweet person and when I try, it sounds so damn sugary and sickenly sweet that I just can’t stand it. I get about half a page written and then erase the whole thing.

It’s not that I don’t think we all need to be better people. I do. I don’t care how good you are right this second, we are all pretty much just a bag of disgusting animalistic needs with a thin coating of civilization. It’s that thin coating that makes our lives possible, but it’s all the other stuff that makes it hard. And I don’t really know how to write about that.

There are seven deadly sins and I practice all of them to some degree way too often. My favorite is sloth. I love that sin. I can sit and do nothing worthwhile for damn ever. Love that shit. But, I’m supposed to make my life matter and you can’t do that while playing solitaire or even while scrolling on Facebook. So I have to eschew my love affair with sloth and get something done.

But I’m retired and there isn’t much I have to do. I have given myself the task of writing a daily essay about history and there are days when I find this burdensome to contemplate but fun to actually do. It’s that problem with sloth. I love sloth.

I have been crocheting, but no more scarves. At least not right now. And of course, I color. I love to color while listening to a podcast or glancing up every once in a while as the TV plays in front of me. I’ve been reading some and doing a few crossword puzzles and trying to make healthy meals and running the household crap which must be done. But really, it’s all sloth stuff.

How can I write an inspiring post when all I want to do is settle into my slothful ways and enjoy the ennui of nothingness? It is a conundrum. That’s why I haven’t been posting.

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I’m over it. I managed all five WODs as Dave unfairly wrote them and I’m done. Blissfully done. I achieved a new PR – I did the CrossFit Open. And I’m not the suckiest person in the world dumb enough to sign up for this crap.

Thank you, Scott, for pushing me to sign up. Just so you know, tattling on me to my son wouldn’t have mattered. He would have told you I had to choose this torture for myself. He can’t or won’t or simply doesn’t pressure people into doing what they don’t want to do. I had to pick this for myself. And your faith in me and my abilities made it possible. Craig has to tell me I’m good. I’m his mother. He loves me. But other people don’t have to tell me I’m enough. Thank you for lying to me.

Thank you CrossFit Summerville for letting me play. I’ve watched this from the sidelines for years, fretful and fearful and totally sure this was beyond my capabilities to even attempt such nonsense. But of late, with the extra weekend partner WODs, I’ve felt more accepted in my inelegance and ineptitude and permitted to play with the real athletes no matter how much of a drag I am to my partner. And yes, that is just me talking inside my head. No one, and I mean not any one ever, has said any of that out loud to me. But it did help make it possible to sign up. Thanks.

Thank you, Kim. You have listened to me, dried my tears, calmed my fears, and let me return to try again and again and again. I don’t know how you have managed to remain so patient all these years. I don’t know why you have done so, either. But I appreciate all the hard work you have done on my behalf. You don’t let the crazy take over and destroy me. Thanks.

Thank you, Ryan and Betsy, for telling me it is okay to suck in a public place. Not that you actually used those words, but that’s what I was asking for and you gave me permission to do so. Both of you calmed me enough to do what I knew was going to my Waterloo, my worst WOD, my downfall, in a group setting. Both of you told me I wouldn’t be chastised, castigated, belittled, or demeaned if I showed up and took for damn ever to do what real athletes could do far more quickly. Turns out, the real athletes also took for damn ever to do this. I had no idea. I figured it was just me. I always think it is just me. But you two made sure I was given the chance. Thanks.

Thank you, Pete, for telling me to just rest. No one has ever told me that in four and a half years. I’ve been told to get back up, keep moving, don’t stop, you got this, just keep going, move, move, move. I’ve never been given the permission or the advice to just rest until I can really have something to move with. I’ve always felt like I was letting myself and everyone else down by box breathing and trying to get my heart rate low enough to bang out a few more reps. I was willing to just quit instead of fighting to keep going. And I would have if you hadn’t said to just wait until I could move again. There was plenty of time and I could finish if I would just let myself really recover first. I could and I did. Thanks for good advice, permission, and being so kind.

Thank you, Brittany, for being the other voice in my ear. I could – eventually – get back up and keep moving and finish and not quit and get this version of hell over with. I have no idea why anyone ever has faith in my ability to do this shit. We’ve been partners in a WOD and you physically know exactly how much I can’t do. And yet, you were willing to help me as I struggled with doubt and fear. Thanks.

I’ve survived this with a lot of help from a lot of people. There have been many more unnamed people who have encouraged me not just in the last five weeks, but over the years. I’ve read numerous blogs about other people’s success and failures and doubts and exhilaration. These have given me hope of a more lasting kind. There are people out there whose names I know and others who are just their blog titles and yet, amazingly kind people who have given me encouragement from afar. Thanks.

Thank you, Dick, for being supportive in this and in any cockamamie thing I decide to try. You have never, in 44 years, told me ‘no’ – except when I wanted to go to Sweden and you wanted to go on a Caribbean cruise. But you were right, you did win the trip. Other than that one little thing, you have always supported any dream and tried to talk me out of any fear. This is just one very small example. I love you. Thanks.

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I know ‘a lot’ is two words. I wish everyone did. 

I’m living in fear and trepidation. I struggled with 72 thrusters, didn’t even do the damn 84 thrusters, and now I have to do 90 thrusters. I know. It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I understand that the fittest people on earth have absolutely nothing in common with me. I understand that the fittest people on earth can do amazing things. I understand that hard work goes into their workouts as well. However, I’m going to be working a lot harder than these young, fit women. I won’t accomplish as much, but it will be harder work. Why? Because it will take me about four times as long to do only half as much.

I have no idea what to do about my heart rate. I’ve been told to try interval running by some great coaches. Apparently two intervals isn’t enough to do anything good for heart rate, but that’s as many intervals as I can manage before I just have to walk and walk and walk and my running is slower than my walking.

As far as I can tell, jumping rope is essentially running in place while trying to trip yourself. So I have to run ten times today. Did you notice up above that I can’t really do that?

I should be able to get into round three before good old Katrin and Sara were finished with the whole shebang. At least that is my goal. And I hope to manage the thrusters unbroken for at least two rounds, but that might be too much. I hate pushing weight over my head when my heart rate is over 170. I’m technically supposed to quit working when my heart rate is mid-160s but the cardiologist also said “keep doing what you’re doing” and that included not stopping that soon.

I was awake most of Thursday/Friday night/morning but managed to sleep pretty well last night, so at least I’m not completely wiped out and tired as hell. That should help my muscles, but it won’t matter to my heart (technically a muscle but it refuses to behave well and play nicely with others).

I’m supposed to be part of the larger community and yet I feel like an interloper. I feel disconnected from the people who actually manage this stuff with a bit of panache or at least, without having enough time to have pizzas delivered while they sit and pant like lizards on hot rocks. I’m fairly certain that no one actually does order the pizza, but they would have time to eat the whole thing, too, so no telling.

I’ve worked my way into a tizzy. I knew it was going to be thrusters and double unders because they appear year after year and double unders are one of those limiting movements that separate the men from the boys. And thrusters seem to be Dave Castro’s favorite beat you over the head with uncountable numbers of reps movement. Next year, will we top 100? These seem to be escalating with wild abandon.

Anyway, I’m going to go in today. There should be a smaller group of us working out because many of our members are off doing the Palmetto 200 – a 200 mile relay race across the state of South Carolina. Amazingly enough, I’m not part of that. Probably because, as listed above, I can’t run.

So at least I will be delaying fewer people as I sit and box breathe and sit and pant and mostly sit through this WOD. I will get it done. It won’t be pretty. I will be proud of my accomplishment and then totally embarrassed by it because it isn’t really much of an accomplishment when I do half the work in quadruple the time.

But it is all I have so that’s all I can do. I’m not sure resignation is the best way to get things done. But it seems better than just crying, which is my other option.

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I wanted to whine some more. Betsy wouldn’t let me whine. I would tattle on her, but that would be more whining and she won’t let me whine.

Yes, it is unfair. Life isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that even as an old fart I can move well enough to actually be a CrossFitter and lift heavy weights, at least heavier than a lot of Little Old Ladies. It’s not fair that I’m relatively healthy and with all my buttons still working. I still have all my buttons, right? I think I do, but that might not be the best test.

So, I got through week Four and now I have to wait for week Five. This has to be double unders and thrusters because they are both left for us to do. That pretty much sucks because of my whole heart rate thing and I might be tempted to whine again, but I’m thinking Betsy wouldn’t like that.

What have I learned so far:

  1. Dave Castro is an asshole. He doesn’t care about old people in general and old women in particular.
  2. Doesn’t matter. I did it anyway. Even when old men got the break I wanted and I didn’t, well, I did it anyway cuz I’m just that good. Or cranky. Something.
  3. Thank you, Scott. This wasn’t my choice. I have never done this before. Your faith in me and my ability to not be the suckiest old fart in the world means so much to me. It pushed me over the edge and made me sign up. And even though you really couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t be last; I’m not last.
  4. I’m more comfortable with the other athletes. They seem more comfortable around me. I still get the charity case syndrome creeping up from time to time, but I’m in there trying my hardest and having fun with the big kids.
  5. It’s not supposed to be easy. CrossFit is hard. Not everyone can do it and certainly not the way Asshole Dave writes it down. I get to scale appropriately during the rest of the year and because of that, I was able to at least get on the board each week – so far. Because of years of hard work, I got the snatches and the deadlifts and even the wall balls no matter how long it took. So there.
  6. It is supposed to be fun. It has been. Even with all the whining. Even with all the scared out of my mind jitters. Even with low scores. I have gone into the arena and done my best. I cannot compete with the younger folks in my gym, but because I’ve been posting to a worldwide scoreboard, I’m not last there. I have amazed myself. I always think of myself as unworthy of CrossFit because I’m always sucky because I’m always the oldest crappiest athlete at my box. And here, it’s just because I’m the oldest, not because I’m crappy.

I truly believe, even with all the difficulty of actually getting that damn line in the database, I’ve gotten my money’s worth. One more week to go. I’m sure there is going to be double unders and thrusters. I sure as hell hope Dave knows to scale that to single unders for old farts.

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Last year, I got all the deadlifts and some of the wall balls. This year, I might get a few more wall balls and maybe make it to the row. That’s pretty cool. I will work within my limitations and try to have as much fun while doing this as I can muster.

I’m also going to try to explain to the youngsters in their 40s about how to recover while you are dying between reps. You see, you only exchange air at the alveoli level, so shallow breathing doesn’t really do that much good. AND you must empty the lungs of retained carbon dioxide before you suck in a nice lung full of fresh air.

Your lungs are similar to trees. There is the trunk, then the branches, and finally the little delicate leaves. In your lungs, these are the alveoli and that is where you need to get rid of icky air and replace it with nice fresh, oxygenated air.

The way to recover quickly isn’t a secret. Blow out retained air. More. Empty your lungs, really. More exhale. And only then does it do any good to take in a nice full breath and hold it for a couple seconds while your blood pumps past and can pick up some new oxygen. Then blow out again, hard. Really empty your lungs and hold that empty state for a couple seconds and only then take a second really deep breath. Hold that, exhale forcefully. Breathe normal. Then you are ready to go again and will manage more reps in your refreshed state.

This is the only way I can effectively get my own heart rate to drop. It is called box breathing and it is useful to lower heart rate, get fresh air in, and to alleviate stress. All positives when pushing through your 40th deadlift. All necessary by the time you are trying for a 55 calorie row. This isn’t just an old fart talking, this is an unregistered nurse talking.

Now for the cranky person who talks. I keep waiting for equality or fairness and it keeps being just out of reach. Once again, Dave Castro seems confused by the CrossFit mantra of “it’s all scalable” and believes that old women are such masterful beings, we don’t need any help.

If I was a decent old woman athlete, Dave would realize it would be terribly unfair to make me, over aged 55, move the same weight as a 19 year old. That’s just crazy talk. Of course, someone over 55 should have a lower weight. And so RX women 55+ have a break in the weight of their deadlifts. If you were a crappy athlete, like I am, you wouldn’t be given this same break. As a crappy athlete, Dave thinks it is reasonable to have a 19 year old and a 64 year old moving the same weight. Why?

If I were a man, Dave would worry about scalability for me. As a young RX athlete, I would be expected to toss a 20# med ball to a ten foot line. And as a scaled young man and as an RX old man, I would have the task of throwing that same weight ball to a lower height, just nine feet. And if I were an old unfit man, I could throw a lighter ball to the lower height and use a 14# ball to a nine foot mark.

But I’m a woman. If I were a young, fit woman, I would have to throw a 14# ball to nine feet. If I was an old fit woman, a young unfit woman, or an old unfit woman – we would all be throwing a 10# med ball to nine foot height. If Dave could figure out how to lower the demand for old men, why couldn’t he figure out how to lower it even still more to give me a nod to being older? Dave, here’s a hint. Ten pounds to eight feet.

So this week, I’m getting screwed in two different ways. It’s not unexpected. This is three out of four weeks where as an old unfit woman, I’ve not been given the same scaling crap as old fit people or young unfit people or even old unfit men. I’m apparently just too difficult to figure out for poor Dave, the blithering idiot.

He was tasked with writing five workouts. He apparently was overtaxed and copied word for word from last year. And even with that much less work, scaling his own job miraculously, he was unable to figure out how to make things equitable. I’m not even a Level 1 person and I can figure this crap out better. Dave should give me a call and I will gladly help him and make this possible for everyone, which is their claim.

Sure it’s possible. And I’m good enough to do this. But really, I keep hoping against hope for fairness.

I did twenty reps of each move today, just for practice. So I know I can do this. Now, to just stop whining about it.

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I’m trying my damnedest not to be too angry because it simply uses up energy I don’t have in great supply. But I’m so angry.

The Sport of CrossFit is all scalable. They say that all the time and I do mean ALL the time. There is even built in scaling for each and every WOD written. Well, if you look up Hero WODs, they only have the men’s version there, but it is then scaled back for women before appearing on the white board. We are aware that although women can be strong and mighty, but they are – on average – not as strong or tall or big as men.

For the last few years, CrossFit has even noticed that as we age we lose some of the strength and flexibility we once had. Our endurance may diminish as well and we are simply older than we used to be. Even Rich Froning is pushing 30 now and not in the leader position any more. Twenty-nine and already losing it.

But I am not 29. In fact, both of my children are over that age. In point of fact, 42 years ago, I was in labor for the first time and Craig was already trying to kill me. But despite the whole Preeclampsia thing and Premature birth thing, we both survived and thrived. So that’s a positive. But it does mean I’m old enough to have a Master Athlete. I actually have two of them.

In the RX portion of 17.3 there is a nod to the undeveloped talents of teens who have pull-ups and lower weighted snatches and the aging process of the 55+ crowd who also get pull-ups instead of chest to bar and lower weights with the permission to break the snatch into a power snatch and overhead squat. So if I was an RX athlete, I would get a break for being an old fart.

I am, by no stretch of the imagination, an RX athlete. Hell, I’m barely holding on to scaled athlete. I’m really a way-scaled athlete who is struggling with the discomfort of the zone in which I have placed myself.

On the plus side, I totaled up all the people sixty and over who signed up for the Open. There are about 5,000 of us worldwide. I’m already way ahead of the game. I’m in there. I’m trying my damnedest. I’m working as hard as I can way, way, way outside my comfort zone. I’m giving it all I have. So there is that.

But, what in the hell was Dave thinking? For the scaled version of this, teens, most people, and old farts all have the exact same workout. We all have jumping pull-ups and the same lessened weights for the squat snatch which every single one of us can break into a power snatch with an overhead squat. There is absolutely no difference in what is expected of a 19 year old, a 25 year old, and me, the ridiculously old fart.

As a woman in a man’s world, I’ve often been slapped upside the head with inequity. I know that old women are useless beyond all imagining. We are not the wise old rich men out there who can counsel the youngsters. We are dried up carcasses of nothing knowing less than nothing. This perception is, I believe, way off base, but it is the perception. And when an old woman looks good (see the media storm for the 63 year old gray haired model) it is news.

I have tried to maintain my place in the world. When harassed on the job, I dealt with it personally rather than going to HR or anything. I made my point and my place. I was able to be an adult in a world where it was expected that most of my adulting would be in the rearing of perfect children (males who could then go out into the world and contribute). And while I did do that part (not the perfect part), I insisted on the out in the world contribution as well. Not because I had to in order to be a worthwhile person, but because I was given enough gifts to make it possible and I felt compelled to use those gifts.

So here I am, once again, faced with inequity. And what are my choices? I must go out there and do what I can. It is unfair. It is unjust. It is totally what I’ve learned to expect from CrossFit. But I shall give it my best shot. I will do as much as I can. It will be less than the 30 and 40 year olds. It will still be more than I dreamed possible when I first walked into the box.

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I finally have my line included in the CrossFit Open database and it finally has two numbers included. I feel like a winner already.

I’ve been consumed by this problem. I’ve been so focused on it, I forgot I have another “real” blog where I post historical on-this-day essays for each and every day of the year. Yesterday, it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen a post there. After a whole week of March, there were no March posts.

I’m currently working on the June histories. April is ready, May is done but not edited, and I’m in the middle of writing June. There was no particular reason, other than obsession with a different problem, that I couldn’t have gotten March up there.

So, I have now gotten caught up and all of March’s essays are ready to appear on a daily basis at a scheduled time.

I don’t think I’ve ever pulled this stunt before. Writing for me is easy. Well, I guess it is. Other writers mention how difficult it is to put words to paper (something none of us do anymore but the image remains). I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone. Walked up the 100 steps, hung backwards over the parapet, and gotten my “gift of gab”. I’m pretty sure I’ve always had it, but now it is official.

The tedium of maintaining a website is often overlooked in the wonder of content. But it is a process. I know this. I know how much it takes to get my content up there day after day for years on end. I know I need to make it possible for readers to find something in particular. Enjoying a single essay is wonderful and I hope I can teach in the process. But finding something else is another matter completely.

I still have to update the February topic page. It is tedious bit of work and seems to be unimportant, although I really know it isn’t. It is something I used myself year after year. I learned this when I wrote about the same thing for a second time. Whoops. Well, it is free. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to be worthwhile. We each only have so much time in the day and it is my job, as content provider or writer or author or whatever, to provide value for the minutes spent.

And this brings me back to CrossFit Open’s issues with the website. I realize the cost of putting on an event is much more than many people may imagine. I’ve been there for Conviction Training Facility’s events and know the time and money put into getting ready. While CrossFit doesn’t have much skin in the game at this point, they are going to be renting space for the Regionals and then the Games themselves. This costs money.

I’m more than willing to add my portion of the fee to that pot so the Games may go on. I understand there can be problems with websites. I have a second little degree in computer networking and have actually managed websites and not just blogging sites. I’m willing to tolerate some of the problems arising out of an ephemeral world we have created together.

I’m happy this was finally resolved – both CrossFit Open and my own Little Bits of History site. I’m hoping the internet will behave for the next while until I can recover from Greg’s and my own mistakes.

LBoH