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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I am an outlier. I am an old fart who is also a CrossFitter. This makes me weird, but it also makes me incredibly unlike most old farts out there. First of all, I live in world that is growing increasingly fat. Our food is abominable and we are bombarded with advertisements urging us to eat, eat, eat. Every trip down the road brings us past a fast food establishment offering a host of high calorie, low nutrition “foods”.

I prefer cooking my own food and find going out to eat far more work than actually cooking a meal. By the time I decide where to go, get in the car, get there, wait for a table, wait for wait staff to take my order, wait for it to be cooked, wait for it to come to the table, wait for a bill, and get back home, I could have cooked the meal twice over. It’s not that I’m that busy and don’t have the time to waste on such endeavors, it’s that I’m lazy and find the interminable waiting to be a pain in the ass.

So, I eat clean. Well, not really. I eat cleaner than most Americans. I have perhaps one soda a year and I like to try McDonald’s fish sandwich once a year just to make sure they are still ruining it. No cheese/orange slab on mine. Small fries to go with it. And coffee, so this isn’t even when I have my yearly soda.

I love sweets and desserts but even so, I limit this part of my diet to something a bit more manageable. I love pasta and my only limit there is to really only serve one serving size at a time. I’m a fan of really good bakery bread, but I don’t eat too much of that either. It’s not that I’m a saint about eating clean, it’s that my likes and dislikes aren’t tipping me over into the “all junk food” diet.

All this makes me a bit of an outlier, but this isn’t where I’m most obvious. You see, I CrossFit. A lot. Not really all that well, but consistently. And because I’ve been consistent over a long period of time, the people I work out alongside don’t remember how very astoundingly crappy I was when I began.

They see this rather amazing old fart who has heart rate issues but can manage to muddle along with the WODs and get crap done, albeit slowly and without an excess amount of weight. Having said that, every single damn thing I do today was something I couldn’t do at all when I began. I needed a damn cane to lunge down the mat, for God’s sake. I used a PVC pipe for almost every lift. I had a kid sized med ball for wall balls.

Today, I have weight on my weight for almost everything (I still can’t fall under the bar in a full snatch without falling over if I use more than the lightest bar we have). I lunge down the mat without a stick to support myself. I use a real med ball to a nine foot mark for wall balls and as much as I whine about everything, I do it anyway.

And so, people who can see me at the box think it’s possible for parents or grandparents to be like me. It is, but not right away. Anyone can do what I do, as long as they work at it as hard as I have worked. I know I sound like I’m bragging right now and I don’t mean to, but I’m really sort of a big deal. Not that I’m breaking any world records, but I am doing things women of my generation didn’t always do.

It’s hard. It’s hard for everyone. This whole CrossFit thing is a lot of work. And it matters what happens for the rest of the day outside the box. You can’t blow off the other 23 hours in the day and then be a superstar in the gym. It doesn’t work that way. And it doesn’t matter if you are the best athlete in the world, it’s hard. The weights are heavy. The WODs are difficult. It takes skill and determination to get through this shit.

I don’t know if it is even harder for a Little Old Lady or not. I don’t know how much other people struggle with any of this nonsense. I do know how hard I’ve worked and how many tears I’ve shed. I know how often I’ve thought of quitting. I know that I’ve gone back again anyway. I know I struggle with every single part of this CrossFit thing. And I know I have won. I have balance, core strength, muscles, even endurance that beats anything I had five years ago when I was younger and unfitter. I’m not a star, but I am impressive as hell. And if you or your mother or your grandmother wants this, you or they can work for it and get here, too. Even if I might make it look very doable, I want to be sure you understand, this is really hard. So I guess that makes me a hardass. I’m good with that. I earned the title.

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This is not me. My hair isn’t this long. 

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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