I have been doing CrossFit for almost five years now. That makes me a CrossFitter and I would love to bravely say, I’m pretty good at it. Not because I’m really all that good at it, but because I keep showing up and letting other people boss me around. Others, including coaches and other athletes, have more faith in me than I have in myself.

I have muscles. Really. I’m an old fart with muscles. I don’t quite have six pack abs. I can’t do a hand stand push up. I can’t do a pull-up. I can only clean and jerk half my body weight. I still can’t deadlift 200#. I can’t run a mile. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. So what on earth would make me think I’m any good at this?

I show up. Even when I’m scared to death. I show up. When I can’t do a single thing as written, ever (okay, once a did a WOD RX, but it was supposed to be fast and light and for me it was slow and heavy, but I did it RX) I still show up. I scale every damn thing, all the time.

And as bad as I am today, I’m so much better than when I began. I would love to see every old fart in the world join me in this adventure. Not because then I might be able to be better than someone for once, but because it improves life outside the box. Really. Even when I occasionally injure myself, I know I’m stronger and more able and more confident and more awesome just because I do CrossFit on a regular basis. The feeling of empowerment is worth every drop of sweat. I can do many things that people half my age cannot. Really. With all the stuff I can’t do, I still do many not-at-all-old-lady things four to five times a week.

I’m killing this CrossFit thing. I’ve failed my way to success. I am good. Even though I know some people might judge me by different standards which would not be as kind or as generous. I have learned so many things by showing up and failing. I’ve mostly learned not to give up and to give myself the chance to succeed.

I’ve tried yoga a few times before. I hated it. Loathed it. Really, really disliked it. But I really like Cindy. She has been my CrossFit friend since I first started. She is a positive influence, a lovely person, and now a certified yoga instructor.

Back in February, while she was still learning to be a yoga instructor (and three years into her own yoga practice), she started to have a yin yoga class on Fridays after we were finished with CrossFit. She hadn’t been making too much time for CrossFit since she was so consumed with yoga. I made a deal. I would yoga, if she would CrossFit.

So I’ve been doing yoga once a week since February. Except, back in April, she was getting closer to graduation and wanted to practice some more and needed guinea pigs and began a Tuesday evening yin yoga class. I really like Cindy. She is a good person. I love that she is chasing her dream and taking all the steps to make it happen, not just wish it were so. I came to her Tuesday evening class, too.

Then in May, to get people used to coming to yoga classes, all of them were free for the month. Dick started to come with me. It has greatly helped him in his mobility which has allowed his golf game to improve. He is more flexible and has more stamina on the golf course, making yoga worth the time and effort. So we both go on Tuesdays and I still go after CrossFit on Fridays.

Twice a week makes a difference. Danette started at CrossFit about a year ago. She usually comes to Cindy’s yin yoga classes too. She also signed up for and does a nightly ROM WOD from an online subscription. It’s been intriguing. Her mobility is quite improved after her nightly stuff, which is a combination of yoga poses as well as stretching.

I decided to try using You Tube to search for yin yoga stuff and lo and behold, there were a half million hits. This week, completely broken by the yoga world and now a more than transient yogi, I’ve been doing a nightly yin yoga before bedtime. I’m getting better at setting up my home space and allowing myself the luxury of surrendering to the space yoga provides.

However, I’m a CrossFitter. Any time the instructor/You Tuber says “if available” I CrossFit that shit and give it a try because in CrossFit there is a need to prove you can at least freaking try. This is not the yoga path, but it is the CrossFit path. I sometimes have to back out, but at least I know I’m not holding back in my practice out of fear.

I’m a CrossFitter. I do yoga. They actually do go together.

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I wish I knew. I wish there was someone to just tell me. There isn’t. I have to figure it out on my own. What the hell are my goals?

I write Little Bits of History and publish daily. I took a year off and missed it so I started again. It is a creative outlet and it is a learning experience – at least for me as I write them. I have always been a repository of Mom’s Fast FactsTM and amused or maybe annoyed my kids by spouting off esoteric crap at the slightest provocation. Writing these essays for close to a decade has increased my store of trivia no one will ever ask me about.

I still can’t remember where I put my coffee cup, but I can spout completely inconsequential factoids without warning.

I like writing. It gives me a chance to see what I’m thinking and what appears on the screen before me is often quite surprising. I had no idea I was thinking that stuff until it shows up right there in black and white.

But that is just a small corner of my life. I don’t write all day long. I have other things to do. Most of them equally inconsequential but I’m old and retired and not expected to be of any consequence anymore. I fulfill that ideal.

But then, four to five times a week I step into the expanse of The Box. I don’t know what I want out of that portion of my life. I’ve gained strength and stability. I’ve gained stamina, which is scary when one considers how little I have now and then realizes how much more there is now than when I began.

Each and every time I look at a WOD, I panic. It’s been nearly five years and every single one of them scares me. No one programs for a Little Old Lady and yet, that’s who shows up when I walk in the gym. The young people can do the things so much quicker than me, sitting there box breathing and trying to not have a heart attack and die. I’ve had to promise I won’t have a heart attack and die. So I’m responsible for keeping my heart rate in the “viable” zone.

And then I get cranky. I could have scaled the reps on Monday. I was given the option. I did scale the weight. I stopped working when I was too light headed to do another set up box jumps which aren’t jumped, but still, they make me dizzy especially when my heart rate is high. Rather than die, I quit. But then I was up half the night wishing I hadn’t. I could have sat still for longer and gotten my head straight and my heart rate down and then done the last round. I not only could have, I should have. And then I got all mad at myself for quitting. I was too worried about the time. I’m getting older by the second regardless of the time, so why do I keep selling myself short?

If my goals were clearer, would I stop stopping myself? I don’t honestly know. I do know that I can do many things and I would like to do more and my progress is slower than a herd of turtles moving through peanut butter. But I still progress.

I’m tempted to not listen to the cardiologist and just go for it and see what happens but I’m afraid that could include one of those pesky heart attacks and die things, so I don’t.

I’m so amazed at the people who come to the gym with the goal of getting better and then work on getting better. I’m so waylaid by that damn white board. I need to let the board go.

Maybe my goal should be to improve incrementally. Or maybe just improve mentally.

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I like to think of myself as invincible. I have no idea why since it has been proven repeatedly, that I’m not. Not even close. I’m pretty much capable of injuring myself while standing still. But, in my mind, I’m invincible.

I do CrossFit which is pretty damn a) incredible and b) stupid when one considers my age and natural proclivities. I’m fairly klutzy and lack in both the coordination and muscle requirements for athletic endeavors. But still, I persist.

Last week, I was doing a power snatch and decided, for unknown reasons, to just add a little ballet type step to the bar overhead part. I twisted myself half around and injured my left lower back. So for the rest of the week, I tried to take things easy and I worked on mobility things at home. The workouts were in my favor and my back wasn’t too bad, it was just a bit ouchy.

By Monday of this week, I was back to my old self and I mean that in every sense of the word. I was back to how I am most of the time, which is old.

The WOD had dumbbell snatches in it. I’ve done these twice before and each time, I’ve strained my back. I know to keep my butt low in the squat and to lead with my elbow coming up. I also knew I had managed 55 of these during the open and although I was a bit stiff and sore afterwards, it’s not uncommon for me. See the “I’m old” part above.

This week, there were “only” 45 and so I was sure I could manage this. I thought to myself on each rep, “butt down” and I believe I really was keeping my butt down. I got through the 21 without any problems. I had a sore back at the end of the 15, but there were only 9 more to do and I kept up my mantra. Butt low. Butt low. And I thought I would be okay.

I wasn’t. Apparently, based on when things hurt even worse, I was twisting as I switched hands with each rep and I somehow totally destroyed my right lower back, but not really. I totally destroyed my right butt cheek, but that just sounds pitiful to my ears.

My back/butt hurt me so bad, it kept waking me up Monday night/Tuesday morning. My alarm went off and when I almost cried getting out of bed, I pretended I had the sense God gave spit, and I crawled back under the covers and stayed there.

I rolled on a lacrosse ball. I used essential oils. I used a foam roller. I winced with every step I took and gasped each time I got out of any chair. I did show up for yin yoga Tuesday evening and stretching helped tremendously. So, of course, I figured, showing up on Wednesday would be fine. I had already missed a day.

The WOD was deadlifts, power cleans, thrusters, and overhead squats in a Tabata routine. Two rounds. So eighty seconds of each move, total. I was sure this would be okay. I thought I would do the deadlifts and power cleans using a light weight and just get my heart rate down during the thrusters and overhead squats. Warm-up included some push press wall balls and even that hurt my back/butt. So, instead of doing something fun, I pretended I was not an idiot and I did 20 seconds of child’s pose interchanged with 20 seconds of downward dog.

Thursday, is my normal day off and I had a massage scheduled. Catherine did a great job fixing the remnants of my invincibility gone wrong. I could actually move without pain. It was heavenly.

I showed up today and we were doing Annie with extra rope climbs between each round. I did the warm-up gingerly and tried a few sit-ups. It worked without hurting, although V-ups were still not a good idea. I tried jumping rope and that didn’t hurt either. But there are 150 of each. I knew I wasn’t doing anything like a rope climb because that would just hurt me. I had to promise I would stop if I was in any pain.

I was in pain, but it was the front, not the back, and so I finished. Then, after the WOD, we had another class of yin yoga. I felt a few pulls in that and would back off from the stretch. As I sit here, I am feeling pretty good.

I’m going to guess my stomach is going to be sore tomorrow, but it is the good kind, not the “you dumb old fart, what did you think you were doing” kind. My real goal is to be ready to honor all the fallen soldiers and do my version of Murph on Monday. Maybe I am invincible.

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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.