Anyone who has followed my CrossFit journey knows I lack confidence and can get myself into a tailspin in a matter of nanoseconds. It hasn’t changed with a new gym and this past weekend I was again a mess. I’m still doing CrossFit things, just not under the CrossFit banner. And I’m still woefully lacking in confidence.

In fact, it’s worse than normal right now. I have to appear in front of a bunch of new people and be inept and inadequate even after five years of trying. In the last month, I’ve not suddenly turned younger and more powerful. I’m still just as old (and getting older by the minute) and just as feeble (and losing ability in all facets as I age).

This is terrifying. My old friends who worked out with me on a regular basis all knew the things I needed to modify. I didn’t have to advertise my special needs. My gym IEP was already on the books. (If you don’t know what an IEP is, it’s an Individual Education Plan written and on file for special need students.)

So here I am. Old and feeble and scared half to death when walking into any old place. Even my old home used to scare the living crap out of me and they knew me there. I was like Norm walking into Cheers. I didn’t have to explain myself. But now, I still don’t explain myself, I just wish I could.

The thing is, after five years of doing this crap, I actually look pretty damn good. I know about hook grips, when and how to pull, violent hip extension is part of my vocabulary, I know the mechanics of the lifts. What I don’t have is the power. I also, due to the aging process, lack a fair amount of balance. And then there is simple ineptitude. I never was really athletic. I grew up a bookworm.

I avoided partner WODs for a very long time because I wasn’t brave enough to inflict myself on anyone else. But in the last year, after a bunch of cajoling and nearly losing my mind a few times and some tears and wishing I could disappear right away, I finally got to where I was showing up regularly. I can’t make myself do that right now.

It is taking every ounce of my courage to take my old fat ass to the new gym. I don’t think I really look my age, although that may be vanity. But I want to advertise that I was not like this when I was the age my kids are, the age my gym mates are. I was able to run and play with the kids and not get winded just thinking about it. I am embarrassed and ashamed to be this old. I never really intended this to happen.

But I would regret not showing up (see yesterday’s blog). And so I strap on the pretend courage, act like I’m not quaking and shaking and fearful and near tears. And I drive myself to the gym. And like every other time over the last five plus years, I do something. Not very much, but more than I used to and more than if I had stayed home. I really deserve a medal of some sort. Probably tin.

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My life as a CrossFitter and now as a gym rat has been one disappointing failure after another. I am not supposed to utter the phrase “I can’t” but there are so many things I still can’t do. Some of them are things I don’t wish to do. I’m not climbing a rope. I’ve lived 65 years without this ever being a functional movement I needed to master. All I need to do is be 15 feet up and my arms give out and fall. At my age, broken bones are serious business.

I also can’t do a hand stand push-up mostly because I can’t even do the hand stand. I mean, the arms again. I’m weak and if I lose the strength to hold myself up, I can break my neck. History has shown this is a really bad idea. It is again, one of the things that has not limited my life in the past. I’ve never really needed this as a functional skill.

I can’t clean my bodyweight. I can’t even back squat my body weight. I can’t do a pull-up. I can’t and can’t and can’t. And yet, I keep showing up.

That’s how I win. I started CrossFit when I was 59. I had a few months before I would turn 60 and I so wanted to have weights on my weight for a back squat. All I needed was to 1. Learn to squat,  2. Acquire some balance, and 3. Get strong enough to actually do it. I really could not squat when I started. I dipped in a forward accordion fold. But with lots of practice and buckets of tears, I got a 27# back squat a few days before I turned 60.

The guy next to me was squatting 225# and yet, I was thrilled with getting my goal. Today, I can back squat over 100# and when I asked Chris, he had not kept pace, not being able to still do nearly ten times my weight. So there.

It isn’t because I’m really good at this stuff. I’m obviously not. But regardless of how crappy I am, and I’m crappy when compared to other CrossFitters but absolutely fabulous when compared to the general population, I keep going.

I have cried. I have questioned my sanity. I have hurt myself. What I haven’t done is quit. Every time I really consider the possibility of quitting, I think of how bad I will feel in a couple months. I will regret not trying. I don’t ever expect to clean my body weight. In all honesty, I don’t ever expect to get a pull-up (although God knows I’ve tried). I refuse to even try or care about climbing a rope.

My failures are spectacular when compared with all the other highly successful gym rats out there. But my successes are my own and cherished. I have weights on my weights for all the stuff. And I keep showing up. Without regrets. Tears maybe, but no regrets.

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How many times? I have had the same argument with myself countless times. I question my own abilities, my own purpose, even my own personal goals. I feel defeated by inertia. I am defeated by lacks, real and imagined. I’m done.

But I just can’t quit. I mean … I’ve worked so long and hard. I’ve sacrificed. I’ve tried really, really hard. “Do or do not, there is no try,” says Yoda. Bastard. Of course there is a try. No one starts out completely capable. That’s the whole damn point. Inching your way to mastery.

The beginning of a new year is often a time to look back and assess and then look forward and plan. I try to ignore this compunction. January 1 is not the beginning of anything significant. Each new day is just as important as the one before or the one after. Any day can be a the start of something new and enhancing.

But still, the “new year; new me” shit goes on.

Many of our lessons aren’t a slam dunk and move on. They are, of necessity, little minor victories which fade over time only to be brought to the surface again at a later date. The battle isn’t the war. And it is the war I want to win.

I want to win life. I want to end this thing being the person who chose well. I want to be the one who didn’t succumb to the mind-numbing routine of daily existence, but forged a new path and then had to keep clearing the weeds that cropped up along that once pristine path.

The battle can be won easily. Do the thing. Bam. That’s a win.

But the war … that’s far more difficult. You have to do the thing even when you would rather binge on Netflix or a half gallon of ice cream (chocolate mint, probably). The war is longer in scope and much harder to win.

So, despite my misgivings, my angst, my doubt, I will step into the breach again. I will do the thing again. And again. Even when it is difficult. Even when I would rather do any-damn-thing else. I will not quit. I will rage against the night. I will fight each battle and win. This is the war I’ve chosen. These are then the battles I must fight.

Onward.

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The aftermath of success is killing me. I wasn’t going to sign up for the Open. Then I was. Then I wasn’t and that went back and forth and then yesterday, I did the workout with the group, still unregistered.

I had looked to see how badly I had to do to maintain my last position in America if not the world. There were, apparently, two women who couldn’t get up to a 20 inch box because they each only got the first ten reps and then quit. I was pretty confident I could get past that. I did.

I ended up with a score of 130 which was more than I dared hope for. I usually do a modified burpee and remove that push-up part. But I couldn’t for this event and so they really wiped me out and cranked up my heart rate. Regardless, I moved along as much as I could.

I was more worried about puking than having a heart attack. It was very difficult to not make a mess and my back was not liking the end of this. But I soldiered on and finished the twenty minutes still moving.

As I sat around watching the other athletes work through this (and out of 19 or so people there, only three were able to finish in time) I was cajoled into signing up for Open. It’s not about me being last in America for the Masters Garage Games, it’s about how I have improved over time and it was guaranteed I would not be last in the world. I don’t know if that’s going to be true or not, but I signed up anyway. I’m not planning on setting the world on fire, but I get stuck doing these anyway. I might as well get credit for it.

I did “no rep” myself as I realized I was leaning on my leg for the pull of the dumbbell snatch and I squealed and dropped the weight before I wasted it. My low scores are achieved with integrity, at least.

I was the scorer for another athlete and I had to “no rep” him for the same reason. I felt a little bad, but I knew I had done that to myself, too, so it made it easier to keep him reputable as well.

I came home elated and floated through the day. And then, somewhere between then and now, I started in on myself. Perhaps I could have not sat back down when I tried to start moving and “just couldn’t” and maybe really could have. Maybe I should have started the last push of snatches a little earlier to get a higher rep count. Maybe I could have magically become younger and fitter yesterday morning.

I want more. I want to be more. I want to achieve more. I have come so far that it is nearly impossible to remember where I was when I began. But still, there is more and always more and I want it. I remember being an A racquetball player and winning and overcoming. Hell, I even won a game on a broken ankle. Not that it was smart, but in my defense, I didn’t realize I had broken it.

But today, I’m encased in this older body. It does amazing things that other bodies, young or old, cannot do. I push my limits. I dare greatly in an arena I should never thought to enter. I really should knit. (Leslie, did you buy the yarn yet?) Inside my old body is this notion that I’m still 35. Every mirror, every interaction with my children (both of whom are over 35) should let me remember that I’m a Little Old Lady. An awesome one, to be sure.

And yet, I want still more.

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My irrational struggle with CrossFit is entirely self-made and often self-defeating. My gym is now posting the WODs for the entire week on Sunday evening. To me, it doesn’t make a bit of difference because they are only open at 8 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays so those are the days I work out. I can’t cherry pick because I’m not getting up for a 6 AM class and by noon, I’m completely over it.

So, I looked because I always look. I have no idea exactly who this is being programmed for, but I know who it is not. Me. I’m a Little Old Lady and am not trying to get all testosteroned out or anything. I do this to feel better, not to destroy myself. And these are destroying WODs.

We have been having at least one named WOD per week. These benchmark WODs aren’t really a weekly event type of thing – usually. But for us, they are. I don’t know why. But it is.

Then there will be many Turkish getups and ten rounds of pistols. Ten rounds. You read that right. We are going to be doing a WOD with 10 RFT.

I spent the morning looking at other local gym’s WOD pages. The other really close gym also likes to prove how manly we all are with a bunch of boorah horseshit. The next gym over is really farther away than I would like to drive, but I did like their programming more. But there it is.

So today’s WOD was Kelly
5 RFT
400 meter run
30 box jumps 42/20
30 wall balls 20/14

That’s 1.25 miles of running and 150 each of box jumps and wall balls. Quite frankly, I was hoping to be able to walk tomorrow and this was all just too much. 150 wall balls is Karen which is bad enough without all the other stuff. I was defeated and mad and thought about not going. But I go on Mondays and so I got my fat ass over to the box.

During the prior classes, some people opted to just do three rounds. I mentioned that even that was more than I had intended to do. I was looking at 5 rounds with half the stuff. Coach liked that and so that’s what we all did.

Shit. We all did the same things. All the youngsters and me, the old fart. I knew I would be the last one done. I was doing the same thing as people young enough to be my children. I was going to be last once again. Always last. Always the slowest and the weakest and … if I was on one of the Planet Hunters shows, the one who would be eaten by coyotes.

And I was struggling with the wall balls, just like I knew I would. They jack my heart rate up. I knew I was walking the distance and so that would be slower, but I knew I was going to have to split the wall balls and box breathe and get my heart rate down to “no longer at death’s door” rate so I could go on to the next thing.

Somewhere in there, instead of being mad about it, I started to remember that angry large black man who yells a lot. ISYMFWO. This was my work out. My plan. I could do it. Many old fart women couldn’t manage it, but I could. I would be the last one done, of course, but did that really matter? I was doing my workout. I was working my own plan. The fact that everyone else adopted it didn’t really have anything to do with me or my plan for the day. I was old and feeble and I was doing this awesome shit.

So, for five times, I walked 200 meters. I did 15 consecutive step-ups on an 18” box and then I split the wall balls into eight and seven. I used a 10 pound med ball and hit the nine foot line each time. I had to pause and box breathe and get my heart rate down before I started the wall balls and in the middle. I would be anywhere from one-third to three-quarters done with my walk before my monitor stopped beeping – each round taking longer and longer.

But I did the workout I had intended to do. I finished last, but I finished. I worked really hard and succeeded mostly by not quitting.

And then I came home, ate breakfast, and walked a 5K mostly because I still needed steps for the damn FitBit and I also needed mushrooms and artichoke hearts for dinner tonight. A walk up to the store and back is 5K and it was the slowest time ever. But I did that, too. And I can now make dinner.

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