The stories I tell myself aren’t helping. I am my own worst critic and I am hypercritical. I’m a perfectionist. I want and expect the best and only the best. I can remember my father wanting to know why a 98% came back on a test. What did I miss? He, too, was a perfectionist. Life is difficult for those who expect perfection because, you see, it doesn’t really exist except in Plato’s cave.

I went to my introductory free CrossFit class and was unable to do one single solitary thing. I couldn’t even finish the class. With tears in my eyes, I asked if this was even possible for me and Ryan said that CrossFit was all scalable and I could do it if I tried.

I tried. I cried. I cried more than I thought I would, but I kept trying. Eventually, I could do some of the warm-up. Took a while to get that far. But you have to start where you are, another dictum of CrossFit.

It is all scalable.

I know this. I know that I can always modify the move, drop the weight, change the rep scheme. It is ALL scalable. There are even a variety of scaling options for every damn thing. It is truly all scalable just so geriatric jocks like me can participate.

It is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it, regardless of what the “it” is. But life is just one damn thing after another and so it is hard. Working out is hard. Being so out of shape you get winded climbing half a flight of stairs is hard. Choose your hard. I choose to work out. And then I tell myself stupid stories.

My stories almost always have the word “should” in there somewhere. I’ve been at this for over three years, so I SHOULD be able to do this or that. I should be able to move this weight by now. I should be like Eli, a 23 year old male who has been a competitive swimmer and is awesome shape. I should have conquered my wonky heart rate issues long ago. I should RX stuff.

That’s the part that’s killing me. I should RX stuff. I have no idea why I think this. I know there were women at the CrossFit Games this year that were my age and able to do freakishly awesome things. One old lady did a thruster with my deadlift weight. What is wrong with me?

Well, I’m not a professional jock, for one thing. I have no idea what that awesome lady’s history was but I know for certain that she isn’t me. I have no idea what sacrifices she made in order to get to that point, how many hours she worked at lifting, how she spent her entire adult life. I only know that she is awesome and I cannot match her work. She was the top old lady in the games and so I’m not supposed to be able to match her. No one else is Rich Froning, either.

Each time I scale anything, I tell myself the story of failure. My friends not from the gym think I’m a bit crazy for doing this. They think my deadlift weight is a ridiculous amount for an old lady to lift. I look at it as only slightly more than another old lady’s thruster weight. Why do I do this to myself? I have no idea. I want more. I work hard. I should be better.

But better than what? I am better than when I started. I can squat ass to grass without folding over or anything. I don’t need a PVC pipe to be able to lunge down the mat. I don’t use the kid med ball for wall balls. I can manage pull-ups with a band and even chest bar with bands. Every single lift has weights on my weight. My heart rate is still high, but only because I’m doing so much more than I used to be able to even dream of. And I’m still not happy. I’m still looking at scaling as failure.

The story I tell myself is stupid. I’m not trying to be a professional athlete. I’m not hoping to get to the Games. I’m just being awesome three times a week. I go, I modify, I conquer, I work hard. I need to congratulate myself for this. Yes, there are people who do more, achieve more, work harder and longer, and are awesome. But I don’t know if they know how to save lives and conquer disease, take a computer apart and put it back together, or even if they can write a cogent sentence. I am capable of many things.

I don’t ever want to climb a rope. I’m pretty sure HSPUs are not ever going to happen for me since my fear of even getting up on the wall is extreme. But I can do much more than I could three years ago. And I have muscles instead of flab. And I’m at the box three times a week, working hard at my scaled WODs. I need to learn a different story. Scaling is the goal, not the fail point. Making this possible isn’t failure. Working hard is hard work.

Katrin Davidsdottir is safe, at least from me. It’s okay. There can only be one of her and she has that job. I just need to be me, the most awesome scaling geriatric jock in this room.

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I have been struggling for the last week or two with a cognitive dissonance. I want to be an athlete; I am an old woman. My idea of what I would wish for myself and the person I am are in complete disarray. I want to be stronger, more agile, have more stamina, do more, be more. I am an old woman.

I know that in my two plus years of doing CrossFit, I have become stronger, more agile, and I even have more stamina. I can do more. I am more. It isn’t enough. I want even more and I want it now.

Every single time I step into the box, I fail. I have to scale. Everything I’ve read says scaling is essential to the proper athlete using the CrossFit method. Form before function isn’t just a saying, it is the way to move from non-athlete to athlete status. Every WOD is written scaled. It is written for men and then after a little / mark, it is written for women. There is an acknowledged difference between the sexes.

Men are bigger (on average) with different musculature. Women come in and look at the workout and don’t even need to see what the men are supposed to move, they have their own weights written out. I wonder if the young women feel like they are cheating.

There is no scaling option written out, at least at my box, for masters level or old people. We are not the same as we were ten, fifteen, thirty years ago. We have aged and we aren’t the young people able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. If we are lucky, we are still moving adequately and can manage something. But as I scale each day to make this manageable for an old woman, I feel like I’m cheating. I don’t know if I’m pushing too hard or not hard enough. I don’t know. I only know that of late, I’ve been disheartened.

I’m working hard. I’m not working hard enough. I stated at the beginning of the year that I wanted to be able to do a real pull-up before the year ended. I haven’t worked hard enough to get that. It isn’t in the workouts as written and I don’t come earlier or stay later to work on it. I come in and let the 5 AM class have their space. After a workout I’m beat and can’t work on anything else. I just want to get home and eat something.

Even my pitiful goal is not going to be met.

Comparison is the thief of joy. I keep comparing myself to younger people and finding myself at a distinct disadvantage. I’m not supposed to do this. I have no idea how to stop. I’m supposed to rejoice in my accomplishments and all I see are my failures. I see where I fall short day after day after day.

Most women my age can’t throw 50plus pounds over their head. Young men are throwing over 100 pounds over their heads. Most women my age can’t even do a band assisted pull-up. Young men do chest to bar repeatedly. Most women my age aren’t even trying this nonsense. I know that. But I still see only what I still can’t do.

Someone in another online place has mentioned that I’m getting scared about retiring and having a new part of my life open up. That may be true. Mostly what I see is not a fear of getting older but a mourning for a lost life that is gone forever. CrossFit wasn’t around when I was young enough to actually do something and if it was, I probably would have been too “ladylike” to try it. My generation didn’t do this stuff. Doing it now is hard enough.

I’m not sure where exactly the problem is and since I can’t state with any certainty what the problem is, finding a solution is unlikely. What I know for sure is that right now, I feel like a total failure. Unaccomplished. I’ve worked so hard and still can’t do what I set out to do.

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I read lots of health and fitness things and I’m going to respond to one from Tabata Times. Blair Morrison: Fitness Is… Self-Fulfilling

After some looking, I see that Blair is indeed young and fit. By the calculations from his “About me” page, he is in his late 20s or early 30s and placed 7th in the 2009 CrossFit Games. He actually thinks that being in his late 20s or early 30s is aging.

According to the article, I’m not supposed to keep telling myself I’m old (or busy or sick) because these are self-fulfilling prophesies. Well, if you tell yourself you are old long enough you will surely eventually get there. I’m Masters Division for those same CrossFit Games. I’m not young and supple and my creaking body takes longer to accomplish things and much longer to recover from both injuries and simple use.

Ryan was recently traveling for work and stopped at a CrossFit bursting at the seams with people in their 20s and he was whelmed (not overwhelmed, but close) by the differences inherit in disparity of age. These youngsters could run circles around him.

When I am given, or when I take, accommodations built around my age I simply do better at the box. I am not in the same physical shape as I once was. Forty years ago, I could do all sorts of things I can’t do today. If you weren’t around forty years ago, the same is true for you, right? The passage of time makes changes even if we passively go through our lives.

But I haven’t always been passive. For about 12 years I played lots and lots of racquetball and sustained several injuries – most of them minor. In the last forty years, I’ve been pregnant twice, raised two sons, held down anything from part-time to full-time jobs in a few different careers. I’ve written for publication and I’ve written for my own amusement. I’ve read thousands of books and learned lessons from print, from life, and from others. Lots has happened and some of it isn’t all that good.

I will never know the etiology of my crappy heart rate stuff but I’m going to guess (since one of those careers was a nurse, I might have some insight into this guessing stuff) that it was either being preeclamptic or the years of taking vascular drugs for intransigent migraines. Both of those would do stuff to my vascular tree and leave – as they say – a mark.

I’m not trying to make excuses. I’m trying to be as fit as possible without actually killing myself.

I take my only exercise acting as a pallbearer at the funerals of my friends who exercise regularly. – Mark Twain

Just as one wouldn’t expect a preteen to lift the same weights as a college kid, one might be wise to give me a break for not being young anymore. Form over function is not just a rule, it is a way to keep from injury. Giving people a break and actually scaling workouts for where they are isn’t being weenie, it is being proactive and keeping people from injuries that could be life-changing.

We are not all the same. I love that my box, CrossFit Summerville, has begun writing different versions of the WODs so that there is some differentiation. What I’m finding and I don’t know if Kim and Ryan are watching this, is that almost everyone picks the “Fast” versions. They aren’t going heavy. They want the big numbers and so they are scaling below their peaks. When I look at these, the fast versions are still often higher weights than the old fart can manage. I’m still scaling everything because I need to not die while I’m there because that is really bad advertising and no one wants that.

While Blair may not realize it, some of his “excuses” aren’t an excuse. I’m simply far older than most of the kids who are exercising next to me and I have to have some scaling. Hannah was at the box on Thursday (after donating a pint of blood) and couldn’t manage a workout (her clotting factors weren’t factoring) and she was chagrinned since she pays for three times a week and wasn’t going to have the time to get there two more times. She was busy. She was trying, but health reasons said she had to skip Thursday night. Life happens.

People do get sick. Often. It isn’t an excuse when one is actually sick and even Blair realized this. People who use sickness or injury ALL the time are who he is talking about. Their low expectations are giving them low results.

How am I supposed to be younger four hours a week? I’m this old, Blair. And when you get to my age, you will see that it brings with it many surprises that are unwelcome. The best we old farts can do is keep plugging away, dealing with the limitations placed upon us, and forging ahead with lesser numbers.

As an update to my partner WOD conundrum. I’m changing my workout plans to avoid Fridays. No more unfun for me. I will go on Monday and Wednesday at 6 AM. I will go to noon Thursday class. I will send Craig the partner WOD on Friday and he will scale it for me so I can go to open gym on Saturday and get my fourth workout in by myself without trying to keep up with a partner who deserves to have an equal athlete or at least scaled in a way that I’m not holding someone else back. I can work to capacity with the goal of the WOD intact, not harm myself or anyone else, and maybe feel a bit better about being old and doing CrossFit anyway.

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Comparison is the thief of joy. – Theodore Roosevelt

Look in the mirror … that’s your competition. – Sports adage

I made myself miserable for most of the day yesterday by forgetting these two things. I could have killed myself by forgetting the rules of the game.

I like to win. I’ve always preferred winning to losing. Losing is part of life, however sad that fact may be. But I usually can win at most pursuits, at least part of the time. This is my major difficulty with CrossFit. I never win. Ever. I’m always the worst score on the whiteboard. Always. I’m the oldest member at my box and I’m in the worst shape of anyone there. I’m pitiful.

I am not nearly as pitiful as when I started. Back at the beginning, I was VERY pitiful. Nearly despicable. I couldn’t do squat(s). I couldn’t lunge without a crutch. I moved exactly zero iron. I couldn’t do a push-up or even a band assisted pull-up. I couldn’t even jump to the lowest box. I could do nothing. At all. I have no idea why I went back.

If I could remember that my competition is the person in the mirror, I would be happier with my progress. Too often, while writing yet again a miserable number on the whiteboard with either high time or low reps followed by the word “scaled” I get discouraged.

I’ve read many articles lately about those numbers on the board. They don’t tell the whole story. They don’t give an indication of form or compare to the scorers’ one rep max. If a person can max at 215 and the WOD calls for 135, they are lifting light. If it calls for 95 and my one rep max is 75, I’m over my limit and must scale.

Most of the time I can remember this and be happy with what I have accomplished. Most of the time it is just me against me and while it is crappy numbers and pitiful performance, it is better than it was and so with that mindset and a different definition of what it means to win – I win. Perhaps that is cheating or perhaps it is what keeps me going back.

Fun Fridays are partner WODs and they are anything but fun for me. I hate them. I’m no longer competing with the person in the mirror because it isn’t just me who is competing. Some schmuck is stuck with me. At 6 AM we are honest and play “Pass the Patti” and different people acknowledge that they have to take a turn getting paired with me. But I hate getting up in the middle of the night on my days off and so I have tried something new. I’ve been going at noon.

These people don’t really know me and they are still trying to be nice. The WODs have been written in a way that they are playing directly into my weaknesses – which isn’t all that hard to do because I have so many of them. But they have been written so that I can’t be a productive member of a pair or a team.

I kept pushing myself yesterday trying to let my partner get a real workout in. He couldn’t advance until I had completed my round, too. But I’m old and my heart rate goes too high. I was over 175 several times yesterday which can’t be good for me or my heart. I didn’t have any chest pain, but I did get very lightheaded and try to fall over on the lunges. The hypostatic stuff wasn’t helping the already compromised vascular system. I knew better. I also knew that somebody else’s score depended on my moving continually for five minutes, something which I simply can’t do at this pace.

I was sickish all morning worrying about this and crying all afternoon because of my miserable performance. I was ready to just quit. I’m so sick of losing all the time. All. The. Time. There is no awesome for me. There is losing. Scaling and still crappy scores. Simply sucking at everything.

Unless I get a different frame. If instead of comparing myself to 40 somethings, 30 somethings, and even 20 somethings (hell, I have socks older than that) – I could compare myself to other 60 somethings – oh, wait, I’m the only one there. So, on each and every workout – I’m best in my age group. I was the only person who was permitted to do the Master’s level for the Open WODs we did. That’s because I’m the only old fart there.

I have RXd exactly three WODs since I started. One was rowing until the cows came home and everyone else was home and had breakfast eaten before I finished, but I did finish the WOD. The other was the Patti RX thing Ryan wrote specially for me where my deadlifts were my one rep max minus my age, giving me a chance. The other RX was from the Open when they allowed for my age and wrote deadlifts starting with low enough weight that I again had a chance.

My stumbling block isn’t the WODs. I can make crap up so that I can somehow manage to do something along the lines of what is written, even if it is pistols and muscle-ups or handstand walks and running a mile. I manage most days when it is just me.

I’m going to just stop having fun on Fridays and figure out a way to get in a workout without having a partner unless they are written so that I have rest time while my partner is working. I could go to open gym at 9 AM and do something or go on Saturdays instead when there is open gym. Or I could use the equipment I have in the garage. There is a way around this and it doesn’t involve quitting. That would really make me a loser.

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Last night I looked at the weather forecast for this morning and cold was predicted. I moved South and having a temp of 17⁰ was just not right. CrossFit Summerville is an old warehouse building. There is no heat. There is no air conditioning in the summer either but that’s not my problem right now.

I have no idea what to do with such a low number. I have winter Ohio clothes to wear to work, but I don’t know what sort of insulated suit I would wear to the gym for a 17⁰ morning. Grabbing onto some metal pipe and twirling it around in that temperature would be just awful. How do you warm up when the air is so cold?

As many clothes as I have, I do not have the proper outfit for this event. That in itself is quite shocking.

Even before the WOD was posted, I was asking for advice from my Facebook friends. Was it considered weenie if I didn’t go to the gym when the temperature was so low? I don’t know how young people feel about this, but all my old friends thought I was crazy to even consider it. But then again, many of them think I’m crazy because I go all the time.

I had opted to stay home but I did look at the WOD. Burpees again. The skill was snatches and it included 32 of them and then a rather easy WOD. One minute of three moves with a 15 second rest in between because that’s all I need to get my heart rate back down. Anyway, wallballs, row for calories, and then burpees.

The whole thing would have been possible but two full snatches EMOM for 8 rounds would have been fun since I can’t do any with iron. I could if they had a light enough bar, but the lightest one is 22# and I can’t manage that. But we would have figured something out. It was just too cold for me to go.

I had an option of then going on Wednesday, and I have looked to see if I might want to do this. It will be much warmer tomorrow morning at 6 AM – all the way up to 18⁰.

So, I’m not going again. The WOD as written was enough to make me chuckle again. This would have been one where I would have simply asked what was on offer for old farts.

I think most newbies to the gym pick an every other day routine and so might be expected to show up on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Since it is a new year, many people make a resolution to “get fit” and join a gym and since CrossFit has some allure, people might join a CrossFit box. So, in order to make sure that people quit in a month, we seem to be programming hardass WODs.

Monday’s WOD included 100 burpees. (Along with 25 strict pull-ups and 50 box jumps.)

Wednesday’s WOD does not. Instead, it is 100 pull-ups, 100 thrusters (75/55), AND 100 walking lunge steps. In a 40-30-20-10 scheme.

If I were to show up for this, the first thing I would do would be throw out the 40 round and start at 30. I know that I’ve been using just a blue band for pull-ups, but if I were to do 60 of them, I would add more band – probably just an extra red one, but still it would be more. Walking lunges are really hard on my knees. Sixty of all three moves would be more than enough for an old broad even on a nice morning  – before going to work.

Thursday, I will go to open gym. It is supposed to be warmer all around by then and by 9 AM it should be nicer than 6 AM no matter what. I can pick a CrossFit Summerville or a CrossFit Hilton Head workout to do. I can even do the WOD from Tuesday and if my legs aren’t too sore even do the burpees.

Friday is usually partner WOD day and usually it is a bit more challenging anyway. I can’t wait to see if we are trying to get everyone to quit CrossFit in the first week so they can go out into the world and complain about how difficult it is and make the rest of us still at the box look like heroes or something.

I don’t know what the plan is. My plan is to stay safe, not freeze, have fun, get stronger, and scale these things.

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Challenging myself is fantastic. I need to push the limits and do what I don’t believe I can do just to show me that I’m more powerful than I thought I could be. Outside one’s comfort zone is where all the magic happens. I’m very comfortable sitting and drinking coffee while reading a book. I’m pretty good at sitting in front of a computer, too.

There isn’t much magic in that, however. While I do find some gratification in having gotten a writing assignment, whether my own or someone else’s, completed – it’s not all that magical. Perhaps because for me, writing is easy. It isn’t outside my comfort zone in any way. Sending something off to a paying publisher would be outside my comfort zone and I have successfully avoided that – so far.

I don’t quite understand the programming at CrossFit Summerville because of late, Henry, Bringer of Pain, has been posting horrific workouts. They use the same move repetitively and I was under the impression that it was better to use this muscle group one day and a different one the next rather than have the same thing abused for a week or so. Perhaps I simply don’t understand body mechanics enough. Perhaps Henry is an ass.

I was horrified by yesterday’s WOD but went. I know I lifted a ton plus extra over my head in the space of 25 minutes. I know I could not have done that in any way, shape, or form last year. I know this works. I still was completely defeated by such nonsense because the goal, as written by Henry, was four tons. Henry knows how to scale up, by increasing weight, but there is nothing at my box that actually scales for weenies. He just writes the word “scaled” and that is supposed to be a clue or something. I am a weenie. I am a consistently returning weenie to be sure, but I’m not really a jock. I just play at one four times a week for an hour.

Last Friday, there were muscle ups on the schedule. No one in my class, not even the real jocks, could do them. Ed tried, but he didn’t manage them. I hadn’t seen these beasts as part of the WOD since I started, at least that I remember. But they are already back on the plan for today.

Yesterday, was four tons of weight pulled overhead. Luckily they were just power snatches rather than a full snatch, but the muscles that might be a teeny, tiny bit overused after all that are supposed to go with overhead squats today. Really?

Today’s WOD as written:
5,3,3,2,1 front squats
10 min AMRAP
60 bar facing burpees
30 overhead squats (120/90)RX
10 muscle ups

I’m not real sure what a bar facing burpee is, but I’m going to assume it means you jump over the bar. I can assume whatever I want because I don’t go to the box on Wednesday because there were too many WODs that actually looked like this and so I changed my own schedule to avoid Wicked Wednesday which seemed to be the day used to make horrific choices. However, with Henry the Bringer of Pain writing our schedule, more and more days are totally outside my comfort zone.

I really think it is nice that people can actually do this shit. I think the whole idea of “I love brutal workouts” is great for the jocks. But I’m not the only weenie at the box. They might get more people to not only join, but actually stay, if they managed to post WODs that were already scaled so that weenies had a fucking chance. The weenies might not be hurting themselves, either, and then stop coming. I have no idea where Ken is, but I miss him. I hope his knee has healed. Sabre is MIA, too. Several others have gone away, just that I know about.

The only scaling is dropping the weights, according to Henry. When I actually am brave enough to show up, there are often some other modifications, like dropping the reps. If I didn’t follow other boxes and know that there were intermediate moves, I wouldn’t find them at my box unless it is a complete replacement since, for example, no one can do the muscle ups. When I ask about them, they know about this stuff, but they don’t share that information with the nitwits who are struggling with getting fit.

There are other folks at the box in their 40s and 50s. I’m the only one older than that. Some of them have been doing crap like this all their lives and can manage.

I find these types of WODs to be totally defeating. I can ask for special scaling and then I feel like I came to the box in a short bus. I’m sure it takes time to figure out in advance what sort of scaling could be offered, but at least for me, it wouldn’t feel so daunting. Unfortunately, I’m not the center of the world and so this doesn’t happen.

Luckily, I didn’t have to do this one as it is my rest day.

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