fitness and nutrition

The Burn

21.1 of the CrossFit Open. Year 5 for me. The unknown workout hits as a news flash Thursday evening. Gyms across the world scramble to prepare their boxes.

I was busy and didn’t really watch the announcement this year. Very different than past years. I watched a glimpse of a Youtube video as I headed to the gym in the dark of the morning. I was tired before arriving. Wasn’t prepared as I should have been.

The setup at my box was new this year as well due to new ownership. Some regulars were not in class that day. Many distractions. The 5 am class noted the difficulty of being upside down under fatigue over and over again.

I was in heat two. Face down on the floor to measure my tape-to-wall distance. Time to start. 15 minutes on the clock. Off I go. Somehow I knocked one wall walk rep out quickly.  At this point I exceeded my expectation. Off to do sloppy double unders. Two at a time. They were not pretty. Knocked those out. 2 minutes into the 15 minutes and I’m back on the wall.

My next rep was wobbly. I took my time and paused. The next rep I was stalled at the wall. I wasted so much energy. I dropped, defeated. Determined I went on the wall about three more times and stalled at the same place. A hair shy of line I need to touch with my left hand. It was awful. To be so close yet so far.

Every muscle from my toe to shoulder seemed engaged to hold my thick self upside down in the nearest straight line I could imagine. This was mentally and physically taxing on my already tired self.

I walked away from the stupid wall. I broke and did some extra double unders just to shift my mind. They didn’t count but I did them anyway to give myself a feeling of accomplishment. Back to the wall. I got another rep. Yes!

Take a little break and try again before the time is up. Failure. Fatigue. Frustration. Try again. Stalled on the wall. The story of the morning. Stalled on the wall. I was close but didn’t get the last one wall rep to move along to the next round. I was frustrated to a point but still happy I beat the wall a couple of times.

I felt good the rest of the day. I figured I would try again before Monday. Until Saturday, when woke to sore shoulders. Tightness in places I haven’t felt ache before. I used my theragun and my shoulders said nope this is beyond normal soreness. Rest day it is for this girl. I did other things but I took a day off from the gym. Not normal for me but I do listen to my body when it needs to recover.

Now the big decision is repeat on Monday or hold firm on my low score? I have more in the tank but do I want to repeat such a grueling shoulder wod? Time will tell.

It seems CrossFitters are a bit crazy so anything is possible. The decision for me is can I prove to myself that I can get better? Whether I choose to make another attempt or not is growth for me. I evaluate the pros and cons. I comb over my initial performance and I see where I have opportunities to grow. 

The wall in the wod can be such a reflection of life. The many times you climb knowing you may fall. The rising again to persevere. You don’t win every time but you sure do try. That’s life. To me CrossFit mirrors life in many ways. That’s why many never try CrossFit. It’s hard. Some avoid doing hard things in life. For now I feel that burn. The burn of my shoulders and all the fibers from head to toe that we’re engaged for 21.1.

With the burn comes a feeling of pride. I am physically able to do the same work as younger and fitter athletes. My body endures the same movements despite my body being weathered. Rep count may be different but the body mechanics are the same. I work hard to be able to endure the physically taxing workouts. My burn is filled with pride.

I challenge you to climb that wall in your life knowing you may fall. You will learn from the experience. Just make the climb.

fitness and nutrition

Max Mentality, Part 2

I’ve written before about my inability (or unwillingness) to hit my max effort. I instinctively shy away from redlining. Sending it. Whatever you want to call it.

My comfort zone is running along between 60-80 percent most days. It’s my sweet spot. My happy place. I don’t feel out of control there. I’m putting in work but I can keep going. And frankly, I can stay at that place (and that pace) for a long time. Long endurance work is my strength over short sprints at high intensity. I’m much more turtle than rabbit.

I listened to our box’s CrossFit podcast the other day and they were talking about the upcoming CrossFit Open. Our coaches were trying to describe it, to prepare people who haven’t been a part of it before. The Open is CrossFit’s yearly(-ish) community testing event. You can see how you stack up against many others in the sport, and if you’ve been a part of the community for a while, you can see how you are progressing against yourself, year-over-year. For that reason, there’s a special competitive spirit in the Open. You have a judge and more eyes on you than usual. People push themselves to their max. After such punishing workouts, you often see CrossFitters rolling on the floor, struggling to breathe, even throwing up on occasion. If you haven’t witnessed it before, it can be surprising. But to many of us, it’s just another Open workout at the box. Just with extra sweat and a DJ.

The coaches took a minute to talk about this and made a point to say, if you haven’t gone to that max space, that rolling-on-the-floor-unable-to-breathe-uh-oh-I’m-gonna-puke place, you should try it. I’m thinking to myself, why does that feel so vulnerable? Like going there would take a special brand of courage I’m not sure I have?

I have been wrestling with what to expect of myself this year. I’ll write about that in depth in another post. But I have noticed that our new programming is giving me opportunities to dip my toe into maxing out. I haven’t “redlined” or “sent it” or thrown up in a conditioning workout. But in small ways I have hit failure. I’ve attempted some lifts lately that I’ve failed on. (Usually I don’t venture close to this point!) One I attempted again after I failed it and made. Another I didn’t. I recorded these weights in my notes, something I haven’t done in a long time. Perhaps that’s a sign that I am ready to get more systematic about keeping track of my progress.

Maybe the most glaring instance happened the other day, when we were working on jumping in skill progressions. We usually do a few broad jumps in warm ups and they are something I feel weaker at compared to many. On this day, we did a series of broad jumps for max distance, then rotated to other movements, then back to broad jumps. We did this several times. Each time I got back to the jumps, I felt better about them. In warmups they don’t feel natural, but working on them a few times did. On my third series of jumps, I really tried to push myself to jump longer. And of course, on the last jump, I landed on my heels then fell back into a roly poly ball on the floor. Nothing like going tail over tea kettle with 20 sets of onlooking eyes. Was I embarrassed? A little. But I also laughed. I smiled as I got up. I realized that I had actually pushed myself beyond my comfort level. So I couldn’t hold the landing? Ok. I know what to work on. A friend told me to engage my core, which I did the next round and didn’t fall. I’ll get better at it, failing forward. Inch by inch. Progress.

A little snapshot of going bigger. It might feel foolish. I might fail. People might see. All part of the doing and growing that this year holds for me. What will I fail at next?

fitness and nutrition

Burpees to Burpees

I finished a challenge a few weeks ago. 1-100 burpees. Starting with 1 on day 1, then adding a burpee to the pile every day for 100 days. It took me 102 days, to be exact. There were several times in the challenge when I missed a day for whatever reason. The workout had too many burpees already, my exercise time was already packed, and so on. (We decided workout burpees didn’t count for the challenge. Talk about some rough days!) Those challenge burpees would roll over to the next day. Once I got to the 70s it was too hard to make up days. So, I just decided it was going to take as long as it was going to take.

At the end, I learned that I am capable of enduring. In the 70s my body started to show wear and tear from all the extra movement. A sore left knee was the big challenge. At some point in there I gave up my pride and stopped jumping back and forward on the burpees. Just step back, chest to deck, step forward, and a hop with a clap on the top (often on one foot to protect my knee.)

At the gym, I would sprinkle them in a handful at a time before class, a few in a break between other movements, and so on. At home, the easiest path was just to set a timer and do them EMOM style…Every Minute on the Minute, until I reached the day’s total.

Did I dread them? Yes, especially as the numbers got relentlessly higher. Did I do them? Yes.

Have you ever had the experience of saying a word so many times it stopped making sense? Burpee was that word over this 100 day challenge. I know people were sick of me talking about them. They were as sick of seeing me do them as I was of doing them. Burpees burpees burpees. Who thought this crap up? What does it even mean? I muttered this hundreds of times while waiting for the next minute to begin.

At the same time, I’m planning our first acres of flowers and our second round of vegetables. Walking through a home improvement store to get some mulch, I see the display of little packets…Burpee seeds. It was a day when I hadn’t done my burpees yet. I felt attacked. Could this be? Burpees are everywhere. Relentless.

In the end, I completed it. A mental challenge as much as a physical one. Written in my book, first challenge of the year completed. What’s next is anyone’s guess, but at least one of the challenges will be the seeds! (Hopefully, that one is prettier!) Any ideas?

challenges, fitness and nutrition

Part 3, the Finals

This is the end of the Masters of the Master Competition Series. The finals. The championship. Destination: Texas, USA. The stage is set. The invites were sent out. What an honor to get invited.

The travel was planned. The bags were packed. The plan was in motion. Would I remember everything? Would my bags get lost? Would I be ready? So many variables.

Rise early. Time to grind. It’s competition day. A long day. Many new faces. A new area. A new gym. New rules. Mask on. Mask off. One must be prepared to adapt to whatever comes your way. Oh the nerves that cause trips to the restroom until the first heat starts.

8:28, 11:06am, 1:04pm, and 3:33pm. Those were my heat times. Cold weather. Outdoor waiting area due to COVID. Adverse conditions one may say. Challenge accepted. So many ups and downs for this competition but it was still an amazing experience. The woman above was a fierce competitor and took the #1 spot in our division. She inspires me to work harder. 

  •  I met some amazing competitors from cities I have never been to. I learned their fascinating stories of CrossFit. Because everyone has a story.
  • I was forced to use a port-a-potty multiple times in a day. So nasty. This was also a personal record for me.
  • I watched my favorite age group of 65-70 year old women killing it in the competition. I saw them move their bodies as I did mine. Slower but with such convictions. Now I have goals for myself at that age.
  • I traveled with friends who are like family who supported each other. My favorite word being “incoming” after spending hours in the car together on and off. We even celebrated with fancy cupcakes. We sang comp car karaoke and so much more. Memories were made for sure!
  • My virtual cheers. FaceTime calls. Coaches texts. Gym friends even sent notes of motivation. Social media shout outs. My CrossFit Community is amazing. 
  • I competed solo causing me only to rely on me. I have to put in the work over and over again.
  • My daughter came along and what a great experience for her to see athletes from 35-70 competing for a spot on the podium. She watched intently. She learned movement strategies. She cheered with conviction. This was an unexpected benefit to the comp but one I thoroughly enjoyed observing.

At the end of the day I made the podium. So many emotions and self triumphs. A rebound of sorts. Pushing through movements I don’t like or are not my favorite. Hitting new limits under extreme fatigue. Celebrating after.

Many may question why compete. Many may wonder why travel. Many may think of so many reasons why not to take the risk to compete. Winning is never guaranteed. It’s the journey. The ups and downs. The friendships. The hard work. The spirit of competition. It all fuels the fire in my belly.

Next competition is a few weeks away. Time to rest a day and get back to training hard. Next comp is 4 team members representing different generations. Teen, 20 something, 30 something, and the good old caboose rolling in at 49. 

The comp should be a 2 male / 2 female combo but we are going in disadvantaged with 3 female / 1 male. It’s an experiment of sorts. 3 of my family members will be competing in this one. That makes it extra special for me. My fitness regimen spilling over to my kids is just heartwarming to say the least.

Until next time.

challenges, fitness and nutrition

Finish Line

It’s about the finish line. The final climb. The painful line that I see in the distance. How far away is it? Am I even gaining on it?

The answer is yes. I’m gaining on it. One burpee at a time but these past few weeks have been brutal. Once you get to 70 burpees a day, the time commitment just seems to eat away at you.

I mean it’s not the task that’s so hard it’s just the desire to do the burpees after a workout, a workday, stress, and and and. The holidays and the break in the cycle of consistency just got to me.

Also the fact that my programming changed at my gym for 1/1/21 in which it seems there were 40+ burpees in each workout. That leads to lack of motivation. Geez I think I’ll add another 70 on top of those 40 but then it takes your desire to a whole different level of no thanks.

Then if you miss a day, the catch up phase is relentless. For me I tried chipping away. 5-10 at a time. Then I tried bigger chunks just until I could check off another day. I didn’t care if my days were in order. I just want to get to the damn finish line.

Here we are with two weeks left but with my holiday lazy days and mental break it looks like I will be pushing over that set time. I will get over 5,000 burpees no problem. I will just stretch the days to slightly over 100. It’s not ideal but it’s what’s going to work for me. I’m not quitting just just delaying my finish a bit. Similar to tying your shoe on race day.

Keeping in mind if I add up those extra in workout burpees I am adding another 710 as of today. So if I look at the initial 100 days of burpees I can say I met my goal however I want to be sure that I complete the 100 days of burpees independent of any programmed in my workout. Yes I’m a little nuts but that’s what I’m doing.

Just about 6,000 burpees will be under my belt from late Oct 20-late Jan 21. 100 days or so towards being a fitter version of me. A daunting task. A personal best. A sigh of relief.

Today I did make a big flub up! I actually added up how many burpees I had left instead of days. That wasn’t a good idea. When you add up the 90-100 days that’s over 1,000 burpees. What in the heck. I guess it randomly just hit me. Now it’s a mental game. I think I can. I think I can.

And as I was wrapping up the blog my new gym programming included 100 burpees to a plate on Saturday. What kind of sick twisted form of cruelty this is. Of course I can’t count any of them so they will just make me slide over that damn 6,000 mark. That is insane! But yes I am not counting on workout burpees.  

Here we go again. A new burpee version in our wod to focus on singling out a muscle group with a special jump. Just what need now at the finish line. More burpee specific work (joking). Also we are down to just me and another faithful pal on the last group of burpees. She pulled ahead. Another friend dropped and I’m just stalled. I do a few here and there but not enough to wipe 91 off the checklist. So the ending is a long one.  

i guess my symptoms are lingering just like covid. I will diagnose myself with burpeeitis. The only cure is hard work. The only person who can cure it is me. Off I go to the hamster wheel of burpees. My job is done for now. Onto the next fitness project to keep me grinding. Just say no to burpees!