fitness and nutrition

I Like to Lift

I like to lift weights. There is something about a power snatch that gets my blood pumping.

That same power snatch makes me feel like nothing else stressful in my life matters at that moment. It’s just me and the bar. Of course I have to pay attention to only the bar so I don’t drop the weight on my head! (Photo: Davison Wheeler Photography)

Dumbbells are not my favorite but they serve a purpose. They help me move weight in a different manner than I would if I had just the bar. It lets me focus on defining my muscles in a different way. Although they are not my favorite they are a big part of my weightlifting regimen.  (Photo: Davison Wheeler Photography)

Cleans and jerks. I can definitely say I despise cleaning and don’t have room in my life for jerks but I do work on clean and jerks in the gym weekly. Getting my elbows up and transitioning the heavy weight above my head takes a lot of physical and mental energy. Some days are good while others just suck. Most depends on how well I stretch my wrist and if I can fully commit my mind the way I need to. Self-talk can make or break you on this movement.

This picture is just a random placeholder for me in action. First, I love my shirt. Second, the flair on my arms were for a costume day we had. And finally, I was wearing my taco shorts and who doesn’t love tacos? Which leads me to a shameless plug for Feed Me Fight Me. They have the most comfortable booty shorts for weight lifting girls like me with thick thighs.

Ah the deadlift. A simple but powerful movement that does require the right technique and weight to not throw out your back. It’s a delicate balance but a challenge I like. This picture is a throw back to a 2019 competition I did and thoroughly enjoyed the deadlift ladder.

I also like to bench press. Many girls don’t but I don’t mind it. For some reason I couldn’t find the right photo to post so let’s just go with the fact I like to bench press and chasing the guys weight load. It gives me motivation not hair on my chest.

There are many other lifts I like and many that I just do to keep my fitness up. That being said I have thick thighs and broad shoulders from the lifting portion of my life. I love the strength my body has and for that I embrace thick thighs and strong shoulders.

It always amazes me when a stranger asks me what sport I do. I could be on a plane or at a business meeting. The scenery may change but the question is the same. Now my answer is always I lift weights or do CrossFit.

Some don’t know what CrossFit is so they can relate to weightlifting. Whatever the case I either get a male comment of “how much weight can you squat?” or a woman may say “oh,” as in that’s not feminine. These reactions crack me up.

Many women at my gym are strong and powerful. Some are thick and some are thin. It doesn’t matter. I am far from the strongest but I enjoy striving for better. My counterparts are strong mentally and physically and they can challenge those who are not committed to fitness or healthy living.

Lifting weights has benefits. My friend Sarah started at the gym to increase her strength to fight off her body weakening due to a health condition. Lifting weights can help people regain control of their body after an accident or injury. So many more benefits but hopefully you get the point.

Like I said above, I like to lift. That’s my story for today. Hope you enjoyed the pics and a glimpse of my lifting preferences.

Enjoy today.

fitness and nutrition

What Does Recovery Look Like for Me?

I’m recovering from the Festivus Games and thought I would diary my aches and pains.

Immediately after: I had no time to think about aches and pains. Had to hop in the shower after a long day to attend a preplanned event. Of course the event called for cowgirl boots so had to put those sore legs to work some more!

The next day: I was surprised that I could move when I awoke. I survived 4 WODs and I can move. That seems like something to celebrate.

I didn’t let the aches set in. I got up for my morning training session. It’s normally a run but I just walked about 3 miles to get the legs going but at a recovery pace. It was just what I needed.

I kept moving most of the day. Around 5pm, about 24 hours after the adrenaline pump concluded, I hit a wall. Started to get tired and cranky. Just fatigued. I guess it worked out for me so I could look at the 1 million pictures the group had from the event. It’s so much fun to reminisce on the triumphs and setbacks of the day.

I listened to my body and slowed my roll. Rested per se and went to bed early. Monday morning came and I didn’t want to get up but I did. I have accountability partners at my box so I got moving despite my desire to not move and pull the covers over my face permanently.

I scaled the workout for sure that morning. Used baby weights for the wod, rode the bike and scaled some movements but I moved and my Apple Watch said I fared okay.

Forearms, wrists and hands felt the aches mainly from all the grip work. Tight traps were present but not unbearable. Lots of good stretching today.

By Tuesday I was good and even put in some extra work conditioning on the bike erg. By Weds am my legs were a little tight from the bike ride but they loosened up as soon as I completed my WOD for the day.

Good to go now for this chick. 72 hours, back to normal, give or take. So many memories to make the recovery worth it all.

Recovery is just as important to me as the preparation. I preach this to my kids as they compete in sports and to whomever will listen. I hope that my tidbits here help those who read along with my fit journey posts.

I am not a trained professional. I am a mom getting her fitness on who competes to hold herself accountable.

Wishing you all the best in your fitness and recovery adventures.

perspective

Junkyard Stories

Tragedy struck close to home a short bit ago. A medical emergency. A car. An ambulance. And so much more…

I’ve been waiting to write this post until the dust settled a bit. Emotions were high. Lives were altered. A new normal was on the horizon. Blurred vision on most days but clarity can be in sight for him. Time will be needed.

Everyone walked away and hopefully lessons were learned by all. I met strangers that day who cared. They cared enough to follow up the next day. Kindness can exist outside our of inner circle.

Life is precious. Life can be taken in an instant. I have seen tragedy strike many families. It is never fun nor easy. I escaped that fate that day if only by a hair. But the thought was there.

When the phone rings. That call. The silence. The sirens. The need to act NOW. The emergency call nobody wants to get, ever.

Putting trust in others. Knowing you knew the paramedic on the scene. What a coincidence or blessing? A burden was lifted. The torch of trust was passed. You balance what needs to be done. You support those involved and rebuild what crumbled.

Through a history of events I ended up at the junkyard. To see a new car crumbled into bits and pieces yet thankful my story ended in the most positive way possible. A life was spared. A valued life. A young life.

But then I looked to the side and saw another vehicle. Less crumbled but scorched. No windows. No doors. Were those occupants as lucky?

Off in the distance a truck must have rolled and rolled during its misfortune. There were globs of grass and dirt and other things sticking out of the vehicle in a way I could only envision that the vehicle flipped many times. The roof was dented and sunken a good distance.

My curious mind sat for a moment and thought of all the untold stories in the junkyard. Was there heartache? Were there financial pains? Was there death? I will never know, but I did think. And I knew how lucky I was in that moment. He might not know today, but I know.

I thought about how thankful I was for things I had. For the experiences I have had thus far and the journeys I still see in my future. I was thankful for a life being spared.

As life shifts, we must shift our mindset to complement change. We must deal with a new set of circumstances yet appreciate what got us to said point in time.

I am blessed not stressed.

I am happy not sappy.

I live but still love.

I fear but don’t but don’t let fear steer.

I am lucky.

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Odd Couple to Awed Couple

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You know the phrase “The Odd Couple.” People who just don’t seem to fit together. On paper, they make no sense.

If you had to match pairs of friends, predicting who might get along, you might think of people with similar personalities, political views, walks of life. One of the great things about CrossFit is it brings wildly different people together into communities. Each box has it’s own culture, but ultimately we are all united by a commitment to our fitness, our health, our crazy workouts, and even the health, wellness, and happiness of our crazy CrossFit friends.

That being said, we do have some odd pairings in our box. Some would say the 2 Chicks make an unlikely pairing. We are opposites in many ways. But, many of those opposites are why we work. Puzzle pieces that fit together somehow. Another “Odd Couple” is Caitlyn and Milagros. Just two very different people united by a mutual affection, support of, and giggles with one another.

Fitness can bring us together to meet people we might never have befriended otherwise. We can all feel connected after enduring a marathon workout like Murph, after encouraging each other’s best efforts. It’s a funny thing how that suffering and triumph (or even missed attempts) can break down the apparent differences that keep us apart from each other. In CrossFit, we are all basically the same once we set aside our scrubs or heels or suits, and get into our tank tops and metcons for the day’s sweat-and-suffer-fest.

As Chick 1 mentioned in her recap, Milagros and I ended up as partners through a series of unlikely suggestions. It won’t surprise those of you who know Chick 1 personally to hear that it was her idea for Milagros and I to partner up. Chick 1 has a knack for connecting people and figuring out who needs who. She’s just gifted in that. I hardly knew Milagros at all before this matchup happened. We don’t workout at the same time for the most part, and our paths hardly ever crossed. I only really knew of Milagros because she was taking the photos for the CrossFit Open, so I met her on the Sunday of WOD 19.1. I knew she had an amazing gift for artistic and evocative photos from her instagram, but that was about it.

It may have been that very Sunday we met when this partnership was first set in motion. Next thing you know we were registered, a couple of weeks later we had our team name, our shirts, and even scheduled short strategy sessions. (I am not very competitive outwardly, but inside I am a perfectionist and do want to win. I hide it because I hate losing!)

In some ways Milagros and I are opposites, an odd couple. Milagros favors long, incredible socks. Mine are short and white. Milagros goes hard hard hard into a workout from the start. I will start at a pace that ensures I always have energy in the tank at the end. (Sometimes this means I am slower at the beginning than I should be. My latter rounds are usually faster than the first.) Milagros is so positive about the workouts leading up to the competition. She was so confident we would finish and dominate. Me, not so much. I manage expectations and approach things analytically. As I told her, I don’t expect we will finish, but I’ll be darned if I won’t fight as hard as I can.

We had a loose plan. We had practiced to some extent. But we had decided to just communicate through all of it and trust each other to be there when the other was faltering. Over time, we learned that we were both afraid of letting each other down. We both wanted to give our best efforts for each other. And that’s the way we walked in Saturday morning, shirts on, ready to lay it all out for each other.

The first WOD would be simple enough. 30 snatches, 30 clean and jerks. Split it up. We had decided I was more comfortable with snatches and Milagros was better on the clean and jerks, so we split it up by 10s. I took Coach Stefan’s advice and talked to the judge before hand to be sure I knew what he would be looking for, etc. And even though I was shaking scared, as soon as the countdown started it was a lot like Coach Alex said, everything just kind of fell away and we just did it. In the zone. Go go go. Didn’t take much longer than 2:30. Took turns, cheering each other on, it was all good. And just like that, WOD 1 was over.

And in that moment, we turned from an odd couple to the awed couple. We were just both like, heck yeah, we just did that! In awe of each other and probably ourselves. And we hugged for like 30 seconds and laughed and it was just a great feeling to have done that thing with someone who wanted to do their best for me as much as I wanted to do my best for them. Pretty profound moment, really. Who knew?

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I will spare you the details of Milagros rocking the heck out of jump ropes and thrusters and me managing to throw the wall ball not just to but *above* the target height over and over (huge surprise!) I won’t give you the blow-by-blow of how we worked together to endure a workout featuring a long grueling row and seemingly endless thrusters and burpees. All you need to know is that, even though I didn’t think we would finish, we finished all the workouts well under the time limit. And we used most of the rest of the time to just hug it out and laugh and have our awed couple moments right there on the gym mats.

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Thinking back I am pretty sure no one else was hugging it out the way our team did. Most people either fist bumped or fell on the floor or just walked away. Not us. We were freaking ecstatic for each other after every. single. workout. We may not have won or even made the podium, but we did some pretty special stuff for two women who have overcome a lot and plan to keep on doing that for a long time.

It was also incredible to be surrounded by a community that supports you. Our box friends came and watched, cheered, and encouraged us through each event. To hear your coach’s voice pushing you harder, faster, lights a fire when you’re just about to flame out. Then to watch them compete, push themselves, work a plan, it’s all pretty amazing for a first-time competitor like me.

When’s the next competition? We are already on the lookout. How can I resist the chance to get better alongside these athletes?

Milagros will always be my first CrossFit competition partner. Pretty cool title if you ask me.

Thinking of our team name, WOD we get into? Yeah, I’m pretty sure neither of us knew what we were getting into with all of this. And I don’t know about her, but I do know what I got out of it: Confidence, an amazingly accomplished I-didn’t-even-know-I-had-muscles-there soreness, giggles, and a heartfelt awe for my very special partner, Milagros.

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awareness

The One about the Turtle Crossing the Road

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When she was little, my daughter Anne loved turtles.  She used “turtle girl” as her nickname online.  She had a turtle named Swimmy for a pet.  She loved reading about turtles.  When we went to the beach, I scheduled time for us to work with local turtle patrols, visit aquariums, or watch turtle hatchlings be released into the ocean.

Turtles were her thing.

She’e a teenager now and her interests have broadened, but deep down I think she still has a soft spot for turtles.

So it didn’t surprise me a couple of weeks ago when we were out and about, driving on a long rural road, and I dodged a turtle stopped right in the middle of our lane.

Just like I used to do when Anne was little, I screamed “turtle!” and, just like she did when she was little, she yelled “turn around!”

It was a long stretch of road with rolling hills…visibility was tricky…cars were flying by…no flat shoulder and few places to turn around.  When I finally turned to go back for the turtle, someone came up speeding behind me so I couldn’t pull over.  So, we found a place to turn around again, and tried again.

I had my hazard lights on so people knew I was up to something.  Pulled over on a soft grassy spot, then she gave a quick look and jumped out of the car.  She ran full force probably seventy-five yards back and got the little guy.  She picked him up gently and moved him across the road in the direction he was going, just like we learned about when she was little.  She placed him down right by a small pond near the side of the road.  And off he went. Safe for the moment.  And then off we went toward our destination, feeling like we helped the world in some small way.

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At least five cars passed over him while we were making that multi-step turn around.  Who knows how many more had flown past him, over him, as he slowly made his way across the lanes toward his goal.

All this made me wonder about how many people I know, who I see daily, who are trying to cross their own treacherous lanes in life.  How many people do I know who are moving toward goals but keep dodging obstacles, negativity, or just the rushing flow of the daily grind? How many are in periods where things in life are flying by, in different directions, leaving them pulled into their shells much of the time?

Do I even notice them?  Or am I just speeding by, consumed with my own tasks and concerns, not even seeing those who I could help along if I just slowed down and took time to pay attention?

And how can I lift them up, shoulder their burden, ease their journey somehow? How can I put my lights on so people know I am slowing down, wanting to help, up to something?

These are the questions that are on my mind this morning. It doesn’t take that much to help someone across a scary patch.  I just need to pay more attention, be willing to slow down. Be more open and attentive. Work to see the potholes and rough patches others might be crossing. Sharing my own bumps and tumbles so they feel safe sharing their own.

What good is it to make it to my destination more quickly, if I have passed over others I could have helped along the way?

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fitness and nutrition

Chick 2’s Open(ing) Days

(Photo courtesy of the amazing MGS Photo Creations.)

The 2019 CrossFit Open has ended. Even though I was writing throughout the 5 weeks, I never felt it was the right time to post. Most of my workouts were done without fanfare. I faced most of them with a healthy sense of apprehension, given my recent injuries.
Just like 2018, my goal was to complete each workout with some kind of score. I wanted to both participate and give each workout my best effort. I knew it was very likely that all my workouts would be scaled. That was ok by me, since staying functional and healthy is of primary importance.

There are many stories from my Open, some of which I might eventually tell in detail. But for now, I’ll share a highlight and a lowlight, using excerpts from what I’ve been writing all along. Reflections follow.

Worst Workout (for me):

19.3 – AKA Weighted Dumbbell Lunges of Death

Lunges.  I immediately think “I don’t lunge.”  I have said this to my coaches.  But if I’m being honest, my problem is I don’t feel good about doing lunges.  I don’t feel confident.  Balance is a struggle for me.  I am a total klutz.  While I watch many at the gym fly through lunges like they were skipping through daffodils, carefree and effortless, my lunges are much more likely to leave bruises and scuffs on my knees from hitting the ground so hard.  And then, once I’m down there, I don’t have any understanding of how to get up properly, either.

I did start doing lunges more often after I moved to my new box, CrossFit Faded Glory.  Once in a while I do one in a way that doesn’t feel like just inelegantly dropping and flopping, but not often, no matter how many great tips my coaches share. But I generally don’t do them with weights.  I’m still trying to get a feel for them unweighted.  So seeing a 35-pound dumbbell lunge in the scaled version was enough to make me shudder.

Then, enter step-ups.  I’ve talked before about my journey to jumping.  After my injury I’ve made it back to jumping on the 12-inch box.  But, I figured the scale for anything in the Open would be step ups on the 20-inch box.

I distinctly remember living in fear of this movement last year in the Open.  I could NOT step up onto a 20-inch box one year ago.  Again, clumsiness and lack of balance (or sense of how my body moves in space) is a problem, plus fear of falling.  Kinda sad but it’s true.

Last year, at my previous gym as the Open approached, I would try and try to get those step-ups.  I would put plates on the 12-inch box, etc.  I finally got it on my right side, but still couldn’t alternate. Thankfully, step-ups were never a part of last year’s workouts.  After an Achilles issue and the end of the Open, I went back to 12-inch boxes with dumbbells and decided that was enough of a challenge.

I started trying step-ups again about a month ago and was surprised that I could do them with both legs without too much trouble (but definitely not quickly).  So, I felt pretty good about that. But throwing a 35-pound dumbbell on my back for them could be a different story.

Flash forward to Friday, the day of the Open 19.3. My nerves started about noon.  Could I do any of this?  (Where’s that fearless when you need it?)

I showed up.  There were lot of people there, enough for 2 heats in the 4:30 pm class.  I went in the second group.  I tested the movements a few times and knew I could get through at least the first few reps and then I would see how it went.

And how did it go? It went verrrryyyyy slowly.  The dumbbell was awkward and clumsy on my shoulder.  I spent time adjusting it.  When I lunge, I have a shuffle step / balance check which thankfully Alex told us in advance was not legal.  So I warned my judge on the front end to watch me on that.  I made sure to come to a full and complete pause at the top.

9 lunges down, 9 lunges back.  The ones coming back were harder since the 35-pound weight was on my weaker side.  There were lunges I got stuck in the bottom of and had to will myself to push out of.  It was not graceful, dainty, coordinated, or remotely pretty.  I am sure I use the completely wrong muscle groups to do it.  It took me about 6-7 minutes to do the lunges, but I did them.

Then step-ups.  This was just grueling.  I had to mentally do 10 at a time.  Felt like my legs were just shot.  So, I would get my bent leg up on the box, move my weight up a little to basically be crouching on the box, then stand up.  My friend Milagros took a video of this and when I watched, it looked as absolutely painfully wrong as it felt.  As I pushed through the last 15 or so, I knew I was overrelying on my back (which is what I default to and what gets me in trouble) but it didn’t feel like I had other options. See our Instagram feed for a video. 

Final verdict: 65 – definitely a lower score than I would have liked but I made it through it.  Last year I might not have gotten to the step-ups at all.  So, a win, also a benchmark to follow up on over time.

Runner-up for misery: 19.2..cleans that were MUCH heavier than I am used to doing with a barbell.

Biggest (and Most Unexpected) Moment of Triumph:

19.5 – Endless Thrusters and Pull-ups of Punishment

My prediction for 19.5 at my evening class on Thursday was 100 thrusters for time then 1 rep max deadlift.  Each was outrageous, laughable, and struck fear in me.  Little did I know how close I would be.

105 thrusters and then 105 pull-ups…broken into lonnngggg sets with descending numbers.  It made me nauseous the entire night and day before.

Busy at work with book fair…just like other Open Fridays when I led a school parade, helped 500 kids find books…the Open has life as its backdrop. Life happens. It will always be busy.

As for 19.5, from the moment I heard the workout, I just wanted it to be over.  Thankfully there were a few people there doing it at the same time.  Doing it alone really isn’t fun. Honestly, I just wanted to get through whatever attempt I would make and let it be over.

For me, it was small sets from pretty much the start.  7 or 6 thrusters at the beginning turned into sets of 5 for the most part with 4s to even it up.

Pull-ups were threes with a shake of the arms to reset.  Others easily passed me and finished quickly, or did Rx versions then hit a stopping point.  I just tried to keep going…. going…. going.

Seemed like those 20 minutes would never end.  It was gut wrenching.  A few friends started to cheer me on, which helped without overwhelming me.  I won’t forget the amazing John grabbing a clipboard to fan me as I tried to breathe during jumping pull-ups.  I just kept going.  Breaks got longer longer l-o-n-g-e-r.

I had no idea how far I would get. My hope was to get into the round of 21.  Ok, finished that round with maybe 5-6 minutes to go, I don’t know.  I didn’t want to go back to the bar or the barbell. I hated each one for different reasons.

Just keep going.  I don’t want to pick up the bar.  I pick it up anyway.  Alex counts me down.  Through the rounds of 15.  Like 2 minutes left.  There is no fricking way I am going to finish but I’ll be close which will make me so grouchy.  But I keep going.

Round of 9. Alex wants me to go all 9 thrusters.  Body won’t have it.  5 then a short break then 4.

Then jumping pull-ups.  Jumping like my life depended on it.  No shake breaks for this one.  Counting down, just keep going, going going…Alex screaming for me to keep going. I finished with zero seconds to spare.  Zero!  Nothing left to spare!!!

Collapsed on the ground.  Almost cried but then my breathing went south so I had to just calm down.

I finished!

I didn’t really know what it meant.

I still don’t.  At the least, it meant I didn’t give up.

I know I was hurting. A lot.  I still got up and worked out the next day. I still have bruises all over…clavicles (from cleaning the bar too roughly – see pic below)…legs from who knows what…my chin from hitting the bar.  Kinda battle worn.
Cheering for others all weekend long.

Runner-up triumph: all unbroken burpees in 19.4

Yes, I scaled the whole thing. All 5 workouts. Didn’t feel the need to go for Rx. I did give each my best effort.  And for the most part, I didn’t let fear get the better of me.  So, I achieved my goal.

The best part of the Open for me was cheering others on and feeling connected to the community.  More about that in my next post.

fitness and nutrition, hustle

19:51

It’s not military time, it’s the finish time for my completed 19.2 CrossFit OPEN scaled workout.

I finished it.

It may seem simple but I battled to finish. I may have secretly wanted to finish but didn’t say it out loud. I was just hopeful to make it to the last of five rounds and do one rep. Well I ended up doing 82 reps in that round. Talk about exceeding your own expectations! A timed workout that expands as you level up. 4 minutes levels up to 8 minutes then 12 minutes and 16 minutes when you are firing on all cylinders. Then that’s when the SHIT gets real. From minutes 16-20 you have to be all in to finish. I never reached the end before in one of these challenge workouts but today I did. #goalgetter

I had an amazing judge/motivator, Damion from my box. He helped me chip away with manageable rep schemes and then pushed me when I didn’t think I could push anymore. My success did not come alone. I had a guide/lucky charm and his name was Damion.

I didn’t look pretty doing it either. Sweat was dripping. Facial expressions were horrific. There may have been some screams of agony. And I’m pretty sure everyone behind me saw straight through my pants in the rear end when I squatted low. No ripped pants but pretty sure I mooned or shared a little more than my panty lines with people unintentionally.

All that pacing mentioned above helped in the final stretch. I had a few minutes banked for my last squat cleans and I needed every second. My former one rep max was 125 pounds on a squat clean yet today I had to finish 7 of them at 135 while fatigued.

Seemed impossible but when you look up and hear your fellow box mates cheering you on you find a way to push through. 9 seconds left and I did it. I hit one of my most proudest gym moments.

Tired? Yes. Feeling accomplished? Yes. In shock? Yes. Many emotions but thankful for all the ups, downs and in-betweens the past few years as I have been training.

I may not be at the top of the OPEN leaderboard but I am on top of my personal leaderboard. I strive for improvement each day and each week. Today is a celebration of the time investment I have made in myself.

I am a thick girl but a strong girl. My mind is strong, my muscles are visible and my drive is uncompromised. I hope everyone can push themselves at their own level to feel the sense of accomplishment I did today. It’s hard to put into words. It’s a rush.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I received texts and personal comments and high fives at the end and throughout the day. The feelings of accomplishment flowed continually that day. People noticing your efforts and expressing their praise is a big fat cherry on top for me. I am so thankful for my box and box mates.

This year I also attended Friday Night Lights at my box and what a rush that was. I got to cheer on many athletes as they endured their OPEN WODs and then there was a grand finale. I got to watch the amazing Alex Johnson absolutely smash his OPEN 19.2 Rx workout. It was amazing to watch his methods, his approach and his drive to finish. This guy is one to watch and I am lucky to share the same box as him to train.

Cheers to all who did 19.2 and all those who are stepping off the couch for the first time. It’s your race your way. Just do it.

I’ll be back with more OPEN updates next week as 19.3 is right around the corner.