fitness and nutrition, friendship

We Battled the Mountain!

What do you after the CrossFit open ends when you are a diehard CrossFitter? You battle a flipping mountain!

And so the story begins with a sign up for a CrossFit competition. Competing makes sure you continue to train hard, push limits and compete with like-minded nut jobs like yourself.

Oh what fun! My partner this competition is Tasha, or Tashi to me. My sweet, sassy, saucy little amazing Asian friend. She might weigh like 105 pounds soaking wet but she is a beast in the box.  This is my first competition with her and I have been super excited to compete with her as a dynamic duo. And we added a plus one. Caitlyn, our fabulous professional cheerleader. She is the cherry on top (literally) for this competition. Caitlyn is preggo so she isn’t competing, but she is being the best friend to all of us and cheering us on all day which is just amazing in itself.

Our team name is Katashi which is just a fusion of our names but we are seriously a hot mess in more ways than one. Both are competitive. Both speak our minds freely. Both don’t take shit from anyone. All of which can lead to craziness in the heat of any battle or competition.

We have been practicing for a couple weeks here and there when our schedules align. Nothing major, just timing on transitions and focusing on strengths vs. weaknesses because let’s face it, we have them, and I may have just a few more weaknesses than her?!?!

To make it even more fun, there are about 5-6 other teams from our box competing making it a competition to remember. And I almost forgot, there is a cash prize so who really doesn’t want to work hard to maybe win some cashola.

Up before 6am to hit the road to get ready for the competition. About an hour drive and it’s a bit chilly and overcast making it hard to wake up fully. First WOD starts before you know it. We worked hard and beat our practice time which was good. A few challenges, but our time should be one of the top 5, we think.

3rd place after round one. Seconds separating the pack. No time to analyze what we missed rather it’s time to strategize on round 2.  We start with a game plan in mind and we finish strong with a few mishaps in the mix. Tasha hits her lip with a dumbbell and I got hit with a moving steel rope in the face. Ouch on both occasions. Breaks in rhythm and concentration can mess you up but we pushed through. 1st place after round two. Small celebration, then for me it was fear of oh no! we have pressure to win now. There was no pressure before. Ughhhhhh!

On a side note, we dressed the part for our competition. Sparkling #Katashi shirts in round 1. Cheetah shorts in round 2 that were pretty revealing and then off for a quick change to lemon booty shorts for round three.

We worked so hard for nearly 15 minutes as a unit. Sometime one partner carried more of the load than the other, but we did it together and came out on top. First place after round 3. We won. We friggin won. Wait, we went back and forth like three times to be sure to the scoreboard was right. Tasha even took a picture of it. We were so excited. Our hard worked paid off.

The podium call came. We ended up in second place. What? Well, there was a tie when the final tally came in. They had to go back to the tie breaker of round 1 and we lost by two seconds. Would have, could have, should have. Those two seconds won’t be the death of us. It will be motivation to push hard next time. A little disappointing at first but back to celebrating that we really did win our own game and we had an amazing cheering squad.

Mentally strong. Physically strong. Committed to competing. All the feels for us.

And then there was our extended team/family. The heart and hustle crew: Sarah and Courtney. They hit the podium in third place in their division. They killed it and had so much fun doing it.

The newbies, Beth and Milagros: First time competing and just celebrating doing the competition together. Each round they finished. Each round they hugged in celebration. It was amazing to watch.

The big boys: Damion and Alex. True competitors in the elite division nailing second place. They did everything as planned and they helped the newer teams plan for each workout. True inspirations.

The coach plus one: Erica and Lauren. 2 strong and fierce women in the elite division. Both injured to a point. A sore back. A sore shoulder. Did anyone notice? Nope! They were so fun to watch and awesome to hear cheering us all on.

My buddies: David and Chris. A shy pair added on at the last minute but two good guys. I didn’t get to watch them as we were in the same heat but they both said they had an amazing time. Love hearing success stories like this.

The 5am crew, Mindy and Heather: a whimsical entry late to the competition due to schedule changes. They challenged themselves to compete in the intermediate group. A stretch for some movements but they dug their heels in and fought like tigers to compete.

There were many firsts, many smiles and even some I should have done this or that different. No matter the outcome, we were competitors and we did more than many on a Saturday before noon which is a big success. And for me, I did it in style with booty short changes for each WOD.

I just adore all of my extended friends and family I have met through CrossFit. Whether it’s the local box, a box I visit on vacation or a competition, everyone I meet is amazing. My love for booty shorts is shared across women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and so on. Conversations at the bathroom include what brand you are wearing? and how they ride or don’t ride your crotch.

Where else can you meet perfect strangers and have the best conversations about snatches, cleaning, jerks, booties, sweat and more? Certainly not at the office water cooler.

CrossFit has many benefits. It starts with a physical transformation and shifts into a mental transformation and somehow in between spurs community and long lasting bonds and relationships.

CrossFit is more than an expensive monthly membership. It’s a lifestyle and an elite club that many are scared to join because of the unknown or fear. Those are the very reasons I love CrossFit.

The constantly varied workouts. The not knowing what’s around the corner. The grit that is required to get to the next level. The crazy people I meet. The boundless opportunities to get better. The drive you witness in people daily.

Now it’s time to let my body recover. Hot tub, swim and a massage coming my way for the day after then back to the grind on Monday. Get after your fitness this week people.

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.

awareness

Beth’s OLW for 2019

 

Overdue post.

I’ve joined in the OLW (One Little Word) trend every year for the last few.  I’ve had words like focus, joy, more, and yes act as a tone-setter or guide through the year.  It usually takes me a few days to settle on one after thinking about where I am in my life and how I hope to grow.

What about 2019? After considering options like courage, go, and forward, one word kept coming back to me.

Fearless.

I originally didn’t like it since fearless strikes me a negative word.  It is about the lack of fear, instead of a positive trait like courage or fortitude.  But, then I thought about myself.  I do have a lot of fears.  I operate from worry and fear too much of the time.  I let worry keep me from taking on challenges, tasks, and possible joys. I want LESS of that for myself.  People notice when I am acting from a place of confidence and energy.  I carry myself and approach the world differently.  It shows.

So, fearless it is.  Fearless captures the power, the passion, the strength I hope to embody this year. I know this won’t mean I am suddenly unafraid or free from worry. It’s more about changing how I react to worries. I’ve already noticed myself telling friends not to get hung up on what they can’t control.  Not to operate from a place of fear.  In those moments, as I encourage friends to confront fears, I am encouraging and reminding myself, too.

Maybe I’m finally learning that, in the end, I’m the only one who catalogs my failures, not to mention the things I don’t even try to do in the first place (which are even bigger failures).  I’ve got to push forward and keep growing into myself.

This week’s example: sled pushes.  My first reaction was NO. I’m scared! I’ll get hurt! I’m too weak! (In my fearful, defensive voice!)

Then my good friend KT encouraged me to do it. Well…

And so I double checked with Coach Alex to be sure I was minimizing the chance of injury or aggravation.  He gave me form tips and the green light.  So, in front of people much stronger than me, I pushed the darn sled.  Faster and heavier than I would have ever done on my own.

Fears do come up.  They always will. It’s my choice to bow to them or challenge them.

Friends and coaches who know where I’m coming from and where I’m going help me keep pushing, fearlessly. (And in the pic below, I imagine Superman telling me I can do it, too!)

I’ll share updates about this as the year goes on.  Cheers to fearless, 2019.

 

 

fitness and nutrition

Grinding Out the Meters (and Dancing)

You wake up on Saturday, and see a workout like this:

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500+ meter run

25 alternating dumbbell snatch (so 50, really…)

25 calorie row

2,500 meter bike

30 alternating dumbbell snatch (yup, 60…)

30 calorie row

3,000 meter bike

35 alternating dumbbell snatch (you guessed it, 70…sigh…)

35 calorie row

3,500 meter bike

10 heavy ball over shoulder

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What do you do?  Some people get up and do it anyway.  Some people just stay home.

There are definitely days when I don’t feel like doing it, but I do it anyway and find my groove as I go along.  I am off my game if I don’t get there.

I will say, though, that I didn’t dread this workout too too much. Most of it is bike, and bike is my jam. I’m better at sprints than long distance, but I can still push through long meters pretty well.  It is not a slog, as it is for many.  Just like there are people who fly through burpees or running, when I am just trying to keep moving, slow as I am. Ever since I met the bike, we get along (most days).

This Saturday we added some classic tunes, and next thing you know I am dancing from the waist up as my screaming quads continued to grind it out. One of the amazing people at our box snapped a pic and some video. (Check out and follow our instagram feed for the video, posting soon!)

I debated on posting this picture.  It maybe isn’t the most flattering look, since it shows what I call my “flotation device” (stubborn belly flab).  My negative inner voice even wondered why I still look like a before picture when I’ve been working on health, fitness, and nutrition for years now.

But then I thought, this shows me being healthy, silly, and energetic.  And considering I was in a room with about 40 people I am still getting to know, I’m glad I felt that free, both with all of them and within myself.  That’s progress. Sharing it with you, flab and all, is even more so.

So, I ask you, in the middle of the grind, what makes you dance?  What makes you strong?  What makes you move? What makes you push yourself?

What makes you free?

Embrace the path you’re riding down, and the people you choose to share it with.

fitness and nutrition

Strengthening My Patience Muscles

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I’ve had a setback.  An injury.  My lower back flared up on Sunday. I was just sitting in a chair and turned the wrong way, I suppose.

It is the same area where I’ve had pain before.  I dropped everything and laid down.  Heat, cold, Advil, rest, rest, repeat.

I know tons of people think CrossFit is dangerous.  But, in case you are tempted to comment with an “I told you so,” I’ll just point out that it is much more dangerous to be sedentary.  My form could always be better, no matter how hard my coaches work to improve me.  Perhaps I’ve gotten overconfident while trying to increase my weights.  I still stay away from barbells for the most part, but I have been pushing myself on dumbbells.  Who knows.  I am still learning.

If you speak to even the fittest people at my gym, many have injury stories.  That may be just athletes in general.  It’s part of the process.  Of having a body.

So, I’m back to basics.  Just walking.  Trying to move.  I made it to the gym once to get on the air runner (to walk) and rode some meters on the bike erg.  It was good to see people even though I couldn’t do the workout. But for the most part I am just walking at the park, solo. I have to say, it’s pretty boring and hard to find motivation to cover any serious distance.  I miss the box. Some of the joy is in the camaraderie. It’s hard to believe I used to do this kind of solo walk / running every day.  I can’t imagine that now, although a fair amount of solo exercise is in my near future.

It is very hard to be patient. My patience muscles are some of my weakest. It’s especially challenging to wait on an injury you can’t see. No timeline. No visible progress. Just waiting.

I’ll be core strengthening and stretching more, too.  Again, weak muscles. A different kind of discipline.

So, for now, I’m bundling up. Putting one foot in front of the other. Up a hill and down then up again.

anonymous letters

Dear JackASS!

 

Today I decided to put my thoughts on paper regarding an unpleasant situation that has reared its ugly head in my life over the past several months.

Let’s start with the person I will name Jack Ass. He is an insignificant person in my life and he has limited ties to me socially. However, he most likely reads this blog. For giggles, I decided to give him some time in the spotlight. Not to shine a positive light at him, but to rather let him know I see him and his ways, and they don’t dictate my actions.

Let’s go back a few months in time. This jackass took something from me while I was out of town. It was a prized possession of sorts. Something I cared for with boundless energy and emotions. Fortunately for me, my special piece was returned to me with limited damage in just a few short days.

Upon return, the buffing process took place. Shining like a fine diamond. I was watching the item blossom in a way. Take shape. It was amazing to see the transformation in such a short time.

Then boom! In the blink of an eye, it happened again. Are you kidding me? Not again! Does lightning really strike twice in one place?

The odds are against it for the most part, but again my prized possession has been stripped of me. This time it’s not so easy to get back. He knows I know he has it. A firm warning was given yet a silent FU was received and duly noted.

Time’s a passing. Tick tock, tick tock. The reckoning day has arrived. An in-person meeting of sorts. And ewww he is the ULTIMATE JACKASS. There is no doubt in my mind. Once a jackass, always a jackass.

He shows up with a smirk on his face and a chip on his shoulder. What is wrong with this guy? He has something that I have nurtured for years but he stakes claim to it. I have never seen anything like this in my entire life. It is absurd to say the least.

Taking possession of another’s prize possession and matter of factly claiming ownership.

I am not sure what he thinks of me, but it’s okay I won’t be swayed by his condescending tone or his ugly words. I will take the high road and give up control to gain control. I will let him hold onto my prize possession because he has a death grip on it. He clearly needs my item for emotional support or other mental reasons I can’t even imagine.

He asks for my support of his needs. Are you crazy? I can’t support you but I can pray that my prize possession can weather yet another storm and come out unscathed.

In this day and age we are faced with many difficult situations. Today’s world is so much different than when I was growing up. I am not sure the mindset of people who prey on others who are nice.

May my jackass acquaintance find his own prized possession or find a new focus on one of his own possessions so that my piece may be returned before all is lost.

I can offer hope through positive actions and inspire others on most days. I believe in karma and I hope karma comes calling for Mr. Jackass. I may have the popcorn bowl already waiting for such a fine day.

Until then, be nice to others. Hug your loved ones. Keep an eye on your valuables and, most importantly, don’t let the jackasses of today ruin your day.

Tomorrow is a new day. A new set of adventures. You can live a life of lollipops and rainbows even if you don’t have that one prized possession anymore.

This open jackass letter was written as a form of therapy and free speech. I encourage everyone to grab a notebook and jot down their thoughts or feelings when troubled waters arise. There is something very therapeutic about writing vs. using your words against a person, place or thing. Choose kindness, it’s free.

And remember do unto others how you would want others to do unto you.