fitness and nutrition

Year 6: The Open

I was adamant I wasn’t officially participating in the CrossFit Open this year. The main reason for this decision is: I wasn’t feeling like I was in the same shape I was a few years back. Making me think I wouldn’t be happy with my results. I thought about it a good bit. I answered NO, when asked if I was participating many times.

Then I decided to log into my Open app. It showed my participation history and I had already invested five years in tracking my performance. Why not make it six years? Why not see how many years I can physically participate vs focusing on what number I am on the leaderboard?

This year I am 50. I hit a new age band. I had competed in RX the past few years but I have shifted to scaled workouts in most of my recent events. I also focus on going the distance or continuing to move through a grueling wod vs pausing. Slow and steady is my pace these days. It has taken me some time to adjust, but I have come to terms with being a scaled athlete. However, I strive to be the best version of scaled I can be. Thus I will see how I fare as a masters athlete in year six of my CrossFit Open history.

Another fitness benchmark. A couple of weeks of focus and self-motivation. A snapshot of my abilities at that point in time. A worldwide leaderboard allowing me to compare my peers worldwide. Why pass up the opportunity to get better?

Once my decision was solidified I decided to write this post. At the same time I glanced back at what I wrote last year about my Open participation. To my surprise I was on the fence about signing up but I did it. Just as I am doing again this year. Funny how my blog posts serve me purpose time and time again when I want to reflect on a subject. 

My vault is online. Cataloged for many to read. It is by no means all-inclusive memoirs however, the content is genuine. I write with feelings and undoubtedly express emotions to others in a very public way. I’m sure some will read this and the feelings are relatable. Others may lose interest and click away. It’s okay either way. 

As I want to end my evening with a dessert, I instead wrote this blog. In good conscience I will attempt to eat better for the coming days to prepare a tiny bit. Wish me luck. That translates to no dessert. Even if it was my favorite Kind bar frozen treat.

celebrations, fitness and nutrition

The Experience

Not too long ago I wrote about my upcoming CrossFit competition and my lack of preparedness. Today is the follow up which will summarize the experience because that’s what I decided it was. An experience that I will cherish for many years to come.

Let’s start with being fortunate. I am fortunate that at just shy of 50 I can compete at a high level and put myself out there in front of many. I am also happy that I get to share that experience with not only my friends but my youngest daughter. That in itself makes the experience more powerful and memorable. We did the same moves. We struggled together. We cheered together. We were a team although not on a team together. Just a day with my mini. 

Although this isn’t our first time competing together, it is always an adventure. New location. New moves. New competitors. New everything. I get to see her work through fears. I get to see her reach new heights. Sometimes I even see her coaching others who could be older than her. It’s a fun sight to see. I can truly say she grows with each event.

The day didn’t always go as planned. I started out workout one with strength but ripped my hands pretty good about 4 minutes into the 10-minute workout. I’m never good at working on the bar with my grip but when my hands ripped everything moved in slow motion except the pain. That was front and center. The suffering was over quick enough but how would the rest of the day go since I needed my hands. Luckily I pushed through. Of course I was the only one who ripped. Just my luck.

The day was long but so many giggles and milestones. My partner and I killed our box over and snatch workout. It’s the one I’d say we were most prepared for. This little bit of success helped us push through the afternoon. This workout was also the one my daughter and her partner did amazing at. Maybe even the fastest time of the day. Two little teens moving like they had fire on their feet. It was so exciting to witness. Team bonding. Team unity. True partnership. I was right there front and center to experience all of it.

Lunch break was fun, too. Chairs in the parking lot. Food trucks. Snacks galore. Chats with friends. Wardrobe changes. Selfie time for many. Just good clean fun. About this time a few non-participants showed up to cheer everyone on. That was just very cool. People took a long drive on a Saturday to cheer on friends and gym pals. This was amazing but this is CrossFit. Community. Like minded people coming together to unite around fitness. I will remember this because it was as a connection of people that went beyond the walls of a home base or gym.

The next workout was harsh. 12 minutes of repetitive moves requiring teamwork, communication and true grit. No real rest time. Pure adrenaline pumping in the body. Fatigue like you didn’t think was possible. You glance at the clock. It’s five minutes into 12 minutes. Will the workout ever end? Can I continue? So much runs through your mind. Are you contributing equal work as a partner? Is this a test? I survived my 12 minutes that felt like they would never end, but now it’s my daughter’s turn. I led by example. I gave hints for success. Will she listen? I mean she is a bullheaded teen. Will her age and inexperience hinder her? The day after post online noted below shows the confirmation of others thinking that 12 minutes was brutal!

The clock began. The battle with self ensued. Her partner was showing signs of weakness early on. She saw it. She didn’t want to accommodate her needs but she had no choice. Both were competing. They battled hard. They leaned on each other when they wanted to scream at each other. What a sight to see. In the end they persevered. It was such a sight to see. The after math was not so fun. The fatigue and anger showed their nasty side. This is part of the process.

The competition was nearing an end. A five minute workout remained. A simple one but so hard at the end of the day after all the athletes had endured. The power went out. The struggle with self continued on many levels for many athletes. You can’t quit now. The roar of the crowd gets you over the finish line. We did it. We came. We battled. We conquered ourselves. We left a little stronger. We gained a little respect for others. We enjoyed the experience from a-z.

This is CrossFit. Many say why do you do it? I do it for the fitness first and foremost. I do it for the friendships and community. I do it for the experiences. Competing takes all of that to a whole different level. It teaches you how to adapt. How to overcome. How to face adversity. How to smile. How to push through. These lessons crossover in life daily.

Our collective group of athletes hit the jackpot today. We all medaled. Not because of a low turnout but because we worked hard and did the best we could that day. There was a soon to be married couple in the mix. The doctor and the mid-twenties guy. Two sets of aged athletes in the masters category. Two teens. A wife and young adult combo. Such a diverse group.

This was a great experience. One to be shared. It is my hope that somebody reading this feels inspired to to try something new. Maybe it’s a new fitness routine. Maybe it’s just stepping outside their comfort zone to see what life can offer.

Enjoy today. I know I will. For tomorrow I will be sore. A sore like no other.

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.

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, friendship

Garage Games Part Two

It’s the Garage Games Competition time. Master’s division/scaled for this girl this weekend. I wrote about the preparation for this comp a few weeks back but so much has happened in between that post and the actual competition itself.

Corona waves hit some of the competitors I knew, making their prep come to a halt. The recovery for COVID and its impact on one’s lungs will make competing extra grueling for these folks. They will get it done at their best level for that day. I will be cheering for them between rounds as I can.

The comp itself changed some setup rules to accommodate for more social distancing due to waves hitting the area. Only active athletes competing can be inside the gym for their heat. No fans cheering. No warm ups in the gym. No watching the heat before yours. So many changes. These workouts are non-forgiving so that extra cheer will make a difference for some who want to give up in the moment.

Warmups are outside but it’s freezing out. So very cold at 6am, 7am and so on. The bars are cold. The chill is in the air. So that’s a whole different element of warming up your body and then performing in a different temperature inside. 

Talk about added stress for me. It’s also stressful to know I will immediately be shuffled outside as a sweaty mess to cool down in the elements. That’s a recipe to get sick as in a cold. Not COVID but a cold. Unfortunately, now days a cold is like COVID where you have to be locked up if you have the slightest cough or sniffle. So yeah I’m not thrilled.

The reality is also hard to think about visualizing how you compare to others on that big board outside of your home gym when you might feel like a big fish in your pond but when you go in the ocean you seem so much smaller. 

The leaderboard is part of the experience. The measuring stick. How you measure up to others who are CrossFit junkies in your age band of 5 years. There is no asterisk next to your name that says competed under duress. For me the comp is a challenge of myself. The will to push through and thrive as a party of one in hard times. In today’s crazy climate which is a shit show on most days. The temperature elements in the environment. The COVID restrictions. The lack of cheering. It all dials back to just me. Which ironically has been what a lot of 2020 has been for me.

Self discovery. Finding hope inside of oneself. Pushing through individually. A party of one it literally is. My daughter and friends are coming to cheer me on through the windows. Thanks to COVID they have to stay outside in the cold for the safety of the athletes participating. I get it but that’s part of the competition. The crowd. The cheers. The roars. As a competitor I feed off that. There will only be silence and the silence will kill your performance if you let it!

This is a battle I wasn’t expecting when I signed up. I guess I could just celebrate that’s it’s not canceled but I can’t. The reason for this is I did a few virtual races already this year and I again missed the chaos of the crowd, the cheers and the small touches that make those events fun.

When will the world stop snatching all the fun things from us? How long will the madness of isolation, separation, and masked life and more go on? My pals improvised. They made signs and yelled through doorways. I loved their efforts.

My mini group will have fun in our outdoor parking space of solidarity. Socially distanced. Bundled up in warm onesies and blankets. No hot cocoa. No fire barrel but maybe we will have a makeshift heater. Here’s to parking lot madness on a Saturday with good people getting their fitness grind on. This is what masters do. They master adversity. It’s a sign of grit.

(drum roll please) Comp results:

I completed all three taxing workouts.

I didn’t die although I was exhausted.

I changed outfits three times so I wouldn’t be sitting in sweaty clothes in the elements.

I wore a hat during a comp for the first time ever!

I met a cool competitor today and we took a ton of pics together.

I had fun with all the parking lot shenanigans.

I munched on comp snacks from the darkness of the morning through the day.

I put up my best efforts given the environmental challenges.

Now I get to see where I fall on the leaderboard. Took the gold for the local comp. Let’s see if I make to the big board.

It’s time to move on. A new day. A new week. A new month. A new year is on the horizon. On to bigger and better things as this event is now history.

The next event on the chopping block is sunrise yoga with the girls for a fun holiday gathering since we can do this distanced. How are you ringing in the holidays this year?