family, fitness and nutrition

Battle of the Ages

The time is here. The Battle of the Ages CrossFit comp is happening. I have been wanting to attempt this for a few years but it never worked out on the calendar and then corona hit. There was one last shot as we were rebounding from corona. 

March 6, 2021. Cartersville, GA. 2 males and 2 females is the division but we are rolling in with 3 females and 1 male. A disadvantage in any weight lifting events due to the mixed requirements favoring a male team with 2 men vs an extra female. It’s okay. We knew we were up for a challenge when we signed up. This competition is more about the memories, milestones and working in a team made up of family members in multiple generations.


The players were Nick, Tasha, Karen and Lexi. A familiar grouping. Each has crossovers and for me 2 are related. This is one of the coolest parts of the comp for me. I am competing with my teen, my 20-something and my normal comp partner rolling in mid-30s with me on the caboose at 49. 49 and feeling fine, fit and fabulous. Feeling fine doesn’t equate to moving as fast as the younger generations, just saying!


It will take teamwork, skill, strength, cheering and so much more to endure the grueling workouts. 7 teams competing in our bracket. 3 podium spots. It’s unlikely we we will make the podium however we will all put in our max efforts.


Workout one: push/pull event. This was the event I was most looking forward to. It was deceiving, though. Shoes slipped on the boards. Rope was taxing on your hands and there was no break. Exhausting!

Workout two: conditioning with a twist. A lot of biking, a little rope climbing and a lot of thrusters. This was a one and done for me. Somehow I did extra thrusters while my team was rope climbing leading me to lose my rest period. I was a mess in this workout.

Workout three (picture above): lifting heavy and holding in a high position while your partners are doing a bunch of other movements. This was a mess. Holding 245 pounds while your team does burpee box jumps is nerve wracking. If you drop the weight you let your team down. Talk about stress. My one job was hold that weight. Hold that weight. Had to find a focal point and just stare away. My grip strength weakened by the second.

Workout four: max lift on cleans as a team when we are all plum wore out. Cleaning is one of my least favorite lifts as my wrist mobility is not the best. Nonetheless I pushed through and got a personal record. However my kiddo had a personal best as well and it was a big progress step for her. 125 pounds is not only a personal best but a major learning opportunity. She believed she could and she did. 

Makes for a fun day. Makes for a tiring day. Makes for a day of making memories. Makes for a great challenge for oneself. 

Just as I dust off the boo boos and ego blow from this competition I shift my mind back to preparation level. Next comp is a few weeks away. Another road trip on the horizon to compete. This time with the ladies. A trio of three taking on the beach venue in the masters division. An unlikely competition team but we are out for fun on this one. Stay tuned for more details.

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?

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.

perspective

Max Mentality

 

I was looking for benchmarks and it seemed a simple enough test.

Do the maximum reps of pullups (or scale) that you can.

Then,

do the maximum reps of pushups (or scale) that you can.

Rest 2 minutes.  Repeat 3 additional times.

I read tips.  How to scale so you get a decent benchmark (choose a scale that lets you get at least 15 reps fresh, etc.)  So set up and pressed start.

It didn’t take long for me to stop. Yeah, I can’t do a ton of these exercises. But what I noticed is that I stopped before I was really “maxed out.”  I could have done one more, maybe two, even three, who knows?

And I didn’t just stop early the first time. I did it every. single. time. Left some in the tank, so to speak.

Why?  I thought to myself. Why stop short? Why not push to failure, really find where my max is? What do I fear?

When I thought about it, I realized that I take this approach all the time in fitness. I tend to run along at 70-80% when I should be maxing out.  In a workout with 5 rounds it is not unusual for me to have my last round be my best round. I don’t usually have the fall-on-the-floor-exhausted at the end, either. That’s fine sometimes. But I can’t kick it into high gear when that is necessary. My legs don’t have sprint in them.  Or, rather, I never test them to see if they do.

I believe I do this in most areas of life where I put forth effort. I’m always hesitant to really see how far I can go.  To see where my abilities can take me, and, maybe more importantly, where they can’t.  What is it about pushing myself to my limit that is something I struggle with?  What do I fear about learning where my edge is, and reaching for it?  Knowing where that is helps me make progress.  Helps move the carrot or the needle or the yardstick.

I even do this with my heart and my enthusiasm.  Even if I am crazy excited about something, if I am asked how excited about it I am, I’ll usually say an 7 or 8 out of 10.  What am I holding back for?

Something to think about as the summer begins and priorities shift.  What does it mean to max out as a writer?  A friend?  A parent?  How often am I cruising with that less-than-best-effort when I should be doing more, crushing it?

How about you? What’s your challenge for giving max effort in life, or maybe what’s your secret?