fitness and nutrition, friendship, perspective

What I Learned from Coming In Last

“It’s not a big deal to me how we do, as long as we’re not last.”

These words came from one of my amazing teammates at a recent competition. I nodded in agreement, and I’ve said them, too.

Flashback to my very first 5k “race.”  Run Your Cookies Off – a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts.  I was probably 80 or 100 pounds heavier than I am now, maybe more.  I had no idea what I was doing. I was a slow walker / jogger as I approached the start line in terror.  But as long as I am not last I’m ok, I thought.

I wasn’t last that day, but I was close.  I could see the last person behind me by maybe 30 yards most of the time.  I kept looking over my shoulder, fighting to stay ahead. I gasped and choked as I stumbled across the finish line, maybe 5th to last out of a few hundred runners.  But, not last.

Fast forward eight years or so to only a few weeks ago, the line comes into my head again. A CrossFit competition.  Looking around at some of the fitter people I’ve seen in recent memory, our direct competitors. Some twenty or more years younger.  But, we will be fine as long as we are not last.

After the first workout, we were second to last.  So, not last – a win!  And then, after that, for the rest of the day, workout after workout, it happened. We. Were. Last.

Yup, I was finally on the other side of the “as long as we’re not…”

And I looked at my teammates, two fierce, fit, incredible women, working their ever-loving asses off.  All three of us had been sick that week, with some of that sickness lingering on competition day.  All three of us were super nervous.  But we showed up, and we brought our best. And we cheered for each other.  And we pushed as hard as we could, pushed beyond what we thought we could do.  We pulled together and fought like heck for every rep, every lift, every jump and burpee and pushup and calorie.

And with all our fight, all our heart, all our effort, we still came in last.  (We actually tied for last with some of our good friends who made up another rockin’ team from our box, which made it all the more sweet.)

So, you may ask, what are the after effects of coming in last? Honestly, not much different than coming in higher on the board.

I’m proud of my teammates, as I should be.  One rocked her first competition ever, conquering move after move, challenge after challenge.  The other overcame huge obstacles to PR her snatch not just once but 5 times that day.  5 times!!!  I still smile when I pull out my team shirt and shorts.  We had a great and memorable day for our squad.  Weeks later, no one remembers what place we came in.

I’ve held onto a line I heard once many years back when I was just starting to get my health together.  It still serves me on crappy running days, and those inevitable afternoons when I just would rather not go to the gym at all:

As long as you show up…”you’re lapping everyone on the couch.”

No matter what place we finished in, we showed up. There are many who are less fit, and even many who are more fit, who didn’t have the guts or the gumption to just show up, put themselves out there, and see how they measure up.

There’s an old saying that nice guys finish last…now I also see that good people, people who work hard, train hard, and put forth tons of effort still do finish last sometimes. In fact, that effort may represent a huge personal triumph no matter what the leaderboard says. One that should be applauded.  Still, for better or worse, it’s just one day. One memorable day full of proud moments.

The real after effects of coming in last are what we choose to do moving forward. What matters most is what comes next. Nothing stops us from continuing to train and get better and cheer for each other. We’re already signed up for more races, more challenges, more adventures. Who knows where we will turn up next?

 

 

 

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, hustle

Sore is an Understatement

I am so sore after my last competition. My quads and my traps were literally on fire day 1 post-comp. By day 2 the traps moved to achy, but the quads were still flaming hot. As day 3 approached, the thought of working out those sore muscles was insane but a much needed step in the recovery process. At day 4, I was trudging along but at a turtle’s pace in most activities. The pain and recovery phase is nearing completion. Thank goodness.

I competed last week in the Jingle Bells and Barbells CrossFit competition with a bunch of my crazy CrossFit friends. It was an amazing experience like most competitions I do, but this one had had workouts programmed with heavy weights and overall grueling movement combinations to test your mind, body and soul. Yes, the soul. You had to dig deep into your soul to power through some of these workouts.

Up at the wee hours of the morning to make the drive for the early am check-in. First workout starts promptly at 8:30am. 22 minutes of movement with three team members pushing their limits. Each with different strengths and weaknesses. Round one left my legs shaking and my body craving fuel to endure the next round. 4th place out of 22 is where my team sat after round 1.

About 11:00 am round 2 was upon us. A heavy lifting ladder. 90 seconds for three team members to move up in weight on a complex movement (2 deadlifts, 1 squat clean, then 1 shoulder-to-overhead). I tapped out at 125 lbs, another team member 145 lbs and another 155lbs. Despite our strength, we were still in 4th place. There was some tough competition in our bracket.

Round 3 hit around 12:30 pm. A partner relay of sorts with pull-ups, push-ups and dumbbell snatches followed by a max combined number of 85-pound snatches. This was killer but one I was looking forward to. Well not really the relay part but the snatches part as that is a movement I like and am decent at. Over 14 minutes we worked hard as a team. 9 minutes dedicated to snatches. 128 snatches over head for team Katashie. We nailed 1st in this workout by a longshot but our bodies were depleted. This bumped us up to 3rd place overall. We were excited we would make the podium.

And then there was a curve ball. A final workout of sorts to see who really makes the podium. The first four teams in each division have to compete in one more workout that is a secret. An unknown workout when your body is already taxed. No time to prepare. What an awesome plot twist for those who like to compete.

We were nervous. We were in fourth place until the last workout. We didn’t have a big points differential with the team now in fourth place. That means they could take our podium spot. The pressure was on. GHDs, rope climbs and wheel barrows were our movements. 9 minutes is all you got. We were last off the GHDs – LAST – but somehow we picked up time on the rope climbs. We kicked it into high gear to finish 3 laps in a tandem wheelbarrow of people. We squeaked out 2nd place in this workout despite getting a rough start. What a triumph.

We actually made the podium in 2nd place overall out of 22 teams. What an accomplishment. As I say I am sore, I am also prideful. I am beaming with pride for my team who worked hard as a unit over time to reach the podium. I am also thankful for my physical ability to be able to compete amongst others who may be my age or even 20 plus years younger. Thank you to Erica and Tasha for partnering with me at this comp. It was a blast.

Whether I made the podium or not, I put in work. I did more than many others my age on that Saturday. I did the work among friends. I smiled. I laughed. I earned my carbs for that whole weekend, I promise. And to top it off, three of my friends competed for their first time. Congrats to Kim, Taco and Nicole. You killed it.

The added bonus is any time I can say I competed with my oldest son. Last month it was the Marathon. This month it was this competition. A year ago it was Super Team Comp where we shared the same coed team. Having the opportunity to share fitness and lifestyle goals with your kids is amazing. Next duo event for us is a 15k in February. I’m doing it for the swag bag, he is doing it for the run. #goals

One day I may not be able to compete but I will always have this blog to relive the memories as an CrossFit athlete. Competition is good. It lets you see where you can grow and lets you see how you stack up to others who choose to compete as well. Not every time is a success story on the podium, but for me every time I cross the finish line I will celebrate my individual accomplishments.

Until next time, check out some of my comp pics. The first two are courtesy of Davison Wheeler Photography.

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fitness and nutrition

Open Chronicles: 20.1

Each year I write about my adventures in the CrossFit Open.  The sport I love that lets me see how I stack up to others in my age group locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. #intheopen

I am not competing against others in this competition. I’m competing against myself year over year. Fortunately for me, I’m able to see how others stack up. This may motivate me in some instances and it may deflate me in others. That in itself fuels my life.

You can’t win or be the best at everything, but you can improve. Each Open season I may have a different weight, muscle mass, work schedule, or gym community. How I balance it all and participate is what’s worth documenting to me.

20.1 snuck up on me quickly. I wasn’t really ready because of life. I didn’t get my mind ready to do my best. I just did it and chipped away at it. I didn’t waver. I kept moving slow and steady.

10 rounds of 8 overhead bar moves with 65 pounds on a bar, followed by 10 burpees with a jump over the bar after each burpee. If you do the math, that is a total of 80 overhead movements at 65 pounds followed by 100 burpees. There is also a time limit. You have just 15 minutes to complete this task.

Can it be done? Yes. Will I achieve that? No. On my first attempt, I completed 8 full rounds and began chipping away at round 9. For me it was 67 overhead movements and 80 burpees, for a total of 147 reps. 147 out of 180 possible.

I was about 82% complete. I moved over 6,000 pounds over my head from the ground. Could I have done more? Possibly. Will I try a second attempt? I’m considering it. Am I sore the next day? A little.

Well, I did 20.1 again on Monday. I was a little tired but I wanted to do it again in hopes of improving. I didn’t fare so good.

The first bar movement seemed heavy. My body seemed slower on the burpees. My mind kept asking me: why are you doing hellacious workout again? Somehow I kept moving. My left knee was scraped raw from the friction on the floor. At 9 minutes my lungs were burning. At 11 minutes I said 4 more minutes, you can do it. Thankful for the cheers of my box mates, I made it to 15 minutes again. 141 reps compared to 147 reps on the first attempt.

I attempted to exceed my first attempt but failed. I am happy I put forth the extra effort despite the outcome. Top 19% worldwide in my age group. I’d consider that a success.

20.2 is just a few days away. Wonder what challenges that WOD will bring? #masterathlete #bonnieandclyde

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.

celebrations, friendship

Full-on Festivus Fangirl

One part roadie, one part pit crew, one part media team, one part friend, five parts fangirl.  These were my jobs for the Faded Glory teams at this year’s Festivus Games.

Unlike Chick 1, I didn’t WOD in the sun and fun.  Scheduling and family commitments made competing impossible.  But I still got out and joined in for as long as I could.

My day started at 5am, just like most of the teams.  But, for my first stop I went and got my own workout in first at our home box (burpees over the rower, thrusters, and other fun times). I could have skipped, but even when (especially when!) you’re spending a lot of your time supporting others, you have to keep your own health in line.

Then it was off to the Games, sliding in with my friends to watch them work and support where I could, which led to these moments….

The roadie – Yes, I’ll carry your phone.  I’ll wear your watch. I’ll hold your bracelets.  Of course I’ll keep time for you and count down loud so you know how much you have left to go.

The pit crew – Yup, I’ll charge that dead (phone) battery.  I’ll change your oil (peppermint oil, of course, on sore hamstrings and lower backs).  I’ll drill your muscles with one of those crazy massage guns.  I’m there with your water when your engine overheats.  Creaky joints? Do you prefer Aleve, Advil, or Tylenol?

The media team – The pictures, the videos, the boomerangs. Did I get video of your snatches? Check. Boomerangs of your wall balls? Check. And THE LIFTING FACES!!!  Oh, the lifting faces. Can’t get enough of them.  Capturing the efforts and the agony.  The triumphs and the teamwork.  The small moments, the funny moments, the victories that many people miss – we even miss some of them ourselves!

Send them to each athlete, even send them to their spouses and our friends who couldn’t be there.  Those photos tell amazing stories of a time that will become incredible memories.

 

 

The friend – Just before she starts each event, I’m glancing at my partner, Milagros, and just give her the look.  The “you can do this.  Just breathe and do it” look.  That moment of reassurance between us!

Some of the highlights of the day are listening to pretty much all the competitors talk about their teammate.  In one way or another, each is fighting not to let their partner down.  To do their best, to give their all for that teammate.  This brings back memories of when I competed, and truly is one of the sweetest, most meaningful parts of the experiences.

Finally, the fangirl –  Cheering like crazy for each of them. (And all the videos with my shrill drum major voice!) Clapping from behind the lens.  “Pick it up!” I barked. Encouraging when I saw the looks of exhaustion, of near tears, of hating that stupid box, that idiotic dumbbell, that impossibly irritating kettlebell. And when I saw those fleeting looks of “It’s too hot.”  “It’s so heavy.”  ‘I’m not sure I can do anymore…” I’d get even louder:

YOU GOT THIS! COME ON!  LET’S GO!  And as others finished, they joined in the cheers. Surrounding teammates who had fought through adversity to encourage them to the bitter end.  We are fans of each other.

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What a day and a reason to support and shout for these incredible athletes.

Pushing themselves past the edge of the discomfort zone, some fighting through injuries and illness.  They showed up and WORKED.  All the training, the invisible hours, the practicing, the endless reps, heck even the no reps mattered.  It all adds up to knowing you fought like crazy to compete and give your best that day.

I’ll truly cherish wearing the #Katashi shirt with my honorary (if temporary) tattoo. That takes fangirling to a whole new level.  You’d be hard pressed to find two more fierce or fun competitors. Still gotta work on my booty game, though.

I’ll cherish the hugs and smiles and people laughing and feeling proud as they saw themselves in action. I’ll cherish seeing both first timers and “old” timers get in there to scrap with anyone who dares compete. Better bring your A game. I’ll cherish watching teams work with and for each other, and being on the team for all of them.

 

 

celebrations, fitness and nutrition

Festivus Games Was No Joke

Well, this comp was a little different about 5 minutes after I signed up! Then, when I got to the competition site the crazy level stepped up a bit….the competition was 90% outside. Holy smokes.

Looking back, I somehow stacked 1/2 marathon training, a 45 day bicep/tricep challenge, a physical residence move, a big trip to see family and life on top of comp training and my regular CrossFit and adult life.

What was I thinking? I probably wasn’t thinking until I hit the WODs hard the 2 weeks prior to the event. At that point my body was already sluggish from a physical move and my arms were burning on the daily from the other bicep/tricep challenge and then heck most days my legs were like we don’t need any additional miles today!

Of course there was outfit planning. Tanks and booty shorts. This may be the most fun part of competing because my crazy partner agreed to change outfits four times. Really she had no choice but it’s part of the experience and what sets us apart from others. We beat to our own drum or anthem in many ways. Class act I tell ya!

One week to go and I rip my hand bad. How did that impact the event? Came down with a cold as well a week before so breathing wasn’t 100%. Complaints or excuses? Time to press on and put in work. This is a self note that I am sharing.

The last seven days were focused on eating well, sleeping well and staying healthy. I wasn’t perfect but I made an attempt. Rest being most important since my body is aging.

Last practice session on our weakness was a good showing. Compared to day one it was tremendous growth. Now to wait and see how the big day goes.

Comp day. It starts with the dreadful alarm at 5am, food prep, and carpool ride at 6am. Oh and let me tell you about the ride:

One passenger snoring in the back who wouldn’t share the back seat. Yup, that’s my partner!

One driver kind enough to volunteer to drive knowing the drive home will suck bad. Thank you, CW.

And then me. The sleepy one mesmerized by the cool new truck I was in. Air flowing through the seats and a massaging seat. Yup, just what I needed and I gladly staked my claim for that seat on the way home!

Then the wait for heat one at 9:50am. The morning aches and stiffness were among the bunch as we waited, joked and stretched together. We all prepped differently yet we all did it together.

That’s a lot of idle time for nervous jitters that lead to multiple potty breaks. Fun times all around meeting neighbors in tent city and taking pics as we wait. A group of friends are competing so we will have a blast tailgating and cheering each other on. Of course we are still competing so it’s not all rainbows and lollipops for those in the same division.

Did I mention our team name this time around? 2 Tatted Bitches – ha! Offensive to some but perfect to us! Check out the cool shirts we got compliments of Chick 2’s designing skills. Oh, how the announcer fumbled purposely all day on that name. However, if we made the podium he said he would say the full name prominently. And he did just that!

WOD 1 – my favorite. The deadlift ladder. Easy peasy 205 pounds. We accumulated 75 bonus points with our extra efforts in less than a minute. Took 3rd in this WOD. Feeling good but the worst is yet to come. And the pic below shows one of the good faces. There were many more crazy faces to come.

WOD 2 a and b=death! Add extreme heat outdoors, direct sun and and and….WOD was outside, 90+ degrees and I don’t usually workout outside in direct sunlight. It gave me a new respect for other athletes who compete outside on a regular basis. Body weight movements AKA devil press (named appropriately), weighted box step overs, reverse lunges weighted and a partner row. Part A we scored 4th but Part B was 8th….my no reps for not locking my arms out cost us big time. I was not happy with my judge. Well, we could have given up but this is the time where we kicked it up a notch or attempted to.

WOD 3 – Outside again with a forecast raining wallballs and snatches. Get low, get low, get low…that’s all I would hear for what seemed like an hour. My legs were shot but somehow I was going to have to squat 45 times with a 14-pound wall ball going up down up down. I wanted to puke in the heat was a gross understatement. My practice rounds were timed and my partner was suppose to hold me accountable for a personal best despite the environmental conditions. She did but I wasted breath saying “stop yelling at me.” Big mistake but I made it through by the grace of God. Our time was not our best but we squeezed out 3rd solely with our heart and desire to make up for the WOD before.

WOD 4 – the synchro WOD that I had been dreading since sign up. Not really sure how to explain this other than heavy and weird object being tossed around like a ping pong ball over and over and over again. But it was not a ping pong ball. It was a heavy anchor that bumped and bruised your body and your ego with each movement. It was brutal. And I was focused on this part of the workout making me totally forget about the 100 buy in of knees-to-chest movements. Oh crap! Suck it up buttercup because we had to place high in this round to get on that podium. Thankfully my partner killed this movement and made up for my shortcoming and we were on fire with the synchro piece. Over 100 reps of pure grit and we pulled out 2nd in the event.

It was bittersweet. A podium finish of 3rd. Hard work pays off. Good partner chemistry paid off. Supportive gym mates were the icing on the cake. Not to mention our honorary tatted bitch who donned our shirt and branded herself with Katashi just for us. Was a great friend.

We’re walking away from this event with a medal but it’s not the medal that’s most memorable. It’s the journey. The journey of training that’s years in the making. The fellowship along the way. The learning process of developing skills. The coaching you receive along the way. The commitment required to grind another day when your mind tells you to quit. Mental toughness, tenacity, determination, are all words that come to mind.

I leave you with this message: anyone can commit to changing their environment, their attitude and their perspective. Many will talk about it but won’t follow through because the road along the way is full of big hills, speed bumps and life detours. It is not easy. Surround yourself with a tribe that will challenge you, push you, motivate you and ultimately make you see your own potential. It’s really all about you, just like this post is all about me.

I’m not one to gloat per se, but I am one to share my stories with the world to offer hope to others who have a hard time seeing it in themselves in the mirror.

Happy Sunday, y’all. I’m back to training for my 1/2 marathon in 3, 2, 1….