Jul 28, 2010

Ooops, I did it again

Couldn't resist the Britney lyrics for a blog title, since yet again I have slacked on posting my WODs the day I do them. :-p

Tuesday's WOD was honestly just sad. I thought my head was in the game starting out, but then my focus just kind of whithered away, and I ended up performing really poorly. Well, you win some, you lose some. At least I had two very fast people to chase on the runs, reminding me I really need to work on my SPEED.
In 7 min: Run 800m then AMRAP deadlifts (315lbs/205)
Rest 1 min.
In 4 min: Run 400m then AMRAP thrusters (45lbs/25)
Rest 1 min.
In 2 min: Run 150m then AMRAP toes to bar
Results: 18 deadlifts (@ 135#), 23 thrusters, 6 toes to bar

See? Sad.

Deadlifts I pushed it -- probably should've made it to 20, but I am a form nazi on those and take my time on getting set up. Thrusters I just went into la-la land. I came in from the 400m run, and just dicked around instead of jumping on the bar. Booo to that. That's just a symptom that my head is not in the game. For toes to bar, I only did 3 before coming off the bar. My grip is stronger than that, I need to do at least 5 (minimum) before coming off.

All in all, I came to the box, did some running, got a good sweat, and left determined to do better the next day.

The best part of Tuesday is what happened after the WOD. One of our newer members, Kamie, said she'd like to try the Rx weight of 205 at least once, just to see if she could do it. So I was like, hell yes, let's do it!

There ended up being 4 of us who stuck around for about 20 minutes taking turns on the bar. We started at 155 and worked our way up from there. I was able to share some of my knowledge about deadlift form -- including my absolute favorite setup technique from Rippetoe. Helped Jess with her "shoot up butt", Kamie with pulling the bar along her shins, and Melissa with her form on return (I feel her pain on that one, I still struggle on my return).

In the end Kamie was able to pull 195, and after she did, she did an awesome happy dance and took a little victory lap around the box. She is my kind of chick, I love her energy. :-D

Typing up this story, it sounds so mundane. Four chicks in a gym just screwing around with deadlifts. But what made me so excited about it was that there were 4 of us bad ass CrossFit ladies hanging out, getting our strong on.

So many days I've seen the guys hang around to play with the barbells after the WOD. When the ladies stick around, they are usually chatting or maybe working on their kipping swing. Both of which are great -- I love days when people hang out to talk, and I love seeing everybody working towards getting their pullups.

Those 20 minutes yesterday morning were special because the universe was telling me, yes, you DO have a tribe here. Yes, there are other chicks who get excited about testing the limits of their strength and learning how to get even stronger. It's something I've experienced in other places, but it hadn't really happened here. I can't wait to see what happens next. :)

This morning I dialed in my focus and pushed myself, so I was happy about that.
2 rounds:
Row 500m
21 burpees
Results:  9:20-ish
 My girl Melissa rolled in at just over 7 minutes, she freakin' rocks my socks!

My first row was 2:01, the second row was approaching 2:20 -- I was too gassed to even look at the final time, but my pace on the rower display was up in the 2:20's for more pulls than I was happy with.

The burpees were just S-L-O-W. Holy cow. I was crawling up and down for some of them. But I didn't take any extended breaks, just slowed down the pace here and there to quasi-rest, so I'm happy with my effort overall.

After class I got a few of the ladies (all chicks today, woot!) to try the single-band muscle up progression setup. It really helped them to be able to focus on the skill of the transition -- both up and down -- by eliminating some of the weight in the movement. Even using a band to assist, the muscle up is still a really challenging movement, especially in terms of learning to support yourself up on the rings, and keeping the rings close to the body. Good stuff! Next time we'll set up the squat rack progression and see how people like that.

Time to get back to an attempt to be productive on my day off. I am super sleepy so I'm not sure how that's going to turn out. :)

Jul 25, 2010

Running, swimming, burpees and double unders

Dammit, I hate "catch up" posts, I really need to get myself back into the habit of posting WODs and workouts here the same day I complete them.

Today we hit the pool for a little bit, and I did 4 rounds of this WOD that was posted there.
10 rounds:
10 pullups
10 pushups
10 4-count flutter kicks
10 squats
I made some modifications to this. When I can't kip, 10 pullups tends to look like 3-2-2-1-1-1 at the satart, and then get worse from there. Doing 5 at a time keeps things moving. Also, I try to do no fewer than 15 squats, so I upped this to 15 squats.

Honestly, there was no intensity on this, I was just trying to bust myself out of a crappy food coma. Saturday was a total waste in terms of food and activity, and Sunday hadn't been going so well either.

When I got home, I headed out to the garage to finally try out some of the muscle up progressions that I was all fired up about last week. I took some videos, which I'll put together for you guys to check out. I mainly did the video so I could compare what I did to what is shown in the "how to" video, and make sure I'm on the right track. Once I have the video, I'll post some thoughts to go along with it.

Friday I coached the morning classes, and my buds Allie and Kirk stuck around to encourage me through the WOD which I did on my own after the 0830 class was finished. They rock. :)
2 rounds for time:
20 double unders
21 burpees
30 double unders
15 burpees
40 double unders
9 burpees

Results:  19:05
I don't know if it was the sickness still hanging on, or what, but damn those burpees felt like they took *forever*. But that was 90 burpees per round, and my time on 100 burpees was 10:43 -- so I don't know if I could get much faster on this WOD. My calves are still sore from it 2 days later, definitely lots of jumping to kill your legs!

Thursday was a REST day. Yay! :)

Wednesday I was feeling the impact of my first 2 WODs after a week off, and I wasn't sure I should do another WOD -- kind of that moment where you're not sure if more exercise will be best, or if what you really need is rest. Since I worked at the pool that day, I decided I would swim and run just to get the body moving, but keep the intensity to a minimum.

During one of my breaks at the pool I did 50 yards of each of the 6 strokes we covered in my Water Safety Instructor course -- front crawl, back crawl (backstroke), breaststroke, elementary backstroke, sidestroke and butterfly. Well, for the last one, we'll just say that I did the closest approximation to butterfly that I am capable of. :-p

After work I headed to a trail on base that's 90% shaded -- while I've acclimated to the heat here, exercising in the sun is still something that I can't quite handle. That's a lot of what slowed me down when we did Murph the other day. Anyway, I did about 35 minutes of running -- I'm not sure the exact distance, but it's probably somewhere between 3 and 4 miles. Good times.

Worked all the kinks out, and didn't make me feel worse, so mission accomplished. :)

Coming soon, a compilation of all the Level 1 certification experiences that I've seen in blogs for kelsalynn, who has just signed up for her L1. Woot! :-D

Jul 20, 2010

Fight Gone Bad 5, back squat & metcon

First, some responses to comments.

For weighted pullups, I put the dumbbell handle basically in my crotch, and lock my legs together. I think this is an advantage we females have over guys! :-p However, this will only work up to about 20-25 pounds, at which point you either need to use a weighted vest (this is on my list of equipment I want) or a weight belt that you can hang dumbbells, kettlebells or plates from. I think I'll be good to go using the dumbbells for quite a while. :)

If you want to get involved in a CrossFit event, but aren't quite ready for a competition, you should check out Fight Gone Bad 5. Even if you don't belong to an affiliate, get a group of local CrossFitters to do the workout together. Sara and her husband did this last year, bringing in a few friends, and raising money. This year the beneficiaries for FGB5 are the Wounder Warrior Project, LIVESTRONG and the CrossFit Foundation. I wish I could join Sara this year, but I'm already committed to doing the USMC Mud Run that same Saturday, which is a bummer. Next year, for sure.

I considered taking a rest day today to help ease myself back into working out, especially since I felt like I was going to die by the end of work yesterday. But I went this morning at 0830 anyway. We'll see how that decision plays out later today -- lifeguarding isn't super fun when the heat index is 110 degrees.
Strength: Back squat 5-5-5-5
Results: 95-105-115-115
I wasn't feelin' it this morning? You know some days you're amped up to lift heavy shit, and other days you're like 'MEH'. Today was a bit meh for me. And honestly, back squat is my *least* favorite rack position. I know most people hate the front squat rack because it's so awkward, but I love it. Maybe cause I'm good at it. :-p Either way, I got my squats done, so that was a positive. :)
Push press (75/55)
150m sprint
 Results: 10:46 Rx

Push presses were nice and quick, broke the first set at 16, second set at 10, and third set was unbroken.

Pushups were a hot freaking mess. Got them in really variable sets, no more than 5-6 in a row. These will probably continue to be a challenge for me. Side note: If you watch the final event of the CF Games, many of the top 16 ladies had to take breaks during the set of 30 pushups. That made me feel better about my pushups struggles.

Pumped the squats out unbroken in all 3 rounds.

The runs were decent, though I wouldn't call them "sprints". :)

Man, during the first round after the push presses my heart was racing so bad!! It was freaking me out! So I dialed back the intensity a bit, no need to F myself up. The virus is still affecting my respiratory system, and I'm sure other parts of my body, not to mention side effects from the meds I'm taking to deal with the symptoms. Damn Sudafed -- I hate how that stuff makes me feel, but it's nice not to have snot flowing out of your nose 24-7. :-p

Jul 19, 2010

Weighted pullups and two metcons

Gotta post quick, I want to get this up before I have to be at work so I don't slack off and not post it. :)

I went back to the gym this morning even though I'm still not over this virus. I took a whole week off already, so at this point I think working out is going to help me get better and get this shit cleared out of my system.

We did a multi-part workout.

 Weighted pullups: 5-3-2-1-1-1
My sets went down like this:
  • 5: deadhang
  • 3: 5# dumbbell
  • 2: 8# dumbbell
  • 1: 10# dumbbell
  • 1: 10# dumbbell
  • 1: 10# dumbbell
I was very pleasantly surprised to be able to handle the 10# dumbbell! I did have to kip out of the bottom -- ideally I would like to keep my weighted work strictly deadhang. But for now, I think it works. My work on deadhangs has really paid off, makes me a little bit glad that pullup bar at my workplace is so stinking close to the wall. Scraping your knees on a brick wall is very good incentive to not kip. :-p

Next we did two metcons. I tried to keep moving during these, but honestly I didn't push myself too hard. I just wanted to work and sweat, not kill myself. I'll get back to that in another week or so when all the chest congestion is gone.
AMRAP in 8 min
5 hspu
15 knees to elbows
rest 2 min
AMRAP in 5 min
10 sumo deadlift high pulls (75lbs/55)
15 double unders
1st AMRAP -- 2 rounds + 6 K2E's
2nd AMRAP -- 3 rounds + 5 SDHP's

Double unders were hard because my heart was racing so much. And I totally sucked at K2E's today -- I have good and bad days with those. Honestly, I think I'm better at toes to bar than those, because I practically have to get my feet the height of the bar to touch my knees to my elbows. Time to experiment with form on those, perhaps. For HSPU I used 2 AbMats, and got the input that maybe it's time to drop to 1. I think I agree with that.

Gotta run time to shower for work. Happy Monday, get in the gym!

Jul 16, 2010

Loving all these comments!

Wow, I am really loving all of these comments on the last 2 posts. It would be awesome to have more discussion here, so keep it coming ladies!

I was giggling so much reading Andrea's comment about wanting "scary arms". I have been flexing as a party trick since I was in high school -- I love blowing people's minds with my bi's and tri's. :-p And I am with you on the big legs. When my "side quad" first started popping out from squats, I was sooooo excited!

Angie got her stats up in her sidebar already, and OMG -- her 1RM on OHS is 110! That must be getting close to body weight, am I right? That kicks so much ass. :-D

Can't wait to see your stats too Kelsalynn!

Oh, and KD and Sara, you ladies need to join in the fun as well, since you were my original CrossFit mentors. :)

I'm still freaking sick. What a pain. Especially since I'll be in and out of the pool tomorrow for my Water Safety Instructor class, plus I'll be teaching 4 10 minute swim lessons. KILL ME NOW. At least I might have a tiny bit of a voice by then -- I'm actually able to force out some real sounds and not just whispers today.

When I hit the urgent care clinic on Monday I wore this shirt to help myself feel super tough. Bad ass, eh? :-D

If you watch the Games live web cast, watch out for Kate!

And finally, my real reason for today's post.

Last night I was hacking up a lung, so I gave up on trying to lay in bed and got up and watched some TV and also looked at some stuff on the computer. Since it was late, that meant lots of new WODs had been posted that I could look at! Yay! Yes, I am such a CrossFit geek that I am subscribed to the blogs of several affiliates so I can check out lots of different WODs. :)

Anyway, CF KoP included a link within today's WOD post. And it got me so freaking excited, because it is *exactly* what I need right now.

Among all of my WOD "catchup" posts, I posted about a very bad day that I had with a WOD that involved muscle ups. At the end I said I'd like to do strict muscle up progressions moving forward -- the only problem with that plan was my not actually knowing how to go about doing that. All the MU progressions I knew about involve assisting a kipping-based transition.

This is the same spot I've been in before with gymnastics (body weight) movements. I want to practice, I'm dying to improve -- but everything I try to practice, I can't actually do yet. It is a totally frustrating place to be in, and in all honesty I don't handle it well. AT ALL.

I can remember when I couldn't do a dead hang pullup with the green band. Not being able to get my chin over that bar made me feel like an utter failure. Lately when I've failed at attempts to do pullups on the rings while maintaining a false grip, I feel that same way. Or when I've had to resort back to a band on ring dips when my strength gives out. It's like I bottom out.

What I have to remind myself is that I didn't get better at pullups until I started working on them every time I was in the gym. If a WOD didn't include pullups, then I was on the bar doing some afterwards. Even if it was just 5 or 10.

But also, there was an incremental nature to my pullups, once I did manage to get going on the green band. There's a next step -- blue. Then white. Then mental floss. Then you're ready to kip and deadhang unassisted. That ability to progress incrementally is what's lacking in my muscle up practice.

So, back to what I watched last night. An incredible video with several options for progressions that work toward a strict muscle up. Hallelujah! And they are brilliant progressions in that you can easily measure your success and incrementally increase difficulty in each one -- foot placement, bands, used, etc. (If you don't subscribe to the CF Journal, do it now, it's worth $25/year)

This is where gymnastics is so frustrating, and so rewarding. You get in these "sticking points" where you can't do the movement yet, and you're not even sure how to go about getting there. But once you get on the path of the proper progressions and start practicing, next thing you know you've amazed yourself!

It's in these "sticking points" that you realize how little you know. I feel fortunate that I'm experiencing these moments as an athlete, because I think it's making me a much better coach. If I had the brute strength and "balls to wall" attitude to just fling myself up into a muscle up, I would not be looking at progressions like this. And I would less educated and less prepared to help others who need a much more incremental approach to practice.

And this highlights something fundamental that makes CrossFit special to me. With all the skills that are incorporated, CrossFit puts me into these incredibly uncomfortable positions, where I'm consumed with "I can'ts" and my outlook gets to bleak. But when I persevere, next thing I know, I'm doing things I never thought would be possible.

Last year at this time I was 20 pounds heavier, and hiding inside all day because I hated the heat and hated living in Georgia and hated myself. I had just purchased summer clothes in bigger sizes because I didn't think I was going to take the weight off. It would be another month of misery before I even considered getting back to the gym.

11 month later, and I've just completed Murph as Rx. Yeah, it took me 90 minutes, but who cares? I got that shit done! Freaking amazing.

And can I just take a moment to be snarky? There's no way in hell these changes would've happened via elliptical machines, Zumba classes and Jillian videos. :-D

One final thought on muscle ups. If you're a chick, and you have a kipping pullup and you can do a couple rings dips, have you considered adding this skill to your goals? Has your coach encouraged you in that direction?

As a coach, I think I want to bring this skill down from "holy grail" category and help my athletes perceive it as just another skill that is scalable and achievable for them, with time and practice.

And by "scalable" I sure as hell don't mean doing gazillions of pullups and dips on any day where MU's are programmed. I personally think that's total fucking crap. Let's start subbing movements with progressions of that movement people. (This is a pet peeve of mine, along with substitutions for rope climbs)

I'm making it my mission to make sure the ladies at my gym are setting their sights on going for a muscle up from the very moment after they get their kipping  or deadhang pullups.

I think when you're just exiting the process of achieving unassisted pullups, you're used to being in that "sticky" zone, you're used to being uncomfortable. And the key is to keep one step ahead, and introduce a new "sticky" skill, so the athlete never has the chance to adjust back to being very comfortable. It's hard to get yourself back into the uncomfortable place once you're feeling a little cocky that you can do pullups Rx. At least that's how things have played out for me. It has been hell trying to push myself back to that place, but I'm working on it.

Also, more chicks on the rings for dips, please. Off the bars and onto the rings!

PS - I'm gonna be making some more videos of my work on gymnastics stuff. Be prepared to laugh because I'm sure to make an ass of myself doing HSPUs. :-D

Jul 14, 2010

Keeping up the momentum

Wouldn't you know that as soon as I get determined to start posting WODs again, I get sick and am unable to WOD?

The virus from hell has got me people. And I say "hell" because I talk a lot, and I have lost the use of my voice for the past 2 days.

However, in an interesting development, I think that's what motivated me to blog my entire WOD backlog yesterday -- if I can't talk out loud, then I can at least "talk" here. :)

All this aside, I do have some links and information I've been saving to share. So I'm going to do that instead of WOD post to try to keep my blogging momentum going. :)

First, a shout out to Albany CrossFit! I have been subscribed to their WOD blog for a few months now, so of course when they asked for comments from readers I chimed in to say "THANK YOU!". Cause I love their multi-level scaling options -- it's really a great hands-on example of how WODs should be scaled, both up and down, and they are awesome for sharing their knowledge with the Internets.

And guess what they did? They linked to my blog! Too fun! Thanks again guys (and gals) of ACF -- I will most definitely be dropping in for a WOD next time I'm up north visiting my friend at Cornell. :)

For those who don't live near a CF box, or want to try to start CrossFitting at home, I would definitely recommend the ACF WODs over the main site WODs. Yes, there's the BrandX scaling for main site, but when I was a CF newbie looking at the BrandX boards they succeeded more at making me feel intimidated, rather than convincing me that CF was something I was capable of doing by way of scaling.

Next, I've added a few links to my "Blogs" list in the sidebar, and also updated the title to: "Bad Ass CrossFit Ladies". Much more appropriate. :)

Disclaimer: I'm not subscribed to all of those blogs; I keep my feed reader to a minimum of "must reads" otherwise I spend 3 hours a day over there. Anyway, back to my point. Anytime I come across a woman blogging about doing CrossFit, I always add her to my list. As my friend Andrea pointed out in a comment yesterday, there aren't a whole lot of women posting results to the main site, and it can be hard to find women who are at your level to compare yourself to. So if you're looking for CrossFit ladies who blog, check out the list!

If you feel like the WOD results that I post are at the "level" that you're looking to read about, definitely check out Angie's blog. With her dedication the last few months, she is blowing me away in the areas of gymnastics and strength. Way to go girl, you are one of my role models. :-D

And if you need inspiration to keep doing CF even without a box nearby, go visit Erin or KD -- they both manage while living overseas, so no more excuses. :)

During my little hiatus, I had some interesting interactions with my father in regards to my training.

First, he was flat-out disturbed that I wanted to purchase a 45# kettlebell. This conversation happened on the phone -- he saw some kb's for sale at a local store, and was calling to tell me the price.

Dad: I picked up that one you said you wanted. And it was heavy.
Me: It's fine Dad, I use a 35# one all the time.
Dad: It just seemed really heavy. [dramatic pause]
Me: Yes I know, it's fine.
Dad: OK, well I just don't want you to hurt yourself...


The more disturbing conversation happened a couple days later.

Dad: You don't want to get too muscular, because when you stop exercising the muscle will turn into fat.*
Me: Dad, hold on, muscle doesn't turn into fat. As you lose muscle mass, your metabolism decreases and your store more of the calories you eat as fat.
Dad: Well, you just don't want to get too muscular, that's all, it doesn't look right.
Me: Do you think I am at that point?
Dad: Maybe getting close to it.
Me: Well, I don't care what you think about my appearance, I'm happy with it and my husband is happy with it and his opinion is the only one I care about.
Sis: [[quickly breaks in with small talk to diffuse the situation]]

*WTF? "When you stop exercising" -- as if it's a phase? Way to make negative predictions about the end of my healthy habits dad!

I'll admit that I kind of pushed this one along, by asking that loaded question "am I close", but I just couldn't stop myself. I wanted to know if he really felt the way I thought he did. And he does.

So yeah, great conversation, huh? I can't believe this is the same man who attended nearly every soccer game I played in during high school, and made a trip to DC to watch me run the Marine Corps Marathon 10K twice. Where in his brain is this CrossFit thing different? And as for commenting on my body composition, it would've been more appropriate for him to express concern about the 20# of fat I put on last summer, than to be critical of lean muscle mass that I've gained! Argh!

I probably wouldn't have blogged about this (I did tweet it right after it happened) if I hadn't read this article from Gubernatrix this morning: Femininity and Muscle.

You know how sometimes you have this great idea bouncing around in your head, but you just feel like you can't quite get it out, and then someone wiser than you says exactly what you wanted to say? That's how I feel about Gubernatrix and Lisbeth Darsh. I think they are secretly related.

Anyway, that article is awesome. And so is this companion piece, The toning problem.

I have another post in my drafts also on this subject that I might post while I'm still out sick from WODs. We shall see.

For now I must eat lunch and get back to studying. I've got the last sessions of my Red Cross Water Safety Instructor this weekend. I'm learning to teach swimming lessons and water safety. :)

Jul 11, 2010

Alive and kicking

Um, WTF?  How have I gone this long without posting anything here?

Maybe it has something to do with the unpublished draft post titled "Lost: CrossFit Mojo"...

I've still been doing WODs, but definitely not anything close to my dedicated 3-on-1-off I had going for a while.

I got a pullup bar for at home, as well as rings, and the pool I've been lifeguarding at also has a pullup bar that I've been using a lot. I'm working my tiny kip / almost deadhang pullups since that bar is mounted very close to the wall. I get 30 minute breaks throughout the day, and try to do 5 rounds of a Cindy-ish thing -- as many pullups as I can in a row (3-4 usually), 10 pushups and 20 squats.

That must be working, because last Tuesday I did Murph and managed to finish the whole thing. Definitely without the weight vest though! It took me about 90 minutes, and I broke the 100 pullups, 200 pushups and 300 squats into 20 rounds of Cindy. Finished 12 rounds of Cindy in 20 minutes, BTW. Much better than my pitiful performance (7 rounds + 5 pullups) a couple months ago.

Also, I've worked up to 4 unassisted ring dips in a row. It's time to get a freaking muscle up! But I have a new strategy in that area. I would like to start with doing a strict muscle up, instead of trying to fling myself up and into it. We'll see if I stick with that idea, but it's the one I'm thinking about now.

I'm in a bit of a different place with my CrossFitting right now... It's coming up on a year since I really started dedicating myself to this program, and I've definitely seen lots of benefits. But a few things have happened in the last 4 or 5 months that have squelched some of my enthusiasm. The sad thing is that those things are all external, and I have let them affect me. I need to get refocus on what matters to me, what motivates me, why I want to CrossFit, and why I want to coach -- irregardless of whatever else is going on around me.

Also, I'd like to mention that I'm on a 2nd read of the book "Women, Food and God" by Geneen Roth right now, and I highly recommend it to those who have struggles with compulsive overeating. That's an area that I struggle with, and more so when I'm not super-focused on training.

So, hopefully this will get me started with some more regular posting. Not because I think anyone out there is really anxious to read about my WODs (except maybe Angie, thanks for the email girl :p), but because I need to continue to keep this record.

A closing link from CrossFit Fenway: On Blogging.