Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why I don't feel guilty about not doing the Open...and neither should you.

It's here.  Games season.  Crossfit Christmas.  Men and women have zoned and met-conned and strength progressed themselves into specimens of functional fitness perfection and are ready to hit 5 weeks of WODs that will test their mind, body and will to the limit.  My community of normally sane friends has turned into a group of crazed balls of excited, competitive athletes; and all, age 16 to 65, are waiting for 14.1 to be released on February 27th.  Every single day, a new notice pops up in my Facebook feed, informing me that another friend has signed up for the Open.  And really?  I'm thrilled! I get so excited thinking of the workouts, the PRs, the tears and sweat and community and joy that is the Open and Games season.  And who doesn't love watching Khalipa, Froning, Chan, Clever, LeBlanc-Bazinet, etc crush these workouts?  I'm glued to my computer every week.

Along with that excitement, though, comes a sense of dread.  With every day that goes by, I am asked again and again if I've signed up, yet.  After all, this is my 3rd year of doing Crossfit, and I SHOULD be signing up.  "It's fun!" "It's a way to challenge yourself!" "It's a baseline to see where you stand among all the crossfitters in the world!" And I have to mumble and make excuses as to why I haven't forked over my $20.

Here's the thing.  The Open is not my thing.  Don't misunderstand - I love Crossfit.  Wildly.  I love the heat and joy of the competition.  I drove my teenage girls to Salt Lake City to watch the SW Regionals last year and we were there the minute the doors opened every single day. We screamed and bawled watching Chris Spealler leave his heart on the floor of that gym.   I am at the box every Saturday when my friends all compete; cheering and yelling and sweating, my heart racing and pounding as if I were doing the WOD with them.  I am a master at taking very flattering butt, abs and lats photos.  And sometimes (especially if there is a hang movement of any kind), I have a flash of regret for not signing up.

The answer comes down to what makes Crossfit fun for me and worth investing hours a week for years.  Here's what I love about Crossfit:
1. My coach - Sam Lewis is a mixture of therapist, coach, drill sergeant, comedian, and not a little bit of homeless looking bearded strongman.  He makes me laugh when I want to cry, yells when I'm being a wimp, and generally has made me realize what a tough, capable woman I am with a barbell.
2. My box-mates - This group of people are my best friends.  We are all wildly different in hobbies and abilities, but I've never met a group of more supportive, kind people.  This is most apparent during DU wods where I'm a mess of tears and whip marks.
3. The barbell - this simple piece of equipment has saved my life.  Enough said.
4. The ability to stay in shape and keep a round booty at 40+ years old while having fun and never having to get on a treadmill.  The end.

Here's what stresses me out about Crossfit, but I've learned to make peace with:
1. The stares at me, asking me to write down my time and numbers, which never ever compare or come close to anyone else's.
2. Ranking oneself in a group
3. Being in my 3rd year and still struggling with pull ups, T2B and DUs

Have I mentioned I love Crossfit?  Every day, I'm excited (and scared) to go, but I go and am never sorry that I put my body on the line.  But I decided that in order to maintain that joy, I was going to WOD for my own reasons.  I was not going to compare myself or pay attention to where I fall in the lineup of stellar athletes.  I don't always succeed at this.  There are weeks I want to quit because I'm tired of being last.  Again.  The Open not only revels in this information, it is highlighted in all it's glory every single week online for the world to see.  This is great motivation for many people.  I am not one of these people.

Don't feel sorry for me.  Don't think, "Well, she obviously isn't cut out for Crossfit."  The thing is, Crossfit IS for everyone.  It's for the fat and thin.  It's for the athlete and couch potato.  It's for the genetically gifted and the....clutzy.  It's accessible and scalable and at the core, for anyone willing to show up and do the work.  And in my case, it's for the non-competitive athlete as much as, if not more so, than the competitive.  You see, the competitive person will always find something to excel at - whether sports or work or life.  Crossfit allows people like me, who if not in the gym can usually be found listening to Bach and reading poetry, a little bit of a chance to be a badass.  I can walk through the grocery store, mom of 5 and pushing menopause, knowing I can deadlift more than my bodyweight and do a pull up, I can squat clean and run and throw big barbells over my head.  As long as I know this for myself, I don't need a number on a scoreboard to prove how proud I am of how far I have come.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

?!$&@ T2B

I feel like Paul in the Bible. "To keep me from becoming conceited...there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of satan, to torment me." Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Toes to Bar.... my messenger of satan. 20 months into crossfit, I can only manage 1-3 in warm ups. They hurt my shoulders. My grip dies. It takes me longer to do 20 knees to elbows than it takes everyone else to do 20 T2B. Tears spring to my eyes, curses to my lips. They make me feel fat, uncoordinated and unworthy to call myself a crossfitter.

I don't know what else to do about it but keep trying. And, like Paul, "boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me, for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


200 Double Unders, 150 Kettlebell Thrusters, 100 Jumping Lunges and 50 Burpees?  Today? All at once? Whatchoo smokin, coach?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Today would be a good day to cherry-pick

a billion reps

           of 3 movements that make me
and panic.

             thrusters, wall balls and burpees.

Here we go.  Breathe, don't panic.  It's just work.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pain of the forging process

Sometimes the beating on the body is nothing compared to the beating on the mind.  The scar tissue on the hand heals, but will I allow my spirit to be healed as well?

When muscle breaks down, with time and nutrition, it grows back stronger.  But the mind?  Well, I have to make a conscious choice to allow healing to take place.  Sometimes the beating weighs and festers and infects there long after the physical wound has healed.

Kinda wish I had the answer to this one.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On Aggressiveness

Early in my training, Sam was trying to explain to me that I was too controlled in my movement.  I looked at him like he was crazy.  Um, what do you think I've spent 38 years of my life trying to do, buddy?  Control life, grades, kids, my diet!  He then said a couple of scientific words laced with a few f-bombs that went right over my head and then said something that stuck with me: "You've gotta leave that mommy shit at the door.  This isn't housewife fitness."

Over the course of the next year, I've come to realize what he meant.  As we're learning a movement, we're consciously competent - very aware of every part of the lift.  Take a snatch - there are a million thoughts rattling around in my head: "back tight, ok, pull, 2nd pull, catch in squat, oh shit it's above my head now what, oh yeah, stand up, middle of foot? heel? oh crap I'm tipping over."  But, there comes a point in our learning when the movement is there.  We can actually do "a snatch," but the weight on the barbell is not increasing.  No matter what, we can't get above that weight that we are so good and controlled at.  That's where we have to walk into the box and decide to be a different person.  It's time to leave the mommy shit at the door and get aggressive.

My most recent encounter with aggressiveness (or lack thereof) was the ever-elusive kipping pull-up.  For 14 months I worked and worked and still couldn't get one.  Sam had done a few "tests" and declared I was plenty strong enough and it was all in my head (um, big surprise).  Last week during warm ups, he had me try again.  Fail.  Frustration.  I walked back over and he said, "Stop thinking.  Just jump up to the bar and whip the shit out of your kip."  Feeling not-so-sure, I did what he said.  I chalked up, looked at the bar ever doubtfully, said a big internal "Oh Well" and whipped it.  I whipped it good.  Bingo.  Chin over bar.

What keeps me from being aggressive in the gym?  For me, it's a lifetime of pacifism and non-competition.  I actually don't know how to be aggressive, but I'm learning.  I also realized that I have a big, ugly case of Fear of Failure.  What if I give 150% effort and aggressiveness and still fail?  What will they think of me then?  As it turns out, that crazy crossfit crowd will be even more supportive and helpful.

So, what's holding you back?  Time and time again we are reminded that crossfit is a big mental game.  A barbell is a barbell.  It's not going anywhere.  Either you can lift it or your can't, so it points out glaring weaknesses in our character and thought processes.  It stands to reason that these glaring weaknesses are present in our lives outside of the gym, too.  Lack of aggressiveness.  Shorting ourselves.  Not believing in our own abilities.  Cutting corners.  Laying back on our effort.  It's a new year - time to take the lessons that the barbell is trying to teach us and apply.