Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My 2014

Well, it’s that time. And just so we’re clear… I don’t write anything in this blog to brag or to try to prove that I’m tough. Honestly, most of the time I’m genuinely surprised at the things I’m able to do. Someone just said to me recently, “I can’t believe all those things you are doing.” And I replied truthfully, “I can’t believe all those things I’m doing.”

I just work hard. Anything I do… anything I’ve done… you can do it, too. Maybe not right at this moment. When I first started, I couldn’t do what I do now. It’s been a journey. There have been long hard days. Days when I didn’t want to run or lift or eat clean. But you just have to do what you know is good for your body… good for your health. It’s not about being super fit or having 6-pack abs. It’s about having a long life and being able to enjoy it.

Here is a look back at my 2014…

Super Hero Scramblemy first event of the year. I’d heard so many positive things when the race series began, but this was the first race that worked with my schedule. While I had a great race, unfortunately the organizers didn’t. And Super Hero Scramble is no longer producing races.

Lesson learned: Carrying water on a long course in the South Florida heat (even in January) is a very wise thing.

S.E.R.E. UrbanChallengea Special Forces inspired event. They are NOT GORUCK. They aren’t trying to be GORUCK. I really loved this event. It was part scavenger hunt, part education, part PT (physical training). S.E.R.E. has shifted its focus to custom events.

Lesson learned: having a great team is EVERYthing. And it’s really fun (and only slightly painful) to ride in a shopping cart.

CrossFit Openan event that every CrossFitter should do. It’s a chance to compete in a CrossFit event in a no pressure situation. Choose your day and time and environment—just have your score verified by a CrossFit coach or video and submit. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

Lesson learned: I really do love the dead lift/box jump combo. And I really do not love toes to bar.

CVI No Retreat, NoSurrendermy son’s first CrossFit competition. He competed in the men’s division and did an excellent job of holding his own. He was nervous, but not scared. I am so proud at his bravery competing for the first time against grown men.

Lesson learned: Read the fine print. Originally, I signed my husband and I up for this event, failing to realize this was a first timer/scaled competition. My husband was over-qualified.

Florida Open—my first Rx competition. The first workout was the last workout in the CrossFit Open, and then 3 others followed over the 2 days. This proved to be a wake-up call for me—I had not expected just how tough Rx would be.

Lesson learned: Dave Castro is an evil mastermind. And I hate burpees and thrusters. Especially when combined in one WOD.

Florida Super Spartanthe 4th time the Spartan was held in Miami and my 4th time racing it. This year I wasn’t really sure I even wanted to race because last year’s race had been rough (I went alone, didn’t meet up with anyone there and despite my nutrition and hydration strategy, I found myself cramping terribly again.) This year was much better—I saw friends before the race, out on the course and connected again at the finish. I finally broke into the top 10 (thank you, Sunday start), and didn’t deal with the crippling cramps.

Lesson learned: Don’t take yourself too seriously, always take water, and a high fat/low carb diet can work during races.

In the middle months of the year, I completely shifted my focus from training for running and obstacle course races to CrossFit competitions. Tapering and racing means missed workouts and lighter lifts, and that just wasn’t a sacrifice I was willing to make. So, I lifted heavy and shifted from distance running to shorter more intense runs.

We also traveled nearly every weekend of the summer for my son’s baseball tournaments and took a much-needed family vacation.

Lesson learned: Pick your priorities.

Miami Terminatorthis new local event was surprisingly impressive. They had a variety of obstacles, plenty of volunteers and a great course.

Lesson learned: give the smaller races a chance.

Goliath Gauntletmy favorite race of the year. Not only because it’s also the first race I’ve won, but also because of the awesome organization behind the event. It was also race 1 in my birthday race weekend.

Lesson learned: find a spot on the course where you can encourage and cheer on other racers.

 Flannagin’s Rockin Ribs 10kand the best post race food! I may just have to do this race next year—we got some amazing swag with free ribs at the finish line. And it was a really great way to enter my 40th year of life.

Lesson learned: always do something special on your birthday! And wearing a tutu and tiara during a race isn’t even that annoying.

Happy New Year!
GORUCK All Women’sChallenge and Lightwith 1000 lb. club weight lifting test. The Goliath Gauntlet may have been my favorite race, but this was my favorite event. I went with my amazingly tough friend, Cindy, and while we weren’t on the same team for the duration of the event, it was good to know that she was out there suffering with me. And would be enjoying breakfast with me between the challenge and the lift. I met so many tough ladies over the course of about 18 hours. It was a completely unforgettable experience—and I’m already registered for next year’s event.

Lesson learned: if it scares or intimidates you, then you must push forward into it.

Beast Mode Battlea team CrossFit competition and my first with my husband. It was a brutally exhausting hour of competing, with 4 separate workouts.

Lesson learned: the best experiences, the best lessons are learned when stepping outside your comfort zone. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Beast Mode Battle 2014 (not really a recap)

Aka My First Team Competition and My Husband’s First CrossFit Competition

BeastMode Battle isn’t your typical CrossFit competition. 60 minutes. 4 WODs. I did BeastMode Battle last November as an individual. And although the 4 WODs with just 3 minutes between to move to the next station can be exceptionally brutal, I really enjoy completing the entire workout in one shot. No time to think. No time to rest. No time for the old body to stiffen up.

True confession—while I initially thought this would be a great idea, as the day approached I began to doubt. And these weren’t just the typical butterflies. This was the “can my marriage survive this” anxiety. When I get into that suffer zone (which happens in CrossFit competitions) I tend to get a little… uh… grouchy. And since I’m being honest, we aren’t the best communicators. Especially under the frantic flurry of activity that would be BeastMode Battle. AND we would be hopping in the car the next morning to begin an 18 hour drive to visit family for Christmas. So, this competition had to go well or we were in for more than just a physically miserable road trip.

We planned. We practiced. 

Our practice partner WODs were a hot mess. I confess, I absolutely cannot count under duress. For example, during a practice WOD at CrossFit Ambush—we had to do wall balls and dead lifts. 20 wall balls. We did 20 each, instead of 20 together (my fault). And then during box jumps in practice—he does his, I can’t count to 15 after the stress of wall balls, so I just count mine and barely have the breath to shout at him the number I’ve done (figuring I’d leave it to him to do the math of how many total). Meanwhile, he thinks I’ve just told him the number that he has to do. HOT. MESS.

Praying for a miracle (after all, if God could do all that translating tongues on the day of Pentecost, maybe he could help us understand each other during a sweaty, adrenaline filled workout), I gave up worrying about that and shifted to fretting over our competition day attire. Now, I’m no fashionista, but I do like to match on competition day. Socks, top, head band, etc. The husband is a different story. I suggested we find matching shirts (c’mon, it’s a TEAM thing) but was met with eye rolling.

So, I stopped obsessing about that and moved on to stressing about my back. It’s been bothering me and my chiropractic visits haven’t been the uber fast miracle cure that I had hoped for (apparently crooked backs take more than a few adjustments to straighten out). How was my back going to handle a 1 RM dead lift? Just to allay my fears, I stuck with my regularly scheduled strength workouts and on the Thursday before BeastMode, I pulled 95% (265 lbs.) for 1 rep with no problem. The back would be ok.

I’m happy to say that my back was more than ok. My plan was to see how it felt and probably pull 285. And then I took my pre-workout. (I’m kidding.) But warming up, 255 felt so easy, I opened with an easy 285. Then 300 went up without too much of a problem. I couldn’t resist a new 1 RM attempt, so I went with 310 and got it. THEN I was so pumped. The confidence that opening WOD gave me propelled me through the next one. The back squats felt light as a feather. The pull-ups, easy and unbroken. Despite both of us ripping matching calluses (this was NOT the kind of matching I wanted!), we were rolling.

Then there was the row. And our perfect plan came to a grinding halt when my sweet husband’s back said, “I’ve had ENOUGH!” With the last pull of the 1000M, I took over on the wall balls. The plan was that I would do 15 to let him catch his breath and before he would take over for 20 or so. Wall balls are NOT my strength, but box jumps are and vice versa for the husband. He would be doing most of the wall balls, and I would take most of the box jumps. But that back. It was cramping so hard he could barely get vertical.  Somehow we made it through, but we had lost our lead.

And the structure of the competition (and some other amazing athletes) beat us. There was no time for rolling out; no time for massage; no time to pop some Advil. There was only time to grit our teeth and keep pushing forward.

WOD 1: 12 mins. to find each partner’s 1 rep max deadlift. 3 mins. to transition.
WOD 2: 12 min. AMRAP of 8- 135 lb. back squats (female) or front squats (male), 8 chin to bar pull ups. 3 min. transition
WOD 3: 12 min. AMRAP of 1000M row (one time), 100 wall balls (20lb- m, 14lb- f), 100 box jumps, 100 toes to bar. 3 min. transition
WOD 4: 3 rounds of 30 M- 75lb. fat bar walking lunge (overhead- m, front rack- f), 40 kettlebell swings (53# m, 35# f), 80 double unders (12 min. cap).

Friday, December 19, 2014

When are You DONE?

Please excuse this post...
It's one part one part pity party, one part 40 year old angst, one part self pep talk (hopefully).

When are you done? Just done. DONE. Done.

The goal has been set. The plan to reach it made and followed. Progress is painfully slow. (Literally, in my case when we're talking competitive CrossFit.) Day in and day out. What was once birthed from passion and fed by enthusiasm and dreams has become suffocating in its intensity. The joy in work has mellowed into the monotony of the grind.

Was this really my dream? Is this still my dream? Is it even possible? Because, I mean, I thought I'd be there by now. Maybe it's time to move on. Maybe this was just a passing whim. Maybe I was never meant to pursue this particular goal.

When I start feeling this way, here are some things I do...

1. Check my overall stress level and my diet/exercise/sleep habits. Extra sugar, missing workouts, not getting enough sleep can increase our stress levels. Stress will wear us out and leave us feeling tired and more emotional than normal.

2. Check the calendar (for females). Fluctuations in hormones can cause us to be a little, well, crazy.

3. Pray. (Of course this is ongoing.) I devote a little more time to asking for wisdom and peace about my goals.

4. Remember. What are the reasons I started working toward my goal in the first place? Do those reasons still exist?

5. Ask a trusted friend. Talking through what's on my mind helps me verbally walk through my goal, my conflict and how I'm feeling. Ask their honest opinion.

And then I remember-- this was my passion... is my passion. Maybe I just need to take a step back, take a vacation from my goal. What is it "they" say?
(I've seen it attributed to both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Steven Tyler)

The Background to this post: 
Today was one of those days. Well, really, it's been building for a few weeks.

Not quite this bad
My back has been bothering me. I don't know, maybe it had a something to do with a little event I did. So, I went to see a chiropractor for the first time in my life. And I was quite surprised to be able to see why my back has been uncomfortable. Let's just say, my spine is a little curvy where it should be straight and straight where it should be a little curved.

There was talk of months of treatment (ugh!), the opportunity for improved performance (yeah!)... and then soreness after the attempt to shift things back straight (ugh!).

Then the CrossFit Games site announced the schedule for this year's Open. I wasn't sure what competing as a masters athlete would be like, but when I saw the plans, I was less than thrilled: the top 200 competitors in each masters' age categories will enter the Masters Qualifier-- a four day online competition. Then the top 20 move on to the Games, the world-wide competition. Let me translate...

My goal was to qualify for Regionals. There is no regionals for master level athletes.

It's been more mental than anything. Add to that the stress of the last days before Christmas break, planning holiday travel, etc. etc...

It's also been the heaviest week in my lifting schedule, so my body is just tired, which can make my mind tired and my emotions thin.

I'm just going to wait. I'm not quitting. I'm hanging on to deload week-- lighter workouts. We'll be traveling, which means a change of scenery and some creative different kinds of workouts.

I'll be ok. I'll take a vacations. Relax a little. Refocus and pick the bar back up.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Eating Healthy is Too Expensive

People! Step away from your excuses.

I've heard this one so many times lately that it's making me crazy. So, I will try to be gentle. Before you whine about the cost of healthy food, may I pose a few questions:

Do you...
  1. have an iPhone? 
  2. cable or satellite television? 
  3. eat out more than once a week?
  4. go to the movies more than once a month?
  5. have a car that is 5 or fewer years old?
If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, then I will say... clearly, you have "enough" money  and you are capable of making choices on how you spend it based on your values. 

Look, I don't care how you spend your money; I'm not here to lecture you. I'm just merely trying to suggest that eating healthy isn't a money problem. It's a priority problem. 

In the past year, my family has cut processed foods almost entirely out of our diet. *Disclaimer, my teen sons still consume, on occasion: that horrible pasta and "cheese" product that comes in a blue box, milk, tortilla chips, pasta, seasoned rice, and (heaven forbid) some frozen "food" items that I would rather not mention. Even though our diet has shifted from processed to whole foods, our grocery bill hasn't made a dramatic upswing, while our nutrient consumption has.

Eating healthy is not:
Pre-packaged, boxed, bagged, canned or otherwise marketed foods. I've heard it said that if the food has a commercial or advertisement, then you don't want to eat it. (Although the pistachio ads are great-- and so are pistachios!)

Now, are these foods necessarily bad for you? No.
Are they better than the really unhealthy alternatives? Yes.
My point is just that I agree-- these foods are really expensive. But these aren't the foods that you should be eating anyway.

Eating healthy is: 
Non-processed all natural, not boxed, bagged or otherwise preserved, whole foods.  

But again, I will agree that fresh produce and meat can be expensive, if you are comparing it with the typical junk food. But can I ask you to consider this:

Let's talk snacks.

According to the National Fruit and Vegetable Retail Report (yes, this is a real thing!), last week (the week of December 7, 2014) the average cost of...
Fuji apples was $1.20/lb.
1lb. of baby peeled carrots was $1.22.
3lbs. of red potatoes was $2.33.
10oz of baby spinach was $1.93

According to Target's website (on Dec. 13, 2014) the cost of...
9oz. bag of Cheetos was $2.00
Quaker Chewy Granola bars (8 per box) was $2.00
Market Pantry Fruit Snacks (10 per box) was $1.89

See?! It's cheaper to buy... oh, wait.
And then there's the fact that if you're trying to buy snacks for a teen boy (as I am), one granola bar or one serving of Cheetos isn't going to cut it. My sons will easily devour an entire bag of salty, cheesy snack foods. Replace that bag with carrots, and they will eat one serving. Now, given the choice, my sons with take the unhealthy version every time. But some choices have to be made for them-- like going to school, brushing their teeth... eating healthy snacks.

Let's talk a meal: burgers and fries. (Prices taken from local weekly Publix, Winn Dixie and Target ads.)

Typical meal:
(Beef cost varies by location)
Hamburger buns = $2.99 ($2.42 for 6, the price I will calculate for total meal)
French fries = $2.99
Soda (Buy 2, get 2 free-- cost per 2 L bottle) = $1.05
Breyers Ice Cream (1/2 carton) = $2.93
Total meal = $9.39

Healthy version:
Beef = ?
No bun = free
Home fries (cubed, seasoned and baked) 1.5 lbs = $2.17
Premium Salad kit = $2.50
Water = free
Ripe pineapple (4 oz.) = $2.99
Total meal = $7.66

Now, we could have some real fun by calculating the the amount of calories, fat and sugar. But I think it's pretty easy to see that eating healthy has a much greater value.