Thursday, April 30, 2015

The 5k and Other Things I Fear

Yeah, you read that right. I'm doing a 5k this weekend, and I'm scared. Seriously.

My last 5k was exactly 2 years ago-- the same 5k. Oh, I've done muddy, obstacle filled 5k's since then, just no flat, fast, on-the-road 5k's.

Why is the 5k so scary for me? I mean, I do obstacle course races and Crossfit competitions.

The 5k is scary because it's flat and fast. And there's no where to hide. No excuses for a slow time, other than "I'm slow." It's just me vs. the clock. And the clock doesn't lie.

You say, Maybe your goal should just be to finish the race. You know, have fun. 

Well, here's the thing. I run for fun every other day. This is a race.
And I paid for it.
And there's the National Anthem. (The National Anthem, for Pete's sake! They play that at the Olympics.)
And there's On your mark. Get set. GO! 
And there's that old shirtless guy in the spandex who does that weird arm-swinging-shuffle-wobble thing and is surprisingly fast.
And all those run-walkers who just shouldn't be able to pass me (I'm running the whole time, for Pete's sake!).

But most importantly there's the clock. And it doesn't stop. It never stops. But somehow by running faster, I think I can slow time. Because if I'm faster than I was yesterday, then I'm reversing the aging process. I'm thwarting Mother Nature (that wicked witch who's turning all my laughter and enjoyment of life into wrinkles).

And I'm proving to myself that I still can.
And the faster I finish, the sooner I'm done.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stop Sitting There... Get out There and Do What You Love

I think it's coming with age. I'm starting to care less about what I should do, what I'm supposed to do and caring more about what I want to do.
I love working out with this guy.

Selfish?

Maybe.

Don't get me wrong-- I'm not out there ignoring my responsibilities as Mom and Wife and Teacher. (Except that laundry I just can't seem to keep up with.) There are those things that I have to do. I'm talking about in my free time.

It's been a long year for me of focusing on training for Crossfit competitions. And sometimes it's felt more like real work than fun. I've cut back my running to just around 12 to 15 miles a week-- all in shorter 3 to 4 mile outings, which was fine for awhile. But after a bummer of a recent competition, I'm scratching my head, thinking, What now... More Crossfit? Obstacle Course Racing? Marathon?

And I think my answer is... yes. I'm just going to do WHATEVER I want to do for awhile. Right now I want to run long. And I don't care how it impacts my strength training. I don't care if I'm too tired from running to get a heavy lift in. I WILL RUN LONG IF I WANT TO! Right now it makes me happy to do some long miles on the weekend. And it makes me happy to do some heavy lifts through the week.

And here's what I want to say to you:

STOP DOING WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO DO to lose weight/get in shape/lower your cholesterol/fit into those jeans/etc.

Here's what I'm not saying to you:

GO CHOOSE THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE and sit on the couch watching marathons of The Real Housewives/Law & Order/Dancing with the Stars/Top Chef/etc.

Too often I see friends wanting to get healthier and so they completely overhaul their lives-- new diet, new fitness regime-- and they're trying to shove their star-shaped self into a square hole. You have passions. Figure out what they are and do them. (I can guarantee that you weren't created to sit on the couch with the Real Housewives.)

You want to be healthier? Move more. Go to Crossfit, or water aerobics, or Zumba, or Jazzercise, or the monkey bars on a local playground. Find the way your body enjoys moving and do more of that!

For Pete's sake! Life is too short to do what you hate.
My first "spontaneous" race. I see more of these in my future.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Florida Open 2015

The Florida Open 2014 was my first Rx competition. I decided to compete in the competition again this year, partly because I was given a small discount, and partly because it's a fairly small, not super overwhelming competition. I already wrote about my feelings leading up to the competition-- basically, I just didn't want to do it.

Actually, I was looking forward to the last 3 workouts of the competition. It was 15.5 that I was dreading. I really hate thrusters. But I surprised myself by excelling at the workout. The key was a steady row where I pulled hard and focused on slowing my breathing. For the thrusters, I broke them into smaller chunks, never thinking in terms of 27, 21, 15 and 9-- it was 10, 9, 8; and then 3 sets of 7; then 8 and 7; and finally all 9. Mentally, that helped me-- the work didn't seem too much or too hard. I finished with a time of 10:28; good enough for 2nd place.

WOD 2: 
WOD 2
I had practiced this one-- my friend and fellow coach even constructed a power pin for us to train with. Competition day? We were packed into some very close quarters. There was no room for error. There was barely room for the rope to spin. My judge stood directly in front of me. Too close. Everyone was just too close, and I lost my mind. I jumped once. Tripped on the rope. Jumped again. Tripped again. I tried to step farther away from the other ladies, the judge. There was no where to go. I trip-jumped my way through, finally stringing together 10 for the last of the 50. By then, I was firmly in last place. The following rounds of dubs went better, but there was too much ground for me to recover. I finished 5th of 6.

I returned home, fairly frustrated, but not defeated. I just had dug myself a fairly deep hole. But half of the competition still remained.

Day 2 of competition, and I was definitely feeling my quads from the thrusters. I was also going alone because my husband/coach would be coaching his weekly Oly-style lifting class. It would be a long, lonely day, and I would be on my own to do last minute strategizing. The hardest part is not hearing anyone "in my corner" during the work. I rely heavily on hearing my husband's voice, commanding me to "pick up the bar!"

WOD 3: 
WOD 3
I recently PR'd on my snatch-- hitting 110. Not an impressive weight for an Rx competitor. I knew this would be my weakest event. I had also been practicing this one (incorrectly, I would find out 5 minutes before my heat), and I could hang snatch 95 lbs, fresh. I completed the complex at 95 lbs. but wasn't able to hit 105. I was disappointed that they didn't provide 2.5 lb plates, after all, it was a competition. The "cluster" at 85 lbs, wasn't the snatch complex like I thought. The cluster turned out to be a squat clean and overhead press-- basically a thruster. Awesome. The cluster scoring was only for a tie break. When time ran out, I was quite frustrated to discover that I was beat out by one rep and took last place in the WOD.

I wasn't devastated. I felt strangely ok. Maybe I was too resigned. Maybe I wasn't angry or frustrated enough. Maybe having a little fire would have fueled me to a better performance in the final WOD. Or maybe it would have caused me to fall apart.

WOD 4: 
WOD 4
The rope climb would be scored separately from the chipper. I had practiced and could do 4 climbs. However, the rope looked higher and was definitely thicker than the one I practice on. I knew I had to get 4 climbs, and I did, earning a tie for first in the WOD.

At the last minute, they changed the chipper time and the row. We were given 12 minutes and only had to row 20 calories. I was disappointed. The row is my strength. Wall balls, I hate. But in competition, you cannot hate anything. I chipped away, placing somewhere in the middle of the pack and no where near where I needed to be to be close to the podium. I finished 5th place.

Bottom Line: 
I very much finished with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I felt more matured through the process of this competition. I kept my emotions in check and stuck with strategy even when things spiraled out of control.

Moving forward, I'm not sure where I am, competitively speaking. In some aspects, I feel like I've proven myself-- even though I've not made any podium. I've worked hard, made some great progress and done things I've never thought I'd do. I'm enjoying coaching very much, and I could see myself shifting from athlete to coach. But on the other hand, I feel like I'm still so new to Crossfit and Olympic style lifting that I have far to go. And I just love the thrill of it.

Until I figure it out, I think I'll increase my milage. I'm really missing the long runs.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

15.5: First WOD of the Florida Open

First, let's get caught up. I've been writing a series on the 2015 CrossFit Open:

15.1 and 15.1a: The CrossFit Open Begins
15.2: Chest to Bar Pull Ups are Evil
15.3 or "Reality Check"
15.4 or "No Rep City"

The workout:
If you don't know what a thruster is, then Google it. Basically, it might be the most hated exercise on the planet, next to the burpee, the thruster's evil cousin. We all knew the thruster was coming; they've been in every Open. And we all knew it would be brutal. The thing about thrusters... I hate them so much, I can't stand even practicing them. I mean, most things I hate, I look forward to adding to my workouts because I know the more I do the hated, the better I get and soon will conquer it. Not so the thruster.

There was good news: I love rowing.

Not only would I be closing out the Crossfit Open season with 15.5, I would be competing in the Florida Open, which was my first Rx competition last year.

Honestly, as competition day approached, I was ready to quit. Yes, quit. Actually NOT go to the competition. Driving down to Miami with my husband, all I could think about was how much I wanted to still be in bed, doing anything other than a Crossfit competition. Not exactly a mental state ready for success.

And to make matters worse, as I walked up to the check-in table I had to convince the ladies working that "No, I'm not a spectator; I'm an athlete. Yes, I'm competing. Rx division. Yes, Rx division!" Oh, the look of skepticism on their faces did much to boost my confidence.

15.5 was not going to go away. I just kept filling my mind with one thought... "The only way out is through." I had to do it. And the quicker I could get it over with, the better.

I checked the leaderboard to see what numbers other masters were putting up. I checked my friends' numbers.  Of course, I checked the elites' numbers. I really had no idea how slow fast I could do it. I originally wanted to go under 11 minutes. Then as the workout approached, I decided anything under 14 would be acceptable.

(Did I already say how much I hate thrusters?)
I had been adding them to a few workouts, but not enough. The previous Sunday, I completed the following workout (encouraged by my son):
10 thrusters @ 65 lbs.
20 KB swings @ 55 lbs.
8 thrusters @ 70 lbs.
20 KB swings @ 55
6 thrusters @ 75
20 KB swings @ 55
4 thrusters @ 80
20 KB swings @ 55
2 thrusters @ 85
20 KB swings @ 55

I needed a plan: for the 27 thrusters, I'd go 10-9-8. For the 21, 3 sets of 7. For the 15, 8-7. And just get through the 9. The row had to be a high number on the damper and slow (but not too slow) and steady, focused on recovering my breath.

I pretty much stuck to my plan. I felt like I went too slow on my first row. There was so much time to think! Somehow I survived the thrusters, and they weren't so bad. When I finished, I was shocked and thrilled that my time was 10:28. Good enough for second place in the workout.

Unfortunately, the high from this first workout would come to a crashing halt in the first moments of the second WOD...