Getting Fit for the New Year

I don't have to worry about that. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. Thanks Crossfit!


The Next Round of Goals

When I started Crossfit, I wrote down a few goals that I've managed to reach this year. One was running a 10K - I actually ran a Half-Marathon. I'm going to run another this year (http://www.eugenemarathon.com/) so I can get a better time. Do I like running? No. Do I see it as a challenge? Definitely! My half-marathon was physically the most difficult thing I've ever done, but I know I can do better.

I also got my first RX pull-up this year. I tried doing my first WOD with RX pull-ups - Baseline - but that didn't go so well. But that's the thing with Crossfit; it will come up again and I'll do better. There's always another opportunity for improvement.

So here are my new sets of goals. They shouldn't coincide with new year's resolutions - it's just taken me a while to get these down. I'll totally achieve these by June.

Finish Half-Marathon in under 2:20
RX Fran
Do a handstand push-up
Go Paleo for a full month - no cheating
RX Cindy
RX Fight Gone Bad

I may not get the best times, but whatever I get is better than before. I can't stress enough how I was never an athlete before any of this and I still have a hard time calling myself that. But if I can reach these goals, I'll feel a little better about it.


The Cheering Section

On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to do the Filthy Fifty. This is a workout that's truly .... filthy. It goes a little something like this:

For time:
50 Box jump, 24/20 inch box
50 Jumping pull-ups
50 Kettlebell swings, 1/ 3/4 pood
Walking Lunge, 50 steps
50 Knees to elbows
50 Push press, 45/35 pounds
50 Back extensions
50 Wall ball shots, 20/14 pound ball
50 Burpees
50 Double unders

The second numbers are the women's RX. But someone in the morning decided that the womens' RX kettlebell should be 1 pood, so that's what I did. We'll get back to that.
Anyway, I've done the Filthy Fifty twice before. The first time, I did the scaled version, "The Dirty Thirty," which was brutal enough. The second time, this summer, I did all 50 reps of everything, but I scaled it to my level (I think I stepped up on some of the box jumps and used a 10# wall ball). This time, my goal was to RX it, ideally in under 30 minutes. This was the intention anyway.
The box jumps were fine. The jumping pull-ups were fine. When I got to the kettlebells, I was still upset that I had to use 1 pood, which was the same weight much stronger men were using. I usually use 1 pood during a workout, but we usually don't have to do 50 in a row. And I knew, I knew, that the RX for women was 3/4 pood. Whatev. Enough complaining. I'll let it go now.
Lunges will suck any day, but the most deceptive move came next - knees to elbows. Since I've done this workout before, I know that this is the hardest move. You basically hang from a bar and swing your knees up to your elbows - 50 times. It's a core workout, but it kills the grip on your hands and it doesn't feel great on the shoulders, which were already smoked from the KB swings. I could only do 4 at a time, so I made an executive decision. It's my workout, my conscious, so I modified them. I did them on the floor. Doing it this way meant I wouldn't put an RX next to my name, but it wouldn't take me an hour. It still hurt and it still took a while. Damn those knees to elbows.
Because I'm so weak, the push press also sucked. The back extensions are like a mini-vacation. You know how I feel about wall balls. I threw one 14# in the air and decided to use the 10#. I had already scaled it, so I didn't care at this point. I just wanted to finish. Then came the worst part of the WOD. There were only a few of us left when I started the burpees and the next class had started to trickle in. After a couple minutes, I was the last person doing burpees.
One of the great things about Crossfit is that you have a community of people cheering you on. I often appreciate it. It really helps me through some tough workouts. Sometimes, it works against me. When people started cheering me on during the Filthy Fifty, I still had 40 burpees to go. I know how long it takes me to do 40 burpees and I really didn't want a bunch of people standing around yelling at me for 5 minutes. I was also getting upset because I kept losing count. I didn't want to do anymore burpees than I had to. So I made it clear that I did not want encouragement during the WOD; I just wanted to finish on my own. So that's what I did.
I feel bad when I yell at people who have good intentions, but I know how I can get through these workouts. Often times, I yell at people when I'm trying to finish my pull-ups. I know how fast I can do pull-ups. Cheering won't help when my shoulders give out. But I still appreciate the cheering most of the time and I'm happy to cheer on my friends. But if I get that look, I know to shut it and cheer in my head.


This Will All be Over in Five Minutes

That's usually what's going through my head during a workout. If we're doing something I really don't like, something like wall balls, I just try to think, "This will all be over in 5/10/15 minutes." That usually helps me get through it.

I watched The Amazing Race tonight (anyone want to sign up with me?), and they had to hang from this tall bridge or platform or something - something involving heights that scared the crap out of some of them. They didn't really have time to be scared since this was the final episode and there was a million dollars in sight, so they just did it. I think if I were in that situation and my challenge was really scary, like something in the water, I'd tell myself that it will all be over in an hour and I won't have to do it again.

Wall balls can be scary, too, especially when they hit you in the face.


Random Thoughts

  • Pull-ups are hard.
  • Finally got new shoes - Nike Frees. Now I'll RX everything!
  • I can usually tune out the terrible music played at Crossfit, but when an awful cover band does Depeche Mode, I have to say something, even if it's in the middle of a WOD.
  • Are there any Depeche Mode songs that would be good for Crossfit? I tried to figure that out last night. I'm still not convinced, but if there were they would come off either Ultra or Songs of Faith and Devotion. (I'm pretty sure David Gahan wasn't in a good place when they made those albums.)
  • TV has been abysmal since LOST ended.
  • Sometimes I watch The Biggest Loser. I know, I can watch commercials anytime, but I still tune into this show anyway. I guess now when they get down to the final four they have them run a Biggest Loser marathon. I'm not sure this is sending the right message. These people were like 400 pounds 4 months ago. I just don't think a marathon is a realistic goal for someone who is 400 pounds right now (sitting on their couch) and wants to do this in 6 months. Sure, it's an accomplishment, but a marathon is really, really hard*.
  • So are pull-ups.
  • I'm pretty sure Crossfit is a front for the Fish Oil industry.

*I'm going to sign up for the Eugene Half Marathon in May. I can get a much better time the second time around, especially with my new kicks!



Most Crossfit workouts take 10-25 minutes. You work really, really hard for a short amount of time and then you're done. What gets me through most workouts is knowing that it will be over soon. So why is my favorite Crossfit workout the one that can take almost an hour?

Murph is a hero workout named after "Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. This workout was one of Mike's favorites and he'd named it "Body Armor". From here on it will be referred to as "Murph" in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is." (Crossfit.com)

Run 1 mile
100 pull-ups
200 push-ups
300 squats
Run 1 mile

You can do the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats in any order you want, but you have to do the mile run first and last. To truly RX it, you should wear a 20 pound weight vest.

We did this WOD back in April. It looks pretty impossible when you read it, but you can do it. It's a workout where you have a lot of time to think. You're out there running on your own, then you get back in the box and you have to think about how you can best get all these reps done, and while you do that you think about how much your quads burn and the push-ups hurt, and then you have to go run again. In April, I did the workout with a blue band for pull-ups and knee push-ups. I finished in 50 minutes. That's a long time to be working hard, but I finished. 

I knew this was coming up again this week.I got really excited because it's such a challenge. I was hoping I could do it with real push-ups this time, but I'm just not there yet. 200 is a lot of push-ups to do. I also wanted to use a red band for pull-ups. My pull-ups are getting better and I'm so close to RXing them during a WOD. But not this one. I had a tan band on hand just in case I couldn't handle the red, but I really, really wanted to stick with the red. I was also thinking of trying 10 rounds of 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, and 30 squats. This changed at the last minute. 

Wednesday was a very cold night. I was in a 5:30pm class with 6 other women. We were all at different levels. We had to bundle up for the first run, since we weren't quite warm yet. When I got back inside, I decided to do 20 sets of 5-10-15. Although it would take more time to get in and out of the pull-up band, I wasn't too confident with my push-ups. For Murph, you just keep on going. I ran the first mile in 9 minutes and left for my last mile around 34 minutes. That's 25 minutes of pull-ups, push-ups, and squats. That's a lot of time to think about those moves and why you're doing them. But I kept marking my rounds and they kept piling up. After round 13, I decided to try a longer round. That worked that time, but it wasn't going to work the rest of the time. I must work on my push-ups. Also, I didn't stretch out enough beforehand and my quads started burning after a few squats. But I kept on going.

That last run was one of the hardest runs of my life. It had gotten colder and I had been working hard for 35 minutes. My lungs felt like they couldn't handle the work. I was short of breath, but I had to keep going. My body wanted to walk,  but my mind wanted to finish. As I rounded the corner after 800 meters, I looked at the clock and saw that I was still under 40 minutes. I could do this. I could make my goal of 45 minutes. I wanted to walk so badly, my breathing was so strained, but I kept running. It helped to run past the other women who were finishing, knowing that we were all trying to get this thing done and finish. I came in at 44:31. I beat my previous time by 6 minutes using a lighter band. I could hardly breathe at first, but I finished.

Murph is a marathon WOD. You have to battle with yourself to finish. This is what I love about Crossfit. In our regular lives, we make decisions every day and choose our battles. In Crossfit, someone else chooses our battles, but we have to decide how to get them done. It's physical and mental. Finishing is all that matters.

The Perfect Food

The most perfect food in the world is a sweet potato. Whoever first dug these up out of the ground has a special place in my heart. I'm not even sure of the difference between a sweet potato and a yam, but if it's orange in the middle, I'll eat it. You could do so much with them, but the great thing about them is that you don't have to. You could simply throw it in the oven for an hour, open it up, sprinkle cinnamon on it, and eat it. Even I can do that (and I do)! ?They're even great after a long, hard workout. They'll replenish some of that energy you spent. They're bursting with vitamins!

No matter where I am, I make my mom's sweet potato recipe for Thanksgiving. Unless I'm with my mom, of course. Then she'll take care of it. It seems like wherever I go and I show up with my sweet potatoes, someone asks if I put marshmallows on them. Blasphemy! Why would I do that to a perfectly good food? A sweet potato is perfect as is, but can be so much sweeter with just a few little tweaks. 

So against my better judgment, I'm going to share my mom's sweet potato recipe. Please don't steal it, awful cooking website. This is sacred stuff here.

Mom's Best Ever Sweet Potato Crisp
2 18 oz. cans sweet potatoes, drained & sliced 3/8 inch thick. OR 4 sweet potatoes cooked and sliced
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup flour*
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts

Place potatoes in a greased, shallow baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 about 15 minutes. Mix butter, flour, & brown sugar. Add cream & nuts. Mix well. Remove cover from potatoes. Spread mixture over sliced potatoes and broil 5 inches from the heat source for 5-7 minutes or until bubbly. It's best if some of it burns just a little.

*Since I'm generally gluten-free, I didn't have regular flour yesterday, so I used sorghum flour. It tasted fine but the consistency was weird. Just stick to the basics if you can.


The Key to Decreasing Pants Sizes

Some people start working out because they want to lose weight. I started working out, and continue to work out, because I wanted smaller pants sizes. I wasn't ready to move into the double-digit category (I know, a 10 is fine, but not for my body), so I did something about it. Now I'm a 4 (depending on the pants). This is probably where I should be, so I'm going to stick with it for a while. How did I get here?

A kettlebell. This is even the weight I use - 35 pounds - or 1 pood if you like Russians. We swing them overhead. It's a good time. Before I started Crossfit, I used to play around with some kettlebells at home. They were only about 10 pounds. That seems like such a long time ago. Anyway, I'm sure there were a lot of factors that led to size 4 jeans, but I think kettlebells play a big part of it.

A successful kettlebell swing needs strong hips. If you're letting your arms do all the work, they're going to get tired pretty quick. If you're doing a workout like Helen, which we did yesterday, that calls for 63 total kettlebell swings, your arms are going to give out if you don't use your hips. I felt like my arms were going numb during Helen yesterday (running in the cold rain was also involved), but I managed to get those three sets of kettlebell swings unbroken. I used my hips! (On a side note, I almost got my pull-ups unbroken too. Almost) I found a great video last week that shows the proper hip thrust for kettlebells.

That's a lot of work for your hips. And the more the hips get some good work, the smaller they get. I'm convinced of this.

And here are some kettlebells in action at Eugene Crossfit. I'm totally in control of that swing.


My Testimonials

I was asked to submit a testimonial for the Grand Opening of our new box this weekend. No problem! Pictures? Ugh. Before Crossfit, I was really hating how I looked in pictures. But I don't look that way anymore, so I submitted 2:
This was me after we first moved out here. Not awful, just wider.

This was me just before I started Crossfit. I wasn't crazy about the hair either.

I never joined a gym until I was 27. Besides the occasional step class, I would usually zone out on the elliptical for a half hour and call it good. I consistently gained weight throughout my late 20s. I started hating how I looked in pictures. I read so many fitness magazines and I knew what I had to do, but I didn't have the drive to do it. I knew I could get my body smokin' if I just made the commitment. My fiancee introduced me to Crossfit in July 2009. The first day, I had to hold a sandbag over my head and flip tires (not at the same time). I felt really slow compared to everyone else. But it was something I had never done before and I wanted to do more. My body changed instantly. I lost 7 pounds in the first 2 and a half weeks. I started going 3-4 times a week. I started chatting with the other people. From the beginning, the community has brought me back. Everyone cheers for each other and encourages each other to do better. Crossfit not only helped me physically, but it helped me emotionally. Winters can be tough here, but I show up to Crossfit knowing I'll do something that will challenge me and I'll see people that I like to see. I've never been a runner, but I recently finished a half-marathon. That felt pretty amazing, and I could finish it because of Crossfit. I've lost about 15 pounds so far and I've had to get rid of a lot of pants that don't fit anymore. I'm not an athlete, but I play one when I come to Crossfit.

This is me in August, running the Scandia 10K Run.

I post my workouts on Beyond the Whiteboard, which tracks numbers. I even found a testimonial button on there!

My name is Robin. I have been CrossFitting for over 1 year. I usually workout around 3.0 times per week. I have posted 243 workouts and set 39 personal records. Along the way I have run 180,344 meters and lifted 38,408 pounds. I have also done 1,591 push-ups, 1,126 pull-ups, and 2,647 sit-ups.

So these are my stories. I'm sticking to them.


Power Hour

Last Thursday I had to grade papers. This was the most important thing I had to do on Thursday. When I have to do something, it's much easier to do other things I don't like, such as housework. But I thought of something ingenious. I set the timer on the over for one hour. I sat down and graded - I didn't look at the clock the whole time. When that hour was done, I saw that I got a lot done and I was pretty happy with myself. I called up my friend who was coming over for lunch and told her to come over in about an hour. Then I cleaned up the place - for an hour. Wow! What a concept - finishing a task in an allotted time! 

But this is so normal to me! Crossfit takes one hour (aside from travel and getting dress and showering - OK, Crossfit takes a couple hours). Generally we get there, warm up for a while, work on skills, and do the workout. Sometimes the workout is shorter and so we take more time warming up. Sometimes the workout is long (like I know today's will be) and we don't have a lot of time for skills or warm up. But it takes an hour. This hour is so important to me. I don't do anything else. I'm not grading or cleaning or watching Mad Men - I'm spending that hour becoming even more awesome. Really, what else would I be doing?


The Real Crossfit

This month, Eugene Crossfit is doing the WODs from the main Crossfit site. Usually our coach will do the programming for the workouts, and he does a good job, but with anything in life, sometimes change is good. The main site WODs can get pretty intense. Of course, everything is scaled to your ability, but it's still a killer workout. This is what we did:

Monday - Heavy thrusters and weighted pull-ups 15-12-9. This is also known as heavy Fran. We had done Fran the Thursday before and I was still sore. But I knew what I was getting into and I did the work. The greatest part of this workout was that I did 3 real pull-ups in the first set. I had only done one pull-up at a time before, and never during a workout, so this was big for me. After more pull-ups with a band and more heavy thrusters, I couldn't do anymore real pull-ups. But those three were a huge victory for me. I'm totally getting somewhere.

Tuesday - 5 rounds of 7 inverted ring hangs and 15 ring push-ups. This was a different kind of Crossfit workout. The inverted ring work was supposed to be done really slow. Basically, you grab a hold of some rings that are just about your height. You bend your knees so your arms are straight, and you swing yourself up, tucking your legs in, until you're upside down. Then you straighten your legs so you're completely upside down and slowly lower your legs to the ground. This is intense. Despite my lack of gymnastic ability, I'm actually able to get myself up on those rings. It was quite difficult to slowly go down, so the scaled back version involved lying on the ground, swinging your legs up and over, and slowly lowering them. This was hard enough. The ring push-ups were difficult, so I did them on my knees. The WOD wasn't timed and I was actually able to sing along to Lady Gaga during the WOD. My abs hurt afterwards. My work was done.

Wednesday - Kelly. Seriously? I have issues with Kelly. We did this in June during Benchmark week. I nearly had a breakdown. Kelly is
5 rounds for time:
400m run
30 box jumps
30 wall balls
It doesn't seem bad just by looking at it, but this WOD is brutal. And when I came in on Wednesday, I knew how hard it was. I let it get to me. When I did this in June, I only completed 4 rounds and I think the last 3 were only 20 reps. I stopped after 25 minutes and felt awful. Throughout the WOD on Wednesday, I knew I wouldn't finish it. We had a 35 minute cap. I was moving slow. There was no way. By the end of the 4th round, I knew I had time for at least the run and maybe some box jumps. There was still time. So I picked up the wall ball, which I didn't want to do. Emilee was next to me, feeling the pain, and to my surprise, I finished the WOD in just over 36 minutes. Sure, I could have stopped at 35 minutes and not finished the last 15 wall balls. 

So those were my three days of solid Crossfit WODs. We're going to keep doing them, which is awesome. They're really challenging and very rewarding.

How can I do better? My eating has been .... I can't even say. I've been eating so much sugar lately. There's no excuse except stress. I've made some major changes in my life. Once it starts settling down, I want to commit. I should say that I will commit now. I know I'll do better. If I can do these main site WODs, I can cut out the sugar. It will certainly make the workouts more tolerable. Except wall balls. Wall balls are never tolerable.


My Butt

I stole this picture from another great blog - RX Girls Miami. We see ladies of all shapes and sizes at Crossfit, and they all work their asses off (ha!). A lot of women come into Crossfit expecting to lose weight and that's it. They soon realize it's so much more than that. They can run faster. They can lift more weight. They can do things they didn't think they can do. And they keep coming back. It's pretty great.


My Hips Don't Lie

This is me finishing the Eugene Women's Half Marathon this morning:
You can't see the finish line, but I crossed it about 20 seconds later. And I was running. I can't say that I was running for much of the last half of the race. I actually felt good up until mile 6. Then it went downhill fast. These are the lessons I've learned:

*Listen to your body. My knee has been bothering me all summer. Stupid knee. It didn't hurt, but it felt uncomfortable and other people could tell that I was favoring my other leg when I was running. If there's something wrong with your knee, there's going to be something wrong with your whole leg in general. I really should have taken care of my knee when it started feeling weird, not just when it was close to go-time. I tend to think things will be fine, even when they're not, but as I've said before, I avoided running for the first 29 years of my life. Then I gave it up for a while again. It really wasn't until this year that I decided to get better. I'm learning.

OK, that was really the only lesson learned. Around mile 6, I started to feel like my hips were completely displaced from my body. It's not a great feeling (and I feel so dumb saying this, as I've never given birth). But I knew I had to finish the race. At mile 7, I started walking a little. Then I realized that running felt better than walking. But when I started running again, I don't know, it just didn't feel right. No matter how many times I played Ke$ha on repeat, I couldn't talk myself into running more. It was really frustrating - and lonely. In those first 8 miles, there were people all over the place cheering us on. Then - no one. I was just watching people pass me. I'd run a little, then walk more. I finished running. I wanted to run the entire last mile, but it just wasn't in me. Every time I ran, everything felt more and more disjointed. Maybe I just need to get used to feeling more uncomfortable. Anyway, I looked at my Garmin and I knew the end was near. I ran the last quarter mile. It was pretty cool finishing, but it was tough. I wanted to quit a million times during that race. But I didn't. I kept going and I finished.

I'm not a runner. I don't even like running. But a year ago, this half marathon would have been out of the question. Now I know that if I get an idea that seems near-impossible, I can do it. It might be uncomfortable. It might hurt. It might not turn out the way I want it to. But I will have supportive people cheering me on and I will finish. Sometimes that's enough.

But I can tell you for sure that 26.2 miles isn't anywhere in my near future.


Back It Up

The Back Squat scares the hell out of me. There, I said it. For those of you casual readers who are not Crossfitters, allow me to explain the Back Squat.

Imagine you're carrying a really big backpack on your back, but you're holding it up with your hands (it's resting on your shoulders). All of the weight of the backpack is on your shoulders and upper back. Now imagine that you have to sit down on a really low chair, holding this load. Now you have to stand back up. That's the back squat. 

Here are some ladies practicing the technique:

Here's what it looks like with weight*:

In any squat, the coach will tell you to keep your chest upright. This is especially important for the back squat since you might have 100+ pounds on your back as you're squatting. Your body naturally wants to lean forward and give in to the weight. When this happens, it gets harder and harder to stand up since the weight, at this point, has more power than you. If you're not careful and a couple people aren't there to spot you, that weight could roll from your shoulders and over your head onto the ground. I've seen this happen. It's friggin scary.

You lose power and control when you lose form. Many Crossfitters, like myself, want to lift heavier weights, but if we're not careful, that weight will crush us.

Stay safe, kids.

**This is Loree. She's an Olympian. That's a lot of weight on her back. She's super strong.
**I stole these pictures from www.eugenecrossfit.com. Good stuff.


Food as Fuel

Now that the Eugene Women's Half-Marathon is less than a week away, I have to really think about how to prepare for this thing. Yes, I realize that many people train for months and follow a strict regimen, but that's not exactly what I did. I worked out pretty consistently and ran, but my eating habits during the summer months have been less than ideal. So for the final week, I'm planning on going to Crossfit 4 times (I've already gone once), but no working out past Thursday (the run is on Sunday). As far as eating goes, I'm ready to cut alcohol and bad sugar for the week. I can do that for a week, I swear. I've gotten some protein in the form of garbanzo beans (which I haven't eaten in a long time) and chicken and tuna that I plan on loading on some salads for the week. But it's the day before where eating gets tricky.

Many marathon runners load up on carbs the night before to store energy. I get this, but as a Crossfitter, I don't eat a lot of the traditional carbs. It would be kind of stupid to eat a big spaghetti dinner the night before a long run since I don't really eat pasta anymore. I'll try to eat plenty of protein throughout the day, and for dinner maybe some steak and sweet potatoes. Any suggestions would be welcome :)


A Follow Up on Music To Crossfit To

Does Music Make You Exercise Harder?

 "...it’s music’s dual ability to distract attention (a psychological effect) while simultaneously goosing the heart and the muscles (physiological impacts) that makes it so effective during everyday exercise. "

They don't mention anything about Slipknot.


Born to Run

In this lovely read, Christopher McDougall tells us about a tribe of long distance runners in Mexico and the 'tribe' or ultra-marathon runners in the US. I don't understand the drive behind running 50 miles in one day, or 100 miles in one day (at 10,000 ft. altitude). But McDougall also writes about human physiology and how we were born to run, especially long distances. We had to run in order to hunt. But humans also were born to create efficiencies, which ultimately led to the automobile and we lost the need to run. Now people do it for fun. People might look at me and say I'm doing it for fun. I'm not. I'm not quite sure why I'm doing it yet, but I'm trying. I don't have to run - I can certainly hunt down my food at Market of Choice and I can get there by car. And yet I started running at 7am this morning and I ran nearly 9 miles, while my knee felt like it was going to give under me. Why am I doing this?

McDougall also writes about all the issues that I've been hearing for the past year: barefoot running is better, don't strike with your heel, Nike is bad. I know all these things. I practice all these things. I think about them when I'm running. And then, someone takes a picture of me running, and what am I doing: 

What you see here is a heel strike and my arms swinging in front of me. Both of these movements are working against me. This was taken at the end of the Skandia 10K Run last weekend. I did not finish under an hour like I had planned, but I was close. The half-marathon is two weeks away. I know I'm ready, despite the uneasiness in my knee today. I also know I'll be happy when I finish.

To be critical of the book, I thought the narrative was a bit sporadic. I know everything doesn't have to be linear, but it seemed like he kept bringing something up, going into a very long story, then finally getting around to what he had originally brought up. It was a little confusing at times. And I'm not sure why certain people were featured when they didn't even run in the race that was the centerpiece of the book. I guess on the outdoors-writing front, I usually read Jon Krakauer, who is an amazing storyteller. I like this book for what it says, I just wish he had said it a little better.



They say that if you do Crossfit, you should be able to do anything, like run a marathon. Crossfit will make you a well-rounded athlete and damn it, you can do anything if you just do your Crossfit! Go run a marathon on Tuesday if you want - you've done Helen before! Well, I'm not quite ready for a marathon yet, but if you remember a few months ago I signed up for a half-marathon. This is coming up in a few weeks. Most people train for something like this. I've been doing Crossfit. Most people run various distances multiple times a week. I do pull-ups. I also do running drills. But before yesterday, I had never run more than 4 miles at a time.

So Saturday morning, I ran a 5K - 5KLove. It was a lovely event and actually, it was a little more than a 5K - 3.31 miles according to my Garmin. I ran it at a 9:23 pace, which is a good pace for me. Could I have run it a little faster? Maybe. But there will always be another 5K.

Sunday morning was a preview run for the Eugene Women's Half Marathon. It was advertised as an 8 mile preview run of the course. This was a test of my dedication. I couldn't sleep in. I had run the day before. But I knew I had to do this. So I showed up on Sunday morning with the number 8 in my mind and the promise of a mimosa at the finish. The organizer then said it was really a 7.15 mile run and then gave us a map. He explained the map and said he didn't want anyone to get lost. No problem!

So we start running and it's along the bike path and I'm following a couple women who walked every once in a while, then would run a slightly faster pace then me. After the 4.5 mile mark, I decided to walk a little too. Then we weren't seeing the other runners so much. I just kept following, keeping up enough so I could see them. Then another group of women passed me and caught up with the couple ahead of me. Then they all stopped and congregated and looked at the map. Then they looked at me. 'Do you know where we're going?' All I could think was that they better know where they're going because in my head, I'm only running one more mile. But they didn't, and we went out of our way. As we circled back downtown, we ran into other people who followed the right path. I clocked in at 1:24 for 7.86 miles. Not bad for my first long run after a 5K. 

I was surprised how I felt during and after the race. I didn't feel nauseous at all. I'll feel nauseous during a one mile run, but not the 7 mile run. I ate some eggs and grapes beforehand. Not like, together or anything. Anyway... I feel really stupid for saying this, but my feet hurt like hell at the end of the run and I hadn't even considered my feet hurting. My back was feeling pretty bad too. My back was hurting most of the week - I think it was due to all the flying/driving done the weeks before. The run just killed it though. This could lead to a long post about sports bras, but not right now. Too much to say.

I ran a lot this weekend. I know I run more than the average non-runner, but I don't think I run that much. I'm putting a lot of faith in Crossfit and hoping that by going religiously, I'll be able to finish this half marathon in under 2:30. I'm pretty sure I can do that.

What will help me along the way? 

My Garmin, of course! It keeps track of everything! Pace, time, distance, heart rate (if I ever figure that thing out), elevation, laps, whatever! Then I plug it into the computer and it spits out all these numbers. Then I sync it to a website that posts it to facebook to annoy all my friends! How fun! I get really mad when it runs out of batteries or I forget it - what's the point of running if I don't have proof of what i just did? Then I'd never know I ran a 9:23 pace on Saturday and a 10:47 pace on Sunday. Honestly, if I didn't have my Garmin, I wouldn't be running as much as I have been, which isn't much, but I'm hopeful that it's enough.


Lift Like A Girl

At the end of work today, like most days, I went to change before I left. As I opened the door to the hallway, a big plant was in the way. Then I heard a furious, "Oh, sorry, sorry," and saw that some guys were painting near the elevators. One guy moved the plant and let me through. Another guy, who was sitting on his ass while others were painting, said something to the effect of, 'You really pushed that door hard. What, do you lift weights or something?" "Uh, yeah," I said as I quickly walked past with my gym bag. I didn't quite catch what he said after that, but it was along the lines of, "Wonder what it's like to be her husband." Like, kind of ...not even offensive or derogatory, just really, really old-fashioned. They didn't say anything when I walked past a few minutes later in my gym shorts and tank, although I should have flexed my arms and punched him in the face.

After work, I did 25 squat clean thrusters (65#) and 50 chest to bar pull-ups (with a red band). I bet he didn't.

But people don't really think like that, do they? I think he realized it was stupid when he said it, whatever he said. 

Tomorrow, LifeAsRx is having a 20% off sale and I might order this shirt:

I do lift like a girl. And I'm getting stronger every day. So suck it, lazy painter guy who's not even painting. I do lift weights, and someday I might even be as strong as the other girls in the gym. 



I'm writing this from the Gerald R. Ford* Airport in Grant Rapids, Michigan. I just got into Michigan and I won't be back until Tuesday. I also just had family visiting in Oregon, which was awesome. This also means I haven't been to Crossfit very much lately. And I've been eating all cruddy. I'm doing the things I need to be doing, but this is one of those times when I really wish there was an extra hour or two in the day. I like routine. I need routine. This is why Crossfit works for me.

I have worked out. Last Friday we went to Crater Lake and hiked down to the lake. It's only a mile, but it's a hell of a mile. When it was time to walk up, my sister knew my nephews would go slow. I said I needed to go fast. I finished about 10 minutes before they did (but who's keeping track?) Here's my view on the very first leg:

My nephew was very impressed with my speed going up the hill.

I miss Crossfit when I'm not there. I went on  Tuesday because it sounded like fun. We did a bunch of tests. I imagine we might do these again at some point. I had two big achievements. First, I did 4 dead hang pull-ups with the tan (or purple) band. This is the band you use when you almost don't need a band anymore. I almost did a real one after, but I didn't have it in me. I also ran a mile in 8:36. I'm pretty sure this is my best mile time. It felt good. I mean, it was hot as hell outside, but I managed. I need to get used to that kind of pace.

I'm planning on running a little the next few days, and running a lot in August. Right now, in order to really improve my physical strength and well-being, I need a serious nap.

*If Gerald Ford was from my city, I really wouldn't brag about it.


Music to Crossfit To

If you walk into a Crossfit box or watch any Crossfit video, you're bound to hear some terrible music. I'm not sure if it's supposed to make us work harder or make us angry or what, but I'm over it. I do like Tool, who often come up in the mix. I can stand Rage Against the Machine if I'm doing pull-ups. But I'm really getting tired of all this new hard rock daddy-doesn't-love-me crap we have to listen to during the WODs. I guess the real motivation would be to finish the WOD faster so I can go outside and not listen to it anymore. Lately, it seems like our box is moving more towards the Beastie Boys and away from whoever's playing the Warped Tour this year, which is a move in the right direction.

My preferences for workout music differ from what's typically played in the box.  Once in a while I'll speak up and advocate for Guns 'n Roses or Jane's Addiction, but it never lasts long. I used to take this Body Combat class at a globo gym and we would punch and kick to Christina Aguilera and Pink. Good stuff.

Maybe that's why I "like" running so much. I can listen to whatever I want. I set my playlists for the approximate time I want to finish that distance, so my 5K lists run from 27-30 minutes. This is the one I've listened to the most:

In a Big Country - Big Country
Love is a Battlefield - Pat Benetar
Filthy Gorgeous - Scissor Sisters
Supersonic - Oasis
Rebel Yell - Billy Idol
Live Your Life - TI
Palace of the Brine - Pixies

It's a little random but it works for me. I usually feel like singing out loud when Filthy/Gorgeous comes on, and I know that I should be near Target when the Pixies start. 

I made a mistake when I put together my latest one and made it a little too long, so when I was running a 5K in May, I thought I was getting a PR, then realized I was about 30 seconds too slow.

What You Waiting For? - Gwen Stefani
Take On Me - A-ha
Barracuda - Heart
God is a DJ - Faithless
Hella Good - No Doubt
When Love Takes Over - David Guetta
Closer - Ne-yo

So I just took Hella Good out, since I already have Gwen Stefani on there. I like having a longer dance song in the middle because I know I'll be about a mile further by the end of it. God is a DJ is perfect because it's 8 minutes long and it varies enough withing the song to keep it interesting. I also like hearing, "This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts" while I'm running. It makes sense to me.

So I'm not even sure what I'm doing tonight. I might be running or I might be doing Fight Gone Bad. If it's the latter, I'm sure we'll be listening to some terrible music while wall balls hit me in the face. If it's the former, it's up to me to decide how to get through it.


Oprah Knows Best

I just watched a very special Oprah. She had the author of a book I haven't read, "Women Food and God." 

Yeah, I'll probably order it or put my name on the waiting list at the library or something. I was thinking about my eating habits this weekend. I think I eat like a dog. No, not Beneful. A dog's instinct is to eat what's in front of them because in the wild, they might not know when they'll eat again. I know in my head that I don't have to eat everything in the house. But sometimes I do. And I know I'm sabotaging everything I work for. But I still do it. I'm the same way with money too, but that's for a different blog, a different time.

So Oprah and her writer buddy talked about this book and the audience had read the book and they had their sob stories and their questions. It comes back to mindfulness and recognizing what hunger feels like and capturing that moment when you want something and recognizing that moment and seeing the spirituality in it. Or something like that. But Oprah did say something that applies to what we do in Crossfit:

"The guidelines mean nothing unless you're willing to do the work."

For me it's stress and boredom. And it's about wanting to feel a different feeling. I don't want to be bored. I'll have some chocolate. Stress sucks and I can't get out of it, so I might as well eat something and give myself something else to do. This isn't how I want to be. And it could be a fear of failure and a whole lot of other things. There's a lot in my head that I'm not putting down here, but trust me. I can do better, but it will take a lot of relearning. 

I put the work into Crossfit. I go like 5 times a week, even when I don't feel like it. Maybe I need some friends or something. But if I can put the same work into Crossfit as I put into eating, a year from now I'll be the person I know I can be.

Oh Oprah, you're so wise.


Lessons Learned

Lately I've been thinking about how to apply the mental toughness we learn in Crossfit to everyday life. Our coach has even been posting about it on our website (even though I've been thinking about it before he brought it up). 

Many times in Crossfit, I want to stop. Even right when we start the WOD, I want to stop. But I keep going. I always keep going. I know I can make it to a point where I'll be proud of myself and happy with my outcome. It's not easy. My body hurts. I almost started crying during a workout last week that involved doing rounds of 10 deadlifts because I thought the weight I was using was too heavy - but I finished. I'll feel like I'm slower than everyone else. I'll feel like I just can't do what I'm supposed to do. There are many situations in my life when I feel the same way.

The difference is that in Crossfit, the pain only lasts so long. Maybe you'll need a longer than usual recovery time - a few days at the most (or a week if you do Angie). You'll get through that mental block, finish the WOD, and move on with your life. In life, when you move through the discomfort of work or relationships or family or anything and you make a big decision, you take a risk, that decision can have lifelong implications. 

One of these lessons that we learn in Crossfit is that if you work really hard, you will see results. I know this. It takes discipline. It's not easy. I changed my eating habits last year. I became addicted to showing up to this place and working out with these people. I know that if I want real change in my life, I need to commit. I need discipline. I need to write every day and I need to take risks. It's a lot to take on, but I might be ready now. If I could apply the same discipline to my writing as I apply to Crossfit, ...that thought is beyond my imagination right now. I just need to make it happen.


Not Winning

That's something I'm doing these days - not winning. Yesterday and today was the end of our Spring Leaning Challenge. We did the same tests and workouts three months ago. Our tests included:

Max effort pull-ups (I used a red band)
Max effort overhead squats (I did 35#)
Max box jumps in 1 minute (20" box)
Max effort handstand push-ups (yeah, right)
Max effort L-sit (you'd recognize it if you saw it)
800m run

My scores from 3 months ago are on the left - scores from yesterday in bold on the right

Max effort pull-ups - 16/24
Max effort overhead squats -  3/15
 Max box jumps in 1 minute - 26/ 28
Max effort handstand push-ups 0/0
Max effort L-sit - 6:04/6:34
800m run 3:44/3:46

Gee, good thing I've been spending all that time working on my running. In all honesty, when I looked back at my running score, I thought it was faster than usual the first time around and I didn't expect to beat it. But then I saw that most everyone improved in all of the categories. Well, yesterdays tests were only 25% of the challenge. Then there's today.

Today's workout is one of the worst workouts ever. Holding a 15# plate, you have to do:

Overhead lunges
200m run

Super sucktastic.I remember doing this back in March. It was just the worst. Lunges are bad enough, especially for short people that have to go the same distance as people with long legs, but when you have to hold weight over your head - come on! The burpees were just cruel. But I thought that this was the only chance I had to win this thing. The first time I did the workout in 17:48. Today I did it in 15:04. I was still drooling and had snot flying out of my nose, like the first time, but I managed to do it 2:44 quicker.

The workouts are where I really show my improvement. I remember when we did Fran early in the year and for some reason, it was just torturous for me. I could not get the last 9 pull-ups done for the life of me. But then when I did it a few months later, with the same band and weight, it was almost easy. I like this aspect of Crossfit - comparing what you did then to what you can do now. We're so much more capable than we think.

And speaking of being awesome, I managed to do a real pull up for the first time at 5:40 Friday night, June 25. Clay witnessed it. I've been trying to do the kipping pull-ups for a while now and on Friday I tried a dead hang and managed to get my chin above the bar. That's a pretty big accomplishment. Next the kipping. Then the workouts RX. Then, the world!


The Problem with Paleo

1. It's time-consuming
2. It's exhausting
3. For some of us, we tend to think about the things we can't have rather than the things we can have.

I usually write about #3. Today I'm going to talk about the first two. And I'm going to preface this by saying that I don't even have kids and I can't imagine where all of you amazing women get your energy to get through your day. Seriously. I'm just a girl in the world trying to make the right decisions for me (and any future kids I may have). And I even have someone making me dinner most days, so I really don't have a place to complain.

Many societies value food and sharing time with people while preparing and eating food. Ours does not. Many people still go with the 'Eat as much as you can as fast as you can so you can watch more TV/go to the monster truck rally/shop at Wal-Mart.' As food production has progressed (that's so not the right word), we have meals in a box/on a tray/in a can that we can just zap and be done with it. 

When did we get so busy? Do we have to be this busy? When did preparing food become such a hassle that nobody has time for? 

The reason that paleo, or any other eating plan where you actually have to think about what you're putting in your body, will take a long time to catch on is that preparing food is not a priority. Filling up is a priority. Tonight I got home from my softball game. I hardly even did anything in the game, or all day for that matter (besides run 3 miles and clean the house like crazy), but I was exhausted leaving the game. But I knew we didn't have enough food in the house to make the right decisions. So we run to the store first and pick up a rotisserie chicken, some fruit, bacon, eggs, etc. Then we get home. So tired. I have to talk myself into a simple task like hardboiling the eggs so I can take them to work as snacks. The 9-5 thing - uy - you have to go in prepared to eat healthy or you're fighting a losing battle. So I put the eggs on, I do the dishes, I grind the coffee, I fill the dog's water bowl, I should be ready to go tomorrow morning. But I don't do this every Sunday. If I'm going to do it right, I have to prepare. I can't let work stress be my downfall into eating more chocolate. I can't let myself get so hungry in the morning that I go to the store at noon and get a coconut macaroon (not like that happened on Friday). 

The irony is that eating better food is supposed to give you more energy. I think today's one of those rare days where I didn't eat enough food, but maybe that's what I'll keep track of this week - my energy level. I should be all set for the next few days, so I'll see if I still have energy on Wednesday to stick to the plan and get things ready the night before.

I can learn to love cooking. I can love to learn to eat healthy. Because you know what's really great - fitting into a size 4*. That's pretty freakin' great.

*This has only worked with the pants at the J Crew outlet, but I'm sure other brands in that size will fit me soon.



This week is benchmark week at Eugene Crossfit. That means we get to do really hard workouts all week. Yay! Monday was the hardest one on the list - Angie. 100 pull-ups, followed by 100 push-ups, followed by 100 sit-ups, followed by 100 squats. It's a bitch! I had done Angie twice before. Scaling back means a lot of things with Angie. You can use bands and do push-ups on your knees, and you can do fewer reps. The first time I did Angie, in October, I did 50 pull-ups and push-ups and 70 sit-ups and squats. After I finished, I knew I could have done more of the last two. The next time we did Angie, I did 75 of everything. Even then I knew I could have done 100 of the last two. This time, I did 100 for everything. I used the blue band for pull-ups. They were awful, but not as bad as I thought they would be. I used bands to assist me with push-ups - blue and tan - and then I started doing them on my knees after about 20 because my arms were burning. Push-ups are one of my biggest goats. They hold me back so much. But I finished the workout and felt pretty good about life.

Then Karen, my buddy, was still doing sit-ups and said something about quitting. There's no quitting in Crossfit! So I got down on the mat and finished the last 25 sit ups with her. So did the rest of the women there. It was awesome! Then we took turns doing squats with her. Those squats can burn after a while, so doing 10 at a time was fine with us. Here's me and Karen taking care of business.

Hell yeah. She finished under 30 minutes! That's a tough workout!

What does this have to do with movement? Yeah, I'm having a tough time moving my arms today. Straightening them doesn't feel too good. Lifting anything overhead seems impossible. Still, I managed to do Grace today, which is 30 clean and jerks. I definitely could have done more weight on any other day, but just showing up was an accomplishment for me, so I was happy with just doing it. Later this week we have wall balls and thrusters and pull-ups, oh my! I'm pretty sure doing anything on Saturday is out of the question.

Oh, and my friends and I had an impromptu Lady Gaga dance party the other night. I haven't danced in a while. I used to all the time. I need to incorporate dancing into my workouts. We all do.