I came back to Eugene Crossfit yesterday after being out of town for three weeks. I hardly worked out while I was away. I'm totally ready to get back into it.

This morning, I went to a strength class and then went for a brisk walk with one of my favorite Crossfit friends. As we were headed back into the box, a lovely group of runners (mainly from the 5am class) ran by and said "Welcome home, Robin!" That greeting made a world of difference in my day.

About a month ago, I was out with someone I care about very much and he asked me when/where was the last time I truly felt like I was home. It took me a long time to answer that question. I had a lot of mixed feelings traveling back to the Midwest. I wondered if I would fall in love with Detroit, or Chicago again, or even Kalamazoo, enough to move back. And although I got a lot done in Detroit, and I visited friends in Chicago, and family in Kalamazoo, it felt like a very lonely trip. My home is here now.

And I don't know how long that home will be Eugene. And maybe home is more about the people you surround yourself with. But it feels really good to be back to ECF. As I was driving back home from the box, I thought about how different my life would be without it. I can't even imagine. I'm a different person - emotionally, mentally, physically. I'm forever grateful for the gift it's given me.

I think this picture shows why I love it so much. And, this will give you a (little) idea of what's to come in the Women of ECF calendar.


Regression (But not for long)

We work so hard to make gains in Crossfit (and in life), and it is so, so easy to lose them. I'm currently in the midst of 3 weeks away from Oregon. 3 weeks away from my normal routine. This is not good for me.

For the first week, I worked in Detroit. This was an amazing and exhausting experience. I did get a chance to work out at a CrossFit that is just opening up - CrossFit Benchmark Workouts - and they are fantastic. I really think they'll make a difference in their neighborhood, and hopefully, the city. The coach knew I was visiting, and welcomed me with a hug. I totally felt like I was home.

Aside from that, I didn't exercise much in the Motor City. I walked a lot - in my boots. But that was about it. I was hoping to make it back to Crossfit, but they have limited hours and I had many appointments. 

From there it was on to Chicago for a completely low-key weekend, which was what I needed. I talked to so many people and learned so much in Detroit. I really felt like I needed a break. I spent time with one of my oldest friends. We talked, went to the movies, played games - it was a good weekend.

Last Sunday, I made it back to Kalamazoo. I hadn't seen my family in a year, so I was looking forward to 10 days with them. Monday morning, I knew I needed to do something physical, so I bundled up and went for a "run" through downtown. I hesitate to call it a run, but I did move as quickly as I could. My heart was beating. I was breathing hard. I needed this.

I made some observations and thought a lot on that run. Smoking is much more prevalent here than it is in the northwest. I noticed a lot more smoking - in Detroit, in Chicago, and in southwest Michigan - than I do in Oregon. We have the same laws - no smoking indoors - but there are a hell of a lot more people smoking outside here. AND IT'S COLD!!! 

Also, exercise is not part of the lifestyle here. Some people do, but a lot more people in the northwest get outside and run or ride their bikes or walk or ANYTHING. I don't see that as much here.

And the third observation, which became very apparent that evening, is the overabundance of carbs. I don't know what got into me, but I ate more cereal and crackers in the first 24 hours at my sister's than I have eaten in the past year. And once I started, I couldn't stop. And I knew what I was doing when I was eating them. They're empty calories. I'm still hungry when I'm done. There's no point in eating them.

But what else is there to do?

And then we made the cookies, and we all know how that story ends.

Anyway, I've felt myself regressing all week. I feel enormous (I know I'm not enormous, but I feel that way).  And this isn't just a physical thing. Yes, I can feel the few pounds I've gained. I can also see my skin reacting. I can also feel the depression setting in. I know how this goes.

So yesterday, the sun came out for a while. It was very, very cold, but very bright. So I took the dog for a walk, then I ran around the block. It was less than a mile, but I ran fast and once again, I felt my heart beating. I breathed hard. I felt more alive. I did the same this morning, but walked and ran a little further. I don't like it, but I know I need it. (I've always meant to check out the Crossfits in Kzoo, but I never quite make it)

And today I managed to avoid eating cookies until 2pm, which is a vast improvement over the past few days. I've also started taking Vitamin D, which I've been told for years to take, but never have. We'll see if that helps.

I fly back to Oregon on Thursday and get back to Eugene on Friday. When I get back, I will work out - a lot. I know how it helps physically (and I need a lot of help in that area), but I also know how it makes me feel. And I need to feel better. I know how to do it. It just takes work.

SO...I'm putting a stop to my regression. I know how I can act. I know how people see me. But that doesn't mean that's how I have to act. It just takes work.

So hard....for so many reasons...during the holidays. Time to work on feeling as happy as I look here: 


Coaching and Learning

I started coaching at Eugene CrossFit about a year ago. I have coached over 250 classes in that year. Even though I haven't been coaching much lately, I do love it for many reasons.

I might not seem like your typical CrossFit coach. I'm not the best athlete, but I try real hard! I teach. I write. I'm kind of an introvert (sometimes). But I love CrossFit and I loved what it did for me mentally and physically. And I knew I could connect with people in some way. And I wanted a big challenge in my life. I wanted to do something completely different. So I got my Level 1 Cert and stepped right in.

I knew the best way to learn was to just do. So I started as quickly as possible. My first class I coached was a shopping list 20 minute AMRAP. The athletes had to pick a piece of paper off the table and do whatever exercise was on the back. I had Val, Holly, and Carly in that class. I was so nervous, even though they were totally amazing. I remember worrying that someone kept choosing push-ups and they should do something else. We learn.

And even though I was nervous for a while, I signed up to coach as many classes as I could, because I knew I would get better. I have loved getting to know the different athletes, especially at different times of the day. I love figuring out how to scale. I love seeing people move up in weights, or run faster, or use a lighter band for pull-ups, or reach any goal. I love celebrating my athletes' successes.

I'm reminded every day that I have so much to learn. But I also have a lot to teach and coach. I like how some people describe me as quiet, but they know I'm watching, and that scares them. A quiet intensity, I guess. I love getting new people into the box and teaching them something I learned so long ago.

CrossFit is a process. It doesn't get easier. We add more weight. We move faster. We learn more. I'm forever grateful to my Eugene CrossFit family :)



I consider myself somewhat of an expert on setting and reaching goals based on what has happened over the past 48 hours. First, I'll talk about the CrossFit stuff. Then the bigger, life changing event that many of you know about.

Earlier this fall, I fell out of love with CrossFit. I love seeing my athletes set PRs, but I hadn't set my own in quite a while. When I feel really strong feelings, it shows on my face...I felt like I was having meltdowns all the time. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't fun for me anymore. And when you spend so much time at a place, it should be fun. So I tried to take a break. It wasn't a good break since a lot was happening at that time and I couldn't extricate myself from it completely. I needed to take some deep breaths. I needed to reevaluate.

But I came back, like I always do. Right now, I'm just trying to not put pressure on myself (in positive terms, I'm trying to be calm and realistic). I'm trying not to let outside factors affect my workouts (be mindful of what I'm doing). I'm trying to remember that it's just exercise, and I need that to feel better. It takes work to just be happy. A lot of work for some of us.

Today I attended a Goal-Setting Seminar. We learned a lot about positive self-talk and how to help our athletes set and achieve realistic goals. And I set my own goals for the next month (125lb. clean), 6 months (RX Diane), year (muscle up), and week (run 2 5Ks).  As I listened to Greg Admundson speak about CrossFit, I kept thinking of how to apply this to the rest of my life. All of it applied to the rest of my life. I wish I could have other people in my life hear what he was saying. But all I can do is what I have control over. All I can do is present my best self.

So here's the rest of the story...

About 8 weeks ago, I was at a low point. I felt like over the summer I was supposed to figure out some big life stuff. Basically, I need to figure out how to make money doing what I love. I feel like I have a lot to offer. I'm just not sure how to translate that into a living. I have these books about how to turn passion into meaningful work. I have the tools I need. I just wasn't seeing anything.

And one night I got really frustrated. I had my books out. I had my journals out. I had my pen ready. I just didn't have anything to say. And I distinctly remember lying on my bed, thinking, 'Depending on what song plays next, I'm going to write tonight or I won't.' I didn't even know what that meant. But the next song that came up was this little dance track called "Put Your Hands Up for Detroit." And I started thinking about Detroit, specifically an essay Mitch Albom wrote in late 2008. Since then, I've wanted to do my part in saving Detroit, but I didn't know how.

And maybe I didn't know how at that time in 2008 because I was too busy saving myself. I was not doing well. I was in a job that made me unhappy and frustrated. I didn't have very many friends in Eugene. I was unhappy in other parts of my life. So how can I save an entire city when I have so much to work on with me?

And as I was sitting there thinking about myself and thinking about Detroit, then these ideas flooded over me. And I wrote down everything that came into my head, everything that was meaningful to me about the city and what I knew of efforts to improve it. And I was so excited that I sent one of my closest friends some of my ideas. And although those ideas were pretty vague at that point, he was excited that I was excited about these ideas.

And I talked to more people and it started to take shape. I talked to a friend who had a project funded on Kickstarter earlier this year and got some advice. And I came up with Reinventing Home, a book of essays centered around the question How does a city coming out of a depression compare to a person coming out of a depression? And after being very thoughtful and careful in putting these ideas together, I threw it out into the world. I gave myself a (modest) funding goal and a time frame in which to raise these funds.

And the coolest things started happening. I got messages from people from my hometown who understood the project. They gave me ideas. Other people talked to me about it. I'd get emails telling me who just pledged toward my project. Some days were quiet. People sent me links to stories about Detroit, or depression. Some days friends would talk about or share my project. And it all took on a life of its own. At one point, I started to worry that it wouldn't get enough funding (although something in my heart told me it would). And now, it's funded. It's real life.

An idea I had in my head on September 6 is now a project with funding that I need to make into reality.

One of my strengths, I believe, is my creativity. I'm an ideas person. In college and grad school, that was mainly with theatre and writing plays. I'd come up with these bizarre ideas and they'd take shape on stage. I started to lose that in the real world. I had jobs where I did have to be creative, but there were goals and deadlines and people who were affected by my work. And now I've been teaching, which is lovely and fun and challenging. But I realized the other day that I need to create again. I need to put my work out into the world.

The funding is a big thing. But even bigger is knowing that so many people believe in my abilities and in this project. 

I'm grateful for the support from my friends. I'm also grateful that some of the pieces are starting to come together again.



A year ago, we held a Barbells for Boobs event where we raise money for Mammograms in Action. The workout is Grace - 30 Clean & Jerks for time. RX for women is 95#. It's a short workout, one that some people can do in a little over a minute, but most can manage it, with the right weight, between 3-7 minutes. Last year I did the workout in 3:31 with 75#. I also said, "I'm going to RX it next year!" I am a person who sticks to her word.

We also did this workout this June. I decided to try 85#. This time I finished in 4:48. Again, I said, "I'm going to RX it this year!"

A couple months ago, the event was posted and I made the proclamation, "I'm going to RX it this year!"

And today was the day.

So I had to do it.

I've not been feeling especially CrossFit-y lately. I certainly haven't felt very strong. (A very wise friend told me "...you will be as strong tomorrow as you need to be!") Lately, every time I do a benchmark workout, I've done worse. In my mind today, I had the brief thought that I could just do 85# again and that would be fine. But it wouldn't be. I said I would do it RX. I told it to other people. I convinced myself.

For the first 10 reps, I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my body. It was racing so fast. My adrenaline has been a little higher than normal lately. Add in stress and pressure from myself, and it's off the charts. I'm not good at short workouts. Give me a 20 minute AMRAP any day. Please! Give me time to breathe!

But I kept going. One rep at a time. Heavy, heavy shit.

And I may have been the last to finish in my heat. And I may have had the slowest time on the board today, but I finished. And I finished under 10 minutes (9:17 to be exact). And that is what matters. I said I was going to do it. And damn it, it's done.

Many CrossFitters experience the same cycle of starting CrossFit, learning the movements, seeing huge gains, plateauing, working more on technique, then seeing more gains, plateauing, etc. And the gains usually come when a lot of other stuff in your life is working, such as diet and sleep. Or they come when you feel the motivation to do better, whether from yourself or from others. Sometimes those plateaus get longer and longer as time goes by.

I know I'm on the right track and I know that I'll see gains again soon. I need to keep reminding myself that I am where I am right now, and it's up to me to change that if I need to. But sometimes I need to make big declarations to the world in order to do the things I need to do.

Which reminds me, if you haven't seen my Kickstarter project, please have a look. I'm incredibly grateful for the support I've received already. I have two weeks to go to raise another $1200. I know I will. I just said I would.
Reinventing Home



I, admittedly, have not quite been myself lately. I have been super-emotional and that has come out in front of whoever is around at the wrong time. But maybe, I don't know, maybe that's more 'me' than I want to admit. I generally come across as calm, serene, whatever. I think a lot of the churning that happens inside is starting to come out.

Anyway, where this is going is that I need to remember my motto, my mantra, what I was reminded today is emblazoned on my skin: SISU.

The Detroit Tigers just played Game One of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. What this means to non-baseball fans is that this is the series before the World Series. And we hate the Yankees. Everyone hates the Yankees.

The Tigers played AMAZING baseball for 9 1/2 innings. Our starting pitcher, Doug Fister, was beautiful. It was a high-stress situation and he was calm and focused. We went into the bottom of the 9th with a 4 run lead. The Yankee crowd had quieted, booed their players who weren't performing, and by the 9th, the crowd had started to leave. We had this. Advantage Detroit.

And then it fell apart. Tigers fans knew it as it was happening. Our closing pitcher did this last week. He doesn't have it right now. We watched it crumble before us. And the Yankees scored 4 runs. All of the confidence we had...gone.

And we kept playing - into the late night. It was ugly. It took forever. 5 hours, to be exact. It was late on the West Coast and it was still happening. And the Tigers persevered. They just kept going. The Yankees had the advantage. The crowd was back into it. But the Tigers showed grit. They represent one of the toughest cities in the country. They were patient. When they saw the chance, they got on base. They scored runs. And they won. SISU.

This is what the Tiger's manager had to say after the game:

 "If we are going to be good enough, we have to be able to take a punch, and we took a big punch.  We took a right cross in the ninth inning but we survived it." - Jim Leyland

I'm not quite sure what's been going on with me. Just a lot of anxiety. Stress. Frustration with certain things in my life, including CrossFit. But I know what's in my blood. On my skin forever. If the Tigers can win this game after everything that happened last night, I can get through this. SISU.


Sometimes, It's Just a Boar

(This may be more personal than most of my blogs and it may make no sense at all. So if you want to read about CrossFit, I'd probably go ahead and read the CrossFit Journal)

I've been told by some people who seem to know me pretty well that I'm a very self-aware person. What does this mean? I guess that I understand why I act the way I act - beyond the surface level. I've been through a lot in my adult life and I've had to make some very difficult decisions and I have to deal with the consequences of these events and decisions. Geez, maybe I need a therapist.

Kidding (not really, everyone needs one). But anyway, what does this have to do with anything? I haven't had any alcohol in 2 weeks. This is a good thing for me to do every so often because it makes me sit with the feelings I have and why I would have a tendency to drink in the first place. Right, so I'm a lot like my dad. He was depressed for years. He died of cirrhosis after drinking so much for so long. Don't be like dad. Although I'm a very different person than he was, our core is the same. We value(d) the same things. But for the past 11 years, my goal has to been to react differently than he did to his life circumstances. Which is where I guess all the self-awareness comes in.

So last year, when I did the Whole 30, the sugar got to me. This time, the alcohol has been heavy on my mind. Mainly just thinking of the feelings I feel when I want some. They aren't great feelings, actually they're pretty awful. But we can't hide from everything, right?

I started watching some of the first season of LOST the other night. It's a fantastic season where we're just learning about these characters and their pasts that they were so desperate to run from. Most had done terrible things to others. Many couldn't let go of certain people in their lives (Sayid/Nadia, Boone/Shannon ... whoo...heavy stuff). These are some of the best characters ever written. I've always had a fondness for Sawyer.

Today in strength class, we were doing Good Mornings and for some reason, I can't stand them. And I realized that I don't like to do anything where the weight is on my back. I HATE back squats. I don't like push presses from behind the neck. I don't like Good Mornings. Hell, I don't even like going in reverse in my car. I started thinking about this while I was standing there in the sun, in the bay. And I thought of all these metaphors. I won't go into them. They're terrible. Whatever. But then I smiled thinking of Sawyer chasing after this boar in the jungle. That boar kept getting into his stuff and he thought that the boar had a vendetta against him. Then he came face to face with the boar. And he realized, it was just a boar. Sometimes, that's all it is.

Yikes, maybe I should drink if this is the stuff I'm coming up with.


My 45-Day Challenge

My box is starting a 45 day nutrition challenge today and while I'm not officially a part of it, I am trying my best to support my community and my own health. This means a few things:

No alcohol. My mom is probably my biggest influence on me, whether she likes it or not, and she said something to me a week ago that affected me substantially. I know she cares about me and I know I need to care more about myself, so I'm cutting out alcohol for this 45 days. Actually, I haven't had any in a week. It would be nice to say, 'Oh, I'll only allow myself 2 drinks a week,' but I know myself. It's all or nothing. I just have to sit with my emotions instead of trying to make them go away with wine or food. It is not easy. Actually, it's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

Less coffee. I never drank coffee until I worked in an office. Since then, it's become habit. It's become a lot of habit lately. I'm limiting myself to one cup/16oz a day. Coffee just makes my anxiety worse, so if I can limit it, I might be more of a pleasant person in general. Plus, drinking less coffee might inspire me to drink more water, which is also something I need to do.

More veggies. It's embarrassing how bad I've gotten about this. I generally like veggies, they're in season, yet I still don't eat enough of them. So, I went to Lone Pine Farms yesterday and stocked up for a while. My friend's mom also gave me some good stuff from her garden. Just need to make it a habit.

More cooking for myself. Also embarrassing how lazy I've gotten about this. I can't really afford to eat out so much. I don't really enjoy cooking. I wish I did. Until I make something that I absolutely love, this will seem like a chore to me. Sigh.

Try to cut out the crap - grains, sugar, legumes, dairy, etc. I'm not going to beat myself up if I slip, but I can actually limit these things pretty easily, especially if I focus on my above steps.

So there. What do I expect from this? Lots of internal stuff. Taking care of myself and taking control of some of my issues counts for a lot in my overall well-being. Plus, I just might be a more pleasant person to be around, which many of you would appreciate :)


Restarting the Process

August has usually been my favorite month. It's my birthday month (I'm certainly not quiet about that). It's summer. It's lazy. Baseball is happening. But the last couple of years, I don't know. August has been kind of a mess. People have just been losing it lately. It's hot. It's maybe ...too lazy. Many people I know, myself included, have just been freaking the fuck out. It's time to reset.

Right now, or tonight at least, I've been reading and drinking tea and listening to Mozart .... desperately trying to calm my anxiety, or as I like to call it, my spiraling. Am I calm right now? Not really. I'm trying. Trying.

My eating has been embarrassingly atrocious the past couple months. My workouts? Sporadic. I don't really care about how I do. I mean, it's just exercise. Have I been drinking a little too much? Maybe a little. So how does all of this factor into my overall demeanor? I probably haven't been the most pleasant person lately. I know this. I apologize.

So, as many of you who go to ECF know, we're starting a nutrition challenge soon. I'm 100% all in (except coffee. DO NOT take away my coffee). My goal? Peace of mind. Don't get as pissy as I did last year during the challenge. And honestly, and I've never really tried to do this, I'd actually like to lose 10 pounds. It's time.

I have a list of other things I want to do better. Personal things. I'll keep these to myself. But it's time to get serious about a lot of crap in my life, and controlling my food/drink/exercise is definitely one way to start the process. 

34 will sparkle.


Clear Eyes, Full Hearts

I've been getting really frustrated lately with CrossFit. It's not CrossFit's fault. I've been doing it for three years and while my body weight movements have gotten so much better this past year, my lifting has remained the same. It's frustrating. After not being able to clean what I should be able to clean yesterday, I was in a pissy mood and started thinking about how I could possibly make progress.

As an athlete, I wish I could start over. Learn all the movements for the first time so I can stop these habits I've formed. Clear all of my old PRs and start logging new ones. I know I'm hard on myself. I know that I don't have an athletic background and my eating habits are terrible. I know I get frustrated easily. So what do I do?

As with many areas in life, I need to have an open mind and an open heart. I need to pay attention. I need to listen. I can't unlearn what I already know, but I have to make sure that I'm not tuning out or else I could miss something important. You can't make progress unless you're open to it.


More of my Writing

Mainly for my reference, here are some more articles I've written that were published on the CrossFit Games site.

Holding Nothing Back: Austin Stack
For the Fun of It: Samantha Petersen
Focused on the Task: Ruth Anderson Horrell
Australia's Fittest Woman: Kara Gordon

For some reason, this one didn't stay up too long,  but we managed to get a screen shot before they took it down. Phew!
Excellent Journalism Right Here!



This week marks my three year CrossFit anniversary. I've been thinking about it a lot. It's different this year. It's not about me at all.

I've been coaching more over the past two weeks. I'm subbing for different people and meeting different athletes who go to different times. There's one constant in their stories, whether they've been coming for a year or a month or a day. They notice right away that it's different. And it has something to do with what I've posted before:

"I saw an Oprah once where she talked about happiness and how to find it and have it in your life. I've also been pretty forward about my depression here. Anything helps. But one things she said you can do is at least once a month (or week?), go to a  place outside of home or work where people expect you to show up - a club, a group, a common interest. Some people have church. Some people have potlucks. Some people have knitting circles. I moved out to Eugene 4 years ago. I'm not the most outgoing person in the world. It's hard to make friends as an adult. And I don't have family here. So what I appreciate most about Crossfit is the awesome people I work out with every day. I was going to single out a few, but then I thought of a few more, so you know who you are ;) I love my Crossfit friends!"

I posted that a year ago. At this time last year, I really didn't know what my life would look like in the upcoming weeks and months. While it's not perfect and Lord knows I have a lot to work on, I'm a lot happier than I thought I'd be.

This year, my CrossFit anniversary is about gratitude. I'm grateful for the friendships I've developed through this community. I'm grateful to work with people who are just discovering CrossFit, so it's always new to me. I'm grateful for the ability to make a lot of my living in this community (both through coaching and this year, through writing). I'm grateful for what CrossFit has done for me emotionally and physically. 

I'd love to post a picture of me lifting heavy shit to show how strong I am or doing pull-ups like a bad ass. Whatevs. This one reflects how CrossFit really makes me feel.



It's easy to feel down about your workouts when it seems like you're not making much progress, especially when others are making a lot more progress than you. I'm coming up on my three-year anniversary with CrossFit. When I started, I was 20 pounds heavier, lots more depressed, never worked out, yadda yadda yadda. 

When I started, there were a few really good athletes at the box, and some pretty good ones, and a lot of people like me. It seems like when we moved to the newer location, a couple things happened. The coaching became a lot better and higher-caliber athletes started going. So newer women would get the same strength PRs that I would get. Frustrating since I had been working so hard for so long, but whatev. Good for everyone. We're all better now.

I haven't really made any strength gains in a year. BUT I also haven't really changed anything this past year, except now I coach. Have I changed my eating? A little, but not anything crazy. I still work out 4-5 times a week and when we go for strength PRs, I don't really push myself. So maybe it's my fault.

We've been doing at least one benchmark every week and I've been kind of snarky about my gains. But they are gains; I'm not really falling back. In reality, in the past two months, I've set PRs in:

  • Fight Gone Bad
  • Murph
  • 5K run
  • 1 mile run
  • Jackie
  • Helen
  • Angie

There may be only a one second gain here and there, but they're gains. 

So if I actually want to do better, I could do a few things.

  • Stop comparing myself to other people. There's a lot that happens outside of CrossFit that accounts for our times.
  • Do outside work. Lift weights. Get stronger.
  • Actually try to run faster, since it seems to be holding me back.
  • Work on my squat. It's terrible and once it improves, I think a lot will improve.
  • Figure out a way for my hands not to rip open all the time. Gross.


A Most Epic Adventure

If you've read any of this, you know I don't like running. Which is why it made perfect sense for me to sign up for the Epic Relay, a 2-day, 187 mile relay from Portland to Eugene. Why not? The big sell was hanging out with this group for 2 days.
And it was all totally worth it. This isn't even the whole team. Witness the Fitness is a team of 12, with these pretty ladies in vehicle one.

We'd see them about every six hours or so, when our team or their team was finished with their legs and it was time for the next team to start. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I didn't train for the Epic Relay. One day I ran 2 6Ks, but that doesn't really do training justice. When you have 3 legs over 24 hours, and at varying times of day with no sleep and little food, well, you just do the best you can. I figured the hardest one would be the last leg for me. And it was. But again, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Our vehicle left Friday morning and got to our first exchange in St. Paul pretty early, allowing ourselves time for stretching, eating, and photo ops. And trust me, this has been very difficult figuring out which pictures to post, since I don't want to make anyone feel like an idiot. We have a lot of ridiculous pictures. I chose the ones that make me look like an idiot the most. Anyway, my good friend Heather made me a tank top with our team name. She didn't have a lot of experience making shirts, so, well, I did wear it once.

Here I am modeling my new shirt and being super creepy with two of my favorite people. There are other pictures, but I will use some judgment. 

Then van one showed up and we had to pack up and go so we could meet Sam at the next exchange. This is what happens at an exchange.
And it kind of hit me at this time that we were in the middle of something pretty spectacular. During every second of this relay, we had a runner on the road running (or walking) ...during the whole 187 miles. Someone would wear that orange bracelet and run. And we would do this until we ended up in Eugene. It all became that much more epic when I started thinking about it that way.

I was the 11th runner, which meant I didn't actually run until 4pm on day one. That's a lot of waiting. This is how we wait.
Because we're bad ass. Anyway, I kept putting sunblock on throughout the day because damn, it was getting hot and I'm all Scandinavian. I think I put 4 layers of sunblock on before my run. And then FINALLY I headed out for my 4.72 mile run in the beautiful Oregon countryside, full of fields and ....fields. And running on asphalt. Holy hell it was hot. I started feeling not-so-great right away. 4.72 miles shouldn't be a big deal for me, but I started feeling all tingly and numb like the last time I did Murph. I had one moment where someone or something was watching out for me. At the One Mile to Go sign, there was just a sliver of shade .... and the fields were being watered. So I stood there waiting for the sprinklers. Thank God. I made it back and refueled with Gatorade and water. Not a great showing for my first time out.

After our last runner made it back, we grabbed some food at Safeway and made our way to Scio High School, where we were able to take a shower (with strangers!) and sleep in a field. Awesome! But it was like 8pm, so I wasn't tired. Neither were some of my other teammates, so we talked and laughed and hung out until 11pm ... the night shift! We met vehicle one and started the long evening runs. 

For the late night running, each runner had to wear a headlamp and reflective vest. Our van followed each runner closely so we wouldn't lose them or you know, if a bear or a snake attacked we would be right there. The moon wasn't big but there were plenty of stars. I loved watching the runners in the dark with their various reflectiveness. I ran nearly 6 miles down Highway 34 at 3am. It was awesome. I ran the whole way. I did have to kick some broken glass out of the way here and there, but other than that, it was by far my best run. 

We made it into Corvallis, exchanged with van one, then drove to Harrisburg, where we promptly crashed in our sleeping bags in front of the high school at dawn. This was the only time I slept during the relay. I think I got a full 2 hours in. Then I kind of woke up, then SOMEONE started talking and I snapped, then drifted off again. I was actually pretty good for being so angry. After the rest of the vehicle woke up, we stretched, ate, and got ready for the third and final leg of the journey.

And it was another hot one. I spent a lot of the day doing this:
I also, uh, supported (?) my teammates the best I could. We didn't have ideal running conditions. We also didn't get much sleep. We didn't have a lot of shade. The sun was right overhead and showed no mercy. I thought my flashy pants would help. I knew it would be hot. I had five miles from Coburg into Eugene. It was an excruciating battle for me. It was SO HOT. I ran the first mile and a half. Then I walked. And ran. And walked. Ugh. It was ugly. I was in a vile mood. My team did their best to support me, but I was in a mood. Hungry, thirsty, tired, hot...but I finished. Then we were a little creative with the last leg....

And then we finished the whole damn thing! 187 miles. 12 people. Flashy pants. Awkward moments. Port-a-potties. New friends. Cougar sightings. And beer at the end. Good times.

And that, my friends, was the Epic Relay. I will do better next year. Witness the Fitness will return and we will be even more Epic. The other teams can eat a bag of dicks.
We'll be even more ready next year, Epic Relay!


Confronting My Past

I've been pretty upfront here about dealing with depression for most of my life. CrossFit has helped a great deal with that. I also know, from my past postings about this, that a lot of other people dealing with this have found solace with the intensity of the workouts and the community. As I get older, I find different ways to 'snap out of it.' I've actually, for the most part, been pretty happy this past year. At least I haven't had to deal with an overwhelming feeling of apathy/despair/sadness/loneliness.

Until recently. 

Since dealing with a pretty big blow to my professional world, I've felt not quite myself. I know, I know. It wasn't meant to be. There will be other, better opportunities. I know. But telling myself this, and other people telling me this, doesn't take away the fact that I didn't get that opportunity that I wanted and deserved. And I have to figure out something here that will work for me.

Combine this with a HUGE shift in the weather, from super sunny and perfectly warm to windy/rainy/awfulness, and I've been in a major funk these past few days. 

And I really, really, really notice it now when this happens to me. I used to be like this all the time and I don't want to be that way anymore. So I have to have a plan. And I have to make sure that I'm OK. It's up to me to do this.

A very wise friend of mine said this: "Remind yourself to choose what you do or don't do based on your goals and values, rather than your current mood. Your mood may improve and if it doesn't, you still get something done." Wise words from a wise friend. 

So what do I do to make sure I'm OK?

  • Reach out to friends. It's OK to do that. They are my people.
  • Do my work, which is difficult. I don't want to do anything. But putting everything off only makes it worse.
  • Don't drink. I haven't had any alcohol in over a week and I'm going to keep this up for a while. It's what killed my dad, who also dealt with all of this. (And his dad, but that's an even sadder story)
  • Work out. But make sure I'm ready. Do it when I feel good and not too tired or hungry. Push myself just enough. 
  • But let other people push me, too. Working out takes me out of my head. I need that. I need that a lot.
  • Don't compare myself to other people. I'm not them. We all have our stuff that we don't see when we show up for workouts.
  • Eat the right foods. Don't get lazy with it. 
So what works for other people when they fall into this?

(*and don't worry. Everything's fine. I know it will be fine soon.)


Combining My Passions

This is mainly for me so I have an easy reference, but these are all the articles I've written for the CrossFit Games site this season. I've never really done journalism before, and I'm critical of myself, but it's been a great experience. It's not over; I'll have more leading up to the Games. And so many of these athletes are going to compete at the Games! (Holly, Cheryl, Lucas Parker, and CrossFit Intensify) Anyway, here are some of the awesome athletes I've profiled:

The Box is Her Dojo: Holly Arrow
Pushing Each Other: CrossFit Intensify
The Youngin: Karissa Rempel
Nut Up or Shut Up: Lucas Parker
Blessed and Excited: Cheryl Brost
All In: CrossFit Intensify
Honeymoon at Regionals


Self Talk

Yesterday while I was coaching, one of my favorite athletes asked me what I tell myself in the middle of a workout. This is a good question since I've been telling myself a lot of stuff lately just to keep going. I posted this over two years ago (wow!), which details my thought process during a workout. My mindset hasn't changed much. I don't listen to an ipod when I run; I generally let myself think and feel and be in the moment. But this is a sampling of what I tell myself when I need to keep going.

"You've done this before. You'll do this again."
"That ball won't pick itself up."
"I never walk during a run. I'm not going to start now."
"Of course I want to stop. I always want to stop. But I can't. I'll keep going until I can't go anymore."
"I am SO HUNGRY." (this is usually during a metcon after we've lifted heavy stuff)
"Should I take my shirt off? It's hot. I don't want it to look like I'm taking my shirt off for the sake of taking it off, but it really is hot."
"Pick up the bar."
"Pick up the ball."
"Run faster."
"Shit. I'm not going to set a PR. But I can't quit. I'll keep working until I can't."
"I don't care if my hand just tore. I have to finish these pull-ups."
"I can do this."
"If that person can do this, I can do it." (I try not to resort to this.)
"I can't get a PR if I stop."
"I can't get a DNF by my name."
"This feeling will go away." 
"I hate running. But I'm here and I have to."

Feel free to add anything that works for you. I know I have a tendency to drown out other people and/or music and focus on my own thoughts (unless the song is really bad, then that's all I can think of). Basically, don't quit. I'm not a quitter.


I Don't Follow My Own Advice

Usually, our CrossFit workouts take anywhere from 5-20 minutes. You don't want to be too intense for too long. Sometimes, we do these crazy WODs that we make up or Hero WODs that take a lot longer than 20 minutes. Today I am reminded why we shouldn't do this too often.

Murph is one of my favorite WODs. 

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

Wear a weight vest if you have it.

Right. So this takes a while. I did it on New Year's Eve last year and it took me 50:38. That's a long time to be working out hard core. So my goal this time around was to do it in 45 minutes. That did not happen.

I ran the mile and I actually felt a little slow. I think I finished in about 8:20. So that would leave me about 25 minutes to finish 20 rounds of Cindy before I'd have to head out for my last mile. I can do that! 

Actually, I can't. Not on Tuesday, anyway. I started doing my 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats. The squats hurt more than usual this time. Hmmm. I kept looking at the time and the amount of rounds that kept adding up. I knew I wouldn't do it in 45 minutes. I felt sick to my stomach. My thighs hurt. Everything hurt. I wanted to stop. I constantly wanted to stop. 

But I didn't. I would look down at my wrist. SISU! I would think about Murph and all of those who lost their lives for our country and figured I could get through the workout. I headed out on that last mile run and felt numb and hot and cold at the same time. Seriously, I did not feel good when I got back to the box and saw the clock: 50:19. Well, at least it was a PR.

The coaches had put a 45 minute cap on the workout, which I just ignored. I was going to finish. They just needed to keep the clock running. I know I want my athletes to listen to me and I know I should listen to my coaches, but sometimes you just have to finish. You can't put a time cap on awesome.

But since then, I've felt exhausted. I went to Jamba Juice right after the WOD and refueled with a smoothie. Then I just sat for a while. I watched Cougar Town. I watched VH1's top songs of the 90s countdown. I felt nostalgic. I felt like we should bring back this song for this summer:

I thought about all the great music that I miss so much. But really, I just couldn't move.

Yesterday, I moved around slowly. I had breakfast/lunch with one of my most favorite people and had some french toast, which made me even more sleepy. I tried to move in GWOD, but really, it just wasn't happening. 

Today, my shoulder hurts. I can't really, truly extend my right arm. My legs are just useless. I am exhausted.

A couple weeks ago, I worked a lot and I didn't work out that much. Last week, I was angry at the world and I worked out too much. This week, I do Murph and I can't move.

I just can't seem to pull it together this month. I need consistency, rest, and good nutrition. I need to do what I tell other people to do.


Such is Life

Last week at this time, I was sure that I was about to face a big change in my life. I was ready. I had worked hard. It was happening.

Until...it didn't.

I did everything right. I was 98% sure that something I wanted so much was going to happen. I hadn't planned on that 2%. I really hadn't planned on it.

There are variables in life that we can't control. I wasn't ready for this to not work. If you saw me on Monday or Tuesday of last week and I wasn't crying, you were lucky. It was a rough couple of days. I've dealt with depression a lot in my life and I was really worried that I was going to fall into a really dark place when this happened.

But I haven't.

I did this a few weeks ago. Yes, this is real life. I needed a constant reminder of who I am and where I come from. Since I've gotten it, I've thought of my grandmother so much. She's been through more than anyone should handle. Finns are tough people.

Sometimes we want something. It might be a job, an opportunity, weight loss, hanstand push-ups, pistols, whatever. We try EVERYTHING and we're almost there...and yet, it just doesn't happen. I believe, in my soul, in perseverance. When we don't get what we've worked so hard for, we have to believe in it, or else we collapse. 

C'est la vie


Reflections on Coaching

Last fall I saw a window of opportunity to get my Level One Certification and start coaching. This is so different than anything I've ever done. I needed that. I needed change and I needed a challenge. I'm so happy I decided to do it.

I started coaching at the end of November. When I started, I was worried that nobody would take me seriously. They'd think, "Hey, there's that woman who fixes Jeremy's grammar and yells real loud when she does cleans. I hear she's also good at opening champagne bottles. WTF is she doing leading my class?" And maybe that's what some people were thinking. But I kept signing up for classes because I knew I wouldn't get better unless I actually coached. So I faced those fears and just kept coaching.

And then some things started to click. I got some regular classes (I love my Mondays at 3:30). I started knowing the athletes that I didn't know. They started asking me questions. Newer people asked me questions. I knew the answers. Newer people saw me as a coach, and not just another athlete. I started feeling more like I want to feel. Challenged, yet comfortable. And it's fun. It is. 

I've been told that I'm not always the most confident in front of a group. I think this is true in the case when I'm with more experienced athletes. I love working with newer athletes. I love figuring out ways to scale so they know how to do the movements safely and they'll get a good workout. 

I just listened to an incredible ending to a baseball game. Justin Verlander needed to pitch the full game. He just had to. It was the bottom of the 9th. The Tigers were up 3-2 and his pitch count was in the 120s (that's a lot for all of you who don't know baseball). He walked a guy and then had runners on 1st and 2nd. Jim Leyland, the Tigers' manager, comes out to the mound. They chat. Verlander stays in the game. Not many managers or coaches would believe in a player like that. He kept him in the game. Verlander actually hit the next batter, which loaded the bases. He stays in. If there's a hit or a walk, the Royals win (the f*ing Royals, of all teams). On his 131st pitch, Verlander struck out the hitter. Tigers win! His manager believed in him.

I'm no Jim Leyland. I could never grow a mustache that awesome. Sometimes our athletes need to hear it from someone else that they can do it. Sometimes just hearing your name during a WOD is all you need to keep going, or a cue from a coach so you know they're paying attention. I totally believe in our athletes. They're f*ing amazing.

And things go wrong all the time. If you've taken a class with me, you probably know that I'd like to run over the timer with my car. Run it over! Sometimes Pandora picks the wrong song. Sometimes my athletes don't like Rihanna! Whatev!

I know I'm not the best athlete. I'm average. I really need to work on technique in my lifts. But you don't need to be the best athlete to be a good coach. You need to recognize form in others and give cues to help them improve. I know I'll get better at this the more I do it. I just need to keep doing it and keep paying attention.

I like coaching. I'm glad I needed the challenge. And I'm grateful for the athletes who believe in me, because I certainly believe in them.


Moderating (or not)

I eat cleaner than the vast majority of Americans. And I understand that eating clean can mean different things to different people. Many people would look at a Yumm bowl and think, “Rice, avocado, olives, tomatoes, edamame...that looks pretty healthy!” Sure...but not for me. Grains are probably not the best choice all around (although I don’t think that a little rice now and then can hurt). I don’t want to admit it or believe it, but I think there’s something in Yumm sauce (like crack) that makes me congested. Because that’s how I feel now when I eat something I’m not supposed to - congested. Thanks Whole 30. Now I’m acutely aware of how food makes me feel.

It seems like I’ll go through phases where I’ll eat pretty clean, then I’ll allow myself some treats, then I’ll just go off the deep end and I can’t button my jeans anymore. Then I’ll realize I need to clean it up, I’ll stay that way for a few weeks, then I’m back to the sweatpants. I remember reading something in a magazine a while back...a word I hear people say once in a while that I don’t really understand...something like...moderation?

Of course! Moderation! Duh! This could mean eating 90% paleo and allowing a cheat meal once a week. That sounds great! That sounds easy! That sounds...COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY UNDOABLE!!!   

I am not a moderator. I can’t eat two Thin Mints. Is there anyone in the world who could eat two Thin Mints? Once that box is open, they’re gone in a matter of minutes. And this isn't just about food! If I like something, I want a lot of it. Baseball just started. You think I can check scores and standings once a week or once a day? Forget it. My time is occupied from now until the end of October (since the Tigers will win it all this year). Moderation is not in my vocabulary.

CrossFit workouts are “fun.” They make you feel like your body is actually doing something. They push you to work harder. Beat the clock. Beat your last time. Get one more rep. Do it! Sometimes we’ll plan on a rest day, then see what the workout is that day and think, ‘I have to do this one! I’ll take a rest day eventually. Maybe the next day.’ And it never happens and we get burnt out and injured. OK, this doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it can. I think I’ve almost figured out a way to find ‘moderation’ in CrossFit.

Rest (sometimes)
Don’t go crazy RX superhard beastmode every day
Listen to your body
Let your coaches scale you
Stop comparing yourself to other people*

*A special word on this last one. During the CrossFit Open, of course we compare ourselves to others. We’re all doing the same workout with the same weights. I was disappointed in a lot of my workouts, but I need to factor in the rest of my life. My stress level this past year has been a lot higher than in the past. I don’t want to mention how many times I’ve moved in the past year, and how different my life is now than how it used to be. These are important factors that the leaderboards don’t measure.

I need to think of food this way, too. I think dairy makes me break out. Sugar turns me into a monster. Ordering a Yumm bowl a few times a week is just lazy. Do I want to be this way? No. So I need to be mindful of the choices I make and what behaviors and side effects they will cause. I need to be accountable for how I act and how I present myself to the world. Food is a big part of that. Food is just the first step. Time to reset, yet again.



For me, the CrossFit Games Open is now done. I am very happy about that. While I feel like I was somewhat of a catalyst for some people to sign up, I feel like I wasn't a very good competitor this year. I felt like I didn't really give it my all on any of them (except maybe my second attempt at 12.2). I wasn't really excited about any of them....until 12.5.

I practiced handstand push-ups all week. I still haven't gotten one, but I am SO CLOSE!!! I was sure they would program a Diane ladder (deadlifts, hspu). Most people thought this. Instead, they brought out the last one from last year: the Fran ladder.

Last year, I got three thrusters and spent 6:30 trying to get a chest to bar pull-up...twice. And although I've been able to get chest-to-bars in practice now and then, I haven't really done them consistently, so I wasn't sure if I was able to get them during the WOD.

I got 23.

And I would have been able to do more if I hadn't been SO HAPPY!!!! I don't know if I've ever smiled so much in a workout. What a relief! I've actually improved! It's been so long since I've seen actual improvement...maybe this is just what I need to kick myself back into some sort of mental shape.

And part of me thought, for a minute, 'Damn. I could have gotten more reps if I would have known I would have done that well. And that was my one shot.' But then, my true self came through. It's just exercise and I improved! How often do we just enjoy what we're doing in CrossFit (as much as you can enjoy thrusters and pull-ups)? I was smiling for hours after that. Not because I looked ridiculous, like my snatches in 12.2, but because I was awesome!

So the moral of the story is don't forget to have fun. Otherwise, what's the point?

So I hope that the Open was worth it for everyone who participated. I look forward to seeing who will be going to Regionals this year. And for those of you who pushed yourself farther than you intended, nice work. You understood the point.

“Promise me you'll always remember: 
You're braver than you believe, 
and stronger than you seem, 
and smarter than you think. ”
Christopher Robin to Pooh
A.A. Milne


And this, right here, is truly what the Open is about: Pride.

**And I am purposely leaving out any mention of the wall balls in 12.4. I completely lost my motivation and those weren't fun. Not at all. They never will be.** 


Setting the Bar

So I think I'm finally able to move my arms again. That will change again tomorrow, I'm sure. For Open WOD 12.3, we finally got a CrossFit WOD! 18 minutes of box jumps, push presses, and toes to bar. Awesome! And it didn't feel as bad as I thought it would when I did it Thursday. That also means I could have pushed harder. By Friday evening, I started to hurt. By Saturday morning, I was sooooo sore. And for some stupid reason, I decided to try it again this morning. Let's just not talk about that.

The hard part about the workout for me was the push presses. 75lbsx12 per round = real heavy, real fast. The toes to bar was like a break for me. It hasn't always been this way.

I don't know what it is about this move that pisses off so many people. Maybe it's because when athletes are good at it, it looks so effortless. But it does take a lot of effort. Those of us who can do them felt that effort as the rounds added up.

But many people struggle with the movement. All you have to do is a big kip, swing your feet up, and touch the bar, right? Sure! OK, well, not really.

Last year, I judged one of my favorite people in the world. She did her 5 heavy power cleans, then spent 18 minutes trying to get one toes to bar. She did leave and cry at one time. BUT she came back! And she kept trying. This year, she did 34 toes to bar. So proud.

And this weekend, I worked with 2 other athletes who knew they could post a score to the Games site with what they had already done, but who continued to work at getting those toes to bar. And if they keep coming in and working on them, next year, not a problem.

The Open can expose our weaknesses. I'm not good at short workouts. I know this. I like the 10 minute + workouts. I haven't been great at box jumps before, but somehow, they're starting to click with me. I need to work on stringing them together. As long as we work on these things, and KEEP TRYING, we will get better. 

And hopefully, by the time they release 12.4 (double unders and heavy cleans?), I'll be able to move my arms again.