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