Wednesday, March 21, 2018

CrossFit Open - 18.4

I really like this workout, and not just because it put me in the unusual position of being one of the better female athletes at my gym.

18.4 was deadlifts, handstand pushups and handstand walks. It started with a benchmark workout called Diane, which is 21-15-9 of deadlifts and handstand pushups, followed by 21-15-9 of even heavier deadlifts with each round followed by a 50 foot handstand walk. The weight for women for the Diane portion was 155 pounds, and the heavier weight was 205 pounds. The heaviest I've ever deadlifted is a 2 rep set of 165 pounds, so I wasn't anticipating the deadlifts would be easy, or, in the heavier weight's case, possible. 

However, with a 9 minute time cap, I didn't really have to worry about the heavier deadlifts or the handstand walk. If I was going to go Rx, then I would not likely make it past Diane. 

I did consider scaling. The scaled version had lighter deadlifts (95 lbs for the first section, 135 for the second), hand release pushups instead of handstand pushups (basically a regular pushup but you have to put your chest on the ground and lift your hands for a rep to count). And instead of handstand walks, you had a bear crawl. 

But I can deadlift 155 pounds, albeit slowly. And, just this week, we practiced handstand pushups and I got a set of 5 kipping handstand pushups. I might be slow, but I had the ability to complete reps. I wanted to see how far I could go with the Rx standard, so I did that on Friday and Sunday. 

One of the coaches said that if an athlete can push press about 15 pounds more than their body weight, then they can do a handstand pushup. I do not have that lift, but somehow, I have the ability to do a handstand pushup. Not consistently or well but to standard. So I felt that I owed it to myself to try and do the best that I could within the time cap. 

On Friday, I did the first set of 21 deadlifts as singles. Pick up the bar, drop it. I finished the 21 in 2:46, which is pretty slow. And then I got to the wall and got 9 handstand pushups before time ran out for a total of 30 reps. I felt pretty good about it, but I definitely wanted to get more. 

On Sunday, I managed sets of three for the deadlifts and finished in 1:31. Then I got 12 handstand pushups. I tried so hard for that 13th, but my arms and shoulders gave out. 

12 is exciting for me. By all rights, I shouldn't be able to do 1, but I did 12. I've gained weight since last year, but I'm performing better. And, to be perfectly honest, I was stoked to realize that my 12 beat several other women who couldn't get 1 or more than 2. Women who kick my ass regularly in ALL workouts. I wasn't the best at the handstand pushups by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt like I had found a strength. 

I want to be able to finish Diane someday now. In under an hour, preferably, which is how long I'm estimating it would take me now. Okay, okay, I'd probably take 45 minutes. So, finishing it in under 30 would probably be a good goal for me. Though once I really get the hang of the handstand pushups, it will probably go faster than I think. 

One more week of the Open. I'm a bit sad that it's ending. Especially because I won't be able to go to the Sunday throwdown this time. I'll workout Friday morning and be done. Unless I decide I maybe could do better if I go back Friday evening...

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

CrossFit Open - 18.3

18.3 was a beast of a workout. In 14 minutes, complete 100 double unders, 20 overhead squats (115 lbs for men, 80 for women), 100 double unders, 12 ring muscle ups, 100 double unders, 20 single arm dumbbell snatches (50/35), 100 double unders and 12 bar muscle ups - twice!

The athletes who performed it at the open announcement didn't finish.

I figured I should probably just go ahead and scale. Scaled meant replacing the double unders with single jump ropes, reducing the weight on the overhead squats to 45/35, all the muscle ups with pull ups and 35/20 for the dumbbell snatches. On Friday morning, I went scaled and I completed 922 of 928 reps in the time cap.

I also tore my right hand open under the ring finger. I bled on the bar, and there was no way I was going to try that workout again within the next three days.

So I decided to try it Rx'd on Sunday. I knew that I would not get past the first 220 reps, because I do not have a ring muscle up. But I did want to try getting on the rings, just to see how they felt. I have enough grip strength that I can hold onto them, and even, on a good day, do a strict pull up to them.

What I didn't expect was just how difficult 80 pound overhead squats would be after doing 100 double unders. Now, I did complete those first hundred double unders in 1 minute and 29 seconds, which I'm really proud of. But it drained me. And maybe I wasn't feeling all that well. Because I could hardly get the bar over my head. One of the coaches came over and advised me to bring my grip closer together. I'd thought that I needed to have a wide snatch grip, but apparently I didn't. My one regret is that I didn't just go straight overhead and lock out, because I do have the shoulder mobility for it. But I got through the 20 overhead squats, with much tribulation and then stumbled my way through the double unders for a tie breaker time of 9 minutes 6 seconds. The second set of doubles didn't go quite as well as the first, but when I got close, my judge told me I had 21 reps to go and I just knocked them out. No way I could have done a set of 21 double unders exhausted like that last year.

And then I spent some time swinging on the rings. I managed a few ring pull ups with kip swings, but never got high enough for the turnover. And also I don't really have ring dips so that would have stopped me right there. But it was fun to try. It makes me want to try more often. This workout, more than any of the others so far, made me want to get stronger.

After my heat on Sunday, I stayed to watch and cheer others on. One of the women actually introduced herself to me and thanked me for the encouraging smiles.

I only worked out for 9 minutes and 6 seconds - plus some efforts at the rings, but that hardly counts. And yet, I was exhausted for the rest of the day. Doing the workout scaled on Friday did not drain me anything like getting through a mere 220 reps did on Sunday.

I'm not at a level where I can do Rx'd workouts regularly. But pushing myself to do Rx during the Open is showing me how I can learn and grow by trying what either seems or is impossible (for now).

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

CrossFit Open - 18.2 and 18.2a

After using a 35 pound dumbbell in 18.1, I wasn't quite as nervous upon hearing about the dumbbell squats in 18.2. Sure, it would be two dumbbells instead of one, but I knew I could get the weights up to my shoulders and squat it. No, I wasn't worried much at all about the dumbbell squats.

It was the burpees over the bar that gave me the jitters this time.

18.2 was an ascending ladder of dumbbell squats and burpees over the bar - 1/1, 2/2, 3/3 etc... to 10/10. If the athlete completed this before the 12 minute time cap, then they would have earned the right to do 18.2a, the establishment of a one rep max clean.

I am slow at burpees. I don't like them very much, because I'm not very good at them. And there was a new standard this year for Rx burpees - no longer would it count as Rx if an athlete stepped back into the burpee or stepped forward out of the burpee. The feet must stay together going back, going forward, and, of course, going over the bar. Anything else would be scaled.

So it was with nerves and trepidation that I approached the 5 am class on Friday. Could I possibly finish all those reps (55 for each movement) and get in a clean?

Everyone paired up and I went second of my pair. I watched my partner take it nice and easy and get through everything in plenty of time to do cleans. Of course, she was scaling the weights and is much better at burpees than I am. So I figured, just take it nice and steady and don't rush and you'll be fine.

I got to 109 of 110 repetitions at the time cap and I was wasted.

But the prevailing attitude was that I was too close not to try again on Sunday. Even I agreed with that, though I dreaded the thought of doing all those damn burpees over again.

On Sunday, I was extra nervous. I took every little step I could to improve my time. On Friday, I'd been pulling my pants up a lot, so on Sunday I wore really tight pants. I tend to push my glasses up my nose when they slide down while doing burpees - that takes time! So I entrusted the glasses to a friend while I did the workout. That move also prevented me from seeing the clock, which meant I'd have to trust my judge. I picked a really good judge and enlisted as many people as possible to yell at me while I worked out.

And I finished in 10:37, leaving just enough time to establish a clean that was not as heavy as I have lifted, but was way heavier than the 0 I'd gotten on Friday (105#).

I figure that there's going to be a workout coming that I will have to scale, but I've got two down Rx and I'm really, really happy about that.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

CrossFit Open - 18.1

Last Thursday, I watched the live stream of the announcement of the first workout of the 2018 CrossFit Open. It was kind of annoying, because they were only streaming it on Facebook, so I pretty much had to watch it on my phone instead of the TV, and the video was obscured by the likes and comments and while nothing was really blocked by that stuff, it was distracting.

Since I've been wanting to do more workouts Rx this year instead of scaled, I was paying close attention when Dave Castro finally started to tell us what torture lay ahead.

He said, "Toes to bar," and I was like, yeah, I can do those.

He said, "Rowing," and I was all, heck yeah.

He said, "Dumbbell clean and press," and I gulped.

Last year was the first year with dumbbells in the Open, and so I was pretty sure the weight standards wouldn't have changed for them. And that meant Rx for women would be 35 pounds.

I had no idea whether I could clean and press a 35 pound dumbbell with my left arm.

To be fair, I wasn't sure about my right arm either, but I wasn't worried about my right arm. If there's going to be arm weakness, it will be on my non-dominant side. So I went to bed that night thinking about 35# dumbbells.

And I dreamed. I dreamed about picking up a 35 pound dumbbell in my left hand and hefting it. Feeling the weight of it. And being completely unable to get it up to my shoulder. It was a boulder that wouldn't budge - though for some reason I was able to lift it off the ground. I dreamed that I could get it up to my shoulder, but that it wouldn't go overhead from there. None of my dreams were reassuring. In every one, I failed to lift the weight and decided to scale the workout.

So I was a little nervous going in on Friday morning when 18.1 would be the workout of the day, all day. The full workout (women's Rx) was a 20 minute AMRAP of 8 toes to bar, 10 35# dumbbell clean and press (5 each arm) and 12 calories of rowing. Scaling meant doing hanging knee raises instead of toes to bar and a 20 pound dumbbell.

We partnered up so as to take turns judging each other. I got the rower while my partner fetched the dumbbell. She could barely hold onto it with both hands, and my stomach gave a flutter as she went back for the 20 pounder for her use.

I stepped up to that dumbbell and I lifted it in my left hand. It was heavy. I leaned forward a bit into a hang clean position and hefted it up to my shoulder. Then I dipped my knees for a push press and got the beast overhead. I repeated that twice on the left side and then gave the right side three reps (right side was easier, of course).

I could do it. It might be slow and painful. It might take everything I had to keep going. But I could perform this workout Rx, and I was going to do just that.

On Friday morning, I got through 144 reps.

I re-did it on Sunday and got through 196.

A very nice start to the Open this year. I just hope that 18.2 will be something I can do Rx. I know my goal is to do 3 of 5 Rx, but of course my brain is whispering, wouldn't 5 out of 5 be nice? I'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hunting Comfort

I still haven't tried out my new bra. Well, that's not entirely true. I did an all day wear test at work, which went fine. It's very comfortable, and perfectly adequate as a bra. But is it a backpacking bra? That is the question that I have yet to address.

Because the weekend that I was going to hike, I got sick again. And then the rains started. And they aren't scheduled to stop for a while.

I have some backpacking bras that I really like. And by some, I mean three of the exact same brand and style in different colors. They're triathlon bras, which means they dry really fast and have good support. They zip in the front, which makes for issues when doing crossfit, but rarely when backpacking. The problem I'm starting to have with them is that they are wearing out.

And of course they aren't made anymore.

So I'm trying to branch out and find a new bra that will work for me for backpacking. A backpacking bra, to me, has to be lightweight, comfortable, not bunch up under my pack's shoulder straps and - most importantly - dry quickly.

See, I sweat a lot when I backpack. Not just when it's hot out. If I'm moving at the pace I like to move at, chances are, I'm going to be sweating. Especially when there's hills to climb, because I love hiking uphill and I tend to go faster. Which leads to even more sweating.

And while I'm moving, sweating is fine. It helps keep me cool. My shirt and pants are quick drying, so when I stop hiking for the day, I don't have long before those two articles are dry. And once your shirt is dry, there is nothing quite so uncomfortable - and heat sucking - as a wet bra.

So I need to get out on a hike. Soon! And I need to sweat (easy part). And then I need to come home and leave that bra on and see how long it takes to dry. If I'm not satisfied, then the hunt must continue.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Scaling Back

Well. I didn't go on a hike last weekend, because despite the perfect weather, I was stricken with yet another cold. Or something. It was an unpleasant day that I spent mostly in bed. And now the rain is coming again.

But the illness also helped me remember to scale back my intensity a bit. I was having quite a bit of soreness and tightness in my chest and so I took some advice to ease back on the pull up training for a bit to let that sort itself out. I reduced the number of CrossFit classes that I went to and took some time off doing pull ups so that I could come back to training hard without that soreness and pain.

I think it worked. I'm not feeling the same kind of tightness in my chest that I had been. I'm still tired and sore this week now that I'm ramping back up on my exercise intensity, but I'm looking at changing the way I'm doing pull up training. Right now I've got a three day a week training plan, and that plan got me to doing strict pull ups, but I'm signed up for a Spartan Race in June. I need to work on running.

So I'm going to try and figure out a two day a week pull up focused training plan, because I believe that having good grip strength and body weight lifting capabilities will be important for Spartan. And reducing my dedicated pull up workouts from three to two frees up one of those time slots for a 30 minute run.

Now, yes, I could add the run elsewhere, but I know myself. I get myself to Crossfit at 5 in the morning before I realize I'm awake. I go and workout twice a week during the day because my job allows me to take exercise release time at the Rec Center. I try to get to yoga in the evenings. And I'll try to add running on the weekends. But trying is not the same as doing. I need to carve out one of those workday workouts for running.

And maybe I'll lose some of my pull up strength. Or maybe I'll lose some weight from the increased cardio and end up with net pull up gains. Either way, I think it's the right thing to do to reach my goal. And I've been enjoying getting back into running again.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Early Spring Fever

The weather in Boise is not normal February weather. Too warm. Too wet.

The nearby foothills trails have experienced intermittent closures without the compensating factor of freezing temperatures. See, if it freezes overnight, then there's a time in the early morning when you can hike on the frozen trail, but with no overnight freezing, there's no frozen trails, just muddy trails.

But it has been drier lately. And it doesn't look like there'll be much rain this week. So I'm going to give into my inexplicably-early-spring fever and take a hike on Saturday. Maybe just up to Table Rock, maybe up to Lucky Peak. My husband suggested Table Rock when he reminded me that Saturday is a shopping day, and I told him I didn't need to hike all day. But I'm faster than him. Lucky Peak isn't an all day hike. It's just 11 miles. Or so.

Though Table Rock is probably the more sensible option. I haven't hiked in a while because of the warm, wet winter so far. Last time we went up Lucky Peak was in October.

But it really doesn't matter which one I take. I have to get out there and haul myself up a steep hill and breathe the whipping wind from the top. I prefer Lucky Peak because it doesn't tend to draw crowds, whereas Table Rock without people during the day is pretty rare. Especially with the lovely weather we've been having. Weather that in no way belongs in February.

But here it is. So I'm going to get outside.