Saturday, March 31, 2012

In which I can do nothing Rx

Many WODs are a happy combination of movements I am competent in and movements that I need to scale because I am still learning.  This WOD was not one of those.

3/26/12 WOD #30:

  • Warmup: 500 m row
                   3x: 7 pass throughs
                         7 OHS
                         7 Strict pull ups
                         7 HSPU
                         7 Squat jumps
  • WOD: For reps, 3 min each of:
                              Max rope climb (scaled this): 4 (+ 2 into climb 5)
                              Max distance HS walks: 4 feet
                              Max back squat (scaled to 65#): 25
                              Max wall climbs: 4 attempts
                              Max DU (I did singles): 140 singles = 46 doubles
                             ~84 total reps

Let's break these down.  
Rope climb: To scale a rope climb you lower yourself down to the floor and back up 3 times for each rope climb.  Your hands still hurt by the end of it and you stand a good chance of getting rope sheddings in your eyeballs if you don't keep your eyes shut as you lower down.  

HS Walk:  I actually don't suck utterly at these.  I can get my feet into the air and pause for a beat before coming back down, and occasionally I can get a step or two in there.  Now, that isn't very impressive, just not awful :)  But I have confidence that it will get better.

Back Squat: I attempted the non-scaled version of this with a higher weight and we rather quickly determined that I haven't really done back squats before and needed to work on my form before challenging myself with heavy weights.  The hardest part for me is getting that sweet spot in my squat where I have broken the horizontal plane with my quads but I am not yet literally ass-to-ankles and can't propel myself back up.

Wall Climbs: deceptively easy when watching Lori demonstrate them, diabolically difficult when attempting them yourself.  The movement here is starting in push up position flat on the ground with your feet against the wall.  Then you walk yourself all the way up the wall so that your belly is flat against the wall at the top, then walk yourself back down.  I kept slipping and sliding my feet up the wall till I was forming a weak triangle with the floor (I'm a hypotenuse!)  and then falling down.  There was a lot of swearing involved.

Double unders: we've talked a lot about these before.  My basic single jumps are improving although I am starting to be limited not by my rope handling (aka getting hit in the head or tripping on the rope and needing to start back up), but by my calves which are starting to cramp up as I do more and more jumps in a row.

Overall: It is good to be challenged by every aspect of the WOD. Not to say that other WODs are NOT a challenge (on the contrary, every single time I go to the box I get my ass kicked and love every second), but that this was more of a technique challenge and a slap in the face telling me I need to get some more techniques under my belt if I want to continue to improve.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

TABATA this!

On Saturday of the last Open WOD my amazing sister-in-law was in town so we did the morning work out together!  (I figured I didn't need to save myself for the Open since I was only going to do 3 or 4 reps.  And besides, at least I would be nice and warm for those thrusters!)

The WOD turned out to be my first tabata.  I still don't know precisely what it stands for, or if it is actually an acronym at all, but I can tell you what it means.  It is a high intensity interval work out: 8 rounds of each exercise with each round consisting of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.  You get a 1 minute rest between each exercise to move on to the next one.

3/24/12 WOD #29:

  • Warm up: 10 walking lunges
                    10 burpees
                    10 strict pull ups
                    200 m run
  • WOD: TABATA this: 8 rounds of 20 sec work, 10 s rest
                                      Squats: 88
                                      Rows: 32 calories
                                      Pull ups: 26
                                      Sit ups: 70 
                                      Push ups: 103
                                      Total: 319
Turns out, I love tabatas!  I love being able to give it my all knowing that in just a few seconds I can collapse briefly on my face and shake it out a bit.  By the end of it my arms were shaky, my legs were shaky, I was sweaty and tired and I felt awesome! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Open WOD 12.5


The final WOD was announced to the standard resounding bitching and moaning in the comments on Facebook (best comments: "Is bitching and complaining Paleo?" and "CrossFit: forging elite whiners").

The official work out was to be a 7 min AMRAP thrusters (65# for women) and chest-to-bar pull ups starting with 3 reps each and going up by 3 reps each round.  This was a bit daunting for someone who just graduated to the second-heaviest band on normal pull ups and who hadn't gotten a kip yet.

For the practice round on Thursday I used bands and tried very hard to work on my kip.  As such, I got less reps in practice than I would have if I had just used the blue band and not tried to touch my chest to the bar.  Instead of the prescribed OT of box jumps after the WOD was finished (short WOD means time for doing extra exercise!) Lori and I tried to work on my kip form.

My goal going into the actual judged WOD was 4 reps: I was confident I could do three thrusters and then I was hoping the adrenaline would carry me into a Hail Mary giant kip-of-awesomeness and get my sternum up to the bar.

I even got a morale bonus for the work out.  My husband and my sister-in-law (who is totally responsible for getting me into CrossFit) were there to cheer me on and that felt pretty awesome!

Long story short: I got 3 reps to submit online.  After my thrusters I had a good 6.5 minutes to work on that Hail Mary and although my kip timing improved as I kept going, I just didn't have the arm strength to carry me all the way up.  And as frustrating as it can be to try and try and continue to fail, I knew going in that my chances were slim.  I'm just not there yet.  But it has given me a new goal: I am going to freaking KILL the kip on band and pretty soon...I'll get off the band entirely.  I just need to give myself time!

Now, let us all bow our heads and reflect on this Open competition.  Or, at least, I will.  I don't know why a month and a half into CrossFit I decided to throw my hat into the games with no chance of making it past the Open.  Maybe it was an extra test for myself, or maybe just the allure of the community and the inclusiveness of the Open, or maybe it was the chance to compare scores with Jen (sister-in-law) long distance.  But I am 100% glad that I did it.  I learned a ton about myself thanks to this competition and I am stronger for it.  Here are my lessons from the Open:

  1. Use the adrenaline.  Don't let it use you.  Doing my burpees I got too carried away right at first and burned out.  Not doing that again!  Ancillary lesson: I still hate burpees.
  2. You can do so much more than you ever thought!  So many times during these workouts I was sure that I would fail. That certain movements or certain weights would be utterly beyond me.  And somehow I did them anyway and that is just amazing to me!
  3. Rage.  Sometimes to get a weight up, you have to get angry.  And no, I am not going to tell you what my personal rage was directed towards.  Maybe if you ask me and I like you.
  4. Form, Form, Form.  My wall balls would not have sucked balls (heh) nearly as much had my form been there.  It really nailed down for me how important your form is, not just to prevent injury, but to maximize your efforts.
  5. Finally: I love CrossFit.  I love the community, I love the challenge, I love the pain and frustration that ends in triumph.  I love it.  And I love you guys.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Back to basics

This morning's WOD was a body weight work out focusing on basic movements.  It was short but intense and hopefully will leave us all ready and raring to go for the Open WOD tomorrow.

3/21/12 WOD #27:

  • Warm up: 500 m row
                    3x: 7 jumping lunges
                         7 pull ups (green band!)
                         7 KB swings
                         7 push ups
  • WOD: 21-15-9 (for time)
               Pull ups
               Push ups
               Sit ups
               Time: 11:17
This WOD was not too bad for me.  I can get through sit ups and squats pretty steadily if not as quickly as some.  And the push ups I was able to get through surprisingly quickly and easily (who knew the push ups would be my strength this time??).  Oh, and a big thank you to my sister-in-law, Jen, who suggested that I grab an ab mat to set my poor knee caps on for my girly push ups after I was complaining about how they felt like they were going to pop off.  The real struggle for me today was the pull ups.  I started out on the green band for the first time in the WOD.  Not surprisingly, it is harder to manage than the blue band.  I can only do 2 or 3 pull ups at a time before I am struggling to get my chin to the bar.  When I started my second round, someone was using the green band I was using previously so I jumped back onto an open blue band and was amazed at how it practically threw me up to the bar.  I finished the WOD with the blue band.  

So excited to find out the last Open WOD at 5:00 today...!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Running and freezing

Monday started too early and too cold for comfort. My car was covered in ice crystals (fortunately not blocking vision as I would have been late if I had needed to scrape my windows). I parked in back of the box and was relieved as I rounded the corner having seen no one running for warm up and that the big door was closed. All signs pointed to an inside day...
...not. Yup: the WOD involved running. Outside.
Ah well. That's why I habitually wear my ratty old UP sweatshirt.
3/19/12 WOD #26:
* warm up: 25 burpees
                   250 m row (didn't do as the rowers were full)
                   2x: 10 pull ups
                         10 pass throughs
                         10 sit ups
                         10 squats
                      Turkish get ups with a bar (technique practice)
*WOD: 3 rds for time
          400 m run
          20 sit ups
          2 rope climbs (scale: lower down and up with the rope 3x/rope climb)
            Time: 16:27
This wod actually felt pretty good (aside from the fact that we nearly froze to death when starting the first run). I run slowly but I never stop, and I can do 20 sit ups with the ab mat without wanting to cry. I did the scaled rope climb, but so did most everyone. My time would actually have been faster, but the 6am class had gotten bigger so in spite of our best efforts most of us still had to cool our heels a bit to get on a rope. And I am proud to say that I actually didn't finish last this time!
My other accomplishment for the day was to attempt some rope climb technique as overtime. The difficulty is being able to loosen the rope wrapped around your leg enough to shimmy your knees up to your chest, then tighten the wrap so you can stand up on the rope. I was actually able to do a little shimmy up so I was pretty proud. I stopped there because the tips if my fingers had gone a bit numb, but if a rope climb rears it's ugly head for the last open wod, I may actually get one!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Open WOD 12.4

I was sitting down to write down today's WOD, but then I realized that I got so busy moving this weekend that I never recorded my most recent Open WOD!

The Open workouts are becoming harder and harder, designed to separate the elite from the hoi polloi.  Hint: I'm part of the hoi polloi.  But I very much appreciate that even these WODs that incorporate skills that I don't have yet at least start out with motions that even noobs like me can get through.  That way I wasn't actually disqualified because I can't do muscle ups.

This week's competition actually included one of the benchmark WODs of CrossFit: Karen.  Wherein you do 150 wall balls without dying.  My goal for this work out was to get through as many wall balls as possible without smashing my glasses or breaking my nose.  After watching one of the amazing coaches do her WOD and only get a few reps into the double unders, I modified my goal from "all the wall balls" to "some wall balls."  My additional goal was to keep my pants up for the work out.  This was accomplished thanks to some amazing fashion statements...specifically my standard knee high striped socks combined now with my short skort- super short, super classy, but by God it stayed around my waist!

12 minute AMRAP:

  • 150 wall balls (15# medicine ball, 9' target)
  • 90 double unders
  • 30 muscle ups
Total: 31 wall balls.  Glasses and face intact.

The challenge in this WOD for me became technique.  I realized pretty quickly that my wall ball technique was pretty sucky.  I need to remember the following:
  • Full squat = full power explosion for ball release.
  • Elbows up in front rack to keep the ball close to my midline.
  • Up in the air is not enough, I actually need to aim at and hit my target.
  • It's ok to take a few extra seconds to breathe because if I throw the ball in the air with less than full force, it is just wasted effort.
Suffice it to say, I had a TON of no-reps during this WOD.  I was probably two minutes in and had hurtled the ball unsuccessfully at the target approximately 100 times (it felt like.  I wasn't counting.)  and I heard Chad say, "You've got 2, Andrea!  Keep going!"  By the end of 12 minutes I had hit the target a mere 31 times, but my actual attempts were probably in the 70s.  It was hard not to get frustrated with myself, the ball, and that damn 9' mark I was trying to hit.  I feel like I gave it all, but I could have done much better if my technique was better.  Something to keep in mind as I move through the WODs now: technique, technique, technique.  

On another note, I glanced in the mirror as I was changing into pants after the WOD and realized I had streaks of black down my face.  I don't know if it was from the ball, the floor mats, or my mascara, but it was some pretty serious war paint I ended up with.  Thank heaven I did look in the mirror before going out in public....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Long haul

Today's WOD was one of the longer ones- often CrossFit WODs are fairly short with high intensity.  Today's had a cut off at 35 minutes so we could all get out of there in time for our real jobs.  And I definitely hit that cut off (thank God, because my thighs were burning with the fire of a thousand suns).

3/14/12 (pi day!) WOD #24

  • Warm up: 500 m row
                    50 double unders (ha.  Again.  The rope I grabbed was bent in the middle and kept angling to the side.  And I am lame.  So I stopped.)
                    2x (actually only did 1x): 10 chest-to-bar pull ups
                                                          10 box jumps
                                                          10 HSPU
                                                          10 pistols (each legs)
  • WOD: 5 rounds for time (or 35 minutes, whichever came first)
                                         10 pull ups
                                         20 push ups
                                         30 pistols (15 each leg)
                                         40 squats
                                         50 double unders (or 150 single unders)
                                         Time: 3 rounds + 20 push ups + 14 pistols in 35 minutes
For those of you who have never done one, pistols are a one legged squat.  You grab one foot with your hand and lower down so your butt breaks the plane of your knee (ass to ankle) and then stand confidently back up with your weight through your heel.  Most people need to hang onto something for both balance and leverage, but the ultimate goal is to just do them by your onesies.  I find them to be torturous.  Although, let's be honest here: most CrossFit moves are torturous.  And yet I keep going back for more.....

And I just found out the Open WOD that I will be doing tomorrow will be wall balls!  My quads cry...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Because my shoulders were not sore enough

Wall balls are a special kind of hell.  You squat down with a heavy medicine ball in front rack, then you hurl it in a controlled manner up the wall to hit an 8 foot mark, then you catch in perfect front rack form as it hurtles back towards the earth and you drop back into a squat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.Of course if you are me your wall balls are filled with dropping the ball outright as you try to catch it, near-misses of your face, and swear words.  The good news is that I think my wall balls are actually improving somewhat.  I actually had some reps that made me feel like someone who knew what they were doing.

3/12/12 WOD #25:

  • Warm up: 500 m row
                    50 double unders (ha.  I just did some jump rope until I started hitting myself in the head too much).
                    2x: 10 squats
                         10 walking lunges
                         10 push ups
                         10 grasshoppers
                         10 tuck jumps
  • WOD: 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time:
               Wall Balls
               Overhead walking lunges (25# bumper plate held over the head)
               Sit ups
               Time: 24:44
I look forward to the day that I am fit enough that I don't stagger in last at every WOD.  Not that it is a race, I just think it would be refreshing to be the one clapping for a flagging team mate instead of being the one who still has three rounds to go while everyone else is finding their water bottles.  

In other news, I looked in the mirror this morning and actually saw muscle definition between my deltoids and my biceps.  I am not sure that they haven't been there all along and I only just noticed it, but it felt pretty sweet.  Also, my large thigh bruise from dropping weights on myself is coming along nicely.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Open WOD 12.3

This is a special combo post of both the practice and official WODs or I will never ever catch up with my posts.

So here we are.  12.3 was longer and included more than one type of movement.  The work out was:

18 minute AMRAP:

  • 15 box jumps (20")
  • 12 push presses (75# is the standard for women)
  • 9 T2B
For the practice on 3/8 I scaled this work out.  The box jumps I have a handle on now, although the standard for the Open was to gain control at the top instead of bouncing back to the ground, so that took a small mental adjustment.  Fortunately I have only really done box jumps once for real so I don't have a lot of habits ingrained yet.  One my first round I did my push presses at 45#, but I felt like my form was suffering so I stripped the weight down to 35#.  The toe-to-bar I have not yet conquered so I just pulled my knees up as usual.  I got 4 solid rounds during the practice (144 total reps).

The official judged work out was different.  Not just because of the crazy atmosphere of the competition, but because there was no scaling.  You either did it or you were disqualified.  I was ready to just register a 15 reps for the open- the entire 18 minutes were going to be my 15 box jumps and then maybe I would scale the rest and just not count it.  

But as with WOD 12.2, my awesome coach wanted to see me push myself and get just one more rep.  So we decided I would do my box jumps, then go over to the side away from the other competitors and work on my form for the push press.  During my warm up I managed a 55# push press and felt like I would not be able to do very many of them, so I was not feeling very confident as Lori set up a 65# bar for me to work on.

My heat started.  I got through my 15 box jumps- not with grace or style, but with success.  And my pants wanted to fall off, but they managed to stay up, so that was a success as well.

Then I headed over to the weight.  I managed to clean the bar into a front rack and then over my head.  I managed it twice.  And by God, we added those 10# back on to get me up to 75#.  Suddenly, my reps for the day were 16, not 15.  And I kept going.  More often than not I would fail part way through the motion and have to drop the bar (and twice I tried to lower it gently and managed to catch it on my leg.  I anticipate that it will soon be a bruise the size of my head).  Nearly every attempt was accompanied by my roar of pain and effort.  And every attempt was met with a chorus of shouts of encouragement and advice for my form from everyone around me.  I also managed to break two weight clips dropping the bar.  

I don't know how, but I finished 12 reps.  Every day at CrossFit, I accomplish something that I never thought was possible, and this is never more true than during the Open.  

As soon as I dropped the bar from my final rep, Lori ran me over to the bar to attempt my T2Bs.  I swung and kicked and swung and kicked, but alas, my rep count for the competition stayed at 27.  It looked pretty pathetic next to the other names on the board who were all in the triple digits.  But I am pretty damn proud that two months into this, I am somehow managing to haul weights like that over my head!  And I am sporting a pretty sweet bruise on my sternum as proof of all the times I racked that bar into my chest.

Now I just need to figure out toe-2-bars...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Double feature!

I'm still playing catch up with these posts from being gone over the weekend so this is actually about what happened several days ago... and I am actually getting further behind because we are in the process of MOVING! We just bought a house in Selah (our first house ever) and are slowly moving all our crap to our brand new home :)

Anyway, back to crossfit...

We had another double feature because one WOD was just not enough!

3/7/12 WOD #22:

  • Warmup: 400 m run
                   10 tuck jumps
                   30 m high knees
                   30 m butt kickers
                   30 m lat shuffle
                   30 m broad jump
                   30 m HS walk (or continuing to work on hand stands)
                   20 tuck jumps
                   30 m high knees
                   30 m butt kickers
  • WOD 22.1: ANNIE
                       50-40-30-20-10 reps for time of...
                       Double unders (or 150-120-90-60-30 singles)
                       Sit ups
                       Time: 20:47
  • WOD 22.2: Three rounds for time:
                       500 m row
                       10 HS Pushups
                       Time: 12:05
I am honestly still getting my technique for normal jumping rope down and efficient without hitting myself in the head too much (or doing that really cool false start where the rope catches on your foot or some other body part repeatedly).  But it is getting better so I might be able to do real double unders soon.  I also was not doing true HSPU- I had my feet hooked on a weight bar on a rack and did them from there.  I could barely bend my elbows and it was freaking HARD.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Official Open WOD 12.2

Today's blog entry is a catch up from last Thursday- I never had a chance to sit down and write about the second WOD of the Open, so here it goes!

12.2 of the Open was a bit stressful from the outset because I left this weekend on a whirlwind trip to Tuscon to see one of my best friends get married and to visit family.  We left on Thursday night to get to the airport and because the WOD is released Wednesday at 5:00 and must be submitted by 5:00 on Sunday, that meant my only time to be judged was Thursday during my lunch.  And because I was asked to work early that morning, I couldn't even go into the 6 am class to practice first.  Then I found out that the WOD was snatches.  By all accounts, a snatch is the most technical of the Olympic weight lifting lifts and if you don't do it right or get unlucky, you can injure yourself pretty terribly doing them (while I was doing my snatches, Andrew was watching you tube clips of snatches gone wrong).  A clean snatch (and yes, snatch jokes run pretty rampant) is taking your barbell from mid-shin (aka resting on the ground) and in one smooth motion lifting it above your head with your elbows locked, your shoulders active, and your hips open.  And here was the best part: I had never done a single snatch. Ever.  

So I tried to go into this WOD without shaking in my striped socks, but with the attitude that I would learn how to snatch today, by gum.  Maybe if I was lucky, I would do one rep at Rx without hurting myself and feel pretty damn good about it.  Lori knew I was coming in dangerously novice at this and that I wasn't the only one.  We went through the warm up and then she led us through the Burgener's warm up which is designed to break down the motions of the snatch so your muscles can remember them when you are doing them for real.  All during the warm ups and my practice of the motion with a 15# bar, I was feeling it in my shoulders.  My rotator cuff was making uncomfortable popping noises.  This all boded ill.  And on my first try with the Rx weight of 45#, I did the motions wrong and couldn't get it above my head.

But then we started and Lori was both judging me and coaching me through the motions.  And suddenly I was snatching!  Each time I dropped the weight  either Lori or another athlete would tell me where my form needed to be tweaked and each time I would muscle that weight into the air above my head.  It.  Was.  Awesome!!  I couldn't help but laugh as I kept going because, as it turns out, lifting heavy shit is FUN.  Someone described the snatch as "seductive," and I cannot help but agree.

OPEN WOD 12.2: 10 minutes to do the following:

  • 30 snatches at 45#
  • 30 snatches at 75#
  • 30 snatches at 100#
  • Max rep snatches at 120#

    Total: 30 reps at 45#
I will say that much to my surprise, I finished the 30 reps before the 10 minute mark, so I added weights to hit 75# and gave it a shot.  Not so much.  I could get it about to my fat roll and no further.  In fact, when I first went to try, I hauled the thing up and said something along the lines of, "Oh dear sweet God in heaven!" as I dropped it back to the floor again.  Ah well, I think going from zero to 45 is a pretty good PR for the day!