And the weight goes up: Two new squat maxes

The break is coming up soon and Zach has plans for us to start a new training cycle in Olympic lifting when we get back. But before we go, we have some work to finish: finding out the maximum we can lift now.

This week we were tasked with finding a new back squat max (Monday) and front squat max (Wednesday). Considering I haven’t slept enough (when have I recently?!), I’m pretty happy with adding 10# to both.

My new back squat max is 175#. My new front squat max is 145#.

“Now you have to figure out 80% of that, and since your max went up, you’re [screwed],” Zach told us with a grin on his face. I could tell he was happy that my classmate and I did well. Of course, we’ve been working our tails off, so a PR wasn’t completely unexpected. Over the past few months we’ve been squatting a lot of reps at high percentages. There were days I would look at the board and wonder how in the heck I was going to survive:

Back squat 70%x6, 8-%x6, 90%x3, 95%x2

And that’s probably not the toughest of the programming. I may have just blocked most of it from my memory.

Still, it is nice to see something good come from all of that squatting. I’m definitely stronger.

Next week I have a feeling we’ll be going for a new max in the snatch and clean & jerk. Then a nice break. Ahhh….

2013 I AM Crossfit Challenge begins with a bang

Goal setting and WOD mark challenge start

I was among more than 100 people this weekend who began Crossfit Central’s I AM Crossfit Challenge. It’s my third time to take on this 8 week challenge. The path is familiar, but even though I’m not new to it, it’s exciting and daunting all the same.

Start of something new

I feel kind of like how I always did at the beginning of the school year — oh those many years ago. Back then, I wondered what it would be like, what I would learn. My notebooks were all new and fresh and full of opportunity. I always loved that, despite how nervous if inevitably felt about meeting my classmates and teachers.

I’m trying hard to imagine what things will be like in 8 weeks when I look back. What do I want to look like? How do I want to feel? I can’t quite put it in words, so I’m having trouble coming up with my goals.

Deep down I want this physical challenge to bleed into the rest of my life. I want this energy to feed into my family and my career in a way I don’t know how to explain. Confidence? Determination? Inspiration?

I’ll have to work on those goals into something I can measure and just have faith those other things will happen naturally.


3 rounds
400m run
15 pullups
7 hang power cleans
12 min cutoff

Everything took place at Crossfit Central’s new downtown location, which is really nice. It’s a hike for me, so I’m not going to switch my class anytime soon, but it’s still really nice.

Somehow there was a glitch, and I wasn’t on the list when I signed in for the benchmark WOD on Saturday. I wasn’t alone, but the coaches were super awesome and worked us in. Lisa Thiel even went around asking if there were folks who would switch with us so we could get into a an earlier heat (since we had kids and needed to be home).

I quickly got into Heat 2 thanks to Michael, who agreed to wait an extra hour until Heat 6 (Thanks, Michael! You rock!!!) They took our “before photo”, some video of me doing a hang power clean for a future video, and then we warmed up with Zach.

Then the coaches came for us. David was my judge. He set up my bar, but there wasn’t a lot of time, and I had to tell him what band I needed as I was running to the start line.

Some highlights

I remembered the WOD being hard. But it’s hard to imagine how hard two years later. My friend and teammate Linda took photos while I was in the middle of it (Thanks Linda!!). Here are the highlights:

  1. Our run was on the sidewalk along the I-35 access road. At one point a big truck hauling a trailer on the interstate dragged the trailer along the guardrail and a bunch of wood came popping off down the concrete wall. It didn’t hit the access road, but it made me run a little faster.
  2. The humidity was high, and my grip strength was for-s**t because of Thursday’s workout of 250 kettlebell swings for time. I felt like I couldn’t hold on.
  3. It was totally motivating to hear people cheering for me — not just my judge and Linda, but also several of the other coaches as I was running back into the gym.

Time: 11:58 (Intermediate level – 65#, blue band)

I’ll be posting those goals soon. I may only have two. But that will just help me focus.

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Gasping for breath with CC Flyers

My workout nearly killed me this morning.

Or, at least, that’s what it felt like.

It was CC Flyers, a benchmark. It’s also my least favorite of my gym’s three regular benchmarks — not that I hate it — it’s just not my favorite.

CC Flyers
3 rounds
400m run
21 Box Jumps (20″)
12 Overhead squats (M 95# / W 65#)

Time: DNF –> 2 rounds + run + box jumps + 5 OHS RX (cutoff 15 min)

A year ago the fact that I didn’t finish would have really bothered me. Today, I see improvement. Three months ago I only finished the box jumps on the third round. Today I made it into the overhead squats. Plus, I ran my first 400 meters in 1:49.

Of course, that run also nearly killed me. I was gasping for breath after each run, and by round three I thought I wasn’t going to make it without hurling.

Seriously, I had to tell myself, “Keep going, keep going” on that last run. I think the only reason I started jumping on the box when I got back was because I heard Zach say, “Come on — let’s finish this.”

Well, obviously, I didn’t finish, but I’m OK with that. There will be a next time. And I won’t die.

It will just feel like it.

On being appreciative of your accomplishments

I realized yesterday that I focus so much on what I need to work on, or on what I can’t do yet, that I forget about the things I can do, and as a result, I’m not as appreciative of what I’ve accomplished.

Double unders are the perfect example. I remember not even being able do single jump rope swings right after Luke was born. It took months of practice in Kung Fu conditioning class and later at Crossfit to feel like jump rope was easy.

Double unders eluded me for a long time, though. It wasn’t until last summer that I finally got fed up and started practicing most days a week. It took a while, but gradually I began to string them together. Now, I’ve GOT them. It took work, but I did it. And when they come up in WODs, like they did on Tuesday, I can zoom through them quickly without scaling.

5 rounds
3 deadlift (M 305# / W 205#)
10 burpees
20 double unders

Time: 12:55 @ 155#

This was one of our mid-month benchmarks — it will show up again in 6 weeks. I debated over the weight to choose. I needed to go heavy, but how heavy? On Saturday my max was 165#, but maybe that was just that day? Zach gave us time to warmup with the bar, so I loaded 125# on the bar and worked my way up. When I got to 155#, it felt really challenging, so I knew I had found my weight.

When I was done and was cleaning up, Zach told me I did well on the double unders. That made me stop and think. They’ve become “just another thing I can do,” but not without effort. I really worked hard to “get” double unders, and as with all accomplishments, I should be appreciative.

Wheezing my way through a WOD

I’m back to training this week, and I’m glad of it because I think a week off made me sick.

Sometime over the weekend I must have picked up Madeline’s cold, because my head’s been full and my voice completely disappeared for most of the past few days.

Zach cancelled Olympic Lifting on Monday morning because he wasn’t feeling well after the non-stop weekend down at regionals, so my first workout after the break was at Crossfit. It was the first of the month, so it was one of our benchmarks.

“CC Flyers”
3 rounds
400m run
21 box jumps (20″)
12 Overhead Squats (M 95# / W 65#)

Cutoff: 15 minutes

I debated whether I should go to class because of how I was feeling. What made me go was how my body felt after a week off — the aches and pains I felt was from immobility, not sickness. I knew that I would ultimately feel better in the long run.

I had a feeling I would not do well this time. I felt like I was struggling to breathe during the runs and I felt sluggish on the box jumps.

Completed: 2 rounds + run + 21 box jumps RX

I’m not sure if that’s any better than last time. In fact I think it was worse. The cutoff was only 12 minutes and I made it through 2 rounds + the run + 2 box jumps. Three minutes gave me time to do 18 more box jumps?

Being sick sucks… but it could be worse, I suppose. I think eating clean is helping me recover this virus faster and without needing any medications. Food power!

Wrists and lifts

I visited my chiropractor this morning.  I think he’s a masochist.

He scraped my forearm. Basically, he took this plastic tool, that kind of resembles a dough scraper, lathered my arm in shea butter, and rubbed the tool over my wrist and forearm.

It was painful.  And loud. You could actually hear crunching under the skin. Dave and Sam (the chiropractors at Next Level) say that’s the scar tissue. It’s part of what’s causing the shooting pains that go up my arm into my wrist. Or at least, I think they said that. I was too busy breathing loudly through the pain to really comprehend.

Tonight my arm is pretty red. It’s going to be a lovely shade of purple in a couple of days.

To be honest, I kind of asked for the scraper. Dave scraped my other arm early last week, and even though it was painful for a little while, I haven’t had any shooting pains since then. The stuff works.  I have no intention of being crippled by carpel tunnel. And there’s not way I’m going under the knife if I can help it.

Sometimes I wonder if when my arms and wrists finally get fixed whether it will be easier to turn my wrists in during lifts, like Zach always reminds me to do. I have a lot of trouble keeping them turned in without tensing my entire upper body. Tension puts the brakes on momentum during a lift, which diminishes power. But when I loosen up, my wrists get sloppy and the bar swings out, which is also bad for power.

See how technical it can get?

Monday February 27
Olympic Lifting
Hip Power Snatch + BTN Push Press + OHS 3+3+3×4 → 45/50/50
Snatch off blocks 2×4, 1×4 → 55/55/55/55, 55/55/55/55
Jerk Push Press 3×5 → 65/70/70/70/70/70
Snatch Pulls 110% of max 3×5 → 80/80/80/80/80

Monday felt a little off for me. My sleep was way off. I actually thought “I feel like hell” when I woke up. Not a good sign.

Tuesday February 28
Crossfit Total (Part 1)
Back squat 1-1-1 → 145/155/160 (PR)

I scratched at 160#, but I still hit a PR on back squat Tuesday morning. We didn’t have time for shoulder press, so we’ll do those next week with deadlifts. I’m going for 75# and 195# or 200#!

Wednesday February 29
Olympic Lifting
Max Snatch → 60/70/70
Max Clean & Jerk → 70/80/90 (PR)

I was a bit disappointed with scratching at 70# on the snatch, but some days you got it and some days you don’t. I’m not going to let it discourage me. As for the clean & jerk — a PR!

I’m thinking about using my Pinterest board to create my vision board. I can’t seem to get it together enough to buy art supplies and create one — so why not digitally? Anyone else use Pinterest to inspire yourself and set goals?

CC Flyers kicks my butt… again

I laugh when I think about this morning’s benchmark. CC Flyers came around again. It looks like this:

“CC Flyers”
3 rounds
400 m run
21 box jumps
12 Overhead squats (M 95# / W 65#)

Or is it 10 over head squats? Or 15? And when is the cut off?

Haha. 🙂 I remember being so proud to finish this benchmark three months ago. But in October, the benchmark was different. They only had us do 10 overhead squats. And the cutoff was 15 min.

Today, the cut off was 12 minutes, and there were 12 overhead squats. I know it seems like a tiny change, but it made a big difference. I did not finish.

Completed 2 rounds + run + 3 box jumps RX in 12 minutes

What’s also different this time is how I feel about that. I don’t feel disappointed. I’m not angry. And I didn’t feel it was necessary to argue with Zach or Aaron about the time limit. I’m OK with the WOD being harder. It changed the rules of the game and made things a little more interesting. And Zach is absolutely right — I CAN finish CC Flyers in under 12 minutes, I just have to bring my A-game next time.

I think my running is suffering a little. I haven’t been doing any running outside the warm up. I miss it. I’m halfway considering signing up for the Cap 10K this year, even though it means I’ll probably run alone. But it will give me a reason to run again.

I haven’t forgotten that my goal is to add competitions to my schedule. I missed the Fittest Games, but I’m hoping something will come along. Maybe this Clean competition in College Station? Hmmm… anyone want to join me?

You don’t win the warmup

My poor Google reader is feeling so neglected. Twitter has become my news feed. I find so many interesting posts and articles related to my different interests.

Wouldn’t you know, most of the people I follow talk about health, Crossfit or Paleo. I should REALLY branch out a bit.

But one of the feeds I follow is @CAthletics, and I love the quotes and blog links the post. One that really interested me is on warmups, and how they are meant to warm you up — for real. They’re not supposed to rival your workout in intensity.

I’ve been thinking about that on my warm up runs – both in class and at home. I used tear out of the gate, trying like hell to get back before everyone else. OK — I tried not to be last. That was my big worry.

Then Andy told me, “Cindy, you don’t win the warmup.” And I realized racing in the warm up is kind of silly if it wears you out before the workout. So I dialed it back a bit. It’s no JOG. I’m still running. But it’s not a max effort run. I save that for AFTER the warmup.

After this morning’s warmup, it was time for another benchmark!

20min AMRAP
5 pull ups
10 push ups
15 squats

Results: 10 rounds + 5 pullups + 10 pushups + 4 squats w/ strict pullups on blue band & pushups on knees

I was slower this month, but that’s because I changed up my pullups. I’m going for strength — not speed — so I did strict pullups with the blue band.

Ow. I’m going to hurt tomorrow. I’ll be rolling out in the morning.

Retest: “DT”

Cindy holds bar with arms straight overhead
At the top of a push jerk. (Please ignore my pasty, white legs.)

There is a little Post-It in my workout log that has floated through my notebooks for the past year. It shows up every three months. It has this workout written on it:

5 rounds
12 Deadlift (M 155# / W 95#)
9 Hang power cleans
6 Push jerk

I’ve done it a few times in Crossfit class, but this is one I picked out last December and have used as a home benchmark. There is a note written at the bottom of the Post-It:

Goal: 75# in under 12 mins

I think I wrote that goal last spring. I can’t remember. Anyway, I reached that goal Friday.

Time: 10:17 @ 75#

In deadlift position
Deadlift position (Check out Mads in the background 🙂 )

It was the first time I tried 75# with DT. In September, I slammed through the WOD at 9:38 with 65# on the bar. At the time I had forgotten I had done the same WOD at home the week before at 70#. But I was much slower — over 13 minutes.

I’ve definitely grown stronger over the past year. Over the past several days I’ve been assessing my accomplishment, looking at where I want to change and improve. I finally have a pretty exhaustive list of specific fitness, personal and professional goals for 2012. They’re not quite done, but I should have them ready on January 1.

What do you want to accomplish in 2012?


Bedtime stories and a week of PRs

Some people think we’re weird, but we don’t watch TV at my house. We ditched the TV years ago. Instead, we read.

Luke has a chair he curls up in with a book, and Mads has started bringing me books to read to her. At bedtime, Andy and I have been trading off reading chapter books to them. They listen and gradually fall asleep.

Unfortunately, I’ve been falling asleep too. That means I’ve been getting a great night’s sleep. It’s a little annoying, because there’s tons of work to do after the kids go to bed, but it’s been awesome for my workouts this week. It’s amazing what a difference a little rest can make.

“Crossfit Total”
Back squat → 135-145-150
Shoulder Press → 65-70-70
Deadlift → 185-190-195

Crossfit Total was split over Tuesday and Thursday.  I had PRs on all of the Crossfit Total lifts this week. I worked hard for each of those PRs — especially that deadlift. I was fighting to lift that 190# bar. I wish I had been able to lift 195#, but it didn’t budge. It’s amazing what a difference 5 pounds made. I’m sure it was partly mental, too.

I like the sleep I’ve been getting, but I’m trying not to let myself fall asleep that early every night. If you know me, then you know I have a zillion side projects and chores to take care of. TV? I don’t have time to watch TV!