The importance of having a coach

Everyone needs a coach.  No matter what you do.

I didn’t always know this — at least not in these words. I left school thinking I was on my own, but in reality, you have to keep working on yourself, whether it’s your writing, career, personality, sport… you name it.

At work, it’s my peers, the blogs I follow, books, my husband.  When I did Kung Fu, it was my sifus (teachers).  They challenged me to reach beyond what I thought my potential was so that I would improve and exceed my own expectations.

It’s no different in the gym.  I can work out in my backyard all day long, but my coach is the person I turn to to help me get better.  Andy’s been a casual coach for me.  He constantly challenges me and helps me rethink my routines (even though sometimes I resist.  Hard.)  But spouses aren’t ideal coaches because they are your best friends first and your coach second.

I’ve found that the most effective coaches are your coach first and your friend second.

RedBlack Gym
RedBlackGymRedBlack Gym

 In this Gym we are your coach FIRST friend Second. Family always. Which gives us a license to break yo’ ass down. Only to build you stronger

15 Aug

I’ve had my coach for 2 1/2 years.  I am fiercely loyal to him.  He is the guy who demands that I give my all.  There are no excuses.  You either do the work or you go home.

I turn to him for guidance.  And what he asks isn’t easy.  But it works.

This morning I was practicing kipping pullups before class like one of the other coaches suggested when he walked up.

“You really want to get better at pullups?  Do negatives.  You’re about ‘this’ far from the bar.  It’s just a matter of strength.”

So that’s what I’m going to do. Because I trust him.  He knows.

Then during the workout, despite my best efforts to keep my core tight, I just couldn’t lift my hips at the same as my chest during pushups.  So he told me to do them on my knees.  Better to have good form from the knees than sloppy form from the toes.  It feels like a demotion, but he’s right.  So I did. Speaking of this morning’s WOD:

5 rounds
3 min AMRAP / 1 min rest
9 box jumps
6 DB goblet squats (M 55# / W 35#)
9 pushups

Results: 10 rounds (+ jumps each round, squats on first round) @ 35# KB

I know it’s not always easy to find that person who can be an effective guide, coach, teacher — whatever.  If you’re looking for a Crossfit coach, I found an interesting post about how to choose a coach, because there’s a ton out there now and not all of them are going to be right for you.

Who is your coach?  What do you like about him/her?  How have they helped you?

Never cleaned a 95# nuthin’… till now

I hit a PR tonight.

I worked on hang power cleans before doing a “retest” workout.  I surprised myself.  I  hang cleaned 95#… twice.

Hang Power Clean

Results: 65-75-85-90-95 (only 2 times, but that’s better than nothing!)

The last time I worked on hang power cleans was back in December.  That’s when I PR’d at 85#.  In fact, looking back through my journal, I couldn’t find any other time when I lifted 95# doing any kind of clean.

It feels pretty good reaching a PR.

I followed it up with a workout I’ve done twice before: in May and in March.  (You’ll recall I was so annoyed with how I did in March I vowed to keep testing myself.)  I didn’t do as well as in May, but Andy pointed out that I had just set a PR on hang power clean, so I was already pretty busted for the WOD.  Plus we ran/walked Sunday morning, so my legs were pretty fatigued.

AMRAP 12 min
3 HSPU (knees on deck)
6 Power cleans (75#)
9 box jumps (on deck — about 20″)

Results: 6 rounds

Luke’s birthday party is Sunday, and Andy baked Luke a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  It looks and smells absolutely incredible.  I’m not supposed to go near sweets right now.  I’m not even supposed to eat fruit. I’m not sure what I’ll do, although the Whole 9 approach to cheats is appealing.

Benchmark: Slower time but more weight

Sometimes these benchmark workouts simultaneously frustrate and excite me.

Today was “CC Flyers.” Class was D.E.A.D.  Six people showed up. (I would never dream of not showing up, but then again, I’m kind of weird. I showed up the day before Mads was born.)

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

We did overhead squats last week, so I decided that I would try the same weight again — 65#. RX.  It was a struggle for me, but I felt much stronger than last week.  It was like I KNEW that I could do it, so I just DID it.  Did I have a mental conversation with myself? Absolutely.  What Cindy workout wouldn’t be complete without a running dialog in my head?

Me: This is hard.

Other me: Yep.  Keep going.

Me: Really hard.

Other me: Keep going.  You may not finish, but you gotta keep going.

Me: I really want to finish.  I finished with 55# last time.

Other me: But you want to be strong.  And to get stronger you have to move heavy things. You’re not Gweneth Paltrow.

Me: They’re going to cut me off soon.

Other me: Keep going, dammit!

Big thanks to my friend Steph who cheered me on (and finished, by the way) as I was doing those last box jumps.  It kept me from taking a bunch of breaks. And big thanks to Coach Zach who offered to take pictures of me during the WODs so I could post on my blog.

Last time we did this benchmark (May 3), my time was 14:49 @ 55#. Today:

Time: Completed 2 rounds + run + 19 box jumps RX

Next time — I plan to finish.

Sugar highs and jump ropes

Hello.  My name is Cindy.  I am a sugar addict.

I can back from “vacation” with a goal to eat fairly clean and get off the sugar until Luke’s birthday party.  AT LEAST.  Oh my.  What good intentions.

It started Tuesday with a lunch seminar at Maggiano’s.  I shunned the pasta, yet ate some of the ice cream off of a dessert.  Then, after a crazy Wednesday, I told Andy it was either wine or chocolate, so he chose chocolate.  And on Thursday… oh Thursday.  Andy and I had lunch and decided to walk into a place at Arbor Walk.

They had samples.

I was hooked.  This is what I had:

Oh Tootie Pies, why did you tempt me with such delicious samples?

This is a horrible photo of the slice of chocolate pecan pie I ate, which was carefully presented on a place with whipped cream and chocolate sauce art.

I am sooooooooo glad this place is not in an area I frequent.  Because it was delicious.

Sigh.  Oh well.  My motto has always been that if you’re going to eat sugar, it should be quality stuff — not crap.

I’m not sure Thursday’s workout even came close to making up for it.

Hang Squat Clean

Results: 65-75-85-85-85

I focused on form rather than weight for this strength session.  The heavy cleans were difficult to master.  Steph and I were working together, and it was great because she was pointing out areas where I needed improvement.  I can’t wait to take the Oly class she’s doing.

For Time:
Double unders
Box jumps

Results: 2 rounds + jump rope + 17 box jumps in 12 minutes

It was 3 singles for every double, but I made at least 10 double under attempts each round.  And guess what!  I succeeded most of the time!  I’m still working on my double unders, but I am proud that I have improved a lot.  It’s starting to click for me, and I’m going to work on them a lot more — not becuase I have something to prove, but because they’re just kind of fun.

Did I just write double unders are fun?


The definition of ‘allstar’

Someone called me an “allstar” last week.

It’s the kind of comment I brush off because of modesty.   I believe I countered the comment with, “All the allstars left my class, so it only looks like I’m an allstar.”  I certainly don’t think of myself as an allstar.

But then, in the middle of my third WOD this past week, I was thinking about it, and I realized something.  Maybe being an allstar isn’t about being the one who always finishes first, or the only who loads the bar with the most weight or the one who does everything RX.  Maybe it’s about something else.

Maybe it’s about how hard you work.

I don’t think about it very much, because it’s just what I do and there’s nothing to think about as far as I’m concerned, but I do put a lot of effort into my time at the gym.  I push myself.  Sometimes I feel like I could have pushed myself harder, but what I do is no joke.

Take Tuesday:

“Mary D”
Thrusters (M 135# / W95#)
Weighted pullups (M 45# / W 24#)

Time: 14:02 @ 65# (2 purple bands for strict pullups)

Hard!  My arms were toasted after this one.  I was so tempted to bump down the weight or grab another band to make it easier, but I didn’t do it.  I stuck it out.

We celebrated my birthday on Thursday with 35 birthday burpees and a BRUTAL WOD.

Sumo Deadlift

Results: 135-145-155-160160

That damn butt muscle ACTED UP AGAIN!  The same one from when I was pregnant.  Grrrr!  I’m not sure I can blame it for scratching on those last two sets, but it certainly didn’t help.

12min AMRAP
2 wall walks
10 DB Muscle Snatch (M 55#/W 35#)
20 box jump

Results: 3 rounds + 2 walks + 10 DB snatch @ 30#

The bad: Wall walks.  I just couldn’t pull myself vertical.  I need to do this more.  A lot more.
The good: The 25# DB was too light!  I am so happy I was able to bump up to 30#!

Friday was the day I started thinking about what it means to be an allstar.  I had dropped into Big Mike’s class and the comment was made.  I felt a little uncomfortable, because it seems like everyone is so much stronger and faster than I am.

Bench Press

Results: 65-65-70-70-(ran out of time)

4 rounds
400m run
10 back squat (M 155# / W 110#)

Time: 15:19 @ 105#

This WOD seemed pretty straightforward when I read it, but 105# was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I really pushed myself on this WOD.  The cutoff was 15min, but Big Mike let me finish, and he coached me through to the end.

I think I screamed on the last 3.

Yeah, it was that painful.

I’m still feeling those squats today.  I’m glad for a rest week.  I’m walking around, but no WODs.  Alright, maybe a light run tomorrow with Andy if there’s time.  MAYBE an endurance WOD toward the end of the week.  But all in all, I’m taking a break.  My friends are doing a benchmark tomorrow, and I’ll be cheering them on from the sidelines.

Even allstars need to heal.

Swimsuit season is upon us

Where, oh where did the past year go?

It’s only the end of May, but every parent of a school age child (and school kids) knows that the end of school is here!  Summer camps will start up soon.  Vacations.  Lazy days by the pool.

OMG!  The pool?  Holy cow, Batman!  I need a swimsuit!

Duh, duh, duh…. DAHHHHHHHH.

SIGH.  It’s such a pain buying a swimsuit.  But I better head out this weekend to get one if I’m going to spend time with the kids at the pool.  They both have at least one swimsuit to get them through the summer.  Now it’s my turn.

I better lay off the sweets, I guess.

Fortunately I have a little muscle definition, even though my tummy still sticks out.  So at least I have THAT going for me.

See… THIS is why I get my butt out of bed at 4:30am twice a week — so I can wear a swimsuit.


Results: 134-145-155-165-175

Felt good!

AMRAP 12 min
6 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls (M 95# / W 65#)
9 Pushups (Crossfit games standard)
12 Box jumps

Results: 6 rounds + 6 SDLHP + 9 PU + 9 BJ RX

Almost finished 7 rounds — sooooooo close!

My Fight For Air (and busting out some WODs)

Saturday morning was the Fight For Air Climb.

I felt half-hearted about this event, since I didn’t know anyone else who was doing it and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.  But two people donated money for me to climb, including one of my best friends, so I kinda felt obligated to follow through.

It was actually chilly Saturday morning, and since there was a whole lot of standing around, it was kind of uncomfortable.  But the people on my team (whom I had never met) were really cool, and it made the time pass by much more quickly. My team (Relentless Boot Camp — which is run by Crossfit Central) led some warmups, and then we managed to get to the front of the line for the climb pretty quickly.  They let groups of 2 and 3 go up about every 2 minutes.  We started from the street level entrance to a stairwell in the Frost Bank Tower in downtown Austin.

I had been nervous that I would need to slow down or stop, but that turned out not to be necessary.  In fact, I was well-prepared for the climb without even training.  I took the first 10 or so flight two steps at a time, then I settled into a fast step-at-a-time climb most of the way — running a flight or two as I went.  I climbed 31 stories — about 60 flights of stairs — to the top.  It felt like it flew by.

I was feeling fine at the top — a little shaky in my legs, but otherwise OK.  At the bottom ( everyone took the elevator down), I felt some burning in my lungs, and I coughed a bit — which was the point.  You’re supposed to understand the challenges of breathing problems.

But when I got to the bottom I also realized I was supposed to pick up a chip timeer.  Which I hadn’t done.  D’oh.  No official time for me.  I could have kicked myself.  It was my first even where the chip was separate from the bib, so I didn’t even think about it.  Sucks.

I know I was done in under 10 minutes.  I estimate it was around 8 minutes.

Did I like this event?  Yes.  It was a little weird and running behind, but otherwise well organized and well planned.  I think I might do it again next year if they offer it.

I still wanted to do a WOD with Andy on Saturday, so we did a retest of on we did back on April 23.  I wrote about it here.  My goal was to beat my previous time, and I ended up blowing it out of the water.

3 rounds
200m Farmer carry (2-25# DBs)
25 Russian swings (1 pood KB)

Time 12:50

We started off the evening with some strength work.

Push Press 3-3-2-2-1

Results: 65-70-75-80-85

There wasn’t anything remarkable about my results — I did the exact same weights as last time.  Maybe next time I’ll do more.

Sunday morning I went for a run with Jenny for the first time in weeks.  It was so nice to be out on the trail again.  We had tons to catch up on, and we started off really strong.  But Jenny’s been sick, we wwe walked halfway around our usual loop.  No matter — the girl gossip time was well worth walking.

After I got home and had breakfast, Andy and I headed out to the backyard for a workout.  It was nice to exercise in some BEAUTFiUL weather.

We started with strength:

Overhead squat

Results: 50-55-60-65-70

I think that’s a PR for me!

Then we did another retest (it’s been a weekend of testing!).  And yet again — I blew my previous time/score out of the water.

AMRAP 12 min
3 Handstand pushups
6 Power clean (75#)
9 Box jumps

Results: 7 rounds + 3 HSPU + 6 Power cleans (compare to 3-31-11)

Wow — I guess I’m strong, because I certainly am not more rested.  Speaking of rest, I’m already up way too late.  I better get my butt to bed.  G’night!


I faced the bear complex Thursday morning.

Grizzly bear in forest from National Geographic

No, not that one.  This one:

Although it was almost just as bad.

For time:
1 bear complex
25 box jumps
2 BC, 25 BJ
3 BC, 25 BJ
4 BC, 25 BJ
5 BC, 25 BJ

We were supposed to do this before the WOD:


Instead, we spent the time figuring out what weight to use for the WOD.  If you watched the video above, you know that 1 bear complex is a set of 7 reps of the entire progression: deadlift/clean/thruster or front squat & push press/back squat and push press to ground.

I tried out 55#, and that was too easy.  Then I tried 65#, and I struggled to press the weight from my back.  So I settled on 60#.  It was challenging, and I could do more than 1.  Many of the girls used just the bar.  I wanted to push myself.


There’s a reason it’s named the bear complex.  My progression was squat clean to thruster to back squat to thruster and down.  I jumped on the box every time, and I felt more confident when I did it.

But the bear complex is an ugly beast.  Zach wasn’t there, and I heard much grousing around me (because I guess they thought they could get away with it).  A girl in front of me nearly threw up.  During my second round, I felt like I would never finish, and it was annoying me.  I asked Jeff where we were at for time, just so I would know how long it was taking me.  He told me to think of the WOD as more of a strength exercise, and I relaxed.  I focused on deep squats and extending my arms all the way at the top.  I minimized rests as much as possible.  I wanted to get as far as I could before time was called.

Jeff cut us off after 15 minutes.  I finished 2 rounds + 6 box jumps @ 60#.

Damn that bear.

Pushing outside your comfort zone

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection over the past few weeks on my comfort zone,  both at the gym and personally.  It’s amazing how fast you can go from pushing past your comfort zone to developing a new one.  And it’s frustrating how easily I can talk myself into staying in my comfort zone.

That’s why it’s good to have coaches and friends to push you.

Yes, I am more driven and motivated than many others, but I have learned I only push myself incrementally.  It takes a push from someone else to get me to go farther — whether it be a coach yelling at me or a friend encouraging (or competing with) me.

This morning I teetered in my comfort zone.

Back Squat

Results: 75-95-105-115-(ran out of time)

I should have tried to go heavier, but in my head I was thinking “I’m sore.  My max is 145#.  I’m sore.  Don’t push it.”  Our assistant coach, Jeff, did encourage us to go heavier. (I think his exact words were “weak sauce.”)  I shouldn’t have argued.

AMRAP 12 min
3 Handstand push ups
6 Power cleans (M 155# / W 105#)
9 Box jumps (M 24″ / W 20″)

I was slow.  And I’m disappointed in myself.  The average on the board was more than 6 rounds.  I finished 4 rounds + 3 HSPU + 3 cleans @ 75#.  That’s pretty pathetic.  As Stephanie accurately pointed out, my box jumps are suuuuuuppppppppeeeeeerrrrrr slow. The fear shows on my face, apparently.  And I took too long on the power cleans.  I did not need to rest as much as I did.

But here’s the positive (because you know me — there MUST be a silver lining): I pushed past my comfort zone on weight (although, maybe I should have pushed more).  At first I planned to do 65#.  But then the competitor in me decided to do 75# when I heard Zach tell Steph to do 105# and Suzette to do 75# or 95#.  I very nearly wimped out and pulled the weight off after my first round when I stalled and could not clean the weight after several tries.  But I persisted.  I did NOT want to wimp out.

I am not going to let this WOD defeat me.  I will revisit it again in 6 weeks on my own.  It’s written down on a post-it in my journal for May 11.  My goal is to add at least 2 rounds to my results.

I can do it.  I WILL push past my comfort zone.

No burpees. Please.

I did not want to do burpees today.

Or rather — I didn’t want to do them during the warmup as a punishment.

Zach wants us to bring our workout logs to class, and he threatened us with burpees if just one person forgot.  It was bound to happen — I mean, no one’s perfect.  And so on Tuesday morning, we skipped our usual warmup for 40 burpees.

And then someone wasn’t doing them right.  And I guess he didn’t listen to Zach when it was pointed out because that’s when Zach got mad.  And then we had to do 50.  And then 60.  And by the end of that ordeal most everyone was pretty ticked off and worn out.

So this morning, log book in had, I was prepared to tell anyone who didn’t show up with their book to turn around and go home.  But as a testament to how awesome the people in my class are — 100% compliance!  Yay!

Too bad there were burpees in the WOD.

I guess I should start with the strength component.

Sumo Deadlift

Note: This is not a high pull — just a deadlift.  As Zach and Jeff showed us, the legs are wide, the grip narrow.  And Zach said it’s possible to lift more in the sumo form than you usually can on a deadlift.  My buds and I shared a bar and this is what my results were:


Yep — just 5 pounds apparently made the difference between success and a scratch.  It was weird.  Maybe I was distracted or tired or both.  I also felt distracted and tired during the WOD, and it showed in my time.

3 rounds (12 min cutoff)
25 Box jumps
20 Thrusters (M 75 / W 55)
15 burpees

Sadly, I only made it into round 2 before time was called — I finished 1 round + 25 box jumps + 15 thrusters.  But I did it RX!  The thrusters slowed me down a lot as well as the box jumps, but it was important to me to do the RX move rather than scaling just so I could go fast.

That’s how you get stronger, baby!