Week 1 of challenge complete (7 more to go)

The first week of my gym’s Crossfit Challenge is officially complete, and fortunately I was able to fit in all three extra workouts, plus not slip up on my nutrition.

Olympic Lifting workout
This was my OIlympic Lifting workout on Wednesday, Jan 16.

It was dicey, though. I woke up Monday morning and imagined I heard rain outside, so I didn’t do the first extra WOD when I had planned it. Zach rolled his eyes when I told him and gave me one of those incredulous looks like,”you are so full of excuses.”

And while most of the time I try not to come up with excuses, he was probably dead on in that case. And many others this week. I just didn’t want to be cold. It wasn’t until Friday morning that I pulled it together to actually do an early AM WOD on my own.

Crossfit WOD on the whiteboard
The whiteboard at Crossfit on Thursday, Jan 17.

I guess there’s a reason why I go to CLASSES. I’m less likely to flake out.

Today I had planned to do the Austin Gorilla Run, a 5K that benefits mountain gorilla conservation. That would have coincided nicely with this week’s endurance WOD, which was a 1, 2 or 3 mile run for time. Unfortunately, it conflicted with the Beekeeping class Andy bought me for Christmas, and beekeeping won out, Oh well — at least I’ll have the gorilla suit for next year.

Instead, I ran 2 miles in my neighborhood. I probably should have run 3, but the instructions said you should only choose the 3 miles if you have a 9 min mile and can run 3 in under 27 minutes. I wasn’t sure I could.

Turns out I may have been able to. Time: 17:48.

I definitely need some new music. The playlist on my phone is atrocious.

Afterward, I hung out with the kids while they rode their bike and trike up and down the sidewalk in front of our house. It’s so cool watching their progress. Both of them have gone from not being able to pedal or steer to zipping up and down the sidewalk with ease — within weeks!

Spartan Challenge: My first 300 workout

I’m sore all over and very happy the 2012 Spartan Challenge is behind me, because that workout was one of the most brutal I’ve ever done.

This was the sixth year my gym has done the Spartan Challenge, which is traditionally the 300 workout. This year they threw in a twist — Crossfit Total.

I showed up feeling subdued and my voice still on the fritz from laryngitis. I entered the Scaled-Women division. I actually felt a little embarrassed that I was one of only two in my division. Was I really the only woman in my gym competing who needed to scale some of the movements?

I was also nervous about the Total. We were supposed to find out max weight in the Back Squat, Shoulder Press and Deadlift within a 10 minute window. It was our responsibility to warmup as needed before our heat. I was in one of the last heats, so I waited around a while until warming up. In fact, I took advantage of the massage therapist they brought in, and I had her work on my shoulders while I waited.

I didn’t talk to many people. I tend to keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open in unfamiliar situations or when I’m nervous. I overheard one girls saying that this would be the first your she was competing RX and she wasn’t sure how she was going to do. My nervousness intensified.

About 30 minutes before my heat, I started warming up. I ran, did some kettlebell swings and presses, and then I found a warm up rack and started putting weight on the bar. I didn’t want to wear myself out, but I wanted to be warm. I tried to strategize and decide what my opening weight would be.

My assistant coach Aaron was my judge, and I felt encouraged. Unfortunately, being sick all weak didn’t help my numbers. I came in well under what I expected in both the back squat and deadlift.

Back squat: 135
Shoulder Press: 65
Deadlift: 165

I had plenty of time between Total and my heat for the 300 workout, and I got to see some really amazing athletes take it on — and it pounded them. I overheard a lot of people talking about it after their heat.  The consensus: the 300 is brutal.

25 Pullups
50 Deadlift (M 135# / W 95# – Scaled M 95# / Scaled W 65#)
50 Pushups
50 Box jumps

Andy shot some video of me during my heat. I flew threw the pullups and deadlifts. The box jumps were a lot slower. The floor wipers murdered me.

I had to break the floor wipers into sets of 5 pretty early on. I remember looking up at my judge, Christine — who had her hand on the bar only to stabilize it and grab it if I dropped it — and saying in a pathetic and pleading voice, “This is the last set, right?”

“Yes, it’s the last set.”

The floor wipers took most of my time. I only had a minute or less by the time I finished. I picked up the kettlebell as fast as I could and did about 8 clean and press.


Andy was right behind me. I signed the competition sheet and literally fell into him, exhausted. My parents and cousins were on the side. I went to them and fell into my mom. I think if they hadn’t been there I would have collapsed on the ground. It took about 20 minutes to stop feeling like I needed to throw up.

Oh yeah. Good times.

But still. There’s something about Crossfit. It’s always dangling a challenge out in front of you — there’s always something to work on. I’d love to be able to do that workout RX. I’d love if next year I could be banging out pullups without a band. Or maybe the floor wipers won’t take so long.

There’s always a next time.

Iron Belle Challenge 2011

Ready to rumbleI remember feeling envious of all the women who competed in the 2010 Crossfit Central Women’s Challenge.  I was very pregnant, and participating in an event like the women’s challenge was not something I could do.

So when the women’s challenge rolled around this year, I leaped at the opportunity to participate.  I was not disappointed.

This year, they called it the Iron Belle Challenge (The T-shirt is awesome).

My teammates were Beth and Stephanie.  We know each other so well, that when we worked up our tactics for the challenge Friday evening, it was quick and efficient.  The key to team competitions is effective communication, they told us Friday night. I think we did a really good job of doing that.

The challenge started Saturday morning at the Shoal Creek Hike & Bike trail near 34th Street in Central Austin.  We showed up in our matching team outfits: yellow tanks, gray shorts, black bandanas.  We participated in the “fun” division, which was the same workout at lower weights, because none of us can do a strict pull up.  (Honestly, I’m kind of relieved.  Some of the weights in the competitive category were right at my max, so I would have been extremely difficult for me.)

2 mile run
with 2 stops:
100 KB swings (Competitive 16kg / Fun 12kg) /
100 MB passes (6#) & 50 burpees

The swings, passes and burpees were all cake for me.  The run was more difficult.  But as much as I wanted to stop, I kept at it.  I mean, really, it was only 2 miles. Should have been easy.  It wasn’t.

We finished under the 30 min cutoff at 27:16, and I am thrilled with that.

The second WOD was a deadlift ladder.  Only one member of our team could do it, so we chose our strongest lifter: Stephanie.  The weight started at 105 and advanced by 10# all the way to 200#, and on the last set you lifted as many times as possible.

Steph set a PR, by the way.  It was awesome.

3 rounds
20 DB Push Press (C 25# / F 15#)
20 Box Jumps
20 squat cleans (C 85# / F 55#)
20 pullups (C unassisted / F jumping from box)
3 butcher pushes sidewalk to sidewalk (C 90# added / F 50# added)

This was the WOD where we really communicated the best.  We had a plan, but we were so good at watching to see who was getting tired and who was almost done, that we were able to change out on the fly — exercises AND people.


Did we win?  No. How did we compare? We were top half or third on everything.  Stephanie reminded me that no matter how you do, you should be grateful for the opportunity to be there.  And you know what?  I’m so glad I was there.

A huge congrats to the winners, many of who I know and consider friends. It was an honor to be around such strong women today, and an honor to have Beth and Stephanie as my teammates.

I can’t wait until the next adventure.

My body comp and a WOD

Remember that body comp I mentioned in my last post?  (Here’s a refresher in case you missed it.)  I’m happy to say the results were positive.

I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me right now, but I remember the highlights.

Weight: Lost 6lbs
Body Fat: Lost 5%
Inches: Lost many places — most dramatic loss was in the hips
Gained inches in my shoulders

(Here’s where I started.)

I’ll blog my exact numbers when I get a copy of the assessment.  All in all, I’m really happy with my results.

I’m going to take a few days to look at everything from this challenge — body composition, strength, speed, nutrition — and set new goals.  It doesn’t end here.  And I don’t plan on waiting for another formal challenge to start going for them.

In the meantime, I have just a couple more days left in the I AM CROSSFIT EPOC Challenge.  On Wednesday, Steph, Beth and I got together for our last strength and met-cons.

3 x 16 weighted lunges (Dumbbells M 45# / W 30#)

I used a 65# bar for the first set of 16, then switched with Beth and used 30# DBs for the last 2 sets.  I had trouble getting my knee to the ground.  These were very hard.

Then it was WOD time.  Beth decided to do the one I did on Tuesday, Steph decided to sit out and cheer us on because she’s taking Zach’s Oly Lifting class, and I did this:

3 rounds
20 squats
20 burpees
400m run

Ugh.  This was really hard.  Andy reminded me as I was in the middle of it that they were the last burpees of the challenge, and they all cheered me on as I struggled through rounds 2 and 3.  It felt really good to have such support, and I don’t think I would have done as well as I did if I didn’t have my cheerleaders.

Time: 13:25

I’m pretty sure this WOD and the lunges affected my performance on Thursday morning.  But more on that in my next post.

Run, then run more

I’ve never run 6 miles before.

I’m going to do it in just a few weeks.  For time.

This year I signed up to run the Capitol 10,000 — commonly known as the Cap10K.  I had been planning to do it it last year, but pregnancy, and the torture of running kinda put a stop to it.

But now that running is no longer torturous, Jenny and I are going to run — and get a qualifying time.

I’ve only been running 5K distances, so Jenny and I decided we better start adding miles.  I met her at our usual spot on the hike and bike trail very early Sunday morning for a run.  This week we ran the loop between the South First Street bridge and the MoPac bridge — a total of 4.2 miles.

We stopped at both water stations, and I wish I had been timing us, because I don’t know how much time it took us to run that distance.  I’m guessing 45 minutes.  Next week I’ll use my stop watch.

But the big news of the day was the OTHER run I did — about 8 hours later.  I wanted to rest Monday, so I knocked off my LAST endurance workout of the challenge Sunday evening.

Run 2 miles for time

OK — this was it!  A test to see how far I’ve come in 8 weeks!  I did this same WOD the first week of the challenge.  And I ran 2 miles for time again in the Army PT WOD in week 3.  Could I beat my time?

I ran the same route through the neighborhood, and — drumroll, please! — a PR!

Time: 17:43
Average pace: 8:48 min/mil

There is no doubt that I have gotten faster over the course of this challenge.  As I was celebrating, Andy said, “Now you just need to shoot for 400m in 90sec.”

Yes, Andy, but I’m going to enjoy my success for a few days before pushing toward the next goal.

SINS Challenge and my goals

Stronger, faster, leaner.

Those words have been echoing in my head for the past 7 weeks.  Probably longer.

What do I want this year?  To be stronger.  To be faster.  To be leaner.

Seven weeks ago I set a number of goals for Crossfit Central’s I Am Crossfit Challenge.  I’ve reached a few, and while there is only one week left in the challenge — and I may not reach all of them — I WILL reach my goals at some point in the near future.

After all, they’re MY goals.  And MY quest to be stronger, faster, leaner does not end with this challenge.  I already have plans to do as many challenges as I can that my Crossfit gym offers, but what do I do until then?

I will rest up for a couple of weeks.  Let loose a little.  Have some wine.  But my goals will continue to be in the back of my head.

For several days now, I’ve contemplated joining the Strong is the New Skinny Challenge.  And I have finally decided to jump in.  I already blog about my workouts, food and goals — so why not continue to hold myself accountable?

I realize that my story of transformation from this point on my not be as dramatic as others.  I don’t have much weight to lose.  I have gained strength and endurance.  But many of my friends don’t realize how far I’ve come.  I decided to pull out a few old pictures to give you an idea of how much I have changed.

Cindy poses in front of the St. Paul skyline in 1997 or 1998.I can’t remember whether this was 1997 or 1998.  Andy and I were in Red Wing, Minnesota for a wedding, and we trekked up to St. Paul for the day.  It seems like I’m looking at a totally different person.

Close up of a young CindyI was 20 or 21 when this was taken very early in my relationship with Andy.  I was still in college, because I recognize the balcony.

Andy and Cindy dress up for dinner in 1996Wow.

I hope my sense of style has changed as much as my weight and appearance.  And yes, that is Andy.  This was the summer of 1996.  Nearly 15 years ago.  That is one chunk o’ love.

There are so many more.  Andy and I were laughing at all of the old photos last night as I tried to pick out the ones to display in this blog.  They are pretty hilarious.

Needless to say, I’ve come a long way:

Cindy holds the barbell at the top of a hang power cleanBut I’m not satisfied with just looking skinny.  I want to be strong.  I want to feel lean.  And I want to run fast.

And with I AM coming to a close, the next week is a great time to reassess my goals and set some new ones.  In the meantime, I’m going to finish this challenge out strong.  I’m still practicing my handstands and pushups.  My shoulder press goal will be tested on Tuesday morning during Crossfit Total.  And I can celebrate what I’ve already accomplished — pushups on my toes, jumping on the box, and running 400m in under 2 minutes — consistently!

I will be strong enough to write RX on the board next to my name most of the time.

I will be an athlete.



Wait — why does this seem early?

Why is it that 5:30am on Tuesdays and Thursday seem absolutely normal, but 6am on Monday seems soooooo early?

Beth and I were wondering that very question as we met at Murchison Middle School’s track for our weekly endurance WOD on Monday.

It was dark, but not too dark.  And we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of it.  There were a few other folks out for a track workout.

I misread our workout when I first read it on Friday.  On Friday, it seemed simple.  easy.  On Monday, I realized it was not.

2 x 800m (rest 4 min in between)
2 x 600m (rest 3 min in between)
3 x 400m (rest 2 min in between)
3 x 100m (rest 1 min in between)

I’m so proud of myself for meeting my running goals for this challenge.  I’m managed to increase my speed and remain fairly consistent.  In fact, Andy asked me Tuesday morning whether I would be keeping my current workout schedule and if he could do it with me.  I told him yeah — and that a weekly endurance WOD would be part of it.

He didn’t look so thrilled with that statement.

But I digress.  Here are my times: 4:10 / 4:02 / 3:02 / 3:02 / 1:50 / 1:50 / 1:50 / 24sec / 25sec / 27sec

“Air Force WOD”

When I lived in Nashville, I used to meet my friend Steve in the mornings to skate hills in Brentwood, which is a suburb just south of the city.

I was a flake.

If it was cold or I had had a particularly rough shift on the morning show, I would call and cancel.  Steve was good-natured about it.  He used to say, “This ain’t the Army.”

I thought about that when I decided to get up early Saturday and do this WOD, because I knew there wouldn’t be time later in the day.  Partly because of the name, and partly because of how I don think I can be described as a flake any longer.

“Air Force WOD”
5 burpees
20 thrusters
20 sumo deadlift high pull
5 burpees
20 push press
20 overhead squat
5 burpees
20 front squats

Time: 9:54 @ 20#

This one was really hard.  I know my form was terrible on the overhead squats.  But I remember doing this one last year and I couldn’t even hold both dumbbells over my head.  So there ya go — progress.

Even if it isn’t the Army.

I suck at jumping

Not one day after jumping on the box and feeling so proud of myself, I was faced with yet another jumping exercise, which proved to be… well… pretty sucky.

There’s no other word for it.


The last home challenge WOD of the week was this one:

4 rounds
25 double-unders or bell hops
25 swings
10 burpees
25 sit ups
25 walking lunges

I can’t yet reliably get more and one or two double-unders (if that), so I chose bell hops and they were pretty pathetic.  I jumped over a med ball, since it’s about the same height as a kettlebell.  And as I jumped, my feet spread out around the ball.


That’s not how it’s done.  And it was even worse when I jumped backward to the start position.  Talk about slowing me down!

Still, while my form was simply non-existent, it was good jumping practice.

Time: 21:44 @ 30#

We also did a strength component — deadlifts!  And I honestly felt stronger than last time, even though I stayed close to the same weight.


Results: 95-115-125-135-150

I really should have looked back at my journal and planned to go a little heavier.  Afterall — that’s the only way I’m going to get stronger.

My elusive pull up

I really considered somehow tying this post to Valentine’s Day, but try as I might, I just can’t bring myself to publish any of the following titles.

  • An ode to pull ups
  • Oh pull ups, how do I love thee?
  • My love – the pull up

It just gets campier from there.

I wish that the pull up was something my husband could give me — all tied up beautifully in a little box — but it isn’t.  It’s something I have to give myself… AND I have to work for it.

I haven’t been doing as much pull up practice as the other stuff.  It’s been so cold that I haven’t wanted to go outside and jump on the bar.  But starting Saturday, I refocused on my goal — an unassisted pull up.  The above photo was taken at the end of a skills session for challenge participants.  Among the items we worked on — pull ups.

I really wanted to get my first one there at the skills session.  And I’m just a few inches away.  But no pull up.

Awww… sad.

I felt discouraged the rest of the day, which no doubt contributed to my major meltdown Saturday afternoon.

I’ve been working toward an unassisted pull up for the past two years.  TWO YEARS!  OK, OK — so pregnancy set me back a little.  But I’m back to where I was pre-pregnancy, and I’m ready!

There are less than 3 weeks left in this challenge.  I’m going to focus on pull ups and handstands.  Maybe one day I’ll get pull ups like this: