Revisiting “Griff” with legs of lead

I wonder what it is about “Griff” that makes my Crossfit class so… well… empty.

We revisited the hero WOD this morning.  We did this workout in early July, and there were only 5 people in class then. This morning? 6.  And only three of us were repeating the benchmark, including me and Steph.

There were quite a few differences between today and early July, including my time, which was slower.

800m run
400m backwards run
800m run
400m backwards run

Time: 16:33

I was more than 1 1/2 minutes slower this morning than I was right after vacation. But I wasn’t the only one.  I’m not going to say I’m not slower in general; however, it really wasn’t the SAME workout.  The lead-up was different.

In July, we warmed up and then did two different mobility exercises to open up our hips and grease our legs.

This morning, we did a 5 min AMRAP:

’10 staggered pushups
10 staggered pushups
20 situps
20 squats
(I finished 2 rounds + the pushups)

Plus, the run was different this morning.  Instead of running into the neighborhood backwards, we ran around the sidewalk to AutoZone and back, which was a bit more technical.  Plus, we had to run up and around the big storage container.  We didn’t have to do that last time.

So even though I felt a little stronger and springier — especially on the backwards runs — I was slower.

Oh well.  Andy is right — it’s hard to compare when the conditions are so different and you’re not running on a track.

We followed up the WOD with 2 rounds of max pullups.  I got 10 the first round and 11 the second with 2 purple bands.  TOUGH!

Maybe I should not worry about comparing past and present workouts for a while.  This morning, Jeff reminded us that “Griff” was a benchmark, and we should try to beat our previous time.

“Don’t put pressure on me!” I told him.

I’ve been so focused on improving lately and so disappointed with what I’ve been doing that I’ve been mentally placing roadblocks in front of myself.  I just need to focus on each workout, do my best, and not worry about how I did before.

I’ve changed the routine.  I’ve tightened my nutrition. I’ve set goals.  I’m actually working on them. Improvement will come with time. It’s up to me to be patient.

Handling failure

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
— Winston Churchill

How do you handle failure?

Be honest with yourself.  No one is listening.

How do you handle it?  Do you get mad at yourself?  Do you gloss over it and try to be positive?  Do you give up?  Or do you turn your failure into a success?

One of the things I have learned as part of being a parent is that feelings are OK.  Mine AND my child’s.  I don’t tell Luke or Mads not to cry.  I don’t tell them not to be angry.  Because that’s stupid. They’re upset.  They’re scared.  Feelings happen. What is important is to acknowledge their feelings.  Let them REALLY feel them.  Otherwise, how can they possible learn to handle them as adults?

It’s important not just to do that for children, but also ourselves.  It’s stupid to gloss over feelings of frustration when we fail just because some self-help book told us we have to stay positive.  Yes — positive attitudes count, but embracing our initial feelings is incredibly important so we CAN move on to being positive.

Where am I going with this ramble?  My perceived failure this morning on Part 2 of Crossfit Total.

Shoulder Press

Shoulder Press — 60-6565
Deadlift — 155-175-195

I’m not happy with how I did.  My shoulder press goal was 80#.  My max is 70#.  And I couldn’t even lift 65#.  (Here’s how I did last time.)

I’m less disturbed by the deadlift.  I had further to go with that after pregnancy.  But my max last year was 185#.  I wanted to return there, and even beat it.  It’s true that I deadlifted more this time than last time, but it still feels like failure.

Here’s what’s going to happen.  I’m going to think about my lifts this morning — probably for the rest of the day.  There may be some pouting involved.  There may even be some excuse-making (“I was tired.”  “It was a bad day.”  “I did a tough workout Wednesday.”).  I’m going to embrace my feelings of failure.

And then, I’m going to let them go.

I will set new goals.  I will add more lifting into my workout schedule with Andy.  I will not shy away from my failure.  I will remember how it made me feel and I will turn it into success.

Feelings are fleeting.  Drive pushes us forward.  Accept what you feel, but don’t let that distract you from your path.

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.

Getting dirty at UTB

There is one thing certain about my gym’s free boot camp workouts — you’re going to get dirty.

Just about every month, Crossfit Central hosts free workouts at their two indoor facilities and one boot camp-style workout under the bridge along the Town Lake hike and bike trail.  They call it UTB, and since current clients DON’T have to bring a friend to UTB, it’s a great way to fit in an extra workout.

Four members of my I AM team showed up Saturday morning for the February UTB, including me.  There was a chill in the air, but I knew I’d get warm fast, so I threw my white jacket next to a pillar and took my place behind one of the dozens of medicine balls that had been laid out in rows.

Just to give you an idea of the locale — it’s right by the lake, in the dirt and grass, under the pedestrian bridge that goes across the lake under the MoPac bridge.  It’s loud from all of the highway noise, but a prime location to be SEEN by the hundreds of runners and walkers that pass by during just that hour.

And it’s a great way to get dirty.

I had leaves and dirt all over my clothes after just the warmup.

The coaches had us do all sorts of stuff — from jumps to around-the-worlds with a partner to something that I can only describe as team plank holds and duck-duck-goose.  The real meat of the hour was this:

For 1 min, 45sec, 30sec do the following with 1 min rest in between rounds:
Wall ball shots
Med ball wood choppers
Shoulder press with kettlebell

When I say we got dirty — I mean it.  The med balls were covered in sand, and the sand would fall in your face for the wall balls.  And of course, my pants were covered in leaves and dirt from the push ups.

After we were done, I met Andy and the kids for a trade off.  Andy took Luke to a birthday party at the nearby Austin Science and Nature Center and Mads and I took off for the Farmer’s Market where we picked up eggs, grass-fed beef, mushrooms, liverwurst, kohlrabi and collards, and a cup of coffee for me.

Talk about an excellent Saturday morning.  Too bad I was too pooped from UTB to get in a home workout that I had planned to take care of for the challenge.

Ah well….

A WOD ‘sandwich’

I had a feeling Wednesday evening as we chose the workout with the 800m runs that, somehow, the fates would get together to make me run 800s again on Thursday morning.

Afterall, it’s been a week of running 800s.  Why stop now?

And damned if I wasn’t right!

For time:
800m run
30 pull ups
30 R-armed DB Thruster (M 35# / W 25#)
30 L-armed DB Thruster
30 pull ups
800m run

Zach, who was in a particularly peppy mood Thursday (what the hell was that about?!), described the WOD as a kind of sandwich.  The 800s were the bread; the first set of pull ups was the lettuce; the thrusters were the bread and cheese; and the other set of pull ups was the condiments.

Someone pointed out that we don’t eat bread, so Zach told us it was Whataburger and we had just been at the bars, drinking.  Oooo—kaaaaay.

Despite my attempt to sleep more the previous night, I had been foiled, and I was still really tired.  I got off to a slow start on the run, and by the time I got back someone had taken my pull up spot.

“Dude!”  I yelled.  The thief explained there weren’t enough pull up stations, but he moved anyway.  And I finally got started.

Someone also took my dumbbell, but Zach quickly pointed me toward another one.  I used the RX weight, and we were not allowed to switch arms.

Our assistant coach pointed out how I was losing form and getting inefficient with the move, and suggested I work on keeping my core tight.  I always laugh when people say stuff like that to me, considering how weak my abs are still, but I always try.

Anyway, this WOD was brutal, but I pushed through.

Time: 20:38

It wasn’t RX because I’m still using a band for pull ups.  One day.  One day.

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:

Sometimes you beat it. Sometimes it beats you.

Sitting on my back porch this afternoon, with almost hot sunlight glaring in my eyes, I sunk my head between my knees… and bawled.

I had just screamed at my husband, son and daughter to leave me alone.  Now I was not-so-quietly sobbing and throwing a quite fancy pity-party.

Crying is something I don’t like anyone in my life to see me do.  And here I was, reduced to tears by a workout.  Specifically: man makers.

This gem of an exercise combines 4 very difficult movements all into one: a dumbbell push up, dumbbell row on each side, squat clean and thruster.

I’m not sure why I chose this of all of the workouts to do this week.  It was the hardest for me by far.  And I chose 20# dumbbells — 5 pounds under the elite weight.

By the time of my meltdown, I had already started over once. I had gotten to 5 when I heard the baby screaming inside.  Andy was taking care of her, but frustration with the man makers and the frequency of a scream that moms cannot ignore made me stop to go inside.

I started over.  This time I was at 15 when Andy and the kids came outside to cheer me on.  And that’s when I lost it.

Now here I was, faced with choices.  Continue on like I had never stopped?  Give up entirely and do a different workout?  Or start over again?

I finally pulled myself together.  I was so tempted to quit.  To go get my 15# dumbbells.  To go on, starting at 16.

I moved my towel, water bottle, stopwatch and dumbbells to another part of the yard, out of the sun.  I looked at the clock.  And I hit reset. I made my decision.

Start over.

I counted down this time instead of up.  Every 5 man makers, I stopped to gasp for breath.  I tried not to focus on how much I hated what I was doing.  I just wanted it to be over.

40 man makers for time

Time: 14:40

When it was over, I didn’t feel elation.  Discouragement.  And I was ashamed by my breakdown.

I felt weak.  Like I had been beaten.  I had finished, but it felt like a hollow victory.

There’s a reason they’re called man makers.