It’s pretty hard to live in Chicago and not start to have a dire image of the educational system as a whole, and as much as I hate to say it, a dire picture of the direction of our young people. All day everyday in newspapers and on the news are stories of violence, failing schools, teacher strikes, school closings…the list could go on.
It’s against this back drop that I had an incredibly inspiring experience visiting Bulls College Prep a couple of weeks ago. Bulls College Prep is a charter school and is part of The Noble Network of Charter Schools. This is an organization that’s made huge strides in getting kids on the college track educationally, and is approaching nearly 100% acceptance rate to 4 year colleges and universities for it’s students. As we all know, nutrition and fitness also play a huge role in our personal development and go a long way towards a healthy community. Bulls College Prep goes beyond only academic preparation, and that is how I ended up visiting the school.
Bulls College Prep has implemented a CrossFit program into their curriculum. Long story short, I heard that CrossFit Kids Headquarters was sending a representative to the school and I asked if I could tag along. I’m so glad I did. These kids absolutely blew me away, as did their teachers and administration who have put this program together. First of all, I literally did not see one child with a bad attitude or giving less than there all. We’re talking about 9-12th graders here people, the population most known for their attitudes. Not a single eye roll or lazy squat. These are the same black and brown “inner city” kids that are often expected to fail. I didn’t see any failures in that group. These kids were incredibly disciplined, enthusiastic, hard working and, in true CrossFit fashion, nconditionally supportive of one another. I’ll admit it, these kids made me tear up, I was so proud for them!
It seems that the Bulls College Prep staff is doing something unique here. Again, the enthusiasm and commitment was abundantly clear. The athletic director at the school trains at a local Chicago Area CrossFit, and multiple Bulls College Prep staff members are CF Kids Certified. CF Kids HQ is working with The Noble Network to continue to certify staff and spread the program throughout the network. Again, true to CrossFit form, Bulls College Prep tracks and measures student progress in fitness, and is gathering data that could lead to more support for such programs. Part of the reason I find this school’s work so exciting is the implications for similar programs in other locations in the future.
As it stands, Bulls College Prep is in need of financial and equipment resources. The classes I observed completed a great, but modified “Fran” (no pull up rig, limited barbells and plates), as well as some gymnastics work. They don’t have kettlebells, wallballs, mats, etc.
What they do have is a highly committed staff who have put together a fundraiser event:
“Barbells for Bulls”
When: Friday, May 24th 6:00-9:00pm
Where: Division Ale House, 1942 W. Division, Chicago, IL
Ahhhh, I’m so excited the Open is over! Oddly, it’s a really fun five weeks yet also gets kind of irritating. The weekly cycle of anticipation, strategizing, leaderboarding and the like gets to be a bit much. I’m really proud to say that my team, CrossFit Construct has qualified to the North Central Regional competition, in addition to myself and one other woman competing as individuals for Construct. As for my own individual performance, I’m ok with how things went. I did see some improvement in my standing both in the region (went from 6th in 2012 to 2nd this year) and worldwide (93rd in 2012 to 27th in 2013). I know, I know, the Open doesn’t matter. This is the constant refrain. I agree to a point, doing poorly or doing well in the Open doesn’t predict your performance in the next stages of competition. However, for me it was important to make some improvements on these Open-style workouts. Many people assume that the Regionals and Games will be progressively heavier. I learned the hard way at last years Games that if you want to be successful in this sport you can’t sit back and make assumptions about what kind of programming you will see. Forget your wheelhouse. Forget your body type. Strive to be good at everything, that’s what our sport is all about.
Enough with the Open! Its conclusion brought about something else I was excited about: a de-load week in my training. This week I saw much lower volume of lifts, conditioning pieces were shorter and fewer in number, some longer duration swimming, as well as testing lifts and benchmarks. For many involved in fitness, and some competitive athletes this type of de-load period is hard to handle. What am I talking about, many people can’t even stand to take a rest day, much less a de-load week! I see many CrossFitters with the training mentality that more is more. For me, higher quality is more. Higher intensity is more. In my training program, rest and de-loading is essential, and this approach has helped me stay healthy (knock on wood), maintain motivation, continue to see gains and peak at the right times. More importantly, taking appropriate rest allows for better life balance. In my schedule, one day per week is typically a total rest day- the only activity being running around at the park or the zoo. Maybe rolling out, but essentially it’s devoted to physical and mental restoration and family time. Come on guys, it’s ok. Even God rested.
This week has afforded me the opportunity to head into one of the most critical and fun training periods of the year feeling healthy, refreshed and eager to train hard. I will be soaking in the next four weeks of all out training before the Regional workouts are announced, at which point some of the focus will shift for those specific wods. I love this time of year because it’s incredibly easy to maintain focus and motivation. I actually can’t believe how quickly Regionals and Games time are approaching. So much work to do…and plenty of rest!
Ok, I sort of love it. We’re in the heat of week four of the CrossFit Games Open. It’s my third year competing in this, the first qualifying stage to the CrossFit Games final to be held in July. For some percentage of people, the main objective of the Open is to progress to Regionals. It also represents much more than that, and I think for each individual it means different things. It has meant something different to me each year I have participated. At this point for me it is a test of ego strength as much as muscular or conditioning strength. I am pretty solidly capable of qualifying to Regionals. However, the Open format is not the part of Games season where I tend to excel the most. I love the Open for a number of reasons, but crushing the leaderboard isn’t one of them.
These photos represent some of the events I have won at the Regional and Games level during my two seasons competing in CrossFit (I could also make a gigantic collage of events on which I completely ate it, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now! Bonus points to anyone who can name the events above). I have never once so much as sniffed a win in the Open, not even within my Region. I think it has to do with the things such as the type of programming, the competition format, how my training cycles coincide with the Open…and also my skill set. I was once told, “it’s amazing how good you are, considering how much you suck.” Ha. Whatever the reason, I don’t feel as relevant a competitor in this phase, and that’s challenging for me as an athlete. In any case, this year I’ve actually been able to embrace my own personal victories in spite of the leaderboard (and without completely avoiding the leaderboard as I did last year). One specific example is 13.1. Scoring 194, I wasn’t thrilled with my number, but I was happy with my work- smooth, controlled, quality movement throughout the piece. Possibly too controlled, but this is in contrast to 12.2 where I spazzed out, moved with egregious lack of proficiency, and I’m pretty sure steam started coming out of my ears at some point. The programming for this year’s Open has provided a good opportunity to assess personal progress, which is has been really fun. Besides focusing on my personal progress, I manage the Open by adopting the Usain Bolt mentality:
“Even if I lose every race up to the Olympics it doesn’t matter because I know that I have one focus- and that is to go to the Olympics and do great things.”- Usain Bolt
The part of the Open I do enjoy is the community aspect and sharing the experience with my gym. In an epic performance, one of the girls at our gym completed her second muscle up ever during 13.3. She made a couple of failed attempts, and in the closing seconds she pulled out the most hard fought, grind it out, struggle for every inch muscle up I’ve ever seen! So awesome. We had another girl who did one muscle up last year, set a goal of five, and ended up doing ten muscle ups. For the record, if the people in the room lean in the appropriate direction, you can help a person get through the transition.
Amidst all the extra drama that has accompanied the exponential growth of the Open, these victories by hard working athletes are what I would rather focus on. Two more and on to Regionals!
I’m incredibly excited, humbled and honored to announce that I am the newest member of Team MDUSA. Team MDUSA began as a group of top U.S. weightlifters who have been selected by coaching great Glenn Pendlay to train full time in hopes of competing for the United States on World and Olympic teams. I have the privledge of being the first non-weightlifting (as primary sport) athlete to join their ranks. This is a such an honor for me, both as a person and as an athlete. More details to come, but I couldn’t wait to share this news with those who have been following and supporting me. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to join the Team MDUSA family!
There’s this insidious thing that won’t seem to go away, and it is the incessant chatter about athletic women’s bodies- is it ok for women to have muscles? Is strong really better than skinny? I don’t know if men are the main perpetrators or if it’s mostly us doing this to each other (let’s blame the men, that’s more fun). Either way, it’s apparent that certain forces are less than enthusiastic about the fairer sex being yoked. Don’t be scared, everything is going to be ok, even if us gals get barbells in our hands. I usually chalk the negativity up to mostly internet trolls- a subsect of the population I find it best to ignore. Frankly, I just don’t like giving life to the subject by discussing it further. I don’t feel the need to defend my choices for my body, or encourage others to choose the same path I have. Some see fit to inundate the inter-webs with articles and memes trying to dispel the myth that weight training makes women bulky, that strong is in fact superior to other ways of being, and working to assuage women’s fears that if they pick up a barbell their feminine curves will combust into a manly, hard body. Fears. Fears? Somehow, with everything going on in the world, development of strength, muscle and physical competency has become something that has risen to the status of being fear-worthy. I mean, what are these crazy girls going to do next, try to grow beards!? (Not likely because beards are vile and germ infested. If you don’t know about this you must read The Twits.)
But I digress. A couple of recent events transpired that sparked my interest in this subject. My opinion on the matter, like anyone elses of course, is shaped by my experiences. I grew up as a gymnast- a sport that produces strong, muscular athletes. I grew up with a strong mother. She was not an athlete, but she was strong as a horse in my child’s eye view. She always worked two, usually three jobs (often physical ones) to support us. My mother consistently encouraged my sister and I in our athletic endeavors and frankly, I felt that I was expected to be an athlete. I don’t remember her ever being sick and I only saw her cry once, when I was ten years old and her grandmother died. The problems explored in The Feminine Mystique did not exist in our house. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, in many ways I feel I was freed from the confines of stereotypical notions of femininity. I’ve always included strength as a completely normal characteristic for a woman. When I think of the ultimate woman, being able to handle business physically is one of the foremost thoughts in my mind. Bearing and nursing children, physically carrying them, raising children, doing labor to care for and support herself or her family- these are all things that I find utterly feminine and the ability to do them is enhanced and facilitated by a fit, strong body. One of my favorite things is when my son tells me I’m strong and emulates my athletic movements.
Back to the two events that got me thinking about this subject. One was a woman who contacted me after some of her loved ones reacted negatively to changes in her body after 5 months of CrossFit. Basically, they felt that her new muscle definition looked “manly”. My comment to her was essentially, if you have conviction about what you are doing, you must hold onto that as your shield against the naysayers. You are responsible for your body. You are responsible for your own health and happiness. How your body transforms is secondary to the discipline you’re displaying and the sense of accomplishment you earn in your daily workouts and progress towards your goals. People who really care about you should be uplifted by your joy, hard work and accomplishments. In my case, I’m fortunate that overwhelmingly I am affirmed for what I do with regard to fitness and I’m realizing not everyone has that experience.
The other happening was a conversation with one of the top weightlifting coaches in the country. He told me that he’s had multiple adolescent female lifters quit the sport of weightlifting because they (or their mothers!) felt it was making their butt and thighs too big. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found this fact shocking. We discussed the matter a bit more on “Weightlifting Talk”. Maybe I hang around too many people who appreciate a developed butt and quads, but WHAT?! First of all, when you’re an adolescent girl, your body is supposed to grow and develop, weightlifter or not. Second of all, what’s wrong with a butt and thighs?
I came away from these two occurrences shaking my head and more convinced than ever that the best way to deal with this obsession with critiquing women’s bodies is to identify your own beliefs and values about your body and what you choose to do with it, and say FTW. Whether it’s too “manly” because you’re lifting weights, or too curvaceous because you’re lifting weights, or too thin because you like to run, or too whatever. In Tina Fey’s book Bossypants, she documents the list of attributes that every girl is expected to have:
- Caucasian blue eyes
- Full Spanish lips
- A classic button nose
- Hairless Asian skin with a California tan
- A Jamaican dance hall ass
- Long Swedish legs
- Small Japanese feet
- The abs of a lesbian gym owner
- The hips of a nine year old boy
- The arms of Michelle Obama
- And doll tits
Great list, funny and reflective of the ridiculousness of it all. It’s a shame there’s no tidy conclusion to this matter so we could stop having this conversation over and over. I suspect that won’t happen anytime soon. In the meantime, I leave you with a lyric from a song my mother used to play:
“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well, You see, ya can’t please everyone, So ya got to please yourself.”- Rick Nelson
I listened to my friend talk about his impending fatherhood. I admired the sonogram of his child and listened to the excitement in his voice looking forward to hearing his little one’s heartbeat for the first time. I recalled going through that same experience with my own child. The first time seeing his image. The first time feeling a flutter of movement. The happiness and relief of hearing his healthy heartbeat at each doctor visit. Just last week I put my lips against my son’s sleeping neck and marveled at how the beat I was feeling is the same one I listened to six years ago in the doctor’s office. What a miraculous display of life. Then I hopped in the car, turned on the radio and heard that little children and teachers had been slaughtered in a school in Connecticut.
When I was pregnant with my son I couldn’t wait for him to be born. I felt that if I could just look at him and hold him in my arms I could finally relax with the confidence that he was ok. Our first night at home after his birth I discovered how faulty my logic was. All the concern and worry for his well-being while in utero was just the beginning of a lifetime of being consumed with protecting him and keeping him safe. I stood over his crib convinced that I would never sleep again because I would have to sit up 24 hours a day watching over him. Elizabeth Stone said, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” No truer words were ever written. I know every parent can relate to this and I feel a certain joy and common bond in knowing that other people experience the same intense love for their children.
The biggest comfort comes from knowing that when my child is afraid of the dark, or the witches that lurk in the crack between his bed and the wall I can assure him he’s ok. I can help him be brave. I can sing to him or honor his request to “lay back to back” to let him know he is safe.
The reality that situations exist in which I could not protect him is unfathomable to me. It’s almost a place I cannot allow my brain to go. As a human being and a parent of a similarly aged child, the murders at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut have been heartbreaking and hurt my soul. I don’t understand how the world keeps spinning when something so evil can exist. My heart is incredibly heavy for the families. I’m sure like many people, I wish there was something useful I could do. In the meantime, I personally find it important to read the names of those who were killed, read their stories, listen to their families’ statements. I want to bear witness to the fact that they were here. That they were loved. That their mothers and fathers listened to their precious heartbeats.
I had a weekend of near misses in Palm Springs. Nearly missed the podium at the American Open, with a fourth place finish. Nearly missed the podium at the Outlaw Open with a second place finish after having the lead going into the final. I would be lying if I didn’t admit I have a terrible taste in my mouth about those finishes, but also mixed feelings. Part of me is actually ok with how things went. Both competitions provided me an opportunity to hone my craft, to test myself under pressure, expose weaknesses, check my progress, practice some of the skills that will help me going forward, and grow as an athlete. I got to workout with an amazing field of women. The other part of me feels obligated to beat myself up as atonement for “failing”. Sigh. I’m not going to let the latter part win because it’s a waste of time. There were so many positive things for me this weekend it would be a shame to reduce success or failure to simply where my name fell on the final results sheet.
I realized at the 2012 CrossFit Games I didn’t enjoy myself at all, I didn’t open my eyes and experience what was happening, I didn’t even focus on the things that would’ve been helpful to my performance because I was too worried about what was on the leaderboard. I perform much better when I focus on what I need to do technically in each moment, use positive self-talk, or repeat an affirming mantra to myself while I work out. Based on my experience at the Games this past year I developed a list of things, mental game things, which I wanted to improve on. I haven’t participated in other high level competitions outside of the formal CrossFit season, and I’ve haven’t gone into a lifting meet on a national podium without specifically training for it. As a result, I felt a sense of discomfort going into these competitions knowing that I’m not in peak condition, lifts aren’t really where I’d want them and such. Treating this weekend as a special training opportunity (albeit one with a $10,000 winner take all prize purse) finally helped me get excited for it after having some initial ambivalence about competing.
With the exception of the final workout of the Outlaw Open I felt I did a really good job of executing my plan and practicing the things I set out to put into action. The final workout was a tough, nasty chipper and I’ve been feeling bad about my performance on the event. Though when I reflect back on it I didn’t perform that poorly. I took fourth on the workout. A twenty minute piece, not my favorite length of workout. I took fourth to approximately 11 years worth of Games athlete in Becca Voigt, Kris Clever and Lindsey Valenzuela. Being beaten by those girls doesn’t exactly mean you’re chopped liver, if you know what I mean. Lindsey Valenzuela was crowned the victor this weekend, and I think she would agree it was a great battle throughout the competition. Taking second to Lindsey makes the pill of losing a little bit easier to swallow because she’s such a great all around athlete, a gracious competitor, and on top of that her 92 year old grandfather was at the event to watch her CrossFit for the first time. Kinda awesome. It made me think of my own grandfather who has passed, but was always a huge supporter of my athletic endeavors.
There were some physical accomplishments that were really exciting to me. One of the scoring points for the weekend was an agility test. The event was set up with a series of five 20-inch plyo boxes in a row with lateral hurdles on alternate sides. You had to jump over each box, then back and forth laterally over each hurdle. This was immediately followed by a shuttle run and back over the box/hurdle course. Honest to goodness, prior to CrossFit I spent many years avoiding jumping and movements such as the lateral stop on a shuttle run like the plague (that shuttle run at the Games with the cleats on felt like a horrible idea). I have no ACL in my left knee and I’ve had problems with it feeling unstable in the past. When I started CrossFit and was presented with doing box jumps or even jumping rope I was really concerned and had no idea if I could do it. Seeing an event like this agility test was actually a worst -case scenario for me. The last thing I want to do is bounce around like Tigger. However, after putting some work in I was able to perform it relatively smoothly and with confidence, managing to come in second on the event. I’ve found that my leg with the knee issues has gotten stronger through CrossFit, weightlifting, learning to squat properly, doing GHD raises, etc. Just as important if not more so, CrossFit has forced me to challenge the assumptions I’ve made about what my body can do and it’s given me the incentive to knock down self-imposed limitations. It’s amazing how empowering it is every time you accomplish something you weren’t sure you could. That never gets old, and I think reinforces your ability to move forward on faith knowing that you will find a way, adapt, learn, grow and rise to the occasion one way or another. Every experience of overcoming makes it that much easier to believe in yourself the next time around.
“The inches we need are everywhere around us…on this team, we fight for that inch…’cause we know when we add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the f*^#$&@ difference between winning and losing.”
Last night I lifted in Palm Springs California at the American Open Weightlifting meet. This is my second year competing in the event and it was really interesting to be able to compare and contrast both experiences. I will say, I had alot more fun this year than last. Probably the biggest reason for that due to the relationships that have been built over the past year, getting to know more weight lifters and CrossFitters meant that there were a ton of familiar faces around. Also I will note that their were a huge number of CrossFitters participating this year. I believe overall number of lifters jumped by something like 30%, and I suspect that’s largely due to the CrossFit community’s presence. Hell, even Dave Castro was in the house, coincidentally.
A huge contrast to last year was that I didn’t train for this meet. After the 2011 Games I essentially halted my CrossFit training and prepared for the American Open for months on end. This year I have trained like a competitive CrossFitter in the off season, following The Outlaw Way, lifting how we lift, doing what we do day in and day out year round on Outlaw. No special meet preparation whatsoever. Using this method I was able to add 20kg to my total from last year, and frankly it could’ve easily been 30kg but I missed a snatch and got red lighted on a Clean and jerk. As a result, I’m feeling great about the strength and technical gains I’m seeing in my lifts while still maintaining the focus on my primary sport.
I was pretty anxious coming in because my lifts aren’t exactly where I want them to be. It was a bit challenging feeling excited to lift and get my head where it needed to be given that it hasn’t been my training focus. However as I was rolling out in my hotel room prior to the session I started to think about how fortunate I am to be healthy and have the physical capability to lift here. All the worries about making weight and PRing sort of fell into perspective. I get to join with a bunch of other people who love the sport of weightlifting and just give what we have. That’s it, just get out there and do what you do. I’m very glad that I was able to come to that place of calm before lifting. Our session was running about an hour and a half behind schedule. By the time I finished lifting it was at least 10pm, which meant I had been up traveling, lifting etc for over 24 hours. Not the ideal circumstance for optimal performance, but I think that moment of perspective that I had in my room kept me collected and allowed me to enjoy the experience. That, and the great team of people I had around me supporting me and getting me through. Big thanks to Angie Sorenson, Roger Nielsen, Jessica Rodriguez and Rudy Nielsen.
This is my final lift of the night. 105kg (231lbs) clean & jerk that was red lighted for pressing out the jerk. No matter, I got the taste and I’m looking for that 250# in the next year.
Today we move into the CrossFit portion of the weekend with the Outlaw Open. Follow the action here
Today was way too trying and tiring for a Saturday. Up early, running around and set myself up for failure by over booking things. I did get to spend alot of time with my son and a number of other great people, so I can’t be mad at that. I did my training at my friend’s gym, CrossFit Rise. There is some serious, serious lifting going on there on Saturday mornings under the watchful eye of two time U.S. Olympic coach Roger Neilsen, including one of my favorite lifters to watch, Shane Maier. If you are a fan of lifting you should know this guy. The man is huge, and seriously defies physics with how fast he moves. Generally speaking, if you haven’t seen high level lifters go to work in person you should make it your business to do so- phenomenal power and athleticism, videos don’t do justice to how these people move.
I was very disappointed that I couldn’t make it out to Glen Elyn Crossfit for their Barbells 4 Booobs event today. I tried, but just couldn’t make it all happen today. I hope they had a fun and successful event. Also, my phone had been limping along and finally died, so I’m sure many, many people will be missing my amazing tweets and Facebook status updates until I get a new phone.
A friend of mine posts a weekly blog (a much more sensible idea than this absurd daily business) over at O’Brien’s World and his topic this week really struck a chord with me given some CrossFit stuff I’ve been thinking about lately. As I read it, his blog was about living with a sense of intentionality and purpose. Purpose driven by the type of life you want to lead, the characteristics you want to embody and how you want to be remembered. My comments here are much less substantive and important than what O’Brien was talking about, but I ended up relating it to CrossFit because I’ve been putting alot of thought/time/effort into having that same purposeful approach to how I move when I CrossFit. Trying to make sure that the things I do each day and each movement are pushing me in the direction of my goals and are not undertaken thoughtlessly or to simply get through it.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
“People are afraid to face the reality,” she [Venus Williams] said regarding racism. “No one wants to see bad things, no one wants to see the dark side. They want to be happy and I don’t blame them for that. But we’ve got to face our fears and meet any problem head on that we might have in America.”
I will be raising funds through the Barbells for Boobs event being held at CrossFit Construct on October 27, 2012. Please help me reach my and my affiliate team fundraising goal by donating through my B4B page. As a special incentive, anyone who donates through my page, will be entered into a drawing to win my CrossFit Games jerseys. Mammograms in Action is a great organization that works really hard for a cause that’s of critical importance. Please, donate, find a local B4B event to attend, or start your own fundraising page. Get involved!
This weekend we held The Outlaw Way training camp here in Chicago at River North CrossFit. I was actually a little anxious going into the weekend because we hosted one of the largest groups to date (well really, the absolute largest), and it was my first time leading an entire session with all the attendees. All the worry was needless as everything went smoothly and it turned out to be one of my favorite camps. Each camp has a different feel to it- different group, different workouts, different facilities. I won’t lie, I LOVED being able to stay at home and still be at camp. We had an absolutely fantastic group of people, and being in my own region for a camp for the first time meant there were many attendees that I knew/have competed against. My little one even made his camp debut appearance at the Friday lifting session. Very cool. I don’t recall ever having female Master’s level Games athletes in the house, and this past weekend we had several. Amazing and inspiring women, they are. All in all a great weekend of PR’s, hard training and learning about how to move better and win CrossFit competitions. Two weeks until the next camp!
Past midnight, but I’m still up so it officially counts as yesterday’s post. Fun, busy day at The Outlaw Way training camp with some inspiring folks! I’m really excited and will try to get more pictures from camp tomorrow so I can actually share properly.
Thinking about many of my local CrossFit friends competing in day two of the Fitober Fest competition tomorrow. I wish I could come out and cheer them on.
There’s a distinct possibility that the small group of women I shared a barbell with tonight at the Chicago Outlaw Way training camp now think I’m out of my mind. What a complete spaz. Today’s whirlwind, ripping and running all day turned into one of those days with the barbell. Eh. It’ll come. Friday night at camps is PR time though, so I suppose I just really wanted in on the fun. I do think my body is still recuperating from being ill and today just wasn’t the day. I felt (and I think looked) awkward with the barbell, and like I was over thinking everything. Here’s a miss at 190#. Pfff.
On a brighter note, earlier today I ran a mile during a conditioning piece (run 1 mile+30 muscle ups for time). This is the first mile I’ve run after a recent session with my coach looking at my running technique. I cut about 1:45 off my mile time! I was not that far off of my lifetime PR which I ran 12 years and 20 pounds ago. I actually felt like I overcame a mental barrier of sorts on this one, almost as much as making the physical strides. I can’t wait to run faster!!
This looks like it’s going to be a great camp weekend with lots of strong athletes and top regional competitors and such in attendance. Many hit PRs tonight, I’m excited to see how the remainder of the weekend unfolds. I’ll do my best to document it!
My son’s advice came in handy as we got caught in the rain tonight. Not really. Actually, I felt like a giddy little kid walking through dark and stormy night with leaves swirling all over the ground. We are a monster/zombie/wolf man type of household year round, but Halloween season is a favorite around here. We already have a few pair of fangs and costume odds and ends floating around. Also on the blood and guts front is this little beauty.
Who said thirty inch box jumps were a good idea anyway? Or maybe I’m just doing it wrong. On a brighter note, I’m doing some things to up my Weightlifting game. I won’t get into detail tonight, these daily blogs are proving to be a horrible idea. But here’s a little video related to some additions I’m making to my training.
Kindergarten is tiring…and this one read to me until I fell asleep tonight.
Ahhh, lovely day in the neighborhood. Literally. This really is a shaping up to be a beautiful fall in Chicago. On top of that, I got to eat non-Jello food substances, get a nice (if modified) workout in, and spend a little quality time with the barbell. I think I need to get myself a special, extra bougie Olympic lifting barbell. I must add that to the Christmas list right under the Lego Monster Fighter Castle. Icing on the cake was doing laundry and finding this amazing piece of work in in my son’s pocket.
So, here’s a question for the evening: Why does my seven year old Ipod always seems to stick around, but the FOUR brand new ones I’ve gotten over the past year and a half vanish into thin air? No, the real question, what do you think the most egregious flaw is with this lift?
I’ve learned one more thing in life NOT to do- brag about how I never get sick. I mean, normally I don’t get sick. But I’ll never take that for granted again. Generally I can feel something coming on, get a little extra sleep and knock it right out. Apparently I take some kind of pride in this “ability” because I’ve said it to people multiple times even within the past month or so. Over the past 5 days karma came and knocked me off my superior immune system high horse.
The funny (ok, not funny at all, but noteworthy) part was that I saw this coming on. In retrospect, I could feel a bug lurking for about two weeks, but I choose to never sit down and get all the rest and recovery I needed. Opportunities for this and that kept popping up, red eye flights, extra training sessions, extra lifting, “active recovery” days that became full-on high intensity workouts. No bueno. It came to a head on Thursday at the gym. I walked in feeling fine, in fact specifically noting how great my body and joints felt. I did my normal mobility/warm up/skill work then took on a relatively heavy workload. Part way into my Olympic lifts I could tell my body just wasn’t there. The weight just felt heavier than it “should”. As an aside, I hate getting caught up in the “should”. In my experience with weightlifting, The Should, that wretched, insidious beast, can actually work against you from both directions. It can limit you because if you’ve reached the predetermined weight that you think you should be at you may limit yourself. On the other hand if you are below where you should be you feel bad about it, even if you are doing good quality work that is heavy for you on a given day. I digress. The barbell felt heavy and I was missing lifts left and right (front and back really, but who’s counting?). By the time I moved onto my squats I just plain felt sick. But do you think I stopped? OF COURSE NOT! That would be lame and weak, right? I put a belt on as tight as humanly possible and did the squats. Then did a metcon. Then did another metcon. Oh yeah, baby, we got it in! I’M SO TOUGH! So tough until I found myself debilitated, exacerbating an existing medical issue, unable to eat for days and in urgent care, followed by nasty, toxic medications just to get things back in order. Winning! Not so much. Here’s a quick video summary of some of Thursday’s work:
Am I being long winded? Sorry, I suppose from not blogging forever. In short, I ‘ve now missed multiple days of training and withered into a weak, helpless, newborn fawn as my coach would say. For what? To prove that I could push through, I guess. While this whole experience has been awful, painful, frustrating, and still not concluded, I feel very fortunate that it happened now, not during the Open, Regionals, etc., and is something that will resolve relatively quickly. I’m feeling so grateful for the general health that I enjoy day to day. My little one survived it, even though we didn’t get to enjoy some beautiful fall days together. This is going to be a long exciting year of training and competing and I need to survive and thrive, not pound myself into the ground. I almost can’t believe I’m still trying to figure out that boundary between being tough and being stupid. Eh. I never said I wasn’t hard headed.
I always have the blessing of this bright little spirit even, on the toughest of days. Here he is practicing some running back footwork in the urgent care waiting room. Dude knows how to have fun anytime, anywhere. I think he got that hands on hips, disapproving head shake midway through from someone close to home.
I can’t believe that another CrossFit Games has come and gone. SO much has transpired over the last week, I’m really on sensory overload. I debated writing this now (on the plane home) because there’s still so much raw emotion, but perhaps against better judgment, here goes. First off, I’m not pleased with my final overall standing. It was a weekend of ups and downs, and many weaknesses were exposed. It’s a very hard reality to face when you have trained hard and committed all of yourself to reaching a goal only to fall short. I believe it takes guts to set high goals and take the risks in an effort to reach them. I have to admit I’ve asked myself at times, “what if you commit everything to your goals and you don’t succeed? Then what?” Right now I’m figuring out the ‘then what?’ Turns out it’s not as bad as I thought. The bottom line for me is that in every moment this weekend I did everything I could, and frankly I feel blessed that I was basically healthy and had the opportunity to give it a shot. I felt that the programming didn’t play to my strengths at all, and given that, improving 6 spots from last year’s 13th place is huge for me. It wasn’t the programming I would have loved to see, and I think the balance of what was tested could have been altered somewhat. I did love the many, many scored events that made it possible to shake out who is the best. How well each person’s skill set lines up with the programming is somewhat luck of the draw, as we all have our weaknesses, some more than others. In the end, though, my wheelhouse is too small, and I believe that on a certain level I just need to CrossFit more. I know I worked very hard the last six or seven months with Rudy, but plain and simple I haven’t paid my dues in the sport. Every girl who finished above me has significantly more time put in. I’m more than ready to keep working and I’m really excited that this year’s Games provided me some insights on where I stand among the best in the world. I have established myself as a serious threat on any workout requiring power and explosiveness. My gymnastics has come a long way, but with movements like the deep deficit parallette handstand push-ups the ante has been uppped. I need to continue to become more comfortable with endurance events, and my conditioning overall will be a huge focus this year as will precision in my movements. I won’t get into the details of the events that left me somewhat embarrassed about my performance, but I know I have a lot of work to do and I certainly have a lot of new motivation.
One of the highlights of the weekend for me was running the clean ladder, finishing with a 235lbs lift plus five deadlifts. Come to think of it, running a ladder of lifts is really my preferred type of running. After kicking off with the triathlon, the track triplet and the sprint I was certainly ready for what would turn out to be the only heavy barbell work of the weekend. Anyone who has followed me at all knows that this type of event is like home to me and lifting heavy is what we do every day. (At one point during our long run I started fantasizing about being back at the gym, music on, and lifting weights.) The crowd was phenomenal during the clean event. It was such fun moment, and I love that all the competitors remained out on the stadium floor to watch the completion of the event. My Outlaw girls Candace Hamilton Hester and Alicia Gomes may have actually been more excited than I was that I completed enough deadlifts to surpass Lindsay Valenzuela (who also ran the ladder) for the first place finish. Lindsey Smith gave me a congratulatory hug and comment that along with the excitement of the crowd just brought out a flood of emotions. Those kind of moments are what makes the Games for me.
The interactions with everyone at the Games were fantastic. I got to meet and chat with CrossFitters from all over the world both at the venue, and at the CrossFit Tours After Party. I was so honored to meet a young CrossFitter named Kate Foster, a cancer survivor and fundraiser for CrossFit for Hope. I felt such respect and fellowship with all the athletes. There is a good deal of diversity in the field with respect to occupation, background, etc., but we have all made a common commitment to excel in our sport and I respect the work and dedication of every athlete who was out there this weekend. There’s always a special place in my heart for the mothers in the field. Angie Pye, Annie Sakamoto, Lindsey Smith, Becky Conzelman, Cheryl Brost, Heather Welsh, Val Vorboril- I may be missing some, but these are all ladies I admire so much and really enjoyed the conversations about kids and balancing the demands of family and training. It’s a constant effort to achieve balance, which, along with my actual training goals will be a huge focus for me this coming year. One of the toughest parts of the 2012 Games for me, and something I don’t remember struggling with as much last year, was missing my son immensely over the course of the week being away. I found myself choked up many times missing that little guy a whole bunch.
With all that pent up emotion what is the perfect event? Give me a sledge hammer and ask me to pound some stuff. Double Banger, baby! Double Banger Women’s Final Heat
Big props to the 2012 podium finishers: Rich Froning Jr., Matt Chan, Kyle Kasperbauer (Yes, a parent on the podium!), Annie Thorisdotter, Julie Foucher, and my very own training partner Talayna Fortunato. I’m also very proud of the strong North Central Women’s representation, as Stacie Tovar and Deborah Cordner Carson (Spirit of the Games winner), and myself all finished in the top 13 worldwide.
I don’t have the necessary words to adequately thank all the loved ones and supporters who have encouraged me, gone through the ups and downs and continued to show enthusiasm for this pursuit. My family has sacrificed, my friends have believed in me and many people have stood by me this year. Pretty amazing. I’m so appreciative of CrossFit HQ, Reebok, the many other Games sponsors and the volunteers, staff, and fans who made the 2012 Games such an incredible experience. Finally, my coach who has been just as passionate about my improvement this year as I am. I came to him 7 months ago because I wanted to win. He actually told me I might be a multi-year project, which I disregarded and pushed for this year. I’ve never been patient. At any rate, I’m excited to see where we can go with more than half a year of training together, and I’m honored to work with a coach who is contributing so much to our sport.
After a humbling and enriching competition I’m ready for reflection, rest, enjoying summer days with my son, watching the Olympics, and planning for next year (for some reason my coach wouldn’t discuss programming with me on Sunday after the final workout. Shrug). I have some really exciting things coming up, I can’t wait to share with everyone as things unfold!
As we close in on the climax of the 2012 CrossFit Games season I keep finding myself reflecting on what this year has meant to me thus far. Training is going great, what a ride it is. This time of year you get to key in on some of those more specialized skills that aren’t as likely to be seen in the Open and Regionals- swimming, strongman, longer runs, and some really high skill elements. It’s such a contrast from pre-Regionals when we knew exactly what the workouts were. I’m not much one for speculating about what will be programmed at the Games. I actually think that’s a bit crazy making, and not my job to worry about. My job is to put in work day in and day out so that I’m prepared physically and mentally to adapt to whatever is thrown our way.
This morning’s reflection was triggered by opening my workout log and realizing the entire book has been filled with my work from the year. Page one reflects work day one after getting on board with Rudy. Can I just say, what a debacle. I was horrendous. I was terrible at the movements, totally out of shape, confidence in the toilet, and questioning everything about my abilities. People have criticized The Outlaw Way for not programming long workouts. You know what, turns out if you suck and do Outlaw you will go long. I consider myself the queen of turning a 8-10 minute metcon into a 40 minute disaster. I recall a day I could not do a single muscle up. Another day, I couldn’t complete a workout properly because I couldn’t do 50 unbroken double unders. I guess just going to the Games doesn’t mean you’re good at stuff.
Through alot of sweat and working smart all of that has turned around. I’ve come far physically and I almost can’t grasp all that’s happened this year, but what stands our most is not the physical development, it’s the amazing experiences and people. All the people I met through Barbells for Boobs, Reebok, Outlaw Training Camps, getting to train with other Games athletes at Westside Barbell. The interactions with my coach, my gym owner, my chiropractor, nutritionist, friends and family- I may be competing as an individual (LA in a week!!) but none of the athletes do this alone. I’m thankful every single day for a healthy body, the opportunity to train, and all the people who have given their time, knowledge, skills, and heart to support me.
Fast-forward from the mess documented in my log book to now, and the skills, strength, speed and confidence have been built up. What a journey, and one that never ends. Sometimes it’s hard to fathom how my life has changed in the year and a half since I found CrossFit. The other day I was talking to a friend about a period not too long before I had even heard of CrossFit when my nightly routine consisted of putting my son to bed followed by curling up with some ice cream (preferably strawberry cheesecake flavor) and watching a couple episodes of Golden Girls. I’m not kidding. I am a life long athlete, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my own hills and valleys. One night I sat and wrote a list of 5 goals, one of which was, “compete in something.” I had no idea what that “something” would be, but I knew I would be a better person if I could develop the courage to stand up and give my best in a competitive environment. Next week I get to compete on a world stage putting all the efforts of the past year to the test. No words could adequately express the feelings that come along with that.
I asked my friend and fellow CrossFitter Jay Rhodes to make a video for me as part of a project I’m working on. I really appreciate his work, and wanted to share it here as well.
For many years the phrase “All-American” rubbed me the wrong way. I suppose because it conjured a 1950’s Beaver Cleaver, white bred, two parents, 2.5 children type of stereotypical image in my mind. That’s an image that I cannot relate to and is eons away from reflecting the diversity of this country. While I was pregnant with my son I started to think about the heritage we were passing on to him. I began to speculate on what he would look like, whose physical traits he would pick up and how his experiences would/could be shaped by those traits. It occurred to me that much of the story of America is reflected in this one little boy. He is the descendant of both recent and distant immigrants from Africa and Europe as well as Native Americans, descendant of slaves, sharecroppers, soldiers, doctors, farmers, poor, wealthy, highly educated and not. All these different versions of the American story run through his veins. I have a lot of pride in my American heritage, something I also have in my Nigerian heritage. On my father’s side I am first generation American. I LOVE my last name, which means, “the warrior has returned”.
I thought about these things as I fielded a number questions about whether I was making a T-shirt for the Games. Apparently all the cool kids are doing it. I decided to incorporate both the American flag and my last name. I think this design is a great combination of things that represent me and what I love. I won’t elaborate any further right now, but please check out the shirts and buy one! These shirts are really important to getting me to California and making it happen at the Home Depot Center next month. It’s only four weeks away, so you might as well buy one right now over at SoRock under the Outlaw tab. There are men’s and women’s crew neck T-shirts as well as women’s racer back tanks. Guaranteed to help you lift like a mother!