If I vomit can I stop? – CF Open 14.5

This workout was brutal. It is hard to even describe how my body felt while doing it. There is a high possibility that if I had closed my eyes during it I would have fallen asleep or passed out from pure exhaustion and lack of energy. I just felt off, sluggish, and completely nauseated.

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14.5 was a total of 84 thrusters and 84 burpees over the bar, broken into a rep scheme of 21-18-15-12-9-6-3, alternating thrusters and burpees. Thrusters are where you go down into a front squat, below parallel, then stand up and push the bar over your head.  For the burpees you had to jump, with both feet, over the bar in between each burpee. The female weight was 65 pounds.

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Mid way through the 18 thrusters I looked at my boyfriend, who was my judge, and I told him that I was done, that I couldn’t do it today and I would try again on Sunday. That’s how off I was feeling. I didn’t feel in pain, my breathing wasn’t out of control, I just felt exhausted. He convinced me to keep going, very slowly throwing my body on the ground and picking it up to jump over the bar. During most of the workout I felt like I was going to vomit, and actually wished that I would at one point because then it would give me an excuse to stop.

ImageFor the first time in my CrossFit experience I was the last person to finish the workout. Everyone who had been doing the workout (some doing it for the open, others with reduced weights/reps) gathered around me to cheer me on. At first I wanted to tell them it would be a while and they could go home, but then it turned in to me needing their support and feeling I had to finish for them. I had broken the thrusters into sets of three and each three I finished they would cheer. When I finally finished and collapsed on the floor multiple people came over to high five me. It wasn’t embarrassing at all, as I had always thought it might be, but instead was incredibly supportive and heartwarming to have people care enough to stick around after their workout to watch me trudge along.

It took me a full 35 minutes, which is almost 15 minutes more than I had thought it would. But, as my boyfriend told me as I lay on the ground trying not to pass out, it’s better to be Dead Fucking Last than Did Not Finish than Did Not Start.  And now, my first CrossFit Open is done.

CF Open 14.3 – 101 reps.

I’ve really sucked at blogging lately, sorry guys. It’s my last semester of law school and it’s gotten incredibly busy and stressed out, which doesn’t put me in the chattiest mood. The highlight of my weeks have been Thursdays at 6pm when the new Open workout is released. Last week I was at Happy Hour with my coworkers and when 6 o’clock came around I whipped out my phone to see what 14.3 was. I was SO happy to see a ladder of deadlifts/box jumps with deadlifts increasing in weight and reps each time. One of my coworkers used to do CF, so we were talking about it and explaining the open to everyone at my work. Most people think it’s pretty cool that it’s a world wide competition, so people on every continent are doing the same thing you are. It’s a small world, really 🙂

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I did 14.3 Friday night, and I had heard that a lot of people were getting stuck at 90 reps. This means that they completed the 20 reps of deadlifts at 155 and the 15 box jumps after, but couldn’t get any lifts at 185lbs.  I really wanted to get some lifts at 185lbs under my belt, so I was pretty nervous going into it. I felt like this was the first Open workout that could really test me, as it was the first one that contained all movements that I had done before. My boyfriend was there to help cheer me on and tell me to get back on the bar when I wanted to walk away. I got 101 reps in the 8 minute time cap, with 11 reps at 185lbs. I was really pleased with that, as I had only gone in expecting to get 3-4 reps at that weight due to fatigued legs. The best part was that while I was sore the next day, I could still make it up to the mountains to go snowboarding. That’s a win!

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Side note: I really want this shirt. ❤ Hunger games. I can’t wait for 14.4 I think it’s going to be clean and Jerks and burpees. What do you think it will be?

Becoming Comfortable with the Uncomfortable – CF Open

That phrase is used a lot in CrossFit. “Becoming Comfortable with the Uncomfortable”. So far, the Open has been hard. I expected it to be hard physically, to push me past my limits into pure exhaustion and into the uncomfortable. But I didn’t expect it to be as mentally uncomfortable as it has been. It is uncomfortable to hear the clock tick down 3-2-1 signaling you to start a movement that 48 hours ago you couldn’t even do and now you have to do at least 30reps  to move on.

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It is uncomfortable to dangle for 2 minutes from a bar kicking your feet and pulling with all your might to try to pull yourself up until your chest gets above the damned bar. It is uncomfortable to have people watching you in what any outsider could consider a failure as you trip on a jump rope over and over, or fail to heave your body up in the air.  But part of becoming comfortable is realizing that no matter how you rank against others, those things, while uncomfortable, are not failures.  You linked together three double unders when before you could only do one? That’s a success. You got all overhead squats without putting the bar down, even if your score was 10? That’s a success. You managed to get the ugliest, wiggling chest to bar ever seen and it took you a full minute? That’s a success.

Unless you are actually trying to win the games, the goal should not be to be the best. You can’t control how anyone else performs. The goal is to be better than you were yesterday. To have pushed yourself outside of that comfort zone physically and mentally. To not give up when you hear the workout is something you can’t do, but to go in and try your damnedest to at least get 1 rep down, without embarrassment  or apology.

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I cannot go to my box now without seeing someone in the corner whipping their shins as they practice double unders over and over, determined to not let them sneak up on them in a work out again. Countless people may have gotten a 10 on 14.2, but they learned that their working overhead squat weight should be 65#, not 55#, since they were physically capable of doing it, even if it was a little bit shaky.  That is learning to take a weakness and turn it into motivation. Instead of pushing what you can’t do from your mind, you are forced to meet it straight on, to acknowledge it and to conquer it while people watch. That is becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. And to me, that’s what the Open is all about.

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Have you been able to do all the moves in the workouts? If not, how have you felt about it?

What would your ideal open work out be?

Inspired by Competition – Tuff Love

This weekend my box hosted a competition called Tuff Love. 90+ people from boxes all over Colorado, as well as a couple from New Mexico and I think one from Wyoming, showed up to compete at a pretty elite level. The competition was a boy/girl team event, so there were about 45 teams total. We had 9 teams from my box compete, a couple of whom had never competed before but kicked some major ass! The competition had three events, “First Date”, “Second Base”, and “Walk of Shame”.

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“First Base” was a crazy 10 min AMRAP mix of rowing, hand stand push ups, toes to bar and burpee box jump overs that required a killer engine.

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“Second Base” was a clean and jerk ladder complex, with 1 power clean, 1 hang clean, 1 squat clean and 1 jerk, all done without putting the bar down. There was one woman who kicked complete ass and got up to 195. 195. I was so impressed. A couple of our girls PR’d, including one girl who double PR’d, which is incredible after having already tired herself out going up the ladder and with having to do three cleans! She had a whole bunch of people from our box cheering her on and she said it helped push her through.

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I love CrossFit competitions for so many reasons, but one reason in particular is the support that everyone gives all of the athletes. This especially showed on this ladder.  As athletes got higher and higher in weight everyone came forward to cheer them on, not just their own teammate. When the woman who got 195lbs attempted 205, the whole box erupted to cheer her on and help her shake it off when she didn’t make it.  When one of the guys went for 265 and got it, everyone cheered, even his competition. I love that.

I also love CrossFit Comps because I find them so incredibly inspiring. Seeing people push past that “dark place” where they feel they can’t go on anymore, to keep going and truly dig deep to give it their all. All those months of hard work paying off. The look on their face when they finish and are proud of what they accomplished. I find it truly moving. The couple that ended up winning it were recent additions to my box, after having moved from a different box in Boulder. The female qualified for the games last year, but couldn’t go because of her work (she’s a marine). Watching her do butterfly pull ups was truly beautiful. She moved so gracefully and so fast, we all just watched her with our jaws dropped to the floor. It was also great to see just how proud of her her boyfriend was (who is also ridiculously good at CrossFit). I love seeing couples that are that supportive and proud of each other.

Two girls from my box asked me this weekend if I wanted to do two different competitions with them in may. My response was that I don’t have pull-ups, doubleunders or hand stand push ups solid enough to compete. But, I’m gonna try hard as hell to get them up to par by April (at least enough to qualify to compete) and I would let them know. By Apri 1st my goal is to have 10 pull ups, 20 double unders strung together and at least 2 hand stand push ups. I am not quite sure if it’s possible, but this weekend really made me want to get out there and give it all so I’m gonna do all I can to get there.

What motivates you to compete?

What sport/type of competition do you like watching best?

Hero WOD Murph – 43:30

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CrossFit has a set of workouts called “Hero WODs” which are designed to test your physical limits to commemorate and pay respects to certain people who have earned the title of”Hero”. This morning myself and two of my friends decided to do the Hero WOD Murph – in honor of Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy who died in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings in 2005 after sacrificing himself to get to higher ground, and expose himself, so he could get a signal to call for help in an attempt to save the rest of his group. No matter your view on war, you have to commend a man who is selfless enough to choose to sacrifice his life to get his brothers to safety.

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The idea came about to do this WOD after I saw the movie Lone Survivor, which tells the story of operation Red Wings. My friend’s husband who I visited in Hawaii is a helicopter pilot in the Army and my boyfriend is ex Air Force and current AF Guard. After watching the movie, my friend and I were both discussing how we had heard both of them talk about the level of brotherhood and the amount of mental toughness they had built during their times in service, but we hadn’t been able to comprehend it until we saw it played out in front of us in that movie. When my CF Friend Emily told me there was a Hero WOD after Murph, I jumped on the idea of doing it in his honor and in honor of the 18 other people who died during that operation.

The Workout Is:

1 Mile Run

100 Pullups

200 Pushups

300 Squats

1 Mile Run

We decided to break it up into 10 Pull ups, 20 Push ups, 30 Squats for ten rounds. The Pull ups and Push ups were assisted with bands/from the knees, as that’s a lot of pull ups and pushups to do strict. Several times during it one of us would comment that we were getting tired and the other one (mostly me, bc I’m a dramatic sap) would respond with “At the end of this, we will still be alive and we still be fine. If this is the worst we have to deal with, I think we’re pretty good”. Total time was around 43:30 minutes. Great way to pay respect and appreciate life on a sunday.

CrossFit Frustrations

Patience can be hard.  As I’ve mentioned before, I have a nasty little habit of giving up on something if I don’t get it right away. I’m trying to kick that habit by continuing to get better at snowboarding, but  recently I’m noticing those familiar frustrations are sneaking into my CrossFit workouts. And they’ve brought their  nasty little friend jealousy.

Image I can’t squat.  I have a distinct memory of a conversation I had in high school with my friend Cameron trying to figure out why she could just hang out in a low squat so easily and when I tried I would just role backwards. At the time, we came to the conclusion it was because I had wide hips that made me unsteady compared to her narrows ones. Now I’ve learned that’s not the case, that it has to do with hip flexor mobility, strong glutes and hamstrings etc etc. But some days, I still feel like just chalking it up to my wide hips and throwing in the towel would be way easier than to carry on trying.

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I’ve made some good progress, but with each step I take forward my coaches ask more of me and it’s another step backwards. Sometimes the nature of always being able to improve on a skill can be exhausting.

Today I finally started to feel like I was getting below parallel with heavier weight consistently, when I got told that my feet point out in a duck position too much and I need to make them parallel facing forward. I tried it, and found I was back at square one.  I stood there wanting to ask my coach if it really f*&king matters how my feet point if I was still getting low and getting stronger?

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But I didn’t, because I know better. Of course it matters. There are no shortcuts to success. Proper form is an essential foundation if I want to keep getting stronger, so if that means going back to square one so be it.

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Yesterday I stayed after the WOD to do some more work during open gym. Our  box has a special program for our “competitors” aka the most elite atheletes in the gym. They were going through a WOD while I was doing my own thing and I watched as they moved seamlessly through rope climbs, pull ups, hand stand push ups, pistols… All things that I hope one day to do. Some of the comppetitors only recently joined that WOD, after having made significant improvements in the regular WODs that I attend. I couldn’t help but feel some jealousy at first, mad that I hadn’t been making more progress.

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You can say “I’ve come so far from where I was X months ago”, but sometimes it really doesn’t matter. You aren’t where you want to be and that sucks.  But as I sat there I realized I had two choices. I could sit and be frustrated and jealous and pout that I wasn’t getting better fast enough… or I could keep focused, bust my ass more in work outs and trust that if I give it my all it will come. So, I took a moment to acknowledge my frustration, and then tried to push it out of my mind. More mobilizing, more technique work and more determination. It will come and it will be more rewarding if I know I didn’t take any short cuts to get there.

Into Thin Air – 2nd Highest Peak in the Lower 48

On Sunday I decided to go climb the second highest peak in the lower 48 states. A looming 14,443 feet, complete with snow, strong winds, and about a 24 degree temperature. Oh, and that nasty little thing called altitude sickness that decided to tag along for the ride. To say this was one of the mentally toughest physical activities to get through was an understatement.  I have never before in my life thought I could not physically finish something until this adventure. But, let’s start at the beginning.

My friend from training (who I went paddle boarding with) and two of my friends from Denver decided it would be a tough challenge to go hike a 14er (Colorado speak for mountains over 14,000ft) at the end of September, when it had already snowed up there. We thought it would be badass. And it was. Maybe a bit too badass for me. The hike was 9.2 miles round trip, with a 4,700 foot elevation gain. The 30-45 minutes were in the forest and, while steep, I could still catch my breathe through the panting. We emerged from the woods to see this:

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See those peaks? yeah, we had to go over those to get to one further on that we were going to. I definitely didn’t realize when I signed on that the hike would be this long, but I was still excited at this point. So, we trudged on. Once we got past that second tree line the wind picked up. Hard. And it did not stop. It was so strong and so cold that when it hit you head on it literally knocked your breathe out of you. Multiple times I felt like I was suffocating and had to turn my back to take some breathes. This may sound dramatic, but it was 100% real for me. I am VERY sensitive to altitude. For the first couple weeks after I moved to Boulder I would get winded walking up stairs, went to bed by 9:30 because I was so exhausted and would get major headaches.

But we kept going, with my companions being very kind and taking frequent breaks when I needed them to turn my oxygen deprive hyperventilating back to normal panting.

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Photo Credit Kristin Burkholder

Around 12,500ft I started feeling nauseous. We stopped to eat and I forced myself to take a bite of a Lara bar, but my mouth would not physically chew it. I ended up spitting it out and just drinking lots of water. If I ever do something like this again, I will definitely bring chicken broth so that I can drink my nutrition and have it heat me up. A couple passed us and we asked, pointing at a peak above us, if that was the summit. The woman shook her head and said that was a “fake summit” (one that appears to be the top, but is followed by others behind it) and that there were 3-4 more fake summits to go.

The guy saw the look on my face at this point and said “Just go 10 more steps. Anyone can do 10 more steps. Then, try to do another 10.” I literally repeated this in my head the whole rest of the way.

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Photo Credit Kristin Burkholder

We got to 14,000 feet, with only 400 feet more and I nearly quit. I stopped, sat on the ground, trying to stop my head from spinning and resisting the urge to start dry heaving. I had a conversation with myself in my head about how I was feeling crappy now, but that in about 6 hours I would be home in bed, cuddled up with my dog,  feeling perfectly healthy and would be super pissed off at myself if I had not gone to the top. This was only temporary. With some encouragement from my friends, one of whom was also not feeling so hot at this point, I kept going. And I’m glad I did, because the view at the top was unbelievable. Just like everyone had promised.

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I’m pretty sure we only stayed up there about 5 minutes, as it was sub 24 degrees and super windy. Just long enough to snap some pictures and start back down.

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The hike down was really fun for me. Going down fake summits is far more fun than going up them, complete with sliding on the ice/snow (as my friend did, on her butt, for a good portion of the way. She had also had some Fireball at the top, which probably made it even more delightful for her ❤ ). With each little bit I felt better and better, and by the time we reached the trees again I was back to myself. And starving.

Overall, I am still very happy I did it. It was definitely a rush.  I don’t think I could have done it without the support of my friends, talking me through it and being willing to stop whenever I needed to.  I’m already planning to do another one next year with the same people… though maybe we will go a bit earlier, so as to avoid the snow and the super cold wind.

On the drive back home my friend asked why people climb 14ers. A lot of people respond with “because they are there”. My friend said because it reminds her that the world is far more beautiful than her everyday life. While valid, that’s not my reason. There are hikes that are just as physically challenging, as far as steepness, that are at much lower elevation and would provide a great workout and time spent in beautiful nature. For me, the reason I have done 14ers is because it’s good to challenge yourself mentally like that sometimes, to push yourself beyond what you think you are capable of in a situation where you can’t just slow down or stop to make it easier (like on a run). Obviously, do that within a safe limit, with the ultimate ability to leave (turn around and walk down) if you really need to.

But sometimes, you need to have that inner battle with yourself to see what you are capable of overcoming.

Hope you all had a great weekend, filled with fun, laughs and love.