I did it!

Hi there! This post is long over due… We’ve been back from Washington DC for a while now and while I’d say I don’t have anything to blog about. I DO!!

Thanks goes out to my friend Liz for the little nudge tonight!

So, you will recall that when I turned 33 years old, I decided set a few goals for myself. In October I set a goal to get a Muscle Up by my 34th birthday. At the time I thought I needed to give myself 12 months to accomplish this goal. Well, as it turns out I actually needed about 6 months to get up the nerve to actually DO something and WORK towards that goal… it was funny how SAYING I wanted a muscle up was easy, but REALLY WANTING the muscle up was hard.

Over the next 6 months I toyed around with the idea in my head. I played with transitions off and on. I watched my friend Stacy accomplish her first (and second!) muscle up. Then, something clicked. I started talking to one of my coaches – who has an affinity for the rings and gymnastics just as much as I do. I realized that I just needed to stop bullshitting myself and try it. 

So, 6 months later, on April 1st I finally decided to put an action plan to accomplishing my goal. My first attempts were actually pretty close. So close, that I thought that I would have it within a week… well, I didn’t.

 

I had seen my friends injure themselves while chasing their first muscle up; so I decided to be very regimented. I would only give it 3-4 attempts each time. My elbows started hurting… so I’d back off. But the whole time I was thinking about the muscle up. It became damn near all-consuming. I wanted it so badly.

Coaches and fellow CrossFittters would tell me how close I was. Each one of them offering their bit of advice.

Day in… Day out. Weeks past and I started getting frustrated.

But I thought of my friend Stacy… she was closer than I was for months! and she never once gave up. Every day she thought “this could be the day!”.

So, each time I worked on the muscle up I would video tape myself. This had two purposes.  (1) Watch in slo-mo and critique form and (2) capture the awesome moment on film  [Because let’s be honest, if a CrossFitter doesn’t use social media to document their WOD… did they really WOD?!]

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Sunday, May 4th. Open Gym Time. I ended up breaking my cardinal rule of 3 attempts. 

I tried a few pulls and didn’t feel it. I worked on various transition exercises. Attempting to drill the muscle memory into my brain. A few more pulls on the rings and I was just about to give up.  

I had been working on the muscle up for nearly 40 minutes. Today was not the day.

A friend, who was watching me while she lifted and had recently mastered the muscle up herself, came over to me. She said: “Kip bigger.”  While I appreciated the feedback, I thought to myself ” I will never get this. Be done. Walk away for the day.  You’re getting tired & frustrated“.  Well, Megan wasn’t done with her pointers. 

She bent over, picked an abmat off the floor. Walked over to my section of the rig and tossed it on the ground. She said: “Find the ab mat”.

 

You see, as I was pulling up to the rings, I never went up-over-thru-and faced down. 

I took a deep breath and said “what the hell”.

 

Setting up my grip on the rings, just like the countless times before… I paused. Looked down at the ab mat and said “Find the ab mat”.

Hang…. Swing….. KIP….. and I FOUND THE AB MAT!!

Suddenly I was no longer below the rings. I was on top of them! In the bottom of the deepest dip of my life! (Just like Jesse said). I pushed out of the dip and once I was fully extended at the top. I could not believe it!!

I didn’t want to come down. Then I almost freaked and didn’t know how to come down….  but i did. And as soon as my feet hit the ground I proclaimed “THE AB MAT!” 

I was so excited that for the remainder of open gym I couldn’t do a damn thing. I was giddy. I was almost shaking I was so happy.  

Since then, I’ve had one more successful muscle up. After getting one, it’s almost more stressful because the bar has been raised. I am confident that if I keep working at it… I will be able to string them together in no time.

 

So, as it turns out… I didn’t need twelve months.  I just needed:

 – 5 months to think about it

– 1 month to get over my fear of accomplishing something (and proving to myself that I could do it).  

 – and 1 month of hard work

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
― Marianne WilliamsonA Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

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Muscle Ups

This week, on April 1st, I officially decided to start trying for the elusive Muscle Up. I set a goal for myself, back on my 33rd birthday, to have this accomplished by my 34th birthday. I figured, since nearly 6 months have gone by…. I should get a move on. It’s not going to just magically appear one day.

I know I have all the “pieces” of a muscle up… so now I just have to make the magic happen and string them all together.  

Here’s a video from my third day attempts. I’ve also decided to take a note from some of the other girls at the box – who once they decided they wanted to work on their muscle ups, did not stop – and many of them ended up injured.  I allow myself 2-3 solid attempts per day (that I’m at the box) in order to avoid injury and burnout.  I don’t know if this is good or bad, but so far… I’ve had 4 day (11 attempts) and I can feel things already getting better.

Surely it won’t be long now!

 

 

 

I’ve watched my own video, and many others like it, many in slow motion. And I know that I’m not getting up and over and all the way through.  One of my friends, Stacy, who recently got her first muscle up – here’s a screen shot of her awesome transition position.  It really is the worlds biggest, most violent sit up. See how she’s looking down at the ground…. I need to do that.

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And While we’re on the subject, here is Camille from the CrossFit Games.  Slow Motion Muscle up.  My coach tells me that she is very inefficient, but I think it looks beautiful.

 

 

 

2014 CrossFit Open Rx

There are so many reasons I enjoy doing the Open. Namely, it gives me a goal – a benchmark – a measurement of progress.

While many people will measure themselves against their friends, against other members at their box, or against the elite athletes…. we must not forget that we need to measure against ourselves.

I went into the 2014 Open a mere NINE WEEKS after having the medical “all clear” from my orthopedic surgeon. I was not fully recovered (my timeline was more along the 12 months compared to some who see full recovery in 6 months)…. I thought there would be a WOD that I would not be able to complete. 

You see, in the Open you are not allowed to scale the workout. This is the only time in crossfit that we don’t scale. In order to mark your score on the leaderboard, you must do the workout as prescribed.

Now, here I sit, FIVE Weeks later and I completed EVERY. SINGLE. WORKOUT.  As prescribed. 

It’s not a matter of bragging, or a matter of pride, but simply it is an awesome sense of accomplishment. 

****
 

Ten months ago, I tore my ACL.
Nine months ago, I underwent extensive reconstructive ACL surgery and meniscus repair.  
Eight months ago, I could barely raise my own straight leg. 
Seven months ago, I could not walk down stairs without holding on to the hand rail. 
Six months ago, I struggled to straighten my leg completely. 
Five months ago, I couldn’t walk a quarter mile on the sandy beach without aches and pains. 
Three months ago, I got the “all clear” to do whatever my body was capable of… ……

***
Two months ago, I signed up for the 2014 CrossFit Open.
Yesterday, I completed the 2014 CrossFit Open.  

****

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3 new PRs

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This has been quite an exciting week on all fronts. 
 
So let’s see, on the professional front…. it was my busy week. But through it all I stayed focused and level headed. I made a diligent effort to rise early in the morning so that I would have time to leave (workout) and log back on in the evenings. 
 
I got my yearly review and raise. Nice to know that my hard work over 2013 was appreciated and I’m being compensated fairly.
 
On the personal front… I’ve been quite productive.  Last Saturday I sold my 2006 Scion tC. That was a somewhat bitter sweet day. I bought that car, brand new, in February of 2006. She was a good car. But between the Jeep, Escape, Scion, and G’s work Trailblazer… we just had too many vehicles.
 
Another personal/home front, I filed our taxes this weekend. This is the first year in a few years that we will finally not owe (and Owe a LOT). The past couple years were some freak anomalies…and this year we have a nice small(ish) return coming to us. 
 
Okay, and the fitness front… holy hell this has been a very exciting week!!
 
One of my good friends at CrossFit finally got her first Muscle Up!  She has been working on it for many months. She’s seen many other people get their firsts’ in the gym.  She nursed a sore shoulder. But through it all, she continued to try.  Finally… it clicked for her. And I couldn’t be more excited for her!
 
 
 
I’ve got THREE new 1 Rep Max PR’s
 – 156 lbs BackSquat 
 – 105 lbs Strict Press
 – 265 lbs Deadlift  
 
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The back squat was on Sunday. My left knee/quad is still slowly making gains from the ACL surgery nearly 9 months ago.  I feel like my back squat should be more…but I know I need to be patient, it will come.
 
The strict press was completed on Tuesday. I know that I could do a 4 reps a 85lbs… so I wasn’t quite sure what to look for in my 1RM. Turns out, 105lbs was it! I had to take two runs at it… funny how 100lbs went up “easy” but adding 5 lbs made it feel so heavy. I didn’t breath right or tighten my core and barely lifted it above my nose.  Taking a breather and re-approaching the bar with all the right form… I got 105 lbs up!
 
Then on Thursday, I found another PR. This was probably the most shocking. I’ve never really found my 1RM Deadlift. Before the injury i had lifted 170lbs; but during the Open WOD 14.3 I ended up lifting 185 lbs for 19 reps. So, I knew I had to be at least 200-something. Most of the girls I workout with have ~225lb so that’s what I was shooting for…. it went up rather easy. Building up slowly (because I didn’t know where to aim) I kept going. I was ready to stop, so that we could get on with the WOD but my coach decided to have me do it one more time.  He loaded up the bar (I didn’t do the math) and he told me to lift it.  And I did!  265 lbs.  And while it was hard… I do not think it was my MAX effort.  BOOM. 
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Having these milestone markers will really help me gauge where I am (where I’ve been) and where I am going in the strength department.
 
And then … there’s the CrossFit Open.  For many people it seems to be getting harder, but for me It’s been getting easier. Considering it started with Double Unders, that’s really the only directly it could go for me.  
 
Since we only have one more week of the Open remaining, I’ll just wait to post a recap when complete.
 
Hell of a week, my friends.  I look forward to another great one!
 
Oh – and Happy Spring! (This is first day of spring 2012, downtown STL)
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New Years Goals

I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions. But I do enjoy setting New Year’s Goals for myself. So…let’s check in on my 2013 Goals and set some new ones for 2014!

 

I did not do so great on my 2013 goals. But, the year threw me some curve balls and I was literally physically unable to do many of them. I will not let that discourage me.

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Fitness:

  • do 1 unassisted pull up << DONE!!! In fact, I got 10 kipping pull ups.  (Now on to a Strict Pullup, See 2014 Goals)
  • handstand walk << Nope… not yet
  • run 1 mile in 7:30min <<< Nope… dang ACL
  • run half marathon (?) <<<< Triple Nope

Personal:

  • blog 20x per month << Nope. My best months were Jan/Feb @11 each.  Worst months were May/Dec @2 each
  • take more pictures << Check! Subscribing to the iCloud has helped free up much more room on my phone for more pictures!
  • volunteer 1x per month << Negative. I did 3 volunteer projects. That’s not even 1 a quarter!
  • be free of credit card debt (so close!) << Hip-Hip-Hoorah!  Yes, this one is done. And baby it feels so good.
  • save $xxx << i have a specific number, just not putting it out here << Nope. A drastic reduction in income and extra medical expenses stood in the way here.
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And now… time for my 2014 Goals…..
 

Fitness:

  • do 3  strict pull ups (this should be done by 34th birthday!)
  • do 1 Muscle Up (also, to be done by 34th birthday!)
  • get 50+ double unders.  (pre surgery i was at 47. now, post surgery i’m at 8)
  • deadlift bodyweight x1.5 (pre surgery my 2 Rep Max was 170lbs) 
  • get back to running (comfortably with knee…maybe a 5k?)
  • try yoga a few more times (bikram sounds awesome)
  • and most importantly.. NO MAJOR INJURIES!!!!

Personal: (let’s try some of these again – with a slightly lower bar!)

  • blog 10x per month
  • volunteer 1x per quarter
  • complete the 365grateful project for myself
  • get mail organized and keep it that way
  • save 2+ month’s salary
  • take a girls trip with my mom and/or visit family
  • make more dinner/lunch dates with friends & other couple friends

Mexico Recap and Goals for a 33 year old

 

 

I’m working on a video/photo montage to recap our trip… we had a wonderful time. And most of the 7 days (total vacation was 9 days, but I’m excluding the two travel days) were pretty much mirror images of each other. Other than the day that I had to ice my knee by the pool… our days looked like this.

 

Sleep in until 8am

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Breakfast at Oceana around 9am

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Lay by the infinity pool or under a beach hut until sometime mid-day. Laying out, reading, drinking, sleeping.

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Maybe workout, maybe don’t (G did much more)

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Lunch was usually a ProBar or something from the lobby snacks.

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Hang out in the infinity pool, drinking, making friends, sleeping.

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Random activities for Gregg (Ping Pong, Beach Soccer, Rock Climbing)

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Watch the sunset (From either pool or beach)

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Head up to room, soak in hot tub, shower and get ready (we didn’t take any dinner pictures!)

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Dinner around 930pm (again, failed at any shots of us all dressed up)

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All in all, we had a WONDERFUL time.  But, you can see how that would not make for exciting blogging. But it does make for a very relaxing vacation! there were several days at the beginning that I struggled. I wanted to do more than layout. I did try to take several walks on the sand and yoga. And that disabled my knee for a day. My mind is in a different place, this year I longed to participate in more activities. So it took some mental work, but I soon embraced the R&R.

 

Change of topic: Goal Setting Time

Prior to my 34th Birthday (exactly one year from today) I want to be able to:

  1. Have 3 Strict, Perfect Form Pull Ups
  2. Have 1 Muscle Up

During open gym today, I got started on this goal. I will try to give regular recaps of my progress.  Here’s the beginning baseline:

  1. 3 Strict Pull Ups, Blue Band
  2. Skill work on Bar MU. Getting chest ‘over’ and not ‘to’ the bar. Using Blue & Red bands.

I have a long ways to go… this will be a fun journey!

Six-Month-Long Gymnastics Program

Shortly after I tore my ACL (actually, it was after the diagnosis and surgery determination) I found an article in the CrossFit Journal that delivered just the message that I needed to hear. This message has stuck with me throughout my pre-hab, my surgery, recovery, and rehab.

The article is from the Archives (originally published in May 2005) and it’s called “Working Wounded”. You can find a copy online here.

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I strongly encourage you to read the entire article. Even if you’re not injured. It will help you understand my perspective, if nothing else. But, if your time is too precious and you can only read my blog post… here are a few of the best excerpts. [editor’s note: “Mac” is the hypothetical patient that Glassman is writing about. “Mac” had disabled right leg]

Injury, like illness, is an ineluctable fact of life.
In sport, elite performers are more marked
by the attitude and manner with which they
deal with injury
than by their elected course
of treatment or by the severity or frequency of
their injuries.
 

We will start with a checklist of some goals for upper
body performance. [example case] Mac currently has 20 pull-ups; he’s
going to have 40 in six months. Similarly, his handstand
push-ups will increase from 10 to 25, and consecutive
muscle-ups from 3 to 15. We might set ten or so goals
for Mac in this way. These goals should be past what Mac
has thought he would ever be capable of. He will achieve
these goals because fate has dealt him the specialist’s
hand and he will reap the specialist’s rewards.
  

Whatever potential development Mac missed by having
to forego the full range of workouts following his injury
is going to be replaced with skills that he was not likely
to have developed otherwise.
The exact nature of the
tradeoff is necessarily blurred, as an unknown loss in
potential is exchanged for a measurable, valuable, and
potent adaptation attributable directly to the injury’s
effect on his training. Now that is rehab.

 

All that being said, I made a few goals for my “six-month-long intensive gymnastics program”. That included Skin the Cat. It was a few months before I could even work on them…but now, over the past month, I have excelled in ways I never thought possible.

Here’s a video of me having some fun at Open Gym on Sunday.

 

Not only can I skin the cat pretty damn good… I can also, 

 

I miss the barbell. I miss weight lifting. But all that will come… in due time. For now… it’s just me and the rings….

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Training for a Run… but not from Running

So, I’ve been doing CrossFit for a little over four months. Before CF I was training for a half marathon for four months. Then I blew out my meniscus and I haven’t really been running much since then.

In early 2012, during my half training, I averaged a 11:00 min/mile (or so). Looking back at my log, my “fastest” runs where I averaged under 10:30 were the short runs (3miles or so).

This is the weekend one of the biggest St. Louis running weekends. The annual Go! STL marathon, half marathon, and relay are all taking place tomorrow. I registered for the 5k run/walk last fall, as I was recovering from the knee surgery (and before starting CrossFit). I saw it as serving two purposes… #1 I’d have something to “train” for and yet at the same time #2 I wouldn’t be over committed.

Well, then… I fell in love with CrossFit. I started going to 314 several times a week… and I’d only run if it was programmed in the WOD.

I forgot I had this 5k… until just a few weeks ago. I told myself that I’d run for two weeks leading up to it. 

I didn’t. I went to CrossFit instead.

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When I thought about “opting” out and not showing up at the starting line today, Gregg helped set my mind straight. I had to go.

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Waking up this morning, I felt off. My stomach was upset with me (probably nerves) and I had no idea what to expect from myself.

I showed up at the ‘packet pickup’ promptly at 715am. It was 45 mins before the race was to start. I hate being pre-race solo. I didn’t like it for the Halloween run downtown and I hated it this morning. So I decided to set a goal for myself, I wanted to maintain a 10min pace and not take any walk breaks. I knew this was a “stretch” goal for me, considering how I felt on during Friday’s WOD that had three 400m runs.

But without a lofty goal, I won’t push myself.

In the starting line I met a young middle school girl who was clearly nervous. She had never run a race before and she was only doing it to participate in her school’s “Read, Write, Run” program. I told her the most important thing was that she had fun…. 

 And then, it was time to run.

The first mile felt slow. Very bogged down and crowded. I lined up too far back from the starting line.

At 1.5miles they had a water station. It seemed silly and unnecessary for such a short run, but my lips were feeling chapped and I needed just a little something. This was a bad idea, I didn’t stop, slow down, or try to pay attention to my drink. Sloshing it all over myself I took a sip, half of it going down the wrong pipe, and throwing the cup away. Only a quarter of a mile later I got a cramp/stitch in my side that lasted the next full mile. But I just kept running… 

Keeping an eye on my time and being mindful of my pace… I realized I was going to make my goal! 

Crossing the finish line at 29:58 I felt so good. My ankles and knee ached but I accomplished my stretch goal!  I finished 27th in my age division (top 11%).

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Honestly, I was shocked. Not having run any distance longer than 800m with any consistency in the past four months, I went out and ran 3.1 miles (no walk breaks). Compare that to the Halloween 5k that I ran in October (33:04) with several walk breaks and that’s a HUGE 3:30min PR.

 

I may not have been “Training” for a 5k…but I am certainly stronger. Both physically and mentally. I’m learning how to push myself. I’m learning how to set goals…. and achieve them.

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And now, let me tell you a secret… the racing bug may have bitten me again….. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

As I mentioned before, I was at a retreat (of sorts) this past week. It was a class on developing my leadership abilities. My company puts great value in developing it’s leaders, and as such they flew in 36 of us from around the company to have quiet reflective time and develop our own leadership skills. 

It was a fantastic week. I met so many interesting people and learned so many valuable (life) lessons. 

They asked all participants to stay on the campus… it was like an all inclusive resort. At first, I had a negative attitude about it. But being there, I quickly saw the value.

I’m still gathering all my thoughts, actions, and “ah-ha” moments from the week. I would like to share them with you soon. Because not only are the lessons I learned useful in a business environment… I think they are applicable in every day situations (home, gym, church, etc)

While at the conference, I had no access to my crossfit box. They did have a very nice “hotel-like” gym. I never thought I’d say this, but I really missed my barbell.... Every day I took my jump rope in there and worked on Double Unders in addition to having a great cardio workout.

I got to “play” on Jacob’s Ladder. That thing SMOKED me pretty quick.  I climbed approx 13 stories in 20 minutes.

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They had really nice rowers… with the water you couldn’t change the resistance, but it provided a super smooth stroke.

WaterRower Rowing Simulator

Day 2 of working on Double Unders I got 17 (prior max was 8!). Day 3 I got a whopping 25!!! My goal is to get to 50 by the end of the month. There’s definitely something to say for practice, practice, practice!!

Practice 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Crossfit Games. The workout 13.2 was sort of an old school crossfit triplet. 

10 minute “As Many Reps As Possible” (AMRAP). (Weights for Women noted below)

5 Shoulder to Overhead (75lbs)

10 Deadlifts (75lbs)

15 Box Jumps (20″)

I was hoping for 6-8 rounds. I ended up with 6+28 (which means I was 2 box jumps shy of 7 full rounds)… or 208 reps

I’m really happy with my score. Of course, I’d like to have had more…but I feel like I made it in the range of my goal.

 

Today at the gym I took it easy. Worked on my snatch (68 lbs was a struggle today due to shoulders being fatigued). The snatch is such a complicated movement, but I’m excited to be working at it and getting stronger. 

Just as I was getting ready to crab about the week ahead, I found this…. 

Monday perspective

I have a goal to be more positive and project a better perspective on things. And this simple little picture surely helps me do that!