Saturday, March 19, 2016

"The Question isn't 'can you?' It's 'will you?'"

Blogland, I admit... I (tried to) bend down to put pants on this morning, groaned like crazy and then seriously considered whether I *needed* pants today.

Since my house is a one-level ranch with a glass door that basically allows you to see the whole house if you come to the door, I did what a responsible adult would do in my situation - I quested for the Ibuprofen, then spent 30 min on the foam roller (in the privacy of my office), before revisiting the option of bending down to put on pants.

"What's the big deal about pants, today, Aja?" you say? Well... I did the CrossFit Open WOD 16.4 yesterday. Let me explain.

The prescribed (RX) WOD 16.4 was:

13-min. AMRAP:
55 deadlifts
55 wall-ball shots
55-calorie row
55 handstand push-ups
M 225 lb. / 20-lb. ball
F  155 lb. / 14-lb. ball
Scaled version was basically the same with a much lighter weight and hand-release push ups instead of HSPUs. 
So, when I read the workout for this week, I did a little happy dance. Last week's WOD was... less than fun for me, so I was REALLY really really (Really!) hoping for something I could do a little better at. Boom! This was it! Deadlifts are my jam, yo.
I watched the Elite athletes do the demo to get a sense of how long this workout was "supposed" to take. In the demo I watched, neither athlete finished the 55 HSPUs. So, I figured, it was unlikely I'd GET to the HSPUs in 13 min.... in which case.... I might be able to do it prescribed!! 
I took a moment to ponder that, realistically. I admit, that was a bit of a scary thought. When you're the fat kid in class, you sort of get used to the fact that you're always going to need to take the "regular" workout down a notch, or there's going to be something you couldn't do, etc. In this case, the deadlifts would be like 45% of my 1 rep max (which is relatively light), wall balls were at the weight I typically use in workouts and rowing is rowing, and something I'm not bad at. So... dare I do it? DARE I GO RX?!?!! EEEEEE!!! The HSPU's never really factored in to my decision making, because I was relatively sure I'd never even get to that point. Even if I did, there would be plenty of people that would get there, throw themselves at the wall for a while, and never get one anyway - I'd be in good company. Let's. Do. This.
With a renewed positive attitude, a little bit of nerves (RX, really?!), and a whole lot of excitement (who doesn't like picking things up and putting them down again!?), I hit the gym. I was feeling ready to rumble. Granted... 55 reps did seem like an awful lot of everything, but if I just kept moving, I should be good..... (famous last words?). 
(This is my pre-WOD, "I like Deadlifts!" face)
I made sure to stretch and do a decent warm up, as it was going to be a long fight of a workout. Certainly not one I wanted to go into "cold", as cold muscles and that many deadlifts would not be a great plan. In my "old age" I have finally learned that I am, in fact, not invincible, that injuries suck and that preventative measures are always the right answer. In retrospect, I wish I would've taken it one step further and worn my supportive knee sleeves for this many reps (deadlifts, plus wall balls, plus rowing.. that's a lot of knee action!), as they're feeling a bit tired today. 
So, bar loaded up to the RX weight of 155#, I chalked up my hands a bit, shook out my nerves and went to my happy place in my head. I could do this, I knew that, just had to keep my head in the game. About 30 seconds before I was about to start, one of my fellow CFW athletes came over to me and told me that he "love watching me deadlift" just because it always seemed featherweight to me. What a compliment! From there, my brain had funny images of Ronnie Coleman stepping up to his weights with his iconic "Yeahhhh buddy! LIGHTWEIGHT!" (If you're not familiar: Nothing like a good laugh to get you into the right frame of mind for some lifting!
3...2....1.... GO!
I pick things Up..... 
And so the grind began. Pick things up, put them down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 
...and I put them down...
I opened with a set of 10, as the deadlift was a comfortable weight for me, but decided to be smart (for the sake of my grip) and do sets of 5 after that. 5 reps, drop. 3 breaths. 5 reps, drop. 3 breaths. I got into a pretty good rhythm and was able to sustain it relatively easily for the whole 55 lifts.  I say "relatively" as 55 deadlifts just isn't "easy" for anyone - it's absolutely a mental game. Somewhere around 30, your brain is like... uhmmmm.... done now. But you have to override that and just keep moving. 
55 deadlifts down, and I was one of the first of my heat over to the wall balls - that means I'd made good time on the lifts, despite doing the heavier RX weight. Yes! I was off to a good start. 
My first 5-10 wall balls were REAL rough. You know what your legs do not want to do after doing a shit ton of deadlifts? They definitely do not want to squat down with any sort of precision. They also do not want to stand up "explosively" to launch a ball to a 9ft target. Nonetheless, after 10 or so really ugly, wobbly ones, my legs seem have recovered a bit and were ready to get in the game. 
However, my lungs decided that they were then on protest. Cardio is always a weakness for me, but god damn those wall balls really jack up your heart rate fast. Although, like with the deadlifts, I decided that a consistent rep scheme would help keep me on track. 5 was the plan. Throw 5, take a breather, throw 5, and just keep going until I was done. 
Wall Balls on Wobbly Legs...
25-30 wall balls in, I felt my self start to sink a bit. My "couple of breaths" between sets was starting to get a little too long. Thankfully, not only did I have Awesome Jane as my judge, I had Coach Robyn cheering me on as well - and doling out some tough love along the way. She apparently noticed the "Wall balls Suck and I can't breathe" face happening, and me slowing down, so she started counting down my "breathers".... 5 reps, then she would count down my 5 seconds of breath, then PICK UP THE BALL.  This helped, big time. I don't know about you, BlogLand, but I go near braindead during hard workouts, so if someone is yelling basic instructions to me, it's a lot easier to follow them than to think of anything else. So, down and up and pick up the ball and throw it, and repeat. 
Clawed my way to 40 lung-busting wall balls and was REALLY wanting to be done. Judge Jane announces I've got 10 left. In my WOD-haze, I think to myself, I really want to be done, and 10 wall balls is not going to kill me, or explode my lungs. Let's be done with this. 
Just like that, I finished out my wall balls in one solid set of 10, digging deep into my legs and lungs for the energy to push through them. 
There was no more satisfying moment than when that 14# ball hit the ground that last time. Ahh... DONE.
Well... done-ish. Now - still doing pretty good on time, despite being a little slower on WB's - onto the rower. 
It almost felt good to sit on the rower after all that, right up until I had to start working. I got a few good pulls in, and my body was like fuuuuuuckkkkk this (pardon my language). I was trying to keep it at a solid 900-1000 cal/hour pace, but there was a moment (I believe many would call this, Hitting the Wall..), where I had like nothing... dropped to like an 750-800cal/hour pace and wondered how I was going to finish this. 
Then, something kind of awesome happened. Judge Jane yelled at me that it was "just a MENTAL GAME". I'm not sure why, but that kind of clicked for me. I'd never died in a workout yet, even though I've felt like it. I've also gotten through a lot of crappier, longer things (Vermont Spartan Beast, I'm looking at you...). I just had to keep moving. 
Digging some energy out of my pinky toes, or wherever that last thread of it was stored, I got back into the rhythm of the row. I needed big powerful leg strokes to get the most calories out of it, but my legs felt particularly done. Thankfully, fellow awesome-CFW'er, Celia appeared over my shoulder and reminded me - LEGS!!! LEGSS!!! PUSH THROUGH YOUR HEELS!!!  Again, waaaay easier to follow directions than think for yourself at a time like this. 
Just something like 90 seconds to go, and I was back in a steady rhythm. Celia kept setting goals for me - Now let's get to 30 calories, GREAT! Let's get to 38!  - and kept pushing me further. I was soooooo close to finishing that 55 calories. 
The 30 second mark was called and I wasn't there yet. I didn't want to finish, thinking I could've done more, so I rallied with everything, and rowed as hard as I could for 20 more seconds. 
"The Starfish"
Time was called, and I'd officially clocked 39 calories... and then watched that damn rower flip over to 40, immediately after. D'oh!
After my little sprint to finish, I was allll done after this wod. I sort of stood-tumbled off the rower and into a great star-fish position, as I was 100% sure my legs were no good for standing up at that moment. 
But - I'm happy. There's always those moments you think of that, "If I'd just..." or "If I had not breathed so long there..." where you think you might've gone a little farther, but I'm totally happy with how this went. 
Proof, I did it RX!!
Not only did I go RX - which was an important milestone for me - it looks like I've ended up in the bottom of the Middle of the pack (45th-ish percentile) - of other people that went RX. That is a really great accomplishment for me. People that do RX are fit! and can do things like HSPU!... so, being the bottom of the middle of that pack is a great achievement. 
Also, I know I could not have done this workout a year ago. I am 100% certain of that. The deadlifts would've gotten done, but painfully slow, the wall balls would've killed me, and I may not have even made it to the rower. So, despite the fact I'm no where near where I want and need to be, I'm making some progress forward. 
It's a good day, BlogLand. 
... despite the fact that I can't bend over, squat down or really move in any way, today. :-)

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