New strength cycle…

Now that the CrossFit Open is done, seems it’s time to get back to business at the box. This includes starting a new strength cycle with our coaches.

Wasn’t quite sure what that meant until last night and ooh boy it’s going to be a doozy. Coach Drea is mixing things up a bit this time. We’re doing strength, but not like we have been. More metcon, less focus on a single movement with more reps.

If you don’t know what a “metcon” is, Robb Wolf defines it as (excerpted from his post on “The Case for the Short Metcon”):

“The ‘Metcon’ (short for metabolic conditioning) is a staple of CrossFit style training. Typically it is two to three exercises repeated for rounds. A classic example from CrossFit is one called “Cindy”, one round consisting of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, and 15 squats. This is repeated for 20 minutes and scored based on the number of rounds completed.”

reading-the-wod-memeToday’s workout came in two parts… The first part combines a few strength movements with higher rep counts. The second was just there to make us sweat I think.

I arrived a bit later than I wanted and found the rest of my 9:30 class running a 400m to warm-up, so I dodged in the door, dropped off my stuff, and joined them. It was myself, Caleb, Joe, and Yolanda (I didn’t catch her name, but I think that was it). We worked with Coach Drea. Most of the 8:30 class had already popped out by the time I got there, but I did get to say hi to Danielle and Larry.

We warmed up with an empty barbell and did a 3 minute barbell series… 10 deadlifts. 10 strict press. 10 back squats. Lather, rinse, repeat. A bit of an abbreviated bear complex, but it worked to get things moving.

Once that was done we talked about the workout…

  • Deadlift – Work up to heavy set of 5 reps, touch and go.
  • Strict Press – 3×5
  • Pullups – 3x Max Rep Strict Pullups

Caleb and I worked together. Joe did his thing. And Yolanda worked a lot with Drea, which was cool.

Olympic weightsDeadlift-wise, we started with 135#, jumped to 225#, then popped up to 275#. Once we got to 5x at 275#, we both were less “touch and go” and more “crash to the ground without letting go, reset, and go again.” So I dropped weight-wise a bit to 255# and that felt better. Caleb went up to 305# and made it look easy.

From there we went to the strict press. Tried 135# off the bat, but it didn’t feel right to me so we went down. Ended up doing 5 reps each at 95#, 115#, and got to 4 reps at 135# before I lost it. Caleb pushed and got as far as 175# twice before he stopped.

Looking back at my PRs list, back in February 2015 my one rep max was 125# for a strict shoulder press. Considering I did that 5x today and 4x at 135#, I think my one rep may be going up.

After that, we did the pull-ups. And, as Larry rightfully pointed out today, my “strict pull-ups” are more chin-ups because of my hand position. I can’t yet do an overhand strict pull-up after 3 years of crossfit. But I can do a few with an underhand grip, so that’s what I did. And I managed sets of 4, 3, and 2 – which honestly I’m happy with. I expected it to be more like 3-2-1.

45-Plate-BWThus ends the “fun” part of this workout.

Then we did a 6 round series:

  • 6 ground-to-overhead with a 45/25# plate
  • 12 plate overhead walking lunges (each leg) – same plate
  • 24 Russian twists – same plate

Ugh.

Any time there’s “lunges” in a workout, I’m immediately screwed. Even after putting knee sleeves on, I was all over the place. Trying to keep the plate locked out overhead, I was completely unbalanced and couldn’t figure how to get my knees to the ground. So I rested it on my shoulders behind my head and did it that way for a while. Eventually I left the weight out completely and just did the lunges – and even those sucked.

So I got through 4 rounds of that mess in about 20 minutes and called it good so I could get back to work. Meanwhile Caleb finished his in about 22 minutes and Joe got through 4 or 5 rounds before he cut out.

Not my idea of a good time, but that’s why you go to crossfit. Every day is different. Some days you get movements you like and sometimes you don’t. 🙂

Thanks Caleb for working with me today – was nice to see ya! And I can hardly wait to see what Drea has in store for the rest of this week. HA!

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Go ahead and jump (on the box)

After Friday night and completing 16.5 (aka 14.5) for the 2016 CrossFit Open, I have to say that I didn’t do much over the weekend. We watched a lot of TV and hung out at home mostly. It was entertaining to feel different muscles complain on different days…

Anyway, the Open is done. Long live the Open. Now it’s time to get back to our regularly scheduled crossfit. 🙂 This week we’ll get back to a few scattered WODs and a Saturday Team WOD if life cooperates. If not, we’ll always say it should have.

20160328_104214Arrived at CrossFit Continuum for a 9:30am class today. The 8:30 class was finishing up – Monica, Lisa, Connie, Danielle, Adrienne, Larry, and a few other folks were putting things away and moving to the other room to do the #ROMWOD for the day. Didn’t sound like it was too bad, so I wasn’t too alarmed.

Turned out that Ashley and Andrea were going to do 16.5 before the deadline and I would be doing the day’s workout by myself. And that was fine.

11karpCoach Drea had me warm-up with a kettle-bell (55#)… did some sumo deadlift high-pulls, some backstroke and arm circles, squats, and regular kettle-bell swings before warming up with an empty barbell for the sumo deadlift high-pulls in the workout. We haven’t done them in a while, but they didn’t feel too bad. Even when I added weight, they weren’t awful.

The workout involved 12 minutes of box jumps and SDHP.

  • 1 minute of 30-inch box jumps
  • 1 minute of 115-lb. sumo deadlift high pulls
  • 2 minutes of 30-inch box jumps
  • 2 minutes of 115-lb. sumo deadlift high pulls
  • 3 minutes of 30-inch box jumps
  • 3 minutes of 115-lb. sumo deadlift high pulls

20160328_104209Now, I didn’t quite do it as prescribed. My body is still a little out of whack after last week – knees and hips especially. So I did 95# on the bar and a 20″ box. I probably could have done a 24″ box and thought I might warm up to them, but after struggling to get up on the 20″ box (my brain gets in the way) I honestly didn’t get that far. 30″ is still out of the realm of possibility if you ask my brain.

  • In the first two minutes I got through 10 box jumps and 11 SDHPs.
  • In the next four minutes I got through 10 box jumps and 14 SDHPs.
  • And in the last six minutes I got through 25 box jumps and 19 SDHPs.

Honestly my brain got in the way. I stood at the box for probably 30-45 seconds in that second round trying to convince my body to just go – and it rebelled. It did it again in the last round but had more time, so I got more done.

Not my finest hour, but 98 total reps in 12 minutes was… well, sad.

20160328_104320The box jump is one of those strange movements where my brain just doesn’t communicate with my body. Once I prime the pump and get one done, I can usually get a few more – but as soon as I stop, I’m screwed. There’s a built in “um, no” factor somehow. I wish I knew why.

Once that was done, I went and did the day’s #romwod – which was uncomfortable, but doable. And then I watched Andrea finish up 16.5. Ashley had finished while I was in the other room and got it done in about 30 minutes. Andrea finished in about 33. And yes, it sucked, but they finished – so great job!

I’ve been impressed with everybody who has done that damn workout… It sucks. It’s done. Huzzah!

We’ll see if tomorrow goes any better. 🙂

Great work everybody! Have a great day!

Farewell 2016 CrossFit Open and Thank You Continuum Family

The CrossFit Open has come to an end with the completion of 16.5 and that offers an opportunity to take a look at the 2016 Open as a whole for me and what it means going forward. Feel free to tune out if you want, because this gets a little bumpy.

First, I took a different approach this year than in 2014.

In 2014, I felt peer pressure to join the Open and because of the lack of scaling that year I was overwhelmed by the end. The whole competition thing didn’t sit well with me and eventually I could no longer get out of my own way. I blamed it on the clock, but as I’ll talk about later, with some distance I don’t think it was the clock at all.

This year I competed with only one goal: to finish every workout. Mission accomplished.

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Second, because I was simply hoping to finish every workout I was less mentally affected by factors like the clock, having to scale, and ultimately my score. Was I pushing for the best score I could within the adjusted zone? Sure. But once I got over my mini-freakout after 16.3, I settled back down and could simply “enjoy” each WOD in turn.

Third, I managed to do a few things this year I wasn’t able to do the last time.

Though chest-to-bar pull-ups are still a goat, I managed to get through multiple rounds of the jumping variety, which I had never tried before.

And I attempted a prescribed handstand push-up on the wall with no ab mats or weights on the floor, which I managed to accomplish. Once. I haven’t tried it a second time, but I was ecstatic to get it that one time.

Those may seem minor in the grand scheme of things when compared to other folks getting bar muscle-ups for the first time, but for me – I will take both of those to the bank. Someday I may achieve a bar muscle-up, but not until I get a real chest-to-bar, so this is progress. And I was happy. 🙂

Lastly, I’ve come to realize over the last few weeks what my biggest issue is and has always been: an aversion to pain.

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Yeah, I know that may sound like a wimpy thing. But it’s not.

It started with Little League and not being able to play because running on a dusty field caused me to throw up every day after practice as a result of my childhood asthma. It continued with failure after failure in PE courses due to a lack of coordination, endurance, and strength. Running still sucks. A spectacular fail attempting hurdles during PE one year has haunted me for years. And who in the heck hyper-extends and pops their jaw (leading to my TMJ issues that still causes me issues) during a bench press in high school weights class? This guy.

Sure, I played basketball for a couple of seasons in junior high – even continued helping with the team after I had a seizure on the basketball court and we discovered my wacky thyroid issue, which led to many other realizations about physical limitations.

Eventually I stopped trying physically. I did enough to get by and nothing more.

Then… crossfit.

Honestly, except for the running thing I hardly ever hit the point of no return with pain. There’s a difference between going to muscle fatigue for me and true pain. When I hit true pain, I usually hit a hard stop.

Now, after some reflection – 14.5 was not about the clock as I thought. It was about the pain factor. So facing it in 16.5 again was very ironic. And I thank goodness that there was an army of friends and family between me and the door.

Without them there, I would have made a run for it.

I hit the pain point in the set of 21. By the 18s I was ready to quit. In the 15s it began to shift somehow to just going one cursed rep at a time. And when breathing became my priority, seeing who was around me became less important – because I knew they were there. Every rep.

I know Clare was joking about putting the boxes in front of the door, but that’s essentially what everybody was doing. Ray, John, Shaun, and Dan were there even when I couldn’t really focus on them, as was my family. Everybody was there cheering me on one painful movement at a time.

11iebvThank goodness they were there.

I still don’t like pain. And every rep was pain. It took multiple breaths just to convince my body to get up and down or push the bar over my head.

Was it cathartic to finish this damn workout that I couldn’t bring myself to finish two years ago? Yes. Did it hurt? Yes. Do I want to do it again? Hell no.

How is this going to color future workouts? I really have no idea.

14.5 no longer hangs over my head like the Sword of Damocles. I guess I have Castro to thank for that.

No, that’s a lie. I have my friends and family at the box to thank for it.

I was stronger because of them.

Thank you.

16.5 is Done. Finally.

I knew the 2016 CrossFit Open was going to throw me some curve balls this year. And it did. But I wasn’t prepared to redo 14.5 as 16.5. Apparently Castro likes his curve balls.

If you don’t remember, 14.5 is the reason I didn’t do the 2015 Open. I walked out in the middle of 14.5. Simply stopped my workout, opened the door, and walked outside. I was ticked at myself. I was embarrassed. I was upset. It was not a good day. And I really didn’t want to revisit it.

So thanks Castro. Apparently you like your dramatic irony. When I watched the 16.5 announcement, I made a decision that I wouldn’t care about my time. I would do everything I could to face away from the running clock. And I would finish the damn thing.

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I even announced that on Facebook and quite a few of our crossfit friends offered encouragement and kind words.

Was I really prepared for 16.5 when I got to CrossFit Continuum tonight? Probably not. I watched several different groups of our athletes suffer through it. Some did well – getting times under 20 minutes. Others pushed to 30. And some went as far as 40. But everybody gutted it out and finished.

When it came time for our heat, my whole family joined in the “fun” – along with a few others. Coach Clare. Coach Ray. And the four of us. I did it Rx (95#), as did my wife (65#). Mickey did it at Rx for her age group (45#) and AJ did it scaled at 25#.

So how’d it turn out? Ev finished in 30:30. Mickey in 24:42. And AJ in 19:38. They all kicked ass.

That just left me. I had Shaun judging and he was kind, but kept me moving along. And it sucked.

It really sucked. Did I mention that it sucked? By the time I got through the round of 21, I was sucking wind. Through 18 I wanted to die. And by 15 I really wanted to walk out the door.

 

Coach Clare had threatened to pile boxes in front of the door the night before on Facebook. And when we saw her before our heat she said she had done some entertaining things to our car so we couldn’t escape. (It was snowing pretty good outside by that point, but we knew she was joking. 😉 )

Everybody’s heart was in the right place. They wanted to see me succeed – and “success” in that case wasn’t breaking any records with time – it was just finishing the damn thing.

By the time I got through the round of 15, I had a few other folks cheering me on. Greg. John. Dan. And I heard other voices behind and around me. But it was all I could do to keep breathing. Keep standing. Keep falling. Keep pushing the bar above my head.

Did I mention that it sucked?

Before too much longer I had Coach Ray motivating me (he’d already finished his own workout) and that helped. I had a lot of help, honestly. And though I was swearing like a sailor in my head, I didn’t have the breath to do much more than mutter.

I discovered a new way to do burpees. My shoulders were unhappy and the falling to the ground has never been one of my most efficient moves. So by round 12 I started doing a bit of an army crawl… get down on my elbows, fall the rest of the way, then scrunch up like I was doing knees to elbows on my belly to get to my knees – then step up one leg at a time.

It was far from efficient. It was god awful ugly in fact. But it worked. One at a time.

The thrusters weren’t as much of a problem, though by the end I would sometimes get one done and have to drop the bar, then do 2 more or 3 more, etc.

It took me 46:56 to complete the workout. But damn it, I finished.

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Why do I do crossfit? Because I have a family encouraging me. Some are blood. Some are family by sweat. All are friends I will help do damn near anything I think if they asked.

They said I showed grit and courage to finish. But the truth is that if they weren’t there to cheer me on and somehow block the way to the door, I might have made a run for it.

But I didn’t. I had my wife and daughters cheering me on. I had coaches and athletes cheering me on. And though many of them kicked ass with their own workouts there wasn’t any judgment – no looking down their noses because I took FOREVER to finish the damn thing. Just love and encouragement.

Crossfit is pretty damn awesome.

But Castro – you kinda suck. Not sure I’ll do the Open again next year. I’ll wait until next year to determine if it happens or not. But if you work 14.5 back into the mix again I may have to send a flaming bag of poo your direction. 🙂

Thank you, thank you, thank you – to everybody who offered encouragement. I don’t think I would have had the strength to finish without it. I really wanted to quit. Really.

But I didn’t and can now cross 14.5 – I mean 16.5 – off the list. And I hope I don’t have to do anything even remotely like it again for a long time.

The 2016 CrossFit Open is done. Thank goodness. 🙂

Burpees still don’t like me either

That’s right. Burpees. The movement damn near every crossfit athlete I know loves to hate.

Made it to CrossFit Continuum for a 9:30 class in time to see the 8:30 class finishing up the actual workout today. Wondered why until I heard from Coach Bill that Drea had added a series of bench press to the mix. Didn’t look like fun, but I was already in the room. 🙂

Bear-Complex-400x400We had a busy class today for Bill… Karen, Joel, me and the girls, Michael & Ant, Melissa, and a new family – Hillary and her three kids; Chandler, Colton, and Riley. 12 of us in all I think.

Started with a 3 minute warm-up of the Bear Complex with an empty barbell. Power clean. Thruster. Back squat. Start again. Was a good way to warm up.

Once that was done, we split up to tackle the bench press…

  • 21-15-9 bench press

I worked with Joel and Chandler. He did all of his sets with 95#, which is what we warmed up with. Joel and I increased weight to 115#, 135#, and 155#. And I have to say was good for a while, but that was a lot of reps. 🙂

  • 115# – one set of 10 and one of 11
  • 135# – one set of 9 I think and then 3 and 3
  • 155# – one set of 6, then 2 and 1

rogue-black-med-ball-web6_1My one rep max is 220# (set back in November), but we haven’t done a lot of bench. It was a great addition to the day.

Then… we dealt with the sucky part of the workout. For time…

  • 20/14-lb. medicine ball cleans, 42 reps
  • 21 burpees
  • 20/14-lb. medicine ball cleans, 30 reps
  • 15 burpees
  • 20/14-lb. medicine ball cleans, 18 reps
  • 9 burpees

Not a fan of either of these movements. They didn’t like me either, so I think we were even. Took me 15:48 to finish up, but I did it with the 20# ball and sucked wind a lot.

AJ & Mickey didn’t do the workout part after the bench press – instead they did a mile run and got it done in about 9 minutes.

Have to say it was a fun class. Lots of energy. Good folks.

Thanks Bill as always for your enthusiasm and great work everybody!

March 22, 2016 at 1141AM

Row row row some more…

With 16.4 out of the way and 16.5 on the horizon, I was actually hoping to get back to the box on Saturday for a team workout but the cloud of sickness settled on our house. Had both kids come down with stomach flu Saturday and my wife was feeling ill by Sunday night (and called in sick this morning). Thus far I have managed to avoid the illness, so please send good vibes my way that it continues.

That said, I had a couple of good recovery days where we hung around the house and watched a lot of television (including more than half of the 2nd season of Daredevil). So it wasn’t a bad weekend, just an unproductive one.

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I do have to admit that my quads were more than a little sore after 16.4, but I’m still moving around. So this morning I knew I needed to get back into the box.

Coach Drea wrangled our group and I was joined by Larry & Karen, Joel, and Andrea. After some warm-ups (high kicks across the floor, knee hugs, high knees jogs, bounding, etc) we got started.

Today’s workout was a mirror image to the one we did last week. For time…

  • Run 400 meters, rest 1 minute
  • Run 800 meters, rest 2 minutes
  • Run 1,200 meters, rest 3 minutes
  • Run 1,600 meters

And we were supposed to compare our time to what we did last time.

February 29, 2016 at 1109AMWell, by now you know me and running… so I hit the rower again.

  • Row 500 meters, rest 1 minute
  • Row 1000 meters, rest 2 minutes
  • Row 1,500 meters, rest 3 minutes
  • Row 2,000 meters

Last time I got 28:35. This time I got… 28:30. So I was pretty darned close. And I was amused to have a pretty good chat with Coach Drea during the 2,000m row where I really wasn’t out of breath – just keeping a consistent pull.

I was pretty happy with that. 🙂

And once everybody was done (Joel & Larry finished fast – Andrea cut 7 minutes off her time from last week, which was phenomenal – and Karen finished in about 30 mins) we headed to the other room for the #romwod. Not sure I feel all #swoleandflexy but definitely got some good stretching for hips into the mix.

Great work everybody!

16.4 is done, thank goodness

Yes, that’s right. Though 16.4 was announced right here in Colorado Springs, that didn’t make it any better. However… and this is a big however… this is the first workout of the Open that I felt like I could do all of the movements. Maybe not fast, but I could do them. Well, most of them – but I’ll talk about that in a minute.

We arrived at Crossfit Continuum and immediately starting cheering on our fellow athletes. There were a lot of them and our coaches had us sign up in heats of 4 people since we have four rowers.

If you’ve been hiding from the Open, here’s the workout for 16.4… It was a 13-min. AMRAP:

  • 55 deadlifts (225/155#)
  • 55 wall-ball shots (20/14#)
  • 55-calorie row
  • 55 handstand push-ups

The only movement I wasn’t quite sure about was the handstand push-up. I have been able to do them with some ab mats on the ground, but I’ve never tried one flat on the floor with my head down on the ground.

11353sWell, I’m happy to say that I tried one when I warmed up and huzzah! I managed to get one! That said, I didn’t quite get that far. 🙂 My hope was to get into the row and I managed, barely, to do just that.

How did I do? I got through the deadlifts using the lift and drop, one after another. Took me less than 5 minutes to get through 55 deadlifts using this method. And I was ecstatic with that. The wall balls on the other hand… Woof. Took me the next 6+ minutes to get through the 55 of those. And I had less than a minute on the rower – got through 3 calories.

Total? Score of 113. Huzzah! I was VERY happy to get into the row – but dang I was wiped at the end. I had three folks right there cheering me on every step of the way and I was thankful for the motivation! John and Larry kept urging me forward, as did my judge Elizabeth who was awesome again.

My wife Evelyn got through 141 (that’s through 31 calories of rowing) and my daughter Mickey got through 165 (all the way through the row and attempted a few handstand push-ups). They did awesome. 🙂

Honestly we had a lot of awesomeness at the box – quite a few folks putting in their sweat and tears into deadlifts, wall balls, and rowing. But it’s a great crew, so we were all pulling for one another.

Now it’s time to get some sleep!

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