Perspective

The title of this post was going to be “sometimes CrossFit sucks,” but I didn’t think that sounded too upbeat and optimistic/wasn’t sure how that would look when it came up in people’s social media newsfeeds. But, honesty time, that’s how I’ve been feeling of late.

Wait, don’t go! …it’s not all Debbie Downer. The subtitle of the post was also going to be something like “but it’s still awesome.” And the new title is a nod to how when things feel less than tacos and unicorns (that’s an inside emoji joke for my 6 AM friends), and your CrossFit life is not PR city, there’s a lot to learn. Perspective is a gift, as are the people in your life who help you get it.

I’ve written before about how there is a season for everything, in life, and of course, in CrossFit. CrossFit has oh-so-many seasons: the new love, PR all the time, “gains gains gains” phase, the “yikes, I hate to say it but I might be injured” phase, the phases where you work on one thing and see another suffer, not to mention all of the natural seasons within the “CrossFit year” (the Open, your gym’s programming, etc).

I’ve been Crossfitting now for 2 and a half years. That rosy, easy gains, PR all time phase is long-gone now (if you’re just starting out and still in your first year – enjoy it! It rocks). Not to say that I don’t PR anymore (although lately it feels that way), but the PRs are fewer and farther between, I work harder for them, and they are definitely hard earned.

And I know I’ve said this before, but now more than ever, what’s holding me back is not pure strength. It’s form, technique, and mental blocks. Things that are harder to tweak than just doing volume work to get stronger.

So, what am I getting at? Why does CrossFit suck sometimes, and what perspective have I gained?

…sometimes, the Open is done. It went ok, but you didn’t have any breakthrough, WOW, first muscle-up/chest-to-bar/clean PR moments.

Sometimes, you’ve been working your weakness (hello gymnastics) for months and months and months and you wonder if it’s made a difference AT ALL (it sure feels like no) because you still are behind where you wanted to be and feel like you can’t do what you want to do.

Sometimes, your gym has one rep max back squat day, and you hit a number that is 20 pounds BELOW your old one rep max.

Sometimes, you stopped working on your oly lifts during the Open and you feel like they suck now and you actually don’t remember how to snatch heavy anymore.

Sometimes, your gym goes through that annoying season it does every spring where you do 2 benchmark WODS a week, Fran comes up, and you STILL don’t RX it.

Sometimes, it feels like pistols and HSPUs couldn’t be more out of reach, no matter how hard you try.

Sometimes, all these things happen within a month and it feels kind of crummy. This is the time where quitting sounds appealing. Why not just walk away, throw in the towel, admit defeat and call it a day?

Well, if you’ve been reading for a while, you know that’s not how I roll. I may be down, but I am not out. I am well-accustomed to progress coming slowly, grinding it out day in and day out, and working my butt off in the face of adversity (or worse – seeming lack of progress).

So, pity party part of post over. Now for the perspective (and apparently some alliteration to boot)!

Gymnastics always has been, and likely always will be, my biggest weakness. Progress comes, but S-L-O-W-L-Y. It’s not like strength, where you can put in a month of squat volume and see your numbers shoot up. It’s teaching your body to do things it’s never done, move in ways you didn’t think possible, re-training your brain to get in uncomfortable positions, and teaching new skills. It’s gaining a sense of body awareness that was previously non-existent. When I say it like that, it’s no wonder that gymnastics comes slow for me.

I have to remember that I HAVE made serious gymnastics gains, even though it might not seem like it of late. I just have to keep chipping away, and those skills, someday, will come.

Ugh. And that back squat. It was no secret that I was not happy after the fact. My coach saw that and reminded me that, basically, in terms of my individual programming, we’ve basically done nothing with my back squat for almost 6 months (even though our gym was doing a short squat cycle), and have focussed a lot more on gymnastics. So I should EXPECT my squat to go down.

He also pointed out that my gymnastics have gotten a lot better (I need reminders because I can easily lose perspective), specifically when it comes to kipping pull-ups. And, as for the purposes of being a well-rounded CrossFit athlete, having my squat go down a bit and improving on gymnastics is way more useful in the long term.

And, on the subject of kipping pull-ups, when I was working on them last week, my coach said they looked really smooth, and the best they ever have – swoon (the way to a gymnastics-challenged crossfit girl’s heart).  So, my squat may have goneIMG_5316 down a bit, but overall, I’m moving in the right direction.

It also helps to have friends who talk you down a bit when you get upset and/take things a bit too seriously/are a bit too hard on yourself. Friends like Melissa at 6 AM, who can tell when you’re upset, and will remind you that, while the squat number you hit might not be a PR, it is still pretty darn impressive, and, (not to brag), more than a lot of other girls (and even some guys) are hitting. Friends who remind you that you’ll come back stronger, and live to squat another day.

Friends like Kellee who, when you text her in a post-squat funk, will calm you down and tell you just to “chill bro” (direct quote) and remind you that “you’re killing it at gymnastics.”

And, as for “benchmark season,” I may not have RX’ed Fran (or Angie, which we did in the same week – oof). But – my time was a minute faster than last time (first and last set of thrusters unbroken – boom!). I think I could RX it now, but it would be long, and not a total lung-burner in the “spirit of Fran” (if that’s a thing). Plus, I don’t want to do it too soon and hurt myself. But I will RX it – someday.

Oh – and on Angie, the last recorded time I had was with push-ups  from my knees and banded pull-ups, and I don’t think I even finished in the 25 minute time cap (I couldn’t quite understand what I wrote). This time, pull-ups were still banded (less), but I did ALL 100 PUSH-UPS RX. In a row (although I was down to twos by the end). And finished in just under 26 minutes.

Oh yeah, then there’s Cindy (20 minute AMRAP of 5 pull-ups. 10 push-ups. 15 squats). I RX’ed that a couple weeks ago. NBD. (Just kidding – BIG DEAL). I believe that’s the first-ever benchmark WOD with pull-ups I’ve RX’ed. Yeah. I also did 5 strict pull-ups in a WOD last weekend. So, ok, I guess that maybe my gymnastics have come along ok…

And as for those pistols? It’s April’s project of the month. My comp-prep programming is kind of short, so I’m using the extra time to do all the butt stuff, all the time. I’ve been crowd-sourcing for progressions (please weigh in if you’ve got any ideas), and try and do a few sets every day. After all, I’m not going to wish my way down to the bottom of a one-legged squat.

Perspective – it’s a gift. Another reason I like writing this blog. When I sit back and type it all out, I’m reminded that maybe CrossFit (and me at CrossFit) doesn’t suck quite so bad after all. And I’m super-grateful for perspective-giving coaches and friends.

Whatever season you’re in, enjoy the journey. Soak up PRs when they happen, learn when they don’t. Surround yourself with people who will push you harder, but more importantly, those who’ll make you laugh and always make it fun, even when you’re not feeling it.

Truth: CrossFit may still suck sometimes. But it will always be awesome in some way. You just have to stick with it. Letting the suck get you down doesn’t give yourself and your hard work nearly enough credit.

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A Tale of Two Opens

Well, another Cimage1 (3)rossFit Open is behind us. And, as I alluded to last week, I’m not entirely sorry to see it end. The Open is super-great, I think it’s really cool, and I love how it brings together the CrossFit community from all over the world. I’m definitely not sorry I did it.

But, much like last year, I was ready for it to come to a close. I won’t miss all the mind games, messing around with scheduling, picking and choosing movements to do or avoid based on what had or hadn’t come up. I’m looking forward to settling back into routine, starting a new lifting program, and focusing on other goals besides my standing on the leaderboard.

So, as promised last week, here is my Open summary post. The cool thing about not only participating in the Open two years ago but also blogging about it is that in addition to my scores and recollections, I have an actual written record to go on from one year to another. As I was writing all of my “16 on” series this year, I looked back on what I posted a year ago, and thought it would be cool to reflect back on my first two CrossFit Opens, to see what has changed, how I’ve grown, and what’s stayed the same.IMG_5306

Comparison number 1 is the first pair of pictures: me during an Open
WOD in 2015 and then during 16.2 this year (please ignore the horrible form on the clean/
give me some grace as it was during the last 10 seconds of the WOD. Also, how awesome is that pain face?).

Related to that is another comparison photo: On top my hand, casualty of T2B from 15.1 (and another T2B WOD the day before), bottom is this year, Easter Sunday, the day after completing the Open.

Why the comparison you ask? It’s not to say I ripped last year and not this year (although that’s great and true). It’s not to show off my Easter nails (although if you know me the fact that I painted my own nails and it doesn’t look like a 5 year-old did it is quite an accomplishment). It’s not a promo for Starbucks’ caramelized honey latte (pretty tasty though). Look at the ring. Same one in both photos. Index finger in 2015, and now it’s on the middle finger. Basically, it was getting too loose and I now have to wear it on a whole other finger!!! I’ll spare you body transformation details (read about it here if you haven’t) but it’s good to have tangible reminders of just far you’ve come, especially when it’s not new or fresh anymore.

And on the T2B front, I’d say that is one area where I’ve progressed SO MUCH from 2015 to 2016. I still can’t kip them (oh, to be able to kip things efficiently….). But, just think on this: 15.1 was a 9 minute AMRAP of 15 T2B, 10 deadlifts and 5 snatches. My score was 37. Meaning I did 22 T2B total, and if I had to guess, I’d say that was about 7 minutes of the whole workout.

This year: 16.2 was the whole T2B, DU, squat clean ladder. I almost made it past the first round, with a score of 87 I was just 3 cleans short (I still am hungry to re-do that one). But in that 4 minutes, I got through 25 T2B, 50 DU and 12 cleans. Wow. Just reading that comparison is a huge perspective-getter for me. I all-too-easily get down on myself and frustrated with what I perceive as lack of progress (especially when it comes to gymnastics movements). But when I see it right there in black and white, it’s hard to deny – I have come a long way.

Attitude is another thing that was different this year. I’d say that going into the Open this year, I actually felt a bit more nervous and anxious. It was because in 2015, it was my first Open and I had nothing to compare it to. This year, going in, I knew how hard I’d worked in the last year, I knew how I’d done a year ago, and I knew that I wanted to do better.

I think I’ve shared before my “CrossFit Philosophy: ” Assume that you suck at everything, and when you don’t, it’s a nice surprise. And I think that I’m just not used to being good at things, so when I have expectations, I stress myself out (I have no idea if that makes any sense). I’d rather go in with expectations low and surprise myself, than to get my hopes up and be disappointed.

So, going in, I got all psyched up, but once the Open started, I would say that overall I felt much more chill than last year. When I didn’t get a C2B during 16.1, yeah sure I was disappointed. But I didn’t quite plunge to the same depths as after failing to get a pull-up during 15.2 last year. There were a lot of things I wish I could have done better or differently, or made more progress in a year. But, at the end of the day, just as my 15.2 post was entitled: We’re doing this for fun.

image2 (2)

I LOVE this picture that my amazingly talented CrossFit friend Matt captured during the Open (week of 16.4 I believe). We’ll call it “Keep Calm, it’s just the Open. 1. Because it proves not all of my “Open faces” are terrifying (see 16.2 face above). 2. Because it was totally spontaneous and just captures the feeling of joy I have doing something I love with some of the most awesome people I know.

That doesn’t mean I have to lie or pretend I am always 100% satisfied with my performance. It just means that at the end of the day, I am getting better at shaking it off and moving on. With greater time spent in any sport comes greater perspective and maturity as an athlete. And, although I did ride the emotional highs and lows of the Open rollercoaster, I think this year I did a better job of remembering that age-old adage: Keep Calm, it’s just the Open.

Preparation-wise, I’d say the 2 months of Open Prep I did paid off in some regards. Gymnastics is still a glaring weakness (actual words of my coach – we are obviously now beyond the point of him trying to make me feel good when we are evaluating performance and goal-setting). I did a lot of work on HSPUs and C2B pull-ups, and yes, I’m disappointed that I didn’t do either one of them in the Open this year.

But gas tank-wise, I’d say the Open prep I did was really helpful. I got used to doing the “staple Open movements” (think rowing, thrusters, box jumps (although they never showed up), DUs, oly lifts, wall balls, burpees) under fatigue. So when they came up in the Open, it seemed almost like another day of training.

I also learned (again) that I am somewhat of a CrossFit anomaly in that I secretly love all those long, supposedly soul-crushing WODs that everyone else hates (read rowing/thrusters in 15.5 and thrusters/burpees in 16.5). I have great pacing ability, a pretty decent gas tank, a love for long workouts/a good grind, and enjoy WODS that are low skill, just requiring grit, mental toughness and repetitive movements. Both after 15.5 and 16.5, I felt like, what was the big deal? That’s what all the fuss was about?

One cool thing about 2016 vs. 2015 is that I submitted 5 scores RX this year. Granted, some were pretty low/I did the scaled version to get a workout in after submitting my RX score, but still, it is kind of neat to say I did the whole Open RX (although I still struggle with the whole RX vs scaling on some weeks and whether it’s in the “spirit of the Open” (whatever that means)…guess it just depends on your goals).

I have also learned, through 2 Opens, that progress, for me, is slow, but it is there. I have yet to get “my first ____________” during the Open, last year or this year (True, 15.1 was my first time RXing an entire T2B WOD, but not my actual first T2B). No C2B pull-up, handstand push-up, muscle-up (bar or otherwise) happened for me. And if I spend a lot of time thinking about it, I can get pretty upset (which is why I try not to).

That’s also why I posted a shout-out on Facebook after 16.3 to everyone who DIDN’T get their first bar muscle-up. I think it’s so cool all the people who did, and how the Open pushes people and all that, and I’m not trying to take anything away from them. But, reality is, it’s just not going to happen for a lot of us. And if you make the Open all about those elusive, magical moments that may or may not happen, you can set yourself up for disappointment (need I remind you of post 15.2 caverns of despair?).

If you’re showing up and doing the Open workouts each week, you win. If you’re working hard, chipping away at weaknesses, and grinding day in and day out no matter what season it is, that is the big victory. Don’t let 5 WODs and your ability (or lack thereof) define you.

 

Thanks to all who made this Open possible:

Dave Castro for your crazy Open announcement antics and the fodder it provided amongst CrossFit friends and on social media (I’m just going to hold back my opinion for now).

All those CrossFit friends: for the great Thursday night text conversations, cheers and camaraderie at the Saturday Open parties, and just generally being the awesome people that you are.

CrossFit friend Matt who took all the awesome Open photos at our gym this year, capturing my crazy pain and insanely happy faces, as well as designing some kick-a** t-shirts for our team.

CrossFit friend Kellee who forced/encouraged me to write Open update posts again this year when I didn’t think that I would.

CrossFit friend Kim for all the words of encouragement, being a (loving and honest) form judge, and all those post-WOD food and drink celebrations (which were much-needed).

All the coaches at Alchemy. Duncan for kicking my butt with 2 months of Open prep and unfailing honesty when it comes to assessing where I’m at. Broder for never letting me settle for less than I’m capable of (especially when it comes to kettlebells). Craig for encouragement/always making me laugh/reminding me to pull up my pants during 16.2 ;). Alex for your awesome countdown/pacing during 16.4. And Janet for captaining our awesome team (we should’ve won!) and great strategy advice each week.

So, with that, Open 2016 is officially a wrap. I made it through, with triumph and disappointment and a few bumps in the road, but ultimately I survived to WOD another day.

I’m ready to tackle a new lifting program starting this week and do a partner comp with  Kim at the end of the month (stay tuned for updates on both), and just generally shake off the Open crazies and get back to normal.

CrossFit Open, I’ll see you in 2017. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a heavy barbell I want to get back to and some gymnastics work to do.

 

 

16 on 16.5

The 2016 CrossFit Open is DONE!

Need to catch up? Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4

Special summary post coming soon…but for now, on to 16.5!

  1. Ok, I TOTALLY CALLED THIS ONE! I definitely said to more than one person that I predicted 16.5 would be 14.5. I just had a feeling…so when Castro did his whole Yoda bit (so weird btw), I was all like “man, I’m good.”
  2. I actually was not upset when I heard this announcement. Granted, I didn’t do the Open in 2014 (although I was Crossfitting, so got to see lots of people, including Jess, suffer through it), so I don’t have the scars. But I like long, grind-y WODs with simple movements and low skills, and I’ve got a pretty good engine. So: 14.5 repeat? I’ll take that. Plus, I’ve always had this lingering feeling that, having not done 14.5, I’m missing out on some sort of CrossFit rite of passage.
  3. I may or may not have texted a few CrossFit friends about my excitement for this WOD/my vindication at having called this workout. Kim texted back saying she knew I called it, and how this WOD was in my wheelhouse – #lovesthegrind. 🙂
  4.  I didn’t do my usual Friday 6 AM run-through, since 6 AM was cancelled for Good Friday and I had church in the morning (but really, it’s thrusters and burpees. Just pace it out and don’t redline – what is there to test?).
  5. I wasn’t really sure what sort of time to expect for this WOD. I still remember Jess going out strong and suffering through it two years ago (remember, after she had the boys, I asked which was worse, labour or 14.5?) so I still had that terror in the back of my mind. And although this WOD is totally in my wheelhouse, I’m good at both of these movements and pacing, I still don’t consider myself “fast.”
  6. I picked the (admittedly somewhat arbitrary) target of 22 minutes, but then when I was in doing the Olympic lifting class Friday afternoon, saw some of the times posted by other girls at my gym, I thought that I needed to be a bit more ambitious. I initially thought sub-20, then decided I should aim for sub-18.
  7. Then on Saturday when I showed up to do the WOD, Leanne told me that Craig (her bf and one of the coaches) was apparently expecting big things for me on this WOD and thought I could go sub-16. Darn all these people and their belief in me.
  8. I was placed in the 4th heat. Gah. So. Much. Waiting. I took pictures for my friend Matt (our gym’s resident Open photographer this year) during the first heat while he completed the workout, passed the time watching and chatting with friends, then warmed up during heat 3.
  9. Coach Janet gave pacing advice again: the two big take-aways (that both came in SUPER handy) were to break up the thrusters earlier than you think you need to and to crawl the burpees (as opposed to jumping up and then jumping over the bar) to save energy. I had been toying with doing 11/10 during the first round, but after talking to Janet decided to go with 7/7/7.
  10. Finally, heat 4 arrived and I was ready to go. At the last minute, my friend and fellow 6 AM-er Victoria was called in to judge me, so that was fun (I told her my pacing plan and to yell at me to pick up the bar if I was resting too long).
  11. I totally stuck to my plan: 7s the first round, 6s the second, then 5s. I *think I did 7/5 on the round of 12, and then went unbroken from 9s on down. As for the burpees, my plan was just not to try and go fast at all. I kept moving the entire time, didn’t try and push it hard, and honestly used the burpees as recovery.
  12. Everyone thinks I’m nuts, but I have to say: I loved this workout. It was long and grindy, but very approachable: just keep picking up the bar and do some burpees. I felt good, was really happy with how I did (spoiler alert, I did better than I thought), stuck to my plan, and didn’t even feel like I got that deep into the pain cave. I remember before the round of 9 not looking forwaImage-1rd to doing an unbroken set of thrusters, I definitely screamed once, and, I mean, I was tired; but it was manageable.
  13. I really love the pictures of me that Matt got during 16.5. I’m sure you’re wondering, and he asked me afterward, was I intentionally smiling for the camera? Nope. I guess I am just really happy doing thrusters…? Only me.
  14. 16.5 was another reminder that I frequently underestimate myself/sell myself short. It was suited to me, and, honestly, my favourite workout of the entire Open (I know I’m weird).
  15. Our gym celebrated at the end with beer, pizza and snacks (I made Easter treats, because that’s what I do), and then after Kim and I continued the celebrations with pizza, ice cream and drinks at my house.
  16. As with last year, the Open was awesome, I’m glad I did it, but I’m so glad it’s done and now I can get back to the usual grind (more on new goals, new lifting program etc etc in the forthcoming Open sum up post).

.5 Final Score: 16:25 (guess I could go sub-20 ;)),

 

 

Quote

“Sometimes, especially in the world of fitness fanatics, recovery from pregnancy becomes something of a contest. Who can get flat abs faster? Who can PR just one week post-pregnancy? Who can say they’re problem-free? Really, it’s all bullshit. Every woman has a unique experience during and after pregnancy. And every woman should be afforded the dignity and encouragement to carry on at a pace that works for her. Every CrossFit mom has her own struggles, and the gym shouldn’t be a source of stress or frustration during a period of life that should be indulgent and celebratory.” -Abi Reiland

http://www.theboxmag.com/article/crossfit-mom-postpartum-problems-11254

Postpartum Crossfit

Hey friends. The boys are 7 months old now and I realize that I haven’t posted in a while (thank you Hilary for carrying this blog!). There have been some persistent requests for a ‘Postpartum Post’ and I haven’t felt ready to post until now. So here’s my last 7 months, in a nutshell. I’ll touch on PP recovery, life with new twins, postpartum depression, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, athletic ability and my efforts to regain my fitness. If you’re a pregnant athlete, trying, or have a new hatchling at home, I hope some of my learnings will help you through the rough patches or maybe help you feel understood. So here it is, in raw honesty, from one mother to another.

jdc

The Realities of Parenthood 

Excelling in a high performance sport requires surprisingly few components. Dedication, drive/willpower, time, adequate rest and recovery, and proper nutrition/caloric intake… okay and maybe a bit of talent. This formula was always simple for me throughout my life: Food + Rest + Time + Passion/Hard Work = Success and Achievement  …Simple enough, right?

When I found out that my husband and I were expecting twins, I figured I would just add in ‘+ adorable twins’ somewhere in my equation and it would still be hunky dorey. We’ve all heard of supermoms- they exist, right? Reality hit hard last August. I crossfitted throughout pregnancy until 7months when I was just too large to be proficiently and comfortably mobile. I had had a great pregnancy and felt fantastic.

My sons were born at 34w3d, six weeks early, presumably due to a lack of space. Both were born very healthy with APGARS of 9 and 10, they had to stay in the NICU for 5 weeks until they were big enough to feed on their own.These weeks were challenging to say the least but my husband and I left the hospital with our boys ready to take on the world. Life was easy and thrilling. They fed every 3 hours and slept in between. I could do things. I had time. The newness of parenthood was exhilarating and I started back at the gym when they were 6 weeks old. I would bring the boys in their stroller and while they slept I would work out. I took things slow at first and really enjoyed the Bootcamp classes my gym offered. They are programed in 1 minute stations so I could push myself as hard as I wanted to depending on how I was feeling that day. I was tired, and adjusting to motherhood and sleeping in 2.5 hour intervals, but with the boys sleeping in between their feeds, I was guaranteed this 2.5 hours of rest around the clock. Being a mother was so amazing, and I cherished my new sons immensely but I was also determined not to toss out my passions and interests for the job title of Mother. Don’t get me wrong my kids definitely came first, but I was also determined to be an awesome wife to my husband and also take time to look after myself!

Then they woke up (“It’s aliiiive!”). Hello 4 months! Around month 4 the boys started to spend more time awake during their feedings. They were now awake during the day and during the night. My 2.5 hours of rest between feeds became 2 hours, then 1 hour, then 15 minutes. If one boy was awake, the other was asleep. They seemed to tag team screaming matches, and my husband and I even joked that there seemed to be a buzzer in their nursery that went off if one of our heads hit a pillow. It was constant. I became a breastfeeding zombie. All I thought about was sleep, and my immediate yearning and desperate desire for some of it, just a little bit, anything really, took over my consciousness. My need for sleep became a powerful all consuming obsession. I started to analyze every movement I took. Could I save some energy by only eating while laying down? How could I minimize my walking steps? I read countless books on twins and scheduling. How to keep them on the same schedule, when they would start syncing more, when I could expect the fabled ‘sleeping through the night’.  Would or could the demands of breastfeeding actually kill me? I dropped off the map. I turned my phone off. Friends started to comment that I was a ‘hermit’. They didn’t understand. I was in survival mode. I took my earplugs out only to shower and to sleep. The few days that I felt like trying to go out with the boys I went to the grocery store. I quickly came to feel like a walking freak show. It seemed that everyone walking by me while I pushed my double stroller and pulled a cart had something nasty to say: ‘Oh double trouble!’, or ‘You’ve really got your hands full! I don’t envy you!’ or (my favorite) ‘Twins!? My condolences’. I started to hate everybody. It had taken me 2 hours to get the boys ready, loaded and into the grocery store. I felt a bit of accomplishment… I was doing something! Only to be heckled by strangers, stared at or harassed. This all sounds dramatic, but I assure you I’m serious. December and January were months I’d like to forget and I now understand why sleep deprivation is used for torture.

During this time I obviously did not go to the gym. I vividly remember my last visit around month 3.5. I had been ‘back’ for about a month and a half and I was desperately trying to do a set of thrusters during a WOD when I simply had to stop and basically collapsed on the floor. The realization that my body was not physically able to exert any more energy was crushing for my psyche. I had slept 3 hours total the night before and I felt that I had sacrificed so much becoming a mother that all I wanted was one hour away from the house, doing something for me and now it seemed impossible. I craved that endorphin rush after a great WOD, and the alertness I once felt at the gym. I needed something positive to motivate me and was truly crushed with the inconvenient truth of what was to come. My husband and I were running on all cylinders and there was no time or energy left for anything other than breastfeeding and caring for our two babies.

I think it was late December when I started to loose my milk. Looking back, I realize it was because I was eating so poorly and in such a sleep deprived state that I had completely lost my appetite. At the time I felt like it must have been some sort of cruel joke. I didn’t care about eating, I didn’t care about bathing, or changing my clothes or anything other than making it through the day and feeding my precious little boys. When my milk supply started to go, I truly hit an all time low. I was trying my very best, and now I couldn’t even feed my hungry babies. I went to see the doctor. My husband was concerned I was suffering from Postpartum depression and we needed some advice. I actually started to believe that my sleep deprivation would kill me. There were times that my husband would have to hold me up because I was too weak to stand. I constantly walked into doorways and felt like I was drifting. I dreaded when he went to work for his 24 hour shifts because it meant I was alone. Alone with two demanding boys without a second to sit down. If they did sleep I was busy resetting the house for their next wake. His parents helped out as much as possible, but I still had to feed every 3 hours. I was determined to breastfeed and really did not want to resort to formula. ‘I could do it!’, I thought. Even if it killed me, I wanted to keep trying.

The doctor explained that sometimes PPD leads to the sleep deprivation, and sometimes its the sleep deprivation that leads to PPD. I explained my feelings and symptoms and he felt that I had started down the later path. We agreed to meet weekly to discuss how I was doing, and I reluctantly agreed to try supplementing formula for one night feed. My husband and I made a more concrete plan with his parents and we all took turns for the next 4 weeks during the days to reduce the workload. My husband also started pre-cooking hearty meals that we froze so that I could just pop them in the microwave and eat when I had time. I became proficient at breastfeeding and eating. Actually, I became proficient with breastfeeding while doing anything. Walking, cleaning, laundry, peeing, brushing my teeth. The formula helped me regain a bit of my milk supply, and I was pumping in between feedings to try and stimulate more production. In the end my milk came back, but it was extremely tough. Looking back, I’m so glad I stuck with it.

Nearing the end of January, my husband and I were on a serious schedule with the boys. Every minute was analyzed and planned. With twins, you truly don’t have the luxury of ‘on demand’ feeding or sleeping. If there’s no schedule, there’s no predictability. The boys started to sync and were sleeping and eating at the same times. We had it down to a very fine art. We started to sleep more. FOUR HOURS! What a glorious thing. I remember sleeping for four hours in a row one day and feeling like a million bucks.

Fast forward to today. Mid-March and although the boys don’t sleep through the night (I’ve yet to actually meet these fabled children who do by the way), they do sleep long stretches at night. They go to bed around 8pm, wake at 2am to feed, and then 6:30am to feed and wake up for the day. They nap for one hour at 10:00am, and two hours between 1:00-3:00pm. We have an awesome schedule and we are enjoying life again. I’ve heard and read that with twins, people say that ‘the clouds part at around 6-7 months’. I think 7 months was our lucky number, and I’m so glad for it. My family is happy and healthy and I look forward to each new day.

The Inconvenient Truth

I started back seriously at the gym about a month ago. 3-4 days a week was my goal; Get out and move. It’s been a whole new experience returning as a mother. I’ve learned a lot about my body and the demands of crossfit. Hopefully some of my hard won battles can save you some toil…

It was obvious after my twins were born that my equation was now drastically altered and needed some serious revisions.  Food + Rest + Time + Passion/Hard Work = Success. If I wanted to Crossfit, I’d have to increase my food intake, ensure I was resting (ha), and set aside enough time to warm up, WOD and cool down properly. All these things were basics, but seemed a feat of strength in themselves! Throw the demands of breastfeeding in the mix and I seriously had to reconsider what I was doing. Breastfeeding requires an exorbitant amount of energy. Breastfeeding twins requires an outrageous amount of energy, especially because I’m naturally a lean person. I’m talking requirements of more than 3000- 4000 calories daily while working out. I’ve had to do some research on the feasibility of building muscle mass while breastfeeding. Are these two activities just incompatible? If going to the gym was going to reduce my milk supply, I knew I wouldn’t chance it. Feeding my kids is obviously more important than my fitness goals.

New Body, Old Tricks (and it ain’t like riding a bike)

It has taken me a while to accept that I’ve returned to the gym in a different body than I left. A different body with different abilities and capabilities. I’ve had to learn some serious self compassion, patience and hardest of all, I’ve learned to toss out old PRs, and expectations and replace them for new and more realistic goals (and not secretly still yearn for my old PRs). I guess I somehow expected to walk back into the gym and take off where I left off. The thing is, pregnancy changes your body- a lot. Everyone’s body changes differently and I’m no biologist by any means, so all I can tell you for sure is how it changed mine. I’m not quite sure where to start because it literally feels like I’m in a completely different shell, but I suppose I could start with my skeleton. Everything stretched wider, splayed and stayed wider after birth. My hips are two inches wider to be exact (totally killing my once fab summer wardrobe btw), and my ribs are almost three inches wider. I’ve read that this is because the ligaments that hold everything together, especially the pelvis stretch and relax to prepare for childbirth due to the hormone relaxin. During the later months in pregnancy, my abdominal tendons stretched and separated, this is called Diastasis Recti and is very common. If I do a crunch, I can stick two fingers in between my abdominal muscles- yeah, it’s weird. Basically it feels as though the ligaments and muscles in my abdominal wall that used to hold in my guts don’t do their job anymore. My guts feel ‘loose’ if that makes any sense. With my coaches guidance, I’ve been working on strengthening my core and regaining much of the stability that I lost… although I can tell you I still have a ways to go to rocking a six pack… I’ve got a two-pack at the moment. If you’re interested, there’s a great article on abdominal health postpartum here:  http://www.befitmom.com/postnatal.php . In addition to my muscular and skeletal changes, I’ve also started to sprout grey hair (…I’m 26), I’ve noticed wrinkles starting to form (gah!), and I just generally feel ‘older’. It’s hard to describe but I truly feel that pregnancy ages you. You have to give a bit of yourself up to receive the most beautiful gift of all! (All wrinkles in the world are totally worth it for my boys 🙂 ).

So what do these changes mean? Well, they mean that my ‘old tricks’ don’t come as easy as they used to. I have to work harder to achieve goals. My body doesn’t tone as quickly, recovery is much slower and that building muscle is more challenging than before. It means that I’m back to basics. I have an extremely weak core, and even weaker noodle legs. Luckily carrying around two growing boys has helped my wrist, grip and forearm strength bounce back which is awesome. I figure at this rate, I’ll basically look like Popeye in a year if nothing else changes. Whatever I’ll take it.

Oh right, boobs. I have those now. Although I’m now proficient at C2B pullups (hey, an extra couple of inches does wonders), all that milk production is really making it difficult for me to make serious gains. Yeah, we are back to that old conundrum of the incompatibility of gaining muscle mass while breastfeeding. Turns out you can build muscle, it’s just very difficult to do and you have to eat A LOT. My twins feed every three hours, and so do I. I am constantly eating. I wake up at 5am to eat, and then go back to sleep for an hour before the boys wake up. I eat dinner with my husband, fill my plate with more food than he does, and STILL COOK AND EAT A FULL MEAT LASAGNA TO MYSELF afterwards. I drink (get this) 12+ litres of chocolate milk a week. Not. Even. Joking. Costco is a magical place for me. So much meat and milk. Even with all this intake, it’s still difficult for me to build mass. I weigh about 6 lbs more than I did before I got pregnant, but I realize that my body needs this bodyfat store for nursing. I will add that I’m fairly certain that if I got more sleep, I wouldn’t have to eat as much. My husband and I have a tendency to replace missed sleep with food. Tired? Go drink a litre of chocolate milk. That’ll keep ya goin’ for at least another two hours.

My lifts are slowly recovering and I’m taking lifting very slowly. I’m not chasing any numbers, I’m just working on regaining my overall strength and stability. My main focus is bodyweight movements. My goals include: getting my strict pullups back, a 4:45 Baseline WOD (I’m at about 6:00 right now… damn push ups), and a muscle up by July 1. I’m currently competing in the Open for fun and have a competition lined up for this summer. 🙂 Going back to basics has been a blessing as I’ve been able to work on my technique and concentrate on form. Learned skills like HSPU are coming back now, but my strength and overall cardio/conditioning still needs a bit of work!

A Change in Perspective

The biggest change postpartum by far has been mentally and emotionally. The competitive aspect of Crossfit has taken a back seat to my desire to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. The sport has shifted from my passion, to a rung in the ladder of my wellbeing. My children and husband take the front seat in my life now, but Crossfit is still an investment in myself- for my continued health. I want to stay healthy and fit for my children and my husband. Plus being active feels pretty great. I’ve learned not to compare myself to others at the gym. They don’t necessarily have the same commitments that I do and can afford to maybe spend a bit more time at the gym and take on more demanding goals. My priorities have changed and so have my motivations. I’ve been really lucky to find Crossfit, and become a mother to two little dudes. I hope to continue to enjoy my time at the gym and reap the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle. xo Jess

cd

Special Thanks:  I wanted to give a special shout out to my amazing husband (who doesn’t even read this blog I’m pretty sure). You are the most incredible person I know.

Also special thanks to my friends at the gym, Alchemy Crossfit and the coaches there that have helped me through some of the most challenging months of my life. Sport is my therapy and you guys are my therapists. Thanks to Duncan, Broder, Craig and Janet for always making me feel empowered, motivated and making Crossfit seem possible again. Without you I would still have a one-pack. 😉

Further Reading:

http://games.crossfit.com/article/mother-first-athlete-second-tanya-wagner

http://kellymom.com/tandem-faq/04momnutrition/

http://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/body-changes-infographic

 

16 on 16.4

Only one more week to go! …check in on weeks one, two and three if you’ve missed them.

  1. After watching the announcement, I was pretty ok with this workout – I don’t have handstand push-ups, but other than that, this workout was pretty good for me (DL are my jam, wallballs aren’t too bad either, and I’m decent at pacing on the rower. Plus, I love a good chipper – long and heavy is right in my wheelhouse).
  2. I was grateful that “Castro decided to be a bit less of a dick this year” (my words) and put the tough gymnastic skill movement at the end of the WOD, so I could still do this one RX and get a decent workout.
  3. How beautiful are Icelandic women and how easy did they make this look (at altitude!)?!? Loved it when Sara Sigmundsdottir was all like “that was fun.”
  4. At first I didn’t realize there was a tiebreak time and I just thought I could coast and have a nice easy workout in 13 minutes since I didn’t need to save time for HSPU I couldn’t get, then CrossFit friend Leanne texted me and was like “tiebreak after the row, this is your week lady.” Crap, now I actually had to try.
  5. I had to go in Friday at 6 AM (even though I had the week off) because it was our breakfast potluck 🙂 (I made cinnamon rolls) but knew there was no way I would be doing this one two days in a row – thankfully coach agreed and gave me a nice little WOD of 5 rounds of 10 wall balls, 15 cal row and 5 hand-release push-ups 1:1 work:rest (1:1 rest is NICE – can we do that more often? ;)).
  6. I will admit, I had some pretty ambitious visions of how I would break things up, given that these are all pretty strong movements for me (DL starting with 15s, wallballs 20/20/15 – ha).
  7.  As has become my Open routine, I woke up, got nice and caffeinated, went for a bit of a walk, and arrived at the gym at 11 for our “Saturday Showdown.”
  8. Coach Janet (leader of our team, Planet Janet and the Superstars) had done the WOD Friday, and she and I have similar strengths as athletes, plus even though she is old enough to be my mother she is a total BEAST; so I asked her for strategy. Her advice: do 11s on the deadlifts, and she did 5s all the way on the wallballs with quick rest (she also can’t HSPU).
  9. In my head I thought that 5s seemed a bit small for wallball sets, and thought I might start with something bigger, but overall it seemed like a good plan. I saw Janet’s tiebreak time was 10 minutes flat, so that became my goal.
  10. I wasn’t until heat 4, which meant lots of waiting, and discovered that apparently I get major nervous sweats when I went to bathroom and looked in the mirror and saw some serious moisture in my underarm region.
  11. Finally: go time! I motored through those deadlifts, sticking to the plan of 11s until the last set which I broke up into 5 and 6, getting off the barbell around 2:30.
  12. Then I got to the wall and felt like Bambi: my legs were all wobbly and I quickly decided that Janet’s 5s all the way was a GREAT plan (Coach Alex was my judge, and before the WOD I requested that as I broke up the wallballs, I needed her to countdown my rest, which she was amazing at, giving me a 3-2-1 each time). I got no-repped a few times too, which just goes to show how rough I was feeling.
  13. Wallballs done, onto the rower (during the previous heats, I was surprised how much everyone looked like death at this point). I was not feeling like pushing the pace, and it definitely was not my fastest row, but for the most part I kept my pacing fairly consistent in the seven and eight hundreds, pushed it for the last couple of minutes, and got off the rower at 10:50.
  14. I wasn’t even going to bother getting measured against the wall for the handstand push-ups, but before the WOD Coach Alex insisted. Coach Duncan saw that I was going to attempt one and advised me to wait at least a minute before trying. I gave it a few attempts, but no go. Just like chest to bar pull-ups and bar muscle-ups, HSPU were not going to be a thing for me for the 2016 CrossFit Open.
  15. My quads were a bit sore for the rest of Saturday, but going for a nice walk with CrossFit friend Kim and her dog Jax helped flush things out, and, as I type this Sunday my back is a bit sore, but not terrible (Kim said I was rounding a little bit for the first 30 or so but set my shoulders pretty decently, but things started to go more for the last 20-25). I think there will be a lot of busy chiropractors and RMTs near CrossFit gyms this week. 😉
  16. I am not sad that there is only one more week of the Open to go, and I predict thrusters will be in 16.5, possibly a repeat of 14.5, or maybe a box jump/thruster combo? I also think after making it through this week that (fingers crossed) I might be able to submit 5 RX scores, which would be kinda cool…..

.4 Final Score: 165, 10:50 tiebreak

16 on 16.3

Catch up on the first two weeks of the Open here and here.

  1. Spoiler alert: I didn’t get my first bar muscle-up this week (although I must say I’ve enjoyed all the memes/social media posts along the line all week).
  2. I couldn’t watch the Open announcement live this week because I had a music practice at church (although that didn’t stop me from obsessively checking the gamesFullSizeRender website on my phone and texting my usual crew of Crossfit friends).
  3. It was from one of those text conversations, to my friend Soph, as we commiserated with our dissatisfaction with the WOD and its scale, and all the hype surrounding the Open, that I made the comment you see to the left: Screw Dave Castro (also, I watched the live announcement after the fact – how weird was that?). I just wanna workout and live my life (in fact, that would be the subtitle of this post if it had one).
  4. I knew a bar MU was out of the question (remember – I couldn’t get a c2B pull-up in 16.1), so the only question was what to do about submitting a score – 10 snatches at 55 to stay at “RX” for another week, or scale it and submit that score and get in a real workout?
  5. I did my usual Friday 6 AM class and did 5 minutes of the scaled version since I planned to do the workout “for real” on Saturday again – even with an empty bar, that many snatches working so quickly does get tiring.
  6. Jumping Chest to Bar Pull-ups: SUPER AWKWARD. Am I right? Gotta say – not a fan of that movement/scale.
  7. Friday night CrossFit friend Kim came over for dinner and we watched the live announcement – we were both back and forth about whether to scale or not (although a bar MU was at least in the realm of possibility for her), and by the time I went to bed I still hadn’t decided.
  8. Saturday morning came: to scale or not I still hadn’t decided, but I did go for a walk to do errands/mini run first. I was either going to be doing 10 snatches and/or a 7 min AMRAP with a lot of sitting around, plus it was gorgeous outside so I decided I felt like getting moving for a bit before heading to the gym.
  9. Upon arrival, the coaches assembled us into our teams for our in-house “Alchemy Open,” to discuss strategy/who was doing RX vs. scaled. In the end, I decided to do the scaled version with everyone else, then do 10 snatches after the fact and submit a score of 10 RX.
  10. I really am not a fan of waiting around to work out if I don’t have to, so, mercifully I was in the first heat.
  11. Chin-up grip makes jumping C2B pull-ups significantly better (still awkward though) and I managed to move through them at a decent pace (compared to the day before) and did my snatches all unbroken.
  12. When I was done, I went into the back room with my chiropractor (who is a member and had been helping judge), and with her watching, completed my 10 snatches (which felt surprisingly heavy after the 7 minutes of snatching), and submitted that score to remain an RX athlete for another week.
  13. I stayed to watch the remaining heats (this WOD has definitely been the least chaotic to coordinate so far) go, and saw some pretty epic first bar muscle-ups that were not exactly beautiful/I’m a bit surprised didn’t end in injury.
  14. I’m still a bit conflicted about my decision, to be honest. I don’t know if it’s more in the “spirit of the Open” to do my darndest to get in a tough WOD, scaled or not, or to try and stay “RX” for as long as I can, even if it means taking a lower score.
  15. I don’t want to take anything away from all the people getting their first bar muscle-ups – it is really and truly awesome and what the Open is all about. But not everyone will get one – and in fact, most people won’t. Bar muscle-up or not, if you put forth the best effort you could and gave it your all, then you succeeded and you are not in any way a failure.
  16. You and I will live another day, with or without that muscle-up.

.3 Official score: 10 RX

(Unofficial: 110 scaled with a 6:43 tiebreak).

 

16 on 16.2

Missed last week? Get the skinny on my 16.1 experience here. 

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Submit your score early: it doesn’t last but it’s a nice little ego boost.

1.This week, I watched the Open announcement with CrossFit friend and 6 Am butt-kicker (that’s a compliment) Victoria.

2. During Castro’s protracted and complicated announcement, once again an emotional rollercoaster: I was excited about squat cleans, and then saw the rest of the workout and thought “okay, I can do this;” then saw the time cap and the heart sank.

3. I was worried I’d be doing toes to bar for 4 minutes (remember 15.1 last year…it took almost 7 minutes to get 15?) because although my T2B have vastly improved, they’re still a weakness.

4. I decided my goal for this WOD was just to make it to the barbell.

5. Friday morning I went in to my usual 6 AM to test the workout, because I would be doing it for my submitted score at our all-gym party on Saturday morning (this year we have teams for the Open, and you get bonus points for working out on Saturday).

6. Just a side note that before the WOD, I back squatted 4×3 at 195#, 5 pounds more than my 5RM – our gym’s squat progression this month is working wonders!

7. I can’t kip toes to bar, and decided to go for a set of 4, then 3s, so as not to tire myself out or get no-repped.

8. I managed to stick to my plan, go unbroken on the double unders (thanks to all of my Open prep, I am well-accustomed to doing double unders under fatigue – thanks coach!) and got to the barbell, finishing 5 cleans – way better than I thought!

9. After my first attempt, I was a mix of emotions: proud, happy and surprised with how well I did and how far I had come versus last year; scared and paranoid that since I surpassed expectations the first time, I wouldn’t do as well when it came time to do it “for real;” and hungry for more – I thought that maybe I had a chance at finishing the first round.

10. I showed up Saturday totally amped up (due to a combination of watching “The Fittest on Earth” Crossfit games Friday night (highly recommend!), waking up way too early, and being perhaps a tad over-caffeinated) and talked to my coach to ask if he thought I could make it out of the first round. His answer was a maybe (I knew he’d give it to me straight), and he said that I just needed to focus on getting the toes to bar done as fast as possible, since that would be the weak point for me; not to think too much about breaking them up but just getting them done; and then to touch and go on the cleans to get them done quickly.

11. I waited impatiently for my turn in the fourth heat then it was time to go: this time I had to drop to sets of 2 for the T2B at the end, and I tripped with 4 DU left, but my time was still not too bad (I forget the exact time, but I got to the barbell at 2 something).

12. Favourite hilarious moment was my judge/coach yelling at me to pull up my pants after the DU (I could feel them sliding down but what can you do?)…he apologized after the fact but I thought it was pretty funny; as I left the gym he called out “buy new pants!” 😉

13. I was surprisingly tired when it came to the cleans, started by making a silly mistake, forgetting what I was doing and power cleaning once then dropping it; wasting precious time and my touch and go plan went out the window; I think I touched and go-ed 2 or 3, but I just didn’t feel I had it in me.

14. I pushed hard, gave it my all, but came up 3 reps short of finishing round one, and my 16.2 was done after 4 minutes, with me lying on the floor after going all-out.

15. Again, an incredible mix of emotions: proud of surpassing my goal and with how far I’ve come in the past year and that I could even come close to making it out of the first round; relieved that I improved on my test score; frustrated and jealous of all the girls who could do better than me, again, especially those who have been CrossFitting for less time; and hungry for more/extremely tempted to re-do and try and make it out of round one (I really think I could do it if I avoided the silly power clean mistake and could even do one set of 5 cleans touch and go, but I’m not going to do it).

16. Honesty time: Although I’ve been saying to people “I can’t be upset, given where I’ve come from/my goal,” I am not totally satisfied at the end of this one. I leave 16.2 proud, but wanting more – the Open sure can play with your heart!

.2: Final Score: 87

16 on 16.1

So I said last week that I wasn’t going to post each week during the Open. I haven’t been posting much lately, life is busy, and these posts take a while to write. Then the Open started, I got pumped up, and here I am. But I have come up with a compromise/clever gimmick (and maybe you’ve guessed it given the title). Each week I will write a 16 sentence summary of my thoughts/experience on each Open WOD (the little intro for this week doesn’t count)….and the decimal number (.1, .2 etc..) will be my final score. Ready? Let’s give it a go.

  1. My thoughts on hearing the announcement: lunges: yay (I love lunges…I know I’m weird), burpees: ok, C2B: heart sinks (have never done a C2B pull-up before).
  2. I dreamt about doing the workout, and in my dream I got 2 rounds of the workout RX, for a total of 16 chest-to-bar pull-ups…sure hoped that was foreshadowing!
  3. I plan to do most of the Open Workouts on Saturday mornings when our gym is having its big event (and this year they did in-house teams, so you get bonus points for your team for showing up then), but this weekend I was in a rowing relay on Saturday so I planned to do it Friday morning at 6 AM.
  4. Plan of attack after agreed upon with coach: attempt the workout RX (even a super low RX score is higher than a scaled one) and submit that score, then go back later and do it scaled to get in a workout if C2B didn’t happen (and I would not be allowed to try and flail around for 15 minutes and hurt myself).
  5. “Rx’ed it” and got a score of 18 (lunge, burpees, lunge), couldn’t do C2B.
  6. If being honest, I am super disappointed that I couldn’t get a C2B pull-up during the Open, and also super jealous of all the girls who have been CrossFitting for less time than me and could.
  7. As frustrated and angry as I was, I didn’t let myself go into the caverns of despair like last year.
  8. I thought about it, and each attempt I made at a C2B (I was cut off around 5 and a half minutes) was a legit kipping pull-up: of which I could do none during the 2015 Open, so there’s that.
  9. I decided to come back to do the scaled version during my gym’s “Friday Night Lights” event, which didn’t start until 7:15 PM.
  10. My body was really confused at the idea of working out that late (6 AM all the way), I almost went crazy after work waiting to go in, and since that WOD is 20 minutes long and our gym could only do heats of 5 and I was in the third heat, I didn’t actually do the WOD until 8:30 PM!
  11.  Scaled WOD has NO BREAKS, you just go for 20 minutes non-stop.
  12. As previously mentioned, I love lunges, so those were great; I managed to pace the burpees pretty well, and I just banged out all of the jumping pull-ups unbroken.
  13. I wish that last year the scale of C2B had been jumping pull-ups and this year it had been regular, not the other way around because this year I can do regular pull-ups and last year I couldn’t: oh well.
  14. I factually sort of like long, grind-y workouts, and felt pretty good I would say until about the 12 minute mark, even still, I pushed through (I swear my lunge steps got bigger each round because I just didn’t want to do more than I had to) and got it done.
  15. My judge was my friend Kyle, who is super awesome, encouraging and amazing.
  16. I had no idea of reps and rounds, but I wish I had, because I would have pushed it if I had known how close I was to 300, and even though I was tired after, I didn’t feel totally terrible.

 

.1 Final Score: Official RX submitted: 18 Unofficial scaled: 291.

 

 

And suddenly, it’s the Open.

Well Hello there.

Sometimes, life gets busy. Sometimes you write a post or two for 2016, promise to come back and share about goals for 2016, then you’re packing, moving, writing report cards, trying to keep up with life, and all of a sudden it’s the week before the 2016 CrossFit Open and you haven’t written that post (that’s what happened to me, Hilary, if you couldn’t guess…).

Anyway, I’m still alive, still Crossfitting, Jess is still killing it as a mom to twins…just haven’t exactly been blogging much lately. But no matter. I still have goals to share, the Open to do (eek!…more on that in a minute), and life to catch up on.

So…about those goals. I’ve learned over my CrossFit career (going on 2.5 years now) that goals are useful and great to work towards, but I have to be careful. I’m all about the whole SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, time-bound) goals thing, but only to a point. It’s important to give yourself deadlines, and it’s ok to fail to meet them. BUT I have also learned about myself (from experience) that sometimes, if I focus TOO much on a goal, I can either end up injured or really really disappointed.

With that in mind, I came up with a list, and gave it to my coach back in January, that had a couple of sections.

  • Short Term
  • Keep working on…
  • Sometime in 2016…

So, short term I requested:

  • Prep for the Open (within my own programming). And, boy oh boy has he delivered on that one. I’ve said to several friends – I’ll either kill the Open or be dead by then!
  • A combination of things that were in the last two programs I worked on (heavy lifts with more accessory and tempo work)

Keep working on… (no specific timeline here):

  • Getting lats that work (it’s a never-ending quest!)
  • Correcting bad habits to fix lifts
  • Pistols
  • HSPUs

Sometime in 2016 (again no specific timeline):

  • Compete in an individual competition (I’ve only ever done team ones)
  • Handstand walk
  • Deadlift 300 pounds
  • Complete the old goal of RX Fran

So…a few words on the goals and then we’ll move on to the Open.

Lats: The longer I CrossFit, the more I want them. And the more I realize that they are holding me back in EVERYTHING (ok, not everything, but it sure seems that way sometimes), not just pull-ups. Bottom of my clean and snatch? Gotta engage those lats. Rounding out when deadlifts get heavy? Lats again. Oh, and if I engaged my lats, kipping my T2B could actually be a thing.

So I am forever doing accessory work and activation drills in addition to all the pull-up stuff I’m always working on (nearly one year later, I’m still not beyond one strict pull-up in a row). Oh lats, why do you elude me so?

As for fixing bad habits, I’m feeling stalled out on a lot of my lifts. And it’s not because I’m  not stronger. It’s all those little things I’m doing wrong, all the poor habits I’ve kept up over 2 and a half years of Crossfit. So, slowly but surely, I’m trying to break myself of them, fix my form, and hopefully, see my numbers go up.

Pistols and HSPUs: I’m just tired of not being able to do them. Once again, it’s not a strength thing. HSPUs I think are a lot about positioning and learning the movement. Pistols are about mastering control at the bottom. I’ve been doing some accessory work for both, so we’ll see how it comes along. right now I’m feeling somewhat frustrated, especially with the HSPU. Progress, as ever, is slow.

Competing in an individual competition scares me, which is part of why I want to do it. I have loved all of the partner/team competitions I’ve done, but I think I’m finally ready to try a competition on my own. Just to push myself to my limits, outside of my comfort zone, and know that at the end of the day, it’s just me and what I can do. I didn’t want to pick a deadline for this one because it’s hard to know when/where the right comp will come up.

Handstand walk: I’ve been working towards freestanding handstands for awhile now, and I’m getting close. It’s another thing I’m just chipping away at. I don’t desperately need to HS walk (it’s not like I’m headed for regionals, and it doesn’t exactly come up in WODs all that often)…it’s just another thing I want to be able to do.

The last two goals are leftover from last year: Deadlifting 300 pounds and RX Fran. I’m hoping the goal of fixing bad habits helps my DL dreams come true. I PR’ed in January at 285, and tried 300 a couple times. I know I’m close. I’ve just gotta fix all those nagging issues, and I’ve got this.

RX Fran. I am finally at the point where I actually believe I can do it (I didn’t for the longest time). If you told me tomorrow that I had to do an RX Fran, I could. It would be painfully slow, but I could finish. But my coach and I have agreed that it’s better to wait until I’m more competent at kipping to pull it off. The last thing I want to do is to do Fran for the sake of it and end up hurting myself.

So those are my 2016 goals in a nutshell. Of course, there are tons more numbers I want to hit, and things I want to accomplish. I could easily make a list twice as long. But you have to start somewhere, so that’s where I’m going for now.

Now, a few words on the Open…

As previously mentioned, I requested Open Prep from my coach. It’s consisted of little WODs and tests like 50 wall balls/box jumps/burpee box jumps for time…or 4 minutes max burpees/wall balls/etc. The WODs I’ve been doing have been designed to tire me out but try to keep good form. To say they’ve been kicking my butt is an understatement. I’ve also had a ton of gymnastics work (hello, my perennial weakness).

My coach told me he thought a C2B pull-up and possibly even a HSPU during the Open were possible. I felt like he was crazy for saying that. But I also thought he was crazy last year when he had me re-testing strict pull-ups every week, then I got my first one…so who knows? C2B feels possible, maybe…but the HSPU seem illusive.

So how am I feeling going into my second CrossFit Open? I’d be lying if I said totally awesome. I’ve had some max lift days not go great. And my DUs feel like they’re all over the place. And I honestly just wish I was better at a lot of things.

I think part of the problem is my CrossFit philosophy (I should work on changing that this year): Assume that you suck at everything and then it’s a nice surprise when you don’t. This is honestly how I feel. The problem now though, is that I don’t suck at everything. I work my butt off every day.

Going into something feeling like I might actually succeed or have a shot is a foreign feeling to me. And it’s scary. It’s scarier for me to think I’m good at something, because I’ve always just hidden behind the excuse of “I can’t.” Plus I think the fact that it’s my second Open, and I know how hard I’ve worked and how far I’ve come, I’m putting a lot more pressure on myself. Pressure to beat myself, to be better than last year.

This is when I have to chill, slow down, and remind myself of one of the most important lessons learned last year during the Open: we’re doing this for fun. I remind myself of this often, not just during Open season. CrossFit is a hobby, as such, it should be something enjoyable.

Also, deep breath, relax. You’ve got this. You’ve put in the hard work. Shake off the bad days. Don’t let them define you. Because, at the end of the day, Open WODs are just another workout.

So, CrossFit Open 2016: You simultaneously excite, inspire, and terrify me. Whether or not I’m ready, here you are.

Given my current posting track record, don’t expect the weekly check-ins like last year. But I will pop in now and then to chat about how things are going. And one way or another, we’ll all crush our goals and get through the Open together. And life will go on, C2B, HSPU, or not. We will all live to CrossFit another day.