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.

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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

As Seen in 2016

As of this post, we are 11 days into the New Year. As promised, I will share my 2016 goals with you soon…but not today. In only a week and a half, there’s already been lessons learned, cool stuff happening, and reflections made. Enough to merit a post of their own. So enjoy my New Year’s revelations (not to be confused with resolutions) and I’ll be back with goals in the weeks ahead.

So, 2016 started on a high note for me…by RX’ing our gym’s baseline WOD (one of Jess’s favs – 500 M row, 40 squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups, 10 pull-ups) for the first time ever! 🙂 They always host a charity team workout New Year’s Day to raise money for a local charity for at-risk youth. This year the first part of the WOD was a relay of the baseline.

I did baseline on my very first day ever back in September 2013, and have done it a few times since, but not lately, and certainly not since my push-ups have gotten so good or I’ve been able to bust out a few kipping pull-ups. I looked a the clock when it was my turn to go so I’d have an idea of my time, then I went for it. The pull-ups were mostly singles, and not beautiful by any stretch, but hey, I got it done. Better still were the high fives I got from all the coaches and then the applause from everyone when the workout was done. I was so pumped. Talk about starting the year with a bang!

Then, I had to go back and re-read this post I wrote a year ago and remind myself to chill and not be so hard on myself. An amazing 2015 ended not so amazingly with a pretty serious bout of Christmas Day stomach flu. After being so sick, I had to take several days off of the gym because I was so weak and depleted. Then, the week after Christmas, I decided to eat double because I had been sick and could eat barely anything for a few days and missed out on some tasty Christmas eats.

Hmmm…almost a week of being sick, then a week of eating whatever the heck I wanted. You can probably guess how the first week back after that felt. Ugh. The thing was, I wasn’t even doing all that terribly at everything. I managed to get one of the top scores for our contest of the month (because it involved KB swings. Obvi.) And on a shoulders to overhead (my fav) and burpee workout, I think I was one of the top scores of the day. I just got myself mentally in a pretty bad place.

Note to self (and readers): Repeating “sucky suck suck” about yourself and your WODs over and over again in your head doesn’t help. At all. To cap it off, I gained back the weight I had lost from being sick and then some. Ugh. Again.

But this is where being a person who is constantly (some might say obsessively) logging WODs and weight comes in handy and really helps regain perspective. Yes. Maybe I overdid it and packed on a few pounds. But I looked back and my heavier post-holiday self is still 12 pounds lighter than last year’s version. It will come off.

And, newsflash: I don’t suck at everything. Even a week of less-than-amazing feeling WODs are still miles ahead of where I came from, or from the people who aren’t doing anything at all. And after Saturday’s partner WOD where I pushed it real good and carried our team at the end (overhead barbell holds while my partner struggled with snatches), I finally was like, “Oh yeah. I love this feeling. And I don’t suck at CrossFit.”

On a related note, it took my week-long New Year’s funk to make me realize again why I CrossFit and choose to eat a healthy diet. It’s not because I hate myself. It’s not a punishment. It’s not because I should. It’s not to lose weight or look a certain way. It’s because I really like myself. It’s because it’s fun. It’s because it’s where my friends are at. It’s because I love the feeling of working harder than I ever thought possible, then seeing it pay off and amazing myself. It’s because when I eat a healthy diet, I feel fueled and nourished and my body can do incredible things.

Oh, and there’s the fact that the Open is a little over 6 weeks away. Gulp. How the heck did that come up so quickly? Here we go again… In addition to the fact that our gym is programming a plethora of gas tank-depleting WODs to gear up for it, I also made the mistake of asking my coach to include Open prep for me in addition to my lifting program. Never again. If you read in a year from now that I plan on asking for Open prep, please reach out and stop me (Kidding. Sort of).

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be amazing at the Open or be dead by then. One week in, it’s too early to tell. These Open prep mini WODs are TERRIBLE! Example: max set of back squats at 70% (I got to 20 reps). Rest a minute then 150 double unders for time. Slowest double unders of life!!!! Mind you, as seen above, I wasn’t feeling amazing last week. So I’m hoping at least things will get a little better, but I’m anticipating a kind of butt-kicking suckfest (in the best possible way) for the next 6 weeks. Hopefully it pays off.

In case you didn’t know, Jess is kind of a CrossFit celeb now. Have you seen this video about the Open? Go to 2:16 and see her big feature.

I also received one of my favourite pieces of gym feedback ever last week: I was gave a friend advice on double unders (practice a little bit every day, and try at first doing two singles skips, one DU, 2 skips, 1 DU…). A few days later he came up to me, said he tried it, and got the most DU he ever had! Hearing that totally made my day (thanks Matt- and way to go). Moments like that are one of the best parts of CrossFit, and great reminders that there’s more to success and victory than just hitting PRs all the time.

And, last but not least, in the first week and a half of 2016, I’ve been reminded anew of how awesome my gym and the people that make up our community are. I’m moving in a few weeks, and gym friends have been great about offering me boxes, a leather chair; and of course, help with the move. There was also last weekend’s fantastically fun holiday party at a local ping pong bar co-owned by one of our members. I take all my gym friendships for granted until I mention the party to a coworker and get asked “Your gym is having a Christmas party?” Oh yeah, I guess amazing friendships and great parties are not part of the typical gym experience. I can’t say it enough: love my CrossFit family.

Phew! Writing all that, it’s been a busy start to the year, and quite the emotional rollercoaster. I’ve run the gamut from huge Crossfit victories to celebrations to suckfests – and it’s only been 11 days! At this rate, 2016 is going to be quite the year – stay tuned!

2015: What a Year it’s Been!

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My Christmas present to my gym: Gingerbread Gym, complete with coaches to scale.

As I type this, it’s the last day of the year and I’m staring 2016 in the face. It seems like just yesterday I was sharing my goals with you for the year, and now it’s over.

Since I shared goals with you for the year, I think it’s only fair to share with you how I did. But, I’m also going to give you a bit of a year in review in my CrossFit life.

Basically, I met some goals and others I didn’t. Would I have liked to have met all of them? You bet. But you know what, I’m not particularly sad/upset/depressed about the ones I didn’t meet. Over the past year, I’ve come to see that goals are great to guide you. They give you vision and something to work towards. But, in CrossFit and in life, there is life beyond your goals.

Life happens, you run into setbacks, and some goals don’t get met. But, at the same time, sometimes there are unexpected victories. Sometimes success comes seemingly out of nowhere (but it’s actually the result of months of hard work). Just yesterday, my coach reminded me again how important the little things are. Which is an important perspective, especially when it seems like months are going by with no PRs. If you keep grinding away, working on the little things, you WILL see results.

That being said, let’s revisit the goals and talk about how things went…

  • Unassisted strict pull-up (hopefully in time for the Open!)
  • Pistol squats
    • Nope. But, to be fair, I didn’t work on them consistently all year – off and on again, but they were definitely back burner for a while. I’ve been back at it for the last couple weeks, and I think (and others have told me) I might be close.
  • Deadlift 300 pounds (currently at 270)
    • No. I actually haven’t retested my 1RM in months, but not there yet. I really think that I just need to clean up technique, and actively engage my lats, and I’ll have this. No doubt I’m strong but I need to fix some things. I can get this one in 2016.
  • Clean and Jerk 150 pounds (currently 135)
    • So close! I’ve gotten my C&J to 145, and I’ve cleaned 157, but the 150 C&J hasn’t happened – yet. Although I have to say, I’m really happy with the progress I made on my clean in the fall. It went up by a lot, and I’m way more comfortable in the squat clean now, which is huge for me, considering I always used to freak out and power clean when it got heavy.
  • Snatch 100 pounds (currently 90)
    • Yes! I actually got this one before the end of January in competition. And then I was stuck for most of the year…but thankfully PR’ed again (finally) in November. I still feel like if I can fix a few problems, I am on the verge of a breakthrough. My OH squat has gone way up, and other things have gotten a lot better. It’s not strength that’s holding me back (noticing a theme here…?).
  • Get better at tracking how I’m feeling after WODs. I’m really good at writing down my workouts every day, but I want to pay attention to how certain things feel so I can focus on how nutrition/life outside the gym is affecting my performance.
    • Yes…sort of. I’ve been better at recording this, but not exactly at looking back over it and making changes accordingly. I do think I’m more aware though of how differently I can feel on different things, and how what I eat (or don’t eat) affects my WODs. I will continue to pay more attention in the year ahead.
  • As well, keep up with clean eating in order to drop a bit more weight to help make body weight movements (especially those pull-ups) easier (I hope to write about this part of my journey in a separate post soon).
    • Yeah! It’s still a journey, but I have achieved the weight I wanted to be at, and managed to more or less maintain it (give or take a few pounds) for about 6 months. It’s amazing how not only what, but how much you eat can make such a difference in your performance. Yes, I’ve lost weight, but it’s amazing how much my body has changed over the last year.

So…my goal accomplishments were a mixed bag for 2015, but I’m not upset. Because, in addition to all the stuff mentioned above, a few others things happened…

I competed in my first CrossFit Open. To say I had highs and lows would be an understatement. But at the end of it all, I was proud of myself for putting myself out there and giving it my all. Even though I was pretty tired of the Open by the end, I am glad I did it, and am looking forward to/ am completely terrified for the Open 2016.

Toes to bar have come soooo far. Open workout 15.1 was the first time I’d ever RX’ed a T2B WOD. Huge accomplishment, I was so proud. Even though in a 9 minute workout, I only completed 18 T2B total. During the last few weeks of 2016, I did three WODS which involved 50+ T2B. RX. Yeah. So there’s that. Gymnastics movement are a huge struggle for me (understatement of the century) so any success in this domain is pretty big for me.

I got injured. At the time, this was one of the hardest and scariest things that had happened in my short CrossFit career. I couldn’t do the WODs or lift the weights I wanted to. So I was forced to drop the weight, do a crap ton of mobility, avoid some of my favourite moments, and have a laser focus on form. It wasn’t sexy or exciting, and at times it was downright frustrating. And PRs? Forget about it.

But, at the end of the summer, I started feeling better. And all that hard work payed off – big time. First of all, I fixed my squat, a longstanding bastion of terrible form (I now joke that my old heavy backsquat was a really heavy good morning – that’s how far forward I folded). My squat form is now on point (give me a follow on instagram and scroll back through for a great side by side comparison). Fixing the form was great, but I also started adding some serious weight to my back squat, and over the course of the fall, I PR’ed my back squat by a total of 15 pounds. And that’s 15 pounds heavier than my old PR at terrible form. I feel really great about where my squat is at now, both in weight and form.

Oh, and speaking of PRs…since building back up to lifting heavy, the last few months of 2015 were PR city. The summer drought ended, and in the last few months, I have PR’ed my overhead squat, back squat, snatch, clean and jerk, clean, bench press, push press and strict press.

I’m not sharing these numbers with you to show off. More so just to show that hard work really does pay off. And the longer you stick with CrossFit, or any sport, you see that you go through seasons and phases. Summer was really hard. I didn’t PR for months. But I didn’t give up and walk away. I worked hard in a different way, and, once I was healed, that hard

pullup

The first pull-up. Easily my favourite CrossFit moment of 2015.

work payed off big time.

And speaking of hard work, one other thing that has really come a long way in 2015 is my push-ups. I’ve been chipping away at them all year, and didn’t really realize until the last few months that they have gotten so. much. stronger. Push-ups don’t come easily to me (or to most girls), but they are much less of a weakness than they used to be.

There’s a lot more that happened in 2015 (competitions, Murph, 6 AM crew getting even more awesome) but this post is getting pretty lengthy and I don’t want you to think I’m just here to brag. I just want to share some perspective, and to remind all of us that even when it seems like we might have failed, or haven’t met our goals, there are so many other successes going on.

So here’s to another amazing year. Another year of showing up, even when I don’t feel like it. Another year of hard work. Another year of finding my passion and chasing my dreams. Another year of small victories, of success and failure. Another year of PRs (and likely several months without a single one). But, most importantly, another year doing what I love alongside some of the most amazing people I know.

Stay tuned for a post coming with 2016 goals. And keep on doing what YOU love. Whether or not you met your 2015 goals, I’m pretty sure you did something awesome this year.

Happy New Year!

Love Hilary ( on behalf of the Two Babes and Barbell)

All for Fall

I love summer. Hot weather. Fresh fruit. Ice cream. Cold drinks. Beaches. My birthday. I’m the first one to shed more than a couple of tears when it winds to a close each year (never mind the fact that fall also means back to school for a teacher like me).

But this year, I have a feeling that fall is going to be pretty darn amazing (if the first few weeks are any indication). Hard work is paying off, good things are happening and I’m pumped for what lies ahead. Why? I’m so glad you asked

  1. The summer of mobility, form, and posture work is paying off…big time. I wrote about this here, but have since seen more results. I talked about my squat form improving, and if you follow me on instagram, you saw a video I posted a few weeks back. It’s a split screen of a 5RM, almost a year apart. The difference is CRAZY! Super foldy last fall on the left, and on the right; core tight, chest up and solid all the way through. I can’t tell you how good it feels not to be sketchy. It feels so different lifting heavy, struggling through it, but knowing I can maintain good form the whole way through.

Another great video is the push-up split screen. I’ve been working on push-ups longer than just the summer. We’re talking since January here. I’d say the video speaks for itself. Top one is the last few reps of a set of 6 in January. Bottom is last couple of a set of 13 last week. Not only have I gotten stronger as they look way easier, but form is waaaay better and I’m not snaking and curling my back.

2. PRs are starting to come back. So my gym got a PR bell at the beginning of the summer. I didn’t ring it once all summer. There was a lot of mobility work and rehab going on, but I wasn’t exactly lifting heavy. But then, a few weeks back, I PR’ed my clean (I even squat cleaned it!) DURING. A. WOD. (more on that in a minute). What’s more, I totally feel like I can do more. My 2015 goal might even be in reach (not so sure on the jerk though). And then there’s my overhead squat. I still can’t believe this. But I managed to PR it 3 times. In 8 days. Craziness. Not like I had tested it in a while, but still. I guess a bit of a PR drought just helps you appreciate the PRs that come all the more.

Update: I wrote this post and then went into the gym for a little afternoon lifting. My working weight of clean and jerks was feeling real light and just flying up, so I decided to go for it. I proceeded to PR my clean and jerk, then went on to PR my clean. And it didn’t even feel that heavy. I’ve now met the number I wanted to hit for cleans in 2015 (just have to match it with the jerk), and am on the brink of a spot on the leaderboard AND a body weight clean. It’s so close I can taste it….boo yeah!

3. I’ve discovered fried egg sandwiches. SeriousIMG_4526ly. This may seem silly or inconsequential, but I can’t tell you just how amazing fried egg sandwiches are or how much I’ve been loving them lately. And, honestly, until the last few weeks, they were never really something I cooked or ate much of. But they are the PERFECT post-gym meal. Quick to make, nice mix of protein and carbs, get some Frank’s Red Hot on there, and some leftover veggies as a topper, pair with soup/salad/other veg and boom! You’ve got yourself a pretty tasty meal. Gym friend Ally and I have a theory that ice cream and sandwiches both lead to PRs. We are thinking of writing a book.

Also though, eating fried egg sandwiches is a bit of a departure/step forward for me. Old, “diet mentality” Hilary (who still rears her ugly head more often than I’d like) never would have eaten fried egg sandwiches. Too much fat! Too may calories! And bread? Gasp. All those carbs! But now that I am slowly shifting into eating for fuel and performance, I’m slowly starting to let go of those anxieties, and focus on real, delicious foods and what they can do for me (and I did have one of these sandwiches the day before one of those OHS PRs, just saying…).

4. The strict pull-up is making a comeback. Everyone knows the first strict pull-up came back in March. And while I still worked on pull-ups all summer long (let’s be honest, when do I not work on pull-ups?), it was at an easier difficulty, and more focused on correcting form (noticing a theme here?). So, I tried a strict pull-up at the end of August and no-go. But, after several weeks of hard work, I finally succeeded and the elusive strict pull-up returned last week. It’s still a fight. It still eludes me if it’s not a great day. But I CAN do a strict pull-up again. Next up: link more together.

And since my back is ok, I’m also allowed to work on kipping again. RX Fran will come, one day.

5image1 (1). And the best thing about fall? Jess is back. Even though she now has the luxury (I’m sure she would phrase her new mom life in different terms ;)) of coming during the day and I only get to work out with her once every week or so, it’s so great to have her back.

The pics to the left I posted a few weeks back. Jess was at the gym on a Saturday during our gym’s competitive training class and was planning on doing her own thing. Then she saw the partner WOD and asked, “should I do this? I’m only doing it if you’re my partner.” I replied that she needed to ask coach, which she did, and got the go-ahead to do a modified version with me.

Well, that was the WOD when I PR’ed my clean (and as you can see, Jess captured the official ringing of the PR bell). I told Jess she was my good luck charm. After many months without her, it was so great to have my Crossfit bestie working out by my side. And of course, she crushed it. Jess might be scaling, but don’t let that fool you. She is still the rockstar she always was, and pushing her hardest every second.

More than that, she pushes me to do the same. And I think my favourite part of our first WOD together was during part 2, when I was doing pull-ups. Jess had never seen me do a kipping pull-up, let alone in a WOD before, so she gave me huge cheers every time she looked up and saw me do one. How can you not love a girl like that? Not to mention she now brings the boys to the gym so I have cute boys to cuddle with after who don’t mind the post-WOD stench. 😉

So, fall, you’ve been good to me so far. And I think there are more good things to come. And Jess – it is so great to have you back. Keep crushing it, one day at a time. You are a rockstar. Here’s to many more workouts with you by my side.

#tbt …to that time I started CrossFit

Jess and I at our first competition together a year ago - my how far we've come!

Jess and I at our first competition together a year ago – my how far we’ve come!

I hope you’re ready for some nostalgia. Because, as crazy as it is to think about it, this week marks two whole years since I (Hilary) started CrossFit! It’s also been a year since we started this blog, and a year ago last weekend, Jess and I did our first CrossFit competition together…crazytown!

In the spirit of #tbt, here’s a post I wrote reflecting on year one of Crossfit (which was incidentally also our very first post). And I decided to keep the nostalgia/#tbt theme going (it is Thursday after all) by creating a list of things I never would have believed if you told me two years ago before I was the CrossFitter I am today.

So here goes. If you had told me two years ago that:

  • I would have found a “workout” that I would look forward to and enjoy
  • I would be one of “those people” who spends all their spare time at the gym (and love every minute of it….well ok, not EVERY minute. I hate the minutes that I do split squats)
  • I’d be planning my life around my gym schedule
  • A large part of my social circle would be filled with my “gym friends”
  • Some of the people I now consider some of my best friends would be people I met at the gym
  • I would be able to do multiple “non-girl” push-ups, handstands, climb a rope, and do pull-ups (even if my strict pull-ups have temporarily gone away)
  • I would have an understanding and appreciation of the beauty and technicality of Olympic lifting
  • I would find challenging myself and pushing myself harder than I ever had before the most relaxing and rewarding part of my day
  • I would learn to love lifting heavy
  • I would be working out not to look a certain way, but because I love how it makes me feel
  • I would see myself as an athlete
  • I would consider myself strong and might actually be good at some things in CrossFit
  • I would start thinking about food not in terms of what I could and couldn’t eat to look a certain way, but what it would do for me and how it would fuel my performance
  • ..and along the way I’d lose over 20 pounds and totally change the way I look
  • I would actually be happy with my body, the way it looks, and more importantly, what it can do
  • I would find having a bigger butt and broad shoulders desirable
  • That multiple people would tell me I was inspiration to them
  • I would be asked to speak at an evening on physical fitness
  • People would refer to me as their “strong” or “athletic” friend
  • I would frequently be covered in bruises (*it is to be noted that I bruise EXTREMELY easily…as Jess says “all I have to do is look at you the wrong way and you bruise”), have calluses and torn hands, and not care at all
  • I would spend extra time and money doing CrossFit competitions in my free time…and love every second of it
  • I would fit in, belong, and feel like an important member of a community made of up “fit people”
  • The coaches at my gym would be some of the people who know me best
  • I would consider my gym one of my favourite things about the new city that I moved to. And wouldn’t leave it for the world.
  • I would push myself to do tough athletic feats, and constantly amaze myself

….I don’t think I would have believed you. But, here I stand, 2 years into my “CrossFit career,” and I am so happy to be wrong. This may be cheesy, it may be cliched, but CrossFit has changed my life. It has made me a better person in so many ways.

It has showed me that you can achieve any dream through a lot of hard work.

It has taught me to never give up on the dream, even in the face of defeat, and months and months of seemingly progress. That just when you think you’ll never make it, then there’s a breakthrough.

It’s taught me that injuries and setbacks can be frustrating, but through them, there’s much to be learned that can have a huge payoff in due time.

And of course, CrossFit brought me and Jess together. Our friendship would be worth it for that alone, even without all the other stuff I just wrote about.

So CrossFit, it’s been a great two years. Here’s to many, many more. I can’t wait to get stronger, set more PRs, learn more lessons, make more friends and maybe, just maybe, do a muscle-up someday…? 😉

The Update Show

update showConfession. I kind of love the CrossFit Games Update Show. It might be cheesy. It might be over the top. It might be CrossFit trying to make itself ESPN. I don’t care. I love Pat, Rory and Sean.

So, I’ve decided, in their honour, I’m making this week’s post into my own Update Show (really it’s just an excuse/title for a post with a bunch of random updates/facts about me and CrossFit of late/follow-up from last week’s post).

Another confession: I wrote that post and was followed up by 2 days of crippling self doubt. Monday, snatches were NOT happening. I was all over the place, couldn’t squat snatch at all (like at all. I don’t know where the squat snatch went). I couldn’t even hit a weight that was 5 reps under my max once.

Tuesday, clean and jerk didn’t go any better. Again, I was missing weights that  should’ve been able to hit easily. My friend and lifting buddy Kim was there and asked if I was tired, because it was looking hard for me and she knew those were weights I should’ve had.

I had a bad case of getting into my own head and psyching myself out (AKA classic Hilary). It’s a typical move, whenever I’m on the verge of doing something big/making a big step/progress, I get in my own head and start messing things up (both in life and in CrossFit). Thankfully, I had much better snatch/clean days later in the week and got my head cleared up (I snatched that same weight I couldn’t get once on Monday for 8 singles on Thursday).

I went into yesterday’s lifting meet feeling nervous, but ok. After all, it was a meet at my own gym surrounded by friends (and plans to go out for food afterwards, always a key motivator). I knew that whatever happened, it would be ok.

Well, things didn’t go exactly as planned. I hit my first attempt at both snatch and clean and jerk easily. Sadly, I missed attempts 2 and 3 on both lifts! 😦 More frustrating still, is that 3/4 misses were total technicalities. I was easily strong enough to get the weight up there. The 2 snatches I missed were because I just didn’t quite lock out my elbows. The first clean and jerk I missed I executed the lift perfectly, I just dropped it too soon. Shoot – so frustrating!

So I’m not exactly happy with how I did, but, doing this meet did confirm a couple things I already kind of knew:

1. I love Oly lifting and it’s super fun for me, but as a part of CrossFit. I don’t like focusing on just one thing. I’m not sorry I did this meet, again, it was just at my own gym with friends, but I will say that the CrossFit competitions I’ve done were much more fun for me.

2. I love Oly lifting because it’s so technical. It’s not just about strength. And my failures at the meet drove that home for me. Strength is not the limiting factor. I need to drive home form and technique and then the numbers can go up.

So, if anything, this meet was helpful to see what areas I can improve on. I’m not sorry I did it, but glad that it’s over and I can go back to not worrying about what numbers I’m hitting and just focus on CrossFit. I also want to work on not getting frustrated, psyching myself out, and getting out of my own head (if you know how to do that let me know!).

(Side note: the one big plus of the day was that I was in a lower weight class than when I signed up a month ago and weighed in at less than I thought I would, so there’s that).

And speaking of CrossFit, I’m sure you’re all wondering about Fran. Well, she’s been pushed back a couple of weeks. My kipping is coming along, but I’m still not there. I’m all about jumping and taking a leap, but I don’t want to go before I’m ready. So I’m keeping up with my kipping practice, we’re checking in once a week and hopefully I’ll be ready to go in the next couple weeks (don’t worry I’ll keep you all posted).

Other updates for you:

I redid Open Workout 15.1 (I opted not to go for the max clean and jerk again). I’ve been working on toes to bar the last couple of months and I know they’ve gotten a LOT better for me, so it’d been in the back of my mind to redo that one for a while now. So, a couple of weeks ago, on the Monday of the long weekend, I decided to give it a go (Because what else do you do on a Holiday Monday? And keep in mind this was after I’d already been at the gym for 2 hours having done a WOD and my lifting already. Typical Hilary).

My score in the Open, February 27, was 37 reps.

Not quite 3 months later, I scored 60 reps.

I made it through exactly two rounds for a 23 rep improvement. I’ll take it! Had I been working out fresh it could’ve been even better, who knows? Just proof for me keeping at it and working your weakness pays off. And that my lats are finally working. Booyah!

Also…6 weeks out from my next team comp and starting a new lifting program today. I just love the weekend before a new lifting cycle, weighting (see what I did there? #badliftingpuns) to get a new program, and then getting into the gym and getting in gear. We’re in the amateur division for the comp, so given all the progress I’ve made of late, I’m feeling really good about where I’m at going in (we just need to find another guy to replace one teammate who had to drop out and then I’ll be feeling great).

And also, speaking of the Update Show, HOW AWESOME WAS JULIE FOUCHER THIS WEEKEND? Seriously, that girl has grit! And did anyone else see the last heat of event 7 for the Women in the Central Region? I was really happy for Stacey Tovar (I was gunning for her to get back to the games). But, man oh man. Sheila Barden on that last clean – I just wanted to give her a hug! It was painful to watch. Poor girl.

And the women of the Meridian Region were just tearing it up (I woke up early Sunday morning and didn’t want to eat before the weigh in at the meet, so watched them do event 7 in bed). I couldn’t get over Anna Fragkou in heat 3, who did ALL. FIVE. SETS. of 9 HSPUs unbroken. Seriously! These girls can move!

What has been your favourite moment from Regionals this year, now that it’s all said and done? And what’s your take on the update show? Love it? Hate it? Couldn’t care less?

 

 

The Post I’ve wanted to write since starting this Blog….

In case you missed it in last week’s post, I finally, after months of hard work, frustration, and tears, I achieved the dream: I got my strict pull-up. This was a moment I’d dreamed about almost since Day One of CrossFit. It’s something I worked on day in and day out for almost a year and a half. It’s something I wanted more than anything else, and something that seemed beyond my grasp more than once.

But I am nothing if not stubborn and determined not to give up (although I came close after 15.2). And on Friday, March 27, months of hard work and dedication came together and that first pull-up happened. pullupI promised you a post devoted to that glorious event, so here it is.

Background first: I set my sights on pull-ups almost from the get-go. I started CrossFit in September 2013. In October, I had my first one-on-one skills session (included with our membership at Alchemy). I said I wanted to work on getting pull-ups. It’s been so long now, that I can’t exactly remember what Coach Duncan said at the time. I think he told me that it wouldn’t be a quick process (we have joked several times over all these months that it’s a good thing I didn’t know at the time just how long the process would take). But he didn’t discourage me. He didn’t laugh at me. He just assessed where I was at, saw where I wanted to get, and came up with a plan to help me get there.

I started off working with 3 bands. You read that right. THREE. I had the double-whammy working against me of being heavier and lacking the necessary upper body strength. But I dutifully did my homework and worked on my pull-up program 3 days a week for months. Still no pull-up. I should add, throughout this process, that I had strict (pun somewhat intended) orders from Coach Duncan that I wasn’t allowed to kip pull-ups until I had the strength to do one strict (even though Jess has tried more than once to get me to do so).

Over the many months, there were many tweaks to my program. Somewhere during last summer we added in ring rows to work on developing strength at the bottom of the pull. Duncan reminded me not to cheat and swing with the bands, otherwise I wouldn’t be developing strength and wasn’t really doing myself any favours.

I re-tested my pull-ups several times, and had made some improvements, but it seemed like towards the end of the summer, things were stagnating. I was not where I wanted to be. Then, last fall, I was about to do my first competition. We knew pull-ups would make an appearance. So, Duncan said he would make an exception to his rule and teach me to kip for the competition.

One morning, we set to work on learning to kip those pull-ups. I should add that this latissimus-dorsiwas right after I had first successfully climbed the rope (after almost 6 months of work), so my strength was clearly coming along. With Duncan watching, I tried strict. Clearly no go. Then I tried getting my hips into it, to kip things. Nope. Then he took a video of my shoulders (I kid you not). Then we had somewhat of a lightbulb moment. I wasn’t using my lats. You know those giant muscles on your back (see illustration at right) that are the main ones involved in a pull-up? Nothing. Not activating. No wonder pull-ups seemed so hard!

This is where I got the nickname Lazy Lats, and a whole new set of pull-up homework: lat pull-downs. We literally looped a band over the pull-up rig, put a 15 pound bar through it, and had me sit down on a box underneath pulling the bar down. You have no idea how many times I had to explain to people what I was doing. I definitely looked a bit ridiculous, but I didn’t care. Like everything else Crossfit-related, I didn’t take myself too seriously, and chose to have a sense of humor about it. Plus, in the long run, I knew that this exercise would help out in isolating the muscles that were slacking off. I didn’t get a pull-up for that competition (which ended up being ok), but I felt encouraged that we knew what the problem was and were on the road to fixing it.

Over the fall, I also recruited more help for, as I called it “Team Lat Activation”: the two health professionals (one chiropractor, one massage therapist) that I see regularly for Active Release technique. (Our gym membership includes one free ART session a month which is so awesome and I find so helpful, plus I get benefits through my work so I’ve been going more regularly). Lisa and Mandy were great at working to find out what was going on, what wasn’t working (and why), and giving me stretches, mobility and activation exercises to help things out.

My pull-up program underwent more tweaks over the fall. I kept up with my lat pull-downs, ring rows, and banded pull-ups (reps/bands changing from time to time). We added jumping pull-ups to get my muscles used to the movement pattern. Duncan also came up with “bottom half” pull-ups, (which are just what they sound like), where he had me working at a greater difficulty (ie less assistive bands) on the bottom part of the pull. Eventually I graduated from the lat pulldowns and moved on to reverse dumbbell flies (again, I looked SO cool….it’s a good thing I don’t take myself too seriously).

I worked away at those pull-ups as hard as ever. Progress came, but slowly. I was getting frustrated. Then in November, Duncan made the suggestion we talk about nutrition. When it came right down to it, pull-ups are a body weight movement. The simple, hard truth is that if I weighed less, a pull-up would be easier.

I’ll write another post soon totally devoted to nutrition and that whole process, but for now, I’ll just say a couple of things. 1. Working out is the easy part, but it focusing in on what you’re eating (or not eating) is HARD. It’s totally worth it, but requires willingness to be disciplined and put in the work. 2. It makes a HUGE difference. Not just in your weight and how you look, but how you feel and for your workouts. And, after a month of hard work, by December I was down to a strict pull-up with just the red band (the super-skinny, tiniest one available). That unassisted pull-up was within my reach.

The new year came. More pull-up work, more tweaks to programming. Now, instead of having pull-ups programmed a few days a week, they were showing up in every day of my programming (mind you in slightly lower volume). And Duncan also started telling me specifically which difficulty of bands to work at. At first, the difficulty seemed challenging and a little ambitious, but I’m glad now that he did that, as I think it really pushed me and increased my strength.

I was coming along, and thought I’d be getting a pull-up in time for the Open. I re-tested right before it started. Still Nope. Then 15.2 happened. I don’t need to rehash it here. But, suffice it to say, after all my hard work, it felt like a devastating failure. I had come so far, and gotten so close, but I just wasn’t there yet. I was so frustrated. So angry. At that point, I honestly considered asking Duncan if we could just take a couple of weeks off of working on pull-ups – that’s how upset I was.

Around that time, I started a new programming cycle designed to take me to the end of the Open. As part of my pull-up programming this time, Duncan had me retesting strict pull-ups every Friday. I remember asking him what the point was (still pretty frustrated). He said that at this point, I was close and said it wouldn’t be long and that he didn’t want me to have the strength to do a pull-up and go weeks without knowing it. I figured I might as well take his word for it (although I secretly didn’t really believe him). But I trusted his judgement and figured, what did I have to lose?

Friday, March 27 came around. At 6 AM, I completed 15.5 and was thrilled that the Open was behind me, and had come to terms that a pull-up from the Open wasn’t going to happen. I went back to the gym to lift in the afternoon, and, since it was Friday, re-test pull-ups.

As had become my routine, I warmed up using bands of increasing difficulty, treating it as I would a one rep max attempt on a lift. Things were feeling good. Duncan was in the back judging someone on 15.5, and I remember him giving me an encouraging look when I was on the black band (second hardest). It was looking easy.

My friend Sam was there watching me, and after I did a pull-up with the red band, she said “Why don’t you just do a pull-up already? That looked easy,” and made me go get my phone so she could videotape me going for it. Gulp. The pressure (I should add at this point that pretty much EVERYONE at the gym knows how badly I wanted this, and how long and hard I’d been working for it).

Just as everyone else was starting 15.5 during the 4:15 class, Sam grabbed my phone, hit record, and I went for it. I pulled. And got up, and up, and kicked my feet a bit, and made it! The funniest part, which is also captured on video, is that I ask “did that count?” Duncan had been right by the rig, but his back was turned since he was watching someone row. He immediately watched the video, confirmed that it counted, congratulated me, and gave me a big hug. (If you want to see the full video, go follow me on Instagram).

Cheers commenced. I may or may not have ran around telling everyone. I texted Jess and a few other Crossfit friends. I social media-ed the crap out of that video. I actually couldn’t believe it. After nearly a year and a half of hard work, and wanting to give up on more than one occasion, I had achieved my dream.

So, strict pull-up down (and you better believe it got a green emoji checkmark on my Crossfit goals note in my phone). What next? Duncan and I already had a pre-existing appointment to talk about goals and programming after the Open, and now with the first pull-up in the books, it seemed like an even better time to figure out where I went from here.

His idea? Programming to keep attacking my weaknesses (mostly bodyweight/gymnastics movements) in time for the team competition I’ve entered in early July. Then we figured out that it was almost exactly 100 days away from our meeting. And Duncan got the idea to set two ambitious goals for me. 100 days gave us about 14 weeks.

After the first 8 weeks? RX Fran (21-15-9 thrusters and pull-ups). Gulp.

Oh, but that’s not enough. After another 6 weeks, RX Mary (20 min AMRAP of 5 handstand pushups, 10 pistols, 15 pullups). (I currently can’t do HSPUs or pistols, if you were wondering).

His reasoning? I could do Fran now. It might take me all day, but I could do it. And once I got a bit stronger and could kip, Fran would be totally doable (I might not have the fastest time, but still).

As for Mary, Duncan admitted it’s a loftier goal. He thinks pistols won’t be a problem, I just need to work on mobility. And I’ve got a ton of shoulder strength, I just need to get the mobility, stability and general “shoulder health” piece down. And, as he pointed out, if I could do pull-ups, HSPUs and pistols, come the Open 2016, I’m only a muscle-up away from being an RX athlete (now there’s a crazy thought).

So, I’m two weeks into the new programming…a lot of push-up and pull-up work, and Olympic lift accessory work too (which I’m so happy about. Oly took a back seat for awhile and I’ve missed it). I’m not really lifting heavy all that much right now (which I miss), but, it’s something I’m good at and, as Duncan pointed out, if I get to the comp in the summer and can squat and deadlift a ton but just barely do a pull-up, that doesn’t help me much.

The goal is to build up pull-up strength in April, then come May, start to work on kipping and then at the beginning of June, it’s Fran time. If you follow us on Facebook, you’ll know that I was able to crank out 3 pull-ups last weekend. Crazy. Just crazy. I still can’t believe it. I’m supposed to do 3 strict pullups for time once a week for the next couple weeks on top of my other pull-up work, then increase to 5 after that.

If you’re still reading (sorry this turned into such a novel), thanks for sticking with me. I share this story only to say that anything, absolutely anything is possible if you work hard and never give up on your dream. That success doesn’t belong to just one person. It truly takes a village. I couldn’t have gotten that first strict pull-up without the amazingly supportive community of friends at my gym, health professionals, and of course, a coach who never gave up on me.

No one handed me anything. I had to fight every day, work hard when I didn’t want to, and keep going in the face of failure and defeat. But I look at where I am now, and I am so glad I kept fighting.

A year and a half ago, I was a girl with a big dream. If you had told me that in 18 months, I would be the athlete I am today, having achieved not only that illusive pull-up, but so many more things along the way, I’m not sure I would have believed you. Proving myself wrong has never felt so amazing.

Get after it: Goal Setting for 2015 and Beyond

IMG_2228I will start this post by saying that I (Hilary) don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. There’s nothing gained by saying that you want to be better in such an such a way, or to give up _______ if that’s all you’re going to do. Chances are you’ll be gung-ho for a month tops, then forget about it until it’s December then you’ll feel bad about yourself for your lack of progress.

Goals, on the other hand are a different matter. I am a big fan of goal-setting. I like to set goals at the beginning of the year, but this is something you can (and should) do any time. But goals are different from resolutions. They are not hastily scrawled down at the beginning of the year. This is you thoughtfully taking the time to think about something you want to achieve, and the work it will take to get there; then developing an action plan that will lead to success.

I’m sure you’ve all seen that inspirational quote floating around Instagram and Pinterest about how a goal without a plan is just a dream or something like that. So when you sit down and think about what you want, ask yourself how you’ll get there. What will it take? Who can help you along the way?

Crossfit-wise, I take time to re-evaluate my progress and set new goals at different points throughout the year. Usually after I’ve achieved some sort of milestone or accomplishment (like after completing 100 days of burpees, or my first competition for example). It’s the perfect time to celebrate success, but then think about where you’re going to push yourself to next.

I also think the beginning of a new year is a great time to set goals for yourself. You can look back on what you accomplished in the last year (this is why tracking your lifts and WODs is so helpful) and think about the year that lies ahead and what you want to get done. I do this both in Crossfit and the rest of my life.

I highly encourage accountability when you’re setting goals. If you have a goal for yourself but don’t tell anyone else about it, then no one has to know if you don’t succeed. You can talk yourself out of it or quit at any time because there’s no one who will keep you on track. But if you know that there’s someone else who will hold you to the standards you’ve set, you’re not going to want to let that person down.

I think it’s also important to find a balance between big and little goals. On the one hand, if you set your goals too high, they can be impossible to reach and you can end up frustrated and discouraged. On the other hand, if you’re anything like me, you often sell yourself short and don’t dream big enough. I am continually surprising myself with all the things that I can do. So I think it’s nice to have a couple of big goals to work towards, along with smaller ones that you achieve along the way.

With that in mind, allow me to share with you my Crossfit goals for 2015 (Hilary here by the way, maybe Jess will share with us soon some of what she wants to accomplish). Hopefully you guys will keep me on track and I will have good news to report throughout the year and when I check back in in December.

My big goal for 2015 in Crossfit and in life is: Get out of your own way. As it applies to Crossfit, basically I know that I’ve gotten so much stronger. Often I feel like when I miss a lift or can’t get past a certain point, it’s all in my head. If I could just believe in myself and that I CAN do it, I really think I could accomplish so much more. So I hope to work at getting over that this year. I’m planning to write a series of posts on my progress in this area this year.

Other Crossfit-specific goals:

  • Unassisted strict pull-up (hopefully in time for the Open!)
  • Pistol squats
  • Deadlift 300 pounds (currently at 270)
  • Clean and Jerk 150 pounds (currently 135)
  • Snatch 100 pounds (currently 90)
  • Get better at tracking how I’m feeling after WODs. I’m really good at writing down my workouts every day, but I want to pay attention to how certain things feel so I can focus on how nutrition/life outside the gym is affecting my performance.
  • As well, keep up with clean eating in order to drop a bit more weight to help make body weight movements (especially those pull-ups) easier (I hope to write about this part of my journey in a separate post soon).

A lot of work ahead to get where I want to go, but I’m excited. I think back to where I was a year ago and can’t believe all the progress I’ve made. I can’t wait to see where I get to by the end of 2015.

So…we’re almost a month into 2015. Do you have any Crossfit (or other goals) to share? How are they going so far?