Thursday, July 28, 2011

Two Tough CrossFit Workouts

Last night, I wasn't sure what to expect at CrossFit. It was a de-loading week (a lower weight recovery week) in our Wendler cycle. I didn't know if the workout after the lifting would also be easy, or if we'd get a tough one because the strength work was so easy.

As soon as I saw the board, I knew it would be a tough one for me. But first, the lifting:
3x5 strict press, maxing out at 80 pounds - very easy
5x10 DB Presses with a pair of 35# DBs - This was hard for me due to the number of reps.
3x10 chest to bar pull-ups - This was too easy because I used too much of a resistance band.

Then came the main workout - no equipment required:

100 burpees, as quickly as possible.

Before I ever started CrossFit, I would do burpees at the end of some weight workouts. But, CrossFit burpees are a bit different than the burpees I used to do. If you look at the two different burpee links, you'll see that CrossFit burpees require you to essentially drop your hips to the ground and then do at least a knee push-up that is not required in the other video. This makes them significantly harder. But, I'd done 100 burpees a couple months ago, doing 5 of them, every minute, on the minute. So, I knew I could do the workout in 20 minutes or less. Some of the best times of the day were around 6 minutes, and many of the best times were posted by females. I was moderately happy with my 11:48, and it gives me a time to improve upon in the future.

Immediately after the workout, I had another Graston/ART treatment on my shoulder and things are still progressing. I'm not 100% though, and I remain cautious on certain lifts, mostly anything overhead with a wide grip.

After CF, I rode home, showered, cooked, ate, went to bed, and set my alarm for 4:30 this morning, so I could go to CF before work today. I have a conflict after work, so it was 5:45 a.m. or not at all today. By 5:00 a.m. and first light, I was on my bike, and by 5:30, I was at the gym.

This morning, there was no strength work posted, which guaranteed that the MetCon would be tough. The workout was named Lumberjack 20:

20 Deadlifts (275lbs)
Run 400m
20 KB swings (2pood)
Run 400m
20 Overhead Squats (115lbs)
Run 400m
20 Burpees
Run 400m
20 Pullups (Chest to Bar)
Run 400m
20 Box jumps (24")
Run 400m
20 DB Squat Cleans (45lbs each)
Run 400m

Level 1 was 185 pound deadlifts, 1.5 pood (53 pounds) for the KB swings, 75 for the overhead squats, regular pull-ups, an 18" box for the jumps, and 35# DBs for the squat cleans. I used only 65# for the OH squats, again taking it easy on my shoulder. And, despite my best intentions, I dropped to 25# DBs for the squat cleans.

Despite knowing it would be a long workout, I started out too fast. Maybe it was because deadlifts are a strength of mine and I was fine with the running. But, doing 20 good KB swings at 53# was too much. As I headed outside for my second 400m run, my stomach rebelled because I'd started too hard. I lost two minutes until I could start running and I thought briefly about dropping from the workout. After the first three movements, the toughest work was behind me and I got into a better groove. It wasn't until the DB squat cleans that I had issues again. I had to rest three times during those 20 reps, and I was still on the verge of puking as I headed outside. I started my 400 meters with about a minute of walking and then recovered enough to run the rest.

My time was 35:58 - the slowest in the class. But, six months ago, it would have been a lot higher and I continue to make progress. As long as I'm making progress, I'm not even worried what those 25-year old, 8% body fat percentage guys are doing. It's just me against the workout.

After the workout, I biked to my room, showered and got to work as quickly as possible.

Tonight, I won't get to bed until close to 11:00. I need to decide if that will be enough sleep to let me get up and go to CF at 5:45 again tomorrow. If I don't do that, I'll probably go for a run with my wife after work tomorrow.

Oh yeah, if anyone in the state of Vermont reads this blog, my son became a licensed driver this morning. Be careful out there.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CrossFit Tuesday

Yesterday, with an ominous weather forecast, and some thunderstorms headed our way according to radar, I left work at 4:00 to do the 4:30 CrossFit class instead of my normal 5:45 class. It turned out that the 4:30 class was really crowded.

On my ride to the gym, I heard some thunder in the distance, but the storm didn't catch up to me. I heard later that there were some strong storms to the north and south, but we missed them completely.

As I looked at the workout last night, I wasn't thrilled. We were doing some movements that just aren't kind to my shoulder. It's not that I can't do them, but I still try to keep the weights low, and I am really paranoid about re-injuring the shoulder.

We started with our warm-up and then moved into snatch balances - 7 sets of 1 rep each, going as heavy as you can. I have some mobility issues on this lift, on overhead squats, and on squat snatches. So, I kept the weight fairly low and worked on form for the duration of the strength work.

After this, the main workout was as follows:

21-15-9, as quickly as possible:
Squat Snatch (65# for me)
Pull-ups (band-assisted)
Box Jumps (21" for me)

First of all, the squat snatch causes me problems as I mentioned above. All three of the lifts I mentioned above require you to hit the bottom of the overhead squat position. I'm working on it, but progress is slow.

The workout was not 21 snatches, 15 pull-ups, and 9 box jumps. It was 21 of each, then 15 of each, and then 9 of each. If we couldn't do squat snatches, we were supposed to do power snatches instead. In the first round, I did about 10 marginal squat snatches before dropping to power snatches as my shoulder fatigued.

In the second round, I did about six squat snatches and then went to power snatches. The last round was all power snatches.

My total time was 13:04. Because the lifting part hadn't been too heavy, I didn't feel as wiped after this workout as I often feel.

I rode my bike home, went out to run an errand, and then cooked dinner - a grilled porterhouse steak, curried mashed cauliflower, and my "landlady" (it's hard to call her that; she's more like a roommate and we cook dinner together all of the time) made a caprese salad.

My errand last night was to arrange a surprise for my wife for next Tuesday, when we'll celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. She knows we are going out for dinner, but not much else about that evening.

Tonight, I'll do CrossFit after work, and if I get to bed early enough, and get some good sleep, I'll be up at 4:30 to go again at 5:45 a.m. tomorrow. I'm busy after work tomorrow, so I have to go before work or not at all.

All in all, I do have to say that I'm fully recovered from the marathon and back to a full workout schedule. Of course, it's only 17 days until the 100 on 100 relay, so I'll be beating my legs up in that relay fairly soon. Our team met earlier this week to select legs for the relay and I'll be runner number 4. I've done this race 3 times in the past and I've never done leg 2, 4, or 6. So this year, I'll get #4 out of the way.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Deadlift PR and Some Rest

At CrossFit, we are seven weeks into the 12-week Wendler training cycle we are using to focus on strength, particularly the back squat, strict press and deadlift. Friday was a deadlift day. My prescribed deadlifts were as follows:

5 reps at 285 pounds
3 reps at 320 pounds
1 rep (or more) at 355 pounds

Until earlier this year, my deadlift best had been stuck at 355 pounds for about a year. Then, after a long plateau, I seemed to break through a bit. I did a 365 pound lift earlier this year and then repeated that twice more, the last time coming in a workout called "CrossFit Total", where you do a max squat, press and deadlift for a total weight. I hit 805 pounds the last time we did that workout, an improvement of 50 pounds from late in 2010.

Friday night, I was really surprised how easy 355 pounds felt. Rather than do extra reps at 355, I decided to try one rep at 375. I was shocked at how easily I was able to lift 375. The first time I managed to lift 365, the lift seemed to take forever as the bar moved very slowly to my waist. This time, the lift seemed almost easy and I'm sure I could have done 385 or more.

After the deadlifts were done, I did 5 sets of 10 reps per side of kettlebell deadlifts, and then did a workout named "Jackie"

1000 meter row
50 thrusters @ 45 pounds
30 pull-ups

I used assistance bands for the pull-ups and finished in just under 11 minutes.

On Saturday morning, I got an early start on my bike and rode 35 miles to meet my wife at the farmers market. By waiting until Saturday morning to go home, it gave me the chance to get to CrossFit Friday evening, get in a good bike ride Saturday morning, and save one car trip from our home to Montpelier.

After we got home from the market, I took a nap, the first of a handful of naps over the weekend. After my bike ride, I basically spent the weekend relaxing - some time at the local pool, napping, watching movies, cooking, and mowing the lawn. After three straight days of CrossFit and the bike ride, I was tired and it was nice to just take it easy the rest of the weekend.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Heat Wave

The heat just doesn't seem to want to quit. I've slept with the AC on for days now. The last time I went a night without AC it was because I was awake all night at the Vermont 100. It seemed like today would be cooler, but the last time I checked, it was 96F outside.

I don't even want to leave the air-conditioned building where I work.

But, I will do that about 4:00 and head to CrossFit on my bike. After CrossFit, I'll ride a bit more and then jump right into the swimming pool.

After some air-conditioned sleep, I'll ride my bike for a few hours to meet my wife tomorrow, saving some more gas money this week. I'll start at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow to try to beat the heat.

After that ride, I don't know if I want to go outside for the rest of the weekend, unless the heat wave finally breaks.

Next week, it appears that I'll be in my office every day, so I'll do a lot of CrossFit workouts. After a couple easy weeks before and after the marathon, I'll do three CrossFit workouts this week, and hopefully at least four next week.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Double CrossFit - twice in 12 hours

First of all, I have to admit to being lazy on Tuesday. I ended up working late, knowing that it would force me to miss CrossFit. I really could have made it out earlier, but I felt tired and I rationalized that the work was more important than the workout. Kind of a weak excuse.

Yesterday was the first day of really serious heat in the current heat wave. I put my bike on the bus in the morning and rode the bus to work. After work, I rode to CrossFit. The air was thick with heat and humidity.

We started with our Wendler cycle strict press work. I did a 5-3-1 strict press at 100-110-125. The last rep at 125 tied my PR. I then did a few push presses at 125 to work on getting that weight overhead. Then, 5x10 close grip bench press and 3x10 band-assisted chin-ups.

The MetCon was not one of my favorites:

As quickly as possible:
10 Toes to Bar, Knees to Elbows, or knee-ups (I chose the latter - the easiest option)
9 Renegade Rows
9 Knee-ups
1 Renegade Row
1 Knee-up

I finished in 10:36 and then biked home. Because of a class this evening, my plan was to take a shower, cook dinner quickly, drink a boatload of water, call home to talk to my wife, and get to sleep as early as possible. I didn't get to sleep until about 9:30, an hour later than I'd hoped.

This morning, the alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. I hit the snooze button. I hit it a few more times. And just before 5:00, I decided the world would continue if I missed CrossFit today and just did some bike riding. I reset my alarm clock. And before I could fall asleep, I thought about skipping Tuesday's workout.

I bolted out of bed, put on my cycling clothes and rode to the gym.

Today we started with 5 x 3 of clean and jerks. This is a lift that still bothers my shoulder a bit, so I took it easy. I started at 95 pounds and worked up to 135 pounds by my 5th set.

The MetCon also included C&Js:

4 rounds, as quickly as possible:
5 Clean and Jerks (95# for me)
15 Ring Rows
30 Double Unders (or 30 single rope jumps and 15 tuck jumps)

My total time was 10:59. After that, I rode back to my rented room, took a shower, packed a lunch, and caught the bus to work. I'll get in another 6-8 miles or riding later tonight.

Tomorrow, I'm going to do CF after work rather than going home, like I normally do on Friday. Saturday mornings, my wife and I go to a farmers market in Montpelier, so I'm just going to ride there, about 35 miles or so, and meet her, which eliminates one more car trip for the week.

By the time I get home after three straight days of CF and that bike ride, I'm guessing I'll be a bit tired.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back at it

I took yesterday as a rest day. After being on my feet for about 18 hours at the race, and then walking for four hours to the finish, my feet and legs were killing me after the end of the 100. I think that I managed to get dehydrated while working the aid stations, which made the four hours of walking a bit more difficult. I was tired enough that I worked from home yesterday, rather than coming into the office.

Today, I'm back in my office and it's time to get back to the workout routine. I'm planning to ride to CrossFit tonight and do the CF workout and then ride back to my room. Hopefully it will be a workout that's kind to my tired legs.

Right now, I've taken off 12 of the last 25 days. Part of that was tapering for the marathon and then recovery from the marathon and then some time volunteering at the race last weekend. But, it's time to get back to a more regular schedule. Before this recent 25 days, I had put in two really solid months of workouts.

I am running in a 100 mile (6 person team) relay race next month, so I've got another event to shoot for right now. After that, I need to decide if I want to run a 50K in September and a 50 miler in October, and a trail marathon in November. My guess is that I'll either do all three or none of them. I'm just not sure which way I'll go.

Monday, July 18, 2011

VT100 - Volunteering and some pacing

My wife and I worked at the Vermont 100 run all weekend. Even in the years I don't run the race or plan to do any significant pacing, it's nice to be there and see many of my ultra friends.

On Friday, we worked the medical part of race check-in. I got to meet some new people, say hi to old friends, but the thing I noticed the most was the number of first timers and new faces who were doing the race.

After the medical check-ins were complete, we headed home to get a good night of sleep, knowing that we'd be awake a long time after we woke up on Saturday.

We got to the Camp 10 Bear aid station at about noon on Saturday. Runners hit this station at mile 47 and again at mile 70 or so. So, it's a busy, busy aid station. We immediately jumped into the fray, trying to help as many runners as possible. At first, the focus was on runners hitting the aid station for the first time, as a few returning elite runners showed up on occasion. Eventually, by early evening, the runners were all past mile 47, and we had a break until the masses returned to mile 70. During this lull, some of the volunteers ended their shift, leaving us a bit short for a while. I was re-assigned to be the chef for the station, although it was a pretty easy gig. I handled it just fine, except for occasionally burning a grilled cheese sandwich on the grill.

At this point, I'm going to make some statements that might be controversial, but they might not matter if no one actually reads this blog. The sport of ultrarunning seems to really be changing. The crews of the runners assumed that the aid station food was for them, as well as the pacers and runners. One woman asked my wife if she could take a certain food for herself, as a crew member. My wife replied that the food was intended for runners and pacers. The woman clearly didn't like the answer, and as soon as my wife turned her back, the woman simply took what she wanted. We had people inside the aid station all day, taking food from wherever they wanted. We had a huge number of runners complain that we didn't have what they wanted. One person let us know that not having a vegetarian broth was not acceptable. A few others let us know that not having coffee was not OK. Another person complained that our fruit supply was inadequate for the vegans. We didn't stock the aid station. We were merely volunteering, giving up our weekend to help runners finish a race. But, it sure seemed like we were being blamed for perceived slights.

When I run 100s, I find out what the aid stations will supply, and if I need something else, it goes in a drop bag or my crew brings it for me. It's dangerous to assume that an aid station will supply something critical to your race success.

At one point, so much food had been taken by crew and spectators that my wife drove to a nearby store to re-stock our station.

Demands were common. Thank yous were almost unheard. I got fewer thank yous in 18 hours of aid station work than I hand out while running a 100.

The entire mentality seemed to be one of entitlement; the race was responsible for feeding the masses and satisfying every whim. I found this very disappointing, to be honest. In all the years I've worked at this race, I've never seen this prevailing attitude before.

A week ago, I ran a new marathon here in Vermont. The marathon drew runners from all over the country. The race had 21 aid stations - for a marathon! However, running near the back of the pack, I was shocked at the litter on the course. How could people just throw their trash on the ground when there were so many aid stations.

Is this what running has come to? A sport of high race prices, where runners feel entitled to anything and everything? Litter doesn't matter. Volunteers don't matter; they are servants for the runners. I don't mind being that servant, but I don't accept being treated rudely by runners, pacers or crew persons.

After my wife and I had worked over 10 hours at Camp 10 Bear, we moved to Bill's aid station at mile 89 or so. We were scheduled to work there through the close of that aid station at 6:45 a.m. The runners here were tired and the crews were tired, so the rudeness was reduced. However, runners did seem incapable of using a trash can. They would pick food and drinks off the table, use some or all of what they picked, and then just leave the mess on the table or the floor for others to clean up. They were also very demanding of the medical personnel.

Finally, about 5:30 a.m., I'd had enough and I decided to try to sneak in a nap. Minutes after I laid down, a good friend of mine, with ten prior finishes at the race, came into the aid station. I heard my wife offer him my pacing services and he said he'd love the company. The heat the previous day had taken a toll on him, and he's essentially been walking since mile 57. We had plenty of time to finish if we simply walked the remaining 11.4 miles without wasting too much time. And, that is what we did, getting Joe to the finish line at 29:40 for his 11th finish. I was glad to be part of his race. Joe has incredible longevity in the sport and is someone I respect a lot.

I was amazed when we passed the final aid station - an unmanned station. Not 30 yards from the station, which had a garbage bag, I found a Gu wrapper on the ground. Again, I fail to understand why the littering is OK. It just makes no sense.

After Joe finished, rather than staying for the awards, as we usually do, we headed home. Even though my pacing was at an easy pace, after the marathon the previous weekend and being on my feet for almost 18 hours at aid stations, I was beat. So, my wife and I headed home, and by noon, I was showered and in bed for a well-deserved nap.

I will continue to participate at the VT100 in the future, as an athlete, a pacer or a volunteer. But, if the trends I saw this weekend continue, I'm not sure how many more years I'll participate. I'm glad we helped out and I enjoyed time with friends, but some other parts of the weekend were really disappointing.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A little recovery work

Yesterday morning, I put the bike on the bus and rode the bus to work. There is one huge hill on the way to work and I simply didn't want to ride the bike up that hill, to be honest. After work, I hopped on my bike in pouring rain, and rode to CrossFit.

My plan was to do the first half of the workout, skip the second half, and then have the chiropractor work on my shoulder for a bit. (He does appointments at the gym in the evenings.)

The first part of the workout was a press day in the Wendler cycle. Here is what I had planned:

Strict presses:
3 x 92.5
3 x 105
max x 117.5

Ring Dips:
5 x 10

3 x max

The first two strict press sets were easy. On the third, I was disappointed to only get two strict presses, but I added three push presses, with minimal push-off, to get the bar overhead a few more times.

I used assistance bands for the dips and pull-ups and go through them OK.

The main workout last night was 8 minutes of clean and jerks - as many as possible. The prescribed weight was 95 pounds, and level 1 was 65 pounds. I have to admit that I thought about doing the workout. Then, I thought about how my legs would feel partway through, as I had to drop into a starting squat position repeatedly. And then, as I fatigued, how would my shoulder feel pushing the bar overhead as I got lazy or tired in my core, which helps to stabilize the bar overhead. So, I watched the workout, which was the right decision.

After the workout, the chiropractor really worked on the shoulder. He believes that the supraspinatus is in great shape now, but there are still some issues with the infraspinatus. He had the Graston tools out last night plus really worked on some sticking points with the active release. It was a painful session and the shoulder is still unhappy today.

During the workout, the rain had stopped. Shortly after I hopped on my bike to ride home, the rain started again, but it was a nice light and cool rain.

My "landlady" (it's really hard to call her that as we have mutual friends and have quickly become friends) and I cooked dinner together. I grilled a small local chicken with some herbs and garlic, while she made a salad of green beans, green zebra tomatoes, shallots, lemon, olive oil and dill. It was a tasty and simple dinner.

Cooking simple dinners like these makes look forward to the day where I can cook dinner for just my wife and me, rather than feeding a teenage boy and a picky teenage girl every night.

Today, I'm doing some bike riding, but no other exercise. Then, I'll be volunteering at the Vermont 100 all weekend, so I won't do any training this weekend. Next Monday, I intend to get back to my regular exercise routine.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Yesterday, I worked. And I ate. Not much else. Oh, I went to the pool with the family for a while.

Today, I'm working. I'm thinking about an easy bike ride after work, but I'm not committed to the idea.

I work on the fourth floor of an office building. I don't use elevators here. I'm not sure which is worse - walking downstairs, which hurts the quads a bit, or walking up the stairs, which points out how tired my legs are.

Tomorrow, I plan to resume commuting on my bike rather than by bus. I might even go to CrossFit tomorrow, since the first part of the workout is all upper body work.

This coming weekend, my wife and I are volunteering at the Vermont 100 Miler all weekend, so I probably won't do any training over the weekend.

Next week, I'll get back to training as my body tells me it's OK.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mad Marathon

How did I get so old and slow? I know it's been a gradual process, but this is somewhat ridiculous.

Also, where did my killer instinct go? It used to be that going to races was all about beating people. If I wasn't in good shape, I wouldn't show up.

So, it's kind of interesting that I'm quite satisfied with a 6:11:18 marathon. That is not a typo. My previous slowest road marathon was a 5:01 at Chicago in 1998.

Back in the early 90s, I could hop into a marathon on a whim and run in 3:20s. I haven't run that fast in quite a while right now.

Just a few years ago, I could routinely run a 4:00 marathon based on ultramarathon training.

But, things change. Since I tore a hamstring tendon in the spring of 2009, my running just hasn't been the same. Last September, I finally gave up on the active running recovery, and simply quit running for about six months. I started up again this spring at a low level. In the ten months preceding this marathon, I ran fewer than 200 miles.

I weigh about 215 now, and I'm carrying a lot more muscle mass than in prior years. I ran my fastest marathon at just under 170 pounds.

I'm 49 years old and I've been running for 26+ years. My best days are clearly behind me. That's OK. Things change.

I trained for this race with lots of CrossFit, other lifting, a little bit of running (long run of 13 miles), and some road biking. I didn't really do much race-specific training.

Lastly, I've been eating a low carb paleo diet, and I have never run a marathon while eating low carb before. To be honest, that part worked really well. I ate no food after dinner on Saturday night, used Vespa during the race, and took in a total of 300 calories in 6+ hours. I never felt like I was low on energy during the race.

I was shocked that this brand new race had 1200 participants. I almost didn't sign up for the event due to its $85 price tag, but I figured I'd give it a chance, being the first year for a local event. Apparently, the race was a huge draw for the "50 states" marathon people, and runners showed up from 46 states and 12 countries. I had expected about 50 locals to show up for this race on a course that was sure to be difficult. Having now run the race, I see no reason to pay that much for this event again. There was nothing wrong with the race, and $85 may reflect the current market for marathons, but not for me.

My plan for the race was simple:
  • Finish under the 6:30 time limit
  • Mix walking and running to maintain a steady pace
  • Run using Vespa and very few calories
  • Have fun
  • Don't get hurt
To finish, my basic goal was to get 15 minutes ahead of a 15mpm pace, and then just settle into a 15mpm walk/run pace. I hit the 5 mile mark right at the hour, so I was 15 minutes ahead of that pace early. My goal became very simple. Hit mile 6 by 1:15, mile 7 by 1:30, etc. It was a very hilly course:

I don't know if you need a Garmin Connect account to see the details, but the View Details link will show the elevation profile along with other details about my run. From mile 8 to mile 16, the course was mostly uphill. Runners were coming downhill towards me as I went uphill from 12 to just short of 16, and the entire way, I stayed focused on my 15mpm pace, hoping that I'd still have something in the tank on the way back if I didn't push too hard on the ups.

And, it worked. After mile 18, the course was mostly downhill. I was able to run a lot more and my conservative pace had paid off. I used Vespa and a total of 3 gels, and my energy levels were great. I had fun. I finished. I even picked up about 10 minutes on the 15mpm pace over the last few miles, despite the day getting pretty warm.

Today, I'm tired but not too beat up. I had fun. I met all of my goals, meager though they were.

Now, I need to decide what to do next. I have a relay race next month, but no other running commitments after that.

But, I can't get that "unfinished business" Western States 100 miler obsession out of my brain. So, this has me thinking about doing more running for a few months and trying to qualify for the Western States lottery at a fall 50 miler. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 8, 2011


It seems to me that the harder I try to avoid grains, the worse I feel every time I eat any grains, especially wheat.

Last night after work, I had a class, so I needed to grab a quick dinner. I ended up getting a burrito. It wasn't really very good, and it had a wheat tortilla. This morning, I had stomach cramps and my body seemed really unhappy with my food choice.

I'm not sure what's going on, but the last few times I've eaten wheat, I've had similar symptoms. Yet, in years of eating wheat on a regular basis, I never had these issues. Anyway, it's something I'll monitor and I'll continue to keep wheat and other grains to a minimum in my diet.

With the marathon on Sunday, I did an easy 14 miles of cycling yesterday. Today, I'll run for an easy 45 minutes or so after work.

But, right now, I'm off to interview a candidate for a job opening I need to fill.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Same old stuff

I got lucky with the storms yesterday. We had one really violent thunderstorm come through while I was still at work. I rode my bike to CrossFit during a break in the storm. Then, it poured during our workout. I rode home from the gym in a light drizzle. And, after taking a shower, despite hearing some thunder in the distance, I was able to use the grill outside to cook dinner.

For the day yesterday, I did the following:

Bike: 14.4 miles (this morning, my cyclometer seems to have stopped working for some reason)

5 strict presses at 85 pounds
5 @ 100 pounds
5 @ 110 pounds

5 sets of bench presses: 10 reps, 95 pounds, short rest - kept the weight low to protect my shoulder. The shoulder continues to improve, but normal grip bench presses still put stress on the injury.

3 by 10 band-assisted pull-ups.

The MetCon included a movement called "toes to bar".

I was working on this movement just the day before and I'm starting to get them, but I can only do 5 or so at a time. The alternate movements were knees to elbows or simple "knee-ups". I started with a few toes to bar and then gradually faded to knees up in the MetCon:

As quickly as possible:
25 dumbbell push presses (2x30# for me)
5 toes to bar
20 dumbbell push presses
10 toes to bar
15 dumbbell push presses
15 toes to bar
10 dumbbell push presses
20 toes to bar
5 dumbbell push presses
25 toes to bar

My time was somewhere between 11 and 12 minutes - I forget exactly what it was. My upper body is sore today and I'm guessing my abs will be sore tomorrow.

Today, I'm doing my bike commute but no other workouts. The weather today is perfect for riding - no storms at all in the forecast.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sort of tapering into the marathon

I did take some rest days over the weekend. My wife and I were both feeling somewhat sick all weekend, so that gave me a good excuse to take a couple rest days.

It's hard to know if I should taper for this marathon or not. And, considering how few miles I've run this year, what would a taper be?

Yesterday, I rode my bike to and from CrossFit. To start the workout, I did 3 sets of heavy back squats (5 reps each). After that, I was scheduled to do 5 sets of 10 reps of front squats, at 170 pounds. I knew that this would hit my quads and I didn't want to trash my quads at all with the marathon in five days. So, I did 5 sets of 10 back squats instead, at a light weight (135 pounds).

After that, the main workout was pretty straightforward:

5 rounds, as quickly as possible:
Run 200 meters

My squat snatch form is nowhere near as good as the person in the video link. To do a good squat snatch, you really need to have a good overhead squat, and that's a lift where I have some mobility issues. So, my squat snatches were closer to muscle snatches, to be honest. I was very happy that my shoulder didn't complain putting 95 pounds overhead 25 total times. The workout took me just under 11 minutes.

Today, I rode to work, and after work, I'll ride to CrossFit, hoping to dodge the forecast storms. Our workout tonight starts with strict presses and bench presses, so it won't be a leg-intensive workout.

After today, I won't do any more CrossFit workouts until after the marathon. On Thursday, I'm planning to do my bike commute, but nothing more. Friday, I'll run an easy 3 miles with my wife. And Saturday will be a rest day.

I've never prepared for a marathon anything like this one. I'm curious to see how I feel in the later miles on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mid-Year Summary

It's now July, just past the halfway mark for the year. It's a good time to look at what I've done so far this year and see if I'm moving in the right direction.

Through the end of June, I had done something "physical" on just over 70% of the days in the year:

CrossFit: 53 times
Skiing: 32 days
Lifting: 15 days (excluding CrossFit)
Running: 38 runs totaling a measly 150 miles
Cycling: 23 days totaling 263 miles, most of that bike commuting

So, what has that effort done for me?

First of all, one of those skiing days resulted in a hard fall that caused a significant shoulder injury. That has limited my lifting at times, but I am slowly getting better, with assistance from medical professionals.

Am I more fit than I was six months ago? This one is easy. I am absolutely more fit. My endurance is better, I've set some PRs in the power lifts, and my workouts validate the fact that I'm in better shape than six months ago.

How am I doing with losing excess body fat? I've also made progress here. I am about 15 pounds lighter than I was at the start of the year, and I'm sure I've added some muscle mass, so my fat loss is in excess of 15 pounds. To be honest, I'd like to be another 25 pounds lighter and I'm working on that.

So, what's ahead for the second half of the year? I am scheduled to run a marathon next weekend, and with only 150 running miles so far this year, it will be a challenge. But, I think I'm fit enough to get through the race.

I am entered (for the 4th time in 5 years) in the 100 on 100 relay in August - a 6-person, 100-mile relay. I won't be really fast, but I will get through my miles OK.

I might do a trail ultra at the end of this month, a very difficult 34 miler in the mountains of NH. I'm leaning away from doing this one, to be honest, because I'm probably not really ready for this amount of time on my feet. I'm guessing it would be 16-18 hours, and my longest day so far this year is 6 hours.

After these events, I'm not sure if I'll do any more running events or not.

As winter approaches, my focus will be on getting into the physical shape I need to be in to tackle a ski instructor certification exam - my PSIA Level 3, part 1 exam, which focuses on skiing ability. That test is my primary goal for next winter.

I'm guessing that my focus for the second half of the year will continue to be CrossFit, fat loss, and having fun with my workouts. That means some running, hiking, power lifting, cycling, etc., as I feel like it. But, CrossFit and eating well will be the primary focal points.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Some Lawn Work, Interval Work, and an Evening of Fishing

My "weight" work yesterday was using a chainsaw to cut up some fallen wood on our property and then disposing of the wood after it was cut up. It was warm and it was hard work, with some good help from my son.

After that, I took about a 90 minute break to re-hydrate and then headed out for a short but intense run. After a warm-up, I did 10 by 1 minute hard, with one minute of recovery. I didn't cover a lot of miles, but it was a good workout.

Later in the day, my son and I went out fly-fishing for a few hours. I caught a couple native rainbows in a stretch of river we'd never fished before. The second one was beautiful and I wanted to get a picture, but I decided to get it released quickly so its survival odds would increase. So, no picture.

This morning, we were going to hike Killington, but a thunderstorm scuttled that plan, so I've been working instead. So much for my "holiday" weekend. I'll probably spend too much time working today and tomorrow.

With my marathon now 7 days away, I'm taking some rest days to be sure I'll be rested. I'll probably hike or run easily tomorrow after resting today. Tuesday and Wednesday, I'll go to CrossFit, but I'll really back off after Wednesday.

My slowest ever marathon was just over 5 hours in Chicago in 1998. This is a much tougher course, we'll have more challenging weather, and I'll likely be slower than in Chicago. But, my plan is to just have fun.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Work Your Weakness - Again

I like this workout at CrossFit. If you are honest, it really is a way to spend time focusing on something that you dread and work at getting better.

The first part is strength movements. Every minute on the minute, do a low number of reps of something that requires strength.

Yesterday, for the first ten minutes, I did 2 front squats at 155 pounds every minute. I can lift more than 155 in the front squat, but I wanted to focus on form and proper depth, and 155 is the perfect weight for me right now. I can execute those squats with good form, but it's still heavy enough to tax me.

My second ten minutes were another nemesis - ring dips. I did use a support band, and did 10 sets of 5. After the first five sets, I switched to a lighter band and increased the difficulty of each rep.

Next, we had a 12 minute MetCon, with as many reps as possible. I chose two movements where I do OK, but pushed the difficulty of each.

I started each round with box jumps, but at 21" rather than my normal 18". Make a mistake here and you get hurt. I did 8 reps per round.

For the second half of each round, I did wall balls:

I normally use a 14 pound ball for these, but jumped to 20 pounds last night. I did 12 per round. I was surprised that the wall balls were the limiting factor for me in the workout. I know I hit the "weaknesses" appropriately because I'm sore all over today.

After work today, I'll do a run with my wife - not too long or too hard.

Sometime this weekend, I'll do some speedwork, and if the weather cooperates, a hike as well.

Whatever made me sick yesterday isn't 100% resolved, but I was able to train yesterday, and that's good enough for me.