Monday, October 29, 2012

Henry Rollins, Hurricane and Sick

The Henry Rollins talk on Friday night was amazing.  He talked for about 2.5 hours and I have so many thoughts from the show that I'd like to write down.

But, I'm getting sick right now and I doubt I can even work out tonight.

Work is somewhere between frustrating and infuriating right now.

And, we have that hurricane thing to deal with.

I'll write more when I'm feeling better.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Time for a rest day

CrossFit last night was difficult and yet very satisfying.  The first part of the workout was a 15 minute segment called "Work Your Weakness".  In reality, just about everything at CF except for the power lifts is a weakness for me.  I was going to do burpees - 5 reps every minute for the 15 minutes, but the coach suggested that we do a more strength-oriented movement.  Given how many parts of my body were already tired and sore, I struggled for a while to pick something that was a weakness but that wouldn't hurt too much to perform.  I finally settled on power cleans - 2 per minute at 155# - just under 85% of my current 1-rep max of 185#.

These lifts went OK, although I did fail on one rep as I was working on form, and a change in one part of the lift caused me to "forget" another part.  I did an extra rep there to make up for the failure.

The main workout looked fairly innocuous, but it is exactly the kind of workout where I typically struggle:

5 rounds, as quickly as possible:
Run 200 meters
20 box jumps
20 ball slams

This is not a strength based workout.  It is a lung burner though.

My first round took about 4:00.  Times on the board from earlier classes showed times from about 13:00 to just over 20:00.  If the first round took 4:00, I figured I was heading to the slowest workout of the day.  There were three people in the class from the latest On-Ramp class - the newbies in our gym.  My wife was one of those three.  By the end of the second round, two of the three were ahead of me.  Yeah, they were using a different height box and different weight slam ball, but I was at the back of the class.

But, by pacing things well, I found that I didn't really slow down.  In the fourth round, I missed a box jump attempt and almost face planted, but I managed to remain upright.  Overall, I was very pleased by my pacing on the 100 box jumps, which was the toughest part of the workout for me.

In the end, I managed to finish ahead of two people, in a time of 19:05.  I know that I shouldn't compare my results to others, but it's a natural thing to do.  Of the people who finished behind me, one was a new member who is older than I am.  The other person who finished behind me is pregnant and I'm sure she didn't go all out.

I'm pretty tired today.  I've been averaging six workouts a week for the past month or so, and it's starting to take its toll.  My son and I are going to see Henry Rollins speak tonight, so that creates a natural rest day for me.  This weekend, I have some work to do around the house to get ready for winter and the potential storm next week.  I still have about 1.5 cords of firewood  to stack.  So, I'll probably be active,  but I won't be in the gym.

I hope to get in an easy run or hike at least once this weekend.  And I'm hoping to get out fly fishing at least once this weekend.  But overall, I'm hoping that my body feels a bit more recovered by the time I get to the gym on Monday night.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bench presses

Yesterday's workout was 7x1 heavy bench presses, followed by this:

Rep scheme of 21-15-9, done for time:
Handstand push-ups

I have never been very good at bench presses.  Even when I was lifting on my own (this was when I was still focusing most of my training on running long distances), I did lots of squats and deadlifts, and less upper body pulling or pressing work.  My main thought, at that point in time, was that lifts that made my legs stronger would help me with my running and skiing, but upper body lifts would not help as much.  I didn't ignore upper body lifts, but I gave them less focus.  I would frequently use an upper body gym session as something to do when I was too tired to do more important stuff, like squats or deadlifts or sprints.  But, when I did upper body work, bench presses were usually part of that workout.

Along the way, I did manage to make some progress in the bench press, and I eventually got to 175 pounds.  I tried 185 a few times and never came close.  The gym where I was lifting at the time had no 2.5 pound wheels, so trying 180 wasn't an option.

When I started doing CrossFit just over two years ago, I stopped lifting on my own most of the time.  In the latter part of 2010, I went to CF 18 times and lifted on my own another 8 times.  In 2011, I went to CF 108 times and lifted on my own another 21 times.  This year, I've gone to CF 120 times and lifted on my own only 9 days.  So, my percentage of lifting workouts done on my own has gone from 31% for a partial year, to 15% for last year to 7% this year.  Those numbers are only relevant because I tend to bench press on my solo gym days away from CF a lot more than we do bench press at CrossFit.  This means, even fewer bench press days in the past couple years.

I also injured my shoulder late last February and the recovery has been somewhat slow.  But, in the past 6-8 weeks, it seems that the shoulder is doing a lot better.  Bench presses are no longer painful.  Until two months ago, I hadn't lifted over 95# in the bench press in quite a while.  But, then, I had a workout where I surprised myself by getting to 125#.  In another, I got to 155#.  So, last night, I had no idea what to expect.  So, I simply started at 125# and kept adding weight:

125, 135, 145, 155, 165, 175 (tying my old PR and it felt easy), and 185 (fairly easy).  We were about out of time but my lifting partner said I needed to do one more rep.  I got conservative here and tried 190.  I struggled a bit, but got it.  I am pretty sure I can do 200 pounds right now, if I do fewer total reps on the way to that number.  Considering how sore I was, getting a PR made me feel great.

For "Diane", I made some adjustments.  Instead of the prescribed 225# deadlifts, I opted for 185#.  I can't do handstand push-ups, so there were a few other options - band-assisted HSPUs, stinkbugs, barbell strict press, dumbbell strict press, etc.

I opted for 2x30# DB strict presses and finished in under 5 minutes.  My previous attempt at this workout had been in May and I was way faster this time, but I'd changed some parameters.  Overall, I think it was a better effort.

Tonight is 15 minutes of "work your weakness" aka "pick your poison".  I will probably do 5 burpees, every minute, on the minute, for 15 minutes.

After that, some running, box jumps and ball slams - a fairly fast workout that should challenge the lungs more than the the muscles.

Tomorrow is a rest day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What doesn't hurt?

My hamstring is feeling better and handled the CrossFit workout last night, but it's not 100%.

Last night's workout was as follows:

7 x 1 power snatch, trying to attain a new 1 rep max.  My old PR was 115#, I believe.  I did singles at 95, 100, 105, 115, 120, and 125.  I then failed three times at 135.  After the failures, I dropped to 115 and did more single reps.

Then, 3 rounds, as quickly as possible:
10 power snatches at 95#
20 pull-ups (band assisted)
30 wall-balls (14# ball)

My time was 14:41.  The first round took about 4 minutes, but I slowed dramatically on all three segments after the first round.

Today, my shoulders are sore from doing snatches two days in a row, especially trying to do heavy (for me) snatches.

My elbows are sore from pull-ups.  I think my elbows still haven't fully recovered from the 150 pull-ups in "Eva" last Wednesday.  

My glutes are sore from the back squats on Monday.  It wasn't the squat weight that caused this.  For me, doing 10x2 at 255 pounds is not exceptionally difficult.  It was the 5 second hold in the bottom position for each squat that left me sore.

Hamstring, glutes, elbows, shoulders.  Is there anything that doesn't hurt?

Tonight's workout includes bench presses, deadlifts and strict presses.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tweaked Hamstring

In May of 2009, I was playing kickball with my brother and some college kids after Penn State's spring football game.  It should come as no surprise to anyone who has been to a Penn State game that there was alcohol involved.

At one point in the game, I kicked a weak grounder to the pitcher (if that's what they are called in kickball).  Not wanting to be shown up by college kids, I sprinted for all I was worth down the first base line.  A few feet before reaching the base, I felt a pain in my hamstring, somewhat like I would imagine it would feel like to be shot by a gun or a bow and arrow.  I went down hard in a heap, knowing I'd hurt my hamstring badly.

That injury may very well be the reason I'm not running ultras any more.  It has gotten better, and after a platelet rich plasma treatment in the summer of 2009 to treat a partially torn tendon, I would guess that I function at 90% of my previous level.  I can still do sprint workouts.  I can lift heavy.  I can run and ride my bike.  But, every once in a while, the hamstring will act up and I need to curtail my activity for a while.

I did a good weight workout last Friday after work.  Essentially, I did the CrossFit workout that I'd missed on Thursday, although I made the strength portion (push presses) harder than prescribed.  On Saturday, I did a sprint workout - 10 x 100 meters.  The workout went well, although I was surprised that my quads felt a bit sore while sprinting.

Saturday night, I noticed that my left hamstring felt a bit sore.  On Sunday, I had my first day of pre-season ski instructor training, plus the weather was miserable, so I gladly took a rest day.  The hamstring felt fine when I got to CrossFit last night.

The first part of our workout last night was a ten minute time window to establish a one rep max muscle snatch.  We don't do this lift often, and I struggled with form.  I started my serious efforts at 95 pounds and I got to 120 pounds.  At 120 pounds, my elbow lockout was a bit shaky, so it might not have been a legal rep.  I failed badly at 125 pounds and I was done with that part of the workout.

Next, we did 10x2 of back squats at 70% of our one rep max, which is 255 pounds for me.  We did the sets every minute on the minute.  And, just to make it really fun, we paused for 5 seconds at the bottom of each squat.  This is an uncomfortable position that really forces you to keep a tight core and a strong vertical spine.  About the 5th set, I noticed that my hamstring was not happy.  By the 8th set, I was thinking about quitting, as the hamstring got worse.  But, I (probably foolishly) continued to the end.

After the squats, our workout was "Annie", one of the newer girl WODs.  This workout is named for Annie Sakamoto, one of the original CF "Nasty Girls".  She is one tough competitor and has finished as high as third in the CrossFit games, I believe.  At age 36, Annie still looks and performs like the elite athlete that she is.  But, the Annie workout is not what many would think.  It's not about strength.  It's not highly gymnastic.  Instead, it's a somewhat short lung burner:

50 double unders (rope jumping, but the rope goes underfoot twice per jump)
50 Abmat sit-ups
40 double unders
40 sit-ups
10 double unders
10 sit-ups

I'm still working on double unders.  Or perhaps I should say I'm not working on them enough, because I haven't perfected them yet.  Normally, for people who can't do double-unders, we do single unders and then 50% more reps of tuck jumps.  Because the tuck jump is performed by pulling the knee towards the chest, I was afraid it would bother my hamstring.  So, I simply doubled the number of double-unders and did singles.

I got through this in 10:16.  My last Annie had been the tuck jump variation, and I'd done 10:52.  I think the method I used last night was slower, so I was happy with my time.

My wife completed the CrossFit introductory program last Thursday.  On Friday, she did her first real CF workout.  Last night was her second.  Doing 150 sit-ups in a workout when you haven't been doing them is really difficult.  She finished last in our class, but true to the supportive nature of our gym, she had lots of people cheering for her at the end.  She finished in about 12:40 and I think she's pretty sore today.  She's also hooked on CF already.

Tonight's workout includes power snatches, pull-ups and wall-balls.  I think my hamstring will be OK for all but the heaviest snatches, and I'll give it a go.  But, if the hamstring complains at all, tonight, I'll simply walk away from the workout or find something else to do.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another of those tired and sore days

Wednesday night, as I wrote, we did a workout called "Eva".  The toughest part of that workout for me was the 150 total pull-ups, even broken into sets of 30 and done with assistance bands.  In reality, I borke each set of 30 into multiple sets, simply resting between my mini-sets.  Yesterday, my arms were just fried.  Not just tired, but seriously sore muscles, especially my biceps.  My legs weren't too bad, but they were a little tired from tough workouts earlier in the week and the 5 x 800m runs on Wednesday.

So, I took a rest day yesterday.

This is the workout I skipped yesterday:

5x5 push press

Then, for time:
Row 1000m
75 jump-rope double unders
50 box jumps
25 hands-off-the-floor push ups (drop until your chest hits the floor and lift your hands briefly to prove you're as low as you can go)
10 lateral box-jump burpees (do a burpee, and instead of jumping straight up to finish it, jump laterally over a box, do another burpee, another lateral jump, etc.)

On Wednesday evening, I had predicted to my wife that we would do a workout called Karen on Thursday.  Karen is 150 wall-balls for time.  Essentially, a wall-ball is a front squat holding a medicine ball, and then standing up and using the momentum from standing up to "shot put" the med ball to a mark on a wall that is 10' from the ground.

I was off a day in my prediction, and today is Karen, along with heavy front squats.

I'm working from home today, so I will go to the local gym after work today, rather than CF.  There are no medicine balls there, so I think I'll do yesterday's workout instead.

Tomorrow, I hope to find a break in the rain and get outside for some sprint work.

Sunday, I have my first day of pre-season work at Sugarbush - filling out paperwork, HR orientation, and some basic training - all requirements  before we start skiing with students in December.  Hopefully, I'll get in a workout on Sunday after the training - something like a moderately paced 8K of rowing.

It's going to be a wet weekend, so getting outdoors for workouts might be unpleasant.  And, with up to an inch of rain expected today, fly fishing is probably out of the question for the weekend.  I did see two photos of nice fish caught in VT this morning - one a beautiful rainbow taken in a tributary of the Lamoille river, and the other a nice brown from Otter Creek.  The last fish picture I posted here was a decent brown I caught in Otter Creek, but I haven't been back there since then.  But, today's rain will likely render the rivers unfishable for the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

CrossFit Eva

There are three main types of "WOD"s (Workout of the Day) in CrossFit.  First, and probably most common in our gym are the WODs that our trainer makes up or pulls from the main CrossFit web site or another gym's site.

Secondly, and done least frequently, are the "hero" WODs.  These workouts tend to be very long and difficult.  They are named for fallen heroes, usually soldiers, fire fighters or policemen.  A good example of a Hero WOD is Murph: Run a mile, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 air squats (you can do these bodyweight exercises in any order that you like, such as 20 rounds of 5-10-15), and then run another mile.    Because of how taxing the hero WODs are, we do them fairly infrequently.

Lastly, and best know are the WODs known simply as The Girls.  Last Friday, we did Fran.  Tuesday was Grace.  Last night was Eva.  Eva is an interesting workout.  Technically, it's one of the "girls", but in reality, it's more like a typical hero workout.  For me, it might be the longest duration of the girls.  The workout looks simple:

5 rounds, as quickly as possible:
Run 800 meters
30 Kettlebell swings
30 pull-ups

It's very important to keep good form on the KB swings.  If you are sloppy and let your back become rounded, you can really torch your lower back, which makes the running segments even worse.  But for me, the worst part of the workout is doing 150 total pull-ups.  Even with assistance bands, that's a lot of pull-ups.

I spent most of yesterday dreading the workout.  When I got to the gym, I wasn't any more focused or interested in Eva.  But, once we got started, I simply powered my way through it.

I think my first round was about 8 minutes, the second about 9, and I averaged just under 10 minutes per round after that, for a total time of 45:51.  Today, my legs are tired, but what really hurts is my biceps from the pull-ups.

Tonight's workout is a bit easier - 5x5 push presses and then a mix of rowing, rope jumping box jumps, push-ups, burpees, and lateral box jumps.  It won't be easy, but after today, tomorrow will be a much earned rest day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

CrossFit and Morrissey

As far as I know, Morrissey does not do CrossFit.  But, I saw Morrissey last night, and before the show, I left work a bit early to get to CrossFit.

I was surprised at the strength dominance of the workout after our heavy workout on Monday.  We started with 7x1 Power Cleans, with a goal of setting a single rep PR.  For a long time, due to a shoulder injury, I'd been stuck on 175# for my max in this lift.  About a month ago, I managed a shaky rep at 185.  Last night, after my warm-up, I did reps at 145, 155, 165, 175, 180, 185 and 190.  I really focused on two things.  First, I wanted to make sure the bar was moving vertically the entire time and not swinging in front of my body.  Secondly, I wanted to improve my speed getting under the bar as the bar neared its apex.  When we do squat cleans, your feet have to move during the drop under the bar, and they have to move from a neutral stance to a wider squat stance.  But, with a power clean, the feet don't need to move quite so far, and you don't need to open your stance.  So, I focused on quick feet and a quick drop.  It was interesting to do this, because just as I'd feel I was about to fail on each rep - as the bar stopped moving upwards - I was quickly underneath the bar and supporting it.  From there, I simply had to stand up from the quarter squat position to a fully upright position, and I had the rep.  I'll probably never be really great on form with the Olympic lifts, but last night was a definite improvement.

After the power cleans, we did a workout named Grace - 30 clean and jerks (any type of clean, any type of jerk allowed) as quickly as possible.  The standard weight for men is 135 pounds, but I used 115 instead.  I was able to do the 30 reps in 4:31.  I basically used power cleans with a push press for the first 15 or so reps and then transitioned to a push jerk for the later reps.

After the workout, my wife and I went to see Morrissey with some friends.  I've been a fan of the Smiths for a long, long time, but I never saw them in concert.  Morrissey was their lead singer, but he's also done a lot of solo work.  On his current tour, he's been skipping most of the Smiths' stuff (same four Smiths' songs every show) and even skipping some of his own biggest hits.  The show was pretty much as expected, until the encore.  He'd been playing a song called Still Ill as his encore every night, but last night, this song was in the main set.  This had everyone hoping for How Soon is Now, the Smiths' biggest hit, as his encore, and he delivered.  It was an amazing version of the song, and this video doesn't do it justice:

My ears are still ringing a bit this morning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CrossFit Total

CrossFit Total is a workout we do fairly infrequently at CF.  I don't remember why, but I know I missed it that last time we did it.  I might have missed more than one.  Last night was the first time I'd done this workout since May 9, 2011.

The workout is fairly simple.  We don't have a fixed time limit to complete the workout, but it usually takes me 45-50 minutes to get through the warm-up lifts and the actual test lifts.  In a fixed time frame, the goal is to get a maximum weight back squat, a max weight strict (aka military) press, and max weight deadlift.

You are only allowed three attempts per lift, excluding your warm-up sets.  And, if you manage to fail on each of those 3 attempts, you can't count your warm-up weight.  You get a zero.  Your score is the sum of your three max lifts.

Given the limit of three lifts, there is definitely some strategy involved.  Essentially, I want the first attempt to be something relatively heavy, but something I know I can do.  The second lift should be a stretch, but with a decent probability that it will go.  If the second goes, the third is more of a stretch - something where I might fail.  If I fail on the second, I try to find something between the first and second that I think I can make.

I had three goals for the workout.  The first goal was basically something I was sure I could do.  The second was what I thought I could do, and the third was my "reach" goal - if everything went as well as possible.  Here are the three goals I'd established:

Goal 1: 345/125/385 = 855.
Goal 2: 350/130/395 = 875
Goal 3: 355/135/415 = 905

My score on 5/9/2011 was 315/125/365 = 805.

We have just complete a 12-week squat cycle, called a Hatch Cycle.  It was 2 squat workouts per week, doing back squats and front squats in each workout.  I started the program with a back squat best of 330 pounds.  During the program, I got to 340 pounds and that lift felt fairly solid; I knew I could do more.

During the workout last night, I spent way more time on my back squat warm-ups than the warm-ups for the other lifts.  Primarily, I used the first part of the warm-up not only to get ready for the heavy back squats, but also as an all body warm-up that had me primed to continue fairly quickly through the other lifts.

My squat warm-ups were as follows:


Because I was fairly confident from the work over the previous 12 weeks, my first attempt was at 345.  It went easily.  I felt confident after this lift and jumped straight to 355, not stopping at my intermediate goal.  I hit that easily.  I then wavered a bit, unsure if I should try 360 or 365.  I finally opted for 365, and although it wasn't easy, I got it.  All three of these lifts were PRs.

Already, I was above my best hopes for this lift and I immediately started thinking about the possibility of 900 pounds.

I warmed up for the strict press at 45, 75, 95 and 115.  My first test attempt was 125 and it went surprisingly easily.  This is a lift I've done very rarely in the past six months.  We did one workout of 5x5  seated presses recently, but I hadn't really tried any heavy singles in a long time.  I guess I really didn't know what to expect on this one.  I jumped to 135 (old PR of 130) and it also went easily.  I now had 500 pounds and I was thinking even more about 900.  I was positive I could deadlift 395, so rather than shooting for 145 on the next press, I went for 140.  It also went easily and I probably could have done 145.

Now, I was at 505 with just the deadlift remaining.  Of the three lifts in this workout, the deadlift is my best lift.  I warmed up at 135, 225, 275, and 315.  My first test attempt was at 375, a weight I knew I'd make and it went easily.  My plan for the next lift was 395, but I opted for 405 to tie my PR instead.  This seemed somewhat risky, because if I failed here, I might not make 395 for the 900 total on my third attempt.  I had only ever pulled 405 once before, on 2/29/2011, and it had been a huge struggle that day.  It seemed like that bar took forever to get to my waist that first time.

Yesterday, though, the 405 moved easily, and I was at 910 with one lift to go.  Here again, I was torn.  Should I go for 415 or 425 on my last lift?  The higher value seemed reasonable, but the lower value would give me a PR on all three lifts for the night, with less risk of failure.  So, I went for the 415 and while it was hard, I wasn't at my absolute limit.  I'm sure I could have done the 425, but there are other days to attempt that.

My final scores were 365/140/415 = 920, with all three lifts above my highest goal level.

My wife drove home from the gym, and I used that time to post my score on Facebook, so other CrossFit friends could see it.  The first comment I got was from a running friend in CA, and he asked if there were any steroids involved.  That brought me back to earth a bit because I cannot answer "no" to that question.

When I started taking testosterone at the beginning of June, my levels were clinically low and I was struggling in the gym quite a bit.  I haven't had another test to measure my testosterone levels since then.  Are the readings in the normal range now?  Or, are they in the high range?  Essentially, I am left wondering how much of this workout was me, and how much is due to the twice weekly injections of testosterone.

I did the work last night.  I did the training.  I work hard in the gym.  But, I am also fairly positive that I would not have lifted as much last night if I wasn't doing testosterone supplementation.

A tainted result?  Possibly?  Probably?  I'll probably have more of an opinion when I have my next set of lab tests done.  If my testosterone levels are above the normal range, the result will feel somewhat tainted.  At the same time, I certainly don't want to go back to how I was feeling six months ago.  It is certainly very encouraging to be making progress in the gym again.

Friday, October 12, 2012

CrossFit - Is It Good to be Sore and Tired Most of the Time?

I ran across an online discussion thread about CrossFit earlier this week.  Someone was discussing a four month experiment with CrossFit, and how he had finally decided that CrossFit wasn't for him.  He said that his fitness had improved.  His body composition had improved.  He liked most of the results from CrossFit.  Yet, there was one thing he didn't like and it led him to abandon CF.

What was the one thing he didn't like?  He was tired of being stiff and sore and tired.  As I read the post, I kept thinking about the length of time he had spent doing CF - only four months.  I found myself thinking he was still adapting to CF and simply needed to give it more time.

And then I thought about my own experiences.  I read this yesterday.  I also looked at my workout log for 2010, and saw that yesterday was the two-year anniversary of when I started CF.  My notes in my log for that workout are as follows:

"21-15-9 of power cleans and push-ups.  Pathetic - low weight, girly push-ups, almost puked, I loved it."

Two weeks later, I had to step outside in the middle of a workout named "Chief" and I did puke into the bushes that day.

I've learned a lot since then.  I've gotten a lot stronger.  My back squat PR has gone from 265 to 340, and I think I'll hit 350 this coming Monday.  My deadlift had stagnated at 365 before CrossFit, but I can lift 405 now.  My ability to pace myself through a high intensity workout is much better.

I wish I could claim that my body composition has improved tremendously.  In those two years, my weight has gone up by a net of 8 pounds.  I'm guessing that I've gained more than 8 pounds of muscle and I've lost some fat.  But, I still carry too much body fat and I weigh more than I'd like.

That all sounds pretty good.  Even the worst thing, my weight, is somewhat neutral.  But, the post that I read did hit on one thing that's true for me as well.  I am sore and stiff and tired a lot of the time.

Why do I spend so much time training, whether it's in the gym or the long, long distance running I've done in the past?  Part of it has been to compete.  Part has been so that I could perform well at other things I love, whether hiking or skiing or rock climbing or whatever else I wanted to play at.

I think that CrossFit helps me to do that.  So did running.

But, today, my knees are sore, my shoulders are sore, and my biceps are sore.  I know why these muscles are sore.  The workouts of the last two days hit some different muscle groups than I hit routinely, or hit them differently.  Last night I did 15 x 4 chin-ups, every minute, on the minute.  That explains the sore biceps.  Wednesday night, I did 7x3 of a lift called rack pulls (essentially, the upper half of a deadlift) at weights from 365 to 405 pounds.  That explains the shoulders.  Box jumps and burpees and squats are probably responsible for achy knees.

One of the funny things about CrossFit is the nearly infinite number of ways you can scale a workout.  When I first started, I did the workouts at a very low level compared to the "prescribed" weight and rep schemes.  As I've gotten more "CrossFit fit", I simply add more pounds or more reps or do a more complex movement.  I still scale things down as well, but I do a lot more than I did two years ago.  Every workout can be made to be incredibly difficult.

Two years later, I still do box jumps on a shorter box than most people.  I use resistance bands for pull-ups, especially when we have lots of reps. I find alternate exercises when the workout calls for muscle-ups or handstand push-ups or double unders.  But, I still push myself hard almost every workout.  And, as I constantly remind myself, I'm not getting any younger.  And I'm not a skinny guy.

When I took a week of vacation to go fly fishing last month, I worked out on my own for most of the week and only made it to CF once that week.  Some of the aches and pains disappeared for a few days.  One day that week, while wading upstream in some fast-moving water, I remember thinking that I felt strong and steady in some water that could be intimidating for wading.

When I put my air conditioners away for the season, I find that they feel light and I can easily move them myself.  Last weekend, I helped my in-laws getting their summer camp ready for the summer.  The "heavy" things they needed help with didn't feel heavy at all to me.  An afternoon spent stacking firewood doesn't leave me sore for days.  A day spent skiing steep bumps on the mountain doesn't tire me out the way it did a few years ago.

So, yeah, I'm stiff and sore and tired at times.  But, at age 50, my body is still functioning pretty well.  I guess I'm finding that the good still outweighs any bad.

And in an hour, I'll be in the gym to do some front squats, back squats and some ab work.  Tomorrow, I'll take it easy and do some fly fishing.  Sunday, I'll probably go for an easy run.  And Monday, I'll be right back at CF, going as hard as I can.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The Penn State pedophile, whose name I won't even mention here, spent a lot of time yesterday and today decrying his innocence and claiming that he would never have done any of those "disgusting acts."

He was sentenced to a jail term of 30-60 years, with no chance of serving fewer than 30 years.  Because he is 68 years old, he could theoretically survive long enough to be paroled 30 years from now.

His insistence of innocence disgusts me.  If he honestly believes he is innocent, he needs a lot of professional mental help.  If he is lying, simply to protect himself, he is just a disgusting scumbag.  I'd say he's more of a scumbag than we were led to believe earlier, but lying pales in comparison to his other crimes.

Is there legitimately any chance that all of these witnesses, including adults, and not just the young victims, conspired against him?

I remain adamantly opposed to the death penalty and I have not yet seen a criminal case that will change my mind.  But, there are times when I think that criminals should have sentences that guarantee they will never step outside a prison again.  This pedophile deserved that.

And, claiming innocence in front of his victims in a court of law is disgusting.  I am a person who believes that redemption and forgiveness are never impossible.  But, failing to own up to your own actions is not something that falls on the path to redemption or forgiveness.

May the world never see his face again!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Finally Catching Up

It seems really unfair that the way the business world works these days, this is how a vacation tends to go:

Week before vacation - Work huge number of hours so feel like things are settled enough that you can leave for a while.

During vacation - check in daily, hope nothing terribly wrong happens, end up un-surprised when you get three phone calls in a single morning while fly fishing.

Week after vacation - Work huge number of hours to try to catch up on what you didn't do last week.

The net result is that I worked as many hours in the three weeks that included my vacation as I would have worked in those three weeks if I hadn't taken vacation.  Something seems really, really wrong there, to be honest.

Overall, my vacation was fairly relaxing.  Due to the weather, I got out fishing only three days, and I only caught fish on two of those days.  The fish in my last post was the biggest fish I caught all week.  My son fished with me for a couple days and had about the same results that I had.

I went to a concert.  Worked out a lot.  Slept a lot.  Finished season 4 of Breaking Bad.  And now I'm back at work; today starts my second week back.

My wife is also back at work today, which is certainly a relief for her.  Being out of work was certainly costly.  We paid two months of COBRA coverage for health care - a big chunk of change.  And, my wife is not eligible for health care insurance at her new job until December.  So, until then, I am using my company's insurance, which is very expensive, has a very high deductible, and requires me to put a significant amount of money into a health savings account.  Neither this policy or the COBRA policy is remotely affordable, and on top of losing 9 weeks of pay, the health care costs have been a big hit.  Regretfully, none of the people running for President is willing to deal with people caught in a situation like we are going through.  I'm not saying that it's the government's job to help me out right now.  I do think that our health care system should be different so that no one has to endure what we've just dealt with.

We are lucky, in that we have been able to scrape by without the second income and still pay the health care premiums.  But, many people would not be able to do so.  Having no health insurance exactly when you need the insurance the most - when your income is reduced or gone - seems absurd to me.

My wife and I have never collected unemployment, never used food stamps, never used welfare, always paid our bills, and played by the rules.  And, with college degrees and years of job experience, we are doing OK.  I certainly have a new understanding of the hardships people endure when unemployed or underemployed and uninsured or under-insured at the same time.  And more than ever, the idea of a single payer health care system seems imperative to me.

Yet, the people who want to be president have shown no interest in something like that.  Congress has shown no interest.  About half of the electorate, if not many more, many of whom may get government-provided health care, see no reason to support coverage for others who don't have it.  The people who have insurance seem to believe "I got mine; you're on your own."  Those who don't have insurance are still using the health care system, but probably at a much higher cost per incident, due to use of emergency departments.

To me, it all comes down to greed, purely and simply.  Vermont is ahead of the nation on the way to a single payer healthcare system.  I hope it does get implemented.  And based on my income, I expect to pay more in taxes for that system that I currently pay for insurance.  I'm glad to do that, if I know there will be a safety net there for insurance if and when my job situation isn't what it is today.  And yes, I trust the government to implement that system.  Medicare and the VA are two of the most efficient health care systems in the US, if not the two most efficient.

Maybe I'm a socialist.  So be it.