Friday night's CrossFit Open workout, designated 13.4 (fourth workout of 2013 - there are 5 workouts that make up the Open) was very humbling. For someone my age (51), I am fairly strong. But, I'm also not very agile or flexible or mobile. My co-workers at Sugarbush would tell you that I'm a somewhat static skier - just not dynamic enough. And, there are certainly CrossFit skills/movements that I simply cannot do, and some others that I avoid due to concerns about shoulder health.
Among the movements that I can't or don't do are handstand push-ups, muscle-ups, kipping pull-ups, overhead squats, candlesticks and toes to bar (TTB). The TTB movement is basically done from a pull-up position. You start by hanging on a pull-up bar in a dead hang. You swing your feet behind you and then bring them forward and up forcefully, touching the bar with your toes at a position between your hands. Some people who are very flexible can do this with straight legs. Some people need to bend their knees to perform this movement. And I simply can't do it. I get my toes to about chest height and that's it. Typically, when I see TTBs in a workout, I do an easier variation called a knee-up, simply pulling my legs up towards my chest until my femur is above parallel to floor. Even with knee-ups, my wife has commented on how static and un-athletic I seem to be.
Workout 13.4 was as follows:
In seven minutes, do as many reps as possible of the following:
3 x 135# clean and jerk
6 x 135# C&J
Then 12 of each, 15, etc. until time runs out. I did my first three clean and jerks in about 30 seconds. And, then failed to complete a single TTB. I tried briefly and I had tried extensively while warming up, but I couldn't do one. So, I got three reps for the entire workout. I finished tied for last in my age group in the north east region, although I am sure some people scored 0 due to lack of strength for the C&J. The games scoreboard does not differentiate between a person who didn't do the workout and someone who tried but got no reps.. I dropped from 108th place overall after three weeks to 121st place overall after four weeks.
Part of my troubles with some of these movements is weighing too much. It doesn't hurt me that much when I'm doing a pure strength movement, but when I'm doing an arm dominant movement, my weight is a hindrance. Flexibility is an issue and a friend at the gym suggested yoga. She happens to be a yoga instructor, but despite some bias on her part, she might be correct. How I could possibly squeeze yoga into my week is beyond me.
But, I need to become more flexible. More agile. Improve my balance. My dynamic movements. CrossFit is not just about being strong. It's about something called General Physical Preparedness, and there are many facets to GPP - not just strength. In some ways, I've created this situation myself. Spending 25 years doing primarily long distance running didn't do much for my flexibility. My ankle dorsiflexion - key in skiing - has improved tremendously since I stopped running long distances. But, even that could still improve. I need to make it a goal to focus more on things that I can't do well, rather than spending so much time improving what I already do reasonably well. We have a frequent workout segment called Work Your Weakness, where we pick something we aren't good at and practice it for 15-20 minutes. Our coach frequently wants us to do a barbell movement, but I think I need to ask for permission to work on other more significant weaknesses in my overall fitness.
The good thing about the Friday workout is that it wasn't too taxing. This was good because I had a full weekend of skiing planned.
On Saturday morning, my wife and I headed to Jay Peak Resort. I had not skied there since late winter in 2002. That day ended early and somewhat disastrously, when a freak accident left me with a torn ACL. My wife and I were going to meet a college friend and his family for a day of skiing. I hadn't skied at any mountain other than Sugarbush for a couple years, and it was nice to ski somewhere else.
My friend and his wife have two children ages 9 and 5. The 9 year old buy can ski anywhere and was usually the first person down each run. His little sister can survive just about any terrain, although she was unhappy with a couple of our tougher runs. Due to a thaw/freeze on Friday/Saturday night, we didn't spend much time in the glades at Jay, because the snow was fairly firm there. But we still had a fun day with our friends. My only complaint was that the day wasn't long enough, given how infrequently we get to see our friends. We did get to ski a couple steep runs and some nice bump lines - enough to tire us out by the time our last run ended about 4:30.
On Sunday, my wife and I felt a bit tired when we woke up and we took our time getting out the door to Sugarbush. When we got there, we skied together for a while, and then met some friends at lunchtime. The conditions were really nice - soft spring snow, filtered sunshine and temperatures near 50F. By 2:00, we were somewhat tired, and by 2:30, we'd called it a day. We had spent most of the day on a double black diamond run called Ripcord. It had been groomed recently and the turns on this steep run were soft and sweet. Sometimes, I feel like my job as an instructor creates a lot of pressure for me to ski the hardest terrain possible every single day. When I had a weekend to ski for fun, I didn't shy away from tough terrain, but I also didn't seek out the hardest possible skiing. This led to a fun weekend of spring skiing.
We got home from the mountain at a reasonable time, and it was time to cook Easter dinner. My wife and I love eating rabbit (Tangletown Farm in Vermont is a great source of meat, especially pork, duck, chicken, lamb, and rabbit) and for years, we've joked about making rabbit for Easter dinner. When our kids were younger, this was not an acceptable thing to do, but this year, I finally did it.
I roasted a rabbit and then made a classic Italian dish called Risotto Milanese. I then chopped the roasted rabbit meat and folded it into the risotto. Everyone agreed that it came out really well. My daughter - not a huge fan of rabbit - simply pretended she was eating chicken, and even she enjoyed it.
So, despite being humbled in the gym on Friday, it turned out to be a great weekend.
This coming week, I need to get in some good workouts early in the week. Next weekend, we are visiting some other college friends, and I don't think there will be any skiing or any other exercise at all going on. I'm sure we will eat well and drink well, but I need to get my gym work done early this week.