Friday, June 6, 2014

Over the line

Monday night was not a good night for me at CrossFit.  I was a bit tired from the weekend.  Saturday, I'd gotten dehydrated while fishing all day - wearing waders for close to 12 hours.  Sunday, I went for a run and I was busy the entire day with other activities.  Monday, I felt a bit dehydrated.  And, it was warm and humid.

CrossFit started with squats.  I did 3 set of squats after warming up - 2 x 225, 3 x 255, and 4 x 305.  Next was barbell lunges.  I kept the weight light (95#), but I still managed to strain my left hamstring a bit.  I partially tore a hamstring tendon in my left leg in 2009, and it remains vulnerable to strains, especially if I'm dehydrated at all.  We were supposed to do 3 x 8/side on the lunges, but I quit after 2 sets.

Next, we got to the metabolic part of the workout.  It went as follows:

As quickly as possible
10 shoulder-to-overhead (any method allowed), 15 burpees with a lateral hop over the barbell
8, 12
6, 9
4, 6
2, 3

I used 105# for my shoulder to over head work.  I can do higher weights, but I still try to take it easy on my shoulder at times.  It's not 100% and maybe it never will be.  There are days when I can go hard on shoulder work (snatches and overhead squats excepted), but 105# was a compromise weight for me.  I knew it would be hard, but I also knew if I felt 100%, I could go a little heavier.

My biggest concern was burpees in the heat.  Being a big guy, burpees are tough for me.  Trying to do them fast is tougher.  Trying to do them fast in the heat is really not fun.

Times on the board from earlier classes were mostly in the 6-8 minute range.  I told my wife I would be over 10 minutes and likely finish last.

On the first round, I had to drop the bar and break the shoulder-to-overheads into sets of 6 and 4.  The burpees were slow, but went OK.  On the second set, I managed the first part unbroken.  But, my burpees started to break down.  On the third set, I did the barbell work as 3 and 3.  Then, the burpees.  At the end of the burpees, I was afraid I was going to throw up.  I was right on the edge.  Before I started the 4th round, I rested about 30 seconds.  My wife finished the workout during this rest period for me.  Actually, over half of the people were done by now.  By the time I did my 4 shoulder to overheads (2 and 2), I was the only one still going.  Everyone else was done.

This is always my worst nightmare.  I think it's cool that the concept of CrossFit as a community is not a myth.  It's a very real thing.  The person who finishes first in the workout is certainly recognized and respected.  But, the person who finishes last gets more attention.  People are cheering for you.  Trying to help you get through.  The music isn't turned down until the last person finishes.  We really are all in it together.

I pushed hard on my 6 burpees.  More cheering.  Two quick reps with the barbell and I was almost there.  Three more burpee lateral bar hops and I was done.  The cheering was over.  Everyone was congratulating me for pushing hard to the finish.  I saw my time of 10:40 on the clock.  And suddenly, I realized I was going to throw up.  I got outside as fast as I could.  And for the next 5-10 minutes (it seemed like half an hour), I went through a series of puking/dry heaves that hurt badly and probably sounded like I was dying.  I'm sure it wasn't a pretty sight at all.

This isn't usual.  In my first few months at CF, I got sick a few times during or after the workout.  I thought I was in better shape than I really was and I crossed the line.  Three times.  Twice it was before the workout was over and I returned to finish the workout, albeit slowly.  But, despite the "Pukey the Clown" character invented years ago by someone associated with CF (along with his sidekick Uncle Rhabdo), CrossFit is not about going so hard that you throw up.  I don't know that I've seen anyone else throw up ever at our gym.  It's just me - an old fat guy who pushes beyond his abilities at times, especially when I'm last and being encouraged by everyone else.  I hadn't made that mistake in 3+ years, and I certainly remember why now.  It's really unpleasant.

After I was done being sick, I grabbed some water to clean up the mess I'd made.  I had to change shirts as well, having hit my shirt when I first got sick.

My notes in my logbook after the workout were really negative.  I was embarrassed - by my lack of fitness, by the fact that I'm fat and the heat and burpees (slamming your stomach onto the ground 45 times is not kind to your stomach) and my overzealous effort had ended badly, and just by the fact that I was last (again).  I know it's not really competitive in some ways, but the founder of CrossFit has been quoted as saying "Men will die for points."  His point is that knowing we are going to write our scores on a board for everyone else to see, people will push as far as possible to do as well as possible.

Another quote by the founder is "First, second, third, dead f***ing last."  I seem to be DFL way too often recently.  My fitness has improved since I returned to the gym after surgery in January.  But, my weight is too high.  I'm not very mobile.  My cardio engine isn't in good shape.  Yeah, I'm strong - for a guy my age.  But that's about it.  I need to decide what I really want out of CrossFit.  DFL isn't it.  Neither is Pukey the Clown.

Tuesday, I returned for more pain.  I knew Wednesday would be a rest day because my daughter had a high school lacrosse playoff game.  So, I did Wednesday's scheduled bench presses rather than Olympic lifting.  I was happy with the bench press work - showing an improvement over the same workout 4 weeks earlier.  The second part of the workout was maximum pull-ups in 8 minutes, but there was a buy-in.  You couldn't start pull-ups until after you'd run 800 meters.  My best ever 800m was in a track meet when I was about 30 years old - 2:21.  My time on Tuesday was 2 minutes slower at 4:21.  As a former road runner, that time is also embarrassing.  I once did 10 x 800 meters at an average of 2:51 per repeat.  I managed 34 band assisted pull-ups in my remaining time.  I wasn't last that night, but I was close.

Wednesday was a much needed rest day.  My tweaked hamstring was still bothering me.  I was sore all over.  I was tired.  It turned out to be a tough day as my daughter's lacrosse team took an 8-2 lead on the road, and then got outscored 13-1 the rest of the way.  Many of the seniors were in tears at the end of the game - a tough-to-swallow collapse to end their high school athletic careers.  I felt bad for every single one of them.

So, yesterday, it was back to the gym.  I was still sore.  My hamstring was still a bit tender.  The first part of the workout was called "work your weakness".  We picked two different activities - something we hate or suck at - and we alternated sets of the two, every minute on the minute, for 20 minutes.  I alternated 2 x 145# power cleans with 5 burpees.  Those 20 minutes made me realize that I still wasn't properly recovered from earlier in the week.  I was soaked with sweat and we still had the rest of the workout to go - as many reps as possible in 10 minutes, of the following:

10 ball slams (pick it up to overhead and slam it to the ground)
10 box jumps
10 dumbbell shoulder-to-overheads.

I struggled.  Most people did 5 rounds.  A few did 6.  I fell 6 reps short of completing 4.  Worst score on the board.  Not just for my class, but all day.

Tonight, we are scheduled for heavy deadlifts, followed by pull-ups, push-ups and power cleans (I had no idea we'd be doing power cleans today when I chose them yesterday).  Of course, I'll be there.  I might finish last.  I'm sure it will be hard.

The odd thing is that if I was the fittest person in the class, it wouldn't be any easier.  I'd just go heavier or faster or both.  That's one of the great things about CF.  It's hard for everybody.  But, after over 3.5 years, I feel like I've somehow failed to make the progress that I should have made.  It's disheartening at times, yet I always go back.

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