I recently lamented that I had recently been missing some of my lifting PRs in the gyms by small margins. Most people my age, especially lifelong lifters, are not setting new PRs in the gym at the age of 52 (53 is getting really close). Most people aren't setting PRs within a year of being treated for cancer either, although I'm sure some do. And, many people don't work the hours I do, put in the long commute, and still find themselves with the time to even train hard.
At my last doctor's appointment, my doctor was pushing me to see a therapist. He had some good points. I've had a lot of stress at my job, I've gone through diagnosis, treatment and recovery for prostate cancer in the past year, I've had some other major stressors that I don't even want to talk about here, and most recently, my wife has been diagnosed with and treated for an advanced and aggressive melanoma. Earlier this year, her dad was also treated for melanoma.
(For the record, my wife is doing great right now after two surgeries, and with a month of radiation, she should be completely over this bout of melanoma, although she will need to be careful for the rest of her life.)
At this point in time, I am really f*cking sick of cancer. It's everywhere in one form or another, it seems.
I pushed back with my doctor. I don't have enough time in my life to talk to a therapist. While these stresses have been just that - stresses - I think I'm doing reasonably well. I also think I have a place that helps me in a lot of the ways that a therapist would. Actually, I have a few of those places. The ski mountain. The gym. The streams during trout season. Those are the places where I can just relax and enjoy life. Yeah, sometimes I'm working hard in those environments. Sometimes, I'm perplexed at why I can't fool a feeble-brained fish with fur and feathers. But, those places are my therapy. They are things I look forward to, things I need in my life.
Yesterday, my wife sent me an e-mail at 4:45. She said it must have been a busy day (and she was right). We normally mail stuff to each other through the day, but apparently, I didn't send her a single e-mail yesterday. She noted that I always send her something at work. Every single day.
Yesterday, I was buried deep in code and a fairly simple technology called XML. We need to really perfect some XML work we've been doing for a mobile app we are prototyping at the moment. All of the display information on the phone will be delivered through XML to a business partner and our business partner will then render that information to the users. So, I was buried deep in that code all day. It has to be 100% error-free.
When I left here and picked up my wife, I started to think about the gym. After a warm-up, our first part of the workout was to establish a 1 rep max on the bench press. After a stressful day, going heavy (relatively) is the perfect way to really let out any frustrations.
Before my intro to CrossFit, I was stuck at 185 on the bench press. My background is more distance running and skiing and hiking and backpacking - leg dominant sports. It has taken a long time to build the muscle to get better on the bench press. Plus, our gym really seems to prefer overhead pressing rather than bench pressing, so I don't get to do it very often.
Two years or so ago, I got to 195 pounds. Then, I hurt my shoulder doing some Olympic lifting and that had a lengthy recovery. I got to 195 pounds twice more, but I couldn't get past that number. Over this past summer, we did a lot more bench press work, using a Wendler style program, and I gradually got 200 and then 205. I failed at 210. Since then (those lifts were in August), I've done very little bench press work.
Last night, I paired up with a young, strong lifter in our gym for the lifts. His plan was to get to 250 or so. I simply wanted 210. We alternated through the warm-up and working sets. I did multiple reps at 95, 135 and 155, and then went to singles. I got the reps fairly easily at 175, 185 and 195. From there, I decided to jump 15 pounds to 210. I felt pretty good about the attempt after how 195 had felt. I pulled the bar down confidently and started to drive up. And I stalled. Almost. The bar was still moving, ever so slightly. My right hamstring cramped up. I ignored it. I kept driving. After what seemed forever, I got the bar locked out. A new PR at 210.
Then, 3x5 at 155, followed by 3 rounds of 20 each of push presses, kettlebell swings and box step-ups.
I'm tired today, but not stressed out. The gym is the best I can do as a therapist right now and it's probably going to have to be good enough.