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What’s next?

I often ask myself this question, usually when I make a stupid move. I recently did that when I signed up for a 5 Mile run and then decided to go all out and enter a Tough Mudder event. I got one answer just today when I completed the 5 Miler at the Marathon by the Sea, I will be doing it again and I will have a better time than today.

Yes, my time was not that great or anything but I did it and felt pretty good doing it. I also know that if I spent some time practicing before the event I would be much better. As it was, the only training I did were the usual workouts at our Box. The longest run was 800 Meters however we usually did 3 rounds of that mixed in with other movements, like olympics lifts or box jumps or burpees or something else that makes the running of that 800 Meters not very nice.

So what’s next I ask? The Tough Mudder will probably be the last event of the year and then what? I found that I like these weekend events of obstacle course racing and running and have decided to enter a few next year. I am looking at something once a month for next year from June to September, these could be expanded if the weather is not so bad.

Looks like I am getting the competition bug again and this time I am only competing against the clock and not eveyone else.

It’s been a while since I last posted (no shit!!).
The space in between has een filled with many new things and challenges, some good some not so good. But that’s life! Suck it up and move on.
I have come to conclusion that the only way to the Crossfit Games is as a spectator, that’s reality. Not that I wont try to get better but to do so requires more that I do not have or can find at this time. That means I need to take a different approach to do so. There are many items I lack now however I need to find fun ways to achieve them because if you can’t have fun it is work and no one likes work.
Last month I entered a Mud Hero race, a simple 6km obstacle course, it was nothing as drastic as a Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race, but it had a ski hill to climb, some mud to run through and a few challenging obstacles. In other words a good beginner course and somewhere to start. I figured if I could do this without getting hurt and come in around a time I figured on, I would be happy. In reality I did better than figured and had fun.
I have now found something that is a blast to do. I have entered a Tough Mudder in September and have a realistic time goal in mind. Let’s just say it will be in the 3.5 hour range.
I am taking this seriously and have gone to see some professional people to help me in my running. I am doing this to help get more endurance which should help improve my Crossfit workouts. The next step I am taking is due to the price of gas rising, there is no health kick involved in this decision, I am getting a bike (pedal power type) so I bike to work. Fuel is getting out of hand and money is money, I like it in my pocket not someone else’s.
Have i gone fitness crazy? Not really, I just want to enjoy things more and it is better this way. Do I hurt more? Hell yeah!! I have shoulder issues, knees are creaking(sort of), different parts of my body are bruised, cut, scraped, and battered from doing this but I love it. They are like battle scars of me not sitting down and letting Father Time catch up. He will eventually but not unless he gets in shape and besides there are a lot of easier prey for him in my tracks.
I don’t need to be the fastest I only have to be ahead of you.

Another year has gone by and even though the end result was the same, not going to the Crossfit Games, I improved.

While the result was not what I wanted, I need to put this in perspective. I missed 3 months due to an injury and was told I would not be able to start lifting weight by my doctor for 6 to 12 months. After coming back to the gym and basically starting at square one, I set new PR’s before the games and improved on the workout that was done last you to sort of benchmark progress from one year to the next. Take that Doc Doom, my name for my family doctor, as he always tells me I should not be doing these extreme workouts at my age. I also dropped 12 pounds from diet improvement and working out more intelligently. That is, knowing when to scale back, when to add some weights, listen to my body, and listen to my coaches when they inform me what is best for me to get where I want to.

Here are some takeaways from this year:
1) Have a plan – you will not achieve anything if there is no plan. Hoping to be better is not a plan.
2) Follow the Crossfit methodology – work on your weaknesses wishing they never come up in the Open until you are looking forward to having them appear, then work on another weakness.
3) I need to improve my mobility – my range of motion is better than last year but not where it should be to achieve good results
4) Improve my endurance – I should not be gassed after 30 wallballs, 30 burpees, 20 box jumps or lifting a weight more than 20 times – that is just not acceptable if I want to improve
5) Be serious – unless I am serious about improving don’t bother. Crossfit Workouts are great by themselves if you are doing nothing but wanting to improve your fitness level and enjoy normal living.
6) Watch more videos. Of myself and others, you never know what you are doing wrong if you cannot see it. Coaches can always tell you what you are doing wrong but if you dont see what they are talking about you will fall back on the same problem. Looking at the best, Rich Froning, Samantha Briggs, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Annie Thorisdottir, and others do workouts help provide a visual to what pace, techniques, form and small triggers that help them be at that level.
7) Ignore comparing yourself to others at the gym. This does not mean I will be aloof, but I am 25 or more years older than 90% of the gym, comparing their performance to mine would be constantly demoralizing.
8) Keep detailed notes of your workouts – I slacked off with this and that is unacceptable. How do I know what I did and how I felt that day. Was I stressed? Did I get a good sleep? Did I miss a meal?
9) Rest days are important. Don’t do a workout, some stretching, mobility and watching those videos and spending some face time with your coaches going over the videos for pointers would be more effective than doing WOD’s poorly.
10) Technique and form are first and foremost what should be worked on. If you lift light weights, air squat or jump poorly you will fail miserably once you add weight any of these movements.
11) Be accountable – don’t cut short your workout. If you lose track of what rep you are at starting counting from the last rep you know you did. If you don’t like doing more reps improve your mind!

I did not know how to start this recap as initially I was pleased with my score. Then I started to see other scores and started to feel a bit down. Games 13.2 was a nasty one, one of those workouts that just suck the life out of you due to the movements involved. Shoulder to Overhead, Deadlifts with the same bar and then box jumps.

Box jumps are the killer as I figured and I went in with a plan. I needed one as I am not the best jumper, I fit in to the category of “mature white men can’t jump” and proceeded to do step ups after round one. Yes, I know that jumping up is faster, I also know that for me step ups would be the most efficient and would get me my best score. What I did not know was that the shoulder to overhead would cause me to slow down more than I wanted. Who knew that 95 lbs could be so heavy after 4 rounds? Those lifts cost me valuable time and after reviewing the video of my WOD, I may have been able to put in another full round if I was able to lift a bit quicker.

All in all, 6 rounds plus 3, I cannot complain too much. I did expect more from myself and earlier today I felt like shit as I was thinking about how incredibly slow I moved. I started thinking, what am I doing? You’re 57 and you are moving so slowly, do you think you are seeing any gains in this? When are you going to either get serious or just be a box member?

Yes I had some doubts about my ability, but I know deep down that I can do it better and compete. I did it when I was smaller and had to play Junior hockey against people who were 50lbs heavier and 8+ years older. I did it when I played on the mini Pro Bowlers Tour and my U.S. counterparts had years of experience on me. But I made it and I will do the same in Crossfit.

When I posted my mini confidence meltdown on Facebook it was the Crossfit community that replied and said I did awesome and not to get down on myself, they were the ones who told me the next one will be better and that it is only workout 2 of 5. It is at that point that you remember why you do this and even if you are not Rich Froning Jr, Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, Annie Sakomoto, or any of the other top competitors you are doing your best to get there, they appreciate the work you put in and most importantly your boxmates know you have busted your ass that day for the best score you could get.

I did find out some things during this workout and as they say punish your weaknesses, mine was stamina. I have none and need to figure out what I need to do to improve that part.
Until 13.3 comes out I will look at different ways to make myself better. I am not satisfied with this year’s showing.

Well, Mr. Castro, thanks for keeping things simple for most of us. I say that now since I have not done 13.2 yet. Watching Annie Thorisdottir kick this squarely between the … she made this look so easy and Lindsay Valenzuela is no slouch for lifting.
After watching these two go at it, I started thinking how would I attack this and what would be 1) a great score for me 2) a good score and 3) what is my weakest link in this triplet.
Lets start with point 3, the weakest link, as that will help me achieve points 1 and 2. Normally I would say that lifting overhead at this point would it, due to shoulder injury, but it is only 5 reps and anything goes for getting it overhead, but my box jumps are horrid. They have no pace, I am unbalanced when I land, my quads are burning after 20 or so, the list is exhaustive.
The question is how to I make these tolerable to achieve point 1.
Today I was at our box to go through the motions and plan a bit of a strategy, if there is on after 4 rounds. I found that I can make the best use of my time with step ups jumping up takes too much time which I cannot afford at my level. I also calculated that an optimum score for me would be 9 rounds or a score of 270 which means I have to complete every round in roughly 1:07 seconds. A possibility for the first few rounds, as my practice round was completed in 1:01, and my wife called one no rep. But I am no greyhound except for the grey part.
That leaves a small margin of error to get to 270 and it was amazing to hear one of our coaches killed this with a score of 309, that is friggin’ awesome.

Lets recap – 270 means a killer pace for me of 1:07 and a good score would be 240 which is a solid pace of 1:15 for each round with a bit of recoup between box jumps and shoulder to overhead.
The one thing to remember is that there is no rest point in this one except moving from Box to Bar and vice versa and that is not much.
God how I wish I was a gymnast on this one.

I’ll let you know how it turns out Friday night.

Some may have thought I was dead, comatose, seriously injured or abducted by aliens as I have not written anything for a while.

Really I had not much to say and until recently was focused on a lot of other personal things that took a lot of my time.

Now… I am back.

A quick recap. I have moved into town as the one hour drive was killing the pocketbook on fuel. I have been going to physiotherapy for a while to help keep shoulder tendonitis in check and will probably do the same for my elbows. Have changed eating habits as we have started to follow a stricter Paleo Diet regiment and have entered into the fray again for the Crossfit Games, which is why I started writing this blog in the first place.

Crossfit Games WOD 13.1 is in the books and I thought last year’s first workout was crappy. This year I looked forward to it as I figured I was in better shape even though I missed 3 months from the beginning of July to the end of September due to injury. I have slowly improved and watched mostly my form/technique during workouts to avoid what happened in the summer. I then worked on some conditioning when I came back, I did 2 or 3 workouts in a week instead of 4 or 5, days I did not do a workout I did lots of sprint rowing, sprint running, burpees, situps and squats to build some endurance. These small things helped, slow return, form conscious, endurance and stretching. I may not be a mobile as some younger people but I am better than yesterday and that is a Crossfit motto.

13.1 – if that did not make people gasp when it was announced it was because they were to stunned to even take a breath. AMRAP 17 mins – 40 burpees to a 6 inch target, 30 snatches, 30 burpees, 30 snatches, 20 burpees, 30 snatches, 10 burpees, AMRAP Snatches. The snatch weights for normal mortals mens/ladies in ascending order was 75/45, 135/75, 165/100, 210/120 the mature group of mortals (+55 years) followed the weights for mortal women.
I was prepared for something like this, I figured it would have been AMRAP 10 mins of squats or something similar. I was a bit happy as 13.1 included one of my favourite movements the snatch. For some reason I like this movement and can do it fairly well with my relatively novice weightlifting skills. I went in with a plan, keep moving, as my goals were different from most of our box as I am the only Master’s group competitor at our box. I knew I could snatch up to 100 lbs and my goal was to get to that weight and see where I placed as I figured it would at least be a better start than last year.

Looking back, I did what I wanted even though I was a bit short, 11 burpees, of what I set for myself. I managed to keep moving and did not waste as much time as I did last year. That was the good part. The bad part, I did not hit the 100 pound snatch level which is not much to get upset about.

So bring on 13.2 and all the surprises that comes with it, I may not like it but I’ll be ready.

I also want to take a moment to say what fantastic performance my wife did during this workout. She managed only 18 burpees however according to doctors she should not even be doing what she does as she has had two complete hip replacements, not resurfacing but replacements, and one revision due to an infection. Falling to the ground, getting back up and jumping six inches up off the ground are not recommended movements for people who have had this surgery, yet she was determined to do so without assistance. her goal was to complete one and be on the leaderboard for the Games and she did more than that. She was so pumped up you would have thought she won the event and now cannot wait til next week.

This goes to show that Crossfit is for everyone but not everyone is for Crossfit. If you don’t believe me find a location do one or two workouts and make a decision.

One of the added benefits that I have found since joining Crossfit is the sense of community that is pervasive through out all of the locations. When I was at other fitness locations there was never any of that sense that you have of belonging. That is not to say that the people there are not nice or fantastic people as I we all know a lot of people who are at those places, it is just different at any Crossfit location. Everyone wants you to succeed, plus when support is needed somewhere it is given 100%.

This Saturday was no exception. By now most people have heard of the Sandy Hook tragedy, rather than explain it just check the news. The Crossfit community has workouts that are named Hero WOD’s for people who have fallen in the line of duty, fireman, police officers, people in the armed services, and this teacher, Victoria Soto, was no different. Most of the gym was there except for some people who had work schedules or were on vacation out-of-town to raise money for the families of this tragedy.

The workout as well was fitting for the situation as all the numbers meant something – 5 rounds (years of work), 10 thrusters (room 10), 14 box jumps (the day), 12 sumo deadlift high pulls (the month), 12 burpees (the year) and 27 Kettlebell Swings (her age) – plus we had a donation button on our website for people to contribute. The amazing thing is that every Crossfit location in the Maritime Provinces did this workout we even had an equipment supplier in Quebec – Again Faster Canada – make their members do this as well.

BTW if you do wish to contribute the donation button will still be active until Tuesday click on the link I hope it will work:

http://www.crossfitsaintjohn.ca/2013/01/03/very-special-hero-wod/#comments

This workout was rough and took a lot of mental fortitude to complete but as one member mentioned in her comments, as she is 27 years old, every time she got to the kettlebell swings  she thought od what she has done during her 27 years. I think she had the right attitude, for me Ms Soto could have been the age of a child I might had and that those children she saved may have been my grandchildren.

Now when people ask YOU why do you go to your gym, what do you say?

The heart and mind is just as important as the muscles to stay in shape.

Pole work

We were doing a WOD that included Air Squats and one female member who has had two complete hip replacements(not resurfacing) requires some assistance to complete a full depth squat for balance. She usually grabs hold of the pullup rig post for this.

Coach M: Who’s got change for a $20? The way she is working that pole I need to give her something

2013 and New Things

2012 has left the building and 2013 just marched right in without a care in the world. Just like it owned the place. In one sense it does, as tomorrow will come and it does not matter if a day, number or name is attached to it. It just rises as it always does, it keeps moving.

Not sure if this is philosophical or not, don’t really care either way, but I think I will follow same relentless and determined goal of the sun rising every day and see what happens. The sun rises without question usually every 12 hours after it sets, give or take the earths position. It is relentless in its quest to keep shining as we revolve around it. With this, I decided, I too need to be relentless in my pursuit to achieve what I want. The goal does not have to be met tomorrow so that I feel like I have failed somehow if it is not achieved. The goal needs to be worn down by the relentless pursuit of being one little bit closer to it, just like the sun rising every day it continues on and on.

Today during the workout I kept that same rule, keep moving, keep going and pounding out the next move as it brings you closer to the end. This worked as I managed for probably one of the very few times, no make that the only time, to beat the time of someone who is a small tank and normally crushes these workouts by 10 seconds. That is akin to Team USA (Lake Placid 1980) in hockey beating the Russians. I feel great!!!

2013 will also bring new things for me. I put in place some goals to achieve for the first time in a long time and will do my best to make them happen. Do I expect to achieve them all? I could say yes but that would be silly as one never knows what the future holds, but I can be relentless and take them one by one. If I have 10 and clear one of them there will be 9 left and I will be that much closer to getting them all completed.

To all who read and follow my blog, thank you. I hope your 2013 will be a success and brings you much joy and happiness. I hope you have the relentless pursuit to achieve what you want that I tried to explain here. I know that tomorrow I will be one step closer to what I want to complete.

May you have the same success.

Coach T(female) was providing encouragement during a wall ball and situp WOD.

While making our way in a downward ladder, that is 50,40,30,20,10 counts of these lovely movements you need someone to always make sure you are doing them correctly.

T:  Come on Chris, deeper, deeper, that’s it. Now get it up, get it up, deeper, deeper.

Me: T, is this really what you should be saying to me in a crowded gym.

T: What? I need you to go deeper. (then the light went on)

Wall Balls with T will never be the same.