Lift heavy or heavier?

Finally I can check one thing off my imaginary bucket list – a CrossFit Competition. Last Saturday I went in with no expectations or goals aside from “don’t die” and “don’t fuck your shit up” (a staple phrase at our gym). 

As an in-house competition, it was all members of the gym so for the most part we all knew each other. One of the members works for an organization which helps families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless with so many different services. Our donation to compete, along with tons of raffles went directly to the organization. I think nearly double the amount was raised from last year — it was a great showing. 

The event was organized with 6 heats — the coaches, RX men, RX women, scaled men, and 2 of scaled women.  We all completed three workouts. The fourth was not announced til the top 4 in each division were determined, as that would be to find the top 3 in each group. Spoiler alert: I didn’t even come close to competing in the final workout (no surprise there!) Each person competing has a judge watching their movements, and depending on the workout, helping load the barbell. 

First workout? Six minutes to find a 2 rep max hang clean with front squat. 

The thing with lifting for me is that until now, I haven’t lifted consistently to know what my max for anything is. So I usually start low and just kind of go up 10 pounds; sometimes I get a little gold star in the app showing my PR. Sometimes I don’t. 

PR – right before the squat
I started my six minutes at 55 pounds and told my judge (who’s also a coach, and my massage therapist) I’d go up 10ish pounds each try and my max was once at 80lbs for a clean and jerk — last year. I worked my way up to 80 and had two minutes left. We loaded up 90 and I couldn’t shrug the bar up, I knew I was fatigued and at the max I could lift. We decided to wait for :45 left on the clock to give one more go. I managed to clean it up once, knew I had another rep to go and I could likely nail out two squats in the time.  I can’t complain about a PR in the middle of a complex, and for two reps! 

Wall balls
I had about 45 minutes before the second workout, which J came to watch. They got progressively suckier too, by the way. Second workout was for time: 40 calories on the rower, 40 dumbbell snatches (10lbs for my scales division), and 40 wall balls (10lbs).  I love rowing and did fairly well, the snatches were pretty easy at 10lbs when I’m used to 25lbs in class, but those wall balls? Fuck, man. My quads were on FIRE. I was excited to finish well, but sad to realize I wasn’t hitting the mark on the wall so while I finished ahead of people, I technically scaled the scaled and was last. I was frustrated but after watching the video, it wasn’t likely I would’ve hit the mark 40 times even knowing that. And who wants to do more work than necessary knowing the next workout is coming and you’re not even going to finish in the top four? (Not me.)

Final workout? I was thankful to have a time cap on it — as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes: 400m run buy in followed by 10 thrusters at 55 lbs and 10 burpees box jumps (step ups for the scaled people). This one terrified me. I can run. I can do burpees. I can do box jumps. Thrusters at 55lbs? 10 of them? Repeated? Uh, not so much. 

So I ran. Being one of the runners at the gym, it’s like the only thing I really excel at and can finish ahead with ease. Then I got back inside for my thrusters and it suuuucked. Thrusters, if you’re not familiar involve a squat into a shoulder press, back into a squat, repeat. When you’re out of breath from even a slower 400m (probably ran it at 8:00/mile pace) to jump into a weightlifting maneuver that doesn’t allow you to catch your breath is hard. It’s harder when the weight is heavier than you normally lift for this many reps. But I did it. The limiting factor in my rounds/reps was my strength at that movement. I did 2 rounds and a few reps, so two full sets of both thrusters and burpees box step ups, plus a few more thrusters. 

Then, I ate food and died. I finished second to last, so there’s that. Ultimately, the biggest achievement for me was that I signed up for this. I did it. While I’d come to class and was never ashamed at lifting sometimes half of what my female peers lift, I never felt ready to just do a competition. Also, the whole training for races kind of put a damper on that. While CrossFit has been a great tool to keep me healthy while running, you can’t be good at both. You can supplement one with the other, but it’s not feasible to continually give 100% to both. 

Oddly enough, how I felt after last weekend was very similar to how I felt after Chicago. Sore as fuck, but proud as fuck… And yes, hungry for more. 

Rehabbing and New Goals

In the past six weeks or so, I’ve been focused on rehabbing a little nagging “injury” and setting some new goals for myself that aren’t about running. HELL YES FOR NEW GOALS. 

First, let’s talk about my dumb hip. My hips have always been weak areas #typicalrunnerprobs. My left side has always been the dumber side but this time, it’s my right. After a workout at the gym in the middle of May, I felt a little off. I did box jumps rather than step ups for the first time ever and I’m going to blame that. While training for races, I’ve always opted to do step ups instead of jumps because I’m already stressing my body enough with running.  But I had already started to switch my focus off running and figured now was a good time to challenge myself.  Well, I’m paying for it. 

My last 5k — with Lifting Bae (Heather)
Since that time, I’ve been dealing with a slight pain on the outside of my hip if my walks or runs go beyond 2 miles. If I stop and rest (as in lay on the couch) it goes away. And it literally only hurts during those two activities. I tried the chiropractor for a month thinking things were out of alignment and I did get better, but once I took two weeks off and ran a 5k, the pain was pretty high up there on the “How much does this suck?” scale. 

I just met with my physical therapist yesterday and have some unilateral exercises to do because of the uneven tightness in my quads and hamstrings.  It seems to be I may have some low back issues going on that aren’t specifically an “injury”, but are signs to back off and recover before getting an actual injury. So here I am resting a couple more weeks before I run again and seeing what happens. I’m relieved that I’m in a running hiatus right now because I am totally NOT bummed that I can’t run (and totally happy nothing else irritates it!)

Onto the more exciting thing — new goals!

It’s always been a goal of mine to be able to do a pull up, even since I went to my first CrossFit class 4 years ago. As I haven’t been attending classes regularly, nor have I actually practiced the movement, I haven’t achieved that. But this summer? I’m going to get it. 

I already got my goal a couple months ago of being able to deadlift my body weight, which was a low key goal of mine. I know, I know, so many people can double & triple their body weight but I’ve always been a runner, so this is a big goal for me. Next up? I want to squat and also clean my body weight. I’m only about 30 pounds off it on my front squat, so pretty sure I can nearly back squat it today if I tried.  Right now it’s not in the programming as we’re focusing on front squats and shoulder presses to get ready for Fran.

Also, further goals — my first competition! It’s next Saturday! It’s an in house competition, so it’s not anything too crazy but still a little scary.  I think I now understand how new runners feel at races when they feel “slow” in comparison to the field. I get the “I don’t want to be last!” mentality and just like I tell anyone in that scenario how nobody will care or notice or think differently if you are last… I’m trying to tell myself that as well. 
It feels good to push myself out of my comfort zone and I’m enjoying all the little gold stars I’m getting next to my name at the gym now. It’s funny — I wouldn’t be able to run for a couple days after going to the gym because … ouch. But now that I’m going 3-4 times a week, I could easily come home and go for a run because my muscles don’t feel as dead as they once did. Maybe all along I could balance both running and CrossFit, I just needed to get my body used to this first? Hmmm……

Lake Effect Half Marathon (16 mile workout)

For the first time ever, I used a race as a workout and not a “just get to the finish” race or PR attempt. It was challenging to hold back when all I wanted to do was race, especially considering I haven’t truly raced in almost a year. 

This is the first year we’ve (Laura, Heather, and I) have done it all as a girls night and spent the overnight together. It’s nice to have the guys around, but sometimes it’s much better to just do our thing, at our pace, and talk about whateverthefuck we want. Plus, lets face it, one boozy brunch is NOT cutting it for catch up time!

We definitely got hit on after this.
We rotated our food situation a little by hitting up Empire for dinner Saturday and a diner for breakfast on Sunday. Truthfully, I appreciated the low key Sunday because I wasn’t as tired leaving Syracuse as I am after a couple post race stouts and it meant I got food in my belly much quicker than normal. As per usual, I stopped at the store to grab this year’s nail color (anyone else need a fresh coat for the race?) and I’m in love with the color I picked. Sally Hansen’s Miracle gel line is amazing and so is the color Tidal Wave. Anyways, onto the running…

After a great week of weather, Sunday came with typical Lake Effect race weather. It was cold, like below freezing cold, with a dumb wind that gusted somewhere in the 20-25mph range. Perk? Headwind also means tailwind. I seriously struggled with what to wear for the run, opted for a pair of capris and a couple layers under my Chicago Saucony jacket. Thankfully, Laura is already Momming it up hardcore and was completely packed for somebody to forget gloves and hand warmers (or maybe that was accidental, but credit where credit is due!) and my hands were nice and toasty. 

I did about a 3 mile warmup (average 9:22 pace) and the “out” portion made me realize what a disaster the run potentially could be. I was moving, but I felt like I could lean into the wind and it’d hold me up. But, alternatively, on the way back things felt good. I’d like an order of 100% tail wind for every run, if possible. No? Damn. 
My plans for the race were to run comfortable and easy, under 9:30s and then cruise in the final 6 closer to 8:30s or under. I felt that with the atmosphere of a race, this was totally doable. I have felt that I struggled to maintain sub 8:40 pace in training, but largely due to getting in way of myself mentally. I’ve practiced running slow so often and not even speed that my legs have it, but tapping into it is another thing. Proving myself wrong in this workout was going to be welcomed. 

So this course is a double loops of basically 3 miles out and 3 miles back (a little over) and then the end has a small loop to get in the last .75. It’s all along lake Onondaga and I’d be bored as hell if I trained on it. There’s something completely not boring about it when I’m racing though, and it might be just that I’m there with friends. 

The first three miles I tried to keep as easy as possible. I had plenty of bodies to block the wind and ran a comfortable 9:07, 9:06, and 8:55. That 3rd mile, the course turns a little away from the lake and the wind definitely subsided for a good portion. I figured if I could keep my pace between 9:00 and 9:10 for my first loop, that’d be solid. 

Somewhere around mile 5
As soon as we turned around, I tried to hold back still even though I had the tailwind. Then I realized that going into the wind trying to hit 8:30s might be laughable and I picked it up just a smudge. My next 3 miles were 9:03, 8:56, and 8:51. I didn’t want to hit the gas too early but I wanted to get a small push while I had the wind at my back. 

We turned around and headed back out, I still was planning to go for the tempo miles. If it wasn’t going to happen, it wasn’t going to happen, at least I knew the effort would be there. Unfortunately, at this point the pack had thinned out and I was SOL for finding people to draft behind (also, I sucked at that). My first mile was 8:59, but my effort was telling me that if I kept it up, I would finish the race. The entire time, I felt like my body was at an angle with my hips and legs more to the right and my upper body more to the left. I assumed it was all in my head but, well, more on that later. I pushed forward and the last part of this loop was in 9:16, and 8:45 (there’s that nice back end of the course again!)

I was so excited to head back towards the finish. Just a 5k to go and I was going to be cruising in with the wind helping me hit great paces. This run was going to be MUCH better than my first 16 when training for Chicago! Not so fast… I started to pick it up, ready to count bodies I passed. I picked off a couple and thought about how I wouldn’t see them again.  But then my knee had a stabbing pain right under the knee cap. Huh. I’m knock kneed but it’s never given me knee issues. In fact, other than one random run during one of my last marathon training runs for Chicago, I’ve never had knee pain. I let up just a little and it didn’t really go away but it wasn’t as painful. I pushed harder and it got worse. “Oh, so that’s how this is going to go,” I thought. 

DONE.
It was so dumb. I was nailing my easy part and ready to kick some ass on the final miles! After a half mile of realizing my stride had officially altered based on the new pain, I decided to cool down. I did get some tempo effort miles in and whatever, I’d just run it to the end. Truthfully, I wanted to stop and check out my knee to see if it looked swollen or anything alarming but I knew if I stopped, I wasn’t starting again. I ran 2 miles (9:22, 9:33) before Heather saw me during her cool down. It was nice to talk and take my mind off the cranky knee, and then I just pushed it to the finish because, well, breakfast. My final mile was 9:11 with a 7:56 final .2 (oops tangents.) I finished without even breathing hard, eek. 

Overall, I finished my 16 miles around 9:10 average pace (9:04 for the half marathon portion).  That’s much better than the 10:30 I did for the 16 during Chicago, that’s for sure. 

My knee didn’t hurt when I walked around or even after I got home, after 4 hours in the car driving. It wasn’t swollen. It was a super weird thing that happened. I did two runs afterwards and both felt fine, but during my next long run, things felt less than stellar. 

[insert shrug here] 

We’ll see what my body decides to do this week. 

Seven weeks til Carmel Marathon!