Just walk away from the bar, Paul. Walk away from the bar.

Troie: Are you going to do the met-con Rx, Paul?
Me: I’m thinking about it. I’m also thinking about doing a different met-con altogether.
Jack: Why? This would be a good workout for you.
Me: I’m tired of double unders. Did you see how many I did yesterday?
Jack: I can give you a substitution for double unders.
Me: It’s not the double unders that I’m worried about. It’s the very heavy dead-lifts.
Jack: You should go heavy for the dead-lifts. You should do as prescribed. This will be a different kind of workout for you, and you need it. You always crush the bodyweight met-cons.
Me: So, is this a strength workout?
Jack: No, it’s still a met-con, so I expect you to be breathing hard and working up a sweat.
Me: Jack, believe me, if I’m lifting 275 pounds 30 times, I’m going to be working up a sweat and breathing hard.

So, yeah, I woke up this morning dreading this met-con, as Saturday’s and Sunday’s workouts kicked my ass and I was feeling tired and weak. There, I said it. Weak, weak sauce, weakling, Michael Kelley.

I warmed up, used the foam roller and lacrosse ball, and attempted to ignore Max. He’s persistent, I’ll give him that. The answer is “No!”

Jack led us through an excellent warmup, using a 45 lb bar and completing straight-leg dead-lifts, good mornings, etc., eventually working on the snatch grip dead-lift.

Skill—snatch grip dead-lift
3-3-3-3
115, 205, 215, 225 lb

Yes, I started out light and then went heavy. Jack observed 205 lift and reminded me to position my feet like I would for a dead-lift. After lifting 205 lb 3 times I said to Jack, “That’s heavy.” He replied, “Then keep lifts at that weight or increase just a little.” And that’s what I did, adding just 10 lb for each of the next 2 rounds. Lifts felt heavy but solid. Jack complimented my form.

I was still contemplating bowing out of met-con. Jack thought he could motivate me with taunting.

Jack: Troie’s lifting 275 lb, too, Paul. Do you think you can keep up with him?
Me: No. I know that I cannot keep up with him.

And that’s the truth. I knew that if I were going to complete this met-con as prescribed that I’d have to focus on form and not speed. “Jack,” I said, “do I have to bring the bar back to the floor or may I drop it at the top of the lift?” Jack said, “You can drop it at the top of the lift. Even if you shouldn’t, I’d tell you to drop it at the top of the lift.” I gave him a quizzical look. He said, “Because 275 lb is going to feel heavy.” Uhm, yeah.

My heart was pounding and I was already sweating. My stomach was tied up in knots. I was still contemplating bowing out. I chalked my hands and stepped up to the bar.

Met-con
3 rounds for time of the following:
10 dead-lifts, 275 lb
50 double unders

I completed the first round of dead-lifts one at a time, repositioning my feet and re-gripping the bar before each lift. I would think, “Your arms are just levers. Keep your back flat, keep your abs and ass tight. Take the tension out of the bar, take a deep breath, lift with your legs—and make sure you keep your chest up.” Whew, that’s much to think about! No wonder the dead-lifts took me so long to complete! Troie had already completed most of his 50 double unders before I finished my first round of dead-lifts. He crushed me. I’m much better looking, though. And smarter. Much, much, smarter.

Punky was also lifting 275, so I thought I’d at least try to keep up with him.

The first round of double unders went reasonably well, although my legs were on fire. I completed as few as 2 and as many as 40 unbroken. It was then back to the damn bar.

Again, I completed each dead-lift one at a time, and the weight felt like it kept getting heavier and heavier. Jack observed quite a few lifts, and provided much needed encouragement. He also constantly reminded me to keep my chest up, and this was indeed the key to successfully lifting the (did I mention?) very, very heavy bar. My legs began to shake as the round progressed, but I nonetheless ensured that I stood upright with hips extended and shoulders back at the top of each lift. The second round of double unders didn’t go nearly as well, as I was quite out of breath from dead-lifting, and my legs were still on fire. It was hard to even lift my legs, let alone jump. I completed as few as 2 and as many as 20 unbroken. I was beginning to fall apart.

Instead of walking to the bar, I found myself walking away from my bar, and was then suddenly by the bucket of chalk. I heard Jack say, “Good, chalk up your hands.” Little did he know that I had no—and I mean absolutely no—intention of doing even 1 more dead-lift. I nonetheless chalked my hands. Why not? There was nothing else better to do. And then it happened…

I walked to the damn bar. Now it became a battle between my brain and my body, as my body was sending very clear messages to my brain to just freaking stop. I thought, “Lift as many times as you can until failure, and then call it a day.” I looked at Punky, and we were both on the final round. I lifted once, dropped the bar, walked away from the bar, swore at the bar, and probably cried a little. I lifted a second time. I may be wrong, but I do believe that there were quite a few who were observing and providing support, including none-other-than Troie, Renee, Audrey, and Jack. My mind was only focusing on trying to get my body to cooperate. I lifted a third, fourth, and then a fifth time. Troie asked, “How many do you have left?” I replied, “I don’t want to think about it.” I struggled through the sixth and seventh lifts, finding that if I didn’t focus on keeping my chest up, the lifts were very difficult. I then had a thought that I have never had before, and it scared me. “No one is keeping track of how many reps you’ve completed. You could stop now and say it was 10. Who would ever know?” OMG! I detest cheaters, yet here I was contemplating it myself? I focused on keeping my chest up and lifted an eighth and ninth time. My heart was pounding wildly, I was dripping all over the bar and the floor, I wanted desperately to quit, and I still have one more lift. I glanced at Jack, held up my index finger and mouthed “One more”. And that’s what I did, I lifted 1 last time. And it was good.

The last round of double unders was feast and famine. I was only completing 2 or 3 at a time for the first 10, and then strung together 35 unbroken. The last 5, however, I completed 1 at a time! Ugh.

I called “Time!” at 10:44, and was the last person to do so. You read that correctly. Even Punky finished in a faster time!

But, wait…

I congratulated Punky, and it was then that these words came from his mouth: “I only did 8.” Whaaaaaaat? Punky informed me that he only did 8 dead-lifts each round, and when I asked him why he said, “I was only able to do 8 the first round, so I just kept it at 8.” Oh, Punky, how I hate you sometimes.

Closing thoughts:

  1. This may have been the most challenging met-con to date. Yes, even more so than “Fran”.
  2. Jack and I discussed the met-con after I was finally done, and he thinks I need to do more workouts like this, focusing on strength and challenging my body (and mind?) in different ways. I tend to agree with him. Do you?
  3. I’m usually one of the first to complete a met-con, and I always make sure that I cheer for others. I kinda sorta possibly maybe perhaps enjoyed being the last to finish, and it was nice for people to cheer for and support me! Thanks in particular to the people I was aware of, namely Jack (of course!), Renee, Troie, Audrey, and Paul K.
  4. I need to work on switching my grip, as I only feel comfortable with r-h under and l-hand over.
  5. Uhm, this may have been one of my proudest CrossFit moments. I’m just saying…
  6. I hate Punky Michael Kelley.

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Enthusiastic

Throughout my almost-48 years, the word that has been most used to describe me is “enthusiastic”.

In preparation for today’s WOD, I completed both the planned warmup and WOD. I called the warmup “The Terrible 2s”.

After shoulder mobility, 2 minutes of the following, with a brief rest between rounds: jumping rope sprints, held plank, box steps, held squat, single unders, hang from bars.

50-40-30-20-10 of the following for time:
Box jumps (24/20)
Double unders
Abmat sit-ups

In other words, “Annie” with box jumps. My goals were to ensure proper form, i.e., full extension at top of box jump as well as touch floor behind and in front of body for sit-ups, as well as to complete the reps unbroken. I took my time with the box jumps. If someone were to see any of the rounds, I’m confident they wouldn’t be able to tell which round I was on. Double unders almost felt like active rest, the time went by so quickly. The most challenging part was the sit-ups, as during the rounds of 40, 30, and 20 I seriously contemplated pausing. I completed the WOD in 16:18.

I coached the 10 and 11am sessions. While I didn’t do the entire warmup with them, I did the 2-minute held plank and squat 2 additional times.

The overwhelming majority of athletes did a great job, including newest member, Lauren, and visitors Carolina and Travis. Sarah amazed me in the fact that she could do the WOD with a sore shoulder. Colleen and Nick finished the strongest, Lindsay and Amy were the most consistent, and Lindsey performed the WOD with the most intensity.

Uhm, yeah, I won’t mention name(s) nor will I share name(s) if asked, but it upsets me when folks think that they don’t need coaching. For example, I emphasized the importance of and demonstrated proper hip extension at the top of the box jump. During the WODs I corrected form and reminded some folks to indeed extend their hips. My words fell on deaf ears. I also emphasized the importance of and demonstrated “frog legs” as well as full extension of the arms above the head with shoulders and hands touching the floor at the bottom and full extension and touching the toes or floor at the top of the sit-up. Again, my words fell on deaf ears.

I know I may over-emphasize form. I don’t care that you can do a WOD fast if you’re not doing it with proper and consistent form. If a person doesn’t think like they need or want coaching, then I suggest that they do do the WOD on their own. There, I got that off of my chest.

As I was leaving, Sarah and Carolina thanked me for my coaching. You’re very welcome! They both mentioned that they liked my playlist and enthusiasm. Enthusiasm? Me?

“You’re still going on your toes.”

It’s Saturday, so you know what that means: a 3-WOD writeup.

The Meaghans, Michael Kelly, and Nick attended today’s endurance WOD, and the focus was on using the arms when running. After an easy 800m run, athletes ran 100m holding 10 or 12 lb dumbbells in both hands. They held dumbbells dead hang beside body, in front with locked elbows, to the sides with locked elbows, behind the back, and finally while running using the Pose method. We then stretched shoulders, using what I had learned at CFTO. (Thanks, Dan!)

16 to 20 x 100m; rest same time as interval; keep intervals within 5 sec

This was a deceptively challenging workout, as the first few reps were quite easy. Keeping the same pace for 16 to 20 intervals, however, became challenging for most. I ran a couple of intervals with each athlete, and made sure to run the very last interval with each of the four of them to ensure that they finished strong–and fast. Michael Kelley had his fastest interval of 17 seconds while “racing” me. Uhm, I still kicked his ass.

Speaking of Michael Kelley, he had texted me earlier in the day pleading for me to do the partner WOD with him. He’s sooooo needy sometimes. Wait, make that all of the time.

In teams of two, with only one partner working at a time, complete rounds of 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10 reps for time:
KB Swings (52)
Pull-ups
and then rest exactly 3 minutes before completing rounds of 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10 reps for time:
Thrusters (95; we used 75)
Hand Release Pushups

I had contemplated doing thrusters with 95, but Michael Kelley was fine with us both using 75 lb. My shoulders are fried, and so are his. We didn’t, however, share a bar, as he says I leave too much sweat on the bar. That happens when you work hard. (That’s what he said.)

We evenly completed KB swings and pull-ups (although my pull-ups are much better than Michael Kelley’s, as he has a difficult time getting his chins [yes, chins] above the bar while butterflying). Michael Kelley did a few more thrusters, and I did a few more HRPUs. I certainly did HRPUs a hell of a lot faster than did he. As he has razor stubble on his belly, it may have been that he was sticking to the floor. I’m just saying.

I struggled mightily with the first 5 thrusters, not being able to keep my feet planted on the ground. I kicked off my Nike Frees and was able to complete much easier. After the WOD I said to Dave, “Kicking the shoes off helped, and my form for thrusters has improved.” The ever-positive-and-willing-to-give-positive-feedback-Dave replied, “Your knees are still going too far forward.” “You’re still going up on your toes.” I know, Dave. I know. In his defense, he did say “Nice, Paul!” and “Good, Paul!” on quite a few occasions during KB swings, pull-ups, and HRPUs.

Michael Kelley and I posted the fastest time of the day: 24:07. As much as I hate to admit it, we work well together, and our communication during the WOD was efficient and effective.

Another large group of 20+ attended the Community WOD, and (with the exception of 2 individuals working out solo) we had CFD to ourselves. And we needed the entire space.

12-minute AMRAP of the following:
5 KB or dumbbell press, right-hand
5 KB or dumbbell press, left-hand
5 Abmat sit-ups
5 pushups
5 air squats
Run 100m

My intention was to have a met-con that remained intense, i.e., as there were only 5 reps there wasn’t a need to rest between reps. I encouraged folks to complete unbroken, but that if they needed to rest they should do so for 5 seconds of less. I enjoyed coaching this WOD, and my friends in attendance said they enjoyed completing.


CFPH | Pistols!

Paul and Coach Cynthia

I attended the 6pm session at CrossFit Potrero Hill, and it was great! The box is located in a back corner of a very large Gold’s Gym. I met the owners, Erin and Liza, when I last visited SF on business. In retrospect, I probably should’ve gone to CFPH last night as well.

Cynthia led the session, and the focus was on handstand pushups. We first warmed up with 2 minutes of single unders and then 2 minutes of double unders, 15 pushups, 15 pull-ups, 10 hollow rocks, and 15 presses using 45 lb bar. Whew!

For HSPUs, we did max reps and then cash in. In other words, we did max reps and then had to match max number with kipping HSPUs if needed. I completed 8, and for the second round 6 strict and 2 kipping.

WOD
4 rounds of the following
Max reps ring dips; rest 1 min
Max reps r-leg pistols; rest 1 min
Max reps l-leg pistols; rest 1 min
Max rep HSPUs; rest 1 min

This was a challenging WOD, particularly since I’m not at all skilled with pistols. Cynthia reviewed scaling, and I chose to hold onto ring while squatting. Cynthia observed my form quite a few times, and gave positive feedback. I made sure to push hips back, keep lowere leg vertical, stand upright and extend hips, and try not to use my arms to rise out of squat.

Rings dips: 25, 20, 19, 17
R-leg pistols: 25, 25, 27, 27
L-leg pistols: 25, 25, 27, 27
HSPUs: 5, 4, 2, 3

Ring dips were easy, as they should be. While I completed a high number of pistols, they weren’t Rx. It was nonetheless exhausting. My shoulders were fried form the sheer number of times I lifted 95 lb over my head yesterday, so HSPUs were difficult.

Cynthia was a delight, the music was techno, the participants were friendly, and the non-metcon WOD was challenging. Yeah!

San Francisco CrossFit | Cindy & Snatch

I was looking very forward to attending this evening’s session at San Francisco CrossFit, and I’ll begin by saying that I was disappointed. It’s similar to when someone tells you how wonderful a movie is, you go to the movie expecting it to be spectacular, and it doesn’t live up to your expectations. (I’m talking to you, Michael Kelley, and that movie was “Thor”.)

I do like the set-up as the entire “gym” is outside, albeit there is a small section under a canopy. The equipment is kept in storage containers. While SFCF is located near the Golden Gate Bridge, I couldn’t see it from where we were working out. I did, however, see many runners and bikers at Crissy Field.

Coach A. led the session, and the focus was on the snatch. We were asked to team up, and a man offered to pair with me. His name? Paul. His shoes? Orange Minimus. We first worked on what Coach A. referred to as “behind the neck from the shoulder snatch”. I completed 5 reps of 45, 75, and 85 lb. Next was the dead-lift snatch, which consisted of gripping the bar like with the snatch, i.e., wide, grip and, well, dead-lifting. I worked up to lifting 285 lb. I’m still left wondering why we did this lift.

The WOD that Coach A. informed us we were to do was “Cindy”. He informed us that we would instead do a 10-minute AMRAP of 5 pull-ups, 10 pushups, 15 air squats and then 1 power snatch the first round, 2 power snatches the second round, etc. Just before we were to begin, Coach A. informed us that we could stop at 10, 12, or 15 minutes. Again, I’m not quite sure why. I said, “Is there a way I can keep track of reps?” Coach A. replied, “In your head.” “I have a difficult time doing that. May I mark with chalk on the pavement?” (I had noticed that quite a few people had done so.) Coach A. replied, “Keep track in your head.” I put 2, 25 lb plates on a 45 lb bar (sound familiar?) and the WOD began.

My goal   do all pull-ups, pushups, and air squats unbroken, and that’s what I did. My snatch form sucks, and I know it. I am, however, strong enough to repeatedly lift 95 lbs over my head. I thought I’d have to slow down with the power snatches, but I did not.

I completed 8 rounds + 5 pull-ups, 1o pushups, and 6 power snatches in 15 minutes. That’s 45 pull-ups, 90 pushups, 135 air squats, and 42 power snatches.

The people in attendance were all very friendly and approachable. Okay, the reason I was disappointed was that there wasn’t much coaching provided. I think it’s important for the coach to walk around during the WOD and provide direction and, if needed, support. Am I expecting too much? Oh, and they also were out of men’s tee shirts.

I’m a beast, dawg!

I attended the 6am session at CrossFit Thousand Oaks, and was joined by Jemma and Kate. There were two others also in attendance, Adam and Ellie. Dan once again led the session, and it was a doozy! 

6 rounds for time:
5 hang power cleans 
10 push jerks
10 burpees

We warmed up on our own, and then Dan reviewed proper form for hang power clean and push jerk jerk. He reminded us that we could immediately begin push jerk after completing 5th hang power clean, but that if we dropped the bar we’d have to clean it and then push jerk. Uhm, I knew that would eventually happen. I put 2, 25 lb plates on the 45 lb. bar, psychologically prepared myself for what I knew was going to be a difficult WOD, Dan counted down from 3, and we were off!

I did all rounds of hang power cleans unbroken. For the first round, I immediately did 10 push jerks unbroken and then 10 burpees, marked my completed round, and began second round. While completing burpees I thought, “Why the hell do I do this? This hurts. You can stop if you want to.” I didn’t stop. 

I completed 5 unbroken push jerks, dropped the bar, cleaned the bar and did 5 more, and then 10 unbroken burpees. I was sweating profusely. The third round went the very same way, although for the third and all remaining rounds I dropped the bar before starting push jerks. The extra effort it took to clean the bar was well worth the short rest. 

For the fourth round, I completed 6 and 4 push jerks, and it was a struggle. I kept having to remind myself to dip, drop, rise. While I was determined to complete burpees unbroken, sadly I did not. While my brain didn’t say stop, my body did nonetheless. I completed round in reps of 6 and 4. 

It was at this time that Dan said something like, “Ellie and Paul are neck and neck! It’s going to be a race to the finish.” Ellie and I were facing each other, and I’ll be damned if she wasn’t matching me lift for lift and then burpee for burpee. 

Fifth round, 6 and 4 push jerks. I then loudly proclaimed, “I loved burpees until this exact moment. I no longer love burpees.” Dan chuckled. I then thought, “If you have enough energy to talk, you had better do these burpees unbroken.” And that’s what I did. 

By the sixth round I was suffering. I thought, “Let Ellie win. Why do you always have to be so competitive?” I completed push jerks in reps of 4, 3, and 3. Ellie and I began burpees at the exact same moment. Uhm, yeah, so I didn’t let her win. I powered through the burpees and finished just one burpee ahead of her, calling “Time!” at 12:30

I thought I was going to hurl. I walked outside and around a corner so that I would be out of sight if I did indeed hurl. Fortunately, I did not. 

I made sure to thank Ellie for pushing me. I also told her that my calculations placed her as the clear winner, with the final calculation being Ellie > Paul. 

Dan led us through an alternatively awesome and gruesome cool down. He’s a great coach. 

As I was leaving, Adam bumped fists and said, “Paul, you’re a beast, dawg!” 

CrossFit Thousand Oaks | The 3 Js

Jeff, JZ, Paul, and Jemma

My good friend Jemma invited me to join her for an evening session at CrossFit Thousand Oaks. Dan, the owner, led the session, and Jeff and Jason also attended. I was looking forward to a friendly competition, and I was not disappointed. 

We warmed up on our own. Jeff showed off by doing a muscle-up, and I modestly demonstrated a back lever. Dan observed and complimented me. Jason and Jemma jumped rope. Jemma has just about mastered double unders. Jason? Uhm, not so much so. 

Dan then led the group through a clean/hang power clean/squat clean/press/push press/clean & jerk progression, first using a PVC pipe and then using a bar. I thought the practice was very useful, and plan on using when I coach. 

Today’s WOD was quite challenging–and just as enjoyable!

5 rounds for time:
8 wall climbs
10 toes to bar
12 box jumps, 24″

I had no idea what a wall climb was, and Dan was kind enough to demonstrate. Lie on the floor with your feet against the wall, walk your feet up and your hands toward the wall until your chest touches the wall. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It was easy — the first 4 or 5 reps. Unfortunately I did about 5 reps before the WOD. 

Here’s what transpired…

Jason and Jeff were side by side and I was across from and facing them. I claimed my spot before they claimed theirs, so I can only assume that they wanted to keep their eyes on the competition. Jeff? Jason? I know Jemma would agree!

Dan counted down from 3 and we began. I completed the first round of wall climbs unbroken, and was the first to start toes to bar. Jason and Jeff weren’t too far behind. I thought, “This is going to be interesting. Let’s see if they have the endurance to keep this pace.” I finished this and remaining rounds of toes to bar and box jumps unbroken. 

I was the first to complete round 1, I made a chalk hash on the floor, and started round 2. I could sense Jeff and Jason watching me closely. 

I completed round 2 of wall climbs in reps of 4 and 4, pausing and stretching my shoulders in between rounds. Once again I was the first of on bars and box. Jason was still close behind, and Jeff was beginning to trail. I was confident that I would crush them. Jemma missed a jump, hurt her leg, and had to stop. I’m sorry, Jemma!

I completed round 3 of wall climbs in reps of 2. It was getting difficult, I was sweating profusely, and I was grunting. If I recall, I was close to finishing box jumps as Jason began toes to bar. Jeff was struggling. Okay, in his defense he had more body to climb up the wall. It must suck to be tall. I knew I was going to crush Jeff and Jason by the end of the round. 

I was dreading round 4, and really began to struggle with wall climbs. I nonetheless ensured that my chest touched the wall and that I ended and then began lying on the floor. I completed in reps of 2 and singles. Yes, 1 at a time. Even though I was slowing down, I was completing reps and rounds faster than Jason and Jeff. I knew I’d have to slow down much more if they were to catch me. That wasn’t going to happen.

Round 5 went better than expected, although I still only completed wall climbs in reps of 2 or a single climb. I had lapped the boys by this time. 

I called time at 13:51, and was the first to do so. I caught my breath and coached Jason and Jeff, sharing with them what I discovered: fast feet! In other words, the wall climbs were much easier when I focused on climbing the wall as fast as I could, pausing when my chest touched the wall, and quickly walking back down the wall. 

Score: middle-aged gay guy 1, young whippersnappers 0. 

I had much, much fun! Thanks for inviting and joining me, The Three Js!