As a favor to my BVFFF, Michael Kelley (and as I also only worked a half day at my real job), I coached the 6am and then attended the 7:15am session at CFZ. Burt, I will continue to keep my eyes on you. Claire, you continue to be awesome and will be even more so if you keep up your chest. Alex, I’m confident that you can string together more than one round of toes to bar. Thomas, very nice job with toes to bar. For front squat, remember: form, consistency, and then intensity.

I know, I know, faithful readers want to know about yours truly, not some nobodies! I can’t say as I blame you.

Michael Kelley was in a particularly good mood this morning. Let’s see if his mood gets worse as the temperature rises.

Front Squat
1-3 Warm-Up Sets
80% x 3
85% x 3
All percentages are based on 3RM.

I based on 190# 3RM; thus sets @ 155, 165, & 175#. While lifts were solid, weight felt heavy today.

High Bar Back Squat
1×20, 90% of 20RM

I based on 170#; thus I lifted 155#. Again, weight felt heavy today. I mentioned so to Michael Kelley and he said, “Heavy dead-lifts and high box jumps yesterday. I can’t imagine why you’re tired today.” He is and has such a HUGE ass.

10 Toes-2-Bar Knees-2-Elbows
10 Burpees

I mentioned to Michael Kelley that I had had enough of toes to bar earlier in the week when I visited without a doubt my absolute favorite CrossFit box ever CrossFit908. He said, “Then do knees to elbows. I think knees to elbows are more difficult than toes to bar anyhow.” So do I, Michael Kelley. My goal wasn’t really to do a more difficult met-con, but I could think of no reason not to do so.

I love burpees. I truly do. I think every met-con should have burpees.

My goal was to complete all rounds unbroken. I did, bitches. I ensured that my knees touched my elbows, not some other part of my shapely arms, and that I jumped at the top of each and every burpee. I truly did just that, bitches.

I completed 6 rounds + 10 K2E and 5 burpees.

Michael Kelley said, “So, do you think you’re better than everyone else?” I did not put my score on the whiteboard, and I doubt that I will ever do so, bitches.

I did jokingly say, “I got more rounds than all of you.” Kabool, who was getting ready for the next session said, “You’re a coach. You should.” I replied, “I’m no longer a coach, Kabool. Today was my last day. I gave Michael Kelley my notice two weeks ago.”

As an aside, I don’t think that being a coach necessarily means that you’re one of the best athletes in any box. We all have strengths (for me, endurance) and weaknesses (for me, strength). We can all improve. Michael Kelley, for example, could lose a few hundred pounds.

Nathanael then shared a story of the time he pierced his own nipple. I honestly had to quit listening, as I thought I was going to vomit. My nipples hurt just thinking about it.

Early this afternoon Michael Kelley sexted me asking how many rounds I completed. It’s not a competition, loser. (He completed 6 + 10 T2B.)

It takes a village…

… to teach me how to overhead squat.

Uhm, the overhead squat: my nemesis.

Today’s focus was on gymnastics, but Coach Jack was kind enough to allow me to work on OHS form. I’m happy to report that today was truly a breakthrough day, and I owe both Jack and Coach Stew a HUGE thanks.

I started off weak and with very poor form. I was squatting below parallel and was consistently coming up on my toes. I recorded all lifts, and was very disappointed, disillusioned, discouraged… this list goes on and on…

Stew was stretching and secretly observing. He then offered his criticisms: keep your weight in your heels, squat below parallel, maintain active shoulders. These are all things I know to do – and that I was honestly focusing on attempting to do, so his direction fell on deaf ears. He did, however, have every right to say, “You’re not going to be able to do anything until you lock your frakking (he didn’t say “frakking”) elbows.” And he was right. He suggested squatting to a medicine ball, so I invited Jack to respond, as this is something Jack suggests that I not do. The three of us next got into a conversation regarding grip width, and both Stew and Jack noted that they thought my grip was too wide – when in fact it was too narrow! Sayeth Stew, “You have uncommonly long arms.” Why, yes, I do. I have to grip the bar so wide that the outside of my hands touch the plates. This is my snatch grip, and if I go any narrower the bar, well, hits something that I don’t really want it to hit.

The conversation continued. Stew suggested that I use a hooked grip for the OHS, something I’ve never tried. He commented that this is Pendlay’s suggestion. (“No, no, a thousand times, no!”) Jack and I had a conversation about external rotation, as I had watched a CrossFit video just last night that suggested thinking about putting the pits of your elbows toward the ceiling whereas Jack suggested thinking about pointing the pits of your arms out.

I squatted below the bar, pressed it, positioned my hands in a wide, hooked grip. And squatted. And. It. Was. Good. Perhaps more than anything, I felt in control. I certainly didn’t feel the need to work against going up on my toes, it was much easier to squat deeply, and my elbows remained locked. I also thinking wearing my Angry Birds hat helped. Just saying. Here’s the YouTube video.

As an aside, the heaviest weight I lifted today was a mere 85 lb. Jack now thinks I can begin to lift heavier weights. I hope he’s right. Fingers crossed! He also said I need to unlearn all of the bad habits that Michael Kelley taught me. True. Very, very true.

I was going to continue to work on OHS and left my bar on the rack. However, just before the met-con started I gave into temptation and joined my 6:15 peeps. (No, Max, I’m not going to mention how nice it was to see you and/or congratulate you and Audrey on her pregnancy.)

10, 9, 8… 3, 2, 1
Dumb bell thrusters
Knees to elbows
As I need to focus on shorter, intense workouts, I asked Jack if I could do kettle bell thrusters, and he once again was gracious and allowed me to do so. I went light today, using 20 lb KBs.

My goal was to complete the met-con unbroken (including not dropping from the bar for KTE).

KB thrusters felt the best they’ve ever felt, as I was breaking parallel on each and every squat. Yeah! I completed rounds 10, 9, 8, and 7 of KTE fast and unbroken, but on rounds 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 and had to stop at the bottom and kip. My lats were getting tired, I suppose. I completed the met-con in 5:42.

I wasn’t done, though, as I continued practicing OHS single reps for the remainder of the session.

I’ve previously mentioned that I often hit my head. I did so today. I was completing round 6 or KB thrusters when I thought, Thrusters feel great! I’m very pleased with my form. And then I brought the right KB down and hit my noggin. Too bad I wasn’t wearing my Angry Birds hat.


The 12 Day of Crossfitmas

It’s Saturday, folks, and you know what that means: I coached endurance WOD, WODded, and coached community WOD.

I went forth and back (I never say “back and forth”) regarding what the endurance WOD would be. 100m sprints x 20? 200m sprints x 10? 2-mile time trial? Death by 10 meters? I was going to allow athletes to help me decide, when – just 10 minutes before the start of the session – I had one of my awesome ideas that I’m so known for. Awesomeness and modesty are what I’m best known for. And my good looks. And intelligence. Wait, I almost forgot strength and speed.

First, today’s traditional WOD was the “12 Days of Christmas
1 – Burpee pull-up
2 – Turkish get-ups
3 – Knees to elbows
4 – Wall ball
5 – Kettlebell swings
6 – Box jumps
7 – Push press
8 – Medicine ball cleans
9 – Double unders
10 – Jumping lunges
11 – Pushups
12 – Pull-ups

The first round is just one burpee pull-up. Then the second round is 2 Turkish get-ups and 1 burpee pull-up. The third round is 3 knees to elbows, 2 Turkish get-ups and 1 burpee pull-up. This continues so that the 12th round incorporates all 12 movements.

Endurance athletes ran 200m each round, i.e., after each burpee pull-up, for a total of 12 times (2400 m or 1.5 miles). Will, Rebekah, Sarah, and Nick joined in the festivities, and while there were some modifications of activities, all did splendidly. I did, however, enforce a 50-minute cut-off.

The WOD looked so incredibly fun that I did the same thing at the 10am session, and Kim C. joined me. My goal was to complete all rounds of activities unbroken, and I came this close to doing so. What tripped me up, literally? Read on, dear friends. Read on.

I completed all 12 rounds of 1 burpee pull-up with a dead-hang pull-up, bringing my chin well above the bar. Fifty-three lb. was posted for Turkish get-ups, but I chose to use 35 lb. No problem. Three knees to elbows? Well, I don’t mind if I do! Four wall balls shots with 20 lb. ball and 10’ target? While this shouldn’t have been a problem, I didn’t hit the wall for 3 shots during different rounds; thus, I had to redo. I have come a long way with 53 lb. kettle bell swings, and these presented no problems.

Six, 24” box jumps. Ugh. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get into a rhythm; try as I might. During the fourth or fifth round, I missed the box. Yes, I missed the box. Not only did I have to redo that jump, I became cautious for remaining jumps. During the twelfth and final round, I had to pause for more than a brief moment between jumps; thus, I can’t call all rounds of box jumps unbroken. 

I thought 7, 75 lb. push press would present a challenge, but I seem to have gotten stronger. However, 8 20 lb. medicine ball cleans became the activity that I most dreaded, although I did complete all rounds unbroken. Nine double unders were usually done unbroken, and I certainly didn’t rest when I missed and I only counted successful jumps. My legs, however, were becoming fatigued due to all of the sprints. Ten jumping lunges are all kinds of fun. I did mistakenly begin round 8 with jumping lunges instead of medicine ball cleans, so I did end up doing an extra 8 walking lunges.

Both rounds of 11 pushups were done unbroken, as was the round of 12 pull-ups. All 12 rounds of 200m runs went well – except that last 200m. I. Thought. I. Was. Going. To. Die.

I completed the workout in 40:24.

Just 6 people attended the Community WOD, and they completed a modified, much easier “12 Days of CrossFit”.

This is the fifth day in a row that Luke and I have gone for a 2+-mile run. I’m once again enjoying running! We passed numerous runners, as Luke likes to run fast. Very, very fast.

The less-dreaded snatch….

I’ve discovered that I feel very weak the morning following a rest day. My only activity yesterday was running with the endurance athletes as I coached, but I barely broke a sweat and certainly wasn’t running at much greater than 75% effort. Perhaps it’s just that my muscles are tight. Or that I’m old. Or that I’m weak.

I arrived early to allow time for stretching, and then Jack led us through a warmup and review of snatch positions.

1st position 1-1-1
2nd position 1-1-1
Full snatch 1-1-1

The focus for me was on form, as I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to go heavy. Truth be told, Sunday’s WOD took its toll on me, and my lower body is somewhat sore and certainly tight. I warmed up with the bar, and then lifted 65, 75, and 85 lb. I did, however, lift each weight from each position 3 to 5 times. I        finished by lowering the weight to 65 and practicing the full snatch. Jack’s remarks ranged from “Not bad” to “That was your best one of the day”. I’ll take it. Progress for this, as well as the clean and the dreaded overhead squat, has been laboriously slow, and one of the main reasons that I’ve opted to not compete in the Fitness Challenge this year. I may even have wait until I’m 50. Or 60.

21 KB snatch (52)
21 Knee to elbows
21 double unders
18 KB snatch
18 KTE
18 double unders
15 KB snatch
15 KTE
15 double unders

I completed far too many kettle bell snatches this past Sunday, and want to make sure I don’t reinjure my right elbow.

Me: Jack, what’s a good substitute for kettle bell snatches?
(long pause) Kettle bell swings, American style, and heavy. Use 52 pounds. Lifting heavy is one of your weaknesses, so use the 52 pound kettle bell.
Me: Jack, what you’re really saying is that I’m weak, not that kettle bell swings are one of my weaknesses.

As the Big Boys were still showing off with snatches, Jack allowed the group to complete the met-con in 2 groups. I chose to go with the Big Boys. However, I was getting bored and impatient waiting for someone to come out (as it’s National Coming Out Day), so I started the met-con 4 minutes past the time the first group began. Thus, I was the last to finish.

My new Buddy Lee jump rope has not yet arrived, so I had to use one of the crappy ropes.

I completed the first round of KB swings unbroken, the second round in reps of 10 and 8, and the last round in reps of 10 and 5. Jack was correct: I am weak. I nonetheless made sure that I completed swings American style (KB above head with elbows locked).

I completed first round of KTE unbroken and kipping, second round in reps of 12 and 6 kipping, and the last round in reps of 5, 4, and 3, with all but the last 3 kipping. As in the past, it was my tearing hands that caused the most concern.

Double unders were very challenging, again because of the crappy rope. I didn’t complete any rounds unbroken, and I can easily complete many more than 21 dus unbroken. Stupid rope.

I completed the met-con in 7:04.

It’s a dreary, drizzly, rainy day. Xander loved to go for walks in the rain. There’s nothing quite so wonderful as the smell of a wet dog.

Press, thrusters, KTE

Jack once again led today’s session, and the focus was on the press. Not the push press, not the push jerk, just the press.

I warmed up with 45 and 65, and then completed 5 reps of 75, 85, 95, and 105 lb (75 % of bodyweight and about 77% of 1RM).

Jack observed form and we discussed options for holding the bar, i.e., elbows by side or elbows up. I then recalled that my good friend Tim from CrossFit908 suggested that I keep my elbows up so that the bar rests on the “shelf”. This helps tremendously. I focused on keeping my entire body tight, particularly my abs and glutes, so that I would not hyperextend. It’s still somewhat challenging for me to bring my head back and then through the window, but I did so for the majority of lifts. I was pleased that I got consistently better with form, and my last felt like the best round.

Dumb bell thrusters (40 lb)
Knees to elbows

Jack demonstrated kipping knees to elbows, and I finally got it. Kipping has as much to do with bringing the head through the shoulders than it does with extending the hips. Uhm, just like kipping pull-ups, Paul. Duh. I said, “Jack, why are you just now telling me to put my head through my shoulders? This is easy!” Jack replied, “I’ve told you repeatedly.” I guess I just wasn’t listening.

While 40 lb was prescribed, I had no intention of going that heavy. Why not? Yesterday was supposed to have been my rest day, yet there I was at CFD today. Why? Because I need the distraction. At least I’m smart enough to go light to avoid injury and to focus on form. I settled on 27.5 lb dumb bells.
I completed rounds of 20, 10 and 5 thrusters unbroken and round of 15 in 9 and 6. I completed round of 20 knees to elbows unbroken, round of 15 in 9 and 6, round of 10 in 7 and 3, and round of 5 in 3 and 2. I quickly kipped through the rounds of 20 and 15, but my hands began to tear on round of 10 so I reverted to non-kipping knees to elbows. See, I am smart. I completed in 4:58.

Xander chewing his soccer ball

Her Place

Today was to have been a rest day, but in my defense yesterday was to have been a double. Zac awakened me at 4, so I thought I might as well either work on skill building and/or complete an endurance WOD. I had planned on working on box jumps and then completing a running/box jumps endurance WOD. Uhm, I did neither…

Coach S. led the session, and the skill building focus was knees to elbow. I’m constantly criticized for emphasizing my strengths, e.g., anything bodyweight, running, and ignoring my weaknesses, e.g., OHS, snatch, C&J. Faithful readers know that I have started down the path of redemption. Nonetheless, I will continue to work on improving bodyweight movements.

Form, consistency, and then intensity. Since I demonstrate consistent proper form for KTE, I decided to work on intensity.

Knees to Elbows

5 KTE on the minute for 10 minutes

I decided to do up to 10 KTE, making sure I was not kipping.

For whatever reason, everyone in attendance was facing the front of the gym; thus, B., Troie, and Will all had their backs toward me. As I was completing 10 instead of 5 KTE, I was usually the last person to drop from the bars. For the first few rounds, B. and Troie would turn around only to see me still completing KTE. As Troie isn’t the brightest bulb in the pack, something tells me it took my telling him that I was completing 10 for him to realize what was going on.

As the top of the minute approached, Coach S. would count down. At the top of the minute he would say, “Work.” “S.,” I said, “would you please say ‘Work it’ instead?” He chuckled and said, “I’m not RuPaul.” Haha!

I completed 10 KTE each round, for a total of 100.

Troie was talking with B., and they were looking at the contents of a bag full of groceries. I thought I heard Troie say, “Cook her herpes.” What he did say was, “Cook at her place.” Enunciate, Troie!

Coach S. led us through mobility, and then we prepared for today’s WOD.

20-minute AMRAP of the following:

Run 400m

5 dead-lifts (225 lb)

10 burpees

I went forth and back about whether or not I was going to do this WOD. I convinced myself, and I think/feel I am correct, that this was indeed an endurance WOD.

I warmed up with just 135 lb on the bar, put an additional 90 lb on the bar, peed, and then realized it was time to start the WOD. I didn’t have an opportunity to lift 225 lb before the WOD. And that’s okay. It really is. There may be times in life when I won’t have the opportunity to lift something light, say a VW Golf 4-door TDI, before I’m asked to lift something very, very heavy, say Michael Kelley.

My goals were to be uncomfortable for the entire 20 minutes and to complete all rounds of dead-lifts and burpees unbroken. Here’s what transpired, with self-talk in italics.

We all gathered outside and I said, “Remember, ladies and gentlemen and Troie, it’s not how you start—it’s how you finish. Don’t go out too strong.” Coach S. then provided additional direction and we were off.

Will led the way. Yes, Will! His running has dramatically improved. I carefully watched his form, and as I passed him at 150m I said, “Work on faster turnover, Will. Your posture and form are much, much better. Good job!” I wonder if Troie is going to go out too strong. It doesn’t appear so. Good for Troie! B. said that he doesn’t like running. Make sure to watch his form when you turn around. Running feels far too easy right now. That’s okay. Keep something in the tank. I walked from the entrance of the gym to my bar, took my time positioning my feet and hands, and prepared myself to lift something that I was convinced was going to feel very heavy. Get ready, Paul. This is going to feel very heavy, but don’t release your hands from the bar. I lifted. Why does this feel so light? I remember a time in the not so distant past when I could only lift 225 pounds once, would have to drop the bar, step away from the bar, reposition my hands and feet, and then attempt to lift once again. Shit, this feels easy! I completed the first round of 5 dead-lifts unbroken, stepped away from the bar, and got ready to do 10 burpees.

I’m confident that my burpee form is good, yet Coach S. said, “Chest to the floor, Paul.” It’s good to be reminded to do so, and I assure you that my chest hit the floor for each and every remaining burpee. I also made sure I fully extended my hips at the top. Unbroken. Don’t stop. Get ready to run. As soon as you stop, Paul, start to run, and don’t wait until you get outside to start running. I quickly placed a hash mark in my notebook. I was the first to complete the round.

I could hear Troie and B. running close behind me for the first 200m. I’m a very good downhill runner, and I easily dropped them on the last 200m. As I was the only person in the gym, Coach S. watched my form very closely for dead-lifts. “Lift with your legs, Paul!” Once again, the dead-lifts feel rather easy. Work on picking up the pace, Paul, but make sure you focus on form. Coach S. said, “Very nice, Paul! Much better form.” Thanks, Coach S.! Don’t release the bar, Paul. I once again dropped to the floor for burpees and Coach S. continued to observe my form. He said, “Good, Paul. You’re getting your chest to the floor. Very nice.” Burpees are getting challenging. No matter how badly you feel, Paul, do not stop. Keep up the intensity. Your goal is to be uncomfortable, so don’t at any time feel like you can relax. I put another hash mark in my notebook, and I ran outside to begin third 400m run.

Keep up the intensity for the runs, too, Paul. This isn’t active recovery. You should hurt. I turned around at the second tree. I had put 50m or more between myself and B. and Troie. B. looks down when he runs. “B., don’t look at the ground—look up!” I love running. I truly do. I ran into the gym, quickly positioned myself over the bar, and completed 5 dead-lifts. Okay, now the dead-lifts are starting to feel a little heavy. Do not release the bar, Paul. You’re beginning to grunt. I dropped to the floor and began burpees. Shit, this seems to be the hardest part of the WOD. No matter, Paul, do not slow down. Coach S. said, “Come on Troie and B. Don’t let this old guy beat you!” I chuckled to myself, caught my breath, and said, “And gay.” Coach S. said, “And Paul wants me to tell you to not let this old, gay guy beat you!” Haha! I loved it. I placed a third hash mark in my notebook and ran outside.

I ran 200m, turned around at the second tree, and headed back to the gym. B. and Troie were still neck and neck, with Troie ever so slightly in the lead. My good friend Michelle was suffering from an asthma attack, although I didn’t realize this at the time. She was walking slowly. I said, “Michelle, it’s okay to walk, but do pick up the pace. Walk fast is you can!” Sorry if I spoke out of turn, Michelle! I love running! Get ready for the next round of dead-lifts. I ran to the bar and quickly positioned myself. Coach S. continued to provide support, and continued to tell me that my form looked good. Unbroken, unbroken, unbroken. How much time is left? Just then Coach S. said, “You’re halfway there. Ten minutes left.” I completed the remaining dead-lifts, including grunts. Thus, I had completed 3 rounds + 400m run + about 3 dead-lifts by the halfway mark. I dropped to the floor and began burpees. These hurt. Do not stop. Don’t even consider it, Paul. Keep going. I placed a fourth hash mark in my notebook.

I ran outside to begin the fifth round. I had about a 150 to 200m lead on B. and Troie, and B. had put 20m or so between himself and Troie. I was running hard and breathing hard, and I was indeed uncomfortable. I ran inside the gym and got ready to dead-lift. More than halfway there, Paul. Do not. Release. The Bar. I dropped to the floor and powered through 10, unbroken burpees. Uhm, that’s a lot of sweat, Paul. At least there’s proof that your chest is hitting the floor. Coach S. evidently thought I was taking too much time recording my rounds, so he was kind enough to place a fifth hash mark in my notebook.  

Even running is hurting now. Good. Will was running ahead of me, and reached the second tree first. He stopped. Yes, he stopped. I yelled, “Will, do not stop at the turnaround. You lose all of your momentum!” He replied, “I know, I know.” I ran inside, positioned myself over the bar, and completed 5, unbroken dead-lifts. I continued to grunt at the top. I’m grunting, and I don’t care. You’re about to start the homestretch, Paul. Remember your goal, and do not stop. I completed 10, unbroken burpees. Count up to 5 and down from 5. Do not stop, do not slow down. Coach S. was kind enough to place a sixth hash mark in my notebook.

I quickly ran outside. Running was really starting to hurt, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Steady your breathing, but don’t slow down. Yes, you’re breathing very loudly, and that’s okay, Paul. Keep up the pace. I quickly ran into the gym, positioned myself, and began to dead-lift. This is your last round, Paul. You can do it. Unbroken, unbroken, unbroken. I dropped to the floor and began burpees. This is your last round, Paul. Go faster. Do not stop. I didn’t bother placing a seventh hash mark in my notebook, but instead quickly ran outside. Coach S. said, “You’ve got a minute and 15 seconds left to run 400 meters, Paul. I don’t think you can do it!” To which I replied, “I know I can’t do it.” Haha! I struggled for the first 200m, quickly turned around at the second tree, and ran all out for the last 200m. Coach S. was positioned at the entrance, and I was waiting for him to yell “Time’s up!” I should have known better. I finished the 400m and glanced at the clock. It read 00:00. I asked, “When did the time run out?” Coach S. said, “About 15 seconds ago.” I said, “Okay, I’ll guesstimate 300 meters.”

Total 7 rounds + 300m run

Uhm, yeah, so I freaking loved this WOD. Don’t hate on me, Phillip!