Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Long, Hard Year

Here we are at the end of another year, staring 2012 in the face. Much has happened since January and all of it has made me grow in every aspect of my life. While not all of it has been the best time ever, I know that I am better for it. A better trainer, a better person.

In January, I hurt my back. Doing deadlifts. Because I made a tiny mistake with very heavy weight. It took me the better part of the year to get my lifts back up to where they were. It was a good practice in patience, of which I have very little. Not only did this injury affect all my lifts, but it made me take a step back on things like box jumps and KB swings. I simply could not tolerate heavy weights and pounding movements. Quite humbling. I also started classes towards earning my Bachelor's in Kinesiology. 

Learning to deadlift again....

February passed in blur, where I really tried hard not to hate myself too much for not being able to do much at the gym. I did finally go to the doctor to try to fix my back, but the process was long and slow and only started here. The good news was that I couldn't lift anything heavy, like a laundry basket. So, you know, I got out of doing laundry...

March brought about the birth of my wonderful nephew. He is such a joy and I don't see him enough!

One of my most favoritist people ever.
April brought the challenge of hanging in there with school. I went into the semester not really worried about whether school would be too hard, because I knew I could do it. I already earned a History (re: mostly worthless) degree and even though I was tackling a science degree, I knew I could do it. What I didn't know is that I no longer have any sort of tolerance for stupid teenagers, unprepared people, and time wasting of any kind. Duly noted. This observation would come in handy later on in the year. It was also around this time that I was accepted into George Mason University's Kinesiology Program, thanks to the help of my friends.

May brought with it a 5k race. I had vowed never to run in a race again because I absolutely hate running, but I could not pass up this opportunity. It was to raise awareness and funds for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. I got to run it with some wonderful friends. My goal was to finish in under 30 minutes and I did just that. 29:21. DTM and I also visited his mom in Florida and we all went to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which may have been the best thing all summer.

Butterbeer: Delicious and nutritious.
At the end of May, I took the next step towards earning my CrossFit Level 2 certification. I took the Coaches Prep Course, which turned out to be fantastic. I learned so much there and had the honor of meeting Chris Spealler, Adrian Bozeman, and Miranda Oldroyd. They are some of the nicest people I have met, with a gift for training trainers and a genuine passion for helping us become better.

June brought about the Spartan Race. This was a super fun obstacle course that was infinitely harder than the Warrior Dash DTM and I did last year. Again, I got to run it with friends, which made it even better. Sadly, DTM didn't participate in this one, but I know he will do it next year.
This might be my fave picture from the whole day. Terrible.
July brought about a new opportunity. I started an internship program with CrossFit Bethesda in hopes of becoming a better teacher. I had already learned a ton by coaching for a year and a half at Tysons, but it was the only box I really had ever been at and I wanted to expand my experiences in hopes of building on my own knowledge. It was then that the idea of becoming a full time CrossFit trainer entered the periphery of my consciousness. The start of my time at Bethesda was marked by frustration, mostly because I was shown my weaknesses not to just myself but in front of everybody else. While this has made me better in the long run, it was highly uncomfortable. 

August is our anniversary and this year we celebrated 6 years of marriage. While our life together has not always been easy, there is no one else in the world I would rather face it with than DTM. Even when things are crashing down around us, he is there helping me rebuild. Slightly less exciting is that I finally mastered double unders. You're jealous, I know. Also, my father had knee replacement surgery and I was able to visit him shortly afterward. The amount he has progressed since then is absolutely amazing! I am so proud of him.

September was my final month of interning at Bethesda. Also, I ran yet another 5k. I have no idea what was wrong with me. This one was for 9/11, so it was kind of a big deal. I also started school. I took two classes my first semester at Mason: Nutrition and Kinesiology 101. I thought both were going to be awesome. I was only half right. DTM and I also tried playing polo. On horses. It was fun!

Our bike helmets make the outfit.
October brought about many things for me. As with many things in life, not everything worked out the way I had envisioned. I started as the newest full time trainer at CrossFit Bethesda mid October and it has been great! I have enjoyed getting to know the members and have become more and more confident in myself as a trainer. There are still many things I need to work on, but overall my life has taken a turn for the better. DTM and I also ran with our homies in the Tough Mudder in Wintergreen, VA. That was a huge challenge! We all made it through relatively unscathed, though DTM sliced his hand open pretty well and we had to visit the ER. Here we are in our finish line glory:

I love these people. Except the guy on the right in the jeans. I have no idea who he is.
November was a whirlwind of classes, work, and holiday fun. My family came down to visit for Thanksgiving and I had a ton of fun cooking them food and taking them to the National Zoo. It was my nephew's first zoo visit. He is adorable and I am so glad they could all make it down!

Gramps/dad is taking the photo! Yes, Miles is wearing a lion hat.
And December. What a month. I finished my first semester at Mason. We had a funeral and a wedding, Christmas and work in between. It will be over in a couple of days and while I enjoyed the time with my family and friends, it will be a relief when we start the new year.

Overall, DTM and I had a good year. We got to experience many new things together, some joyous, some harsh. Much of what we had to deal with taught me patience, both with my body and its ability/inability to heal and with life planning. I spent great times with family and friends and I am lucky to be a part of their lives. This year was very hard, but good and I can't wait to see what the new one brings!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Wedding Vacation

This past weekend I experienced the wild and wonderful Wyoming. Oh wait, that is the catch phrase for West Virginia. I know nothing about Wyoming except it is out west by the Rockies and Laramie, WY was a stop on the Oregon Trail. I know this because I usually either died of dysentery OR my oxen drowned while fording the river around that leg of the journey. In fact, that computer game is littered with my tombstones.

How sad. Or fortunate. Have you ever been to Wyoming in winter?
Why was I in Wyoming? That is a fantastic question. We went for DTM's brother's wedding! We flew out to Denver, CO and then drove to Laramie from there with DTM's mom, step-dad, and two aunts, both of whom I have never met. One of the aunts also brought her significant other. It made for a very full Suburban.

I hate to say this but I was not looking forward to the trip for several reasons, none of them having to do with the wedding. You see, I hate traveling. Hate it. I hate driving to the airport. I hate waiting in the security line. I hate waiting to board. I hate being shoved in the middle seat, as I almost always am, and having to passive aggressively arm wrestle the fat guy next to me for some arm rest space. I hate waiting to deplane. I hate waiting for luggage. I absolutely hate riding in the car for longer than an hour. Lucky for me, it was a 3 and a half to 4 hour flight and a 2 hour drive. I was just a ball of joy when we finally got to the hotel. 

When we reached the hotel, I felt sure we were being filmed for some campy Christmas Wedding movie. As we were unloading the giant vehicle we rented to get all of us to Laramie, a campy Christmas wedding song was playing in the lobby. It was surreal and I was channeling Chevy Chase.

We went about our various wedding duties to prepare for the big day, which only added to my stress because I had to meet new people. I get very anxious about meeting new people. I know, I am a hott mess. The only thing that kept me from not completely losing it was the fact that this was for a wedding. DTM's brother was marrying one of the nicest, most wonderful people I have ever met and I was NOT going to cause a scene. 

The big day went off without a hitch. Here we all are in our wedding finery. Other than my sister's wedding dress, Beth (the bride) wore the most gorgeous dress I have ever seen.

We are a good looking bunch!
This trip also made me learn a few things about myself:
  • Apparently, somewhere along the lines I became Captain CrossFit. My bag needed to be searched because the TSA agents thought my taped lacrosse balls I brought for my back were highly unusual.
  • If under great enough stress I will, in fact, drink red wine. And like it.
  • Tremendous amounts of turbulence makes me sicker than a dog.
  • I still don't know when to keep my mouth shut. The following actually happened during the cake cutting:

    Me to DTM: "He better not shove that cake on her face and if he does, she should tell him he isn't getting any. Ever."

    Her mother was right in front of me when I said this. And she heard it. Fantastic
  • I should always, ALWAYS pack gym clothes. I didn't and actually had a little time to workout. Working out in jammies is not that awesome. Especially when the workout is 100 burpees for time.
  • No matter how wonderful I think burpees are, doing them at 7200 feet is NOT the same as doing them in a low lying swamp. I think I am still catching my breath from that escapade.
  • I still hate traveling.

Best wishes to Beth and Patrick for their new life together! 

The happy newlyweds!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CrossFitting through the Holidays

3, 2, 1...SNOW!
It has come to my attention quite recently than DTM might be a little bit afraid of me. You see, around the holidays I become somewhat of a crazy person. This year I am a little more crazy because slightly more things are going on before the holidays. I also like to make Christmas treats. And they aren't Paleo treats either. I offer no apologies for this. I like baking and I like making sweets that my family likes and I am not Paleo-ing them up just so I feel less guilty about see how many of them I can shove in my face. I am not saying doing such things is bad, I just don't do it for the holidays.

Anyway, this past weekend I made some of the most exquisite treats known to man: the Buckeye. The Buckeye, also known as a peanut butter ball to those not in the know, is a creamy ball of peanut butter dipped in chocolate. Part of the peanut butter shows through at the very top of the confection, making it look like an actual buckeye. See, here is what I mean:

Poisonous tree nut.
Delicious candy confection.
Anyway, when making these delicacies, you roll the peanut butter mixture first, stick toothpicks in each ball, and then freeze them. I made a double batch because honestly, 3 dozen just aren't enough. I took one batch to my friend's house to make and left the other batch in the freezer on a cookie sheet. I MEANT to put the extras in the freezer in a tupperware container. But, as per usual, I forgot.

Enter DTM Monday night. I get home from the gym at around 9:30 and he meets me at the door. "Alison, I am so sorry," he says with a very dramatic look on his face. I had no idea what he was talking about, but immediately panicked as I thought something truly dreadful had happened. "What?!?!?! What happened?!?!?!" I shrieked.

"Come with me."

I followed him into the kitchen. There on our washer (yes, sometimes it doubles as a counter. And yes, it is in the kitchen) was the cookie sheet of Buckeye innards. "I opened the freezer and...and...they just exploded. EVERYWHERE!" I started laughing. I couldn't help it. He looked so anguished about dropping the peanut butter balls on the floor that all I could do was giggle, throw them away, and hug him. The Paleo god always has his revenge!

Upon recounting this story a couple days later, a friend remarked "Wow, he really is scared of you, isn't he?" I prefer to think he is just thoughtful. Or remorseful. He likes Buckeyes even more than I do.

In other news that has nothing to do with candy and everything to do with CrossFit, I PR-ed yesterday on Power Cleans. 135# I consider it a PR because I have no idea how much I could Power Clean.

I know this is going to make me sound like a typical CrossFitter that cares way too much about times and things, but I completely crushed this past Saturday's WOD. I have no idea where it came from.

Power Cleans (115/65) 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
Front Squats (115/65)   1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10


Ground to Overhead (45/25) 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
Overhead Lunges (45/25)      1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

As prescribed, I finished in 9:54. I took the approach of finishing 11 reps, putting down the bar and resting until I knew I could do the next 11 without stopping. Also, 65# Power Cleans and Front Squats are no longer heavy enough for me. Not bragging, just saying I need to up the weight. Noted.

Thirdly, I PR-ed on Annie again. You know, this one:

Double Unders
Sit Ups

8:15. Previous best was 10:09. I told you I would beat you when I finally found you double unders. Mwhahahaha!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Insane in the Membrane

If you know me at all, you know that I am a crazy person. Not the "oh my goodness, I think she is unstable" crazy, but the "oh my gosh I made one mistake and my entire life is over" crazy. Some may call it neurotic, I just call it my standard MO.

Oddly enough, I feel like this cat looks quite often.

Sidenote: I just looked up that actual definition of neurotic and there is a whole host of issues that it could be, including perfectionism. Gee, great.

I like to do things right. The first time. And if I can't do them right the first time, well then I just fail at life and I deserve to just suffer endlessly for all eternity.

Trust me, living in my brain is no fairy tale. It isn't exactly a nightmare either. It is just...crowded.

What do I mean by that? I have lots of different people talking to me all the time. No I don't "hear" voices. They just talk to me in my brain. Let me explain. One voice that I hear frequently is my mother. She usually gives me sound advice during my decision making processes. She also commiserates with me when I am feeling particularly anxious. Another voice I hear is my dad, telling me to chill out. He also gives sound decision making advice. DTM's voice is in there too much of the time, reminding me to do things because I forget a lot of stuff, like library books and my lunch. The most prevalent voice? Mine. Except it is the mean version of me. The one that says the nastiest things to myself. Things like I am going to be laughed at or reprimanded or fired for the way I do things. She tells I am not good enough at my job or school or life in general. She finds every tiny, negative thing I do and brings it to the forefront and highlights it. Endlessly. She also tells me that I look terrible a lot, but she is totally lying. I look fabulous in my new Athleta capris and I know it.

Lots of times I tell her to shut the hell up. But there she is. In my head. Picking. Picking. Picking. Until I want to rip her out and beat her with a sledge hammer. Unfortunately, if I do that, I will have to bash my own brains out and as mean as she can be, I like my life.


So what do I do? I make DTM and my two other wonderful friends listen to me and talk me down. And I write. Much of what I write doesn't end up on here because, let's face it. No one wants to read about emo CrossFit. PS, I just Googled that phrase and nothing interesting came up. How sad.

I also ignore mean Alison a lot. And when I can't get her to shut up through ignoring her, I lift heavy things.

Like today. Today we front squatted. 5 sets of 5 reps for work sets. I PR-ed for 5 reps at 175#. That shut her up a bit.

And then we did an 8 minute AMRAP of:

1 Hang Power Snatch (75/55)
1 Overhead Squat

I did 66 rounds as prescribed.

That felt good. She is still picking at me, but she is out of breath and her voice is much less shrill. Hopefully she will be completely hoarse by tomorrow. Serves her right. Jerk.

Oh....I hope we do jerks tomorrow!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm Bringin' Sexy Back

One of the major risks in doing CrossFit is thinking your hands are absolutely invincible. In most of the movements you have to use your hands, which means that you totally build up some rockin' calluses. You may not notice these calluses but you do realize your hands are getting tougher. However, you DO notice these calluses in two situations:

1) You find yourself shaking the hand of a very nice sales associate at Macy's because he provided some of the very best customer service you have ever experienced and realize that your hands are as rough as a lumberjack's. And you're a girl. 

2) You rip one off doing pull ups. 

Oddly enough, both things happened to me in the past 2 days.

The Macy's sales associate handshake was no big deal. I just realized how very rough my hands have gotten over the last few years and was proud that my hands are so used to working out that the calluses haven't ripped off in at least a year.

That is when I should have knocked on wood.

As always, pride cometh before fall. Between Tuesday's and Wednesday's workouts, I did approximately 120 Pull Ups. One callus on each hand ripped when I had only 5 Pull Ups left of Wednesday's WOD. They look something like this now:

Yes, I grip the bar too tight.

Doesn't hurt at all, why do you ask?

Because I had to teach after this happened, I stuck a band aid and some tape on each hand and went about my business. One the way home after work, I texted DTM (at about 9:30pm) and asked him to please brew me up two black tea bags so I could place them on my wounds and let the tannins work their magic.

He was nice enough to make me the tea bags. He also made me soak my hands in peroxide before the tea party happened. That jerk. He said my name calling was better than MRSA. He is probably right. That doesn't mean I liked it though.

Afterwards, he helped me wrap my hands with antibiotic, band aids, and wrap. I looked basically like this:

I couldn't move my fingers. Taking out my contacts (which I should have done earlier but didn't) was a challenge. So was brushing my teeth. No, I didn't plan very well. When I wailed "I LOOK LIKE A BURN VICTIM!!!" all DTM could say was:

"I don't know, babe. You're bringing sexy back."

It's true. I was.

No, I don't have the receipt!
In other news, I have been crushing workouts lately. Here was Wednesday's:

Power Cleans (95/65)
Pull Ups
50 Burpees

I was shocked to find out the Power Cleans felt amazing, the Pull Ups weren't bad (up until the last 5), and the Burpees were phenomenal. That's right, folks. You heard it here first. Burpees and phenomenal in the same sentence. I finished in 12:51. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Things I Don't Understand: Running Skirt Edition

The list of things I don't understand is endless. This is no surprise to anyone. For example: Why can I only keep my kitchen floor clean for approximately 3.2 seconds after I mop it? Why, as a fairly responsible person, do I ALWAYS fail to return library books on time? And why, WHY, do teenage girls think it is ok to wear Uggs and shorty shorts? You are neither in the Arctic nor in the tropics. Did you wake up and decide your feet were freezing but your knees were hot? Do you have a pair of jeggings and some flip flops to change into in case your feet get too toasty and your knees turn blue from the cold? Anything that Britney Spears wears (or does, for that matter) is not a good life choice. Today it is Uggs and shorts. Tomorrow you could be shaving your head and beating cars with an umbrella. In your Uggs and shorts. Nothing good can come of this. AND shiny!
This brings me to another thing I don't understand that has only recently been brought to light. Being that I am at the gym pretty much all the time (since I work there and all), I have had the benefit of doing "clothes shopping" while working. Some of our members have the CUTEST outfits ever. One of them gets many of her items from the Athleta company. Every time I ask her where she got her shirt/pants/capris/etc. she always says Athleta. Yesterday, she brought me her Athleta Winter 2011 catalog and I must say, I could pretty much purchase and wear anything in it. This is the first catalog I have ever seen that has put together such cute outfits that I would actually wear. Really. There are some anomalies however.

The catalog was open on our dining room table this morning while I was making a Christmas Wish List that included the entirety of its contents when DTM sat down opposite from me and looked at one of the pictures. I, too, had been examining the picture. It was of a woman doing kettlebell swings and it wasn't a baby kettlebell either. Here were my thoughts:

1. Wow! A girl doing kettlebell swings with a real weight! In a yoga apparel magazine! Cool!
2. she wearing a skirt?

DTM verbalized this:

1. Is she swinging a kettlebell?

This is why we belong together.

Indeed there was a fit looking model, doing kettlebell swings, wearing this:

What? Why? How? I just don't understand...
It was then that DTM started asking me questions that I couldn't answer. Such as: Why would you even need a skirt over the pants? Are they sold together or as separates? Why in the world would you wear a skirt to workout? What happens if an errant swing gets caught in the skirt? I had no answers. I can't even run in shorts without having my thunder thighs create so much friction I could start a forest fire. I can't even imagine the friction possibilities available when running in a skirt. Sure the capris would help the friction issue, but they make the skirt just an extra piece of useless fabric flapping around my waist and slowing down my already glacial pace. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?

That being said, they are super cute and I could totally see myself wearing it around to run errands. And when I say "run" errands, I mean casually stroll around where ever it is I have to go.

One thing is for sure, though. I would NOT pair them with Uggs.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Regularly Learn and Play New Sports

Oh CrossFit, you are a cruel mistress with your mantra of "work your butt off then go do something new." Well, I have been working my butt off and I decided that it was time we try something new. This whole excitement of  trying something new swept over me when I saw a Living Social deal for Polo Lessons. You know, the horseback riding sport? Yeah. So what did I do? Bought them for not only myself, but DTM as well. You should know that he has never, ever been on a horse. But he let himself be talked into polo lessons.

So one nice September afternoon, we drove out to Where the Hell Am I?, VA and took our polo lesson.

There were 6 of us in the class and only one other guy for poor DTM to hang with. He totally got talked into it by his wife as well, I am sure of it. Before we got to the actual horse part, we spent some time on the ground practicing hitting the polo balls.

Gabi (in white) teaching us how to play.
We practiced that for a while and then we were introduced to our noble steeds.

They were unamused.
DTM was given the slowest horse since he had absolutely no horseback riding experience. Her name was Julietta. She liked to do 2 things: bite other horses' butts and crop dust everyone. My horse was named Pato. He was pretty cool, but he was also slow. In fact, because this was a beginner class all of the horses looked and acted like they were about to be "put out to pasture." We were told to be aggressive with them because they were just lazy. I think I would be lazy too if my sole job in life was to be accidentally and repeatedly hit with polo sticks by poor schmucks attempting to play polo.

We all mounted our rides and rode around the ring for a bit to get a feel for what we needed to do. Then we were given the polo sticks and hit some polo balls around. They looked like little baby soccer balls. And they were hard to hit. It wasn't exactly like the horses went galloping by them or anything. It was just you had to lean over to aim at and hit them and, even though I had my trusty bike helmet on, I just wasn't confident that I wasn't going to fall off and get trampled.

After some practice we scrimmaged. It looked a lot like this:

He was excellent. I was absolutely not.
The hardest thing, other than getting used to leaning over the side of a horse to hit a ball, was that you could only use your right hand to hold the polo stick. No switching. At all. My arm was TIRED!!!! We had so much fun though. It was really a great experience! I have no idea how people can play at full speed for any amount of time. It is truly an impressive sport!

Out team "won" the scrimmage. Here we are in all our victorious glory:

Ah, the things I talk him into.
What can I get us into next?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Some Reasons I am not Going to Finish School

So here I am, barely 3 weeks into the new semester and I am already questioning if I can make it for the long haul. There have been a few minor irritants. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

1. My Kinesiology instructor says that people do not need to squat past a quarter squat and if they do, then they should kiss their knees goodbye. My eye started twitching. Don't worry, when he asked how many of us squat past that depth on a regular basis, I raised my hand and replied "Every time I go to the bathroom." Clearly I am making friends.

2. Some girls in my Nutrition class noticed my CrossFit Tysons Corner t-shirt and had the following conversation between themselves:

Girl 1: "OMG, do you see her shirt? Have you ever heard of CrossFit?"
Girl 2: "Yeah. Those people are crazy."
Girl 1: "I have seen some of their videos online. They do weird stuff."
Girl 2: "All of the women look like men."
Girl 1: "They really are too intense."
Girl 2: "Yeah, it really isn't healthy at all."
Girl 1: "No, and it isn't safe."

Now, I was already having a bad day and these two girls were not making it any better. I was not involved in the conversation other than hearing their take on CrossFit and I still am not sure if I acted appropriately. I didn't say anything and it took an enormous amount of restraint. If I would have said something, it would not have come out nice and that doesn't benefit anyone. However, I would like to say this: If you have never actually TRIED CrossFit or talked to a competent instructor, then you should do so before you decide it is unhealthy. Also, I don't look like a man. Thanks.

This is an example of how some idiots make CrossFit unsafe.
I can guarantee you this would not happen on my watch.

3. I had to take a mandatory online course about the dangers of alcohol. I just finished it, actually. And it told me of how a big change like going to college can really be stressful and that drinking alcohol is NOT the way to deal with stress. Also, I should never drive drunk or accept alcoholic beverages from people I don't know. Finally, "no means NO." I realize that these can be real and present dangers for real life college kids, but a married 29 year old who lives in her own apartment and works a few jobs does not need coaching on this subject. Besides, I only drink at home. It's cheaper and you don't have to drive anywhere. Duh.

These are all irritations and not reasons to not finish school. I am, however, wondering if this is going to make me a better teacher. I know time will tell, but being a better coach is all I am worried about. A little more knowledge never hurt anyone, but I don't want to waste time in classes that aren't going to benefit me directly and immediately. PS, all I have learned in Nutrition class is to not believe the fad diets ads we see on tv. And even then, I already knew that.
You too can lose 65 lbs with just a few clicks in Photoshop!
Hopefully this will not be a waste of time and I will get something out of it. If not, I can always change direction. I have before and I most likely will again. The only difference this time is that I know what I want for shizzle and I am going to get it one way or another.

Now, as for my unhealthy CrossFit related pursuits, I have done a few things recently:

1. I finished Helen at 12:12 as Rx-ed. 3 Rounds of 400m Run, 21 KB Swings (16kg), 12 Pull Ups. Not bad and definitely better than my last attempt.

2. I PR-ed on Filthy 50, finishing at 30:08. Unfortunately, Caleb, a studly trainer at Bethesda, did the WOD after me and finished in 15:53. I cried a little. Watching him was fascinating.

3. I am still holding strong at the 125# Overhead Squats.

Also, my shoulder has been killing me softly and I love my morning classes. They continue to be awesome!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shut Your Face

Here is my dad:

My dad, the superhero.

He wears a lot of hats, my dad. He is a husband to my equally wonderful mother (who I won't post a picture of because she might kill me), a super dad to me and my sister, and a fantastic GRANDPA to my adorable nephew:

See? Adorable.
He is a friend, a son, a brother,a golfer, a fisherman, a former principal, and, most recently, a knee replacement surgery patient. I mention this most recent hat because I went home to see him after he got it replaced, not knowing what I would find. As a kid, it is always hard to see your parents hurt, even when it is because of a surgery that will make things better in the long run. Also, I have seen pictures in my anatomy book of joint replacements and my skin crawls when I think about them! They saw your bones off. THEY SAW YOUR BONES OFF. Ugh. Now I have the heebie jeebies.

Anyway, my dad was doing well and trying to complete all of the exercises the doctor and physical therapists gave to him. There were a couple he needed help doing, so he enlisted my help.

There he was, laying in his bed in the ridiculous white compression stockings he has to wear to help prevent blood clots, when he started the excruciating movements. His knee was just replaced. He had to move it. Let me rephrase that. HIS KNEE WAS JUST REPLACED and HE HAD TO MOVE IT. Oh. My. Gosh. I can't even imagine how painful that is, even when on painkillers. So I helped him. And cheered. And when I told him to keep his hip anchored so he wouldn't cheat on a movement (I am all about form, you know) he said to me "SHUT YOUR FACE!!!!!!!"

Now, a year or two ago, that might have bothered me. You see, my dad is one of the nicest men I have ever met. He isn't cruel or mean. In fact, I can't remember a single time I have seen him truly angry or heard him yell. (Side note: I have seen him disappointed, which is way worse than angry.) So him telling me to shut my face may have hurt my feelings in the past. But that day it didn't. I have become used to people hating me, but not really hating me. It is part of the job I chose to do. I get told, on a fairly regular basis, that I am disliked. I get growls and grunts and swears. It is how I know I am doing my job. And it was how I knew my dad was trying his hardest to regain his mobility. I am so proud of him for doing those exercises! You have no idea. It would have been easy for him to not do them based on the fact that they were hard and excruciating. But he decided to do them anyway because he knows that they are how he is going to get better.

I had to leave and come back to Virginia, but on the day I left he was able to do all of those exercises correctly by himself. And on Monday, he graduated from using a walker to crutches. AND he can now go down the stairs to his Man Cave. How cool is that? And he will be back to this in no time:

Love you , pops!
In other, non-fascinating news, I did reach a new PR on Back Squat. 205. At least one of my New Year's Resolutions is met. So now I can deadlift as much as I back squat. I am crying a little bit on the inside.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vortex of Insanity

I never have enough quarters.

I don't know how I get myself into these things, but I do. I manage to continuously try to do too much and though I hate being busy and I have no idea what to do with myself when I get a little free time. Also, within the last year or so, I have been actively trying to reduce the unnecessary in my life to focus more on what makes me content. I don't want to waste my life here on Earth doing things that make me miserable. What? Yeah, CrossFit makes me miserable, but I like it anyway. So, I have been working to eliminate miserable things in order to restore some balance to life. I have spent enough time settling for the mediocre in the past. If I want things to change, no matter what they are, then I have to do it myself, gosh darn it. And I am getting there. Slowly, that is for sure, but I am there and it is awesome!

Before you start thinking to yourself  "Geez, Al, your life must be one giant game of Candy Land where you skip through the Lollypop Woods before sledding down Ice Cream Slopes and then frolicking to the Candy Castle where all your minions elect you Grand Jujube! It must be like one big cotton candy dream!" stop it. Although, now I think about it, I could eat some cotton candy right now. I am pretty sure it isn't a good choice for a recovery meal though.

I need to make myself a lollypop crown.

As everything always is, eliminating the miserable is hard. It has caused me to occasionally slip into the Vortex of Insanity, which, incidentally, is NOT part of Candy Land. Life may slow down here pretty soon, or at least change a bit so I can avoid most of the Vortex. Exciting things are happening. School is officially starting (I am done with the prerequisites), shadowing at Bethesda is good, I can now do double unders, and DTM is still the best thing since sliced bread.

All in all, I am looking forward to a new chapter! Now, if only I could do something about the miserable traffic around here, it WOULD be like living in Candy Land! Or not.

Most importantly, I can do double unders now. Legitimately. Consistently. And because of this my new Annie time is 10:09. Annie is 50-40-30-20-10 Double Unders and Sit Ups. My previous PR time was 13:10.

Walkin' on, walkin' on broken glass....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Must Protect this House

I hate shopping. Let me rephrase that: I hate shopping for myself. If you ask me to go with you to shop for you, I will do so happily, mostly because I like the illusion that I have friends. I hate shopping for myself for a variety of reasons, but mostly it involves the selection and trying on of clothing. It irritates the hell out of me. This is absolutely NOT how I look when I shop:

I wonder how much wine she has had.
But I came to the realization this week as I was washing my 683rd load of laundry that was exclusively made up of workout clothes that I need more workout clothes. The ones I have are starting to get ratty because I wash them 683 times a week. But here is the problem. I can't just wear any sort of workout clothes. It isn't because of ego or because I like to look super fly in certain brands. It is because I have tried on all sorts of clothes from Wal-Mart, Target, Nike, New Balance, Adidas, etc. They don't fit properly because apparently my Hobbit frame is just too much for them to handle. I mean, the shirts are too bulky up top and the bottoms cannot handle all this jelly (bet you just LOVED that visual). The only brand of gym clothes seems to fit properly without riding up in certain areas and making me even more cranky than I already am is Under Armor. Of course. 

I must protect this house. With quality, non-riding spandex.
So very begrudgingly and because DTM made me, I went shopping today. On a SATURDAY. When other people might be in the store. I was thinking about heading to the mall (which might have killed me) but then I remembered that hidden amongst all the construction on Route 7 here in Tysons, there was a Sports Authority. Thank goodness. Anytime I DON'T have to go the the mall on a Saturday can be listed as the best day ever. I went to Sports Authority. One of the most awesomest things about this Sports Authority is that it IS hidden by all the construction so no one wants to go there. Which means it is empty. Which means I won't have a panic attack looking for things while trying to dodge aggressive shoppers with screaming children who should be at home taking naps.

I headed straight for the Under Armor section and immediately found the tank tops a couple of girls at the gym have that I have been coveting. I also found some running shorts, sports bras, and spandex shorts that I needed. I grabbed my size of each, headed to a hidden dressing room that was always available, tried stuff on, made my selection (which included everything but those darn running shorts), checked out, and left. During this time, the following text message exchange occurred between DTM and myself:

Me: I may have just hit the mother lode.
DTM: Awesome!
Me: I may spend a little bit over what we budgeted.
Me (5 minutes later): If it is ok with you I am going to buy it all anyway because I am here and it fits.
Me (5 more minutes later): Don't even bother answering because I just checked out!
DTM (15 minutes later): Awesome!

Gosh, I love him. It literally took me longer to GET to Sports Authority than it did for me to find what I needed, try it on, and buy it. I call that winning. Also, I may be solely responsible for keeping Sports Authority in business. Here are the goods:

Total winning.
In other news, I bought myself a jump rope so I can work on double unders and the most I have strung together is 20. It is ok to applaud wildly. 

Finally, I know I have mentioned this before, but my back squat is up to 195. That is super! I can't wait to get to 205!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Bane of My Existence

No, not him.

I do hope Christian Bale comes to save me.
In a new turn of events in my life, I have been shadowing trainers and participating in classes at CrossFit Bethesda in an effort to be a better trainer. I have come as far as I can on my own and in order to take it to the next level, I need to be around other trainers and push myself out of my comfort zone in order to be better. The guys at CrossFit Bethesda are amazing. Not only do they know their stuff, but they are willing to put up with me so I can learn to be better. I know, right? I am not quite sure they know what they got themselves into.

However, it seems whenever I am there, the workout has at least one component that I have a really, really, REALLY hard time with. For instance, one night it was handstand push ups. I am not going to lie, before that night I could not remember the last time I even attempted a handstand push up, and with my shoulder being on the fritz, I was sweating bullets. I modified the movement and got through the WOD, but I was cursing to myself that I lacked the skill. The most recent WOD included double unders. Oh good. Lieven, one of the owners, talked me through some jumps before the workout and I strung together TWO in a row. This has never happened before and I was so excited I virtually assaulted him with a hug. This is surprising on a couple of levels: 1) Yes, I am just now able to string double unders together. I know I have been doing CrossFit for 2.5 years. Go ahead and judge. 2) I don't hug people. Ever. Poor Lieven.

Now, put a ton of double unders in a WOD and the only thing I can string together is curse words. Which is exactly what happened in the workout. I was so angry and somewhat embarrassed by my lack of double under ability that I could have used a sledge hammer afterwards. I finished the WOD as prescribed, but it was ugly.

Listen, I know everyone has some skill to work on in CrossFit. I just prefer to not show all of my weaknesses at once, thanks. I just know the next time I go there are going to be some ring dips. Yay.

In fact, I just made up a WOD and decided to call it The Bane of My Existence:


Handstand Push Ups
Ring Dips
50 Double Unders after each "round"

If this workout or anything similar to it ever shows up on the white board, I will be crying/swearing in the corner. It might look similar to this oldie but goodie:


In other happier news, I finished Jackie as prescribed in 10:39

1000m Row
50 Thrusters (45)
30 Pull Ups

I also have vowed to work on my hspu, double unders, ring dips, and shoulder mobility. I have so much work to do. There's no crying in CrossFit. THERE'S NO CRYING!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How Many CrossFitters Does it Take to...

To scrounge up some AA batteries and get a rower's screen back up and...running? Rowing?

We're not friends. We never have been.
I don't know what has gotten into me, but for some reason I decided to program two types of workouts that I absolutely hate this week. The first one was a kettlebell workout. I hate them. There, I said it. Kettlebells, I dislike you. You hurt me. And you're mean. And I would rather not deal with you at all, ever. But, alas, we're always going to see each other in the gym, so I might as well be the bigger person and incorporate you into my workouts. We used them for the "Arrnie" workout on Monday, which consisted of a ridonkulous amount of Turkish Getups, one armed Overhead Squats, and Swings. What is a Turkish Getup? Let me show you:

Ah, TGUs. More fun than rowing.
Then, today, I decided to use the workout "Jerry." Running and rowing. 1 mile run, 2k row, 1 mile run.That's it. The sight of it alone is enough to make me want to stab my eyeballs out, but we all need a workout like this every once in awhile. And everything was going peachy keen until two of our four rowers decided they were just not having it and went on strike midway through the morning workout. Awesome. It's only a 2k row, no biggie (that is sarcasm, in case you can't tell.) I am so lucky that my morning classes have a good sense of humor and are willing to work together to get the job done. While I was feverishly searching the gym high and low for AA batteries to replace the seemingly dead ones in the rower computers, my wonderful 6am class took it upon themselves to finish the workout even though they had to do the WOD components out of order. Carl took a big hit when he ran 2 miles straight and THEN rowed. Such a good sport. Then Kori and Michelle went to get us some batteries after their workout! Awesome!

Needless to say I was overly cranky by the time 7am rolled around. Two rowers and five athletes does not a happy trainer make. I had already changed the workout to make it a ten minute row instead of a 2k row, so at least we could do SOME rowing. Jane, however, remembered that her computer mouse, which was in her car, used a AA battery. With bated breath, Doug paired it with one of the dying batteries and resuscitated one of the broken rowers! Three rowers! Huzzah! And all was well. Well, that is until I got to the rowing portion of the workout and it hurt my back so bad I reverted to "Cranky Alison" and swore to myself I was going to smash the rower with the brand new 16lb sledge hammer.

Hulk HATE rowing. ::HULK SMASH::
Don't worry. I didn't ACTUALLY smash it. Just mentally. Also, I finished in 31:04. Did I mention I hate rowing?

In other fantastic news, I have a new PR on back squats. 3 sets of 3 at #195. Boo to the yah.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I tweaked my back again earlier this week. The good news is that it wasn't so bad that I couldn't move. The bad news is it is persistent and nagging and doesn't go away with exercise (as it usually does). A heating pad and massive quantities of Advil didn't stave it off. REST didn't help. So after waking up this morning and still feeling like someone was punching me in the right kidney, DTM suggested I take drastic action.

"Go ahead and try Yoga X. It'll help!" And he trotted off to the gym to do some Olympic lifts.

So I did. I got dressed, rolled out our yoga mat, filled up my water bottle, and put on the P90X Yoga dvd.

I hated it. Every. Single. Second. And it wasn't the Tony Horton kind of hate either. You know the one: "I hate it but I love it!" No. There was no love. None. In fact, it did the exact opposite yoga is meant to do. I was angrier after I finished than when I started. It pretty much went like this:

This is 100% accurate.
I had to stop after about 40 minutes into it. It wasn't my lack of flexibility that was the problem. I know I am as flexible as a 2x4. It was that almost every single pose exacerbated my back pain. (My hamstrings and calves feel much better though, thanks.) I am not a regular practioner of yoga, but I am pretty sure swearing through the whole workout does not help the meditation process.

I know that as a general rule of CrossFit, if you hate something, you need to do it more. I also know that yoga is a beneficial strength and conditioning tool. However, I am not sure if I will whole-heartedly find the time to practice yoga more often. In fact, I know I won't. I would go so far as to say that if I knew there was a "Yoga Day" at the gym, I would probably skip it on purpose. Terrible, I know.

This being said, I will make a conscious effort to stretch more before and after workouts. And maybe, just maybe, try Yoga X again and make it past the 40 minute mark.

How DTM and I will NOT be spending our next vacation.
Here is what has been going on in my CrossFit experiences lately:

Friday, July 1

Filthy Fifty
50 Box Jumps
50 Jumping Pull Ups
50 KB Swings (16kg)
50 Walking Lunges
50 Knees to Elbows
50 Push Press (45)
50 Back Extensions
50 Wall Balls (20/12)
50 Burpees
50 Double Unders

I love this WOD even though it is really tough. I was very sore this day, but thought I would try it just to workout some of the soreness. I used the 20'' box for the jumps, as I find that they are easier on my back. I did everything else as prescribed, except Wall Balls. I used the brand new 14# Rage Ball Matt got for me! It was exciting. Finished in 30:24. As far as I can tell this is my best time to date.

Tuesday, June 28

I PR-ed on my Front Squats--155# Super!

Monday, June 27

Fight Gone Bad

3 Rounds, 1 minute at each station, 1 minute rest between rounds

Wall Balls (20/12)
Push Press (75/45)
Box Jumps
SDLHP (75/45)
Row (for Calories)

I used the 14# ball for Wall Balls, 45# for Push Press, the 20" box, and 45# for SDLHP. I also rowed more than 10 calories each round, with was pretty cool. The SDLHPs are the culprits that hurt my back. Thanks. I did get my highest FGB score ever though, at 278. Kristyn was my partner and she got more reps out of me than I would have doing it by myself. Her FGB score improved DRAMATICALLY! I am so proud! Our next goal: 300. Watch out, we're going to make it happen!

Have a happy 4th of July!


Thursday, June 23, 2011


The people at CrossFit Tysons Corner never cease to amaze me. About a month ago, a few of us signed up for the Tough Mudder. We were all a little scared. I mean, it is a 10 mile obstacle course with obstacles like greased monkey bars over ice cold water and dangling live wires you have to sprint through. Sounds super fun, right? Right. Well, in order to conquer our obstacle fears, we decided to run the Spartan Race. We also decided to be volunteers for it so we could race for free! It was a Saturday full of fun, sun, and mud!

Here we are at the beginning. All shiny and clean.

For some reason I assumed my super hero stance. 
We had some other team members that didn't quite make this photo. We started off strong, running and jumping and climbing. As volunteers, we raced in the last heat of the day, so the trail was fairly muddy. We climbed over cargo nets and hopped over logs and walls. It was like a Crossfitters dream come true.

Then came the barbed wire.

He has definitely done this before...
Here come the rest of us!
Nothing is better than slogging through some mud under legit barbed wire on a hot Saturday afternoon. I am lucky I am so low to the ground! Belly crawling is my specialty. Oh, this, by the way, is after we had to traverse some monkey bars. I made it across, but just barely.

Then we made our way to the bucket brigade where we lugged buckets full of rocks around. It was just about as awesome as it sounds.

They look SO happy:-)
My mom is so proud.
After that, we made it to what may have been the worst balance beam ever. Many of the CFTC peeps made it across the balance beam! It was quite a feat. Two inches wide, wobbly, and muddy from all the other athletes. They pretty much rock! As for my performance, I am blaming all the extra mud weight. Ha!

No, I didn't make it. Why do you ask?
I fell off, which meant I had to do 30 burpees as a punishment. As much as I love burpees, they darn near did me in this day. The nice thing was that we were a team, so if one person had to do burpees, everyone else joined in.

From there we ran and leaped and hopped and shuffled and were shot at by a paint ball gunner (for real). We were crawling through a net cave (don't ask) while the gunner aimed at us, since we were pretty much sitting ducks, and fired at will. Halfway through our cave exploration, he had to reload, so we used that time to get the heck outta Dodge! We climbed over a HUGE cargo net and made it over some really tall walls and one really slippery wall. And then we rushed the "Spartans" at the end.

They were no match.
This might be my most favorite picture of the day!

Filthy, bruised, scratched, bleeding, but SMILING!
We all made it through together! It was such a fun day and a fun time, I would do it again in a second, which is good considering the Tough Mudder is coming up in October! We'll have a chance to do it all over again!

There is something to be said about the CFTC camaraderie. That is one of my favorite benefits from the gym. It isn't everyday you can say you ran a race this tough and made it through with the help of your friends!

Here we are in our finish line glory.
I can't wait to do it again!