photo by Steve Penland

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Just a Little Patience

Or, actually, a lot of patience.  That's what I'll need to get through this next fun phase of "can this hamstring be fixed?" (And for you '80's music aficionados, I apologize for the Guns N' Roses earworm you probably now have.)

In the month and a half since I last posted, I've continued to try to figure out why my hamstring still hurts over two years after surgery, and what to do to make it stop.  I went to a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic--"I'm not sure why it hurts, but I don't believe the pain is nerve-related, at least not the sciatic or lumbar spinal nerves.  I suggest you see a Physical Medicine and Rehab doctor."  So I saw a PM&R doc at the Mayo--"I'm not sure why it hurts.  Let's do another MRI.  No, I see no reason you need to limit your activity."  After viewing the MRI (which apparently looked remarkably similar to the MRI from a year ago), the PM&R doc recommended I see a sports medicine doc and maybe after that the pain clinic.  And the sports medicine doc (also at the Mayo) said (and here's where the "patience" comes in) "I don't think your hamstring ever completely healed on a microscopic level, because of your continued activity.  I recommend that you stop all lower body exercise for six months and let it heal."

Six months.

Yikes.

I didn't like the sound of six months, so I asked him what he thought about the pain clinic option.  He said I could do it if I wanted, but that his recommendation remained "extended rest."

And, as much as I hate the idea--I'm going to do it.  I've spent too much time in pain and too much money on attempted fixes that didn't fix anything; I need to find out if something as simple as resting my leg will work.  And now is a great time to start...my leg is really aggravated and painful right now because I (unwisely) ran with the dog a couple of days ago, about an 8-minute mile pace, for...wait for it...about 50 yards. So right now rest sounds like a good idea.

Even if that means resting it for a LONG time.

Actually, the sports medicine doc didn't say I couldn't do any lower body activity--just nothing that hurt.  He recommended an elliptical machine or aqua jogging.  So the next day I stopped by my local second-hand exercise equipment retailer and hopped on a bunch of their elliptical machines.

They all hurt.

And then the next day I stopped by my local community center and hopped in the pool to give aqua jogging a try.

And it hurt, too.

So it looks like I'm back to the first thing I was allowed to do in rehab: swimming with a pull buoy (no kicking).  I'm happy to report that my swimming is slightly better than it was when I first tried it in rehab two years ago, but I'm still not much of a swimmer so the cardio benefit I will gain will be questionable.  In addition to the swimming I'll continue to do upper body CrossFit (maybe I'll regain my ability to do a strict pullup!), and walk the dog.  And that, for the foreseeable future, will be it for workouts.

I plan to keep a detailed rehab diary (of course I do) reporting pain levels and workouts done. I've rested my leg for six weeks or so a couple of times, and it did improve a bit, but this time I want to know how much it's improving and how fast.  Best case, seeing improvement will help make the time off more tolerable; worst case, if it doesn't work I'll have some nice data for the next doctor I see, six months from now.

At any rate, I think it's going to be a bit quiet around the Long Track Life for the next six months.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Train or Die

My sister Kristen (formerly known as Energizer Bunny) has been training for the North Shore Inline Marathon all summer. This race, held right along Lake Superior, is my favorite inline event and I've done it probably 10 times in the 21 years its been held (I could count my race shirts and come up with an exact number, but I'm too lazy). The last time I skated this race was in 2013, a year before the hamstring injury.  (You can find the thrilling two-part recap of that race here and here.) I haven't skated much since the hammy, and I was out of commission as far as skating is concerned from June 21 through mid-August this summer due to the PRP injection I got in my hamstring, so I hadn't given the North Shore event a thought this year. But then I started joining Kristen on her training skates the third week of August.  Er, well, by "joining," I mean that we'd meet at the trailhead, she'd go flying off to do 3-6 laps of the 10K trail loop, and I'd struggle around the loop once or twice.  And after the second of these training skates, when I'd completed two loops without too much discomfort, I had a brilliant idea.

"Hey," I thought, "why not do the North Shore?"

I knew that I was in no shape to actually race the event, but I figured, how hard can it be to just finish it?  True, it's a full marathon distance--26.2 miles--but it's not like I would have to run it.  I'd be on skates.  Skates roll.  How hard could it be to just keep the skates rolling, in shape or not?

I'll spare you the suspense and answer right now:  Hard.  Very hard.

True, it's not hard to keep skates rolling--if there are no hills and no headwind.  I had forgotten about the hills and the headwind.

Anyway, I kept a close eye on the Duluth weather report as the race day approached.  I was waiting to sign up until the last minute, because I really didn't want to skate in the rain (rain is slippery and slippery scares me and my sore hammy).  But by Wednesday, the last day to sign up, the weather forecast looked good--only a 15 to 20 percent chance of rain--so I went ahead and paid my money.

I planned to drive up to Duluth the morning of the race, and despite the 5 am departure time, night-owl hubby Jim decided to go with me.  So we rolled out of bed at 4 am, fed and walked the dog, and hit the road. (Keira got to stay home this time because it was just a day trip; we weren't going on the the cabin afterwards like we did in 2013).  A quick stop in Duluth to pick up my race packet, then on to the starting line in Two Harbors, where the real fun began.

First step: Gear up.

Putting on my pile of protective gear.  See those purple lines
on my left knee?  Those are the scars from when I crashed and 
avulsed my right hammy.  Too bad I didn't wear kneepads that day...
but I won't make that mistake ever again!

Then I wandered up to the start line.  For the first time ever, I was starting in a "Recreational" wave (and not even the fastest of the three rec waves), rather than an "Advanced" wave; I had guessed at what time I'd likely finish in, and the two hours I was guessing put me right at the slow end of Rec 2.  And Rec was a whole different world than Advanced.  Way more people, way fewer skinsuits (I had opted not to wear mine, feeling that I wasn't really worthy of the skintight spandex), way fewer "race faces"  and way more costumes--there was a cowboy, some grass skirts, and even a few Minions.

I wasn't concerned about the lack of spandex or the Halloween-like feel of the wave...but the number of skaters was making me nervous.  And when the horn sounded and Rec 2 was turned loose, it was just as bad as I'd feared.  People darted everywhere at all different speeds, some attempting to get up to speed as quickly as possible with others randomly applying their brakes whenever they felt that the downhill start was propelling them along past the pace they were comfortable with.  Being a bit of a wuss, I quickly headed to the shoulder of the road, where almost no one was skating.  Finally, after a couple miles of shoulder-hugging I could see that the crowd had thinned enough that I felt safe rejoining main road and settling into my pace.

Since I had only trained a total of 31.2 miles for a 26.2 mile race, I wanted to be careful not to go out too fast.  So I trudged along at what seemed like a reasonable pace--although my heart rate monitor, which was showing mid-180's, seemed to be saying otherwise.  I was mostly skating solo, which was not fun with the headwind, but I couldn't seem to find a paceline to hook up with.  At one point I talked two guys who were also skating solo into joining together with me and forming a small paceline--but after I'd pulled once and rotated to the back they took off and I couldn't keep up, and I was by myself again.  I skated, and skated, and skated. I was out of breath and my chest hurt and my random heart arrhythmia seemed to be acting up again.  My heart rate was high and my hamstring hurt more than I expected it to (but it was quite managable), and it seemed like I'd been skating for hours.

And then I went by the "5 mile" marker.

Damn.  21 more of these to go?  What did I get myself into?

So I skated some more, and somewhere around the 9 mile mark I mostly abandoned any attempt to do anything but survive.  No trying to skate hard up hills, no trying to join onto pacelines, no concern about anything but just keeping going.

And then it started to rain.

Fortunately the road surface wasn't actually too slippery when wet, and since I'd skated this event in the rain before I knew to stay off the painted lines and turn arrows, which become as slick as ice when rained on.  I was still occasionally taken by surprise by a slippery "tar snake," but since I wasn't pushing too hard my skate wouldn't slide too far before I got control of it.

So I slogged on, sunglasses fogged and dripping, heart rate no longer high because I simply didn't have the energy to skate hard anymore.  I chatted briefly with a couple other skaters near me as I trudged along, and I watched many people that I had passed in the first couple miles of the race pass me back.  This included the two girls in grass skirts and leis, as well as three Minions.  You know things are not going well when you get passed by Minions.

Finally, we entered the city of Duluth.  By this time my lower legs--whose little "stabilizer muscles" hadn't had this much work in two years--were so sore and tired I was having trouble controlling my skates when I set them down.  I was extremely grateful that the I-35 tunnels had been re-paved and now had smooth asphalt instead of the bone-jarring grooved concrete they'd had for the past 10 years or so; I was pretty sure that, as tired and sore as my legs were, I would have crashed at least once on the old cheese-grater surface.  But when I got to the tunnels, I got a surprise almost as good as the smooth new asphalt: both tunnels had live bands in them.  Playing 80's music.  I cruised through the first tunnel to "Radar Love," and the second to the Cars' "Just What I Needed."  I gave the second band a thumbs-up as I wobbled past and shouted "you guys are just what I needed," but I'm pretty sure they didn't hear me.  Do you know how loud a band in a concrete tunnel is?

The unexpected music gave me just enough of a boost to make it up the final hill on the freeway exit ramp.  Then a nervous coast down the final downhill, around the left turn at the bottom, and finally, 2 hours and 7 minutes after I started, over the finish line.

Just enough energy left for a smile and a thumbs-up.
And if it looks like I'm trying not to fall over, that's 
because I'm trying not to fall over.


After I wobbled around a bit I found Jim and Kristen, and Kristen's husband Tom (formerly known as Sherpa Boy).  Kristen, it turned out, had had a great race.  She not only won her age group, but she was the third woman overall in the race--yes, including the pros.

Oh, and she turns 55 next week.

Kristen is the petite one on top of the podium.

And now, a day later, my legs are sore.  Very sore.  But my hamstring feels surprisingly good.  Good enough that I want to do this race again next year.

But next time I'll train for it.



Saturday, September 3, 2016

OH, That's Right...I Have a Blog!

(First off, I'd like to welcome any fellow "Hamsters" who found their way here from my link on the FB group "Proximal Hamstring Avulsion and Surgery," which I recently joined.  The first few years of my blog are mostly concerned with speedskating and then CrossFit, but starting August 25, 2014, there are a lot of hamstring-related posts (and whining).  Hopefully reading this will help while away a few hours for those of you who are enduring those mind-numbingly boring  days post-surgery...and who knows, if you have enough of the "good" pain meds, you might even find me funny!)

So where did I leave off on blogging?  Oh, yeah...14 months ago, in a post about the Granite Games.  And where have I been these past 14 months?

I think the most likely answer is "mildly depressed."

During the summer of 2015, I had been dealing with my hamstring issues (one year post op and still having pain that no one could diagnose and that prohibited me from speedskating and made CrossFit--and daily activities such as walking, sitting, and driving--painful), as well as family issues relating to my dad's progressing language loss and dementia.  I think it finally caught up to me in late August.

A month or so after my last post, from July of 2015, I did another CrossFit competition.  It went fine, and it was a partner comp so it wasn't even too difficult.  I took a couple days off from working out after the comp, even though I wasn't too sore or tired...but when I went back to CrossFit after my time off, things were different.  My workouts were horrible, and not in the performance sense but in the "feel" sense.  Rather than trying for one more rep or five more pounds, I frequently found myself, midWOD, wanting nothing more than to drop the bar and crawl into a corner for a nap.  In fact, I did quit in the middle of a WOD more than once.  And I didn't just feel that way in the gym..."real life" was a struggle, as well.  Not wanting to work out, not feeling motivated or energetic at work, being crabby much of the time, and drowning my sorrows in junk food and Diet Dew.  And that's how things went for all of September and October

Finally, I got sick of it.  A CrossFit coach had talked about adrenal fatigue with me when I told him how I was feeling, and when I mentioned it to my chiropractor he said "yeah, I've told you that before...you practically scream adrenal fatigue."  So at the end of October I got on some supplements for adrenal fatigue, took six weeks off from CrossFit, and started trying to get more sleep. (I know, I know...eating healthy is also important for adrenal fatigue.  I'm still working on that part).  I also got sick of having menopause symptoms, so in the late fall I went on hormone replacement for that as well.

I figured I should be feeling better in no time.

So I tried a bit of speedskating when the rink opened in November, but quickly realized that it was still far too painful--which was not a happy realization.  And then right after I started going back to CrossFit in mid-December, things got difficult for my parents and I had to help them move out of their northern Minnesota home and into a townhome in the Twin Cities.  Shortly after that we realized that my dad needed more care than my mom could provide, and we had to move him into memory care and help my mom deal with her new life living alone.  After that came many, many months of working to get my dad qualified for Medical Assistance.

Safe to say, those were some stressful months and I did not start feeling better.

And what about the hammy all this time?  Well, it continued to misbehave and I continued to try to get the ongoing pain diagnosed.  I have now, two years post surgery, consulted four orthopedic surgeons, one sports medicine doctor, multiple radiologists, at least five physical therapists, a chiropractor, and a neurologist.  I have had soft tissue work, acupuncture, multiple courses of PT, eccentric strengthening exercises, a trial of ARP wave therapy, several extended breaks from working out, two PRP injections, two weeks on crutches after the second PRP injection, and a whole lot of frustration. None of the health care practitioners have been able to diagnose the pain, and none of the interventions I've tried have helped at all.

It's been a long 14 months since my last blog post.

I'm a teacher, so summer is always a time of relaxation...but even summer didn't seem to help much this year, at least not at first.  And the first two-thirds of the summer was taken up with rehabbing from the PRP injection I had in June, which prevented me from working out for almost two months.  Finally, though, a couple weeks ago, after all the activity restrictions from my PRP injection had been lifted and I was freed from the rehab PT and I started going to CrossFit and even inline skating a bit, I came to a realization.

I'm happy again.

I've gone off the adrenal fatigue supplements, and I do think that they helped and that I did have some fatigue issues...but I think I also had some depression issues.  And I don't think they went away until very recently.  As for why I'm feeling better, and why now, I'm not sure...maybe I've just adjusted to things.  Dealing with my dad's dementia is still hard, but I try to focus on the good stuff, like the way his face lights up when I walk into his room.  I still can't speedskate, but I can inline skate, which is fun but a bit scary since that's how I hurt myself.  There's a bit more of me--like 15 pounds more--to lug around the CrossFit gym, but I'm having fun getting back into doing the WOD's again after a summer mostly spent doing PT and  a few upper body exercises. So right now, it's all good (and if a teacher can say that three days before school starts, you know things are going well!)

So who knows how long it will be until the next blog post...but if I stay happy, hopefully it won't be another 14 months!
Chunky and covered with protective gear,
but ready to roll!


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Don't Take it for Granite

The instant I crashed to the pavement on my inline skates last August and the pain in my leg told me that I would not be competing in the Granite Games CrossFit competition in September, I started looking ahead to this year's Granite Games.  Everyone assured me that my hamstring should be fully recovered within nine to twelve months of the injury and surgery, so I felt confident that I would be recovered enough to compete in September of 2015. And since qualifying had not been difficult last year, as I worked my way through rehab and recovery these past months I was honestly focused more on the actual competition than on the qualifying

Oops.

Last year there were 18 competitors in my age class and I ended up qualifying for one of the 12 spots in the competition--I was in a three-way tie for eighth at the end of the qualifier WODs.  And although my hamstring is nowhere near fully recovered (that's another topic for another post), I'm back to lifting pre-injury weights in most lifts and have added a couple more skills to my (somewhat limited) repertoire, most notably kipping pullups and Toes 2 Bar.  So I figured what the heck, I'll most likely qualify and can then focus all summer on training for the actual competition.

Which leads me to the bad pun in this post's title.  Turns out that taking qualifying for granted was very premature.

This year, the Granite Games folks have upped their advertising campaign and the end result is that there are now 81 competitors in my age class, from as far away as Tasmania (that's in Australia, apparently).  And these old chicks are good.  Right now we've done three of the four qualifier workouts, and based on the scores so far I expect to end up somewhere between fortieth and fiftieth.  Which is a problem, since only the top fifteen athletes in each Masters age group qualify for the competition.  So my Granite Games experience this year will be ending with the end of the qualifier.

Dismal results aside, though, I've been having fun doing the qualifer WODs.  And I'm learning things.  Things like "get someone to count reps for you,"
Stopping to write down your reps mid-WOD 
is not conducive to maximum speed


 and "my Burpees are really slow"
This is how slow old ladies do Burpees

and "yeah, I still suck at dubs."
No photo of the dubs, but trust me--I still suck at them.

I have one more qualifier WOD to do next week--and I might re-do this week's WOD on Monday--and then the Granite Games stuff will be over for me (unless I wander up to St. Cloud to watch the event in September, which I probably will).  I've got a couple more fun competitions lined up this summer, though, and I'm having a blast working out, getting stronger, and improving my skills, so even though I'm disappointed that I won't be going to the Granite Games, it's still a fun summer so far, CrossFit-wise.

As for skating, well, that--like my leg--is another story for another post...

Monday, May 25, 2015

MDM Excelsior: Ass Moves Mass

Before I launch into what will (hopefully) be a lighthearted and amusing post, let me get serious.  Today's workout, Memorial Day Murph, is in honor of and to benefit the men and women who sacrifice their lives and their health for our country.  This year MDM Excelsior benefited Pain Free Patriots, an organization that provides funding for wounded veterans to get treatment for chronic pain.  I have a bit more empathy for chronic pain patients now; while my hamstring pain is nothing compared to what some of these people deal with, after dealing with hamstring and leg pain for nine months now I do now know how frustrating and depressing it can be to have pain on a daily basis just from simple everyday activities like sitting, driving, and walking.  So I was very happy to be able to have a small part in helping raise money for this organization, and to do something in honor of our servicemen and women.

Now, on with the show...


People who lift weights have a saying: "Ass moves mass."  And it's true; as your glutes get stronger your butt gets bigger and a bigger butt can, therefore, lift more weight. When the "mass" to be moved is the ass in question, though, things get complicated--and bigger is no longer necessarily better.

This is the situation I found myself in today, doing the Memorial Day Murph workout in Excelsior for the second year.

Last year CrossFit SISU put on a really cool event, MDM Excelsior.  The event is a benefit workout to raise money for veterans (last year a scholarship fund, this year Pain Free Patriots).  The workout, Murph,  looks like this:

Last year I did the event with a partner, had a blast, and vowed to try to do it solo this year.  My hamstring is still a bit cranky with running but air squats aren't a problem and I've been working on my pushups and pullups, so it seemed doable.  I even did half the event in a WOD at SISU one day, and then did 3/4 of the workout on my own another day.  It all went well, and I was looking forward to being able to complete all the reps "as prescribed;" that is, without modifying.

That is, until menopause began kicking--and widening--my ass.

OK, this may be TMI, but what the heck.  I'm technically through menopause but apparently the fun hormonal changes continue on for, oh, the rest of one's life, and so the past few weeks I've been dealing with (among other things) PMS-level food cravings.  And by "dealing with" I mean "eating everything in sight."  Not surprisingly, this has resulted in weight gain--at least five pounds in the past couple weeks.

Now, five pounds may not sound like much, but when you have to pull that weight up with your arms until your chin is over a pullup bar--and do it 100 times--trust me, it's a lot. And since I haven't done many pullups since I've, um, expanded, I haven't had a chance to train my muscles to get used to the extra weight.  When the "Elite" competitors put on a weight vest (20 pounds for the men, 13 for the women) to complete the workout, we call them awesome.  When I grow my own weight vest before the event, I believe "stupid" is a better adjective.

But I didn't seem to be able to stop eating and I was already signed up for the event, so there was nothing to do but do it.  So this morning at 11:40 am I found myself standing with the other women in the "Rx" wave, waiting to be sent off on our run.
Rx women.  I'm in the gray tank top to the left
of the woman with pink on her shirt.

And here we are, swearing to Coach Jason that our
chins will rise above the bar, our butts will drop below our knees, 
and our pushups will be plank-like and perfect.  According to 
Hubby Jim, who spectated the event, there must have been
a lot of fingers crossed during the oath...

So  we set off on the run.  I knew from previous runs at CrossFit that trying to run fast would do nothing but aggravate my leg, so I started at the back of the pack and pretty much stayed there.  And then when I got back to the rig I had to dig through my bag of hand protectors to find the ones I wanted and set up a crate that Jim had brought so that I could reach the too-high pullup bar and then I scrounged up some chalk and took a drink and, well, by the time I got started on my pullups and pushups and squats, everyone else had probably done at least two rounds of each.

There's got to be a good caption for this,
but for the life of me
I can't come up with it

I started by breaking the workout into sets of 5 pullups, 5 pushups, 8 squats, 5 pushups, and 7 squats.  Completing one round of this would allow me to check off 5 pullups, 10 pushups, and 15 squats from the 20 sets listed on the score sheet.  After just the first round, though, I knew I was in trouble.  The pushups and squats felt fine, but the pullups...well, there were problems already.  The bar was slippery, it was hard to get set up properly when I grabbed onto the bar while standing on the box, and when I actually did the pullups--they felt hard.  Very hard.

In the past few weeks I've finally learned to kip a bit, and when I did the 3/4 Murph at SISU a few weeks ago I was able to do 75 pullups in unbroken sets of 5.  Today, though, for all but a couple sets my kip left me and I was back to floundering and flailing and completing only one or two pullups at a time.

Look familiar? I think we've seen that
technique before...

So I slogged along, struggling on the pullups and more or less resting on the pushups and squats. By the time I got to my 70th pullup I was having to make two or more attempts for each successful pullup.  (By this time pretty much all of the other women were done and the rig was filled with men from the Rx wave. Or actually, the first two of three Rx waves.  I was there for a long time.)  I could tell that I was close to simply being unable to complete any more pullups, so I rested completely for five minutes or so to see if I could get my arms working again.  But the rest was only moderately successful, and after five more (sort of) pullups, I knew I couldn't do any more and I'd have to modify the remaining 25.  So I did the last 25 jumping up from a box, finished my last pushups and squats, and set off on the final mile run.  And one hour and 27 minutes after I started, I finally approached the finish line.

I don't look like I'm having fun, do I?

My assessment of my performance; some good,
some bad.

In the end, I'm glad I did the event.  I'm proud that I got as far as I did, disappointed that I had to modify the final pullups, and grateful that, nine months to the day since my crash and injury, I'm able to do fun stuff like this again.  I'm happy that I could help support a worthy cause, hugely appreciative of Jim for coming out and supporting me, and also appreciative of all the SISU coaches and volunteers who made this event possible. And I'm already planning to do the event next year...I'm just hoping that next year there will be a little less of me doing it.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Mayhem Continues



Part 2 of Mayhem in Mankato 2015...Part 1 is, of course, directly below this post.

As I walked into Myers Fieldhouse Sunday morning for Day 2 of Mayhem in Mankato, I was mildly surprised and very pleased to be feeling no major pain--a bit of muscle soreness in my low back from all the deadlifts but nothing major and nothing that suggested "um, you might have injured something here."  At age 51 on day 2 of a competition, that's a win...and somewhat unexpected in a sport that routinely provides free chiropractic or physical therapy services to athletes throughout the competition.  So when I walked past the free PT tables  I wasn't surprised to see a long line of athletes waiting to be Rock Taped or massaged or manipulated back into a somewhat pain-free state--I was just pleased not to be in it.

Sunday had two workouts: a complex of clean-front squat-jerk, in which we'd have eight minutes to find our one-rep max of the three lifts (without putting the bar down); and then a two-minute transition before the next event, sets of 24 situps followed by running a lap around the competition floor as many times as possible in eight minutes. It sounded like a fun set of workouts.

And it was.  My clean PR is 115 pounds, and my jerk PR is 105.  I first achieved the 105 at the
New Ulm Summer Showdown last August shortly before I got hurt; it looked like this...

Not exactly textbook form...

I was hoping to improve on that 105 pound jerk today.  I started at 95 pounds, then moved up to 100 and 105.  So far, so good.  110, too, went up successfully...well, the second time.  The first time I forgot the front squat and went straight into the jerk, so I had to re-do the lift.  110 was a PR, though--cool!  I still had time, though, and felt like I could do more, so I loaded 115 on the bar.  As I was putting the plates on I could see one of my competitors attempt and complete 150 pounds--there are some tough old chicks out there!  My first attempt to clean 115 pounds ended up barely making it above my knees; pulling the bar off the ground is somewhat hammy-aggravating and so I often find myself wimping out and not completing the lift.  So I backed away from the bar and reminded myself to get the bar off the ground and to the "hang" position (above the knees) slowly and then do the clean more quickly from there.  I went through the motions once without the bar, then attempted the lift again.

This time I cleaned it...
No, I'm not actually sure this series of pics is from
my PR.  But it's the ones that I have, so
just pretend, OK?
Front squatted it...

And jerked it.  Success!
Looks much better than last year's PR
huh?

And then the eight minutes was up and it was time to change shoes from my "lifters" to my running shoes.  3, 2, 1, go, and the next eight minutes were filled with this...
If you're a runner, you might not want
to look at this picture too long.  That's 
some um, interesting technique I've got going

...and this...

Abs, don't fail me now...

Again, probably less than thrilling from a spectator standpoint, but again one of my better events; I ended up second by one situp, 168 to 167.

And then, since there were only six of us in the Women's Masters Class and the top ten in each class made it to the finals, we all got to do the final event.  Most of the other SISU athletes also made it to the finals (and they all actually had enough competitors in their classes that it was challenging to get to the finals), so it was cool to watch them take their turns at the final.  The final turned out to be single-under rope jumps and 55 pound thrusters for the masters class, and it turned out to be one of the worst events for me.  I made it through the 100-80-60-40-20 rope jumps without missing any--mainly because I did them insanely slowly.  I had to break up the 25-20-15-10-5 thrusters into sets of five or less, even though I was also doing those insanely slowly...in fact, I did the whole WOD so slowly that I hit the time cap of 10 minutes before I could complete the final set of rope jumps and thrusters, and I ended up fifth in this workout, which put me in fourth for the whole event.  Probably best that there are no photos of this one!

In the end, the whole weekend turned out to be a blast.  Hard work, PR's, camaraderie, cheering, sore muscles, finding your limits and maybe pushing past them...all the stuff I love about CrossFit.  My post-rowing-WOD photo says it all...

A big thumbs-up for the weekend!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mayhem in 2015

Let the Mayhem begin

OK, first I should probably bring you up to speed since it's been, oh, six weeks since I've posted.  So here it is: my leg still hurts, I'm still doing CrossFit, and I've inline skated a few times, both on trails and on the oval.  

See?

Note the massive amount of protective gear.

I'm still trying to figure out the leg pain, but in the meantime, since the medical professionals seem to think there's no harm in using the hammy I figured I'd go do a two-day CrossFit competition this weekend: Mayhem in Mankato, version 2015.

Last year, Mayhem in Mankato was my first-ever CrossFit competition.  I competed in the "Rec" class (translation: the class for really bad rookies), had a ton of fun, and actually won my division.  So I figured that Mayhem might be a fun way to get back into competition post-injury--even though it was now a two-day event and no longer had a Rec class.  Fortunately they'd added a Masters class this year (40 and up), though, so I figured what the heck.

After a painful drive to Mankato Friday night--even sitting on a pillow, my hammy only tolerates about 20 minutes of driving at a time before it enters cranky mode, and Mankato is 90 minutes from home--and a hot-flash-infested tossing-and-turning night in the motel, I arrived at the field house Saturday morning ready to do battle with the other old ladies. I started the day with a nice warmup WOD of "Gear Bag Farmer Carry and Bathroom Dash."  I usually have one large gear bag for my CrossFit stuff, but a two day event required two bags, a purse, and a foam roller...and I even brought my butt pillow in to pad the hard bleacher (much to my fellow SISU competitors' amusement.)
No secret which gear pile is mine...

I was excited about the first WOD of the day, a rowing interval workout of six rounds of 40 seconds on/20 seconds rest.  Rowing, I have been told, is my jam, or, as one of the younger SISUites once said, "the Bomb Diggity." (Um, yeah, I ran that one by Urban Dictionary).  Even discovering that one of my five Masters class competitors had been a collegiate rower didn't dampen my enthusiasm.

So the first WOD was six minutes of this...
...and this...
I apologize for the crappy pics; "still captures" from video, compressed
to save data when emailing from iPad to desktop, produces some
mighty lovely images.  

And in the end, although the spectators may have been bored to tears, I was pleased to win both aspects of the WOD--total calories rowed, and most calories in an interval.

The Bomb Diggity, indeed.

After the first WOD I spent a lengthy amount of time wandering around while trying figure out whether it was better to sit and aggravate my hammy or stand and aggravate my heels, which are now rebelling against all the standing I've been doing in the past months.  In between pondering sitting and standing I pondered eating too little and getting faint from hunger versus eating too much and puking during the next WOD.  Although I never did resolve the sitting-versus-standing dilemma, I'm happy to report that I ended up successfully managing the between-WOD food intake.

Eventually it was time for WOD two: 21-15-9 wallballs and Burpees.  I had been worried about this one because, despite the Masters class using the Scaled class (easier) weights and movement standards, we had been told we'd be using the Rx (heavier) weight ball for the wallballs, 14 pounds, and shooting at a target 10 feet up on the rig instead of the usual line on a wall at the women's height of nine feet.  I'd tried 14 pounds and 10 feet in the last few wallball WOD's at SISU and it hadn't gone well.  I'm not sure how it's possible to miss a wall when standing two feet from it, but I did, quite a few times--and I figured heaving a very heavy ball at a little target high up on the rig meant I'd be playing fetch with myself an embarrassing number of times.

As it turned out, though, the GameDay Competition organizers (who, by the way, put on awesome CrossFit events) were merciful and told us we'd be using a 10 pound ball instead of the 14.  With the lighter weight ball  I actually managed to complete all the wallballs unbroken (that is, without stopping to rest), and never missed the target.  
Not quite a bullseye, but good enough.
Oh, and note the fact that I'm now dressing like 
a 4-year-old when I CrossFit...everything is pink. 
I have no explanation for this.

Unfortunately, although my wallballs were unbroken and on target they were also slow.  Very slow. As were my Burpees.  I ended up fourth in this event.

The final event for Saturday was the one I was most concerned about: a "Chipper" (that is, a long event with a lot of reps that you just "chip away" at) consisting of box jumps, deadlifts, and something called Toes to Pole, which sounds like it should involve G Strings and people named Bambi but which is actually a kind of reverse situp.  I was concerned because of the number of box jumps--60--although we'd be allowed to step up rather than being required to jump; and also because of the number of deadlifts--also 60--and the weight, 125 pounds.  My hamstring, although it's functioning pretty well in deadlifts now, still gets sore and cranky from them.  Sixty was sounding like a lot.

As it turned out, the deadlifts were indeed a problem--just not the only problem.  For the box step ups we had to go over the box rather than just up onto it and back down and it turned out that I hadn't practiced my technique quite enough; I ended up stepping up with the wrong foot, turning in the same direction too many times and getting dizzy, and in general just moving too slowly and wasting a lot of time.  The deadlifts, as I had guessed, were painful, but the Toes to Pole turned out to be the worst part of the WOD.  We had to lie on our backs, holding onto the rig pole, then bring our feet up to touch the pole and then lower them again.  We were allowed to bend our legs in the maneuver and it actually wasn't difficult, but it turned out that it stretched my hamstring in a very painful way, and by the end of 40 of them I found myself limping back down my lane to finish my second set of deadlifts.  I was very glad to see the end of WOD three, even though I finished fifth out of six. 

In between my various WOD's I had a blast watching the other classes compete, including the eight or so other athletes from CrossFit SISU.  I haven't been been to a competition that big before (other than watching a day of the Granite Games from my knee scooter), and it was fun to see the different athletes tackle the WOD's and to just generally enjoy the atmosphere of the event.  CrossFit competitions, with their loud music, swaggering extroverts, and enthusiastic cheering, are very different from long track skating meets--where it's not unusual to see two high school age boys playing a game of chess in the warming house between their races.  Different worlds, but both fun in their own way. 

And now I see that I need to turn this into a two-part post, since my hamstring is getting sore from sitting while I type, and also it's bedtime.  Back soon with the thrilling conclusion of Mayhem '15!