Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crossfit Challenge

Pre workout

Today my friend Jeff convinced me to attend a 'Crossfit Challenge', kind of a prep workout for a Crossfit regional games in May. In truth, it didn't take much convincing, all he had to do was mention it and I of course said 'Oh, okay, why not, sounds fun'.

Until today that is, when I spent the entire morning today questioning my decision and wondering why I didn't just go do a normal 'easy' crossfit workout. Until today when I showed up at the Challenge and viewed the arrival one total bad ass 20 something woman after another -each looking stronger than the last. And until, I was one of the last two to start, so I had a good 1.5 hours watching others, the same others who were so bad ass, working their butts off and looking like they were in huge pain. I think crossfit works better when you get to jump on in and not think about it too much (Mom).

Oh, and a final intimidation factor. The workout consisted of several 'proscribed' weights. At the beginning the person running the challenge asked if anyone needed to scale any of the exercises (ie use a lighter weight). I was the only one who raised my hand. Fortunately, later on a few of the other women jumped in, but it was a bit of a shock, as there tends to be a bunch of scaling at my gym.

The workout:

1. 50 box jumps. A box jump is just as it sounds. You jump on a box (in this case a 20" one) and jump off. This actually was easier than I thought it would be. Piece of cake!

Me moving so fast on the box jumps the camera can't even catch me.

2. 20 Thrusters - proscribed weight 40K, I opted for 30K. Thrusters are tough! You hold a weighted bar at shoulder height, squat down, then as you lift up you thrust the weight overhead until your arms are straight (using your hips to move the bar). One note about this Challenge. For the workout you had your own judge counting and making sure you were doing the exercises properly. Squatting had to be hips below knee level. This not something my body does very well and not something I'm used to having monitored. When I got done with about 6 thrusters I looked over to Lisa (my judge) and she told me I had only done three! Hopefully she didn't see (or take personally) the evil eye I pegged her with, because she was actually very nice in every other respect.

The woman behind me is doing an overhead squat.

Closed eyes are very helpful, I think I did my entire row with closed eyes.

3. 30 pullups - pretty straight forward. I used a band to help with the second half. (For regular blog readers, I haven't perfected or taken my kipping pullups public yet.)

4. 800 Meter Row - I think this was the rest event for most people. Oh, and don't think we were hitting the water with oars, in crossfit you use an ergometer, essentially a stationary rower. And expend lots of energy to go nowhere!

5. 30 Overhead Squats - proscribed weight 30K, I went with 20k. I probably could have done 25, but I have a pulled muscle in my leg and overhead squats were hurting it a lot on Thursday, so I went with 20. Overhead squats, hold a weight overhead arms straight and squat. They suck.

6. 20 Deadlifts - proscribed weight 70K, I did 60 and probably should have done 70 (60k is roughly my body weight. With a deadlift you start with a really heavy bar and lift it off the ground. Then tend to make you dizzy as you're supposed to hold your breath to stabilize your midsection.

7. The Coupe DE Grace, 50 wall balls........ Wall ball is my nemesis. This, along with burpees, is probably my least favorite exercise. You hold a medicine ball (in this case 14 pounds), squat, then as you raise up you throw the medicine ball to a certain height on the wall. In my gym there is a line of the wall and you just hurl it. Here, there were little wooden targets set away from the wall that you had to hit (remember my own personal judge). In the beginning I kept getting docked because I wasn't hitting the target, but then I think my judge got a bit more lenient. Now here's the kicker, I was one of the last two to start the competition. I had been just cruising along at my own pace. I was doing my wall balls in a corner with only my judge and Jeff watching when suddenly I was the final person working out and the center of attention. Suddenly the entire gym knew my name and was encouraging my wall ball progress, offering tips, and encouraging me to rush through rest breaks.

Anyone having this much fun in the middle
of a set of 50 wall balls, is not working hard enough. Note the small wooden target!

So it was fun, in that painful crossfit kind of a way! I was reminded that I need to have faith in my abilities and not be intimidated. I finished about mid pack and used roughly the same amount of scaling as many of the women.

Special thanks to Jeff who invited me, gave me almonds as I was jonesing from lack of food and the caffeine in my nuun, and was hugely encouraging through out my work out. Much more encouraging of me than I was of his workout (I was too busy watching the pain of the 20 somethings and being intimidated to be fully supportive). Jeff kicked ass, finishing fourth in a field that was probably half his age (he's my age).

I am pretty sure we represented Crossfit Seattle and the master's set very nicely! In fact, had there been a master's category. Both Jeff and I would have come in first!!!

Lindsay, the female winner at 19+ minutes was all of about 17 and arrived with her parents!

Guilty Pleasure #3, Pop Music

So cute, okay not really, but good hair.

So for some reason I have difficultly owning up to this guilty pleasure. I feel like I lose many coolness point by not knowing/listening to the newest coolest music. And really, I don't have a huge number of coolness points to lose. The problem is that I have many friends who are very cool musically. They were punk rock long before punk rock was trendy. They work in the music industry. They know the perfect slightly unknown hip music to play for any occasion. They can DJ a dance party and keep the kids happy all night long. Me, not so much.

It started bad. My first album was Shawn Cassidy - Da Do Ron Ron. Well, actually my first albums were the Grease soundtrack (I know every word on every song for all 2 disks) and the Bugsy Malone soundtrack. But, my first non soundtrack album was Shawn Cassidy. Though in my defense I don't remember or retain a burning love for Shawn or his music. I do remember and retain a burning love for the Grease sountrack, Beauty School drop out, Stranded at the Drive In, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted.

Then through high school and college I never seemed to move beyond pop. Actually, I don't remember listening to music much in high school, but in college I have fond memories of Phil Collins and Genesis. My friend Greg and I used to spend hours listening to Genesis Abacab (what the heck is abacab?). Then there was 'In The Air Tonight', I seem to remember hours and hours of just one that one song.

Does this man look at all cool?

After college I seemed to develop a fondness for metal, turning to Metallica, Soundgarden and Guns and Roses. I think all those bands can win a coolness point or two, but the guilty pleasure came in the form of rock ballads. I love a good rock ballad. Every Rose Has it's Thorn, by Poison. 18 and Life by Skid Row. Why do I like these things so much? My all time favorite rock ballad, and maybe one of my favorite songs of all time, Beth by Kiss.

Ah, poor Beth, I hear her crying.

I got an ipod shuffle for my 40th birthday. It and it's newer brother my ipod nano are full of some good music. But when I'm out running or walking the dog I tend to skip over those in favor of the top 40 pop singles I have downloaded. Brittney Spears, Oops I Did it Again, Justin Timberlake SexyBack, Nelly Furtado, Pink. I'm not sure what it is about this music. Maybe it's just the beat that gets you moving and sucks you in.

Britney, Otto and I, walking Beacon Hill.

Anyhow, I must go put in some music, mmm, Best of Rod Stewart? If you want my body and you think I'm sexy come on sugar let me know...................

Thursday, March 26, 2009

All a Twitter

So I know all of you have been at wits end waiting hear more of my guilty pleasures. And there are more, at least 4 more. I even created a brilliant blog this morning about one of them as I was riding my bike to work. Of course, once I got to work it was immediately lost in the haze of work. I need a dictation system for my bike. Anyhow, more guilty pleasures soon, when I have the time and more importantly energy. One or two this weekend!!

A few more Twittering fun facts:

1. I quit Twitter today. I had a couple random people or businesses sign up to 'follow me' (Anyone can sign up to follow you. It's not like Facebook where you accept friends.) They seemed to be businesses who probably wanted me to follow them, but still it creeped me out. My brother says they would probably drop me in a couple days if I didn't follow them. But, yuck. I know I have a public blog, but some how it felt different. So no more twitter. Anyone who wants to follow me has to slog through a blog.

2. You never know what will make you famous. It seems that, due to my recent twittering blog, those interested in Dan Shore (Schorr) and twittering are rather frequently sent to my blog via google search. Google search the words dan shore (or schorr) and twitter and you get rcarlsini. How about them apples.

3. And finally, speaking of Apples. My Apples stock is about $20 per share over its price two years ago. Who knew any stocks were over their purchase price of two years ago! I'm rich. (Okay, I own about 2 shares and have lost money in every other stock I own, but maybe a semi bright spot? Ok ok, it doesn't come close to making up for the WAMU stock I had, but let me have a minute of hope.).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Guilty Pleasure #2, Brick Breaker

This seems to be 'guilty pleasure' week in the blog world of me. We'll see what other such pleasures I can admit to over the course of the week.

About a year or so ago my mom and I watched a movie called The King of Kong. This movie rules! Anyone who hasn't seen it should run right out to your local video store and pick it up. It's a documentary about these guys who are really good at Donkey Kong and compete in a Donkey Kong competition. It's a pretty incredible movie, mostly because these guys are such uber dorky, stereotypical computer game nerds that you watch the movie thinking it must be fake - like those Christopher Guest movies (best in show, spinal tap). But it's not fake. This is the real deal. The movie is actually directed by the son of a friend of my moms (making it even cooler). But I digress.....

So after I watched The King of Kong I was overcome by this urge to play a video game. I have always sucked at video games, they make me a bit nervous. My dad used to feed me the occasional quarter just so he and my brother could be entertained by my playing. But after the movie I was on a quest. Fortunately, it was a short quest. At the time I had just gotten a Blackberry and what do you know, the Blackberry comes complete with it's own 'video' game, brick breaker.

Now, I am sure this will come as a surprise, but Brick Breaker isn't an intellectual endeavor. In fact, it's quite likely that it kills brain cells. Essentially there are bricks in various patterns and you have a paddle and a little ball flies around. You hit the ball with the paddle and knock the bricks down. Sometimes little bullets come flying down that give you special powers or more lives or some such thing. If you catch one of these you get extra points too! The best one is the gun, because you get more points when you knock the bricks down with the gun. Though I usually get so excited when I get the gun that I lose the ball, a life and all the bullets to my gun. I'm not very good. My high score is just over 10,000. I think there are people who score over 1,000,000 (yeesh).

If I ever get good, I'll get to date this man.

So, when I first started playing I was completely addicted. It was bad. The first night I couldn't get myself to stop. I kept saying this is my LAST game and then I'd need to play one more and one more and one more. I took to spending all my free time playing brick breaker. I would even occasionally sneak a couple rounds sitting at my desk at work. I was starting to carpel breaker syndrome. I was a bit worried both by my obsession and my ability to fall into such an obsession. I didn't know I had it in me.

Fortunately, as suddenly as it hit, my need dissipated (thank the lord). And suddenly I was free to enjoy brick breaker occasionally in moments of boredom. It is actually soporific. I most commonly play it on week end afternoons when I decide to take a nap. One game of brick breaker and I drift off to sleep like a little baby!

It's good to have some guilty pleasures.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Guilty Pleasure # 1, Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose

Coach Taylor, usually says it all with his eyebrows.

So I thought I would pay a little tribute to my current favorite TV show, Friday Night Lights. Friday Night Lights is a show set in a small Texas town called Dillon that lives for its high school football team. The show centers around a few players on the team as well as their families. And while it is about football, it is really about the relationships between people. It is about the humanity and frailty of humans. It's about making mistakes and making up. It is a show of weekly lessons.......

1. Everyone makes mistakes, all the time, we're human. Even Tammy (the coach's wife/high school guidance counselor) who always knows the right thing to say to her students, makes mistakes. But we become better people by admitting our mistakes and apologizing.

2. it's not how good you are, but how much heart you put into your game. (This should not be confused with 'it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game'. Losing is not acceptable in FNL.) But, the lesson is that skill is not enough. Weekly, the Panthers are about to lose the game, and only by digging in deep and finding their hearts and passion are they able to turn the game around (usually in the last minute).

3. Everything sounds better with a Southern accent.

4. There is always a second chance. No matter how badly you mess up, if you're heart is in the right place, you will get to try again (I guess this is a corollary to lesson 1).

5. You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.

I'm guessing this all sounds a bit hoaky and formulaic, but watching Friday Night Lights makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I hate football. The characters are real and complex. And after three seasons they haven't resorted to outlandish plots to keep bringing people back. It's just real people trying to make it work. And isn't that what we're all trying to do?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fight Gone Bad, or The Beauty of Endorphins.

I believe most of my readership (my vast readership) understands the beauty of exercise. But, I will share the story of my day anyway. Today was not one of my better days. Please allow me a little whining......

First of all, I didn't really sleep very well last night. For some reason my brain decided it was a good idea to wake up and worry about nothing or nothing worth worrying about for a good hour or two.

Secondly (and here I will hit great whining heights and perhaps even reach old person moaning about physical problem status), I have all kinds of crazy injuries that are making life very uncomfortable. I will start from the head and work my way down. I have had a headache for about two weeks now. I believe it is some type of minor sinus infection that doesn't want to leave. Then there is my neck. About a week ago I tweaked my neck running, and IT HURTS. And it's spread to my trapezius muscles on either side of my neck and is starting to hurt in my shoulders as well. Then I gave some blood yesterday and some post blood giving weight lifting created a nice bruise on the puncture site. Strange pain in my right wrist. And finally, I wore a fancy pair of shoes the other day (yes Michael, red shoes) and ended up walking a lot. The straps on the shoes produced two huge gouges, one in each ankle. Both of which are getting worse because I keep running. Yes whine whine whine, but I am kind of in constant pain at the moment.

And thirdly, work. My job has gotten a little more manageable in the last couple months. I am getting a handle on the new jobs and am not feeling as stressed out. Usually, I only have to deal with one or two of my jobs per day. And usually the managerial tasks are limited. Sometimes, every thing is running smoothly and I actually feel like a competent, productive manager. But sometimes, like today, I ended up having to practice my manager skills in all three jobs. And sometimes none of them are going well, my decision making feels poor or juvenile, and I feel like a total sham being pulled in way too many directions.

So was my day. But tonight was Fight Gone Bad. Fight Gone Bad is only a 15 minute workout. I had never done it, but I had heard it spoken of in awe. There are five exercises. You do all of them for one minute, moving straight from one to the next without stopping. After each set, you get a minute rest. For those interested, the exercises are push press (pushing a bar w/ some weight on it over your head, rowing, wall ball (throwing a medicine ball up a wall), sumo high pulls (something involving heavy kettle bells) and box jumps (yes, jumping on a box). I usually don't go to Crossfit on Thursdays, but despite my pain, I had been planning on it, and even looking forward to this extra pain all week. (Though, I must say, given all my injuries, I was really thinking it was a stupid idea.)

So, I cut a boring meeting short (okay, it ran 20 minutes over and all I did was not let it run any longer), left work a little early, popped some aspirin, braved Sounders traffic, and headed off to crossfit. And let me just say, the workout HURT. It was hard, but after it was over, I felt injury free, cleared headed, and content for the first time all day! The beauty of endorphins. They have worn off a bit, but it was a good workout! And turned my day upside down. Now to maintain.........

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thank god I bought new bike gloves.

Okay, I know this isn't so interesting to any of you, but I need to take a minute to comment (ie bitch) about the weather. Just humor me for a minute while I blow off some steam, then I'll try to come up with some thing more interesting in the next day or two.

Yesterday, I went into the day knowing it way supposed to rain. But I had heard 'light rain' and '50 degrees' and was thinking, that's not so bad. I can run in light rain. I hadn't been up to Cougar Mountain in weeks and was excited to run even in 'light rain'. Well, yesterday was not actually 'light rain'. It was actually running in a downpour and even small ice pellets at the top of the mountain. It was running in 40 degrees. It was running (sliding) in mud and slush and snow. A friend went with me because we were bitching and moaning to each other the whole time. And we felt mighty proud when we were finished.

So, today it was supposed to rain a little less and I was thinking 50s a little rain and some yard work. I just woke up, washed some dishes and said 'Okay Otto, let's go'. Then I looked out the window SNOW. SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW. WTF.

Snow, was maybe a little cute last week. You know, in the we live in Seattle and it's snowing in March, crazy, huh? kind of a way. But two weekends in a row. This is getting ridiculous. There are places to live where you might accept snow in March, and frankly Seattle is not one of them.

I want NO MORE SNOW, NO MORE GLOVES, NO MORE DOUBLE DOWN COATS, NO MORE MENTAL CHALLENGES TO GETTING OUT AND RUNNING. I ready for spring and sunshine and t-shirts and yard work and flowers and being happy just because of the weather.

Thanks for listening, or not, I just needed to get that out.

Okay, Otto, walk time, after we bundle up.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I Kipped!!

Me, pre kip.

So, I am sure I have mentioned that there is a Crossfit thing called a kipping pull up. Instead of just pulling yourself from a dead hang, you use your body to help you pull up. You swing back and forth, using your legs and your hips to push you up and over the bar. You end up pulling more from a side angle rather than straight up, so it's not as hard. Well, that is not as hard muscularly, but getting the swing and the coordination down has been proving very difficult indeed. After 5.5 months of trying I had gotten so I could do one sometimes. You're supposed to string them together. But I could do one. Then one. Then one. And only sometimes.

But today I tried to do one, and suddenly I was kipping. I was able to do five in a row multiple times!! Then, unfortunately, I couldn't any more, but I'm hoping that was because I was tired and not just because I suddenly lost the skill. I am hoping there will be many more kipping pull ups in my future!

Oh, and if anyone is interested (and because I'm a total narcissist and this is all about me), I did 13 pulls ups (the regular hanging kind) on Saturday! I was kind of proud of myself, though not as proud as I am about kipping.

And now a brief note for all the ex pat Seattleites. Something has happened to Seattle. It has been snowing for three days. It's supposed to get down to 25 tonight!! All the little plants that thought it was okay to start budding (because it's Seattle and Seattleite plants bud in February) are going to be very sad! Oh, god, it's March!!

Otto wants sun not snow! Mostly so his mom will take him for a decent walk.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunshine = Happiness

I took these pictures during a rare sunny day this winter. I have been meaning to post them but haven't gotten around to it. But this week we had freezing cold snowy drearyness and then today was rain and running in the rain. It was warm on the window sill when these were taken and the whole even just made me smile. So, I figured we all needed a little reminder of how happy and warm everyone is when it's sunny. Maybe someday in the future.....

Looks practically tropical, huh?

Window sill + sunshine = happy dog.