Friday, May 28, 2010

Lifting Heavy Things

So you all have heard me talk ad nausea about intense aerobic crossfit WODs. (WOD stands for Workout of the day and it is the short intense varied work that people think of when they think about crossfit -- okay if they think about crossfit.) But there is another, often overlooked, component to crossfit. The component that my coach thinks is most interesting and the most important. And, unfortunately, the component hardest for me mentally and physically. And that is strength training, basically lifting big huge weights. And there is none of that high rep light weight nonsense where you building 'strength' and not 'bulk'. In our workouts the amount of weight you do varies based on the number of reps, but the point is to push yourself to the edge, so you're lifting a weight that you almost can't lift. Which is not only a physical challenge, but a huge mental challenge. For me, this past year has been about learning the movements and form of these exercises, so I can lift the heavy weights. I'm not there with all my exercises, but I'm working on it. My goal for the next year, is to get good.

Today I had a bit of a dead lift break through. Actually the sad part is that I was bad at dead lifts. Then I got good. Then I was really bad for a while. But today, finally, hopefully, I've turned it around again.

I was just reviewing the blog, and a little over a year ago I did a crossfit challenge that involved 20 70K (154lbs) dead lifts. I was too scared to do 70k and so I scaled back to 60K. I remember a month or two after that when I first started at my current gym, we did a workout with 70k dead lifts and I felt apart. It was just about the hardest thing I had ever done. (A 70k proscribed weight dead lift workout would be one where you do a higher number of reps). But, slowly I got stronger and 70k didn't feel so bad.

When I started dead lifting as part of strength training instead of just during the WOD, I really started to see improvements in my WOD dead lifts. My dead lift form was good, and I got so I was strong. I did a one rep max of 106k (233lbs) in November and felt like I could have gone heavier. Then tragedy struck. Sometime around the beginning of the year I was doing 1 set of 5 reps at 100k or so and I wasn't using proper form and I tweaked something in my hamstring. For the next couple months it all sucked. My brain was as tweaked (okay probably more tweaked) than my hamstring. I was scared to lift heavy weight. I kept failing in my heavy dead lift attempts. Even when I did lighter weight, my form was terrible and my back would start aching. Plus, I had to listen to Craig (my coach) yelling at me all the time. This went on for a frustingly long amount of time. But in the last couple weeks something clicked again and I got my groove back. Two months ago I tried 1 set of 5 reps at 102k and could only do 3. Today, Craig wanted me to try 102 again. I tried to convince him to let me try 100. Somehow, I felt my brain was up to the challenge of 100 but not 102 (4 pounds heavier). Plus, I really felt I needed to be successful, and didn't think I could at 102. But, Craig insisted, so I reigned my brain in AND got all 5 AND it felt good!

Whooooo, now to just get my squat, snatch, push press, and push jerk down. I've got 11 months until my next birthday. My goal is to be a weight lifting super star by then! Actually, my goal is to do a 46K snatch when I turn 46!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The dog was bribed to pose - with beef jerky!

I'm a very haphazard gardener. I don't really know what I'm doing. I buy some plants that look interesting, throw them in the garden and make sure they get some water in the summer. If it works it works. This week, in at least one little section of the yard, it seems to be working!

A few choice morsels!

Okay okay, because you're begging me, one more Otto shot!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


My grandmother, grandfather and dad!

Grammer and her sister, Christmas 1972.

I may have intimated lately that I have been having a bit run with solitaire lately. Really, it's become a bit of an addiction. And I can't really quite figure it out. I downloaded a solitaire game on my iphone. Usually when I download games, I play them like crazy for a week or two, then settle into a nice rhythm of playing occasionally when I have a few minutes to kill. I keep waiting for that to happen with solitaire, but it's not happening. I can't stop playing. I tell myself one more game. Then that game will suck. So it will be one more game. Then one more and one more and one more. I'm serious here. It's as if I can't stop and put the phone down. Or if I do, I go right back a few minutes later and start again.

And why? Most of the games I have downloaded involve some mental skill or physical dexterity or something. In most of the games there is a learning curve. I start out poorly, then got better (implying skill). Solitaire is chance. 100% chance. There is no skill. There is no challenge. Why?

So today I was thinking, maybe it's hereditary? My grandmother played solitaire. My grandmother played solitaire ALL THE TIME. My memory of spending time at her apartment (aside from the jiffy pop popcorn we had for breakfast, the see's candy she kept in a drawer, and the teenagers who ran across the roof of her condo to jump into the lake), was her sitting in front of the TV, watching soap operas, and playing solitaire on a little TV tray. A game barely fit on the tray, but there she was, set up in front of the TV. I later learned that it is possible that there was alcohol involved too, but I didn't know that at the time. And I wonder what she thought about it. Did it drive her crazy. Could she not stop playing? What did she think?

And then I wonder have I turned into my grandmother? Is that better or worse than turning into your mother? Or can you simply not avoid your genes?

As I write those last sentences I suddenly realize it is mother's day - something I had completely forgotten. Happy mother's day mom and grammer and grandmommy. Thanks for all the good genes as well as the solitaire obsessions!

As an added bonus, both my grandmother's, my mom, and my dad!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kurling up with Kindle

Back in the day when I got my iphone (okay 4 months ago), I downloaded the Kindle app to my phone. I had read a New Yorker article about Kindle that said nice things about the iphone version of Kindle and thought I should try it out. (Plus it was a. free and b. back in the day I was super excited to download new aps.) Then I didn't use it. The thought of reading a book on my phone just seemed weird and awkward. At one point I thought about it, even going as far as downloading a sample of a book that I wanted to buy. But, I merely read the sample chapter then promptly went to Amazon, ordered the book, then ordered a couple other books (spending more but getting free shipping), waited a week for it to arrive, then happily read it.

For some reason a few weeks ago I was thinking about the Kindle app again (probably bored and killing time iphone style). I pulled up the app and did some searching. Quickly I discovered that I could order 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' for seven dollars and spend the day reading. I only wanted TGWPWF because when I took the airplane to Chicago last month, I treated myself to its sister book 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' for the plane ride. Those regular readers will remember that I had an ex mystery/thriller guilty pleasure that it seems can very easily be re-ignited if given any encouragement. Typically, I would control my addiction and only buy TGWPWF at an airport bookstore, but when I'm bored and it's on the Kindle....... Well, I resisted. I am sure I turned instead to some important task on my to do list and spent the day productively busy (okay, probably not but I didn't buy the book).

Then last week I had a hair appointment and as I was entering the salon, I realized I had forgotten reading material. Usually, I bring a New Yorker and try to use the two hours that I'm soaking in chemicals to grow some brain cells. But with no reading material available (except the People and Us magazines at the salon), I suddenly thought KINDLE. And that was it. Two minutes later I had the 'book' in my sweaty little palm and spend the next two hours happily reading crap and absorbing chemicals!

And it's strange. Staring at your phone for hours. I find my eyes get all wonky and when I stand up after reading for a bit I get super dizzy. Yesterday, I spent a bit too much time reading and today my hands are sore from holding the teeny phone (which is effecting my second iphone obsession solitaire). But, all in all, it's not so bad. And not too much different from reading a book. It has made me understand why someone would want an ipad.

But the thing is, it can become your life. Not just Kindle, but the iphone is all you need. It is complete entertainment at all times. I can watch movies, tv shows, buy and read a book instantly - without going anywhere, email, facebook, play games. Shoot, there is even a app if I need to find a little love. Well, actually there are apps for improving your sex life and probably porn too (though haven't actually looked). I could never leave my house. Never speak to a person face to face. This little device could become your life!

Fortunately, that won't happen to me, I have self control......