Clean and Jerk.


I come from a large family and grew up watching the Olympics on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. You remember the show opener…. I know you do.. ‘… the agony of defeat…’

I was the youngest of seven. My older brothers and father were avid fans of the winter Olympics, particularly skiing. But we watched it all. Winter and Summer Olympics. Which isn’t that much considering at the time both were on only once every four years. So it was a big deal when it was time for the Olympics again.

I did enjoy the skating and gymnastics and skiing but I also remember intently watching the Olympic weight lifters. I had no idea what I was actually looking at. But it was all so interesting. The massive looking people in tiny outfits speaking foreign languages heaving huge weights so eloquently overhead. What I didn’t know then and only understand now is what I was probably watching was the Snatch or Clean and Jerk by this guy:


It is only in the last year that I have become familiar with some of the Olympic lifting terms and only now slightly understand the origins in Kilograms and Eastern Europe, particularly Russia. Think about the old Russian unit of measurement, Pood.

Contrary to how it sounds, pood is not what you feel at the end of a WOD. A pood is actually a unit of measurement abolished long ago equal to 16.38 kilograms, or 36.11 pounds.

There was a point not too long ago in my CF career when I struggled to get 100lbs. (2.279 pood) overhead. It had been my primary goal and I floundered under the frustration that I was unable to do it. Barbells are unforgiving. There are no excuses and no negotiation. Either you can or you can’t and they are indifferent to your reasons for either.

And then the following WOD appeared:

I. Barbell Gymnastics:

Clean and Jerk – 5 x 1

*Rest 90 seconds between each set

Completed: at 85lbs., then 95lbs., then 105lbs.

Something happened right around the fourth rep at 95lbs, as I was loading up the bar with another 10lbs.; I realized, not only am I actually learning this Olympic movement that people spend their entire lives perfecting as professionals for money and sometimes if they’re good enough earn a spot at the Olympics to compete, but I was getting ready to lift 105lbs. overhead. And like that, I cleaned it from the ground and split jerked it overhead. 105lbs.

That’d be 2.393 pood.

It felt as if I could do it again and again. My heart filled with warmth and as I let the weight hit the floor from overhead I thought, I could have gone heavier.

II. Conditioning:

3 Rounds for Time of:

7 Deadlifts (275/185)

14 Pistols (Alternating)

21 Unbroken Double Unders

Part I felt so good, so engrossing, so in the moment, that Part II is a blur although it is important to mention that it was completed at RX weight for the Deadlift, 185lbs. Unbroken. I am getting so strong. It’s a feeling I’ve never really known before.

… and the body follows.


Let’s just pause here for a minute, shall we. Can you taste them? Feel the gooey chewy texture in your mouth as you bite down into one, or three of them?

‘Are you going to have one?’ My co-worker asked.
‘No,’ I said. ‘Not today.’
‘Why are you taking a picture of them?’ she asked.
‘Because I love them.’ I said.

And I do. But today, and for the next 28 days, leading up to the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day, I will continue to love them dearly, love them from afar. Last night during Ladies Night I PR’d on my overhead. Clean and jerk 105lbs. This was a huge goal. I’ve been struggling to reach a goal of 100lbs. overhead for a long time. Wanting very much to compete in Heavy for the Holidays, but coming to terms with the reality that the competing weights minimums just might be too heavy for me. For now.

Still, I’ve been working. There are profound days of discouragement, but last night was a huge hurdle overcome. I feel empowered again. My diet is a huge part of that. When I feel healthy, when I have had enough sleep, when I am eating clean, and behaving myself and in a good routine, my mind is clear, optimistic, forward looking in all things possible and good and soon to be. And the body follows.

So, for now, hello lovely cookies. Thank you for existing. There’s a time and place for you. We will meet again. At the end of this finish line. In 28 days. In Troy NY. After I have completed my first ever 10K run. Till then, I bid adieu.