2nd Place.

Mass State Strongman Competition Novice Division, 2nd place finisher.

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”

― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

2nd place xena warrior

How do I feel after finishing in 2nd place?

I had no expectations of finishing with any ranking going into this event. I simply wanted to compete, to challenge myself. To get comfortable being uncomfortable. Walking away with a trophy and knowing I can no longer compete at the novice level, that I’m too good to do so – the feeling of walking up to the announcer after my name was called and shaking hands and saying thank you and retrieving my trophy? After months of training, at times a very lonely and isolating process? The one word that adequately describes all that I’m feeling: Happiness.

This may not be the path that most would choose. Competing. Strongman. This was certainly not the path I saw for myself. But this is the path that I am now on and if the one word that comes to mind when foraging ahead on this unfamilmiar path is: Happiness – then I am doing better than okay. I’m doing great.

Courage.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
― Mark Twain

competiting

On this eve of competition I check and recheck my packing list:

  1. Athletic tape
  2. Extra socks
  3. Extra shirts, tights, etc.
  4. Wrist wraps
  5. Headband
  6. Food for day of – almonds, green apples, beef jerky
  7. Baby oil

Baby oil?

“Baby oil helps to get off the tacky,” Cat, my lovely Strongman Coach, assures me. Tacky is a pine resin, specifically used during Strongman Stone competitions. You smear it over your legs and arms and chest and it helps you lift stones. My particular stone will be 150lbs. And I will be asked to lift it up and drop it over a bar, as many times as possible in a minute.

Tomorrow is a Strongman Competition, the list of events as follows including Novice weights (the level at which I’ll be competing):

  • Axle (clean and press each rep-lift & down command) NW-95lbs.
  • Deadlift (Standard bar from the floor, straps allowed, no suits or briefs, lift & down command) NW-215lbs.
  • Ironmind Sandbag Carry (max distance, no drops, turns at 50ft., 30 seconds to get it off the ground then no time limit) NW- 100lbs.
  • Medley-Yoke (50ft. Straight run, no drops allowed, Prowler push back)

    NW

    -300/230lbs.

  • Stone over bar (48″ for women, 52″for men, max reps) NW-150lbs.

Add to the list, Tacky clothes. Apparently once tacky gets on your clothes it never comes off which is why you need a separate set of clothes for using tacky and a plastic bag to carry those clothes home if you want to keep them. Which is why most stone over bar events are scheduled last during comps, to limit the amount of time needed to change.

When checking and rechecking my packing list, what I should really be doing is a gut-check. I’m starting to feel nervous, nauseous even. Competitions do this to me. I’ve struggled in the past with whether I really do like competing. While it all seems like fun in the beginning, the anticipation and camaraderie and excitement when first signing up, the training in the months and weeks leading up to the event. All wonderful. But game day? A whole other animal all together.

Cat and I are meeting in the ACF parking lot tonight at 6:30pm. We will load our gear into one car and commence the 3 hour drive to Boston. We’ll have a late dinner, try to get some sleep at the hotel and then up early and then… It’s Competition Day.

Admittedly, I would not be doing this by myself. Cat is a Strong Woman Competitor this is what she does. She’s training to go to Nationals.  She can jerk 160lbs. over head. She makes it look easy, and graceful all at the same time. I admire her strength and beauty. Going to this comp with her does lend a certain amount of ease and comfort. I trust her.

CrossFit is all about getting comfortable being uncomfortable – challenging yourself. I’m okay with that in the comforts and familiarity of the triple-wide of our lovely ACF box. But when you step outside that comfort zone, 3 hour drive outside, and into a foreign world with people you do not know and equipment you’ve never seen or touched amidst all elements unknown, everything changes. It is up to you to make peace, in your mind, in your heart, with your body.

Along with finishing well, doing my absolute best in this competition, my ultimate goal for tomorrow – is to find peace in competing.

Forecast – 77 Degrees and Sunny.

“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.”

― Sylvia Plath

stones

It wasn’t too long ago that I was struggling to come back from minor surgery. After a six week hiatus from CrossFit I was barely slogging by. My motivation had slowed to a trickle – barely audible. It was everything I could do to get to a WOD, let alone finish. My MoJo was on hiatus and I was worried it was gone for good. It wasn’t just my desire to work out, those moments you can battle through, but it was that feeling during the workout and specifically right after; that moment of finishing and feeling like you could simply do anything…That you were stronger than ever before. That feeling was missing. It was all I could do to barely finish a workout and when I was done I was left feeling more tired, completely exhausted, out of breath, barely able to stand and with the final haunting thought; I don’t need this shit. That koolaid, that feeling of getting better and stronger was simply gone. And that was scary as hell.

“But, I love CrossFit,” I thought.

I worried about what was happening to me. Was this only the beginning? Would I just start giving up on everything? Spend the rest of my days beached on the couch watching endless hours of reality TV and snacking on Oreo’s?

Like that sad empty feeling when you know you’re falling out of love with someone and you desperately struggle against it yet feel it all silently slipping. You feel powerless.

And that is exactly how I felt in May. I’ve put so much into my CrossFit basket. Perhaps too much. Perhaps not. I don’t think doing so is a mistake but that’s another post.

CrossFit is healthy. CrossFit teaches focus and discipline and working towards goals and leading by example and specifically how to not give up, especially when everything starts to really suck. Especially then – how to not give up.

And so I made a decision, with the discipline learned from a love that was falling away – I made a decision to not give up quite yet.

My goal: to find my lost MoJo. The plan: to reconnect. Any way possible. And so I reached out to Dean.

Together Dean and I set our sights on a goal long on the Horizon, the Mass State Strongman Competition. I would compete in the Novice division, Dean would train me to get ready.

Fast forward 10 weeks, after hours of showing up and training with Dean and countless WODs in the gas tank – I can happily say I feel reconnected again.

This weekend our lovely Strongman Coach, Cat, and I will be driving to a small town outside of Boston to compete in the Mass State Strongman Competition. With some hard work and sweat under my belt, with Dean’s pushing and training, I can say I’m happy, I’m excited, I’m ready, The weather forecast is 77 degrees and sunny. I feel stronger than ever before. I’ve found my MoJo.

Strength.

On Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 10 – 3pm a group of athletes, peers and friends came together to compete, cheer, coach, volunteer and encourage one another for the ACF 2nd annual Strongman Competition.

I placed third overall in my weight class. Upon hearing my name I sprinted to the corner of the triple-wide, lept up over the kegs and claimed my place on the podium.

top 2

The day’s first event was the max axle deadlift. The axle bar is a Strongman staple. I had a personal PR of 280lbs. on my deadlift today with the axle bar. There’s something that happens when it’s your turn to compete and you step up onto the mat, nod to the judge, and its 3, 2, 1… Go! I know recently I’ve been having some second thoughts about competing. But there was something in the air on Saturday, maybe it’s simply the mood of Strongman, relaxed, controlled, comfortable, encouraging, steady. This translated into the events themselves. I didn’t feel the usual nausea associated with competing. I simply felt like, I got this. Even on my lesser feats, like only 3 reps on the overhead log press at 90lbs. It was all simply okay. Perhaps the only true way to know if competing is for me is to compete in an actual Crossfit Competition, which has yet to happen.

Much more was gained throughout the day alongside personal bests and Doing when you think you simply cannot. When you’re not on the floor competing, there’s a lot of cheering, sharing stashes of beef jerky, and catching up with fellow athletes.

New and old friendships are made and strengthened.

As the hours passed us by I learned the heartbreaking news that a fellow athlete’s mom was just diagnosed with cancer. The athlete dropped out of the competition, but took a break from being at the hospital with her mom to stop in and cheer on her peeps. It was another competitor’s birthday, plans to celebrate post-competition dampened by news that only that very morning he had to give a final good by to his beloved dog of 15 years. The family dog was being driven to the vet that morning by the athlete’s father. Lastly, a dear friend, who had been having a rocky time recently with a relationship received a text msg. from said significant other saying it was time to end the relationship. Reminds me of a certain Sex and City episode, I said. Not sure which is worse, being broken up with by a post-it note, or text msg. Either way, better now then later, we agreed.

It’s been said before and bares repeating, as certain things do because they are so awesome and feel good to remember: Crossfit is a training ground for life.

It’s the hurdles that can knock the shit out of you. But you cannot avoid them.

Just like standing infront of the white board and staring at a WOD that looks so intimidating you wonder if anyone will notice if you sneak out during the warm up. It all may sound too simple. But it takes a great deal of strength of mind to go through some of life’s most difficult and heart breaking moments. It takes strength of mind to say yes to testing your body and your will, to pushing it past any perceive threshold and simply doing when you think you can not. By testing your body, you strengthen your mind. Training your whole You to stand up straight and walk ahead facing whatever lies before you.

Oh, and Crossfit also builds an incredible community around you that says, we got your back.

We are strong People, onto the next event.

 

The Time is Nigh.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battlewhich any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” ― E.E. Cummings

On Saturday we compete. The Strongman Competition has finally arrived. If you’re not familiar, Strongman is a branch of Crossfit. Or Crossfit is a branch of Strongman. Or the two met in the middle of a windswept field of daisies and it’s been wedded bliss ever since. You basically lift really heavy awkward things like tires and stones and move them across a distance for time. Or in Crossfit speak, increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.

Yard work for people who do not have yards.

There will be lots of cheering and colorful knee socks and camaraderie and sparkly nail polish (my personal secret weapon of choice, guaranteeing certain victory).

Everyone competes at different weights, based on their weight class, the weights with which I will be competing are included with each event below:

1) 9-6-3 Stone 2 Shoulder/Tire Flip Medley – 7 min time cap. – 
Stone: 90lbs. 
Tire: 275lbs.

2) Max Axle DeadLlift – 3 Attempts (60 seconds to complete each rep)
 20 pound jumps for all classes.
 Bar starts at: 160lbs.

3) Log Clean and Jerk – Max reps in 90 Seconds. at 90lbs. (Of all the events this makes me the most weary as we know I am weakest with anything overhead. Get it!)

4) Keg/Yoke/ Farmer Medley – 90 sec time cap
. – Keg: 140lbs.
 Farmer’s Medley weights are per hand: 110lbs.
 Yoke: 290lbs.

5) Keg over Bar – Max reps in 90 Seconds.
 Keg at 105lbs.

RULES: No Tacky, No Suits, No Straps, No Sumo. Belt, Chalk, Sleeves OK. Control the apparatus or its a No Rep. More details day of.

“To-day we may say aloud before an awe-struck world: ‘We are still masters of our fate. We are still captain of our souls.” ― Winston Churchill

steel and stone.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Last night during Strongman we practiced reps and movements for our upcoming competition. If you have never seen what a posting for a Strongman competition looks like, take a look below. It’s like trying to decipher Morse Code. But, if you take the time to study it like a person who is registered to compete and wanted to know just exactly what it is you’re going to hoisting up off of the ground in feats of pure strength power and determination, well it all eventually begins to make sense. Let me know what you think:

Date: 12/08/12

Time: Rules 9:30am, 10am Start
Entry Fee: $30
Weight Classes: MEN <150, <175, <200, 201+ WOMEN <140, <165, 166+
Weigh-ins: Dec 7th 6pm – 8pm, Dec 8th 8:30am

Events:

1) 9-6-3 Stone 2 Shoulder/Tire Flip – 7 min time cap Stone/Tire Size: (115lbs/M<150, 130lbs/M<175, 130lbs/L<200, 150lbs/L 201+/ 60lbs/S<140, 75lbs/S<165, 90lbs/S 166+)

2) Max Axle DL – 3 Attempts (60 seconds to complete each rep) 20 pound jumps for all classes. Bar starts at: (280lbs<150, 300lbs<175, 320lbs<200, 340lbs 201+/ 120lbs<140, 140lbs<165, 160lbs 166+)

3) Log Clean and Jerk – Max reps in 90 Seconds (110lbs<150, 130lbs<175, 150lbs<200, 170lbs 201+/ 70lbs<140, 80lbs<165, 90lbs 166+)

4) Keg/Yoke/ Farmer Medley – 90 sec time cap (140keg<150, 140keg<175, 190keg<200, 190keg 201+/ 105keg<140, 105keg<165, 140keg 166+) Farmer Medley – Weights are per hand: (110lbs<150, 130lbs<175, 150lbs<200, 170lbs 201+/ 70lbs <140, 90lbs <165, 110lbs 166+) Yoke (330lbs<150, 380lbs<175, 420lbs<200, 470lbs 201+/ 190lbs <140, 240lbs <165, 290lbs 166+)

5) Keg over Bar – Max reps in 90 Seconds (105keg<150, 140keg<175, 190keg<200, 190keg 201+/ 75keg<140, 75keg<165, 105keg 166+)

RULES: No Tacky, No Suits, No Straps, No Sumo. Belt, Chalk, Sleeves OK. Control the apparatus or it’s a No Rep. More details day of.

After Strongman we move onto Ladies Night. These are my Wednesday nights now, right up until the I get home and its time for bed. Strongman then Ladies Night. In that order. CF bliss.

I PR’d on my axil deadlift at 251lbs. tonight at Ladies Night. The axil bar is much thicker than the Olympic bar. Very difficult to maintain a grip. It’s been some time since doing deadlifts. If I was able to inch up to 251 on the axil, I wonder where I am with a regular Olympic bar deadlift.

There’s a rumor our competition may be canceled. Not enough people signed up. Fingers of steel and stone crossed.

Inspiration

What’s better than bacon for Sunday Breakfast? Scrambled eggs and spinach cooked in the bacon grease. 

Less than two months ago I visited my BFF in MN. She’s always been an active person, and expressed a lot of interest in learning more about Crossfit. Not really sure she had much of a choice since it’s all I seem to talk about. I do try and curb this habit, but am not always successful. She’s a patient and dutiful listener. Since I just earned my Level 1, she agreed to learn the basics. Did I mentioned she’s a BFF? She’s all mine. You can’t have her. 

She also used to run. But it had been a while. We decided to park the car 1.5 miles from her gym run as far as we could, walk the rest to the gym, where would then work out, practice some CF basics, and run as much as possible back to the car. She stated her goal very clearly; I want to run a 5K. 

On the way in, we ran a mile and walked the rest. On the way out, we ran a mile and walk the rest back to the car. 

This weekend she ran her first official 5K! That’s less than two months. It’s not even as if since visiting she has talked (text) much about her progress, her running, her trips to the gym. She just went about working towards her goal, quietly. Determined. She is my inspiration. 

I need a new goal. CF is going well, and I love our community. But, I’ve fallen off the healthy diet wagon the last week or so, and feeling the need to focus on something tangible, something measureable, something grand, that will get my eye back on the prize, and drag the rest of me along with it towards the finish. 

Enter: Heavy for the Holidays. A Strongman Competition.

Really had no designs on Strongman when starting Crossfit. Really had no idea what it was, other than the occasional late night cable viewing of men in kilts throwing and carrying large awkward things. That would be the Scottish Games, but it’s all the same. Except for the kilt part, which I will gladly wear to either. Kilts are quite comfortable.

In reading through the weights and loads for women, I am out of my league. And the Goal has been set. I want to compete. I want to be able to compete. I want to be strong enough to load 400lbs. of steel on my shoulders and carry it 80’ for time. I do. I actually do.

And so, there is work to be done. 

My BFF has shown me all you need is a goal, and the determination to reach it.  

Event Details below:

  1. Rising Yoke: 80’ runs each, no drops, all three times combined will determine placing, separate runs each: Overhead – 120lbs, Zercher – 300lbs, Back – 400lbs
  2. Grip Event, 1min to load odd shaped objects to platform using only one hand at a time, 10 objects total, hubs/blobs/anvils/metal skulls
  3. Stone to Shoulder, 90secs, max reps – W 140lbs
  4. Farmers, 50’ each way, for time W 120/130lbs
  5. MAX AXLE, rising bar in 10lb increments, each athlete gets 3 attempts each at overhead and deadlift, both lifts added together will determine total, at 200lbs bar will go to tires at 15”.