“Christine”

Today was my third attempt at “Christine.” My first attempt was on my first day there, and my second was… dang, I can’t find it! I didn’t know its name was “Christine” when I first blogged it. Anyway, my time on my last attempt was about 14:30 I’m pretty sure. If we get under 10 minutes, we get a T-shirt.
Three rounds:
Row 500 meters
Bodyweight deadlift 12 reps
21 box jumps
I shaved some time off but am nowhere near getting a sub-10 shirt. My time was 12:57. I need to do the deadlifts faster, Dave suggested, by following the bar down as I drop it. I know I also need my 500-meter row to get faster. I think I rowed 1:55, 2:05, and about 2:08. Not bad but not going to get me that T-shirt.
Later I tried dead-hang pull-ups, after weeks of kipping them, and found I could do six; I rested for a few minutes and then did another six on the rings. It was hard not to kip because after getting used to it, it feels so natural to swing into the pull-ups.

Mondays

Tonight was a lung-busting workout of 7 rounds for time:
10 kettlebell swings (24 kg)
20 lateral jumps over a medicine ball (back and forth counted as one, so it was really 40!)
5 hanging leg-raises
10 push-ups
This took me 21 minutes. I came at 6:00 so most people had left, and I worked out with Dave. I was glad he admitted to thinking the jump-overs are brutal! We used to do those at boxing, jumping over a stepper, and I never got enough stamina built up to do 20 without stopping.
Last Monday was especially hard: 30 minutes, starting on each new minute doing 10 burpees and 5 V-ups. You had to keep going for 30 minutes, so you had to have at least 15 seconds of rest at the end of each minute before the next one started. This meant I quickly reduced the rounds to 8, 6, then 5 burpees per round in order to get through it. Once again even the fittest people said they were sore for days after that one!

Volleyball

Saturday was our first day back on the sand volleyball court with Tom’s coworkers since last year. This is our third year of playing. It was a bit much to do that after Suffer on Saturday and I was ready to quit after three games of 25 points.
I found that I hadn’t lost anything over the winter—not that I was very good before. I make some good plays and plenty of mistakes. This is equally true for almost everybody we play with, with two glaring exceptions. One is a guy in his 20s who is a natural star athlete, quick and light and gifted with aim and power. You can tell he tries not to hog the ball too much. The other is a guy about my age who is really good at volleyball and is one of those people who both hog the ball and get irritated with the mistakes of his inferiors—let’s call him B.
B. drives me crazy. Last year, my second year out there with Tom and his teammates, I grew more and more aware of his critical remarks. “Just one or two more steps and you would have got to it! Move fast!” “If you don’t hit the ball, it will fall to the ground!” This isn’t personal. He does this to everybody. He also acknowledges good plays. But it’s such a downer to see him get impatient and critical! I think he gets tired and cranky and doesn’t know when to quit. I don’t know why he doesn’t just find or organize a better team to practice with. There are lots of teams and willing players at their company.
A few things are different for me this year. For one, I now know everyone’s skills, quirks, and social habits very well, so playing with them is less of an unknown. And second, this year I’ve been going to CrossFit, where people are exceptionally supportive and positive. I now feel that everyone in sports should be that nice. A team sport like volleyball is different from the mostly individual skills we use at the gym, and our workouts aren’t exactly a sport anyway because they’re not very competitive. But still, I’m playing volleyball for fun just as I’m trying out gymnastics and weights for fun, and so my complaints about B. have suddenly crystallized.
In any case, I can’t stand it when people hog the ball, running all over the court and getting in front of people. Then the one time they don’t hog the ball, it comes to your position and you don’t get to it, they’re irritated. You can’t expect less-skilled players to hone their moves if you hog the ball, and if they expect you to hog the ball, they’re not ready when you don’t. And the other problem I have, whether it’s B.’s fault or mine I’m not sure, is that I can’t tolerate feeling that my mistakes are being cataloged and I’m seen as someone who needs to have the ball hogged away from her.
I also don’t see any point in playing if it’s not fun and if I can’t expect to improve my skills because others won’t stay in position. So after Saturday’s experience, I’ve pretty much decided not to play this year. Trying a team sport was a big challenge for me two years ago and took a lot of nerve after my experiences in school. Now I can say I gave it a good try and if I acknowledge that I prefer solo sports and just working out, I can accept that without feeling like I don’t know what I’m missing or I have a chip on my shoulder. Also as Tom reminds me, if I’d like to see my workouts as a sport, I can just imagine challenging B. to a pull-up contest. I’d bet on myself in that competition.

Suffer on Saturday

Yesterday our friend Julie went to CrossFit North with me and Tom to check out the whole thing for herself. We carpooled together on my last contract job at Microsoft, and I’m sure I spent many miles talking about the gym. Julie is really strong to start with, though she feels she’s out of shape, and I think she’d be especially good at the O-lifting workouts we do.
Several other first-timers showed up yesterday also—several kids and teenagers with middle-aged dads. Then there were some super-strong young guys who I don’t see too often at the gym, but I knew they’d smoke the rest of us in whatever the events turned out to be. Altogether there were between 16 and 20 people participating.
Dave divided us into four teams of four to five people and we did relay sprints with exercises: sprint to the end of the gym, do the exercise, sprint back, and continue until five people had gone. (Teams of four had to have someone go twice.) The exercises at the end of the sprints were:
round 1, 20 squats;
round 2, 10 push-ups;
round 3, 15 kettlebell high-pulls;
round 4, 15 sit-ups;
round 5, 5 pull-ups (jumping from a bench to the bar if you couldn’t do unassisted pull-ups);
round 6, 5 more pull-ups (just because, Dave said, he likes pull-ups); and finally round 7 (after I asked half jokingly, “Is that all?”), a combination round of 20 squats, 10 push-ups, 5 pull-ups.
Julie did well and was a very good sport, having no problem with going twice when it was her turn to do that. She did all her push-ups on hands and toes, refusing to switch to knee push-ups. Afterward she tried the harness-and-pulley rings for an assisted muscle-up—the harness takes half your weight—and she did her first one smoothly and instinctively, without needing to be told to keep her elbows in and so on. Today she left me a phone message saying she was in “excruciating pain,” but she sounded in good spirits and said she’s planning to go back with her husband. I’m looking forward to seeing them both there.

Chariot Races

Last night was, as “Army Dave” described it, MADNESS! There were four of us at 6:00: me and Tom, Carrie and “regular Dave.” The males teamed up and the females teamed up. Carrie and I had to take turns pushing each other around in a circle two times while the push-ee held onto a loaded barbell as if it was an axle. This killed my back! It also gave me astro-turf burns on my knees, from the end of each run, when Carrie let me down and I crashed onto the floor. There was no good way to stop.

In between chariot races, we had to do 10 pull-ups.

Haul This

It’s going to be hard to keep FitNotes up to date now that I’m working again. Last week, my first week on the job, showed me what an efficiency challenge it’s going to be to get to the gym at all, let alone four nights a week as I like to do. The bus from downtown is slow; biking home and jumping in the car is slow. I have a regular carpool set up on Fridays, when I can leave work at 4:30 and ride to the gym with my coworker/gym friend, who referred me to the job in the first place. I may have some chances to carpool from downtown with another gym acquaintance on some of the other nights. Getting to the gym is a major priority and I’ll do it one way or another. The struggle is going to be in aligning my desires with reality without stressing out too much. I need to keep my focus on ways to solve this problem and try not to either resent the job or judge myself as somehow defective if I chafe against the schedule.
Outside the time constraints caused by work, going to the gym, and my other big priority—yard work—I’ll do the best I can to at least log the more interesting workouts, such as today’s.
Tom and I biked to the gym and found a May Day workout posted on the white board: “It’s May Day. Have you hugged a boulder yet? Run to the public garden area; put a boulder on a sledge; drag the boulder to the flowerbed that needs to be edged with boulders. Do 30 push-ups. Get another boulder. Do as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes.” The gym is in a hangar in a huge park that used to be a naval base. Other areas and former Navy buildings in the park are used for things like beaches, kite-flying areas, offleash dog parks, a sculpture garden, a sailing school, a kayak rental, and a public garden called a P-Patch. Anyone can sign up for a plot in the P-Patch to grow edibles and flowers. I’m not sure how big the plots are, maybe 100 square feet, and there are lots of them. In the middle there’s a sundial and some benches; around the perimeter are a nursery area and a staging area for bulk-delivered materials like bark, compost, and boulders.
Our coach today, Thomas, is one of the gardeners, and he’s been working on getting the boulders moved up the hill to where they’re needed. The rocks were bigger than your head but smaller than your torso—maybe about the size of the human hips—and just about too heavy to lift any higher than the little lip of the sledges. The sledges were small pieces of plywood, edged with 2X4’s and with long loops of rope attached. The rope went around the hips and you towed the thing behind you, one plodding step at a time like an ox. We had to resist the urge to reach back and use the arms for added pulling power, because the legs are so much stronger and because we needed the arms for the push-ups in between boulder-hauls. Tom and I hauled five rocks each in the 30 minutes and did 30 push-ups on the grass after we dropped off each rock.
It was really fun to work outside, something I’d have been doing at home anyway (although I unfortunately don’t have any boulders at our house), and fun also to get the crazy looks from the few gardeners on the scene. The looks got even crazier when I said we pay by the month to do this kind of thing. Thomas gave us a bag of fresh herbs to take home in return for our help, so we felt like good P-Patch volunteers in spite of the fact that this was actually our gym workout.
After this craziness was over with, we biked to the north end of the park, on the lake shore, and rented kayaks spontaneously. It was such a beautiful day and I’m so glad we took advantage of the chance to rent kayaks in such a nice convenient spot—no fuss, no logistics required—choose your kayak, fill out a form, leave the shoulder bag in the shop, and carry the boats to the water. When the kayak shop guy asked us how we found out about the shop, we told him about the gym that’s close by and what we do there, and his eyes bugged out.
We paddled along the shoreline of the large park, and a bald eagle observed us from the top of a small cottonwood right over the water. I imagine he wanted to be low like that because of the murkiness of the water—but come to think of it, there weren’t many really tall trees around there. Tom has a great eye for spotting birds.
On the way home on our bikes, we stopped at a Thai restaurant for lunch. I definitely wasn’t presentable after all the sweaty activity, but we were hungry enough not to care.