Sub 10

Today’s Suffer on Saturday workout was “Jackie.”
Row 1000 meters
50 thrusters (45-pound barbell for women, 65 pounds for men)
30 pull-ups
It’s one of the benchmark workouts, though this one only for women, in which you win a Sub 10 T-shirt if you finish in under 10 minutes. There are two or three other T-shirt-qualifying workouts–“Christine” and “Helen” are two of them–and I’m not sure why only women get a T-shirt for this one. I finished in 9:42 and was happy to wear my T-shirt afterwards.

Suffer on Saturday: “Helen”

Three rounds:
Run 400 yards around building
21 kettlebell swings, 16 kg for women, 24 kg for men
12 pull-ups
If you do it in under 10 minutes, you win a sub-10 T-shirt. Tom won his. He shaved 1:04 off of his previous “Helen” and finished this one in 9:44. Four or five other super-fit men got sub-10 also, and they all got their picture taken in their T-shirts. They looked like they should be on a hunks calendar.
I hadn’t done “Helen” before. I had wishful hopes of doing sub-10, but I made it in 10:54—not bad! I’d like to work on improving my running-when-tired speed. My first run is usually decent, but it changes completely after I do something like KB swings, squats, or other runs. Maybe I can slice 55 seconds off by the next time Helen comes around.
Lots of fun today, with so many people working so fast and strongly and cheering for each other. Tom was completing his final pull-ups right in front of me for his sub-10 as I was doing my final KB swings. Dave was next to Tom counting pull-ups and watching the stopwatch. I was trying to count my KB swings while watching Tom, and somebody saw me grinning and hollered, “Fran, focus!” Good advice!

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.

Suffer on Saturday

Updated to add links to photos, which seem intended to highlight my bad-looking gray hair… somebody give me some hair advice please…
I’m almost too tired to blog! Today’s semi-competitive workout event was a kind of combination adventure race and game of chance. With the gym being on an old Navy base, the planner of today’s workout decided to use the little roads, alleys, and loading docks surrounding the building.
To start, everybody took off in pairs, two pairs at a time, once per minute. You had to run to the starting area (a dead-end alley at a loading dock); jump up onto the dock; pick one of four numbers you were carrying on cards; and spin a wheel to determine which exercise you’d do for that number of reps. You’d do the exercise, then run around either one or two buildings depending on how many reps you’d done. This continued until you’d done an exercise for all four of your numbers and had run either a longer or shorter course in between each exercise.
My four numbers were 75, 60, 45, and 30 and my plan—like a lot of people’s, I assume—was to get my high numbers out of the way first. I picked 75, spun the wheel and got kettlebell swings. I used a 16-kg kettlebell and 75 swings went by pretty fast. I think I rested at 55 and at 70. Because 75 was one of my two highest numbers of reps, I ran the shorter course, which was probably about a quarter mile.
Next I chose 60 and spun the wheel for push-ups, which were to be done with hands on a bar about a foot off the ground. There was just enough room for two people on the bar, and I was next to a guy who’s a super jock—not that it should matter, but I felt unrealistically competitive, always hoping I can keep up with the guys. I did my push-ups in sets of 10 until I got to 40, then went to knee push-ups and did 10, 6, and 4. I ran the short course again, which seemed a lot longer this time.
My third exercise was 45 reps of ring-rows—leaning back against a pair of rings at about 45 degrees and pulling my chest up to the rings. This was my hardest drill. I tried to keep my shoulder blades tight and pull with my whole back and sides, but I guess I was tired from the push-ups and this drill took me longer than any of the others. I did one set of 15 and then quickly deteriorated into mini-sets of 5 or 3 or 2. This was one of my two lower numbers of reps, which meant I had to run the longer course, around two buildings and the space between them. Dave later said he thought this course was about 3/4 mile.
Finally, my last exercise of 30 reps turned out to be high-pull deadlifts with kettlebells. I chose the uniquely red-painted 24-kg kettlebell, used my legs to spring it up, and worried about hitting myself in the chin. But my chin was safe. A 24-kg kettlebell, pulled up by me, has no surplus upward momentum. During the 30 reps, I think I rested at 20 and 28. I’m trying to stop resting during exercises, and a good place to cut rests would be when I only have two reps left. I mean, would it have been impossible for me to do two more reps after no. 28 without stopping? Probably not. But it seemed too hard at the time.
I ran (jogged) the long course again and finished with a time of 30:52. I was pleased with my time because I had done well at resisting the urge to rest, to walk during the runs, to re-tie my shoes, and so on. It was a lot of fun to use a larger outdoor area instead of just our usual run around the same old building, especially because most of us had never even seen the hidden loading-dock areas before.
The women were given lower sets of four numbers than the men got. So we did the same drills but had a time advantage, and I think a lot of women came in ahead of a lot of the men. For instance, Tom’s four numbers were something like 80, 75, 60, and 45—a total of 260 reps compared to my 210. I asked him twice what his exercises (selected by spinning the wheel) were, but nevertheless I can’t remember. Brain-dead! Some of the exercises I didn’t have to do were wall-ball throws, medicine-ball throws into the air, 4-count crunches, V-ups, push-press, and basketball push-ups (done with the hands on two basketballs—I’d surely fall on my face!).
I didn’t even blog last night’s workout, but it was fun also, and involved kettlebell swings (24 kg), medicine ball throws, squats, and sit-ups. Afterward Nancy and I practiced handstands for quite a while, did a couple of spotted muscle-ups, and watched Tom do his second or third muscle-up. Everyone agrees that even after you can do one, it’s not something you can do reliably on every attempt, maybe not even every week, although for expert male gymnasts it is only a basic skill.
I can’t go to the gym all next week because I have to fast for a colonoscopy. It will be my first one and I’m having it at 40 instead of 50 because of a family history. I’m not going to be like Katie Couric and have it televised, but if I’m not too crabby from the fasting—and if I don’t decide it’s sharing WAY too much information—I’ll blog about it. The procedure is on Thursday morning, and I have to start severely curtailing my food intake on Monday morning.

Successful Suffering

After all my worry last night, I ended up very happy with myself after today’s Suffer on Saturday workout. I spoke to Erika, one of many nice people at the gym, before the thing started and asked her how she does pull-ups when she gets tired. She showed me a lower bar that she uses. She can keep her feet on the ground and jump, then pull, into each pull-up. I was so glad I asked her, because this turned out to be a much better way (for me) to assist the pull-ups than the rubberband. After the whole thing was over and I recovered for a while, I tried and succeeded in doing some full kipping pull-ups, getting my chin well above the bar.
The workout was:
400-meter sprint
50 air squats (using a medicine ball underneath to gauge depth)
400-meter sprint
50 push-ups
400-meter “sprint” (by now it was more a jog)
50 sit-ups (I hooked my feet under some dumbbells)
400-meter “sprint”
25 pull-ups
My time was 19:20. I had hoped to be under 20 minutes but wasn’t sure that would happen because of my slow runs and my many broken sets of push-ups and pull-ups. If I hadn’t done jumping pull-ups, my time would have been much slower.
Before we left, we did lots of extra stuff. It’s so much fun to be there and goof off, trying out new drills without having them be an obligatory part of a workout. Assistant coach Michael showed me and Nancy and Erika some drills we can use to work up to the muscle-up. I should write those down soon. They involved bringing a pair of rings down low enough to practice ring dips going for full depth, then lowering them even more and using them for really deep push-ups. Hard!
After we spent a bunch of time on that, Erika and I both did muscle-ups in the harness. It provides so much assistance that it doesn’t count as really doing a muscle-up, but at least you can practice the techniques of the false grip, the ring pull-up, the transition from the pull-up to the dip, the final push to vertical, keeping the rings right against the body, and the controlled descent. Lots of fun and really hard! Even with the harness. The first one I did, I hollered “Hey Tom!” because I was so excited about doing it and wanted to make sure he saw me. I also whispered to Nancy, “Take my picture!” Silly.
When we got home, I did some yard work. I was surprised I had energy for that, but it was a beautiful day with a few sun breaks and I was happy to be outside.
I’m hoping Tom will blog his Suffer on Saturday too. Hey Tom!

“Run These Sandbags Around the Building”

[Written at Fran’s request while she was away – Tom.]
That was our team’s first task at this morning’s “Suffer on Saturday” at Cross Fit North. The point of which was to give the other competing team time to do as many kettle bell (KB) swings [warning: head banger music] as possible. There were 9 sandbags to divide among our 16 people – too many to split evenly. We paired up and took off while the other team commenced swinging. After a surprisingly short time, my sandbag became a real burden and I passed it off to my partner who sprinted off like a man possessed. Eventually we got all the sandbags back to the gym and the other team had to stop their KB swings and tally their score. Once the numbers were recorded it was their turn to haul ass and ours to start swinging.
I started with what was, in the coaches’ opinions, too light a KB so I had to spend some time looking for a more suitable weight. That accomplished, I needed a quick lesson in technique as I’d never done these before. When the other team returned, my number of swings was the puniest of the team, but hey, it was my first time.
The other team’s next task was to do as many dips as possible while, you guessed it, we ran those darned sandbags around the building. Did I mention it was raining? No worries though, the 2nd time around was a little easier because I had a better idea of what pace was sustainable.
Arriving back at the gym, we found the other team had put up incredible dip totals. Several of them did prodigious amounts of that exercise! It turned out the dips weren’t overly taxing, because as soon as you burned out someone else would take your spot and you could rest and recover. However, I was worried about the parallel bars on which 5 or 6 people were doing dips simultaneously – it was really flexing!
The other team returned so away we went again w/ the now-familiar sandbags. While we were on this last leg, they were climbing the ropes hanging from the gym’s ceiling. Once it was our turn, I realized that rope climbing isn’t as easy as when I was in grade school – probably because I weigh more than 65 pounds now. With two ropes we had to take turns – most people got in two climbs before our comrades-with-weary-arms returned.
Who won? Well, aren’t we all winners for getting up early on Saturday and subjecting ourselves to this treatment? No, you say? The dips were our Achilles’ heel so to speak and the other team more points than we did. If only we had Fran on our team…