Benchmarks & PR's

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Clean and Jerk PR - Again

  
I spent yesterday at CrossFit 2A working on Clean and Jerk technique. With lighter weights, I can tell that I am getting under the bar better. I was able to get 195# with some tips from Nicole and Mike. I failed at 200#, but I think that is all in my head.

Turns out that the C&J ladder is the first WOD for this weekend's Nor'Easter Masters competition at Reebok CrossFit One in Canton. The weights start at 135# and work up to 195#. The ladder format is AMRAP 1 C&J, then AMRAP 1 C2B pull-ups. So I have to do as many clean and jerks of 135# as possible in 1 minute, then 1 minute of chest to bar pull-ups, then back to C&J with 145#, then pull-ups again, then keep repeating that pattern adding 10# to the bar each time until 195# in the last round.

The rest of the workouts come out later today. Can't wait to see what they have in store for us.

Morning Class PR

  
I went to the 6:30AM class today at CrossFit 2A. Chad was coaching and several 2A friends that I rarely get to work out with were on hand. I was going to skip today (scheduling conflicts), but I saw that we were doing clean and jerks for a 1RM, so I got up early and drove up. I had watched the video that Nicole posted and was determined to improve my squat clean. With lighter weight, I felt like I had the form going pretty well. As I got heavier, the "shrug" got harder and I had more trouble completing the lift.

My old PR for clean and jerk was 175# from last month. I got 155# easily. There was a shortage of 10's, so I ended up at 185# pretty quick. I gave that about 5 tries and could clean it a few times, but could not get it overhead. As others finished, more weights became available and I dropped down to 180#. It took a few attempts, but as we ran out of time, I managed to clean it and jerk it. My form must have been better because it felt better going up.

After class, Mike and Chad started the workout. I had nowhere to be, so I spent more time on squat cleans and tried a few more clean and jerks. I tried 185# again, but no dice. Maybe soon, though.

So the new C+J PR stands at 180#.

Operation Throwdown

  
Last weekend I participated in my first 2-day competition. I signed up for the scaled division of the Garage Games Operation Throwdown at CrossFit Homebase. The facility and the weather were great all weekend and I was very happy with my performance. I did not go in thinking I was going to light up the field, but I did manage to improve a little bit on every WOD. I had practiced each one over the past 2 weeks, and I beat my time, weight, or reps of all 5 workouts.

Saturday ended up being a tough day for scheduling, so I ended up with no cheering section for those 3 workouts. Still, the adrenaline and kindness of strangers kept me up for the workouts. I managed to 3-rep my previous 1-rep max clean (185#).  I finished the chipper (I did not finish it in my practice) - 30 burpees, 30 sit-ups, 30 box jumps, 30 snatches at 75#, 30 box jumps, 30 sit-ups and 30 more burpees. The last workout on Saturday was a 7 minute AMRAP of 95# bear complex. In practice, I got 14 reps. In the comp, I managed 22 reps.

Sunday was the best; Laurie, Katie and Ethan came out with me. When I arrived, Nicole and Mike from CrossFit 2A were already there. They all yelled at me to keep me going through the last 2 tough workouts.

The hardest workout was 3 rounds of a 400m runn and 21 thrusters. I cranked out the first round unbroken. I was pretty much dying during the second run, then I did 3 sets of 7 thrusters. I tried to recover during the last run. That did not happen. On the way back to the bar, I was thinking "3 more set of 7. 3 more sets of 7."  I arrived at the bar with Nicole in my face - "11 and 10!  11 and 10, " she was yelling.  Crap. I did the 11. I got a few more and had to put the bar down. Then back up to finish. I was wrecked but finished the workout in about 10:22. In practice, I could not finish under the 12 minute time cap. Cheering (and yelling) makes a huge difference.


Dying during 3 rounds of 21 thrusters. I know - I need to lock out further back.


Mike and Katie supporting my effort - not sure what Ethan is doing

The last WOD was a scaled Diane. 21-15-9 Deadlifts at 155# and hand release push-ups. I watched the early heats and was dismayed to see many of the competitors had scaled all the way to doing pushups on their knees. Some did not. One - that ruins the comparison and, two, in what world are push-ups on your knees allowed in competition. I knew I would take a worse time but would do "real" hand release push-ups. I practiced this workout during open gym at CrossFit Craic the weekend before and finished in about 4 minutes. As I started, Nicole yelled out "All unbroken!" Except for a 2 second rest at the bottom of a push-up, I got through the whole thing unbroken in 2:55. A full minute faster than practice. Awesome stuff!

I have been hitting CrossFit pretty hard this week, I have another week before the Nor'Easter Masters competition on July 29-30. I am recovering slowly and look forward to competing with folks my age (but I suspect many of them will still kick my butt).
 

PR Tally Continues to Rise

  
This has been a great week of small improvements. Monday was 1RM thrusters. This was pretty much horrible to do, but I was very pleased with a new PR of 155#. Tuesday was more shoulder work at CrossFit 2A, this time was strict presses at 95# and then 115# snatches. Those were not PRs.  Tuesday night I went to CrossFit Craic to work on weighted pull ups (for the first time) and push presses. I manage several pull ups with a 23# kettlebell, then I topped out the push press at 155# (new PR).  Wednesday was mostly a running day with loads of sprints. Thursday at 2A was 1RM overhead squats. My previous best that I had written down was 115#, but that was at the end of a workout and I snatched it to get the weight up there to start - not ideal for a PR. Today saw me get 125# (in the video), then 145# a few minutes later. I still managed to get 3 reps, so I don't actually know my 1RM, yet.


New Clean PRs

  
Last week I reached 175# clean. Monday was Murph (1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, 1 mile run). Tuesday at lunch was at CrossFit 2A: snatch work then a sick WOD of 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 of ground to overhead with a 45# plate - with 5 burpees and 30 double-unders between each set. Tuesday evening I dropped in at CrossFit Craic for clean work. I got some tips from Pete on getting under the bar and topped out with a new PR at 185#.

Also, my muscle ups are back! Woo Hoo.

Getting ready for two 2-day competitions this month. The first is June 15-16 at CrossFit Homebase. The next is two weeks later - June 29 and 30 - at Reebok CrossFit One. That is a Masters comp, so I am eager to see what the WODs will be for that one.


Reflections on the Northeast Regionals

  
I spent all of last weekend attending the Northeast Regionals in Canton, MA. Besides great weather, readily available paleo food, and tons of clothing and equipment to check out, there were amazing athletes to watch. Some would excel, others would succeed and others would do their best but find the combination of tasks too difficult. Regardless of the outcomes, the cheering and support that the fans gave to all the athletes was the stuff that gets us hooked on CrossFit from the start. Many came to support their teams, and others were friends and family of individual competitors. Regardless of affiliation, we cheered for all the accomplishments and struggles.

As typical with most CrossFit competitions, the athletes that completed a workout early would frequently run back out to encourage those still working to finish. It helped drive the competitor, and it got the crowd into supporting everyone that was giving it their all.

One athlete that caught my attention during the weekend was Casey Justason from CrossFit Hingham. She finished 63rd in the Opens, so she (hopefully) had not expectation to get to the Games next month. Nonetheless, she clearly trained hard to get to Regionals and her work ethic is unquestionable. I loved watching her put in the effort for all the workouts, and I hope to see her in future competitions soon. I took many photos of Casey. You can see how hard she must train and eat right to be in this top condition. Just inspirational.

Casey Justason

Casey Justason

Casey Justason

Another athlete that I was watching was Heather Bergeron. Unlike Casey, Heather had a real shot at the Games this year after finishing 18th in the Opens. I have seen Heather compete several times in the past, and she was in top form all weekend. She finished 8th in the Regionals and finished 3rd in one workout (30 burpee muscle ups for time) and 4th in the last WOD. However, I acquired a tangible bit of CrossFit wisdom while watching Heather row. She (and many of the top athletes) do not row in and out as fast as humanly possible. Instead, they pull hard as hell and hold the laid out position for a second before returning the handle forward for the next pull. The return is not rushed, but controlled. It gives the rower a second or two of rest before the next max effort pull. I tried this at my box today. WOW! What a huge difference. I pulled at about the same speed (1:56/500m), but used only 22 strokes per minute instead of my usual 29-33 strokes per minute. At the end of the row, I felt much better that after any previous row. I will be using this technique from now on.

Heather Bergeron

The last observation I will share was the rise, fall, and rise of the team from CrossFit Free in Salem, NH. The team is led by Brandon Peterson and they qualified for Regionals by placing 24th in the Opens. Shortly after the Opens, I participated in a one-day competition at Free. I worked out with many of the athletes on their team, and they are a hard working bunch. On a whiteboard upstairs, the Free team had listed each member's name and the aspects of their fitness that each was working to improve before Regionals. When the team first came out on Friday, I could tell they had been working up to peak shape. One of my favorites, Lynn Cassotis (mother of 3), had clearly improved her strength. Her arms looked amazing and she was generally ripped.

Unfortunately, the second team workout on Friday included max overhead squats followed by at least 3 burpee muscle ups for each team member. This combination proved to be too much for Lynn. At the same moment, Brandon hurt his shoulder and could not complete his overhead squats. Free's time at Regionals ended too soon on Friday.

Later that day, Brandon posted on Facebook. Essentially, he wrote "thanks for supporting us. Sometimes things don't work out. Training for 2014 starts tomorrow." I would have loved to see the team from Free continue through Saturday and Sunday, but when they didn't they immediately set their sights on the next long term goal.

CrossFit Free Team at 2013 Northeast Regionals

CrossFit is supposed to be hard and challenge each athlete to push beyond the limits that they think they have. Sometimes you burst through the pain and resistance to new heights, and sometimes the WOD kicks your ass. Luckily, there is always another workout and another goal to work toward. I love that Brandon focused his team immediately on getting ready for next Spring. Likewise, I have set my sights on 12 more months of personal improvement and hope to demonstrate the fruits of my labor in the Opens next year.

Clean and Jerk PR

  
At the end of a OTM 10 of Clean and Jerks, I added weight and managed a new PR of 175# (up 10# from last PR). With more time, I think I could have gone a bit heavier. Good stuff.


New graffiti looks awesome!

  
Love it!


New PRs

  
We did CrossFit Total yesterday: 1RM back squat, 1RM strict press, 1RM dead lift. I set new personal records in each. Back squat was 255#, strict press was 115#, and dead lift was 265#. Of all of these, I am most happy with the dead lift because my previous was 245# and I felt like my form was much better.

I still have not recovered my muscle up, but that should come back soon. I have faith; I just need to stick with it.


Working back up

  
Today saw an improvement over the rest of this week. I felt good going into the box today and was optimistic that I would perform better than Monday and Tuesday.

We did some extra shoulder mobility work ahead of an intense WOD of bench presses and pull-ups. We were supposed to do 5 rounds of body-weight bench presses followed by max unbroken pull-ups.

My 1RM bench happened to by my current body weight (175#). I was able to get one in the warmup, but there was no way I was going to be able to do that for 5 rounds. I dropped to 165# for the work out. I was pretty consistent with my reps - 2 or 3 on the bench and around 10 for pull-ups.

Behind me, others were benching 185#. After the WOD, I rested for a few and tried it. Almost. Rested for a few more minutes. One more try. I struggled, but I got it down and up. New 1RM bench is 185# (after a hard bench WOD - need to try it before the workout next time).

I am now optimistic that persistence is all that is required. That and keeping a better schedule for rest days.


Frustration

  
This week has been difficult. I'm not sure why, yet, but I am not 100%. The muscle-up is gone again, so is the bar muscle-up, as wells as 95# thrusters. I don't have any pain, but between technique and strength, I feel like I am performing at about 80%.

I still managed to get in a decent workout yesterday and today - meaning I lifted some weight, threw my body up and down for burpees, box jumps, push-ups, pull-ups and ring rows - but I know I can do more than I have lately. How do I know? I have done it all before. But not this week.

So what changed? For one, I took 3 days off (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) after a hard Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Despite these extra rest days, I actually have been getting a little less sleep than usual. Another change was a couple drinks (Black Russians - my favorite) Friday night and Sunday night; normally I only have water, but it has been one of those weeks (terrorists, kids home for vacation week, etc). Lastly, I have had a bit more sugar lately (found a stash of carmel apple lollipops) - these I know must go.

Last night - better sleep, no lollipos nor alcohol. Today, still not 100%.

I am not saying something is broken or not working, just that I am frustrated with this performance dip. I expect to improve a little bit each week, and working through this slump is annoying. Hopefully it will fix itself with time and steady effort.
 


Spring Kickoff Competition at CrossFit Free

  
Katie and I participated in CrossFit Free's Spring Kickoff Competition this past Saturday. There was a large group of CrossFit 2A athletes taking part and even more that came to watch and cheer. The workouts (even for the scaled competitors like Katie and me) were very challenging.

Katie excelled in the second WOD (3 rounds of 5 heavy dead lifts and a 400m run) - she finished 10th in her division. She ended the day at 17th place - a great improvement from her first competition. She felt great about how she performed, and we are all very proud of her effort.

I ended in 15th place.  I, too, was happy with my placement. I actually did considerably better in the competition than I did in each of the "practice" WODs I completed earlier in the week to prepare for this.

Can't wait for the next one.  Photos taken by Trudy...Thanks!






Holiday struggle

  
So this weekend was Easter and I had family staying with us for some of it and was with a big group on Sunday. I would classify my eating as Paleo failure. I ordered drinks with a couple meals, had a dessert on Friday, and generally over-ate all weekend. All this was immediately reflected on the scale.

I also was unable to get my usual post-WOD muscle-up today. In the back of my mind was the thought, "You are not strong enough to get a muscle-up with the extra weight." Now I am left wondering if that is true, or it the thought itself sabotaged my attempts.



I am trying not to get discouraged about this. I read Greg Scott's blog about plateaus and know I just need to keep plugging away. My concern, however, is less with plateauing and more with regressing. I fear falling out of shape and re-gaining weight.

It's a struggle to get control of my appetite, keep active, and keep improving.

Another PR

  
Front squatted 205# on Wednesday. Legs were still burning from my two dances with Karen last week. At least 13.4 does not have squats.

More PRs

  
Last Friday, I managed to deadlift 235# for the first time at CrossFit Craic.

Sunday, I returned to CrossFit 2A to re-try 13.3 and completed Karen (150 wall ball shots) in 11:39, then added 3 double unders. This turned out to be my best placement in the Opens to date. Thanks to Greg Smith for motivating (yelling at) me to get me to finish all 150 within the time limit. It sucked at the time, but now I am so glad it worked out that way.

Today, I completed a 245# deadlift at CrossFit 2A. Then, in an attempt to get on the wall of fame, I completed 51 unbroken double unders. 

Grace PR

  
Even after doing 13.2 for a second time on Sunday, I opted to do Grace today. I have not done 30 clean and jerks at 135# for time before, and I wanted to get this in the books. it was heavy, and I was slow - doing these one at a time, but I finished at 10:21. I would like to have finished under 10 minutes, but getting the last few after that mark was OK, too. I was just glad to have a real benchmark from which to measure future performances.

My next objective is to get an Rx Fran. I have done Fran three times - each with 75# instead of 95#. I think the last few months have seen an increase in shoulder capacity, and I know my pull-ups are getting better. Hopefully, I will have a chance for Fran soon - but maybe not before the Opens are complete.

Muscle Up Video

  
Finally got video of one of my first muscle ups. Taken at Crossfit 2A on March 14, 2013.


Opens 13.1

  
The first workout for the 2013 Opens is over, and I am very happy with my score. I ended up pretty much in the middle of the pack for every way you could slice my demographic. I was 48881 out of all 73426 Rx Men; 4789 or 7399 New England Rx Men; 1515 of 3253 Masters 45-49 Men; and 174 of 422 New England Masters 45-49 Men.

I scored a 106 in this WOD (40 burpees, 30 75# snatches, 30 burpees, then 6 more snatches at 135#). My 7th snatch did not get over my head, and my 8th attempt went over my head and out the back as time ran out. I went into the workout hoping to get 101 or 102 reps because 135# was my 1-rep max last month. After the first snatch in the second round, I knew I would be able to get a few more than that. I will credit training plus adrenaline for this improvement.

Now, we are hours away from learning what 13.2 holds for us. I spent last Wednesday night tossing and turning with anxiety about the first workout. Hopefully, with one under my belt, I can relax a bit and just take whatever comes.

But I doubt it.


First Muscle Up

  
After 2+ months of trying, I finally got my first muscle up today. And then a second. Of course, I have to thank Nicole at Crossfit 2A - she has been watching, coaching, and encouraging me for a few minutes after every class for the last 2 months while I struggled with this. Others that deserve mention include Zach at Crossfit Max Effort in Las Vegas who had me focus the last couple weeks on improving chest to bar pullups. I think that was a big help. Also, John McEvoy at Crossfit Craic who spotted me last week to help me get a feel for the transition.

Ultimately, though, I am taking credit. I have lost weight and improved my strength in just about every way possible. It has been a long, frustrating, and sweaty journey to this point. Of course, now I have to come up with the next goal. I am thinking a sub-10 minute RX Fran, but that may still be a fair distance away.

Ron Lohse first muscle up

Harlem Shake - Crossfit Craic edition

  
Hysterical!