Flying high in Colorado Springs

It’s been almost six years since I visited Colorado for a destination wedding in Breckenridge. My brother and his girlfriend moved to Colorado Springs in January so I was excited to check out a different part of the state and his new (for the indefinite future) home.

I had some time to explore my first two days while Greg worked. On the first day, I met up with a former coworker in Manitou Springs for a delicious breakfast at Good Karma Cafe before setting off for Garden of the Gods. The rock formations were stunning, but the trails were super packed (even midday on a Thursday…) making it hard to fully appreciate the views. After walking almost every trail in the park — which doesn’t take long — I popped into Colorado Mountain Brewery for some refreshing local beer.

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Normally the next day I would have sought out some more hiking, but my trip happened to fall during the Crossfit Open and I didn’t want to tax my body too much before tackling 18.3. Instead I borrowed Greg’s bike and rode downtown to check out some local shops and breweries. I’ve had Oskar Blues before but never visited one of their tasting rooms so that was fun. Phantom Canyon had a selection that catered to my tastes better though and I really enjoyed my flight there.

At this point, you may be wondering why I felt okay drinking a bunch of beer before 18.3 but not hiking. Or more realistically you’re wondering why I would even bother doing crossfit while on vacation (that’s a post for another day). This workout happened to include pull ups, which I’ve never been able to do, despite crossfitting for over five years. A little liquid courage couldn’t hurt while flailing my body at a rig for 12 minutes and hoping for the best.

Before my trip, I contacted Crossfit SoCo about dropping in. I hopped in the first heat of their Friday Night Lights style event and asked for a patient judge who would hold me strict to the standards. I really appreciated that they paired me with one of their coaches. I got through the first three movements then stared at the rig. After several failed attempts where I didn’t even get close, I told my judge Rob I should probably just give up. He took me to a lower rig and had me do some drills to work on my swing and build some confidence.

I stepped back up to the main rig, gave it all I had, and dropped down feeling defeated. But then he told me it was a good rep and I immediately started crying, having just got my first pull up ever. I ended up getting two more before the time cap. It was an incredible feeling and I will forever be grateful for the hospitality Crossfit SoCo showed me (and the awkward photos Greg captured). We celebrated after with a tasty meal at Front Range BBQ.

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On Saturday, we considered taking on the Manitou Incline (next time!) but opted for driving up Pikes Peak instead. The steep, curvy, narrow drive was more nerve-wracking than I expected but the views from the top were totally worth it. And there are donuts. Which was so random but perfect.

We capped off the day with a ridiculous meal at The Rabbit Hole. Honestly they could have served me carrots and I would have been happy (but not really because carrots are the worst). We sat in a section under the stairs surrounded by books and string lights. Is there anything more Melanie in this world??

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The elephant-shaped edible in the room
My personal experience with marijuana has been very, very limited. I hate smoking and I’m not good at it. I’ve had one brownie and didn’t know what I was doing. In short, I’m a total noob.

I was very interested to learn more about the dispensaries in Colorado and the laws are a little more nuanced than I realized. At the shop we visited, you essentially get a concierge service with a guy behind the counter explaining one on one what everything is, how much is in each product, the intended effect, etc. He wasn’t judging or condescending, just super knowledgeable and friendly. I purchased some peanut butter cups which were delicious and effective.

Overall it was a super positive experience and I appreciated knowing more about what I was putting into my body going into it. Also, they had some sleep aid products that I would have loved to try since I’m a super insomniac. Indiana just got Sunday alcohol sales though so we’re a long way off from ever seeing marijuana legalized here at home.

I’m sure I’ll get back to CO Springs at some point (#siblingsgiving) so let me know what else I missed!

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Rowing is the new running

Confession: I’ve only ran a couple time since that one thing happened in November. A bit of burnout is to be expected after four months of dedicated training. But it’s also been nice to shift my focus back to crossfit. So, here’s an update on what’s been going on since the marathon.

Row’d Royalty
Last year Crossfit Naptown participated in Row’d Royalty and placed first worldwide. They encouraged everyone to sign up this year to test their fitness and help defend our title (top four male and female scores count for the team). We did the first workout in class, a 2k row for time, and I finished in 7:51:10. I didn’t think much of it but later in the day they posted that I was one of the top four females (up to that point).

I’ve been going to crossfit for three years and while I’ve made a lot of #gainz, there’s still so much I can’t do. Placing that high on a workout felt pretty badass, especially since the top females in our gym include an Olympic rower and an Olympian-in-training (pictured with me below). I signed up that day and pushed myself hard through five more workouts.

Rowing with olympians

I don’t think any of my scores ended up being good enough to count for our team, but I had a ton of fun going after it. Overall, I placed 34th out of over 200 females in the tall division (5’6” and up). And our team placed first again!

Rowd Royalty final

Naptown Triple Crown
Last year’s Naptown Smackdown expanded into this year’s Naptown Triple Crown, with each day at a different location. Members could sign up for one day or multiple days and I chose all three.

Day 1 – Monon location
I started my day knocking out the final Row’d Royalty workout in the morning to give myself some recovery time before the evening’s events.

Event 1-2

I was first off the bike in my heat but struggled hardcore (again…) on the backward jumps. For the second event, I made a strategic decision to go for the row since it was scored separately from the shuttle runs. It paid off and I ended up winning the rowing portion of the event with 1321 meters! My score was actually good enough to place fifth among the guys. Such an awesome feeling!! On the flip side, my shuttle run score was super low. Overall, I placed 11th out of 18 for day one.

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Day 2 – Delaware location

Event 3-5

The one rep max event was set up so only three people lifted at once, making it an “all eyes on you” atmosphere. I hit a 10# PR at 155#! If the second event looks brutal, that’s because it was. But it was a great example of how I’m capable of more than I think and how the competition atmosphere can push you harder. I did so much better than I thought I would, finishing in 12:09 (8th out of 22)!

The final event was one of my favorite styles: Barbell complex. We did the same rep scheme each round but went up in weight. My goal was to get as far in the 105# round as I could and I ended at 7 hang power cleans before the time cap. All in all a very successful day two with an overall placing of 7th out of 22!

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Day 3 – Capitol location

Event 6 - 8

The balance test was kind of hilarious to watch. Several people impressively made it all 3:00 on each leg but I stumbled at 1:31 (right) and 1:03 (left) – crushing my dream to be on Survivor. The second event was a shot at redemption for me. We did this WOD in class a week ago and I finished a minute over the time cap. This time I snuck in just under at 9:56! The final event was interesting since we had to see how far we could get through the workout in 2:00, then 5:00. I finished the day 15th out of 23.

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This weekend was the epitome of why I love my gym so much. It was awesome meeting members of the other locations and watching everyone kick ass and push themselves. Our community is the most supportive, encouraging group of people I’ve ever been around. And personally, I was super proud of surviving nine workouts over three days, and even winning one! It was equally exhausting and energizing. I’m so grateful for this place that challenges me to believe in myself, try harder, and be kind to others.

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So, what’s next?
I will have to start running again soon since I signed up for a couple shorter races and have the Derby half in April. Luckily half training isn’t as intense so I can hopefully keep up my consistent crossfit schedule of late. Also around the corner is the Crossfit Open which kicks off the 2016 Crossfit Games season!

Training update: Carmel half and Crossfit Open

Something weird (but awesome) happened at some point during this training season. My super fast, can’t breath, basically sprinting pace became the average pace for my training runs. And my crazy, no way I can lift that weight became what I use regularly during crossfit workouts.

I’m not exactly sure what to attribute it to. I haven’t really lost any more weight. I was eating really well in January but have fallen off a little since then. I have been trying to scale less in crossfit and push my pace harder on runs, which helps. But it’s also possible I’m just starting to see the long-term benefits of consistently working out for the last three years.

Mother Nature still hates us all
The weather has been so ridiculous that one day when it crept above 50 degrees, I wrote a love letter to a 17-mile stretch of pavement. My total mileage has been low compared to previous halves but my long runs have felt strong. So, I’m not really sure what to expect on race day. I got in my last long run this weekend – 10 miles in the rain and cold. A lot of people said I was crazy but at this point who knows what race day conditions will be. I wanted to prove to myself I’m mentally and physically tough enough to handle it and I refuse to let Mother Nature win.

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Chasing goals
In my first half, my goal was just to finish the damn thing (check). The second time around, I wanted to run the whole thing and hopefully finish faster (check, check). For the Carmel half, I have a somewhat ambitious time in mind. It’s an aggressive pace that I’ll have to work for and the last few miles may be painful. I can’t wait to go after it!

Stepping up my watch game
I started running with the Garmin Forerunner 10. There are a lot of GPS watches out there but this one was recommended by a few fellow runners and has the basic features I need at a reasonable price. It’s been helpful to know how far I have left, if I need to pick up the pace, etc. There’s also an auto pause feature that stops your time when you stop moving. That’s great for me since I run downtown and get stopped by lights occasionally.

The watch stores your last seven runs so I make a habit of uploading the data to my computer right away. This is where it gets fun. You can check your splits, elevation on the route and even what the weather conditions were like that day. The more I use it, the more interesting it will be to compare the data.

garmin screenshot 2014 Crossfit Open
This weekend also wrapped up the 2014 Crossfit Open. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do all the movements, but I would be forced to push myself and Rx what I could (no scaling).

  • 14.1 (double unders and snatches): I was worried about not getting past the double unders since I have a hard time stringing them together. And I was worried about the snatch weight. I ended up getting through two full rounds plus some! SCORE: 99.
  • 14.2 (overhead squats and chest to bar pull ups): I can’t do unassisted pull ups so I knew my score wouldn’t be more than 10. But the OHS weight was not far off of my one rep max and it’s one of my worst movements so 10 reps in 3:00 was even questionable. I picked up the bar, got into position and ended up doing all 10 reps unbroken. Boom. SCORE: 10.
  •  14.3 (deadlifts and box jumps): I couldn’t wait to do this workout when it was announced! Deadlifts are one of my strongest moves and I knew I could handle the increasing weight with no problem. This leveled the playing field for me and I was excited to get one of the higher scores in the gym for people at my skill level. I can’t lie, I felt like a badass. SCORE: 105.
  •  14.4 (row, toes to bar, wall balls, power cleans, muscle ups): I can do three of the five movements. Toes to bar is not one of them. I got through the row and had about 10:00 left to go for my first ever toes to bar. I got closer than I ever have a couple times but just couldn’t make it happen. It was incredibly frustrating and I was in a bit of a weird mental place after this one. SCORE: 60.
  •  14.5 (thrusters and bar-facing burpees): We all knew these two movements were going to end up in the final workout but no one could have anticipated the crazy rep scheme. It’s for time so in order to get points you have to finish the workout. The last time I did Fran, I Rx’d the thrusters but that’s only 45 reps versus 84 in this one. I approached it like I did my 10-miler the day before: Don’t go out too fast, maintain a steady pace and don’t stop moving. It was probably one of the hardest workouts I’ve done since I started crossfit but I powered through. SCORE: 26:46.

Overall, the Open was a great experience. I ended up being able to do more than I thought I could and it was a huge confidence builder. I got points on the board for each workout and have a baseline for next year as I continue to improve. The Open proved I need to stop doubting myself and I am mentally and physically tougher than I realized.

Did you participate in the Crossfit Open? What was your experience like? Are you training for a spring race and feeling super frustrated with Mother Nature? Do you use a GPS watch while running or do you find it distracting? Share your thoughts!