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.

20160129_194819 20160129_194851 20160129_194937 20160129_194959

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!

20160130_125318 20160130_125834 20160130_130119 20160130_130136 20160130_142247

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.

6313 6316 6346 20160131_130817

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.

12640277_10207302653782313_2617139751167392292_o (1)

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!

Advertisements

Naptown Smackdown recap

This weekend I competed in my first crossfit competition, Naptown Smackdown, hosted by my gym Crossfit Naptown (CFNT). I’ve been doing crossfit for over two years but have never signed up for a competition because there are still some moves I can’t Rx (perform as prescribed without scaling) that tend to show up in competition programming, like unassisted pull ups.

CFNT hosts the Naptown Smackdown each year to give all its members a chance to experience the competition environment regardless of their skill level. Athletes can scale the workouts as needed but only those who Rx can advance to the finals. This was the perfect the opportunity for me to get exposed to the competition setting and push myself to Rx as much as I could.

When they announced the workouts the night before, I was super excited because it was all moves I can Rx! They were going to be tough workouts but at least I had a chance to see what I could do.

20150207_121028

WOD 1
This was a burner! I watched some YouTube videos for tips on getting in and out of the clips quickly but it all went out the window during the WOD. My main strategy was just to keep moving and ignore the fact that my lungs were on fire. I would probably tackle the burpees differently if I did this one again since I got a little dizzy with my spin move action.
Score: 69 calories

WOD 2
This is one of those workouts where strategy becomes crucial. Breaking up reps early, doing push jerk even if you can press it to save energy, taking a few extra seconds to make sure you are set before you attempt to go overhead…there are so many small, quick decisions that can dramatically affect how well you do in a WOD like this.

My goal was to get through the set of 85# and have time to attempt the next weight up. Unfortunately I didn’t do a lot of the things I mentioned above. I rushed through the lighter weight. I stayed with push press at 65# even though doing push jerk would have conserved some energy. I wasted a couple attempts overhead at 85# because I didn’t take a moment to breath first. I will definitely try this one again and remind myself that 7:00 is longer than you think so chill out and be smart!
Score: 80 reps

IMG951977

WOD 3
To quote my dad’s commentary in the video, I was struggling early on with the jump rope. While warming up, I did them unbroken but just got too excited or nervous at 3-2-1-go. I made up some time in the other movements luckily and was pretty happy with my pacing overall. My legs were total jello by the time I got back to the jump rope though.
Score: 260 reps

Lessons learned/takeaways
I wasn’t really sure how to mentally prep for this versus a race. Similar to picturing each mile on the course the night before, I walked myself through each WOD and tried to strategize.

I also wasn’t sure how to fuel for this versus a race. Doing three WODs in one morning is a totally different animal. A few people told me to eat right after each WOD even if I wasn’t hungry and drink lots of water of course. I followed that advice with a KIND bar after the first WOD and a Clif bar after the second. I felt like my energy held up relatively well throughout the morning.

If I do another competition, I need to do a better job of calming down between WODs. I had a lot of nervous energy before the first one and was just super excited to cheer everyone else on and be part of the whole thing. I don’t even remember sitting down much.

We don’t have mirrors in the gym so it’s interesting (and super weird) to watch these videos and see these pictures. I definitely have some room for improvement on my form. But it was kind of cool to see myself doing the same weights and moves as everyone else. I’ve been trying to push myself to Rx more in class and stop doubting myself and selling myself short. I may not be able to do an unassisted pull up, but there’s a lot I can do and this was a nice reminder of how far I’ve come in the last two years.

It was great to have my dad there cheering me on! He got to experience firsthand why I love this community so much and get a glimpse into the crossfit world and what we do during workouts. He’s a runner so we always talk about my training for races but this was a foreign world to him.

2015020795105608

Overall Naptown Smackdown was an awesome experience! I learned a lot, pushed myself and had a blast. I would definitely recommend all CFNT members sign up next year!

Have you done a crossfit competition before? What tips do you have for rookies? If you participated in Naptown Smackdown, what was your favorite part? What would you say to other CFNT members to get them to sign up? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

 

What makes a good crossfit partner?

I’ve been doing crossfit for over a year now and one of the things I love about it is the community aspect. My gym, Crossfit Naptown, has cultivated an environment where everyone is encouraging, motivating and supportive, especially during the WOD (workout of the day). I realize not everyone likes this type of atmosphere but I feel like it’s kept me accountable and made me push myself harder.

One example of this is when we partner during a WOD. Typically, one person is completing the workout and the other is counting repetitions and/or rounds and making sure standards are met for each movement. You are essentially coaching each other through the WOD. If you have a good partner, this format can really help you power through and maintain good form.

But what makes a good partner? Everyone is different and what works to push you might not be the same for who you’re paired up with. And every WOD is different so what motivates you on one type of WOD may be completely different than another. Having a quick conversation before the workout can go a long way to make sure you are helping your partner perform their best.

Here are a few questions you can ask before the clock starts:

  1. What’s your goal? Are they aiming for a certain number of reps or a specific time? Are they focusing on decreasing their scale and getting closer to Rx-ing a movement? Do they want to have really clean reps every time?
  1. Do you have a strategy? Are they breaking up reps/rounds into smaller sets? If they rest, do they want to keep it to a certain number of seconds before getting back into it?
  1. How do you want to be pushed? Some people want you to yell at them to pick up the bar and go. Some people don’t want you to comment and they will start back up when they’re ready. Some people love the rah rah cheerleading and others hate it.
  1. How should I update you on your progress? Do they want to know how many rounds they have left, how much time is left or what percentage of the workout they are through? Or do they just want to churn it out and not think about it until the clock stops?
  1. What are your scales for this WOD? “Relative intensity” is an important crossfit term. It basically means that you need to scale workouts appropriately based on a variety of factors: skill level, injuries, mental/emotional state that particular day, etc. For example, if the workout has push ups, you shouldn’t no rep someone for doing knee-style push ups if that’s their scale. 
  1. Do you want me to take pictures of you in beast mode? Half kidding 🙂

How your partner answers each question will give you guidelines for coaching them. This is especially helpful if you’re paired up with someone you’ve not worked out with before at the gym. It’s better to be upfront about each other’s needs than be annoyed during an entire workout because your styles are different.

For my fellow cultfitters, how do you like to be coached during a WOD? Are there other questions a good partner should ask? Share your thoughts by commenting below! 

Barbells for Boobs

Admit it: You’re a little over the “turn everything pink during October” craze and wonder how much it’s really doing to impact the fight against breast cancer. Or you wonder how far your donation to breast cancer “research” really goes. I’m in that boat. This is a cause close to my heart but I’m always searching for ways to have more of a direct impact.

I found that opportunity through the Barbells for Boobs fundraiser Crossfit Naptown participated in this month. This event is the crossfit community’s way of coming together to raise funds for Mammograms in Action, which provides mammograms regardless of one’s ability to pay. Every $80 raised funds one mammogram.

Thanks to some amazing family, friends and coworkers, I raised $2,000, or 25 mammograms. The Indianapolis crossfit community as a whole has raised $17,461 to date, or 218 mammograms. Think about that for a second. That’s 218 people who wouldn’t be able to afford a mammogram otherwise. 218 people who will have a better chance at fighting breast cancer, should they be diagnosed with it, because of early detection through a mammogram. 

Amazing.

Our fundraising efforts culminated in an event on Saturday, Oct. 26, in the Old National Centre parking lot. We braved cold temperatures to complete the workout Grace: 30 clean and jerks. The heats were timed but this event wasn’t about competing or being the fastest. It was about coming together as a community to lift up people affected by breast cancer.

Barbells for Boobs marquee

During my 65# scaled heat, I was lifting up three women in particular: my grandmother Janice, high school friend Lauren and coworker Jennie. You can read more about these inspiring survivors on my fundraising page (where you can also conveniently still donate *wink wink*). One woman in my heat was a survivor herself. She spoke after about the importance of doing self-examinations and getting checked out if you feel anything suspicious.  

The event was really special and I would encourage anyone in the Indianapolis crossfit community who didn’t participate to sign up next year. We turned a lot pink on Saturday. But, more importantly, we helped make a direct impact in the fight against breast cancer and that’s something I’m really proud to be part of.

Below are a few pics from the event and you can also watch a video of me doing Grace here. Be sure to check out Crossfit Naptown’s Facebook album from the event too!

20131026_102220 2013102695103120 2013102695103150 20131026_103715  IMG_20131026_103529

Here we go again: Monumental training update

When you’ve tackled the seemingly impossible once, doing it again should be nothing, right?

I’m less than a month out from running my second half marathon, the Monumental here in Indianapolis. When I signed up for the race last year, I wasn’t a runner. The thought of 13.1 miles was overwhelming and intimidating. Each week I was running a distance I never had before and crossing the finish line on race day was an incredible experience

I signed up for the 2013 race as soon as registration opened up but I was burned out from training. In December, I took a break from running and started crossfit. I ran a marathon relay and volunteered at a marathon in the spring but didn’t really do much else. When August rolled around, I had to get serious again. During the first week, I really regretted not running more throughout the year as I was basically starting from scratch.

Training plan

Kids Voice Indiana 5kMy first few runs were slow. I was annoyed with my pace but trudged on. August included the Kids Voice Indiana 5k and a couple super hilly runs while on vacation in Portland and Seattle. And I battled the ridiculous late summer heat and all the sweat that came with it.

Something awesome happened in September – the 13th to be exact. I ran 3.1 miles and my time was 4 minutes faster than the Kids Voice Indiana 5k six weeks earlier. The next day I had the best run of my life. Seriously, it was one of those runs where everything clicked. The weather was perfect, I was well rested and coming off the high of my fast 5k time. From the first step, I knew I had it and I felt like I could keep running forever. I even had a brief moment of insanity where I thought maybe I would do a marathon one day. It was that good of a run.

There’s nothing quite like the runner’s high. I called my dad after and probably sounded like I was drugged up. Luckily he’s been running forever and could relate. My streak of solid runs continued in September and my body settled into the faster pace. I did the Back on My Feet Relay with a great group of people from Crossfit Naptown and ran the 10k race in the Corporate Challenge.

Back on My Feet Relay     Corporate Challenge 10k

This weekend I had 10 miles on the schedule. Last year, I was freaking out about that distance. This year, it was nothing. My confidence is on another level. I attribute some of that to the fact that I’ve done these distances before (albeit almost a year ago) but I also credit Crossfit Naptown. I’ve done things I never thought I could do in the last 10 months there and my progress inspires me to tackle all my goals head on.

10 miles

So here I am. Less than a month out from the half marathon and 100 percent ready to rock this race. I have one last long run on the books, which just happens to be the Tough Mudder in Kentucky on Oct. 20. After that I’ll taper and take it easy in the two weeks leading up to the race.

I’ll probably back off of crossfit too in that last week, but not before Barbells for Boobs. Every $80 I raise pays for one mammogram for someone who would not be able to afford it otherwise. Consider donating on my page and join us on Saturday, Oct. 26, when I will complete a workout called Grace: 30 clean and jerks at 65# for time.

Barbells for Boobs

What race(s) are you training for? How is it going? When was the last time you experienced the runner’s high? I want to hear all about it!

What motivates you?

When I created this blog in January 2011, I didn’t intend for it to focus so much on fitness. I did plan on writing about things going on in my life though. And coincidentally, January 2011 is when I decided to get off my ass and start losing weight. Two and a half years and 80 pounds later, my lifestyle has completely changed and exercise is obviously a huge part of that.

I’m pretty open about my weight loss journey, as chronicled in the fitness category of this blog. I’m not an expert of course, but I write about what I know: my experience losing 75 pounds in the first year, training for my first half marathon, taking things to a new level with crossfit (cultfit), etc. Because I’m open about it, I get a lot of questions about my weight loss – mainly about what motivates me to keep going.

The answer is pretty simple: Fat Melanie. If you haven’t met her, or if it’s been so long you forgot, here’s Fat Melanie in late 2010:

fatmelanie3fatmelanie profile IMG_0459 IMG_0369 

For perspective, here I am more recently:

IMG_20130426_093927 IMG_20130525_172439 IMG_20130607_190531 IMG_20130726_144010 (1) IMG_20130727_193532

Looking at pictures of Fat Melanie makes me incredibly sad. I don’t know how I got there but I know I don’t ever want to go back. Every day I make conscious decisions that put a little more distance between me and her. I workout a lot because I know how easy it could be to let go and end up back there. And I tweet/post about my workouts a lot because it keeps me accountable. I realize it’s probably annoying and my friends love to give me crap about it but I can take it. Losing 80 pounds requires a complete change in your lifestyle, so naturally the things you do and talk about will focus on that. It helps to surround yourself with people who share your goals, like the awesome community at Crossfit Naptown that’s been super supportive.

There are days I wake up and still see Fat Melanie in the mirror. I realize that won’t make sense to most people but there is a mental/psychological component to losing that much weight. Your brain doesn’t always catch up with your body, even after keeping the weight off for more than a year and a half. It’s hard to explain but if you’ve gone through a similar journey, you may know what I’m talking about.

So that’s what motivates me. I hesitated to post this but the question kept coming up and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I didn’t write this to fish for compliments about how I look now versus then. And I didn’t write this to come across as some expert, because I’m certainly not. I’m just someone trying to remember how far I’ve come and what it will take to keep this going as a permanent change. 

I put it all out there so now it’s your turn. What goals are you working toward, fitness or otherwise? What motivates you to keep going? Share in the comments below!

A peek into the paleo lifestyle

For 30 days, my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles were flooded with endless food porn pictures. Well, a higher amount than normal. It was all part of a paleo challenge I did with Crossfit Naptown (CFNT). I didn’t know what to expect going into it since I’m a super picky eater and I don’t cook. The challenge is over now and I can honestly say the diet completely changed my lifestyle and the results were insane.

CFNT challenged us to be as strict as possible during the 30 days. This meant no sugar, dairy, legumes, grains, potatoes (except sweet potato) or alcohol. So what does that leave? A lot of meat, veggies, eggs, bacon, bacon and even more bacon. Some people call it the caveman diet because you eat things that are fresh and were readily available to our ancestors. We were weighed, had our hips and waist measured and did two benchmark workouts at the beginning of the challenge. That was all repeated at the end to track our progress.

As with most things in my life, I decided if I was going to do this, I was going to dive in and push myself out of my comfort zone. Prior to this challenge, I didn’t eat veggies and I never cooked (ever). Of course my other motivation was trying to push through these last few pounds I’m hoping to shed.

The results

I had to end the challenge two days early because I was flying out for a work trip. I ended up losing 8 pounds, 2.5” in my waist and 2” in my hips. I also bought size 10 pants at the end of the challenge. For perspective, when I started my weight loss journey in January 2011, I was a size 24.

Insane, right?!

What I learned

  • Someone asked if cooking was a requirement of the challenge. It’s not but it’s somewhat necessary based on what you are limited to. The stuff that’s easy to grab on the go typically isn’t the healthiest. I planned every single meal and snack and packed my lunch to make sure I had paleo-friendly foods with me throughout the day. It took work but every time I’ve had success losing weight, it’s come down to planning and preparation.
  • Cooking is much less intimidating now. I feel relatively confident looking at the spices/meats I have available and assembling something edible. I am by no means a master chef though. There were some highlights: pineapple-stuffed chorizo burgers topped with avocado, paleo Reese’s cups, cauliflower rice and my first-ever attempt at chili. And there were low-lights:  paleo mayo (my attempt was so gross), sausage/egg/sweet potato cups (didn’t cook long enough) and meatloaf (caused a minor meltdown).
  • While I still can’t get into certain foods (carrots – gross!), I have come to like some things I never thought I would: almond butter, coconut oil, oranges, dried cranberries, spaghetti squash and more. It sounds cheesy but I’ve opened up a whole new world of flavors by forcing myself to try new things.
  • I thought I would crave more foods than I actually did. I fully expected to miss Diet Coke, chips, cheese and breaded chicken. But after you go so many days without those things, your body naturally stops craving them. Except booze. My first post-paleo beer was delicious and much needed.

What’s next?

A lot of people have asked if I will continue on the paleo diet. I don’t know if I could do it 100 percent of the time just because there is so much cooking/planning required. But I hope to maintain the diet as much as possible. A lot of people eat paleo but add back in just dairy or just alcohol. It’s all about finding a balance that works for you.

More importantly, though, is maintaining the lifestyle. When I used to grocery shop, I would buy processed foods with 25 ingredients, bags of chips, cookies and anything else unhealthy you could think of. It’s amazing that I ever lost 80 pounds… Now I spend most of my time in the fresh produce section. I don’t think twice about throwing some spices on a chicken breast and pairing it with a salad and olive oil dressing. These are the types of behaviors that will help me stay on track long term.

What you’re really here for…

Here’s a glimpse at my cooking adventures during the challenge. A majority of the recipes came from www.paleomg.com.