Gone Bouldering (120/366)


“You climb for the hell of it.”
~ Sir
Edmund Hillary


Last year, when Nick and I went to Las Vegas, we had the absolute thrill of going outdoor rock climbing with our friend, and one of the most awesome tour guides (over at Grand Adventures in Las Vegas) ever, Erik. It was AWESOME. I had never done any kind of climbing before that (well, except for climbing trees). I had such a great time, in fact, that I went and bought my own pair of climbing shoes after our adventure. I never even got a chance to use them afterward though!

Well we have several friends that enjoy outdoor and indoor climbing, and like I said before, Ryan and Nick have gone bouldering at Planet Granite a few times (I even did a little photo shoot of Ryan the first time they went). Well today I decided it was time for me finally break in my climbing shoes, and to jump on the wall, as well!

With bouldering, you don’t use a top rope while climbing, so there are large “crash pads” on the floor to help soften the blow if and when you fall (or jump) from the wall. While I really enjoyed outdoor rock climbing with a top rope, the thought of jumping off a real rock onto a crash pad below sounds so scary! I was glad to start my bouldering experience indoors. There are routes marked with different colors of tape, and ratings for the difficulty of each route. I hopped up on my first wall – it was okay, but it still gets kinda scary as you get to the top!




That wall was a “top out” wall, where you could climb up and onto the top of it. The concept was kinda scary for my first climb, so I decided to try a few other walls and routes (with wider areas of crash pad!). Here was my second wall – up, up up:

Yay! I made it! Whew!


There were some pretty funny grips in the walls, like this telephone receiver. Hello? Is that for me?


And here’s some video and some time-lapse photography of a few climbs:

I had fun bouldering for the first time. It’s like a big playground or jungle gym for grown-ups (kids can use some of the walls, too, but there are some areas that are supposed to be “14+ only”). It’s neat seeing people staring at the wall, trying to figure out what route to take to get up. There are a lot more challenging routes, and like I said in the previous post about bouldering, there’s even a ramp to the second floor, with a bouldering wall hanging above it (for the daring and experienced only!)! I’ll be back. Next time, I’ll “top out,” too!

Related Links:
PlanetGraniteSF.com
SCARPA Women’s Techno Lady Climbing Shoe

Joined "MyFitnessPal" (111/366)


“Happiness lies first of all in health.”
~
George William Curtis


As I’ve mentioned in a few other posts, I’m not currently in the shape I’d like to be in. I’m going for less of a “round” one. Ha! Seriously though, I’ve been slacking off on my nutrition and workouts for far too long, and though I don’t think it’s truly necessary, I do think it’s definitely helpful when you feel like you’ve gone off track, to be able to log your food and/or exercise (I’ve always liked logging my exercise) so that you have a record to look back on, and to help you just be a bit more mindful of your choices.

I’ve used SparkPeople and LoseIt! in the past, and I’ve liked those – I lost 20 lbs. with SparkPeople about 5 or so years ago – but at the time I felt I was “ruled by the log” and it was actually a lot more stressful and time consuming for me than I could keep up. Yesterday, I decided that just having a food log would be beneficial for me to get back on track, and I opened up my LoseIt app, only to be frustrated with the lack of items in their database. One thing I think is kind of sad with most food log/calorie counters is how many processed/packaged foods are in the database, but I get it – that’s how most Americans eat nowadays. But it makes it totally frustrating to try to write a food log when you have to “create a new food” each time you try to enter something that didn’t come out of a box or a wrapper.

Anyway, I got fed up with LoseIt! and decided to look at alternatives. In the wee hours of the morning, I was checking the app store, and came across MyFitnessPal. My friend Mike has been using it and has been doing spectacularly with his weight-loss goals. One of the hardest things about logging your food is that it takes a bit of time, and Mike is one of the absolute busiest people I know, so if he can log in MyFitnessPal, it must be good. I installed the app, and it took me just a few minutes to get acquainted with it. It’s streamlined and simple, and has a pretty similar home screen both in the mobile app and on the website:


I even entered all that I had logged from the day, and then realized I had put the entries on 4/20 instead of 4/19 (because it was technically 4/20, duh) and didn’t know how to change the date. After messing around for a while in the app with no luck, I checked out the FAQs section and got my answer, and was able to change the info quickly. All this when I was basically falling asleep in bed. Total win.

I feel like this system is a combination between SparkPeople and LoseIt, and just better. SparkPeople.com is great – it’s actually very similar to MyFitnessPal.com, but their mobile app leaves much to be desired (when I used it five years ago they were just developing a mobile app and the current one doesn’t have high ratings), and LoseIt! is a nice mobile app, but between the app and the site (which I never used much because it wasn’t that robust), there’s a lot of clunkiness. If you’re looking to start a food journal, I’d highly recommend MyFitnessPal – it’s easy to use, the database is huge, and its reports, charts, and breakdowns are great. It’s even got a barcode scanner for those times when you DO eat something packaged. That’s awesome. Good luck!

Related Links:
MyFitnessPal.com

Lifted in Weightlifting Shoes (95/366)


“Wearing the proper shoes for your style of lifting and training will not only increase the efficiency, form and comfort while training, but will also increase your safety and prevent possible injury.”
~
WLShoes.com


CrossFit: Constantly-varied, functional movements performed at a high intensity.
Part of this widely-varied library of movements is power weightlifting and olympic weightlifting. These lifts not only build strength, but their degree of technical difficulty also trains for accuracy, coordination, and body awareness.

A useful tool in weightlifting is weightlifting shoes. While you technically don’t need weightlifting shoes to do these lifts, there are definitely some that you can get an edge on with some good weightlifting shoes – most notably, anything involving a squat.

A while ago, I was lucky enough to score a free pair of weightlifting shoes from AgainFaster.com in a sweepstakes. Super awesome, because these shoes normally cost $119. These are technically men’s shoes, but I like the color of these way better than the “women’s colors” (pink, purple, yellow – belch) – I was stoked they had these ones in my size.


Today’s WOD was:
105 pound Squat Clean and Jerk, 30 reps
The barbell goes from ground to overhead, passing through a front squat in which the crease of the hip passes below the height of the kneecap. The finish position is with the arms, hips and knees fully extended, arms overhead, with at least a portion of the ear visible in front of the arm.

According to this definition, thrusters of this weight are also allowed, and if you could do those, that would greatly reduce your time. The elite athletes did this workout in around 3 minutes.

Here’s a video of my first 10 lifts (it’s about 3 minutes long. Ha ha ha!):

Lifting in these shoes, especially when doing explosive movements into squats, is awesome. The firm, compressed heel gives you the stability needed to allow you to really “stick the landing” on these lifts. I’m really glad I got these shoes – I know I’ll be hitting PRs in them.

Related Links:
Pendlay Men’s 2011 Pendlay WL Gray
CrossFit.com

Bonus: Completed All The CrossFit Open WODS, As Rxed (85a/366)


“Exercise should be regarded as tribute to the heart.”
~
Gene Tunney


Five weeks ago, I registered for the CrossFit Open, not knowing exactly what to expect. CrossFit is growing and changing every year, and the idea of the Games each year is to face “The Unknown and the Unknowable”. Signing up for the Open was scarier for me than people probably realize – after I signed up, I realized I’d have to not only complete each workout, but that I’d have to post a public video of each one on the Games website for the whole world to judge. And though I know no one really cares that much, I also realized that the people who might have read my posts would be rooting for me (hopefully!) or following my progress, and I wanted to make sure I made a good showing. But the biggest factor was myself – while I didn’t know what was coming in these workouts, in the past there were elements that came up in Games WODs that I wasn’t proficient in, so I’d have to change the workout or scale it. I didn’t want to have to do that for any of these workouts, or else my WODs wouldn’t count, and although I had no grand delusions about actually competing, I didn’t want to be officially “out” of the Open.

Anyway, while I didn’t do as well as I’d like, I’m happy to report that after 5 weeks of the Unknown and Unknowable, I made it through and was able to do all of the WODs to the best of my current ability, and did not have to scale any elements. My athlete profile is here, if you’d like to see more info, and here are the CrossFit Open 2012 Workouts:

Standards shown below for weights and box height are for Women’s Division.
For all WODs, score is total reps completed (rounds do not have to be completed for reps to count).

Workout 12 . 1

Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes of:

Burpees

This workout begins from the standing position. The Athlete will move from flat on the ground to touching an object with both hands that is 6 inches above their max reach.

Result: I only got 77 reps, but I did the workout 3 times. 77 was my max for that weekend, and I was fine with that. They sucked!

Workout 12 . 2

Proceed through the sequence below completing as many reps as possible in 10 minutes of:

45 pound Snatch, 30 reps
75 pound Snatch, 30 reps
100 pound Snatch, 30 reps
120 pound Snatch, as many reps as possible

Result: My final score was 68 reps. I got through the 30 reps of 45 pounds, and the 30 reps of 75, then got 8 reps of 100 pounds before the time ran out. I did this workout twice, and actually think if I had more time to recover I might have been able to get more reps had I done it a third time. The snatch is the most technical of all lifts, and it really did help me during these WODs just going through the correct motions to get more comfortable with the lift.

Workout 12 . 3

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 18 minutes of:

15 Box jumps, 20″ box
75 pound Push press, 12 reps
9 Toes-to-bar

Result: My score was 212 reps. That means I completed 5 full rounds of this triplet, then got through the box jumps, push presses, and 5 of the toes-to-bar in the sixth round. I was only 4 away from completing 6 rounds! Argh. Every second counts. I did this WOD twice and improved my score a good deal the second time, after I was more comfortable with the flow of the exercises.

Workout 12 . 4

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 12 minutes of:

150 Wall balls (14lbs to 9′ target)
90 Double-unders
30 Muscle-ups

Result: My score was 141 reps. While I’m not super strong in my double-unders, my plan was to just get through as many as I could after the wall balls in the time allotted. Turns out I couldn’t even GET to the double-unders in the 12 minute time period. For all of these workouts, all reps are counted – rounds don’t have to be completed to count, which is exactly how the organizers wanted to structure the Open – the elite athletes were going to be head and shoulders (sometimes literally) above the less skilled/conditioned athletes, and this was a perfect example. I had hoped to get through at least some of the double-unders, and wouldn’t it have been cool to get my first muscle-up on this day? That was not in the cards for me. Ha! I also did this workout twice. With the sheer volume of wall ball shots that you have to do in this WOD, it is insane that I actually did it twice in one weekend. Still never got to those darn double-unders. Oh well.


Workout 12 . 5
Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes following the rep scheme below:

65 pound Thruster, 3 reps
3 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 6 reps
6 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 9 reps
9 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 12 reps
12 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 15 reps
15 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 18 reps
18 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 21 reps
21 Chest to bar Pull-ups…
This is a timed workout. If you complete the round of 21, go on to 24. If you complete 24, go on to 27, etc.

Result: My score for this one was 29. That means I got 3 Thrusters and CTB Pull-ups, then 6 of each, and after the 9 Thrusters I couldn’t get through 9 more pull-ups. I got two, and then time ran out. This one was a bear for me – the thrusters were no big deal, it was the chest-to-bar pull-ups that got me. I had just gotten my first ones a few days before, so I was extremely happy to be able to do these at all, but I realize they’re something I need a lot more work in to become proficient. I did this WOD twice, and actually improved quite a bit the second time (first time I didn’t even get to the 9 thrusters, but Nick reminded me that after each set of pull-ups, it’s like getting those thruster reps for free since they’re not difficult for me), but my hands also started ripping toward the end since I needed to kip so big to get my chest to touch that bar. Ouch.

And now it’s over! I’m done! That sucked! But it was also super fun. It was good to push myself outside of my comfort zone, and to have some challenges that I could look at and say, “What the heck. I may suck really badly at this, but I’m going to try my hardest!” It was also just fun to do all those WODs, and to be able to marvel at the abilities of the elite athletes. While I still have no CrossFit Games competition dreams, by this time next year, I hope to do even better. 3-2-1 … Go!

Related Links:
Games.CrossFit.com
CrossFit.com

Done A Chest To Bar Pull-up (82/366)


“Every personal best pull-up is an event worthy of celebration.”
~ Coach
Greg Glassman


The CrossFit Open is almost over! The last workout was announced yesterday. It’s the same closing workout as last year’s Open:

WOMEN:
Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes following the rep scheme below:
65 pound Thruster, 3 reps
3 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 6 reps
6 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 9 reps
9 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 12 reps
12 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 15 reps
15 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 18 reps
18 Chest to bar Pull-ups
65 pound Thruster, 21 reps
21 Chest to bar Pull-ups…
This is a timed workout. If you complete the round of 21, go on to 24. If you complete 24, go on to 27, etc.

When I first started doing CrossFit, I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was to be able to learn and do kipping pull-ups. Although I’d paddled the Catalina Crossing and the Na Wahine O Ke Kai races a few years before, where we had to pull ourselves up out of the water and into a moving outrigger canoe, pull-ups were always super challenging to me – something almost impossible without the assistance from a Gravitron machine – and learning to kip helped me get through the transitional point in which the small muscles of the shoulders are bearing a lot of the pulling motion needed before the bigger, stronger muscles can kick back in.

Anyway, of course in CrossFit, simple pull-ups are not good enough anymore. You have to keep working, to keep improving – to keep getting stronger, faster … better. The new standard for CrossFit pull-ups, at least in competition, are chest-to-bar. Yikes! Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m still struggling to get back in shape after slacking off for way too long. I’d never even tried to do chest-to-bar pull-ups on my own when they’ve been in WODs (occasionally I’d try them with a band for assistance). But I couldn’t avoid them this time – not if I wanted to complete the Open.

I watched Coach Carl Paoli‘s demo video for his strategy on Open WOD 12.5, and Coach Kelly Starrett‘s as well … they have really great information on form, technique, and efficiency … but right now I realized I just have to get myself up there however I can since my weight is higher than I’d like and my strength lower. Ha! I decided to get on the bar and try, try again. It took a while to get the feel for pulling myself toward the bar at the top, but I was able to get a few reps after a while. Here are some of them:

I definitely need A LOT of practice, but I’m really happy that I’m able to do these. It’s one of the things that I never thought I’d be able to do. Open WOD 12.5, here I come!!!

Related Links:
CrossFit.com
Games.Crossfit.com
GymnasticsWOD.com
MobilityWOD.com

Completed a 100-Day Pushup Challenge 69/366)


“Every morning I wake up saying, I’m still alive; a miracle. And so I keep on pushing.”
~
Jacques Cousteau


Last year, Nick and I completed the 100-Day Burpee challenge, where you (like it sounds) do burpees for 100 days. On day one, you start with just one burpee, day two you do two, and so on until you’ve done one more burpee every day for 100 days. Sound easy? Try it – and don’t forget 100 days is more than three months of your life! Doing burpees while you’re on vacation, forgetting ’til the last minute and having to do them while you’re at a friend’s house, schlogging through them when you’re sick is not awesome … and remember there’s one more every day. Just because you partied hard on day 73 doesn’t mean you don’t have to do 74 the next day while you’re hung over. It’s a test of discipline, but it also improves your fitness, for sure – and from what we had heard from others who had done it – your shoulders get stronger as well. It’s true – Nick did his first handstand pushups about a month before we completed the challenge. Super awesome. Another benefit to doing the 100-Day Burpee Challenge is that when you see burpees come up in a WOD after that, they’re not nearly as horrifying.

This year, like I mentioned earlier in the blog, I’m trying to get back into better shape after slacking off for way too long. One of the things I’ve wanted to work on is my upper body strength, particularly in my shoulders since they’re relatively small muscles, but they do so much work. While doing the 100-Day Burpee Challenge was difficult, and I was SO glad when it was over, and at the time thought I’d never do anything like it again, I decided that a good way to kick-start my fitness quest was to do my own 100-Day Pushup Challenge. Aack.

I started the challenge on December 1, 2011, which happened to be four days before Nick and I ran Nick’s first Marathon, and six days before we boarded an Amtrak train for a trip across the country. Doing pushups in our tiny train compartment was tricky, not to mention kinda gross. And yeah, having to do something (even somewhat) physically taxing every single day, in a growing amount, while you’re on one of the biggest vacations ever does NOT really add to the pleasure of the experience. I should note, if you haven’t read Nick’s entries from December where he shares all about our awesome vacation, that we went to Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York and spent two and a half weeks away, taking the Amtrak train to each destination. That means not only was I doing pushups on the train, but also in three different hotel rooms – ha ha ha, that might not mean much to you, but I’m kind of a germaphobe. When we stayed long enough at a place, I’d also be able to do pushups in their tiny gym facilities, but like I said, I was on vacation – I wanted to get the pushups done right when I thought of them so I wouldn’t have to worry later in the day – and sometimes I’d even forget and have to do them last minute before hopping in the shower at the end of the day. And then it was Christmas! All the holiday cheer and egg nog and FOOD … and pushups. Yay! I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here, but if you haven’t done the challenge before, you’ve got to understand – at times, it really is a pain.

Here’s a list of other special days that have passed since I’ve been doing the Pushup Challenge:

January 1: Rang In The New Year At A Concert (1/366) – 32 pushups (I forgot and had to do them before I went to sleep after the concert)

January 17: Done Clapping Pushups (17/366) – 47 pushups (After doing so many pushups for the challenge, I wasn’t afraid to try these)

January 22: Hiked San Francisco’s Land’s End Trail (22/366) – 53 pushups (Hiked in the rain, and then did the pushups in my warm, dry house)

February 2: Done A Handstand Pushup (33/366) – 64 pushups (Think maybe the pushup challenge is helping)

February 9: Done Unassisted Ring Dips (40/366) – 72 pushups (Yeah, it’s definitely helping)

February 15: Laid Down A “Sweat Angel” (46/366) – 77 pushups (This workout SUCKED and I still had to do my pushups on top of it!)

February 23: Registered For The CrossFit Open (54/366) – 85 pushups (Nice round number for a “special” day)

February 26: Posted A Public Video Of Myself On The Internet (57/366) – 88 pushups (I did that WOD THREE times to get best score I could and STILL had to do pushups!)

March 4: Been A Mo-Cap Model (64/366) – 95 pushups (I was more than happy to do some pushups for the Mocap project)

And today, finally, I’m done. I’ve performed 5,050 pushups in the past 100 days, and I’m very, very glad it’s over. I’m also very very glad I did it, since it’s allowed me a nice dose of daily discipline, and helped me accomplish other, really cool things. As Nick said when he finished the burpee challenge, “who knows what you could be capable of 100 days from now?”

Related Links:
www.CrossFit.com

Done Kneeling Jumps (68/366)


“Can I load up the hip, can I explode out of that hole?”
~
Coach Carl Paoli


Yesterday the 12.3 WOD for the CrossFit Open was released:

18 Minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible):
15 Box Jumps (20 in. for women)
12 Push Presses (75 lbs. for women)
9 Toes To Bar

Since I’ve registered for the Open and have to submit videos of my workouts, I’ve been making sure to get tips on efficiency of movements in the upcoming WOD. Some awesome sources for this are the CrossFit Journal, MobilityWOD.com by mobility master Kelly Starrett, and of course, GymnasticsWOD.com, home of the awesome gymnastics guru (and a coach of 2011’s Fittest Woman on Earth, Annie Thorisdottir), Carl Paoli. Today, Carl uploaded a video with his breakdown of 12.3 and tips on keeping good form and not leaking energy.

Here’s the video:

In the video, Carl starts out with a hip-loading exercise to warm you up for powerful box jumps. He gets into a kneeling position on the ground (both knees down), and talks about loading the hip, then in one movement exploding out of the kneel, onto your feet. That’s where the quote above comes from. He does the movement several times.

Okay. Yeah.

I remember in “The Karate Kid” movie how the bad guy Johnny did these jumps from his resting kneel at the competition matches, and I always thought they looked cool, but come on, that kid did karate. Check it out in this clip from the movie, the jump is right at the beginning … but you know, you can also watch the whole thing for the epic “Crane Technique” kick at the end, too. 80’s Pop Culture FTW:

These jumps are pretty scary. What if you can’t get to your feet in time and you fall on your face? But like when I decided to try clapping push ups, I decided that (especially with some information on the loading and points to execution from Carl) I should just try these today. They’re not pretty, but here’s what I got:

Like I said, these were not pretty. I think I don’t quite have the strength to execute these properly yet, which is why if you notice, I do kind of a “double wind-up” like a softball pitcher before I jump. I also might not be loading the hips properly. But practice makes perfect. If you can do these, box jumps should be no problem for you!

Related Links:
GymnasticsWOD.com
Games.CrossFit.com
MobilityWOD.com
Journal.CrossFit.com