So where do I even start with this recap? Well I guess I could start with the fact that this race wasn’t on my radar a few months or even a few weeks ago. I had planned on running Pittsburgh half marathon this year but unfortunately I was hit with a stomach bug the night before the race. It was the first time I hadn’t made it to the start line for a half marathon.
The day of the Pittsburgh Marathon, while I was recovering on my couch and drinking sips of water, I started researching half marathons somewhat close to home. I also only had one weekend in May that was open because we were flying out for the vacation and flying back in the following weekend. So it had to be Memorial Day weekend.
Thats when Wheeling, WV popped up on my radar. Wheeling is only a 50 minute drive from my house and I could pick up my race packet the day of the race. Perfect. I signed up the next day.
I read some reviews on the race and the mention of hills aka mountains kept coming up. This bothered me some but not a ton as I have been doing plenty of hills while training.
Honestly it took me close to week to feel completely better from the bug I caught. I ran four miles four days after the bug. Then three days later I was on a plane to Florida. While there I did a three mile run. I had planned to run twice but my knee was very unhappy with walking around Disney World so I decided to only run once. The day after we flew home I busted out a 9 miler before my body realized it was back in Pennsylvania. I was all set; or so I thought.
The day of the race I woke up at 6:15 when I had set my alarm for 5:30. Of course I initially panicked, but I realized with the race starting at 8:00 am I still had enough time if I could get out the door in 15 minutes. So I skipped my usual breakfast of egg whites and oatmeal and grabbed a Cliff bar and banana to eat on the drive to Wheeling.
Once there I picked up my bib, slapped on some sunscreen and put on my camelback. I lined up at the start line and it was time to go in ten minutes.
That in itself felt like a small victory. Right before we started, I sent a text to my husband, “ I made it to the start line!” He wished me good luck and we were off! The beginning of the race looped around the downtown streets and we passed the start/finish line on the way. This part of the course was pretty flat which I expected. It did feel a little warm and the miles didn’t seem to be coming easy, but I didn’t want to judge my performance just yet. I like to call the first two miles of a half marathon, ‘the junk miles’ as I usually don’t feel so great during those miles.
When I got to Mile 3 I knew that this was where things were going to get serious. Just from what I read, I knew this was where the big hill was.
At the mile 3 mark I also ended up near this amazing woman. She was wearing full military gear and carrying an American flag. She also had pictures of veterans who had died in combat attached to her backpack. It was so amazing to see and inspiring. I definitely had to keep going after seeing her.
Now back to this hill. Well it was more like a mountain. It was over two miles long. Now I had no intention of running this hill to begin with. When I had been training for Pittsburgh I had been walking most of the uphill so it seemed to be the best move.
Everyone around me seemed to have the same game plan as well and were walking. I knew that this hill was going to be bad but it was still taking me by surprise. It was shockingly bad.
I would say to myself as I turned a bend only to see more of the hill. It was seriously never ending. I also started to realize that my walking is pretty slow as I was being passed by other people walking. Or maybe it was that I just wasn’t used to walking hills that are over two miles long.
Eventually my back started to hurt. Now this happens to me when I run uphill or if I’m pushing a stroller uphill but never just walking uphill. I tried to pick up my feet higher to alleviate some of my back pain. Finally I started hearing some loud music and was hopeful that I had finally reached the top of this awful hill. As I turned the bend sure enough I could see a DJ and a water station along with a banner saying that you had made it to the top. What a relief that was!
It felt great to be running downhill again. It was also in the shade which felt great too. Eventually the almost two mile downhill ended and it started to level out. It looked like I was entering a small town, but unfortunately I was also losing the shade from the trees. As I neared the water station at Mile 7, I realized how hot it was. I was also coming up to an intersection and at this point couldn’t see anyone ahead of me. I was confused about which way to go so I asked the police officer directing traffics if I was supposed to go left. He said yes so I made the left turn and continued into this small town.
It was started to get really hot. As I ran past a bank I saw the temperature read 86 degrees. I instantly wished I hadn’t seen that sign. I also had lost satellite reception on my Garmin so I no longer how far I had gone. All I knew if that I had passed seven miles.
Everytime I ran I felt like I couldn’t breath. But when I walked I felt fine. I don’t do well in the heat so this was not the best conditions for me. I decided I would be fine if I walked, but might pass out if I ran, so I decided to go with walking.
Walking the last last six miles was not ideal, but what choice did I have? There was a guy driving a golf cart with a stretcher along the course. I secretly hoped that he would pick me up but when he gave me the thumbs up so I figured I was on my own,
The spectators along the course were awesome and I really needed it. There were severel official water stops but there were also homeowners handing out water, fruit and even beer. I was now stopping at every water stop for water, Gatorade (which I never drink during races but could tell I needed it) and ice which I stuffed down the front and back of my shirt.
Around mile 11 I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture of the mile marker. I saw a text message from my husband “Hope it’s going well.”
”This is complete hell but almost done.” I texted back.
At this point a police officer on a motorcycle drove by and asked me to move to the sidewalk. I have never been in that position during a race and it was quite humbling! Unfortunately there was another large hill at Mile 11 and I was dragging myself up it. When I got to the top I thought I would run the downhill but my feet hurt so badly that it was more of a limp so I decided to keep walking. (After the race I would find a huge blister to explain this foot pain.)
Finally we were back in the city of Wheeling. We went down the street a few blocks and then made a left onto a side street towards the finish line. It seemed silly but I decided to run this part. I guess the pride took over and I didn’t want to walk across. I also happened to have the entire finish line to myself! There were a few behind me and in front of me but I got to have the finish all to myself. There were a few people standing around still waiting and clapping. I started to get a little emotional. It felt awesome that people were still there cheering!
After crossing the finish line I got my medal and felt a bit of disbelief . My finish time was 3:27, which was approximately 45 minutes slower than my slowest half marathon. This course had totally kicked my butt!
I have to say this race was very humbling and made me question my running abilities to the point where I told a friend that maybe I should hang it. She pointed out that I had just had a bad race.
She is right of course. So with a few weeks hindsight I have this medal hanging on my bedroom mirror. It’s a good reminder to keep going even when things aren’t going your way.
It seems hard to believe but my son’s second birthday is just around the corner. Life undeniably changes when you have a baby and working out is no exception. I knew when I was pregnant that I could expect to be modifying my workouts, but I didn’t realize the struggles that would await me once I had the baby. After the past two years I’ve learned a lot about working out and these four things are what really stuck with me.
1. You workout when it’s Convenient for Baby
Before I had my son I could pretty schedule my workout whenever I wanted. Usually it was early in the morning before work, or in the evening after work. Either way I could carefully plan when to workout and when to eat. If I was working out in the afternoon I timed my meals perfectly so I would eat three hours before I worked out. Well, all that went out the window when I had my son. I often work out during his naps (which is not the same time everyday) or if it’s summer I go running with him in the stroller. If my husband is home then I take advantage of more flexibility and either go for a long run or CrossFit class.
So with that in mind, you can imagine that my workouts are not perfectly time anymore. Sometimes they happen an hour after I eat. Sometimes my son wakes up early and they are cut short. Sometimes he falls asleep on our run. Either way, I’ve learned to be flexible and take advantage of a time to workout when it arises.
2. Something is better than Nothing.
This probably seems pretty self explanatory but it was definitely a shift in my mindset. Some days just get hectic and things don’t go to according to any plan, and that’s not even to mention what kind of broken up sleep you might be getting. In the past I might have just given up on the day and given myself a unscheduled rest day, but now I try to do some sort of workout. This might just involve jumping rope, doing push-ups and dumbbell snatches while son my watches television. Whatever it may be, I try to do something instead of just thinking there is nothing I can do. Of course having some equipment at home can be helpful. It also means you really have no excuse to ‘do nothing.’
3. Accept Where You Are.
When I started working out again after pregnancy, my mind and body were just not on the same page. My mind was willing, but my body was just not capable of what I expected of it. This was very frustrating to me and at times I felt very discouraged. I couldn’t run very far, maybe 800 meters, without stopping to walk. But in reality I had taken nearly a year off from running; and not only that but I also had gained 35 lbs. I wasn’t starting at ground zero, I was starting in the negative. Once I accepted this fact, things become much easier mentally. I broke things up into smaller goals and celebrated small victories like running a mile without walking or doing jumping lunges in a WOD again. Acceptance allowed me to make peace with my fitness and celebrate the small victories along the way.
4. Working Out Is Now More Important than Ever Before
During my 35th week of pregnancy I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. At this point in the pregnancy I was monitored twice a week until one appointment at 37 weeks when I was sent right to the delivery room! After having my son, my blood pressure remained high and I had to go on medication. Eventually I stopped taking the medication, but a few months later my blood pressure was high again. After several doctors appointments I was put on medication again right after my son turned one.
What caused this? I’m still asking myself this question. Sleepless nights certainly did not help. I also had anxiety during my pregnancy which carried over the first few months of postpartum. After losing two pregnancies before having my son, I can easily see why I would be stressed.
I was really upset about having to go on medication, but I also eventually realized that I had the power to change my situation. It was hard to hear people, including doctors, telling me that I needed to make lifestyle changes but it was the truth.
Last summer I decided to commit myself to working out five days a week. Previously I had been working out 3-4 days and just wasn’t seeing the results I had hoped for. Once I started working out five days I started seeing big improvements. Last fall I stopped taking blood pressure medication and it’s remained stable! I’m still fighting to lose weight and keep my blood pressure down, but I’ve already made a lot of progress towards these goals.
So those are the four things that I’ve learned, not to mention that my son is very active so I feel like I need to get in better shape to keep up with him! What excites me the most is that I feel like the athlete I used to be is within reach again. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point but I think I’m getting really close! I’ve set some goals for 2019 and I’m excited to see them come to fruition!
I also hope this post helps other new moms who may be struggling with some of the same issues. Sometimes things can seem overwhelming, but if you do your best you’ll get there!
It was an ordinary day. There was nothing special planned; nor was it a holiday or a special occasion. There were plenty of chores around the house that needed to be done. Laundry needed to be folded. The dishes in the sink needed to be washed. You were fighting a nap, that I knew was much needed, and I didn’t know why. I was frustrated at first, that you wouldn't fall asleep, because I had planned on catching up on some of those household chores while you napped.
It became clear that you weren’t going to fall asleep, so I came to your room to get you out of your crib. I felt frustrated, unsure why you were refusing to sleep. After all, this was part of your daily routine.
I carried you to the living room and sat in the chair facing the large window. You sat quietly, in my arms, without fighting to put down on the floor. You just wanted to be held. It reminded me of when you were a newborn; just a year ago. As I held you, your body became more relaxed and your breathing became deeper. I knew you were falling asleep. I looked down at your face and sure enough, you had fallen asleep in my arms.
That’s when it hit me.
A tear came down my face.
I remembered how we got here.
I remembered the positive pregnancy tests (all three of them) and the two pregnancies that were lost. I remembered the tears that I cried after those losses. I remembered how sad I was for months after the loss. I was unsure if I would ever happily smile or laugh again. I remembered seeing the world, no longer in color, but in shades of grey. I remembered wearing sunglasses in hospital hallways, trying to hide the tears streaming down my face. I remembered putting away baby clothes that I had bought for someone that would come someday; yet that someday seemed to get further and further away.
I remembered wondering if the room that I had painted green would ever become a nursery. I remembered sobbing in the shower, or in my car on way to work. I would cry whenever I was alone and no one could see my hidden grief. I remembered trying to put on a brave face at numerous social events, acting as if I was okay, even when I wasn’t.
I remembered the third positive pregnancy test and how it felt different that time. I remembered crying tears of fear and feeling thankful at the same time. I remembered going to every doctor’s appointment, anxiously awaiting to hear about your progress. I remembered counting up the weeks, hoping I could carry this high risk pregnancy for as long as my body would allow me.
I remembered being told that I was being sent to labor and delivery, because my body had been pushed as far as it could go with the pregnancy. Several hours later I met you, but it felt like I had always known you when they placed you in my arms.
And on that day, I felt that way again, as I watched you, sleeping in my arms. Time seemed to stand still again as I watched the snow swirling outside and listened to you breathe. That day was anything but ordinary. You will always be who was at the end of my rainbow. Nothing else will ever be more important than holding you in my arms
This past May my husband and I decided to take a vacation to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. To reach our destination we decided to embark on a long road trip (roughly 1,000 miles)! And did I mention we also took our one year old son with us? It might have been ambitious but we were eager to hit the road and drive to the beautiful beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.
Note: I have some typos in this blog that I plan on correcting when my one year old permits it.:)
We left our home in Pittsburgh on May 10th, 2018 at seven in the morning, That morning we planned to drive to town just north of Nashville, called Hendersonville. With all of our luggage packed in our truck we woke our son, gave him a bottle and hit the road, while he fell
asleep again stop in his pajamas. We drove south on Interstate 79 into West Virginia and then Ohio. After about two hours on the road we stopped at a rest stop along the highway. The trees were in bloom and it was a very pretty entrance to the rest stop!
After this stop we continued to Columbus and then hopped onto Interstate 71 to Cincinnnati. There was a decent amount of truck traffic to Cincinnati, which surprised me, but didn’t slow us down too much.
Once we crossed the Ohio River Into Kentucky we decided to stop for lunch. After lunch, Bobby found a park where our son could run around and spend some time on a swing. After spending some time at the park, we got back on Interstate 71 and continued to head south.
We drove through Louisville and then stopped at a rest stop near the border with Indiana.
I really liked this rest stop as the architecture of the building looked just like a southern plantation. There was also a lot of shaded areas which worked out perfectly for our son. It was becoming much warmer the further south we traveled!
Just a few miles after this test stop I was so glad that we stopped because we hit our first major delay of the trip. We hit construction that was really bad; we ended up sitting/ slowly moving in traffic for an hour. We all were fed up with traffic this point and I had jumped in the backseat to entertain our son. We even decided to get off an exit, to refuel at a nearby Starbucks. After stopping at Starbucks we drove through town to take a break from the interstate before merging back on.
The traffic we encountered on I-65 was actually so bad I considered calling it quits for the day and just finding a hotel room nearby. But once we realized we had already been through the worst of it we decided to press onward.
We reached Nashville around 6:45pm. One positive was that we had traveled into Central Time Zone so we felt like we had gained back the hour we lost in traffic.
We stayed in Hendersonville, which is just north of the city. I’d recommend this area to anyone traveling because there are many stores and restaurants within walking distance. We decided to walk to dinner nearby. After dinner we just watched tv in our room. Originally we had planned on using the pool but we were too exhausted at this point to go to the pool.
The next morning we got up around seven and went downstairs to eat breakfast. We didn’t get on the road until 9am but we felt okay about a later start since we didn’t have as far to travel that day and we would also miss the Nashville rush hour.
After passing through Nashville there wasn’t much worthy of note; just rolling countryside. It didn’t take long before we hit the Alabama border.
Soon after the state line, we saw this huge space ship rising above the trees! We realized that the space ship was at a rest stop so of course we had to stop!
After spending some time at this rest we continued onto Interstate 65 south. We stopped to have lunch just south of Birmingham Alabama and then hopped back onto I-65. We were both eager to get off this Interstate as it seemed like we had been driving this road for an eternity, or at least all day!
Finally we got off the Interstate and at this point we were pretty excited because we knew that we only had two more hours to go. Now I should mention that once we got off the Interstate, the towns were pretty few and far in between. We did find this gas station along the highway. It had a nice open area, so we stopped here for a rest.
The inside was quite nice too, with a lot of supplies and clean restrooms so we actually stopped here on the way back home too.
This was the first time for all of us to visit Alabama, and I have to say that it's pretty neat visiting a place for this first time with our son. After spending some time here, we hopped back into the truck for our final push.
We reached our hotel at in Fort Walton Beach, Florida just after 7pm. We prompted moved our items into our hotel room and then went out on the beach!
Even though this was our son's second trip to the beach (we visited Ocean City, MD when he was six months old) he seemed much more aware on this trip and seemed in awe of the water! After traveling all day we were too exhausted to go out to eat, so we ordered a pizza to our room and then hit up the pool for an evening swim. It was a great start to our vacation!
Back in 2009, the Pittsburgh Marathon was brought back to the city after being on a long hiatus. At that time I was living in Maryland but desperately wanted to be back in my home city participating in this event. In 2012 my husband and I moved to Pittsburgh and I've been participating every year since then. While the marathon celebrated its 10 year anniversary this year, I was looking to make a comeback. The last time I had run a half marathon was in May of 2016. My son was born in March 2017 and I've been trying to get my running legs back ever since then. Last year I ran/walked a few 5k's and also did a 4 mile race, but I knew, deep down, my ultimate goal was going to be to run the half marathon. I had some serious doubts. If I was having trouble running 3 and 4 miles how the heck would I string together 13? Nonetheless, at the beginning of the New Year I signed up and committed to doing the race.
I started building up my mileage in March and eventually built up to 10 miles. But I was a far ways off from the runner I used to be. I was averaging 14 to 15 minutes per mile; a long way away from my sub 10 minute miles. I knew that I could cover the distance on race day, by it would probably take me much longer than usual.
Mile 1: We start! I've started between the 12 min/Mile and 13 min/Mile groups. I notice some people are also using the run/walk strategy. This is good for me. I need to be reminded to walk and not get carried away in the moment. (12:29 min/mile)
Mile 2: At the start of mile 2, I walk a little bit. I don't feel like I need to, but it seems like the smart thing to do. I also walk through the water stop at the end of the mile. (12:04 min/mile)
Mile 3: This mile includes the 16th Street Bridge which I planned to walk the uphill. (12:40 min/mile)
Mile 4: The North Side is one of my favorite places as the crowds are always great and motivate me. It's obvious as my pace has picked up. (11:58 min/mile)
Mile 5: It's mile 5 and I feel awesome. It then hits me that everything is clicking for me and I have a good chance to blow away my goal time. I start to get emotional, but it messes with my breathing. I then quickly tell myself to snap out of it.
Its mile 5! You can't get emotional yet! (12:17 min/mile)
Mile 6: This mile goes around PNC Park and Heinz Field, which is new to me. Since this isn't exactly a neighborhood I thought it would be boring, but there are a lot of people here cheering! (12:11 min/mile)
Mile 7: Uphill we go to the North Side and eventually the West End Bridge. I walk up the bridge and look towards the city. As I reach the top of the bridge, I start running the downhill to carry me into the West End. (13:00 min/mile)
Mile 8: I turn the corner and run down the hill onto the Main Street. What a party! I feel motivated to keep going, but also wish I could join the party. (11:44 min/mile)
Mile 9: I hate running. Maybe I shouldn't have signed up to do this. Everything is starting to hurt. The volunteer at the water station notices the distress on my face. 'You're doing great. Just keep going!" He's right. I just need to keep moving forward. (12:37 min/mile)
Mile 10: I start looking for my friend, Susie. I know she's here somewhere and then I spot her. I scream her name a few times and she sees me and starts cheering. I keep moving along to the South Side. (12:47 min/mile)
Mile 11: I'm getting so close to the end, but my body just wants to stop. I leave the South Side and start up the dreaded Birmingham Bridge. There is no downhill on the bridge. It's only uphill and it's so painful. I run/walk my way through it (12:06 min/mile)
Mile 12: After crossing the bridge I start up Fitfth Avenue to the final stretch. I start walking and have flashbacks to the Duquesne Hill on the old course. I feel so happy they took that hill out. (12:26 min/mile)
Mile 13: The final descent begins. I start pushing the pace and look at my watch to see I'm running under a 10 minute/mile. I haven't run a 10 minute/mile in two years. I feel like I'm either going to puke or my legs will give out. I dislike both of these outcomes so I let off the gas a little bit and run something I can sustain. We make a left, then a right, then a left. I'm starting to wonder where the heck the finish line is to put me out of my misery. I know it's close and we make one more right turn. I see it: the finish line, in all it's beautiful glory. I keep pushing all the way through the finish. And then the tears start flowing. (10:19 min/mile)
I was in total shock over my performance. Today I had somehow ran 12:30 min/miles. I couldn't believe it. I started crying a lot. I hate when people see me cry so I tried not to go into a complete sob in front of strangers; but it was very emotional for me.
This was a hard fought half marathon. I didn't run during my pregnancy. I also developed hypertension towards the end of the pregnancy. The hope was after I had my son that the hypertension would go away, but that wasn't the case. For the past year I've been battling high pressure and put on medication twice. My ultimate goal is to get off my medication and running is helping me reach my goal. I also lost my full time position at work while I started training for this race. Obviously running doesn't cure losing your job, but it did take the sting out of it and helped me deal with it better. In some way, that can't be understated, this race made me believe in myself again.
I want to say thank you to Bobby who watched our son while I went on my long runs. Often running a half or full marathon is a family effort and I'm so fortunate to have my husband's support. I also want to thank my son, Luke, my one and only training buddy this year. Thank you for coming along with me and enjoying the view! I just want to make you proud.
It seems hard to believe, but in three weeks the Pittsburgh Marathon will be here! This year I will be doing the half marathon. Although this will be my 11th half marathon, it will be my first after the birth of my son in March 2017. I've learned a lot about myself during these past few weeks of training. I also must admit that there have been a few days where I have thought that signing up to do the half marathon was a big mistake.
I didn't run at all when I was pregnant and when I did start running again, boy oh boy, was it horrible! I can understand why people hate running so much; believe me I do. I've often told people that getting back to running has been like starting over, but in reality it's been like starting in the negative.
My plan for this year's race is to run/walk. This is a different plan than the ones I've had in years past races, but I'm coming into this race much different than previous years. I've had to learn how to pace myself differently. I can't rely on my old methods because I'm not quite there yet. In other words my mind is willing, but my body just isn't ready quite yet. For instance, on one of my long runs I found myself running through miles 1 and 2 without taking a walking break and I was super winded by the time I got to mile 3. I quickly realized that I really needed to stick with that 'long-slow-distance' method and for right now slow means taking a break to walk.
So far I have built up to 8 miles and I'm planning on running 10 miles the next two weekends. So far I've been doing the long runs by myself. I thought I wouldn't like running alone, but the solitude has been a nice way to collect my thoughts. I just love getting lost in a run and letting my mind wander.
I have been getting really nervous before each of my long training runs. I am realizing that it's not a bad thing though and I can channel that energy into my run. I'm sure when race day comes around I'll be a bundle of nerves.
What I have probably enjoyed most about this hard fought comeback is remembering how much I loved running. I do believe that running makes me a much better person and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to run again. I'm really looking forward to race day and lining up with hundreds of other runners!
I'm writing to share some exciting news. I've recently started creating and uploading my artwork to a website called FineArtAmerica.com! This website not only allows you to purchase prints of artwork, but also carries tote bags, coffee mugs, beach towels and many other items! It has been a bit of a dream come true to see my artwork come to life in that way.
A few things lead to this new endeavor. The first happened last year while I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with my son. I had been put on 'couch rest' and found myself quite bored and also stressed. Since I wasn't able to relieve my stress through my usual methods of working out, or having a glass of wine, I decided to start painting again. I ended up painting a belly cast that I had made when I was 34 weeks pregnant. By the end of the painting, I was amazed at how much less stressed I felt. It was such a relaxing activity for me. Being on 'couch rest' definitely renewed my interest in painting again.
The second thing that has lead to this endeavor is that I have unfortunately had a reduction in hours at my full time job. I don't know how long it will last but I'm currently spending my days as a stay at home mom. While waiting for work to pick back up at my job, I decided to spend my extra time pursing my creative passions. I am hoping to build up a nice little collection of artwork during this time. Below is my latest painting that I've completed.
Please check out my profile page on Fine Art of America and spread the word. I think it's a great place for unique gifts and I have already ordered a few items for myself from there. I'm excited to let my creativity run wild!
When the third open WOD was announced, I knew this would be the one to really separate the athletes. It was also going to be a WOD where I found myself struggling or being unable to continue because I lacked a certain skill. For this WOD, the scaled version of the workout included pull ups. Before I was pregnant I was able to manage one strict pull up. As I has struggled with pull ups for a long time, I was quite pleased with that feat.
But as you can imagine, post pregnancy, I no longer have my one strict pull up. So I knew this was going to be a weaker workout for me.
The format of the workout went like this for the scaled version:
2 rounds for time of:
20 overhead squats (35 lbs)
100 single- unders
12 chin over the bar pull ups
......... there was much more after the pull ups, but honestly I kind of stopped reading after this point because I knew pull ups were going to be a struggle. There was also a 14 minute time cap to complete this workout.
I did well with the singles. Then I moved onto the overhead squats. I was trying to complete the overhead squats unbroken, but I was getting too unstable after 17 reps, so I decided to set down the barbell and regroup to finish the last three reps. After the overhead squats I moved back to the jump rope and quickly moved through the single unders.
Then it was time to go to the pull up bar. I looked at the clock. I had finished the previous movements in approximately three and a half minutes so I had a long time to try to get a pull up! The first few attempts I made, I felt close, but I just didn't have enough to pull myself over the top of the bar. I tried a few different placements for my hands - narrow grip, wider grip, etc. Then I tried kipping, which seemed less effective so I went back to trying strict pull ups. But at this point, my upper body was really tired from my attempts and I was getting worse, not better. I realized that a strict pull up was not going to happen.
I had suspected that this might be the case for this workout and tried to think positive thoughts instead of being negative. It was also nice to have so many people cheering me on to get a pull up. That made me feel better.
Finally the clock hit 14 minutes and my score was 220 reps without being able to get a pull-up. Pull ups will definitely be something for me to work on this year! While I did not get a pull up during this workout, I did feel encouraged that I was close on some of my attempts. It made me feel like I have something positive to work on moving forward.
The second week of the CrossFit Open is in the books! As soon as I saw the workout announced on Thursday night it made me nervous. The workout went like this:
1 dumbbell squat, 1 burpee over the bar, 2 dumbbell squats, 2 burpees over the bar, 3 dumbbell squats, 3 burpees over the bar..... well you get the idea.
The reps kept ascending until you got to 10. Once you completed this portion of the workout you got to do a one rep max clean. And the kicker was you only had twelve minutes to do all of this.
Burpees have never been a strong point for me, but the past year, they've been really terrible. Also, the front squat with dumbbells feels a bit awkward, especially since the dumbbells must be placed on your shoulders. The format was also a bit of a mental game. I'm not a big fan of ascending workouts. I rather do more reps in the beginning and less at the end. It just seems easier to mentally push yourself when you have fewer rep schemes to complete at the end of the workouts. There are some workouts that I just look at and know that I will struggle a bit. This was definitely one of those wods.
I picked up my dumbbell and completed one squat. I set it on the floor and went into my one burpee. The first few rounds of this workout felt weird. I felt like I could not get into a groove with the movements. By fourth round I finally felt like there was some sort of rhythm to this workout, instead of just switching from one thing to the next thing.
Rounds 5,6, and 7 felt okay.
Then came round 8.
"What the heck is this?" I thought to myself. The squats were starting to really take a toll on me. I felt totally gassed by them and couldn't catch my breath during the burpees. Then the negative thoughts started coming into my mind.
What made you think that you could do this? Why did you even sign up for the open?
I thought for sure that I was going to loose my lunch during round eight and since I was only halfway through the wod, I didn't want to do that. I slowed down. I took my time to get my thoughts together. The panic subsided and I kept going.
Round 8 and 9 were painful. Fortunately I had a great judge who reassured me and encouraged me to kept going. I definitely needed it. I had to break up the set of 10 squats into two sets of five. I could feel my legs spasm and I thought they were going to give out on me for sure. I felt relieved as soon as I put down the dumbbells and did the final set of burpees
When I finished the burpees I looked at the clock. I had finished the first portion in 10:59. I could rest a little before the clean, but not for very long. I only had one minute left. After catching my breath I did my clean at 75 pounds. It felt easy (which I had planned) and I tried to get more weight on the bar. Unfortunately time ran out while I was trying to add more weight and I didn't get to make a second attempt.
Initially I was disappointed with myself after the workout. I had hoped to be finished around the 10 minute mark and have more than one attempt at the clean. However, I do have a tendency to be too hard on myself. I have been working hard on finding the areas where I have improved, rather than relentlessly critiquing myself. I had only been using the 15 pound dumbbells in class, so I had to give myself props for using the 20 pound dumbbell during this workout. It definitely made the workout harder. Also, my son's first birthday was the next day, and I decided that I should be proud of how much I have improved in just the past year.
Bobby went in a later heat and did an awesome job. He also got a personal best in the clean. He told me afterwards that he had no idea how much weight was on the bar and only counted it afterwards. Pretty neat to see what you can accomplish when you don't let your mind get in the way!
Now we move onto Week 3! I've been counting up the movements that we still have yet to do in the open, because the first two weeks definitely haven't been my stronger points. I'm hoping that the next three weeks, we will have movements that I'm a little more proficient with. Good luck to everyone!
This year marks my third time doing the Crossfit Open. My first year was in 2014. I participated again in 2015 then took 2016 off and during the 2017 Open last year I had my son! I thought that signing up for this year's Open was a good way to keep myself accountable and also a good way to remember how far I've come since having him one year ago.
When the Open Wod was announced last Thursday, my first thought was, "Wow. That's a really long Wod! It was 20 minutes long, which is the longest Open Wod that I can think of. I opted to do the scaled workout which included 8 knees above parallel, 10 dumbbell hang clean and jerks (20 lbs) and a 12 calorie row.
So when I started off this workout, I immediately screwed up some things. The first thing was that I didn't bring my dumbbell over to the rig so I could easily transition from the rig to the dumbbell. The second thing was that I didn't bother to sit on my rower beforehand and adjust the straps for my feet. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I clearly let nerves get the best of me and forgot to do these two things. After having a hard time getting my feet into the rower, I felt a bit panicked. Then I remembered, 'Hey this is a twenty minute wod. Relax.'
From there things got much better. I was able to string together my knees above parallel and the clean and jerk started feeling smoother. I had never done this movement with a dumbbell before so it felt a bit awkward and took me a few times to get in a groove.
After what felt like it had been a while, I decided to take a look at the clock.
It was just past 6 minutes.
"6 minutes! I'm not even halfway!"
I decided not to look at the clock again and just focus on my rowing. It also helped that Bobby was nearby holding our son, so that gave me something to focus on while trying to pull as many calories as possible.
Around the halfway mark I decided to break up my knees above parallel into two sets of four. I could tell that my grip was starting to become weaker and I needed to save some of it because I still had a long way to go! For me, losing my grip was definitely the hardest part of the workout. Between being on the pull up bar, holding onto a dumbbell and pulling on the rower, my hands started to hurt! Towards the end, I had to start shaking out my hands as I transitioned from movement to movement.
After what seemed like an eternity the clock finally hit 20 minutes! My judge handed me my score sheet to sign, but I could barely grip a pen. I had done 228 reps, which I was pretty pleased with.
Bobby went in the heat after me and did an awesome job. Since my pregnancy and having our son, we haven't had many opportunities to work out together. It was great to be able to support each other and work out with each other again!
After completing the first open wod of 2018 I felt really excited and happy about my performance. It feels like an accomplishment just to be out there with my fellow CrossFitters.
Last year towards the end of my pregnancy, I developed high blood pressure. The hope was that after I had my son, the high blood pressure would dissipate, but in my case it actually got worse after delivery. I had to go on medication to control my blood pressure. As someone who has never dealt with high blood pressure before this was a bit of a surprise. Needless to say I didn't 'bounce back' from pregnancy as over the course of the next few months I continued to have trouble regulating my blood pressure. During the summer I was able to stop taking medication, but still was experiencing spikes in my blood pressure. Eventually I discovered that I had become deficient in potassium. I started increasing my potassium intake last November and things have drastically been improving since then.
With all that has happened in the past year, the open has taken on a lot more meaning for me. I am trying to become healthy again for my family and to also have fun and enjoy myself during the process. I'm looking forward to what the next four weeks of the open brings!
Author: Sarah Warman
I like to run, take pictures and write. I've combined all three in this blog.