Getting CrossFit, Day 17: Getting Closer

Saturday, June 27

    Guerrilla Fitness was absolutely packed. The Saturday at 9 class is always the most popular class time of the week, but the sheer turnout was incredible. There were over thirty people stretching out and ready to go for a nice butt-kicking to start their weekend. As I ascended the stairs into the back of CrossFit Montclair I realized not everyone was there for the 9am workout, Gregg's family was in town to help him move out of his apartment. It was an Arsenuk family reunion. I met Gregg's parents, his wife and his wife's parents, all of whom were decked out in "Guerrilla Fitness: CrossFit Montclair" attire. They were fun and enthusiastic about watching a GF class. I would have to be on my best game!

    After a few minutes of chatter, Gregg coralled all CrossFitters outside for the warmup, a rundown of the "Sumo deadlift high-pull," and some practice thrusters using the PVC bars (plastic bars used for practice). Knowing full well that CrossFit warm ups are very demanding in terms of flexibility, I tried to hide in the back with Mike, who told me he too was severely inflexible.

Note to newbies: Mike is a bit older than I am, and so has more of an excuse than I do for being as stiff as a board.

    As I moaned and groaned through some practice thrusters, I looked at Mike for some sympathy and reinforcement. Misery loves company. But to my astonishment, he was in a nearly perfect squat for a thruster, and seemed comfortable to boot. Traitor. Gregg also marvelled at Mike's flexibility. Coming into CrossFit, Mike was always very strong, but was so inflexible that he could barely move. Apparently, things have changed, and I was envious. Hopefully, I'll begin seeing the benefits of CrossFit in my flexibility as well. Gregg is exceedingly proud of Mike's progress.

    Feeling loosened up after the workout, all twenty five CrossFit participants got barbells and lined up across the entire length of CrossFit Montclair for the WOD.

WOD

AMRAP in 20 minutes of:

5 Thrusters (95lb RX)

Sprint 50m

10 Sumo Deadlift High-Pull (95lb RX)

Note to newbies: AMRAP stands for "as many rounds as possible

    Guerrilla Fitness was so packed for the 9:00 class that having Gregg or Bill keep track of everyone's rounds was impossible. We would have to do it by ourselves. After doing thrusters, each CrossFitter had to run out the door of Guerrilla Fitness, to a marker where 50m was measured, then sprint back and go back to his or her lifting station. My setup was nearly the last spot left in the entire gym, past where the padded rubber ended. I would be lifting on concrete. All in all, my setup was probably thirty yards away from the door. Add that to the 50m you had to run to get out to the marker, and then the 30 yards I'd have to run to get back to my station, and I was running a lot more than the prescribed 50m. No matter though, I was still psyched.

     With the congestion created by the high turnout, I figured that getting a really good number of rounds in was unlikely as I would have to weave my way in and our of weight lifting CrossFitters to get out the door to run, then weave my way back to lift. Thus, I elected to do the RX weight. I had never done 95lb thrusters before, but I'd give them my best shot.

     "GO!" All twenty five Saturday at 9ers started thrusting. My thrusters took a little longer than usual as the weight was high, but I was doing them in the best form I've done yet (for a thruster). I was proud when Gregg yelled "NICE thruster, Pete!" all the way across the gym. After the thrusters, I was out the door on my way to the sprint. The first few times I went to sprint, there was always a traffic jam at the door. It took a while for CrossFitters to spread out. Nonetheless, I did my best to stay close to Frank Lugo on the running as he always puts in 100%.

     After running the length of Guerrilla Fitness, I was back to my station for some Sumo Deadlift high-pulls

Note to newbies: This is an incredibly good lift. True to it's name, it combines a deadlift with a highpull. While these are two lifts that are typical amongst meathead gym warriors, I have never seen them combined before. It makes for a fantastic full body lift, working your legs, back, and shoulders. It is a new favorite of mine.

    Throughout the first few cycles, my Sumo deadlift high-pulls were in great form, but as the workout progressed, it really took a toll on my shoulders. While I still thought I maintained relatively good form (as was my focus today), Bill told me at the end that my SDHPs looked like "bunny rabit pulls," (when you butcher the lift by not raising your elbows on the high pull). Whatever, Bill.

    I found the WOD itself to be highly difficult. Workouts with strong emphasis on the shoulders coupled with running absolutely kill me. I'm not sure why, but when my shoulders are burning, I find it extremely hard to move my legs. It probably has something to do with what I touched on in an earlier blogpost: rapid transfusion of blood from shoulders to your legs takes time, and so forcing that transfusion to be immediate makes great demands on the body. However, I know I am improving in said workouts, as shoulder-running combinations are typical on CrossFit wods.  

    Throughout the workout I was cheered on and pushed by Gregg's family. Despite me pushing myself to the limit, I'd still hear "COME ON PETE. YOU CAN DO MORE!" Between my screaming shoulders, and my agonized back, I thought they would push me to the brink of death. I now know why Gregg's last name is homonymous with the poisonous chemical agent, arsenic.

Note to newbies: Gregg's family members are awesome people, but I've been waiting to make that joke about Gregg's name since blog post #1.

    As time progressed, I found that Reiko was a good person to try to stay with throughout the WOD. She would complete her lifting portion far quicker than I, but I'd be able to catch her and gain just enough of a lead on the running to be ready to catch her again after another set of thrusters and SDHPs. Instead of time, she kept me going at a high work rate.

    As the workout came to a close, high pulls were actually killing me more than the thrusters, something I didn't expect. My guess is I was putting way too much stress on my back during SDHPs, because it was burning immensley as I closed out my final cycle. Instead of gently setting down my weight on the concrete surface, I had to drop it for my back's sake. When Bill finally yelled, "TIME!" I collapsed, except rather than simply crumple on the black rubber the way I am now used to, I slid several feet across the concrete on a layer of my sweat. I finally came to a stop after lightly bumping into Doug's barbell. "Tough workout, huh?" he said. I laughed.

   When I finally recovered, I had no concept of how many rounds I had done, but I felt more proud of this workout than I had any of my other WODs. I was able to separate myself from competition and my numerical result (something I've always struggled with), and really focus in on pushing myself with perfect form. What's more is that I'm nearing my workrate threshold. For those of you who are wondering what I'm talking about, your threshold is a zen-like term used for that point in a workout where you want to quit. It's a mental thing. If you can manage to work through your threshold, you can push yourself harder and faster. I don't think I've quite gone through mine yet, but I'm getting there. My mental fitness is improving just as dramatically, if not more so, than my physical fitness is.

'>Click here for pics from the Filthy Fifty (it's in reverse order... sorry!) 

Photos Courtesy of Stephen Nolan 

My result: No idea

Next Workout: Monday 

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