CrossFit ReVamped does the Tough Mudder

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“Alea, why did you write ‘WE have to pee?’ You should have written ‘the GIRLS have to pee.’”

Coach was critiquing his wife’s hurriedly made sign on our drive to West Virginia to run the Mid Atlantic Region Tough Mudder.

“Sorry, Gary. You’re in a car full of women. ‘WE have to pee,’ is pretty accurate.” She leaned across him to press the handmade sign to the driver’s-side window in an attempt to catch the attention of the rest of our group in the car next to us (the one full of men).

About an hour and a half into the drive, we suddenly realized that the only phones with any of the guys’ numbers in them were safely locked away in the trunk of the car. But a certain member of our group (not me, for once!), who had gotten a bit overenthusiastic about staying hydrated before the race, was in desperate need of a pee break.

I wasn’t going to complain. I’m ALWAYS in need of a pee break. And the fact that I couldn’t stop laughing wasn’t making the situation any easier to deal with.

Once we actually arrived at our destination, I was starting to feel a bit more serious. It was cold. Really cold. I’m guessing the temperature was hovering somewhere around low to mid 50s, but the wind made it feel arctic. And that was with all my clothes ON.

We’d been strategizing about what to wear for almost a week before the event. The problem was that there really wasn’t ANYTHING appropriate to wear. Either you wore clothes to keep you warm and ended up being wet (and, therefore, cold), or you wore less clothes in order to stay dry and end up being cold because you were half naked. This was the route I chose: dry(ish) and half (or mostly) naked.

I started off in spandex shorts and a tank top. (I also had a chapstick in my bra. Remember that. It will come up later.) Now, I work out in spandex shorts quite a lot, but I always wear some other shorts overtop because spandex has a distinct habit of riding waaayy up my legs and not covering much of anything at all. I was feeling a little self conscious at first, but thankfully, I wasn’t the only one with the spandex idea. Leanne and I became the self-designated ‘hoochie mamas’ of CrossFit ReVamped. That’s cool. We owned it. Showing a little too much thigh was about to become the least of our worries.

I would write a blow-by-blow for each of the 12 miles and 20 obstacles, but to be honest, my brain seems to have blocked a fair amount of it out; that race was the most fun I’ve had and the most miserable I’ve been in quite a while. Besides, as the others so succinctly put it on the drive home: “There are no words to describe what we just did.” I’ll just try to hit on a few of the highlights, but this post may turn into a novel anyway.

STARTING LINE: There is something intoxicating about chanting “I do not fear pain,” with the dozens (hundreds?) of other people in your start wave who are just crazy enough to want to do something like this with you. Although, I believe a few of us may have slipped up on the “I will not complain,” part of that mantra throughout the course of our day. Also, the phrase “mental grit” stuck with me. I would need it later.

INJURY: Whoops. I didn’t make it very far into the course before this one happened. We were all feeling pretty fearless heading into the second obstacle. I mean, we had made it through the first one, right? What could possibly happen to us during the next 12 miles and five hours that we couldn’t manage? While we were industriously climbing over a set of mud walls (they actually looked more like really tall humps, but that sounds much less cool) I reached up for a hand and two of our big, strong crossfit guys reached down to pull me up and over.

I felt something familiar ripping in my right shoulder. It’s already in a state of semi-permanent dislocation, so I tend to injure it on a regular basis. Of course, I immediately started yelling my head off and making a regular scene.

“Ow! Ow! Ow! Let me go! Just let go!”

As soon as they dropped me, I felt significantly better. But I think I gave poor Bill a heart attack, since he was the one who had hold of my right arm.

“Oh my gosh, are you okay? What did I do to your arm?”

I assured them that it happened all the time, offering up the story about how I had once hurt my shoulder getting dressed in the morning, and held out just my left arm instead.

I figure getting yourself hurt on the second of 20 obstacles must be some sort of a record, but adrenaline is a hell of a pain killer, and I let the boys pretty much pick me up and throw me over most of the walls we came to after that. Yeah, my friends can do that. They’re pretty awesome.

WET AND COLD: Around mile three, we had to jump into water off a 20-foot platform. Not that we hadn’t already gotten pretty wet, but this was our first time getting soaked through. The cold suddenly became much colder and the wind much windier. This was the point at which I decided to ditch all modesty and chuck my shirt. I was now running the race in spandex shorts and a bra in order TO STAY WARMER. I doubt this really worked, but it seemed to make sense at the time.

While standing in the wind waiting for one of our group to come out of the bathroom, some of us (okay, I own up, it was me) may have started getting a little whiny.

“Quick. Everyone do 10 air squats,” Coach suggested.

I think he meant it as a joke, but we were either so desperately cold or so used to doing whatever he tells us that most of our gang did, in fact, start doing air squats while standing in the middle of a field at a Tough Mudder. As if we thought we needed some EXTRA exercise or something.

THE WORST PART: When you ask a large and varied group of people, “What was the worst part?” and they all immediately agree on the same thing, it has to be bad.

Fast forward to about the middle of the race: Arctic Enema. I think this may have been the worst part of the course on any day, but jumping into and swimming under a pool of ice water (literally, full of ice cubes) is really kind of unappealing when it’s not even remotely warm out. It was such a system shock that I have very little recollection of actually swimming through the ice. I vaguely recall flailing around so much, while trying to wrangle my body into a swimming motion, that I hurt my shoulder again. The next thing I remember is being on the other side while a kindly Mudder employee offered me a hand out of the water.

I tried to calmly explain that I couldn’t use my arm on that side anymore and that I was sure I could manage to get out on my own, but thank you very much. The words that actually left my mouth were something along the lines of, “No, no. Sorry. Fuck. No, not that side. Holy crap. Fuck, it’s cold. Jesus.”

TOO MUCH WATER: Despite the wind, and the ice bath, and my bum shoulder, and the alarming amount of rocks in my shoes, the first eight miles of the course were actually quite fun. But around what I’m guessing was 4:30 in the afternoon, the temperature started to drop drastically. For a while, it was possible to compensate for this by simply running faster. But then we began to hit water obstacle after water obstacle after water obstacle. One by one, members of our group began to bow out. I couldn’t blame them. The obstacles weren’t a challenge any more; the real challenge was trying not to get hypothermia. (I’m only sort of kidding. Apparently, some runners did have to go to the hospital for this very reason.)

I stuck with it for absolutely no ascertainable reason, except, possibly shear stubbornness. I was determined to finish every obstacle. (Well, every obstacle except for the ones involving electric shocks, which, apparently, you are not allowed to participate in if you have metal in your body. Who knew?)

“Mental grit.” I wanted to stick it out.

FINISHED: I was finished. The race wasn’t.

Toward the very end, I kept plowing on with the obstacles mostly because I was already wet and partly because the only three guys I was still running with wanted to do them. Boys. If I was going to have to wait around for them to do stuff I may as well do it too.

I finally had to give up at an obstacle that DIDN’T EVEN INVOLVE WATER, because I was about 111% sure I would reinjure my shoulder if I tried it. I’d been walking the fine line between idiotically stubborn and idiotically idiotic all afternoon, but I knew this one would cross it. We were three obstacles from the end. But once I skipped that one, I was finished. I waited for the boys and ran the rest with them, but I wasn’t about to touch any more water with a ten foot pole.

THE FINISH LINE: Out of the nine of us that started the race, two people finished the entire thing: Brian, our tough-as-nails military representative, and John, whom we’d talked into coming the night before using someone else’s registration, despite his protestations that he’d never run more than a couple of miles before.

The actual finish line was a blur that ended with me and John standing huddled around a heater with a half dozen strangers, wrapped in foil blankets, attempting to drink the beer that someone had shoved into our hands. ‘Attempting’ is a key word here, because everybody’s hands were shaking so badly that we were spilling more than we actually drank. Alex had gotten lost in the crowd and Brian had been whisked away by his sister because he was late to the airport. (We found out later that he did make his flight, but didn’t have time to shower. Hooray, I am no longer the grodiest person at our box!)

“We should probably go look for everyone else so we can leave and get warm,” I eventually suggested.

“Yeah, Probably.”

Neither of us moved.

“Never mind. I can’t tear myself away from this heater.”

“Me neither.”

ACTUALLY FINISHED: We had arrived around 10am. By the time we got back to the car, it was 6:15.

Slowest race I have ever run.

At the car, we all stripped off our wet clothes and replaced them with dry sweats. We were supposedly using towels to change behind, but I, for one, wasn’t trying too hard. I could not wait to be DRY. Who cares if somebody got a strip show by accident? That was their problem for looking. I yanked off my still sopping sports bra, and something fell to the ground.

It was the chapstick I had shoved in there when we got out of the car. I had crawled through pipes, and waded through mud, and jumped over fire and scraped every inch of my body on every inch of that course, but that chapstick was, somehow, still in my bra. At that moment, it seemed like the funniest thing in the world.

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who says lunchtime is only for eating?

“You kicked ass today.”

Somehow, I couldn’t help but agree with this assessment, despite the fact that I had finished today’s WOD several MINUTES after everyone else. Yet again.

It wasn’t exactly a surprising turn of events. Any workout that requires a total of 150 pushups is not my kind of thing. My poor little arms, which can easily yank a hundred pounds from the floor and shoot it over my head, quail at the prospect of hefting my 145 pound body off the ground over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

But I love this. I love that you can finish dead last and still have kicked ass, that ass kickage is measured in shaking limbs and pools of sweat. And man was I sweating today—even compared with the other sweaty, disgusting people I worked out with over lunch. I was EVEN MORE disgusting. Quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself.

It’s just beginning to dawn on me that these lunchtime WODs are going to make me smell worse and worse as the weather warms up. But I couldn’t care less.

A while back, a friend informed me that the secret to having a really fantastic day was just to squeeze a CrossFit WOD in there somewhere. “You spend the first half of the day looking forward to the WOD and the second half feeling like a total badass.”

So true.

The problem now, of course, is that I don’t know how to get through my day without one.

Lunch-break crossfitting ensues whenever I have to schedule something else after work. It’s not entirely feasible now that the office isn’t two seconds away from the box, but since when has feasibility ever stopped me from attempting something? From doing things, sure, but not from THINKING I can do them.

I wrote before about the difficulty of getting to CrossFit after work in a timely manner (and without breaking too many traffic laws). But that process doesn’t hold a candle to the craziness of trying to get from work to CrossFit and then BACK TO WORK, all during my lunch break. As I was speeding back to the office this afternoon, well after my hour was over, I realized why I am the ONLY person at the box who ever seems to attempt this: probably because I am the only person who is disgusting enough to put up with it. While blasting my car’s air conditioning in a futile attempt to dry my soaking wet hair, it dawned on me that I was fighting a losing battle. I couldn’t possibly dry the sweat, because I had changed clothes at such lightning speed that I was STILL sweating. I redirected the AC to blow on my armpits instead, reflecting that gray was an unwise color choice for my shirt today, and distractedly spilled the protein shake I was trying in inhale down my shirt.

I turned up at work 15 minutes late, in a shirt that was only partially dry and hair that was still soaked through, with chalk on my hands and something mysteriously sticky all over my boobs. I don’t think anyone at work was even remotely fooled about where I’d been. I don’t think they ever are. I don’t really care. It’s worth it. I look like a hot mess, but I feel like a total badass.

debauchery

Need I say more?

This post is just going to be another food confessional. I need a food confessional like nobody’s business after this past week. I need to repent, maybe do some penance, you know, like eating only vegetables for the next three days. Except I need some protein in there too. Okay, only vegetables and chicken. I’m really bored with chicken right now, so that seems like an appropriate punishment. Chicken and veggies it is.

Are you curious yet? Wait for it. It’s coming.

The beginning of the end: Tuesday night. Roomie and I were watching something on TV, and that Pizza Hut commercial came on. You know, THAT commercial. There’s some new cheese-pocket crust. It’s really just like stuffed crust, but you can SEE the cheese. All the melty, bubbly, yummy, I-haven’t-eaten-pizza-in-months cheese. And before I could stop myself, the words had left my mouth, “Oh my God, we should get that pizza on Friday night.”

Roomie needs to learn to stand up to me, so she can put an end to my foolish ideas. She really does. She’s just too easy going. Or something.

“You don’t have to talk me into it.”

Ugh. No. She was supposed to say “no.”

Okay, so I was eating pizza on Friday. That’s fine. I always do something like that at least once a week. Or twice. Maybe, I don’t know, SEVEN times. No, not really. That was just this week.

I happen to have eaten a few buffalo wings on Wednesday night. Whoops! How’d that happen? Oh well, a few wings aren’t really that terrible.

But Thursday WAS terrible. And it was mostly not my fault. Around 11am, an email message started circulating about a lunch trip to The Burger Joint (yes, that is the actual name of the restaurant) and who might be interested in going. This happens a lot with various lunchtime outings. I usually politely decline such invitations. It’s not hard, since I don’t have any money anyway. But this time, the message was accompanied by a delicious, scrumptious photo of a hamburger and fries, and we even got a follow-up visit to see if the picture had had any effect on me or Josh, the notorious non lunch goers.

In a moment of weakness, I must have displayed the briefest hesitation, because from that point on, my email was inundated with mouthwatering pictures of hamburgers. Seriously. The guys over in the electrical department need some deadlines or something to keep them occupied.

How was I supposed to resist such a blatant attempt to win over my taste buds? Besides, I missed having lunch with the guys! (That sounds like a better reason. Why don’t we just pretend it was the real reason I went?)

Fast forward to the much anticipated pizza on Friday night (I keep wanting to capitalize Pizza for some reason; it’s just that important to me) for which I was so excited—and also, by that point, so very hungry—that I immediately consumed half the pizza without letting my brain catch up to my stomach.

As difficult to believe as this may seem, half of a large pizza with cheese stuffed crust is, in fact, a bit too much food for me. I spent the rest of the night slothing around and complaining to Roomie (who had the sense not to wolf down her entire half pizza in 15 seconds) that I felt sick.

I wonder why that could have been?

I also ate two almond-flour cookies for no discernible reason. It’s as if I just decided that my body couldn’t possibly absorb any more food, so the cookies just didn’t count.

Saturday morning, I drove to Lancaster, PA and spent most of the rest of the weekend visiting my old college roommate. And eating. It’s just so much fun to escape from the boonies on the outskirts of Baltimore and go someplace where they actually have adorable hold-in-the-wall places that you can walk to for lunch. Or breakfast. Or dinner.

I may also have insisted we get ice cream.

I may have also ordered twice as much ice cream as I actually wanted, needed, or was really capable of eating. But there were TWO flavors I needed to try. I clearly had no choice in the matter. What’s a little stomach ache when something this important is on the line?

Confession: I also stopped for ice cream at a different favorite place on the way home on Sunday. The whole weekend was pretty much a wash, so what was a little more sugar?

Needless to say, I was al keen to get back on the clean eating bandwagon come Monday, and I only packed healthy food in my briefcase of food for work. But apparently, I wasn’t allowed back on board quite yet.

It was someone’s birthday. In fact, it was two people’s birthday. Dang. There was really no option out of eating the cake without being rude. I know what you’re thinking, and it’s true that nobody actually shoved cake in my mouth. But before I started this paleo eating thing, I was that person who would eat anything and everything. And I loved being the skinny girl who could out-eat a football player. It was part of my identity. I don’t want to be one of those people who says, “I don’t eat that.” I don’t know why, but the idea bothers me.

So I had a piece of cake. But I sneakily threw the frosting out while nobody was looking! That’s got to count for something, right?

running at lunchtime tends to be traumatic

I finally outran the shin splints and the wheezing and the leg cramps last night. NOW I remember why I do this again.

This week, I was getting worried. Since the weather finally broke sometime while I was busy being sick last weekend, I decided I should actually stick to some sort of real running schedule. But apparently, I needed more time to adjust to this weather shock before attempting to run in the middle of the day, in 90-degree weather.

I was uncharacteristically organized on Tuesday, with a four-and-a-half mile route that I had actually bothered to look up ahead of time (so I could avoid that familiar lunchtime panic of being completely and utterly lost with only 20 minutes to get back to the office and no idea which direction back to the office might be). But I still ended up in a panic because I ran my four miles at a glacially slow pace. Because I didn’t really RUN at all. Because I was dying so much I kept having to take walk breaks every few minutes.

Days like that make me wonder what the hell I’ve gotten myself into. Four miles just wasn’t happening for me. But tack another 22.2 on the end there? I’m sure I’ll be FINE. Easy peasy lemon squeezey.

The other day, one of my co-workers wanted to know if the marathon route would take us past his house in downtown Baltimore.

“Aw, Paul, are you gonna stand on your porch and cheer us on?”

“No. I just want to know if traffic’s going to get all screwed up with the roads being closed.”

Gee. Thanks.

At any rate, Josh and I had cause to look at the route for the first time, and, as the three of us stood clustered around my computer staring at the winding dotted line, something finally dawned on me: 26.2 miles is a freaking long-ass distance, not just a big number.  

“Huh,” Josh said, staring at the screen.

“Yeah,” I agreed.

“Wow, you guys are going to be running through some really sketchy neighborhoods,” Paul chuckled, completely unperturbed.  

 

**Unrelated news: my computer really has gone on the fritz again, so I had to send it in to the shop for repairs. For the second time in less than two years. I have the worst luck with computers. Thank goodness for warranties. At any rate, I don’t have a computer, so I’ve been writing these by hand and just typing them up when I can. Thus, there is kind of a dramatic disconnect between the time when they were written and when they’re posted. Just a public service announcement.

Speaking of public service announcements, here’s another one: if you have medicine that says “take with food,” you should definitely take it with food. Otherwise, it may make you feel as though you are having a heart attack. Or how I would imagine a heart attack feels. Don’t ask me how I found this out. It will only give you even greater doubts than you already have about my level of intelligence and/or common sense.

a crossfit insult session (or thank goodness my friends all love me)

“Guys, I can’t do it. I just can’t. I won’t be able to do this one.”

This was me on Thursday night. The topic of discussion was chest-to-bar pull ups. Fact: I’m dreadful at REGULAR pull ups.

My wonderful CF friends: “We know you can.”

“Just try it again.”

“The last time you tried one was weeks ago.”

Dawn: “I didn’t think I could do them either, and I just did one.”

Me: “Wait, if Dawn can do it, then I must be able to do one.”

Everyone else busted up laughing. “Anna! That’s terrible!”

Whoops, did I just say that out loud? Hmmm, sounds kind of insulting to Dawn’s pull-up ability. I’d better try to make this better.

Me: “No! I just mean Dawn’s really bad at pull ups too.”

What the heck?! ‘Really bad’? Was that supposed to make it better because I said I’m ALSO bad at pull ups. Everyone already knows that. I need to review my definition of backpedaling.

Everyone else was doubled over laughing now, including Dawn, who was also starting to look a bit indignant.

Dawn: “Hey!”

Me: “Well, whatever. It’s okay! Dawn says I have fetus fingers all the time!”

Oh dear. Bringing up unrelated past insults. Way to go Anna. That was a really snappy comeback.

Dawn: “Because you do! Look at her fingers.” (She holds up one of my hands to demonstrate for the audience we’ve gathered.) “See? They’re little baby fingers.”

Oh, thank goodness! She just brought this conversation down to my level. Now we’re just insulting each other. This I can handle.

I don’t actually remember where the conversation went after that. I know at one point Dawn asked me whether I had managed to snag one of the skinny bars for my thrusters to “accommodate my disability.” But she was offering me her skinny bar in the process, so I couldn’t even pretend to get terribly insulted about it.

And I did the chest to bars. I had five or six no-reps, which was a significant number considering we didn’t have to do that many in a set, but I got through 15 of them, which is 15 more than I thought I would.

Okay, now the open is over. I promise every other post will not be about CrossFit any more. Probably. Maybe.

less than fun times are less than fun

Have you ever found yourself lying curled up in misery on the floor of a public bathroom? I have. Twice actually. The first time was when I lived in a dorm and had the stomach flu during my freshman year of college; the second time was on Friday.

Sorry for not writing until now, but I was busy dying.

Actually, that’s a lie. I wasn’t dying until Friday morning. In fact, when my alarm went off at quarter to six, I popped out of bed all excited that it was Friday. Isn’t it funny how we can talk ourselves into stuff? For most of the morning, I was more concerned about whether or not I thought I was going to vomit after all the double unders in that night’s WOD.

Eventually, it dawned on me that I wasn’t going to the WOD at all. Eventually, I realized that I really ought to be at home in my bed, or at least curled up on my own bathroom floor.

“Wow, you look like you not to happy to be … alive right now,” one of the guys informed me around lunchtime. “I was going to say ‘not too happy to be HERE,’ but that didn’t seem drastic enough.”

There is something seriously wrong with me. I didn’t leave work because I had a deadline, which sounds reasonable. But the real reason I didn’t leave work was because I was worried about what my boss would think if I told her I had to leave THE DAY we had to send out a big submittal. We spend weeks working on these things, but printing days are always the busiest. Plus, I accidentally acted really perky every time I talked to my boss throughout the day. I couldn’t help it. She was obviously in a good mood, and I kept automatically responding to her like I was too, even though I actually felt like death.

What the heck? Who does that?

But after that, I was worried she would think I was faking or something if I suddenly showed up in her office and said I had to leave early. On a FRIDAY AFTERNOON. Yup. So instead, I spent a few five minute sessions curled into a little ball on the bathroom floor trying to talk myself into finishing the work day.

I’m a mess. Friday definitely makes it into the top ten most miserable days of my life. And, don’t forget, I’ve been both run over and dragged by horses at various points in life. I finally made it home and didn’t really get out of bed for about 48 hours. Roomie was a fantastic mother substitute and fed me soda and juice so I didn’t shrivel up and die.

I missed going to L’s wedding; this made me feel sad and guilty, but only after I recovered enough to feel anything but miserable.

I seriously need to learn how to run my life better. Or something.

By the way, my computer seems to have crashed on me tonight (I’m on Roomie’s right now), which may put a damper on my post writing for a few weeks. But look how chill I’m being about the whole situation? I’m pretty impressed with myself too. Maybe, the computer will have sorted its problem out by tomorrow. Technology sometimes does that all on its own.

I do have a fun story for the next time I write. I promise.