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Birthdays, WODs, Heroes ….

20140906_113050Yesterday was my birthday and I didn’t have a birthday WOD. It was a deliberate choice, because Tony wouldn’t have been able to WOD with me, which he did last year and that felt a bit unkind to him. Mind you, he didn’t WOD with me the previous year … he was still being dubious about CrossFit then!

Anyway, instead of a WOD I had an AMBAP (as many breakfasts as possible) and I managed three – coffee and chocolates, sweet potato fritatta and then churros and chocolate sauce. Not bad going, if I say so myself.

The other reason I didn’t have a birthday WOD was I’d wodded three times in the last seven days and that’s my limit – more than that and I’m really pushing injury risk. Monday I went down to lift and do mobility and the WOD just looked like so much fun I did it anyway (am I the only person who’s response to burpees is ‘yes please’?), and Wednesday the box did Rankel.

RankelI opted for the Fitness level:

I love deadlifts as well as burpees so I chose to work at my 70% of 1rm although I knew it would slow me down. That’s 50 kilos on the bar, which is actually my bodyweight, so it required good form. I chose a 12 kilo kettlebell as I knew I’d be struggling to keep technique on the deadlifts, I didn’t need to add any back strain that could cause me to round my shoulders.

There’s something quite disgusting about trying to run after heavy deadlifts, a horrible feeling of your lower body not cooperating with brain commands – I’ve heard other people comment on this and it makes me smile to myself because that’s what a lot of CrossFit feels like to me, impaired neural networks cause that feeling quite often, so it’s great to know that sometimes when I get it, other people are getting it too!

I got six rounds flat. Really happy with that result.

Tony starts training again next week, in time for our Pearl Anniversay WOD – that should be a lot of fun!


WOD love

Crossfit diaryThere are very few things I dislike about my box, although I spend a lot of time talking about how much I hate cross fit!

One of the things that can sometimes annoy me is the need to keep WOD secrecy until the end of the day. That’s just what we do, and I completely approve because it stops cherry picking (I’d never do a WOD with double unders in, from choice, for example) and that means functional fitness is integral to everybody’s training.

Sometimes it does frustrate me. Yesterday I ended up with full on WOD love – came home, drank bullet proof coffee in the garden with my LoveEnergy breakfast bar, realised I need a new CrossFit diary, which will be my third, and really wanted to blog about how euphoric I felt.

But I couldn’t, because it was only 11am. Last class is 8pm and until then I couldn’t WOD spill – so here it is:

Before the WOD I did my Lift It Up which was deadlifts:

  • Warm up  -5 reps at 40, 50 and 3 reps at 60% of one rep max
  • Lift – 3 reps at 70, 80 and 90% of one rep max.

I didn’t get a really clean third lift at 90%, felt my shoulders round out, and Coach David commented it had happened too, but I was glad to get it done.

12 minute AMRAP

  • 5 wallballs
  • 5 hand release press ups
  • 1 powerclean.

I got 13 rounds and 5 wallballs.

I picked too light a weight for my cleans, at 15 kilos, but I felt so tired when I got to the box that I underestimated what I could actually lift – lesson learned.

And I loved it, every single minute of it!




Meh and then some!

lavender ice creamSo the twin carbuncles in my life right now are Tony’s cancer treatment, which is noxious* and Lift It Big, which I find cumbersome. I’m just not a natural lifter.

Yesterday Tony got home at 4pm and I went straight out to lift. Unspoken agreement – I stay home until he gets home on treatment day, just in case he needs to be fetched, feels ill, needs extra care etc.

Everybody is at different stages in the Lift It Big programme, and I’m at the second phase which is 3 reps at 70%, 80% and 90% of 1RM (one rep max, for any non-lifters still reading). My lift of the day was strict press, possibly my second worst lift behind bench. I hate strict press.

The interim exercise between lifts is pistols. I cannot tell you how much I loathe pistols. Cross Pol Pot with a giant slug and that’s pistols, to me. If you have balance issues, pistols are evil.

I’m also doing (no, I’m not ‘doing’, I’m ‘attempting’, as I’ve missed two days out of eight so far) Ido Portal’s 30 day hang challenge – 7 minutes a day. I despise dead hangs – it’s just a way of feeling pain streeeetch out!

So I got it done, but it was meh. The only word for it is meh, or maybe the good old Pshaw! which Wodehouse’s characters used to express derision and disgust. Meh. Pshaw.

Went home, ate lavender ice cream. No it’s not paleo, but it’s great for cancer (seriously it is: lavender is immune system boosting, the other ingredients are free range and organic and when you’ve just had live TB vaccine pumped into your bladder it turns out you don’t always feel like eating substantial food, so home made ice cream is one of the things that Tony’s finding helpful) and that was the best part of the experience.




*I originally wrote ‘gnarly’ rather than noxious, which shows CrossFit has invaded my brain at the synaptic level, quite disturbing for a writer. I might end up with a whole novel in which everything is described simply gnarly, epic or awesome.**

**I note this blog has developed footnotes and footnotes to footnotes – jolly good! I may be channelling the wildcard talent that is Terry Pratchett – and I cannot think of anything I’d rather do.

Testing WODs and testing diagnoses …

Not the greatest of weeks.

Tony’s diagnosis was a bit of a shock – two small cancerous tumours in his bladder. When I say it was a shock, we knew it was a strong possibility but the reality is quite different to the possibility! He’ll be having surgery in the next few weeks, then convalescence for several weeks. I think we’re both much more concerned about the convalescence … three weeks where he can’t train is going to be quite a tough time for us both.

There are different conventions about how CrossFit boxes handle WODs – at Connect we don’t spill the WOD, so it isn’t posted in advance and nobody talks about it online till the last class has started, so people don’t get to cherry pick WODs they’re good at and avoid ones their bad at. For me that’s all immaterial – I’m not good at any of them! We do occasionally get a warning if there’s going to be a lot of running we’re given advance notice to bring our running shoes if we train in non-running footwear, or if it’s a Hero or a Girl we get told as those are always popular and people hate to miss them.

CrossFit WOD whiteboardSo when we got advance notice that the WOD on 25 June would be a ‘testing’ WOD and different to anything we’d done at the box before, it did make me shudder. I haven’t been sleeping that well, and there’s just stress around the stuff that Tony’s facing that is making both of us feel under the weather and less than optimal, so I didn’t expect to have a good time.

In any order:

Best times for:

  • 1 mile run
  • 1000 metre row

2 minutes to establish max reps in:

  • Hand release press ups
  • Pull-ups (with a single band if necessary and in my case it is)
  • Double unders (as many as possible, not continuous)

In fact it turned out to be a really good experience. It’s weird to be wodding and not doing it in unison, so on this occasion where we took the elements in any order we wanted and as much rest time between them as we needed, it felt quite strange. I walked the run with two wonderful pregnant CrossFit women because my knee is still not right(just under 16 minutes), and I did the row last, simply because that was the only chance I had to get on the rower – we were a big group!

  • 1000 m row – 4.56
  • HR press ups – 42
  • Pull-ups (thin band) – 27
  • Double unders 16 (every bloody one of them a single!)

I was really glad to attempt this RX and happy with my results. If I’d done the row first I think I’d have got a better time, which I will remember when it comes round again and jump on a rower early! My press ups were strict, good form, hand release – I am a bit of a fan of hand release press ups, to be honest. Double unders and pull ups … well they’re my goats and I think I’ll be working on them for a good while yet before I’m satisfied.

Against the board I don’t look so great. Amazing run and row times from some of our people and astonishing double under scores … and that’s just the morning crew! Against what life has handed me, I’m really pleased with this set of results – whatever else is going on, I was able to attempt this and give it my full effort and full attention and I’m content with that.


2014-05-30 11.53.26Just finished week three of the four week back squat programme. As a ‘senior’ CrossFitter (can’t call myself a Master!) I took a week off after the first two weeks because four weeks of heavy lifting in a row tends to bring back RSI from decades of muscle overuse. So I just got a two rep of 60 kilos. My previous one rep was 55 kilos! The first rep was barely to depth but the second was better and I’m delighted.

I didn’t want to lift today. I woke up with a migraine, the dog was ill, I had a sudden deadline … loads of reasons not to get to the box and do the necessary work. I didn’t think I’d get the 60k because my head was pounding and my depth perception was off, but I made myself go down and try and the results exceeded my expectations – again.

The thing I’ve really taken away from CrossFit is not to listen to the voice in my head. It wasn’t the best lifting I’ve done, but it was adequate to the task and I got a better result than I’d dared to think possible. I don’t have to feel good about stuff to do stuff, and when I’ve done stuff, I often feel better than before I started. It’s a good lesson. I am going to crown myself a winner as a result. Actually it’s a crochet tiara I made for a little girl I know, but it’ll do for today.

Now I’m going to comfort the dog and meet the deadline!

Two years today

Catching up. Tony has a date for his ultrasound scan – 19th June so then we’ll know what the next stage is. He hasn’t had any symptoms for a couple of weeks so we’re starting to allow ourselves to believe it could turn out to be ‘just one of those things’ that is inexplicable and (with luck) will never recur.

This morning I picked up last year’s WOD diary and discovered that this is my two year CrossFit anniversary! When I started this blog my only focus was to achieve an unassisted pull up, and I still haven’t … but my back squat has gone from 35k to 57.5, my deadlift from 40k to 75, and while I can’t do half the exercises I most desire, such as pistols and pull ups, my overall fitness has soared. Also, compared to the me of two years ago, I’m 3 kilos lighter and so much stronger that I just can’t imagine how I was getting through my days back then.

Every time I’ve trained for the past month I’ve attempted double-unders. The most I can string together is two, but usually it’s singles. I’m not depressed or embarrassed by this – a year ago I couldn’t have imagined being able to tackle an exercise as demanding (to me) as double-unders, let alone occasionally stringing them together. As a brain injury victim, anything that happens in real time, like jumping a rope or catching a ball, gives me huge difficulty with coordination and feedback – double-unders were beyond my wildest dreams and today they’re just something I’m not very good at. That is AMAZING!

I have my ups and downs with CrossFit, and the level of frustration I feel at not being able to achieve what I want often blinds me to my successes. Most of all though, today, I’m so grateful to be part of a community that is focused on optimal achievement for all its members. The past few weeks have really shown me, and Tony, how crucial a really top-rate CrossFit experience can be. Our coaches have supported us through a some scary weeks, our fellow CrossFitters have gone out of their way to encourage us to focus on the positive and offer us all kinds of help, and our training has given structure to a waiting period that could have been fear-filled and miserable. I genuinely believe I am lucky enough to be a part of the best CrossFit box in the UK. 

The week I ‘graduated’ to WOD classes I thought I’d be lucky to get through a month. 24 months later, I cannot express how valuable CrossFit has been to me – thank you Reebok CrossFit Connect for the past two years of training, frustration, fun and focus – I wouldn’t have believed I could stick it this long, learn what I have, or gain what you’ve given me … I’m so glad I kept coming back!

My kettlebell charm arrived!

Posted on

Kettlebell charm

Isn’t that cute? It’s going on to the charm bracelet just as soon as the split ring arrives to attach it securely. Tony has his hospital appointment tomorrow … we’re hoping to get some facts!



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Elizabeth Merritt Abbott

Short posts by a midwestern, writer, reader, and occational crossfitter.