Recovery Mode

Again, more TMI.  But then we move on to our regularly scheduled exercise-related programming…

Recovering from childbirth is what I imagine recovering from an Ironman would be like… it’s long and it requires patience or you can hurt yourself further.  Plus, it’s different for everyone, and for the same person it may vary depending on the particular race.  With Super Girl, there was a lot that nobody told me about what the immediate aftermath of childbirth would be like.  So, thanks a lot for nothing friends who had kids before me.  I was not prepared for the cramping or feeling like my insides were going to fall out with every step I took.   I started to feel more myself around a month and was back into my workout routine around 2 months postpartum. Recovery with Super Toddler was pretty similar, but a bit more difficult because I was on bed rest the last three weeks of my pregnancy. I was careful though, and eventually PR’d a 5k when he was 6 months old (21 minutes-ish).

With Super Baby, I had terrible cramping for a couple hours after she popped out.  Like, worse than my strongest pitocin-induced contractions.  Oh wait, I had an epidural.  Still, it was not enjoyable.  Once the pain meds kicked in I felt a lot better.  But I had to take 800 milligrams of Motrin a few times a day for over a week.  That didn’t seem normal.  Otherwise, I felt really good south of my waist.  It helped that this was my smallest baby though not by much, and with it being my third child my body seemed to be kinder to me.  I was going for walks within a few days and at around 10 days, thought I could actually run – but I didn’t.  I felt like this was the universe’s way for evening out how ridiculous the labor process went. Until…

At 12 days post partum, I woke up with very odd symptoms.  Like, check with Dr. Google odd.  Typically, when you consult Dr. Google, Web MD, Wrongdiagnosis.com, etc, you get about 821 different diagnoses and turn into a hypochondriac, and there’s a 99% chance that you don’t have any of those ailments.  For me, there was pretty much just one possibility. The next day I had the same symptoms so I called my doctor, who, after an ultrasound, confirmed that I had retained part of the placenta.  Gross.  On Super Baby’s 2 week birthday, I had to undergo a procedure under anesthesia to get everything cleared out, lest I bleed to death at home.  It really wasn’t a huge deal, until I lost a ton of blood on the operating table.  Whoops, so that was scary.  Fortunately, I narrowly avoided a transfusion although my doctor threatened me with an overnight stay to monitor my hemoglobin.  No thanks, I have a baby to attend to.

Since then, I took it easy for almost two weeks.  I was left severely anemic, which coupled with newborn sleep deprivation, has made me extra sleepy. I know right- so weird that losing a lot of blood and waking up every 3-5 hours makes me tired.  I have been taking iron and getting in as many naps as possible, and have gone to bed early every night which means I can’t watch Game of Thrones with Super Dad on Sunday nights when it airs.  So no spoilers on facebook people, I need my sleep.

On Monday, I went for my first run.  It lasted 5 minutes.  Later I thought my lady parts would fall out but it was just a side effect of the massive iron consumption (google it… I am not going to overshare that much).  Yesterday I ran for 10 minutes straight ( that was a mile.  Holy moly) and did five one minute “sprint” intervals.  And by sprint I mean running at about a 4 second per faster pace than my 10 minute jog. But I felt good, and I stopped myself before I was utterly cashed.  Plus, it was 90 degrees out.

Reigning it in is hard. I really want to head out tomorrow and run 20 minutes, then 30, then an hour, but I know that I have to be smart about it or I will hurt any number of organs or body parts that would not have been remotely affected by even a 2 hour run in the morning and an evening Crossfit beating in the past. Childbirth puts your body through the ringer, and just like there is pressure for endurance athletes to get back to training after a race, lest they lose the base they had built up after 6 months of heavy training, there is too much pressure on women to not only crush their workouts until hours before giving birth, but to return to “beast mode” before their milk comes in.  Too much? Sorry, not sorry.  It’s true.  I am done procreating, and have the rest of my life to run marathons, do an Ironman, learn how to do a muscle up pull-up, and Rx+ a WOD.  For now it’s all about keeping this tiny human alive, keeping myself from going insane (aka, sleep as much as possible), and being there to have fun with my other Super kids now that summer is here and the pool is open!

I may be contradicting myself in three weeks when I feel awesome and head back to Athletic Lab for some punishment, but for now, I am trying to be smart about my recovery mode.  Beast mode can wait.

 

Here is the gang at the pool this weekend:

pool

Cora’s Birth Story (AKA free birth control)

I know I know, it’s been a while. But I have a really good excuse.  I had a baby.

So just a disclaimer: there is a LOT of TMI in here.  This isn’t really an exercise post, unless you consider giving birth exercise.  Which you will after reading this.  But you may also vomit.  Sorry about that.  

As a little background… My last post was when I was 24 weeks pregnant.  I was hoping to continue Crossfit and running for another 10 weeks but unfortunately, I developed hypertension and then preeclampsia around 30 weeks.  My last WOD was at 30 weeks and 2 days.  I crushed it, but it was not pretty.  My lunge jumps were what my coach called a “white man’s ‘Running Man'” and on my front squat set of 60kg, he also gently suggested I could switch to back squats at any time.  Translation: “your form really sucks.”  A couple days later I went to the OB and my blood pressure was 150/95.  Normal is 120/80 and I had been hovering around 110/65 for most of my pregnancy.  I was sent to the hospital for monitoring and was put on modified bed rest later in the week, which meant I couldn’t really exercise other than light walking, and I could work from home. 

The remainder of the pregnancy involved two visits to the OB each week for monitoring, and a couple more trips to the hospital.  I started “spilling protein” and having headaches around 32 weeks, which are additional symptoms of preeclampsia.  The goal was to keep Cora cooking until 35-36 weeks.  I received steroid shots to speed up her lung development (not to improve my deadlift PR).  I went through the same ordeal with Super Toddler but had to be hospitalized for a couple nights while he was in utero.  That was no bueno. 

At almost 37 weeks, my blood pressure spiked yet again and the headaches were worse.  This despite my being a sloth for almost 6 weeks and (sort of) watching my diet.  We won’t discuss my weight gain during this pregnancy.  It happened, it’s over, let’s move on.  My OB decided it was time for Cora to come out.  She was measuring over 38 weeks for height and head size – no big shocker there. I had put my hospital bag in the minivan that morning because I kind of knew that it was time. I had been contracting like crazy and was 1.5 cm a few days earlier.  I was having regular contractions at the doctor that day and was at 3cm so she also thought I may have been in the early stages of labor.

A note about that.  When I started dilating a couple weeks earlier, one of the OB’s told me that because this was my third child, I may not know when I’m in labor and that it would go really fast.  Like, have a baby on the toilet fast.  The prospect of having a baby without an epidural was terrifying.  Listen, props to all you natural ladies but that is not me.  Never. Ever. Ever.  So even though I have always wanted to have that “oops, my water broke!” moment and not have to bring a child into the world riding a wave of Pitocin, I was willing to trade going into labor on my own for not having a baby on the toilet.

I headed to the hospital with the knowledge that I would have to be on magnesium sulfate (“mag”) due to the preeclampsia diagnosis.  With Super Toddler, I was also induced right at 37 weeks due to preeclampsia but for some wonderful reason I was not giving mag.  I have read horror stories about it. Just google it. Mag is used to stop pre-term labor.  It is also used to prevent seizures, which is the risk with preeclampsia and high blood pressure.  Now re-read that sentence about stopping labor.  I was being induced, but I was also being given a drug that slows down labor.  Those don’t really go together do they?  I would soon learn exactly how much mag and pitocin don’t get along.

I was started on pitocin around 8pm and was feeling fine because the dose starts out really low.  Since I figured the baby would come really fast, I let our family know that we would be having a baby on tax day.  My mom, a CPA, was ready to work through the night to meet some tax filing deadlines, then rush over but I told her to wait because with Super Toddler, it took almost 48 HOURS.  That is 2 days people.  I knew that Cora was not going to fly out but I figured it would be faster than 2 days.  At 8:30pm the bolus of mag was started.  Within about 30 seconds, I thought that I was dying.  Really, really dying.  My teeth were sweating.  I was ready to vomit. I felt like I had been overserved at a frat party that was taking place on the surface of the sun, while wearing a suit made of fur.  I had this moment of “Oh my gosh it is going to be like this the entire time until the baby comes out? Because I cannot do this. I would rather give birth to octuplet elephants with no epidural after doing an Ironman.” My blood pressure plummeted to 70/30.  From about 140/90.  I am pretty sure that you are clinically dead when your BP is 70/30.  The nurse immediately stopped the bolus and called the doctor.  She said it was okay to just start a slow drip of the mag.  I felt better within minutes.  

At around midnight I was having more contractions and was at 4cm. I asked for my epidural because again, this baby was going to come “really fast” and I didn’t want to miss out on my window to have an epidural.  After I got my epidural I slept for eight zero hours.  I was too excited about meeting my daughter.  And I was sure that the next time the doctor checked I would be at 9cm.  Well, the sun rose and at 6:30 am the doctor checked me.  Still at 4cm. No change.  WHAT? That cannot be true.  Did you get a hand transplant overnight?  Do you now have a gigantic gorilla hand which makes you thing that a couple fingers is only 4 cm when it is in fact 10? I was so pissed.  They upped the pitocin some more and finally broke my water at 8 am.  

A few hours later I noticed my contractions hurt a lot more and I could do leg raises with my right leg.  Hmmm, that doesn’t seem normal.  The nurse suggested I get my epidural redone, because I wasn’t having very strong contractions (really? Because these hurt) and once I had contractions that caused me to progress more, I would be miserable.  Translation: I can see you are a huge wuss.  You are complaining about contractions that have caused absolutely no cervical change in 12 hours. So you will pretty much pass out once you have a legit contraction. Okay, let’s do this.  The new anesthesiologist discovered the prior epidural had sort of come out.  So it was a good idea I chose to have it redone.  Except that this anesthesiologist apparently was coming off a 72 hour shift because it took FIVE TRIES to get the epidural replaced.  FIVE. I threw up three times during this 30 minute ordeal.  I was ready for her to just pull the baby out of my throat.  It was miserable.

Once that mess was finished, I was sufficiently numb.  But then Cora decided to do some river dancing, and I started having back labor.  The spasms in my love handles were unreal.  Way worse than my tiny contractions. They were unrelenting.  I wanted more drugs.  Anything to make the pain stop. The nurse said there was nothing she could do. I finally found a position where I laid on my side, grabbed the love handle closest to the bed with one hand, and shoved a rolled up towel against the small of my back. I asked Super Dad and my mom to leave so I could catch a snooze since I hadn’t slept in 36 hours.  Plus, I had not dilated at all in 13 hours so I knew we had a while to go. Yeah, one cm an hour after your water breaks or whatever- lies!!!

After sleeping for four hours 45 minutes, I woke up feeling a lot of pressure “down there.”  But the love handle pain was gone.  Woohoo! I told the nurse and she said I had been contracting quite a bit during my slumber.  Like, actual contractions that are strong enough clinically to cause change.  Apparently they have to be over 60 somethings on the monitor to cause cervical change.  They had been 50-55 from 9pm the prior evening until my second epidural, which is a terrible tease, but after the second epidural/”jab Jen with giant needles fest” and upping the pitocin to levels reserved for Godzillas’s wife, the contractions were measuring around 90-100.  The nurse called in the doctor and lo and behold, I was at 10 cm and full effaced.  Cora was ready to rock. What? 6 cm in 45 minutes?  I had to actually call my family back from the cafeteria.  Sorry I interrupted your pie eating Super Dad.

I immediately put my contacts in and put some makeup on.  I was fat but I still wanted my face to look good.  Doctor R. came in and said I could start pushing whenever.  She was putting her gloves on and looking around for some stuff, and they were waiting for the peds team to come in, but I could start pushing?  What if the baby shot out onto the floor?  No worries, it took three contractions (
about 10 pushes) to get her out. Overall it was less than 10 minutes, compared to an hour of pushing with Super Girl and Super Toddler.  The thing is, it was the hardest 10 minutes of exercise ever and (the lump of skin and tissue which used to be) my biceps were super sore the next day. I was so out of shape from taking almost 7 weeks off from working out.  I ran five miles the day before I had Super Girl. I only had to bed rest for three weeks with Super Toddler. So 10 minutes of laborious (pun intended) physical activity was exhausting. But well worth it.

Cora, henceforth referred to as Super Baby, was born at 2:01 pm on 4/15 and she was perfect.  She had a full head of hair and started crying just like she was supposed to.  I was able to have skin to skin with her immediately and she latched on right away.  She measured 6 lbs 3 oz and 20.5 inches, just 2 ounces less than her big sister, who was born at 39 weeks gestation! So yeah, she was small for a due date baby but quite large for being early.  She had jaundice just like her siblings but we got through it a lot more easily by supplementing and getting her on phototherapy right away.  By 2 weeks she was up to 6 pounds 10 ounces, thanks to being a champion nurser, which I am not used to after having two kids who basically would only take pumped milk from 2 months on. 

Overall, my birth experience with Super Baby was not at all what I had planned when I started having children.  I joked that I was meant to raise cute, super funny kids that sleep and eat well (knock on wood)- but I was not meant to carry them or give birth. I wouldn’t trade these babies for anything, and going through mag and being poked like a voodoo doll by the anesthesiologist was worth it to bring her into this world… but I am most definitely NOT doing that ever again. The shop is closed.  And my experience on Super Baby’s 2 week birthday only further solidified that.  More on that later…

 

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10 weeks

Wow, so I have been going to CrossFit for 10 weeks now, and my goal is to keep at it for another 10 weeks in this pregnancy.  I was able to work out until 34 weeks with Super Toddler, before going on modified bed rest for my blood pressure.  With Super Girl, I ran 3 miles the day before I was told my blood pressure was too high and I needed to be induced (39 weeks).  So if I can make it to 34 weeks again- great.  If not, I am pretty proud of the progress I have made and am glad that I am doing something to offset my terrible eating habits this pregnancy.

I know that most CrossFit enthusiasts are into the Paleo lifestyle, and I am all for it, in theory. For some reason, this baby just wants CARBS. All. The. Time.  At the beginning it was because my morning sickness was so bad, the smell of anything other than bread made me sick to my stomach.  Then it became a convenience thing.  It is just so easy to eat carbs.  But the thing is, it’s really easy to just munch on an apple or banana.  So I am not trying to make excuses.  I am just a chubby kid at heart and I know I need to be more conscious of how I am fueling my body and the baby.  Christmas, New Years, and last week’s (AMAZING) trip to Disney World did nothing for my attempts to eat healthier.  But this week I have been craving healthier choices, in addition to continuing to crave Lindor truffles, Cheez-Its, and biscuits.  I have cut out my Bojangles runs and pizza, and added in fruit for dessert every night. Baby steps right?

Anyway, enough about food.  I’m getting hungry again. At the 10 week CrossFit mark, I have seen a lot of strength gains.  I finally hit a body weight back squat (70 kg- yikes yes, that’s what I weighed two weeks ago).   I know that there are a lot of people who can do 2x their body weight or more but I don’t consume enough protein or lift  enough that that is gonna happen any time soon. I have no idea what my deadlift one rep max is but tonight we did 7 x 2 and I did 80 kg on my last few sets. So I don’t know if that is any good.  My front squat leaves much to be desired but given that I have a large round mass pulling me forward, in addition to the weight sitting on the front of my shoulders, I am not setting my goals too high or trying to push myself too hard.   I still HATE snatches.  I am fairly certain this is a combination of my not being able to keep the bar close enough to my body and my fear of going to heavy overhead on account of my prior shoulder surgeries. So really, not too concerned there.  It’s not like I am trying to compete in any competitions so if I can’t snatch, no biggie.

Pull-ups are still non-existent although I am down to one green band for high rep sets and one purple band for lower reps. We did clap push-ups during last night’s WOD.  Wow, those sucked. I couldn’t figure out why they were so hard, until I realized that every time I try to explode off the ground high enough to clap, I have this giant baby bump pulling me back down toward earth.  That’s the reason that I could only do two at a time before breaking right? Deload pushups are still not so bad, although going all the way down to the ground is getting a little awkward.  My stomach hitting the ground before my chest makes regular pushups easier though 🙂

Running is really not that bad yet.  I am doing it in much shorter spurts than with my other two pregnancies though.  My longest run the last month has been 3 miles and I can stay at around an 8:15 pace.  I just run around the neighborhood because I am at that point where I need to have access to “facilities” in a moment’s notice.  Sorry, TMI. On Saturday, I did the “bleep test” during Endurance class.  Basically, it’s a 20m shuttle run.  The first round you get a lot of time to do the 20m.  You can basically speed walk.  There are several runs in that first round.  Second round is faster, third even faster, etc. etc.  We did the test about 10 days earlier but before that, the last time I did the test was when I was pregnant with Super Toddler.  I managed to get in 9 rounds and 3 runs on round 10.  Only one female in the class beat me.  People were looking at me like I was crazy.

Actually, people look at me like I am crazy at almost every class.  It felt good to do so well during the bleep test but it was also a little frustrating because I of course had to hold back.  When non-pregnant, I go until I want to barf.  That is probably not the healthiest approach to exercise.  But I am obviously not going to push myself to that point while pregnant.  So I really have to listen to my body and stop before I get even remotely close to that point.  I may still be red in the face but I pay attention to my breathing and the rest of my body, and pull in the reigns when anything starts feeling off.

I am really so happy with the community I have found at Athletic Lab.  The coaches are all really motivating, and the people I work out with are like-minded and supportive of one another.    The coaches make sure I am not overdoing it and offer modifications for things I can’t do, like handstands.  They also know that pregnant women produce relaxin, which causes the ligaments to loosen and makes you super flexible.  But because you feel more flexible, you can overstretch and get injured, or squat too deep and hurt something else.  So knowing that I am in good hands every time I step into the gym is a good feeling.  Also, with the other two pregnancies, I just kind of felt like the running I was doing was to be able to say that I kept running.  It was really uncomfortable at times and I took A LOT of bathroom breaks.  With CrossFit, I feel that I am accomplishing something every time I take a class and I leave with a smile on my face.  And some major pit stains.  I may be singing a different tune when I am as big as Shamu but for now, I am going to savor these last 10 weeks (or longer if possible).

 

Halfway!

Wow, so I felt like I was just writing about finding out that I was pregnant with Superbaby.  Now, we are halfway to my due date.  And yesterday, we found out Superbaby is a girl! I was secretly hoping it was a girl because I can’t wait to take newborn pictures with her in a cute pink crocheted hat with a giant pink flower on it.  I totally missed that opportunity with Supergirl, so I need to make up for lost Kodak moments.  

Anyway, I figured I should update on my progress with my new Crossfit venture.  I am finding that I am getting stronger and much more comfortable with the exercises every day. I have been Crossfitting four times a week on average. I throw in an endurance workout on one of those days, where we do about 2 miles of running and hill sprints or other anaerobic exercise too.  That said, I can see a moment coming in the very near future where I will have to modify a lot more than just pull-ups. I remember a moment when I was pregnant with the other two where I stepped up to a box for a box jump, looked at it, and just said to myself “this is not happening.”  It wasn’t like I had to try and fail.  I simply knew there was no way I would clear the box.  That day is imminent. 

I also know that a day is nearing where I will not fit in any of my pants, INCLUDING my maternity pants.  I am trying to convince myself I am getting a Crossfitter’s butt, from doing tons of squats. The problem is, I am pretty sure I see cellulite and stretch marks on the backs of my legs, so it’s actually more likely that my diet, which I call “Survivor finalist who has returned home and is living out Groundhog Day, feasting on junk food 24/7 every single day,” is making me fat.  I know I whine about this to Superdad all the time, but then I do nothing about it.  Buying funfetti flavored protein powder and mixing it into pancakes isn’t helping. It’s just making my muscles AND fat bigger.  So, I have that working against me.  I may be getting stronger, but I am growing exponentially and I probably need to stop the insanity.  Does anyone want to send me some healthy and delicious meals that my man chef Superdad can make for me? 

Another random musing that is sort of funny: the other week some older lady at Crossfit, who I had only seen once before, asked me “so, what kind of restrictions did your doctor put on you during your pregnancy?” I thought it was a very passive aggressive way of saying “back when I was of child bearing age, you basically were on bed rest for 9 months, and I think you’re being irresponsible.” What did she expect me to say? “Oh gee, yeah my doctor said I should just do some light walking and curl 3 pound dumbbells, but I decided to completely ignore him.” 

Okay, to wrap up, I thought I would post some of my favorite and least favorite workouts.  You will see a pattern here.  My favorite workouts inevitably involve kettlebell swings or burpees.  I know right? Most people hate burpees.  Maybe I like them because I am short so I can get down to the ground faster.  Also, my favorite workouts are the ones where I can actually do the prescribed workout.

7 Rounds for time…
10 Super Deload Burpees
15 Plate Thrusters (15kg/10kg)
20 KB Swings (24/16kg)            

40 Hurdle Facing Burpees — as in, do a burpee, then jump over a hurdle.  These actually really sucked.
40 MB V-Ups (5/4kg)
40 Goblet Squats (24/16kg)
40 MB Catch & Release (5/4kg)   — 12 minute timecap

* Total time was 6:50.  

3 Rounds For time…
40m Farmer’s Walk (R) (24/16kg)
10 KB Swing (24/16kg)
10 Goblet Squat (24/16kg)
40m Farmer’s Walk (L) (24/16kg)

15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps of
Deload Pushups
V-Ups
KB Swings  — 15 minute timecap

*This was today’s workout.  I finished it in 12:26.  Deload (hand release) pushups are not so awesome when your big belly starts hitting the ground, so I will probably have to modify to knee pushups in a few weeks.  

Least favorite:

Every Minute on the Minute for 12′
5 Pullups
7 V-Ups
9 Burpees

*Pretty much the worst thing ever.  So every minute, you have to do all those exercises.  I of course had to use a band for my pullups.  So I had to get in and out of that band, jump off the box, then do the v-ups and burpees, then get back on the box and in the band before the next minute came up.  I got about 5 seconds of rest each round, but made it through all 12 minutes.

15 minute AMRAP of

40 jump rope contacts (DU or single)

30 plate thrusters (15 kg)

20 medball v-ups (4kg)

10 burpee pullups

*Ok no, this was the worst thing.  Mainly because a) I can’t jump rope to save my life and b) I cannot do a pullup.  Even though they were jump pullups, where you do one burpee, then jump up to do a pullup, then do that again 9 times. And do as many rounds of all that crap as possible.  It was frustrating because I wasn’t really aerobically taxed, as I kept having to stop during my jump roping.  I really really need someone to teach me how to jump rope.  I am SO BAD.  Also, my burpee pullups consisted of a perfectly executed burpee, then me jumping up to the bar and miserably trying to raise my body 2 inches toward the bar.  I wanted to cry when I read the workout online the night before, and I wanted to laugh and cry during the workout. But I guess it would have been worse if I had just skipped it because I was afraid of failing?

Well, that’s it for now.  It’s taking a bit more out of me to recover from workouts, although I am not getting quite as sore anymore.  I have become frenemies with my foam roller again.  We hadn’t seen each other after I stopped marathon training, but the foam roller has become just as important to me as stretching and staying hydrated.  It’s also super awesome looking now that Supergirl has decided to cover it in princess stickers!Image

4 weeks

I just finished my fourth week of Crossfit so I thought it was time for an update.  In four weeks, I have done a lot of different exercises and there are also a lot I haven’t done because the workouts didn’t line up with my schedule.  So I am just going to run through my initial and current thoughts about the exercises I have done.

Pistol squat: First time through, I realized that my right leg is significantly stronger than my left, and I am also much more flexible on that side.  Like, I can actually perform a proper pistol squat on the right side, but the left leg I can just barely get to 90 degrees.  And my left butt cheek was really sore for three days afterward.  Second time through: same problem. Guess I need to head to yoga.

Pullups: A staple in almost every workout. I couldn’t do one unassisted pullup before starting crossfit and I am pretty sure I still can’t. I haven’t tried.  But, I can tell I am getting stronger because my assisted pullups are faster, and I can actually feel myself using my back muscles instead of just my arms.  As I get larger and larger in the coming months, I am fairly certain my increasing strength will be quickly outpaced by my changing center of gravity and the difficulty one encounters when doing a weighted pullup.  Guess this just means I will be able to kip 20 pullups in a row once I drop this baby. Said me, never.

Pushups:  So, I have been doing pushups wrong for the past 25 years (that’s right, I did pushups as a toddler). I had my arms all wide and flared out, but the Crossfit way is more of a tricep pushup.  Okay, so that’s a lot more difficult.  I could do about 3 of those pushups when I first started and I can do 10 now, so that’s progress.  I typically will just do a knee/”girl” pushup if it’s a workout with over 50 pushups total.  I’d rather have full range of motion than do a wimpy 2 inch unmodified pushup.

Tire Flips: Let’s just say, my back doesn’t like these.  I did them with Ironman champion (participant) Sherman Lee Criner for the first time last Thursday and it probably didn’t help that we were outside and I had running gloves on because it was an outdoor endurance workout and it was freezing.  Tonight, we did 4 sets of 6.  I did two sets then decided that I would have to substitute something else or just use a partner, because I am either going to throw my back out again or the baby is going to fall out.  We don’t see tire flips that often- two workouts in the four weeks I have been there- so I’m not really concerned.

Kettle Bell Swings: I pretty much kick ass at these.  The first time we did them in a workout, the Rx called for 16 kg bells.  That 16 KILOGRAMS, as in 35 pounds.  When I have previously done kettle bell swings, I used a 20 pound or maybe 25 pound bell.  16 kg is a big jump in weight, but after two workouts I felt comfortable with the weight and now if I see kettle bell swings, I get excited. It’s pretty much the only exercise that I don’t have questions about my form.

Power clean and hang clean: I pretty much suck at these.  I have zero flexibility in my shoulders and elbows.  So when I go up from the power position and have to whip my elbows around to rack the bar on my shoulders, it takes like 15 minutes.  Not really, but it’s definitely not awesome.  My max has improved but I think that is largely due to improving my form (marginally) and using my legs instead of my arms.

Back and front squats: I prefer this type of lifting to the cleans.  It helps that my legs are like tree trunks.  The previous back issue has had me hesitant to lift too much, and fear of the baby falling out at some point also keeps me from going beast mode on my lifts.  I have just been working on form and again, have had a good improvement in my max.  I will probably not lift too much more in the coming months simply because I want to protect my back (and my front).

Push press, thrusters, snatches, other upper extremity movements: Nothing too exciting here. Have done them in the past to some degree so it’s just been a matter of moving up from 15 lb to 20 lb to 25 lb dumbbells or increasing load on the bar if the workout doesn’t call for dumbbells. But also I am protective of my right shoulder with these overhead movements.

Box jumps:  I have always been awful at these because I have about a 16 inch inseam.  I will probably switch to step-ups in a month or so, for safety reasons.

Turkish Getup- These aren’t so bad.  I have only done them twice.  Granted, maybe I didn’t loathe them as much as most people because I only used a 10 pound dumbbell instead of an 8 kg kettlebell.  Again, I’m working on my form here.  Also, getting up from the ground is not going to get any easier as the months progress.

HSPU (hand stand pushups): Haven’t done them.  Never will, unless I get a shoulder replacement.

Farmer’s walk: Who invented these things?  Can someone explain the purpose?  Walking 40 meters with a pair of 24 kg kettlebells just seems like an exercise in who has the strongest hands?  Oh, I guess that explains the purpose- to increase grip strength? And to help me understand how Jessica Simpson felt walking around when she was 40 weeks pregnant with her first child?

Rowing: I enjoy rowing because of the endurance aspect.  I am not very tall so I feel like this is a disadvantage, but I can still generate some decent power and don’t get winded too easily. Haven’t seen much of a change because I have only rowed a few times.

Sled push: I am not terrible at these.  Again, tree trunk legs.  Also, low center of gravity.

Burpees: Love burpees, always have.

Double unders: Not happening.  Y’all, I can barely skip rope.  I think my record is 52 skips in a row without getting tangled in the rope.  It is SO sad.  I need serious help.  Like a Sylvan Learning Center for jump roping.

Wall balls: First time, I thought “this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.”  The target was at least four feet higher than where I was hitting the wall.  The second time I thought “this is the second worst thing to ever happen to me.”  The target was at least three feet higher than where I was hitting the wall.  The third time I thought “this sucks, but it doesn’t make the top 10 worst things to ever happen to me list.”  I got within a foot of the target, I think.

Other things I have never done: muscle ups and rope climb.  I can assure you that there is NO CHANCE I will complete a muscle up in the next two years.  My goal is to do two unassisted pullups before 2015.  I am pretty sure you have to be able to do more than 2 unassisted pullups to do  a muscle up, so I will push that goal to something I want to accomplish before 2017. Rope climb- not doing this one until after the baby comes out.

There are other exercises I am leaving out but whatever, my hands are too tired from doing those damned farmer’s walks tonight.  Other random thoughts: much to my sister-in-law’s satisfaction when she accompanied me to a workout last week, most of the women do NOT wear sports bras and booty shorts.  Only the women that I see doing the “advanced team/elite” workouts at 6am wear this attire, as well as knee socks.  If I had those abs, butts, and back definition, I would wear the same thing.  Speaking of the elite team that has their own special club and workouts, this one chick can throw a 16kg kettlebell over her head, one-armed like it is a bottle of yoohoo.  I think she overhead squats my current body weight. Which by the way, has increased significantly over the past four weeks. Please someone tell me it is because I am getting shredded and have way more muscle mass than I did in October.  I find this highly unlikely given that I have not changed my diet other than substituting salsa eggs and oatmeal for my morning Bojangles.

Okay, enough rambling.  What are your favorite Crossfit workouts or exercises?  What do you least look forward to?

So confused

Since my last post, I officially became a CrossFit convert/junkie. In order to justify the expense, I ditched my YMCA membership (we had a good run there for 7 years, but time to move on), and put my Massage Envy membership on hold. I could lease a small Kia for what CrossFit costs each month, so no room for other luxuries in the budget.

What I am loving about CrossFit is that each day I can’t wait for the next workout. I can’t say I have ever felt this way about running. I know, blasphemy given the title of this blog. But mixing things up is good for both your muscles and your mind. Hey, if something can get me out of bed 3-4 mornings a week, that’s saying a lot. I think I maybe ran one morning a week when I was super motivated. This could die out quickly but for now, I am going with it.

I just finished up three straight days of workouts (yesterday was endurance so think hill work/lots of running outside) so I am going to take a rest day tomorrow. I already feel like I am in better shape, although the more logical explanation could be that I have quickly learned my limitations (pregnancy-related or otherwise) and I am not pushing myself too hard. Seriously people, before you go all loco on me like everyone did about this lady please keep in mind I am scaling a lot – using bands on pull-ups, lifting less than the prescribed weight on anything overhead, nothing inverted, and NO ROPE CLIMBS. Mainly because I can’t, but also because I know there are certain things that just automatically put me at higher risk for falling and thus, injury. I also keep my heart rate in check and pace myself, which I cannot say I was ever good at in the past. Always wanted to go go go and push push push.

So what have I become? Am I officially a gym rat? How do I find balance and get back to running? Am I bailing on running because I know I can’t get faster in the next five months, and will have a major uphill battle getting back to my very former running speed after I have Super Baby? Or is this my true calling in life? Was running just something I did for the past 20 years on and off because of my background in a solo endurance sport? Maybe I will just get really swoll and be one of those badass masters at the CrossFit games in 10 years. Yeah, probably not…

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This will be me in 4 months… psych. No one wants to see my big fat pregnant stomach. Also, I can’t lift that much, ever.

To WOD or not?

This post is REALLY LONG.

Ok, I know I have mentioned in the past that I’ve been in a bit of a workout rut since we moved to Raleigh. I haven’t really connected to the Y system here, and some other options are just a bit too pricey or not at all convenient with my schedule.

A lot of my friends have been doing CrossFit for quite a while. See, e.g. “Lisa” P, “Daaron” H, and “Harry” Q. I didn’t know much about it, other than a) it appears to be cult-like, b) it’s expensive, and c) the people who do it are freaking RIPPED. With all the shoulder issues I have had, and generally my fear of change, I have resisted the urge to delve into the world of WODs (workout of the day). Until last week.

Disclaimer: in Athletic Conditioning and another class at the Y in Cary that I have taken sporadically, we did a lot of the classic CrossFit exercises, like dead lifts, snatches, double unders, pull-ups, kettle bell swings, etc. Obviously no crazy heavy lifts, but overall, between my base fitness level and my cursory experience with the core exercises, I got the blessing from my OB to give CrossFit a try, with the ever present reminder to gauge my heart rate and not do anything I was uncomfortable with.

I have a free one week trial at a local gym, which offers CrossFit, Performance endurance classes (think WODs that involve running, obstacles, kettle bells, and endurance based moves rather than mainly strength), weightlifting, and other special skills classes. It’s not your traditional box though it is a CrossFit affiliate.

On Wednesday night, I drove to my first CrossFit workout, scared out of my wits. I had no idea what to expect- would we be doing ropes climbs and pulling sleds? Would I have to do 100 unassisted pull-ups or else I would get laughed out of the gym? Everyone was super friendly as soon as I walked in. The coach walked me through the warmup, which was finding our power clean max. We had 10 minutes to basically do a few sets of five reps. I had the least weight on my bar, but could care less. I wanted to make sure my form was good, and I did not want to overwork my back. The coach helped me with my form for most of the warmup time.

The main WOD was 6 minutes long. I thought “6 minutes? I shower for longer than 6 minutes. This can’t be a workout.” False. During that time, we had to sprint a 400m (which by the way, after doing 10 minutes of power cleans, was not super easy), then do 4 dead lifts and 6 burpees for as many rounds as possible (AMRAP). The 400 was only the “buy in,” so it was just the dead lifts and burpees we were repeating. The recommended weight on the deadlift to Rx the workout was 55kg and I actually lifted that comfortably. I was pleased to complete 6 rounds plus the first four deadlifts of round 7. I can crush some burpees.

The second WOD was called Cindy. Although Cindy is traditionally 20 minutes long, ours was only 10 minutes, I guess because of the other WOD. With Cindy, you are supposed to do as many rounds as possible of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats. Doesn’t sound so bad right? Wrong. After about three rounds, I was jello. I used the squats to sort of catch my breath and check on my heartrate each round. I almost got through 10 rounds, with assistance from pull-up bands for most of the rounds. Almost all the women, except for those doing the Rx+ workout (aka “beast mode”) used bands, and so did some men. One day I hope to be strong enough to do a whole WOD without bands, but for day one, I was happy.

I was exhausted by the end, but totally exhilarated. I signed up for the endurance class at 7am the following morning. Crazy, I know. But the endurance class was more running with a few wall ball (okay, 90) shots and pull-ups along the way. We did mobility work with hurdles which was fun. This class is a lot like what I am used to, and I think I will probably take it twice a week, with one classic CrossFit workout one day a week.

I was so unbelievably sore for two days after my 24 hour CrossFit indoctrination. I wavered between “this is crazy” and “I want to do more” over the past 48 hours. Also, “how do I pay for this addiction?” Much like the thought process someone on the show Intervention may experience.

I have had friends point out there are a lot of pros and cons to CrossFit. Ok, one friend whose name rhymes with Hameron Womens who pointed me to this article which scared the crap out of me. We all know the benefits are the community, the overall workout you get, and an incentive to push yourself harder. But pushing yourself harder can lead to injury, which is very prolific in the sport. I am very pretty injury prone, and obviously, being pregnant, I don’t want to sustain any injuries. First and foremost, I don’t want anything to happen to the baby. Secondarily, if I get injured and can’t workout at all, I will get reall REALLY round and really ornery.

So what I want to know is, do you CrossFit? If so, how do you prevent injury? If you used to CrossFit, why don’t you Crossfit anymore? Any runners who use a moderate amount of CrossFit for your strength needs? Is it possible to just do a moderate amount of CrossFit? I just have so many questions before I decide to dive in.

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