This last week was not a good one for me. Not sure why, but for the full five days I wasn’t fully able to focus at work, and that was very frustrating because I should have had about 40-50% more output for the week than I actually did (yes, it was that bad). Maybe a little bit of burnout combined with caffeine withdrawl. On Tuesday afternoon after my visits to the Philippi GrowZones I spent about 20 minutes wandering around Somerset West trying to find a cup of coffee and that was when I realized I had a problem. Not sure how it happened, but then again, I’ve had that problem before: not realizing you’re in a rut or have formed a behaviour pattern until something jolts you out of it. Like in Inception, that was my “kick.” So no more caffeine, I’ve said before I’d stop but I never actually committed to it, and that again is the problem with statements that don’t go along with full commitment.
I spent Wednesday very sleepy, and Thursday had a headache that was probably only partially caused by the way I spent my morning. Apparently the frustration was seeping from my pores … I usually have a very long fuse but I just about lost it on Thursday. Then Friday I was battling with food poisoning in the late afternoon (somehow managed to recover well enough to do a light workout), and the entire evening. On the plus side I got maybe 11 hours of sleep!
But fundamentally, my focus wasn’t where it should have been this last week. CrossFit competition season is all well and good, but I wasn’t put on this earth to win the CrossFit Games. This is supposed to be a balance for me; an end in itself, yes, but it’s not like I have any desire to quit my job and become a full-time athlete. Having said that, the only things I did in the last week that I really feel like talking about are cult-related. So, here goes.
Monday we repeated a workout we had done 8 weeks earlier. I improved my time from 7:40 down to 7:00 flat. It could have been a few seconds faster but my judge didn’t count a couple of reps for some reason but I took that as just practice for competition! More mad at myself for taking a break or two that were probably unnecessary. C’est la vie. Returned to the gym in the evening for the awards ceremony (I didn’t win anything because other people had much more dramatic improvements in time). Did have a nice long chat with one of the other girls who trains there about the degree to which this thing takes over your life, and to a certain degree that of the other people in your life who get pulled along by hook or by crook. The best is the girlfriends who are I guess “encouraged” to come to the gym to watch their boyfriends work out in our various competitions. Almost all of them look bored. One or two has looked a bit horrified. Well, CrossFit is most definitely not for everyone.
Tuesday morning I was awoken most rudely by a mosquito that wouldn’t leave me alone. And I couldn’t kill it for like 20 minutes. It wouldn’t even bite me (I don’t get the welts any more so that would have been an acceptable alternative). Damn thing. So I decided to get up and go to the gym, even though I was training in the afternoon too, because on Tuesday evening Angy was doing a sushi night in Somerset West with a bunch of the guys who train with Neil at his gym. So as I had been meaning for a while anyway to go check out his gym I had emailed and arranged to go to an evening session there. Aside from knocking aside one of his ceiling tiles with a wall ball (clearly I need to work on my accuracy), that was a lot of fun. My grip needs work, and I was quite sore the next day from the ring dips so all in all a good workout!
Spent a good amount of time talking to Neil after class and at dinner later; it’s definitely always good to get an outsider’s opinion as to what you should be doing. I have learned a tremendous amount by osmosis from the guys who run my gym but I always have been like a sponge in all aspects of my life: the more information, the better, and I’ll decide what to do with it. I already put some of his advice to use within a few days. It was a bit embarrassing though that I don’t really know my 1 rep max for anything because it’s been November since I’ve done them! Somehow managed to miss every session where we did that. But speaking of that: on Friday literally everyone who did the workout got a PR on the deadlift (see the photo). That is incredible, and a real testament to the quality of training we are doing and commitment of the athletes involved. I am, however, excited to see how my lifts have improved. But the longer it is in between, the greater the improvement!
Dinner was fun! I got a chance to talk more to a kid who will assuredly be world champion in Olympic weightlifting one day. So we all know the power of visualization, right, even if most people don’t have the discipline to do it every day? Well, this one does, and how … he spends a total of four hours a day visualizing. He already holds South African junior and senior records (I Googled it, after being asked “well what’s he actually won?”) in both the snatch and the clean & jerk and he’s all of 20 years old. It was also amazing talking to him: some of the things about competition and training and visualizing and life in general that I am only now figuring out, he already knows. Amazing. He knew the answer to my “What are the three things you must be able to do to lift a weight that’s near your 1 rep max?” question in about 5 seconds, although he did say that he really had never distilled it down quite that way before. So maybe age does come with some benefits.
He reckons with my legs (he watched our competition a few weeks back) I should be able to clean 60 or even 80kgs. My first thought was ha! That’ll be the day, but then, of course, that means it’s time to start visualizing and that along with technique work and it will come. Considering that Thursday morning, while feeling pressed for time, I power cleaned and push pressed 50kgs quite easily (translation: if I were doing a proper clean & jerk I should be able to do a lot more), well maybe 60 is within reach then, who knows? Now if only I could get my snatch in line…
So the way the CrossFit Games work this year is there is a series of 6 Open workouts that everyone must complete as prescribed. So if a workout involves pullups and you can’t do pullups, you’re out of luck. Of those people, the top 60 men and top 60 women move on to the Regional competition. Of course there are not 60 women in Africa so we will all advance if we can complete the workouts and the rankings are really just for bragging rights. Having said that, the first workout involved two things I am not terribly good at: double-unders and power snatches. I did the workout Saturday morning and I didn’t do as well as I had wanted or thought I could. As it stands right now I am 7th in the region, and 3rd from our gym.
All in all, a lot of disappointments in the last week: some annoyances at work, yet more delays in some things we’ve been waiting on for some time now, disappointed in my performance on the challenge workout, the Open workout, and my productivity at work … oh yeah and I *somehow* injured my knee where the quad attaches to the ligaments of the lower leg which is NOT an area you want to be messing with. So I’m a bit concerned here. Luckily I heal fast. But as always, injuries are worrying and concerning. Time to visualize that pain going away. But mainly I was disappointed in myself both for not performing at the level I thought I should be and, more importantly, for losing the sense of grace I always strive for.
But, holding onto disappointments is useless (and actually, counter-productive). So I’ve had my moments of self-pity and now is time to move on. The rest of the weekend was good! Visit to Salvin at the Biscuit Mill followed by a beach date @Camps Bay with Mandy. It was 41 degrees in Woodstock and something like 39 in City Bowl so it was a great day to get to the beach. The water was not too bad but it was full of jellyfish (one of which stung me!). We had a nice time hanging out though and thanks to the SPF 100 sunscreen I didn’t even get burned.
Dinner that night was at Carne which wound up being just me and the three coaches at the gym. We all ordered the same thing (two of these guys were happily posting about their “dates” with 1.2kg t-bone steaks … depending on how you think about it you might say that they both shared the same steak!), down to the side dishes and water. Oh, well, one of the guys had wine and I think I shocked everyone at the table by not drinking. I went out after to a friend’s going away party on Long Street (wading my way through Cape Town Carnival was a bit hectic though!), and that was my first time out on Long Street where I wasn’t drinking. As I was walking back to the car I was thinking of all the nights not that long ago that I spent in those bars, VERY late at night, and pretty drunk. “Dangerous” as George used to call me. That is so long ago it feels like a different life, actually.
I was looking at photos on Facebook and thinking of Boston a lot today, too. That also seems like a long time ago (I guess it is, actually: almost a year). I remember last year St Patrick’s Day in the Purple Dragon feeling nostalgic and then thinking to myself “Well, it’s ok, I’ll be back here by next year St. Patty’s Day.” Not as it turned out. Life can be surprising. I was missing Boston today, and the people there. But then again I also sometimes miss San Francisco. As I was telling Mandy, we are so lucky to live here and do the work that we do, and I am doubly lucky to be in the best shape of my life [so far: I have a long way to go!] with a great community of people. Some of these relationships will evolve and change over time, of course, but there is comfort and stability in that too. Expect the unexpected, the unknown, and unknowable. If it were any other way life would be terribly boring.
Sunday dawned bright and lovely. I had a five-hour yoga session at a nearby school (check the picture of the courtyard … I am not sure if this is a private school or what but it sure looks more like a boarding school than any public school I know of in America!), with this yogi from the States called Gurmukh. Apparently she’s quite popular among the Hollywood set, and I can see why. I spent the rest of the day really focusing on healing myself and preparing for the work ahead.
Today, Monday, is Human Rights Day, a day on which I did something I never do: rest. I was supposed to go sprinting with a guy from the gym but he never got back to me so I took it as a sign that I should rest my knee and all of myself. I am not sure exactly what this day means here in South Africa, but given the name of the day I am thinking of the people close to me here living in shacks, people in Congo and other largely forgotten places whose lives are more terrible than my mind can probably imagine, the oppressed in Iran and Burma, the people of Libya and Egypt, and political prisoners everywhere. I remember seeing some weeks ago that Aung San Suu Kyi was released, so there, at least, is one step in the right direction. Or as Gareth Cliff said this morning as I was heading to yoga, it is a day to remember all the people who made sacrifices we don’t even know about, just so that we can be here today.
So with that, I’m heading off to gym to smash the baseline workout (I’ve been dying to do this one ever since I learned how to do pullups!), and then later to have dinner with two of my first friends in South Africa. What a beautiful day.
• “This should be interesting.” – Jobst
• “So you’re going to voluntarily put that stuff into yourself?” – Jonathan (referring to the large quantity of fish oil pills sitting on my desk)
• “Games.crossfit.com is like a wet dream right now” – Laa-Laa
• “Also we’re working in areas where animals roam. When someone chows the tubes, whose problem is that?” – Jacques
• “I have one speed, one gear. Go!” – Charlie Sheen (old quote, but watched it about 15 times Friday morning including the dubstep version)
• “Double-unders are energy-sucking vampires.” – Jobst (true)
• “Oh yessss!” – Jobst (after discovering I was going fully paleo … yes, approval from higher members is one of the signs you’re in a cult, and this was followed maybe 30 minutes later by “That’s my girl” or words to that effect when I was talking about every meal needing to be centered around a proper protein source)
• “He saved your life! You should thank him!” – Chris
• “Yes, she’s the one.” – Nonhlanhla
• “You are so lucky to have a bright mind and a beautiful body. So USE IT!” – Gurmukh