Zen, Karma, and everything in between

Well not everything. As vacations go, I’ve been busy and I’m obviously way behind in my updates. In order to avoid too long of a blog post I’ll save the CFG stuff for the next post and just talk about what else happened in LA.
I was housesitting (catsitting) for my friend Mara in Playa del Rey, just north of LAX. I arrived quite late at night and her sister picked me up, took me over, and showed me around. Her sister also asked if Mara had warned me about the cat. Nooo…. Apparently the cat is evil, and slashes you if you try and touch her. Long story short, by night #2 she was pushing into my foot in the middle of the night so I would wake up and play with her. Cats.
So for some crazy reason, I had agreed to train at a bunch of CrossFit gyms with Laa-Laa (Mike) prior to the CrossFit Games. By a bunch, I mean I trained four times in 24 hours. By the last workout I could definitely feel the fatigue setting in … 45kg power cleans felt heavy, and my legs felt like mud when trying to air squat. This was quite a stupid thing to do before volunteer shifts that involved running around and moving heavy weights, but whatever.
Our first workout was at Karma CrossFit, where Mike helped Rick Sinclair (one of the Masters athletes; wound up finishing 7th) with his snatches. So we both did snatch ladders: I started at 24kg and moved up to 48kgs for doubles and back down.
Then we went to CrossFit South Bay where we saw Angy Tourbier who I’d met in South Africa, and we did some back squats. This is exciting because it was the first time I’d been able to back squat without feeling any pain or pressure in my injured side. Then we did a workout with kettlebell swings and burpees where Mike and I were racing and he beat me! I am just out of shape … I was killing him on the burpees but then I just completely lost my conditioning. Oh well.
After that I drove to Inglewood for a lunch (probably the best Indian food I’d had in years!), and back out to CrossFit Zen which is, no kidding, in a garage. They didn’t have enough weights for all three of us who were training to do the prescribed weights for deadlifts and front squats, so instead we split the difference. This wound up being some VERY heavy front squats in some pretty large numbers but I was not in any mood to have to re-clean the barbell so I just did all my sets unbroken.
The next morning was great: we did a sunrise WOD at CrossFit Malibu which is in an old air force bunker. Fun crew, great gym, fun workout. Afterwards we stopped by this place on PCH called Patrick’s Roadhouse, which happened to be run by this half-Irish, half-South African guy, who had spent a lot of time living in various places in South Africa, mostly under apartheid. The food also happened to be amazing … corned beef hash with poached eggs, and sweet potato fries with cinnamon & honey. The décor was also fascinating. Breakfast nirvana after a tough workout. Always a good thing!
Fast-forward to the next week Monday. The CFG after party … well, let’s just say we were part of the crew still around after the party ended. This was ironic because after the drive there I handed Mike the keys and said I was too tired to drive home, as I’d been too tired on the drive there (reflexes slow and the like). Of course by the end of the night he’d had a lot more to drink than I, and I was actually feeling quite awake. Funny how that happens. But there was no way in heck I was going to train after 4 hours of sleep, so we slept in a bit and then went to LAX CrossFit to do some deadlifts. Except I couldn’t lift very heavy because my back injury wouldn’t let me.
Monday afternoon I met up with a co-worker from my Ask Jeeves days (a theme!), Matthew Temple for lunch. He came to pick me up in his red convertible. So LA, I loved it! We went out to this Cuban restaurant which was amazing, then to Will Rogers State Park for a stroll up the hills. THEN we went to a Dodgers game with another ex-coworker, David Gerken. David used to be COO of AJUK in London and he is still one of my favourite executives of all time. Smart, reasonable, rational, nice, approachable … everything I aspire to be.
The game was a highlight of the day. Baseball! Super fun game; Dodgers lost but it was a close game. It was nice just to be able to sit there and soak up the whole experience: the fans, the zebra popcorn, seeing my old friends, reflecting on how our lives had moved on.
The next morning Mike and I hit up CrossFit Intrepid before he headed to the airport to fly back to Pittsburgh. Oddly enough, just a random gym but the trainer there noticed that when I was cleaning I was lifting more with my back than with my legs, and he helped me feel how what I was doing was wrong, and how to do it properly. Once I know how something is supposed to feel; it’s much easier to try and replicate it than if you know you have issues but don’t know how to solve them. So, nice little coaching nugget there.
After Mike left, Matthew and I went out to lunch again, this time to Fogo de Chao, an Argentinean steak house in Beverly Hills. Apparently it is the best. I made sure to eat my money’s worth of meat. I am not sure how much I ate but it was enough that I didn’t need to eat again until the next day late lunch. Excellent though; every piece of meat was better than the last!! Following this lunch I drove up to Sunnyvale (just south of San Francisco) where I am staying with my friend Cathleen.
My general reflections on LA/California? There are a LOT of people. Gas is cheap (probably about half what it costs in SA), and there are just insane numbers of cars. You will hit traffic anywhere, any time. But the cities just extend for what feels like forever … pavement upon pavement, car after car, restaurant and shop after restaurant and shop. It’s actually quite overwhelming, in a way.
Although in another way, I’ve never felt as comfortable re-adjusting. Strange.
  • “There is no off season. You’re training for life.” – Laa-Laa
  • “It’s not something you form an emotional attachment to. Like a dog. Or a child.” – Michael 

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