Johannesburg

 


You should have seen the look my cat gave me when I left Monday. She knows what the suitcase means.
So, a weekend in Cape Town where I mostly worked, as usual, punctuated with some snatch technique practice on Saturday morning, Sunday hike up Lion’s Head with, and Sunday brunch with Rika in Camps Bay. It’s nice to have open gym back! I’m starting to do more video analysis of myself to see what exactly is happening on my Olympic lifts. Sometimes you catch things you already knew, and sometimes you learn new things.
But this week is really all about Johannesburg. It was less manic than my last few trips, because I was up there for most of the week and so rather than trying to pack four meetings into a day it was only doubles and triples. Good stuff though.
There was this one meeting that was a bit amusing in retrospect because I don’t really attach too much importance to any one meeting but still when it starts off on a less-than-positive note where someone starts off by joking that he doesn’t know why he’s in the room, then winds up being the most engaged in the discussion … well, just from a human interaction standpoint those things are fun. You’re not going to win them all, but if I said it wasn’t partly about the winning I’d be lying.
So since I can’t really talk about what I did in Joburg, I can talk about my feelings about it. I may or may not have called it something along the lines of a ‘charmless’ place. Some parts of it are, to be fair. And just like the Bay Area, the traffic is lousy!
But there are many lovely aspects: the farmland on the drive to and from Lanseria, the thunderstorms in the afternoon, the jacarandas in the spring … but you know what else? It’s actually the feel of the place. It has a certain energy to it, and a dynamism, that’s only befitting the commercial capital of South Africa and probably sub-Saharan Africa.
Driving around Sandton is intimidating as anything because the drivers are aggro like Miami, intersections aren’t well labelled in advance, all the roads are 3-5 lanes wide, and at rush hour they are packed, so if you’re in the wrong lane and you miss a turn, you’re literally looking at a 15-20 minute delay, which is not something that my normal schedule can accommodate. But once you learn the roads, and there really aren’t THAT many, you’re in much better shape.
Yes, I’ve moved from being one of those clueless drivers annoying everyone else to one of the ones who ignores the GPS when it gives you a stupid way to go and gets annoyed at the other drivers for not knowing where they are going.
I think adapting to training at altitude will take longer, if it ever happens at all given how relatively infrequently I’m up there. The altitude of Joburg is 5,751 feet. It lies in a plateau area called the Highveld, for obvious reasons, although there are much higher mountains elsewhere in the country. That’s about midway between the altitude of Denver and of Colorado Springs, where you all may recall my brush with hilarious ineptitude at a couple of boxes there when I was visiting Susan a few months back.
So it’s a similarly uncomfortable experience to train at CrossFit Platinum. I row 200m and I’m winded. I am doing something that is not even that cardio-intensive and I’m panting for breath. But on the flip side, I really like the people there. Firstly, they are nice, and secondly they are welcoming: most of the girls who I know gave me a big hug when they first saw me, and the guys I know were a bit more teasing, as they tend to be. In all honesty, too, it’s great to be training with not one but three females, each of whom can conceivably kick my ass on any given workout. Developing deeper relationships with Beatrix, David, and some of the others is also great.
I was even a little bit sad to get back to Cape Town, strangely enough. There may or may not be some weekend stays in Joburg in my future. Got over that very rapidly when I got back into my normal routine of picking up groceries and heading to Cape CrossFit for open gym.
There, I got a lesson in paying attention. I was laughing at myself later, because when I woke up I just wanted to get to work and didn’t really feel like going to practice snatching even though I love Olympic lifting and the snatch in particular, but I just wasn’t in the mood. I wanted to work, and train later in the day, but that’s not how it works.
So I get there, and I’m warming up, and Chris asks me what I’m going to do, so I tell him, and he says well if he has time he should watch me and give me some tips or I can talk to this new coach who’s interning and is good with the Olympic lifts.
Now the important thing to note at this point is that I was not in a mood to be coached. I just kind of wanted to get in there, do my thing, video tape myself, but basically be left alone. And Olympic lifting is one of those things, different coaches can have such different approaches, it’s amazing, I was actually a little bit worried that this new dude would teach me yet another conflicting approach. Long-winded way of saying, I wasn’t expecting too much.
Long story short, I’m still reeling a bit. Let’s just say, I was impressed. My first full power clean after we’d been working on some things very nearly hit me in the forehead it flew so high up with so little effort. I’m not making this up, it was caught on video. So. I look forward to what happens next. It’s certainly not every day that a hot new coach shows up unexpectedly, and we have another one arriving this week. 2013 is all of a sudden looking very interesting.
In other news, the competition season diet is doing what it was intended to. Nearly all the excess weight from the travel, holidays, etc. is gone. It feels good to be healthy. I just remember that every time I want one of the things I’m not meant to be eating.
It’s also good to exercise that willpower muscle. Now to apply it to getting enough sleep. This actually hasn’t been hard, given the amount of stress … I get to 10pm and I can’t function mentally any longer.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Can’t get burned out. That’s a goal, not a mantra. Maybe a little of both.
Next weekend is my first competition since the injury. As Kim said: you either go into competitions to win, or to have fun. He’s a wise one.

  • “Never be sloppy.” – Rika
  • “You have interesting times ahead for you, Ellie.” – Helen
  • “I think how you train is how you compete.” – Beatrix
  • “This conversation, I can almost guarantee you, is happening elsewhere.” – Fred
  • “You’re sitting on a gold mine here.” – Willem   
  • “More than some so-called big players.” – Kian
  • “Let the chips fall where they may.” – Paul
  • “If you’re going to do toes-to-bar, your toes have to touch the bar.” – Julian 
  • “You’d better be careful what you promise me.” – Ellie
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