Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The 2015 CrossFit Games Open. It's Time.

I often tell people that I'm passionate...truly passionate about few things. For those things that I am, I get behind 110% (plus or minus a few percentage points). Things that come to mind is my role as a father of my kids, husband to my wife, and supporter/protector of my family. I also would consider my over 17 years of distance running and ultra running as a serious passion that I've given my all to. That passion is decreasing in recent months yet still lingers a bit. I would also consider my insistence on integrity a passion in its own right. When I tell someone I will do something or that I'll be there for them...I will. I have a passion for hurting marriages, too, and stand at the ready to come alongside anyone that calls on me to help. I feel that my path...has equipped me to do just that. As they say..."been there, done that, got the t-shirt"...or in my case, "been there, done that, still married and thriving as good as ever." I also have a deep passion for my country and serving it. So much so that 6 years of completely separated service happened between 2001 and 2007 but I returned to wear the uniform again for no other reason than a deep-rooted desire to serve. It will be a truly bittersweet day when I hang that uniform up for good.

So enter my most recent passion of CrossFit. As they say, I drank the Kool-Aid and chug it daily. Heck, I think I have an IV of CrossFit "fluid" on a 24hr drip into my veins. I'm in Week 17 now and continue to see gains and new accomplishments almost daily. It hasn't been without setbacks, bad days, and a lot of humbling along the way. I have had to learn how to get out of the way of myself, gain a new level of humility, and decide each day to give it all that I have, no matter what that looks like. The next test of this begins tomorrow in what CrossFit calls the "CrossFit Games Open."

I like to refer to the CrossFit Games the "Olympics" of CrossFit or the playoffs that culminate in California where the fittest of the fit square off for the ultimate crown of "Fittest on Earth." It is truly a global competition where CrossFit affiliates the world over begin the "Open" tomorrow night. There are 3 main parts to the Games. First, the Open. Each Thursday night at 8pm EST, a new workout will be announced for 5 straight weeks. Those workouts will be called 15.1, 15.2, 15.3, 15.4 and finally, 15.5. Athletes will have until Monday night following the week's announcement to complete it and post it. Literally, hundreds of thousands will compete in the Open and only a extremely small handful will move on. For the 99%+ of us, the Open is about challenging us, exposing our weaknesses, trying new things, giving it our all, and building community and camaraderie within our local box/affiliate/gym. We know we're not advancing on...but we'll show up, give it all, root each other on, and fist bump/high five each other as we knock each workout out! The very best move to the Regionals that happen...well, regionally! Then, just a few per region advance to the Games. But the beginning starts tomorrow in small and large towns the globe over in local gyms. Everyone starts the same and only one man and one woman will be crowned the "Fittest on Earth."

CrossFit HQ does it up big time, as well. There is all kinds of criticism for the juggernaut that CrossFit, Inc. has become along with Reebok that has seen a huge resurgence almost solely because of the CrossFit universe. They and Rogue Fitness essentially "own" the market when it comes to equipment and apparel. From a business mind like mine, it's brilliant marketing and fun to watch. So tomorrow night and each Thursday night, CrossFit Games director, Dave Castro, will move from state to state and put on a LIVE streaming show at where he'll announce the workout and two "superstars" from the CrossFit world will face off and do it. They'll have no clue as to the workout prior to the announcement, either, which plays well into CrossFit's mantra of "constantly varied" workouts. Tomorrow night, it all goes down in Boston where last year's champion, Rich Froning, will face off against the 2014 runner-up, Mathew Fraser. Then, they'll move to Texas, then to Chicago, then to Oregon and finally to Vegas for 15.5. Different athletes will face off each week. It's exciting, no doubt, once you find yourself immersed in this universe. I have watched all of the 2014 announcements and without a doubt, the best one is 14.5 from last year. A whole battery of top athletes squared off against each other in a crazy tough workout of nothing but thrusters and burpees. If you've not seen it, I've done you a favor and included it below. :) (it's an hour long so you'll want to drag it to the workout portion if you're a bit short on time)

So here we go...the 2015 Open! I am going to find it tricky how to squeeze in a few of the workouts due to my schedule but I have no intention of backing out now. I'll get it done...somehow. And for the folks in the crowd who might have had their fill of "CrossFit talk," I leave you with this funny meme. It is funny, you must admit. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Get Out of the Way...

...of yourself...or myself.

We are most certainly born selfish people, wouldn't you agree? If you don't, you may want to stop here. You were. We were. I was. We're simply wired to look out for ourselves before looking out for others. SelfLESSness is a choice. We have to choose it then choose it again and again and again. Every morning I wake up next to my wife, I have to decide: Will I put her needs in front of my own today or am I going to take front and center? You can apply this to parenting, friendships, work relationships, etc. Think about whom you work for at work. Are they selfish or selfLESS? You shouldn't have any doubt because you feel it, see it, and hear it in everything they do.

My own self-application: I already mentioned the very first choice when I sit up in bed...before the espresso is even brewed. I am one that believes that I am to serve my wife and lead her. If I do it right, "selfish" really isn't an option. I have to decide, regardless. Here are some other thoughts and maybe you'll relate with a few:
  • Driving down the interstate as a car begins to merge from the right on-ramp. Do you let them in?
  • Leaving the pile of dishes in the sink. Wash them or load the dishwasher...or leave them?
  • Voicing your opinion and expecting others to listen but intolerant of others' opinion(s).
  • Finishing the workout and instead of helping others clean up, you bolt...or you help out.
  • Expect accolades from others and pout if you don't get them...yet you never give them...or do you?
  • Let the person cross the road in front of you...or speed up to cut them off. Let them pass with a smile or hit the accelerator? 
  • Getting a fresh towel for your significant other instead of leaving the wet one you used hanging on the shower door. Wet or dry for her/him?
  • It's movie night. You want to watch a new release you've been waiting for. In my case, it's probably a Liam Neeson flick. I can insist on watching my choice or consider the others who are home...ya know, my family. What do you do?
  • You or I have had a rotten day at work. We've been cut off on the road, spoken down to, got cussed at, and got a bad annual review. Do we bring that through the door at home and let our family feel what we're feeling (it's only fair, right?!) or do we choose to love them and leave that junk behind us?
  • Do we work 4 jobs to get the bills paid or do we point the finger across the table and expect others to carry the load? (If you're the man of the house, go get a 5th job and take care of your family!)
  • Do you run long every Saturday and orphan your family just so you can get your miles in...or do you adjust your schedule to minimize impact on them? Which is it?
  • Do you buy that car with a high payment because you "deserve it" even though you know that groceries are going to suffer? Or, do you compromise, save and pay cash...or finance much less of a car to ensure your family stays a priority?
  • Do you see a post on Facebook and think "Not again...I'm sick and tired of hearing about CrossFit...or running...or whatever" ... then act by rolling your eyes and hiding/deleting them? Or, do you recognize what they're doing, think good of it, and scroll on? Yes, this applies. One is selfish and one is not.
  • Do you hold the door open for people? Your kids? Your significant other? Strangers? EVER?
  • Ever shovel the neighbors driveway?
  • It's cold...I mean, really cold. Like so cold they have to cancel school. :) Do you start the car for your mate so it'll be warm and toasty or is "too cold" to do such an act of kindness?
  • Do you wait for everyone to be served at dinner before eating or do you dive in because you just can't wait another moment?
  • How about taking the time to help a co-worker understand something, how to do something, etc. that would help them be more efficient and/or accomplish their task? You know how to make that thing work in Excel and they have no you assist? Or, are you so busy that you'll won't spare a moment.
  • You dump coffee grinds in the trash but just graze the outside of the trash can so some grinds fall on the floor. Do you pick them up or leave them for someone else to pick up after you?
I am so overwhelmingly tired of the almighty finger being pointed at peoples' own selves vs. those around them in an effort to help, love, serve, and lift up. If we would just have a more servant-like attitude and seek to improve the welfare of those around us and put a smile on their faces. When I walk in my CrossFit box early morning, I make a point to say good morning to folks, even if it's just a wave across the room. Yea, you're tired. Yea, you're grumpy. But get this...expressing kindness and a smile to others will make you smile and feel good as well. Funny how that works, eh? It's reciprocal. I am guilty for wearing my emotion on my sleeve so for me, often more than anyone else around me, I have to be very intentional about this. If you think that "Well, it's going to be awful here no matter what I do so what's the point?!" ... consider that the change can begin with YOU.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

M-Cubed for 2.23.2015

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for February Twenty-Third, Two-Thousand Fifteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- OK. I know it's Sunday but this next week is crazy busy and as always, I have plenty to say and while the Daytona 500 plays in the background, I have a few minutes now to spill my thoughts in advance of the week kicking off tomorrow. This post began as another iteration of my CrossFit journal but I decided instead to mix it up a bit.

- The OSCARS! Since I'm typing this prior to the Red Carpet tonight, I can't discuss the winners on Monday morning but no matter how much I want American Sniper to take the top honor tonight, I do not think it stands a chance. It is so politically charged that I see it impossible for the very liberal Hollywood to give the Best Picture to this movie. I don't think it will go home empty-handed but it won't take the big one. Boyhood stands a great chance, I think, along with Selma and The Imitation Game. I personally loved The Imitation Game.

- For any of my craft beer friends in the audience, I assume you saw Budweiser's snub at the craft beer scene during the Super Bowl. It was laughable at best. Since then, I've seen the founder of Dogfish Head, Sam Calagione, interviewed a few times regarding big companies like Bud and Coors gobbling up a few craft breweries. Great read here if this subject matter interests interview by Men's Journal.

- GREAT week of CrossFit and my 16th week. 4 months in and it has FLOWN by! This week had a few lows such as the day we were doing hang power cleans (I simply am horrible at them...but I keep trying) and a series of highs. I set new PRs (personal records) in the back squat (finally up and past my body weight), the sumo dead lift, and the push press. Walking into the box on Thursday morning, I knew it was going to be a big overhead day because Monday and Wednesday were big on squats of some variation. It began with a "1RM" strength workout for the push press. 1RM means 1 rep max. Work up to lift the very most you time. Upper body strength has been an uphill climb for me but it's been getting better and I'd been waiting for this. I ended up setting a 25lb PR in the push press and I know I truly found my max because I tried 10lbs more three times and couldn't lock it out over my head. The first photo below is me attempting that weight. #1: I couldn't lock it out over my head. #2 and a safety concern is that arched back. BAD. The great news here is that I hit a 25lb PR, regardless. I just couldn't get this one. Photos are awesome for self-critique. The arched back is such a no-no and a great way to get hurt. Later on after this, we had a birthday WOD. When it's your birthday, you can request certain movements for your birthday and our trainers will program it in. For this birthday WOD, we had 4 rounds of pike push-ups, atomic sit-ups, and 12 push presses. I went a little heavy (for me) for the push press and I knew it was going to suck big time as I got nearer to finishing all 48 push presses. I went a little higher than the women's prescribed weight but less than the men's at 95 pounds. The second photo below is my last (48th) rep. Locked out, head forward! That was an awesome workout and I loved pushing myself. The week ended on Friday, commonly called "Dead Lift Friday" with another PR, this time in the Sumo Dead Lift. All in all, a fantastic 16th week.
Attempting 150 pounds. Made 3 attempts. Failed at all. Arched back = BAD and dangerous.
48th of 48 reps of the Push Press. 95lbs and dead last in the WOD. AWESOME workout.
- So we returned just over a week ago from the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise to the Caribbean and this Friday, we are hosting another marriage retreat! My wife and I are really looking forward to it. We have 23 couples that will be attending down in Amish Country. When it comes to what we feel called to do as a couple, it is certainly to be one to encourage couples, equip them, come alongside them in the tough times, and maybe even mentor a bit. This time around, we'll be using material from Refine Us which is an outreach of Justin and Trisha Davis who have gone to the bottom more than once and today are doing awesome.

- "Oh, running, what are we doing? I feel like our relationship has gone from pure awesomeness to mirky to confused. What gives???" Last week, I mentioned that I made it in to the Bull Run Run 50 Miler in northern Virginia. Great news! (right?) It is but I have got to get my rear into gear if I'm going to actually toe the starting line AND finish...respectfully. Yesterday, we had a balmy 31F outside after the temperature rising a whopping 45 degrees from a MINUS 15 degrees the day prior. I had to take advantage of the temperature swing and the weekend and get out there. I ended up with 13.2 very tough miles. What made it tough wasn't the distance but country roads that hadn't seen a plow, yet, and we were on the back side of getting 5-6" of heavy snow. I wore my trail shoes but it was still a lot of work. Around mile 9, I received a phone call that I gladly took but the 20min on the phone caused me to cool down and get quite cold. Starting back up after that made it even worse. In the end, I ached and was tired of sliding in every direction, just trying to maintain forward movement. I reached out to a friend this morning who once did a ton of ultra marathons and 100-milers but switched to CrossFit a few years back. My question to him was how the running was going. Well...not much. I have heard that time and time again. Maintaining an ultra running "schedule" while doing 4-5 CrossFit workouts a week just isn't feasible for most. The irony is that I'm in far better physical condition than any other time in my life and my running is...well...barely existent. Am I willing to sacrifice the endurance and love of ultra running for this? That's a constant discussion/debate in my head.

- I don't talk about nutrition too often. I don't follow any Paleo, Zone, etc. diet but do follow some basic principles:
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • High water intake (goal is half my body weight in ounces per about 102oz a day)
  • Minimize simple sugar intake
  • Eat a lot of fruits and veggies....colorful, rich "earthy" foods
  • Recover right (Use Hammer Nutrition's Whey or Vegan protein after hard lifting workouts and Recoverite after long runs)
  • Rest: I can and will hurt myself. I target, on average, 6 hours of sleep per night.
  • Have eliminated my favorite chips from the cupboard, even if the label makes them sound healthy
  • Replaced all milk intake with almond milk
  • Flavor my coffee and espresso with pure maple syrup (just a little) and no longer use sugar or any kind of sugar substitute. If no syrup or honey available, then black.
  • Steer clear of drive-thru's. Prior to CrossFit, I was a big fan of the $1 items at Taco Bell. Oh my, some things were so good. I have not graced the drive thru of a Taco Bell since I walked into the box on November 4th. It is not a streak I intend to break! (or any other fast food joint)
  • Candy: I have but one chief weakness: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Occasionally, I'll indulge but usually freeze them so I forget about them so I eat them in moderation. Outside of that, I avoid everything else. They are a special treat.
  • Cheating: Well, I do love Outback Steakhouse and the fresh cut fries at Ray's Place in Kent along with their awesome sandwiches. I work hard and 95% of the time, I eat well but I do indulge and "cheat" from time to time. Eating is a great thing that humans enjoy and splurging from time to time isn't going to kill me, I'm convinced. If I did it often, I believe I'd squelch all of my hard work but as an "every once in awhile" occurrence, it's a price I'm willing to pay.
  • Alcohol: "You're a Christian, you're not supposed to drink!!!" Well, we can debate that up, down and sideways, if you'd like. Also, it's not very "Paleo," now is it? I'll just say this: I'm a bit of a "craft beer" snob and do enjoy them...extremely in moderation. I don't believe in getting wasted and stupid. I enjoy one here and there and am extremely picky as to what it is. Outside of that, that's about it. Water. That's my chief fluid intake 7 days a week. No sugary drinks, etc. Just water. 
- March! WE ARE READY FOR YOU!!! The 3-4" of packed snow and ice need to go! That's how we plow our driveway...we drive on it. We haven't shoveled it once!

- I finished my last book, "Embrace the Suck" and began my next book "Unbreakable Runner" that was co-written by the founder of CrossFit Endurance. From what I can gather, it speaks to those who wish to run distance, do ultras, triathlons, etc. along with CrossFit. I appreciated how it began by clearly stating that their way isn't the only way. Read it...glean what you may...make it your own...and go do it...whatever "it" is. I'm looking forward to it.

- To send you off properly, you need a quote, right? Well here you go. :) Have a GREAT week and FINAL week of COLD February!

"It's all too easy to accept lying down as your only option, or even just standing still. No one should ever be afraid of failing; it's being afraid to give it your all in trying that I urge against. If there is one thing I have learned, particularly in my life as an athlete, it is that our limits may not be where we think they are. And, even when we think we've finally reached them, the next time we go there exploring we often find that they've moved again."

– Chrissie Wellington, A Life Without Limits: A World Champion's Journey

Monday, February 16, 2015

M-Cubed for 2.16.2015

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for February Sixteenth, Two-Thousand Fifteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- I seriously didn't know my car's outside air temperature indicator had the capability of showing a negative double digit temperature. Minus 13 displayed this morning on the way to the box. Luckily, calm air so no wind chill to record but dang! Beautiful sunrise, though, through the icy trees.

- Released in August 2013, Lee Daniels' "The Butler" is a movie that begins in 1929 and follows the path of a young boy who eventually becomes the butler for 7 different U.S. presidents in the White House. It's rated PG-13 but we watched it as a family and glad we did. Inspired by a true story, it depicts America in a time of slavery, racism, and the struggles within. Forest Whitaker delivered an incredible Oscar-worthy performance, too. HIGHLY recommend if you haven't yet seen it. I found it at our local library for free. Follow this link for the official site and trailer if you want to check it out.

- Since the last M-Cubed, my wife and I had the pleasure of journeying down to Miami and eventually to both Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. We went on FamilyLife's 2015 "Love Like You Mean It" marriage cruise...the 5th one they've done. FamilyLife chartered the Carnival ship "Ecstasy" for a 4-day cruise having sold out 2000 staterooms of married couples. Guest speakers included authors, well-known speakers and musical artists such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Tenth Avenue North, Andrew Peterson and Jaci Valasquez. If we're connected on Facebook, I wrote up a full review/report yesterday morning if you want to check it out. If you have any interest in something like this and have any questions, please reach out soon. Well over 400 couples re-booked for the 2016 cruise before we even finished this cruise. Next year, it's being extended one year and will go to Jamaica and Grand Cayman on a larger, newer ship...the Carnival Victory. Find all the details for next year here.

- Today, I wrapped up Week #15 of CrossFit. Over the past week, my wife and I did workouts with body weight only and no lifting as we didn't have access to anything. I really missed that but got my fill this morning. Another personal record set and this time in the back squat. My previous PR was 195 pounds and my goal was to back squat my body weight which is between 200-205 pounds. I ended up hitting 215 pounds! The WOD was filled with pull-ups and a new movement to me called the "cluster." It's a combination of the squat clean and a thruster. Lots of things going on there! It was great to get weight up over my head again. Afterwards, I decided I wanted to climb the rope for a second time. Below is the 30 second video of me climbing. You'll see the wrong way followed eventually by the right way as I near the top. I wrapped my right shin this time after losing all the hair last time. After this one, I did one more climb. Arms were sufficiently spent!

- 2.16.2015

- Bull Run Run 50 Miler: Last Thursday, they held the lottery for the 350 available slots at this April's Bull Run Run. I was not selected so that race won't be on my calendar any longer. I'm starting to wonder what in the heck I'm supposed to do this year regarding my running. I'm totally floundering here and it's definitely a bit unsettling. Currently, the only thing I'm officially registered for is late April's Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon and May's Medina Half Marathon. Not a single ultra committed to...yet. Truth is...I'm waiting for Civilian Military Combine to release their 2015 schedule. UPDATE on Monday afternoon: I was wrong about Bull Run Run. I DID get in via the lottery and paid the entry fee today. So 50 miles in the mountains of northern VA on April 11th it is!

- I'm no cook and I proved it again last night. In Hammer Nutrition's most recent edition of Endurance News, they included a recipe for Banana Oatmeal Recoverite Cookies. Those are the ingredients and I added in honey and crushed walnuts. The taste is there but dang, they're dry. I have a bunch of them and had another with my morning espresso this morning. Yum. Honestly, they are really good but need something to wash them down. For those who don't know, Recoverite is Hammer Nutrition's recovery protein drink that I swear by. Shameless plug: you can save 15% off your first order by clicking on the Hammer logo at the top right of my blog!

- Many of you, whether you are a Christian or not, have most likely heard of the Bible passage that talks about women submitting to your husbands. (read the passage in Ephesians here) It's one of the most misunderstood passages ever. It's actually more of a charge to MEN to love our wives like Christ loved the church (um....He died for them!) and for women to follow their godly husbands. So many hang on to that "women submit!!!" part and see nothing else...WRONG!!! On the cruise last week, reference was made to this passage and the speaker said something to the tune of: "Ladies, sometimes 'submit' means you need to duck so God can smack your husband upside the head!" Classic. I loved it. It's true, ya know. Sometimes we (us men) need smacked around a little bit to get our heads screwed on straight and our priorities realigned. How does the saying go? "Better check yourself before you wreck yourself!" Too true.

- To close today, I leave you with what you see below. I think it's a great reminder no matter what you want to apply it to. Relationships, parenting, marriage, a race, and even a WOD!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

CrossFit on the Road and Sea

It's been a little over two weeks since my last post on the CrossFit Games and greed. That post ended up being picked up by Tabata Times and published. I knew it was a hot, contentious issue so I got lots of comments on both sides of the fence as expected. The coolest part was seeing how many boxes across the country shared it with their own athletes as a way to encourage them to sign up for the CrossFit Open. Speaking of which, the Open begins in 12 days! The first workout, 15.1, will be announced on Thursday, February 26th.

Things are still rolling along and this Monday will wrap up Week 15. Back in Week 14 during the first week of February, I was having little victories nearly every day and it was a blast. On one day, we had rope climbs as part of the workout that was someone's "birthday WOD" at our box. As someone who has never done a rope climb, I scaled the workout and did pull-ups instead. Afterwards, though, after most athletes left I jumped on the rope and a girl who was still there taught me how to wrap my leg around the rope and climb to the ceiling. Victory! I also learned why everyone protects their shins during rope climbs. I lost all the hair on the right shin...battle scar! On another day, we did a workout where we did box jumps but on each minute added bumper plates to the top of the box to increase its height. I had never jumped over 24" before but had a goal of 30". (The boxes are rectangles and can be 20", 24" or 30" depending on how you flip it.) By the end, I jumped 30" five times! Another small gain along the way. That week also held a few PRs in the lifting arena such as with the push press. Baby victories...awesome if they can be sprinkled in throughout the week. By the end of Week 14, we were set to go on vacation and miss an entire week at our box. We had gone consistently and for me specifically, only missed one or two days the entire time. As we set out for Miami and for a cruise, we strategized how to stay active.

We knew the cruise ship would have very, very limited space and equipment for what we'd wanted to do. So, we researched some "travel WODs" or those that can be done with your body only and no equipment. We flew into Miami a day early and had until Noon on Monday before we had to head to the ship so I did some research before we went and found a box 1/3 mile from our hotel in downtown Miami, "I Am CrossFit: Vida Brickell." I Am CrossFit is the parent and there are 6 or 7 locations across the area and in the Brickell section of Miami, the financial district, this box can be found. Actually, it's in the base of the Conrad Hotel on the southern side. We exchanged some e-mails with them in advance to find out if we could "drop in" for a class and the cost. "Drop in" is the phrase commonly heard for when you travel and want to find a local box to work out at. It was $20 a person (also what I've found that is standard fare out there). So after a major luggage fiasco that kept us up past midnight the night before, we showed up for the 7:30am class at CrossFit Vida.

Steven immediately greeted us and was awesome from that point on. He was the coach/trainer leading the class. One thing I've heard is about how different workouts are from box to box. This was true here, for sure. At our home box, we're used to a warmup, a gymnastic exercise, strength training (lifting), then the WOD. For this Monday, I saw "WU WOD" on the board and immediately asked what in the world a WU WOD is. Warm Up WOD! So for today, we did that followed by our first-ever partner-WOD. We had never done one together and this one just happened to include running (hehe!) in the warm Miami air. Here's the board that laid out the plans for the hour:
"Helen" is a benchmark WOD and normally done solo. For this partner WOD, they added a round and made the run 400m vs. 200m. I went first for each movement and rested as my wife did hers. Back and forth for 4 rounds. In the end, we finished last (a hair over 30 minutes) but gave it all we a team. Steven was also awesome and taught us more than we knew regarding pull-ups and a new trick for kettle bell swings. I'd been wondering how people do them fast but now I know. We exchanged hugs and handshakes and said our goodbyes to Steven and swore to return whenever we happen to be back in town. (Turns out, we booked our cruise again for 2016 so we're coming back!) We also appreciated how the rest of the class welcomed us in. CrossFit Vida is a GREAT box and one I'd highly recommend. I loved the pride, too, that you could feel in the atmosphere. Here are a few photos I grabbed:

That afternoon we embarked on our cruise (a marriage cruise) into the Caribbean. We (my wife and I) agreed to take turns planning the WOD for the next two days. We checked out the gym onboard where they had some dumbbells and one rower, just like in our box...but only one. The ceiling was low, too. As a 6'3" guy who would love to "throw" those dumbbells high or do burpees, that wouldn't work. The rest of the gym was filled with the standard gym "fare." We headed topside up to the 12th deck and found a track...a 150 meter track! Yea...11 hamster-on-a-wheel laps would equal one mile. There was also some artificial turf in the putt-putt course in the middle of that track that we could utilize as well as some wooden flooring. We decided this area would do just fine.

As we pulled into Key West on Day 1, I pulled up my Maps app on my phone and spotted a park about 2 miles away. Since it was my day to plan the WOD, I decided we'd run to the park and find an area to workout, secretly wishing for some level park benches or picnic tables to do some box jumps. I strapped on my backpack and we headed that way. We eventually found our "mobile box" for the day next to a playground. These concrete benches would serve us well! My workout ended up being a Tabata workout. A Tabata workout goes like this: for each movement, you do 20sec of work and 10sec of rest...8 times. That takes 4 minutes. Then, you move on to the next movement. I chose 4 movements to do: box/bench jumps/burpees/squats/hand-release pushups. I used my "MyWOD" app on my phone that has a Tabata timer on it and we cranked it out! Afterwards, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to the ship but first had homemade crepes along the way. FANTASTIC!!! I had no idea how much I'd love them. So if you're wondering why bother with working out on vacation...well, that workout cost us a whopping 16 minutes. We spent time in the sun together, walking, talking, enjoying the ocean's all quality time. We actually have zero interest in all the touristy things like shops, etc. We love to just get off the ship and explore so we did. To us, that's time well spent.

The next day, we had the morning at sea prior to pulling into Cozumel, Mexico so it was my wife's turn and we'd do the workout on the ship while out to sea. I do remember while doing this I said to her: "This was your idea!!!" It was a great workout. For hers, she devised this: 150m run/sprint, 100 single jump ropes, 40 squats, 30 walking lunges, 20 V-ups, and 10 burpees...all of that twice through. To say we got some interesting looks would be an understatement. Good planning also meant we brought our jump ropes with us. Great workout? Heck, yea! This was our view during the WOD.

For Thursday, we decided to sleep in. Yea, yea, was a mutual decision! After laying out on the deck soaking up the rays, I almost laced up my running shoes for a run up there but thought better of it and just logged a rest day, know that Friday would be an all-travel day and forced rest day. One thing I was definitely thinking...and this point was lifting and how I missed it. I missed the back squats, the overhead presses, etc. that I knew I had missed. I was surprised at this because through 41 years of life, I had zero desire to do that kind of thing but now I really enjoy it. I enjoy it differently than I do pushing myself hard through a WOD, though. I like both...just in different ways. I also like how building muscle burns fat and only doing WODs won't give me the physique that I'm getting.

Today as we have inches of snow falling back home, the temperature is flipped...17F before the wind vs. 71F yesterday in Miami, I decided to sweep away some filth from the road salt in the garage and WOD it up! I actually have a brand new kettle bell at home that I bought at Rogue Fitness in Columbus a few years back (when I was clueless and a CrossFit hater) and figured it was time to use it. I devised a WOD that would humble me and sweat it out, door open in the garage to the white out conditions. IT.WAS.AWESOME! To the blaring tunes of Skillet, I created this fine creature: 100 single jumps preceding every movement of 21-15-9 kettle bell swings, kettle bell on chest walking lunges and push-ups....times two. So in the end, I accumulated 600 jump ropes and 90 each of those movements. To say my arms are jell-o and butt sore would be an understatement.

I also finished my second CrossFit book yesterday on the plane ride home, "Embrace the Suck" by Stephen Madden. I absolutely recommend it. It's a quick read, too, if you like to read. For me, it took like two months. For my wife, she started it last night on the plane and is over halfway through already. Awesome read from someone who has been cycling and swimming for years but decided to drink some CrossFit "Kool-Aid." This is his story.

So week 15, you're about to be history. All Heart CrossFit, I'm looking forward to getting back in there next week and seeing my friends again giving it all everyday. As for the downside and any negative to share, I really can't help you there. I'm not injured, I'm stronger, I get to spend more time with my wife, and I actually am starting to like what I see in the mirror for the first time ever. CrossFit is totally what you make of it. If you give little, you'll get the same back in spades. Give it everything you have and it'll become addicting in a great way. Either way, leave that ego checked at the door every day, do you best not to compare, and just give it YOUR best, bar none. Be a better you!

Monday, February 9, 2015

M-Cubed for 2.9.2015

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for February Ninth, Two-Thousand Fifteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Just to give you an idea of the kind of friendly debates that take place in my home...proof that after 22 years of marriage, we can still keep it lively. Pleated pants. I was looking for a pair of slacks in my closet a few days back and before I knew it, I was trying every pair on and in the end, I have no slacks! One issue was weight loss so most were too big on me but even the ones that fit got a "no" vote from the ladies voting panel in my home. I posted the question on Facebook, too, and a resounding "NO" came from the ladies and the men were mixed. Some said "no" while others said "if they fit, wear them." Well, I have a heavy bag of donations heading to AMVETS next month and lots of empty hanger space. Next up will be my sweaters. I bet I can clear 50% of them easy. Anytime I think I can't rid of more, I prove myself wrong. Never in my life have I wanted so little...and I love it.

- Oh, Brian that you just stay "hush" right now. Not much good can come from talking. In the meantime, memes are popping up everywhere. Here are a few for your chuckling pleasure. :)

 - Kanye West. Shut up! That is all. The world does NOT revolve around you. Maybe a parfait of humility is what you need. (re: Grammy Awards last night)

- Week 14 is a rap today of CrossFit. All is still rolling along well and I'm looking forward to warmer weather when we'll start moving outside a bit and truly begin "moving stuff." Big tires, chains, sleds...and running. There are lots of workouts that include short sprints and other running but with the snow and ice invading northeast Ohio relentlessly as of late, just about 100% of everything is indoors. For this past week, no doubt...the biggest smile came from jumping 30" to the top of the box late last week. I had only hit 24" prior and only "dreamed" of jumping to the 30" box. Made my week! (There was some room to spare, too, so I think the next time that box jumps are part of the workout, I'll take a few minutes afterwards to stack some weights and see how much higher I can go.)

- The lottery for the Bull Run Run 50 Miler is this Thursday. They use the stock market close to determine who gets in and who goes to the wait list. Those who get in then have the duty of sending in the registration. Those who don't automatically get dropped and the wait list folks are offered a slot. It's limited to 350 runners. There are 435 registered as of today. See them here. Know anyone?

- The most recent edition of "Endurance News" by Hammer Nutrition hit my mailbox this past week. They did a complete overhaul of the magazine that they've been publishing for 23 years now. If you get it, don't toss's chock full of great information. A few big takeaways I got from it so far:
  1. Water Intake: should be about 1/2 oz. per pound of body weight per day. For me, I'm about 204 pounds so just over 100oz of water a day.
  2. Recoverite vs. Whey Protein: I've often wondered about the difference in these two products. I'm a huge believer in Recoverite. I have countless proof-positives from using it post-run and post-race and have lately been using it after heavy CrossFit workouts. Well, they addressed this very comparison and said that the whey is best after lifting weight and Recoverite best after endurance/aerobic work. Further, whey is great before bedtime as it contains HGH (human growth hormone) to help rebuild muscle. I'll start following that and use Recoverite less after workouts unless I run home from the workout, for example. :)
  3. A new recipe!: I have to try this. They take a few smashed bananas, oatmeal and chocolate Recoverite plus options for raisins, walnuts, etc. Sounds like a great, easy cookie recipe that I'll try soon. I have all the ingredients so why not?
As a reminder, you can save 15% off your first order at Hammer Nutrition by clicking on the 15% off banner at the top right of this blog. Hammer On!

- Have a GREAT week, everyone! Today, I leave you with a little kick and a nudge to get out there and just for it. No more waiting....GO! What is "IT" for you as you read this below?

"At some point you just have to dump all the excuses in the trash and go. You've got to say, 'Yes, there are obstacles, but I'm going to find a way around them or over them, if necessary, and make time for what I really want to do.' Perhaps you have real ambitions and need to make not just a little time for yourself every day, but a lot of time. All right, then, do it. Do what you have to do to do it. Do what you have to do to do it a lot. Make a statement to yourself and to society, and do it."

Friday, February 6, 2015

F.A.T. for 2.6.2015

F.A.T. (Friday Afternoon Thoughts) for February Sixth, Two-Thousand Fifteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Friday afternoon.

- Ok,'s a stretch, I admit it! I just haven't had the writing genes in me this week and haven't written lately so you can call this F.A.T. or M-Cubed on Friday...which really makes no sense so let it be Issue #1 of FAT!

- Oh dear Braverman family...I will miss you! Last week brought the Season/Series Finale of NBC's Parenthood. Six awesome seasons that I thoroughly enjoyed. Some surprises in the final episode but all in all, it was well done and book-ended the series well. I still wish it didn't end but it did.

- My best canine friend has been super clingy lately. She's nearly 50 pounds but she swears she is a lap dog and often does whatever she can to get close. Ironically, some won't come around her because they are scared of her. Not sure why, though...she's downright lovable! This was a few nights back. Don't ya love her eyes?! Her name is Bristol.

- Have a favorite SuperBowl commercial? I won't lie, I thoroughly enjoyed the first commercial that was played immediately after the Seahawks and Patriots took the field. Did you miss it? If so, it's below. Who would've thought that this "subject matter" could be in the arena of the "commercial holiday" of the year. Besides this one, I of course loved the puppy one by Budweiser, I said "what the heck?" after watching Nationwide Insurance's, I said "Nice try" after watching Budweiser attempt to make fun of/slam the craft beer scene, Dove's "Dad" commercial was really good, I felt kinda sick to my stomach after Loctite's....ewwwww. A fellow CrossFitter online challenged me to 30 burpees for every beer commercial, too. Turns out, there were VERY few! In the whole first half, only ONE beer commercial..the puppy one. Remember how Bud Light used to rule the commercials? In the second half, the feeble attempt by Bud showed along with the Pac-Man one for Bud Light. So in the end, I was 90 burpees in and glad no more were shown. I mean really...who does burpees at 9:30pm??!!

- So I'm super proud today. I had the privilege of being this one girl's recruiter to one day become a commissioned officer. From losing nearly 50 pounds, taking the entry exam twice (hiring a tutor the second time to do better), and being told "You'll never be an officer," she graduates TODAY from officer candidate school. 12 weeks and today she takes the Oath of Office. There are some intangibles in life that make work and the drudgery all worth it...this is most certainly one of them.

- If you're following along in my CrossFit journal, you will have already read my most recent post on "CrossFit, the Games, and Greed." Well just this past Monday, it was picked up and published by Tabata Times. The comments have been lively, as expected, and either folks hated it or loved it. What really makes me smile big is the amount of shares it gets. Nationally and internationally, CrossFit gyms shared it with their athletes and even quoted me on several instances. There were hundreds of "likes" and lots of Tweets, too. I still stand by my position on all counts that I addressed in the post and am happy it resonated with so many. You can read it here.

- Ever been a part of a focus group for something new before? I had the opportunity on a non-disclosed date at a non-disclosed location within the past two weeks. It was super cool. I'll just say that it was running related and had to do with shoes. If I told you anymore, I'd have to kill ya! If you ever get that kind of opportunity, certainly take it!

- Movie Review: I had the chance to go see The Imitation Game this past week. It's about a mathematician who cracked the German code during World War II. It's up for EIGHT Oscars at the end of this month, including Best Picture and Best Actor and was FANTASTIC!!! I loved it.  If you have the opportunity, go see it.

- Last Sunday, I had an awesome run over fresh snow before heading to church. No plows had been out yet so I got to run in the fresh stuff. It was gorgeous! Here are just a few photos from the run. Yes, those are shorts. It was a balmy 29F and no breeze!

- It's also been a week (or two) of gains at my CrossFit box. I'm wrapping up Week 14 in a few days and each day lately has brought new accomplishments. Today, for example, I jumped atop a 30" box. Until now, I hadn't attempted past the 24" box but our trainers brought us a workout that had us add height within a set period of time. It was the perfect opportunity to do only what I've been hoping to do someday. I did it...six times...and had some room to spare (which means I can go higher....on another day!). I also have been trying to get up into a handstand at the wall so I can continue to build my shoulder strength with the ultimate goal of doing a handstand pushup, a common movement in CrossFit. I finally got it yesterday. Now to do it consistently and start moving in a downward movement before attempting the actual pushups. I also hit new personal records in a variety of lifts and even climbed the rope to the ceiling for the first my life! (I'm even missing some hair around my ankle to prove it!) All in all, it's going awesome and I'm getting a little fitter, stronger, and better every day...and doing it with my wife and friends alongside me.

- 2015 Goals: Well, I'm in the Bull Run Run 50 Mile lottery. That takes place in April and the lottery takes place next week. If I get picked, I'll have the option of officially entering and paying the fee or not. There are a few other things I'm tossing around this year as well so I'm not 100% sure on the decision yet. I'm still mulling over my 100 mile trail race goal as well as a race that mixes in an obstacle course, mud, and CrossFit. That schedule isn't out yet so there are still many open ends out there. Stay tuned!

- So for today's quote of motivation, I'm just going to share what I posted on my Instagram this morning after finally jumping 30" on the box this morning. I'll probably take another break from M-Cubed this Monday so until next time, have a GREAT weekend!