I can’t believe I got up early on a Saturday to go lift.
Does anyone remember when I was astounded that I had become the type of person to get up early and run outside? Well, until my “winter” running gear (warm pants and a rain jacket because I actually only own a trench coat, which is useless for running) arrive next week, I am not that type of person in Jerusalem. However, instead of losing the habit, I’m getting up and going to the gym at the consular section.
Also, I did not expect to missing lifting AT ALL.
But I do, and my new CrossFit box is not satisfying that itch as well as I’d like. Plus, I really like the way I feel when I’m thinking about what I’m eating, as opposed to how much I’m eating. I’m not in a mental place where I can do that when I’m not lifting heavy (i.e. MUST FUEL GAINZ), so I decided to start a strength program. My research (aka “analysis paralysis”) indicates that it doesn’t matter what program I pick, so much as just putting in the work to do it consistently. Starting Strength is a linear progression designed for beginners, doesn’t require any equipment I don’t have access to, and, most importantly, doesn’t require huge amounts of thought on my part.
Anyway. Ran a mile (OMG YOU GUYZ I CAN RUN A MILE WITHOUT STOPPING). (re)Started Starting Strength. Benched in the squat rack. Deadlifted in the squat rack. Sorry not sorry, no space to do it elsewhere.
While I was on my way out, I ran into one of our GSOs* and mentioned that it’d be great to have a women’s bar to accommodate those with tiny hands like myself. He said sure**. Then I went home and ordered some 5 and 2.5 lbs weights off of Amazon so that I can add weight to my bench and OHP in increments of less than 20 (the smallest plates available at the office gym are 10 lbs). No way on this God’s green earth am I waiting for procurement and GSO to order weights, send them to the Despatch in NJ, ship them by sea, and then and ONLY then be able to use smaller weights when I lift. It’s a small investment for some hopefully large gains gainz.
I’m feeling pretty good about my progress, and I’m pleased at the positive steps I’m taking to nourish myself, nutritionally, physically, and psychologically by lifting. It’s been a good start to 2015.
* GSO = General Services Officer, in charge of procurement (for those not familiar w/ State Dept acronyms)
** Anytime anyone’s like, “So, Jerusalem-violence-tension, meh?” I’m like, “OMG ICASS customer service is SO GREAT I could stay here FOREVAAAAAAARRRRR.”
I went to CrossFit Jerusalem for the first time earlier this week. After a month off, I’d forgot how wonderfully exhausting lifting + a WOD can be. Folks were very welcoming, although the athletes and coaches totally made fun of me for being so American about introducing myself to everyone.
Habits die hard.
It was a relatively deceptively simple workout. Warm up. Back squats 5×5. Then a metcon that focused on the core: box jumps, L-sits (or N-sits, in my case), back extensions (which I did on the ground because who the fuck has time to get on and off the damn machine when you’re doing 20 second tabatas?), and ab mat sit-ups.
It was wildly different from the workouts I’d been doing in Virginia, and I liked it a lot. It’ll be wonderful to get home at 1830 after a workout instead of 2100. Instruction is in English and Hebrew. The location is also excellent.
And since I’ve already bitched about the hills of Jerusalem, I can say that I definitely prefer CrossFit Jerusalem to the hills (although I prefer hills to burpees, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see how often burpees are programmed).
I was planning on going for my first Jerusalem run n Saturday morning to take advantage of the quiet Shabbat morning when just about no one is out and about. My toddler, however, had a terrible terrible night on Friday. It was so bad, in fact, that when I finally just crawled into her bed with her at 3 in the morning, I turned off my alarm and put it off for another day.
If you think that I was procrastinating about that run and was happy to use my daughter as an excuse, well, my loyal readers, you are correct. Jerusalem is full of hills. Hills with grades of 7-9%. Steep hills. And I am still a fat crossfitter and novice runner who’s used to shuffling along in delightfully flat Crystal City, VA.
Today, I got up and faced The Hills. They were about as awful as I expected. In fact, the run was so difficult that instead of the 3 mile loop I’d planned, I cut the run short and ran a much shorter 1.5 mile loop instead.
I should probably try running up the many stairs in my neighborhood … Nah.
Despite the hills, running is still better than burpees. And with the hills and stairs I’ve got in my neighborhood, I’ll have glutes of steel by the time I head out to my next post in two years.
That was weird, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’ve gotten into this mental thing where if I don’t leave thinking that OMG I AM SO TIRED AND THE WORST EVER AT CROSSFIT, then I feel like I should be working harder.
In retrospect, that’s pretty silly. I should be working smarter, not harder.
Burpees are still my kryptonite. I did pretty well on the strength based movements (light deadlifts and DB push presses), but damn. DAMN. Is there a way to get better at burpees without just practicing burpees? If I had moved as well on and fast during the burpees as fast as I did the lifts, then I would have nailed the workout.
So conditioning work? Just a couple of dozen burpees a day? Damn. Damn. Damn. I hate burpees more than I hate people who don’t answer their email, and that’s saying a lot (which is also hilarious, because you know who’s bad at answering her email? THIS WOMAN RIGHT HERE).
Two and a half weeks to get as much out of this box as I can before leaving for Westminster, then Jerusalem. I have been surprised at how sorry I will be so say good-bye to this particular box.
My running buddy took off for even cooler climes at her new post this weekend, so it looks like I’ll be on my own in knocking off a few spots off my DC running bucket list before I take off for Maryland, then Jerusalem, in a few weeks.* We’ve been in DC since February, and it’s only now that the rapid departure of our friends is really starting to sting. A few friends here, a few friends there, I can live with. But now that it’s starting to feel like we’re among the only ones left? It hurts a little bit more to say good-bye than it did a few months ago.
Lincoln Memorial at sunset
This is, perhaps, the worst part of the transient nature of my job; every single time we move, I forget that it’s going to be like this. Before Camille left, we hugged, and she said, “Next time we’re in the same part of the world, we should do this again some time!” It’s heartening because we probably will land in DC or somewhere else at the same time again; but heartbreaking because it could be another ten years before it happens.
Last night, I went out to dinner to say good-bye to another great friend. We will serve our next tours in the same part of the world, and will most likely serve together at some point in our careers, but that doesn’t make it any easier to realize that it’s going to be months or years before we see each other face-to-face again. And when we do, it will only be for a very short time.
Our route was the Smithsonian past the Washington Memorial, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, and back to the Washington Memorial
I’ve never before been envious of those that put down roots and stay in the same place for years and decades at a time. I’m not envious now, especially with the communication power of the Internet, but I can’t help but think about how different life would be with constant in person contact with friends and family. My support network is scattered across the world right now, and as wonderful as that sounds in the abstract, it can be really tough when I just need a friend to lean on.
The good news is that Skype exists! Several mothers of toddlers who were at the FSI daycare together are organize Skype sessions for our girls’ to see each other, from places as diverse as Cairo and Prague and Bujumbura. That’s amazing. And something I never would have imagined when I began the life of a nomad straight out of college. One of my primary personal goals for my next tour is to maintain more regular contact with my friends and family, both back here in the States and everywhere else they’re traveling.
Last post-run selfie. So dark you can barely make us out.
In any case, we got a lot of great photos of our sunset run around the mall! Running makes everything better. Especially with friends and the kids.
Bertrand joined us with the girls. Thumbs up!
* If anyone’s up for 15-minute miles (with or without the toddler in tow), I’ve still gotta hit Rock Creek Park, Embassy Row, the White House, and the other side of the mall.
Yesterday, Jasmine threw a temper tantrum in the parking lot, and I picked her up and carried her all the way to the car, along with the groceries, and I wasn’t even winded.
Today, Jasmine and I did yoga together when I got home from CrossFit. And then I stopped and just took pictures because ADORABLE.
A couple of weekends ago, I had the first workout at my CrossFit gym box where I didn’t feel like I was lagging behind everyone else. And lo and behold, when my partner and I finished, our score was in the middle of the pack. And not just because my partner did most of the work, which often happens to me too.
The last couple of weeks have been encouraging in terms of running too. Yeah. Running. WOW. Seriously? I ran for 25 minutes straight the other day. That is out of this fucking world, considering that in May, I couldn’t run two hundred meters without stopping to walk. Here’s the thing, though–I’m still a fat novice runner, a fat novice lifter, and a fat novice CrossFitter, and the learning curve has been very steep (and it’s not been helped by my crabbiness over the last couple of weeks).
I’ve been lucky to have access to excellent coaches, a box close to my house, and a spouse who’s 100% supportive of me getting in shape. I’ve seen crazypants progress over the last several months; however, I’m starting to feel like now that I have an idea of what to do, I need to narrow down what I want. “Get better at CrossFit” and “get fitter” are excellent goals in the short term, but they’re not going to carry me through several months of leave and international moves. Instead, I think I need to set some new specific short and long-term goals.
Some of you may remember a post from several months ago, where I spoke about my steadfast refusal to make any resolutions for fitness. Establishing the habit was more important to me than anything else. In doing that, I’ve discovered that some things are more important to me than others. I love running. I love lifting. I hate burpees (doesn’t everyone?). I really don’t care about getting good at CrossFit for CrossFit’s sake. And there are a few things that I really really really want to do.
If you’re hollering out encouragement to EVERY runner who passes you during the workout, that’s awesome. If you’re only hollering encouragement to the fat chick who’s struggling, well, fuck you, buddy.
Here’s the thing that I think a lot of people forget about fat people in the gym, ANY GYM, not just Crossfit:
Fat is not and should not be a moral judgement (so don’t fucking lie to me and tell me I’m not fat).
Fat does not equal a lack of confidence about my non-fitness achievements. Seriously. I am fucking awesome, and I don’t ever forget it. Neither should you.
Listen, I totally get that I’m the slowest person in the entire membership. And no matter how many new members arrive, I’m still the slowest. But it does means when I’m running slowly, it’s because I’m slow, not because I’m not giving max effort on a workout. If I take a short break between burpees, it’s because I’m likely not going to be able to get back up after the next one if I don’t. Certainly, I am not scaling box jumps and pushups because I want to.
I occasionally feel like I have to prove that I’m working hard. And I do eventually prove it. To everyone. Because I am working my ass off.
I raced my first 5k over the weekend. Camille, my awesome amazing and to be much thanked running buddy, and I have been training both separately and apart. She, to get back to running after a few kids, and me, to get to a point where I wouldn’t embarrass myself by collapsing on the course after the first mile. We both succeeded, and I made it through the entire 5k while pushing a toddler (UP GODDAMNED HILLS) in a stroller.
Jasmine giving me a thumbs up for the sunglasses she got before the race.
The Rockin’ Stroller 5k was designed with families in mind. Everyone in the race was pushing a stroller (although some kids were ornery enough to want to walk or run the entire race THOSE FOOLS). My toddler, no fool is she, sat in comfort as I pushed here 5k up and down Eisenhower Avenue in Alexandria.
Jasmine crossing the finish line … before the race even started.
I had to slow to a walk a few times, but I’m pretty pleased with having made it to the finish line without puking, collapsing, or dying. Four months ago, I couldn’t even run 200m without stopping to walk, so 5k with a few short breaks sounds reasonable to me.
Last of the runners, but ahead of the walkers.
Note: I only selected one shot of my hilariously bouncing breats here, but in the series Bertrand took, you can see them bouncing from side to side as you flip through the slideshow. Which I will not show on this blog. Because, while it IS hilarious, I do still like to pretend that I have some dignity left.
Best fake smile ever. Coloring in her race t-shirt!
My running buddy and I, that is, my adult running buddy and I, hit the second spot on our DC running bucket list last weekend. I’ve walked around the tidal basin, but not in years, and I’ve certainly never run around it.
My toddler running buddy came too.
We had a good run. Camille was kind enough to let me stick to my C25K running plan (yeah, I’m a few weeks behind), and the weather was absolutely amazing. Warm enough that we didn’t need extra layers, but cool enough that we weren’t dying from the humidity like last week. Again, what a difference decent shoes and running clothes make. And a couple of months of exercise.
Post-run selfie. Because if it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen.
Today, I had a lot of fun at CrossFit. Which is actually unusual. I enjoy CrossFit, in the same way that I enjoyed being pregnant. Being pregnant was pretty much the stupidest worstest thing I ever did to my body. But the end result was totally worth it. Usually, CrossFit is pretty miserable, but when I’m done, not only do I feel like a million bucks, I can say, “Well damn. I just dead lifted half my body weight.” (Note: half of my body weight is a LOT OF WEIGHT.)
Today, I was appalled to find myself kind of … having fun. I’m starting to get good enough at things that I can focus on details. I can hold the bar and move some weight, so now I can focus on why I’m getting stuck in the hole (hint: I’m lazy and let my core relax). I know how to do most of the warm-up movements, so I can focus on actually warming up, rather than desperately trying to figure out how to move. And now I know enough to know how to ask for help, which the coaches have been great about providing.
Also, I love squat days. So there’s that too.
As my four month CrossFit mark approaches (four months is important b/c it’s my CFSA contract renewal date), I’m sitting back and taking stock at what a difference regular exercise has made in my life.
I am less crazypants (Bertrand may disagree).
I am less stressed (hahahaha, language test in two weeks WHO AM I KIDDING I AM STRESSED TO THE MAX).
I am more likely to chase Jasmine around outside, instead of dreading taking her to the playground (OK, just kidding, I still hate playgrounds because OMG WHERE DID ALL OF THESE CHILDREN COME FROM).
I do not huff and puff when I have to run across a wide intersection because the traffic light is changing (although I am still likely to lollygag because I’m an asshole like that).
I can carry a hell of a lot more groceries in one load.
I’ve got another conversational topic to chat with strangers about (and this socially awkward diplomat needs all of the conversational help she can get). Basically, anyone who reads this blog knows I CrossFit, and anyone who’s into exercise has an opinion on CrossFit, so bring on the haterade, because at least it’s something to talk about when we run out of things to say about the weather.
Basically, CrossFit and running are awesome, and I should have started a long time ago. So it goes.