Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meeting Murph

“Are you new here?” She said as she overtook me in the warm-up run.

“Yeah, this is my 3rd workout.”

“Well don’t worry, it doesn’t get any easier, we are all dead by the end of the workout.”

And with those words of encouragement, Danielle blew by me and went on with her run.

I am quickly finding that the words “check your ego at the door” are a requirement of my trips to the CrossFit box.

Be it a 5 foot nothing, 100 and nothing pound girl, or a 6’7” guy, I have found that most anyone can run circles around me or just make me look foolish in any endeavor.

But, here we are, a week and a half into it, and I am finding that I look forward to getting to the box everyday after work. Last night I cursed myself as I was driving home, since I had agreed to take my wife out to a movie, and I hadn’t gotten out of work in time to get a work out in 1st.

And while we are on the subject of discoveries. I have found that Crossfit has a funny way of paying tribute to our fallen soldiers.

Tuesday was my 1st “Hero” workout. These are torture devices named for a brave member of our armed Services who has lost his or her life defending our country.

My introduction to the Hero workout was “Murph” named after a Navy Seal who lost his life in Afghanistan. Later I found out that the mission that he lost his life on has a book written about it call “Sole Survivor”, it has been added to my reading list.

But back to Murph, I’m not sure how they go about picking the workout that is dedicated to the individual, but If it was a favorite workout of the individual for whom it is named, than Murph was a sick fuck. Start with a mile run, then 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats, oh and tack on another mile run just for fun.

Fortunately they let you break up the pull-ups, push-ups and squats however you want. Unfortunately I only made it through about a 1/3 of the prescribed workout before the trainer came over to me and let me know I should start stumbling through my 2nd mile if we ever wanted to get home that night.

So while it may not have been CrossFit’s intention, the result was me cursing the name of a fallen soldier as I jogged around the parking lot in the rain Tuesday night. Actually, it was more me cursing myself for thinking that any workout involving 2-miles of running was a good idea, seeing as it had probably been 10 years since I had run 2-miles in a day, let alone in a workout.

That said, I will be back at the box tonight, hopefully for an indoor workout, since I have been soaked to the bone everyday so far this week, and am quite sick of it. I thought I was moving to Wilmington for the beach and sun, not 20+ inches of rain in 4 days.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I have met the enemy

The battle to win back my health will not be easy, it will not be fun and it will not be pretty.

Day 2 at CrossFit started off relatively easy. It was a personal workout day, to make sure I knew the basics necessary to join the group workouts. And I started off strong.

A 400m warm-up run/jog to start, and there was no mistaking me for a hero today. I jogged it out, working up a nice base sweat but not gassing myself. Then it was on to a progression of body weight squats (standard, front and overhead) presses (standing, push and jerk) kettle ball swings, sit-ups and back extensions.

I was genuinely surprised when my squat form was corrected. I wasn’t surprised that I needed correction, but was surprised at the correction made. I have never been good at going deep enough, but that wasn’t the issue. It was my foot placement. All my years of training for football, you set up to squat with a football related base, so that you worked the muscles the way you would when firing out of your stance.

Zeke, the owner/head trainer, had me widen my base, and point my toes out. Years of muscle memory screamed in protest, but I was immediately going deeper, but still not below parallel. This will take some getting used to.

From there it was on to my private session; A brief introduction to the Olympic movements. Cleans and Jerks are nothing new to me. These along with squats and bench presses formed the basis of the explosive training that I went through years ago, so I was feeling pretty confident. The snatch would be something new for me, but the start of the movement was familiar, so I guessed I’d be able to figure it out.

I have to say, my trainer, Chris, was excellent. There was quite a bit of rust to be knocked off to begin with, but he broke down the movements in a way that had never been done for me before. The coaches I have worked with in the past would be well served to spend a day with him, and learn how to teach the movements. I am confident that had I ever been instructed in this manner, I would have been putting up a hell of a lot more weight. I’m looking forward to getting my strength back and putting up personal bests 10 years past my playing days.

And while I quickly picked up on the corrections being made to my rusty form, I was shocked at how I was already tiring just moving a wooden dowel and a 45lb bar. I knew coming in that getting my wind back would be one of the hardest parts of the process, but this was nuts.

Then things went wrong. While I put the dowels back, and grabbed some water, Chris consulted with Zeke on what workout I would be doing today. Apparently Zeke hates me already, because his answer was “Fight Gone Bad”.

Yeah, this was the workout that had originally peaked my interest in CrossFit, but my mind screamed “I’m not ready”. Chris reassured me that it would only be 2 rounds, not the prescribed 5. But the damage was done. I tried to put on a good face, and aggressively attack the workout, but it had already defeated me mentally.

Wall Ball was 1st, and I did fairly well, but I was pushing too much with my arms, wasn’t using proper squat form (still need to get that base wider) and I think I was set up too far from the wall (based on watching a video of FGB online to explain to my wife why I was swimming in sweat when I got home).

That was the only positive of the 12 minute workout. Sumo high-pulls were just a sad excuse of going through the motions. My confidence and wind were shot by the time I addressed the box jumps, and only managed some half hearted step-ups. Push press would have been adequate, had it been the 5th round of FGB, not the 1st. And rowing was yet another example of me going through the motions as I gasped for air.

Round 2 made round 1 look inspired. This would have be bad enough, but then came the last 30 seconds of the workout when I went back on the attack on the rows. I put more heart and effort into that last 30 seconds than I had the previous 11 ½ minutes. Prompting Chris to exclaim “where did that come from?”

I was too winded to reply, but deep down I knew. It came from me getting pissed off at myself. Not because I had failed to do the workout, but because I had failed to give it everything I had. There had been plenty of times during the workout that I felt that I could puke, but rather than pushing through that feeling, or puking and rallying (a gift of mine according to my old drinking buddies) I had caved.

If there is one thing that I can take from day 2, it is that I completely overlooked one area that needed serious work. I knew that when it came to endurance and flexibility I was woefully unprepared. I knew that my strength had waned, but had faith in muscle memory helping me through. I had no idea the depths that my mind had slipped.

Looking back at the years of excuses, and the way I quickly faltered in workout #1, I can’t believe I missed this. I have been losing the mental game for years. Pushing through has been getting it’s ass handed to it by rolling over.

I have met the enemy, and it is me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fat Drunk and Stupid is no way to go through life, So I'm trying to lose weight

I am fat and out of shape. I know this, anyone who knows me knows this. It was only Seven short years ago that I was a gym rat and working my body fat down towards 10%. I was in the gym up to 6 days a week, and loved every minute of it.

I moved, I got married, my gym partner relocated to Texas and I started finding excuses not to hit the gym, rather than finding excuses to get there.

It has gotten bad. My brother has expressed to me his concern about my health. My wife noted how I physically looked like my Father, almost 30 years my senior, in a recent photo. At least once a month my mother asks if I had started to work out again…yet.

So here it goes. I am going to document my attempts to get back into some sort of shape.

I am 6’2”, 250 lbs, the majority of which resides around my midsection. If I had to guess I would peg my bodyfat at close to 28% (I will find a way to get this measured to make this more accurate).

About a year ago I first heard of CrossFit. I saw a post about their yearly fundraiser called Fight Gone Bad and was intrigued. Where most people I know looked at the combination of box jumps, rowing, wall ball, sumo high pulls and push press and want to vomit, I looked at them and said, Damn, those are the things I used to love to do, because they make me want to vomit.

Of course I quickly fell into my excuse making habits. I wasn’t in good enough shape to do that program, so I did start going to the gym for a little while. Until I found my next excuse, the nearest Crossfit gym would require me to double my daily commute. And so I slowly stopped going to the gym.

Well last week I finally had enough. I had told myself that I would start running, doing push-ups and sit-ups and using the chin-up bar in the garage once I moved to Wilmington to get ready to go to the CrossFit gym that is less than a mile from my house. And after a month, none of that had happened.

So, pissed at myself, I made the call to CrossFit Coastal and signed up for their Saturday open gym. And I got my ass kicked.

Sure I was pleasantly surprised that I could put together 2 pull-ups in a row. Too bad the warm-up called for 3 sets of 5. Forget the sit-ups, my gut just gets in the way. Run 200 yards once, OK, three times. I am a pathetic excuse for a man.

Then there was the actual workout. I felt pretty good about my chances with the push press, some modified pull-ups might get me through that, then a 200 yard run/jog. Well there was a rest period while my teammate went through the same progression. I can do this.

No I couldn’t, the press was fine, the pull ups, not so great, then I set out at a run and completely gassed myself within the 1st 100 yards. There was no coming back for me. I dropped the weight on the press and did my best not to puke for the next 15 minutes.

I knew I was in bad shape, but I had no idea how bad. Everything from the stretching to the breaking down of the weights at the end was torture. But a funny thing happened.

Others doing the workout, who had never met me before encouraged me as they ran past my stumbling mass. My workout partner cheered me through each transition (sorry about truncating your workout Gabs.) And once I finally caught my breath I felt good about myself.

Not in a, yeah you are in shape way, but in a you finally are addressing the problem way. My entire body was trashed, I felt like I had just gone through the 1st padded practice of 2-a-days. And I found that I had missed that feeling.

So, despite the fact that I am still sore from what is called a light workout on Saturday, I am headed back tonight. And I am looking forward to getting my ass kicked again.

Week 2 Thoughts

I keep meaning to write posts for this damn blog. But life gets busy. I mean I started a series of posts on why the Raiders would go 16-0. And it would have had me looking like Nostradamus, had Vince Young imploded and been benched one week earlier. But the series remains on my flash drive, seen only by me.

So lets keep things short and simple. I want to write about 2 things, the Raiders and my attempts to get back into shape. So this post will concentrate on the former, and hopefully my next post will be on the later.

The win vs. St. Louis.

1 – Thank god for Jason Campbell

I know this goes squarely against the grain of the general consensus of Raider fans right now. But, had the Raiders not swung the trade for Campbell, I have to believe that JaMarcus would have been the Raiders starter going into week 2. (Remember Grads missed most of the offseason and the start of camp with a torn pec). Even if Grads had started against the Titans, I have trouble believing he would have made it out of that game healthy. Meaning that we would have been treated to the return of JaMarcus to Oakland yesterday. Thanks for the win Jason.

2 – Tom Cable is ahead of the curve on the Oline

Once again, this will be greeted with a collective WTF by the majority of Raider fans. But hear me out. There are two areas of an NFL team where the players have not become specialized. The quarterback (with the exception of teams running a Wildcat) and the offensive line. I believe that within the next 5 years, we will see specialist on the offensive line. Long yardage tackles, who specialize at pass blocking, but suck at run blocking. And their short yardage counterparts.

Lets face it, Mario Henderson is truly lacking when it comes to pass blocking, but has shown beastly flashes in the run game. If Veldheer can come into his own as a pass blocker, the platoon at LT could be a reality in Oakland.

Would it be better to have an Ogden or Jones at LT who can do it all, sure, but those guys are so rare, I think that the reality of the NFL will soon require platoons where possible on the line.

Veldehere is an intriguing prospect to start this movement with in Oakland. He represents a signifigant upgrade at center in run blocking, but has trouble with the blitz pick-up, especially in pass-pro. He is at least Henderson’s equal at pass blocking right now, at that is with three years less experience and a DII background.

Bruce Cambell is equally intriguing in this manner. He could be a great pulling guard, but his body says OT. Right now he is backing up at RG, but the day could soon come that he is a part of the right side rotation.

The key is getting both of these players up to par at multiple positions. Which is at least a season away. But looking forward to next season:

Base/Run downs:

Henderson, Gallery, Veldheer, Campbell, Walker

Pass Situations

Veldheer, Gallery, Satele, TBD, Campbell

Not a complete picture, but don’t be surprised when you start seeing specialists on the line. And don’t be surprised if the substitutions become more frequent in Oakland as the season progresses.

3 – Raiders Busting out all over

Some Raiders that have had the bust lable attached to them seem to be coming into their own.

Darren McFadden has looked like an NFL running back two weeks in a row. His vision is still questionable, and he takes too long to get up to top speed. But he is finally running hard and not falling at 1st contact. A huge improvement.

Darrius Hayward-Bey is catching balls, not the deep home-run ball we all hoped for. But he seems to be running better routs and getting open. And when the quarterback hits him in stride, the next hit isn’t the ball meeting the ground.

Stanford Routt only took five seasons, but he is playing well at the target corner across from Asomugha. Sure he isn’t perfect, but he looks like a player (and ignore those who claim he got burnt on that long Tennessee TD, that was a zone and he was the only one who recognized the coverage bust, that is why he was the only guy near the ball).

Michael Huff has looked like a decent safety so far this season. The preseason looked like more of the same, but I can’t fault a safety who is repeatedly the 1st guy to the running back after the front 7 falls flat on their face. Decent isn’t all-pro, but if the front 7 can continue to apply pressure, he could shed the Fluff label.

4 – Gradkowski just gets it done

But there is more to it than the team getting a spark from Grads. The playcalling was appreciably different with Grads, shorter routs, more timing, more taking what was there than trying to force things.

So what is the difference, I think it is the coaches putting too much stock into what they see in practice. I think Campbell is much more confident with that Red Jersey on, and who wouldn’t be behind Oakland’s O-line. That goes to shit once the real bullets start flying.

Gradkowski is equally limited in practice and in the game. Meaning that the gameplan based on what he shows in practice matches what he produces Sunday. It isn’t pretty, but it is effective.

5 – Get healthy soon

Gallery, Bush, Seymore and Schilens all should be major contributors to this team. And if the Raiders want to have any hope of 8-8 they need to be on the field. The Raiders stand a chance without them against a pathetic Arizona squad this week. But need at least Gallery and Seymore back to have a prayer against Houston.