Yellow Leaves

Well, first of all, you may have noticed that this site is not any more exciting looking than it ever has been… turns out migrating your site is slightly less straightforward than I thought it would be, which is no surprise since I am a total web beginner. But changes are still in the works, they might just take a little while to get here!

Fall has arrived in full force this week in Colorado. The past few weeks have been a mix of 90-degree days and 60-degree days with summer still holding on for dear life, but this week fall has finally taken over and the highs are all in the low 70’s with rain and yellow leaves everywhere and even some snow on the high peaks. This past weekend we drove for about 2 hours to Granby, which is just outside the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, and went on a gorgeous 7ish-mile hike that followed a creek through some pretty amazing yellow aspens. We even saw a family of moose (from very far away, which is good, because moose scare the crap out of me)!

Progress on my new goals is coming along slowly. I finally (remembered to take a measuring tape with me to the gym so I could measure the jump rope I use and) ordered my very own Rx jump rope, which should be arriving tomorrow, so I’m hoping that my Double Under goal will be met before I know it because now I will be able to practice at home! Also, so far we have been doing well with keeping up to 3-4 WODs per week, plus we did a skiing WOD last Saturday that my butt is STILL sore from.

One thing that I have not-exactly been keeping up with is my diet. In general it hasn’t been too bad–yesterday I had a big piece of fish and half an avocado and some pecans for lunch!–but I may or may not have purchased an entire pumpkin pie at Whole Foods last night. And I’m really not sorry, because pumpkin pie is deeeelicious!

Here are some more photos from our amazing little fall hike. What are some fall treats that you’ve been indulging in with the cooler weather setting in?


That Just Hap-pinned!

Our gym has recently started a funny little thing involving a bowling pin. I have no idea why it’s a bowling pin, but it works. Basically, if you do something awesome, TJ writes your name on the pin and then you get your photo taken with it. Recent additions to the pin include people doing their first muscle-ups, their first Rx’d WOD, or getting a big PR on a lift.

What did I do to get on the pin yesterday morning, you ask? Did I finally get a pull-up or PR on my deadlift? Nope. My official pin caption reads “Rx’d with style.”

The WOD yesterday morning was 100 Double Unders, rest 3 minutes, 21-15-9 Front Squats and Deadlifts at 65#, rest 3 minutes, 100 Double Unders. I loaded my bar with the prescribed weight, but put on a 10# plate and a 5# plate instead of one 15# plate, thinking that I might have to drop some weight mid-WOD but wanted to try to go heavy anyway. I mean, I can definitely deadlift 65# but my Front Squat needs a lot of work. It’s frustrating because I feel like my legs could support way more than that, but my core just isn’t strong enough to give me the stability I need.

About halfway through the WOD, I was doubled-over, staring at my bar, and getting ready to drop the extra 5 lbs, when TJ came over and asked how many reps I had left. I still had to do four reps to finish the second set, then nine more in the next set. “Don’t drop the weight,” TJ said. I would have probably argued if I had had enough energy or capacity for lucid thought to do so, but I was so exhausted that I just listened, picked the bar back up, and kept going–and finished the WOD at the prescribed weight, only my 3rd or 4th that I have ever completed fully prescribed, and I didn’t even finish dead last (mostly due to my unexplainable affinity for Double Unders).

It felt pretty good to have a little boost of¬†Hey, I can do this! built into my first week of charging towards all my new goals. In fact, I might even post-emptively (is that a word?) add “Get on the pin” to my list.

A World of Hurt

Last night’s WOD was not a fun one to come back to after my 6-day break. When I showed up, my friend Whitney (who just joined our gym, woo!) told me she had gotten a text from a friend in an earlier class that read, “You are in for a world of hurt.” Definitely what you want to hear when you show up! The WOD was 10 Turkish Get-Ups, 20 Push-Ups, 30 Pull-Ups, 40 Sit-Ups, 50 Burpees, 40 Sit-Ups, 30 Box Jumps, 20 Push-Ups, 10 Turkish Get-Ups. I finished in 21:05… just over the 21-minute mark, which I seem to do a lot. But I will say that I killed it on the box jumps, only used one band for the pull-ups when six months ago I was using three bands, and felt fairly solid on the Turkish Get-Ups, which I did with a 20# kettlebell. Oh and then we turned around and did the 6:30AM WOD this morning. Hello, welcome back to CrossFit!

More importantly, let’s talk about how great the quote at the top of this post is. Because there are DEFINITELY not enough cowboy astronaut nobel prize-winners. I’m not so sure about the astronaut or the nobel prize-winning part of it, but I know I have definitely always wanted to be a cowboy.

But really, if I could be ANYTHING in the world, I would be a mountaineering guide… or a professional ballet dancer. I bet that first answer doesn’t surprise any of you, but the second one might! I have always wanted to be able to leap and bend and twirl like that… but for right now, I will have to work on being able to touch my toes.

Fill in the blank: If I could wake up tomorrow morning and be anything in the world, I would be…

Some New Goals

On an unrelated note, this is a photo one of my friends took on Mt. Evans after our backpacking trip a few weeks ago… Gorgeous!

Well, here we go. A fresh batch of goals to re-spark my CrossFit motivation. And what do we know about goals? Well, the outdoor educator in me says that goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (woo dorky acronyms!). As such, most of the goals I have come up with in the past few days are super specific and relatively short-term. There are kind of a lot of them, but that’s because many are things I have been doing already and just want to keep doing (like doing 3 WODs per week or progressing with my DUs), or are at least things that I’ve already been working towards (like a pull-up and a 9-minute mile), and many are closely related (for example, if I can get one strict pull-up, a kipping pull-up should be right behind). Not all are directly CrossFit-specific, but they are all related to my physical health, and hopefully they cover some areas that I have been neglecting in the past few months.

Anyway, without further ado:

Claire’s Health & Fitness Goals, Fall 2012
(to be completed by December 31, 2012, unless otherwise noted)
**Denotes Bonus Goal… i.e. potentially unrealistic ūüôā
PS, I am going to post this list as it’s own page¬†(which will also appear in the right sidebar–>), so I can go back and cross out goals as I complete them, and also you can check in on me sometimes, too!

  1. Complete at least three WODs each week
  2. Complete at least one additional skiing-specific WOD each week (can be done at home)
  3. Complete at least two WODs with Thrusters using 65# (currently using 45# or 55#)
  4. Complete at least one WOD with only strict push-ups**
  5. Do one strict pull-up
  6. Do one kipping pull-up
  7. Do one strict ring dip**
  8. Do one strict handstand push-up**
  9. Deadlift 160# (current PR is 145)
  10. Clean & Jerk 100# (current PR is 90)
  11. Bodyweight backsquat**
  12. Run a 9-minute mile
  13. Link 60 DUs (current PR is 43)
  14. Eat 100% Paleo at least 3 days per week
  15. Spend at least two days per week without eating meat, preferably one day with no animal protein at all
  16. Take at least two yoga classes per month
  17. Work on flexibility to be able to consistently touch toes when not warmed up
  18. Work on flexibility to be able to do splits when warmed up**
  19. Read at least three nutrition- or health-related books
  20. Keep a detailed food journal

What do you think? Can one person accomplish all this in 3 and 1/2 months?

For the Ladies

In the past few days I have been thinking a lot about what I want out of CrossFit, and I’ve realized that a lot of my frustration in the past few days has come from feeling like I’m not seeing the physical results that I’ve wanted. Of course, I wouldn’t admit to myself that I’d been expecting any certain physical changes to take place, because that sounds shallow. I shouldn’t be doing CrossFit¬†just because I want a six-pack, or¬†just because I would love for my shoulders to get just a little bit wider so I would stop dropping purses and tank top straps off their narrow, sloping edges.

I want to be the kind of person who¬†doesn’t qualify her body by saying, “I wear a size 26,” but by saying, “I can do Fran unbroken,” or “I just power cleaned more than my bodyweight.” To me, those measurements should be more important than the size of my hips.¬†And yet at the same time, I can’t help but want those cosmetic things too.

I’m sure many of you have seen it already, but yesterday CrossFit HQ posted an awesome video to their YouTube channel about strong women. It totally inspired me to let go of the superficial expectations I’ve been subconsciously imposing on myself.


As women, we want to be strong without giving up our femininity. How weird is it that we feel like we have to pick?

Honeymoon Stage


Everyone knows that in a relationship, the Honey Moon Stage might be the most fun, but ultimately is the least meaningful. Sure, you get butterflies when you’re on your way to hang out, you try really hard to impress the other person all the time, and you might even wear deodorant when you go to see them (wait, are we talking about boys or the gym here?). But ultimately, you don’t learn much about the other person or yourself in that phase, and you can’t stay there forever.

Since last week, when I wrote¬†about feeling like it was time for me to go harder¬†during WODs, I have definitely pushed myself a little more in each WOD–going heavier, longer, or a little faster each time.¬†For example, last night, in honor of 9/11, we did a Hero WOD called “Holleyman,” which is 30 rounds of 5 wall balls, 3 handstand push-ups, and 1 power clean. At the beginning of the WOD I set the goal for myself that I would do every round of wall balls unbroken, and I stuck to it. I also went so heavy on my power cleans that TJ stepped in and took some weight off in the middle of the WOD, and if I bruised like a normal person, my sternum would be totally black and blue (not recommended, and also probably why TJ intervened).

But maybe a few too many meals of grilled-meat-with-the-same-side-of-veggies in the past few weeks have jaded me. Maybe fall is in the air and I am dreaming of pumpkin-ey baked goods and creamy soups and sleeping in through the only-getting-darker mornings instead of waking up for a WOD. I really do feel like in the past few weeks I have finally started to move from being a total CrossFit newbie into the realm of “beginner” and maybe even (VERY) occasionally “beginner/intermediate.” But¬†I think the real reason I am suddenly dragging my feet on the way to CrossFit or lusting over Pinterest recipes for Nutella cookies and Crockpot Mac and Cheese is that this new progression comes with very different challenges. I am not seeing huge leaps and bounds in my abilities like I was when I first started, and even though that’s a sign that many of my basic skills are improving, it also sort of feels like I’m stalling because I haven’t had a big first or gain in a while.

In other words, I think it’s safe to say that the Honeymoon Phase is over.

What do you do when you hit plateaus like this? Is it time to take a week or two away from CrossFit? Or is it time to buckle down and recommit to my goals and maybe stop looking at baked goods on Pinterest?


Editor’s Note: Today I saw a video that turned on a huge lightbulb for me about why CrossFit has been such a great fit in my life, and brought me back to something that I have an extreme passion for. The result¬†is a pretty long post, but it needs to be that way, and I hope you’ll stick it out and read the whole thing.

Two summers ago (and for the first part of last summer), I worked for a non-profit rafting company in Moab, UT called Splore, running river trips for people with disabilities and their families and friends. As it turns out, rafting is totally adaptive–you can bring as much crap as you want, and you don’t have to be able to swim, walk, or even talk in order to do it.¬†If you needed to take 12 medications every day, you just brought them with you; If you were on a liquid diet, we would bring a hand-crank blender; If you had a wheelchair, we would just strap it down and lift you into the raft.

Suddenly, having the ability to go to the bathroom independently or even feed myself took on new meaning as I met more and more people for whom such tasks were impossible. But these folks did the opposite of give up or feel sorry for themselves–they sought out new challenges like whitewater rafting, which is something that even most able-bodied people get nervous about.

Each trip I took with Splore gave me a greater perspective on what it meant to live life to your fullest ability, and that “living life to the fullest” meant something totally different for everyone. I felt very humbled, not by what I lacked, but by what I had.

At the end of my first summer, I was invited on a trip for people with Friederich’s Ataxia, or FA. FA is a rare, genetic, degenerative neuromuscular disease that has no cure and limited treatment options. Most people with FA will end up using a wheelchair and eventually losing the majority of their balance, coordination, and motor skills, and many will die in early- to mid-adulthood from resulting heart complications.¬†And yet the people with FA that I met on that trip, and those who I continue to meet, are the most positive, optimistic, generous, and, most of all, adventurous people I have ever met.¬†The lessons I have learned about physical strength and perceived boundaries in CrossFit, though profound, pale in comparison to the things my friends with FA have taught me about the true spirit of human perseverance.

Within that amazing group of people was a young man named Aaron. The founder of the annual FA rafting trip, Aaron had been going on river trips for over a decade. He had pulled his family into his love for the river so much that his brother, who does not have FA, was in his second season of guiding for Splore. During our trip, Aaron was experiencing the advanced stages of FA–he had been in a wheelchair for years, had very little control of the movement in his arms and legs, and was even having trouble speaking coherently. But he came alive on the river, watching excitedly as we strapped his collapsed wheelchair to the metal raft frame and smiling wildly as we lifted him into the boat. On the final afternoon of our trip, after five exhausting days on the river, we had reached the boat ramp where our trailers waited for us, and began to pack up for the drive back to Moab. We would then be faced with unpacking and cleaning all of the supplies and gear from the past five days–a process known as “de-rigging,” which is basically the last thing anyone wants to do after a week of heavy lifting, rowing through flatwater, and pooping in a shared metal box (oh yeah).

As we finished loading the trucks, Aaron’s nurse called me over to ask if I would wait with him in the outhouse near the parking lot while she went to get a dry change of clothes. As I stood there with Aaron, supporting his shoulders so he didn’t fall off the toilet and thinking about how much I didn’t want to go back and clean out five days’ worth of coolers, dishes, tents full of sand, and boxes full of trash, Aaron started crying. “I would give anything,” he said, “to be able to help you de-rig.”

Even though I did not know Aaron for very long, he made a huge impact on my life. He passed away a few months after our trip, and Brandon and I drove to Colorado from Moab to visit him about a week before he died. We happened to witness the last interaction between him and his brother, the raft guide. His last words to his brother were, “See you on the river.”

I bring up Aaron’s story for two reasons: One, to show you how inspiring the community of people with FA are, and two, to give an incredible example of the impact that adaptive recreation can have on people who are not generally given the opportunity to experience new things.

Today I saw an amazing video of a man with FA who does CrossFit, and I had a lightbulb moment. After a very profound season of being on the “giving” side of adaptive recreation, I realized that I have been experiencing my own version of adaptive recreation with CrossFit.¬†In fact, in almost every way, ALL CrossFit gyms are adaptive. And maybe that’s why I feel so drawn to this community that does not ridicule you for not being able to do something, but that nurtures a desire to push beyond your boundaries, and shares your excitement in even the smallest achievements. A community of people like Aaron, who want to be able to experience all of it: the burpees, the blisters, the sweat running into your eyes–even the part where you clean out a giant box filled with poop.