In addition, I've begun an offseason thing called CrossFit. Coincidentally Steve just wrote about some of his experiences with CrossFit. If you don't know what CrossFit is, it's - and I'm a total newbie here so if there's some CrossFit Jedi out there who would take exception with my ordinary explanation, forgive me - short duration, high intensity workouts. The workouts generally require little sophistication in the way of equipment or gadgets - use of the body's weight (squats, pushups, etc.) and natural resistance are paramount. I first heard about it from a client of mine who directed me to the website - he's been doing it for several months now, and I had a hard time picturing it when he told me how some workouts "less than 15 minutes total for the day" were changing his world.
Well as I type this, my very first CrossFit workout just behind me and totaling less than 10 (!) minutes, my arms are all a-quiver for the workout they just had. On paper it doesn't even look that crazy - 21 "swings" with a Kettle Ball. I don't have a Kettle Ball, so I used 20 pound barbells in each hand. By 17 or so I was thinking, "huh, y'know, this really does suck." Then 12 pullups. I can't remember the last time I did a pullup - it was a requirement of some sort, probably in high school.
I did 2.
I don't think of myself as some kind of weakling, either. But holy shit with the pullups. I faked my way through 6, giving myself a little bit of help with my legs (but only a little bit). Then I headed out the door for a .25 mile sprint (which I extended, as planned, to .5).
The object, and quality, of the workout is there's zero rest. So you go from the Kettle Ball swing straight into the pullups straight into the sprint. I felt a little like puking when I finished my half mile sprint and checked my watch. I was shocked to see it at 9-something. I feel a little guilty, actually. Does it even count, even if it was hard - a workout lasting less than 10 minutes? CrossFit is, by nature, variable - some workouts are much more involved, and will last longer - though none more than an hour, I think, including the cardio. So today's was, I think, supposed to be short but intense. The object is a sort of immediate ass kicking. I'll have to find some zen in that to mesh with my "doesn't count 'less I was out there for 3 hours" triathlete mindset. Which will in itself be good for me. But the brief but intense philosophy, combined with more natural "use the body" resistance is right up my offseason alley.
To this point, upon which I Began, I've done just about nothing at all since October 4th. As noted by my absence from class. I've required rest, and I've been requiring of myself the discipline to do it. I cheated once, when it was 70 degrees in November. Then I went for a 5 mile run. Today it wasn't 70 degrees. Today it was 30-something, and we got a furious dusting of snow that stuck to the lawns and made the sidewalks wet. And here's what I was thinking just after 6:30 in darkness, the first advances of winter having breached the line and me running through the seasons once more:
This weekend, my wife and her mother went to an art show. At the Monona Terrace. What? They use that place for something other than Ironman? Hardly seems reasonable. Tonight, I'm running down this street, my endurance shot and my lungs scorching into my skull, the air cold so the back of my head hurts on inhaling it. It's approaching Thanksgiving, and the edges of the lakes are frozen when I drive by.
This is when it happens, I thought. This is when it counts: now, when nobody else cares. When everybody's heads are buzzing with fall-approaching-holiday thoughts, and nature's tendency to wind down another year seems to wind down all of its creatures as well; when one would just as much prefer to sit inside and hibernate all winter and would I like another? Why sure, don't mind if I do, what is that, chocolate chips you say? Brilliant. These days when none of us are thinking of triathlon, when summertime doesn't just seem like another time but another distance entirely away, an epoch ago or to come, when the hallowed ground of Ironman is host to craft shows and the like. When spring comes and it all seems inevitable, then it's easy - when evening shadows cast long as we peddle or push away, and the sun is reluctant to retire and the days feel meant for as much as we can do with it, and we in turn feel guilty if we haven't squeezed every last ounce of daylight to our respective missions. These are not those days. These are dormant days, when the world seems so often grey behind the skeletal trees and empty limbs, when the sun seems bored with having to make even the briefest of appearances before scuttling away as quickly as it can to go spend time in Australia or wherever in space it goes nowadays.
Yet, I appreciate the elegance of synchronicity, the yin and yang of it all, that it is because one is out now - even for just .5 miles, if they mean something, those miles - that those same footfalls, soon to be atop snow and ice, will at some point take him to the corner of Forever and Huge Gatorade Bottle, and turning that corner on a warm or humid or raining or cold early autumn night, the Whole World will await, like he does now, to see if he can become everything he imagines he can.
Hereupon I toss the first coals, in order to stoke the fires once more. The forging begins. It's good to be back.
Monday, November 17, 2008