Thursday, February 27, 2014

"It's Not You; It's Me" or "One Day's Wins"

"Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten." - Lilo and Stitch
There was an unexpected outcry from my Facebook followers regarding my recent decision to suspend my involvement (at least for the immediately foreseeable future) with all of the mom/foster/adoption groups I was part of. It surprised me that people even bothered noticing my absence since I rarely had anything of value to share on those fronts, other than the run down of mostly delays and disappointments. We had about a month of progress that didn't require me making a daily pain of myself to some agency or other, but now we're at a place where there is literally nothing I can do to fix this, make it go faster, or, even make it happen at all this year.

Many people have been very kind and understanding. They've reached out with all the 'right things' to say. Some have shared their own stories of 'waiting' for matches and what not. If you're one of those people, my mind hears what you're saying, but my heart isn't in a place to handle your sympathy right now. I am generally grateful for the support and the nuggets of wisdom wrapped in familiar verbiage.

Never fear - I know you're just a message away if I need you.

Since so many people posted their support privately and otherwise, I decided perhaps a short explanation is on order. And here it is.

It's not you. It's me.

I'm in a situation where there is no solution except for time. As we've been disappointed time and time again during this process, my bar is set really freakin' low right now.

Here's the trick - It's not your job to raise that bar. In fact, pretty pretty pretty please don't! I've been playing the domestic adoption game for nearly 3 years now. I was 'supposed to' have had a family 2 years ago... then last year... now this year... I've played this game already, and it's just better for me if I keep the bar about 2 inches above the ground, rather than even begin to pretend I see an end in sight. This 'miscarriage' is a bit different in that My Sailor and I are battling it all individually, with little to no contact at all. What contact we do have, I can't share bad news in, so everything is sugar coated and wrapped up with a pretty little bow, if he gets to know about it at all. Rehashing things over and over and over isn't going to help me to stop dwelling on something I can't change and move forward in other areas of my life. Trust me, there is venting (which I've done) and dwelling (which I am in danger of doing).

Tomorrow I'm going to finish building the overdue trundle bed in the spare room, slide it under the bottom bunk, straighten up the room, and nail the door shut so that Odin can't get in there to prophetically poop on the carpet anymore. 

And that will be that for the foreseeable future all on the kid front.

I removed myself from the Facebook groups because there is no need to keep poking the bruise that is my family life with the stick that is Facebook. Everyone deserve to enjoy their Facebook experience. That includes those with great news about their kiddos, and those like me who need to redirect their energies elsewhere. It may not seem 'fair', but from where I stand, it makes perfect sense.

Today, I wasted no time in beginning the process of redirecting all of that energy that is now free from the process of phone calls, worry, and family building.

I started counting my wins.
Win - I bought that t-shirt over 2 years ago as a "goal" shirt for my weight loss. It NEVER fit. Now, it fits with a knit layer underneath!
And since people tend to find what they are looking for, I actually found a lot! They were little things,  like finishing an estimated 8 minute work out in just under 7 minutes, lifting 100lbs from the floor to my shoulders 4 times, working until 1am without falling asleep at the keyboard, booking my flight to Florida for the Expedition Everest 5k and finding out that that whole trip will be MUCH less expensive than I anticipated, I got the Progressive Snap Shot thing working in My Sailor's car, and I got a better deal than I expected on Chia seeds at CostCo. Oh, and, yet again, it was a BEAUTIFUL sunny day in the WA.

It's easy to feed the beast of negativity some times. It only needs 1 big thing to live off of. The other beast feeds of all the other charmed little things going on in my life.

I have plenty of coping mechanisms. I can only hope and have faith that My Sailor is making peace in his own way (if he knows about any of this). Poor guy is stuck in a metal tube on a boat where a large number of his shipmates are new fathers themselves...

SO - this is the final word on the adoption topic for now.  I'm going to resurrect an old segment - Win of the Week will be coming on Friday! I wonder what will make the cut....

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"At Least It Was A Beautiful Day" or "Proof My Dogs Are Psychic"

Soaking up the balcony view...
Today, I had a pretty decent run. Today, I was very productive at work - more productive than I've been in a while. Today, I made an awesome spinach salad. Today, I had a little hot chocolate.

And today I cried... more than I have in a long time....

You see, dear readers (ye brave, ye few), my dogs are psychic.

Yup. Both of them.

In picking dogs, I have the best karma in the world, apparently.

See, about 6 months before my divorce, Clydas - my almost-never-destructive Boxer dog - got a hold of my wedding tape (you know, back when they were on VHS and were recorded on actual tape) and destroyed it.  He knew that relationship was ending, even though I didn't want to see it at the time.

Odin has since picked up the mantle.

For the past 3 days, Odin has been sneaking off to poop in the center of the floor in of the kid(s)'s room. Every... single... day.... even if I took him outside and he pooped a few minutes before. He'd save it until I was behind a closed door (in the bathroom or something) and sneak into the room. He even opened the door to the kid(s)'s room on his own... and pooped. I never caught him in the act, but there is no missing Great Pyreneese "accidents".  They are pretty much the size of Clydas' head entirely.  He'd 'ground' himself immediately afterwards by going in his crate.

Odin knew that something was about to take a giant crap over our plans for a family by summer time.

I could launch into some huge tirade about paperwork and agencies and government and what not, but it's honestly too confusing for the layman to follow and frankly, I'm exhausted.

I can sum it up by saying this:
We overshot on thinking our last vacation was our last trip without kids.
We overshot by daydreaming about My Sailor coming off his submarine to a great-big-little-person hug.  He'll only get a strong wife hug.
We overshot by thinking we wouldn't go into year 3 of our adoption process. It very well may take a miracle to meet our kid(s) by August.  A recent snag has thrown our timing off in a big way, and no, there is no way around it, and no, it can't be fixed.

Apparently it's easier and quicker to get cleared to play with nuclear weapons than it is to get cleared to play with kids...that's an interesting commentary about our society right there, isn't it.

On the upside:
The construction to the house 'should' be done by the time we meet them (or we'll have some other situation hammered out).
I will be able to book my upcoming trip to Florida without having to worry about the kid situation (extra tickets, etc.).
In fact, we may even figure out an international vacation here to distract from all of this - and it's cheaper for 2 plane tickets than 3 or 4.

I have some great friends in the foster/adoption world that are trying to be comforting, but honestly, all I want to do is exhaust my body until I'm too tired to keep my eyes open, and let time pass. The only solution to any of this is time. It's made me do a lot of soul searching and face up to a lot of the things I wanted. A lot of the tears were over things I wanted that are impossible right now.

Here's the thing about adopting older kids -
We know they are already born. We're not adopting an infant. We're not even cleared for kids younger than 4 years old. So I know they are out there right now. It's like having a child in the hospital and looking at them behind the nursery glass. You just want to bring them home, get to know them, and be a family.

Only in this case, 99% of the kids in Foster care are there due to neglect and abuse.

So, imagine that window is frosted - so you can't quite make out the physical features of your kiddo, but you're sure he/she is on the other side.

Now, imagine you hear your kid screaming and crying from neglect and abuse.

Yet, you're just on the other side of that seemingly impenetrable glass.

And you'll stay there for months, or in our case years while someone is hurting kids that are destined to be yours...all the while you're kids are wondering if someone out there really loves them...

That's what it feels like to be trapped in this ever present cycle of paperwork and detours.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Big Bad Battle with Buearocracy

I find myself long past due to update the blog and a lot to say.

For right now, let's talk about the adoption stuff. I'm sure it'll give me PLENTY of fodder for my lifting tomorrow and Saturday.

With the home study turned in and passing all the appropriate channels at the agency, I contacted our licensing worker to find out how far along our clearances were coming. (You see, we have to get a background check for each of us for every state we've ever lived in. For me, that includes Washington and California. For My Sailor, that list is longer. Washington and Michigan are the big ones. He grew up in Michigan and we now reside in Washington. But his time in the Navy took him to Illinois, Connecticut, and Georgia as well- though all of those were less than a year, and he was under close supervision by the Navy during those times.) 

To my surprise, she had no updates for me.

This is a problem, because we're 1 week out from when social worker for the kid we're interested in needs our home study signed, sealed, and delivered. It can't be sent without these clearances attached.  These were supposed to be in process while we were doing all of the other things...

I was even more confused because I had already been sent a letter by WA stating that My Sailor's fingerprints had been processed and his background check for WA was complete. Yet the agency hadn't heard this news. So I communicated it to them, and then got curious and started making some other phone calls to the other states in question that the agency hadn't heard from.

To my surprise, Michigan had never received our request. The fax number at the top of the request form was wrong. As a stroke of good luck, I got to speak with the woman who actually does all the background checks herself, and she can turn it around in 1-2 business days, if I can fax her the request.  (Even luckier, I had a copy of the request to send, so that's being faxed over to her first thing in the morning.)

The other offices were closed, so I'll have to call them tomorrow to follow up.

And to think... if I hadn't decided to go rogue and make that 1 phone call to Michigan, we might be waiting weeks/months for someone to figure out that they had the wrong fax number...

I worked with our home study worker, who is working with our placement worker to try to coral everyone back onto the same page. Everyone has been very nice, but it looks like I have a few more days back to the great push.

Kids languish in foster care because of these little honest mistakes.

It's heartbreaking to consider.

I realized I am faced with a choice: I can "What if" myself to death about it ("What if I'd followed up sooner?!" "What if I'd not just sat back for 1 week while the figured things out?!" "What if we don't get our home study in on time for this kid?" "What if we DO and I meet the kid and it's someone who IS NOT for us?!") There are a LOT of "What ifs" involved.

I can either make myself crazy with a million points of self defeating conjecture, or I can apply what I've learned in life (and, yes, in the gym) and do what I can, and let the rest go, choosing to believe that it will all pan out for the best.

I'm choosing the latter.

I'll still make a bunch of phone calls. I'll still do all I can do to make sure the reason isn't because it was on some one's desk.

This process really teaches you to advocate for your family before you even have them. Before you even know what they look like, you become a crusader. It's a powerful lesson - and no doubt one we'll put to good use later in life.

But everything really DOES happen for a reason.
And things generally really DO work out for the best.

Sometimes, it takes a little faith, trust, pixie dust, and elbow grease.... and a really persistent parent.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

Before all of the Facebook complaints about Valentine's Day start rolling in, I figured I might as well lay down my 2-cents about it now. That is the upside to having a blog.

Amelia Island, E-shoot, Feb 2011
It's really easy to complain about our significant others. Trust me. It's even easier when you're a military spouse and they aren't around to defend themselves. What they do for us that is wrong or what they don't do for us... No matter how deeply we respect our significant other, it's really easy to fall into the rut of flaw finding. Women are especially good at this, but men are far  from immune as well.

As for My Sailor and I, aren't terribly good at the 'usual' romantic couple stuff. (My ex-husband I were great at it - so that's not necessarily a measure of a 'strong' relationship.)  In fact, we're not good at celebrating holidays together. It's practically a talent. We don't have much practice, thanks to the Navy, but when we do get it right - we get it right in a big way.

We're really good at adventuring together.

Hiking in Bremerton

Rooting for his home team in our new home, Seattle

Road Tripping it up the California Coast Line

Spending Easter at the Snoqualmie Falls

Taking in Michigan on a trip to his home state

Checking out the Space Needle
And the Highland Games...
One thing we are especially good at it is being on each other's team. Even when we didn't agree with each other as friends, we were always on each other's team. It's a skill that is hard for some people, but seems to come fairly naturally to us.  No matter the odds. It's just been 'a given' that we are each other's #1 fan, but we take it a step further. He knows how to actively support me - and it's something I've learned from him. There is a difference between being someone's #1 fan (standing on the sidelines with a camera) and being part of the their success or failure (whichever the case may be).  Even if it's a 1 person event, it still feels like a team sport.

My First Mud Run, The Extreme Mud Run 2011

My First Indoor Climbing experience...
Obviously NOT his first....

My First Strongman competition - He came back unexpectedly early from Finding Nemo and spent the night before the competition making a t-shirt with a photo with me on it, and a quote about courage on it.
He buys me crazy fun stuff to wear to the gym...

And signs us up for indoor soccer so I can become even more awesome...
He's also the reason behind this massive fluffer being part of our family.
Now, I could get nitpicky for all the things we couldn't get right. Like, sure, he took me to Disney World (with the help of my family) and proposed to me on my birthday - but every birthday since he's either missed or complained all the way through. I've missed an anniversary. He's missed a 2 Valentine's days, 1 Christmas, 1 Thanksgiving, 2 New Years, 2 Halloweens, and most recently, this -

First Crossfit Competition

 But for all of the things we get wrong, I think we get the best stuff - the most important stuff - right -

So Facebook fans (and other readers, ye brave, ye few), before you point out how the loves in your life have failed you - maybe take a few moments to realize how they haven't - whether they be near or far, present or past. And if there is a future love to consider - well, thank them ahead of time. I'm sure they'll get something right too - even if they haven't met you yet.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Life's Most Valuable Commodity

So where have I been lately?

Lately, my life has revolved around adoption paperwork, work, training at the gym, and household chores.

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks to say the least.

I am happy to report that our homestudy appears to be DONE and FINALLY in the hands of the people that need it. That frees my days up, so I'm not running around to fax this, copy that, get this record from that office, etc. It's been a full 2 weeks of running around, doing everything I possibly can to see if this specific waiting kid is 'our son'. See, he's older than we anticipated starting out at, but we have a lot in common that could make bonding easier (Disney, soccer, other athletics, superheros, etc). But at the same time, he's in a different state (which can make it longer/harder to finalize and visit), and there may be lots of reasons why it's better for him to find a home in his home state. And there is always the chance that our clearances won't get done in time, and we'll miss out on this kid and someone else is destined to be in our family. While I'm cautiously optomistic, it sure makes it hard to plan for anything.

So that said, I'm flying solo and making plans for myself, reworking some budgeting things and finding new and fun things to explore. I'm working on finding the balance of having some 'down time' for me. It's easy for me to over-book myself. (Remember that "time management" goal? I'm still working on that one.)  I haven't been able to write anything other than a few emails to My Sailor lately (and oodles of adoption fill-in-the-blank questions), yet all I want to do lately is get lost in the world of Ashta and the Shadowcare clan. Ironically enough, Ashta's 'race' are called Balance Keepers, and here I am, struggling to balance my own world a bit.

As I walked (or shuffled) into the grocery store today (you know - the shuffle everyone wearing a pair of Ugg boots is required to do) to stock up on some cold remedies, I realized that I'm a pretty lucky girl. I mean, sure I stress out over silly things from time to time, but I live a pretty charmed life.  I took a look at how I've been spending the most valuable commodity any one has in life (time) and I'm pretty happy with 85% of it.  The physical changes from spending time in the gym have been amazing. Just the other day I set a new personal record for squat cleans (100lbs) and split jerks (100lbs). It's been a good investment. I also am becoming more confident and I seem to be getting better in a group setting as well - something that's always been a little challenging for those non-social butterfly. I really had to challenge my social ablities over the years, and it's been working. I may still be a wallflower at times, I'm much more comfortable meeting people now.

I also have a job. While it doesn't leave the impact I want to leave on the world, it does allow me to do other fun things - like training and the occasional travel.

I have 2 of the best snuggle buddies anyone could ask for.

And, sure, I may fly solo from time to time, but I get to be married to a guy that Really, truly, actually loves me. Someone who proves all the time that he wants to be in a relationship with me, no matter the distance. It seems that everyday the military Facebook pages are FLOODED with people looking for support in snooping through their significant other's phone or emails... I learned a long time ago that if I feel like I need to snoop, trust is already deeply damaged. We operate on full access around here, but we don't ever need to use it because we genuinely tell each other the truth. There's no need to snoop when you don't already suspect someone of being less than honest.

There is only 1 commodity in this life that we all have. It's a limited quantity and, once spent, you can never earn it back.

And that's time.

While I'm glad I'm spending my time on things I find worth the expenditure, I do look forward to paring down my schedule and spending more time with Ashta, Silent, and TheMist very very soon.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Vital Stats, "Then" And "Nows",Q&A, and Conclusions - Trainaversary Wrap Up 2014 (3/3)

I asked my Facebook friends to ask me anything they want about my year in training. Nothing was off limits.

To my surprise (and slight shock), I have a very respectful group of friends online. It was really fun to see what was submitted, so let's get down to business, shall we?

What is the thing you learned about yourself in the gym that seems to translate most into your life outside of the gym?

Giving up is for people who don't want it badly enough. It's something I knew before going to the gym, but seeing the actual results in what I can do now vs what I could do when I started is a constant reminder that I am capable of reaching any goal, as long as I want it badly enough not to give up.

An 'honorable mention' would be a phrase I find myself repeating often lately - You'll only be good at the things you do. You'll never be good at the things you don't. It's easy to write something off (in life or in the gym) as "something I don't do". While it's okay to have limits, the question is "Why don't you do those things?" After all, you'll never know if you're good at something until you, well, do it.

If you've tried other fitness/diet programs in the past - what made this past year successful and a sustainable lifestyle change compared to the other times?

I had this really long response to this question, but I'll give you the short, clear version.
I dieted because I HATED my body. I wanted it to shrink, change and disappear. I didn't care about 'fitness'. I cared about 'weight'.
I work out and eat clean because I LOVE my body. I love discovering what it can do now that it couldn't do a year ago. 
See the difference?

For me - I needed to throw away the scale, basically.  I let that piece of machinery dictate my mood (and even self worth) for far too long. I tried it ALL folks. I tried Hydroxycut, Metabolife, Medifast, (twice), Medifast (three times),, (three times), Slimfast (on and off for 4 years), Special K diet... I tried it all. As a woman, it's natural for 'weight' to fluctuate up to 5lbs depending on the time of the month. As a woman with a hormonal disorder, it's not unusual to see that number go up to 7-8lbs. When the name of the game is 'weight loss', that's an easy game to lose.

When the name of the game is fitness and overall health, that's a much  more open playing field.

What gets you motivated to work out when it seems there's more important things to do?
Are you ready for me to sound horribly unfriendly?

I'm completely selfish about it. If I'm not healthy, I can't be an effective friend, blogger, employee, writer, daughter, sister, wife, lover, dog owner, fill-in-the-label-here. For me, I had to change working out from being "optional" to something of the same importance as my job.  Now, that doesn't mean it's 'work'. It's actually pretty fun, and something you can get people involved with. Going for a walk instead of going for coffee. Running 5ks with friends and family. Training for events together. Cheering each other on at events. Joining a soccer team. And honestly, personal training is not the cheapest way to go. To work it in, I made changes in the budget. Sure, I go out less, but I also haven't even had a cold in a year... I mean - I went from someone who was considered immunosupressed and getting a yearly shingles break out, to not catching more than a passing sniffle of what the rest of the area was suffering with. Even when I was supporting my family through my father's passing, I worked out daily. I waited until they went to bed and did body weight things. Sure - I could have passed on it, but it's probably the world's best anti-anxiety/anti-depressant.

Once in the groove, all of the positive side effects keep me from dreading it and have me looking forward to it.
What has been the hardest part about staying dedicated?

There were 3 tough things to get past. #1 was throwing what I 'thought' I knew about my body out the window. I 'thought' I was 'supposed' to be a certain size, weight, etc. Turns out I'm just supposed to be as healthy as I can be. That's it. Simple, yet with all the media constantly bombarding images and ideals of what is 'healthy' on us, it was rough!

#2 was often justifying the investment to myself. I mentioned before, going this route isn't the cheapest way to do things. So I had to prioritize and switch up my budget.  For example, I don't get my nails done at a spa. I dine out a LOT less. I go clothes shopping a LOT less. I don't go out for coffee EVERY DAY (like most Washington folks). I cut corners in one place to invest in myself in this place. But ya know, I don't regret a single penny of it.

#3 was making it a priority while on the road. And I don't just mean the work outs. Changing over to a Paleo style diet doesn't make dining out easy. That said, I've had many pleasant surprise experiences, and I've always found something I can order on a menu. (Lucky for me, I really like salads!)

What's your favorite Disney music to play during a workout? (You do play Disney music during your workouts.....right?)  When I'm not working out with Trainer Guy, I do often play music."Let it Go" from Frozen,  "For the First Time in Forever" from Frozen, "Go the Distance" from Hercules, "Around the River Bend" from Pocahontas, and just about anything on Window To The Magic Podcast.  I also listen to the occasional audio book or talk-radio style podcasts, like /Filmcast (because I love to disagree with them), WDWRadio, The Dis Unplugged, Underground Wellness, Creating a Family, and Inside the Magic. Okay! Enough Q&A!


Height: 5'7-8"

Fastest Mile to date: 8:57 seconds

Max Deadlift: 285lbs (135% of body weight)
Max Bench Press: 115lbs (55% of body weight)
Max Back Squat: 210lbs (100% of body weight)

Fastest Mile Starting Point: Approx 12-13 minutes
Max Lifts when starting: The 45lb bar was heavy!

Oh what a difference 8 pounds makes...

Starting weight: 218 lbs

Current weight: 210 lbs.


The scale is only one of the tiniest tools to measure fitness with. It's been dethroned as the ruler of my mood/self-esteem.

I shot up about 10 pounds when I started working out. I got frustrated, but a few people encouraged me to stay the course, so I did. And now, I don't need their encouragement to stay focused anymore. It payed off in spades. I schedule my work outs before almost anything else in my week. I rarely cancel. I find gyms when I'm traveling to keep up my strength. I lived largely alone, so I had to create my support system (outside of My Sailor, and he's out of communication for a good portion of the year due to deployments).

My hands will never be the same...

But every bump and bruise (and mild concussion) has been worth it along the way.

I've competed in two 5k races this year, each one quicker than the one before. I've done my first Strongman Competition (which I REALLY enjoyed) and my first Crossfit competition (which was a whole new brand of badassery). I have a Power Lifting Competition and my first Disney race on the horizon.

I've done more than I ever anticipated. 

"But J! You haven't lost 'weight'!"

I've lost FAT instead.
  As I get more fit and continue to tweak my intake to include more and more real, whole foods I know changes in the scale come along for the ride. It's a bi-product of feeling awesome.

I'm not a 'body builder'. I'm not a body builder, I just love to lift weights. I'm not  an excellent runner, basketball, or soccer player; I'm just a girl who likes a good game. I'm just (gulp, dare I say it) an athlete.

Truth be told, I secretly have always wanted to be one of those cute little slender girls. I thought I could get there with crash dieting (see above Q&A).

Instead, I'm realizing why they used to call women 'broads'...

And I'm proud to count myself among them.
If this is what 34 looks like on me, I kinda can't wait to see 35...

Monday, February 3, 2014

My First Crossfit Throwdown (Photo/video heavy and LONG)

I'm taking a break from the regularly scheduled blog (the wrap of up the Trainaversary series) to update you on all on the event I did yesterday - My First Throwdown.

To put the entire day into perspective, I can say this -
  When I signed up for the Strongman competition, I'd been training for it for months. I'd been flipping tires and pulling sleds for at least 4-6 weeks prior to that competition.
  For this competition, I'd heard about it a few weeks ago (when the Power Lifting Competition I was planning on doing was canceled). It filled up too quickly for me to get in, with a strict 25 female participant limit, so I figured it was case closed and not ment to be.
  Well, 3 days before the event, someone canceled.
  And Trainer Guy told me about it.
  After our session, I emailed them and was able to snag that last-minute spot.
   As soon as I signed up and read the events, I started to wonder if it shouldn't have been more aptly named a "Throw up" rather than a "Throw down". The lifting events didn't worry me. It was the middle section that I was most anxious about.
  Trainer Guy had a much needed vacation coming up, so prepping for this was pretty much on me. He gave me some good advice and some good strategy for the first event. After that, I had to ride out my anxiety.
  I'll be honest - I almost backed out. The second event seemed too scary and there was a lift in the 3rd event I've never done, and I was getting a tickle in my throat. In fact, I hadn't slept more than 4-5 hours in a stretch any day that week, in attempts to balance adoption stuff, deployment stuff, work stuff, house stuff, and training stuff. But most of all, looking at the list, the 3 things I thought I couldn't do stood out more than anything.

 Despite the fact that I could do everything else, I was almost beaten by the fear of the thing. 
  This was a highly coveted spot and here I was, ready to Voluntarily give it up because, frankly, I WAS SCARED. Scared that I'd embarrass myself. Scared that I'd hurt myself. Scared that I was WAY out of my league here. Scared that, if I did hurt myself, I'd be screwed since I'd be flying solo to this one.

Then I reminded myself that courage isn't skipping ignorantly into the future. Courage comes from facing what scares us, and doing it anyway.

So that's what I did - I did it anyway.

The night before, I scheduled a celebration at a local (largely gluten free and amazing) Tapas lounge and I invited some friends to come to the after party. I also welcomed them to come to the competition as well (though I doubted anyone would be up for it).

So fast forward a bit and I walked into a Crossfit box (aka gym) for the very first time.  It was an intimidating experience. I followed what looked like a line of people and made my way in.  I signed a waiver and chit-chatted with my fellow "athletes". Just being called an "athlete" in this context made me feel like they must have been referring to someone else. After all, I don't do these things... do I?

I asked questions of those around me regarding the equipment, since I'm not used to working with such different bars and bumper weights. It felt as though I was an astronaut that had just landed on some alien planet. I gleened what knowledge I could from others, and was relieved to know that one of the events I was worried about ran a little differently than I anticipated.

Sunshine and The Lady in Grey showed up just as my heat was about to begin. It was a relief to have someone to take photos and just be there. I was the only person not representing a Crossfit Box, so I didn't have a "gym" I was representing and a team of coaches right behind me.

So when they called my heat, I met my judge and got ready for the event.

"Pulling, Pulling, Pulling"
Move as much cumulative weight as possible in:
:45 Snatch
:45 rest or add weight to bar
1:30 Clean & jerk
1:30 rest or add weight to bar
2:00 Deadlift

The goal of this event wasn't do to 1 really heavy lift. It was to lift as many pounds as possible, during the above referenced forms.These forms I knew. Weight lifting I am pretty confident in -especially since I had a pair of near personal records on my week Monday and Wednesday. That said, I was still sore from Wednesday's record setting lift.

When I tried this sequence in the gym at the YCMA, I lifted heavier and lifted 4580 pounds within the time and forms allowed.

When I went into the competition, I aimed for lighter and faster.

I dislike lifting with anything on my shoulders...
It paid off.

This time, I scored 7202 pounds moved within the time and forms allowed. My back was feeling the pain from the previous one rep max, and I was afraid I was going to hurt something, but toughing it out helped.

Here are a few snap shots Sunshine caught from that event -
Snatches - each from the ground up, for 45 seconds. My weight was 55lbs.

Triple Extension in motion!

Overhead lock out, complete with Game Face

Clean and Jerks -
 Added 10lbs to the bar bringing it to 65lbs.
  Clean and jerks are a lifts from the ground to the shoulders and then powerfully overhead using speed to bounce the bar up and get under it. They allowed Push Jerk and Split Jerks (among others). The Push Jerk saw me through until I started to get tired. Then I opted for the Split Jerk because I knew my next lifts would be much heavier. My goal was to save some energy in the tank for the final lifts - which is one of my best.

Clean - floor to 'rack' (shoulders)

Mid-step finishing up a split jerk.
Deadlifts -

 Deadlifts are from the ground to mid-thigh, and back down.  All the photos are of finishing positions.

Added 95 pounds to the bar, bringing the total weight of it up to 160lbs. This was obviously the right move. I think I got a little over 40 of these out in 2 minutes. I took one rest of about 4-5 seconds during this LONG set.

I had none of my usual problems in the gym with this. No slipping grip (though my hands were on fire afterwards). No pacing issues. My judge was great as well. He coached me on in all the right places, counted off my reps when he was surprised with me, and helped me get through.

I was shocked when they announced that I'd made 3rd place in this event!  I prefer not to look at people while I'm lifting, so I pick a spot on the wall some distance away and go at it as if no one is there. When I'm looking down, that's usually a sign that I'm tired.(I'm learning to work on this.)

The announcer asked what crossfit I was from. No one in the community had recognized me. I was laughing out loud when I came back with, "I'm not from a box!"

He asked, "Where do you work out?"

My answer was honest. "The YMCA!"

The murmurs of shock were pretty funny. 

Suddenly, I was a contender in this group of (what I considered) elite (or at least higher level than me) athletes.

I had no illusions of greatness though. The next event was going to test my medal. My goal was simply to survive. Once I heard they capped it at 15 minutes, my goal was to get to the run.

"The Gauntlet"
750m Row
60 Lunges
45 Kettlebell swings (35#)
30 Burpee box jumps (16")
Bumper plate run (25#)

What scared me about this one was the 60 lunges in a row and the 30 burpee box jumps in a row. Any of those things broken up, I've done. Just never in such large chunks all at once. 60 lunges is A LOT! 30 burpees is A LOT. Burpee box jumps?! Yikes!

During the competition, they did lower the kettle bell weight to 26lbs. That worked in my favor. I wasn't too worried about the 35lbs, but the decrease in weight would let me save strength for the burpee box jumps. 

Then I learned that ALL of the athletes were doing step ups instead of box jumps. It saves energy and is faster.

That was a huge relief.

They also announced a 13 minute cap. This wasn't a good thing. I was pretty sure I could do it in 15 minutes or less, but 13 minutes?

My strategy was to treat the row as warm up, take it easy on the lunges, make up time on the swings, and stay steady during the burpee box jumps. Then lay that 25lb on my back and get as deep into the run as possible.
So, off I went.

Rowing -

Lunges -

26 lb Kettle Bell Swings -

Getting it vertical

Straight Back to avoid injury

Bowing to the power of the mighty Burpee Box Jump - 

I don't have photos of the last bit. After I finished these, I grabbed that plate on the ground on the other side of the box and took off out those double doors wide open in the back before time was called.

I'm just proud I made it to the run. I'm completely satisfied. I mean, I could kick myself over stopping to breath for a few seconds here or there, but I did the best I could in the moment with what I had. As a side note - by this time, the cold (or exhaustion) was getting the better of me. By the time I got done with the lunges, all I could think of is that my throat was so dry and raw it felt as though it was going to start bleeding at any moment. Had my throat been cooperating, I'm sure I could have gotten a bit further, but it was what it was and I didn't shy away from anything, despite the lingering anxiety and the scratchy throat.

I placed 22nd/25 in this event, and I'm not really sorry. I do, however, wish I had a better coach/judge. She wasn't very encouraging and rarely sounded confident, which didn't help my flagging energy.

Sunshine was nice enough to dart out and get me a coffee and a protein shake between events. I'm so grateful for my support team. A fellow Navy wife buddy showed up to cheer me on, and the Lady in Grey was there for the first and second event as well. It was amazing to feel the love of friends when my family and My Sailor are so far away.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - find/create a support system. They are integral to success.

Finally - the last event rolled around.

"Foundational Medley"
5 min AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible)
10 Sumo deadlift high pulls (45#)
10 Push press (45#)
10 Front squats (45#)
immediately followed by
2 min of Double unders

I'd never done a Sumo Deadlift before and my hand positioning got a little off. The bar was so light that I had trouble controlling it off the ground. It got a bit bouncy, which I didn't expect. So my challenge became controlling it, rather than just getting it off the ground.

Sumo Deadlifts getting ready to go -
 Thanks to my training with Trainer Guy, I could strategize this one for myself. I went from a Sumo Deadlift into a Clean to do the Push Press.

Cleaned up to my shoulders and ready for the push press!

Push presses...

To Front Squats, and repeat!

The hardest part of this event was the Front Squats. I had just maxed out my back squat 3 days prior, and I was still feeling it - on top of all the other events of the day... but the volunteer admiring it from behind leads me to believe that I still got it... that, and the fact that I made it through almost 4 rounds.
The Double Unders I just don't quite have yet, I can get a few, but I was really tired by this point and, well, tired people make mistakes. Lots of them. My judge on this one also was no real help. During the double unders, he got very distracted and kept looking away. In fact, in the video, you see me trying to get his attention...He didn't count any of those as double unders because he didn't see them. I see 2. It doesn't make a big difference in my overall score, so it really isn't worth lodging a complaint about.

It's a good lesson in competition. A lot of these things depend on the people who do are judging them.

Overall, it's was totally worth it. Two Crossfit Boxes are now interested in me going to them, so I have a couple of free workouts to try out and see who I like better.  Lifting is still my strongest suit, and I'm very happy with that. I didn't end up placing in the top three. I think I landed around 9th overall or so. I got a tiny taste of what it's like to be a Crossfit competitor... and I might just be a little bit hooked.

This is going to be a great year for trying new competitions and getting some street cred. I can tell.