Thursday, May 17, 2012

On the rise

Exciting news from different areas of the country lately to share, the largest being that the Pittsburgh Passion, host of this year's WFA National Championship, will be playing at Heinz Field. The story mentions that the effort is partly because of the recent focus on Title IX's 40th birthday; a recent stat I saw said that in 1972, only one of 25 girls played sports and now it's one in three.

It's a good indicator of progress, though for me I'd rather see things like this, an article promoting football tryouts for both boys and girls in Kansas.

It's the first such article I've ever seen to openly promote the game to both genders, yet with so much focus lately on concussions, it seems that now more than ever the gates of access might be open to continue growing the sport.

The CDC has partnered with USA Football on an initiative to help combat this problem, one I think starts at a very young age - with kids often playing on teams coached by parents, not being properly fitted for equipment or taught about what's important in their equipment, and by the lack of certified athletic trainers to help them if they are hurt (especially to recognize the symptoms).

Like many problems, the sport will benefit from additional knowledge about concussions and hopefully there will be fewer traumatic brain injuries because of studies published like these in the NYT and Washington Post.

I was happy to hear our referees during the spring game that this year's GHSA rules change will include a mandatory play out of the game for any athlete whose helmet comes off during play and an immediate, mandatory stoppage of play if a running back's helmet comes off at any time.

The reality is that kids all across the country are still fighting to stay in games, practices or keep their starting positions and will do what it takes. One of my 2014's was dealing with trying to come back after a moderate concussion last week - and no matter what we tell them, our actions are most important.

We have to keep them as safe as we can because their future lives are much more important than one win on one day. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Weathering life's furry whirlwind

The spring came in like a lion, and left with Journey.

Rewind two weeks to the start of spring football (more on that later) and to the end of our road with the biggest baby I've ever met. I returned from Houston for work and Josh from a wedding in South Carolina to find Ms. J fragile and unable to walk. The next week was spent at the Eastside Animal Hospital - with a brief back-and-forth-field trip. 

There wasn't much upside to the week which included a giant bill (though substantially smaller than expected), test after test with few answers, a dog blood transfusion from Rex (resident "willing" donor) and heartbreak in eventually having to make a difficult decision to end Journey's life. The great part was meeting a team of people who perform their jobs with love, which we were comforted by during and after we said goodbye.

Journey was a modern story of a girl found on Craigslist by an unlikely pair, still grieving from the loss of Brutus (April 22, 2009). She wasn't well-heeled or bred, but she had tremendous upside. I had every intention of returning Journey to Lisa for training about a month after she arrived to the gas station near our house filthy, with nothing - no collar, leash, food, bowls, bed, toys. But despite the problems - she couldn't walk on a leash, she chewed the baseboard in the laundry room and she ate everything in sight - we couldn't give up on her.

After two days in Ohio with Lisa, our dog broker / family-by-choice in Ohio who can show a dog expectations and love, I drove back with a different dog. I also saw some of Brutus' character in Journey and that brought a certain comfort in remembering our big man. 

Over time, we've enjoyed Journey and it was incredibly sad to see her go, six days and three years from Brutus. She taught us a lot of things, namely to believe. She wasn't the kind of dog we usually got from Lisa (i.e.: perfectly trained, well-bred), but she deserved the life she came to have - with challenges like jumping 5+ feet to get into the compost pile for a "snack," and all.

Journey taught us to believe in people - the doctors, staff, techs - we all were rooting for her to get better and we trusted them to help us do that. Her case mystified the doctors and scores of tests, x-rays, labs, ultrasounds and a lymph aspiration didn't tell us her underlying story. Though our team wasn't able to fix the problem, in her sickness, she showed us her strength. Even at the end, she jumped up to greet us, wiggled her nub, stalked after stray cats and gave us relief from our despair. 

Her death was peaceful - with her life she taught us to experience the joy of a pet again. Brutus was a very special dog, but Journey will be with us always in other ways. When we're ready, the fat paws of a Rott will again roam our halls and we have her to thank for that.

The house is still somewhat full with our kids,  Clever (the 11-year-old-but-you'd-never-know-it) Border Collie and Wheldon (the #Tot I've referred to on Twitter) AKA Smelly because of the number of baths required to keep him from being that way. His favorite pastime is running, playing and flopping on the grass and chewing on a ball, toy or the downspout tray which draws rainwater away from your house - both of which he's collected into his "fort" which is mostly made of the sticks he's made his job to gather from the yard. 

I don't think Clever has time to miss Journey with Smelly chasing her around and taking her tennis balls and/or favorite spot on the couch. Overall, I'd say we were hanging in there as best as we all can.

This is part of how I'll remember Journey, our patient anchor in believing: 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nine weeks later ...

Technically the photo above is from week 8 - which included a self-imposed physical challenge. I had tire flips as part of my routine and as often is the case, decided I should test my limits.

The workout was a 25-20-15-10-5 ordeal, so during the 25 flips, I questioned my original motives, but there is an insane satisfaction in doing the unimaginable. The structure of the workout provides no desire to quit as the hard part is already finished. So I flipped. And as I flipped I decided I needed more info.

"Steve, how much do you think this weighs?" I called out across the gym.

"Not sure, hun," in a way only Steve can say to all his clients - regardless of age or sex - without being patronizing in the slightest.

So onto the bathroom scale we rolled this monster on top and got a reading of about 170 pounds. Quite honestly, I wasn't sure I could flip the tire at all. Doing it was an amazing high.

Yesterday marked nine weeks of training at PowerThru. Next weekend (end of week 10) is my Dirty Girl race, a 5K with obstacle course and all the women from the gym will participate on a muddy course.

Week 9 kicked off with a monster workout: 21, 15, 9 of Power Clean to Squat + Pullups followed up sets of 20 sledgehammers + 20 squats + 5 pushups. I did nine rounds of the three (in 20 minutes) and made this interaction:

Visualize me slamming a 12-pound sledgehammer full force over my head onto the above tire (which is laying flat). I am sweating profusely and making awful faces. Slightly behind and to my right is a larger, middle-aged guy working on med ball slams (but without any lower body action).

Guy: "Don't take this the wrong way, but I think you're doing that better than any woman I've ever seen."
Me: "Thanks."
Me-In-My-Mind: "I would totally decimate you too."

The good news: There's not much you can't get worked out hauling a sledgehammer into a tractor tire (especially with almost 200 reps).

I think I was a little bitter too because during my golf lesson in the afternoon - instructor John told me I looked like a girl during my swing change. That pissed me off - but I was making pretty rainbows with my 8-iron by the end. My work-friend Scott told me yesterday that I'd be sore from golf. I scoffed.

This morning, Steve and I cranked out four rounds of this beast:
15 plank rows (row with cords while in a plank position on one hand) + 20 B2B squats + 15 burpees + 10 high pulls (like a power clean without the flip, and higher) + 15 3-count squats with 25 pounds + 50 jacks

Nine weeks later, I'm not sore. I am ready for another workout tomorrow morning. And I still love it all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Five weeks down & feeling like a newbie

I told Steve to quit going easy on me because of the difficulty of the two workouts I did Monday and Tuesday.

I think the reality is that he's just been making me work harder and I love that.

This is my fifth week training at PowerThru and I absolutely love it more now than ever.

1 round = Tire flip (down / back) with run to store  +  Tire pull on firehose (down / back)  +  10 pushups  +  10 machine row (0 plus machine)  +  ruck run with 30 lbs of sand to the light.

I did four rounds in an hour - and felt like the hunchback of our town running with the ruck.

1 round = 10 handle pushups + 1 minute plank + 20 squats (B2B & regular)  +  10 manmakers (similar to burpees and T-pushup)  +  10 hammer curls (with 20 lb each)  +  wall climb (3x attempts)  +  pullups with bar  + sumo squat (45 lbs)   +   10 DB swing (20).

I broke my 12-year record and threw up for the first time during a workout since 1999 at two-a-day football practice.

I have resolve never to again eat Mexican food (I will miss salsa) and I have learned that my body functions better on morning workouts, which is pretty cool.

1 round: 10 tire step-ups + 10 burpees (repeat 4 times), hauling a 50 pound bucket of rock in a bucket by a rope to the top of the ceiling + 10 pushups (repeat 4 times) + 10 pulldowns + 3 sets of bear crawl down, sprint back (repeat 3 times).

I did two rounds and was nauseous. My shoulders / traps feel like people have been tap dancing up there.

The verdict: Monday and Tuesday rocked my world, today was better but I am feeling strong and I know that is progress.

When it comes to this program, I want to be like Pat Bowlen (we are celebrating Manning-trade-week) who said at one time: "I want to win at everything."

There are a few things that I'll be working on for awhile (pushups, wall climb) but I love this kind of work.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Your trainer is not your therapist.

With yesterday off, I elected to visit Steve a bit later than usual, and in some ways I regretted it. My revelation that I dislike working out with distractions was apparent during my six reps of GI Jane (10 Burpees + 1 bodyweight row after each, 20 situps with 12-lb med ball, 30 bw squats, 4 blocks run).

At the hamster gym, my nerves are frazzled by the zumba ladies shrieking while I'm running 20 feet away, headphones on full blast and I can still hear them. 

At the spartan gym, it's the person who gives not only their life story, but also the stories of anyone who they know anything about. I wonder if it is also a hazard of making your living as a bartender, hair / nail stylist, probate lawyer. 

At any gym, any time, I'd rather not ever talk - I'm there to get in, get challenged and get on with my day. 

It is a contradiction. At the hamster gym, I wear headphones, every day, as loud as possible to not only ignore other people and try to achieve focus, but to drown out my internal voice which is usually crying "ow! so. tired. please stop! running isn't fun!" and other such distractions. I suppose I should thank the loud zumba ladies - they actually got me mad enough to make real progress and find Steve.

I rarely ever wear headphones. Now I can hear myself breathe, hear the tire clang down, feel the beat of the sledgehammer, and take part in any random joke someone happens to throw out there - like why in the world people think about getting glute implants. That has most definitely never happened in my brain.

So I guess my deal is this: I'm there to work, not to talk, not to whine, not to drown out my inner voice (which has been mostly absent the past three weeks = good riddance), not to chit-chat and not to listen to other conversations. I guess I like the quiet to focus on my reps, my personal bests, my new favorite challenges and my body getting stronger. 

Today my therapy was five rounds of: 20 tire flips + 20 sledgehammer (12-lb.) + 10 push + 10 sumo squat (50-lb.) + 50 jacks / 30 burpees (got 15, switched) + 10 pull-ups (or downs as it mostly was) + 10 sprints.  

Therapy resumes tomorrow at 5:30 a.m. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Is getting ripped worth it?

I read this funny posting about fitness philosophy.

My favorite line was the one about letting your inner fat kid out... I have to battle mine daily. After two weeks of hitting the morning workouts hard and trying to eat cleaner, things are going well.

Yesterday's workout was a 17-rep descending set of (DB swing with 20 & 20 DBs, squats, pushups and jacks). After I got to 1 rep, I made it back up to 10, and traded squats for situps for variety.

Today's workout was a good combination of pressure (30 minutes) and the challenge to beat 34 reps. I turned in 25 reps of this: 10 pushups, 10 squats, 10 rows and 10 jacks. I did some very ugly pushups at the end, but I had a focus the past two days that was awesome.

In my personal battle for getting ripped, I think it's worth it. My fat kid still loves cake, but I like muscle strength more.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Coaching myself through it.

I like to think I'm a pretty good mentor and coach. 

For all the days I feel pretty good about, I suppose there are at least the same number of inconclusive results. There are platitudes to help with this, spun by famous coaches and motivators. I'm not sure if the real reason we are drawn to them is because we, ourselves, are discouraged but I suspect that was part of the reason this morning: 

“Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it." - Vince Lombardi

Of course, that's not to say that I don't completely love this quote, or believe it, but it's hard to keep grinding when you have no focus. 

I'm focused on the 2012 Get-in-Shape-by-Physical-Torture-Routine. I suppose I could go work out only three or four days each week and "orchestrate" some sort of "other" routine, but I know I won't. This is the reason I keep taking my lunch of random vegetables lacking taste and/or enjoyment. This is why I don't want to drive through town and why in some ways, I'm not that mad to be feeding myself dinner this week. I can have something simple, quick and with no requirements. I went to bed last night at 8:30.

Still, I lack the critical focus I need while pulling off tough workouts. Dragging in the trash can tonight I realized that my back hasn't felt tight for at least six months in the muscles I could feel today. My guess: flipping a tire solved that problem..

Today's workout wasn't too hard: 40 jacks + 20 med balls slams + 20 wall balls + 20 side lunges + run to light. However: 

1. I'm pretty sure that I did four rounds, but it might be five. If it was, I don't feel good about it. 
2. My legs felt like straight concrete when I was "running" - I think one trip to the light actually resembled the definition of the word.
3. My shoulder was clicking during slams. That's weird. And makes me feel old.
4. I cannot form a thought that doesn't include this sentence ... "Damn, this workout really SUCKS" most days. But then, most days I like that part.
5. I keep getting up later in the morning, and I need to get to work earlier. A paradigm, indeed.

And finally, it irks me to hear people talk about some genius idea they came up with while running, or some multi-million dollar project that they figured out while simply performing bicep curls. That's a joke. 

If I could completely clear my mind tomorrow - not think about the things that hurt or how much I hate insert-name-of-crazy-exercise-here or worry about what I forgot to do at work and just focus on the task at hand, I'd be happy. We'll see what happens.