Sunday, October 12, 2014

Road to Recovery

While I was looking forward to fun workouts and down time, dealing with a hip injury has lessened the restoration and enjoyment that I normally experience in the off season. It's no fun not being able to squat! This has also been a challenging mental test for me. I spent the entire summer trying to "tough out" this injury and do all that I could to compete at the Games. My mental gas tank is low and I know it. I struggle to muster the strength to keep my mind in the right place so that I can tackle rehab and, again, do everything in my power to get well. The last couple of months, I have either ignored the fact that I need to pursue treatment or been busy traveling and incapable of receiving treatment. And now here I am in October... Time ticking away. My hip still hurts when I squat past parallel and lunge but it has made quite a bit of improvement. After many discussions with doctors, coaches, and people that have actually had this injury, I've decided that I want to avoid surgery. So, I start prolotherapy treatment next week. I have heard some really awesome stories about it and am excited to finally be actively taking steps towards recovery. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Not Ideal Beginning

“How does your hip feel, “ asked Dr. Tabor as I nervously answered my phone a few minutes before I had to coach my Fundamentals class at CrossFit Chickasaw. “It hurts just like it did before Games,” I replied, “the cortisone has definitely worn off.”

All I wanted was to hear the results of my MRI. I wasn’t sure why he was asking how it felt. Maybe he was just being polite, but I felt impatient and just wanted to bluntly just ask, “Is it torn?” It hurts. It always hurts. That fact hasn’t changed since Regionals, despite every treatment effort. Let’s just chalk that emotion up to the frustration of injury.

Dr: “Well, your labrum is torn.”

MK: “How bad?”

Dr: “It’s clearly torn.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The 2014 CrossFit Games: Looking Back (Part6)

Sunday’s Events

The final day of the CrossFit Games is kind of bittersweet. Your body and mind are totally drained, but you don’t want the experience to end. One of my fellow competitors announced, “final day, ladies” and it hit me. This is it. This could possibly be the last time I am fortunate enough to step out on this stage. While I have no plans on choosing another path anytime soon, I know that another appearance is far from certain. You never know what the next year will hold. Above all else, I am proud that I can appreciate the beauty of the gifts and opportunities I’ve been given. You better believe I appreciated every moment, even those damn lunges…

Midline March

A punch in the kidney by Mike Tyson may have been a more pleasant experience than the three rounds of 25 GHD situps, 50ft. handstand walk, and 50ft. overhead walking lunges with 115lb. A lunge without any weight hurt my hip pretty badly. I winced at the though of holding that heavy barbell overhead and attempting to descend to the ground. At this point, the range of motion in my hip was terrible. The surrounding soft tissue had tightened up like I’ve never experienced before. I don’t think I could actually open it up all the way. To add icing to this pain cake, Dave announced that the handstand walk had to be done unbroken. Immediately my mind started worrying about not breaking the walk and naively dismissed the fear of the lunges. I guess it was good to have that mental distraction from my hip.

As the event began, I calmly completed the 25 GHD situps and took my time before kicking up to the handstand. I think everyone in my heat attacked the handstand walk immediately. I just chilled for a second, knowing that I shouldn’t attempt it until there was zero dizziness and I had collected myself. My strategy worked! I actually went unbroken on all three handstand walks! It was a little nerve wracking to walk through the divots in the grass but it didn’t prove to be a problem.

And the lunges… I clean and jerked the weight up. Snatching seemed out of the question at the moment. I tightened my core and gave it go. I could barely get my right knee to the ground. I felt a slight shift and quite a bit of pain but it seemed to work. I got about a third of the way through my first 50ft. and had to drop the bar. It was then I knew that this was going to be a grueling fight between what my body wanted to do and what I wanted my body to do. The weight of the bar crushed me. My shoulders were smoked and my right leg kept failing when it was the trail leg. When the right leg was the lead leg, it still hurt but at least I didn’t collapse like it did when it was behind.

I managed to make it through the situps, handstand walk, and a couple steps of the lunge in the third round before time expired, giving me a tie for 21st in the event. I was happy that I made it as far as I did and that I didn’t place too poorly in the event.

Sunday Afternoon in the Tennis Stadium

I have been here before. I have also been cut before, left to watch the final from the stands. Again, an example of the special moments I take in.

Thick ‘N Quick

More heavy-ass squats! Crap! Hip don’t fail me now.

The super high rope climbs with thick ropes were definitely a fun little twist. Given the 165lb. barbell that awaited me, I didn’t rush though the climbs too quickly. Climbing with my legs was a nice little change of pace from Regionals as well. On my third climb, for some reason (a momentary brain fart), I hit one of the inside beams that were just as high as the side beam we were supposed to hit at the top of the rope. I descended a couple of feet with a weird feeling about getting no-repped and decided to peek down at my judge for approval. She shook her head pretty forcefully, indicating that my actions were not okay. I laugh as I write this. It reminds me of my mother shaking her head at me for my antics as a kid (and adult). It was if I knew I had done wrong but was hoping that I could get away with it. Busted. So, I climbed back up the couple feet and hit the correct beam before coming down. Whew, I dodged a bullet there! No-repping a rope climb sucks!

I took my sweet time approaching the bar. Three reps were going to be a stretch and I needed to make sure that I was ready to do it. I got the weight locked out overhead and braced myself as I went to squat. My first rep was pretty solid… painful but solid. I started to shake on my second rep as I was coming up from the bottom and didn’t show control at the top for a no rep. The bar came crashing down. I looked at the clock to find that I had about a minute left to try to get another rep. I stared at the bar for 30 seconds and then failed my power clean attempt to get the bar up. Ha… oh well. I tied for 17th in the event with one more mystery event to go.

Double Grace

When Dave announced that the final event would be Grace, my initial thought was that it was going to be fast and sting a lot, a nasty way to cap off the Games. But, no… With less than a minute before go time, he said we were actually doing Double Grace. My thought was now: that’s really going to sting but let’s do this.

A test of will, as CJ calls it, was exactly what this event was. And, will I have. Plus, I didn’t have to squat! The bar felt so light at first, as I strung five reps touch-and-go. Awesome, only 55 reps to go! At that moment, I realized that connecting reps like that was going to make me crash and burn. The weight started to feel heavy too. So, I went with a fast-single rep strategy. Pick it up. Drop it. Pick it up. Drop it. Just keep picking it up. Simple.

Around rep 30, I heard the announcer saying my name a lot and wondered why. Was I in the lead? Was I close to the lead? I had no idea. I was surprised to find that I started to pull ahead and eventually won my heat.

Afterwards, Elizabeth Akinwale asked me how I broke up my reps. I responded, “5 unbroken then 55 singles.” Her response: “Really!?” It was a funny moment as we were directed back under the tennis stadium for holding.

This was the only heat I won and my first piece of hardware I’ve ever earned at the Games. I got third overall in the event which landed me a 12th place overall finish for the 2014 CrossFit Games.

I shared a beer or three in celebration with some of the competitors as we waited for the final heats to finish.  We all laughed and talked about the things we look forward to in the post-Games world that awaited us. For me, some of the things that I look forward to are enjoying some lower key workouts, healing my hip, traveling, playing outside, drinking beer, and moving to Denver.

Quest for 2015 coming soon.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The 2014 CrossFit Games: Looking Back (Part5)

Saturday’s Events

Muscle Up Biathlon

While strategizing how I would break up the muscle ups, CJ asked how many I’ve done unbroken. Unfortunately, I hadn’t tested that in the last three years so I had no idea. I told him that and included the fact that I had done two sets of ten separated by sixty seconds rest a couple weeks prior to Games.  We agreed it was safe to assume that my max number was greater than ten but probably less than eighteen. The game plan devised was as follows:

Set of 18: 12+6
Set of 15: 9+6
Set of 12: 7+5

And… Plan B, the plan that happens when Plan A goes out the window, was initiated during my opening set of muscle ups. At rep six, I knew that hitting another six reps would put me close to failure, so I decided to stay conservative and break after my eighth rep. I realized that since my muscle up sets were going to each be broken into three subsets, my runs needed to be faster. So, I made sure to run a little faster each time. What actually happened was:

Set of 18: 8+6+4
Set of 15: 6+5+4
Set of 12: 5+4+3

I completed all muscle ups but time expired as I ran towards the finish line, tying for 9th in the event.

And now for some wise words…
Moral of the story is that your game plan doesn’t always work out the way you envisioned, but being able to know you ability and adapt to what is happening will allow you to still succeed.

Sprint Carry

This was the most fun of all the events of the 2014 CrossFit Games. It was quick and involved new, odd objects: the rubber logs and magic carpet sandbag.

Side note: The athletes called the sandbag a “magic carpet” since it had straps at each corner, resembling that of a magic carpet. As if we’d actually seen one before… Haha! We hoped we could ride it to the finish line, but unfortunately, it didn’t have that kind of magical power.

Going into this event, I knew that I needed to unleash hell on the carries, but not necessarily the sprints. I wanted to make sure that I had enough gas to complete the carry portion, especially since the weights increased each time. Lucky for me, after the 2013 Games, I purchased one of the logs and used it occasionally which allowed me to be comfortable carrying things and running with them. The log carry ate me alive last year! This time it was different. I ripped all three objects off the ground, probably not in the safest position, and ran like hell with them. I finished a surprising 6th place in the event and couldn’t have been happier with that!

Speed Clean Ladder

Up until this point, I had barely given any thought to my hip, but when Dave Castro viciously announced the speed SQUAT clean ladder, I knew I’d be in trouble. Following the announcement, the athletes watched Demo Team members Stacie Tovar and Jennifer Smith sprint through the five barbells in the blink of an eye. I think my jaw dropped to the floor. They went so fast!

Warming up for the event, I started with an empty bar. No pain. Then to 95lb. No pain. Then to 135lb. FUCK. No other word quite captures how bad that pain was like that one. CJ gave me a look of concern. My response to him was, “This is going to suck. I’m just going to have to deal with it.”

I hit my final warm up at 155lb and called it good. All I wanted to do was clear the ladder within the time cap. I knew it wouldn’t be fast, but I didn’t want to be the poor soul staring at the bar that I couldn’t pick up. I’ve been there before and didn’t want to relive those feelings.

As the go signal sounded, I hurried to the first bar (155lb.) and hit it. That weight hadn’t felt so heavy in a very long time. I let the bar fall and moved through the 160lb and 165lb bars in a kind of quick but controlled way. As I approached the 170lb. bar, I took a deep breath, set, and pulled. I caught the bar out front, which caused even more pain in my hip than catching it in the correct position. I fought to stand up but got it. Whew! I took my time going to the final bar. I had just given close to 100% effort on the last bar and needed a few seconds to recover. All the girls in my heat had finished and all eyes were on me. I can’t fail this now, I thought to myself. I took a huge breath, set, and pulled with all my might. I caught it out front again. Piercing pain radiated through my hip, but I refused to let the bar fall without standing up. My back was rounded and it was about as ugly as ugly gets, but I got it. I rushed to the finish podium under the time cap, getting high fives all around.

I was relieved to have cleared the opening ladder and didn’t dwell on the fact that I finished 37th in the event. I did the best I could and had to accept it. Reflecting back, it is a little bit discouraging to have made so much progress with my strength over the last year and not be able to show that with my performance here. I don’t know that I would have made it to round two with a healthy hip, but I do know that I could have gone faster. Ultimately, I played the hand I was dealt and I dealt with it.

Push Pull

Strict handstand pushups and sled pulls under the tennis stadium lights capped off Saturday’s events. Again, running down the steps, fist bumping all the cheering fans made me feel like a superstar. It will forever be one of my favorite Games memories.

I never had worked on pulling sleds with ropes and I was cut before the final event in the 2011 Games when they introduced the movement. Luckily, I got to watch the first women’s heat on the TVs in the athlete area to pick up on some strategy with the pull: sit on your butt, dig your feet in the sandbag, and pull like hell, using mostly your back. I got this.

Handstand pushups felt strong. I attribute that to all my upper body-only training I was limited to in my Games prep. I went unbroken in the first two sets and broke my final sets into manageable ones, not failing a single rep. The sled drag also went well with the exception of the brain fart I had not unclipping the rope off the first sled. After I came off the wall on my second set of handstand pushups, I turned and looked down my lane and discovered that mine was the only lane without a rope lying across the floor… Shit. I ran to unclip the rope and connect it to the new sled. Whoops! I didn’t forget it again.

This event was so much fun and I was pumped to not have too much trouble with any of the sled weights. I finished 7th in the event and found my family in the stands and waved in excitement. It was awesome!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The 2014 CrossFit Games: Looking Back (Part4)

Friday’s Events

Triple 3

I was excited for Triple 3 event because I knew that I would do well. Coming from a distance running background, I drooled over the three-mile portion. The really cool thing about this event was that the run mattered more than row or double-unders. Well, that’s my opinion anyway. I trailed it solo the week before Games and finished in 39:07. CJ and I agreed that I should go faster come game-time and I did, completing it in 37:39. Motivation and competition create marvelous incentives for me to perform better.

I rowed a comfortable 2:08.5 average 500m pace for the entire 3000m, allowing my double-unders to break as few times as possible. I was relatively fresh for the run and knew I had a lot of ground to make up. Passing competitors fueled more enthusiasm as I ran my little heart out. I was around 30th position starting the first mile and 9th after the first mile. I WISH I had gotten my first mile split! I thought I had hit the start button on my watch but as I peaked down at the first mile marker, all I saw was zeros. So, I hit start, for real, at the beginning of my second mile. After that lap, I looked down and saw 6:40. “Wow, I am cooking,” I proudly thought to myself. I tried to make a move on Janowitz by speeding past her and trying to create as big of a gap as possible but then she reciprocated and buried me. Turns out she has a track background too. Ha! Foucher was in my sights but my mind kept telling me that she was outside of striking distance. Oh, how the mind plays its tricks. Fortunately, a random fan in the crowd yelled at me and said she was only six seconds ahead of me. Now, my head said: Six seconds? I can make up six seconds over the course of a mile. So, I went for it. I caught and passed my fellow and much-respected Central East competitor. As I crossed the finish line, I hit the stop button with 13:40 displayed on my watch. My last two miles were at a 6:50 average. As a “has-been” runner, I will take it! I ended up finishing 5th overall and couldn’t have been happier with the effort. I also couldn’t help but be relieved in not finishing at the bottom. I don’t particularly like getting my ass kicked.

Sleds of Death 1 and 2 (A more appropriate event name, in my opinion)

Want to know the most painful event of the entire 2014 CrossFit Games? It was this one, without a doubt. That 95 pound sled was absolutely brutal to push for 60 yards, let alone, do it again minutes later. My mindset going into this event was to give that sled hell. This was one of the events where I literally slap myself in the face a few times to psych myself up. Heather Welsh knows what I am talking about. Ha!

Ahead of time, I fully accepted that it was going to burn like crazy but knew that I needed to keep my legs moving no matter what type of lactic, quad seizure (exaggeration) I was feeling. Though, I had no idea how bad that would truly feel until it happened. There was one point on Sled (of Death) 2 where I was pushing the sled from my knees. It was moving so I kept going with it for a little bit.

Any way. Any how. I was determined to get that piece of crap across the line.

Afterwards, I couldn’t stand. I wanted to “walk it off” so badly but I simply couldn’t get back on my feet because I was in so much pain. Luckily, it wasn’t hip pain at all. I finished 7th in both.

21-15-9 Complex

Friday night at the tennis stadium is one of the moments that I train for all year long. In fact, the energy and atmosphere give me chills as I type this. Running down the stairs, fist bumping all the fans, and performing under the lights on the biggest stage in CrossFit fires me up like nothing else.

The barbell and pullup bar complex proved to be a really difficult one for me. My bar muscle ups aren’t as efficient as they need to be and it was exposed in this event. The weight on the barbell wasn’t super heavy, but it certainly felt heavy given the sequence of movements. My deadlifts and cleans were fine, but the snatches were ugly. I performed them in singles and utilized the Kinney clean method (when power cleans get heavy, my catching position becomes atrocious) of catching with the widest stance possible. It makes CJ cringe every time. Whoops! It continues to be a work in progress.

At the last station, I knew that finishing inside the time cap was at stake. My right hand felt wetter than my left and in that moment and I remember thinking that was strange. It is kind of crazy the random thoughts that go through my head during the events. I was able to squeak across the finish mat with 15 seconds to spare and 26th place in the event. Gazing at my right hand, I discovered that it had ripped. I never felt the pain in my hand and I don’t recall feeling any hip pain either, for which I was extremely thankful.

Day two was in the books and things looked a little brighter in the Kinney camp.