The injury (#2)

Recovering from an injury sucks. But not listening to your body is even worse.

Let me back up here.

Eight months ago, I tweaked my elbow attempting ropes climbs in a CrossFit competition. At the time, I didn’t quite have the footwork down and ended up using my upper body and sheer thigh grip strength (yeah, it’s a thing) to somehow complete those five rope climbs. Not gonna lie – I was pretty pumped! I had overcome my fear of heights, finished those rope climbs, and took second place in the competition. But a few days later, I had this lingering elbow pain, which I attributed to the rope climbs. Well, it never went away. I stayed away from rope climbs and movements that might irritate my elbow, but otherwise it was business as usual, getting ready for another competition three weeks later. I had massages and was told to rest, but I resisted. Not competing wasn’t an option – it’s what I lived for. Thankfully, the pain subsided during the competition (or rather adrenaline took over), though I noticed my grip strength wasn’t there in my left arm during a deadlift-knees-to-elbow WOD. I pushed all of that behind me after I won my first CrossFit competition. Nothing could stop me now!

I did take it easy after the competition – my body needs more time to recover than most – and then focused most of November on starting the Hatch squat program. But I still did WODs here and there, and was convinced this elbow pain would eventually dissipate. Plus, I had been looking forward to starting an Olympic lifting class twice a week mid-December, and I wasn’t going to let a sore elbow stop me.

The evening of December 2, 2013 was cool and muggy, making the thick air resemble late spring rather than deep in the throes of a Wisconsin winter. So naturally, the WOD included running, along with weighted jumping squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups. I love when WODs include running. For some reason I feel fast, and am usually at the front of the pack. This was no different and I cruised along the first 400m and back in for the set of squats. Almost immediately, I could feel my foot protest in agony. Each squat, I let out a yelp, hoping this would help me to finish the set and mask the growing pain. I did strict chest-to-bar pull-ups using a band and concentrated on what I thought was good form, then flew out the door for the next run. My foot (which was injured over a year prior) felt particularly vulnerable in my New Balance Minimus’ that night and was not happy when I returned for the second set of squats. I can’t recall how many rounds I got or was supposed to get, but I was in pain. That was it, I said, I need to take time off from WODing. My elbow hadn’t even been the catalyst, though it certainly wasn’t feeling 100%, but I knew I needed to rest my arm too.

I continued on with Hatch, though, despite my foot taking quite some time to recover (I was later told that I had probably just severely bruised it, not re-fractured the bone), and I insisted on starting Olympic lifting. During the class, snatching felt fine, but it was the clean and jerk that bothered my elbow, particularly the jerk. While the pain seemed to be localized around my elbow, it also radiated up into my shoulder, under my armpit. I continued to get massages but was frustrated that no matter how much I “rested” or how many massages I received, my elbow didn’t seem to show any signs of improving.

Finally, after two months of pain, I went to see a physical therapist. After much prodding and poking, I received a diagnosis: tendinitis in the shoulder. My elbow hurt because I compensated for the weakness in my shoulder by using my biceps and forearms instead of my scapula. Yet, he didn’t tell me to rest. He told me to take it easy, not do anything that caused pain, and gave me a bunch of exercises. On I marched, determined to be okay to compete in a team competition in mid-February and be completely back in business by the 2014 CrossFit Open.

I snatched, cleaned (sometimes omitted the jerk if my elbow hurt), squat, and did a modified WOD here and there. At my weekly PT appointments, things would get better one week, but then even worse the next. This cycle continued for three months. I honestly felt like I was taking it easy. After awhile, I did no other upper body movements other than the Olympic lifts, and thought this would help. But the pain persisted, and the inflammation in my shoulder refused to subside, so much so that my PT threatened a cortisone shot twice. On the second threatening he told me finally to stop all upper body movements. No barbell work, no dumbbell work, no burpees (DANG.), no deadlifts, nothing. (And so then I proceeded to burn out on squats, but that’s for another day…)

squat

For almost two months, I did nothing but squat, abs, and shoulder rehab. It was so hard to watch others lift, but I knew that after seven months of not seeing any improvement, it was time to completely heed my PT’s advice, or else (literally). In late May, I got the ‘OK’ to start using a dowel, to do banded pull-ups, and push-ups and finally on June 3, I was cleared for all movements!

Since then, I’ve worked from a dowel to a training bar, to a 35-pound bar, and finally to putting some weight on in the past two weeks. And it.feels.so.good. Any WODs that I do are very deliberate and slow, hyper-concentrating on form. I am more aware of my scapular positioning in all movements and continue to strengthen those tiny muscles that were neglected for too long. It has been a long and rough road to recovery, and there is still much to come, but damn, it feels good to lift again.

Moral of the story? Listen to your body. Seriously! Had I stopped and rested when I should have back in October, this process could have been much shorter. Eight months of pain?! Eight months of frustration, and eight months of worrying that I’ll never feel 100% again. I wasted a lot of time and strength resisting rest, and it’s going to be a few more months AT LEAST until I am at the level I was right before the injury happened. Let me tell you, I PR’d my squat a couple of times though. Balance, people! :)

I’m not afraid of rest days anymore. I’m not afraid of eating enough to let my body properly recover, and I take all the steps I can to ensure I can get restful sleep. These are just a few preventative things we can all do, but don’t start until it’s too late!

EDITED TO ADD:

As this post was written back in mid-June, a few things have happened since then of note. I have started the Hatch squat program again and I am working up to 4 WODs a week! I was a last-minute alternate at the BrewCity CrossFit in-house team competition last weekend, and my team ended up winning! (Recap to come!) That was just the boost of confidence I needed after feeling slow and out of shape in recent workouts. I still have a long way to go, but it feels so good to be back at it.

A new beginning

I’ve started and stopped this blog many times before. I wasn’t writing with a purpose, I was just writing. I was unsure of what I wanted in life and my blog reflected that – it was called “Untitled: Forever searching for the perfect title.” Roll your eyes all you want (I know, I know. No excuses, but I always loathed having to put a title to something), but that pretty much sums up how lost I really was.

I’ve been through a lot in the past two years (really the past nine), but I’ve come out feeling more driven, more determined, and more focused on what I want than ever before. Funny how that happens when you’re truly passionate about something.

I’ve blogged about random things in the past – what I ate while trying to clean up my diet, adventures as a newbie in CrossFit, and future plans that were still mostly unknown. That’s all fine and well, except it didn’t even hold my attention, much less gained any readership (not that I was trying).

Yet I don’t like the idea of saying outright, “This blog will be about XYZ,” because that’s too rigid, and it may change as I move from one step to the next on my path to becoming an RD. I know that I enjoy talking about real food, and why we should eat it, about CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting and fueling for those sports, and my journey to grad school. I am not an expert on any of these things, so I suppose this blog will be about working towards that. Let’s see where this takes us…

Back to School, Back to School…

It’s official: I am now a part-time student!

I took the math placement test (finally) and basically bombed it, to be honest. Most of the time I had been studying for college level math, thinking that is what would be on the test. Nope! There were two sections: Elementary Algebra and Arithmetic. Talk about trying to remember the basics! I felt really stupid not knowing some of those questions that should probably be easy. Needless to say, I tested in to Pre-Algebra. Not exactly what I wanted, but now that I think about it, if for some reason I had tested in to Intermediate Algebra I would have been SO lost! This way I can work my way up again, even if it means taking (and paying for) an extra class.

So! I will be taking pre-algebra and Intro to Psychology for the spring semester. The Psychology class will be online so I don’t have to drive out to the school more than once a week. Let me tell you, it feels so good to have something in place, a path to follow, and a goal to reach for.

Switching gears… It has been a month since I’ve been back in the gym full-time. During my lunch hour I get in a good, sweaty incline workout on the treadmill, then head to CrossFit after work (not all days are two-a-days). It has felt SO good to get back in the gym and get in a hard workout! Not to mention doing CrossFit workouts as they are written on the board – no modifying! (Unless there is running involved.)

I got semi-custom inserts for my shoes that I wear everyday to work (even though they make me look like a dork) and that I wear when I run on the treadmill. I have been wearing my Nikes (without the inserts) for CrossFit workouts because they seem to give me better range of motion. My foot has been feeling fine… but I’ve come to realize (with the help of the physical therapist I saw to get my inserts) that it’s my ankle that is now the problem. It is (or was at the point) so much weaker than my left. I just didn’t think of that at all while I was wearing the boot! I was given some exercises to do, which I’ve been forgetting, but I feel that all of the activity I do at the gym and CrossFit aides in strengthening my ankle. Squatting has been hard. I seem to be overcompensating for my weak angle and my form is just atrocious! Which tells you something because I used to have perfect form (if I do say so myself). But, it seems things are looking up because…

Last night we did “Fran.” AND found our 1RM for thrusters. I knew that would happen – he always seems to program thrusters as the strength whenever we do Fran. Ugh.

But! I worked up to 85lbs on my Thruster, which is definitely a PR (I’m not sure I’ve ever found my 1RM before). And I PR’ed on Fran, too! I used 50lbs for the Thrusters (the past two times I’ve done Fran, I’ve used 45lbs) and a blue and skinny red band for pull-ups. I finished in 8:40 which is over two minutes faster than my previous time with more weight! Woohoo! Something must be working…

I plan on hitting the gym today and tomorrow during lunch and hopefully CrossFit both nights too. I heard we are doing another benchmark workout today… I wonder “who” it will be…

Just Google It!

Google is an amazing tool.

Let me back up here.

I was at wit’s end with not being able to make a decision regarding school. I didn’t know who I could talk to about my dilemma — becoming an RD without fully subscribing to what the ADA preaches. Then it dawned on me: maybe I should just Google it.

Duh.

I Google everything. Perhaps this is why I am so indecisive to begin with. I’ll tell you that it certainly doesn’t help. Anyway, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this before.

So I typed in “paleo RD” and found a bunch of different sources. I think just seeing the results page got me excited. There really are others out there who feel just as conflicted as I do! I read through some of the sites and became more and more encouraged.

This made my decision much easier, and finally gave me that push to say “just do it.”

I am going back to school to become a Registered Dietitian. (!!!)

Unfortunately, I still have that math hurdle standing in my way. I still need to take a placement test (in a little over a week!) and hope to God that I pass into something more advanced than elementary math (I’m not joking.) Three years out of college, and probably more than five or six without so much as looking at an algebraic equation will scare the shit out of you. (Or maybe just me.)

The plan is to take the test on Thursday, December 20. I need to study as best as I can beforehand, but it’s hard when all you have is a practice test. I wish they gave you a list of concepts or something to study instead. After round 1 (and not even completing all of the questions) I’m batting 50/50, at best. Not so good.

I think taking an oblivious approach to math is the best way to go about it. If I don’t, I would become extremely discouraged. RD is not all about math. It may be a lot about chemistry, but chemistry is not math. This should be my mantra for the next week (and the following six months…)

Wish me luck!

Better Late Than Never, Part Two

All right, where were we?

This was my view from my post as cashier for the week:

The giant tent was to my right, with the hot air return from the A/C blowing on my face all day… BUT, I was in Hawaii, so I didn’t care. :)

Anyway, we were able to get some time to check out one of the CrossFit gyms on the Island – Big Island CrossFit.

Couldn’t quite get the whole logo with my phone!

Emily took us through a great workout and even scaled it for me since I was still taking it easy post-boot. It was my first time working out at a different box. It was a great experience and I hope to visit more when I get the chance.

Post WOD

Moving along in this very dis-jointed recount of Hawaii…

Sunset the night before the race.

Sad photo of the age-group start. Only about half of the field was out in the water at that point!

Fireman Rob from Madison, WI (woot woot!) finishing just before midnight, decked out in full gear, to raise cancer awareness and as a tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Adriana and I at the after party.

And a few photos of our last hours on the Island…

This was at a very cool state park type area where there were dozens of turtles hanging out in the water. This guy was chilling on the beach. Very cool to be able to get so close!

Oh Hawaii…. It was sort of a bittersweet year. We were very busy with work and work-related commitments and our entire first day was consumed with traveling to the Island (in years past we’ve arrived mid-afternoon). But it’s Hawaii, and I really do love it there. Someday I hope to make it to the other islands and perhaps visit just to… visit.

Until next time, aloha.

Better Late Than Never, Part One

Hawaii has come and gone. I suppose it’s time to do a recap and perhaps start blogging on a more regular basis. (I apologize in advance the sparse and terrible photos. I really tried this time!)

Without further ado…

Our flight left out of Milwaukee around 10:30am on Saturday, October 6, so we had plenty of time to get to the airport. I had learned my lesson in years past and actually packed most of my things Thursday night instead of Friday night to avoid staying up until 2am. Needless to say, it was a relatively stress-free morning on Saturday. After a looong day of travel on Saturday, we arrived in Kona around 8pm local time (around 1am central!) After a quick dinner of fish tacos, we promptly passed out.

Everyday, we woke up to this stunning view:

This was taken from our lanai.

Eventually later in the week we saw our turtle friends again, but unfortunately I never got a photo!

A few mornings we grabbed an açai bowl from Basik just down the street from our condo. They are huge bowls (the small is massive!) of blended açai and fruit, severed with different toppings – granola, more fruit, nuts, seeds, honey… My bowl of choice was the Puna Bowl – “An eclectic blend of açai, hemp milk, & Keahole grown Spirulina.  Toppings include, granola,   strawberries, local banana, organic hemp seed, fresh blueberries & a drizzle of local honey.” So good, and so filling! Yet, all I have to show for it is this shot of the interior of Basik.

Yikes! Terrible iPhone photo…

Sunday we had to run a few errands before set-up on Monday, but we finally found ourselves on the beach that afternoon.

First day on the beach!

Typical beach-day lunch

Poke from Da Poke Shack on Ali’i Drive. So. Good. And so fresh! Now I wish I had taken a shot of the tuna sitting on the cutting board inside the shop! My go-to was the shoyu (soy sauce) poke with seaweed salad and brown rice.  Another very filling and satisfying meal!

I can assure you we feasted on sushi from Wasabi’s on more than one occasion. I am sushi-ed out for a few months now, but it was so worth it. It can’t get any more fresh than right out of the ocean, steps away.

Monday was spent setting up the beast of a tent. It’s a brand new thing for Timex, so it took all day. The finished product sure did make a statement.

Complete with two flat screen TVs streaming past World Championship races and two air conditioners! (Although the A/C didn’t really make a different in that heat with the door wide open!) My post for the week was outside of this tent in another 10×10 tent. I was the cashier and customers would bring their purchase out to me and I’d check them out using Square on an iPad. Very easy and efficient.
Alright, I suppose that is enough for one day. Stay tuned for part two!

My (Non-CrossFit) Goat

While I’m not entirely sure of the direction of this blog yet (and I may never be), I thought my plans for the next few years should be known.

I’ve finally realized what I want to do and have narrowed in where my passion is – food. And not necessarily cooking food (is it okay that I don’t have that passion?) but consuming food, and, especially, how it affects our bodies. So I’ve decided to go back to school to become a Registered Dietitian.

Unfortunately, there is one thing holding me back from completely diving in: math. F’ing math. I.HATE.MATH. Though I guess it’s just like CrossFit: I hate thrusters, but only because they’re my goat. Math is my goat. For some reason, it has always been hard to wrap my head around. This scares me a little because science is often closely related to math and RD = Chemistry.

Anyway, I don’t have the math that I need from my first undergrad, so I have to take a math placement test. In my dreams, I would love to completely test out of math. Like, not have to take a class at all. BUT, that is highly unlikely. And so, I hope to at least test in to the level I was at… 9 years ago (NINE YEARS?!). So instead of starting this semester, I will be studying my butt off to take one test. The goal: to start with at least one or two classes in the spring. One being math, and probably another pre-req that I need but didn’t get in undergrad, like Sociology or Psychology 101. (I chose to take more interesting classes that would satisfy more than just one pre-req, like Social Science and Diversity.)

There are so many things to think about. This degree, if I am able to go full-time, will take me four years to complete. I don’t even want to talk about how old I will be. I’d rather not work a normal job so that I can take as many classes as possible each semester, but right now, that’s just not possible. However, (and this is a subject for another post, but here’s a tease), it would be ideal if I could get my personal training certification AND CrossFit Level 1 Cert and work as both a trainer and CrossFit coach while I go to school. As I said, so much to think about!