The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Crossfit in the Crossfire

I have been been fishing in Youtube, looking for ideas for outdoor workouts, now that the weather is warming up. I already mentioned Coach Tara and Primal Nature Play, both of which have given me tons of ideas. But I also stumbled upon Crossfit and the numerous videos that their affiliates have posted of workouts, both indoors and outdoors. Here are 2 examples:

(Notice the kids in the video-- I love it!)

On Sunday I went to the track which is adjacent to the playground with a bunch of toys and played/worked out. I bearwalked the length of the football field (100 yards) and that totally kicked my ass. Who would have thought that bearwalking would be so challenging! It looks so damn easy. And burpees with broad jumps-- yikes! I lunge walked with the overhead PVC pipe. My 11+ pound medicine ball inside a tote bag became a kettlebell for swings. I also made a suspension trainer, hung that up, and did some upper body work. I never got to the sledgehammer. Yes, I actually bought an 8 pound sledgehammer.

Anyway, when I got home, I picked up the newspaper and came across this article about Crossfit. The author depicts Crossfit as a cult, almost a religion. I was prompted to visit their website and do some of my own investigating. Although I don't think I am ready to abandon my current approach to fitness, I agree with much of their philosophy and I LOVE their video library! So I will probably continue to incorporate some of their workouts and ideas into what I am doing.

On Monday morning, I was REALLY sore. It's probably a good thing I never took out the sledgehammer. Next time! And I still plan on making a slosh pipe.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tales of the Medicine Ball

I made a medicine ball. There are some old soccer balls in the garage. I invested $5 in a 50 pound bag of sand. I cut a small V into a #4 soccer ball with an exacto knife, stuck a kitchen funnel in the resultant hole and filled the ball with sand. This actually took a long time because the sand wasn’t completely dry so it didn’t flow right down the funnel. I had to use a chopstick to coax and push the sand into the ball. Then I patched the hole using a standard bike tube patch kit and wrapped some duct tape around the ball passing over the patch. When I picked up the ball, my first impression was, “damn this thing is heavy.” It weighs in at 11.5 pounds!!! That’s about double what I was hoping for. I’m sure I will find ways to use it and torture myself, but I am already thinking of ways to make a lighter medicine ball. Buy one? what fun is that! I have a smaller soccer ball, and I was thinking of using rice instead of sand, or maybe lentils (I’m not kidding, lentils may be less dense than rice and sloshing lentils might give it a nice sound), but how do you get lentils down a funnel (ANS: get a bigger funnel).

Yesterday was an indoor workout day and I made sure I included various medicine ball play (4 or 6 pounders). I watched a whole bunch of videos on youtube and I spent 15 or 20 minutes doing a bunch of different exercises and movements, whatever I remembered and seemed to be working, nothing specific. It was actually fun to “go with the flow” instead of doing 10 of this and 12 of that. As a result, I am a little bit sore today in a lot of different places, including my abs and other small muscles all around my core.

In the meantime I have roughly 40 pounds of sand in the garage which I can donate to a neighbor’s kid’s sandbox, but not before I make some sandbags.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Creative Outdoor Fitness

Four ideas/events have come into my field of view and converged.
1) Spring ahead. Changing the clocks means an extra hour of daylight in the evening. The vernal equinox is fast approaching. The great outdoors beckons.
2) This article on the Core Performance website. The fitness industry is running out of new ideas and new equipment to keep us in the gym. If you want to be healthy, stop looking for magic pills or magic toys and start looking inside yourself.
3) These 2 blogs, Coach Tara and Primal Nature Play, which teach the value of movement in the natural world. Wherever you are, be there and have fun. These coaches share their ideas on outdoor activities that promote fitness, fun, and a healthy lifestyle. Use whatever equipment is available—the slope of the terrain, playground equipment, stairs, or invest in some inexpensive even homemade equipment.
4) Parkour is the urban equivalent of primal play. This is a little extreme for me, but the principle is the same. You don’t need stairmasters and treadmills and Nautilus machines. A little creativity can go a long way toward creating a healthy lifestyle.

I am psyched to get outside and play and have some new adventures in fitness. I want to take my DIY Bootcamp to another level. I usually do this workout at the high school track which is adjacent to the elementary school. Playground!! There is a playground right next to the track. Duh! I’m also going to make a field trip to Home Depot. I want a slosh pipe! If you take a shorter and smaller diameter PVC pipe and fill it with sand, that might make a nice body bar. And while we’re talking sand, there are some soccer balls in the garage that are starting to look like medicine balls to me. Sandbags, hmmmm, how much does a gallon sized Ziploc bag of sand weigh and how many will fit in a small duffle bag. Ever watch rhythmic gymnastics? The sticks with long ribbons attached—how hard can it be to make one of those?

When I told my son I wanted to make a slosh pipe, he was quite horrified. He would be embarrassed if any of his friends saw me walking around carrying a giant slosh pipe. He would prefer that I stayed within the lines, like the walking talking mommies. Well, that’s his problem (if I do see any of his friends, I plan on challenging them to carry the slosh pipe!).

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Slow and Proud

My swimming has improved about 6 million percent since joining the Masters Swim Team 2 months ago. When I started, I could barely swim 50 yards without sucking wind. Today I swam 1 mile. I swam real slow and I may have stopped for a few seconds here and there, but I swam a mile. I am very proud of myself.

When I started, it wasn't my intent to swim a mile. I finally felt like I was swimming well enough that it was time for some benchmarks. I timed myself. I was brave enough to document my slowness. First I timed myself swimming 100 yards freestyle, then 100 yards breast stroke, then 100 yards freestyle again. It was slow, but it was beautiful: 2:38. Then I decided to time myself swimming 1/3 mile, which is the distance in the sprint tri. So I slowed down (if you can believe it). It took me just over 18 minutes. I loved every lap. I found my beautiful inner slow rhythm and it was easy. By now I had covered 1000 yards, and I figured why stop now. The beautiful slow strokes just kept pouring out of me, and I was even making turns off the wall (not flip turns, open turns). Something clicked and I was swimming like a fish! I felt my core rotating, my arms piercing the water, my shoulders pushing forward, and my 3 count rhythm driving the whole process. Swimming slowly made the whole experience more vivid. I swam 1 mile today, slowly and with pride.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Green Button Failure

I had dinner with my girlfriends to celebrate Nancy's 50th birthday. She chose a restaurant in the chichi mall. I drove up to the entrance to the parking garage and pushed the big green button to get a parking ticket. No ticket. Push big green button again, still not ticket. So I pushed the little green button on the callbox, no response. I spent the next 60 seconds pushing buttons despite it being painfully obvious that I was not going to gain entrance to the parking garage. By this time, someone had pulled up behind me, so I had to get out of my car to play charades to get this lady to back up so I could back up and choose another entrance to the parking structure. This time pushing the big green button produced a parking ticket, the bar went up and I was admitted to the inner sanctum.

After spending some quality time with my girls (good food, martinis, making fun of the waiter, etc), I found my way back to my car drove down the ramp and handed the sacred ticket to the parking attendant. When he gave me my change, he asked me a question, with a strong Jamaican accent.

I heard him ask me, "Did you have trouble parking your car?" I felt so vindicated, at last this man was acknowledging my plight, how something as simple as parking my car had made me feel so vulnerable, like a pawn in the game of life!

"As a matter of fact, I did have trouble parking my car!" I then launched into a narrative of my ordeal, with all the gory details. Arlo Guthrie would have been proud of me, even though I left out the part about the 8x10 color glossy photos with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one. When I had finished my sad story, it occurred to me to ask him, "How did you know I had trouble parking my car?"

"Lady, I asked you if you know the results of the Ohio vote!"

WTF? How did I hear "Did you have trouble parking your car" from "Do you know who won the Ohio vote?" The Jamaican parking attendant had a wonderful sense of humor and we spent the next few minutes laughing at my wacky ears. When I told him that I didn't know anything about the Ohio vote, he was appalled! "What? How can you not know about this, don't you live in America?" When I provided clarification, that I knew there was a primary and that it was do or die for Hillary, but I did not yet know the results of the "Ohio vote," he was relieved. "Good, I can accept this." I was permitted to exit the parking garage and once again live and work in America.

When I told son #2 about my encounter with the Jamaican parking attendant, he said, "Mom, he thinks you're a total suburban airhead bimbo." Well, maybe, but my theory is that the parking attendant is a federal agent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and I passed the citizenship renewal pop quiz.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cold Skills Including Plunging

Yesterday I went for a club ride. It was billed as a training ride for slower riders who want to improve their skills and hopefully their speed as well. The plan is to ride the same route on 4 Sundays in March, to learn to handle certain challenges with greater confidence, strength and skill. The ride was 22 miles, 11 miles up to Swan’s Deli and then back. It was cold when we started, but we were all dressed for it, and no one was complaining about being cold once we got moving. It was a beautiful day, and riding your bike when there is snow on the ground is a great experience.

The first skill we learned was how over-inflating your tires is bad. Pat got to learn how to change a flat before we even got started. In fact, she learned how to change front and rear tires before the ride was over. Then we practiced some more mundane skills, like how to navigate through several lanes of traffic safely, obeying traffic signals, downshifting and using all your gears when climbing.

When we got to Swan’s deli, we purchased some hot beverages and Jill really needed a bathroom. There is a big sign that says the bathroom is not for public use, but Jill threatened to pee on their floor, so they let her use the bathroom. Well, if Jill can use the bathroom, then so can Alan, Pat, Mable, John and finally me. When I finally got in there, I realized that the toilet was stuffed up and on the brink of flooding. And there was a plunger in the corner, suggesting that this is a common occurrence for this toilet, so wanting to a) be a good citizen and b) be able to return to Swan’s deli and use their toilet on subsequent Sundays, I engaged my plunging skills. Now I have better than average plunging skills, having practiced a considerable amount on one of the toilets at home. But alas, I was not able to unclog the toilet, so I had to tell the staff that the toilet was hopelessly clogged (but it wasn’t my fault) and that my noble attempts to dislodge the clogging wad of whatever had failed. They were not happy, so next Sunday we will have to find another venue for Jill to pee. Jill suggested that I put on my balaclava and helmet and return to the toilet and hoist the plunger again so she could take some photos. I thought this was a fantastic idea and was willing to comply, but at that point they weren’t letting us anywhere near their elite bathroom, especially since we were laughing so hard.

Just for the record, Panera's has great toilets.