Sunday, February 28, 2016

Crossfit Games 2016 WOD 16.1

I am so happy about participating in the 2016 CrossFit Games/Open this year for multiple reasons.  

This is the first time I've signed up since 2013 (for various reasons) and this year was finally different.  Our lives have finally fallen into a perfect routine and since October 2015 Dennis and I have been on a mission.  No more dicking around with our goals.  With the year of cardio 2 months in, along with our 4-5 weekly WODs, and with focus on our food, we were finally in a place where we could justify signing up.  (As average athletes mind you, with zero expectations of qualifying at all to regionals).  

I knew that I had a milestone coming up.  I was on the cusp of getting my first pull up(s) and I thought that if one of the Open WODs required them, I maybe would be able to get a few in.  So that was always in the back of my mind. 

This was Hydraulic's 1st ever open!  How cool is that to participate in the box's 1st ever Open?  (ok so we were also at SMCF's 1st Open too, so we've now popped 2 boxes cherries)  Even with only being open since October, we got 20 members signed up and ready to compete.  All ranging in ability, and I knew that almost all of them would surprise themselves on how they did.  

As per usual, the suspense for the 1st workout in the Open was killing me.  The work outs are announced on Thursday evenings and then you have until Monday at 8pm to submit a score.  This goes on for 5 weeks.  There was SO much buzz about what the WOD will be, all I know is that I wanted pull ups and nothing more.  

And then this happened:  

I was totally ok with EVERY part of this, except for the last line.  C'mon man!

The next day was less than fun while my CrossFit friends went back and forth planning, doing research, and exchanging ideas about strategy and things of that nature.  Why?  Because I already knew what my score was going to be.  18.  I'd get 18.  No planning needed.     

Then came the debate about doing it RX'd verses Scaled.  If I did it RX'd I would place higher than every body doing scaled, but my physical workout would be lame.  If I did it Scaled, my ranking would be lower but my workout would be intense.  Since I wasn't a fan of the scaling option in the open to begin with, I treated it like I would have any other time and went for the RX.  

Thank you Adam for Capturing this Extremely Awkward Moment

Dennis was hopeful that I'd get a Chest to Bar, but I told him he was dreaming, but I would try my best.  


The Overhead Lunges were no joke, but completely manageable.  The only really strategy here was not to stop until you got to the end of the 25 feet.  8 bar facing burpees, no real problem there and then boom back to the Overhead Lunges.  

Then to the Chest to Bar Pull ups.  I took my time, gathered all my strength and attempted....and failed.  Tried again, failed.  Repeat that about 8 times until I finally threw in the towel.  The bad news, that ended my 16.1 WOD, but the GOOD news was, in all my attempts trying for a Chest to Bar, I was actually getting REAL PULL UPS!  I lifetime PR for me!

I wish it happened a different way at a different time.  It was so disheartening knowing that I was cranking out pull ups (a goal I had physically written on our goal board and something I'd been chasing over years) was receiving an audible sigh of disappointment from the crowd.  HELLO!  I was getting Pull Ups for the FIRST TIME EVER!  

So when a brush of disappointment, this concludes my 16.1 WOD with a shimmer of excitement declaring that I got my 1st set of pull ups in the open.   

Now that I was done with 16.1 forever (or so I thought), I took the time to really observe how my fellow boxmates were doing, and let me just say I witnessed some pretty amazing stuff.  People who were sick for 2 weeks were cranking out impressive scores, a former Regional Qualifying athlete ripping through the lunges like it was nothing, notorious rushers setting their perfect pace (Shawn), and then there was Dennis.  Ah Dennis, what an interesting breed you are.  

Once all the heats were done a member wanted to do the WOD Scaled for Funsies so I agreed to do it with her.  Not sure if this was smart or stupid but the WOD (even the scaled version) was no joke.  I was happy when the 20 minutes expired, and hopefully we never see this WOD again.  

Back to Dennis:  He's basically his own worst enemy, but I will let him blog from his point of view hopefully this week.  However, I will leave you with this gem of an after picture of him later that day:

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Adventures in Iceland

January of 2016 will forever be remembered as the best month of my (and Dennis') life.  I'm not sure how we pulled it off, but January 1st hit and the stars and moon aligned and the O'Donnell's had things on point.  

We were eating fantastically which was showing both on the scale and via clothes (I dropped 2 pant sizes) in a month.  We were putting in the time to meal prep and stuck to it.  

Our gym routine was damn near perfect.  I would go to the 6am class while Dennis would bring the kids to daycare and meet me at the gym at 730 for us to car pool to work.  We'd work, he'd pick me up at 4:30 from my office and I would drop him off at Hydraulic for the 5:30pm class and while he worked out, I would pick up the kids, get them fed and ready for bed.  Dennis would come home and we'd have dinner all while getting me back to bed at of before 10pm to start it all over again.  

It was a fine tuned machine and I don't think I've worked as hard as I have in January as I have in a very long time.  I didn't want it to end. 

But it did. 

Unfortunately, February has been proving to be one the most challenging months of my (and Dennis') life, but there was one redeeming event: Our Trip to Iceland.  Dennis' Christmas/Valentines Day/Anniversary gift to me was a trip to Iceland, somewhere we've always talked about going to but never pulled the trigger.  We were so excited to visit.  

We departed from Dulles on Wednesday night landing in Reykjavik Thursday morning.  When we landed it was a full out snowstorm so waiting for our bus transfer was, well, interesting.  

We arrived at the hotel but unfortunately our room wasn't ready so we decided to explore the town a little.  Luckily by then, the weather had let up and storm died down and we could finally take in the views.  We were staying at the "harbor" so the below picture is what we saw when we exited the hotel.  

The mountains were breath taking and the fresh coat of snow made everything seem so pure.  I can't even begin to explain how happy I was to be near water.  It's kinda my thing and I've missed it so much.  

Dennis and I walked around taking note of the stores and restaurants (more specifically bars), did some shopping, and just basically took it all in.  When we got back to the hotel our room was ready and Dennis and I were ready for a nap!  Our hotel room was adorable.  We felt like we were living in and Ikea show room. 

After a quick nap, Dennis and I decided to take another walk through the town and then get some dinner.  We wondered through the town and we ended up at a church that you could take an elevator to the top and get an aerial view. 

After our mini tour, we decided to get dinner at a local restaurant that we got on a recommendation from somebody we were hoping to meet while in Iceland.  

Annie Thorisdottir is a 2 times Crossfit Games winner and she happens to live and train in Reykjaik.  Dennis found her on twitter and leading up to our trip had been asking her for food recommendations and saying that we were hoping to see her while we were visiting.  Well, Dennis' twitter game was strong.  She provided us with some fantastic recommendations and would like any of Dennis' tweets when he mentioned us dropping in at her gym.  Our hopes were high that we'd meet her.  

Dinner was amazing (6 courses and took almost 5 hours to consume) and by the time we got back to the hotel we were ready for bed.  The next day we didn't have tours until the night, so we had the whole day to spend exploring.  

One of the odd things about Iceland is that the sun doesn't come up until about 10am!  I felt like I could sleep the entire day, but instead, we decided to walk to the nearest Crossfit, which happened to be 3 miles from our hotel.  

Finally we reached our destination and we were so eager to see if Annie was there.  

Even if she wasnt there I was super excited to get my first International WOD in and for it to be at Crossfit Reykjavik was still pretty cool.  The facility was awesome (Especially the locker rooms) and the gym itself was huge!  Each class was staggered by 20 minutes.  Up to three at a time and then separate sections for gymnastic, weights, and cardio equipment.  

Once Dennis and I were ready to work out, we scanned the area and there she was!  Iceland Annie (and her hot boyfriend).  Dennis seemed a bit star struck so I took the lead.  We walked over to her and I introduced myself.  She was so nice!  She welcomed us to her gym and hoped that we'd like the work out.  She said she had just finished her morning workout and that she was in Iceland for about a month.  

We told her how excited we were to meet her and we gently asked for a picture before she left.  She graciously agreed and even recommended we took it in front of the logo.  She was so sweet, and not to mention stunningly gorgeous in person.  

I cannot tell you how excited I am that we got to meet her!  

After our little meet and greet it was time to actually work out.  Annie and her hot boyfriend left the facility and our class was getting rounded up to start.  Funny thing, nothing was in English.  The coach would give instruction to the class and would quickly translate for us, but we pretty much knew what we were doing.  

After the WOD we cooled down, changed back into normal clothes and then took our time decided what shirt to get from the box.  They don't charge for the work out (which is nice) but they encourage buying something (like a shirt) from them.  Pretty standard Crossfit procedure.  

We started our walk back to the hotel and grabbed lunch at an amazing seafood place.  Then we would be off to the hot springs and Aurora viewing.  

The hot springs were well timed with our 6 mile walk and WOD.  The hot water baths felt amazing, and as I've experienced before, bathing in hot water while it is cold/snowing is such a mind blowing thing for me.  This time being super neat because the hot water was from the earth rather than a man made heater.  I tried to take a few pictures, but because it was at night and it was steamy there wasn't much to photograph.  

After we were done there, our bus took us to a look out where we were hoping to see the Northern Lights.  In order to see them 2 things needed to happen.  1, the sky had to be clear meaning no clouds and 2, we needed some activity to happen for us to see them.  Unfortunately we only had clear skies, but the few that we saw, were pretty neat but it was freaking freezing out and we could only stand outside waiting for so long before we had to go in the bus to warm up.  Oddly enough when we took pictures, the lights showed up as green rather than the white that we were seeing, so I am going to go ahead and claim what you see in the pictures are what we saw in real life. 

You may need to tilt your screen to see the actual photo.

The next morning we had to be up bright (ok not very bright because the sun doesn't come up until 10am) and early for our Glacier Walk and Ice Climbing Tour!  I was apprehensive about this whole thing from the get go, but Dennis seemed excited about it so I took one for the team.  BEST.DECISION.EVER!

The drive out to the glacier was about 2 hours, but it gave us a good chance to see (in daylight vs when we landed in pitch black conditions) the land.  Even with it being winter, it was gorgeous.  Tall mountains, volcanos (including the one that erupted a few years back), waterfalls, and these tiny little farms.  Little to no vegetation, but just simply breath taking.  

We got to where we would begin our hike and again, it was simply amazing to be where we were.  Our first task was to get geared up with crampons, harnesses, helmets, and axes.  I felt so official!

I'm hesitant to even post pictures from this tour because in all honesty they do not capture what we were seeing.  We walked a little to where to snow covered glaciers were and I immediately felt like my life and me as a human was so small and pointless and everything that I had ever stressed about was meaningless compared to these overwhelming views.  But in any case, here are some of the pictures we took:

Once the glacier walk part of the tour was over, we came to the ice wall that we had the option to climb.  I was pretty hesitant to go up the wall, but Dennis convinced me to try after he went.  I ended up doing it and it wasn't as hard as I thought.  Ice Climbing has officially been checked off my "things to do (but didn't really want to do) list."

On the way back, we took a quick stop at a beautiful waterfall.  Only problem was that the walk way to the waterfall was a sheet of ice and people were falling everywhere.  It was kinda funny and challenging at the same time!

Back on the bus we all went and I think all of us dosed off on the way back to the hotel.  Which worked out in our favor because since it was our last night in Iceland, we wanted to bar hop and experience the nightlife.  

Dennis and I quickly got ready for our night out and started with another amazing dinner place (Annie recommended) and then it was to the bars!  

We got in touch with our friend who we met on the plane and she met up with us at the beginning of our crawl.  It's always nice to have new friends on vacation because not to be mean, but when you vacation with 1 person you kinda run out of things to talk to.  Alanna was super nice and sweet and gave us all plenty of talking topics!  

So what we had read was that the bars don't get crowded until midnight, and that was dead on!  We had already been to about three bars before we got to one (with a live band singing American songs!) that was starting to get crowded.  The band was awesome!

Funny side story, Dennis doesn't dance, but I do so I was out dancing and a German guy was dancing with me.  I thought it was just innocent until the dude grabbed my face and started kissing me!  He thought Dennis was my brother.  Unbelievable.  I started feeling ill at the next bar so I left our group and walked back to the hotel.  (Side note, I felt completely safe doing this!).  

Eventually Dennis and Alanna made it back to the hotel with a late night hot dog  for me (that is not a sexual thing, it's an Iceland thing where people get late night drunk hot dogs) and finally to bed.  

We woke up next morning and basically had to pack and head over to the airport to go home.  

The trip was AMAZING and I'm so glad we went.  I 100% want to go back and I would highly recommend anybody to go if they have the chance.  I cannot thank Dennis enough for his kind Christmas/Valentines Days/Anniversary gift, something I will remember always.  


Monday, February 15, 2016

Year of Cardio - Crossfit Hydraulic in House Competition + Karen's 5k

In order to fit our entire Year of Cardio into a year, Dennis and I had one of the most fittest weekends of our lives.  

Dennis ran his 2nd race in the series (an 8k), I ran my 1st race in the series (a 5k), and we had an In House CrossFit Competition all in the same weekend.  

Dennis was completely nuts and did his 8k and then immediately followed by the competition.  My race however was on Sunday. 

The in house competition was a lot of fun and it doesn't hurt that Erin and I came in 1st place in the scaled division.  (Go us!). 

The Erin and Karen Show!

I'm not sure if the WODs were in our favor or that we were "over qualified" for the division, but whatever the case, we had a lot of fun.  

WOD 1, 2, 3:  3 minute AMRAP of Deadlifts, each time the weight increased.  

WOD 4: Clean Ladder.  I failed the last weight (115lbs) which upsets me because I know I can clean it, but oh well.

WOD 5: 12 Minute AMRAP of 10 Wall Balls, 10 Box Jump Overs, 10 KB Swings going up by 10 reps each round.  

The next morning I had my 1st race in my Year of Cardio series.  I was a little nervous because I hadn't been 100% true to my running training.  For whatever odd reason, I LOVE running road races on Superbowl Sundays.  

In 2012 I ran a Superbowl 10k and hit a huge PR!  2013 I signed up for a Superbowl race, but didn't actually go through with it because I simply didn't train.  

This year I have a new claim to fame.  Not only did I run the race, but I actually got 1st place in my age group!  Granted the competition wasn't exactly fierce, it's kinda cool that I finally placed!  

So there you have it, I have officially kicked off the running portion of my Year of Cardio.  My next race is scheduled for Sunday the 13th in Connecticut and is 5 miles (8k).  Now that I am back from Vacation (blog coming soon) I am hoping to get back on my training schedule so I'm well prepared for my upcoming races.