Posts Tagged ‘senior athletes’

Welcome back to Season Two of It Ain’t Over: A middle-aged mom’s attempt to make it to the CrossFit Games!

We ended Season One in 72nd place – exactly 52 slots away from Carson City. That’s a few slots less than my age, 55. This year I’m changing things up. My training partner, Lynn – a 45-year-old badass firefighter/physical therapist/single-mom – moved back to Australia, her homeland, leaving me wondering what the hell I was going to do to train for the games.Lynn&I

So, this year I decided to put together a team of experts to help me train. I have a coach and a chiropractor. I’m also seeing a PT and a massage therapist.

First, let me introduce you to my coach: Zach Caswell. Zach is my Olympic lifting coach. Why am I focusing on Oly lifting? Oly lifting is exclusively about the snatch and clean and jerk but if you can do these two lifts well, your overhead squats and thrusters will rock and you will vastly improve your balance and strength.

Zach is a former professional rugby player, which explains his total indifference to inflicting pain. He also played college football. He’s this huge bearded mass of muscle and I’m easily old enough to be his mother. But he didn’t laugh when I asked him to train me’ Turns out he’s one of those teddy bear kind of guys. He actually feeds his cats ice cream with a spoon.

MeZachEvery Sunday morning Zach holds an Oly lifting class at CrossFit CityPlace. I attend religiously. It’s like church but with cussing and sweating. After a few classes I concluded that Zach knows his shit and he’s passionate about making athletes who can lift efficiently. In my world, it’s all about efficiency. I may not get a lot stronger at this age but efficient movement will allow me to perform longer and avoid injury. So, Zach’s my man. (more…)


Photo courtesy of

In a stunning display of ageism and ignorance, organizers of the Disney Fit Challenge (Sept. 26 – 28 in Orlando) have created separate age groups within the RX, Scaled and Recreational Divisions but NOT the Masters division.

Although the age groups within each division have not been released, according to the DFC web site, “Divisions have been established allowing for a wide range of physical ability and skill in addition to age groups allowing competitors to see how they place not only within a division but also within their respective age group.”

Except for Masters athletes.

The Masters division begins at age 40 and anyone over that age – regardless how many years or decades beyond 40 – will compete against each other. That means that a 60-year-old athlete could end up competing against a 4o-year-old. Apparently, the folks at Disney don’t have a problem with that.

However, the Disney folks believe it would not be fair for a 39-year-old athlete to compete against a 21-year-old – so they are creating age groups within RX, Scaled and Recreational divisions to level the playing field.

Really. (more…)

You get to a point in life where you can pretty much wear and say what you want.

For example, I can now cock my head to the side, look over the top of my glasses and start a sentence with “Honey,…” and get respect, or a chuckle. I can, and do, sing along to songs during WODS.

Mary, taking flight

Mary, taking flight

And no one knows what to do when a middle-aged woman drops the “F” bomb, which I enjoy doing just for the shock value.

As for wardrobe, CrossFitters are basically fashion-challenged but Masters CrossFitters can take a fashion faux pas to a new level with a straight face. For example, today I actually wore my Skins compression tights to work. I had daylong computer training seminar and knew I would be sitting all day.

My compression tights kind of look like leggings – which I know went out of style a few years ago.

I paired them with a cute little cammy under a long sweater and a pair of black sequined Tom’s and, viola, I was cute AND comfortable! I don’t think anyone even noticed or had the cojones to say anything to me.

But my masters friend Mary recently made an exquisite fashion statement with a pair of pink wings she wore while lifting during Barbells for Boobs. When you’re 50+ years old you don’t get a lot of opportunities to wear pink wings. Actually, you have to make those opportunities.

For some reason, as we get older we stop making those kinds of silly opportunities, which takes a lot of fun out of life. But CrossFit not only gives you the strength to leap tall building in a single bound, it also gives you the cojones to be silly – and  plenty of opportunities to make silly happen.

Just ask Mary.

I have a history of getting involved in activities that end up being a wee bit different than what I expected.

Take triathlon. I got into triathlon in the early 1990’s. Sounded like a lot of fun. Swimming (my first athletic love), biking (my favorite thing to do as a kid), and running (my second athletic love). You get yourself a111 bathing suit, pair of goggles, bike and running shoes. What could possibly be expensive about that?

Well, my pink, fat-tire beach bike with the child seat wasn’t gonna work. You need a bike with a carbon frame, skinny tires, Shimano pedals, aero bars and the entire thing can’t weigh more than a box of Wheaties.

Then you’re going to need cycling shoes with cleats. Cha-ching. Running shoes. And that old Speedo, puh-leez, you need a tri suit and cap.babyseat+ Did I mention the Thule rack for the car, with wheel carriers and a faring?

You wanna actually compete in a triathlon? Well, your training will eat up any free time you thought you had. You’re going to have to hire a yard guy and a cleaning lady because you’re going to be swimming, biking and running all the freakin’ time. When you are finally ready to compete – there’s a $100 entry fee.


A few thousand dollars later, in the final miles of a half-Ironman on a Old Running Shoes blacktop road with a 100+ degree heat index, I said to myself,  enough of this shit.  I finished and then quit.

So, when I stumbled upon Crossfit I was like, cool. Sure, the monthly fees were steep but less than hiring a private trainer once a week. And will you look at the way these people dress! You can wear whatever you want! I haven’t worn knee socks since the 6th grade!! Best of all, some of the workouts were just 20 minutes long! Think of all the free time you will have! This is awesome!

I suppose if you are 20- or 30-something-year-old you can get away with the 10 or 15 minute warm-up before the WOD. But I quickly learned that I can no longer hop our of bed at 5:40 am and be working out at 6 am. These old bones don’t play that game anymore.

I realized that if I was going to have a long-term, committed relationship with Crossfit, I needed to spend a lot more time on foreplay (aka stretching). I need a good hour of being up, eating breakfast, intense stretching and walking the dog before I can hit the box.

Just ask my dog, Dog (that’s his name): (more…)

We were sitting around the other day after a particularly tough WOD, talking about food. Seems if we’re not talking about lifting or supplements or competitions, we’re talking about food.

And you can’t have a conversation about food without the topic of BACON coming up. Usually, it’s about how much bacon someone has consumed or some weird new pairing of bacon with another food: Bacon cookies, bacon cupcakes, bacon encrusted salmon.bacon-suit

After awhile, bacon discussions get kind of old. I mean really, it’s just a slice of pork in a vacuum-sealed plastic pouch. It’s not like a standing rib-road or brisket. I don’t even understand why bacon is so special to CrossFitters. How did the whole bacon obsession get started?

But this bacon conversation we were having while I was splayed out on the floor in a puddle of sweat did an abrupt about face when Matt, my coach, asked a question I had never heard before during a bacon conversation:

“Is there anything that wouldn’t taste better with bacon?” Matt asked.

We all went silent and you could see wheels spinning in everyone’s head.

“What would not taste better with bacon?” Matt asked. “I would eat ice cream with bacon.” We all agreed, bacon and ice cream sounded pretty damn good. It’s got that whole sweet and salty thang going on.

Bacon and yogurt? That would work. They put yogurt on the sliced lamb in a gyro, right? Bacon and apple pie? Oh man, that would be delicious. Bacon bits and M&Ms? I would eat that. Slices of watermelon wrapped in bacon? I’m drooling. What about bacon wrapped around a Twizzler. I would inhale that.

We could not come up with any food that would not taste better with bacon.BaconLady

Then one of the members who owns a really nice restaurant walked in and sat down on the rower. Matt walked up to him and popped the question: “Can you think of any food that wouldn’t taste better with bacon?”  The guy stopped rowing. You could see the little wheels turning in his head.

He started to say desserts but then he stopped himself. Who doesn’t love sweet and salty?

This debate went on for awhile but every time someone suggested a food, someone chimed in “I would eat that,” and we all nodded. Indeed, we would eat that, too.

Matt came very close to ending the debate when he said “toothpaste” but then the restaurant owner reminded him that you don’t eat toothpaste – at least you’re not supposed to, Matt.

I finally left. I had to go feed my dog, Dog, who happens to gets a slice of diced turkey bacon with every meal.

Lucky Dog.

It’s been a few days now and I haven’t come up with any food that would taste yucky with bacon. As with all things CrossFit, I’m spending way too much time thinking about bacon.

Please, help me out. Is there any food that would not taste better with bacon?

One of the benefits of being a senior Crossfitter is that you get to call the youngsters “Grasshopper” – even though they totally miss the David Carradine/Kung Fu reference.

I don’t have much wisdom to pass on but I have had a lot of coaches Carradine in many different sports over the years and I learned a lot. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much (I should have gotten sober sooner). But here you go, grasshopper.

1. By the time you get to the starting line, all the training, nutrition and stretching is over. The only thing you can do now is give your muscles fuel – oxygen. BREATHE! When we get excited we tend to take shallow breaths – which do not provide much oxygen to our muscles.

When you are training, focus on your breathing. At what point in an exercise does your body naturally inhale or exhale? Is there a more efficient way to breathe? How much to you breathe during rest intervals?

Remember, your muscles are screaming for oxygen. Give it to them.

2. If you don’t need to use a muscle, don’t. Remember, every muscle movement – no matter how small – requires energy. We tend to contract our muscles when we are stressed. You see this a lot in running. Tight shoulders, back and core and scrunched up faces. (It takes energy to scrunch your face up like that, you know.)

Take a look at elite long-distance runners. They are fluid. They move effortlessly. They do not make funny faces. It’s called “efficiency of movement.” Don’t use muscles you don’t need to use and use mother nature and the laws of physics – inertia, gravity, torque – to your advantage. Flow, grasshopper. Flow.

Okay. That’s it. All athletic wisdom I possess. Wait a minute. There’s one more:

Double-tie your shoelaces, grasshopper.

After last Sunday’s embarrassing performance at the RAID 4 Games – especially those 75# snatches – I needed something to lift my spirits. I got it yesterday.

A two-mile run for time in the blazing South Florida midday sun: 16:03. Thank GOD I’m still good at something – running. Too bad Crossfit competitions don’t have more running and less snatching.

I took a couple of days off after RAID and eased back into it on Wednesday. While doing a ladder of back squats at progressively heavier weights, I felt a sharp pain on the left side of my back while coming out of a 125# squat – heavy, but not exactly a PR.

I was so ticked off that I walked it off, put my belt back on and tried again with 95#. Again, sharp pain that made me yelp. Never should have tried it again. Don’t know what I was thinking. I was just frustrated and still stinging from RAID. I figured I was going to be out for awhile with a back injury.

Weird thing was, the next morning my back actually felt better. For the last couple of months the lower left side of my back had been extremely tight. I stretched and stretched and stretched but I could not seem to get out this strange, deep knot.

It felt like it just needed a good crack and everything would again flow. Crazy as it sounds, I think that back squat did the trick and opened it up.

Something similar happened about 10 years ago. I was walking my dog, a big, manic Weimaraner, and was not paying attention when she suddenly bolted after a squirrel. My neck snapped, I heard a crack and the next morning it hurt like hell. Weimaraner whiplash.

I went to the chiropractor and did all the exercises and stretches I was told to do but still, it hurt. About a year later I went skiing. I raced on the high school ski team and sometimes I forget that I graduated in 1977 – in the last millennium!

I was skiing way to fast and fell. CRACK. My neck snapped. Visions of me in a neck brace filled my head. Oddly, though, my neck felt much looser. I got up the next morning expecting to be in pain and unable to ski. Instead, my head was as loose as a bobble head. It felt sore, but great!

I don’t advise being your own chiropractor. Yes, it’s cheaper and you can do it at the convenience of your own box or ski slope, but I could have been hurt very badly.

I tried a few front squats on Thursday after 30 minutes of hip and back stretching. Viola! No pain and a very deep squat. I am staying away from the heavy weights for awhile. My coach wants to work on strengthening my obliques and core. Still, the unhinging of my back coupled with a 16:03 two-mile run in the hot sun and I’m feeling much better – at least in my head.