Jan 312013

My last surviving grandparent, Lois A. Hitzeman, was called to her eternal home today, at the age of 87. Fair skinned, with blue eyes and red hair, I’m told my grandfather was quite smitten with her. Looking at this picture, it’s not hard to imagine. This is her and my dad, looking very serious even as a baby. Enjoy your rest, Grandma. You’ve surely earned it.

Jan 312013

(That’s only 75 lbs, folks.)

The weightlifting program I’m on actually includes programmed laziness. Okay, so they call it deload week, but everything I had ever been taught prior to starting this program makes me want to call it lazy. Basically, every 4 cycles (which are a week each, usually), you have a cycle of lifting about half of your normal weights.

It’s a good theory, actually. You take that week to heal up your joints, remind yourself of good form and technique, and generally relax a little from the previous three weeks of pushing yourself hard on every workout. All of these things make sense, but it just… doesn’t feel like working out. I’m not even sweating when I leave the weight room.

Still, I think this program works, so I’m not gonna call it lazy. Just weird.

Jan 292013

Meet my new nemesis. This forty pound, oddly-shaped lump of low-grade steel is called a kettlebell. And last night, it kicked me squarely in the ass.

My friend Alicia is a crossfitter. And not just any crossfitter. She’s been at it for over a year solid, goes to competitions, and really lives the life. She’s managed to completely turn her health and fitness around, through a whole lot of dedication and hard work. She’s a badass, really. But I didn’t realize just how badass.

Because the other day, she posted on her Facebook about doing 100 kettlebell swings, unbroken, in 3:34 with a 35 pounder. Shoot, I think, I should be able to hack that. “Challenge accepted,” I told her.

Nevermind that I haven’t so much as looked sideways at a kettlebell in months. Or that I haven’t had any seriously hard conditioning (different from weight lifting) since my last race, December 1 of last year. No matter, 35 pounds isn’t that heavy, and I am A MAN, and so I shall do it! No 35 pound kettlebell available? No matter, I’ll round up. Because, after all, I am A MAN!

Wrong. I did my light overhead-press workout (it’s “de-load week”… more on that tomorrow), pumped up the music, took a swig of go-juice (BCAAs), and started the stopwatch. I should’ve known this wasn’t going to go as planned when I picked it up and thought man, that’s kinda heavy. But I started anyway. 10 reps in, I was feeling fine. No… big… deal… I thought between swings. 10 reps later, I was breathing too hard to think about anything but counting. 10 reps after that, I was standing, hands on hips, chest heaving, looking at the kettlebell laying on the floor.

“Holy crap. She did 100 of these things?!”

Part of the deal was, if I stopped, I had to do a 100 meter dash, 10 pull-ups, and 10 squats. Well, I can’t do 10 pull ups (yet… combination of me being too heavy and my lats being fairly pathetic). So I ran (roughly) 100 meters, did three really lousy and awkward pull-ups, and 10 bodyweight squats. Then 20 more swings. Then the “punishment” routine again. Switched to a 30 pound kettlebell, ego now thoroughly checked. 30 more swings. More punishment. 20 more swings and probably as many minutes after I started, I sprinted about 200 meters and called it good.

Dang crossfitters…

But now the challenge is laid out. For the next few weeks, I’ll be doing KB swings a couple times a week, until I can do 100 unbroken. Hopefully in less than 3:34. With a 35 (or greater) pound weight. Can’t go getting beat by a girl like that…

Jan 282013

I used to look a little sideways at people who made noises in the weight room. That is, until one day, those same sorts of (embarrassing) noises started to come out of my mouth, quite unintentionally, when I was really pushing. And mine are just as silly as anyone else’s, turns out.

This is my fifth and last set of leg press from my workout on Friday. I did ten reps of 540 lbs, and it felt so, so good. Which you can clearly tell from the look on my face, right?

Jan 272013

Why do I work out? Well, in part, it’s so I can eat the occasional pile of absolute crap like this.

The collection of total gastrointestinal catastrophe you’re looking at is a fully-loaded Tank “Road Kill” Dawg, from Tank’s Bar and Grill in Dayton, Ohio. It’s a thick beef hot dog smothered in Tank’s own chili, with sauerkraut, jalapenos, cole slaw, grilled onions, salsa and cheese.

It’s a party in your mouth. It’s probably also 1500 calories. And I don’t care, because before eating this, I did six sets of squats, five sets each of leg press (more on that tomorrow) and leg curls, and planks and perpendicular bench crunches.

So yeah, I’ll have that Tank Dawg. And bring on the sides of hand-cut fries, and I’ll wash it down with a superb Irish draft stout. And then I’ll get up the next day and ride my bicycle for two hours, in the snow.

Jan 262013

So it’s twenty degrees out, and we just got 6 inches of powdery snow. What do I do? I get talked into going mountain biking. In the snow. In the cold.

I don’t like cold.

But I have to say, thanks to the company, it was a lot of fun! Once you realize that the bars swimming left and right and the rear tire slipping and sliding all over is normal, there’s good fun to be had. Hills aren’t good at all, and you won’t be setting anything like a pace, but it’s a heck of a good workout!

I might even go again. Once the feeling returns to my toes, anyway.

Jan 252013

“Ain’t nobody dope as me, I’m just so fresh so clean…”

For some reason, that’s the song that goes through my head every time I buy a new pair of shoes. No explanation.

So these sexy things came in the mail today. I still have a week to go before I can start running again (says my doctor), but now I’m more excited than ever! What you’re looking at is a brand new pair of Brooks PureCadence 2s. They’re a minimalist shoe, which means a somewhat thin, flexible sole, almost no drop (4mm), and they’re built around a more natural running style than your typical running shoe.

Initial observations are that they fit like a sock, only twice as light. Seriously, these things feel like cheating already, and I haven’t run a step. Come on, 1 February!

Jan 242013

And hopefully, that’s just what they’ll do. This is my brand new pair of Alpinestars SMX-Plus racing boots, to replace my nearly 8-year-old pair of the same model. These new ones look slicker and seem to have a better ankle bracing system. They’re also vented, a feature my previous pair lacked. Hopefully, they’ll be just as well built as my old pair, which survived 8 years and 20,000 miles of riding, sweating, walking, hiking and crashing, and still work astoundingly well.

I should note, I got these on a pretty awesome discount from the boys over at Sportbike Track Gear. I’ve been doing business with them for years and years, and never have been disappointed with their prices or their service. I highly recommend them.

Jan 232013

There are a handful of exercises that, for whatever reason, just make you feel strong. For me, one-armed dumbbell overhead presses are that exercise. Doesn’t matter what size dumbbell I’m using, I always feel like a freakin’ superhero when I do them. I might wear a cape next week.

Jan 222013

File this one under “things we did as kids that we didn’t realize were hard.”

I started using a jump rope as a warmup before a leg workout a few weeks back. I never realized just how much work physically goes into jumping rope. Also, I apparently have all the grace and coordination of a dump truck with three flat tires. I’ll be really happy to make it to 100 straight without messing up. Rocky Balboa I ain’t.

Then again, I was never particularly good at jumping rope, even as a kid. If I master this, maybe there’s hope for me yet.

Tonight was a conditioning night. I had some extra time, so I warmed up with 200 jump ropes (lame, right?), then did 5000m on the row machine, and 25 minutes each on the elliptical and stationary bike, random hill programs. Observations: I think that the elliptical, if used solely, will leave certain muscle areas (like hip flexors) completely deficient for running. Second, come on spring. I hate this hamster wheel stuff!

Jan 212013

Angry monkey face. Not proud of it, but it happens. This is me sucking wind between reps 8 and 9. When I look this dumb, at least I know I’m working hard! Pretty pumped to put up 235×12 tonight, really. The program I’m doing called for max reps on the last set, but only required one rep. If I keep moving those kinds of numbers, I don’t care how dumb I look doing it.

Jan 202013

If you think your abs are strong, try the following:

  • Get a decline sit-up bench
  • Set it to about a 30-45° angle
  • Have someone throw a small medicine ball to you, each side and in the middle. Catch it with one hand on the sides, and with both hands, over your head, in the middle.
  • Make sure you’re going all the way back, and ask your partner to throw the ball to the edge of your reach every time.
  • Repeat for 30 reps or until puking.