Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sample Piece

Hi Lauren, thought I'd write a short autobio to give you a flavor of how I handle words–in a more serious tone.

CrossFit and the Aging Bodybuilder.

At 43 I had been working out for more than half my life. An early stint as a teenage bodybuilder set the stage-

Chest and back on M-Th. Shoulders, Bi's and Tri's on T-F. Legs on W-S. Bench Press. Dumbell Flyes. Cable Crossovers. Preacher Curls. Three sets of ten. 12-10-8. Countless sets of failures, negatives, supersets. Get to the gym, workout, leave.

That was my fitness plan year after year. No thought of warming up, cooling down, recovery. Success was measured by how tight my shirt fit and how much weight I could bench.

But at 43 my joints were telling the tale. My knees hurt all the time. Bending over was tough. My hamstrings were like piano wires and my shoulders like rice crispies. I began to avoid the gym and was about to give up and join the crowd on the couch.

Salvation came as it so often does, through our children. I was watching the movie "300" with my boys and saw the feature on how they trained the actors. It seemed hard and painful and intense and why would anyone ever want to put themselves through that? Naturally, me.

But how? The website from the movie was intentionally cryptic. Other websites would get me in the best shape of my life in only 10 minutes a day for only $19.95 a month. $500 a year to join another website's Secret Inner Circle. Not for me.

I started googling the terms I came across: ohs, sdhp, thrusters, burpees. Every time it led me to Everything was right there spelled out and demonstrated and for free. The daily workouts looked fun and doable. The first one I tried was the Filthy Fifty.

The title should have been my first warning. Feeling dizzy at 10 minutes should have been my second warning. Tasting bile and seeing a bright light in the sky at 20 minutes should have been my third warning. But I was determined to finish. Burpees were performed two at a time followed by a few minutes flat on my back. I subbed singles x2 for double unders, and they were a tangle of rope, heavy feet and curses.

When I came to, twenty minutes later I was hopelessly hooked. I've since learned that this stuff is seriously strong medicine. It can get you in the best shape of your life, and it can kill you. Don't, don't, don't just jump in like I did.

I've learned all the terms and movements. I'm a stickler for form and full range of motion. I'm an 18 block zoner who cheats too much. I'm learning the Olympic lifts. I snicker at the muscle heads in the gym doing concentration curls (like I used to) and I am redeemed every time someone asks me, "Gosh, you workout so hard. What are you training for?"

"Life." Is always my answer.

Training is the pivotal event in my day around which all other things revolve. Meals are planned, rest is regimented, and I'm in the best shape of my life. I've cut my original Filthy Fifty time by more than 30 minutes. I used to look big and muscular. Now I look muscular and athletic, and my joint pain is almost all gone.

Where do I go from here? At 45 I am older than most hardcore CrossFitters. I have to be careful to warm up and warm up again. Cooling down and stretching are paramount. I usually sub 5x5 for 5x1. I love/hate my foam roller, and I love/hate post workout cold showers.

I guess I'm looking for the outer limits of CrossFit. How long can I keep getting better? Getting stronger? Improving my times? Will I ever snatch my bodyweight? How old can I be and still CrossFit like a maniac?

I'll let you know in 40 years.

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