28 Days to go!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Good Luck to all of our competitors this weekend at the Frogman and Iron Will CrossFit competitions!

Mobility:
Shoulder Prep

Warmup:
Fast Single Unders, 1 minute
Handstand Practice, 2 minutes
Double Under practice, 1 minute
Sampson Stretch, 30 seconds each

Practice and set up movements!

Workout of the Day:
5-10-15-20-25-30-35-40-45-50 reps of unbroken double unders

4 Rounds of:
3 Wall Climbs
10 Up Downs
5 Shoot Throughs
10 Grasshoppers
(video of all movements below)

50-45-40-35-30-25-20-15-10-5 reps of unbroken double unders

Taking some inspiration from yesterday’s wod and the upcoming release of our Gymnastic Warmup Series, the prescribed workout is to perform all the double under sets unbroken first, then the 4 rounds of 4 movements, followed by the second set of unbroken double under sets.  Don’t worry, we will have a variety of ways to scale the Double Unders.  There will be a 30 minute time cap on this workout.

Cool Down:
10 Wall Extensions
10 PVC Dislocates
Ankle Mobility, 60 seconds each
10 PVC Dislocates
10 Wall Extensions

 The following post is written by Zak, who recently ran his first Half Ironman two weekends ago!  I have enjoyed watching his training and dedication towards this goal over the past months.  He would regularly run to and from the gym for additional training volume, no matter what the workout of the day was.  He participated in the 1st Annual Beach Cruiser Triathalon to test his skills and I am proud to have been a part of his training.  Congratulations Zak!  Enjoy his story…

After moving back to LA from Newport Beach for work, I was on the search for a new gym. I had never heard of CrosssFit, it was not even on my radar. My first exposure was from a page torn out of a magazine, something titled “A Six Week Intro to CrossFit”. I was doing 100-yard sprint repeats up and down my street followed by push-ups, sit-ups or lunges in my driveway or bedroom. Not quite Rx WODs, but not exactly 24-Hour Fitness either…

I had done one triathlon, the Olympic distance race in Malibu (http://nauticamalibutri.com/olympic_course.cfm), and I had set my sights on a bigger distance. My goal? The Ironman 70.3 in Oceanside. Bigger chunks in all three disciplines: a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride followed by a 13.1 mile half-marathon. I could train in the same climate and it was close enough to home I didn’t have to travel far with all my gear. I had Saturday, March 31, 2012 circled on my calendar. In RED.

I was looking for something to help me build a strength base for my race; a way to train for my goal distance without adding mileage just for the sake of adding mileage. Shortly after CrossFit had entered my ether I discovered Paradiso CrossFit, literally up the street from my office, when I saw the sign for the first time last summer after I had driven past it, I’m sure, over a hundred times. I came by unannounced on my lunch break one day and met Diso and Martina, undoubtedly interrupting their lunch. They were professional, laid back, informative and welcoming all at once and I liked them and what they were about from the start. I came back the next day for my first On-Ramp session and was greeted with my first experience of wall balls and double unders. (Maybe that was within the first week, but both skills still hold a dark place in my heart from early on.) I was hooked on a feeling.

I was still training for my tri, swimming one or two mornings a week, working in longer and longer rides and runs plus three nights a week at PCF. Most weeks I was doing some form of training 5 or 6 days, sometimes two times a day. But by listening to the coaches, focusing on technique rather than weight, DROMing or stretching before and after each WOD/swim/ride/run, and paying attention to what food/fuel I put into my body, I felt I had a good plan leading up to my race. All this coming from someone who’s most athletic endeavor for many years was high school or college marching band!

By the time my race weekend arrived, I knew I was physically trained and mentally prepared. I had done each discipline’s distance individually in the pool or on the road and I knew what the additive effects were when I put them together. I had placed a surprising third overall in the First Annual PCF Beach Cruiser Triathlon. I had practiced my transitions and knew what and when I would (and would not) drink and eat along the course.

Race Day:
Up at 4am and in the transition area by 5:30. Gear laid out and prepped by six, ready to go by 6:30, but one last important stop at the porta-potties before strapping into my wet suit. First hurdle: I missed my 6:53 swim start because of the slow-moving bathroom line. I had to rush to the entry zone, squeezing past and through a swarm of equally eager triathletes.
I got in the water two heats late and quickly realized I was in the midst of a major goggle malfunction. Left side full of water after every two strokes, right side leaking but manageable. I tried to press them into my eyes to create a better seal as this had often worked in the pool. I kept moving forward treading water and frog-kicking while clearing my goggles but knew this was slowing me down significantly. I took them off to see what was wrong and realized in my rush to the front I had twisted the strap enough to dislodge the left clip turning it backwards. Fixed and back on my head, I thought I had remedied the issue. I could put my head down and stroke properly. Or so I thought. Still having to adjust every few strokes, once I made the turn at the halfway point I put the goggles up on my forehead (i.e. scaling the workout) and swam the rest of the way with my eyes closed in the water, opening up to sight the course buoys, eyes closed and head down again for a more efficient stroke.
For me swimming is the part that presents the biggest challenge. Strapped into a rubber superhero getup, with a bright latex cap, earplugs (to help keep warm in cold water), and the aforementioned goggles, it is the portion of the race I am most in my head. With your face down in the water kicking and counting breaths and strokes, it’s all about what’s going on between the ears.
Back in the race, faced with a long day ahead still after the swim, I knew if I pushed through the water I would be done with the hardest part. I kept hearing echoes from the box “Don’t quit!” “Push through it!” “Chip away!” on repeat in my head. The sounds from the Arena locked into my subconscious kept me moving. I swam the course in 1:00:43, slower than I had hoped (between 45-55 minutes), and moved on to the next piece.

The bike is the discipline I most enjoy of the three and the portion of the race I felt the most confident on. It is also where I have seen the most tangible gains since adding CrossFit to my training regimen. My riding buddy Roy has seen the difference first hand. Our second ride together he took me through Nichols Canyon, a great ride, but a challenging set of hills up and over the spine of the Valley, leading to Mulholland Drive. On that ride last summer I was winded to say the least. I had to stop, get off the bike and suck wind at least three times on the way up for fear of my heart beating through my chest. Like, serious, stop or I’m going to have a heart attack and I don’t have my insurance card with me style. Fast forward to three months of CrossFit and some hill repeat training later, we ride Nichols Canyon again. I destroy the hill. Same route, same two guys, same gear, no stops. No on-call ambulance required. On our way back down he asks how I’ve been training, as he can tell a huge difference in just a short time. I tell him about PCF and the variety of deadlifts, squats, box jumps, toes-to-bar pull-ups, snatches et al I’ve been doing: constantly varied, functional movements at high intensity. I am a disciple preaching the gospel. I see small gains, but my friend sees a complete change. After we pedal our way back home I ask if he wants to finish our 30-miler with some hill repeats, but he declines saying he has nothing left in the tank beyond the few turns toward his house. I loop the block and climb up and down twice for good measure, knowing truly that CrossFit is changing my body and fitness level measureably and for the better.

My goal for the race was to finish on the bike in 3 1/2 to 4 hours, I had done a 60-mile ride with Roy in four hours with a few stops along the way so I knew that was a doable pace, even after the swim. On race day it was cool and misty, good temperature but wet roads and slick tires are not always the best mix. No flat tires, no crashes for me. I worked up and over each and every hill, at 6, 24, 30, 36 and 42 miles, resting or hammering on the downhills depending on where I was in the course. Going into a headwind for about ten of the last fifteen miles of the course was not the most fun, but again, working through and chipping away I could sense my goal was nearing completion. I didn’t know how much time I made up, but I knew I had passed quite a few riders on the course (I had been passed by plenty too…). I smashed my projected time and completed the ride in 3:07:50.
Just the run remained.

This is the part of the race that feels most open yet most personal. Fellow runners passing within inches of you, spectators cheering, clapping, ringing cowbells, yelling your name from just reading it on your bib, all the while you know you have a solid 13 miles in front of you. Out and back twice, the course creates relationships with total strangers. With the miles marked clearly, you know how much you have marked off and just how much you have left to go virtually every step of the way. I counted the people I passed (and cheered those that passed me) rather than just the miles and calculated strange fractions in base thirteen. Apparently my mind tends to wander into strange paths when in so deep. Whenever I felt inefficient, I would channel my reading of the PCF blog. “Pose.” “Lean.” These simple words helped trigger my muscles to work more efficiently, to tread more lightly. I ran the entire way, no stopping or walking, again hearing the call “Keep moving!” I have heard so many times during a WOD. My goal was to finish the run in around two hours; I clocked a 2:07:42 with consistent splits, only fifteen minutes slower than my half-marathon PR. This after more than four hours of prior output.

It is hard to describe the feeling of crossing that finish line. I know the medal I received is just a token on a ribbon, but when it was handed to me I know I heard the closing fanfare from Star Wars (Episode IV, that is) ringing somewhere in the back of my head. When the announcer said “Zak Graff from Los Angeles” I felt like a boss. My smile was huge and has been for days. I’ve thought about adding “Ironman Finisher” to my auto signature at work just because I can.

All in, including transitions, my goal was to finish with a total time between 6 1/2 and 7 hours. I was slow on the swim, fast on the bike and right on pace with the run. Official time 6:27:35. Faster than my goal by more than two minutes!!

I know I’m not the fastest or strongest in class on any given WOD, but I am the fastest and strongest I have ever been thanks to the training I’ve received from PCF. And that training helped me push over the humps and break through walls on a voyage toward a goal set almost three years ago.

Thanks to Diso, Zeb, Martina, Frank, G, Lara, Smidt, all my fellow PCF’ers, friends and family and everyone else that helped me along the way. It is in part because of you that I can say I am now, officially, and forevermore,

-Zak Graff
Ironman Finisher

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