More Squats & Parting Words

I am regularly discovering something new about myself. Today, for instance, I discovered that when I handle stress like a grown up I break out in hives. Everywhere. Everywhere except my face. Awesome.

Friday, our last day, I sat down at Coach’s desk and we had our normal conversation: which one of us slept less, who is further away from calorie goal, who is poorer; throw in some Monty Python, Star Wars, and Super Trooper quotes, RPG and MMO reviews, and you have the magic that goes into making a Warrior Girl. During this normal conversation it occurred to me that today was the last time it would happen for an unknown amount of time and while he was making a joke, and I began to laugh, I put my head on his desk and sobbed. Poor Coach! He rubbed and patted my back causing me to jump up and say “I need to lift weight.”

I needed to lift serious weight. Good thing my ego is still knocked down from Thursday because I got 45# front squats and 3# – yes, 3# – overhead squats. Another awesome moment in the rebuilding of a Warrior.

He loved my front squats. He made minor adjustments to my OH squats (get the bar further behind me) but otherwise was pleased with those as well. I am perplexed. Coach is always ripping apart every little angle, every little quiver but Friday I received minor corrections and lots of positive feedback. For over a year I have been asking for interaction like this: guide me, improve me, but don’t be so “kick the crap out of this girl” about it. Stop destroying my confidence. He finally grants this request and I am left to wonder if he is doing so just to start my Coach-less future off in a positive place or if he really does actually see I am pretty damn good at this.

I am told to let him know how my hip is but I have promised I won’t bug him so I tell him it will be fine. He then says he will check in with me regularly and when he does I need to tell him how my hip is. And be honest.

Mostly everything else on this day is focused on triceps. These rebuild days without him will be short. I asked if I have a day where I just mentally can’t do it, don’t want to be here, can I skip everything and just do the hip rebuild portion. He said since that has never been an issue in the past he doesn’t see it being an issue in the future. I have my answer, I will do all my work. I will, however, be doing my work at 4 and 5 AM. I will also be joining a chain gym near me (beh!) to do my rehab work at.

I said “except for my moment, I am surprisingly together” and he looked at me and said “I’ll miss you”. Suck it up tough guy. He regularly points out that I am THE pain in his ass, that he puts more time and effort into me than I will ever be able to repay him for, I am too demanding, too driven, too annoying, that he doesn’t have to put up with me. And now that he will be free of me he says “I’ll miss you”?! Yeah, I’ll miss him too.

He gave me a hug and I reminded him we don’t know if it will be a month or 6 months. But his reply was “once your hip is rebuilt you will be back to heavy weight, I will be done with rugby, and we’ll be lifting partners.” Of course we will.

In the meantime, I have been approved to increase my OH squat to 6#. I have hives (but no tears).

I can do this without him, I just don’t want to. This really isn’t about what I want though. It is who I am and I will do what I have to do. And I will make Coach proud. One of these days, he will be as proud of me as I am of myself.


Before We Part He Delivers The Plan

Two days. Waking up today I realized I have exactly two days left to get everything I need to know from Coach on how to prevent breaking my hip. Two days left to review all the miniscule changes we made to my lifts, my form. Two days left with my mentor. I was expecting to cry today.

But I got to put a bar on my back and squat. It was the first time I had a bar on my back since my injury. This is a good day, a great day. And who can cry on such a day as this?

Coach has set up my solo rebuild program for the next 3 weeks the following way, exact lifts I will blog as I do them:
Day 1: Chest 4×6; Deadlift 4×8 120#, Leg Press 4×8 230#, PB Squats 4×10
Day 2: Back 4×6; RDL 4×8 135
Day 3: Shoulders 4×6; Walking Lunges 4x10e 20#, Back Squat 4×8 95#
Day 4: Front Squats 4×8 45#, Stepups 4x8e 30#; and several upper body accessory movements 4×6

Yes, I will admit as I type this out and see the weights, it is a bit of a kick to the gut. I know I said I stopped comparing pre-injury weight to re-build weight but making this public hurts my ego.

So let’s kick that ego a little more: I could not get through all of my back squats. I warmed up with the bar and then did my sets at 95#. I think I did 3 sets of 7. I know my 4th set I only did 5. Coach called it. He then said “this feeling you have right now, this is when you stop. Any irritation, any catch in the hip, any loss of form, STOP!” So of course I say “stop and rest you mean. Then finish the set.” Coach says “I want to drop kick you sometimes.” I’d like to see him try. I am injured and emotional and I could still take him in a fight! So we took a moment to have a talk, one that would normally annoy him but these are extraordinary times and he is extraordinarily patient today. He says “I understand you can’t tell the difference between quitting when something is uncomfortable and whining, and quitting because it is physically time to quit. Know this: YOU don’t whine, YOU have never quit because you just don’t want to. So if it crosses your mind “should I stop now” that is the moment you stop. Don’t think, don’t psychoanalyze. Just stop. Otherwise YOU WILL RE-INJURE YOURSELF!” Yes Joel.

Walking Lunges: I made it through 1 set and collapsed on the last lunge. Coach said “And this is when you stop lunges”. Yeah, I am not even going to argue this one. I can’t put weight on my right leg but not because of pain. My right hip and glute were so exhausted, they simply could not support weight. This is good news and hopefully I remember this when I am on my own.

The rest of my lifting was great. We laughed. We made it a fun shoulder day even though he took away most of my shoulder presses. This Warrior Girl LOVES shoulder presses. I can promise you this: I will hate this day on my own. 2 different rear delt flys, upright rows, lat raises, and I finish with a light military press. The press at the end I think is just a gift. A reward. If I get through my not-so-fun stuff with a positive attitude I can do something fun.

My YouTube account somehow was totally reset. My playlists and favorites contained lifts and ROM videos Coach sent me. I went through all of our correspondences yesterday and retrieved the links. We talk a lot about where we would like to open a gym, where trainers actually make money, and how he is applying for witness protection and hoping for re-location in North Korea to get away from me.

*This would never work by the way. I am very short and stealthy. I will fly into South Korea and easily sneak across the border. With his stature, it won’t take much to pick him out. I have a plan and even nuclear warheads will not prevent me from making regionals.

Anyway, I came across a text in which I asked “Are you planning on going somewhere?” and he replied “Nowhere without WarriorGirl”. So today, our second to last day together before our (hopefully) temporary separation, I reminded him of my question. He smiled and said “Nowhere without WarriorGirl”.

He’d be so annoyed that I shared that story. Whatever. It’s my blog, he doesn’t read it, and I like the story. Besides, that’s what happens when someone takes shoulder presses away from a Warrior.

I Finally Did It…

I have been meaning to write a gratitude page for months. Here I am, little old me, having fallen to the base of a mountain that appears impossible to climb, and I am finally writing it. Why now? Because I look around and know I have dropped a long way, but not quite to bottom. Because, as hard as life may be sometimes, I have more to be grateful for than anyone has a right to. Because yesterday, in response to being told “everything worth doing comes with some pain”, I replied “i have a lifetime of pain. I am tired of all my pain”. I said this to the one person who has helped me more than anyone on the planet, the person who knows more of what I have been through than anyone who wasn’t there to witness, the person who understands and refuses to let me define myself by my pain. I said this to Coach. And for this I am sorry. But it reminded me: be grateful. Be grateful to the powers-that-be that they brought me Coach. Be grateful I didn’t land at the base of the mountain. Be grateful I know I can choose to keep climbing.

Failing: my story

If you subscribe to me for the lifting/crossfit stuff, this entry isn’t it. This is more personal. Feel free to leave it be.

We make choices in life and then deal with the unexpected consequences. My original degree is in Political Science – I was going to change the world. But I quickly realized the world doesn’t really want to change and, discouraged, found jobs in accounting, HR, and other well-paying cubicle be-a-bitch-to-get-promoted corporate jobs. I hated it, with the exception of my time in St. Louis. I love St. Louis, it’s the only place of the many I’ve lived where I felt I had a home. Making my horrible job worthwhile: I could plan my workday around the Cardinal games.

Leaving there was an opportunity to go back to my original life plan. I just wanted to help people lead better, more fulfilling lives. I had a rough life and so often maneuvered through it alone and I wanted to be that someone I needed to someone else. So I took my savings and went back to school for nursing. Sensible, job security, and I could help people.

I loved school and was top in all my classes. But clinicals came and guess what happened? Sick people don’t necessarily want help. They don’t want to be sick, they don’t want to comply with their programs, and nurses are on the front line taking the brunt of unhappy patients. They then take the wrath of doctors. This warrior girl is way too tender hearted for that. I just wanted to help.

So almost out of the savings I had from my great paying, mind numbing jobs, and on the verge of taking my state nursing boards, I quit.

Throw in a couple of hospitalizations for suicide attempts, a couple more for being grossly underweight and the money was gone. I took a needed temporary break from life. I had spent many years trying to shut out a history of physical and sexual abuse. I took this time to try to learn how to cope. If I couldn’t help others, maybe I could begin to help myself.

And still grossly underweight and in an attempt to lose more, I stumbled upon weightlifting. I found something that helped me. A place to put my hurt and anger and disappointment. I found that I don’t have to be totally disconnected to remain strong – I see my strength every time I touch the bar. I took a job in retail. I love it primarily because it pays for Coach but sometimes, like at Christmas, when you help a grandma find the last Candyland and she hugs me saying “you saved my life” I feel like I helped someone. Even better, a kid is going to have a happy Christmas…wonder what that’s like?

After 22 months, I found a way that I could help people. I could teach them what I love so much, I could be in the one environment where I am ok, and I could help them and myself. So with the faith of my coach, I took the last of my money and got my certification, signed a lease at my training facility, and paid my first months rent. Prior to doing so I had the assurance of Coach that 1) he wouldn’t let this interfere with making regionals 2) he wouldn’t let me fail.

But retail won’t pay Coach and rent. And it is interfering with regionals, I am failing.

So This Wasn’t In The Plan…

My goal has violently crashed into reality. I can no longer afford my coach. I can barely afford to live at the moment much less pay for dreams that are so far away.

Under normal circumstances I would be disheartened but I would be entering this time knowing I can do my work on my own. I can lift. I can assess my lifts. I can push myself through WODs. But these are not normal circumstances. My hip is destroyed and no one has answers. Coach was sifting through the puzzle pieces, rearranging, reassessing, rebuilding it. Most importantly he prevented me from pushing and risking permanent damage. On my own I don’t even know where to begin. It is safe to say Coach does not even want me to try as the odds are what I think will help will actually make it worse. We are both very aware of my limits: honest self-assessment and self-programming for injury is a limit.

I will be making the most of my last week with him. My hope is tomorrow we are able to receive all the answers that have been eluding us so he can have a program established before September comes.

And the second things turn around my first call will be to Coach. I just hope they turn around fast and before my hip dies for good.

I know not many people understand, Coach is the only person I know in real life that actually understands, but this is my purpose. It is who I am. And for the first time in my life, I saw my potential. I chose to pursue it even though no one else saw validity in it. Eventually Coach noticed. Eventually I became his athlete. It was nice to have a little team.

It’s going to be a rough few months. It’s going to come down to attitude. It’s an opportunity to practice mental fortitude and inner strength. A Warrior Girl’s path is rarely free of battles, I just was hoping for one battle at a time. I can only conclude that the powers that be think I’m too tough for that.

Plans, Pain, & Puzzles

Friday. The day I have been waiting for since I crawled away from the bar in June. The day I am healed enough to begin to rebuild my deadlift.

Coach sat down at his desk. I smiled and asked what the plan for the day was. Knowing that I knew perfectly well what the plan was, he donned his quizzical face and said “the plan is to deadlift…but you’re smile…you are entirely too calm…I suspect I am changing the plan…what happened?”

So I told him that I did laundry and all the sordid details. When’s the last time you felt stabbing pain? 4 hours ago. What do you feel now? That residual throb people have after pain subsides. Question. Answer. Question. Answer. All the while he is tapping away at his phone and making variations of his quizzical look. Sometimes he pauses, face relaxes, eyes dart over his phone. Then he shakes his head and puts the quizzical face back on.

We then sit there in silence for what seems like forever, it was about 20 minutes, just looking at each other. I interrupt once to say “Ben Affleck as Batman, I won’t be seeing that one.” He interrupts once to say “I stayed up too late playing Star Wars”. In between these two statements we just stare. At the end of it he says “I know you are disappointed. No, I am disappointed, I know inside you are pretty crushed. Give it the weekend. Take it easy, no stairs. If we make it through the weekend we will deadlift on Monday.” I ask if I should do my hip mobility and he agrees to spend some time with me on it today. While doing my external rotations he starts pummeling me with questions: how’s the right hip? Describe the outside. What’s happening inside? What about now (as he pushes on my left side). He makes all kinds of tiny adjustments. “That’s where we want it”. No, no we don’t. It hurts here. It really hurts. This centimeter difference makes my body shake with discomfort.

Something is wrong and he sees it. He has me lay back, bring my feet together near my butt, and do what I describe as an open wing butterfly position (I am sure the blogger of Not the fat kid in gym class anymore… would have a better description!). He applies pressure to the inside of my knees as I bring my legs together and I resist his pressure as he pushes them down. It is choppy. It is a struggle. I am shaking with the effort. As the sets go on, there are three, it is immeasurably more difficult. I am going to be sore tomorrow I think. And then I realize, I can’t get up. I have no idea how I am going to get off the floor and when I do, how will I support an upright position. Comedy ensues and, yes, when I get up I am wobbling like a drunk toddler. Coach is highly amused.

“I am done with mobility for the week aren’t I?” Yep. “What did you learn?” His smile, his amusement, our lightened mood vanish. Coach says “I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never heard of this.” Leave it to me. Even when I am trying not to be a pain in the ass, when I am trying to be lower maintenance, I still manage to give him headaches and homework. But if Coach, the smartest person in this field that I know (even The Professor calls him brilliant), doesn’t know what to do or where to go for answers…I feel panic in my stomach. “What? Haven’t heard of what? What is the plan?” He sighs and says “those overly strong, dominating adductors…they don’t exist anymore. By the last set I was barely touching you.” That’s not true. That can’t be true! I could barely move his arms and I was pushing with all my might. My body was convulsing with the effort. I take that calming breath he taught me. How can this be?

We return to his desk and he begins his research. I know my panic is in high gear when I become an eerie calm. I pull out pen and paper and ask for details: start with the day I was injured and the mechanics of what happened, what have we discovered since then, what has changed over the months, what will we work on, what does he need to study, what do we need to focus on first, what does this mean for Monday? I put down my pen and quietly say “none of those things matter do they? You currently have a puzzle and need time to sift through the pieces.” Coach says that the adductors have him stumped but regardless, all hip musculature and surrounding musculature is out of balance. Much of it is disgustingly weak and it is safe to assume some of the muscles had always been underdeveloped and some due to lack of work during rehab. The adductors, a mystery. Everything will need to be worked. It will progress quickly. But we need to proceed slowly to bring everything into balance and then proceed while keeping balance. We will have to be clear in our communications, specifically relating to aches and pains and how things feel as I move. Until further notice I am not to do laundry, He doesn’t care how bad you stink. Don’t bank on deadlifts Monday.

I looked at Coach and said I’m glad to be me today. His quizzical look returns. “My job is to work, work, work. I can do that. Work is who I am. But you, you have a puzzle and one that will be constantly shifting. I’m glad I just have to work.”

I wouldn’t say I am resigned. Resigned sounds so defeated. But I am accepting this moment. I do not want to re-injure myself. Coach may not have all the answers now, but he’s got this handled. We needed Tuesday’s talk in order for me to restore some faith in him. I needed that faith for today. Everything happens right on time.

Deadlifts are coming. Somewhere in my future a Friday of deadlifting awaits me. Until then I will breathe through my panic spells, do my work, have faith in Coach. I will set an example for a 16-year-old girl so she sees that even when the result is not the win we wanted, we get back up and go back to work.

I Just Had To Make It To Friday

My hip had a pain-free week. The goal is to make it to Friday pain-free and the reward will be adding weight to my deadlift. The upper body lifting was amazing, I felt like me again. And all I have to do is make it to Friday.

Tuesday I walked my legs up the wall and, using the TRX bands did my rows with my body parallel to the floor. We don’t normally do fun tricks like this but Coach has been in a good mood and throwing me some fun “cool chick lifting” stuff at the end of my workouts. In between sets I laid on the ground, looked up at Coach and he said something to the effect of “It’s good to see you are making progress”. I scoffed a bit and said “please, you didn’t even care when I got hurt. Not once in the four days following did you ask how it was”. My injury occurred on a Thursday, he sent me home, and did not follow-up until I showed up at his desk the following Monday. Once again I realize Coach and I have the worst communication skills imaginable. His words “I was terrified. I was sure it was the labrum and I kept thinking ‘how am I going to explain this is a career ender’. I was so panicked!” I sat for a few moments and then said “career ender? (smile) that means this is my career? And, by the way, that talk would have sucked for you! Next time, ask me how I’m doing because thinking you didn’t care hurt more than being hurt.”

All I have to do is make it to Friday. Today, Thursday, I had my shoulder work and Coach announced we are taking out presses after today. My anterior delts are too strong (ugh – join the adductors and the hamstrings). I am losing all my favorite things because of these muscle groups and their imbalances. Following my session I had two sessions to lead. I love this job! I wish I had sessions all day, every day (it will happen, I know, I just need patience). Improvements were made, laughs were had, one is on a mission to perfect her RDL. I worked with her for a long time on it: adjusting her form, demonstrating the hip movement repeatedly. I am so proud of my girls and their hard work!

And then I came home, went downstairs, threw in laundry and emerging from the basement, on step number three, a stabbing pain shot through the hip. I froze. This did not happen, this cannot be happening. My brain tells me I will get up these stairs, take a nap and wake up laughing at the bad dream I had. I only have to make it until 1:45 pm Friday without pain, 20 hours is all I have left. Keep going Warrior Girl.

Step 4…This is not a dream, this is shooting pain. This is shooting pain 20 hours before I deadlift. I did my rest-ice-compress-Tylenol. I read about Ryan Braun and his “cream and lozenge” and spewed cuss words at him – I am assuming these weren’t cucumber lotion and Altoids (if they were I’d be cured). I finally accept that i have a stabbing pain shooting through my hip despite my care, despite my denial. I just had to make it to Friday.

I wonder how Coach will proceed with this turn of events.