Monthly Archives

March 2015

The Unknown and Unknowable

March 31, 2015
Tracey-Emin-The-Last-Great-Adventure copy

Tracey Emin, 2014


Across the world over the past five weeks, athletes of all ages have tested their fitness in the CrossFit Open—the first stage in a competition to find the fittest people on Earth. Each week, the prescribed workout called on our physical and mental acuity with a range of movements: toes-to-bars, snatches, deadlifts, clean and jerks, overhead squats, chest-to-bar pull-ups, muscle-ups, wall-ball shots, double-unders, handstand push-ups, cleans, rowing, and thrusters. At the end of it, I took Third Place in my division, world-wide.

When I started the year, I thought I had another year to set the


March 27, 2015

P1420820Yesterday I made good on a promise made to myself almost 20 years ago: to fly helicopters again. I first earned my Pilots License during a very busy time in life, when I was juggling motherhood, work, and a marriage, and I stopped when I moved away from a house in rural Connecticut which had convenient access to a helicopter and interesting places to go in it. Now I have returned to it during another busy time. But it’s no coincidence. Performing in the CrossFit Open has been more mentally stressful than it has been physical: the competition has been

Rational Exuberance

March 23, 2015
Beautiful, amore, gasp, eyes going into the top of the head and fluttering painting, 1997. Damien Hirst

Beautiful, amore, gasp, eyes going into the top of the head and fluttering painting, 1997. Damien Hirst



Sometime during my formative years, I picked up the notion that restraint was a hallmark of success. And even though, if asked, I can easily name dozens of unbridled and eccentric geniuses and I’d be hard pressed to cite a single example of one person in history who excelled because they held back, I have clung to this flawed logic for as long as I can remember.

Now, I don’t pretend that what I do as a sports competitor is on

Making a Study

March 20, 2015


Yesterday was my rest day. I typically spend Thursdays doing something related to art, because I cannot easily fit visiting galleries or museums into my schedule on the days when I train. A large show—more than 60 paintings—by the masterful British artist J.M.H. Turner (1775-1851) just opened at the Getty Museum, in Los Angeles. I visited it with my friend C.F., who is a painter and a sculptor, and my favorite person to go with on these weekly art outings because his eye is keen and our taste in art is similar. We are both devotees of abstraction: he

Doing the Math

March 16, 2015
Childhood Dreams, Loui Jover, 2104

Childhood Dreams, Loui Jover, 2014

It is important for me to establish a clear goal for myself before beginning any competitive workout. Since I would only be making one attempt at 15.3, today’s go had to represent my best effort. This weekend I spent a little of my down time gathering data. Since age is not an impediment to jump rope speed, I researched how long it takes the top athletes to perform 100 double-unders: around :55. Allowing for the likelihood that I could not do them all unbroken, I allowed myself an extra :05 to trip and go again.

Good News, Bad News

March 13, 2015


I tweaked my back on Wednesday. When the pain became acute, I was not doing anything heavy or even very strenuous: low weight thrusters in volume. But whatever caused what was later diagnosed as an irritated nerve may have happened earlier in the day, during gymnastics. My physical therapist said it might have been brewing all week.

So the pins and needles were more literal last night before 15.3 was announced. I was wired to my Marc Pro electrical stimulation machine, twitching involuntarily, as I watched the Games website feed on my iPad. When I learned the workout will

If the Shoe Fits, Wear It

March 10, 2015

I took my first go at 15.2 on Friday afternoon:



For Master’s Women 55+, there was a subtle difference from the challenge for younger athletes, who had regular chest to bars: we were asked to do jumping chest-to-bar pull ups, which are really a different exercise because the power in the movement comes from the jump. My goal was to make 175 points, halfway through the round of 16’s. But I focused on the challenge of the #45 overhead squats, because when two of the top athletes at my gym performed it the day before, both of them mentioned

The Morning Routine

March 6, 2015



I woke up this morning feeling exceptionally calm. Perhaps there is some comfort in knowing that I have done this before: it was the second workout in the Open in 2014 as well. Every three minutes, athletes are tasked with completing two rounds of a set of overhead squats and pull-ups: the first set of ten each, the second of twelve, and so on, until you fail to complete both rounds. Last year, I got a score of 122, which means I got about ¾ of the way through the round of 14’s.

Over my morning coffee (an Americano,

The Two Faces of CrossFit

March 5, 2015

Thursday is my “active rest day.” My coach suggests taking a swim, but the waves are so high today that a Pacific dip will require more activity than he imagines. So I will take the dogs and hike with friends in the hills above Malibu instead, since recent rains have freshened the air and greened the mountains surrounding Los Angeles, qualities too fleeting to pass up on a sunny winter day. At 5:00 PM PST, CrossFit HQ will announce the second workout of the Open via live feed. I will watch at the gym with fellow athletes, and at 5:30,

Three. Two. One. Go…

March 2, 2015

The CrossFit Open has begun. This week, the workout was this:


First, let me decode it: Open workouts are numbered by year, so “15” is the current season. The numbers and letters after the “point” signify the order in the series. This week, there were two workouts (.1 and .1a), expected to be performed against a running clock in 15 minutes.

AMRAP means “as many reps as possible” in the given time. The rep scheme 15-10-5 is frequently seen in CrossFit workouts. In this case we had to perform as many rounds as possible of 15 Toes To Bar (T2B),