Going Strong

May 22, 2015
Photographer Herb Ritts.

Photographer Herb Ritts.

This week, Jessica and I started training in the sport of strongman. Despite the name, it is not just for men, nor is it only for strong people. Strongmen events focus on the functional side of fitness, testing the techniques of moving around difficult objects like kegs, yokes, sleds, atlas stones, and chains. Jess and I are both naturally good at it and enthused about adding it to the weekly training schedule.

As good luck would have it, there is a strongman coach here in Venice Beach. Logan Gelbrich is a former pro baseball player and his

Time Again

May 17, 2015
The Alarm Clock.  Fernand Leger, 1918.

The Alarm Clock. Fernand Leger, 1918.

Time is on my mind. Measuring my performance by reps per minute, pacing my lifts so they start slow and finish fast, all in a matter of two elapsed seconds, noting the skills that need to be mastered before competition—is there enough time for me to master this? Time expands—when I’m working at my best, the ten seconds from setup to lockout in the deadlift feel like an hour—and contracts. Only three months until the Games.

In the gym, I’m constantly surrounded by time. The analogue clock on the wall, the countdown timer, my

Game On

May 7, 2015
Fire in the Belly.  Andrew Brischler, 2013

Fire in the Belly. Andrew Brischler, 2013

It’s official: I received my invitation today to spend three days in July at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, competing in the CrossFit Games. I’ve worked incredibly hard to get to this place, but what I feel most is the honor and privilege to be in the company of the many amazing athletes heading to the same place.

After all, this is an event created to test fitness in a way that no other athletic event has ever done. With an emphasis on functional movements, athletes come to the field with no

Seeing Stars

April 28, 2015

Events 1-4

I am not sure if it is from spending eight minutes upside down yesterday doing forty-five handstand pushups or from the champagne I drank after my results for the 2015 Master’s Qualifier were posted on the Games website, but I got out of bed this morning seeing stars.

I finished the Master’s Qualifier in the top ten—#8 to be exact— which means I will be in the first heat of my division at the CrossFit Games in Carson, California this July.

I’d started the MQ on Friday morning at Waxman’s Gym with the one rep max snatch. Because Waxman’s is

A Seventh Decade

April 23, 2015
Bloodshot, 2007.  Marilyn Minter

Bloodshot, 2007. Marilyn Minter

Last week, I turned 60 years old. There was no birthday bash. No fireworks. The bottles of champagne remained corked. Some of my friends were insulted that I couldn’t be persuaded to let them celebrate me. But the parties can wait. The Master’s Qualifier starts today, and I am focused on reaching a goal bigger than myself. To have allowed myself to whoop it up, even for a day, might have jeopardized realizing it.

That’s the 60th birthday gift I have given myself: my dream. One year ago, I embarked upon a personal challenge to

Double the Fun

April 18, 2015

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I have almost always worked out alone. Not isolated, mind you. I am rarely in an empty room. But it is something like walking by yourself down a crowded street.

Throughout the years, I have tried many times to get friends to join me at the gym, but it didn’t work for more than a session or two. For many years while training to climb mountains, and now as I train for competition, what I needed from a workout was wildly different than someone looking to maintain fitness. Still, I’ve watched the many athletes in my gym who have training

A Good Egg

April 14, 2015

 

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Five Color Frame, 1985. Robert Mangold

I love to wake up early. I can linger over coffee and a little bowl of Overnight Oats while I get all my reading done—the New York Times, the New York Post, and the blogs that have aggregated overnight on my Feedly reader—write a bit, and finally, transcribe my Invictus programming, which sometimes requires time-consuming math to work out my barbell percentages. Like most people, I don’t respond well to an alarm, but I’ve learned to make rising pleasurable. I go to bed at 10:00 p.m., and I sleep with my

Recovery Voodoo

April 10, 2015

Week's Work

I’ve had an especially heavy workload this week as I prepare for the Master’s Qualifier events, which will be announced on April 23. The work has taken a toll: I have a crook in my neck, knot in my upper back, a bruise on my collar bone, blisters on my palms, a cramp in my left forearm, abs so sore that it is a struggle to get out of a chair, and quads and glutes too tender to sit on anyway. But I will be back at it again tomorrow, so there’s no point wallowing.

Easter Egg, Venetian Red, 2009. Amy Bessone

Easter Egg, Venetian Red, 2009.

Pluck

April 8, 2015

GeorgePlimpton

George Plimpton came onto my radar in 1983, when he famously volunteered to help plan a fireworks display to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge. My son Bo was born on that same night in May, in a hospital room within sight and sound of the spectacular celebration. Afterward, Plimpton, who was already prominent in social and literary circles in New York, was named New York City Fireworks Commissioner; his book about the experience, called “Fireworks,” was published a year later.

During that time, I learned more about his previous work, which seesawed between editing high-brow contemporary