Tag Archives: fitness

The CrossFit Games


Sometimes it is difficult for me to wrap my brain around the entity that is CrossFit.  It is definitely not your typical gym, where you pay some kind of monthly fee, and get access to group exercise courses, weight rooms, and the like.  My primary exposure to CrossFit is living on the same block as an affiliate gym.  Nearly every morning, when I would be walking my dog, I would encounter large groups of people running along the sidewalk.  Sometimes they would have something in their hands, like a tire, a medicine ball, or something that just looked like a giant jug.  I would always think to myself about how these people woke up sometime around 5:30 A.M. to come in and do an intense workout, while I was just walking my dog after eating a bagel with creme cheese.

CrossFit is a also completely different philosophy, on exercise, and on life.  Unlike at a typical gym, CrossFit-ters (is that the right way to refer to them, I do not know) do not work out at their own pace.  In fact, the workouts appear intense and competitive, and so does the lifestyle.

It was a mere ten minutes after arriving that I realized that I may have inadvertently brought a contraband item into the gym.  With a bottle of Coca-Cola in front of a sign strongly advocating against the consumption of sugar, I felt quite ridiculous.

For several reasons, I was a little bit hesitant to come to the CrossFit Regional Competition.  The intensity of the workout regiment does not really match my personality.  I have also all but lost interest in “working out”.  This is primarily due to the fact that I now live in Colorado.  I just find it hard to motivate myself to go run on a treadmill and lift weights when there are mountains with trails, ski resorts, rivers with rapids, and endless adventure possibilities so close to home!

Also, Saturday morning was COLD!  Upon arrival, at about 8:20 A.M., the temperature was in the mid-teens.  This was after Denver International Airport (where the official observations taken) recorded an overnight low of 5 degrees.  Before that morning, the last time the temperature in Denver had dropped lower than 20 was the 6th of March, over 8 months ago.  So, not only was it cold, but we were not accustomed to it.


Despite the cold, and despite the activity being outside the realm of what I would typically attend, I started having fun as soon as I got there.

The first competition I watched was a close race between several competitors.  The competition involved a series of rows, weight lifting, and some series of jumps that I did not really understand.  It was quite exciting!  As the competitors passed through the series of events, some would take leads, some would stage comebacks.  It was like watching another type of race, such as hurdles or horse racing, only with more craziness and variety.

I had came to the CrossFit Regional Competition to support a friend of mine who was competing.  He ended up pulling out a victory in a really close “race”.  In fact, there was an entire group of us that had made the trip up to Broomfield to see him compete.  Towards the end of this close race, we were all yelling, jumping up and down, and cheering him on!  In fact, part of the reason the event was so enjoyable was the group comradery.  I genuinely believe that all events are better when shared with others, even in the cases where solitude is major part of the event (like backpacking).


There were also a lot of other fun events at the CrossFit games.  In particular, I enjoyed watching the relay races, as they had a crazy arrangement of obstacles that each team of competitors had to overcome.

I saw people who were in crazy good shape.  They all looked quite strong, and they all were capable of quite a lot.  All I could think to myself was that despite my strong lack of desire to spend multiple mornings a week lifting weights and running and such, while also making it into a competition, this program works!  It works for the people involved.  Nearly every CrossFit-ter that I have seen, whether it be here, or on my block, is in ridiculously good shape, exactly the result they set out to get.

I am also glad that once again I personally decided to say yes to life.  Had I chosen to stay home, whether it be because I was deterred by the frigid temperatures, or whether it be out of lack of a strong personal connection to the CrossFit way of life, I would have missed out on something truly beautiful.  In the end, what I appreciated most about this event wasn’t the yelling and jingling my keys for the last 15 seconds of the event, or any of the other excitement one gets when watching a close race and having their preferred participant win.  This event was special because I saw something that represents one of the greatest things we, as a human race, ever experience in life.  It is that moment when you see the positive results of hard work in another human being.  It is knowing that a genuinely decent person has taken part in something to better themselves.

Life is full of tough choices.  One definitely involves how one can best spend their time.  We will all receive a series of invitations (or solicitations), and must chose to say yes to some and no to others.  We all know what we like.  One will nearly always willingly accept invitations to activities they know they enjoy, and approach them with a positive and joyous attitude.  Conversely, one will nearly always turn down invitations to activities they know they are not fond of.

What about those activities that fall somewhere in the middle?  Maybe you are not too familiar with them, or have some kind of mixed emotions.  Ultimately, we all must make a judgement call.  Saturday’s event provided a clear reminder to me that accepting more of these invitations, and approaching them with an open mind and a positive attitude will lead to more positive experiences in life.


Testing Our Limits


A good friend of mine once told me that nearly all people are capable of much more than what they believe they can do.  And that, in fact, when challenged, most would actually be surprised by what they are physically able to do once they have been pushed to their very limit.

When it comes to most activities, people generally tend to stop when tired.  After all, exhaustion is generally an unpleasant experience for most, and has the potential to make an activity no longer enjoyable.  However, from time to time, life issues some kind of challenge that forces us to give everything we have, way beyond what we had been wanting to give.  Most of us have experienced that unexpectedly challenging assignment in college that forced us to “pull an all nighter”, or had to tend to someone they truly care about at a time when completely exhausted.  It is at these moments, when we completely drain ourselves, that we figure out the true boundary of what we are capable of.  And, for physical activities, such as cycling, it is when our bodies actually physically begin to give out on us, that we truly understand what we are capable of doing.

Heading into a new season, I decided it was time to challenge myself.  Monday, I had an entire day available with no prior engagements, so I decided to take on a ride that would potentially test the limits of my endurance at its current state; A bike ride from Denver to Castle Rock, and back, in one day.

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The first 30 miles of this trek is on the Cherry Creek trail, from Denver to the suburb of Parker.  Most of this trail is relatively flat.  A gradual upslope, combined with a few uphill segments, takes a rider from Denver’s 5280′ in elevation to Parker’s 5900′.  This part of the journey was not too terribly challenging.  In fact, in this segment, my biggest challenge was finding water to refill my water bottle.  I had assumed, for some reason, since it was already the end of March, and that there have already been 12 days with high temperatures of 70 or above, that the water fountains around the suburbs would be turned on for the spring.  I was wrong, and was quite thirsty and relieved to see this sign, indicating that although the water fountain was not operational, that the bathroom had available water.  You would be surprised how many suburban park bathrooms do not have running water.


To get from Parker to Castle Rock, one must follow a road called Crawfoot Valley Road.  The road is quite luxurious for cyclists, with a shoulder wide enough for roughly two bikes.  In fact, it is labelled a bike lane for some parts of this eight mile stretch of road.  The first three miles, headed southwest from Parker, however, is a bit of a climb, and a deceptive one.  The climb is nowhere near as steep as one in the mountains, and one only climbs 500-600 feet.  But, it is one of those frustrating climbs where the road winds around a bit, and, with each turn, a cyclist will wonder whether or not they are approaching the apex only to see another uphill segment gradually appear as they approach.

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Once this road levels off, facing southwest, the ride becomes almost surreal.  To the left of the road, one can see Pike’s Peak, standing there all by its lonesome.  To the right, the mountains of the Front Range, due west of Denver appear.  Riding sort of directly at these mountains, with the vantage point of being up at roughly 6500 feet in elevation, I cannot help but take a deep breath and marvel at how wondrous the world can be sometimes.

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After just over 40 miles of cycling, I arrived at Castle Rock.  When I got to Castle Rock, I decided to add on a mini-hike to my day of activity.  After all, I spent almost three hours getting here, why wouldn’t I head up to this little rock structure- my destination!

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This is a fairly short hike, with stair-step features that indicate that it was designed primarily for tourists, and not hard-core hikers.  So, I did not feel too bad about adding this hike to my already exhausting daily itinerary.

After all, the return trip to Denver would be much easier, after the initial climb out of town on Crawfoot Valley Road, the rest of the trip would be more or less downhill, descending, overall, from an elevation of 6200′ at Castle Rock back to 5280′ at Denver.

That turned out to be wrong.  As I approached Parker, a northerly wind developed, and, although the wind itself was not too terribly strong (10-12 mph range), the gusts began to pick up and become more frequent.  It was here, peddling into the wind, that an already challenging ride became one where I ended up testing the limits of what my body can do.

There are three levels of tired.  First, there is just general tiredness, where we just feel like stopping.  Many people do indeed stop at this point.  However, those who stop at this first level of tiredness generally do not develop any further endurance.  Level two tired is where we begin to ache, or feel some level of pain.  At this point, it is typically recommended that one stop.  This is the level of tiredness I had expected out of Monday’s ride.  However, the gusty winds on the return trip brought my level of tiredness to the third level, the level in which you simply cannot go anymore.

Working to each level of tiredness achieves a different goal.  An activity that stops at level 1 tiredness maximizes our enjoyment of an activity.  An activity that stops at level 2 tiredness is most beneficial to our fitness.  When we push to level 3 tiredness, we achieve personal accomplishments, the kind that make us feel as if we are achieving something with our activities.

The key is, for almost anyone involved in any kind of physical activity, to find a balance between working to each of the three levels, as they feed off of each other.  The original, and ultimate purpose of any activity should be to have fun, but, for most, an activity become even more enjoyable when we improve, take on new challenges, and accomplish new things.  Much like a skier that starts out on the green slopes, moves up to the blues, then blacks, and finally extreme terrain, I am looking to take my bike out longer distances, and to places that were previously unreachable.  However, in order to plan out how to test my own personal limits, I first have to know where those limits are.  So, as much as I can be pissed off that this ride ended up being more difficult than expected due to the wind, the wind allowed me to actually measure my personal limit, so I can start the process of improving.