Friday, August 29, 2008 by Daniel


OK, on the as-sore-as-I've-ever-been-in-my-life scale, this is about an 8, maybe even a 9. Murph truly fucked us over, and I suspect it has kicked Rebecca out of the burpee challenge. Probably should not have done it 100%, looking back on it now. Well, what's done is done, we didn't get rhabdo, and we will get plenty of "rest" sitting on our asses driving up to Portland and back this weekend for a wedding. Last big trip of the summer, and then we can regain some fitness and dietary discipline next week.

Anyway, today I did 47 wince-inducing burpees and "climbed."

By "climbed," I mean I laughed my way up a couple A/B's, fell off a couple B's, and gave up. It wasn't pretty, but I hadn't climbed for a couple weeks and I didn't want to miss the chance.

Rebecca got me snazzy new climbing shoes for my birthday, and I'm very stoked. Didn't wear them today as I think I need a slightly larger size or maybe a different shoe, but SOON I will get to climb in something that doesn't smell like an alcoholic skunk's morning breath, and is not full of holes. Sharma better watch out, cause me and my new shoes, man...just wait.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 by Rebecca

75% Murph

Murph. Ow.

I just want to start off by saying that I lost all the split data for this one, and I'm totally bummed about it. My watch ran out of 'laps' and stopped and wouldn't continue timing, and without really thinking it through (who can think in the middle of Murph?) I wrote down my time, cleared the data and started over. DOH! :'(

Warmup - missed a bunch of it - but some OHS w/ dowel, the burgner warmup w/ dowel, and 10 burpees.

WOD: Murph
For time:
1 mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run

Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed.
1:08:46 (ish)

Subs: pullups were done on the BIW gravitron @ 70
push ups were done using knees after round 3
last mile was only .5 mile

I think my first mile was 11:31 - tried to run 3 min walk 1 min - which worked for 2 rounds (through min. 8), and then i just ran as i could and walked when i had to. It realy started agravating my sore hip muscle, and by the end I had to start walking as much because of that as because of a lack of air.

Round 1-5 were cindy style 5-10-15
Rounds 5-10 were 10-20-30

I decided in round 4 that I was spending too much time trying to catch my breath in the transitions, and that i'd probably do better to make my sets longer. Unfortunately I no longer have any time data to see whether that was really true, but i think it helped.

For the first few rounds I really felt like i might be on the verge of my first visit from Pukie - which REALLY increased my rest periods. But in the later rounds - maybe because i increased the # of reps per round (?) - it was a little easier to transition from one exercise to the next.

I ran out of 'laps' after the 10 pullups in round 12/13 (26 laps is, apparently the limit) , and my time was 49:17.

I think that 70 on the BIW gravitron is probably too easy now - the only time i wasn't able to get 10 consecutive pull-ups is when my hands started slipping - nothing to do with strength. Next time (if i can remember) i'll set it to 60.

Pushups are still the devil. These were by far and away still the hardest part of this workout. My first round felt really strong - 10 strong full ROM pushups. Every round after that just got progressively harder. By the end of the workout - particularly the last 2 sets - my arms were failing completely. A 'good rep' was if I was able to control myself down to the floor instead of just falling. The very last pushup, i wasn't sure I was going to be able to push myself back up (even using my knees). I was wearing my HR monitor- and pushups seem to spike it higher than anything else. The few times i looked, it was as high as 160 or 170.

By the time i finished 75% of the reps, it had already been over an hour, and since I was pretty much at muscular failure with the pushups, I decided that that was enough, and if i was only going to do 75% of the reps, it made sense to me to do 75% of the running - so I only did .5 miles at the end. It was not a spry or quick half mile either. 6:39. Ouch.

I had hoped to do better. Like 100%. But I haven't been eating well this week, particularly not today, and the sore muscle in my hip has REALLY been bothering me the last few days. Hurts every time I stand up from sitting for any extended period of time. So, I am happy enough.

Welcome back. Now go do Murph.

I was seriously dreading this workout from the moment Max posted it. The last time I did a real metcon was 2 weeks ago, and combined with the extra weight I put on at the beach, I knew this would be a killer.

For time:
1 mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run

72:13 RX

And yes, it was brutal. But now I have a RX benchmark for this (last time I did it I did jumping/assisted pullups and rowed instead of run, and did it in 70 minutes). I'm pretty sure the next time I do this I should do far better.

I did this one Cindy-style (breaking it up into rounds of 5/10/15). I was dreading the pullups, but they were actually fine and not very hard at such low reps. The pushups were the real killers for me this time. So many rounds meant ample opportunities for rest, which I took advantage of probably a bit too often. Next time I should do it 10/20/30, I think.

Here are the detailed splits:

0:12:44 (the last mile was plagued with a nasty side stitch, forcing me to walk about half of it)
Average round: 2:37

Monday, August 25, 2008 by Rebecca

Back to work

43 Burpees done throughout the day. I am definitely getting a whole lot better at these.

Deadlift x 5
45-50-60-60-lost count - at least 2 more sets worth i think

Push-Press x 5

Dips x 10 on BIW Gravitron
90- 90

I was in a foul mood @ work today - coming home from vacation tends to do that - and I am getting thoroughly disgusted with my company's rampant inefficiency. Anyway, I was relieved to get to the gym to put all that aside just to work on moving heavy things around. At least I feel like I accomplished something.

I kept the Deadlifts really light tonight to continue trying to work on my form. I did them in ront of the mirror - and it was a good thing i did, too. I started off only focusing on trying to not let my knee wobble on the lift and the descent. But I noticed - after about mythird set, that the bar was not parallel to my legs when I set it down on the ground. The left side was about 8-12 inches in front of my foot, and the right was much closer. This really confused me since I had been making sure to trace my shins with the bar on the way down.

This led me to take a much closer look at my form. I looked at myself in the mirror in the squat position just before the lift and I realized that while my shoulders were square over the bar, my hips were swiveled out to the left(allowing me to place most of my weight on my left foot) and my torso was compensatingly swiveled to the right to be 'square'. I worked to straighten myself out and - what looked straight in the mirror sure didn't feel natural. That will take some practice.

Long story short, after that discovery I stopped keeping track of reps, and just kept lifting trying to keep everything as aligned as possible both on the way up and the way down. Daniel's noticed the funny sort of corkscrew action I do when I was back squatting, too, so I am sure that this is something universal that needs to be fixed.

Astonishingly (meaning entirely predictably) when I was correctly aligned, the bar went up really easy, and the movement felt strong and sturdy. I'll have to keep working on this until what is 'right' also feel 'natural'. Once I manage to retrain myself (god only knows how long that will take :-< ) I expect that I'll be able to advance a lot more quickly in all of the lifts.

The push presses were pretty good. 50# feels quite a lot heavier than 45#. It really hurt (fatigued) my wrists. Daniel pointed out - and i think he's right - that I am not holding the bar in the front squat position - resting on my delts - between reps. I tried it, but couldn't quite figure out how to get from the 'rack' position' into a position I can push-press from. That will probably come with experience - and a little more wrist strength.

Then while Daniel was getting dressed, I decided to try a few dips. I've managed to miss every workout that calls for them - by accident not design - and they are definitely something I want to work towards developing. I set the BIW gravitron to 90 and manged 10 consecutive - the last few were really tough. When Daniel still wasn't out a few minutes later I managed to get in 10 more. I wasn't sure I would get the last couple, but I managed it. Next time I will try 80.

Overall, I am pretty happy with this workout. I'm glad I was able to identify a major structural problem, and I feel like it is fixable with the proper attention to detail.

Back in the saddle with 5x5's

43 Burpees done throughout the day

Deadlift: 235
Shoulder Press: 95!

I was very pleasantly surprised by tonight's workout. After more than a week of being a lazy bum and filling my body with poisons, the five exploratory pullups I did this morning were WAY harder than they used to be. So I was fully prepared to bomb this workout.

Instead I rocked it! The DL's were heavy but manageable, but the shoulder presses were great! They felt solid and strong, and while two weeks ago I wasn't able to do the full five reps, tonight I was. I won't say they were no problem, because that last rep WAS heavy, and I really didn't think I was going to pull off the last rep of the last set, but overall they DID feel strong.

Part of it, I think, was a change in visualization on the origin of the effort. Previously, I had been thinking of the effort as happening mainly in my shoulders, but tonight I thought of driving the weight up from lower down my back, in my lats. For some reason this made me think of a triangle, or a mountain, and suddenly I felt much more stable and able to drive the weight up without so much teetering. I don't know where the change in perspective came from, it was just there.

In other, more maddening news, I'm ready to take a hammer to our scale. Two weeks ago it agreed with the Ironworks scale. Today it disagreed by three pounds. I think we need to get a new one, as this one seems to grow increasingly unreliable the further above 180 I get.

Sunday, August 24, 2008 by Daniel

...and we're back!

9 days later, we return from a highly restful week in Florida.

There's really not a whole lot to blog about, actually. Unlike our usual "adventure" vacations, this one was dedicated almost entirely to taking it easy. We spent a lot of time sitting around reading, watching the Olympics or bad movies, playing Wii games (Mario Kart == awesome), eating really bad food, and generally not going anywhere further than the pool, the beach, or Starbucks.

Side note on the food. Nearly all rules were suspended. We still avoided trans fats, and I tried to keep HFCS (primarily in Oreo form) to a minimum, but otherwise it was high-carb-city. Beer. Potato chips. Lots of bread. I'll be very curious to take measurements on Wednesday to see what damage was wrought. The Wii Fit clocked me in at 191, which (if true) means I gained 7 pounds in 5 days. I'd be pretty shocked if our scale confirmed that, but whatever - the new diet starts in a week, and it should come back off pretty easily.

Exercise was also avoided assiduously. As my first rest week in 10 months, I think my body really appreciated the break, and nearly all my generic aches and pains are gone (my foot is still a little sore from the toe thing, but it's nearly fully healed). We did, however, still perform our daily burpees, very often on the beach. We even took a video:

Some things we learned about beach burpees:

  • Find the levelest, hardest-packed sand you can. This is typically down very near the waves.
  • Face uphill, or risk injury from unbalanced jumping on uneven ground while very tired.
  • Since you are so close to the waves, be wary of jumping back INTO the water. This can result in a splash of seawater right in the face.
  • DO NOT CLAP overhead. This will result in an undesired shower of sand on your head and eyes. Best to just throw your hands up and out in a 'V'.
  • Take only photographs. Leave only burpee angels.

Friday, August 15, 2008 by Daniel

Last workout for a while

Went to Ironworks this morning to climb, but Tor was a no-show - guess I should have confirmed with him that I'd be there.

It's OK. LOTS to do today in preparation for leaving, and I'm so sore from the last couple days that I would not have been much use climbing. Still, as long as I was there...

33 Burpees
50 Thrusters at 65#

The burpees were in two sets (20/13). I'm working on the jump up out of pushup now - I can significantly increase the time if I don't come all the way back up to plank position before jumping, but this is a more explosive movement (feels kind of like clapping pushups) that tires me out faster, so I'm not sure it's worth it. I can't really do it after 10, anyway. I'll keep practicing it, though, as I like faster burpees.

The thrusters were really just laying the form groundwork for the level II thrustermania workout that I will need to do someday. They were not unbroken by any means. My thrusters are poor. I just don't have sufficient explosive power out of the squat to really help at all with the press portion, so it's essentially a squat and then a shoulder press. I think these are second only to burpees in killing my breath, too. I will endeavor to work on them more to ferret out the efficiencies in form, and I think once I get my 1xBW back squat, I'll switch to front squat in my 5x5's to help strengthen my thrusters.

We're getting on a plane tonight for Florida, and don't expect to do any exercise (apart from the burpees, and maybe some sea kayaking) while we're there. I'm looking forward to a full week off. We may check in here with photos and such.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 by Daniel

5x5's, and a couple level 2's

I wanted to knock out the last couple skills on the list that I thought I could achieve, so as part of my warmup today I did:

30 V-ups
Handstand hold: 1 minute

The V-ups weren't pretty, but there were 30 of them, and I BARELY got my minute hold - the last few seconds were agony, and it killed my wrists, but I'm happy to have those done. Everything that's left on the list is something I'm gonna have to fight for.

Back Squat: 140
Bench Press: 135

From comments on the forums about the video I posted a week ago, I ditched the pad, held the bar lower on my back, kept a neutral neck position, and tried to keep the weight on my midfoot instead of rocking forward onto the balls of my feet. This was successful, and in some ways made the squats more comfortable, but they also felt harder than last week. But I think the form IS better, and I could more easily drop below parallel.

The bench was hard, but just manageable. I'm 45# from bodyweight (level 2) on this, and it just seems so far away. According to online one-rep max estimators, I'll be able to 1RM 180# when I can 5 x 160#. That's 25# away. Seems more doable. I'll keep plugging away at it.

More squat practice & Bench Press

So - instead of weighted back squats, I decided to just continue working on strengthening my squat form.

So - while Daniel was working on his back squats, I started off squatting slowly down to a 12(ish)" stool - just practicing depth and trying to keep my right knee from collapsing in. Then I practiced just the bottom ROM of the squat ... just getting a few inches off the stool and controlling back down.

Then i put a step, like one would use in an aerobic step class, on top of my stool (it was plenty sturdy) which brought the height to about mid thigh, and just practiced stepping up onto it.

This might have taken 20 minutes or so. I didn't time it - or count reps.

Then I did my usual Bench Press x 5 reps


I threw an extra warm up round in there because the first one felt weird. I had sort of a kink in my right shoulder that made full ROM a little uncomfortable, but after stretching it and massaging it a bit it was fine. These were hard. For pretty much every set, I had to rest at the top of the ROM after the 3rd & 4th Rep, and the 5th rep was always a close call, but I got it every time.

In other news I've noticed that I am not seeing much improvement in my burpees any longer. I think that the main problem is that, except at the gym, I am almost always concerned with doing the burpees quietly - at work i don't want to be 'caught' (mostly due to the embarrassment factor) and at home, I don't want to bother our downstairs neighbors, and so my form and intensity is sacrificed. I've decided, at work at least, to stop caring so much, and to be better about requiring better form from myself in order for a rep to count.

Fortunately, there will be ample opportunity to practice burpees with good form while we are in Florida.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 by Rebecca

Sit-up, thruster, pull-up: *fun*

Warm up - 4 squats - 12 burpees - run 400m - 10 squats (pulled from a deck of cards)

For time:
20 Sit-ups
20 Supermen
95 pound Thrusters, 30 reps
50 Pull-ups
60 Sit-ups
60 Supermen
95 pound Thrusters, 20 reps
35 Pull-ups
100 Sit-ups
100 Supermen
95 pound Thrusters, 10 reps
20 Pull-ups

*sub 15# thrusters, jumping pullups


0:47 - 20 situps
0:50 - 20 supermen
2:26 - 30 thrusters
7:25 - 50 pullups
4:58 - 60 situps & 60 supermen
1:16 - 20 thrusters
7:07 - 35 pullups
9:23 - 100 situps & 100 supermen
1:02 - 10 thrusters
3:51 - 20 pullups

wasn't real good about hitting the lap timer on my watch - so the splits are approximate.

I opted to go with a very light weight for the thrusters so that i could try to really focus on my squat form. Max said it was looking better.

Someone else was using the gravitron so I found an empty pull-up bar and tried my hand at jumping pull-ups. I had a hard time finding a step that was the right height. I don't think these worked me as thoroughly as the gravitron pull-ups do. maybe i wasn't doing them right ... ?

Also - just as a note to myself, and anyone who happens to be reading this who might be considering doing a quantity of situps ... drinking water just beforehand is a BAD idea. Don't do it no matter how thirsty you might be.

After 1 round i had kind of a wicked exertion headache - the kind that just sort of sits up right behind your forehead and just throbs - particularly when bend over or lift a heavy object. I just pushed through it, and it was gone by the time I finished showering after the workout, but I felt pretty blech right afterwards. I need to do some research into what causes those, to see if there's a way to avoid getting them. Daniel and I both get them, and it's been particularly noticeable for both of us the past week or so. It makes me wonder whether it's something diet related since we're both having trouble with it. Something to keep an eye on, anyway.

In other news, I have a little stool that lives in my cubicle so that on the (rare) occasion that someone comes to visit, they have a place to sit, and I realized that if i place the stool directly next to the wall at the end of my cubicle, i can practice stepping up onto it (to strengthen my right leg) while holding onto the wall for support. it's a nice little fully constructed half wall that comes just about to my head height (not a flimsy cubicle wall). It's a nice little break from sitting still @ my desk.

Fran mashup of pain

This didn't go so well.

For time:
20 Sit-ups
20 Supermen
95 pound Thrusters, 30 reps
50 Pull-ups

60 Sit-ups
60 Supermen
95 pound Thrusters, 20 reps
35 Pull-ups

100 Sit-ups
100 Supermen
95 pound Thrusters, 10 reps
20 Pull-ups

DNF in 36:07 (2 rounds). 2 x 30# dumbbell thrusters.

I knew pullups were a real weakness of mine, particularly in bulk. Turns out thrusters are, too. I could probably have stuck it out for another 20 minutes to finish the third round, but I was feeling plenty smoked as it was.

In the 5 o'clock class before us, James was doing the thrusters at 95#. I tried one to see how it was, and it was really heavy. 45 of those for level 2 is a long ways away, and I clearly need to do more thruster work - I don't have enough explosive power out of the squat to really help with the press overhead, it's all too slow.

Monday, August 11, 2008 by Rebecca

Squat practice

Or ... something like squat practice. It wasn't a real workout; I have no idea how many reps I did of anything - though i was plenty hot and sweaty when i was done.

My main focus today was just to work on strengthening my right leg, and getting it to stop collapsing in every time I squat(or even bend my knees) - particularly if I'm bearing any weight.

I found a stool and a sturdy support and basically practiced 1 legged squats on my right leg. And I sort of use the term 'squat' loosely. My right leg is so weak that just supporting my full weight, or even just most of my weight, in any bent position is HARD, so what i did was lower into some range of the squat position - sometimes higher sometimes lower - and then just take as much weight as i could off my left leg, and holding onto my support just try to hold it for as long as possible. It was ridiculously hard work.

I was pretty happy that my support and bench were in an out of the way space under the stairs.

Next time I'll work on more movement up and down, more - but I feel like that area just needs to get stronger before working on the movement will help since at my current strength single leg up and down movement on the right just isn't even possible - even holding onto something

There was also an 8kg KB there, so when i was recovering from my squat attempts I'd occasionally throw in a set of 5 push-presses on my right side with the KB, and then there was the occasional set of burpees to finish them for the day.

My right hamstring has been sore for weeks. Every time i stand up from my desk at work I have to wait a few seconds for my muscles to stop shouting in protest. Tomorrow should be a blast. Glad it's a rest day. :-P


29 Burpees

DL: 230
SP: 95 x 5 - 4 - 4 - 4 - 4

It's been a stressful day, and my body has been full of all sorts of vague aches, pains and discomforts that, combined with my general bad mood, had me grousing about going to the gym today, but Rebecca insisted and I did feel better afterwards.

The deadlifts were fine. I'm working on doing them faster so I can finish the set before my grip fails. All of these were done overhand.

Reached the limit of the Shoulder Presses today. 95# is heavy! The fifth rep always felt so close, it just wouldn't get up past my forehead. Maybe next time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008 by Rebecca

So Excited!

Just wanted to mark the milestone:

Apparently, the CRAZY insane people who lived behind us - a woman who screamed bloody murder at her husband very frequently and occasionally at her kids have moved out. Even though ' stupid' and 'asshole' and 'bad person' seemed to be the worst epithet's she could come up with, it was still no fun to hear her screaming all the time.

AND, better yet, whoever has moved in, is having an old-timey musical concert. It is so so so awesome!

Addendum: The band's name is Bucky Walters

The guitarist's brother lived next door. Apparently everyone in that house is being required to move out as the owners are reclaiming it.

OK, feeling better now

We went to GWPC to help Max and Ev make some sandbags, and though we were too late to really be that much help, we had fun hanging out on the roof and helping a little.

Afterwards, Max was kind enough to hook us up with some gear from behind the counter (we hadn't planned on climbing and didn't bring our own), and we went up a few routes, switching off belay partners with Max & Ev. I like the routes at GWPC - technical, long, and not too pumpy. I did:

10a(o), 10b/c(o), 10d(f+)

Without all the overhang and negative incline, it almost felt like cheating to climb the routes. Definitely a good place to go when in a general climbing slump, as I currently am.

Great Western Power Company (GWPC)

WOO HOO! (now)

Today started badly. It did not go at all as planned. The original plan was to have a sleep-in sort of morning, go to CF class @ 11, and then Daniel would work and I would spend the afternoon running a few errands.

Well yesterday, Daniel pulled something in his foot when he caught his tow in the cuff of his pants while we were playing frisbee, so it looked like i was heading to CF on my own.

Then, when Daniel got up to use the bathroom (but neither one of us was really ready to fully get up yet), he discovered that one of our cats - Felix - wouldn't put any weight on his rear right paw. He was very pathetically hoping around on three paws.

Out of bed, into shower, rush through breakfast, off we went to the vet. I don't know why, but it's always felix who has the injuries, and the worst injuries always happen just before we go on a trip, and ALWAYS when it's emergency hours at the vet so everything is about twice as expensive.

The vet was having a very busy day, so it took TWO HOURS and $400 (!!!) to get in and get out. It was like going to the emergency room. :-| And apparently X-Rays are exceedingly expensive. Fortunately, nothing was broken. Their guess was that somebody - dog or cat - bit him. Needless to say, by the time we got out of there, CF class was out for me, too.

So - change of plans - I would run my errands fist, and Daniel would work while I was out, and then if I got done in time, we'd head over to GWPC to help Max put sand bags together for the new roof space. And since one of today's WOD options was 'run 5 k' i though i might go up to the UC berkeley track and give it a shot in the late afternoon.

The errands went mostly well - except when Kaiser told me that it was too soon to pick up my BC prescription, and that if I had to have it now, I'd have to pay full price - which was $178 instead of $25. AHHH. turns out i was like 4 days early, or something stupid like that, and that's what i get for trying to plan ahead for my trip :-| They finally agreed to give it to me at my insurance plan rate.

By the time I was done, it was 3pm and Daniel and I weren't sure whether they'd still any help @ GWPC, but Daniel wanted to get out of the house, so we headed over. They were mostly done by the time we got there, but there was one sand bag left to be constructed, so we helped put that one together, and helped clean stuff up.

Max suggested that i should try working on one legged squats on my right side to make it figure out how to squat correctly. I'll give it a shot.

Max and Evelyn and their friend Christine were going to climb afterwards, and Max caught us looking wistfully at the walls (since we hadn't thought to bring our gear with us), and offered to snag loaner harnesses & shoes for us. Sweet!

I love the naming conventions they use at GWPC - just about every route is named after a cartoon, or a cartoon character. it's awesome. I also love the walls there - they have really great features, and they're TALL. And what I love most of all is that the routes are quite technical, but generally, not super strengthy.

So I started out warming up on a 5.8 called Lady Jayne (after the GI Joe character :-D). It was a fun, exterior corner climb, so you spend most of the climb sort of wrapped around the corner.

My second climb was a 10a called Destro (also from GI Joe). I had watched Daniel just breeze his way up it as his warmup, so I decided to give it a shot. I got it clean! It had a little bit of an overhang towards the beginning that I struggled with, but didn't ever fall.

My second climb was a 10a called Ian - dunno why. It was another fun technical climb that I got totally clean. (!!) Evelyn, who was my belay partner, said that I was doing a good job of really using my hips, and plotting my route.

I didn't note the name of my 3rd climb - a 10a marked with green tape in the block of climbs named after GI joe characters. This was the hardest because i was getting tired, and because there was some negative incline that the others lacked. There were a couple points where I was just sure that my arms were going to give out on me - this climb had a lot of moves that required you to bring your feet up quit high and stand up on them in order to reach the next handhold - but I manged to power through and get to more secure footing, and while my feet slipped a couple times, I never fell off the wall, and made the climb clean.

SO this is definitely a PR - 3 clean 10a climbs in a single climbing session - that's just totally awesome. If this gym didn't use the same route setters that all the gyms use I'd be saying that they must just set the routes easier here, but - they do - so that can't be it. I guess I'm just improving :-D

The things I was focusing on were: Assessing where the next hand hold was before I moved my feet up. Moving my feet up before reaching for the next handhold. and making sure that the correct hip was closer to the wall in order to reach the next hold.

It was SUPER fun - I am sad that I likely will not get to climbing there (or anywhere else! :( ) for the next 2-3 weeks. Since we'll be driving up to Portland for labor day weekend, maybe we can take our gear and locate a climbing gym up there, oo - and take Ilana to go try it.

Foul Temper

I am in a bad fucking mood. Today sucks.

I injured myself yesterday. Twice, apparently. Doing stupid stuff.

First, I fucked up my foot playing frisbee. We were playing barefoot, and I rolled up my jeans so I wouldn't step on them. Then, while running, I caught my right big toe in my left pants cuff, and busted something on the top of my foot. It didn't feel that bad - like a stubbed toe, basically - but got a lot worse as the day wore on.

And then, since I'm an idiot, I climbed on it. Three times. It did not like that, no it didn't Precious, but I did it anyway. Just to show it who's boss, I suppose.

And in doing so, somehow busted my hand. I don't even know how. It just started hurting, and hasn't stopped. Curiously, the pain is exactly in the corresponding location on my hand as it is on my foot. So clearly God is out to get me via the tendons on the back of my starboard extremities. Asshole.

So vacation starts early for me, it seems. No Crossfit today, which sucks because I've been wanting to try running 5k for a while. And it looks like I'll have to call off climbing tomorrow with Tor, which I'm deeply unhappy about.

And to top it all off, our cat got in a fight this morning and landed us a $400 vet bill and a messed-up leg. So he's unhappy, I'm unhappy. At least Rebecca's doing OK.

She gave a good rundown of 'To the Limit,' though I think she was too generous to the filmmakers and their fascination with Lebowskiist Philosophy. I swear, I was ready to reach through the camera and start smacking Dean Potter around if he uttered one more tortured metaphor about climbing as a means of spiritual expression. I mean, Dude.

Saturday, August 9, 2008 by Rebecca

Mission Cliffs

We were a bit late arriving for our climbing date with Katherine & Blake due to terrible traffic heading into the city, and we had tickets for a 7pm showing of 'To the Limit' about the German brothers who held the world speed record for climbing the nose of El Capitan for about a year before it was recently broken. (more about that later) so we only had time for a few climbs.

I got 3 climbs done, 2 5.9's and a 5.10a. None of them entirely clean, but all of them mostly clean. We brought the camera with us to try to tape some climbs, but the batteries were dead :-(

The first 5.9 was in the 'cave' but there wasn't any significant overhang or anything. It was fairly straight forward, but I had one take about 2/3 of the way up just because my arms got tired. I wasn't very good about keeping a mantra of 'hips-over-feet' running in my head.

The second 5.9 was the one that I had nearly done clean last time right near the stairs, and it was great right up until the last move where i had to rely on my right foot and leg to get me up to the last hold, and it just didn't have enough juice to get me there.

The last climb was the one I am most proud of - it was a 10.a that started with an overhang, goes up an exterior corner for a ways, and then had some fun slab climbing at the end with a big step up over a little overhang as the last move. This climb had a little of everything. I definitely did not do it clean. It took a couple tries to make it over the overhang at the beginning, but I did it 100% legitimately - no ratcheting, and no cheating by using holds from other climbs or anything. Slab climbing in the gym is a little different than slab climbing out on real rocks, but it's still fun. I had two more takes near the top in tricky locations, but I made it to the top. I'd really look forward to doing that climb again.

So after climbing we went to see 'To the Limit' - as I said above. The cinematography of the two brothers climbing is basically jaw-droppingly amazing. The camera work really puts you right up close to the brothers as they climb, and they just have some gorgeous footage.

HOWEVER, the movie had several shortcomings - there was very little explanation of how they were doing what they were doing - no explanation of routes or gear or technique or strategy. The movie was pretty focused on the relationship of the brothers and it was almost as if the climbing was incidental to that.

The BIGGEST problem however, was that it gave some pretty significant screen time to a couple other climbers who just spouted on about ... I dunno - why climbers climb, and how you have to experience risks in order to LIVE and ...ugh. It was a lot like that conversation you might have if you were high and expounding upon the profoundness of the world, only less interesting since we were sober.

Ultimately, if you want to see some beautiful footage of the gorgeous Yosemite valley, and two top notch climbers zooming their way up El Cap, and/or an exploration of the ups and downs of two competitive climbers who happen to be brothers, I would recommend renting this film - and just fast forwarding through any footage that the brother are not personally in. *Note this movie is mostly in German with English subtitles.

Friday, August 8, 2008 by Daniel

Man Overboard!

As I was staring at the pool of sweat coalescing on the floor under my head during the Supermen of round 2, a couple of thoughts were swirling in my head - inasmuch as I was capable of thinking of anything. 1) I felt embarassed for myself and somewhat sorry for Raphael, who had to follow my sweaty and towel-forgetting self from one station to the next, and 2) that this workout was just what the doctor ordered.

I felt strangely "bleah" today. Lumpish. Gross. A little queasy. Could be because I didn't get my Friday morning climbing in (Tor is still nursing his thigh). I think perhaps I overdid it on the protein yesterday, and was paying the nutritional piper today. Or it was just being stuck inside working for most of the day, and my body craves more activity. Whatever the cause, a torturous metcon was just the RX (as it were), and I felt much better afterwards. Why, I do believe I have become addicted to exercise.

2 Rounds:

  1. Row 250 Meters
  2. Push-ups
  3. Med Ball Clean 14#
  4. V-Ups
  5. Med Ball Jerk 14#
  6. Supermen
  7. Med Ball Front Squat 20#
  8. Feet Anchored STRICT Sit-Ups
  9. Jump Squats
  10. Burpees
This is a Version of "Man Overboard" from CrossFit NYC Black Box.

The rower is the 'pace car'.

The time it takes to row is the time you have to do each movement.

Upon completion of the row, the rower yells out "Man Overboard" and the coach calls "Rotate" or "Switch", everyone then moves to the next station.

There is no rest in this workout: as soon as the Coach calls "Rotate" you may start the next exercise. Total score is total reps completed. The row does not count towards points. If you are trying for the highest score, you want to row as fast as possible to prevent others from being able to complete a lot of reps. However the trade-off in metabolic capacity of going full-bore must be considered as well.

Final score: 367
round 1: 200 | round 2: 167

Pushup: 20 | 15
Med Ball Clean: 18 | 10
V-Up: 19 | 16
Med Ball Jerk: 22 | 20
Supermen: 29 | 29
Med Ball Front Squat: 28 | 25
Situp: 22 | 25
Jump Squat: 30 | 20
Burpee: 12 | 7

Not much to note here, really. I think the 30 V-Ups for Level II are closer than I had previously thought, perhaps already within my grasp. I think the extra weight from the bulking is making metcons and climbing more difficult, but the flipside is that it'll be that much easier when I take the weight off again, so I don't mind too much.

Max showed us the roof of the Power Company where he will be holding classes, when the workout calls for it. It looks very cool. Both literally and figuratively - on foggy or rainy days it'll be COLD up there. He's going to make a huge stack of sandbags to do more heavy weight work. I for one am looking forward to it. Too bad getting the GWPC during rush hour is such a pain in the ass.

Man overboard!

Warmup: mobility exercises, 10 burpees, 5 pushups, 5-10 of each of the exercises in the workout to learn them and practice them.

WOD @ GWPC 8-08-08 "Man Overboard"
2 Rounds:
  1. Row 250 Meters
  2. Push-ups
  3. Med Ball Clean 14#
  4. V-Ups
  5. Med Ball Jerk 14#
  6. Supermen
  7. Med Ball Front Squat 20#
  8. Feet Anchored STRICT Sit-Ups
  9. Jump Squats
  10. Burpees
If there are fewer than 10 athletes, the coach will row the extra 250s.

This is a Version of "Man Overboard" from CrossFit NYC Black Box.

The rower is the 'pace car'.

The time it takes to row is the time you have to do each movement.

Upon completion of the row, the rower yells out "Man Overboard" and the coach calls "Rotate" or "Switch", everyone then moves to the next station.

There is no rest in this workout: as soon as the Coach calls "Rotate" you may start the next exercise. Total score is total reps completed. The row does not count towards points. If you are trying for the highest score, you want to row as fast as possible to prevent others from being able to complete a lot of reps. However the trade-off in metabolic capacity of going full-bore must be considered as well.
Reps Time AvgHR
  1. Med Ball Clean 14# (Mathew)
    13 0:55 146|10 0:55 162
  2. V-Ups (Evelyn)
    30 1:31 146 |21 1:23 159
  3. Med Ball Jerk 14# (Daniel)
    14 1:14 155|13 1:15 164
  4. Supermen (Max|Raphael)
    32 1:19 146|32 1:07 163
  5. Med Ball Front Squat 20# (Nicole|Max)
    13 1:16 158 |13 1:00 165
  6. Feet Anchored STRICT Sit-Ups (Elaine)
    23 1:21 130 |25 1:23 157
  7. Jump Squats (Alex)
    19 0:58 161|19 1:04 165
  8. Burpees (Darius)
    9 1:33 165 |7 1:23 164
  9. Row 250 Meters (Rebecca)
    1:26 169 | 1:36 171
  10. Push-ups (Bill)
    12 1:14 177 |10 1:19 170 (stopped my watch a little slow)

    Round 1 Total: 165
    Round 2 Total: 150
    Total: 315
This was fun. Pretty happy that for the most part my reps between round 1 & 2 were pretty consistent. My pushups were all full ROM (!) :-D . Ironically, i think the only exercise that wasn't 100% Rx was the burpees. >.< Burpees directly after jump squats ... suck.

Thursday, August 7, 2008 by Rebecca

5 x5 and a little climbing

Warmup - mobility exercises, 20 incline situps, 5 burpees (did 20 earlier), 25 air squats

Back squat x 5
45 - 50 - 60(f) - 60(pr) - 60

Bench Press x 5
45 - 50 - 55(pr) - 55 - 55

5.7(c) - 5.9(r)
My back squats felt a little unsteady. More and more I am coming to the conclusion that I just can't progress on these lifts until I really dial in my squat form. We brought our camera to tape these today. It's really clear that my right side just isn't supporting its share of the weight, and so i do a funny sort of twist to the left to get back up. Not pretty. Looks like I am going to have to dial down the weight on these, too, and just focus on form for a while. I want to lift heavier things darn it! ... but i know heavier things will only get lifted without injury! once i get my form(squat strength) dialed in. Sigh.


The bench press actually went REALLY well today. WhenI tried 55# 2 weeks ago I didn't manage a single full set of 5 reps. This week they were practically easy! My warm up set with the empty bar actually felt like a warmup set instead of a work set. That was really exciting.

Now if i can only get my lower body on the same strength gaining bandwagon my upper body seems to be on I'll be several steps closer to doing WOD's Rx. THAT'd be nice.

Climbing. Not sure it was my brightest idea ever, but it felt like it had been a long while since I had been on the wall, so I asked Daniel to belay me for a couple climbs at the end of the evening.

My plan was just to do a couple easy climbs and focus on technique - but BIW is rather SHORT on easy climbs these days. I climbed a relatively easy and straight forward 5.7 on the backwall (one of maybe 2 5.7 in the whole gym >:-p ) It has a part where you have to climb up on a ledge and then continue on a wall above you which was the only kind of tricky area.

There was a nice, slabby 5.9 near the 5.7 that I wanted to do - but it was taken by the time i finished the 5.7, so ... the next climb was a 'relatively' friendly looking 5.9(marked in blue tape) - i say relatively because it had one sustained area of negative incline - which is not so nice on tired arms and hands. It was actually quite a neat, technical, climb with lots of balance shifting required to move from one hold to the next. Unfortunately, my hands and arms were not up to the challenge of keeping me (with my less than perfect form) on the wall all the way up without a rest (or two). But I did make it to the top, and will look forward to trying that climb again sometime in the hopefully not too distant future.

Daniel pointed out that the few times i had to rest I was not doing a good job of swiveling my hips to keep them over my feet, which is why my arms got tired. In slab climbing this means keeping your hips out away from the wall, which I'm fairly good at, but with negative incline it means keeping your hips as close to the wall as possible, which I am less good at. I think if I just think of it in terms keeping my hips over my feet, instead of out or in, I might do a little better in general.


25 burpees in sets of 5 throughout the day, finishing up in my warmup. Shoulder is feeling better.

Back Squat: 135
Bench: 130

We had so much fun with the camera in the mountains with the burpees we thought we'd bring them to the gym to check our form.


The squats are still feeling pretty fine - I think it'll be a while before I start failing on these, if I even get to that in this cycle. Looking at the video, I'm pretty happy with my form. I'm pitching forward a little bit at the bottom, that could improve, and sometimes I straighten my legs ahead of my back, causing me to do a bit of a Good Morning to finish up, which isn't good. But overall, I think it's looking like it feels - pretty solid. We'll see what the digital coaches at the CF forums think.

I'm really happy with the bench. I failed at this weight two weeks ago in two sets, but had no such difficulty tonight. The last rep of the last set was a push, but otherwise it felt quite straightforward. Yay progress!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 by Rebecca

Pushups, Snatches and Pull-ups

Warmup: 25 Squats, 10 Pushups, 50 Situps, 24 Burpees

45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 21 reps (12kg KB)
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 21 reps (15# DB)
42 Pull-ups (80 points BIW gravitron)
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 15 reps (12kg KB)
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 15 reps (15# DB)
30 Pull-ups (80 points BIW gravitron)
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 9 reps (12kg KB)
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 9 reps (15# DB)
18 Pull-ups (70 points BIW gravitron)
Just under 27:00 ... I messed up the timing of my watch, so i don't know the 100% real time, and I don't know the splits :(

FIRST: in the warm-up - i did 10, consecutive, full ROM pushups (no knees!) !!!! up until about a week ago I wasn't even sure i could do any full ROM pushups. That's a Level I accomplishment. Woo-hoo!

Now to the WOD - ... hrm. I couldn't do squat snatches. My right knee will not stay straight on the way down and collapses inwards. The only way i could have done squat snatches was with no weight and just practice the movement of jumping into a squat. Max suggested I do muscle snatches instead. So that's what I did.

I know that my first set of snatches took 4:46 - and then I don't have any split information after that - Apparently I switched to a different screen somehow, so when i thought i was hitting my lap timer, i was really stopping and staring the count-down timer :-p For the snatches I got most of the way through the sets before having to take a break to finish them out.

My Pull-ups actually felt pretty good. Since there were a lot of them I set the gravitron on 80 instead of the 70 I had used for Helen (last week?) The first set of 42 was 10 then mostly sets of 5 except a couple occasions when i only got 2 or 3. My last set of pullups i set the gravitron back down to 70, and got 6 + 2 + 4 + 4 +2. I stopped to chalk up between the two sets of four and didn't do a thorough enough job of it - and had to go back to get more before the last two. that was super frustrating.

I was glad Max added burpees to the warmup. I had 30 left to go heading into class, and i finished off my remaining 6 after the workout.

One of my classmates, Franklin, actually remarked to me afterwards that he could tell i was getting a lot stronger "It's like this stuff really works or something ;-)'

Snatches and Pullups, and a tweaked shoulder

So yesterday after my burpees I noticed a bit of pain in my shoulder (left deltoid, specifically). It quickly got worse before it got better, enough that I was pretty concerned - Tuesdays are my one pure rest day, and I did NOT want to be starting the workout week feeling injured!

Sleep helped a bit. The mouse that Felix brought in that scurried under the couch at 2am did not. Rebecca and I wound up tearing apart the living room before we finally got the mouse out from under the rug (!) into a shoebox and out of the house. Rebecca was thoughtful enough to document the epic battle:

So for today, and for the near future (until it feels better), I'm no longer doing the burpees in a straight set. Sets of five, sprinkled throughout the day. We'll see how that goes. I've also found that it's helpful to do a little stretching and mobility work before the burpees - I suspect that repeatedly jumping into sets of 20+ burpees while totally cold is what did this to me.

So, with the shoulder thing, it was with some trepidation that I approached today's WOD:

45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 21 reps
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 21 reps
42 Pull-ups
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 15 reps
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 15 reps
30 Pull-ups
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 9 reps
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 9 reps
18 Pull-ups

34:44, 30# Dumbbell

Splits: 14:15 | 13:39 | 6:50

Worried about further injury, I was very cautious today. I chose a lighter dumbbell than I really needed, focused hard on form, took frequent rests and stretched whenever I could. I think I made it through OK - my shoulder has the same dull ache it had before class, so I don't think I made it any worse.

So it is with that in mind that I don't feel too bad about this time, despite its being one of the slowest times in class. I think I was getting the hang of the squat snatches, particularly once I started thinking of them as weighted jumping squats. Still, I was never really going low enough on the landing.

I was pretty pleased with the pullups, actually. 90 pure kipping pullups in one class is a PR for me. I did them in sets of 7 or 5, and think I'm getting much more efficient in my kipping form - not leaning back so far or yanking my shoulders so hard in their sockets, and coming to the top in a vertical position (rather than curled up in a ball). The GTG pullups that I'm doing at home are definitely helping. At this rate, 20 kipping pullups can't be too far away!

Monday, August 4, 2008 by Daniel


Warmup: 22 Burpees and some other stuff

DL: 225
SP: 92!

OK, I did fail on rep 5 of the third set of shoulder presses, but I'm gonna chalk that up to distractions and bad situational juju and let the overall workout count - I successfully did two more 5-rep sets after that failure.

Deadlifts felt pretty good. Grip is still iffy if I use double overhand, but since I didn't climb today (Tor had a doctor appointment), my forearms were fresh enough that I didn't have to switch to mixed-grip.

Shoulder presses were hard, of course, but I managed. 95 next week...

5x5 - Monday version

Warm Up: Mobility exercises, 6 burpees, 30 situps, 8 bench dips

Deadlifts x 5

Push-Press x 5

Cool Down - 6 burpees, box jumps(actual jumps!), knees to chest practice, OHS & snatch practice with a PVC dowel

I was in a FOUL mood before coming to the gym today. I didn't even get to my desk at work this morning before people were demanding things from me, I spent the entire afternoon in useless meetings, and i was truly regretting that I had come back from camping at all.

Fortunately, Daniel's climbing partner couldn't meet him this morning, so we had agreed to meet at the gym this evening, and as much as i really didn't want to be there when I started, I was super glad I did it after.

I'm not sure whether to count the deadlifts as a PR - I've lifted 105 before - but only in single reps - not 3 sets of 5. My form is ... OK. My right knee has a strong desire to go say hi to my left knee instead of staying put which is definitely something i need to work on. As much as I want to push for the heavier weight, thinking about it now, I should probably move down to a lower weight to concentrate on keeping that knee strong for a bit. ... Sigh ...

I couldn't press the empty oly bar, so i decided to make my second exercise the push-press. Again, my form is ... ok. I have a tendency to land primarily on my left foot and not equally on both feet. Years of compensating that must be unlearned. Between sets I try doing little hops and concentrate on just landing on both feet. It feels like i am landing lopsided ... but the mirror in front of the rack tells the truth. My 4th and 5th sets were better. I'll definitely be able to go up to 50# next time.

In between sets I decided to work on some of the other stuff that's been on the back burner. I noticed today that one of the Level 1 requirements is 10 knees to chest. I nearly knocked this one out, but my last 2-3 reps were not quite full ROM so I don't think it counts yet.

More exciting, though, was that I jumped onto a box for the first time today. Up until now I was too scared to jump - I only stepped up whenever they showed up in WOD's. Part of the problem is that the boxes we use in class have sort of a small landing platform. But down in the lifting area there was an old step class step - only 6-8 inches or so - but with a wide enough platform that i felt relatively safe jumping up onto it. I got really comfortable with that, and moved on to a large sturdy stool that had a well tractioned surface that was about 2 feet square, and is about 12" high. I made Daniel hold my hand the first time i did it (I don't know what it is about that simple contact but even if i don't take any actual assistance sometimes that's all that's necessary to make the insurmountable easy). After the first jump, I did it several times on my own. I did discover that sometimes my feet land rather far apart, so I think I'd still be pretty nervous to jump onto something with a smaller surface. But I jumped and made it! A lot! (ok not every time, but most!)

The drastic improvement in my mood between pre and post workout made it really clear to me why Crossfit, and fitness in general have become such an important part of my life. It frequently gets me to leave work, and it lets me leave the insanity of work at work, so I can enjoy the rest of my evening. It also gives me something that I have complete control over and where I can see (and influence) direct improvements and results. I can think of much worse methods of escapism.

Saturday, August 2, 2008 by Rebecca

Camping in Mammoth - part 2

Saturday 8/2: Hiking to Shadow Lake

So Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny. We had a nice leisurely breakfast with the other folks in camp, but couldn't convince any of the rest of to join us. The plan was to hike 3.5 miles up to Shadow lake and back. We had some thought that if we were feeling good and making good time (since we didn't get started until 11am) that we might continue on to Lake Ediza a bit further along and a bit further up.

This is the meadow at the start of the hike - the mountains we were hiking into would be just a bit farther left in this photo.

About 4-5 years ago I started hiking with poles. I found that they were a great help with my balance - especially with things like crossing rivers, and that it let me take some pressure off my legs both going up and down hill.

The hike to Shadow Lake has three distinct stages it starts out at about 8200ft, goes relatively flat for about 1 mile, drops to 8000ft over about .5 a mile, goes flat for .75 mile or so, and then goes up up up to 8700ft in the last 1.25 mile or so.

Since I knew that there was going to be a lot of up (and therefore also a lot of down, I opted to bring my sticks. You can see me and my poles (and some gorgeous scenery) below:

By the time we got to shadow two hours later I was feeling tired, but not 'done'. The climb from the bottom of the valley to shadow had been harder than I felt it should be given my gains in strength and endurance, and our pace (my pace really, since Daniel is a born billy goat) had slowed considerably.

We spent a lovely few minutes on a large sun warmed rock jutting out into the lake. Refueled a bit, rested a bit, stretched a bit. I have to say that the weather was absolutely perfect, and as long as you were in the sun, there was a pleasant lack of mosquitoes and flies.

We consulted the map, and it looked like Lake Ediza was about 2 miles further on - and only 500ft further elevation gain, so I decided that I'd like to push on for that (It was never a question for Daniel ;-) ). Since there wasn't going to be a lot of 'up' for the rest of the hike, and because I was starting to feel like they were at least as much of a hindrance as a help, I decided to put my hiking sticks away for the rest of the trip to Ediza and back - fully expecting to pull them out to descend from Shadow.

To my great pleasure, I discovered that I was much faster without them, not only on the flat parts but also going up and coming down hill. Daniel said it was like I had taken my training wheels off. LOL - and it actually felt a lot like that. The strength and endurance I have gained with CF finally made the appearance I was expecting it to. I was definitely faster and stronger and nimbler than I have ever been hiking. It was so much fun!

We got to Ediza around 2:30 - turns out it's closer to 2.5 miles than 2.

Once we got there we did some burpees (after all it WAS day 20 of the burpee challenge and where better to do them than near a beautiful alpine lake) and had lunch.


The first set of Burpees is @ Lake Ediza - the second is on our return to Shadow lake. You'll notice a slight camera shake in Daniel's set of burpees @ Shadow Lake - the photographer was attacked by a bug ....

Part way back down to Shadow from Ediza I started developing a headache. :-( I tried fending it off with food and plenty of water, but it was getting pretty insistent by the time we reached shadow. I tried adding Ibuprofen and electrolyte tablets to the mix once we stopped and rested (and did more burpees), and they kept the headache more or less at bay until we got back to camp, but it quickly bloomed into a full-fledged migraine. It was a bummer of a way to end a day that had gone so well and been such a personal triumph.

It had taken Daniel and me 2 hours to reach Shadow lake on the way up, with me using my poles. On the way back down - and pole-less, it only took an hour and a half. We were concerned about the possibility of missing dinner, so Daniel was setting a pretty fast pace on the way home - but I was able to keep up the whole way back. Our GPS device shows a little pause sign every time we stopped to take a rest - and the only pause between shadow and the end of the trail was when we came to an unfamiliar turn off in the trail and had to stop to figure out which way to go. This was not a pace I ever could have maintained at the end of a 12 mile hike - with (some) energy to spare at the end of it - a year ago.

If you click on the picture below, you'll get a link to the GPS data from our hike. you can view the basic info with Firefox or IE, but the Map Player function only works in IE. You can choose your background in the Map Player, and I think the most interesting one is the topo.

And here is a link to the rest of our photos from the trip:

My headache didn't really subside until we got home. Daniel was an absolute hero and drove the entire 6 hours home and let me sleep, which apparently was just what my headache wanted to make it go away. But it definitely put a sour note at the end of an otherwise very enjoyable, very successful camping trip. Having had such a nice respite from my day-to-day grind sure made it hard to go back to work today (Monday).

Friday, August 1, 2008 by Rebecca

Camping in Mammoth

Big eventful weekend. We left home at about 4:45 on Thursday, sat in traffic basically from 580/13 interchange all the way through Tracy. We finally got to I-5 at 6:30pm. Ick. However the rest of the drive was relatively traffic free, and I had Freakonomics on my IPod which turned out to be a great way to pass the time. We finally got to our campsite at about 11:30pm. Fortunately, Daniel's parents took our tent up with them (they went up a day before we did) and had already set it up for us, so all we had to do was put our sleeping bag in it and go to sleep.

Friday 8/1: Climbing @ Horseshoe Slabs

I will admit that I was somewhat apprehensive about our first unassisted outdoor climbing experience. But Daniel had read through the book of climbs for the area and found a place where the routes were relatively easy to access the tops of, and the climbs were mostly slab - which is what, so far, I have found I like best. Some, but not all of the routes had bolts. Other routes, you have to create an anchor from the trees and/or boulders at the top.

We chose a route that was listed as a 5.7, which did not have bolts. The original plan was for Daniel to go up and set the anchor and I would stay below (since scrambling around at the top makes me nervous) but since we had to create the anchor ourselves, and since the scramble to the top didn't look too bad, we both went up.

The rule for top-rope anchors is that they be EARNEST (Equalized, Angle, Redundant, Non-Extending, Solid, Timely)
  • Equalized means it should put an equal amount of pressure on each arm of the anchor
  • Angle means that the two widest arms of the anchor should not be greater than 120 degrees
  • Redundant means that there should be a back-up for every part of the anchor so that if something fails, you don't die.
  • Non-Extending means that if one of the two (or three) arms of the anchor were to fail, the position of rope shouldn't drop more than 5-6 inches. So that you don't put undue stress on the remaining pieces of the anchor or your rope (or the climber!)
  • Solid means that the bolts or trees or rocks you build your anchor on should be solid - no dead trees, hollow rocks, rusty or spinning bolts, etc.
  • Timely - done relatively quickly - this is the least important - but it helps to make a good acronym ;-)
There was a sturdy, live, tree right at the top of the route which was a given as an anchor option, but in order to meet the 'Redundant' requirement, we needed a second anchor option. Fortunately there was a large Solid boulder just at the base of the tree on the side opposite the wall face (ie: the tree was between the boulder and the edge).

It took us a long time, and several experiments with varying different types of gear, but we finally got an anchor we were both quite happy with - so we figure we ended up with an EARNES anchor ... everything but Timely ;-) that should get better with practice. Unfortunately we forgot to take a picture of the anchor once we were done. But here is the rock face we climbed with our rope on it:

Unfortunately - since it was only the two of us - we don't have any action shots of us climbing :-(

But we each did two climbs on this one rope - one pretty straightforward 5.7 up the right side along that crack that's visible in the picture above. It was fun, but there were no cruxes or any particularly hard spots. It was a nice way to start climbing ( and to make sure our anchor really was going to hold us!)

The second climb we did was to the left of the rope along the MUCH tinier little crack you can see just to the left of the rope - it wasn't listed in our climbing book, so we don't know the rating - but we're guessing 5.8 5.9 - at least for the part right at the beginning of the climb - where there were basically NO features on the wall - just these teeny tiny little finger holds, and some slight slight variations in the texture of the rock to use as foot holds. For me it was a bit of a scramble. The fun thing with slab climbing is that as long as you keep your butt out away from the wall, gravity does most of the work of keeping you on the wall, but as soon as I tried to lift my weight up at all in order to get to the next handhold, my feet would slip out from under me - but little by little, I inched my way up, and finally made it to a place with better hand-holds and foot holds. after that, the climb was again pretty straightforward.

Unfortunately, we'd gotten kind of a late start to the day, and since it had taken so long to set the anchor - those two climbs were all we had time for. But it was definitely fun, and I feel more confident re: our anchor setting abilities, so I will look forward to more outdoor climbing.

K - Bed time - I'll post Saturday's activities tomorrow.