Adventures in life and photography out West

Posts tagged “CrossFit

Movement and Recovery

Me with guys from The Phoenix last January. Offering recovery through fitness.

I came into recovery, like so many, with extremely low self-esteem. The joke in recovery is that I didn’t think much of myself, but I was all I thought of. While I entered my 12-step fellowship immediately, it took me years to realize that one good habit I brought with me would serve me and my recovery for years to come.
The founder of The Phoenix, Scott Strode, states that something happens when we partake in athletic endeavors early in recovery. As we begin achieving goals, our self-esteem improves. As this happens, our identities shifts. We are no longer defined by the substance or disease that nearly killed us. We are no longer addicts. We become people in recovery; Survivors.
This is not an automatic event, not a switch that is thrown. This attitude takes time. It also takes more than movement. Exercise is not a replacement for the 12 Steps or therapy. Exercise is an adjunct, another tool in our recover toolbox. This, as it turns out, is something with which most addicts, in recovery or not, can identify; if one is good, more is better.
Exercise can by meditative. When one is hanging off of a rock face, forearms pumped, grip wavering, all one thinks of is the next handhold. The same is true with swimming or cycling or running. Just get through the next movement. This keeps us in the here and now in ways that we had not been capable of in the past. We don’t worry about the mistakes of the past or the mysteries of the future.
Similarly, movement can be a form of prayer. Perhaps there is an issue, a problem or challenge that I will take onto the bike during a long ride or even a walk with my family. The movement seems to lubricate those parts of my mind that help me solve the issue. I could explain the science, but then you would click on to something, anything, else. Just trust me on this.

Movement, exercise, athletics, can also promote fellowship. Many addicts, myself included, isolated in the latter stages of the disease. Shame and resentment drove me away from family and friends. Like the 12-Step programs, finding groups of like-minded people to share this experience helps us to break out of that isolation. We build friendships instead of walls. We relearn how to be a part of a community, instead of a part from. This promotes that sense of belonging that we craved but seemed incapable of before. It also begins to promote accountability. Like exercise, if one feels obligated to show up, one is more likely to follow through.
Exercise improves the bodies and brains of people recovering from addiction. It is also so much more. Our minds clear and our spirits are lifted as we lift more, run faster and climb higher. We feel better about ourselves as we encourage others to reach their goals. It’s another recovery tool. We can never have too much of that.

Holiday Blahs

I’m busy doing one of the worst things I can; working in bed. This is when I’m inspired (insert joke here) and when I have time. While bringing my laptop into the bedroom is not good, right now, I don’t feel like it’s the worst thing I’ve done today. It’s Chanukah and I feel like I ate a well-oiled brick.

My wife is Jewish and we agreed a long time ago that we would raise our child, now a 13-year-old, in a Jewish home. Most of the time, I’m okay with that. This time of year, however, is a challenge. Most Chanukah recipes take on an oily sheen. While it tastes good, it’s something my body is not used to, and reacts in anger. Hence, I’m up writing instead of sleeping or even snuggling my wonderful wife.

It’s a double whammy for us age-grouper athletes. Most of our co-workers don’t care what we eat, in fact, often harass us for what they see as odd and tasteless diets. I wish I had a dollar for every time I hear “you don’t need to worry about food . . .”, because they don’t realize by worrying about what I put into my mouth, I look this way. I can’t out ride a bad diet. But there is hope, and a new day.

A fe years back, I had the opportunity to take a “Goal Setting and Positive Self-Talk” seminar with CrossFit Firebreather and DEA agent Greg Amundson. He taught how to catch old bad self talk and turn it around to work for us. He also taught about mantras, short little positive, reinforcing words and phrases to help reenforce the positive self talk. It takes practice, but it works.

I’ve been writing out goals for the coming day and a few affirmations to get me started and keep me going. At night, I review the goals to see how I did.  I also write out five things for which I am grateful. I try not to repeat from day to day, but my wife and daughter usually sneak on to the list. The point is to be positive.

Keep working. Keep positive. Keep passing up the frosted sugar cookies. I’m going riding.


CrossFit Goal Setting. I'm the bald guy in the back. Amundson is the baldly in the front.

CrossFit Goal Setting. I’m the bald guy in the back. Amundson is the smiling baldly in the front.

Starting anew!

I’m on the couch, with my winter tights on, watching Stage One of the Tour Down Under, getting excited about the eventual coming of spring. While we have sunshine here at 7,522 feet, clouds are building and snow is on the way. It’s January. What do you expect?

I’m starting to receive invitations to all of the great summer rides: Ride the Rockies, Elephant Rock, Copper Triangle. I also have a new ride. After crushing my frame last year, a horrible roof-rack related incident, I picked up a frame at VeloSwap in October. SportsGarage hung my Dura-Ace 9000 parts on it and I’m ready to ride . . . when the weather is. I have plenty of warm clothing, so that should be today.

Meanwhile, I’m starting to ramp up my training. The CrossFit Open registration opened last week. I intend to participate. It is great for both building strength and stamina, as well as fulfilling me need to compete. I have been hurt doing CrossFit, but nothing worse than putting equal intensity into my riding.

I have a buddy who decries CrossFit, stating it’s dangerous and that you will suffer a serious injury doing it. That is not my experience over the last five years. My posture has improved, my knees feel better, my shoulders feel better, when I ride hard, I recover faster than I used to, and when I crash, and I do occasionally crash, the injuries are not as bad. While your results may very, I’ve had great trainers with a focus on form and technique. The folks at CrossFit Estes Park have been fantastic. By the way, it seems to work for Evelyn Stevens.

While I acknowledge that CrossFit is not for everyone, neither is P90X, mixed martial arts, self-coaching or, for that matter, beer. Not everyone who drinks beer developed a problem. I do. Just because I have a problem with beer does not mean I will bash beer, in general. I just won’t drink. If you have a bad coach, in any discipline, you will likely get hurt. If you have a good coach, you will be built up slowly and taught good technique and form and you won’t get hurt. Pretty simple.

Well, the historic September floods in Colorado have severely limited the riding opportunities around Northern Colorado. The Big Thompson Canyon between Estes Park and Loveland is closed to cyclists. Much of the pavement from Drake in the canyon to Glen Haven is still missing. Even the Peak to Peak Highway has signs state “Ride at your own risk” for cyclists. It’s a sad state. It could be a year or more before the canyons are back to normal. Hopefully, with the rebuilding, some routes might be better.

In Colorado, the law states that whenever a road is rebuilt, it is required to have a wider, rider-friendly shoulder. This is something that would never have happened in much of the foothills without the disaster. Neither money nor political will was evident in improving the roads to be bike-friendly. Ironically, the very thing that mountain folk dislike about cyclists, getting in their way, could be remedied by the improvements.

Much of the Peak to Peak Highway in Larimer County, and most of the North St. Vrain Canyon, aka US 36, were without shoulders, putting riders into the lane of traffic. While perfectly legal, drivers often took exception to the relatively slow pace of cyclists, especially when traffic was heavy in both directions. A legitimate shoulder should help. I hold out hope.

Meanwhile, I’m off to my first outdoor ride of the year on the new steed. I hope you have the chance to do the same.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.


The volunteers and staff of the 2013 Ride the Rockies in Salida. May we see you all again soon!

Checking In

I’m sitting on my coach enjoying my DVD of the ’04 Tour. Everything that has hurt for most of the season has finally gotten to the point when I have made an appointment with a proper medical professional. I’ve written about how frustrated I get when I can’t ride or lift. Thanks to my wonderful daughter, however, I have an alternative.

I’ve been telling anyone who would listen how much I’ve enjoyed swimming with my little 12-year-old mermaid. I may have a year before she’s faster in the water than I am. It is a fabulous thing to see her excel at an athletic endeavor. Now, I’m swimming more as it’s pretty much my only outlet. Pain in knees, shoulder and back have eliminated my favorite exercises, CrossFit and, of course, cycling. Of course, our high temperature of 5 degrees also sucks all motivation out of the outdoor cycling idea. The water in our local poo was better than 80 degrees. Warm after walking in from single-digit temps.

Swimming, by it’s very nature, leads me to stretching out and focusing on my hallow body position, a position I am required to hold quite often while lifting. The focus on position is also an exercise in meditation. It is calming. It also motivates me to sign up for the It’s my favorite tri in the area. It’s long enough to be challenging. It’s pretty enough that participants won’t be bored. When it’s all done, they organizers have the best feed of any race. Four years ago, the last time I was able to race, they had a build-your-own-breakfast-burrito bar. Giant brownies included. The organizers have also done their best to keep the entry fee relatively low. You can jump in for $85 now, $105 a little closer to the race day. Compare that with the Boulder Peak Tri, same distance, $100 now, $125 if you wait. Still, not that bad if you look at the Boulder Ironman, $675, had you signed up in time, $1,350 right now.

The Lake to Lake is a swim in Loveland Lake, about 35 miles on the bike from Loveland High School to Ft. Collins’ Horsetooth Reservoir, the other lake in the race’s name, and back. Then, a 10K around Loveland Lake. More shade than the Boulder races, better food than any race I’ve done and great for the price.

I did get one new piece of cycling clothing. I haven’t worn it outside, yet, but it’s been cold here at 7,522 feet, so I’ve worn it quite often. The Castelli Thremo Head Thingie is like the “Buff”, only with thermal fleece inside. It can be worn like a bandana, a balaclava, a neck gater or beanie. The packaging has instructions so anyone can figure out how to twit and tug at the tube of stretchy, warm fabric into whatever a rider might need.



A warm and versatile piece of clothing.

Next time, with any luck, I’ll be able to write about my homemade Plyometrics box. The owner of my gym won’t let me jump up on the clutters, anymore, so I had to make a box. 

Have fun, be safe. I’m going swimming.

Fit to help

The holiday season is just beginning to ramp up. For many, including myself, it consists of the opposing forces of wonderful holiday food and trying to stay in reasonable shape in the off-season. As I am reminded, year after year, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The giving season offers ample opportunity to keep fitness and stay in the holiday mood.
On Sunday, Nov. 18, Boulder Cycle Sport will sponsor Cranksgiving Boulder, a charity ride with a twist. Show up at the Boulder Cycle Sport south location, 629 S. Broadway with your bike, any bike, and $20 by noon. Participants will be given a checklist and will ride to grocery store “check points” and buy an item or two, then on to the next. The race winner will be the first rider to get back to the bike shop with all his or her groceries. The food will be donated.

Prizes will also be awarded for best costume and oldest ridable bike. Bring $20, a bike, a helmet and a lock and be ready for fun.

The event not only gathers much-needed food for those less fortunate, but also shines a positive light on the local cycling community. If this sounds good, sign up at the link found on the shop’s website:

Closer to home, the CrossFit Estes Park community is organizing and sweating for one of its own. This Saturday, Nov. 17, the box at 1755, Spur 66, just past the Rock Inn, will host a fund-raiser for local CrossFitter, artist and all-round great guy, Joel York.

A few years back, York, who’s only 35, was diagnosed with cancer. While doctors caught it in plenty of time, hospital visits and treatment get expensive. The fund-raiser will help defray the costs.

Bring whatever you can for a donation. Whatever money the event raises will be matched by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, so be generous.

York is an upbeat, humble and energetic member of the community who has lived in Estes Park for nearly 20 years. He is not only an artist, but also an instructor for CrossFit Estes Park. While his technique seems nearly flawless to most, he is fond of saying, “It’s all a stupid game,” and “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

The fund-raiser will, of course, consist of a workout that gym owner Eric Adams describes as “easily scalable.” The idea is to make it so that anyone at any fitness level can participate. It’s much more about supporting Joel than showing off fitness and you don’t have to belong to CrossFit Estes Park to participate. The gym will open at 6 a.m. and remain open until 4 p.m. Group workouts are planned for 6, 7 and 10:30 a.m., as well as 2:30 that afternoon.

Even if you are not able to workout, come down to donate, then cheer the athletes on. It’s a great event for a great community member. I’m a bit biased, I’ll admit. I’ve worked out and played hockey with Joel for much of the last 12 years. He has a great attitude, especially when he’s making a skill I’m no good at look easy. The least I can do is show up and sweat a little for him. I encourage you to do the same.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going fund-raising.