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Catalyst Games


On Saturday, I participated in CrossFit Boomtown's Catalyst Games. I also got my first sunburn of 2013. CrossFit + Sunshine= amazing day. I was actually disappointed with my overall result, mostly because I underperformed in the first workout and can't really figure out why. But, aside from that hiccup, the rest of the day went fine and it was a blast. CrossFit Boomtown had an incredible turnout and the sunshine made everyone happier than can be. It was a perfect tune-up before regionals, which is only 17 days away. (!!) You can find the Catalyst Games workouts here, the results here, and my write-up for the CrossFit Rochester blog here.

First workout was intervals of row, burpee box jump overs, 1-arm dumbbell snatch, and kettlebell swings, pictured here

The second workout was a clean ladder (with axle bars).   Before cleaning each bar you had to do 20 heavy jump ropes.

Cleaning the axle bar

The last workout was 7 minutes of (20 Deadlifts [155#], 10 HSPU). The  DLs were less than fun for me 
Handstand push-ups, however, are one of my favorite moves!

Spring Update


Hello Earthlings! I wanted to offer a brief update on my athletic life before I dive back in to the homework mountain where I live. . . deep inside a cavern, concealed from the public eye, and subsisting on Plath, Faulkner, and Pynchon. Luckily there's a wifi connection.

As some of you know, I competed in the CrossFit Open March 6th- April 7.  Each week, a new workout was released and over 100,000 worldwide participants had 4 days to perform the workout in front of a judge at any CrossFit gym or as a video submission.  This was the first round of qualification for the Crossfit Regionals, held in May and June, and then the CrossFit Games, held in late July.

The Open is a perfect way to gauge progress. Last year I placed 297th out of 1221 women in the Northeast; this year I placed 76th out of 2915 women in the Northeast. (That means--if my calculations are correct-- that last year I fell in the top 25% but this year I squeaked into the top 3%. Is that right? Someone check my math.) Last year, CrossFit Rochester qualified in 15th out of 168 teams, and this year we qualified in [a tie for] 15th out of 262 teams. Since the top 30 teams move on to Regionals, we have once again earned ourselves a spot. While our official team lineup has not yet been officially named, I can say I will be going to Northeast Regionals as either a competitor or an alternate. The competition will be held May 17-19 in Boston, so the next 4 weeks of training will be important, exciting, and tons of fun.

What's not tons of fun? School, of course. And the fact that I graduate on the same weekend as regionals. Missing the ceremony doesn't matter to me, but the fact that that the 5 most important weeks of the year's training fall during the 5 most awful crunch-weeks of school matters a great deal. I'm not great at double-tasking, as you can probably tell from my blog; I like to focus on big things with few distractions.  During hard training blocks, I like to fill my free time with sleeping. Conversely, during my last month of each semester I normally let my sleep, diet, and training take a back burner as I crank out papers. But this time, neither of those normal approaches will work. Grr. The only consolation is that Camille Leblanc- Bazinet has been tweeting about the very same problem, and I'm pretty sure she's dealing with it just fine. And of course Julie Foucher placed second in the world last year during her first year of med school. So I guess I'm in good company: just need to put my head down and get sh*t done!
Camille on the left and Julie on the right: my CrossFit scholar idols.  HOW DO YOU DO IT



This was my fourth winter working at the Powder Mills Park ski hill as a kids downhill ski instructor. (Imbuing kids with a love of skiing= one of the best responsibilities I can imagine.) The rope-tow ski hill at Powdermills is one of the greatest resources Rochester has to offer. We close for the season March 9th, so my last day of work there is tomorrow. (Is it almost spring already? Yikes!) So what are you doing tomorrow afternoon? Buying the cheapest lift ticket of your life ($8) and coming out for skiing/snowboarding?! Cool. We even have rentals, and a jump. You can find more information here.

A Holy $h*t moment: USA!


from google images
Let's talk about this. When I started cross-country ski racing in 2002, the U.S. was a long way off from regular podium finishes on the World Cup Circuit. My high-school teammates and I cheered when the national team broke into the top 30. And now here we are, a mere months out from the 2014 and Diggins and Randall win the team sprint at World Championships: a first for the US at any world championships, ever. The video gives me chills every time I watch it.

As a US kayaker, I am keenly aware of the difficulty of competing in a Euro-dominated sport. Not only do you have to travel to another continent for all your major races, but you have to contend with countries whose kayaking (or skiing) culture dwarfs anything in the United States. But in the face of all that, look what the skiers have done in the past two quads. Work. This is an amazing time to be an American cross-country skier!

Oh and PS, even cooler: my friend/fellow Section V racer Audrey is in Italy covering all this for (My mom got the scoop from her mom when they ran into each other on the Roch ski trails this weekend. Don't you love moms?) Go Audrey!

Hammerhead Games Part III


Oh, I'm sad that the Hammerhead Games are over.  It was so much fun! Competing at 2-week intervals is the perfect way to stay amped up but not disrupt your big-picture training.  Crossfit Dewitt held the last event in the three-part series on Saturday, February 9th. I wrote a piece about our gym's results here.
Split snatching 95# because I still don't like to squat
As for myself, I was very pleased with my performance, and to be honest, pleasantly surprised at my results. The first event was a 10' AMRAP of 7 hang snatch at 95#, 25yd plate push on the turf (25# plate), 25yd plate drag, and 50yd sprint. On every round, I would fall behind Jess and Meghan on the snatches and then catch back up on the plate drags. Fall behind, catch back up. With 1 minute to go I was in 3rd place, chasing them on the plate drag (which is a funny sight, because it's a race in super slow motion.) When the clock buzzed, I'd managed to eek out the win by less than a foot. The best part of that workout was that my sister and her boyfriend, who came from Binghamton to watch. Thanks guys!
Me and Anna
Plate drag-- wherein feet are on a plate and you just wheelbarrow yourself forward
The second event was a 500m row followed by 21-15-9 of deadlift (145#, low plates), recessed push-ups (hands on 25# plates), and GHD sit-ups. Lucky for me, I was in the lane next to the fabulous Meghan Kelly, so I was able to chase her. The two of us managed to finish 1-2: her first and me second. Word.
Meghan and me at the chalk-trough pre-workout
Lining up to start the row- Jess, Meghan, me
21 deadlifts with the short plates.  Steph's caption on this picture was "North-going Zax and South-going Zax." I love Dr. Suess! 
Me, Erin, and Meghan happy to be DONE! Thanks Steph for the pictures!
Second-place overall in this event bumped me up to third place overall for the series.  Who would have thought!?

A couple people have wondered to what I attribute this improvement. Legs, legs, legs. As I've written about before, when I started crossfit in 2010, my max bench was 150lbs and my max back squat was 115lbs. I could do 25 strict pull ups in a row but I couldn't even deadlift my body weight. It has taken a LONG time, but my legs are starting to catch up.

Next question people ask: "Will this help your kayaking?" Well, I don't think that being a quadzilla (with, say a 280lb back squat and large leg muscles) would help my kayaking, but I believe where I am now definitely will help.  Strength-to-weight ratio in a kayak is paramount, and since my body weight is the same as when I was kayak racing, I know that I have gained muscle mass and lost body fat.  Even though most of that strength gain is in my legs, I can always use some more hip drive in the kayak and push-pull on the footboard!

I will be focusing on CrossFit until I graduate from college (May 18), so I am going to continue to drill the legs until then-- and maybe even after that! It feels surprisingly good to be a more balanced athlete. My body can do a wide range of movements now (not just shoulder and core!)

Hammerhead Games, Part II


I'm a little late on this update; I blame school. Crossfit Rochester hosted round two of the Hammerhead Games on Saturday January 26. The lack of max squatting included automatically made it fun in my book.

The first three workouts were rapid-fire.

1.) 3 minutes to max snatch
--1 minute transition time--
2.) 3 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) burpee box-jump/ chest-to-bar pull-up ladder
--1 minute transition time--
3.) 3 minute AMRAP wall-ball (14lbs)/ toes-to-bar ladder

I was a bit disappointed with my snatch (I ended at 120lbs), but the other two workouts went well.

Later in the afternoon, we completed the fourth workout.

13-minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of:
5 push-ups, each push-up traveling on and off an atlas stone
7 front squats with the stone (75lbs)
9 shoulder-to-overhead (95lbs)
11 box jumps (24 inches)

I was able to fight through the final workout well enough to tie for third place in the competition overall. It was, as always, a fantastic day competing against fantastic athletes. I can't wait for the last round this weekend.


Snatch progression at  105lbs, yeah not perfect

Stone squats. Look how much fun I'm having

Andrew, Nick, and me hamming it up for the camera
Push-jerking during the last WOD

Women's podium: me and Jess McNabney (tied for 3rd), Jennifer Lesniak (2nd) and Meghan Kelly (1st)

P.S. I wrote up a report specific to the Crossfit Rochester competitors on our gym's blog.  Did you know I am writing the Crossfit Rochester blog now?  Check it out!

A Sad Story


You'd think I would have recovered from the childhood sadness of Frosty the Snowman's fleeting seasonal presence, but now I have global warming to thank for a renewed sense of futility in the face of melting snow.

Helplessly as I watched as day by day the igloo melted into oblivion. 

I Have A Badittude


Tuesday morning was my last first day of school, and thus my last first day of melancholia.  Here goes 14 weeks of doom and gloom.  Isn't it terrible that I complain about the privilege of higher education?

To assuage my sense of dread, I decided to go for a morning run.  The fact that I actually made it out the door surprised me, as  A.) I positively do not love running and B.)  It was 6 degrees outside, with a windchill of -16.  Note to self: pairing something you dislike (school) with something you do not love (running) doesn't make you feel better.  However it did give me a proud sense of entitlement to my morning shower.  My work towards liking running has been a lifelong process. refuse to give up! Maybe if this cold snap brings some precipitation, I can go snowshoe running.  Now that I do enjoy!

Hammerhead Games, Part I


It feels strange and insignificant to post about CrossFit competitions instead of kayaking. I'm not that good at CrossFit yet, so my experiences are mostly local and probably fairly mundane to most. Oh well, it's my blog. Read at your own risk!

On Saturday, Crossfit Buffalo hosted the first round of the Western NY Hammerhead Fitness Games.  It felt so good to get back into competition mode. Autumn in the gym was productive and fun, but for me CrossFit is not just a kayak lifting program anymore. It's a sport in itself, and I absolutely love going head to head with the girls from other gyms, especially because no one knows what the events are going to be ahead of time.

There were three workouts.The first was a 7-minute muscle-up/clean&jerk ladder (115# for women). I was excited to try out my muscle-ups for the first time in competition, and I was stoked to get 9 total during the workout.
C&J and MU
The second workout was a front squat ladder. Uh oh, leg stuff. I've been doing everything short of Sam's suggested gomad diet to strengthen my legs this autumn. Since progress isn't instantaneous, neither my squat nor my patience is yet close to adequate. The squat ladder started at 105lbs and went up incrementally by 15lbs, ending at 205. You had 30 seconds at each platform, and if you failed a lift you had the remainder of the time to do as many box jumps as possible. I ended up PRing at 135, which tied me for last place. No complaints, just facts. (Facts that will change.)
Box jumpin'
The third workout was 40-30-20 reps of 1-arm KB snatches and double-unders. There was no alternating arms, i.e. you had to snatch 20 on the right, then 20 on the left. Women's weight was 35 pounds, which was amazing compared to the guys weight of 70lbs. The women's workout was snappy. I think I finished in 5:38. The men's version was almost painful to watch, and took them much longer.  I give them a lot of credit!
KB snatch
Double unders and KB snatching in a heat with Melissa, Anne, Erin, and Alicia
It was a great day overall: fun as always. Oh, and the weather was wacky: 60 degrees!!! They opened up the garage doors to the gym and it felt eerily like springtime. Thank goodness it's not, though. For one thing, I want to ski a lot more, and for another, I need more time to work on these kayaker legs before the big competitions come around!
Some of the CF Rochester female contingent:Lindsey, me, Erin, Alicia, Isabelle. Missing Meghan and Beth
Look at the little baby kettlebell I found!
Erin and I are number one at napping.  If we don't beat you in the workout we'll crush you in recovery

Mickle and Fem's Winter Adventure


If you do something two years in a row, that automatically makes it a tradition, right?  So, it's a tradition for me to hate school. It's tradition to re-read my favorite book every January. Tradition to not go skydiving on the first of every month. You get the idea.

So basically I'm declaring it a tradition for Mickle to visit me around New Year's every year. And traditional for us to have a great time. This year, she flew in on New Year's Eve.  Remember that snowstorm on my birthday? And how we had about 18 inches of snow?  Mickle and I wasted no time getting in to the winter spirit.  And what's more spirited than an igloo!?
Champagne.  Champagne is more spirited than an igloo.
My parents' backyard has plenty of space; the weather gave us plenty of snow; and we bought plenty of champagne, so naturally, we started construction on an igloo. Pretty simple in theory: you pack snow into recycling bins and spiral them upward. However, because we are total igloo rookies, we only started angling the blocks after the 4th row. The result was a nearly 10-feet tall and somewhat triangular structure, which we decided looked like a snow teepee.
The first layer
The seventh layer
Igloo spaceship and space martian dog
COMPLETE!  And yes, we have a mailbox.
It took about 30 hours total between Mickle, myself, and my mom, to finish the igloo.  Have you ever been inside one?  It's so much fun!  Warm-ish, and unbelievably quiet. When we were bored of hanging out in there by ourselves, we called Katie and Steve and told them that we custom-designed our ceilings for Steve's 6'8" frame, and therefore they must drive in from Buffalo immediately.  They did!
Mickle, me, and Katie. . . reunited!

Mickle and I also did lots of xc skiing, snowshoeing, and CrossFit. It snowed almost every day!
On a snowshoe adventure
I wish I had more action shots of the whole week, but I just upgraded from a 3-year-old flip phone to an iphone, and I'm treating it like a porcelain doll, or a bag of raw eggs, or both.  However, the iphone is eventually going to work out great for anyone who still cares about reading my blog, because I'll have more pictures to share!  I'm such a techno bot now. Did you know I even have a twitter?  I don't really understand how to retweet or reply or anything, so I just write my own posts. (Plus I'm somewhat wary of twitter because I'm afraid of birds.) But the occasional tweet is practically a tradition so I guess I have to keep doing it.

Le Blog is Not Dead


Hello, internets! Nice to see you again. For 2013, I am giving you a requiste catch-up post of the last 5 months. Life has been crazy/awesome/sad/stressful! I completed my penultimate semester of school (school=barf), got a gorgeous puppy with Matt, set some PRs, lots of fun with friends, lots of crossfit, helped host Thanksgiving, and then went through a mutual (but nevertheless sad) ending of my relationship. Breakups suck. But school kept me busy pulling my hair out and screaming. Not to mention as I was studying for finals I also had to find a new place to live, deal with bronchitis (that is still going strong after 9 weeks and 2 rounds of antibiotics!), work, start a new [winter] job, deal with a minor but annoying knee injury, and get ready for the holidays. Yikes, when I write it all down like that, I honestly have no idea how I managed to make it to 2013. One thing is for sure: when it rains it pours. And life is finally starting to calm down a bit. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?
We adopted Stanley at the end of August from Pitty Love Rescue, an amazing pit-bull rescue in Rochester, NY.
I competed in Voodoo Fitness's Pump and Run, which is the coolest concept ever.  After a weigh-in, you perform max number of reps on bench press at a percentage of your body weight. Each rep counts for 30 seconds off of your finishing time for a 5k, which you run the following morning. I love bench pressing. I wish all 5ks had a bench press element.

This is little Stanley, doing the two things he does best since the day we adopted him. . . snuggle, and sleep!

I wasted no time in getting Stanley out in my canoe. He did pretty well, although he was more interested in trying to drink the creek water than staying still.
In early September, I competed with Jess at the Triathawod, which was fun except for the running part (and the lack of bench pressing).
In early October, I competed in a 5k kayak race at the Erie Canal Boat Company, and afterwards swapped my sprint boat for the most bathtub-esque kayak available so I could take Stanley!! My relatives were visiting from Chicago, so my cousin got to go out too.
Stanley was amazing in the kayak. After a few minutes he laid on my lap and went to sleep. No kidding. 

In October I participated in Kalsu for a Cause at Crossfit Boomtown, which was the breast cancer fundraiser we subbed for Barbells for Boobs this year. It was a much harder workout, mostly because my baby kayaking legs can't handle 95-pound thrusters. I think I embarrassed myself.

Here are all the dumb books I read this semester. You know where I put them?  In a box that I won't open for  a very, very long time.  Fair warning: my bitterness gets worse every semester. Sorry for not being sorry.

To my delight, Stanley LOVES the snow! We got a storm on my birthday that delivered 18 inches of glorious powder.  The only thing better than snow= a puppy going berserk experiencing snow for the first time!

I found Rich Froning at Crossfit Rochester!! I thought it was Andrew. . . but then when I saw the back of his shirt I realized it was indeed the legendary Froning. Crazy town!
I finally got my muscle-ups to the point where I can do more than 1 per day.   Woohoo, that only took 7 months!
Love love love this photo of Stanley. . . thanks for the antlers, Adrienne!
I am, of course, a Christmas baby (almost).  This year in lieu of a cake  I  did sushi.  Which is extra awesome since my family doesn't even like sushi. Win!

Julie and I planned a CrossFit kids party at the gym, which was a great success. . . Santa even made an appearance!

Family Christmas photo 2013

Marathon Nationals 2012


I raced marathon canoe/kayak nationals August 10-12 in Warren, PA.  It's fun to race in Warren because they host nationals every couple years.  (I raced there in 2003 and 2007.)  The Allegheny River was rather shallow this year, so I'm really glad I brought my beater kayak.  Each race was 14 miles downriver.  I placed first in the marathon kayak race on Friday, first in the women's canoe on Saturday with Holly Reynolds, and 6th in the mixed canoe on Sunday with Marc Gillespie.  Though I don't think of myself as much of a marathon paddler these days, it was masochistically fun to take on a new challenge.

Holly and me

Marc and me

The folks at Will Arts photography took these and other great photos of the event. More can be found here.

24 Hours in the 1000 Islands


After finding out that several aunts, uncles, cousins, and one lovely grandmother would be in the 1,000 Islands at the same time this week, I did some calculations. Between work, training, and canoe nationals, I had only about 28 hours in which to drive up and hang out. Done!

I'm so happy I got to spend time with everyone, even if it was short-lived.
Kyra, Grandma, Melissa, and me.  Do you see the family resemblance?

31 Heroes Workout


Along with CrossFitters all over the country, I participated in the 31 Heroes workout on August 4th to honor fallen servicemen and women and raise money for their families.
A difficult workout for a great cause

Lake Placid International Regatta


The Lake Placid International Regatta weekend has become my favorite race weekend of the year.  Last year, Matt, Stash and Isabel came to cheer me on as I tried to make the World Championships team.  This year, since I have focused more on school and less on paddling, my only goals were to race hard and have a blast.  I brought Matt, Joe G., Brian, Isabel and her mom, Hamilton, Stephanie, and my parents along with me. What a crew!  We did a few crossfit workouts, watched the 4th of July fireworks, camped, scored a tremendous amount of free beer (long story), and sampled a fair number of the Stewart's ice cream flavors.  While I was racing, the rest of the FEMCKC crew rented SUPs and explored Mirror Lake.  Then, of course, there was the requisite try-out-the-sprint-kayak session.  One of the best parts was seeing my teammates from past years.  Now that we're scattered around the US (actually, around the world-- hi Jen!), we don't get to see each other every day.  I certainly miss that!
Post-race, K4 200m.  So glad we threw a crew together for this!
You're supposed to keep the round side DOWN, Brian

Joe G.'s valiant effort

I know you're jealous of my crew

Crossfit Rochester Games


The 3rd annual Crossfit Rochester Games were a blast, as usual.  Since the gym is in a new location [from last summer], we were able to have the entire event outside.  Luckily, the weather was gorgeous!  Next year, we're hoping to have some Rochester-area athletes qualify for the actual Crossfit Games in California.  (The CFR games are usually a fundraiser, but no one from this area qualified for the Games this year.)  Another hope that I have for next year is that more women enter the Rx division!  With at least as many women as men (at our gym, anyway) there's no reason that there should be four times as many men entered in the Rx class than women.  Don't be scurred to step up in divisions, ladies!!  It feels good to go heavy, even if you finish farther down the results list!

Ted Gough took some amazing pictures, as usual, and I've shared some below.

Knocking out some ground-to-overheads, with Erin in the background changing out her weights
The first workout was an AMRAP of 10 ground-to-overhead with weight increasing each round, 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups, and a trail sprint that took somewhere around 60-90 seconds. Here I am coming off the trail run and heading to the pull-ups
Chest-to-bar pull-ups are my favorite!
Matt used the third heat to his advantage and won this workout by 1 rep
Women's podium.  First place went to Sheila, followed by Michelle, Ashley, and me
Proof that Matt does smile

Madrid Regatta 2012


The marathon canoe races in Madrid, NY the second week of June are my second-favorite races of the year.  Most racers camp out on the riverbank so when they are not racing, they can eat, drink, and be merry!  Weather this year was great.  I raced c1 pro on Saturday (my first c1 pro race!)  I was DFL (dead &#$@ing last), and Holly and I were the only women in the race.  But I'm glad I did it, because I really think more women should race pro.  There's no reason for it to be such a male-centric class.
Start of the amateur c2 race (13 miles).  Adrienne and I are in the middle. I'm in green, she's in black.
Adrienne and me, paddling out of the portage to finish the upper loop of the race.  Thanks to Danielle for the pictures!

Me during the 9-mile c1 race, I think just after the portage

Paddling to the finish line.  (Big thank you to Rebecca Gilfus for taking these c1 shots!)

Crossfit Northeast Regionals


On Memorial Day weekend, I traveled to Boston as the female alternate on Crossfit Rochester's regional team. We qualified for the Northeast Regionals in 15th place, and hoped to improve upon that result in Boston. I decided to make the most out of an admittedly disappointing situation of not getting to compete and focus on being the best cheering section ever.  Our team didn't finish as high as we would have liked, so of course we (like every other person at the event!) are fired up to do better next year.

I made signs, which were featured on one of the crossfit games videos!
Here's Nick modeling some of the signs I made
I knew he'd like this one especially
Matt snatching the 100lb dumbbell during the snatch/sprint workout
CFR cheering section!

Loosen, Joe C. (in the green shirt), Stash, Kam, and Janet.  Right before the team Diane workout
Matt starting off the row/pistol/clean workout.  Julie, Stash, and Kam complete the relay team

Joe G. snatching like a boss
The boys modeling their mustaches before the snatch ladder.  Loosen, Matt, and Stash