dumb kids

Today I saw this story on yahoo.com. This is a pretty good example of the kind of stuff I deal with in my job.  The article doesn’t mention his age so I’m not sure if he’s a juvenile or an adult (17 year olds are juveniles in PA).  However, his family had to bail him out and there’s no bail in the juvenile system (except in Massachusetts).  As the article states, it was pretty stupid of Issah to try to pay for his McDonald’s using fake money.  But that’s really all it is: dumb.  Sure, McDonald’s lost some profit but if he pays it back, no harm no foul.  Of course, he needs to be held accountable for his actions, presumably through more than simple restitution.  The question is, why on earth would prison be appropriate??  It doesn’t sound like he will end up in prison, thank goodness, but the tone of the article definitely implies that prison would be the default response and that he’ll only get out of it because of some diversion program.  I get the idea of accountability.  That’s a no brainer.  But what I don’t get is the idea that Pennsylvania tax payers should have to pay $30,000/day for this stupid kid playing with fake money to be in prison with rapists and murderers.  Does that make any sense?  As for punishment, there must be other kinds of punishments that can get the message across that it’s not okay to avoid paying for what you buy.  My guess is that if he loses his football scholarship, that would be a pretty significant punishment.  I think that’s excessive but it’s more reasonable than prison.

The article doesn’t state whether this kid has a prior record, but the idea that he may have screwed up his scholarship by getting arrested now implies that he had a clean slate before.  The criminal justice system is supposed to ensure that our community is safe and that people who break the law won’t do it again.  But, there’s no way to really ensure that people won’t break laws so you have to make decisions about how to utilize the resources of the justice system effectively to do the best you can to achieve public safety – kind of like a triage process.  If you waste resources on people that aren’t a threat to public safety, there are fewer resources available for the serious criminals.  That’s why we tell jurisdictions we work with that it’s not advisable to put first time minor offenders on probation (let alone in jail). If a probation officer has a caseload of 50 and some of those kids pose a real risk to public safety, do we really want them spending their time on those kids that just made a stupid mistake and probably won’t do it again?  I can tell you from talking to POs that unnecessarily high caseloads hurt their ability to pay attention to the kids that really need their attention.  It’s a waste of their time, a waste of county or state funds, and an unnecessary intrusion into the lives of troublemaking kids who may have made stupid decisions but probably won’t become lifelong criminals.

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Open WOD 13.4

I’m on the plane back from New Orleans now and I was trying to figure out whether I should blog about my evening out with Olivia, the out of control probation focus groups I had to suffer through or the ridiculous court cases I witnessed, but I’m too tired to get into that and mostly there’s just one thing on my mind: this week’s CrossFit Open workout.

The workout, which was announced yesterday, is a 7 minute ladder of clean & jerks and toes to bar. I felt pretty confident going into this workout.  Medium-heavy clean and jerks are probably my best movement and I’ve gotten a lot better at toes to bar since I learned how to kip them.  I tried the workout tonight and finished with 83 reps, which is pretty good although not stellar.  My goal was to at least get to the toes to bar in the round of 15, and I succeeded in that goal, but I still think I could have done better.  I ended up getting too tired to kip the toes to bar later in the workout and that cost me big time. The last round of C&J and T2B took way too long.  Even though I reached my goal of making it past the 15 C&Js, I’m really disappointed in myself because I wasn’t able to get the top female score at my gym (yet).  I missed it by 2 reps and I almost had those two reps!  Once I didn’t get my toes quite to the bar so I got “no-repped” and my last rep just missed the buzzer. It pisses me off so much to have been so close to that top score and yet still falling short (even though the current top score will probably change).  I know that I have another opportunity but I am still mad at myself.  Once again, pretty good isn’t good enough for me.  So I’ll try it again on Saturday and see if I can get another 10 reps, which I think would end up being a really good score.  But again, if it’s not the best score in the gym, I don’t think I’ll be satisfied. I just want to be #1 for once during these 5 weeks!

Friending

Today I finished listening to an audiobook called “MWF Seeking BFF” by Rachel Bertsche.  It’s about a woman who moves to Chicago from New York City to start a new life with her husband but finds herself missing the close female friendships she had in New York.  So she decides to embark on a yearlong quest to find a local “BFF”.  I was drawn to the book because I have always had a hard time making friends so I thought it would be something I could relate to, and I was intrigued by the idea of someone taking on the task of making new friends in the same way one would go about pursuing a career goal or picking up a new hobby.  It was a really entertaining book and I highly recommend it.  You can also check out Rachel’s blog here.

Rachel began her quest because she was looking for the kind of friend that knows everything about you and loves you anyway, who you can call for a last minute lunch date; someone who will drop everything for you if you need her to.  She had these kinds of friends in her life but none that lived close to her. At the end of the year Rachel hadn’t quite found her local BFF yet but she had learned a lot about friendship and built herself a strong network of friends in Chicago, from which one day a lifelong best friend might emerge.

I don’t really need a BFF in the way Rachel describes.  I have friends like that, and although most of them do not live near me, there are one or two local friends that might fall in that category.  With those that do live far, I don’t feel any less fulfilled because of that distance, and I think that we communicate regularly enough to keep the friendship fire burning.  It’s the more casual friendships that I feel I lack. I don’t mean that I don’t have a lot of acquaintances.  I’m involved in enough activities to know a lot of people, but how many of them would really consider me a friend?  Would they think to invite me to lunch or post workout drinks? Would they text me for a night on the town? Would it be weird if I texted them for the same?  Would they show up if I threw a party?   I just don’t have a wide range of people that I socialize with, or who I would really see outside of whatever activity we do together, and it’s always been that way for me.  I travel a lot for work and while my coworkers always seem to have a college friend they want to meet up with in the various cities we visit, I never know anyone.  If I went to my college reunion, I probably wouldn’t know a single person there.  And even if I did, I probably wouldn’t talk to them.  I have a terrible habit of running the other way when I see someone I know who I haven’t seen in a while. Unless I’m drinking – a lot – the chances of me saying hi and checking in on their lives is slim to none.

What I realized from Rachel Bertsche’s experience is that it’s up to me to change this about my life.  I’ve had trouble breaking the acquaintance to friendship barrier for as long as I can remember.  I have terrible social anxiety around new people and I’m absolutely clueless when it comes to small talk.  At work, I show up to all staff meetings as late as possible so I don’t have to spend time chit chatting before we get started, and I’ll wait to get my lunch if I hear that other people are in the kitchen.  But, once I get to know someone, I’m actually very extroverted.  I tend to think that once people get past my initial frostiness, they’ll realize I’m just a tough nut to crack but what’s inside is worth it.  I realized, however, that accepting myself as someone who’s just “shy at first” is keeping me from being completely happy.  I don’t want to dread staff meetings or run from acquaintances at the grocery store.  I want to get to know the couple our age down the street. And I want to stop feeling left out whenever I hear that people from the gym went out together but didn’t invite me.  Instead of assuming they don’t like me and pouting about it, I need to be more proactive about making friends with them.  As Rachel learned through her friending experience, the more you reach out to people, the more they’ll reach out in return.  And instead of worrying that people won’t like me or that they’ll find it weird if I ask for a phone number or invite them out, I should just do it because most people will actually be flattered  and a friendship may blossom where it never would have otherwise.

So, as part of my never-ending quest to be the best possible version of myself that I can be (once again, chasing perfection), I’ve decided to ignore my natural instincts around socializing and just be more damn friendly.  So far, one day in, it’s going well.  I invited Elise from the gym to brunch on Sunday.  She couldn’t do brunch but asked me if I want to lift with her then get coffee Sunday morning instead.  Plans made.   Elise is a little easier to reach out to because she’s one of the friendliest people I know and I didn’t really have a fear of rejection.  She’s even told me before that she wanted to get together outside of the gym.  But normally I would have just waited for her to invite me to something instead of taking the initiative myself.

The other move I made in my pursuit of building more friendships is actually the much, much scarier one.  My newest project at work requires me to travel to New Orleans fairly regularly.  Around the same time this project started, I learned from Facebook that someone I knew from college just moved there.  Olivia and I weren’t really friends at UNC, but we were friendly.  I met her through Katie P, who was and still is one of my closest friends from college. They went to high school together.  I always liked Olivia but never spent time with her except at parties or bars with Katie and their other friends around.  She seems like a really interesting person though. After college she went to Uganda with the Peace Corps, which totally amazes me.  I would never have had the courage to move across the globe for two years without my friends or family around.  So I decided that I would contact her to see if she wanted to get together sometime when I’m in town.  Actually, I contacted her just a few hours before I was already scheduled to fly down there.  I secretly hoped she would be available tonight because my coworker doesn’t arrive till almost midnight and I’ll be on my own this evening, but I assumed it wasn’t likely due to the short notice and the fact that it’s a Tuesday.  Well, as luck would have it, she’s on spring break from her graduate program this week and was planning to go see the Rebirth Brass Band so she invited me to come along.  This is perfect.  A trip to New Orleans isn’t complete for me without live music and I particularly love the brass bands.  I’m really excited and hopeful that I may have a potential buddy to visit when I’m traveling for work.

I know that this whole friendliness thing won’t be easy.  The one part that still terrifies me is the small talk.  I just really, really suck at chit chat.  Will it be awkward with Olivia, or even Elise, before we’ve developed a stronger rapport?  Will I feel the need to lean on alcohol to lessen my nerves?  How do I avoid the paralyzing fear that I won’t have anything to say?  I think this will be the hardest part.  But if I can try not to let that stop me from making the first move, then maybe it’ll get easier over time.  Here’s hoping.

My Broken Heart

No, this isn’t a post about sadness, hurt, or pain. This post is about how my heart is literally messed up.  Well, according to my electrophysiologist (a special kind of cardiologist for weirdos like me), there’s not actually anything wrong with my heart. But try telling that the to ER nurses and doctors at Suburban Hospital a month and a half ago.  Let me back up.

Back in mid-February I was having a minor outpatient procedure done at the hospital.  For some reason, during the procedure, I started to feel really woozy, sweaty and nauseous.  My heart rate started dropping and they had to give me smelling salts to keep me from passing out.  This is not a completely unusual response to a stressful situation like surgery and eventually it was determined to be a normal vasovagal reaction.  However, the doctor decided to do an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) just to make sure there was no problem with my heart.  This was when the fun began.

The nurses who did the first ECG introduced themselves by saying that the experience was going to be a bit like “Lucy and Ethel”.  They weren’t kidding.  I wasn’t sure they had any idea what they were doing.  They kept fiddling with the newfangled ECG machine they had never used before, running the test, shaking their heads with confusion and running the test again.  It started to seem funny, almost ridiculous.  I was laying here feeling totally fine, ready to get the heck out of there.  It was obvious there was nothing wrong with me, why couldn’t they just figure this machine out and send me home??

Then they told me that there was a problem (I still didn’t really understand what the problem might be) and they had to take me “downstairs.”  Apparently “downstairs” meant the ER.  As they were rolling me to the ER, the nurse was asking me if I was experiencing chest pains.  It wasn’t until we got to the ER that I realized this was serious.  They thought something was really wrong with me.  I instructed Wes to go call my mom and about 30 seconds later, about 15 nurses, doctors and technicians all crowded around me, putting electrodes on my chest, sticking an IV in my arm, taking blood.  There was even a defibrillator on the stretcher.  Finally a nurse practitioner told me  that although it was “very unlikely” I was having a heart attack, they were concerned because my EKG was very abnormal.  She said that they were going to give me a procedure where they put a catheter in my heart to look at the arteries and check for blockages.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Had I had a heart attack?  I didn’t feel like I’d had a heart attack.  Or, at least I didn’t feel like what I think I’d feel like if I’d had a heart attack.

At this point they brought me up to the cardio catheter floor, but decided to do an ultrasound of my heart before doing the catheter.  Thank goodness they did this because the ultrasound was normal and they realized it probably wasn’t necessary to do the catheter.  The on call cardiologist confirmed this but he wanted to admit me so I could be observed overnight.  I was relieved to find out that I hadn’t had a heart attack but still very scared about what was wrong with me, and I definitely did not want to spend the night at the hospital.  I have to thank Wes and my mom for being there for me that afternoon and evening.  They didn’t leave my side until I finally let them go home to get some sleep. They knew how much I did not want to be alone.  And Wes brought me food because the hospital took forever to bring me anything and, obviously, the food there was terrible.

They let me go home the next morning with strict instructions to follow up with the on call cardiologist who had approved my discharge.  He told me that my EKG was suspicious for a disorder called Brugada Syndrome.  Obviously the first thing I did was to google Brugada, which was a huge mistake, as “high risk of sudden death” appeared on the screen of my iphone.  So I’ve spent the past month not knowing whether I have this disease that could cause me to drop dead with no warning, and for which the only treatment is an implanted defibrillator that has a pretty high rate of false positives (i.e., administering shocks to one’s heart unnecessarily).

Since I left the hospital, I’ve seen the cardiologist and the electrophysiologist, a specialist that focuses on the electrical impulses of the heart.  After a cardiac MRI and some other study where he tried to bring out the Brugada pattern in my EKG through sodium channel blockers, the doctor hasn’t found anything.  I do not have Brugada Syndrome.  That is a huge relief, but I am still really frustrated.  The doctor said this is probably just how my EKG is, and it doesn’t actually mean anything.  Seriously?? You’re telling me that the pattern that caused the ER doctor to call a code heart for a healthy, 30 year old woman means nothing??  Apparently I have to carry a copy of my EKG around with me in case this happens again and someone thinks I’m having a heart attack when I’m not.

But I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea that all this means nothing. WHY is my EKG so abnormal?  Could it really be true that there’s no reason to worry about a pattern that would, in normal people, indicate that part of their heart has died??  This makes no sense to me.  I can’t help but think that they just don’t know enough yet.  I’m not really sure what else they could do, and I definitely don’t want more tests, but accepting this as nothing just doesn’t sit right for me.  Today I’m feeling really obsessive about it and it’s all I can think about.  I definitely want to see another electrophysiologist to get a second opinion.  If another doctor says the same thing, then maybe I can believe it.  But for now, I’m convinced there’s got to be something wrong and they just don’t know what.

For anyone who’s interested in trying to understand what’s wrong with me, here’s a copy of my EKG next to a normal EKG pattern:

A normal EKG pattern with no ST elevation (with S and T waves identified)

A normal EKG pattern with no ST elevation (with S and T waves identified)

The EKG that started it all

The EKG that started it all

The Steubenville, Ohio Rape Case

One of the questions I dread most from strangers and acquaintances is, “What kind of work do you do?”  Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I might actually love it too much.  But usually I just don’t want to get into a debate about whether or not kids should be in jail, especially because most people don’t really have a lot of information about the realities of the juvenile justice system.  So before I get into my thoughts on Steubenville, I’ll provide a little “Juvenile Justice Reform 101”.

The majority of kids that are in juvenile corrections facilities around the country are there for non-violent offenses. In fact, 15% are in on either technical violations of probation (which means that they failed to comply with the terms of their probation but have not committed a new offense) or status offenses, which are offenses that would not be illegal for adults (e.g., truancy or running away from home). Another 20% are in for drug or public order offenses (such as disorderly conduct) and 29% are in on property offenses.  Only about one third of kids in correctional facilities committed a crime against a person and that is combining misdemeanors and felonies.  More than 10% of those person crimes were just simple assault or another person misdemeanor (could be something like harassment for making threats against a fellow student, etc.).  There are no sentencing guidelines for juveniles (except in Washington State) so judges have a LOT of discretion.  The point is that we’re not really talking about dangerous kids, it’s more about kids that piss us off.  Sure, they need to be held accountable and they need to learn that there are consequences to their actions, but there is a cost when incarceration is our go to answer for how to try and teach that lesson.

First of all, it’s not effective at reducing the likelihood that they’ll commit another crime in the future.  Actually it’s the opposite.  Every kid who is convicted in juvenile court is going to come back to the community at some point.  (So will most of those convicted in adult court, they’ll just come back later and much, much worse.)  Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that  prison is not an effective deterrent.  It may work for some people, but probably the same people who aren’t likely to commit a crime in the first place.  It’s also ineffective because it’s an artificial environment.  Kids may do great in a facility where they never have to make a choice for themselves and they aren’t faced with the challenging realities of their daily lives but what happens when they go right back to the environment they were in when they got in trouble in the first place?  Old habits die hard.  Finally, the exposure to other delinquent peers creates a negative learning environment.  Kids who have been to prison will tell you that it was in the facility where they really learned how to become a criminal.  And we actually do know about community-based interventions that are more effective.  So, it might make us feel better to lock kids up when they break the law, but it’s a huge waste of resources and actually hurts public safety in the long run.

But there’s also a human factor.  Dostoyevsky has written that society’s degree of civilization, or lack thereof, could be determined by its prisons.  If this is true, we are a highly uncivilized society.  Even when they’ve done something to hurt another person, these are still kids and they deserve to be treated humanely.  Tearing apart families, shackling kids, warehousing them in old, dilapidated buildings where they sleep on inch-thick mattresses and eat food you wouldn’t feed your dog is simply not something we should be okay with.  Click here or here for photos and stories from detention centers and correctional facilities around the country. Furthermore, these facilities have a terrible track record of violence and abuse.  The Department of Justice found that 1 in 12 youth in New York State facilities had been sexually assaulted.  Are we really going to accept this, especially when so many of the kids caught up  in the system are more troublemaker than gangbanger?  The reality is that all kids engage in delinquent behavior, and most grow out of it.  But certain youth, primarily poor youth of color, don’t get the benefit of the doubt from the authority figures in their lives and they end up in a vicious cycle of probation, probation violations, and placement in correctional facilities. Think about a time when you were young and stupid. Maybe you got caught and maybe you got in trouble.  But imagine if someone had said, “now that you’ve gotten in trouble, we’re going to watch you for 18 months and if, during that time, you are found to engage in recreational drug or alcohol use, you skip school or show up late, you disobey your parents, hang out with those trouble making friends, stay out after curfew, or get in trouble again, we’re going to lock you up.”  How quickly might you have been sent away?

I’ve gone on longer than I intended on this issue, but it’s frustrated to work with these systems and see the same stuff over and over again. Whether it’s Alabama, New York City, or Indiana it’s the same story: adults getting pissed off because the dumb kids won’t do what they’re told and not being creative enough to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve ripping them away from their families and warehousing them with other “bad” kids.  If anyone is interested in learning more about why this model doesn’t work, check out this publication from the Foundation I work for.

So now we’re back to Steubenville.  This is a tough one because these kids did hurt someone.  Also, these aren’t the typical “throwaway kids” that people are usually okay with sending to jail.  They are football players from middle class families with good grades and relatively promising futures.  And I think that was probably the reason that the case remained in the juvenile justice system.  For the record, I think that was the right decision, although I think all kids, not just the ones that look like “our kids” should get that consideration.  There’s a reason that we have separate systems of justice for juveniles and adults and that’s because kids are different.  They do not understand the consequences of their behavior in the same way.  Moreover, there’s hope for kids.  They are more susceptible to change than adults.  There’s really no reason to think that someone who commits a serious crime as a teenager can’t learn from his mistake and turn his life around.  I think that people generally agree with this, and you can tell because there have been drastic changes in the use of juvenile incarceration across the country, but you wouldn’t know it from the reactions to the Steubenville case.

Here’s an example of the typical reaction I’ve seen.  The author is responding to a post by another writer who compared the boys to Eddie Haskell from Leave it to Beaver. Aside from this, there are tons of comments on Facebook and in blogs I like to read that all follow the same line of thought: Why should we feel at all sorry for these boys? They are rapists, they knew what they were doing, and the only reason they cried at their sentencing was because they were scared about going to “juvie”, not because they felt remorse for the victim.  I even saw one blog post which implied that it was absurd for one of the boys’ defense attorneys to argue that his client should not have to register for life as a sex offender based on what we know about adolescent brain development.  Even though the blogger admitted that the research is valid and has influenced Supreme Court decisions, the implication was clear: “how ridiculous is this? The desperate lawyer is trying to say his client shouldn’t be held responsible because his brain isn’t full formed.”  Except the lawyer is absolutely right.  Here is a link to explain the research on adolescent brain development, which was the basis for Supreme Court decisions to eliminate execution of juveniles and limit the use of life without parole.

It’s clear that there are two major issues rising to the top. First, there is concern over blaming the victim. I think this is a valid concern that frequently comes up when the issue is rape, but the perception seems to be that if you give any consideration to the rights of the perpetrators, you’re simultaneously invalidating the girl’s victimization.  I don’t think that has to be true.  Secondly, there’s a lot of anger about these kids “getting off easy” because they were star football players and good students. That anger extends to anyone (such as CNN reporters) who expressed sympathy for boys, who “had such bright futures”.   The conversation concerns me both because of how far reaching it’s been (I mean how often are random people on Facebook talking about a disposition in juvenile court) and because of its vitriol. For me, it supports my suspicion that no matter how clear it is in some state law and even in policy that the JJ system is about rehabilitation, people will still want their pound of flesh.  And it’s not totally unreasonable.  Punishment is part of learning.  Parents use it, even if they would never treat their kids the way the JJ system does.  So, the question for me is: how can we ensure that people feel youth who harm others are held accountable for their behaviors without that always being defined by jail time?  It’s a pretty difficult question to answer  because sending people away for years, even decades, is considered normal.  When the public starts from a framework that one year in prison is getting a break, how can we really start a conversation about re-defining punishment?  It may not be possible but I don’t think we’re ever going to get control of our addiction to incarceration until we try.

Trying a blog

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging.  This has primarily come from the fact that I’ve been obsessing about certain things a lot lately and I think my husband has pretty much reached his tolerance for listening to me go on and on about the same stuff over and over again. It’s tough for me to start a blog though because, first of all, it seems so self indulgent. I mean, sure it’s probably therapeutic to write down my thoughts and feelings when I’m frustrated or confused about something, but why do I need to share that over the internet?  I’m still not sure I do but maybe someone who thinks like me will find this blog and find my comments helpful, or provide me with some helpful comments. So I’m going to give it a try.

The other reason I’m wary to start a blog is because I’m a perfectionist and I worry that I won’t be able to write something interesting enough or I won’t pick the right layout or I won’t keep up with posting. I obsess over stupid crap like this, and it keeps me from actually trying, which is why I’ve picked the title, Chasing Perfect, for this blog. I always feel like I’m chasing perfection. Whether it’s something trivial like the fact that I bite my nails or something big like worrying if I’m a good enough friend or wife, I can’t stand the thought that I might have a flaw.  Not only that, but I never feel satisfied with myself unless I’m the absolute best, even if I am still able to excel.

This leads me to my current obsession: the CrossFit Open.  I’m definitely not alone in my obsessiveness about this annual event where CrossFitters around the world (140,000 people signed up this year) compete in 5 workouts to earn the right to compete at Regionals and ultimately the Games, or just see how you stack up against others in your region or the world.  Among my Facebook friends alone I know that people from my gym spend way too much time staring at the leaderboard as it changes every Thursday-Sunday each week  and spend Monday-Wednesday anxiously awaiting the announcement of the workout for the week.  I don’t have any illustions that I will make regionals. Only the top 48 people make it out of almost 3,000 that have submitted scores for all 3 workouts thus far. However, I do want to do really well, and how I define “really well” has a lot to do with how I compare myself to the other women I know. Currently I have the 3rd highest ranking out of all the women at my gym and last weekend I finished among the top 8% in the region. I should be pleased with this.  But I’m not because the distance between me and the top two women in the rankings is much larger than I want it to be, and I can’t help but feel like I could have – or should have – done better on the 3 workouts so far.

The first workout was a relative success in that I knew I would have a really hard time with the 100lb snatches that would mean all the difference in the rankings, but I was able to get 3 of them and I was happy with that. However, it also indicated how little I have improved on this lift over the past year. I know that the snatch is one of my weakest movements, and I’ve had a year to try to get better but I was only able to do one more snatch at 100lbs than I did last year during a very similar workout.  To me, that’s unacceptable. And I know that I can do better because 100lbs is nothing for me when we’re talking about going from shoulder to overhead. I can get that overhead without even using my legs.  But the snatch is all about technique, and mine sucks.  Probably the only reason I even got 3 of them was because I’m strong enough to just muscle it up.  But if I’m doing it right I shouldn’t have to do that and I should be able to get a lot more.

Disappointed with my score on the 2nd CrossFit Open workout this year

Disappointed with my score on the 2nd CrossFit Open workout this year

When the second workout was announced, I was so excited.  It was 3 of my strongest movements: shoulder to overhead, deadlifts, and box jumps.  And it was only 10 minutes long.  I completely underestimated this workout.  I didn’t think about the fact that the box jumps were literally half the workout, and box jumps will take a lot out of you.  Furthermore, I didn’t think about the fact that a 10 minute workout meant NO room for error. Rest for one second and it’ll cost you dozens of spots on the leaderboard.  I tried it twice and failed to reach 300 reps each time, primarily because I couldn’t keep up with the box jumps.  I was incredibly disappointed with my performance, mostly because I thought this was totally in my wheelhouse.  I do wonder if I could do better if I tried it again.  The first time I did it, I think there was something wrong with me because I felt really sick afterwards and that never happens to me.  I tried it again the next day and didn’t feel nearly as bad, but I was probably not in tip top form because I hadn’t even given myself 24 hours of rest.  However, I know how hard those box jumps are and how fast I’d have to go to improve my score as much as I’d like to, and I have doubts that I could actually do it.

This last workout was just ok.  I’m happy because it was the ideal way for my absolute weakest movement to show up: double unders. I am so bad at double unders and it’s one of the most frustrating things about CrossFit for me.  No matter how much I practice them, I can’t seem to gain consistency.  I’m a lot better than I used to be but I never know if I’ll be able to string together 10 at a time or struggle to get two in a row.  The way this workout was set up helped me because I had plenty of time to finish the double unders and knew I would still get the same score as a lot of other women because we’d all be stuck in the same spot if we couldn’t do a muscle up.  Unfortunately, the new split time tie breaker hurt me a little since it took me longer to finish the doubles but really I have to be relieved that this was the way the double unders showed up in the Open.  My main disappointment in this workout is again that it shows how little I have progressed in the past year.  I’m pretty strong and there’s really no reason why I don’t have a muscle up yet, except for the fact that I haven’t spent enough time working on it.  But I will say that I’m coming out of this workout more motivated than disappointed.  I will get a muscle-up by next year’s Open.  In fact, I hope to be able to get multiple muscle ups by then.

For the last two workouts, I would like to do better than I’ve done so far.  Ideally, I’d like to have at least one workout where I finish with the top score at my gym, but knowing how crazy good the CrossFit DoneRight women are, I’m not sure that’s possible.  However, in some ways I’ve already moved on and I’ve been primarily thinking about how I will go about making sure I’ve made more significant improvements by next year’s Open.  I know I need to work some of my specific weaknesses but I also think I need to spend more time focusing on heavy lifting in general, instead of doing a lot of metcons, which is what I prefer.

A 215# back squat is not good enough

A 215# back squat is not good enough

The problem is, I don’t know how to work that into my schedule.  The regular programming at CFDR does incorporate heavy lifting every so often but even if we do it once a week, realistically that means I’m only working each lift once a month and that’s not going to be enough.  Also, my work schedule is so crazy that I can’t be sure I’m able to get to the gym on heavy lifting days.  Getting to the gym early before class doesn’t work very well because, thanks to my commute, the earliest I can get there is about 6:30pm and there’s rarely any room or extra equipment available during that time because the 6pm class is too crowded.  Basically my options are to skip the classes and do my own programming  by following something like the Outlaw Way, or to try to get to the gym twice a day a few days a week.  The problem with that is that I split dog walking duties with my husband and I’m not sure how I could walk Mackey and get to the gym in the morning while still making it to the office at a reasonable time.  Probably I’m going to try to do a combo of classes and special programming.  Hopefully that will help.

By next year, my goals are to increase my CrossFit Total score by 90lbs to reach 700.  I also want to be able to do muscle ups for reps, and finish in the top 100 in the region during the Open. This is ambitious but I think I’m up to the challenge – if I can figure out a way to do this and all the other things that are important to me in life.  But that’s for another blog post.