Anticipation

The unknown and unknowable…go where no human has gone before…

Taking a leap and either going somewhere or doing something you weren’t sure about can lead to all sorts of cool experiences but the anticipation of said events often goes undiscussed. Since I’ve got two new things on the horizon, I thought I’d throw some feelings out there.

In the nearer future, I have my first official CrossFit competition this weekend. A friend and I decided it looked like fun and since it’s at (our) home box, why not? So with the promise of a cheering section, comfort from “home turf” we signed up. That was about 4 weeks ago and the anticipation has been insane.

It starts with the excitement: “we’re really doing this!”

Then comes then planning: “how are we going to do this?”

Then the realization that you have to perform in front of people with weights you’re not sure of: “Wait…we’re really doing THIS?!?!”

Yes, my $100 registration says we’re going to attempt to do this.

The good news is that since it’s our first, there’s no real expectation. Go have fun, experience the environment, and see what it’s all about. For me as a garage gym stalwart, it’s also a challenge to see how I stack up against some full-timers from all over the area. Of course in this case, having the Incredible Hulk on your team helps. We’ve practiced the workouts, strategized and see how quickly it all goes out the window on Saturday.

But in the end, the anticipation now, about 4 days out, is coming out from both ends. A post of the experience will be up Saturday evening or Sunday morning, assuming my arms still work…

The second life adventure is an upcoming vacation, which will also take us our of our comfort zone: Europe. This is the one spot we’ve wanted to go for about 15 years but never actually made it. The planning started quite a while ago, you could say…but with Brexit happening flights dropped in price and time off building up, it’s happening.

With all the planning that goes into something like this, the anticipation hasn’t built too much. Mostly it’s worry about figuring everything out & getting things in place. Basically too busy to worry too much about the trip. But with every purchase confirmation & AirBnB reserved, that anticipation builds and will climax once we take off.

As of this moment, it’s a whirlwind trip of 3 countries, primarily Italy, over 3 weeks at the end of the year. Of course, I’ll do my best to share our experiences here. As you can see from the post times, I haven’t been as loyal to this blog as perhaps I should be but when life gets busy, hobbies get set aside.

Hopefully the anticipation of all these new and wonderful experiences will get the creative, journalistic juices flowing.

How do you prepare for new journeys? Any tips on competition or travel in Europe?

CrossFit Games Open – 16.1

As most people involved in the CrossFit brand of fitness know, the Open is upon us. The first of five workouts was announced last Thursday to a chorus of groans, sighs, and expletives aimed at Dave Castro. Yet another workout that not only would test the abilities of all participants with a new movement, but push most of us to our limits with its length. The first workout of the CrossFit Games Open was:

  • In 20 minutes, do as many reps as possible of:
  • 25ft overhead lunge at 95/65
  • 8 bar facing burpees
  • 25ft overhead walking lunge at 95/65
  • 8 chest to bar pull-ups

Initially, I admit, I wasn’t too worried about it. For once, I knew I could do the movements as prescribed. The problem was that I’ve been nursing an injury to my abdomen for the past couple weeks & the stress from the lunge as well as the chest to bar wasn’t going to help. That excuse aside, I practiced the movements a bit that evening after the announcement just to get a feel for it. Friday evening would be the day I give it a shot.

I should also mention that my mantra for this Open was “1 and done”. No repeats, just leave it out there on the floor, friends’ scores be damned.

Another honorable mention is the support from the community to garage athletes. Since not all of us have the space or equipment needed for every workout, the Open would be less accessible without the hospitality of local boxes, willing to open their doors. We are fortunate enough to be friends with the owners of CrossFit Danville (where my wife is a member as well) who always, graciously, allow us to drop-in for these workouts. Big shout out to them and if you’re ever in the area, make them a drop-in stop.

Back to the story. Friday rolled around & as I strategized the workout, I remembered a few things. First, all strategies tend to go out the window when you can’t feed enough oxygen to the brain. Second, I have a hard time counting, so make every rep count. Lastly, push, but remember there’s 5 weeks of this torture, so if you tear something or further injure yourself, you’re done. Not like I was making it to Regionals, but you want to do your best no matter what. So walking into the gym on Friday evening I knew my warmup, I knew my pace and my goal. Now it was time to put it into practice and see what happens.

——-

Boy, that escalated quickly.

After peeling myself off the floor, I was able to reflect. First, as expected, my abdomen strain didn’t allow me to do the chest to bars optimally nor the lunge push-off on the left side. This contributed to having to stop at least once each 12-15 feet in the lunge & 2-3 pull-ups at a time. Annoying since this one was sort of in my wheelhouse. The 95lbs overhead didn’t feel as bad as I anticipated and my shoulders held up well (thanks in part to a nice suggestion online to keep the blades down & back as opposed to up). With a final score of 144 reps in 20 minutes, I wasn’t happy, but it was more than I thought & no additional injury.

Reflecting on it further, especially as my wife & two other friends were doing it on Saturday afternoon, led me to a couple strategies that might help:

  • Pace yourself to only rest in between movements. Try not to stop (at least not very long) during, say, the 8 burpees, but finish those reps & rest before picking up the bar for the next lunge.
  • If you can keep the bar up the whole 25ft, do it. Single biggest waste of time is dropping it, move it back, and get it overhead again.
  • If you know you can’t butterfly or kip all the chest to bar don’t try it. Hanging there to prep for the next one also stresses your shoulders. Drop off & try to get right back up there. Even if it’s singles.
  • Lastly, don’t have anyone calling out the time, unless you want specific intervals (half way, 2 minutes, etc). It just gets frustrating when you feel like you’ve gone 17 minutes and it’s really only been 5.

In the end, it was another good test from Mr. Castro. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for 16.2

How did you do with 16.1? Leave a comment if you like…

 

CF Road Trip – Day 6: Portland

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Eating…it’s the best thing ever. How I do love you, food.

In all honesty, we were supposed to get up and workout this morning. Had it setup to go drop-in to another box & do a WOD of our choosing. But then sleep & food interfered with our plans. Ah sleep…and food.

We elected to sleep in a bit and I got to spend some time on this blog, but in all reality it felt kind of good to just let our bodies rest. It had been a long week of both PRs and just moving weight so sometimes your just have to listen to your body and allow it to recover. We decided that since we were resting, we would attempt to have a good breakfast at a local place & just hang out, enjoying the city. The suggested location was “Mother’s Bistro & Bar” and boy was it popular. We waited roughly an hour for a table amidst the many hungry patrons, looking to indulge in the wonderful items they offered on the menu. The nice thing was the unlimited coffee that was available to anyone waiting…for a nominal fee of course.

Once our name was called, we quickly accepted the table and started scouring the menu for the best items. As it turned out, we decided to go with several of the specials: the strawberry covered waffle, the eggs benedict and the smoked gouda and ham scramble. Sometimes you have to try new things to find the amazing. In this case, that’s true; all the times we had were absolutely incredible. If you are ever in a position to visit this place, don’t balk at the standard hour-long wait. Just grab a cup of coffee, or 6, from the bar and hang out. It will deliver.

From there it was time to get some tourist-style sight-seeing in. We travelled out to several waterfalls in the area, currently protected to preserve the landmarks as special points of interest for everyone. Multonomah falls, Horsetail falls and the Vista House all provided unfettered access to nature in all it’s glory. The pictures below won’t really do it justice; if you’re traveling in the area, stop by these locations to truly appreciate the majesty.

After the beauty of creation, we went with the beauty of created items, in this case coffee & beer. Stops at Coava and Stumptown allowed for a comparison (TIP: purchasing beans? search for Stumptowns tasting room when beans are sold wholesale) of one type of brew while a little drive over to Hopworks BikeBar supplied the other brew.

Rogue Distillery and Public House was one more stop before dinner. In trying to find locally-made breweries, this one is high on the list as far as notoriety. And the beer isn’t bad either. (TIP: Samplers or Tasters will usually provide not only a good variety of beer, but a good value since you’ll get nice sized shots, generally 3oz up to 5oz, of each) A small sampling of the food here returned good, tasty bar-fare and you could easily make a meal out of it. But we had a dinner recommendation we didn’t want to miss.

The Portland Grill sounds like it would be a standard fare, fancy restaurant attached to a hotel, meant to provide guests with a quick, pricey meal. That’s partially correct, it is dark, fancy-ish, restaurant in a hotel. However, the service & the food were much better than anticipated. Though it had come highly recommended, we figured it was more for the view & location than anything else. Normally I wouldn’t have ordered Sushi in a place like this, but as you can see, I did and it was quite good, very fresh.  Ambiance is nice with the live piano player, the wait staff are fun and converse easily with the guests. Go dressed nicely, but don’t let that spoil the experience.

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And with that, we finally reach our last night of this trip. One more post for breakfast and a few final thoughts before a long drive home.

CF Road Trip – Day 5: Vancouver/Car

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Did I mention riding in a car for a million hours isn’t fun? Yes, we could’ve thought about that before a Road Trip but we also could’ve brought pillows for the butt. That would’ve helped. Our Chrysler Town & Country rental did it’s job perfectly fine, but that doesn’t mean our bodies enjoyed sitting for that long either. And today turned out to be a true test of the desire to road trip.

For the majority of this trip, we’d enjoyed traffic-free driving, so it was only a matter of time before that fortune would end…back to the story.

After another good night out (see the previous post, Day 4) we “awoke” to rain. Well some rain, mostly just cool temperatures but enough so that 2 of us made the journey to CrossFit 604 while the others slept in. We made it there in plenty of time & got checked-in with one of the coaches so we could begin stretching. After a brief warmup with the fairly large class for 8am, we went over the WOD for the day. Considering how worn out the body was feeling, this was going to be a little lighter & slower for us.

The box itself was dark, but very well-equipped. In fact, one of the better though-out setups in our opinion. Having enough equipment to line both sides so there wasn’t any “cross-over” with the Rogue rack bi-secting the floor is a great idea. Ropes, rings, even down to the clips and chalk were evenly distributed to both sides of the gym so there would be less confusion or running into each other. Great idea!

After the WOD we bought the requisite shirts & headed back to shower, pack up and start the long journey back to Portland. This turned into a fairly eventful journey.

First, breakfast. The reviews of Chambar mentioned how amazing the food was; it didn’t mention the attire (more specifically, I didn’t read that part). So we ended up being dressed in very casual, travel clothes for a fancier place. Fortunately, we are in Vancouver, BC where everyone is ridiculously nice & accommodating (the rumors are true!!)

The food certainly lived up to its hype and concluded an amazing food experience in Canada. Don’t miss the waffles. Just don’t.

On the road again, we encountered rain, rain & more rain all the way back to Seattle. Since we didn’t quite leave early enough to make the trek out to Astoria (Goonie-ville) like we planned, we elected to head back south to Portland and try for Astoria tomorrow (apparently sometime Goonies DO say die…). Good thing to since from about 4-5 miles outside of Seattle we stopped dead. For-ev-er.

(Side note: crossing the border back into the US turned out to be a longer stop than into Canada, but more hilarious. Hopefully you get to run into a border patrol agent with a sense of humor like we did.)

Time to hit the streets and find a way around this…oops. That didn’t help. The Seattle streets were jam-packed with visitors, commuters, and everything else you could imagine. Minutes turned to what felt like days of just sitting. Finally we had enough & found somewhere to stop & eat to wait out the traffic. This led us to Von’s.

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Depending on the review or sign, it’s either “Von’s Gustobistro” or “Von’s 1000 spirits”. Either way, it was a respite for us from the hellish traffic we had been in. We waited a bit in the extensive bar for a table, but were treated to a bustling crowd, lots of conversation-listening, and decent drinks. The food was also very good, with an emphasis on their house-made pasta and beef, both in meatball form & burger. Try either or both, it was worth it.

At around 7:30pm we braved the cold again to see if we were going to make it back to Portland ever. We were, and did. The stop off had helped! Now with full-bellies we made the trek back to Portland.

After the long drive, we arrived around 10pm and after some unpacking & deliberating a couple of us decided to try a brewery that was open until midnight – Deschutes. It turned out to be a cross between traditional bar/brewery and restaurant as they had plenty of tables & booths for families to relax in. In our case, we opted for a bar table, some tasters and some bottles to take home. Kudos for the server(s) as well since it seemed towards the end of the night, they just want to laugh & relax as well. Or maybe that’s just how they roll here. Either way, great way to relax after the long time spent in the van.

CF Road Trip – Day 4: Vancouver

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Multiple things on the agenda for today, lots to get through & not nearly enough time to do it all. But since we’re only in Canada once that we know of, we’re going to try.

Our first morning stop is CrossFit BC‘s West location. We got there pretty early before the class despite the pouring rain & were able to check-in and get started with some stretching. Working out pretty hard several days in a row, plus the travel, makes for a very sore body at this point. The WOD didn’t help as it was a good, fairly heavy one.Being two of the only ones who completed it at the “comp” weight (at least up until that point) was a good feeling too. Once it was over, we took our pictures, said our goodbyes and went to find adventure at the bottom of a coffee cup.

After a quick snack & coffee, the Capilano Suspension Bridge park acted as our next stop. This was a “must-see” from our list and lived up to every aspect of it’s name. I won’t spoil all the fun for those who haven’t been, but if you are ever up here, stop by. It’s  an amazing experience. Here’s a few pictures just to get a taste:

Our sense of beauty and pleasure in creation revitalized, we headed home to cleanup and change before heading out for the afternoon. Stack House Burger Bar provided much needed nourishment in the form of burgers, salads, and this guys’ first attempt at Canada’s favorite: poutine (fries covered in cheese & gravy). It was quite delicious. This place was a good, clean deviation from the nicer restaurants we had been frequenting.

Off to Stanley park. This was a highlight of the trip north as well, both for the sights & sounds it provides and also some of a more personal nature. In any case, the size of the forest that springs up from the city in the most natural / unnatural way is impressive. With the vast array of sights contained within it’s borders, we simply chose a spot & walked for a while. We were able to take in a stretch of the seawall, a small lighthouse, the famous totem poles, and some exceptional views of the city and Lions Gate Bridge. The only problem we ran into was the sheer size of the place didn’t allow us to see the whole place before the cold & rain drove us back to the vehicle.

Cold & hungry, we needed a place to relax and Granville Island provided a destination. While most people who review it claim it to be touristy & boring, we found it a nice escape; a small city within the city. Parking can certainly be difficult and accessing the small island by car is a serious of turns inviting lots of backtracking or rerouting, but once you’re in, you can easily walk the entire thing. We got coffee and browsed the stalls in the Public Market then walked over to have a few beers at the Granville Island Brewing Company. We met some interesting people, had some good samples and got a recommendation for dinner. Good stop all-in-all.

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Dinner was a short drive back up into the GasTown district at a place called Pourhouse. A smaller dining room but large on character and charm, Pourhouse was clearly a popular spot. We were able to get in fairly easily and ordered lots of great food and drinks. Letting the bartender make his choice turned out some tasty drinks and the food was excellent: well cooked, well presented. Alibi Room was a bar up the street from Pourhouse that we decided to visit as well. The beers on tap are more extensive than most any other place and the variety means anyone can find something they like. The cocktails were likewise delectable.

And now bed.

CF Road Trip – Day 3:Seattle/Vancouver BC

Sitting here after a morning of activity, I’m reflecting on the peacefulness of vacations. It’s so much easier than the day-to-day grind that most of us go through. Of course, this particular vacation doesn’t really lend itself to peaceful rest & quiet. But we knew that coming in & I’m rambling a bit now…maybe this is the subject of another “Life” post…

Back to the story at hand

We managed to get up this morning after all the good food and drinks last night in downtown Seattle (check out “Day 2” for details) even though our schedule meant the alarm jolting us up at 6am. The dessert from last didn’t agree with all of us, but I digress…

Out the door at about 7:20am meant we we didn’t get the usually needed coffee since our class was 8am. But this also meant we would get to have breakfast on the road before our little side-sightseeing excursion post WOD. A protein bar & some juice was all the available fuel on hand so it had to do. We drove out to CrossFit Bellevue in Bellevue, WA to join the members for the 8am class. This turned out to be a large gym in the traditional warehouse-type space, with a smaller turnout for this fun. After introductions & warmup, we got into the WOD of rowing, thrusters & bar-over burpees. Normally this is not a horrible workout (did I really just type that?!?), but I think we were all feeling a little beat after the amount of car time, working out and general lack of a familiar environment. We survived though, said our goodbyes and escaped with our dignity intact.

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Hunger overtook the group as we hit the road, and so Yelp suggested a small cafe in the town of Issaquah, aptly named “Issaquah Cafe“, which was on the way to one of the sightseeing spots we had noted we wanted to be sure to visit: Snoqualmie Falls. Breakfast was plentiful and decent, although at it’s heart, it was a basic diner serving mediocre food. Some of it was really good and the service was excellent, so there’s something to be said for that. And it filled the need without breaking the bank. Not sure you can ask for more than that.

A little further out was the destination: Snoqualmie Falls. For something this nice, you would figure they would charge for parking, viewing, anything. But nope, all of it is free and it’s a very easy, short walk to the first viewing platform. You never know what to expect when you hear about waterfalls since it could easily range from a drainage pipe spouting water on some rocks to a huge, raging storm of water pouring over some cliffs. We were very happy to find that this more resembled the latter. Extremely impressive both for the power you can feel as you stand there watching the water roar over the edges and impressive for the size as it tumbles down to the waiting river 270 feet below (per their website. It’s hard to describe the noise and the feeling of awe in watching this but also feeling the spray of it from as far away as we were standing. Our only issue was that the water coupled with the whipping wind made for a very cold spot.

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Once the pictures were taken and the hands were frozen, we headed back to the house to relax a bit before packing up & continuing our journey.

A stop back in downtown Seattle was on the agenda to do a few more things that we wanted to do & see before heading up to our next destination of Vancouver, BC.

Pike Place Market is a busy place no matter the time of day or the day for that matter. Although we had visited the day before, one of our group really wanted to catch a fish from one of the fish tossers at the market. Originally he was told no, however we thought we’d try again to fulfill this dream. This time, so long as he agreed to buy something from the vendor, they would allow him to do it. So after donning his new beanie, he went behind the counter & caught a flying fish!

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Post-market visit, we went to one of the most famous attractions in Seattle: the Space Needle. Although built for the worlds’ fair many, many years ago, it was truly an awesome sight, even to this day. It towers above the city like an old watchful guardian. However, this guardian costs $20+ dollars to ride the elevator up. We requested using the stairs but were denied by staff. Boo! Oh well, let’s go eat instead. We took a bunch of pictures of the Needle, but decided to go get food before our long drive up across the border to Canada.

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The drive was mostly uneventful save for the “thoroughness” of the border patrol agent we were blessed with. She seemed determined to get us to trip up in our story, questioning even the rental company of the vehicle we were in. That being said, we got approved for entry without further issues & made our way to our home in Vancouver, BC.

After getting the keys & descending in the parking garage to the lowest/furthest spot possible, we were finally able to get up to our apartment. Very quaint & cozy, the 2 bedroom (AirBnB review forthcoming) fit our needs & was very clean.

Vancouver is known for their food and after perusing some reviews, we decided to try The Flying Pig. Sounds appetizing, no? Since we had been in the car for quite a while & needed to stretch, we walked the 3 blocks to the restaurant in the Yaletown area of Vancouver. The restaurant is in a cool neighborhood of other bars, restaurants and businesses, making for a village like feel with warehouses. The food was excellent, service was great and it put a smile on our faces of the next couple days of our trip.

Home to bed for 4 of us, while our 5th decided to stay out & take in the nightlife of the city. Pretty sure he made it back alive…

 

CF Road Trip – Day 2: Seattle

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Seattle is only a couple hours away from Portland, but fortunately for us, it was a couple hours where we got to experience true PNW weather. Rainy, cool, with moments of sun breaking through the clouds, just to be covered & rain again. Fun times for a 2 hour drive but since we had already gotten our coffee before hitting the road, all was well.

That out of the way, we were able to make it up the highway with no major stoppages or accidents. One State Trooper decided he didn’t like how “fast” we were going and angrily motioned for us to slow down, but otherwise, uneventful. We stopped in Tacoma at Blue Steele (insert Zoolander joke here) for a bathroom, food, coffee break, before continuing on to our destination of Seattle. The goal was to make it in time for our 12pm class at CrossFit Belltown, and boy were we glad we did. The box was phenomenal.

Every aspect from the decoration & design to the ridiculously friendly staff & owners, was perfect. They made us feel welcome, ran a great class, and provided lots of good insights & suggestions about our brief stay in their city. While our plan didn’t initially include a return visit to Seattle, we are planning to see if we can make an exception if only to visit them again. The WOD itself was good, with PR’s being hit by all of us, but really, the experience was completed by the awesome time we had. Everyone else is going to have a LOT to live up to. If you’re planning to be in this area, don’t question it, just stop by to visit Nadia & her crew.

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Okay, back to the rest of the trip. After refreshing ourselves at the house (an AMAZING AirBnB) we headed back into Seattle proper. No visit to this area would be complete with going to the Public Fish Market at Pike Place.  Since we were all hungry, our first stop would be for some hot dogs…just kidding. Fish & Chips are easily found down here, and all no doubt, very fresh. We elected for Jack’s Fish since it got decent reviews on Yelp and, honestly, was right next to where we parked. The standard Cod fare was awesome & the specials of Halibut were no doubt tasty as well. We took in some of the sights of the market itself, with all the variety of vendors & customers. Of course, watching the fish tossing was fun & seeing sights like the gum wall was a must. A couple blocks down was the first Starbucks, not the one on 1st and Pike, on the corner mind you, but the actual first one. The cup of coffee was a given.

Next we walked around the area a bit but then I remembered the “Seattle Underground Tour” that is supposedly a cool little walking tour. And it delivered. We were able to get into the last tour of the evening, which may have made for an even better experience since the group was small & the guide likely was just ready to have some fun. Clay led us through the tunnels & told of the gross yet wonderful history of this city. Seeing some of the old foundations, wall, sidewalks, and metal beams holding the streets together was incredible. Highly recommend this, even though it may sound-like or feel-like a typical tourist trap. It’s not.

Dinner was highly recommended by our CrossFit coach Eric: Local 360. A restaurant specializing in local, organic fare, it has been the most popular spot to hit for both locals and visitors. A reservation on Tuesday night was no problem & we thoroughly enjoyed our food. Burgers, mac n cheese, drinks, and a fun waitress all made for a memorable dinner.

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Tomorrow we had to CrossFit Bellevue, check out the Bellevue area & hopefully do a little nature walking at some waterfalls, before packing it up & heading across the border to Vancouver, BC.

Stay tuned!