August 17th, 2011 was the first time I met Helen. I was not terribly scared of her, but, to be sure, I respected her. I have met her a few times since and every time we meet, our time together seems shorter by the minutes.
Yes, I am having an affair with CrossFit and Helen is one of the many “named” workouts. They name the workouts after women and I can’t say why as my kids (or boss) might be reading this.
As I mentioned, my first encounter with Helen was August 17, 2011. 2 months after I started my CrossFit journey. Helen is a simple (but hard) workout. It is prescribed as follows:
- 400m Run
- 21 Kettlebell Swings with 53# Kettlebell
- 12 Pull-ups
Seems easy enough, right?
Now, it may surprise you, but when I started CrossFit, I couldn’t hang from the bar, never mind do a pull-up. As every skill at CrossFit can be scaled, they expected me to not be able to do this WOD (workout of the day) without scaling. So, as Todd and Brack were preparing me in the pre-WOD set up, out came these large rubber bands that resembled colorful flat tires.
These bands attach to the top bar and one is supposed to hold on the the bar, stand in the band, and proceed with pull-ups, the band assisting you along the way. It rarely goes that way the first time I have since learned. My first band was red. It was reallllly skinny. When I stepped into it, it went all the way to the floor. No assist there. I thought I might have killed it. I was sure someone was playing a joke on me, not just over-estimating my strength. It offered a mere 30 lbs of help. Apparently I needed more. I ended up using a red, a blue, and a green band to help me – for a combined assist of 145 lbs! That means if someone who weighs in at 145 lbs were to stand on these bands, they wouldn’t move. I didn’t weigh 145 lbs….not even on the moon.
On to the Kettlebells. I had some experience with Kettlebells, as I have one at home and was sure that youtube could instruct me as well as anyone, but I listened to Brack and Todd as they taught me the finer points of the American swing. They were convinced I wouldn’t kill myself or anyone else, so I was given the go ahead to swing away.
Finally, there was the run….did I mentioned that I was topping 260lbs at this point in my life? Asthmatic? It was summer? Nobody was chasing me? Why would I run? I fell forward into a determined walk. Yes, I could do this.
So, I got to meet Helen. My first CrossFit “named” WOD. One of “the Girls!” My time that day? 16 minutes and 37 seconds of hell.
This past January, Helen came knocking again. A little lighter, a lot stronger, and with much more confidence. I managed to not only improve my time, but my need for a rainbow of rubber bands to assist me was almost gone. I needed only the red band. My time was 14:52. I was pretty stoked.
Finally, after meeting Fran a few weeks ago (I’ll introduce her later), I have mastered the pull-up without bands at all. Fran required 45 of them, and I did all of them unassisted. However, I met Helen again this week, and elected to use the red band again, just to see how much further I have come (that and my shoulder has been a bit tight…a fact everyone knows by now, as I am a big baby when it comes to my discomfort).
My time this week? 13:11
I am looking forward to meeting Helen again. She is special to me. I hope to see less of her each time that we meet. Sub 10 would be nice.