Next month:
December 2015

November 2015

Rx Or Time

I was speaking with a WOD partner this afternoon and we discussed the question of whether to 1) select a weight that allows you to move quickly through a WOD or 2) go Rx and risk being the last one to finish. Coach's opinions on this seem to vary. 

I was speaking with a WOD partner this afternoon and we discussed the question of whether to 1) select a weight that allows you to move quickly through a WOD or 2) go Rx and risk being the last one to finish. Coach's opinions on this seem to vary. 

Today's class was 18-15-12-9-6-3 of front squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups. I did the Rx weight at  135 plus standard pull-ups. 

As  expected, I did finish last in 17:06. I'm getting accustomed to it. I'll keep doing the Rx weights until the coaches say otherwise. 

Afterward, I added a bench press workout with 30 reps at 135 while working up to a rep at 225. 


GHD Sit-Ups = Improved Toes-To-Bar

Toes-to-Bar is still not a strength of mine but it's certainly improved. 

During the 2014 CrossFit Open, I could only do 1 toes-to-bar. Just a single rep.

During Friday's WOD, I did 40. I didn't fly through them unbroken but I managed them reasonably and could have done plenty more. 

One of the reasons is likely my almost daily focus on GHD sit-ups. I've been aiming to do 100 GHD sit-ups before each class to help strengthen my core. Since cancer surgery a few years ago, my core has been a weakness and I've been using the GHDs to help with that. An unexpected but welcome result has been my improvement at other things like hollow rocks, toes-to-bar and even kipping pull-ups. 



Missing Ingredient - Vitamin M

In recent days at the box, I've felt that something was missing.  I've wanted to quit a few times. In all honestly, this isn't only at the box. This feeling is throughout my life. 

In mulling this over, I believe that it's related to an accumulation of events over the past few years: my father's death, my kidney cancer, my dog Ben's death, my thyroid cancer, my daughter leaving for college and now my mother's death. 

These are all things that one can expect in life. Deaths of loved ones, health challenges and changes in life. Over the past few years, I've been pretty resolute in dealing with these things and the other things that life throws at you day-to-day. This time, I'm feeling the drag. 

Throughout my life, I've typically felt a gravitational pull-like force was driving me forward. I would have a goal (e.g., progressing in jujitsu training) that was fuel by opportunity, the innate human drive to advance and the context of the moment (e.g., mid-life crisis, proving others wrong). 

These days, I feel as though my mother's passing combined with the prior events has temporarily disrupted the balance that fuels my motivation. I know that I need to recapture that to move forward and believe that it will manifest in the days ahead. 

In the meantime, I'm still training and making the best of it. Yesterday, I did a 15/12/9/6 workout that included power cleans/toes-to-bar, front squats and box jumps. I did the workout Rx at 135 pounds and with a 24" box. I knew that I'd end up finishing last since most others were scaling. That turned out to be the case (as seen in the picture below). I finished in 21:06. 

Today, I went to an instructional Oly class on Jerks and then did a team WOD. Not a bad showing overall. Did well on the strict presses but my pull-ups were poor today due to sore shoulders. 

In the end, it's about continuing to take steps forward and work. If nothing else, I'm a grinder. 


Crossfit Suggestions for the Gray-Haired Crowd

In celebration of my second anniversary of Crossfit, I thought I’d pass along these thoughts:

Crossfit suggestions for the gray-haired crowd:

  1. Everyone is younger - Pretty much everyone that walks into the box will be younger than you. There are lots of ‘Crossfit Kids’ classes around but I haven’t seen ‘Crossfit Old Dude’ classes. Take pride that you’re in the game when the majority of your age group is wearing Crocs because they can’t bend over to tie their shoes.
  2. We have different goals (but we definitely have goals) - The younger crowd has different goals. They’re thinking about frolicking on the beach while looking like Noah Ohlsen or Jackie Perez. We’re thinking about those two dozen pair of slacks hanging in our closet that we haven’t been able to fit into for the past decade.
  3. You’ll always have cheerleaders - While we’re long past being part of the shirtless or booty short crowd, we can leverage this group. For one thing, their athleticism is inspiring and you should be proud that you’re working hard right beside these phenoms. Also, they will usually finish the workouts before you and will always be your enthusiastic cheerleaders.
  4. It’s not just about sustaining - Being an older athlete isn’t about just sustaining or slowing down our physical demise. Many of us have never trained in this way. We have never been this strong or haven’t been in a couple decades. ‘Gainz’ aren’t just for the younger crowd.
  5. The most important thing is to show up on a very regular basis - Showing up on a very regular is the key to making progress. That said, it’s important to take a reasoned approach. Don’t try to win the warm-up. Don’t try to out lift everyone. Instead, compete with yourself based on what you can do that day.
  6. Age brings benefits - There are some benefits to being an older athlete as you begin to qualify for AARP-like benefits. Due to being 56, I received a 40-pound discount on yesterday’s WOD. That’s almost a 2 1/2 ton discount on yesterday’s. My back says thank you.
  7. Respect your coach - Not only are most of the athletes younger than you but so are the coaches. Sure that coach could be your daughter (or even granddaughter) but, guess what, she knows WAY more about Crossfit and weightlifting movements then you do. Listen up.
  8. The first ten minutes in the morning are tough but… - When you wake in the morning, the first ten minutes will be tough. You’ll think that there’s no way that you can do a WOD today. Pack your Crossfit bag anyway. A big cup of coffee will change everything.
  9. The first ten minutes of class are tough but… - During the first ten minutes of class, you’ll be thinking about how to slip away to your car unnoticed before the WOD begins. By the time class ends, you’ll feel better than you have all day. Stick with it.
  10. Enjoy being in cool for a moment - Let’s be honest, we’d be mocked if we walked into a club playing EDM and tried to get our rave on. Or if we tried to vibe at Coachella. Yet we can be part of the cool crowd by slinging some weight and WODing our ass off with the Millennials and Generation Zs at the Box. There’s even rave like music. Besides the burpees, it’s almost like being at Burning Man.

So take heart AARP crowd, our younger workout partners may lap us while chugging pre-workout, gulping protein bars and sporting skintight Lululemon shorts but they need our memberships to keep the boxes open!

Death By Strict Press


I started this blog with my mother's obituary. It may seem like an odd choice but I'd created this online journal just prior to my mother's hospitalization two weeks ago. Not surprisingly, my focus has been on being with my mother and family since she entered into the hospital on November 1st. The past two weeks have been spent sitting in an intensive care room, eating horrible sorts of food, getting small amounts of fitful sleep and experiencing wild swings in emotion. 

My mother's wake is tomorrow and her funeral the next day. It will be a few days before we begin trying to bring our routine back to something close to normal. I'll hope that this is the case and will use my mother's memory to provide additional inspiration. 

As with other blogs that I've maintained, this is meant to become a journal of my ongoing CrossFit journey. I used a similar method to track my jujitsu journey ( until I was promoted to black belt. Over the past two years, I've switched my attention to CrossFit.

The intent of this blog to focus on the adventures of an older athlete as I'm 56. Not an elite athlete either. I've always loved sports and athletics but I wasn't blessed with great athleticism. I try to make up for that with determination. For example, I attended 27 CrossFit classes during the month of October. 

Today, I was back and looking forward to getting into the groove again. 

Today's workout: Death by Strict Press

Today's result: 12 complete round plus 11 reps @ 95 pounds

Extra work: 100 GHD sit-ups

Overall grade for the day: A-

Diet grade for the day: Well, get into that at a later time...


Patricia (Trish) Whitaker, 78, of Manchester, passed away Saturday, November 14, 2015, surrounded by her adoring family and friends. For the past two weeks, with the compassionate and talented support of Hartford Hospital’s ICU team, she battled valiantly and with amazing grace.

The beloved wife of the late Bill (U.U.) Whitaker, Patricia was born on December 18, 1936, in Hartford, Connecticut, the daughter of the late Edward and Arline Sheehan of East Hartford. Patricia faced many challenges during her life including the death of her infant son, Chance, but her life was not defined by these challenges. Instead she lived a fruitful and joyful life.

Throughout the years, her home was the center of activity as Patricia and Bill hosted large gatherings that filled their home with laughter and the smell of Trish’s amazing cooking. Things that Patricia loved included attending her granddaughter’s games and recitals, spending time at the beach in Rhode Island and Florida, family vacations including a trip to Bermuda earlier this year, helping to raise her grandchildren, and anything that involved caring for and spending time with her family and friends.

Patricia wasn't a weightlifter but she was the strongest person we knew. She loved her family and friends to the moon. We love her to the moon and back.

Patricia leaves her son, Trey Whitaker and his wife, Cherry, of Hebron; her son, York Whitaker and his wife, Rose, of Bethesda, MD; her daughter Whitney Whitaker and her husband, Gerry Garfield, of Hebron; her daughter, Penny Whitaker, of Manchester; her grandchildren, Caylee Whitaker, Ellie Whitaker and Nika Garfield; and her dearest friends, Rudy and Ceil Persico and their family.

Visiting hours will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at John F. Tierney Funeral Home, 219 West Center St, Manchester, CT. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, a remembrance service will be held at Tierney’s prior to the burial procession to East Cemetery in Manchester.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a tribute gift to Hartford Hospital (