CrossFit Open 14.1

My first thought on Thursday night when they announced the workout was “Hey I can do that”. As it turns out, that was only partially the case. The workout was as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of 30 double unders and 15 75lb snatches. My double unders lately have been pretty good so I felt confident in those. Keeping the weight the same throughout the exercise made the snatches possible unlike last year when they went up to 135lbs in round 2, well past my max of 115. So overall, I was happy. I initially thought I would be able to do about 200 reps.

This workout was a repeat from the 2011 Open which I also participated in. In looking back at what I did then, I got 2 rounds + 30 double unders + 5 snatches for a total of 135 reps. So much for my dreams of 200 reps. I’m not sure how much training I was doing back then though so I was pretty confident I could beat that. My strategy was to shoot for 2 minute rounds.

The gym was crowded tonight and it made it hard to warm up. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my fitness, I am a slow starter. I would prefer to be dripping wet and panting when I start a workout. I had to start almost cold tonight which was problematic. Also, I didn’t bring my own rope for whatever reason which was a big mistake. The double unders, which should have been the strong point of the workout, were disjointed and difficult. I had to work way too hard at them which caused cascading problems in the snatch. I think the most I strung together was 17 and that was in the last round.

As it turns out, while 75 lbs is doable, it’s still almost half my body weight. I watched guys there who were 200-225 pounds and a 75 lb snatch for them is much easier. I resorted to clean and jerks in the last set. Starting out cold with an uncomfortable rope meant the entire affair was a struggle. I ended up at 165 which given my previous total is fantastic. Still, I was hoping for a better performance on this one since it included exercises I felt semi-decent at.

Next week, I’m going to have to figure out a warmup strategy. Instead of cheering people on beforehand, I’m probably going to run around the neighborhood. Starting cold will lead to further poor performances and should be an easy fix. Plus if there are any more double unders, I’ll definitely bring my own rope.

Right now, I’m ranked in the top 50 of South Central but I’m sure that will drop as the week goes by. Overall, I’m glad to have the first workout behind me and will look forward to the next four weeks.

Installing Django

This is just a page for me to remember what I did while installing Django so that when something breaks in six months, I have a point of reference.

Followed this page: Setup Django on Lion to some degree. Worked through the tutorial on djangoproject as well.

Made changes to where site packages are created, namely ~/.local/lib/python2.7 instead of the default.

When installing virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper, I received the following error related to a virtualenvwrapper dependency on stevedore: “raise TypeError, “dist must be a Distribution instance”
TypeError: dist must be a Distribution instance”. I fixed this by installing virtualenv, virtualenvwrapper and stevedore individually instead of with the command in the installation guide linked above.

Virtualenv sites exist in /Users//Sites/env.


Kids play in the street
on a Sunday at eight
No school in the morning
they all can sleep late

But your life will go on
without holiday
without any respite
from a regular day

The clock still gets punched
at a quarter to nine
some bourbon in your coffee
and march down the line

She’s gone and you’re haunted
by that which remains
nothing of consequence
nothing to claim

Perhaps there is time
to salvage some shred
of hope in your happiness,
some color but red

The blood on the wall
the pillow, the sheet
dripping down to the floor
puddled brilliant at your feet

The neighborhood’s gone quiet
as you stand in the dark
No one to call comfort
The pain remains stark

Going Without

Yesterday, I did a 24 hour fast as a first step into Intermittent Fasting (IF). For the uninitiated, IF is a eating pattern where you do not eat for certain periods of time. This can be 1-2 24 hour fasts during a week, skipping a meal like breakfast and only eating between the hours of 12 and 8 PM or restricting caloric intake to a fraction of normal on fast days, say 400 calories while eating normally on all other days.

The reasoning behind IF often is historic in nature, i.e during our evolution we did not have access to McDonald’s 24-7 and thus our bodies are acclimated and even tuned for periods of feasting and famine. The constant availability of any calories we want is a fairly new phenomenon in human history and may have a negative impact on our overall health. The scientific literature in support of fasting is almost entirely positive. Of the many benefits are weight loss, increased sensitivity to insulin, decreased LDL and triglyceride counts and increased growth hormone production.

I have been considering playing with IF for a little while. In many ways, it’s always been a part of my eating habits as I’m prone to not eating dinner occasionally though that could be an artifact of snacking throughout the day occasionally. Being mostly unaware of the types of IF, I decided to start with a 24 hour fast, eating a meal Monday night at 8 PM and then not eating again until Tuesday evening at 8 PM. In theory, this sounds relatively easy. Who couldn’t go 24 hours without food? As it turns out, this guy can’t go 24 hours without food (though I did go 22 which I figure is close enough).

Obviously, sleeping and fasting is something most of us do all the time. I’m assuming there is probably some aberrant portion of the population who sleep eats but as a general rule, we fast when we sleep. This makes the first 12 hours or so of a 24 hour fast reasonably easy. As the astute reader will know, I’ve recently been doing non trademarked something less than Kevlar protected coffee for breakfast lately so I was prepared to fast through the morning. Though the coffee drinks have a substantial amount of calories, they are still liquid and tend to disappear fairly quickly. All this to say, yesterday morning wasn’t bad and actually was very productive and focused. The work I did in the morning was pretty good in quality (says the guy who hasn’t been to work yet today to actually verify that since he was in no state to verify anything yesterday afternoon though we’ll get to that shortly). I felt mentally alert and not overly distracted by hunger. I’m the type of person who doesn’t ever skip breakfast so I took this as a positive sign.

About 11, the hunger set in. At first, it was normal run of the mill “hey it’s time for a meal” hunger. I treated that with more coffee which is what I tried to use all day. By 12:30, I could tell this was going to be a much harder challenge than I anticipated. Working alone over lunch, I found it increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that my body seemed to be willing to sacrifice a kidney for a meal. My ability to focus began to degrade and continued to get worse throughout the remaining hours of the fast. No amount of coffee or water seemed to slake the desire for food. My body is apparently so used to regular meals that when they disappear for just 24 hours, nothing else of importance can rise above the hunger. I did manage to do some basic work in the afternoon but only through pair programming. I’m afraid I would have stared at the computer for 3 hours without that. The low throbbing headache that had shown up about 2 PM got worse and worse.

My original plan had been to workout around 6 PM as there are anecdotal studies that show a workout towards the tail end of a fast has increased effect on muscle growth and strength gain, likely due to the increase in growth hormone during the fast. However, at 4:30, I was at the point where further work was practically impossible so I headed out. I could tell that there was no way I was going to go home and manage a workout. I did manage to ignore the siren song of every fast food joint on the way home, a feat of willpower only surpassed by the fact I had to go to the grocery store to get cat food and I managed to exit with only the cat food, a rotisserie chicken and a Snicker’s almond bar in tow. There was a moment where I nearly sat down in the cookie aisle and ate an entire bag of Oreos on the floor of Brookshires but I assume the store management would have frowned on that.

They say you should never go to the grocery store hungry because you’ll buy stuff you’ll never eat like hominy. That may be true but go to the store after a 22 hour fast and you’ll eat practically anything. Without that Snickers, I’m pretty sure I would have eaten a can of cat food on the way home. The destruction I did to the chicken would shame normal human beings.

Once I had eaten (and by eaten I mean taken a tour through the kitchen stuffing anything I could find into my greedy maw, leaving the kitchen in a state that looked like they filmed 9 1/2 weeks there), the mental clarity returned with some slight modifications. For a little while, I wasn’t terribly sure what day it was or what I was supposed to be doing. Often after a big meal, I want to take a nap. My body seemed to want this as well but my mind was completely alert though uninterested in actually doing anything other than watching TV.

Throughout this first world ordeal, I regularly considered what it must be like to deal with actual hunger. I was voluntarily giving up food in pursuit of better health. That must seem like an insane act to those who deal with hunger all the time. We are fortunate to be born in a civilization where even the poor often eat enough food. Going without is a way of life for many people around the globe and it puts many things in perspective.

Things I learned from this:

  • Don’t do a 24 hour fast if you’re a knowledge worker and think you’ll be productive at all during the latter parts of the fast.
  • Be prepared for a sensation considerably worse than “I sure am hungry.” It will dominate your focus in the latter part of the fast unless you can ever manage to get over the hunger pains. I expected them to fade somewhat but they never did. Perhaps future fasts will be better.
  • The food you eat will increase in gustatory enjoyment. That was the best rotisserie chicken I’ve ever had and it was nothing special at all.
  • Normal functioning will be difficult towards the end of the fast. Leaving work, I felt slightly disoriented. I did’t remember the cat food until I was practically home which is unlike me.

Was it a positive experience? Yes. Not only did I feel good for a portion of the fast, it is humbling to think how easy it is for us to get whatever food we want whenever we want it. I’m not sure if there were any health gains obviously but I plan to keep playing with IF to see what’s involved. Several people I know responded on Twitter with their results and they were all very positive. They all chose to do a regular 12-8 PM feeding time with a fast overnight and through the morning which is probably a great deal more pragmatic for knowledge workers. Going forward, my 24 hour fasts will all be done on the weekends when I have less need to mentally focus on tasks. In fact, I think a 24 hour fast from 8 PM Saturday through 8 PM Sunday would be both easier and less likely to result in my eating a raw steak at Brookshires.

If you’ve been considering IF or if you are now considering it after reading about it, I do encourage it. The science is starting to strengthen in support of it as well as strengthen against our normal diet of eating constantly throughout the day. Our bodies respond well to periods of feast and famine and I’m looking forward to giving it another try. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat a dozen eggs for breakfast.

Random Amalgamation Of Thoughts

That’s a fun post title, no? I’m ten hours into a 24 hour fast and while not hungry, I woke up thinking about food. It’s interesting what your body and mind think are important. Mara is doing a three day fruit fast and I didn’t want her to be the only one who could complain about things. The Open is seventeen days away and I feel like I’m making some progress towards it though I’m nowhere near strong enough at this stage. Yesterday I worked on GHD situps which I have to hope don’t show up in a WOD since my ability to do them is limited by equipment (only have the necessary contraption at Gold’s) and therefore by my reps in preparation. Also rowed 2000 as a benchmark, hoping for something sub 8 minutes but came in at 8:10. So while I feel like I’ve been working out a lot more than the last six months, there is definitely a deficit of training that isn’t going to go away in 40 days.

The fast comes about because I’ve heard quite a bit about intermittent fasting and have been curious to try it. In some ways, I’ve been doing it already on days that breakfast consists of pseudo not trademarked bulletproof coffee. However, even on those days, I’ve eaten fruit when hungry so I don’t think that exactly qualifies. I read a good summary of the literature over on Nerd Fitness and there are two main ways to do IF, skip a meal all the time or 1-2 times a week go 24 hours without eating. I’d rather be really miserable occasionally rather than slightly miserable every day so I’m starting with the 24 hour fast. Today is a semi rest day though that’s been altered a little by a lifting schedule that involves lifting every day as well as the desire to see what doing a solid metcon after a fast is like.

IF has the known effect of increasing insulin sensitivity. When you combine that with decreased glycogen stores in the liver after a fast, you have the body primed to actually use the food you eat instead of having it store it as fat. Of course, I’m not as worried about storing food as fat. However, fasting has a known positive effect on the production of growth hormone and thus, the theory is that combined effect of increased insulin sensitivity and increased production of growth hormone after a fast will result in more muscle growth as well. On top of all that, everyone thinks I like to torture myself so this just adds fuel to that fire as well. My plan is to go 8 PM to 8 PM occasionally and see if there are any noticeable strength or muscle gains. I’ll lift heavy at the tail end of a fast as well as pretend like I’m chasing down an antelope on the African plains by doing some metcon work greater than 10 minutes in length because the medical evidence seems to point out that high intensity exercise longer than 10 minutes produces the most growth hormone.

Given that this is a random amalgamation of thoughts, I really hate the currently popular meme epitomized over on Nerd Fitness of using BOLD TEXT everywhere in a post. It’s popping up everywhere and tells me that our ability to make a point with our language is continuing to diminish and we are resorting to tricks. Your words should carry the power to entertain, inform and engage the reader. All that bolding and italicizing is annoying to anyone paying attention and probably doesn’t help engage those people who can only intake information in 140 character chunks. While it might be the literary logical conclusion to a world where everyone has to scream to get attention, let’s take a moment and try to assume our reader (all 13 of mine, each of which is intelligent and well versed) can get the emphasis without the need to reach for the strong tag every paragraph.

The price of gold and silver are going up after a long repression through shenanigans in the paper market. That will be a critical piece of the coming changes in the world currency markets. Just an FYI.

While we’re on an FYI note, if you like live theater, go see On The Eve at Theatre Three while you still can (extended through the weekend). It’s a rock musical written by a local band (among others) and it’s really good.