Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pigtails and Kettlebells (Helen)

Good morning!

Yesterday's WOD at Mercer Island CrossFit was Helen, one of the "CrossFit Girls." 

I was feeling a little down about doing Helen, since I'm not yet up to doing more than 1 "real" pullup...well, I can do at least 2, but not linked.  I've gotten to this point at CrossFit where I feel like I should be RX'ing more workouts.  It may be silly, but I kinda feel discouraged looking at the WOD and realizing, "Oh, even if I work really hard, there's no way I can RX."

But...I am working on not cherry-picking WODs and also having a better attitude and just getting out there.  So I sucked it up and headed over after work.  (I also looked up "Helen" workout tips online to get myself more motivated...I found this website really inspiring!)

I ended up getting to the gym early (a miracle, for anyone who knows me) and headed over to the box at about 5:45...the 5pm class was finishing up.  My friend Turk was there and challenged me to a pre-WOD game of racquetball!  I got my butt kicked as usual, but I made a few great kill shots and had one good lob serve (Dad, I hope you're impressed).  I tried not to play too hard since I didn't want to be tired for CrossFit. 

After our Warmup of the Week (which included chest-to-bar pull-ups that for me were more like chest-closer-to-the-bar-than-normal-does-that-count pull-ups), we hit the first part of the workout, a skill.

2 Rounds:
Row 500m
max effort
rest 3 mins

I'm not a super rower, but I really like it.  There's always been something fun to me about a cardio machine that uses your upper body (and no, I don't think the elliptical counts).  My time for the first row was a lot slower, in part because I stopped to fix my shoe early on and forgot the time was already going.  Oops.

I felt a little queasy after the second row.  I decided that for Helen, at least this time, I was gonna focus more on strength and form than speed, since it was a hot day and the row kinda wore me out!  It wasn't until recently that I started strategizing and giving myself a clear goal for WODs (ya know, besides just "don't die").  I went with the red band for pullups, even though I knew it would slow me down, and the RX 35lb kettlebell.

Coach John let us take the kettlebell part of the workout outside into the parking lot.  I had loaded up on sunscreen beforehand and was stoked.  He counted down and we all took off on the run.  I fell behind the other women pretty quickly, but reminded myself that I was working on form.  I concetrated on breathing, a mid/fore-foot step, good arm swing (i.e. not across my body like I'm prone to) and engaging my core.

I decided to try for all 21 kettlebells unbroken. 

Tee - Nike; running skirt - lululemon;
shoes - Nike; muscles - Mercer Island CrossFit

I love kettlebell swings, and Heidi (one of my fave gals at MICF) had given me some great encouragement about my swing at last Saturday's team WOD.  When I started getting tired and considered bailing on the "unbroken" idea, I remembered what she said about my form and how strong my arms looked...and so I powered through and just kept on going. 

Thanks, Heidi!!!  I made it unbroken on all three rounds!

Our box at the 5k WOD Challenge...with Heidi on my left

The pullups were really hard.  I made it through 8 unbroken on the first round, and after that the most I got through was 6.  In my final round, I did 6, 4, and finally the last 2. 

Coach John got out the sidewalk chalk
to cheer us on for the final round!
 I finished Helen with a time of 14:47. 

Honestly, I think I could've gone faster.  I could've run a little harder and stuck with the pullups a little better. goal for the workout was to build strength and focus on form, and that's what I did. 

And, since a lot of folks find my blog while looking for workout hairstyles, here's one of my faves: the low pigtails!

I do a deep side part, and then I actually bobby pin the right side away from my face.  This means if (haha) I get really sweaty, I don't end up with side-swept hair plastered to my face.  Pigtails definitely beat the classic ponytail if you'll be doing anything while lying down on the floor (yoga, core work, etc.), and if you have thick hair, they don't give you a headache like the weight of a ponytail can.  Plus they're uber-girly.

YOU TELL ME: What's your best time for Helen?  What slows you down most - the run, the kettlebell swings, or the pull-ups?  Do you get discouraged when you can't RX?  Do you sport pigtails on your WOD?


  1. You will get there!!! The hardest part of Helen for me is the pull ups too! I struggle with stringing together kipping! I try not to get discouraged when I don't RX! I try to focus on what I did in my previous workouts and always try to progress. If I don't RX I try to go as hard and fast as I can with what I am doing! No pigtails for me on my WODs but I love them :)


Thanks for adding your two cents to The (Megha) Mix!