I remember the night I met Angie, my future (now current) mother-in-law. I also remember the evening I met Angie, my second CrossFit
bitch benchmark workout.
A first impression is always an important, lasting impression. Sometimes we don’t get to prepare for a first impression; it just happens. Other times, we know of an impending meeting and we get time to ready ourselves. Meeting your significant other’s parents is arguably the most important of first impressions. For us guys, meeting the father is generally most terrifying. However, the mother can be equally imposing.
Ah, mother-in-laws. We aren’t supposed to get along with them, right? That’s the way it is supposed to work, I think. They nag us, they pick after us, we bicker with them over nothing, things like that? They think they know what’s best for our children, their grandchildren. They have all the experience, and we are going through life for the first time. Mother-in-laws sometimes will just throw a wrench into our meticulously well designed plans.
(Full disclosure: My mother-in-law is fantastic, she is a wonderful cook, super nice, generous to a fault, and we get along just fine.)
My mother-in-law’s name is Angie and the second CrossFit benchmark workout I did was named Angie. That’s pretty much the end of the similarities.
I remember the first time I met Angie the mom-in-law. It was right around Christmas. I had been to Ohio for a few days with my family visiting grandparents, and the evening we returned from the trip I was to go over to my girlfriend’s house to see her and to meet the family. I was nervous. Extremely nervous. My family tends to be more quiet and reserved at times. I had been warned that my girl’s family was not quite the same. I had a plan in mind to put on a good show and make her parents love me. My plans were quickly laid to waste once I arrived.
I showed up and was promptly led to the kitchen table where the family was assembled. They had a board game out and were in the middle of playing. This game was Mad Gab, and for those that know the game, you know where this story is headed.
It’s headed straight to me getting laughed at by the people I was petrified to meet and my whole perfectly planned night of meeting the parents getting shot full of holes.
I don’t remember much about that night other than this one card. “MAKE SEEK GOES SEEDY”. Can you guess that one? I kept saying “Make Seek Goes Seedy” over and over and cracking everyone up. For the life of me, I couldn’t hear the real phrase I was supposed to be saying. If you know the phrase, post it as a comment or message it to me. Come on, show me how smart my readers are!
The point is, my night did not go as planned. I was put into a quickly embarrassing situation full of unknowns, and I had to react. I had to change my plan of attack.
Just like my plans of attacking the CrossFit Angie went out the window just minutes into the workout.
I had done my homework. I knew what was coming with Angie. 100 pull-ups, 100 pushups, 100 squats, 100 sit-ups. At first I had planned to break it up, do 5 reps of pull-ups at a time and then mix in reps of the other exercises. Then I read a little deeper and realized you had to do all 100 reps of an exercise before moving on to the next. Um, what?!? Oh so Angie is supposed to be all about muscle endurance and fatigue you say? Awesome… why did I get myself into CrossFit again? Ugh.
Already time for Plan B. I was going to break up the upper body specific exercises, so my workout would go pushups, squats, pull-ups, sit-ups. Here’s a breakdown of my 27:03 time, what I expected and what actually occurred.
What I Expected: I expected to knock out a couple sets of 20 pushups, then do the rest in sets of 15-10 pushups.
What Actually Happened: 20 pushups is a lot when you don’t have a minute to recover afterwards! Twenty pushups didn’t take me to full fatigue but it took me closer than where I needed to be. After that initial 20, getting 10 pushups out in the second set was tough. Awesome, two sets in and I’m already failing at what I expected. It’s amazing how quickly the workout, to steal WordsWithLisbeth.com’s words, broke my soul. (do yourself a favor and read her article right now) I completed 50 pushups then had to modify to get the second half. I did the remaining 50 on the lowest setting on a Rogue Games Box.
Roughly 6 minutes in I was done with my pushups. They were much tougher than I expected them to be. I was sure I could’ve done all 100 at Rx, but that clearly was not the case. I did complete them with as little modification as possible and then it was on to the next hundred.
What I Expected: Bang out 5 sets of 20 reps.
What Actually Happened: Exactly what I expected!!! I couldn’t believe how easily I made it through the squats. I broke them up into 5 sets, with just enough time to shake out my legs for a few seconds in between. I crushed those squats and was feeling awesome about my progress. I knew pull-ups were next, and based on what my past experience with Fran told me, I knew pull-ups were not my strong suit. That’s ok though, I was about 10 minutes in and I had squatted myself to the top of the world! Bring on the pull-ups! I was ready to show them who was boss.
What I Expected: I knew this was going to be the hardest section of Angie for me, but man I was feeling great after those squats so… I thought maybe get a couple sets of 10 and then sets of 8 and keep dropping my rep count.
What Actually Happened: Hahahahahahahaha!!! Remember that one time I said I was feeling good after knocking out some air squats? That didn’t last long! Oh man, those pull-ups sucked. I think I barely got out those first ten and then it went to sets of 5 after that. And on the third set it was time to start doing jumping pull-ups. By the end of my 100 evil pull-ups, I was using my legs more than my arms – my arms were just there for show! I took over ten minutes to complete all my pull-ups. But, I did complete all 100 – no cheating! With an absolutely exhausted upper body, it was time to sit on the floor and do a few sit-ups.
What I Expected: I’m sitting on the floor and I’m not terrible at sit-ups. I figured another 5 sets of 20 and I could be done with Angie!
What Actually Happened: Of course, those were the toughest 100 sit-ups of my life. Of course they were. Sitting on the floor or not, that was no rest! I completed two sets of 20, then took it to 4 sets of 15 the rest of the way. Each set was tough to complete and I needed to pause a bit between sets. I knew the end was near though and I heard our coach Jesse encouraging people to finish under 27 minutes. I wanted to get under, but ended up at 27:03.
I learned a lot from Angie. I learned that plans are just plans until the clock starts and you are in the heat of battle. I learned that I really need to learn how to kip my pull-ups! I learned that endurance is just as important as strength. I learned that sneezing for the next couple of days after Angie produces a very uncomfortable contraction in sore ab muscles. I learned to truly appreciate the unfortunate phenomenon of monkey butt.
I learned that one of CrossFit’s greatest program strengths – constantly varied – ranges from a ton of body weight repetitions to a few reps with a heavily loaded barbell. And that life, like CrossFit, is constantly varied. We can plan a pretty picnic but we cannot predict the weather. Life is life is life. It’s true that you only get one first impression, but you get many chances to expand on that impression. Life gives you the opportunity to make yourself better. It is up to us to roll with the punches, to laugh at ourselves, to have others laugh at us, to get 100 reps however we can but make damn sure we get those 100 reps. Life gives you the opportunity to succeed. Life isn’t the planning before. Life isn’t the pain during. Life is the growth afterwards.