I experienced a few workout ups and downs last week, creating my own formula for a weirdly-sore body.
My trusty Honda Element has been my traveling camper on countless occasions over the years. I love sleeping in it. But I’ve not done so in the dead of winter. Up north in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. So I did.
Here’s how it went down. Last Tuesday I was at CrossFit Green Bay, my home base. DT was the workout. It’s a tough combination of a dozen deadlifts, nine hang power cleans, and six push jerks. Work your way through these, without putting the bar down. Then repeat four more times for five rounds total. Prescribed weight is 155#. I pulled my Masters CrossFit exemption card and hammered through it, slowly, at 135#. It was tough enough.
Then I did some extra work, barbell rows and tricep dips. Showered, and hit the road for the 500 mile drive through the U.P. to visit my father. Keep in mind, right from the gym to the driver’s seat.
I enjoy eating while I drive and listen to podcasts. Usually I stop and buy some turkey and some sliced cheese, perhaps some rice crackers, and make a mess while driving and watching the U.P. go by. I needed to stop somewhere with Wi-Fi and catch up on email, place a Progenex order, and just get out of the Element, so at the three or four hour mark I settled into a booth at McDonalds, home of very hot coffee and decent Wi-Fi. And Big Macs.
I may not have had a Big Mac since high school, and some weird combination of workout-tiredness and windshield hypnotism may have caused this, but suddenly I was eating two Big Macs! So there, confession. For the record, they were dry and tasteless and I’ll probably go the rest of my life without another one. No fries! Just water.
Four-hundred relatively slow miles later (logging trucks, two-lane highways, consistent snow showers, coffee stops), I pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot for the night. I crawled over the front seat into the back, where I’d removed the seats and laid down a workout mat, a camping air mattress, three layers of old cloth sleeping bags (one from my childhood, so it could be 50 years old), and had another sleeping bag and a blanket to throw over myself. Fully clothed, I slept well, watching a snowstorm through the sun roof of the Element.
Woke up stiff and sore. Hobbled into the Wal-Mart, used the bathroom and brushed my teeth, avoided the mirror, walked around a bit to circulate some blood, and headed back out to my cold vehicle. While it warmed up I made a big Progenex More Muscle-Build shake, swallowed some fish oil capsules and BCAAs, and headed back onto the highway.
Destination: CrossFit 989, my hometown CrossFit where I’ve been wonderfully treated for three years whenever I visit (Jim Reaume, a good friend). Three hours later, more coffee, I’m there. After greetings and catching up, I look at the whiteboard: DT! Are you kidding me? Two days in a row?
Suck it up, I tell myself. Get tough. A bunch of mobility later, I’m as ready to go as I’ll get, class begins and there I am with 135# again. I thought about going down in weight... but didn’t.
After DT I did some squatting, but spent too much time running my mouth with other members between sets, tightened up after a while and had to shower, shave and leave.
So the rest of the day was mostly sitting, visiting my father and then my brother. Post-workout shake, mid-afternoon Best Bar Ever, dinner was eggs and bacon and toast at Bob Evans with my father. A couple of glasses of wine that night at my brother’s home, and I was back to the Element in the parking lot. Not smart enough to take him up on an offer to use the spare bedroom, I remembered how comfortable I was the night before and decline.
Stupid. Temperatures dropped to between 3 and 6 below zero that night. Who knew? I didn’t, because why look at the forecast when you’re going to sleep in your vehicle in the middle of the winter in Michigan? It sucked. Even with my Carhart boots on, my feet were so cold they hurt. My sleep was erratic, I couldn’t get warm or comfortable, I somehow injured my shoulder moving around in the back of the Element... it was a long night. I think I was under-fed after the workouts, too, and probably a little dehydrated. Swell.
Next morning I stumble out of my ice-encrusted vehicle into the white wasteland of the Wal-Mart lot, and into the store. My feet don’t even want to work. I clump around for a while trying to get warm (happily, no matter how disheveled and weird I may think I appear after sleeping with three layers of clothes on in my vehicle, to Wal-Mart employees and security I appear well-dressed and normal). I bought something to eat (nuts, string cheese), then headed for a Starbucks. Salvation.
My laptop, which of course spent the night in the Element also, took 15 minutes, plugged in, to even begin charging. That scared me. Two Americanos later, after about an hour, I felt decent. So where did I go?
CrossFit 989 of course. This was Jim’s “weightlifting Wednesday” so I worked through as much mobility as possible (got there early), then max-effort ten-rep strict overhead pressing, and a bunch of other Olympic lifting stuff. Two hours of workout later, shaved and showered, I was feeling pretty good.
Visiting my father again that afternoon, sitting, everything began locking up. I got some extra-strength Tylenol from him, stood when I could, and felt ok but stiff and sore in my hips. All day I was hammering water. About dinner-time was my cue to leave and hit the road for home, so back to the Element.
The first three hours to the Mackinaw Bridge were fine, and I felt pretty good, but as soon as I crossed and headed west for Wisconsin the snow hit. Speeds dropped, and for three hours I slowly drove through the dark tunnel of a snow globe. When the bright lights of the truck stop at Manistique finally came into view, I knew I was home for the night. In my Element. Again.
Not able to bear the though the crawling into the back, getting on that floor and those oh-so-cold sleeping bags, I instead opted for putting the front seat back, covering myself with the blanket, and running the engine for a few hours with the heat on low. Slept like a baby!
For a few hours until the snowplows began their work. Drove home five or so more hours, and have been sore ever since!
*postscript one week later* Open Workout 16.1 is tomorrow. I'll be sore all over again!