Few Steps Forward… On My Hands
I should really learn to never say never. Every time I compete, I swear left and right I will NEVER do it again. Then somehow my curiousity or my ego or a coach or friend, somehow convinces me to compete again. So here I am, entering the 5th week of a 6 week Friday night competition series. (Check out Performance Grid Leauge and V Crossfit on facebook for more details). I hate it. I love it. I mostly hate it. But the part of me that does not totally loathe it knows I wouldn’t be in it if there wasn’t some good coming out of it.
Before I start going on a tangent and start rattling off a slew of pros and cons (and trust me I am sure there’s a future blog post coming out on that), I will stick to one recent takeaway. A certain someone (who shall remain nameless) likes to remind me that the whole point of competing is getting out of your comfort zone. I argue this all the time because let’s face it, I am a creature of habit. Someone who likes to be totally prepared with no surprises. I will happily get out of my comfort zone when it comes to things like travel or even moving cross country. When it comes to doing things that require a lot from my body, I sometimes struggle mentally with even going there.
So… anyways, here we are Week 5. One of the workouts this week involves 3 men and 3 women. There are 6 different movements:
- Rope Climbs
- Double Unders
- Burpee broad jumps
- Hand Stand Walk
- Sandbag Carry
Basically it will be 1 movement per person. If I had my pick, I would be doing double unders. Actually if I had my choosing, I would be skipping this week altogether. (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to get out of. Atlas my team requested I compete , so Friday here I come). The team voted that I am their best shot at hand stand walks. Ummmm do they not realize I’ve never even done a free standing hand stand that didn’t involve first touching a wall? How on earth am I going to walk on my hands? Given my injuries, it’s amazing I can even walk on two feet. I am not sure where they got the idea I could do a hand stand walk (for 30 feet no less!) but I did commit to the team weeks ago that I would give this series my best. The least I could do is at least try the movement before saying no way Jose.
I not so subtly elicited the help of my good friend and coach, Nikki. She offered last night to have me come to where she coaches (thank you Cave CrossFit again for the hospitality!) to give me some tips. I was on board for this plan and also secretly figured when she realized that I would be a lost cause for hand stand walks, she would take pity on me and take my spot in the competition. Well much to my dismay, she could not be persuaded nor did I suck quite as much as I had expected.
Driving to the Cave, I said a few begging words to myself, angels, spirits or whoever is around me that would magically give me the skill to accomplish the task at hand. I also told myself to be realistic; that I may not be able to do it. And that would be ok. It’s a really tough skill, one that takes people months and months of practice to be able to do. Here I was 4 days before a competition trying to do the seemingly impossible. Nikki asked me before I got there if I could do a hand stand. I replied “barely.” She said “Hmm. Ok. I’ll see what you got. I’ve got a few drills you could practice this week that may help a bit. Yeah that’s luck.”
We stretched and warmed up and she said “ok now let’s see what you can do.” I managed to get into a handstand and take about 2 steps. Whoa! Who saw that coming? It wasn’t pretty but it gave us both a glimmer of hope. Nikki had me practice just getting comfortable standing on my hands and concentrating on the correct hand placement, core balance, and pointing my toes. With chalk she also drew three lines from a wall. She had me start at the first line and go into a handstand. She wanted me to lean away from the wall not by kicking my feet away but using my core, almost like a hollow hold to straighten and not be touching the wall. Gradually I made my way at the starting points further from the wall, taking a few steps on my hands till I got to the wall. So between doing that and then going back to doing it totally free standing, it was encouraging to see progress in such a short time. I was able to start getting used to the right way to shift my weight between my arms. I had a tendency to shift in the wrong direction and end up feeling like one of my arms was locked up not allowing me to move. I had a few attempts. I can’t get kick up on a first attempt. I had a few tumble and some not so graceful landings. But all in all, I did what I thought I couldn’t do. I did manage to get a few walks on my hands in, ones even as far as 4 feet. So yes 4 feet does not seem like far to go but I challenge you to try it. You will quickly see it is not easy. Like I said, it takes people months to do this and I am proud that I accomplished this in less than an hour. Nikki was amazed and commented that I was a totally different person leaving the box than I was coming in. There is hope for me yet!
My plan for the competition is not be able to walk continuously for 30 feet. That would just be setting myself up for failure and disappointment. Instead, I’m taking it one day at a time and one step at a time. Nikki’s advice to me is to keep practicing the drills she gave me every day for no more than 15 minutes at a time. I don’t want to totally burn my body out before Friday. But I do need to get used to the form and mechanics so that Friday I will be more familiar with it. Most likely my form Friday will be shot but I have a better chance of making it 30 feet if I understand what I should be doing. She reminded me hand stand walks are not a sprint, they are a marathon. So heads up to anyone I am competing with or who will be there cheering. I may hear you urging me to go faster but I may also chose to ignore that. It takes a lot of concentration to do a hand stand walk. My only hope is that I manage to tackle the first 30 feet with time to spare for my teammate to do the last movement (sandbag carries). Sorry guys I don’t even care if we win, I just want us to finish. I do not want to be the weakest link on the team. Handstand walks challenge accepted!