Monday, March 31, 2014


I recently returned to Germany after spending 16 days back in The States. I was a little apprehensive about being back in the U S of A for the first time in nearly a year, but I was also excited to spend time with my friends and family.

When planning my trip home, I tried to keep as much of my time un-scheduled as possible; in the past I have ended up rushing around every minute of every day and find myself exhausted and over-extended. This trip I just wanted to spend time with my family and fit in friend-time when possible.

One of the big plans of the trip was to help my mom move out of my childhood home, officially. She hasn't lived there for quite a while, but mine, hers, and my sister's belongings have been living there without us. For lack of a better description, there was just a ton of crap that needed going through. It was actually interesting to explore through our past belongings and it felt good to throw, or give, away items that I no longer have any use for. It felt good to take some responsibility for my past home, the place that will always be considered "home", and to help my mom do some cleaning, packing, painting, tossing, etc. Hopefully, she is able to find a renter or buyer in the near future!

I got a chance to spend some quality time with tons of family members and with a great group of friends. It is easy to forget how fulfilling it is to spend time with old friends when we are all so busy going about our day-to-day lives. I was absolutely astonished with how many of my friends from high school and college I got to share time with while back in Cincinnati, and I couldn't have felt more loved and complete than when we all got to catch up. There is nothing like a good, old friend. Nothing.

Another large part of my visit home was to continue competing in The Crossfit Games Open and to keep working out as much as possible to stay fresh. I ended up at the YMCA on most days, following whatever workout my Crossfit community in Germany was doing. I must say that it feels odd to workout in a "normal" gym, especially one dominated by older folks... I sure got a lot of looks and comments during my workouts, and many compliments! I don't think most of them had ever seen anything like a kettlebell jerk or even a woman doing pullups. It was flattering, but also kind of hilarious; I am far from impressive in a Crossfit box!

The Open this year has been such a wonderful experience, and I am so glad that I signed up and took the time to continue the workouts, despite being away from my home gym for 14.3 and 14.4. (Thanks to Crossfit Conjugate in Cincinnati for welcoming me with open arms and coaching/judging me for two Saturdays in a row!)

Unfortunately, I had to quit the games because the flu hit me last week. This weekend was the fifth and final weekend of the open, and I was faced with a workout which required completion (the other workouts have had time limits, so as long as one rep was acheieved before the time limit, the athlete could submit a score and stay ranked). After spending 4 days struggling with a fever, and several more with congestion, fatigue, coughing, etc. it became apparent to my coach and I that attempting 14.5 would be detrimental to my health. It is a hard pill to swallow. I hate that I worked so hard on the previous four workouts, only to quit at the very end. I know that I am making the smartest decision, but it doesn't make it the easiest. Hopefully, once I feel more myself, I will be able to do the workout as a way to make myself feel better about dropping out.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Crossfit Games: And Why I'm Excited About Decimal Numbers For The First Time In My Life!

For those of you who are entrenched in the Crossfit culture, this blog post won't be too revolutionary; I give you permission to go ahead and skip this one. Or just look at the pretty pictures…

For the rest of you who aren't Crossfitters, or maybe just recently joined in, I'd like to give a brief explanation of how The Crossfit Games work. I'd also like to explain how I, with only 10 months of Crossfit experience, am able to be a part of a competition that aims to find the "Fittest Man and Woman on Earth"!

The reason you may not have heard of The Crossfit Games probably has to do with Crossfit's relatively short lifetime as a competitive sport and its rapid growth from the inaugural Games to now. The first Games happened in 2007 with a mere 70 athletes, who met on a ranch in northern California to compete in a series of workouts; the first of which was a complete surprise.
In 2013, the Games became The Reebok Crossfit Games and took place in L.A., with more than 138,000 people registered for the Open. Although the scenery and scale of the competition has changed, one major aspect has stayed the same: the element of surprise. According to the founder of Crossfit, Greg Glassman, the fittest athletes should be able to handle any task, so each year the workouts are announced within hours or minutes of the competition, which I believe adds a level of excitement unparalleled in the rest of the sports world.

This year, I am one of the 209,261 participants in the 2014 Reebok Crossfit Games Open, so I get to be an active part of all the excitement (although just spectating gets me pretty pumped, too)!

Now that you had a brief (and probably boring) history lesson, let me break down the stages of the Games to explain how there are so many of us participating, when there are obviously so few of us who could compete against this:

Samantha Briggs and Rich Froning- the 2013 Crossfit Games winners

Here's the deal. The Crossfit Games happen in three distinct stages, in order to narrow down who should compete face-to-face in L.A. each year.

The Open is the first step of The Games and it is literally open to anybody who would like to participate. It doesn't matter if it is your first day of Crossfit, or if you have been training since 2007; if you are 17, or if you are 70; literally anybody can register (I am proof positive of this!). All that is required, if you want to be a part of the leader-board and "officially" compete, is to register online and pay twenty bucks. I'm sure there are thousands of people who also do the workouts "unofficially" each week as they are announced; but if you want to be judged and compare yourself to the rest of the Crossfit community, you have to register.
Each week, for five weeks, a workout is announced on Thursday night (or Friday morning for those of us over here in Europe) and each participant has until Monday evening to submit a score. I happen to have a coach who is an official judge, so he is able to judge my workouts, give me a score, and then I can submit that score without a video. If you don't happen to have an official judge on hand, all you have to do is video-tape yourself doing the workout, and submit that video when you submit your score. For those athletes who feel they may make it to Regionals, they must have videos of every workout.

At the end of the five weeks, the top Individual Men, Individual Women, and Teams from each of the 17 regions meet at the Regionals for a three-day competition which decides who will go on to the Games. There are also Master's Divisions, consisting of Men and Women in age groups from 40 years old to 60+, and these athletes are invited to come straight to the Games following the Open workouts.

I am currently two weeks into the Open, and I have been loving every second of it! Even the painful seconds! The Open Workouts are titled as 14.1 for the first week, 14.2 for the second, so on and so on.

No matter how little my scores look compared to those big dogs up at the top of the Overall Leaderboard, I have been surprising myself with accomplishments throughout these two weeks, which is what the Games is all about! Even if my score is a fraction of other people's scores, it is still cool to see my name in the same place as these amazing athletes and strangers around the world- again, another aspect to this sport that no other sport can touch!

Here is a leaderboard showing just the athletes who are officially registered for the Open from my box, Crossfit Ansbach. If you are wondering about the zeros, those are there because 14.2 was just announced yesterday, so many of our athletes either haven't done the workout yet, or are waiting to give it a second or third try before they submit.  
You can tell that even in our box we have some top-notch athletes! Just look at those numbers! (and those numbers will make more sense after my next post…)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Me encanta Alicante

Oh, Alicante, how I adore you, through and through!

I must admit, when I got home from Thailand and realized that in one short week I would be on another plane, to another foreign place, without time to readjust to normal day-to-day life, I was a bit apprehensive. There were moments I regretted trying to fit so many trips into such a short amount of time.
BUT, I do enjoy travelling no matter what (although I may have managed to marry somebody who loves travel even more than I do!), and I definitely appreciated that my sweet husband had planned us a special Valentine's Day weekend in Spain. How can somebody truly complain about going to Spain for a weekend? And what world do I live in where a normal work conversation begins with, "hey, have you guys been to Spain yet? I leave tomorrow and I haven't even packed..." We are lucky indeed!

By the day we left, I was ready for another adventure; I was just hoping there wouldn't actually be much adventuring so we could relax! The trip there was super easy, which was a huge plus. All we did was park our car at our local Bad Windsheim Bahnhof, take an hour train ride to Nurnberg, then hop on the U-bahn over to the airport, and voila! We were soon on a two hour flight to Alicante, with cute baby twinsies in the seat next to me to keep me entertained (I don't mean that sarcastically, which is shocking if you know me well!)

I have to add that Cody and I hadn't booked a place to stay in Alicante until we got back from Thailand. I had searched and searched before we left for somewhere affordable, yet nice, and hadn't had much luck. I was so sick of hotels by the time we got home that I told Cody it was up to him to book us a place, but I definitely wanted to stay somewhere on the nicer side (no hostels allowed this time around). When he booked a place, he told me I would love it, and that he found somewhere super nice, but that I wasn't allowed to check it out. That was fine with me!
By the time we were nearing our destination, I started to want to know what kind of accommodations I could expect. Cody wouldn't say too much, except he wasn't sure how nice it would be. I started to get concerned that my relaxing weekend would have to be spent mostly out of the room. He said he didn't know what to expect, but that it was only 60 euro a night, so it was a good deal. I put on a happy face, but deep down, I started to lower my expectations to somewhere merely clean and safe...

Imagine my surprise when we were dropped off at a huge, lovely hotel in between the pier and the beach! He kept up his game all the way until we finished checking-in, saying that we were probably staying in an off-shoot of this hotel or in the basement, maybe (is it sad that I'm so gullible, I actually believed him!). As I watched him sign-off on the paperwork, I was about to interject and ask him why he was paying so much more than he had agreed to, when the receptionist began explaining our special spa privileges and our ocean-view, top-floor, suite!
Cody had tricked me, once again! But it was a very welcome and appreciated surprise:)
(I wouldn't have thought he could top Valentine's Day in the Dominican Republic from last year, but he managed it!)

The weekend couldn't have been more beautiful. We spent the rest of that first day grabbing lunch next to the beach, walking around town stopping for drinks and coffee, then going up to the room to get ready for dinner. We ate at a charming, authentic restaurant on the second-story, beneath exposed beams and with a guitarist serenading people outside our window. I had my first authentic paella and fell even more in love with this small, beautiful city.

We woke up to the sound of the ocean the next morning and wandered downstairs for an amazing breakfast full of pastries, cappuccino, fresh-squeezed juices, meats and cheeses, eggs and sausage... basically any kind of breakfast you could want for was available. I could have sat and enjoyed breakfast all day!

Then down to the beach, where we were the only people present for at least an hour- and we were obviously tourists as the residents of Alicante all had on pants, sweaters, and scarfs as we laid in our bathing suits. After a quick trip to a local store to grab some beach essentials (about 20 euro for two beach mats, a beach bag, mixers for alcohol, a game of beach-ball, snacks, and sunscreen), we spent all day happily on the beach. I normally can only be out on the beach for a few hours before becoming exhausted, but I never felt that way because of the perfect cool air, warm sun, and light breeze. We also got pretty awesome at beach-ball and managed to get some sun without burning. Eventually, we went back upstairs to relax and shower, and then meet back up with our travel companions for another dinner out. This time, I had researched a place with traditional tapas; .90euro per tapa and .60euro for small beers, and waiters who walk around with trays of food so you can grab whatever looks tasty! We got there just before the rush, settled into a table, and managed to pile our table up with drinks and tapas galore! After an hour of drinking and feasting, the five of us only had a 60 euro bill, and we couldn't have been more satisfied with all the food and service!

The next day went in just about the same fashion, except Cody and I took a trip up to visit the castle and take in some amazing views. We even ate dinner at the same restaurant (can you blame us?!). We attempted to go out for drinks, but considering Alicante doesn't even start partying until 2 am, we were way out of our league. The next morning we got up and sadly left our wonderful suite and friendly, beautiful city.

Alicante was the most refreshing, fun, and relaxing getaway I have had in such a long time, that I could easily imagine travelling there every weekend, happily.

I can't wait until we get to go back!

And although I shared this with you (I debated keeping it all to myself!), I beg you to keep this city a wonderful and quiet secret gem filled with clean streets and amazing people....