Friday, November 30, 2012

Introducing Team 6 ft of Rubicon

This weekend CrossFit Rubicon will have three teams competing in Cold War II: Modern Warfare. A Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Competition with three competitive levels. Male/Female Individual, Team Rx'd and Team Scaled. We will be competing in the Team Rx'd Division with four incredible superstars on our team.

Introducing Team 6 ft of Rubicon:

Danna Glover: CrossFit Rubicon and Rubicon Barbell. CrossFit Walter Reed Coach and all around general bad ass! Danna is a prior service Marine and former bodybuilding competitor. Don't find yourself as Danna's hare in an event; she'll chase you down.

Tiffany Harrison: CrossFit Rubicon and CrossFit Rubicon Intern Coach. Tiffany is an up-and-coming CrossFit competitor who has a college soccer background. "Tiff" as most of us call her, is a fierce competitor and thirsts for knowledge about all things CrossFit.

Matt Ramsey: CrossFit Rubicon. Matt is a soon-to-be retired soldier. A product of the U.S. Army and 10th MTN Division. Matt is a left below-knee amputee as a result of injuries sustained in an IED blast. To say Matt has drive would be an understatement. There is nothing that can hold him back and I trust everyone at Cold War will know his name by the end of this event!

Jason Sturm: CrossFit Rubicon and CrossFit Rubicon Intern Coach. CrossFit Walter Reed coach. Another former 10th MTN Division soldier. I am a left below knee amputee as a result of injuries sustained in an Artillery training accident. I don't have any special skills other than refusing to quit and refusing to back down and admit defeat.

Let's see what adaptive athletes can do against non-adaptive athletes!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

If You Could?

If you had the power to change the past, would you? Think about that. What would you change? Would you change the divorce your family endured? Maybe you wouldn't have married your first wife/husband? Would you have studied more in school to affect changes in your future endeavors in the corporate world? This is a powerful question! Would you change the past no matter how it impacts the future?

I was asked if I would go back in time in order to not be injured in the training accident that claimed my leg and military career. You know; if you could go back to make a change, would you? In short, no. You see, changing my injury would change not just a major part of who I am but it would change the life and career I want to pursue.

As a soldier and NCO, I took care of my soldiers. I ensured they had what they needed. I made sure they were well trained and I made absolutely certain I understood any issues they may have been facing. Financial issues. Personal issues. Anything. It wasn't the injury and the physical pain that took the most toll on me when I was injured. It was not being able to be there for my soldiers. It was the thought of them carrying on in their careers without knowing I was right there for them. The injury never laid heavily on my heart. Anyone can get over that. It was the feeling that I had abandoned them.

This is why I enjoy being a CrossFit coach so much. I especially love coaching the working wounded at CrossFit Walter Reed. I look at each of them as my soldiers. One of the proudest moments I have had in a very long time was watching two of my Marines compete this past weekend in the Working Wounded Games. Jake and Murphy showed up and fought hard. They laid it all out there and never once quit. I felt a lot of pride knowing I had a hand in helping prepare them. I love watching the changes they've made in the box since they began working out there. Their tenacity impresses me and makes me feel like I am an NCO again.

Would I go back and change my injury knowing what I have an opportunity to be a part of? No! No thanks. I'll take the dice that have been rolled and go all in. These guys don't know it yet, but they have helped me so much more than I could ever help them.

Working Wounded Games 2012
Fight the good fight Devil Dogs! Your old pogue of an Army coach will always be here for you guys!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Making History

As the alarm went off at 0600 this morning, I slowly sat up in bed, stretched out my legs, looked up at the window and thought to myself.....yesterday, we made history. 22 adaptive athletes competed in the first competition of its kind. I began getting myself ready for a recovery run and simply found myself standing and looking in the mirror with goosebumps thinking about what transpired yesterday. I still have those goosebumps as I sit here composing this post.

I was asked by a friend, "What was the best part of the event?" For me, without a doubt, the most important part of this event....the best part of this event, was the camaraderie. Not only were we athletes competing in a competition, we were instantly friends simply playing a sandlot football game together. Sure, we sized up the competition. We looked each other over trying to discover each competitor's strength and weaknesses. But more importantly, we reveled in the moment knowing we were the first ever to do something so special.

Every time I see a CrossFit competition, I see something that I never see in other competitive sports. In no other sport do I see the top finishing competitor or team stay and cheer on every other competitor or team like in CrossFit. Yesterday's event was no different. As soon as we were done with our event, we were cheering our faces off for those still competing. Pushing them with our words of encouragement and screaming like crazies out of a mixture of pure adrenaline and camaraderie. 

I will break down the event from my point of view; but I am sure my view doesn't vary greatly from that of my competitors. This about sums up the day for me:

At 0730, I picked up Chuck Newman, a Marine who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury and a fellow competitor. Chuck and I had never met before. We only became Facebook friends a week earlier. But we were competitors and I took the opportunity to formally meet him by picking him up at his hotel and arriving at the games with him.

The opening ceremonies kicked off around 0830 and watching the JROTC color guard post colors made me not only proud but also made my blood pump harder through my veins. I was starting to get that rush of excitement. The adrenaline surge you get right before something incredible is about to happen. We had been warming up in the athletes' area but honestly, even if I was cold and hadn't warmed up at all, I swear I could have pulled a truck up a cliff just from the excitement.

Matt Ramsey's one handed sled pull. Photo by Aaron Wyche
My first WOD was the One-Handed Sled Pull. The object of this event was to pull a sled weighing 75% of your body weight 10 meters with a rope using only one hand, then pushing it back to the start point as many times as possible in 8 minutes. You could only use one hand the whole time and cannot touch the rope with your other hand once the event started. I got 36 reps on this event and worked through the technical challenges of pulling a weighted sled across a floor that had a rubberized coating on it. Secretly I think CrossFit Rubicon's owner, David "Chef" Wallach's goal was for us to grind all the glue off the floor for him. Not sure if we accomplished that. Immediately after we were done, we all rushed over to watch the One Handed Deadlift WOD that was running simultaneously. Murphy Hueston, one of the Marines I coach at CrossFit Walter Reed was proving himself to be a competitor by pulling an astonishing 265 lbs on the one handed Deadlift. Murphy hadn't pulled more than 185 lbs one-handed before!

Scott Weaver's 305 lb Deadlift. Photo by Aaron Wyche
My second WOD was the One-Handed Deadlift. I knew from posts to the Working Wounded Games Facebook page that Scott Weaver and Chuck Newman were going to provide stiff competition. But I also knew I had a hare to chase with the 265 lb deadlift Murphy put up in the previous heat. As I started the ladder, I had my goal. Little did I know, someone also had his sites on me. Once I hit 245 lbs, I was in uncharted territory for myself. As I climbed and hit 275 lbs, I saw myself being able to go much higher. Apparently, my thumb and grip didn't get that memo. I failed at 285 lbs. Just no grip left. But Scott Weaver had what seemed like endless grip so, in true CrossFit competition fashion, I jumped in his court and wanted to push him to go as high as he could. Had he not dropped 305 lbs after his first attempt, I am convinced he could have reached the 315 lb mark. Another astonishing competitor with us was Corey Reed. Corey is a blind amputee who literally made me tear up from the excitement of watching him do these one handed deadlifts.

Brian Edwards during a spectator WOD. Photo by Aaron Wyche
There were several spectator WODs with Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy and those spectators who signed up for a WOD throughout the day. I have to be honest, with running around and talking to all of my amazing friends and family who came to watch, I didn't manage to see one of these events. But it's my understanding that all who competed got the chance to experience what an adaptive crossfitter faces. Each spectator WOD had an element of each of the WODs we performed in the competition. Rowing, single armed pulls and heavy balls.

My third event of the day was the Yoke Carry. Carry a yoke weighing 125% of my body weight 10 meters, set it down then return for as many reps as possible in 8 minutes. My yoke weighed 225 lbs. As I geared up for this WOD, I had my strongman coach Barry just ahead of me along with one of my friends Jenny. I took off like a rocket with this event. I fought through and carried that yoke for 40 reps earning a third place finish in the event. Scott Weaver was on my heels the whole time until he passed me and was able to make 5 more reps than I did. It was trilling to fight along side these competitors and I felt great knowing I was in the top three in this event with my friend and fellow Rubicon coach Mark Tippett.

The final WOD of the day, the mystery WOD, was a static row. With the seat locked to disallow use of your legs, the athlete had to row with just their arms and torso for as many calories as possible in 8 minutes. Having tested this WOD, I knew that 5 minutes of this was a fairly large slice of hell. 8 minutes was going to introduce a whole new level of suck. But as the saying goes, "It never gets easier. It just sucks less." In this case, it didn't get easier and it sucked more, but we were all in this together. With Matt Goard and LaKia Lemmon-Peyton cheering me on and in my ear, I rowed my ass off. Well.....I actually rowed my arms off. With Matt Ramsey next to me, racing our hearts out, I could hear the cheers from the crowd, but moreover I could hear Matt Goard telling me I was neck and neck with Matt Ramsey. I knew I was marginally ahead of  and I felt I could hang with Matt until the end, and maybe push out a win. Matt was able to pull ahead by 5 calories, finishing with 117 calories while I had 112. Neither of us knew that Scott Weaver was at the end pulling an incredible 127 calories. Let that sink in folks. 127 calories on a rower, only using his arms and torso. It was a little like a punch in the gut. I thought, finally, I got second in the row and may end up in the top three. Not so. But I chased and ran with my Rubicon partner and kept ahead of an outstanding athlete in.

The results of the day. Since I know that really why any of you are reading this, here are the results from the day:
2012 Working Wounded Games Competitors and Staff.

First among TBI Competitors:
Mark Tippett

First among Limb 
Dysfunction Competitors:
Scott Weaver


Matt Ramsey

Dillon Behr

Jason Sturm

This event changed me and will forever change the view of adaptive athletes. We are competitors. We have not thrown in the towel and you cannot make us quit. If you know an adaptive athlete who wants to try CrossFit, I encourage you to lead them to this blog. Tell them to contact me. If you witnessed this event, tell them what you saw. The ferocious fight that ensued. Tell them what an adaptive athlete can do.

Finally, a massive thanks goes out to David "Chef" Wallach, Hrönn Wallach, Sara Olsen and the entire event staff and judges for a history defining event!

Friday, November 9, 2012

What a Difference....

I have made a huge transition of the past three years, not just in the way I look and feel but also in my overall performance as an athlete. I do consider myself an athlete. How else would you label someone who does CrossFit five days a week, run races, does GORUCK events and generally will sign up for any event involving exercise and a t-shirt? (We all know I am a t-shirt whore....)

My transition is evident by the results from my last three years in The Army Ten Miler (ATM). The ATM is my sole annual race. Another interesting fact (I know, I sound like a bit of a fanboy here) is the increase in performance based solely on CrossFit training. Food for thought:

2010 I signed up for The ATM and trained through a series of races. Up until that point, I had only run a few 5K races since becoming an amputee and learning how to run again. My training consisted of several training runs and 5K races and a 10K race.

2011 I signed up for The ATM once again but forgot. I received the email notice a couple of weeks before about packet pick up but never trained. I had been doing CrossFit with the normal short distance interval runs but nothing of distance.

2012 I signed up for The ATM again but didn't even attempt to train. Just CrossFit.

What was the result of this training plan?

2010 Finished in 1:44:48 with a 10K split of 60:21
2011 Finished in 1:39:29 with a 10K split of 58:39
2012 Finished in 1:30:10 with a 10K split of 56:45

Additionally, I lost nearly 50 lbs. since beginning CrossFit, not to mention the massive transformation in body image.

My training regimen is as follows:

Training: CrossFit with sporadic shorter distance runs sprinkled in. I also do some "nonfunctional" movements as described by CFHQ. I also participate in any event I can that involves charity, exercise and a t-shirt....... Okay........and beer.

Nutrition: I follow these guidelines, generally. (1) Eat real food (lean meat, veggies, some fruit and dairy, little starch and no grains except the mentioned beer). I save my "cheat/treat" meals for beer and mostly pizza. (2) Read labels and don't eat what you can't pronounce. That's pretty much it. Notice how simple that is!!?? It's not rocket surgery people!

Anyone have an event with a t-shirt for me!?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Preparing for Battle.......

As November 10th draws closer and the impending challenge of competing in the Working Wounded Games ( looms over my head, I find myself preparing for battle while analyzing my personal strengths and weaknesses.
Chest to deck Pushups during Tabata at Balston CrossFit.

Time and time again, I am my own biggest critic. I know I don't open up my hips all the way on some lifts. I know I lose mid-line stability on Overhead Squats. I know I sometimes will take an extra breath or two during a METCON when I could be working. But I also know I am strong and that I love competition. I know that I can and often do perform much better when I have a hare. Someone to chase down.

I have ramped up my weekly workouts and refocused as of late. Coaching, a full time career and family often get in the way of working out. However, with the support of friends and family, I have been diving deeper into the murky waters of being generally prepared for anything.


I drew three WODs for the games which I feel may play to my strong suits while providing me with ample opportunity to not only compete against the other athletes but also to see just how I measure up.  I drew the Yoke, One Armed Deadlift and the One Armed Sled Pull. All athletes also have to perform a mystery WOD which will be announced the Friday before the games.

I will spend this week going over some mobility work and doing some last minute WODs and preparations for what I am expected to do. Honestly, I am a bit silly with excitement. My personal expectations are high but I also expect to face stiff competition by my competitors. After all, we are adaptive athletes. We have more heart than those labeled as "able bodied". We work hard to prove to ourselves and others that we're not done. We haven't thrown in the towel and we will never quit.

Excitement for the Future:

After the games, hopefully, I will be working with a couple of other adaptive crossfitters and putting together a team of competitors to go out to CrossFit events and compete on a higher level. There's lots of work to be done. Lots of training to be dialed in and loads of education to take place but I am confident that we can compete with others. Not just the adaptive athletes. My goal......when you look on the list of competitors for an event, you get a little nervous to see our names! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Anything for a T-shirt!

I guess life sometimes gets a little too busy and things like coming up with blog posts fall to the back burner. Although I have about a half dozen posts queued up in various stages. Who knows when they'll actually get done......

Since my last post, to say I have been busy, would be a MASSIVE understatement. Besides the normal life in the Sturm household of dual career parents, music and sports for the kids and me coaching while my wife begins to mainline the CrossFit Kool-Aid; I returned to my old company and back into a job which is much busier than my last.

We have been hard at work coordinating the upcoming Working Wounded Games being held at CrossFit Rubicon on November 10th. We hope to have as many adaptive athletes as we can competing and to get this event to grow exponentially year after year. I seriously think that the more events adaptive athletes show up to and put on a show at, the more the greater CrossFit community will understand that not only can we compete but we WILL compete. And don't be afraid to admit when one of us wipes the floor with your ass!

This brings me to the heart of CrossFit. It's not about the cool socks, the shoes, the ripped abs or the callused hands. It's about family and T-shirts. I'm pretty sure any crossfitter can dig out a dozen CrossFit t-shirts from their closet. I'm not talking the shirts you buy from vendors. I'm not even talking about the t-shirts you buy from the boxes you visit. I'm talking about the t-shirts you earn through blood, sweat and tears in order to raise money for a worthy cause or to memorialize a fallen friend. This weekend, I had the opportunity to do both of these things. And yes, I have the t-shirts to prove it. 

Saturday morning, I joined my CrossFit Reston family to complete Barbells for Boobs. The box raised nearly $18,000 for breast cancer research. Although I had to perform the WOD (Grace) and hit the road because I was coaching, I enjoyed being able to do Grace (total tonnage) in 5:18 with 115# (36 reps). T-shirt earned!

In the afternoon, I joined other athletes at CrossFit Liberation in order to memorialize Atom Ziniewicz. I met Atom at a GORUCK event then had the opportunity to talk, at great lengths, with him about CrossFit and coaching at another event in July. Atom was tragically killed in Alaska in September. His death left a whole in so many of our hearts. We all miss him and wish he was still here with us.

Gathering at CrossFit Liberation, I was welcomed warmly and powered through the WOD with the express intent of honoring Atom the only way I knew how; through being a power house. I almost wish I could have done the entire WOD on my own in order to truly honor him.

T-shirt earned!

On Sunday, I partnered with my fellow CrossFit Rubicon coach, Mark Tippett for Fight for Mike. A WOD meant to aid in relieving Mike Hart and his family of the financial burden of his medical bills and care. Mike is suffering from an undiagnosed neurodegenerative disease which has wreaked havoc on his muscular and nervous system.

The WOD put together for this event was without a doubt, one of the toughest but the folks at CrossFit Old Town did one hell of a job. An uplifting experience made even better by being able to share with both my Rubicon and Reston families. T-shirt earned!

I will do anything for my family and a t-shirt. Part of being a community, which is what CrossFit calls itself, is coming out and supporting each other. After all, CrossFit is the sport of life! We train to be ready for anything and whether it's cancer, a neurological disease or the death of someone close to us or just the unknowing WOD, show your support. You'll make a memorable impression on people and you might just get another t-shirt!

My weekend rep total:

36 reps 115# Clean & Jerk

30 500# Tire flips
90 20# Sledge Hammers
21 Rope climbs
300 Air squats
102 Toes-to-bars
90 Overhead plate lunges 45#
15 Man makers 35#
60 Ring Pushups
450 Single unders
21 Deadlifts 275#
60 Box jump burpees
15 Squat clean thrusters 95#
60 sec Handstand holds
800m Ruck Run 45#
60 Ruck squats 45#
15 Ruck up downs 45#
60 Ruck ground to overhead 45#
800m Ruck Run 45#
34 Cal row

700m Partner run
70 135# Hang cleans
70 Wall ball shots 20#
70 Burpees
70 KB swings 53#
70 Push presses 95#
70 Pull-ups
700m Overhead plate carry 45#
700m Run

Monday, September 10, 2012

I got your back SSG Hamburger........

A Brick for SSG Hamburger and a Brick for the Hamburger family.
On August 5th, I embarked on a mission with over 60 other dedicated people. The mission was to ruck 31 Miles for 31 Heroes. In honor of these heroes, we chose to carry bricks. One brick contained the name and age of the fallen hero. The next brick contained the name of that hero's family in memorial of the burden they will forever carry from their loss. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete the ruckmarch that day. I can deal with the pain of sore feet or having a physical issue which prevents me from completing such an important task. I can deal with those  things because I will never quit for such reasons when my mission is to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. What I couldn't bear dealing with was the fact that a mechanical failure in my prosthetic leg lead me to bow out.

I vowed to complete the march. The immense weight I felt having SSG Hamburger's bricks the only bricks that did not complete was almost too much for me to bear. I feel a great sense of personal responsibility. I feel it's left up to me to ensure he is not forgotten.

On September 9th, I gathered with a great group of people. Two of my fellow coaches from CrossFit Rubicon; Mark Tippett (a former Army officer) and Tiffany Harrison (our young firebreather of a CrossFit coach) as well as two incredible ladies from the gym; Margo Corum  and Danna Glover (don't call her Dana).  We set out to complete the journey. Despite having an obvious problem with my hip (again), there was no way I was not completing this journey. As a true GRT, I gritted my teeth, leaned on my team mates and healed any pain with A.C.R.T.
Danna Glover, Margo Corum, Tiffany Harrison, Mark Tippett, Jason Sturm and SSG Hamburger in front of the White House. September 9th, 2012       

We completed the journey in the early afternoon and met up with fellow GRT Terry Ford at Arlington National Cemetery. The total mileage was just around 12 miles. I feel at peace having been able to complete this important part of the journey with SSG Hamburger, but I have not yet begun to finish our journey together.

Until next years 31 Heroes Weekend, I will carry these bricks in my ruck. No matter what happens, these bricks will be with me for every training run, every training ruck, every body weight WOD and every event I do. I will carry him on every race, the GORUCK DC Scavenger, The Army Ten Miler, The Bataan Memorial Deathmarch and the GORUCK GRC in Normandy France.

I have your back SSG Patrick Hamburger. You will not be forgotten!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black........

Yes! This is truly a "pot calling the kettle black" post here folks!

How many times have you gotten out of your car, rolled into the gym and jumped right into a WOD. No stretching, no warm up and no preparation!? I admit, I am a little guilty of this. As a coach I feel like a hypocrite when I tell my athletes that they need to follow a proper warm up before just hopping into a WOD.  Unfortunately, we don’t often follow the advice of our coaches, or even ourselves and the turning point is usually post injury or when we have identified decreased performance.

I have two friends who are currently rehabilitating or dealing with meniscus tears in their knees. I have had countless athletes and friends tell me about nagging injuries that seem to never get better or go away. The reality with these injuries is that they are not getting better because we refuse to let ourselves heal. Another thing I am guilty of. We must take care of our bodies or they will fail us! As one of my coaches at CrossFit Reston states, “We come in and put all of our effort into the WODs. We post pictures of our nutritious and outstanding food we make and eat. We work extra time on skills. But, how many of us work on stretching and mobility?”

Warming up is essential to proper performance. One warm up I generally prescribe when I am coaching at CrossFit Walter Reed is:

400m Jog/Run/Row
3 Rounds of Cindy

For stretching, I generally try to focus on the core activities we will be performing in the WOD that day. I prescribe the 400m and Cindy reps to get everyone in the mindset of working out. This let's the athlete reset their mind and focus on the task at hand instead of what they just completed at the office or whatever they think they might want to do after work that evening. 

At CrossFit Rubicon, we have a rather extensive warm up procedure that when followed, leaves you nice and warmed up, limber and slightly, if not extensively, sweaty! I find that when I do this warm up, not only am I less sore than if I don't but I also perform so much better during the WOD! 

So, why don't I always warm up? Honestly, there is no set reason. Sometimes I come in and start socializing before the "oh shit" moment when the WOD is about to start. Sometimes there is a time constraint. Sometimes I half ass warm up and then just think I am good to go for the punishment I am about to inflict on myself! Bottom line is proper preparation reduces injury and increases performance. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You have a WOD, nutrition and hydration which forms a nice picture of cute puppies playing. The box with the picture of the completed puzzle is your mobility and preparation. Now how easy is it to put that puzzle together if you just have the pieces in a clear Ziploc bag with no reference!?

Mobility WODs FTMFW!!!

I have three rules I like to live by:

1. Eat real food.
2. Exercise 5 days a week
3. Drink beer....because it's fucking awesome!

Let's pay attention to rule number two here. Exercise does not necessarily mean working out everyday or taking the day off of the gym to run or ruckmarch. Exercising also means mobility work. is a wealth of knowledge about working on mobility and taking care of some of those nagging injuries or tweaks you may have. Your coaches at your local box should be able to steer you in the right direction as well. I do have some other suggestions for you as well.

Be self sufficient! Learn what you need to do from your coach then put a little cash in the kitty and buy some mobility supplements for your home! You don't have to make a trip to the gym just to do mobility work. Again Faster Equipment and Rogue Fitness have tons of Mobility equipment for sale and if you "like" their Facebook pages, they usually will post mobility packages which carry pretty good discounts. You can also just go to your local sporting goods store and purchase everything you need. 

The possibilities are endless for buying what you need for cheap but it's up to you to put as much time in to mobility work as you do your nutrition and WOD performance.

Again Faster:

Rogue Fitness:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Two Days Just Aren't Enough

31 Heroes WOD v2.0

August 6, 2011, 31 Heroes died tragically when the Chinook helicopter they were flying in crashed in Afghanistan. Almost immediately, The 31 Heroes Project was born As the CrossFit community embraced the cause, a very challenging WOD was announced.

31 minute AMRAP
Partner WOD
8 Thrusters (155#/105#)
6 Rope Climbs (15ft Ascent)
11 Box Jumps (30"/24")

400m run with Sandbag (45#/25#)

For more information about the WOD visit:

Last year I performed this workout as an almost formal introduction to a sport I now love. I performed this WOD at CrossFit Reston and loved every second of it. It was challenging and I wasn't very good at the movements (especially since all the Crossfit experience I had was self taught at Gold's Gym with the help of the main site and little to no coaching). Coach Jeff Tincher took time after the WOD to coach me on thrusters and to welcome me to the box.

Jason at CrossFit Rubicon during the 31 Heroes WOD.
August  4th, 2012
What a difference a year makes. I performed the 31 Heroes WOD this year at CrossFit Rubicon. I am an intern coach at the box and partnered with another amazing athlete and wounded warrior, Mark Tippett. The WOD was just as challenging as before except despite my increased experience and training. I watched the other athletes power through the WOD. When it was my turn, the heat destroyed me, but I just kept going. I still had to scale the thrusters and I didn't make every rope climb, but I kept moving. Motivated by honoring our 31 Heroes but also by my partner and that sense of the mutual suck.

Overall, I am proud of our performance and while I could criticize myself and say that I need to work on this and I need to practice that..... this WOD was not about my needs, it was about our heroes. As Coach Chef stated at the beginning of the heat, this is not a WOD for you to learn to perform a movement, this is a WOD for you to safely put it all out there to honor the fallen.

31 Miles for 31 Heores

As I have mentioned before, the parallels between the CrossFit community and my other family, the GORUCK community, are uncanny. Terry Ford, a fellow GRT, came up with an idea to do 31 miles for the 31 Heroes and the idea blossomed into an event I believe cannot be rivaled. 70 individuals descended upon the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to ruckmarch 31 miles through Washington D.C., ending at Arlington National Cemetery. A wrapped brick representing a fallen hero as well as another representing the burden of the loss forever carried by the family was carried by GRTs who volunteered to sponsor a hero. At roughly each mile, we would stop to honor one of the fallen by reading a short biography and  raising a toast in their honor!

At the start, our organizer spoke and stated that we were able to raise nearly $3000 for the 31 Heroes Project and how grateful and astonished the project was given our small group of participants. While the amount raised was nothing to sneeze at, the 31 Heroes Project was about to get an even better gift. One of our GRT brothers stepped up and stated his company stood behind our cause, supported our tribute and graciously donated a check for $15,000.

Carson McHale and Mrs. TSgt John W.
Brown at Arlington National Cemetery.
August 5th, 2012
As each person stopped the read the biographies of the fallen heroes, there was a heavy cloud of emotion hovering above all of our heads. Almost every person who read a bio chocked up and many were brought to tears. Moving is not a strong enough word to express seeing this.

The group finished at Arlington National Cemetery, in the pouring rain. Upon arrival, they came upon the wife of TSgt John W. Brown at his grave site. While I wasn't there to see this, The picture to the left was taken and posted to Facebook. I teared up immediately. The site of her sitting there at his grave is nearly too much to handle.

I was unable to complete the 31 miles. Around mile 8, my prosthesis began to fail and worsened until I had to stop at mile 10. I was (and still am) carrying a brick each for SSG Patrick Hamburger and his family. The guilt I feel for his brick not having made it to the finish is a tough pill to swallow. Once my prosthesis is repaired, I plan to gather the route and finish where I left off. He deserves it and any pain felt is a small sacrifice I can pay in order to have his memory honored.

I cannot adequately express my pride in being associated with such an outstanding group of individuals. So willing to devote their time, blood, sweat and tears to honor those who paid the ultimate price. Cheers fellow GRT and 31 Miles participants.

31 Miles for 31 Heroes participants in front of the Capitol Building.
August 5th, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fran Time & CrossFit L1 Certification Thoughts........

Last weekend, I finally attended my long awaited CrossFit L1 Certification Course. First and foremost, I have to give the biggest thanks to Coach/Owners Maggie Dabe and Jeff Tincher of CrossFit Reston and CrossFit Fairfax. They graciously gave me one of their host spots for the course. Now, anyone who knows me knows that school and I go together like gasoline and a lit match. It isn't that I am stupid or have a hard time studying; it's that I simply hate school. Most of the training course I have had since leaving the Army have been IT Technical in nature and we all can imagine just how exciting those are. This course, however, was something completely different.

I am not going to talk about the course material or give you any kind of hints for passing the test here (as of this post I still do not yet know if I passed the exam). What I am going to talk about are three interesting points I observed in the class.

Professionalism! I have never seen such professionalism in a training environment. While the trainers would joke with you and made learning and practicing the fundamental movements interesting and enjoyable, they also ensured everyone operated in the safest manner possible. Their knowledge about CrossFit and kinesiology were top notch and collectively, they never struggled to answer any question that popped up.

You are going to be sore! While the bulk of the class is instructional; requiring you to take notes and observe the trainers, the breakout sessions will make you sore. And let's be honest, crossfitters don't get together very often without working out so you know the weekend will have WODs. (again, not going to talk about what WODs). With that said, I found myself very sore on Monday. 

You are going to discover your deficiencies!!! Admittedly, I have some form issues. I scale weight but my form for a lot of things has always been off. During the class, I found ways to correct my form exponentially as well as how to work on overcoming my prosthesis and the difficulties it poses. I have been able to fix (or at least have the tools to fix) my form in the squat, deadlift, push press, push jerk and clean and snatch. 


During the course, we discussed "Fran" and how it's the benchmark workout now for CrossFit. How many times have you been asked "What's your Fran time?" As Chuck Carswell (our lead trainer for the L1 last weekend) mentioned, at the globo gym, you measure someones gym stature by asking how much they bench. These two measuring sticks are very different but it's funny to me that these are what we gauge someones gym prowess with. In case you were wondering, my 1 RM Bench Press is a paltry 275#. 

My Fran time is not great; 6:30ish. Anyone who knows Fran knows the workout is 21-15-9 95# thrusters and pull-ups. My issue comes with the thrusters. Thrusters suck. I seriously hate them. I hate them because I have hips that get lazy and I end up doing front squats to overhead press without the explosive opening of my hips. So to force me to do this properly, I scale the weight to 75#. Do I feel cheated? No! At the end, I feel like I am going to puke! The reason I scale is mechanics. I simply do not have reliable enough mechanics to increase intensity. So, what do I do? Do I throw the Rx'd weight on the bar and muscle my way through the workout with poor mechanics and an even worse time? Or, do I scale the weight and focus on consistent mechanics (lumbar curve, elbows high, violent opening of the hip, transitioning into a push press) and still get a good workout? 

As taught by CrossFit, before you dial up the intensity (weight/load) you have to have the ability to show the proper mechanics CONSISTENTLY! Scale the weight. Work on mechanics. Instead of using your Fran TIME as your benchmark, use your mechanics. Have another crossfitter watch you and correct your form. Better yet, you'll learn even quicker if you fail on form and your reps are not counted. Don't get wrapped up in trying to Rx everything. Demand more of yourself especially when it comes to proper consistent mechanics of the compound movement.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CrossFit Walter Reed Class 07242012

Class was held at our normal 1400 time in building 226. We had two participants; an above knee amputee (U.S. Army) and a bi-lateral hip disarticulation and left hand amputee (U.S.M.C.)


Press 3-3-3-3

AMRAP 10 Minutes
10 T2B
15 KB Swings (53#/35#)

Level II
AMRAP 10 Minutes
8 K2E
12 DB Swings (45#/30#)

Level III
AMRAP 10 Minutes
5 Pushups
10 Hang Knee Raises
15 DB Swings (35#/25#)

Our single AK warrior practiced his Overhead Press with a standard 45# bar focusing on the balance needed when at full extension at the top. For amputees, the loss of connection with the ground, even when both feet are firmly planted, can pose a problem with balance. This is exacerbated by holding weight over head while simultaneously trying to balance from the hip on on limb and the full limb on the other side.

Our bi-lateral hip disarticulation amputee was able to work on balance while pressing overhead. His prosthetic device for his arm physically clamps to the bar which limits his range of motion. Instead of the bar being in the rack position, we had to modify slightly so that the bar was roughly an inch off his chest. Additionally, he was able to press out starting with a blank 12# bar and working up to 42# bar. The only other variation to the standard press is that the bar, in the fully extended position is slightly forward of his ear/spinal base line. This was from the floor. When he performed the exercise from his chair, he was able to achieve the full range of motion.

To facilitate smooth operation of the WOD, we used one warrior's chair as a base for his DB swings (15#) but the rest of his movements were performed as prescribed.




Great work guys!

When in Springfield........

What do CrossFitters do on vacation? They visit other boxes! At least sometimes we do. While I was in the Army, I had the chance to meet several folks who helped to make Fort Drum a much more tolerable place to be. I have carefully chosen the ones I want to remain in contact with. While visiting two of these friends in Springfield, MO, I had the chance to visit their box. My friends, Chris and Niki have consumed the Kool-Aid and are CrossFitters now and have made huge changes in their lives with regard to fitness.

My first impression of CrossFit Springfield was that this was a very typical looking CrossFit box. Rubber and concrete floors, pull-up rig, plyo boxes, weights and bars. But as I walked in and got the typical stare of "what is this guy going to do" I noticed I was also being actively welcomed by both coaches and athletes. Honestly, I am pretty sure that even if I were not friends with two of their members, I'd still be received as positively as I was. As with most CrossFit boxes, examination of the whiteboard showed that the evening classes were the busiest. I noticed that even though we had around 20+ people in class, there were still at least two coaches there to coach, demonstrate and assist in the WOD.

WOD 1:

Warm up was a brisk 600m run along with some push-up/gymnastic fun courtesy of Coach Meggin.

Rachel and Jason Sturm @ CrossFit Springfield in
Springfield Missouri
WOD: Thrusters 135# and Ring Rows. Start with 1 Thruster followed by 10 Ring Rows. Increase by 1 Thruster for each round ensuring that you perform 10 Ring Rows between rounds. Continue until you complete 10 rounds (Final Round will be 10 Thrusters and 10 Ring Rows)

Completion: I scaled this WOD because I still have some issues with heavier Thrusters (95# Thrusters for me) and the class was larger so to save time (instead of waiting around waiting for rings to open up) I substituted Push Ups for the Ring Rows. A bonus to this WOD was my wife Rachel was in the box for her first CF WOD (I'm not allowed to get excited though). My time was 15:13 with the wall being met at round 6.

WOD 2:

Warm up was a nice little rowing sprint for 4 minutes followed by 5 Pull-ups, 10 sit-ups & 25 Burpees; decreasing Burpees each round until you complete. 10 minute cap.
Jason with 315# Mixed Grip/3 Reps

Deadlift 5x3: 225, 275, 295, 315, 335

2000m Row for time: 7:36 Rx'd

Overall, I have to say that CrossFit Springfield is an outstanding gym . Friendly staff, great area for the kids to play while parents workout, very capable coaches and a hearty competitive spirit from it's members. If you're ever in the area, pay them a visit.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Suffer in Silence. No Bitch Noises.......

Long before any of you were awake on the 4th of July, I was standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. As people prepared themselves mentally with idle chatter about what to expect and prepared themselves physically through stretching and jogging about, I stood there, pack on my back, 24 pack of Yuengling in my hands (entry key for the cadre) and anxiously awaited the beginning of the Washington D.C. 1012 July 4th GORUCK Challenge. Having completed my first (and probably not my last) GRC in June, I was able to shadow and take pictures and hang out all day with the cadre and observe the madness. This wasn't just about that. My friend and fellow wounded warrior Mark Lytel was participating in this GRC. As soon as I heard he was doing the July 4th GRC, I told my wife, I want to shadow. I want to be there to try to provide moral support but also, I wanted to be there and tell him at the end (because there was never a doubt in my mind that he'd finish) welcome to his new family!

Mark showed up and I noticed him receiving the same kind of stares I got when I arrived to my GRC. The kind of stares amputees are used to. The stares of people trying to figure out just how we are going to do at this event. An almost sizing up of your toughness. Mark and I joked around about how the bipeds are cheaters and about how I only half cheat because I am a monoped. This type of joking is generally saved for those of us with missing limbs. You see folks, Mark is a dual below-knee amputee. What balance and stability I have as a single leg amputee, you can toss out the window when it comes to dual amputees.

Mark Lytel. Gator walking and bear crawling in front of the
White House. July 4th, 2012.
Mark never asked for, nor did he receive preferential treatment throughout the entire event. Through every challenge and obstacle, he persevered. He never quit. I suspect that's because he is a part of a rare breed of human. A breed who was knocked down and expected not to get up. We, we didn't get that memo. We rose from the ashes like the Phoenix and in the words of Cadre Lou, we kicked in the door and punched anything standing in our way square in the mouth. Mark embodied this grit and "never quit" attitude throughout the blistering heat, mental and physical challenges and did most, if not all of this, with that gigantic grin on his face.

I'm proud to have shared that moment with you Mark and can't wait till we can sit down and have a beer and joke about it. Outstanding work my friend and welcome to the family!

GRC Class 201, Independence Day, 2012.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Defining Loyalty

Loyalty is defined as a strong feeling of support or allegiance.

In the CrossFit community, we tend to become loyal with the box we have chosen as our second home. For me, this box is CrossFit Reston. From coaches to fellow athletes, I see them all as my friends and extended family. But as in life outside the gym, we tend to have multiple cliques of friends, each deserving of our loyalty. I am truly a lucky guy to have the support system I have with the coaches I interact with in the Mid-Atlantic region. So what happens when you redefine loyalty? When you lift at a globo-gym, there may be loyalty to the gym you workout at but if something better comes along, you wouldn't hesitate to drop your membership and go elsewhere. This is generally where CrossFit differs. CrossFit boxes become small (or large) families. You struggle together, you succeed together and you don't let each other fail. It is an underlying theme in the CrossFit circle.

For me, this family is a much larger extension that some other crossfitters. My home box is CrossFit Reston but I have two secondary homes as well. My first secondary home is CrossFit Rubicon. A box that defines family and makes that evident by the many members who's silhouettes are painted on the walls of the gym. David "Chef" Wallace and his wife Hronn, along with their talented coaches, deliver a mix of Strength and MetCon that always leaves me sore and wanting more. What's more interesting about CF Rubicon and Chef is how I came to call this place a second home. You see, Chef works with Adaptive Athletes and has been working with Brian Wilson of Patriot and Potomac CrossFit to build programming for not only his box but also working to develop a comprehensive site where coaches everywhere can go for insight on the challenges and rewards of training adaptive crossfitters. Chef's project SIX (We got your back, we got your six) is beginning to build steam and should be making huge strides in the near future. (To donate in order to get this going: I was introduced to Chef by way of the Facebook/CrossFit community and regularly try to make it up their for strength work and his inventive torturous WODs.

As I began to develop a relationship with CrossFit Rubicon, I was introduced to the CrossFit Walter Reed project being spearheaded by Brian Wilson and Dillon Behr. Brian worked to develop programming which can be scaled and build a base for our wounded warriors to continue that warrior spirit through crossfitting.  I expressed interest in working with this project and was welcomed. As I had worked to "teach" myself CrossFit before joining CrossFit Reston, I could relate to some of the difficulties of being an amputee and trying to figure out just how different complex Olympic lifts were to a body compromised by range of motion in one or multiple joints and just how to try to make your body do what you want it to do. As mentioned in previous posts, I started training at least once a week at CF Walter Reed and will hopefully be a trainer there once I take and pass my Level 1 Certification at the end of July.

These three gyms are all homes for me. They are each a part of my family and I am loyal to them all. Am I disloyal to any of them by going to other boxes? No. I am loyal to all of them equally. Each has helped in my journey so far.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It Never Gets Easier, It Just Sucks Less!

Easily one of my favorite quotes around the CrossFit community. It truly sums up CrossFit in my eyes. If it gets easier, you're either doing it wrong or you need more weight!
Me and Matt Ramsey after the very first WOD in the
official CrossFit Walter Reed space.

Since becoming involved with CrossFit Walter Reed, I have heard the stories about crossfitting in the various gym spaces at both the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well as the combined Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I experienced the same issues when I first began CrossFit at Golds Gym. Globo gyms and workout spaces simply are not geared towards this type of exercise!

With the space secured and ready, and the delivery of brand new equipment care of Rouge Fitness, Brian Wilson (Owner/Coach Patriot CrossFit and Potomac CrossFit), Matt Ramsey (Fellow amputee crossfitter from CrossFit Rubicon and 10th Mountain Division soldier) and I decided to bust out a quick inaugural WOD. With just the three of us, we broke a sweat and discussed the future of this project.

On 21 June, we had our official Grand Opening. On hand we had several Wounded Warriors from both the U.S. Army and the U.S.M.C. Everything from single amputees, dual amputees to upper body amputees and soldiers with mobility limiting injuries. We also had several fans of the project as well as Marines from the Marine Corp Detachment. The turn out was great. Strength work and a nice Metcon to open the box properly. I was able to witness just how scalable CrossFit is. From dual amputees doing dumbbell deadlifts from a bench to single leg amputees deadlifting from the store and learning to perform the push press.

We are already starting to expand classes. Class has been on Thursdays at 1430 but will expand to two classes a week (for now). Classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1400. These are open to Wounded Warriors and Military or Civilian Staff who bring these Wounded Warriors to class as a part of their PT session. If you are not a Wounded Warrior you can use the CrossFit Affiliate Finder to locate an affiliate near you.

For more information about CrossFit Walter Reed, see below:


If you want to show your support for CrossFit Walter Reed you can purchase a shirt. $10 of each shirt goes to supporting CrossFit Walter Reed and any supplies the box may need.

Crossfitters and Rucktards!

Me and Kate Foster; post WOD.
On 9 June 2012, several of the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit affiliates came together in Washington D.C. to perform CrossFit for Hope. A fight gone bad type workout with all money raised going to St. Jude's Hospital for Cancer Research.

Three rounds of (1 minute/exercise & 1 minute rest between rounds):
Burpees75 pound Power snatchBox jump, 24" box75 pound ThrusterChest to bar Pull-upsTotal reps!

It was insane how many athletes came together for this event and the awesome buzz it generated. Bob Harper, trainer for NBC's The Biggest Loser and huge CrossFit fan came out and rubbed elbows with athletes, snapped pictures with athletes and his fans and participated in the event himself! As amazing as this was, my biggest sense of excitement came not from meeting a celebrity but from participating in such a great event with my son.

Sam was nervous about his first real WOD on a stage but I knew he would be awesome. As I finished my WOD, scoring 164 reps and raising over $500, I rushed and got Sam prepared. What an amazing performance. He stuck with it despite the obvious fatigue he was experiencing and scored an incredible 213 reps using the 15# bar, 20" box and jumping pull-ups. I couldn't have been prouder!

With the CrossFit for Hope WOD completed, I could finally turn my attention to an event I was a little apprehensive about.

8-10 hours, 15-20 miles and Good Livin'

I had secretly waffled on whether or not to do a GORUCK Challenge. I checked out the site and knew a little about what I thought was going to be in store for me. As luck would have it, a couple of my CrossFit friends were doing the June 15th GRC in Washington D.C. Waffling was abandoned and I signed up. A nighttime ruckmarch through the streets of D.C., sure, who would think that was fun!?

With a borrowed GORUCK GR1 (Thanks Frank) and my six wrapped bricks, I was all set. Having not trained, I was a little concerned but I don't quit on things so I figured I would go out there and do all I could do to make the event and fun as I could. This was an exhausting event. Mentally draining. At times, grueling (barefoot microderm abrasion care of David and the means D.C. streets). But I found that I loved every minute of it. Seriously. Cramped legs and all. My only regret was not properly hydrating; although I thought I was hydrated. After being broken up into our classes, we were assigned the class number 187. Hell yes. The murder class! With a class number like 187, we were bound the be the baddest of the bad......or so we thought. We were instantly dubbed the Short Bus crew. Rucktards (A play on words from my favorite Army term of endearment; Fuck-tard). One rule of GORUCK, at least it seems to be an unwritten rule, is that you do not talk too much about what exactly you do during a Challenge or GORUCK event. That just takes the fun out of it! (For any of you looking to gain insight into what a GRC is all about, you're not going to get it here) What I can tell you is that it's 95% mental, 5% physical and 25% ACRT (rucktard math). I loved it so much I have signed up for my next event, the GORUCK D.C. Scavenger in October, and plan to shadow the July 4th GRC in D.C.

Now considered a Short Bus GRT Rucktard, I proudly wear my GORUCK Tough and Suffer In Silence patches. I have found that, not unlike the CrossFit community, GORUCK Tough individuals are a part of a sort of deranged extended family. A family that suffers together, parties together and helps each other out. As with CrossFit for Hope, I have seen the desire to put your physical limitations aside in order to support a cause much higher than you as an individual. This is evident in the multiple Mini-GRCs taking place in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia in order to raise money for fellow GRT Jason Alexander's daughter who is going through Bone Marrow Transplant Treatment. The support and outreach through attendees of these events and the purchase of Kick Ass Katie patches is truly incredible!

I am so unbelievably proud to be a part of two wonderfully dysfunctional families.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pulling 405!

I always get excited when I see deadlifts on the schedule for a WOD. It's something I am pretty good at and is a real confidence booster. I may not be able to hang with other athletes with squats and compound olympic lifts, but I can pick shit up and put it down. Simple as that. I've been chasing an elusive number for 7-8 months now though. In October 2011, I was able to pull a solid 395 deadlift however failed at 405. I just figured I wasn't ready to lift that quite yet. Several other times over the last 8 months, I have failed at 385 and 395. This did little for my confidence.

On Friday, 1 June 2012, CrossFit Reston's WOD was a 1 RM Deadlift. I was determined to break that 400 lb barrier. Thursday, I did a little light weight deadlifting with Coach Brian Wilson at CrossFit Walter Reed; focusing on position, hand placement and driving my feet through the floor. Friday arrived and I was ready.

As suggested by Coach Gretchen Kittelberger, I started low and did limited warm up sets. As I climbed in weight, I felt good but then disaster struck. I failed, AGAIN on 385! WTF? How? No way was I going to let this happen again. I took another breath, set my feet and hands, mentally set myself, gripped and pulled the weight up. The second attempt was successful but had I used up that little bit..........NOPE! With just a minute or two left, we loaded up the final set with 405. Stepped forward, gripped it, took a breath and pulled.

I finally broke the barrier! That elusive barrier I had been chasing. Now to keep going. Now let's be honest, due to bio-mechanical limitations, there was a small amount of back rounding and a small amount of shoulder rounding despite starting with my shoulder blades back. I'll over come this but with over 400 lbs suspended from my arms, I am sure this a little normal.


385x1 FAILED

Thursday, May 31, 2012

For the Honor of Heroes

Every Memorial Day, Americans gather around their grills and have an extended weekend filled with family, friends, beer and BBQ. May 27th, me and 60+ of my CrossFit friends joined together at CrossFit Reston to perform the annual Memorial Day Murph. This event is the celebration of the life of Lt. Michael P. Murphy who was killed in action on June 28th 2005 in Afghanistan. "Murph" is arguably one of the toughest Hero WODs in the CrossFit arsenal!

1 mile run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile run

It's a test of athleticism to even attempt to complete a half Murph, let alone the whole thing. But the most important thing is to do what you can and scale. If you choose to perform a 1/4, 1/2 or the full, your decision to honor a great hero should be your driving force. Every hero WOD deserves 150% of your ability and should push you. It should suck and it should be painful but deep down you must find the drive in order complete a workout these heroes can no longer complete. They dies for us and deserve our blood, sweat and tear in honor of their sacrifice.

CrossFit is not a Globo Gym. It's a community. It's an extension of your family. Most of all though, CrossFit should be synonymous with compassion. How else do you explain the constant community of athletes willing to donate their blood, sweat and tears for various charitable organizations? I recently began working out at CrossFit Walter Reed at the combined Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Currently, we are confined to the cardio and weight rooms of the main workout facility. The actual gym space has been approved and the equipment is en route care of CrossFit HQ. The magic of creating a box for these Wounded Warriors is that all of the coordination, all of the coaching and all of the work is being done by volunteers!

The owners of CrossFit Fairfax and CrossFit Reston, Maggie Dabe and Jeff Tincher have graciously offered to help me start volunteering and hopefully working towards coaching these adaptive athletes by sponsoring me for the CrossFit Level Certification Course. To say that I am excited is a HUGE understatement!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easy Shrimp Stir-fry

What to do when your wife brings home beautiful Leeks and Green Beans......... Shrimp Stir-fry! I thought this recipe up and made it on the fly. The results were awesome and very clean and natural.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Servings: 5-6

1 lb of Medium Shrimp (peeled, deveined with tails removed)
3 Large Leeks
2-3 Medium Carrots (or 1 cup of carrot matchsticks)
2-3 Cups Green Beans (Fresh with ends trimmed off)
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Tsp 100% Pure Sesame Seed Oil
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
1/4 Tsp Ground Black Pepper

If using frozen shrimp, place them in a colander and run cool water over them to quickly thaw.

Trim the green ends off your leeks and discard. Cut your leeks in half, length-wise, then slice into 1/4" slices. Rinse leeks and set aside. Peel and split your carrots then thinly slice roughly 1/4" wide. Trim the ends off of the green beans and halve them if necessary. Steam green beans and carrots together for 3-5 minutes or until almost done. (If you use microwave steamer bags, steam them for 2-3 minutes.) Chop garlic and ginger and set aside.

In a skillet, heat your coconut oil and sesame oil. Add all vegetables into the skillet along with the garlic, ginger, sea salt and black pepper and mix together. Allow the vegetable mixture to simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Throw the shrimp into the skillet and stir together. Cover the skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Stir then cook for another 2 minutes or until all shrimp are pink and opaque all the way through.


Friday, March 30, 2012

An Amputee's Perspective on the Overhead Squat

First, I do not claim to be a trainer, nor do I claim to hold the keys to unlocking an amputee's ability to perform Olympic lifting. I do, however have a very solid stronghold on the difficulties amputees face when performing these lifts.

Second: This is not the Overhead squat. No matter how much crack the publishers at Men Fitness magazine have smoked, inhaled, or ingested in non-traditional forms! Seriously! WTF are your editors doing?!?!

A brief description of the Overhead squat for the typical biped:

Step1: Starting position with bar overhead, arms fully extended with hands in the same position as the Snatch grip. Use active shoulders (push your shoulders upwards; similar to a shrug). Your feet should be in your normal squat position/stance with toes pointed slightly out and a tight buttocks.

Step 2: Squat down by pushing your butt back, keeping on your heels with a tight lumbar curve and chest up. Your knees should move outwards over your toes.

Step 3: Reach your max squat depth where the hips are at or below parallel. This depth is dependent on back flexibility and the maturity of your squat.

Step 4: Push out of the bottom of the squat maintaining the bar overhead.

So it seems simple enough, but looks can be deceiving. Besides the normal issues people experience such as low shoulder flexibility and lack of back flexibility, there are some major issues Amputees must overcome in order to perform this exercise. Let's take a look at Step 2 for a second. Keeping my heels on the ground is easier said than done. For me (a left below-knee amputee), keeping my right heel planted is easy but balance becomes an issue with my left heel being rigid and defaulting to the toe. I've been asked if there is a way to keep my heel down. I wondered this and asked the manufacturer of my foot if this was possible. Ossur responded by telling me the foot would literally snap before I would ever get the heal to stay planted. So, adapt and overcome is the name of the game.

Another issue that below knee amputees experience is what I call rimming. It's a crude term which I am sure means something derogatory in other contexts but here, it simply means that the lower you squat with weight, the more your prothesis' socket digs into the back of your knee. In my case, this means that bio mechanically, I have transition weight bearing from the normal patella tendon region of my knee to supporting the weight of the squat on soft tissue as well as the Hamstring and Posterior Cruciate Ligament. To say that this is uncomfortable is an extreme understatement.

Naturally, amputees, by virtue of not being able to maintain heel to ground connection and not having a normal range of motion in the ankle and knee, are not going to be able to reliably reach the "at or below parallel" standard. That's not to say that with lighter weight, an amputee might reach that parallel mark, but there is an element of danger in trying to do so without having practiced the OHS meticulously.

I have a few tips and tricks (some of which I practice and some of which I seem to have either screamed at me during a WOD or remember when I am sucking wind during a WOD) which may provide some help. Remember, these are just suggestions. Do not perform the OHS if you are not comfortable or do not have a certified coach who is willing to work with you on this (Thanks to my many CF Reston coaches).

  • Practice Overhead Squats daily as a part of your warm-up. I use the standard PVC pipe and perform at least 3 rounds of 10 Shoulder Pass Thrus to 10 OHS. Gradually work up to 3-5 sets of 5 reps of OHS with the 45# bar.
  • SCALE. Let me repeat; S-C-A-L-E!!! Do not try to be that guy (I have been that guy. Dumping every other rep, cussing, crapping on form) Do not go up in weight until you can comfortably perform the OHS to the best of your abilities. This is key; to the best of your abilities. You have limitations and are no doubt wanting to prove you are not "disabled". The OHS will disable you if you are not true to form and if you try to go beyond your capabilities!
  • Use a foot with a heel! I know, sounds weird. I have crossfitted in a running foot, sprinters foot and the normal daily activity foot. You need a heel for this one. Your body will thank you when you are in the starting position and have the heel for stability.
  • Keep your core tight and your shoulders active! Due to our lack of balance this is very important. Seriously. As you fatigue, the first thing to go will be active shoulders which will limit your ability to keep the bar in line with the base of your spine and will cause you to dump the weight. A good trick to keeping your core tight is to press your belly out as if you have a weight belt you are pressing against.
  • Pick a neutral point on the wall to focus on throughout the duration of the lift. Not too high and not too low. Either of those and your balance will suffer, you'll dump weight and you be stuck snatching the weight and starting all over again.
  • Don't stop and drop the weight until you absolutely have to. This is not to say that if you injure something or cannot complete the lift safely to hang on to the bar. Remember, the more you drop that bar, the more you have to clean it or snatch it back up and mentally reset to perform the lift.
  • Finally, don't quit!! It'll be frustrating. So what! Suck it up, pick up the damn weight and complete the prescribed reps! You will never see me quit. I might not be the fastest, but I won't quit and neither will you!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Landslide Victory for Primal Chili at the Chili Cookoff!!

We had a chili cook off at the office and my Primal Chili took all three top honors! The recipe won Most Creative Chili Name (Primal Chili), Spiciest Chili Award and the Best Tasting Chili Award.This chili recipe couldn't be any easier to make. Here you go and enjoy!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 Hours (the longer the better)
Servings: 15-20 (depends on the size of your servings)

-2 lbs. Ground Beef
-2 lbs. Chicken Breast (you can cube it or grind it up)
-1 lb. Pork Chorizo, casings removed (make sure you buy REAL chorizo that is not fully cooked)
-1 lg. Sweet Onion
-2 Md. Bell Peppers (any color)
-4 Md. Carrots (thinly sliced)
-2 Md. Celery Stalks (quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced)
-28 oz. can of Crushed Tomato
-14 oz. can of Tomato Puree
-5 Tbsp Chili Powder
-2 Tbsp Cumin
-2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
-1/2 Tbsp Thyme
-1/2 Tbsp Oregano
-2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
-1 1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
-1 1/2 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
-1 1/2 Tsp Cracked Black Pepper
-1/2 Cup Water

Chop and prepare all vegetables. You want the slices to be as small as possible so that they almost disintegrate while cooking but don't just pulverize it in a food chopper. Set aside.

In a large crockpot, break up and add in your chorizo (remove the casings) and ground beef. If you have whole chicken breasts, dice up into 1/2" pieces and toss into the crockpot. Next into the crockpot is the vegetables.

Mix all of the seasonings (except the vinegar) in a bowl. Pour half of the seasoning mixture on top of the veggies and mix the meat and veg mixture up. Add in the remaining seasoning and mix up again. You need to make sure the mixture is mixed and integrated very well so the seasoning mixes well with the meat.

Next into the crockpot is your crushed and pureed tomatoes and vinegar. Add in 1/2 cup of water. Put the lid on the crockpot and set it for 6-8 hours. (The longer the better) I set mine to cook overnight, then mixed it up in the morning when I woke up and set it on warm for another 4 hours before serving.

Serve and enjoy. If you are Lacto-Paleo, throw on some cheese (Raw milk cheese is beast on this!). I ate it plain with a topping of scallions and more onions.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Decade of Life!

It's hard to reflect back on the events of today in 2002. I feel a well of life inside me but also a deep sadness. I made it. Like the mythical bird who rises from the ashes, I am a phoenix. On March 20, 2002, I lost part of me. Not the obvious physical part; but I lost a deep psychological part of me. While I do not have remorse for having lived while two of my fellow soldiers died, I do have remorse for the others who suffered in that horrific accident and the family members of my fallen comrades. All told, 13 of us were injured and two died. But more than just two human lives died that day. I think a small part of us all died that day.

Many of us who were there have permanent physical and emotional scars. While I do not suffer from PTSD related to that event, I do carry the burden of being a survivor. I love my life and am glad I survived. But believe me when I say that I would have taken all the force, all the shrapnel and all the pain in the world if it meant that nobody else would have been touched. If It meant that SSG Rick Hall and PFC William Hamm would still be here today. If it meant that nobody else had to endure any pain from that day.

March 20th will always be a special day to me. I may not celebrate it. I may just take time to reflect internally. But this day will always be one of the most important days of my life. It's what drives me. It's who I am. I am a survivor. The outpouring on Facebook to my posted reflection on this decade anniversary validates how my story and how I have chosen to live my life has touched people and I am truly honored to be able to inspire people. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in my life since that day. My wife and two beautiful children, my parents, my mother and father-in-law, my friends and those I have met along the way.

Rest in Peace SSG Hall and PFC Hamm. I have not, nor will I ever forget you. To those injured, I hope you have come to peace with your injuries and moved on from the physical pain. I hope you take time to reflect on how lucky we were to have survived and how you have an obligation to live your lives with success and love since two of us will never be able to do that again.

Thank you Rachel, Sam and Annabelle. You are my life, my heart and my soul. You make me happy I survived!

To life!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Life Lessons Learned from the CrossFit Games Open......So Far.

Seriously!? My last post was the 28th of December. I guess as a blogger, I am less than reliable for routine information and entertainment.

With peer pressure streaming throughout the CrossFit worldwide community and, at least in my world, CrossFit Reston being the epicenter of my personal peer pressure cooker, I signed up for the 2012 CrossFit Games. What? Me? An amputee who can do exactly 2 double unders and scales most workouts!? Yup! Sure did!

WOD 12.1: 7 Minutes of Burpees (Burpees are a synonym for hell in my eyes) with a jumping target 6 inches above your extended arm reach. My score: 70.

What life lesson did I learn from this WOD? I learned that I don't like doing burpees for 7 damn minutes! Seriously, who does? But I kept moving, even when I couldn't pull my legs up anymore. I devised a strategy to just keep moving by alternating which leg came forward first!

WOD 12.2: Proceed through the sequence below completing as many reps as possible in 10 minutes of:
75 pound Snatch, 30 reps
135 pound Snatch, 30 reps
165 pound Snatch, 30 reps
210 pound Snatch, as many reps as possible

My score: 37

I performed this WOD on a Friday after having set a 1RM Snatch PR of 125# on the preceding Tuesday. I have never snatched 135#. Hell, prior to that Tuesday I was told I had an ugly snatch! (Had to throw that in) As I got my bearings together for this WOD, I decided, I was not leaving the bar without getting 135# up at least once. After the first 30 reps, I changed my weight and with the encouragement of one of my coaches, I snatched 135# 7 times. I was overjoyed but also left wondering in a 1RM, what would I be able to do? You can absolutely do anything you put your mind to.

WOD 12.3: Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 18 minutes of:
15 Box jumps, 24" box
115 pound Push press, 12 reps
9 Toes-to-bar

My score: 4+24 or 168 points

Holy Shit! Before this WOD, I had literally jumped on a 24" box one damn time. These people want me to do it repeatedly 15 times!?! Aw hell, no time to quit now. I practiced a couple of jumps and then when the WOD started, so did I. I jumped like I had never jumped before. If I scaled, it didn't count. No way was I scaling this WOD! I did, however, learn some interesting tidbits from this WOD.

1. I CAN jump on a 24" box; so much so that I am now thinking I can jump on a 30" box! Why the hell not!
2. For some reason, the box jumps followed by the 115# push press meant I was totally out of breath and pressing that shit bar above my head was rough! Gasping and trying to catch a breath felt like I was drowning.
3. I am a toe-to-bar master! I cranked those out like they were nothing. I'm guessing I could breath during those!

Unfortunately I also learned another valuable lesson in week three of the CF Games Open. Make sure your scores are actually recorded. Despite my best efforts, my 12.1 score was not properly recorded meaning I am no longer in the running for the 1st prize cash. (I knew exactly what I would spend it on too!)

CrossFit really is for everyone!  always hear, "I wouldn't be able to do that!' and "I can't lift that." Sorry folks but I am calling bullshit! If you want it bad enough, you'll figure out a way to do it. Scaling is what will help you achieve your goals. You didn't run out of the womb; you shat, crawled, walked then ran. You scaled your early years, why not treat CrossFit as such and scale it until you can do Rx'd. And if you can't do the prescribed weight, who cares. We don't judge, we cheer you on and help you to get to the prescribed weight.

Now, WTF does 12.4 have in store for me........