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!