Being Crazy Isn’t Enough

The following is a guest post from Caitlin Carrigan, a fellow CrossFit athlete and Holistic Health Counselor.

She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she was trained in more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods.

Caitlin now offers health and wellness counseling and great recipes and nutritional advice through her company Long Live Food. In today’s post, she tells us about her experience training for her first ironman.

You. Are. Crazy.

These are three words I have heard many times in my life thus far. The most recent commentary has been in regards to me deciding to do the 2021 Ironman Texas in May. Before I go there, let me tell you why I decided to do this.

Tuff Love Comp Toes to BarMy family has a history of heart disease, and has sort of accepted that it is a normal thing that happens to people.

Basically, the opinion is that as you get older, you lose your quality of life, you get fat and unhappy, and you die.

Obviously this thought process doesn’t sit well with me. I firmly believe we are all in charge of our destiny, and can choose to live an amazing life, no matter what your size or genetic history.

Being Crazy Isn’t Enough

During college was when I first realized how much crap was in our food.

I started eating cleaner, and instantly eliminated lifelong digestive issues.

I also realized how terrible medications were. I saw how my father’s quality of life diminished quickly after he was put on multiple heart medications, and I decided to toss away anything I was taking for ADD and acne, and to not fill the prescription my doctor wrote out for “high cholesterol”. “You’re crazy”, I was told.

So, the Ironman. The Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. I have always had this event on my bucket list, and it was something to work towards.

Truthfully though, I only decided to sign up after my Boston Qualifying time of 3:34:02 was about 40 seconds too slow to make it into this year’s Boston Marathon.

So, in a fit of rage, I signed up, e-mailed the head CrossFit Coach at our gym, and started training the next week.

CrossFit Endurance is what I am using for my training, and the programming was designed by Caleb Diebolt at CrossFit Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado. Basically I train six days a week, and three of those days are more intense than the others.

Even of my day off, though, I am either hiking or biking for an active recovery. When telling people I am using the CrossFit endurance model for a full triathlon, the phrase “you are crazy” gets dropped on the daily.

But I have really learned to trust my training, and my coaches. My workouts are intense. For example, rather than running a 13-mile training run at a steady pace, I do 6-minute and 15 second mile repeats.

I do high intensity intervals that include dead lifting, and using an old school AirDyne bike (which I believe is the worst machine ever invented).

Being Crazy Isn’t Enough

This will be my first triathlon of any sort, so I am both excited and nervous. I just want to finish.

But ideally it would be awesome to get a time that I can be proud of. I also sort of want to prove the “haters” of CrossFit that it is a super effective program, and should not be dismissed (by the way, I Boston Qualified by only using CrossFit, and running, at max, a 10k. Another thing I was “crazy” for doing).

Lastly, the most important aspect of my training has been my sleep and nutrition. I burn through calories, but am pretty strict on eating unprocessed foods.

I abide closely to Paleo guidelines, but really try to never eat anything from a box. This has meant a lot of eggs, sweet potatoes, and vegetables.

I cannot stress enough how a low inflammatory diet has made me excel in every aspect of my life. My sleep, overall mood, and energy has improved.

My cholesterol is perfect. Plus, my performance is proof in itself. When I drink beer and pizza the night before a big workout, my time suffers, and my strength as well.

A typical day of eating looks like this:

  • Pre-workout: 1 egg, 1 piece of fruit, and maybe some oatmeal
  • Post workout: two eggs, 1 piece bacon, with broccoli or some greens
  • Lunch: huge spinach salad with turkey or chicken, and a ton of sliced veggies, balsamic/olive oil dressing
  • Dinner: some choice of meat with mixed veggies, sometimes with rice or quinoa
  • Snacks: Generally, nuts, fruit, beef jerky, rice and veggies, sweet potatoes, and almond butter & jelly sandwiches (shh, don’t tell)

All in all, I really want to get out there and help people understand you’re not crazy for your dietary or exercise choices. I am choosing longevity and a high quality of life.

I listen to my body, rest when I need to, and I never over train.

I sleep as much as I can, and eat as clean as possible. I try to convey this through my blog, Long Live Food, and work with people as a Health Coach to help them make positive lifestyle changes.

I truly believe an active, healthy lifestyle is the way to live, and I want to help as many people as possible get to where I am today.

Aye Kalimba: I don’t think we belong here

he following is a guest post from Kalimba Edwards, a friend, athlete, firefighter and self proclaimed “everyday soccer mom”.

Her current goal is to attempt one competition every month in 2021. She regularly shares her adventures on her blog Aye Kalimba – the training, the people she meets, the highs and lows, and the lessons learned.

Each month, we will catch up with Kalimba to hear about her progress. This month Kalimba tells us about her experience in May completing a duathlon with her son.

This is how I started my morning – May 18, 2014. I was a woman on a mission. Challenge #4 (I did miss April’s competition) was ahead of me and I was not going to let anything stand in my way.

After my daily morning meditation aka check Facebook while sitting on toilet (don’t act like y’all don’t do the same thing) I made Tyheem and I a power breakfast. Coconut, banana, walnut pancakes topped with apple butter. Mmmmm mmmm good.

Tyheem and I loaded the truck with my super fast yellow Giant bike and off we went. Minnetonka bound!

The entire way I could here Tyheem’s headphones blaring heavy metal. If you don’t have a middle school age child then maybe you don’t know.

They have headphones on CONSTANTLY! I was listening to Jill Scott and daydreaming of my PR race I was about to have.

We reached Orono school a bit late and hurried to get out stuff and go pick up out race packets. As we walked, we joked about our choice in gym bag, a Seward Coop brown grocery bag, and our lack of uniforms. We admired everyone’s nice bikes while I pushed my pawn shop buy along.

Being different from the crowd is nothing new to us. Our normal family activities include fishing, gun shows, outdoor game conventions and archery tourneys.

There’s not too many people that look like us doing those things, which is fine with me.

Then it happened. FEAR with a capital F.

When we walked around the school to the staging area all I saw were top notch athletes, fast bikes, and super fit people running real fast.

“I don’t think we belong here.” Ty says quietly to me.

“Me either. I mean, do you see one slightly overweight person here?”

“Nope,” Ty replies.

I ask him if he wants to go. He says it’s up to me. So, I made the command decision to retreat. We try to play it off like we were just going to warm up somewhere and hurry to the car.

While packing up the bike a guy next to asks “Not going to race?”

“Um.” I hesitate

“Tell him we have to go home and get our water.” Ty says from the front seat.

“Yeah, I decided not to.” That’s enough explanation.

We drive home, unload the bike, and I take off running.

“Go mom!!!” Ty yells after me.

Yeah, we were going to do a duathlon come hell or high water.

I listen to my run app till it reaches 1.5 miles then I run back home. I grab my bike and do the same.

After an hour I return home to find Ty waiting to finish the race with his running leg.

He returns 30 minutes later.

We hug and high five. We did it. Our first race is done. It might not of been completed where we thought it would but we did anyway.

Right where we belong, close to home and as a team.

Acupuncture for Athletes

The following is a guest post from Amy Kuretsky, a licensed acupuncturist and board certified Chinese herbalist.

She graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences University with a Masters in Oriental Medicine and studied specific stroke recovery therapies in Tianjin, China.

She is also the owner of Amy K Acupuncture in Northeast Minneapolis. Amy is an active CrossFit athlete and in her post discusses why all athletes should get acupuncture.

Kobe Bryant does it. So does McKayla Moroney. Dee Dee Trotter even brought someone to London with her in order to continue her treatments during the Olympic games.

What’s their secret to functioning at the professional athletic level? Acupuncture.

Once only thought of as a last resort for people with low back pain, people with conditions varying from autoimmune diseases to generalized anxiety are now turning to acupuncture for help.

This is especially true for active individuals. Athletes of all levels are embracing the benefits that acupuncture produces: quicker recovery time after strenuous workouts, help healing from injuries, less anxiety during competitions, and the list goes on and on.

Here are five ways that regular acupuncture treatments can help improve your athletic performance:

It relaxes tight muscles.

If you asked me to give you a single reason why all athletes should get acupuncture, this would be my top choice.

Tight muscles shorten in length and result in restricted range of motion. Pushing yourself to the limit with limited mobility is a recipe for injury, pain, and eventually time-consuming rehabilitation.

While acupuncture has great ability to treat injuries, its best utilization is to prevent the injury before it occurs.

It relieves pain.

Acupuncture causes tiny micro traumas that stimulate the body’s natural painkilling response. The nervous system signals to the brain to release small amounts of pain-relieving chemicals (such as endorphins, norepinephrine, and enkephalin) that can be 10-100 times stronger than morphine!

It increases circulation.

Acupuncture increases the amount of nitric oxide in the body [1]. Nitric Oxide causes the blood vessels to relax and to widen, thereby opening up the arteries.

This allows better blood flow to the heart, lungs, muscles, and everything in between. Increased circulation equals increased oxygenation of cells, therefore allowing for increased athletic performance.

It stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system.

While we no longer live in a world where we get chased by bears on a regular basis, we do live in a world full of high stress.

And guess what? Our bodies aren’t very good at differentiating between the two worlds. We continuously tax our sympathetic nervous system (our fight or flight response) and rarely give our parasympathetic nervous system a chance to do its job (rest and digest).

This can eventually result in adrenal fatigue and can take a toll on your ability to push your body to its physical limits.

Acupuncture sessions encourage parasympathetic nervous system activity – a perfect addition to an athlete’s rest day.

It increases mental clarity and focus.

People who receive regular acupuncture state that they have more energy during the day, sleep better at night, and have an all over reduction in anxiety.

This allows for better mental clarity and focus. As any competitor will tell you, mental clarity and focus is equally as important as strength and endurance during athletic competitions.

Your body can only bring so much to the competition floor. Your ability to focus on the task at hand and remove any extraneous distractions directly correlates to your performance.

So there you have it. If you have hit a plateau in your WOD performance or are looking for an extra edge on game day, try acupuncture. It will give you the boost you’re looking for.

[1] Responses of Nitric Oxide-cGMP Release in Acupuncture Point to Electroacupuncture in Human Skin In Vivo Using Dermal Microdialysis. In Microcirculation, 2009 May, 26:1-10

Aye Kalimba: Turn Down for What?

The following is a guest post from Kalimba Edwards, a friend, athlete, firefighter and self proclaimed “everyday soccer mom”.

Her current goal is to attempt one competition every month in 2021. She regularly shares her adventures on her blog Aye Kalimba – the training, the people she meets, the highs and lows, and the lessons learned.

Each month, we will catch up with Kalimba to hear about her progress. This month Kalimba tells us about how an unexpected accident made for a change in plans.

Everyone who knows me knows that I like to keep busy. If I don’t have ten things going on at once I feel like I’m standing still.

Most of this comes from having a naturally chaotic brain but some comes from my desire to succeed at knocking off goals on my ever changing “bucket list”.

I had every intention of making this the year of AyeKalimba. The year of the Gemini. This summer I was about to turn it ALL the way up. I mean, turn down for what? But as my mother always says, “Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.”

Exactly one month ago today my life got flipped upside down. Literally. I was riding my bike (super fast like my hero S1 of course) when a car side-swiped me.

My bike and I were both thrown about ten feet and I believe I landed right on my head although the details are still unclear.

I do remember sitting up and yelling “I’m all right” before the lights dimmed and I was out cold.

I still chuckle a little when I think of my immediate reaction only because my oldest brother and I always say that this is a clear sign of someone “not alright”.

I seriously thought I was dead or dying. Right there, with no I.D. and no one knew where I was because why would I wake someone to tell them I’m riding my bike at 5am? What’s that thing they say about hindsight?

Good thing in less dramatic fashion I regained consciousness to find myself alone with a broken bike and about two miles away from home.

I brushed myself off, cause that’s what a real OG does, and started the walk. I decided to call Josh to see if he could run a quick concussion screening on me from 30 miles away.

I really don’t know what I said to him. I think I made a lot of jokes and he laughed or maybe that’s because I think I’m always making people laugh.

Then I called my sister, Cassandra, who is a nurse and asked if I should go to Mercy or HCMC for a head injury. “Uh yeah, Cassie, sorry to wake you but for a head injury which hospital should I go to?” What kind of phone call is that to wake up to early morning?

I remember walking by a couple that I see every morning and thinking, “Just be cool.” Like I was drunk or trying to hide something.

I had an egg the size of a softball on my temple, I’m stumbling, and can’t see straight, walking my mangled bike and I’m worried about them thinking I’m not a good person. Crazy!

I get home, tell my husband he will have to drive me to the hospital and then take a shower. Yes, I said I took a shower – just like any emergency worker would do in that situation.

God forbid I’m not smelling fresh when I reach the ER. I’ve gagged too many times to put that evil on someone else.

Long story short, I was diagnosed with a moderate concussion the first day. I was told to rest for three days which I did (kind of).

On the fourth day, I worked out and ended up back at the doctor with a severe migraine. My moderate concussion ended up being severe.

I’ve been battling migraines and bouts of depression every since. One step forward, two steps back.

I’m thankful though because it could have been worse. If I didn’t have my helmet on I would have been dead.

There is no question in my mind about that. I’ve been off work for a month, which isn’t as wonderful as it sounds.

I’m one of those people that thinks work days are actually vacation days from the real hard work of wife, mother, housekeeper, blah, blah blah..

I would describe my last month as ‘letting myself go’ but everyone reassures me I was just letting myself rest.

I learned to be easy on myself or suffer the consequences.

What have I learned over the last month? To be easy on myself or suffer the consequences. I have also learned that if I don’t clean and cook everyday the world doesn’t explode.

I have learned that even if I eat gas station sandwiches and bags of chips while watching Master Chef, my kids and husband still love me.

I have learned that my mother is my angel, again. She is my strength and to see her worry about me makes me want to make sure I am well.

I pride myself on being the backbone of my brothers and sister, but I have learned that we all need each other equally.

They keep me sane, well as sane as I can be. I also learned that my friends, real life and Facebook, are pretty amazing.

Everyone offered a hand or hug and that made my heart smile over and over again. Special shout out to Rigor Nation crew. It’s times like this when you find out why the CrossFit community is so important.

This blog post may ramble, but I am nursing a head injury 🙂 Or maybe I always ramble. Regardless, be on the look out for my next adventure.

It was going to be MMA, but I’m guessing my doctor wont clear me for that right now.

Aye Kalimba: I’ll Get Better

The following is a guest post from Kalimba Edwards, a friend, athlete, firefighter and self proclaimed “everyday soccer mom”. Her current goal is to attempt one competition every month in 2021.

She regularly shares her adventures on her blog Aye Kalimba – the training, the people she meets, the highs and lows, and the lessons learned. Each month, we will catch up with Kalimba to hear about her progress.

This month Kalimba tells us about how the inspiration she found from her teenage son to keep going.

During the last couple months I’ve logged onto Blogger several times hoping to be inspired to write. Yesterday, I had all but wrote Aye Kalimba off as a done deal.

I told myself that the whole thing was pointless. After almost a year I struggled to think of any significant improvements that my “challenge” idea had produced.

Then, the Universe with its perfect timing guides me another way. In an instant, with one sentence from my son.

Ty, my oldest son, sent me a text message. He is a freshman this year and is trying his luck in wrestling. He has never really wrestled before but he didn’t let that stop him.

“Wrestling is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he texted.

“Really, are you sure you want to do it or just focus on football?”, I asked.

“Yeah, I’ll do it. It’s fine. I’ll get better,” he wrote back.

This made think – what happens if you challenge yourself to do something new athletically frequently? Will it sculpt your body into a machine?

Will you become the athlete you’ve always dreamed of being? Will you stumble upon your niche and end up in the Olympics?

Will you be able to publish that book full of fabulous adventures that you’ve always wanted to write? Will you lead a nation to become the best that they can be?

r maybe…You meet some cool people that share some great stories. You get some cute selfies and some pretty awesome group shots.

You get to dance in a boxing ring or ride your bike on a wall. You get to experience someone’s passion for a moment.

Maybe you get knocked out, come in dead last, or get lapped. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you will learn a thing or two while staying active.

But if you’re lucky…you will begin to break the ‘fear of failure’ cycle. You keep your children from giving up when things get tough.

You teach them the importance of following through even when the reward is very slim. Most importantly, you let them see you nervous, frightened, beaten up and in lonely last place because that’s where the most valuable lessons can be hidden.

“No, it’s fine. I’ll get better.” Something so simple, but yet it coming out of my teenager’s mouth is profound.

Sounds pretty much like life to me and if I don’t accomplish anything else I hope I teach my children that fear is a liar.

Tomorrow I will partake in my November adventure – the Thanksgiving Throwdown. It’s a three event Crossfit competition at my second home, Crossfit Rigor in Blaine.

This is my second Crossfit competition for the year, but with one big difference – my partner is my son Ty. I couldn’t be more excited and honored that he agreed.

His hard work and no nonsense work ethic will be a driving force for us. Plus, the fact that if I embarrass him he’ll never forgive me will light a fire under my ass.