Retreat, Regather, Regain.

Well, it’s been an interesting week so far. Filled with various stressors initially but, today at least, taking a turn for the better.

I’ll start with what most of you are probably wondering about: CrossFit Zenith. This week, after so much time getting to this point, we finally got a first draft of the lease. All thirty-one pages of it. In lawyer-speak. Ugh. But we looked through it, as did our attorney, made a loooot of corrections/changes/improvements and sent it back to the owner. Now the waiting begins anew.

In addition to the expected stressor of having to wait for a reply, being this close to a lease means other kinds of stress as well. Now it’s not only time to start making those final decisions on what equipment we’re getting and from where, but it’s also time for… the web site.

I wanted to put up a maintenance mode placeholder so I could tinker behind the scenes. Rather than tracking down all of the local tools I used to use to build sites, I figured I’d do it like a regular mortal and get a template that’s pretty close to what I want, customize it through the WordPress backend and be done. Sounds like a brilliant plan if you don’t take three things into account:

  1. I’m a PC person, not a Mac person. I need to be able to not only tinker under the hood, but I need to have obvious stuff hidden. If you give me a big red “Click to Do It” button, I won’t see it. If I have to dig through ten menus to find the “Do It” entry, I’m much happier.
  2. I’m a perfectionist. If you want to get a perfectionist away from you for a bit, give them a website with a logo that’s five pixels off.
  3. I’ve forgotten how much I really hate web programming.

So yesterday was quite a frustrating little day. After beating my head against a wall for much longer than I’d care to reveal here, I have a coming soon page up that I don’t actively hate. Assuming I don’t look at it on an iPhone, that is.

To add to the frustration, I haven’t slept well at all the past couple of nights. In addition to the mind racing through CrossFit equipment and grousing about CSS as I lay wide awake in bed, there was something even more insidious.

Last Tuesday, I had a CT of my chest and abdomen. My left collarbone has been doing weird things on clean & jerk days and is noticeably different than the right one. Back when I got diagnosed, they took a lymph node from the right side that’s right about where the left collarbone is poking out. My oncologist thought it was probably nothing, but since we’re going to be signing a very expensive lease someday soon, I figured it would  be best to play it safe and talked him into a CT.

The chest portion was fine, but there was something strange on one of the kidneys that was hard to identify. I discovered this when the Health Plan called to set up an appointment for an abdominal ultrasound out of the blue. That didn’t freak me out at all. To make things even better, that sono was scheduled for today, which means a week of “WTF” lurking in the back of my head. The past couple of days, it’s been coming to the forefront a little more often, so that means even less sleep.

This morning after another restless night, I drank my water and went to get my sono. She saw something a little indeterminate as well, so I got to go home to fret. Now I’ve got my health, our gym and a website all looming over me, weighing down my brain. It was then that I made the best decision of the day: time to lift.

I needed something to focus on, so rather than the scheduled metcon I decided I’d do the oly class’ WOD so I could lose myself in form and technique and blot out everything else.

Guess what you need to oly lift. Your brain and attention. I put my hands on 95 pounds for a snatch that… saying it didn’t work is putting it kindly. I mobilized a little more and still couldn’t get into the squat quick enough. Maybe if I switch to power snatches? Nope. Maybe if I grab a 15 pound bar and run through my technique? Nnnope. Now, not only am I diseased, frustrated, tired, overwhelmed and hating technology, I can’t lift either. Great.

Rather than throwing myself against the bar over and over and just pissing myself off, I took a step back and warmed up my brain muscles. Technique sucks today and going home now is not an option. That means it’s wheelhouse time: back squats.

The oly workout had percentage back squats in it, so I had already looked up my 1RM. The only problem was, I looked it up by looking at our gym leaderboard. There was my old 340# PR, lurking in second behind CoachPoach’s 360#.

The late Col. Jeff Cooper observed that ‘the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.’ It is our observation that men will die for points. – Greg Glassman, “Understanding CrossFit”

So I turned around to the rack and started loading up the bar. Made my way up the warm-up rep ladder feeling pretty good. A little creaky at 225, smoother at 295, smoother still at 315. Interesting. I throw 25 more pounds on the bar and easily tie the old PR. This could be a good day. However, I’ve moved a lot of weight so far, and I’m already thinking of how I’m going to get to that 360. Not wanting to waste time with a lot of building weights, I jump up to 355. Fifteen pounds over my PR.

The late Col. Jeff Cooper observed that ‘the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.’ It is our observation that men will die for points. – Greg Glassman, “Understanding CrossFit”

The 355 went about like you’d expect a fifteen pound jump over your PR would go: directly to the ground, where it stayed after I dumped it.

I had already been thinking about doing some deadlifting after the squats, so it was convenient that the bar was lying there waiting to be picked up. But in the back of my head was that curiosity. What if I wasn’t a dumbass and just went up a little bit in weight to get an easy PR? Now I was faced with a decision: forget the PR for the day and start in on the deadlifts or strip a LOT of weight so I can get the bar back in the rack.

The late Col. Jeff Cooper observed that ‘the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.’ It is our observation that men will die for points. – Greg Glassman, “Understanding CrossFit”

Yeah, I stripped the weight down and went back to the rack, loading up 345 this time. Down and up, no problems. 350? Down and up, no problems. Remember me talking about superstition in the last post? Because obviously the only reason I failed at 355 before was because the 5 pound plates I put on were unlucky. So instead of a 5 and a 2½, I put three 2½ plates on each side.

New lifting rule: when in doubt, go with superstition. 355 wasn’t cake, but it went up and back in the rack. Now I start to look at just how small those 2½ pound plates look. It shouldn’t be too hard to do the lift again with two of those itty bitty plates on it, right? And just in case this is the last lift of the day, I’ll put these little ¼ pound rings for no underlying devious reason. That’s right, math wizards: 360.5 because I’m an asshole like that.

The late Col. Jeff Cooper observed that ‘the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.’ It is our observation that men will die for points. – Greg Glassman, “Understanding CrossFit”

I chalked my shoulders, tightened my belt and approached the bar. As always, that first moment is filled with no other thought than “Holy CRAP this is heavy!” Toss that thought out, squat down, stand back up, put it in the rack. Done.

What started off as a really crappy day that was only heading lower turned into a 20.5 pound back squat PR. The trick is knowing when to find the pattern to turn things around. Stop what you’re doing and take a step back. Think about what’s happening and why. Step back into it and succeed. Retreat, regather and regain.

And superstition. Always believe your superstitions.

To top off the day (since Barb pointed out I didn’t include it), I had an email from my oncologist waiting for me when I got home: the kidneys are fine. Booyah.

Stevie Wonder was Wrong

First, let’s get the casual readers up to speed.

Naturally, a lot of things happened between my certification and now, including becoming the gym manager at CFNH and the social media guy. Writing the CFNH blog every day took the vast majority of my CrossFit Creativity, so this blog suffered as a result. Eventually I became just the social media guy (as well as a coach throughout my tenure), which meant a little less responsibility but was still taxing on the creativity side of things.

What’s changed to justify dusting off the old blog? I’ve stepped down from my role as the CFNH blogger as one step along the path to running my own CrossFit box. I’ve given myself a bit over two weeks to let my brain recover and start thinking of more great things to say about CrossFit. I’ve decided that I’ll spend this blogging time giving you folks some insight on what it takes to open a CrossFit box nowadays (hint: expect lots of freaking out). The other thing that kept me offline for the past couple of weeks was not knowing where the box would be and letting my superstitious nature keep me quiet.

If you know any motocrossers or hockey players, it will come as no surprise to you that I’m more than a little superstitious at times. I’m usually okay with the generally accepted superstitions: no qualms about the number 13, black cats can walk wherever they want and the only reason I don’t walk under a ladder is because I don’t want something dropped on me. The majority of my superstitions tend to be personal ones, often of the “I was wearing this the last time something good happened” variety. One of the things I’m relatively consistent about superstition-wise is the feeling that talking about good things before they become a reality practically ensures they will never come to be. This was starting to become the case with our #1 location for the new box.

It’s hard to not be excited about something as momentous as opening your own CrossFit box as well as your first business venture, and with excitement comes loose lips and subsequent sunken ships. Especially when you find the PERFECT place for a box: an out-of-the-way gymnasium with its own baseball field which shares a gigantic parking lot with a referral engine Planet Fitness. You would actually have to drive past the Planet Fitness to get to us. Awesome.

We originally found the location on LoopNet, a site catering to commercial properties. When we first tried to find the place, we drove around in circles for a good ten minutes. Once we finally found it, a ray of light broke through the clouds and choirs of angels started singing. Even before talking to the realtor, I was already dreaming up prowler and wheelbarrow WODs for the field next to the gym.

Meriden Color BirdsEye
So much room for activities!

We created our LLC and submitted our affiliate paperwork and set up an appointment with the realtor. Turns out the inside of the place was pretty grim. It had been empty for the past 7-8 years and on the market for the past 5. There was a lot of disrepair and some downright creepiness, but Barb and I have rehabilitated old places before. After you’ve pulled fused-together dead rats out of a wall in a 1910 Victorian house, there’s not much that will faze you.

We got home, checked our financials and put together an offer. Since we called their realtor out of the blue, it was basically up to us to do the negotiating. Since there was a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo to go through as well and since our WODtime consigliere isn’t licensed in CT, we tracked down a real estate lawyer to give us a much-needed hand.

History and superstition were beginning to prove me right, as our negotiations with the landlord kept dragging out and getting bleaker and bleaker. The breaking point was when the landlord talked to some contractors and decided our list of tenant improvements (things like “fix broken windows, put on a fresh coat of paint, make showers less rapey”) would mean the price per square foot would need to go up an extra $2 from the original listing, close to an extra $1500 per month, or almost $87k over the span of a 5 year lease. Woof.

At that point, I decided that sadly, we wouldn’t be getting this space. Between my superstition and the interactions we had up to that point, it appeared that it was time to look elsewhere. We talked to a tenant representative (someone who tracks down places, shows them to you and does all of the lease negotiations) and it turned out he was good friends with the realtor we had been talking to about the property. He gave the realtor a call to see where their side of this negotiation stood, since we were reluctantly ready to walk away at that point.

That lit a fire and got things rolling again. I continued with the story that negotiations were falling through because again, superstitious. Superstitious for good reason, I might add, because we’re about to sign a lease for the new home of CrossFit Zenith in Meriden, CT.

Fuck yeah.

As I type this, we’ve just had an offer to meet in the middle price-wise, so we’re looking at signing a lease for this place soon soon soon. It’s now time for me to step away from the computer and dance.