Friday, November 30, 2012

plotting and scheming on mah health

Made what was hopefully a first intelligent step towards getting my shit back together - went to my chiro yesterday to figure what the sam hell my shoulder keeps doing. Got jammed, poked, prodded, and bent about (which will be repeated basically every other day through this coming week, starting tomorrow) and told no apparent tears, dislocations, or arthritis. 

[this was immediately science failed by my instructor, who reminded me that xrays don't really show all of that... shit.]

I'll stick with the chiro, as it's never failed me before, but with a typically open/questioning mind. If it isn't working, I'll get a referral for physical therapy perhaps. 

What sucks was the marching orders to "use the arm and shoulder, but don't challenge it" - WTFF. Do these people not know me yet?! 

This really puts a turd in the punchbowl. I had plans, such plans, to plunge back into crossfit, lifting, swimming, grappling (ALL THE THINGS!!!!!) with a renewed splendor. Guess that's going to get scaled down to size a bit. But that's probably a good thing, given my penchant for red-lining things. 

Upon waking today, I was really just feeling the idea of adding back in supplemental lifting. I was in better shape when I was lifting more (meaning more than I do for crossfit, when I go regularly, that is), or at least I felt that way. So, I'm thinking I'll just add some leg work, some back work, core/rotational work, whatever seems fitting on the days I'm going swimming. 

Or just lift from the garage. It's really whichever. 
think I'll take an old lifting book with me to the woods today and see what plans I can't scratch out. if nothing else, hunting season is allowing me to catch up on some reading. great. pfft.

and also, damn, what the crap did they do to me? sore as hell from the chiro appt. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

there are few certainties in life...

however, one of those is this: Women's Grappling Camp always freaking rocks. Always. Irrefutably. I had to fight the urge to flick a lighter in the air pretty much the whole time. The sole drawback being that it's a camp. A short burst of excellence that acts as a much-needed springboard to better things and progress...

It's always that. Always.

It was such a real, real pleasure to be able to train in that setting, at a reasonable pace, with reasonable partners, from folks with faded black belts to white belts with only months of experience. The sense of community, of tribe, was also nice. I do hope that the founders and participants realize what value there is just in the culture they've created and fostered. I sometimes wonder if ladies who are fortunate enough to have schools with many, or even a few, other ladies to train with take it for granted.

[None of this I say in de-valuing my perfectly suitable male training partners, to be clear. I adore my mat brothers.]

Or maybe it isn't even a gender-based thing. Maybe it was just a matter of being able to train with people who were not remotely concerned with keeping score. Who were just as interested in you learning the move as they themselves learned it. Who would drill the bejeezus out of something until it worked. Who gave you their best without feeling the need to mash your whole life into the mats and then eat your soul and then post pictures about it on facebook.

Flow rolling = jiu jitsu crack.

It goes without saying it was amazing to train with so many champions. And I say that of all belt levels present. Everyone I met (and re-met) were class act individuals. I was already familiar with the excellent sort of environment that Emily and Val present at these camps, as well as the considerable heft of their own individual contributions. I consider both to be obscenely great resources and ambassadors to grappling, and not solely to women in the sport. I am extremely grateful that they continue to hold these camps. They already give so much through their writings, interviews, instructionals... it's nice to have access to those things as well, but I really cannot type enough about what fantastic hosts and people they are.

And speaking of hosts, Jen from 50/50 made all felt as though they were in their own home gym. After the hours I've spent studying videos from this team, it was really cool to see how people who get to have that sort of instruction all of the time roll. Jen made me feel like I was moving in even slower motion than I normally move in, and it was freaking awesome. And the ladies she teaches were also so adept. Must be one helluva program...

It's always cool when you meet someone and they are "as advertised"... I'd long ago been told what a cool person Lola (who also helps organize the camps) was, and how I need need NEEDED to meet her. Yep, Chrissy, you were exactly right. I especially appreciated her correctly reading that even while sitting on the injured list, I was absolutely dying to at least try some of what I was watching. Then again, I'm not sure I wasn't drooling at the mention of "takedown"... it may've been a lot more obvious than I thought...

It was great to see familiar faces, and to meet new folks with just as much interest in grappling (and warped senses of humor). Again, when you occasionally feel like Tom Hanks' character in "Cast Away", it is profoundly valuable to have that sort of easy, quick connection. Which was one of many epiphanies from my trip: I feel very disconnected in my life right now. Isolated, by choice. Life circumstances have left me walled up in defensive hermit mode, with good reasons.

I talk to people 8 hours a day as my job. It tends to be exhausting, all of that fluff interaction. My ears are wore out and dulled to human interaction. I am tired of people's bullshit and excuses and general "not-on-point"edness to the point I just isolate. But I'm also still carrying around the weight of recent familial FUBARs. Which is okay. It IS a lot to deal with. I've just been denying it and short-changing the gravity of it all for months. It isn't light. It isn't small stuff. And it's okay that it's crushing. Well, not "okay" but more like "hey, hoss, this right here is some serious shit you're dealing with, so don't feel bad it jacks up your swagger...."

And it has. Denial is a bitch, and she came to camp with me. She hogged the TV remote, used up all the towels in the hotel, didn't flush the toilet, and ran up a huge room service bill, too.

The first epiphany happened once I checked in to my room at the hotel. My shoulder decided to jack up again, and all I could think was "Oh no. Not now. I can't miss this training! Heal, you sombitch, heal overnight!" Then I walked through the short hallway to finish unpacking.

Hotels have brutally cruel mirrors in them. My own home has one: a too-tall-for-me bathroom mirror in which I can see if my shoulders are sunburned and if there's anything stuck in my teeth. That's about it. It certainly didn't let me see what a horrific state of disrepair and neglect I am in. Whenever I get a house (which should be soon), I'm putting full length mirrors everywhere. I'll never again let myself be so blindsided by my own reflection. I stared, slack-jawed, at my own image. What in the hell happened? No wonder I've been feeling like crap, getting hurt and/or sick all of the time! Look at me! I'm shamefully out of shape. I was genuinely in shock, to the point I felt compelled to spend the night (and quite possibly every spare waking moment) on the hotel treadmill. Holy shit. I am in trouble. This has to stop! It has to change! Commence freakout.

I honestly had no idea in this world. What a kick in the teeth.

Epiphany #2 (in a series, collect them all): that I am so out of shape is what is holding my jiu jitsu back. I am no longer able to compensate with strength - I will sadly admit that I am not as strong as I used to be. And my game suffers on both counts. I know that a strength-based game is far from ideal, even if I were in decent shape. But I'm in no shape to execute a speed-based game. Which is why that is also failing for me. I'd call this a crossroads, but it really isn't. If there were such thing as a cross-dead-ends, this would be it. No wonder nothing is working. No wonder I'm frustrated all the time by trying this move, now try this one, oh wait here's another move.

#3: the moves work just fine. It's me that isn't working.

I have been studying a host of instructionals and putting in research and work and reps on stuff and just not seeing a return on the mats. Emily's set being chief among them. I can see how and why what she's showing works. I saw it work for her and many others in camp. I saw myself easily handled by much smaller ladies effectively utilizing moves that we'd just been shown, moves from various sources... My own execution, however, was suspect.  It wasn't completely abysmal, I did okay in some instances, and better in a lot of other instances. It was nice to see some things I've worked on prove effective. Especially the wrestling, since I've devoted a lot of time and money to it.

Sidebar, or #3A: I need to find some way to improve my learning process. I'm not really sure what my learning style is, but it apparently is not what I've been doing in regular classes. At this camp, it was much, much more in tune with what I may need, since retention was much better than what I normally experience. I'm inclined to figure that much of that is due to ample reps and cooperative partners. What may also be at play was the non-rushed environment, the generally supportive air, consistent and frequent feedback. It may've been that I got to spend dedicated, focused, non-interrupted time on the moves. I'm not yet sure.

We worked gi all day the first day. First half of the day: standing guard passes of the non-smash variety (yay! new options!). Quickly, I realized that I reeeeeally need to develop at least a little level of comfort with knee on belly. I need to get over the thought of it being "mean" or a "bully move" (even if that is largely how I see it used at home). It is legit, and it's probably something I'd be adept at, given my preferences for a more mobile mount style.

Aside: I haven't mentioned that, from a BJJ fangirl standpoint, it was almost distracting the level of the participants and instructors at this camp. So many times, I found myself thinking "holy freaking shit - she did the PanAms, or ADCC, etc." and not just get completely lost in that. How huge it was. And yet all of them humble as could be... Class. Pure class.

Second half of the day I was elated to see some options from spider guard. When I first started being introduced to open guard, I was a big fan of spider guard. It faded over time, as it just wasn't a preferred style for as many (or any) people I trained with. That my brain wouldn't process options from there didn't help its proliferation or survival. I was especially pleased to see a simple triangle set up that was working even for my short nubs.

Unfortunately for me and my dumb ass, we also worked on some footlocks. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Okay people, we've all heard this a zillion times, but I had to go and prove it - when training footlocks, do NOT NOT NOT wait for it to hurt to tap. Tap your partner, not the nearby ground (where 30 or so other folks are ALSO training footlocks and tapping). And be mindful of tweaking (or suggesting tweaks) a move when it's nearly fully executed.

I can only presume that this is what caused my ankle to, later that evening, hurt like a mofo. Couldn't rotate it, couldn't put pressure on it, just BLAM out of nowhere it was hurting. Driving home on it was such a pleasure. NOT.

#4 wake up call: I'm collecting injuries like they're scratch & sniff stickers or something. And colds. Just weeks before camp it was walking pneumonia. Then my shoulder. Now this. What the crap? Was 38 another milestone age where everything just gives out? I knew better, but just in case I didn't...

#4 came with a side order of  a gentle HTFU (very loosely translated) from Val, whose opinions and advice I always listen to without question (which says something, as I generally question the living crap out of everything and everyone). Val pointed out I'm a couple of years behind her, and she is far from falling apart. And I know she's right. It isn't my age. It is, however, the state of neglect I find myself in. I am reaping what I have sown. Or failed to plant. Or whatever.

How embarrassing. To be so feeble. To break so easily. I really didn't even want to open my mouth any more, because I was just having to vomit excuses left and right. To have to ride the sidelines for the nogi session the next day and struggle through the first half of the day. And it's all my own damned fault.

#5 - in catching up with so many folks I'd met at the last camp I'd gone to, I also noticed that my own trajectory was sorely below the average of the others. I realize we're all on our own path, and we each have our own detours... but I've clearly had way more than I ever should've accepted. And it's something my own instructor has told me: "Jiu Jitsu isn't hard, it's all the bullshit that gets in the way of you doing it that sucks..."

Forced realizations are good things. And I had a host of them over the course of that weekend. A lot of things I'd suspected or wondered about, others I was completely oblivious to. The reality is my situation is now serious. Not insurmountable, but serious. I have to deal with the neglect of my physicality as well as my spirit. The world deserves a better me than I have been giving it for some time now. It all kinda hit home about 2 hours into my drive home, and I stewed on it until I had to pull off the road shortly after crossing back into WV.

I've had some really heavy shit on my shoulders for a long time now. And it has left me numb and unresponsive for a long time. I thought I was dealing with it as best I could, but I wasn't dealing with it at all. Just carrying it. As I retracted and played defense in life, I just shriveled and weakened. I put on a lot of weight. I lost a lot of strength and lungs and will. I've not been myself for ages. I've been me running on an old 9V battery that barely zaps one's tongue. I haven't had the energy for doing much else because I'm buried under too much bullshit. And it's affected everything - my health, my relationships, my jiu jitsu...

But it's okay. My eyes are open now. I'm awake. It all stops now. The climb out of it all begins now. I went to camp and would've been happy with just learning those passes, spider guard options, and the other things. Or with seeing old friends and making new friends. Or with the ridiculously cool opportunity to train with Hannette, Michelle, and Sakaya. Any of those were worth the hours of driving and cash. Instead, I got all of those things, and more. 

And I am totally going to start using spider guard again. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

pneumonia, my shoulders, and my AARP card

I'm not sure what karmic shitstorm I must've invoked, but my training has been derailed as though I should take a whole season off. Hardly what I had in mind...

I haven't decided if I simply work in a germ farm, or if I have the immune system of a disco coke whore from Studio 54 circa 1979. Regardless, I lost hundreds of dollars and weeks of training to what was dangerously close to pneumonia. I'm just starting to feel like myself again.

So now I start the process of starting over. At crossfit, at bjj, at everything. Annoying, but surmountable for certain.

Then I hurt my shoulder at wrestling practice. Couldn't lift my arm overhead. Couldn't shrug that side at all. Extremely scary and unlike anything I've ever experienced before. At least it didn't happen again since... just some random aching now and then.

Aging is kicking my ass hard lately. And I do not like it. And I cannot combat it the way I used to - with more reps, more effort, red-lining myself into being stronger. Those tactics now end up with me sick, hurt, or both. I have to get smarter about this.

More sleep, more water, better eats. Start there, then get on the dang mats.