This is a photo of Don, one of the awesome folks at my gym killing it on handstand pushups in competition. Spending a weekend watching competitors from my own gym participate was thrilling. It’s one thing watching athletes on TV, it’s another thing entirely to see people you interact with on a weekly basis completing superhuman challenges you could only dream of participating in yourself. (And by dream I mean… these challenges fill me with terror and bad nightmares… I digress.)

So I will admit utter terror when I read this week’s skill challenge:

Week 3 Fitness Challenge: Handstand Pushups

Team Effort : Total Handstand Pushups performed throughout the week.

Must be performed at CRCF, using approved scaling. Each athlete’s scaling must be approved by a coach and then upheld for the week. Any reps which are further scaled will not be counted. These must be FULL INVERSION. No Wall Kicks or Wall Climbs allowed.

Here’s the thing. I don’t really do “tumbling towards a wall” well. I don’t do cartwheels, and I can’t see the wall let alone six inches in front of my face if I take off my glasses. So I spent the first half of the week assuming that I’d just be that jerk letting down my team mates.

I woke up in the morning, and I was sick for a second day in a row with a killer headache and a low fever. But I decided to go into the gym anyway. I wasn’t aching, it was a strength day at the gym (low cardio), and my plan was to take it easy. In the past, I’ve found that breaking a sweat tends to actually break my fever, so I crossed my fingers and prayed.

When I got into the gym, I was a hot mess. I didn’t feel weak but my headache was miserable.


A.  Push Press – 8 min. to establish a 1 rep max (I took it easy, and only worked up to 70#)
Rest 5 min.
B. Deadlift – 8 min. to establish a heavy set of 3 (Good set @ 135. Not so good at 155. Won’t count it!)
Rest 5 min.

WOD:  “The Legend”
21-15-9 reps of:
Unbroken Thruster 95/65 (I scaled to 35#)
Unbroken KBS 1.5/1 (I scaled to Russian Swings – only to eye level instead of over the head.)

*Rest as needed between sets.  The sets MUST be unbroken, if you break a set you have to drop and do 10 burpees AND start the movement from scratch.  Don’t break, this is a mental game and we don’t want to see massive underscaling to complete quickly.  This should be your “usual” scaling.

Result: 13:36. Sweating, miserable… and fever broken! Never have I been so happy to finish!

And suddenly? Just as it came, the headache was gone. Except in it’s place? Insanity. In the next hour, I hung around with a patient group of folks, attempting to make it into a handstand. An hour… of just falling towards the wall. Over, and over and over again. An hour of slamming my palms down on the ground because I didn’t quite get that you could do this smoothly and efficiently. An hour of my glasses flinging themselves off enough times that I finally gave up and prayed that I’d be able to attempt this feat semi-blind. Until suddenly. I GOT IT. And I got it again. And dear sweet lord I was doing handstand pushups. And knocked out 50, because, for once in my life I had surprised myself so much that sheer ecstasy was fueling each rep.  So now I pretty much have no excuses left in life… because I. can. do. handstand. pushups. I’m not really sure what is happening here, but I’m guessing that it’s a good thing.

*              *               *

Okay, enough about that. This is a food blog. I assure you that I’ve been doing some good eating. When I got home from my morning adventures, I set about making this lunch. In the middle of the night, I had filled my Crockpot with beef shanks, garlic, peppers, onions and spices and then let it go through mid morning. By lunch, I fished things out, and mixed my falling apart shanks and vegetables with some leftover Rao’s tomato sauce.

In the afternoon, I realized that I hadn’t had my coffee, and that I’d really like a small cup. I drank about half – for me, the act of making the cup of coffee, the aroma, and clutching the cup with warm hands is often more important than the coffee itself. This is probably an expensive habit given all of the overpriced coffee I drink, but I’m unapologetic.

At night, I met up with a high school friend for tea at Porter Square Books – a bookstore/cafe hybrid that is one of my favorite places in this city. This may have been the first time I’ve been there without leaving with half a dozen new things to read – but we were too busy catching up to browse.

By the time I headed home it was dark and too late to cook – so I headed to Super Fusion II to pick up Japanese food! After a month of craving our favorite takeout, I finally caved, and indulged in a big plate of sashimi – tuna, yellowtail, salmon, and scallops, over an extra portion of daikon. Instead of soy sauce, I used my own coconut aminos.

I wish I could end this here, but I have a blasphemous admission. After a few bites of some really excellent sashimi, I realized that what I really wanted was warm food. So I did the inconceivable – I took my fish into the kitchen, seasoned each piece with salt and pepper, and seared them off. And that’s my dinner plate – some mighty good fish.