James can be reached at TwinFreaks CrossFit, where he is an owner and trainer. James coaches barbell lifting classes and CrossFit classes. Contact him by email at james@twinfreakscrossfit.com or by phone at 720-204-2631.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Mile High Sprints and Beyond

I started 2012 by quitting halfway through the New Year's Day WoD when I realized I was not just in pain but actually injured.  Aside from squatting every week and doing one hard 500 meter row, I've done nothing this year.  I realized I'm unprepared for a 2,000 meter row, and trying to do one in competition would only be demotivating, so I decided to race only the 500 meter sprint at this year's Mile High Sprints.

All I can say is that I desperately wanted to win this thing.  I was racing against some friends I wanted to beat.  I was racing against some rivals I wanted to beat, and I was - and am - truly afraid this would be my first and last competition in 2012 with my shoulder injured.  I thought that winning outright was realistic, though I knew it would require coming up with a career best day.

Before the race, I got some accidental and well-meaning advice to hit a pace of 1:14/500 before settling down to race pace.  Entirely of my own volition, I tried to do that.  I remember seeing the monitor go to 1:17/500, and Mike D told me later he saw 1:16/500.  I only know that I chased 1:14 too long before I backed off, and that I had one of the worst 500's of my life.  200 meters in I had the pain that is normally reserved for 300 or even 350 meters, and only Mike D's screaming kept me pulling.

I finished tied for second with a time of 1:26.2.  That's not at all a bad time for me, but I think I can still do significantly better by racing smarter.  I'm sure, though, that 1:26.2 was my absolute best on January 21st, 2012 at 1:20 pm.  I laid astern my erg as long as propriety allowed, then I got up and started walking across the basketball court where the race was held.  I made it about 3/4 of the way across before my legs collapsed again.

James Falls the Second Time

In retrospect I think a second place finish was the best thing that could have happened to me, and finishing first would have brought nothing but bad luck.  I suspect that even had I finished first, I wouldn't have gotten any product endorsement contracts, and I might have felt satisfied sitting around doing nothing while I wait for whatever my shoulder needs to do.

As it is, I'm fucking pissed.  If both of my arms mostly work, I'm going to be doing concentrated work on high-repetition squatting with a goal of hitting 315 x 20 this year, and if I end up unable to hold a bar, I'll be doing high-repetition belt squatting.

In any case, I realize I still have work to do, and if it's not the way I had envisioned this year going, I'll still be doing the work.

I went to the orthopedist last week and got a preliminary diagnosis of a posterior labrum tear.  Yesterday I got an MRI so the doctor can confirm the diagnosis and recommend a further course of action.  I have to admit the procedure scared me.  I was told they would inject dye into my shoulder joint, and four or so years after, I still remember how much it hurt to have cortisone injected into my shoulder.  This was actually very close to painless.  The doctor doing the injection took an x-ray to make sure the needle was directly inside the joint, and when I got off the table the picture was still up and illuminated.  I had a hard time believing that big-ass needle was actually shoved that deep into my shoulder, but I was told that yes, that was really a picture of my shoulder.

Where the fuck is my cute animal band-aid?
I go back Friday to see what the doctor makes of the MRI.  Since I first went to the doctor I've been reading about labrum tears, and I do seem to have all the symptoms.  I have some pain, which I could certainly live with, but much worse I have a sensation of my humerus being loose and sloppy in the socket.  It feels like even the slightest erratic motion could pop my arm right out of the socket, and apparently dislocations are one of the prime complications of labrum tears.

In all, this anything but what I wanted.  I'm happy at least that I have the process of figuring out what to do next underway, and I'm sure I will grind out some progress this year.

I'll see the doctor Friday; I have the Denver Indoor Rowing Championships Saturday.

It can't be bad to disregard medical advice for just one day.

At the DIRC's as opposed to the Mile High Sprints, I'll be racing within my age group.

It won't be as satisfying as winning an open race, but I should be able to beat old fuckers with one arm if I have to.

Friday, January 20, 2012

500 Tomorrow

I don't know what will happen.

Some guys will row like this.

I don't control what anyone else does.  I'm going to row like this, and hope for the best.

I'm going to eat, read, and go to bed early tonight.  Thanks to all my well-wishers!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rats of Reality

It's hard, but with some prodding I've decided to confront the Rats of Reality.

My shoulder just doesn't work, and that's not easy for me to deal with.  I have an appointment with the orthopedist next week, and while I suspect it can't be good, I'll at least figure out where I am and what I have to do to return to training.

Probably the worst case scenario is that I'll be doing rehabilitation work with a light band while driving my squat to and past state record territory.  My big fear is simply that I won't be able to CrossFit and by the time I squat 500, I'll weigh 300.

I'm realizing that the missing new year's resolution should have been to figure out how I should train, and then to tolerate no deviation from my training plan.

Going forward my progress will largely be determined by how smart I decide to be.  I need to quit being stupid.


As the person who prodded me into seeing the doctor astutely pointed out, calling the doctor today will yield an appointment next week at the earliest.

And between today and my appointment next week are the Mile High Sprints.  I'm doing the 500 meters as stupidly as if I'll never get to be stupid again.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Triple Bodyweight in Watts

Thursday, January 12th, 2012.
With ten days until the Mile High Sprints, I thought it was time to actually register.  Somewhere hiding in my inbox at work I finally noticed an e-mail claiming I had been paid again, so I went to Regatta Central and began registering. 

I facebooked - what a terrible new verb - MikeD and found out he is okay with me doing the 500 meter sprint only this year.  In truth, if Mike required the 2k, I'd be doing the 2k no matter how much I don't want to, but I seem to off the hook until 2013.

I realized that I know several of the competitors who have already signed up for the 500.

These guys are taller than me, they're stronger than me, and they're younger than me.

I though I had better do another maximal effort 500 meter piece and see how I stack up this year.  With the 6:30 pm class at TwinFreaks CrossFit providing me wild and vocal support, I charged out at 1:18/500.  As always I was focused on the split time, and I had no sense of where I was in the 500.  At some point I knew I was in trouble, and I backed down to 1:24/500 which I held until I completely fell apart about 300 meters in.  Under heavy cheering I was able to mount a feeble but real sprint, and I finished in 1:25.7 seconds averaging 556.1 watts.

I really didn't expect that to happen, but I knocked off a long held goal of doing a triple bodyweight in watts 500.

I ended up on the floor only very briefly - thanks Hricko for getting me out of the stretcher - heaving as though I'd die.  After only a few minutes. my breathing subsided to the level of just having run a 10k and finished with a sprint where it stayed for the next 90 minutes.

I gave myself the Fran cough, and I feel as though I may have given myself pneumonia.  Quite unlikely, but I do feel horrible this morning.

I'm ready to report January 21st and compete against the taller, stronger, younger guys.

I have a better mustache, I'm more loved, and I'm less afraid to die than any of them. 

Also, of course, I have a heart full of napalm.

My high goal for the Mile High Sprints is the same as always: I want to blow apart a flywheel and kill 30 spectators.

My middle goal is to make one or more of the CSU guys quit rowing.

My low goal is to pr - I think I'm good for a sub 1:25 if I can only find a loud person who has zero regard for how much pain I'm in.

This shit should be fun.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

FB Chatting the 500 Meters

Blake Severson
Report · 9:04pm
hey man
hows it going
James Drebenstedt
Report · 9:04pm
it's okay
got an erg race coming up
Blake Severson
Report · 9:05pm
you gonna do it one armed?
James Drebenstedt
Report · 9:05pm
well it seems like my shoulder can take the rowing motion
it absolutely hates any erratic motion though
pulling straight and level seems to be okay
and in 500 meters I wouldnt notice if my arm came off anyway
Blake Severson
Report · 9:07pm
Blake Severson
 James Drebenstedt
Report · 9:08pm
yeah, probably someone would just lay it nicely on my heaving chest
Blake Severson
Report · 9:08pm
that would be nice of them
James Drebenstedt
Report · 9:08pm
Blake Severson
Report · 9:08pm
chriop practor thinnks  my shoulder is gonna be fine
James Drebenstedt
Report · 9:08pm
last year two hours after the 500m they were still asking me if I was okay
Blake Severson
Report · 9:09pm
wow man
James Drebenstedt
Report · 9:09pm
they are very nice at these things
the object is to be mean to yourself
Blake Severson
Report · 9:09pm
got ya
James Drebenstedt
Report · 9:09pm
hey I think I'll blog this
people should know how hellish this really is
Blake Severson
Report · 9:10pm
sounds good
anyone going to watch you?
photo diary the devolution of your body over 500m
James Drebenstedt
Report · 9:10pm
My main man MikeD will be there
Probably taking the University of Wisconsin's own Anaya Stout
yeah I'll take a photo journalist
there is really nothing like the "misery face"

Monday, January 9, 2012

Destroyed but not Defeated

Monday, January 9th, 2012

I wanted to move today both to assess how fucked I am and to preserve some sanity.  I knew I neither could nor should do the Workout of the Day with burpee pull-ups, but I thought it might be a decent idea to feel out the front squat.  I took some time to figure out I could get into a good rack position, and then with C.H. and M.T. I began working towards a maximal triple.  I did 275 x 3 which felt fine, so I decided to try 305 x 3.  I pitched forward immediately on the first descent, and as I felt an angry twinge of pain in the abdomen, I decided to dump the bar and call it a day.

I don't know if I've admitted any weaknesses in my blog before, but abdominal pain is one of very few things that scares me enough to make me stop what I'm doing.  I've had an inguinal hernia already, and while that is an extremely ugly injury, mine at least was remarkably painless.  I have heard, though, that other hernias are excruciating, and I have no desire to further my expertise.

I knew that I needed to find out what erging would do to my shoulder, and I was entirely lacking in confidence.  Random things, getting dressed for instance, cause sharp pain in my shoulder, and I didn't see how I would be able to pull on the erg handle without something bad happening.

I considered doing a long slow distance row, but if I am going to race this year I'll need to be able to pull hard, and I didn't think it would make sense to do anything less than to pull as hard as I could.

I thought about doing a 500 meter sprint of course, and I quickly talked myself out of that.

I thought about doing a 250 meter sprint, and I quickly talked myself out of that.

In the end I decided to revisit one of my favorite things in the erging universe, the three stroke max.  The idea is to put the damper on ten, take three strokes, and see how many watts you can generate.

I tried once and got something forgettable, low 600's I think.

I tried again and got 660, which is not bad for me but is lower than my pr from just about a year ago,722.

I was not feeling any pain on any of these, so I decided to do one more.

I know now what six seconds of flow feels like.  I can't quite put it into writing.  My best try is like this: though I never came off the erg's seat, at the end of the third stroke I was off the erg's seat.  I was looking at the ceiling and marvelling at how comfortable I was perfectly balanced on the rail.  Normally I absolutely hate coming off the seat.  It ruins whatever I was attempting to do, and it usually hurts as well since it's the result of some spastic motion that hurls me to the rail instead of me just suddenly being on the rail.  There was nothing brutal about this one: the erg was there, and then the erg wasn't there.

It was peaceful there looking at the ceiling, but I knew I had to sit up and look at the monitor.  It couldn't be good and yet it might not be horrible.

In the CrossFit Journal article that started my fascination with the 3rm last year, it's said that the Canadian Olympic team considers 1100 watts good.

I'm clearly not an Olympian yet.

I'm Destroyed but not Defeated.

I think my arm will stay attached for the 86 or so seconds it will take me to sprint 500 meters January 21st, and if it does come off, well, that will be pretty fucking cool too.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January 2012

Sometimes maybe it's necessary to be tricked into writing a blog.  I logged into Blogger in order to comment on TwinFreaks CF blog, and then I tried to do the TFCF blog but noticed I was here at BarbellMile.  Apparently it's true; I can run but not hide.

Yesterday was the first time in a week I've done anything, and it was a light squat session topping out at 2 x 3 x 310.

I think, or better at this point I should admit that I know, that I've fucked up my left shoulder bad.  I'm pretty sure it's a rotator cuff problem since both internal and external rotation are painful, while scapular elevation is excruciating.  Even with the insurance I now have, I'll probably wait a couple weeks and see if it gets better on its own.

I think I had wanted to do an early January blog on goals again, but I find myself not wanting to think at all about goals.  I've probably blown all mine for 2012 already.

At least I can still get a good, tight rack position for squatting.  I'm reminded that two years ago my left hand was splinted together to support my newly dislocated pinkie, and all I could do was squat.

This is not easy for me because I'd like to be doing a lot of things physically, none of which are now viable.  It's not easy for me not to cry here again.

I know, though, that I won't make up a pitiful story about how no matter how hard I try I end up fucked every couple of years.

It's true that January 2012 looks a lot like January 2010 with me doing nothing but back squats.  But if I look closer, 2012's work sets are 85-100 pounds heavier than 2010's.  I'm going to try to prove the current 1rm is in state record territory.

I know - because I actually tried this - that I can do a pull-up but it makes me scream.  As bad as that is, it would be a fuck of a lot worse if I wasn't devoting myself wholly to getting really fucking good at the one thing I still can do.