Pain is temporary – Work today – Push today – Fight today – Rest another day!

What do you do after you have spent an entire day in the 100+ degree Texas heat in a parking lot filled with 200+ athletes who bleed CrossFit? After you laid it all out on the line and pushed yourself to the limits you hoped you always could? Lots of sweat, deep breaths and a hell of a lot of FIGHT….. you come back and do it again the next day!

Day 2 – WOD #3

For time:
100 Double Unders
3 Rounds of:
10 Deadlifts(185lbs)
1 Sandbag run(50lbs)
Then row 1K  

Everyone has a WOD that they would rather do over others… Some like the long and torturous MURPH, why why why??? Others like the fast and furious FRAN, some like one lift over the other. The strange part is that it isn’t always what is easy, I know I enjoy EVA — again why why why???? It is gut wrenching. I just LOVE the way I feel after I have set my focus on the task at hand and dig in and WORK! This 3rd WOD was one of those workouts.  I enjoy lifting heavy stuff, taking it a distance and fast (or try to do it fast).  I was certain that the nerves I had before CINDY were the worst I had ever had… NOPE.  I could not get it together before this one.  Every single time I do FRAN in the box I stand shins to the bar and feel like I could puke  just from butterflies in my stomach.  The performance I expect out of myself and the ability I want to have during the WOD is the hardest part for me. 

Warm up time…. I had the chance to watch a few heats and see how the girls carried the 50# sandbag and tried to create my game plan.  I was confident about the 185# deadlifts, that is usually the working weight we use in the box for our training.  I was NOT looking forward the 1k row at the end of the 3 rounds.  Starting off, I had to nail 100 double unders, usually this is not a problem at all. The last few weeks I just have not had the speed thru these that I normally do.

               

  3-2-1- GO and yeap, my feet and hands were not working together. I just had to get them done. I was much slower on these than I wanted.  1st round of DL’s, 7 unbroken, damn… I hear the team yelling at me to get on the bar… finish and move on.  I grab the 50# sandbag, toss it over my shoulder and try to run the 100 meters as fast as I can…………WHOAAAAA it’s a little rough on the legs after the other elements. 

I was NOT going to walk, I was NOT going to stop on this one.  THIS was the WOD I was looking forward to all weekend.  2nd round of DL’s… ALL 10 unbroken! HELL YEAH.   The sandbag run is what it is. I just took off thinking about running a race and I used each new face I passed as a new motivation.  It’s amazing how you can tap into the energy of others.

 3rd round of DL’s ALL 10 unbroken… this final run was rough.  I knew I had to come around that last curve and jump right onto the  C2 Rower and pull a 1k.  Come on legs and lungs don’t fail me now.  I hop in and take off, I had a GREAT view of the sun! I think at least 500 meters I had my eyes closed.  I had a chance to sit with a C2 instructor and dissect my rowing technique earlier in the day.  WOW I’ve been doing something right.  She actually didn’t have any corrections for me, so as I sat there in 106* with the sun blaring down in my face I tapped into my technique and pulled.  Rob had a mantra all weekend that it was “YOU AGAINST YOU” and I knew that even though I didn’t end with the fasted time of the day, I left everything on that playing field.

 

Day 2 – WOD#4 

Individual event 4 – Final Event
For time:
10 Muscle Ups
15 Handstand Push Ups
20 Squat Cleans
Run the Block

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD NOT FAIL?
 There are many things in life that we accomplish that we never knew we could.  Most of those things we didn’t wake up knowing we would be successful, we may have hoped but we didn’t KNOW.  This last WOD was a “freebie” for me.  I have been intermittently working on my gymnastics skills specifically on my muscle up skill.  Going into this workout most female competitors either had their muscle up or they simply didn’t.  I have been so close but haven’t nailed it yet. 

The hours before the heats began I decided to pull away from the crowds and go absorb.  I headed to the small space tucked away in the huge GSX space designated for athletes to warm up.  I walked in to see Whitney Welsch  helping some of the girls with technique tips.  I know first hand how amazing Whitney is as and athlete and every time I run into her at an event she is always friendly and a great help.  The weekend of my Level 1 Cert in San Antonio back in 2009 Whitney and I were paired up in the final WOD of the weekend. That girl smoked us all weekend and she still is blowing past the rest with a smile.  So I sat and took in every bit of what she said.  A few of us jumped up on the rings and worked through transitions then it became obvious we all just needed to be still and rest.As the heats were running behind more athletes filtered into the cool a/c of the warmup area.  

 

Time to head into the heat again. This time I was relaxed, I was going to go spend the next 15 min giving it ALL I had! The challenge was to get my very first Muscle Up.  You would think that standing in front of a hundred or so people about to try something you have never been successful at before I would have been a ball of nerves.

 So I asked myself.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU NEW YOU COULD NOT FAIL?

My answer was stand under those rings for the entire 15 min and NEVER quit.  In training, I had not been able to maintain my false grip once my feet left the ground for the kip.  Today I had prepared and watched the girl who successfully performed the element.  I heard 3-2-1- GO. No rush I said. You have plenty of time, just set it up.  And off we go. Holy cow I kept my false grip… wooowhoooo! That was step one for me.  Turn out of the hands- kip and swing- and pull. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH so close. I was getting one hand right where it needed to be but I just couldn’t put all the pieces together.  I had so much support from the crowd in front of me and from my Crossfit Texas teammates.  One voice came from directly behind me…  Candice Ruiz.  We first met in Dallas at the CrossFit FXTX Unleashed Games.  Candice took 1st that day as I pulled in 4th after a 4WOD day.  Ever since she has been a great support and encouraging me along the way.  So this day was no different.  She was right there with the rest giving me tips on my technique.  One of the top athletes (ultimately she took the weekend and placed 1st and is headed to California for The Games) was showing me the true spirit of Crossfit. 

 

These 15 minutes meant different things to each athlete. Candice and Whitney battled for the finish and 1st place.  I was in it for a “first” but a personal first.  Lauren, one of our athletes from Crossfit Texas had her moment and nailed her first muscle up and followed it up with a few more.  Ashley gutted it out and had a special someone in mind for this first ( a not so quiet Ninja that she trains along side in life).  Some would walk away disappointed that they never left the first element of a WOD. I wasn’t that person,not today. I had my PR in a bigger way.  I was at a Crossfit competition and doing more than I did last year.  That right there was my little PR! I look back and see that I was standing amongst so many amazing athletes and I earned that spot that day to be there.  I knew I could return home and my biggest fan Mekenzie would be proud of me whether or not I got a muscle up or had the fastest time or that I PR’d a lift.  The example that I was building for her was that no matter how low things bring you, it’s YOU AGAINST YOU and you have the choice to make it AMAZING!

TEAM CROSSFIT TEXAS

Crossfit Texas Affiliate Team

Six athletes battled for two days for a chance to take it to California.  I know first hand how challenging and rewarding the affiliate race is.  Last year I was part of the first team from Crossfit Texas to compete at the 2009 Crossfit Games in Aromas.  This year Brannon, Howard, Rob C, Becca, Terilyn and Heidi rocked some wicked WODs and pushed harder than I have ever seen before.  They were awesome! I had a chance to stand in and be a part of this experience.  The final Team WOD was in 106 degrees that Sunday.  4 Athletes each had 2 minutes to row a max distance. Total team time was 24 minutes.  Just before the WOD started,Brannon asked me to stand in as Team Coach.  HELL YEAH I accepted.  I’m not sure that anything I was yelling and the fact that I wouldn’t get out of their faces for the entire 2minutes helped…. but I was proud to be a part of that group.

Thanks to all the gang from Crossfit Texas – it was an amazing weekend and you all had a part in it! Thank you to all my friends and family that understand why I get crazy when I miss my workouts and encourage me to keep going. 

Thanks to CrossFit GP for the Old School garage gym WODs.   For pushing me to work my weakness in more than just the gym and reminding me to ‘HAVE FUN”!

 

“This aint no 8 second ride”

 WELCOME TO HELL’S HALF ACRE! YOU’D BETTER HOLD ON!

Two weeks ago at this time I was standing in the Texas heat amongst some of the best CrossFit athletes at the  South Central Regional Qualifier at GSX Athletics in Fort Worth.  60 men and 60 women from Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arizona fought their way to earn a spot at their sectional competition  to compete here.  I am proud to be one of four women from Crossfit Texas who qualified at the South Central Sectional held here in Austin and earn a chance to compete in Fort Worth.  This was my second year to compete at GSX at Regionals but it held a completely different weight than in 2009.  Last year I had only been doing CrossFit for 5 months when I headed into my first competition.  It was all about gaining experience and trying to improve.  This year the competition had qualifying events so the level of competition was loaded with  top athletes.  

I can still remember how amazing it felt at Sectionals when I heard my name called that I had made it into the top 30 and was able to move to the next level.  This was already a WIN for me! The fact that I am not able to train “full-time” like so many of the athletes can do has always weighed on my mental game.  My full-time jobs are MOM and Nurse.  I get to train other CF athletes at CrossFit Texas as much as I can and  I usually sneak in a WOD on my days off or crash the good ol’ garage gym across town as often as I can.  So making it to Regionals was a feather in my hat! 

I left for Regionals with something missing in me.  I had a rough time finding my HELL YA..GO GET ‘EM attitude the days leading up to the competition.  I was preparing to leave my daughter for a solid 3 days… and the only thing about that is that it SUCKS not being with her! I had a really hard time understanding and actually believing that this weekend was about me.  Yeap. ME.  I was going to compete in a sport that I love, one that I think I’m pretty good at, and with a great group of people who I train with everyday. SO WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?  Well, I decided to not worry about outside junk and put some blinders on.  Again, Mark told me the same advice he told me before Sectionals… “Have Fun”, it worked that weekend so I bought into it again.  

ROAD TRIP—– GSX or BUST! 

The gang from CrossFit Texas loaded up and headed North to GSX.  Robert, Ashley, Lauren and I were all competing individually and the CF Texas Team of Brannon, Rob C, Howard, Terilyn, Becca and Heidi were geared to compete against 27 other teams for one of 8 spots going to THE GAMES in California.  

CrossFit Texas Crew...ROAD TRIP

The buzz started the minute we checked into the hotel. Strange how a hotel lobby full of crossfitters just makes you feel like a badass. HaHa. No one was puffed up, no one was cutting eyes across the room at the competition (ok well, maybe we were all checking each other out, but in good spirits).  Now it was off to GSX for packet pick up and standards, gotta know what they want!!! It was 6pm and Crossfitters from all around packed in under the red tarp to hear what  Tucker and Matt had to say.  Details of exactly how we needed to perform each rep of each movement in order to be scored and continue.  Thankfully the WODs had been announced two days prior and  I had a chance to let them soak in.  

It’s Like CHRISTMAS EVE 

How did you spend your Friday night? I searched the hotel for an ice machine that had not been emptied out yet.  Going into competition with injuries is not ideal.  I have gone thru hours of Pin & Move work from Susan at Therapy Central of Round Rock , sat in ice baths to decrease the inflammation and trained around them to the best I could. (Training around an injury meant I did a lot of deadlifts… the thought of the 10rnds of 10 DL’s at 155# and 10 pushups is still PAINFUL. But you snapped me into place didn’t you! ;->) Tonight was no different.  In a few hours I had to do some of the exact movements that targeted those injuries dead on.  Sitting in a quiet hotel room alone the night before competition was not what I needed.  It let all the junk sneak in.  I talked before about how the smallest cracks in your mental game can open up like the Grand Canyon…. and it did.  All  I could do was just block it out the best I could and find some distraction… oh maybe I should SLEEP!!!  

Ice bath – check   ADVOCARE supplements – check, bags packed : lifting shoes, running shoes, the good ol’ “go to shoes”, yeah a girls gotta have choices!!! – check, NERVES – double-check.  GOOD NIGHT. 

GAME TIME 

Click here for a Video of  the Womens Competition at SC Regionals   

 

Day 1 -WOD #1 

10 bars 

Starting at 75# -Ending at 135# 

Each athlete has 45 secs to complete 

1 Power snatch and 3 Overhead squats or 1 Squat snatch and 2 Overhead squats 

First WOD of the weekend.  10th athlete to hit the ladder of bars.  I knew I could snatch 105# and I was hoping that with the hype of competition would PR on this lift.  A little rushed start on the first bar, but I knew it was only 75# so I just whipped it up and took the remaining 30 secs to rest.  85# again no problem. 95# for some odd reason, nerves maybe it didn’t sail up as it did in the warmup area.  At least it went up and I didn’t have any wasted reps.  Next bar was 105, I knew I could snatch it I just needed to stick it and get the OH squats done.  1st attempt fail.. DAMN.  I had run through this same lift in the garage with Mark to see how long I would have if I  failed my 1st attempt.  So I didn’t let it get me down that I missed this one.  Step back, shake it off and shins on the bar.  2nd attempt I went to what I know works and split it.  Split snatch and then 3 overhead squats. DONE!  The next bar went up by only 5# but damn it was not dialed in.  I again went to the split but I was not dropping under it enough.  I could feel the bar float to my shoulders but it didn’t turn over.  I was not about to give up! Every attempt I rapidly ran thru technique cues just as I hit the bar.  I actually go it over head in a split then got stuck… Another day maybe. Happy to at least get my max and I ended the day tied for 19th. 

 

Day 1-WOD #2 

Weighted Half “Cindy” 

As Many Rounds As Possible in 10 minutes 

wearing a 10# weight vest 

5 Pullups (chin past vertical plane of bar) 

10 Push Ups (full plank at top) 

15 Squats (hip crease below knee) 

This was the WOD I was dreading the most.  “Cindy” is not my favorite, and I knew I was gonna have to push through every ounce of pain to get as many rounds as I could to stay close to the top 20 girls.  The challenge today was that in our pullup we had to have our chin pass the vertical plane of the bar.  Basically without it officially being a chest to bar pullup…. it was a chest to bar.  I knew I could do chest to bar, but I wasn’t sure how it would feel with 10 extra pounds strapped to my chest.  The big square of metal outside GSX was lined with men and women weighted and ready to tackle the second WOD of the day.  I realized that I was in the exact spot I had been in during the 2nd WOD of the 2009 Regionals. That was a beast! 50 Chest to bar pullups THEN 50 burpees… I had not been training my pullups C2B last year so when fatigue set in I had more “no counts” than one would ever want….ohhh and it was raining. So this year I was not worried, heck, give me the 50/50 and I’d be fine!  My goat on this WOD was the pushups, always is.  So after I gutted out chest to deck I popped up for my squats. I see Rob H. right across from me and I focus in on his face.  It was a familar feeling of seeing one of my training buddies, my Coach, my friend in the same place I was.  I could hear his motivating “goofy” cues he usually tells me when I’m sucking in a WOD… Rob- Thank you!  I only pulled off 7 full rounds then 5 more pullups and 5 pushups before the time cap.  TOTAL = 7.5 rounds.  The best part was actually the pullups.  I felt strong and determined. EVERY rep I made sure was chest to bar and EVERY rep counted. 7.5 rounds and all solid reps… no wasted reps!  Now, try to breathe after that and be cinched up in a weight vest… I couldn’t even reach the straps to get out and had to have my judge unhook me.  Didn’t finish as well as I’d hoped but I knew I had left it all out there.  WHEWWWW 

 

DAY 1 is a WRAP! 

CrossFit Texas Crew at the end of Day 1!

Ashley, Me and Lauren before WOD 1

Lauren, Me, Ashley and Rob. End of Day 1 Individual Competition.

Day 1 is done and the 90 degree Texas heat has drained every bit of  ummpphh. What else would Paleo eatin’, CrossFittin’ fools do but go get a steak dinner….. the crew heads out for some grub.  As we all return to our rooms, we each carry our bags of ice for that oh so necessary ice bath and of course some night-time recovery.  

Day 2 … On to the next one.

Gittin’ Up in my Bidness


“It is a combination of Myofascial Release, Ischemic Pressure and Deep Tissue Massage with movement through targeted ranges of motion of the area(s) being treated. This lengthens contracted/unbalanced muscle and fascial tissue which helps realign the body structurally. When all of the components of the imbalance caused by traumatic injuries, repetitive stress injuries or postural deficits are corrected, pain is eliminated.” Therapy Central of Round Rock

Yes it hurts and YES it WORKS! I am a true believer that injury is not because I trained “too much”, but because I did not do the extra work. I am pretty good at making sure I get a balanced warm up and get prepared for the workout. What I have to admit to is that I have gotten away from static stretching AFTER my WOD. I was proud when I brought more stretching into our classes and saw the clients staying to stretch after class. I am usually sneaking a WOD in where I can so that I can get Mekenzie home and I can do Mommy things with her, that I rush out of the gym. BAD TRAINER, BAD ATHLETE, BAD example….

Injured List:
I have been nursing a bum shoulder for about a year… I know. I am a nurse, I should know better and go see a doctor. I DID… finally I had some sense knocked into me and I saw an Sport Medicine orthopedic Surgeon. Luckily nothing needing surgery. Then there is this nagging pull in my hip flexor… kinda important to be able to sit, squat, lift your knee, run and jump when you are training and doing CrossFit. The worst part is that it was hurting to do the fun things with my daughter. Again, it appeared to be a strain and in need of some rehab. …..THINK THINK THINK.

PLAN B:
Brannon reminded me of his friend Susan, a massage therapist (and now is where you insert the evil laugh). I have heard of a few places that are working in the myofascial release area and knew she was doing similar work with other athletes. I called to make an appointment and the receptionist asked what I needed… I paused….. “I’m not really sure”, I answered. I was hurting and 3 weeks of rest was not doing the trick. She reassured me that she would figure it out once I got there based on my complaints. So plan in action and appointment made.

The UNKNOWN:
Sure I train for the unknown, but not for this. My first appt. with Susan was all about what hurt and trying to figure out why. Now hopefully you read the first paragraph I posted from her website explaining what the therapy is all about…. because you need to replay that in your head when you have an elbow in your hip. hahahah. I will say this over and over… YES IT HURTS, but IT WORKS! I spent the next hour remembering how to breathe through childbirth. The Pin and Move therapy that Susan was doing was trying to release all that “junk” that was making other “junk” hurt.  After gritting my teeth and I think a few curse words, I hoped off the table and did a squat with a significant decrease in pain.  I hadn’t been able to do that in 3 weeks! Woooooooooowoooo!

I head back for a few more sessions and each time Susan was able to find another crazy spot on my that was super keyed up and referring pain elsewhere.  My 3rd visit was last week and we made significant headway in finding the source.  If I hadn’t been a ball of knots it would have released sooner.  My inner thigh/hamstring was so tight I found out what childbirth without the epidural I had would have been like.  Again, YES IT HURTS, but it works. 

Training:

Lately I have been training around my injury and trying to just keep moving. I’m blessed to have a source of motivation that keeps my head on straight and he knows when to tweak my mind the right way.  Today was the first WOD with squats in over a month.  New gym, back to the roots of the garage gym – no music to drown out the grunts, the moans or the fact that you can officially hear yourself loosing your breath.  No fancy air conditioner, unless the breeze shifted your direction.  No excuses! It was GO *Hard or GO HOME!  CINDY called our name today.  She’s a beast but it was a good battle! 

Slowly coming off the injured list is a good thing.  Once again I’m reminded that slowing down is good… unless you are doing CINDY.

*Special Thanks to CrossFit GP

Beauty in Strength

In the CrossFit Box it’s all about you.  Go faster, harder, stronger and all quicker than you did it last time.  It might sound vain to claim that when I walk up to a WOD, I am in a FIGHT against myself.  I recently talked about how I found out how much you learn when you slow down and how obvious things become in those quiet moments.  Some days you can cruz on those quiet moments and other times the light starts finding the itsy bitsy cracks in that foundation and turns them into the Grand Canyon. Part of what I found in CrossFit was how far I could push myself.  I read in the  CrossFit Journal article linked below, the question asking if it takes a certain type of women to do CrossFit or does CrossFit make you into that person.  I believe it’s both. Just as I learn how insightful slowing down is, I also have learned a halt to a dead stand still isn’t comfortable either. Back to finding balance.

I have always considered myself a confident, independent woman and will take on any challenge you throw at me.  CrossFit is a perfect match for me.  I may not be the fastest or the strongest, but if you want someone to push till the end I will give you everything I have.  It is all up to YOU on how the WOD goes.  We all know it’s going to suck but the feeling you get when you can yell “TIME” and drop to the floor in sweet exhaustion and joy that you just tackled a beast is what keeps me coming back.  I feel like I’ve been chipping away at earning my “CrossFit Chick” member card over the last year and 4 months.  There have been many highs and lows, times when I questioned my desire, questioned my ability and questioned my place amongst those other athletes.

The CrossFit Journal,  Beyond the Body, defines what a CrossFit girl/chick is. I will tell you that EVERY single woman who steps into a CrossFit box and looks at the whiteboard and says “ok let’s go”, has already found that place beyond the body! Gaining strength over our mental challenges is a much larger gain than any barbell we can lift.

CrossFit Journal-Beyond the Body

CrossFit chicks swim upstream. They battle against all the images of  female physical fitness that have been implanted since birth. They fight the self-limiting mentality put upon their gender community. CrossFit chicks possess a confidence, commitment and sense of accomplishment that puts them at the forefront of their gender. They know the anxiety of stepping up to competition. They savor the taste of victory. They sweat, suck wind and give their all. They are part of a community that snuffs out the mantra of popular culture—the CrossFit community. (www.crossfit.com) required reading!

As I read this journal article it reminded me of how far off my path I had gotten.  This day was NOT a good day in my little CrossFit world.  I DO CROSSFIT! I am not supposed to let my mind cloud with doubt, fear, and frustration.  I went to training this morning with a purpose…. unfortunately injury interfered with my training.  The WOD included running, clapping pushups and a rope climb.  I can run.. I can clap in  midair and do a solid pushup…. I can climb a damn rope….  Not staying true to my stretching and Trigger Point, I fell to injury.   I have been unable to squat below parallel, unable to jump, run or do any other move that involves hip extension.  So after painfully pushing through a wimpy warmup I decided it was best to switch to an active rest WOD.  Like a ton of bricks the mental battle hit me.  I walked out of the gym, sat outside and tried to figure out WHAT THE HELL I was doing!?!?!?!?  I knew exactly who I needed to talk to.  I may be a CrossFit woman, but I felt like I was fading away like Michael J Fox in Back to the Future when his future is being altered before his eyes. (ok that was hopefully the last random example I use..haha). I saw myself a year ago, not only as I walked into the CrossFit box for the first time with a “kick ass” attitude as my Coaches would say, but also mentally TORN down.  So I sat there and tried to figure out how I could have come so far in that mental and emotional whirlwind and still get slapped down over a WOD.  My very own Popeye opened up my can of spinach for me…. as I stewed away at my dissapointment, he said ” So, how’s that working out for you?”  DAMN he was right. 

 

My teammate, my friend and my newest accountability partner Terilyn, stuck around and we  found some quiet time to train.  With the huge garage door rolled up and the sunlight as our only light.  The rings hung down….. time to TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESS.  Working through every variation of transition work, dip work, false grip pullups… we did it, we worked on muscle ups. That was a great perk in my day! Thank you girl for sticking with me!

 

Second attempt at a WOD.  Round 1 Push Press, Back Squat, Overhead Squat… oh yeah, I can’t squat.  I made myself sub out of squats because I just couldn’t mentally handle another failed attempt to train and finish a WOD.  Sometimes outside variables … those situations, people, and events that you can’t control sneak in through those tiny cracks again.  This time I had a witness and I didn’t like how I allowed all of these variables to leave a mark.  Grumble Grumble Grumble… allow yourself to feel bad, to be mad, to GET PISSED OFF.  THEN, LET IT GO! 

One day on a max Deadlift effort I stood almost nose to nose to Ashley and told her exactly what I knew she needed to hear to lift that bar. She got a PR that night.  We almost cried in the emotion that was exchanged in that short moment.  This Saturday that I had been beat down, I walked across the gym to hear those exact words casually said to me. WHOA. That stopped me in my tracks.  What was actually said isn’t what’s important.  What is important, is the moment that we all have that makes us realize we are stronger than the itsy bitsy cracks in our committment.

Third attempt: WOD was told to me on that moment.  I immediately felt myself rise above it.  When you feel supported in every way, it’s amazing how your strength comes from within.  

10 Rounds: 15 Deadlifts 155#, 15 pushups. Great strength builder on my 1st pull … 5 rounds down then we decreased the weight to keep the metcon component.  HOLY CRAP…………… I”M BACK! 

 

Finding strength beyond what your body can lift, push, pull is what true beauty is.  That is what I define as a CrossFit Woman.  I will continue to work toward any title that aids me in finding my strength beyond my body.  Thanks to my own Popeye and knowing when to make me eat my spinach.