the fittest on earth

The CrossFit Games is one of my favorite times of the year. The CF season is quite long- Hundreds of thousands of individuals from all over the entire world complete 5 different workouts over 5 weekends in the CF Open beginning in late February. The top athletes from 17 regions around the world move on to compete in a three day competition at regionals. From regionals, the top 40 men, women, and teams along with 80 teenagers and 240 masters move on to compete for 4 days at the CF Games. The CF Games are like the Olympics to CrossFitters. It is THE competition to determine who is the “Fittest on Earth”.

This year the Games were quite different. For the past 10 years, the Games have been held in Carson, California. This past year, CF headquarters announced there would be a new home for the Games for the next 3 years-Madison, Wisconsin. We had planned to skip this year, but with this news, Josh and I decided (along with a group of our friends from the gym) that we could more easily afford a trip up there to enjoy the long weekend. To save money, we drove up to Madison and rented a suite for all of us to share. We only bought Festival passes ($100) for the Games events this year also. Festival passes gave us access to the outside daytime events, as well as the masters and teenagers workouts. We were supposed to have access to the daytime Coliseum events as well, but for some reason that changed and we could only see the outside events. In past years, we’ve bought Festival+Coliseum passes which get you into the outside and inside events, but those tickets were starting at about $335 per ticket! We just couldn’t justify spending that with all the other vacations we have planned for the year.

No one in the group was able to head up on Wednesday, so we ended up leaving Thursday afternoon. Ashley picked Josh and I up, then we headed up to Columbus to pick up Jake and Leslie. The drive up was rather uneventful- unfortunately we timed it pretty poorly and ended up hitting after work rush hour traffic in Chicago and we got stuck behind a car accident which added about 45 minutes extra to our trip. Thankfully, though, we all packed food and drinks so we only had to make a couple stops for bathroom breaks and filling up the gas tank.

File_000 (8)

Check out our awesome group of NoBulls!

We finally made it to Madison around 10 pm and checked into our hotel. I have no idea how we got so lucky, but the hotel I booked was fantastic. It was only about a 5 minute walk to Alliant Energy Center where the Games were being held- you could see the venue from our hotel room. Our suite had two queen beds and a pull out couch, so there was enough room for all of us to sleep comfortably. And the best part was that our room had a stove top with two burners, a microwave, and a full size fridge! It was so perfect because everyone in our group is doing the nutrition challenge with our gym, trying to eat healthy, and we were all trying to save money! After we got our stuff dropped off in the room, we drove over to Walmart to stock up on food for the weekend. We definitely didn’t eat the yummiest food (lunch meat, canned tuna, green beans, and steamer bags of broccoli and brussels sprouts), but it was quick, fairly inexpensive, and easy. You could tell the Games were being hosted close by, as I have never seen so many fit, healthy people walking around Walmart before! By the time we got back to our hotel room, our friend Joel had arrived! It had been almost 9 months since any of us had seen him and we were sooooo happy to be reunited with our Joelybear!

Friday morning we woke up bright and early to eat breakfast and watch the events for the day. The first three events happened on Thursday- there was a run/swim workout, a cyclocross bike workout, and a muscle-up/snatch workout. I wish we had been able to go up to watch those workouts in person, but they were still very exciting on Facebook Live videos. We ventured through vendor village on the way to North Park for the first event. Vendor village had a lot of great booths, but it seemed smaller this year than when it was in California. And unfortunately with us arriving on Friday instead of Thursday when it opened, a lot of vendors were already sold out! I couldn’t believe they didn’t have more inventory with the amount of people they knew would be coming to watch the Games. One of my favorites was the Saddleback Leather booth where we took selfies with a cow for a chance to win a free backpack (unfortunately none of us won, sad face). #StrongestBagsOnEarth

The first event on Friday was an outdoor obstacle course race. The weather was terrible! It was around 55°F, cloudy, windy, and slightly misting. Thank God we were all prepared and had packed long sleeves, sweat pants, and rain jackets or it would have been even more miserable. The obstacle course was pretty fun to see with log walks, a rope wall to climb, an army crawl, rope swings, hurdles, and more.

After we watched the teams and individuals complete the obstacle course, we headed back inside vendor village to walk around. The highlight of my weekend there was that I got free Kill Cliff drinks for wearing a Kill Cliff shirt. And Zevia was handing out free sparkling waters, energy drinks, and their soda! I definitely drank my weight in Kill Cliff and Zevia.      

File_005

The remainder of our Friday was spent walking back and forth to the hotel to eat food and laying on the concrete floor in the beer garden to watch the Coliseum events. It was really quite disappointing to pay $100 and only be able to see one team/individual event live and have to watch the rest of the events on TV…which I could have stayed home and done on my comfy couch. We made the best of it though and had a big group snuggle party on the floor watching the team max clean and jerk event and the individual max snatch event. Hands down, the max lift events are my favorite every time! There is just something about seeing people pick up some really heavy weight and throw down, especially when they PR! There were some crazy strong people- one of the guys on a team (I wish I could remember which one) opened(yes, opened!) with a 347# clean and jerk…and went on to hit 367# and 377#! And a girl on another team was push jerking around 230#! Just so impressive. On the individual side, my favorite lifts were from Chyna Cho and Cassidy Lance-McWherter who both PR’ed their snatches and were just having so much fun! Even in the beer garden, you could hear the roar of excitement from the crowd with every lift made.     

File_007

Saturday morning was much better weather for the outside event. It was sunny and in the low 70s, with a nice breeze. The team event involved a (I think it weighed around 1000 lbs or more) sled drag backwards and push forwards. The individual event, “Strongman’s Fear”, involved heavy yoke carries (420#/300#), farmer’s carries (170#/120#), and sled drags (265#/220#) with handstand walking in between the carries. It looked really hard, but was really fun to watch.

          

After those events were done, we walked around vendor village some. I met Nicole Biscuiti (founder of the Chestee sports bras), taught Jake how to take a selfie, and of course I stocked up on Kill Cliff and Zevia!

 

We ate lunch back at the room and then came back and watched the bar muscle-up clean ladder event from the roof of the RomWod booth. This event was awesome- the weight of the cleans increased throughout the workout and a lot of people PR’ed at the end of the ladder! I can’t imagine PR’ing at the Games, let after so many events over that past few days.  

We also spent a lot of time at the Assault Fitness booth trying out all their equipment and their NormaTec systems. I’ve got to say, the NormaTec leg system was super relaxing and I wouldn’t mind having one of those at home…if I can just find an extra $1500 laying around first lol.

File_006 (1)

Sunday was the final day of the Games. It was a little cloudy outside, but the temperature was great and we were able to get pretty decent seats to watch the “Madison Triplet” event (it involved running, sandbag cleans, and burpees over straw bales…only in the Midwest, am I right?). We ate a quick lunch at our hotel room, goofed around in vendor village for a bit, then headed to the age group pavilion to watch the final master’s events. The master’s group ranges from 35 to 60+ years old. And they. are. amazing. The event we watched was Diane+Final (Diane is handstand push-ups and deadlifts, while the final event was rope climbs and thrusters). There were several athletes in the 50-54 age group that beat the times of the 35-39 year olds! It was such an inspiration to watch. And they’re all super ripped and have abs! There’s hope for me yet, you guys, just give me another 20 years!

We watched the 2223 interval event (rope climbs, calories on the SkiErg, and overhead squats) at the Assault Fitness booth. While we were hanging out we just happened to look across the way to see Nick Shaw! Nick is the founder of RP Strength, the diet and hypertrophy templates Josh and I follow. We had to go over and talk to him, of course. We wouldn’t be where we are today with our nutrition and training without him.

File_009 (1)

We ended our Games weekend eating dinner in the room and watching the final event on our phones through Facebook Live. The final event was so exhilarating and quick and a race to the finish. I absolutely loved it! It was super neat to watch when the winners were announced and how emotional it all was for them- they invest so much time and sacrifice so much to compete at the Games and it’s over in the blink of an eye. While this year’s Games wasn’t entirely what I expected from a spectator experience, it was definitely fun and full of laughs. The Games will be held in Madison for at least the next two years and if we happen to go back, we’re going to splurge and spend the couple extra hundred dollars for the Coliseum passes for sure. If you go, make sure you get the Festival+Coliseum passes too!

File_000 (4)

Don’t let that face fool you, he definitely missed me!

i feel home

Wednesday morning was an early morning, even for us. We got up, packed the car, and were on the road by 5 am to head home. Sea Pines has a rule that after 10 pm all outdoor lights need to be turned off so the sea turtles aren’t disturbed. It was sooo dark driving through Sea Pines to leave, there was not a light to be seen. We passed only one other car in Sea Pines and only 5-10 on the main road out of Hilton Head. No one up and about at 5 am, vacation spot for sure! We drove for a few hours before we started getting hungry for breakfast. It’s kind of a rule of ours that you have to eat at new/local/regional restaurants (we gave my youngest brother crap all week because he kept choosing to eat at Taco Bell *facepalm*), so we stopped at Bojangles. I sure wish there was a Bojangles around here, it was so yummy. Josh and I both got the Cajun filet biscuit with bo-tato rounds. The chicken was juicy and the biscuit was full of buttery goodness.   

File_000 (2) 

For several more hours, we trekked along. The weather was gorgeous, mid 70s and sunny the whole time, and there wasn’t much traffic at all. We had an awesome playlist to sing along to and get us through the looooonnngggg drive home. The Monster Energy drinks might have helped too. I’m not usually into drinking energy drinks, but these were fat free and I could not make it the whole drive without some energy. Somewhere in Kentucky (I don’t remember exactly where, I mean we did drive 12.5 hours that day), we started getting hungry for lunch. Sonny’s BBQ was our choice- I got the Sweet Carolina sandwich (pulled pork with coleslaw and Carolina BBQ sauce on a bun) and Josh ordered the pulled pork with broccoli, coleslaw, and cornbread.

After lunch, I was bound and determined to get home in time to pick Rocko up from K9 Campers where he was being boarded. We only stopped once more for a quick drink and snack and booked it to Seymour. We got to K9 Campers right before closing time, hooray! I was so excited to see our little monster. When we got home, he didn’t move from our bed all night even through all our unpacking and moving around- Campers sure tuckered him out.

File_000 (1)

After all the mundane “coming home from vacation” tasks, we settled down to watch “Shameless” on Netflix. Have you seen this show?! If you haven’t, stop everything you’re doing and watch it. right. now. The show is based in Chicago and follows around a family of six kids, their very crazy, alcoholic father, and all the shenanigans they find themselves in. The show is jam-packed with the most outrageous, inappropriate scenarios (definitely NOT kid friendly) you can’t even imagine. We’re super far behind (somehow we missed this show coming out in 2011), but we already watched the first season in a week. #guiltypleasure

For some reason, we (ok, it was all me) thought it would be a great idea to buy tickets to the Train concert at Klipsch for Thursday night. Drive 12.5 hours home from Hilton Head on Wednesday- check. Work from 6 am to 2:45 pm on Thursday- check. Drive up to Indy for a concert that didn’t start until 7 pm and didn’t end until 11 pm meaning a 1 am sleep time- check. For those of you that don’t know, our normal bedtime is between 9 and 9:30…We sure were wild and crazy staying up until 1 am! But it was worth every minute. It was pretty convenient that on the way to Klipsch we had to drive past Handel’s Ice Cream. You all know how much I love me some Handel’s. We played one of my favorite games of “Do you want ice cream?” “If you want ice cream, I could probably eat some ice cream” and what do you know- minutes later we were pulling up to Handel’s! I had the most yummy Caramel Pretzel Crunch (caramel ice cream with chocolate covered pretzels) and Josh had the Banana Cream Pie (banana ice cream with cream swirls and chunks of buttery pie crust).

We got to Klipsch a little early, so we had to wait in line behind the lawn until they opened the gate. The opener was Natasha Bedingfield. She was full of energy and a great opening act. Next to perform  was O.A.R. which is one of my favorite bands of all time! I’ve seen them in concert at least 4 times and they’re amazing every time. I couldn’t stop myself from dancing and singing along to every song. Most especially when they closed with “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker”! And then it was time for Train. I’ve seen them in concert one other time and absolutely loved them. This concert was no different- they do an awesome job of mixing in their older stuff with their newer songs and I danced and sang along to everything they played. I was very much hoping they would play my favorite song, “Drops of Jupiter” and to my delight it was the encore! The late night and being extra tired at work on Friday was completely worth it to me just for that.    

PS I had to pick up my parents’ and brother/sister-in-law’s dogs on Saturday from boarding- seriously how adorable are these sweet pups?!

And meet my newest puppy friend, Wicket! He was the best little snuggler ever!

File_008

hilton head

After our super scrumptious brunch at Tupelo Honey, Josh and I started the last leg of our drive over to Hilton Head. What should have been about a 5 hour drive turned into much longer…there were several wrecks and lots and lots and lots of rain which made for much slower driving than we had anticipated. Thankfully, we had Monsters to drink to keep us awake and lots of great music to help pass the time. And the closer we got to Hilton Head, the better the weather became. It was close to dinner time when we arrived on the island, so we decided to eat at Lucky Rooster. We had charred shishito peppers and okra for an appetizer. The veggies were crunchy and light enough to curb our hangry-ness, but not fill us up too much for our entrees. The menu there rotates to accommodate what is being grown locally, so you never know what options you might have to choose from. If we had been feeling extra adventurous, one of the options was a whole pig’s head! I wasn’t quite sure I could handle trying that for the first time in a crowded restaurant, so instead I ordered the half roasted chicken with collard greens, garlic smashed potatoes, and a honey+hot dipping sauce. That sauce was so yummy! Josh got the shrimp and grits with peas, beans, corn, and a tomato butter sauce.

We finally headed to the house my parents had rented for the week around 9 pm. The house we stayed at was in the Sea Pines Resort. The resort had everything you could imagine- shopping centers, a marina, tons of restaurants, golfing, stables, bike trails, and much more. Everyone else had made it to the house earlier that afternoon/evening, so they were just relaxing when we arrived. We wandered around to check out the rooms, the awesome backyard and pool, and get our stuff settled in our room. Everyone was super chill after traveling the past two days and ready for bed early.

Sunday morning was slow going and relaxed. We woke up on our own without an alarm- something we rarely ever do, even on the weekends! Tommy, Alysha, Josh, and I made a trip over to Duck Donuts for breakfast. We had to wait in line to order/get our doughnuts for almost 30 minutes, but it was well worth it. They make the cake donut batter every few minutes and don’t start forming it into rings or frying it until you place your order. Doesn’t get any fresher than that! They have what seems like a million different combinations of glazes, toppings, and drizzles to choose from for your donuts. Josh and I ordered a peanut butter glaze with Oreos and a hot fudge drizzle donut and a blueberry glaze with shredded coconut and a lemon drizzle. There’s not much more delicious than a fresh, warm cake donut!

When we made it back to the house, the rest of the family had already headed to the beach. The house we were staying at provided beach chairs, boogie boards, and bikes for us to use for the week. Alysha and Tommy grabbed two of the bikes and went ahead to the beach while Josh and I got changed and got our stuff together. We were all ready to ride our bikes over when we realized that the bikes left at the house were not great. One bike was in ok shape to ride, one had broken handle bars that constantly fell down. One bike had a flat tire and the remaining bike had a flat tire and looked like the tire was about to burst off the rim. We searched around to find the air pump and finally found one. We had to plug the air pump into the car to air up the tire. Twice because the first time didn’t air it up very well. After running around for several minutes to find the door code, get directions to the beach, figure out how to close the garage door, and make sure the house was all locked up we were FINALLY ready to head down to the beach. Or so we thought. The directions we were left with to get from the house to the beach were quite confusing. We followed the bike path around, over the bridge, and to the stop sign according to the directions. But we messed up by going straight instead of turning at the stop sign. So, we found ourselves on the golf course where no bikes are allowed but within view of the beach and ocean. We realized our mistake and turned around, eventually making it to the beach path. What should have been a total of 5 minutes (including changing, packing up our stuff, and riding to the beach) had know turned into almost 45-50 minutes and I was on the verge of having a meltdown. This was vacation. Wasn’t it supposed to be fun? Relaxing? Anything other than this? Thank God my husband is patient, lets me have my little meltdowns, hugs me, and we move on with the day.

The beach was very clean and pretty. It was relatively quiet for being the middle of summer. Families were lounging on their blankets under umbrellas, people throwing footballs back and forth, bobbing in the water. The ocean waves lapping against the sand have always been one of my favorite sounds. It’s very relaxing to me. With that being said, just laying out on the beach is hard for me to do. We’re really active at home, so it’s hard for me not to get bored after a short time just laying around. Oh, how times have changed since I was younger!

File_002 (2)   

After about an hour at the beach, Josh and I were ready to leave, so we grabbed Lys and Derrick and headed to Harbor Town in the Sea Pines resort. Harbor Town is a cute little area full of boutiques, specialty shops, restaurants, a marina, a lighthouse, and more. The first store we stopped in at was a clothing shop/convenience store. And it was the best store because it also had ice cream and Pino Gelato! It was rather lucky that we happened upon the gelato as it was snack time! I tried the salted caramel (delish!) and Josh had the bananas foster in a waffle cone. The gelato was so creamy and delightful. We explored the area a bit more and came across a whole section of rocking chairs looking out over the marina. I was in heaven! I love rocking chairs!   

The sky started to get cloudier and the wind started picking up, so Josh and I started walking towards the bakery to see if it was open and wait out the rain. The bakery was closed (boooo) and the weather was getting worse. We had to sprint to the car and it started pouring down rain as soon as we got in. It was supposed to rain for awhile and we still had a few hours until we were meeting up with my family for dinner, so we picked Derrick and Lys up to go back to the house. Everyone was getting ready…slowly…so I took a glorious hour long nap. When everyone was ready we went back to Harbor Town for dinner. It was sprinkling on and off, so it was pretty quiet around the area. The Crazy Crab restaurant was about an hour wait, so we all strolled around, stopping at different shops and taking pictures. PS, how adorbs are my parents?!  

Dinner at The Crazy Crab was great. They brought us out baskets of rolls and hush puppies. I think I ate 20 of those hush puppies. I couldn’t stop myself. They had a wide range of fresh seafood to choose from. Josh ordered the Captain’s Platter- crab cake, broiled lobster tail, flounder, shrimps, and scallops with mashed potatoes and green beans. I got the crab and lobster stuffed flounder with hollandaise sauce, mashed potatoes, and green beans. It was everything my heart desired.   

     

After dinner, it wasn’t hard to convince everyone to get Pino Gelato from the convenience store. This time I tried the pistachio in a waffle cone and Josh had the butter pecan. Yumm-o!

a s h e v i l l e

I absolutely love vacations so much! I love going on them and I love coming home from them…I know that probably sounds weird. Going on vacation means I get to experience different cultures, eat lots of delicious food, and see beautiful places all over the world. Vacation also makes me very thankful to come back to my routine, cute puppy, cozy home, and friends and family.

File_000

My parents invited me, my siblings, and our significant others to take a trip to Hilton Head for family vacation this summer. Last Friday, Josh and I loaded up our car and made our way to Asheville, NC for an overnight stay on the way to meet up with my family in Hilton Head. We left fairly early, so we could take our time and not stress if traffic or the weather was bad. This was the longest road trip we’ve been on together and it was SO much fun. Josh downloaded lots of Backstreet Boys, Kesha, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park, Train, and several other artists for our listening entertainment (ok, probably just mine haha I’m not sure how much Josh loves listening to me “sing”).

File_003

We really wanted to drop in at a CrossFit box while in Asheville and we came across Beer City CrossFit. We got to Asheville just in time to make it to their 5 pm class. They were super welcoming and fun. They had a jam packed hour of back squats for strength followed by a metcon with running, kettlebell swings, and burpees. It felt really good to be moving after so many hours in the car. If we’re ever in the area again, we’ll be making a trip back to drop in. My co-worker had told me that Asheville is a great place for breweries and food trucks, so after we freshened up from CF, we hopped in the car to find The Brew Pump. The Brew Pump was so neat – it is Asheville’s only gas station pub, so there was a gas station on one side and a bar on the other and they have different food trucks serving food out front throughout the week. They had picnic tables, cornhole, and adirondack chairs set up in their “backyard” to just relax and enjoy your drinks and food. Part of the reason we went to The Brew Pump is to check out the El Kimchi food truck. El Kimchi is a Latin America/Korean fusion food truck. We ordered the bibimbap with a side of kimchi to share. It was a huge serving and so delicious!       

We drove back to the hotel to park the car and walk around the downtown Asheville area. Every corner you turned there were so many local breweries and restaurants to choose from. Green Man Brewery was our first stop. Josh ordered a Trickster IPA to drink, while I ordered the manager’s special of smoked pork belly over cheesy, creamy grits with Cheerwine BBQ sauce from the Sackett Street BBQ food truck in the courtyard. Seriously, Asheville is a dream- breweries everywhere you look with amazing food trucks parked out back serving delicious food. For our next stop, we headed to Wicked Weed Funkatorium– a taproom serving sour and funky beers. Josh got the Bourbon Barrel Oblivion and I tried the oak fermented cider. Very different and fun!  

You know we couldn’t end our night before eating some dessert! When researching food trucks, I found Sunshine Sammies. I was even more excited when I realized that they opened their first storefront location on the day we were there! They serve homemade ice cream, cookies, waffle tacos, and ice cream sammies. We definitely ate our weight in ice cream sammies…we shared 3! We tried the Craggy Gardens (local blueberry and basil ice cream between snickerdoodles), Dough (creamy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream between chocolate chip cookies), and Key Lime Pie (tart key lime pie ice cream between graham cracker cookies rolled in toasted coconut) sammies. I honestly can’t pick a favorite flavor, I loved them all so much. Hands down my favorite dessert on vacation and in my top ten for favorite desserts ever.

Saturday morning we woke up early for our trip to the Biltmore Estate. We stopped at Vortex Doughnuts for a very yummy breakfast. We tried the apple fritter, orange chocolate cookie cake doughnut, and apple raspberry cake doughnut- so much yummy goodness!

File_002 (1)

After breakfast, it was Biltmore Estate time! The website said to arrive at the estate at least 45 minutes early to park and be ready for your entry into the house. When we got there around 8:10, the gate attendant told us that the gate in didn’t open until 8:30, so we explored the gift shop for a bit until we could get in. I even found a really pretty metal ornament of the Biltmore to add to our Christmas ornament collection. The drive into the Biltmore was beautiful. We were one of the first few in, so there wasn’t much traffic at all. As we drove the half mile from the gate to the estate, we rolled down the windows to enjoy the breeze and the sound of birds chirping in the trees. We parked at the top of the parking lot and made the short trek over to the estate…and what a sight it was! The Biltmore was so grand and absolutely breathtaking- it is almost 180,000 square feet on almost 7000 acres. It’s hard to describe how expansive the whole estate is. We headed into the house to take the tour of the basement and the first and second floors. The house has 250 rooms, with 33 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, and 3 kitchens. There is an indoor winter garden and the banquet hall has a floor to ceiling pipe organ on the first floor. The library holds a large portion of George Vanderbilt’s 22,000 books. In the bachelor’s wing there is a smoking room, gun room, and a billiard room. The basement houses the servant bedrooms and dining room, the pantries, a bowling alley, gymnasium, and even a pool! It took us almost an hour to walk through the house (and there wasn’t even access to the top two floors) before we headed out to venture through the gardens.

We strolled through the four acre walled garden filled with a variety of gorgeous flowers and the rose garden. Off of the rose garden was a conservatory with different rooms of orchids, ferns, succulents, and more flowers than you could imagine. We took the trail from the rose garden down to Bass Pond. It was so peaceful and serene walking through the trees and over the bubbling creek to the pond. After 4 hours and almost 5 miles of walking around the house and gardens, we were getting hungry and we needed to get on the road for the rest of our drive to Hilton Head.

I found the perfect brunch spot for us to try. Tupelo Honey. We took advantage of their brunch prix fixe menu. We had the most delicious, buttery buttermilk biscuits covered in blueberry jam to start. We ordered the fried green tomatoes with goat cheese grits and the avocado crostini for our “appetizer”.

For the entree, I ordered the Southern Shakshuka (two baked eggs and creole sauce over goat cheese grits) and Josh got the Gulf Coast Lump Crab Benedict (buttermilk biscuits and crab smothered in hollandaise sauce with a side of potato cracklins). It was the perfect ending to our stay in Asheville and my new favorite brunch place for sure… too bad it’s over a 6 hour drive from home!