The Open aftermath…

So this year is the first year I took part in the CrossFit Open.

I started CrossFit a long time ago because I was fully aware of all of the weaknesses in my body & wanted to make them stronger for Roller Derby. I immediately loved it & was in the box working out 4-5 times a week, it was addictive because I could see & feel the changes that were taking place.

Fast forward I guess 3 or 4 years & a lot of stuff had changed. First I lived in a place where my nearest box was almost an hour away boooo 😦 Then a box opened in my village yayyyyyy 🙂 Followed by the news a month or so later that I was to be be made redundant, thus making CrossFit a luxury I couldn’t afford. It was a tough year generally with one thing & another culminating in my return home to Leicester & making it into the box there maybe once a week on a good week, but honestly I kinda lost my way. I will call it life limbo. I was in life limbo trying to find a job, working on my own little business, wondering what would happen next & CrossFit just didn’t really fit with that picture, all my time was spent on these other projects.

Then completely out of the blue I was offered a job in Vietnam, relocated to HCMC (Saigon) joined a box there & started to very gradually get back into CrossFit. Obviously the bunch of people there are massively enthusiastic & supportive so when they started to talk about the Open it didn’t take too much to convince me to take part. I mean why not? Well I am not sure exactly what has happened to me since I have been here because actually the cons far outweigh the pros, maybe it was a moment of weakness, the promise of success, achievement – I have no idea, but I said yes, paid my $10 & my only goal was to complete 1 WOD RX.

 

Let me set the scene a little bit. My job here is full on. I love it, but there are elements that are extremely demanding that are completely out of my control, & because of this I am often in at work very early, out of work very late, working weekends etc. So I am often (mostly) very tired. In addition I have a steady stream of visitors – which is lovely, & my visitors have all been completely and utterly perfect, but it is tiring. So in case you didn’t get that & to summarise I am always tired & I often can’t make the gym/box.

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In addition I knew full well I was not at my physical peak, it would be a miracle if I could do any of them RX & as soon as I had signed up I started to regret it. I wanted to be able to commit enough time to feel like I gave it my best shot, & knew in my heart of hearts I wouldn’t be able to. Frustrated before I even set off.

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So anyway the WOD’s were of course horrific. I RX’d all of them except 1 which I had to scale – the 3rd I think. I did well in the first one, in the 2nd I ripped my hands so badly on the first round that I spent the entire rest of the time cap trying desperately to get in some more toes to bar with everyone running around finding tape, lending me their gloves, & just generally being amazing about my abysmal failure whilst I bled all over the place. 3rd one was average.

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4th one I knew I would do ok as it was deadlifts, I like deadlifts, 70kg for someone that is sub 60kg is a heavy weight yeah? But did I mention I like deadlifts… This was my strongest WOD. Then came the final one & as soon as I saw it I knew. The time cap was 40minutes & I knew it was going to take me that 40minutes if I was to do it RX. Thrusters & double unders. My double unders are probably what enabled me to finish it as they are very fast. The thrusters at 30kg were absolutely hideous. I picked the bar up for the first round & braced myself for the 40 minutes.

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Yep. 39:48 they all stayed and cheered me on & screamed at me right until the bitter end. I wanted to give up, & I wanted them to stop shouting as I couldn’t concentrate, but I know full well if they hadn’t had been there, I would have put the bar down on round 6 & gone home.

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I have to admit I was thrilled about getting one done RX, I never imagined I could have done that & perhaps without the camaraderie I wouldn’t.

It made me go away & think about a lot of stuff. Why didn’t I care more? Why didn’t I want to beat other people? It really made me think about why I was going & what I was trying to get out of it now there is no roller derby.

There is something about CrossFit that instils a gritty determination in everyone & their pears that I haven’t come across in anything else I have done. It doesn’t matter who you are once you are in the zone you are in the zone, it’s kind of raw I guess, you see people at their absolute best & absolute worst & no-one cares because you are all in it together. I think that’s another reason I fell so in love with it. It’s not about beating other people, or being better than them. It’s about doing & being the best that you can & encouraging others to do & find the same in themselves. It’s something that I struggled with sometimes in Roller Derby because peoples expectations often far exceeded their commitment. It’s so simple – you get back what you put in. Ok sometimes it’s not instantaneous, it doesn’t happen overnight, but I have seen it. I have seen it time & time again, the ones with the commitment & the dedication, they get good, no matter what, because they wont stop until they have got to where they want to be. I applaud that, & I applaud the people that have this pragmatic dedicated approach that they will get there because they are putting in the effort.

I guess that’s why I didn’t care so much about the Open. I didn’t deserve to do well & I knew I didn’t. I was just going through the motions as I had signed up. I am not sure if I will ever care enough to be exceptional, & that is not a bad thing or a shocking thing, it’s an honest thing. I think CrossFit will always be a part of my life because I love it, the people, the atmosphere, the coaches – all of it. But… & here’s the but. I only ever took up CrossFit to get stronger for Roller Derby. I now live in a country where there is no Roller Derby. So now I am doing CrossFit just to do CrossFit & to me that feels weird.

I miss Roller Derby a lot yes, I just put my outdoor wheels on my skates & am going to have a skate around my beautifully smooth neighbourhood, maybe I’ll brave a skatepark, but set up a league? No thanks. Been there done that, ran it for 6 years, & I know how much time, energy & dedication that takes. I am on a group which promised to be Saigon Roller Derby & so far there has been a lot of chatter, & not much else. There is no-one to lead, & I don’t want that responsibility because I know if I was to take that on as a project then I would miss out on so many other things that Vietnam has to offer & so many other things that I have not been able to do for the past 6 years.

The weather here has been great lately, we are out of rainy season, the only way to explain the way it feels is like being on holiday but having to work. It is glorious, I want to be outside all of the time. I have been paddleboarding, riding my bike all over the place, doing my garden, sewing things, planning little trips & adventures. To be frank the last place I want to be when the weather is like this is stuck in a sweaty gym. I remember all those summers we missed, whilst we were in sports halls longing to be outside & now here I am here in this amazing country with so much to see & do, so many things passed us by whilst we were at Roller Derby, or training for Roller Derby & at that time that was 100% the right thing to do, I wouldn’t change that. I have also found out that Roller Derby has given me a really good foundation for other sports. Same principals apply to so many things, so it’s been a very useful tool!!

It is actually really odd when you take such a huge part of your life away because you are so used to all these schedules & trying to fit everything around it all. I find myself writing lists & plans, then realise I don’t need to. I can do whatever I want when I want, like before the days of Roller Derby & that is so nice. Life has no attendance policy, there is noone upping their life game to bump me off the team.

So what started off with me reluctantly signing up for the open has ended up with me realising that this is yet another thing I am having to relearn. Life.

Start from Zero right 😀

Hello Remember Me?

Yes it’s me – the person that set up this blog to document my new life in this strange and exotic land. Ok yes so I am failing hard, failing hard at one of my resolutions, and that resolution was to blog once a week. I am probably failing at a few of them actually, because I over optimistically set somewhere in the realms of 10, maybe 15; not sure the list kept growing. I don’t even know where the list is. Somewhere safe I would assume. I am a terrible goal setter, because I live in this dream world where everything is open and accessible all the time, and each day is about 73 hours long. You would think at the age of 38 I would have got to grips with 24 hour days and opening times but alas no and now I live in this confusing land of opportunity and flexible rules – super perplexing as some of my dream world has become a reality. So please forgive me my friends it’s not because I have forgotten about you, it’s because I have been busy, busy living in this new world of mine. Now it’s been such a long time again and so many things have happened I don’t even know where to start.

Lets go with a quick run down yes? I have had visitors, friends, boyfriend and rather excitingly my dear mother, who after a little coaxing quickly adapted to the laid back meandering pace of leafy Phu My Hung, filling her time with pottering and lots of nice iced coffee in one of the multiple Highlands chains scattered all over the place.

Perhaps this was all a little too much for my brain and body to take because somewhere in between the end of my mothers trip & the beginning of JJ’s I got sick. Really sick. Kicking off with a horrific vertigo attack that was so extended it had me head on desk for 30 mins before finally caving and staggering out of the office to pathetically hail a taxi, abandoning my poor bicycle (under the watchful & confused eyes of the security team) and tucking myself up in bed in a dark freezing room until my worried mother arrived home to check on me. The vertigo developed into sinusitis and it felt like I had been ill for ever until the weekend just past where I began to feel almost human again.

So asides from that and this is the very abbreviated version – I have soooooooo much to tell you all – I have been riding my bike all over the place, getting braver (because the traffic right – did I mention the traffic) and more confident with every little adventure, everyone thinks I am mad, but I feel free and liberated and sometimes slightly terrified but normally this subsides into relief followed by accomplishment. I have been successfully growing things, my tomato plants now look more like trees. I took part in the CrossFit Open for the first time ever, that’s a whole other topic to write about. I have been given my own beautiful creative space at work, and here I am sat on a flight to Hong Kong on my way to a materials show with a couple of hours to spare for an update.

It has been quite the whirlwind these last 6 months. Time here seems to move so much quicker than anywhere else I have been. I don’t know if it’s because of the transient nature of the city, but it feels like people are on a quest to fit in as much as possible in case, well I guess in case they run out of time, or it changes and they miss it. It’s hard to have commitments here, regular activities, a routine; it’s very much a city of spontaneity. When people ask me if I miss my life in England and yes of course there are elements I miss, humans, cats, food, funny things you might not think about until you move to the other side of the world, but I have been busy. I haven’t spent all that much time sitting around missing things because lets face it that would neither be a sensible or productive use of my time, nor a positive way to adapt to this mad place in which I now live. That would in fact just be plain silly. So now I have given you this little update, I feel like a have broken the seal on a billion other things I need to share with you, and I shall endeavor to do so when I am not adventuring somewhere..

Money money Monday

I leave work early on Monday to attempt to get this emergency cash which has gone from being an exciting adventure to a somewhat tedious. I ask my colleague if they can explain to the taxi driver where I want to go & assume after quite a long & drawn out conversation that this has been done. I think we have made it maybe 100 metres before the taxi driver turns to me saying something in Vietnamese. I have learnt quickly that this is pretty standard; I get in, say where you want to go, the driver appears to understand but what actually happens is that then I spend the trip directing using a mixture of broken Vietnamese & google maps. This journey was no different, except surprisingly I managed to navigate all the way there without any google map help. (And as a side note – apart from the time google maps tried to take me through a swamp & lake it has been pretty indispensable at helping me to get around)

I arrive at the bank go in, have no idea what I am supposed to do, thankfully a nice security man pulls a ticket out of a machine – like the kind you get on the deli counter in the supermarket, then rushes over offering it to me, whilst gesturing to sit down. I sit down with the other people waiting, there are screens that tell you which numbers are being served just like Argos I am thinking, when a woman walks in completely ignoring all of this orderly, organised, structured, somewhat British system and confidently bypasses the security guard & ticket, marching straight to the desk of her choice, with absolutely no challenge from anyone. I am sure I grumble out loud..

It takes a really long time before it gets to my number, I anxiously approach the counter & explain to the lady that I need to collect a Western Money transfer. She looks up at me & says ‘sorry’ not as a question just that one singular word – ‘sorry’ and I think oh God they don’t do it, why is she sorry, what is she sorry for, but before this has a chance to escalate to total meltdown status she has asked me for all my details.

2 forms, several photocopies and a series of questioning that would be satisfactory for the likes of MI5, and I have been ushered over to the cashier to collect my money. She comes over with me, it feels like she is keeping an eye and making sure it’s all proper and correct. Needless to say the man in front of me has drawn out what seems like BILLIONS of Dong and is counting every single note, still, I feel less anxious knowing I have made it through all of the tests and all I have to do is wait to collect my money. Soon enough it’s my turn, the machine counts out the money, she then hands it to me and asks me to count it again, I do. I put it in a bag inside a bag, and as I get up to leave she says ‘be careful….. thank you, have a nice day’ I suppose $500 of Dong is quite a lot of money to walking around with in a country where that is more than enough to survive on very comfortable for a month, I think…. and promptly walk straight into the glass door so hard that it rebounds me a good metre backwards across the bank to gasps of horror. I think I shake my head in the recoil, take a deep breathe and attempt the door again. After all of the excitement of the last few days, I am not going to let a door ruin my adventures, so I pull the handle this time, and I am FREE, free from the bank, with some money in my pocket, all of which I managed to sort out by myself with a little help from Jessica in Miami, Florida……

Covert Operation Collect Cash..

So Saturday arrives and I drag myself out of bed and begin the pottering that I have now become accustomed to since my life is not filled with roller derby and CrossFit. I am making the most of this aforementioned pottering and I suspect I have become rather excellent at the art of procrastination in spite of having no television and very limited other time wasting devices.

It has rained torrentially and steadily since I woke up this morning & in the back of my mind & one of the reasons behind my reluctancy to do anything proper is because of the mission that awaits me – collecting my emergency Western Union money transfer. I am sort of hoping that the rain stops, or at least dies down, but in the very short time that I have lived here I have soon learnt that often it doesn’t.

I map out my route noting that it is only a 10 minute walk, the bank is open (according to this website) until 3:30pm I have managed to accomplish pretty much nothing up until this point so decide it’s time to spring.. yes SPRING into action. So I gather my passport my scrap of paper with everything I need written on it, obligatory backpack for stuff I might need to buy, bumbag with phone for music – headphones also for music. I then decide I need to re-write the scrap of paper so it’s legible in case anyone else needs to see it. Yes that’s better now it’s very neat. Flip flops are on, music is on, rain mac on, umbrella up and off we go….

See it’s not so bad, just a little gloomy & wet. Always warm too, so it’s not so bad getting wet when it’s still nice & toasty. I find the bank that’s website promised me it would still be open. It looks very closed, I can see a security guard inside but that looks about it. I try calling them, it rings & rings. I summise that this bank is shut, but as I have now established that I appear to be in some sort of financial area there are many banks. Many banks that are all closed.. Hmmm. I am about to give up when I see one that is open – the door is open – the workers are sat around eating their lunch with a security guy. HOORAY I found one, I walk in beaming ready to get all my money, & am met with gasps of horror followed by the security shoeing me out whilst telling me they are closed. AGHHHH.

That’s it I am defeated. The banks are shut my money will have to wait. I try an assortment of credit cards in numerous cash machines (it’s a bit of a luck of the draw as to which cash machines will dispense money to you at any given time) until I manage to successfully get myself millions of dong, then go & buy some completely unessential nonsense in the supermarket so it doesn’t feel like a totally wasted trip. Then I flip flop my way back across the river thinking how it sounded a lot more exciting when I spoke to Jessica in Miami. I suppose the excitement will have to wait until Monday now.

Stupidity in foreign countries…

Week 2 and my confidence is strong. I have joined a CrossFit box, can direct a taxi to the castle & have located a nail shop less than 7 minutes walk from aforementioned castle. Not 5, not 10… 7, things are going well.

And then… BOOM. It’s not there.

I have searched everything drunk, sober, everywhere… I think back to the storm.. I left the COOP and bravely decided to get my shopping delivered. On arrival at the area where you arrange this I note the trolleys and bags strewn everywhere and wonder if this is normal. ‘Sorry madam so busy, the rain’ the earliest they can deliver is tomorrow, I look at the disorderly mass of other peoples shopping and think that is seems quite probably this will end in disaster, so after some Tetris style repacking utilising every bag I have available to me I drag the shopping to the taxi rank, where one of the security men rushes over to help me with my hundreds of bags, umbrella and god knows what else, jump into  a taxi and thank my lucky stars I was able to get the shopping to it. On arrival at the castle, the taxi driver helps me to unload and we both hear a noise, it’s dark, we obviously both think something has been dropped and scurry around searching the floor of the taxi, the floor floor and finding nothing, conclude it was indeed nothing.

Until NOW. NOW I REALISE WHAT THAT NOISE WAS, THAT WAS MY BANK CARD.. OH GOD…

I speak to HR on the extremely unlikely off chance that maybe they can hunt it down, I speak to the bank, they tell me cancel cancel. I give it a day, the ringing around has been done, the card is gone.

NOW WHAT?!*

I call the bank, I am put through to a man who speaks perfect english with a thick American accent. ‘Welcome to Visa Emergency Services’….. He asks me a lot of questions, tells me I can have emergency cash, I say yes please. He says how much. I say 500 us dollars. There is a long pause.

‘Can you repeat that please?’

‘yeah sure, 500 us dollars’

‘You realise this is a 1 time thing, you can’t repeat it, we advise people to ask for as much as they can afford’

I am sure my brow furrowed right at this point, but seriously, 500 us dollars in this country is and inordinate amount of money, I really don’t need any more than that.

‘Then ok, if you are sure – 500 – is it ok for someone to call you anytime?’

‘Yeah of course’

I go to bed, I am furious with my stupidity, my card is stopped so for now and until I have sorted this mess I am going to have to use my credit cards, I hate having to use credit cards. I must have passed out as I am awoken by the phone ringing:

‘hi my name is Jessica, I am calling from visa emergency services in Miami, Florida – it’s important you remember that as you might need to quote it, you should probably write that down’

Another painful series of questions and I am told that they have made the transfer and I can collect the money from any Western Union Affiliate and just need the reference number she has given me & my passport. I investigate and find out that there are loads of Western Union places really close to my house, several of which are open on a Saturday. I go back to sleep relieved…..

 

Madam madam no working..

So my last post was about supermarkets. I have several near to me, but on the way back from somewhere I can’t remember the other night I stopped at one of my 2 most local and (as always) ended up with loads of things I didn’t actually need and hardly any of the things I did. I went to the checkout ‘membersip please?’ I am not a member – you get asked this same question almost everywhere and I have taken to saying ‘how do I become a member?’ I am pretty certain they are seething when I do this. Also I am a member of many places & so far have had no rewards that I can work out for these memberships. I have no idea what it means, but I feel like I want to/need to be a member of everything, just because I can. I couldn’t be bothered tonight, I shook my head, I just wanted to eat my ice cream, it had blue stuff on it and looked magical. My card didn’t work, I gave her another card – didn’t work, they tried it in multiple machines, the manager came, different cards, NOTHING WORKED. For some reason I cannot explain I didn’t feel embarrassed or horrified as I would have done in the UK, I don’t know why, it was both of these things. I took the cards back from the manager and tried to draw cash out of the cash machine in the supermarket. (I had tried this before – it didn’t work then) It didn’t work. I put my card in, waited about 15 seconds, it spat it out, I showed the manager, he looked at me and shook his head sadly. This is it I thought, I shall starve, no blue ice cream *sob* – ‘DELIVERY?’ he says… ‘now?’ I am puzzled, most supermarkets deliver for free, I had no idea this one did, certainly not NOW as he said. He waves at a young boy in a pink t-shirt with the store logo, he collects my 3 bags of shopping, nods at me and gestures for me to follow. I am a bit confused about this, I live so close, even a sprint home and he would beat me. He ties the bags round bits of his little scooter and slaps the seat and looks at me. I look behind me, he says something and moves the bike off the curb and slaps the seat again… I haven’t been on a motorbike since Kunal took me to college on one that he had acquired from God knows where, I climbed on the back sheepishly, told him my address and he immediately went in the opposite direction, but I thought perhaps he knew a shortcut. I don’t know, maybe I said it wrong, maybe it was some sort of weird fate, because here I am sat on the back of this scooter, whizzing around my fancy neighbourhood, no helmet (sorry mum) weaving in and out of the speed humps to get my shopping delivered as I have cash at home, and I completely forget about all of this because it is the best feeling and I NEED TO GET A BIKE BECAUSE A BIKE IS FREEDOM. He pulls over, I show him my address on the phone, he laughs at me says exactly what I said (or so I thought) and we are at my house, and he is trying to give me a fraction of a penny change. I shoe him off, put my melted blue ice cream in the freezer and after whatsapping various friends who are confused by the legalities of this situation, I declare that I love this place dearly and add motorbike to my list of things to do 😀