The Final Countdown

Hard to believe that this is already the final passion blog of my freshman year. Woah. Scary.  And guess what, I (unsurprisingly) never ran out of Crossfit things to talk about.  Because this is my last passion blog, I wanted to take some time to really reflect on my freshman year. Of course Crossfit played an important role in it from the beginning.

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This year has been full of ups and downs to say the least.  I have met some incredible and inspiring people and also have met people who I really hope I never will have to see again for the rest of my life. That being said, I was so incredibly lucky to find my nitch in the Crossfit community as fast as I did after arriving to Penn State.  When I first arrived at college, I had no friend group of my own and instead socialized with the few high school friends I had here.  Crossfit provided me with something unique to call my own.  It allowed me to have my own group of friends, my own social events and even my own workouts. Obviously since my first day I have brought various friends to Crossfit.  Some have stayed and some have not.  Either way, no matter who is there now or in the future, it is still something individual and unique that I can call mine.

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The people I have met this year and the memories I have from Crossfit (whether they are from killing it in a hard workout, puking in the bushes behind the Wagner building or giving a sweaty bloody high five after finally figuring out how to do pull-ups) are indescribable.  Looking back on our photos from this year, it truly has been a progression.  I know that I have become more independent and have also gotten physically and mentally stronger throughout the course of this year. No club or group of people will ever be perfect, and I will be the last one to say that Crossfit is the ideal club for everyone.  However, I can’t wait to train over the summer (AND DO MY MARATHON) and come back next year stronger and fitter than ever.  I only hope that I didn’t bore everyone in this class too much with my incessant chatter about everything fitness all semester.  Just imagine how my future husband will feel someday… Thank you all for being wonderful listeners, commenters and fellow-bloggers.  It was AMAZING getting to know everyone, and I love you all lots and lots.

STEM Sexism

On a recent blue loop ride around from East to West campus here at Penn State, my friend and I were quietly sitting in the front of the bus when he nudged my foot and pointed to a girl sitting about three rows behind us.  In a confidential voice he whispered, “That’s the only girl in my engineering class…” I, of course, was shocked to find out that his class was 98% male as the majority of my classes are split equally between male and female students.  However, as a liberal arts student, I had forgotten to take the STEM classes into consideration.  Does sexism play a part in discouraging women to work in STEM related fields? And if so, are women working to change this issue?

The answer is yes.  Even here at Penn State, the majority of women who graduate with an engineering degree, for example, is far fewer than their male counterparts. Some female STEM college graduates even discuss how sexism was prevalent in the classrooms they were part of.  Between working in groups to remarks from male classmates, women often felt shunned in many of the STEM majors.

Some of the pressure to choose non STEM-related fields even begins in high school. Dorlisa Franks, a student at Paquea Valley High School commented in a recent interview about the subject how male classmates refused to partner up with her during specific building projects because “it was like ‘no girl’s going to have to know how to do this. That’s not important for a girl. Men do this.”  Luckily, it did not phase Dorlisa as she and her partner plowed ahead to get the highest grade in the class on that particular project as well as continued to major as a forensic scientist in college.

Dorlisa, however, represents the minority of female students who are not dissuaded by sexism in and out of the classroom about staying clear of STEM related jobs. According to a study conducted in 2012 by Georgetown University, only 23% of all STEM employees are female.  This is in comparison with the 48% in all other fields. Due to the lack of female participating in STEM related material in high school and in college, many schools are taking action to promote engineering degrees and classes to female students.  Leading the way are fellow female STEM teachers and advisors.  Many high schools have developed STEM training programs specifically catered to girls.  Women leading these seminars try to attract girls through interactive experiments like Mentos and Diet Coke.  Colleges, such as MIT, have also developed panels that discuss how to promote STEM jobs to women and girls as well as answered questions for incoming female students about the profession.

Tech classes are also being encouraged in many high schools to help girls discover that they really do have a passion for technology (despite the common stereotype).   A classmate of Dorlisa had this to say about the tech classes before they began: “I’m clumsy, I’m not that smart. If I take a tech course, it’s just going to be me and some guys.”  However, during the course of the tech class, she became more interested and her confidence grew. By the end of the class, she had admitted that something had been sparked and she hoped to one day become an engineer

Hopeful that more female students will continue taking offered STEM classes, instructors and feminists continue to discuss options about how to encourage female participation in more STEM related fields.  Although still faltering in numbers, more is being done today in the form of panels, classes and with teacher mentors to encourage female participation in STEM fields. By continuing to focus their efforts, the percentage of women in those fields will most likely experience a change in the coming years as it becomes more and more equal.  Soon, I hope that my engineering male friend here at Penn State will have more than one girl in his engineering classes.  After all, classes are more fun when there is an equal gender representation.

PSU Crossfit Competes

I have completed my first ever crossfit competition! Our team of roughly 20 people drove down to University of Delaware Saturday morning.  We all stayed at different houses Saturday night (it was a wonderful evening of homemade food, The Great Gatsby and an early bedtime), and then woke up very early on Sunday morning to compete! I of course fell asleep on the hour drive down and groggily woke up around 9 to everyone yelling at me that it was time to get up and WOD.  We competed at Crossfit Hardbat (not sure where the name came from) with the crossfit teams from Villanova and University of Delaware.

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The first WOD was an AMRAP of 8 Thrusters, 8 wall balls and 8 burpees.  Obviously it was a killer first WOD even if it was only 6 minutes.  6 minutes of death that is.  There were 5 rounds and people from the other rounds judged the competitors who were competing. It was so awesome to have so many people there cheering everyone on all at the same time.

The second WOD was 5 minutes to find your max lift clean and jerk.  I of course am not really good at lifting heavy and especially don’t like lifting heavy objects over my head.  I did, however, PR by 10 pounds (130) and watched my teammates hit some pretty awesome PRs as well.

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The third WOD was a brutal 800 run and then 10 minutes to get as many rounds of 30 kettlebell swings, 30 pullups and 30 airsquats. UGH. So many pullups. I was DEAD (and ripped my blisters off once again). Everyone was so tired at this point that it was a struggle to finish, but we all tried our best. Finally, as if we hadn’t done enough already, the top three males and females from each school had to consist in a team event that consisted of a 2000m row, 20 muscle ups, 30 deadlifts, 40 cleans, 50 handstand pushups, 60 toes to bar, 200 double unders and then a sled pull.  Unfortunately, our team got last but we put in a great effort and really did well on the last event.

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The winner of the competition, University of Delaware, was the winner of the Golden Keg (yes it was actually painted golden).  As a team with all of our team points and individual points we placed second (WOOOHOOO).

Overall, I am exhausted but had an amazing weekend.  I am so proud that we as a club were able to compete in our first competition and were able to take home second place. Next year, we plan on doing better and taking FIRST.

THE END…Kind Of

2014-CrossFit-Open-14_5-WorkoutIT IS OVER. Well…kinda. The lost WOD (14.5) was an absolute massacre.  No one really knew what to expect and there was a lot of build up to the announcement of the event in California.  A teaser was leaked around noon that stated that in the live competition on Thursday night, guys and girls would be going against each other.  That typically means that the workout would have to be something body weight related.  My crossfit partner, Lexie, and I decided that we wanted to get the WOD done with and out of the way early on Thursday and so showed up right at 8 to do the WOD. It was as follows:

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21, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6. 3 of thrusters and burpees. Basically…hardcore endurance and cardio. To make matters worse, the burpees had to be done on either side of the bar.  A better description would be that athletes had to do 21 thrusters and then burpee, jump over the bar laterally, burpee again and then repeat until 21 reps were reached.  Then start all over again with the 18 reps.  I was exhausted before I even reached the 15 rounds and it absolutely showed.  14.5 may not have been the toughest workout physically (although at the end of it my body was shaking and I was covered in sweat) but it was the hardest workout mentally.  The idea of having to pick up the bar when my quadriceps and forums felt like they were dead was very daunting, and there were multiple occasions where I tried to pick up the bar to complete a rep only to drop it back down when my arms could not support the weight.  Lexie, who does really well with thruster movements of any kind finished with a relatively quick time of 17 minutes.  It labored on for several more minutes until I finally finished and collapsed in the typical “crossfit recovery posiont” (aka lying prostrate on the ground unable to move.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77dMnpB2ICE

Here comes the fun part. I am DETERMINED to do it again and will be doing it again tonight before the scores must be submitted. I cannot stand the fact that my mind gave up on the workout before my body did and I am determined to pace myself and finish in a much quicker time.  Everyone in my crossfit club thinks that I am totally crazy (which I probably am, but for some reason it really bothers me that I know I did not give my all. I am sure that everyone has had that moment at least once in their life.  So, only 10 more hours until I am officially done with Crossfit Open 2014! It was quite the solid run, and I cannot wait to compete next year.