Yesterday I met Helen…and she was a bitch.

Helen is a CrossFit benchmark WOD (workout of the day).  The benchmarks consist of “The Girls” and “The Heroes” which are named after fallen soldiers who were fellow CrossFitters.  These WODs are meant to be done a few times a year to see how your fitness has improved over time.  This was my first benchmark WOD and it was TOUGH.

Helen consists of 3 rounds for time of:

  • 400 meter run
  • 21 kettle bell swings (55#/35#)
  • 12 pull ups

Now I didn’t do this as RXed (prescribed) because 1. 35# kettle bell swings are how a hurt my neck a few months ago and I don’t feel I’m ready for that yet, and 2. I can’t do a pull up.  So I modified the WOD to a 20# kettle bell and jumping pull ups.  Jumping pull ups are where you stand on a box and jump to assist in doing a pull up.  Don’t be fooled, these are still difficult.

Jumping Pull Ups

My first 400 m run was at a little over an 8 min/mile pace.  That is SUPER fast for me.  Yes it’s only a quarter of a mile, but for someone who’s pace averages around 12:20, that’s fast.  My runs got slower each time, but I don’t think it got over 9 min/mile pace…still crazy.  It’s amazing how having a group of people around you will help to push you harder.  The kb swings and pull ups were fine, but definitely more difficult after the runs.

There were a few other factors that made the runs difficult.  It’s getting dark in the Northeast around 4:45 pm these days, so it was pitch black for my 5:30 class.  I was unsure of my footing and actually stopped to find the curb a few times.  A friend of mine actually fell and scrapped her arm pretty bad!  It was also 40 degrees out, so my lungs were burning at the end!   I finished with a time of 11:42, which I’m actually really happy with considering this was my first time and all of the other factors.  I also wasn’t the last to finish, which is always a bonus 🙂

My goal for the next time we do Helen is to do the RX kettle bell weight and band assisted pull ups.  I know it will be a long time until I get to the point where I can do an actual pull up, so I’ll be working my way up.  I’d also like to come in sub-11 minutes.  Can I do it????

Check out this crazy video of a guy finishing Helen in sub-7 minutes…so inspiring!

Have you completed Helen?  What’s your favorite benchmark WOD?

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