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I didn’t do a workout yesterday.  I was up late Saturday, I was annoyed at life, and it was Sunday so I told myself I would be fine.  And I was.

Today though I tried to do the same.  I had a late meeting (4:30 is late in teacher land) and the gym would be crowded with the regular after work folks and the post-work classes by the time I got there.  I’d also get home later than usual and so it would make dinner late.  I had all kinds of excuses.

My wife encouraged me to go anyway.  She probably figured I was still a bit annoyed at life from yesterday and taxing myself physically would be good for me.  She was right.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Danka, Used under CCL.

The gym was crowded.  There was equipment being set up for circuit training classes, and I only had fifteen minutes on a squat

rack to get in a strength session before I would be relegated to a far corner of the gym so I had to work without wasting time.  I also told myself that I would be in and out of the gym in an hour or less including time to change.

5:05 I was out of the locker room and changed.  I had until about 5:20 to warm up and knock out 3 sets of 5 overhead presses for strength.

By 5:25 it was metcon time.  I gave myself a 15min AMRAP workout to make sure that
I hit my target time.

I was out by 5:45 and essentially home by 6:00.  I put in a good, dedicated 40 minutes of work and it felt good.  My mood turned around and I’m excited to go back tomorrow and put in a more intense workout.

Strength:

Overhead Press:
5 @ 80lbs
5 @ 90lbs
5+ @ 105lbs (I got 8)

Metcon:  15min AMRAP

10 tire flips
4 Turkish Getups (2 each side @ 16kg)
10 pushups (hand release)
10 situps (strict)
10 sumo deadlift high pulls (16kg)

4 rounds even.  Not fancy, but it worked.  For the future:  Turkish Getups are too slow for a good metcon.

I was trying to write a review of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and I was getting frustrated just going around in circles, feeling like I was rehashing things that had already been written in other reviews.  I wasn’t offering any new insight, and I may as well have just posted a link to an appropriate review and called it a day.

This is because the book itself is a rehash of Grahame-Smith’s previous work Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Take a topic, mash some undead into it, publish, … , profit.  Sounds good right?  Well it worked the first time.  P&P&Z worked because it was a new idea.  Additionally a major theme of Jane Austen’s classic (that I hated in high school English) is about how as a society we ignore and obfuscate a lot of what makes us tick like sex and money.  We still ignore and obfuscate these things so the reinterpretation of the classic works.  Score one for appropriately contextualizing your themes so that your readership can relate!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Spoiler Alert from this point forward: But seriously some of it is so obvious that high school U.S. history is a spoiler.)  doesn’t have this same contemporary link.  More books have been written about Lincoln than any other historical figure save Jesus.  There is a gigantic pile of very serious work on Lincoln’s life and a lot of history nerds (like myself) come well equipped to a book like this.

For the beginning of the book Grahame-Smith gets it very right.  Take the beloved figure of Lincoln, equip him with an axe and some serious 19th Century cross-training, then pit him against an insidious vampire menace.  Honest Abe stands on the side of good and works to eradicate the vampire threat from face of the earth.  The nerd in me screamed “HELL YES!” when Lincoln ices his first bloodsucker.

The book takes a pretty precipitous dip once Lincoln grows up and begins his political career.  We get a strong link between slavery and vampires that is all too obvious.  It’s almost like Grahame-Smith started the book with all the intent of creating a gory, action filled, nerdtacular guilty pleasure, but then felt obligated to add some social commentary on the slavery debate and the Civil War.  Why?  Who knows.

OK.  We get it.  Slave owners are like vampires because they make their living off the destruction of others.  And…?  The last third or so is simply bland and predictable.  The method is clear, the novelty of the concept has over-stayed it’s welcome, and a reader with even the most basic understanding of 19th Century U.S. history will know where it’s going.  Most vampires side with the South in the Civil War, there are a few good ones, and Lincoln gets shot by a Vampire John Wilkes Booth.  Shocking, right?

The first third is really fun.  Grahame-Smith brings energy and indulgent action, then it just dies and feels formulaic.  I’m glad I read it since if I hadn’t I would just keep wondering, however, the upcoming film may be a better way to get your guilty Abe-with-an-axe pleasure fix.

 

Today’s WOD:

6 Descending Sets by two (20, 18, 16, etc.. Reps) Versa Climber sets do not descend.
Box Jumps (24″)
Kettlebell Swings (20kg)
Push-ups
100ft Versa Climber (Drago is using it right at the beginning of the clip)
20;48 and a smoked posterior chain.

 

Ace of Hearts: eleven push-ups.  No problem.
5 of Diamonds: five pull-ups.  No problem.  This won’t be that bad.
Four Cards Later
Joker:  25 burpees.  Well, at least that one is out of the way.
Two Cards Later
Joker:  25 more burpees.  Oy. This might be rough.

At this point.  Only ten cards into a deck of fifty-four (jokers stay in) I realized the workout was going to be significantly more challenging than I’d imagined.

The Deck of Cards workout works as such:  for each suit you assign a particular exercise.  For today diamonds were pull-ups, hearts were push-ups, spades were flutterkicks, and clubs were air squats.  You shuffle the deck and do the number of reps according to the card you turn over.  Face cards are ten.  Aces are eleven.  Jokers you make something challenging and extra-hard.  Today it was twenty-five burpees.  I also pushed myself to complete each exercise with full range of motion.  It worked for the push-ups and squats.  By the end of the workout the my legs were barely moving on the flutterkicks and I was primarily doing jumping pull-ups.

My downfall in underestimating the workout was the math.  I didn’t put together just how many reps of each exercise I’d be doing.  I mean, you’d have to get pretty unlucky to do more than a max of fifteen or so at a time, and with proper rotation it shouldn’t be that bad….  It caught up to me.  With a full set of two through ten, three face cards, and an ace it totals ninety-five reps of each exercise.  Ninety-five  air squats isn’t bad, ninety-five push-ups properly broken up is very doable, but I got wrecked by the pull-ups.  Late in the workout I drew multiple diamonds in a row that completely fatigued my arms.

Despite its deceptive difficulty (more likely because of it) I really enjoyed the Deck of Cards.  The random aspect of the workout had me focusing on going hard the entire time instead of trying to be strategic with my energy so that I could make sure to complete everything.  I did catch myself trying to count cards at a couple points but promptly lost track as fatigue set in and I had to use all my mental energy to complete each exercise with good form and intensity.

The workout is beautifully simple.  Pick four exercises.  Pick something nasty for the joker.  Shuffle up some cards and have fun.  You can do it in your living room or you can orchestrate it to involve all the complex machinery your gym has to offer.  I chose a relatively balanced approach today:  a pull, a press, legs, and core.  You could easily destroy your core with four core exercises.  You could do it as an all legs day and dread stairs for a week.  You could do all ring exercises and be a total badass.  Four different Olympic Lifts would be particularly demanding.  (Too much?)  The combination of simplicity and randomness make Deck of Cards an excellent way to add variety to a dull workout routine with the added bonus of funny stares at the gym as you flip over cards and do two reps of one exercise followed by eight of another.

WOD:
Deck of Cards

Diamonds: Pull-ups
Hearts: Push-ups
Spades: Flutterkicks (4 count)
Clubs: Air Squats
Jokers: 25 Burpees
Time: 18:24

Sunday Cooking WOD (al la Melissa Joulwan):
3lbs Citrus Carnitas
2lbs Garlic Browned (Grass Fed) Beef
2.5lbs Grilled Chicken (Brined TYVM)
2.5gal Chicken Stock
1doz Hard Boiled Eggs
Double Batch of Mashed Cauliflower
A Gigantic Pile of Veggies
Ready for the week?  Check!

 

Gamblin’ Man