Crossfit

I can still remember the lime-colored health shake endorsed by my fellow co-worker. No doubt Paleo-approved, this semi-liquid concoction was supposedly responsible for faster “Fran” times and improved athletic performance. Such was my first introduction to the world of Crossfit. I then stumbled upon a few Crossfit Games broadcasts on ESPN during some late-night channel surfing. My interest in this new form of exercise was slowly growing.

I have always been a fairly athletic individual and played multiple sports through school, but the world of Olympic weightlifting was new to me. I had also injured my shoulder a few years ago and was hesitant to push my limits too far. Pushups, pull-ups, and basic weightlifting maneuvers were no problem, but I was unsure about the dynamic movements with heavy weights. Nonetheless, in due time, I discovered there was a Crossfit gym in the local area.

After a few trial classes, I decided to join the local box. The learning curve was somewhat steep the first few weeks, but an hour or two watching Youtube instructional videos the night prior to class helped me survive the WODs. I tend to measure the quality of a workout by my degree of soreness the next day, and these workouts were definitely pushing my limits. With burpees, squats, and cleans quickly becoming a way of life and Linda, Murph, and Filthy Fifty slowly creeping into my vocabulary, I was on my way to being a genuine Crossfitter.

After six months of completing about three Crossfit workouts per week, my strength and general level of physical conditioning are both significantly improved. Competing against other athletes is definitely motivating, and I continue to make increases in my lifts and improve my times. I am not completely sold on the Paleo diet, but I do make a conscientious effort to eat healthy foods. Overall, my Crossfit experience has been rewarding with few drawbacks.

Random Church Thoughts

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I have been attending church for pretty much my entire life. Vacation Bible School, AWANA, Sunday School, a Christian college, the whole nine yards. I’ve sung hymns and praise songs, read from the King James Version and the NIV, been part of large and small congregations. I know there is no such thing as a perfect church, but I do think certain steps can be taken to maximize effectiveness.

Over the years, I have learned the size of a congregation is not an automatic determinant of the quality of a church. I have attended large churches where I almost felt like a customer in a “big-box” store. By this statement I mean it probably would have made no difference if I was present or not because nobody really made an effort to get to know me. I think many times a smaller congregation can provide a more personal connection. It can make all the difference in the world when ushers or other members are welcoming. Granted, this is a major generalization, but I have perceived these observations to be true in the past.

I have also experienced a wide range of worship music styles over the years. I think most Christian music styles can have a place in a person’s life, but I’m not sure if all Christian music styles need to be performed during the Sunday morning service. I think worship music should generally be reverent and prepare one to hear the Word of God. I’m a fan of age-old hymns which have stood the test of time for centuries, but it seems like these are becoming more and more rare. I do understand the need to be relevant and relate to a younger generation, but I hope substance and reverence are not lost in the process. Can praise songs do this job effectively? Probably if performed with the correct mindset and objectives. This is a major point of debate in some churches. I think it is important that the pastor and music director be on the same page when leading the service.

Another important aspect of the church is the sermon. I think a pastor is very similar to a personal trainer or coach in many ways. Both are entrusted with guiding their pupil through growth and training in their respective physical and spiritual domains. A training regimen can lead to increases in strength and speed under the direction of a skilled coach just as Biblical preaching can lead to increases in faith and devotion for a church member. Improvements in these areas are not always easy; athletes and church members alike must be disciplined and adhere to their training instructions. Additionally, just as overtraining can lead to stress fractures or other injuries, a pastor must be sensitive to the needs of his congregation to prevent harm. Ideally, these relationships will produce mutual growth.

These are just a few broad observations made during years of church involvement. Generally, Southern Baptist and independent, fundamental churches are responsible for my experiences. I know there are wide ranges of theology and practices in Protestant circles; my experience is mainly limited to the Baptist denomination.

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Old Rag Mountain

Old Rag Mountain is a state park in central Virginia which typically provides beginning and intermediate hikers with a challenging climb. After parking in the lower lot, prospective hikers must pay and obtain a parking pass before beginning their ascent. The first stretch of the hike is a paved road leading to the start of the trailhead. Along this road there are various homes and hiking lodges, but after a mile or so the official trail begins.

The dirt and gravel trail starts at a minimal incline and gradually increases during the 3.8 mile ascent to the top of the mountain. The first two to three miles of trail can be hiked, but after this period, the rock scramble begins. While the rock scramble is not extremely demanding, potential climbers should probably possess a fair amount of upper-body strength and be fairly athletic. There are not any extremely dangerous maneuvers required during the climb, but a misstep at some places could cause a fairly significant injury.

Multiple convenient lookout points along the hike provide for photo opportunities and a chance to view the many farms and surrounding countryside. After a few hours climbing to the 3,000 foot plus “summit,” the 5.2 mile descent begins. This path starts with a few more miles of the trail surface before changing to the wider fire road. A few camping shelters are present along the fire road, but not much else. Occasionally there will be someone riding a horse or people walking their dogs.

Overall, it will probably take the weekend hiker four to five hours to complete the entire route. While weekend and holidays will typically be more crowded, a trip during the week is usually more peaceful with a limited number of other hikers on the trail.

The Old Mill

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Nestled in the middle of a residential community, The Old Mill is a replica of a water-powered mill which would have been used in the 1800s. This particular mill’s claim to fame is an appearance in the opening credits of Gone With the Wind.

The Old Mill is located in the T.R. Pugh Memorial Park. Also in this park is a memorial dedicated to a number of World War II soldiers who died during a training mission on the body of water connected to the park.

I think an hour or so is probably the maximum amount of time one could expect to spend exploring this location. There are some good photo opportunities and a few plaques with historical information, but not much else to hold one’s attention.

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Burns Park Golf Course

The Burns Park Golf Course is one of three or four public courses in the Little Rock area. The park area has facilities for many outdoor activities to include softball, soccer, tennis, etc… The Arkansas River Trail runs along the nearby Arkansas River and provides miles of scenic views for cycling and running enthusiasts. Another point of interest is the nearby Big Dam Bridge, notably the Western Hemisphere’s longest pedestrian-only bridge.

The golf course itself is usually a fun experience. I normally opt for the ten dollar twilight walking rate after 4 P.M., but there are other options. In general the course plays fairly short. There are several par 4s under four hundred yards and most of the par 5s barely top 500 yards. Despite the length, the course does provide a challenge as many of the greens are fairly small. The various water hazards and trees add another element of difficulty.

One unique feature of the course is the wildlife that is routinely present. I have spotted several deer and at least one blue heron during my rounds at the course. I think the combination of the Arkansas River and the relatively undisturbed natural setting provides a good habitat for these animals.

The pro shop and driving range are pretty standard as far as public golf courses go. The driving range has both grass and turf tee areas as well as a practice chipping and putting green.