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Crossfit Games Report

March 25, 2012

The open round of the Crossfit Games is over. All-in-all, I’m very glad I did it. I pushed myself in new ways. I pushed myself to do heavier weight than I would have otherwise, and got in some new skills. I pushed myself to make it to workouts I might have skipped. I didn’t always get as high a score on workouts as I expected, but I consistently pushed myself harder than I expected to. And I saw some inspiring performances by other athletes at my gym. I’m going to recap the WODs (workout of the day), one by one, how I did on them, and what I thought of them. Click here for official videos and standards on all the workouts I describe. I’ve written the standards for men here. The workouts for women were the same, but slightly lower weights.

12.1, week 1. WOD, 7 minutes, as many burpees as possible.

For burpees, you go into a squat, put your hands on the ground and kick your feet out behind you. Do a pushup, then jump and pull legs back underneath you. Jump up in the air to finish. For the games standards, we had to touch a ring 6 inches above our maximum reach, to make sure we were jumping high enough. I got through 78 burpees. This was a really tough workout. I knew it would be tough when I started, but didn’t anticipate just how tough it would be. For such a basic movement, it takes so much out of you. But I also left this workout with my mental game back in place. I knew I pushed as hard as I could, and I knew I had the support of a gym behind me.

12.2, week 2. WOD, 10 minutes, as many rounds as possible: 75 pound snatch, 30 reps; 135 pound snatch, 30 reps; 165 pound snatch, 30 reps; 210 pound snatch, as many reps as possible.

This is a workout I was downright nervous about going into. Snatch is an olympic weightlifting movement. Starting with the bar on the ground, you lift the bar all the way up overhead without stopping or resting it on your shoulders. It’s intimidating to just throw that much weight up overhead! It actually involves a lot of leg strength (watch the video for more). I knew I could do up to 95 pounds. I didn’t think I could do 135 pounds. It’s a very technical movement. I got through my 30 reps at 75 in maybe 3 and a half minutes. Then I added the extra weight to bring the bar up to 135 pounds, and had about 6 minutes. On my first try, the bar barely got to mid chest. If I didn’t have a judge/cheerleader right there to encourage me, I would have been ready to stop right there. Instead, I kept trying to snatch 135 pounds for the next 6 minutes. Failing every time. But trying again, and again. I did get better at moving my hips and arms the right way. And I got the bar higher. In fact, truth be known, I probably can get the bar high enough to complete the snatch, if I had the technical skills down better. The trick on snatch is that your arms are not strong enough to lift the weight as you increase the weight. So as the bar comes up, you need to drop back down beneath the bar in a full squat. As your body drops beneath the bar, you extend your arms. Then you use your legs to lift the bar up. But it takes a lot of skill to get that drop down right. I’m not there. But I was proud of myself for not giving up, for spending six minutes trying a movement that I couldn’t do on the first try. And for getting closer, even if I still have a lot of work.

12.3, week 3. WOD, 18 minutes, as many rounds as possible: 15 reps – box jumps (24″ box), 12 reps – 115 pound push press, 9 reps – toes to bar.

I knew the push press (get the bar to your shoulders, from there, push it overhead, but dip and drive with the legs to help push the bar up) would be hard, but I could do it. I’ve never done toes to bar before (hang from the pullup bar, lift your toes up to touch the bar). So I wasn’t sure how far I would be getting on this WOD. But I got 117 — meaning I did get toes-to-bar! I did okay with the push press on the first round. I think I got 4 or 5 consecutive, then put the bar down, then finished them 3 or 4 at a time. I’m not able to knock off 9 toes to bar in a row without stopping, but I actually got through them fairly quickly. I realized I had to really think about keeping my upper body relaxed, and pulling in with the core muscles, but not trying to pull my upper body up. This one was a really long workout, but I managed to keep pushing through it. But the push press was getting really hard. In the second and third rounds, I was doing them 1 or 2 at a time — which means I also had to keep lifting the bar back up off the ground, extra work. But I was struggling with the weight. But I just kept at it. Do one, drop weight on ground, catch breath for 10 seconds, do another… I got a higher score than expected (I got the toes to bar!), and I pushed myself much harder than I expected!

The most inspiring part of 12.3 was judging my partner. She got through a couple push press, but then really struggled. But she kept fighting for it. She could get the bar up off her shoulders, but not get it locked out overhead. It was amazing to see how she just refused to give up. Again, and again, she tried. And she really thought about the technique to. That was key to how she eventually got through it. Once she got the hip drive going well, and then dropped enough beneath the bar, she could get it locked out up over head. She spent most of the WOD on the first round of push press, but did get through them. Again on the toes to bar she struggled. She got a few done, but couldn’t complete them. I later told her that when I was struggling in the workout, I thought about watching her struggle. If she had the spirit to keep fighting like that, then I could keep pushing too. You don’t need to be the best or the strongest to be inspiring. What’s inspiring is watching someone push themselves beyond what they think they can do.

12.4, week 4. WOD, 12 minutes, as many reps / rounds as possible: 150 wall balls (20 lb medicine ball, 10 foot target), 90 double unders, 30 muscle ups.

I knew this would be tough, but I expected to get through at least the wall balls on this one. Wall balls require you to do a full squat holding the medicine ball, then throw it against the wall. For games standards, the center of the ball has to be at or above the line. I’ve never successfully done double unders (jumping rope with the rope passing under your feet twice), but I hoped to at least try. I got through 116 wall balls instead. I had a lot of bad attempts — tries that were just a few inches too short, or that were high enough but didn’t actually hit the wall. So frustrating. I used almost as much energy for those as a successful attempt, but they didn’t count.

After I finished, the guy judging me (I was at a gym in Texas, I did this one while traveling for a conference) commented that I never gave up. And it’s true. I couldn’t do more than 3 or 4 at a time. But I didn’t stop for more than 10 seconds. I would do 3 or 4, let the ball drop, take half a step back, but then step forward again and be right back into it. Even when I missed three in a row and got frustrated, I took a step back, took a deep breath, shook my arms, and right back into it. And I think he summarized the lesson from it well: I can keep working on my technique on some of these basic movements. And I should focus on that a little more in workouts. If I was getting the ball just a little higher. And, I kept catching the ball, getting into my squat, then dropping it! I realized the problem was I was catching the ball too far forward, so I wasn’t getting full control of it. Something else to work on. So maybe my score was not as good as I hoped, but I didn’t give up.

12.5, week 5. WOD, 7 minutes, “fran ladder,” as many reps as possible: 3 reps – 100 pound thrusters, 3 reps – chest-to-bar pullups; 6 reps – 100 pound thrusters, 6 reps – chest-to-bar pullups; 9/9, etc.

The final WOD. I almost didn’t do this one actually. I injured my right wrist a couple weeks ago and it’s been slowly healing. But it hurts to bend it all the way back. Thrusters involve holding the bar on the front of your shoulders, doing a full squat, then driving up and pushing the bar overhead. That was going to put a lot of weight on my wrist. And I still struggle with my normal pullups. I’ve never even tried chest to bar before this workout (literally, you need to touch the bar with your chest at or below the collar bone). And didn’t think I could do it. So if I missed, oh well, right? I didn’t go in on Thursday, when we normally do the games WODs. My wrist was still too sore then. But I was at the gym on Saturday, and our coach mentioned Sunday morning they would be having a makeup for the games WOD. So I set my alarm for Sunday morning. I got up and still was tempted to skip. Do I really want to do this? Especially because I had an olympic lifting class at 3:15 pm on Sunday. So if I went to do the games WOD at 10 am, I would still be sore. And Jeremy decided to go see Hunger Games at 10:45 am. I wasn’t really excited about that movie, to be honest. But still, seeing a movie sounded mighty tempting over going in to do a workout that I knew was going to hurt.

But I went in. And I’m glad I did. Before the workout, I warned Morgan (my judge this week) that my wrist hurt and I wasn’t sure how I would do. She said “you won’t even notice it once the workout starts.” And she was right, of course. That countdown started, and then the buzzer went off, and I went. And I didn’t notice it. I did my thrusters. And then jumped up and grabbed that pullup bar. My first attempt I got high enough, but didn’t actually touch my chest to the bar. No rep. But then I got it on my second try! And my third try! I had to make sure to kip hard (kipping is kicking your legs to help support the pullup motion, legal in crossfit). I couldn’t do more than one chest to bar pullup at a time, so I would do one, drop off the bar, jump back up, do another… But I was doing them! I got through the 3/3 round, the 6/6 round, and my thrusters on the 9 round, plus 6 pullups (total score of 33). By the end, to get my chest to the bar, I normally had to kip twice. Once to get my body up to the bar, and another time to get my chest all the way to touch the bar. It was slow. My score was near the bottom of the group. But that didn’t matter. Mostly just the strongest athletes at my gym signed up for the crossfit games. Many of them have been able to do chest to bar pullups for a long time. So I shouldn’t be comparing myself to them. I pushed harder than I expected. I wasn’t sure if I could finish any chest to bar pullups. But I finished 15 of them!!

So to recap. I need to remind myself, I wasn’t doing this for the scores. I was doing this to push myself. I did every workout at prescribed standards. I got down some new skills. I pushed harder than I expected. And a year ago I could not have done all these movements. So definite progress. Maybe next year, if I do the games again, I can try to be more competitive?

238 days till Ironman Arizona.

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