Over the past year and a half that I’ve been doing CrossFit, I’ve hit a lot of PR’s and gained not only strength, but invaluable confidence in myself and my abilities. I also walk into the box for every WOD, knowing my weaknesses, but instead of feeling like they are holding me back, they just let me know where I need to work harder. That desire to assess my current ability, and push myself to face movements that still intimidate me, was a big reason I decided to participate with my box in this years CrossFit Games Open. While I know I am not the strongest, or fastest – not by a long shot – and while I’m not a hugely competitive person, at least not against others (against myself is another story) I decided I was curious enough to take on the challenge, just to see where I ended up in the world, and amongst my comrades.
Last year, I didn’t officially participate, but I did a few of the WODs. I don’t think I RXed all of them, but I came into this year, pretty confident that I could handle the weights they threw at me. The idea of being judged both made me nervous and excited. When I work out, I tend to zone out into my own little bubble, so the idea of someone paying so much attention to me kinda freaked me out. There is a fine line we dance on, between being confident in ourselves, and allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable and being judged. At the same time, I feel it helps to keep me motivated to push harder. At the end of the day, I think often an athlete is only as good as their coach, and there have been many times that my coaches helped me get over a hump of doubt and achieve more.
The workouts are announced every Thursday, so I try to perform them on Friday. It makes sense to me, since they get programmed as the WOD for the day and I like to get it over with. For each WOD so far, I’ve gone down to my box to watch the announcement with my comrades, and I’m actually surprised at the amount of anxiety and excitement the events have given me. I feel such a sense of community and family with my box, now more than ever, because I am a part of this great, worldwide event, and we are all in it together. My scores might not help much, but they add something to our team, and for that I am proud.
Leading up to the first workout, I had no idea what to expect. There are definitely movements that I was terrified to see, just because I’m not good at them, or can’t do them. Double unders, chest to bar pull ups, and muscle ups easily fit into this category. The night that 14.1 was announced, I was incredibly nervous and anxious, but I ran down to the box to find out what I was in for. As I stood there, eyes glued to the screen along with a small handful of fellow competitors, of course one of my feared opponents was included in the WOD. It was a 10 minute AMRAP (As many rounds/reps as possible) of 30 double unders and 15 power snatches (at 55# for women).
I can physically do double unders, which I guess is better than when I started out, but I am extremely inefficient. I’m not a cardio person; I can handle myself with weights, but running, rowing, and double unders will never be my forte. The biggest thing that slows me down, is not being able to string them together. I can do a single – single – double pattern, or single – double – single – double pattern on occasion, but even then, I mess up a lot. Double unders are like bracing for the cat – o – nine – tails. jump – jump – jump – OUCH! Anyway, I knew the double unders would be a formidable foe, but I also knew I could do a few of them. I was just hoping that it wouldn’t take me the entire 10 minutes to get through 30 of them!
The next day, as I drove to the box, I felt my heart beating a mile a minute, I was so nervous. I was trying to calm myself down, and warm up sufficiently. I did some PVC mobility, and a few practice snatches, and felt ok with them. I warmed up nice and thoroughly with the jump rope, doing singles, doubles, backwards singles, one leg jumps. Then I rested. It was time. I thought to myself, “Am I ready?” – I was as ready as I ever would be.
3 – 2 – 1 – Go!
The double unders were tough. Sometimes I would get into a good rhythm and bang out 7 or 8 of them before messing up. Sometimes I was a mess. I don’t even want to know how many “No Reps” I got. The snatches were probably 70% give or take of my max, so they were on the heavy side, but I felt good doing them, and I feel like they were some of my best power snatches ever. I’m pretty sure I maintained pretty good form, which is a big thing. One of my pet peeves with these competitions, is seeing form go to hell. I don’t care if It gets me a few more reps, I’m going to try my hardest to keep it together. I put my everything into the workout, and the coach that was scoring me knew how hard I was trying. I think he felt bad that he had to no rep me so much. I didn’t care, I did my best. My lungs were burning by the end of it. I crumpled to the floor, my chest heaving, my lungs gasping for breath. It was honestly the closest I’ve come to being nauseous at the end of a workout. I ended up with a score of 90 , and went home feeling good about it.
When I got home, I started replaying the WOD in my head, and over-thinking. “If only I was better at double unders” or “It would have been nice to break 100” and I contemplated. I decided I wanted to try the workout again, to see if I could get to 100 reps. I went back into the box the next day, hell-bent on trying harder. Maybe it was because it was only the next day, without real rest in between but I just didn’t do as well the second time. I had a lot of frustrating trouble with the double unders, and I fell short of my original score by 10 reps. I left feeling a little bit defeated, but it quickly turned to being proud of my initial performance, now knowing that I truly did my best.
The next week was 14.2, and once again, a dreaded foe. This time it included chest to bar pull-ups, which I was pretty sure I couldn’t even do. Basically you had 3 minutes to do 2 rounds of 10 overhead squats (65 # for women) and 10 chest to bar pull-ups. If you got through the round, you would continue with another three minutes, and a 12 – 12 rep scheme. This would continue on, adding 2 reps each 3 minute round, until you fail to complete the 2 rounds. I went into the workout, confident I would get a score of 10 – but not expecting much more, so I wasn’t nearly as anxious. I practiced with the weight, and it was heavy, but very much doable, and I used a light bar and a pvc, to work on my squat mobility, warming up with some overhead squats facing a wall. Coach remarked on my really good mobility doing this, and so I was extra happy. Then I did some pull up practice. Using a regular grip, I just don’t have the strength yet to bring my chest to the bar. Luckily though, you could use the grip of your choice, as long as you extend all the way, and you touch the bar below the collar-bone. I tried a few different grip variations, and much to my surprise, I was able to get a chest to bar pull-ups, using either an alternating grip, or reverse grip. For the workout, I used reverse.
3- 2- 1- GO!
I power snatched the bar up and started my overhead squats. I wasn’t really sure how heavy it was going to be, since we haven’t worked on our one rep max in a while. Towards the end of last year, my max was 65# so, I figured it would probably feel pretty heavy. It was tough, but I actually managed to do all 10 reps unbroken. I feel like my form was good, and I think all the squat mobility I’ve been working on is paying off. This was the easy part of the workout. Then came the dreaded Chest to Bar pull-ups. My goal was one – I actually got nine! They were hard, even with the reverse grip, but a few times I even managed to string a couple together. The hardest part was actually getting below my collarbone to touch the bar. There were a few times where I pulled high enough to get my neck over the bar, but just could not summon the extra push to get up the last few inches. Those are the worst No-Reps because you are so close, so darn close, but your body just gives out inches from the top. I would have loved to get to another round of overhead squats, but honestly, I walked out of 14.2 super psyched, because I was able to get way more reps than I expected walking in. I faced my fear, I faced my weakness, and I overcame it. I still have A LOT of work to do on my pull-ups….but knowing you CAN do it, and just need to GET BETTER at it, is totally empowering and is a great boost.
Friday, I walked into 14.3 – a Box Jump and Deadlift ladder.
When I saw the announcement Thursday, I was thrilled! Finally, a workout I can be fairly confident about, I thought. The weights get heavy quick, and I figured, If I get to the 155# round it will be almost at my max (the heaviest I’ve lifted is 165#), but these are movements I can feel good about. For the box jumps, you are allowed to do step ups, and that was a no brainer for me. I am not fast, and with the muscle fatigue from the deadlifts, the added stress of jumping would put too much risk on my back. I tend to land deeper into a squat than some, so It just taxes the muscles and raises your heart rate causing you to waste time having to catch your breath and recoup. I will not sacrifice form for time, and although it’s a competition I need to play smart, especially when it comes to deadlifts. I’m no Sam Briggs or Rich Froning, I’m not going to the games, there is NO REASON to hurt myself for reps. That being said, I knew I would be pushing hard.
Feeling as confident as I did, I was surprised that I was so anxious going in. Maybe it was excitement, but I definitely had workout butterflies. Me and another girl from the gym warmed up, and as we added weight, I got to feel the different weights I would be using. I had no problem with the 95#, it was fairly light. The 135# was heavy, but I thought it was very doable. The 155# was very heavy, but I knew I could do it in singles for at least a couple of reps. Finally it was time for the WOD. I set up the weight so that I only had to add weight, instead of wasting time stripping off plates.
3 – 2 – 1 – GO!
It started out pretty easy, as I thought it would. The deadlifts were at a comfortable weight, and I had a good rhythm with the step ups. I paced myself, and I did the deadlifts unbroken. Then I added the weight to 135# and went for it. I changed up my grip to alternating after the first few reps. I usually never do that, but I think it actually made me feel more stable. I think I stopped to breathe after every five reps, breaking it up slightly, but only for a moment. I was happy about how I was pacing it so far. The step ups were also really useful for catching my breath, and I kept a good pace, alternating legs every one or two reps. At this point I still had 3 or 4 minutes left on the clock. Then I increased the weight to 155# and it was definitely HEAVY. It wasn’t however, as bad as I imagined it to be. I went through the reps in singles, dropping it, instead of placing it down. I kept a steady pace of lift – drop – breath – lift – drop – breath. Amazingly I didn’t feel any pain or strain in my back, and I think I was able to maintain pretty good form the whole way though. Somehow, I managed to get through all 20 reps, even though that weight is probably 90-95% of my one rep max. I even had time to bang out all 15 step ups. At the end of the box jump/step ups – The clock read 7 min 45 sec – So I knew that even if I wanted to attempt the 185#, I wouldn’t have time to change the weights. I was done with a score of 90 reps! Considering I watched one of the coaches, who I think is in pretty great shape, do 103 reps the night before, I was pretty psyched at my performance. I definitely did the best I possibly could, and honestly, I don’t think I would have even been able to get 185# off the floor even If I had the time.
And so now, the wait for 14.4 begins, and I don’t even know what to expect at this point. The challenges so far have tested my strength, my confidence, and my abilities to adapt. It has shown me barriers, that I have broken, and weaknesses that I have faced and shook hands with at the end. It has given me knowledge of things to work on, and surprised me with how far I have come. I may not be the best, but I am an athlete. I am more of an athlete today, than I have ever been in my 29 years on earth. I am so glad to be a part of not only MY community and MY box, but the rest of the world putting their heart and souls into these workouts week after week. All I can say at this point? Whatever you have for us in the next two weeks – Bring It!