Disclaimer: Due to my recent string of competitions over the past few weeks, I haven’t had enough time to actually sit down and write about each one – I’ll chalk it up to that rather than my perpetual laziness. But because I waited so long a problem did arise, the live scoring link from the actual competition went dead. So my actual placement/scores may be off slightly since I’m going off my memory, except of course for the final event. That score I remember perfectly. You’ll see why in a little bit.
Lift 4 Lungs is an annual competition hosted by CrossFit ACT with all proceeds going to the Chris Draft Foundation. This year was a little more special than in year’s past because this competition also served as the grand opening to ACT’s new facility. New bars, new gym, new rack. I can’t think of a better way to christen a new gym than by having a competition between some of the top athletes in the area. Let the games begin.
12 MIN AMRAP
12 Toes To Bar
10 Hang Cleans 135/95
12 Chest To Bar Pull Ups
Grip followed by more grip topped with a little extra grip. That’s pretty much how I read this workout when I saw it written up for the first time. The only thing I could think of was make sure you break up the reps from round 1.
I thought that would be common sense – apparently I was mistaken. Because the moment the buzzer sounded to signal the start of the workout, the field took off like they were shot out of a cannon. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised. CFers have the tendency – especially in the heat of competition – to throw all strategy and game planning out the window the second they hear the buzzer go off. I even wrote about this exact phenomenon in a previous article. And in a workout as grip intensive as this one, it didn’t take long for the majority of the athletes to come to the realization they’d made a terrible mistake.
The tough part was understanding that, even if you were capable of fighting through those last couple reps on pull ups or whatever movement, it didn’t matter because the next movement was so grip intensive it didn’t give your forearms any time to recover. And once your grip goes, it’s gone and it’s not coming back, and for most people that means it’s game over.
The tricky part about this workout was that it wasn’t an issue of if your grip would betray you, but when. Everyone’s grip eventually gave out, but it was the smart few who could delay it the longest that would have the most success in this workout.
I decided, well before the workout even started, that I would break up the reps into either 6s or 5s for as long as I could and eventually drop down if necessary. Obviously, with the way the rest of my competitors started, I fell behind early. But it wasn’t long before everyone was dropping off the bar like Michelle Joyner in Cliffhanger.
The strategy worked for a while, but like I said earlier – it was only a matter of time. By four minutes in my forearms started to tighten up. By ten minutes in my forearms were completely locked up. I was reduced to doing a few reps here and there, and spent the rest of the time trying to stretch out my forearms. By the end, we were all in the same boat. It came down to efficiency in movement (what else is new!) and grit – who was willing to fight for those few extra reps.
Overall, I finished just shy of 5 rounds with 168 reps in the event. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with my performance (and neither was my aching shoulder), but it could’ve gone a lot worse. I stuck to my game plan, managed the workout the best I could, and finished right around where I expected to. On to the next one.
Result – 168 Reps
THEN WITH TIME REMAINING:
AMRAP Thrusters 65#
Now this is a workout I can get onboard with. Not because I particularly enjoy running – I hate it in fact – but the rest of the workout is right in my wheelhouse. I knew anytime lost on the run I would quickly make up on the HSPUs.
I was talking to Ryan Grady from CrossFit KOA prior to the workout and he echoed the same sentiment. He knew that even if he blew me out by let’s say 30 seconds on the 800M run – which is a shitload of time on an 800 (which he still managed to do of course) – that it wouldn’t make a difference because all that time would be lost once he got up on the wall. And that’s exactly what happened.
I came back in from the run in 3rd to last out of about 15 other competitors in my heat – Kim managed to come in dead last in his heat. But it didn’t matter, because we were both first to the bar in our respective heats.
It was all part of the plan. There was no sense in pushing the run and fatiguing ourselves for the rest of the workout when we knew we wouldn’t struggle nearly as much as some of our other competitors on HSPUs. So we took our time on the run, blew out the HSPUs, and were relatively fresh for the 6 minutes of thrusters that remained.
Let me explain something. When the workouts for a competition get released, whether it’s a month prior, a day prior, or even an hour prior to the actual event, there are certain workouts that you immediately identify and get excited for. Not because they’ll be easy or any less miserable than any other given workout, but because you might excel at them. I was looking forward to this workout because I knew I would do well at it compared to the rest of my competition – not because it wasn’t going to hurt. I can tell you first hand: this workout fucking HURT.
But six minutes worth of thrusters will do that to you. Six minutes might as well have been an eternity – and trust me the 65lbs didn’t make it any easier. If anything it made it worse, there really was no excuse for putting the barbell down or resting any longer than necessary.
As the time crept down, and tally kept climbing, I approached the century mark on the thrusters. I finished just shy with 93 reps on the thrusters, but my legs didn’t know the difference. They felt like they had gotten on Chris Brown’s bad side and paid the price. Overall, the event was exactly what I expected – it hurt…A LOT, but I did well and moved up in the rankings because of it.
One more to go.
Result – 93 Thrusters
8 MIN AMRAP
15 Squats w/ Elevation 45# Plate
15 Explosive Lateral Push Ups Over 45# Plate
15 Double Unders
The final wod was announced (unveiled?) just before the actual workout started. My initial thoughts were “good lord that’s a lot push ups”, but overall I liked it. Push ups, especially when done in a high volume workout, tend to be a strength of mine. I knew that in the later rounds when other athletes would start to fade and were desperate to break up the push ups into smaller sets I would be able to make my move.
Let me start by explain what the hell was going on in this workout. First up: squats with elevation while holding a 45lb plate. Not too bad. Basically all that meant was do an air squat while holding a plate – in whichever fashion you chose – in front of you. The weight couldn’t be locked out overhead (even though I don’t know if anyone in their right mind would ever choose to do that). The elevation part just meant at the top of the air squat jump off the ground. Nothing too serious. It could be a 1” jump as long as you reached full hip extension with both feet off the ground.
The next movement was an explosive lateral exchange over the same plate you just squatted with. With one hand on the plate and the other hand on the ground, you had to perform a push up with your chest touching the plate and then ‘explode’ to the opposite side of the plate. Explode was used very liberally in this workout. If you wanted to explode over to the other side and literally jump from one side to the other, the more power to you. But in reality, anyone who ‘exploded’ to the other side was out of gas before the workout even kicked into gear. So, with that being said, you were allowed to walk your hands across the plate to the other side and perform a pushup. Obviously this method was slower, but it would at least save you chest for the final round.
The third movement was double unders. No explanation needed.
The workout pretty much progressed exactly how I expected it to. The squats – after 93 thrusters a couple hours prior – were miserable. But there was no excuse to stop on them. The weight was light enough, you just had to grit your teeth and battle through it. And even though a decent amount of the competitors were forced to break up their squats into smaller sets, the push ups really served as the separator.
High volume push ups tend to crush a lot of people. Thankfully – at least in one aspect of life – my short arms came in handy. That, coupled with my relatively light bodyweight, allowed my to keep chugging along when people really started to fade in the later rounds. Of course I had to break up the reps, but not into minute sets. This is where I really made up a ton of ground on some people. I also adopted a high but position on the walk across, almost like an overhead press position. Surprisingly, this took a lot of stress off my chest and placed it in my shoulders giving my chest a few precious seconds to recover.
Of course, there are always those who still struggle mightily from double unders. It’s definitely getting more and more rare to see – as compared to a couple years ago where they were borderline laughable for most. But for the most part, even if you’re not a top guy in the region but more of a local hero, double unders aren’t really an issue. So there wasn’t much ground to gain on the top guys during doubles.
Now here is where things got interesting.
Official Result – 237 Reps…?
What’s in a Score Anyway?
First and foremost, for those of you who have never competed or been to a CF competition, let me explain how the scoring works. It’s relatively simple. You are awarded the same number of points as your placement in the workout – and at the end of the competition the person with the lowest amount of total points wins. For example: If over the course of the three workouts you got a 1st place, 4th place, and 2nd place finish you would end the competition with 7 points. Lowest total wins.
Now, some competitions will hold a final event – this being one of them. Where the top athletes – in this case it was top 5 – would move on to a winner take all final workout. I missed qualifying for the final event with a 6th place finish.
But I shouldn’t have.
My score was entered incorrectly into the computer which dropped me down significantly in the rankings and eliminated me from the final event. But I never realized it till it was too late. My score was entered as 237 reps instead of 297 reps on the final workout. An honest mistake I’m sure, but that gave me a 12th place finish in the workout rather than a 2nd place finish. That’s a HUGE difference.
How did I let this happen? Self doubt crept in. You have to understand when my judge read me my score after the final workout I was rolling on the floor, sizzling like a piece of bacon trying to catch my breath. So I thought to myself, maybe I just heard him wrong and I didn’t do as well as I thought.
Add on top of that, that I hate checking the leaderboard during a competition. I guess you could consider it a kind of superstition sort of thing, but more or less I hate being one of those people just constantly checking their phones for their placement. I try to fight the urge and go out and perform the best I can, and where I end up I end up. Well, that’s the last time I’ll be sticking with that mantra. Either way, I knew I was in good shape heading into the 3rd wod regardless.
But the moment all that self doubt was erased, and I truly realized a mistake was made was later that night. I knew for a fact, 100% that I finished on push ups. When the buzzer rang, I was in the middle of my set of push ups. Now if my score was 237, like it said on the computer, I would have finished in the middle of a set of squats. I would have completed 5 full rounds and done 12 squats – but like I said I finished in push ups. And more than that, I knew I completed 12 push ups. Because I remember thinking, ‘finish this set of push ups’ but the buzzer beat me to it.
The weird part? Completing 6 full rounds, all the squats and 12 push ups put me at, you guessed it, 297 reps. The same number I was sure my judge told me at the end of the final workout.
I blew it. I should have been in 3rd or 4th place heading into that final event.
Lesson learned. That’s the best way I could look at this whole situation. A mistake was made. I don’t blame ACT or my judge for it happening, I’m more upset with myself for what happened and being so clueless as to what was going on. From now on I need to be more aware of everything – from scoring to placement. I need to be one of those people who – at least from time to time – needs to check the leaderboard to make sure everything is kosher (Mae has already volunteered to be that person for me, in case I’m too incapacitated post workout to even know where I am).
I understand that local competitions aren’t solely about winning – compared to a bigger event like Regionals. It’s more about being part of a bigger community and throwing down together and making some new friends in the process. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to win. It was a good lesson to learn early before it really cost me in something bigger.
I haven’t really spoken to anyone about the whole scoring debacle. To be honest I was kind of embarrassed I wasn’t more proactive in figuring out what was right. And at the same time, I didn’t want any unnecessary blame to be put on ACT. It really was an incredibly well run event. I compete as often as I can, and this was one of the better competitions I’ve been a part of. It’s just unfortunate it ended the way it did.
Next up: Mayhem at the Meadowlands.