Into the Cold
Mayhem in the Meadowlands. Nobody told me it was going to be this cold – thank god I brought an extra pair of long pants! Check in was at 7am sharp at Metlife Stadium in the Meadowlands – but as per Team Maxability tradition – we rolled up late.
The weather was unforgivingly cold so early in the morning, and the line to enter the stadium stretched further than a football field itself. Due to the tragedies in Boston last week, the hosts of the competition, CrossFit 201, were taking every precautionary measure with everyone entering the stadium. So the check in process was slow and drawn out, but understandable. We huddled around to keep warm, and cracked jokes to pass the time and before long we found ourselves inside the gates.
Thankfully, the actual check-in process ran much smoother. We broke into our respective platoons – which MK somehow knew (Tim and I were clueless) – and were checked in based on division. We received our hefty swag bags – already more impressive than some prizes we’ve received for winning competitions – filled to the brim with t-shirts, discount codes, and of course ‘miraculous, game-changing’ supplements.
With check in finally all squared away, it was time to make our way to the competition floor and enter the stadium.
Welcome to the Thunderdome, Bitch
Metlife Stadium. Home of the New York Football Giants – and I guess the Jets, too. This was my first time ever being in the new stadium, let alone on the field itself. It was a pretty surreal experience walking through the tunnel and onto the field.
The entire event was organized to cater to the athletes – which was a refreshing change of pace. From the moment we got our VIP “Athlete” badges to seeing the jumbo tron come to life with the competition, CrossFit 201 and everyone else involved made the athletes feel like celebrities.
The stage was set, workouts explained, and athletes raring to go. The only thing left was to those all-too-familiar words to kick off any competition 3..2..1..GO!
WOD 1 – “Braen 40yd Dash”
4 Min Cap
40yd Farmer’s Carry – 74# Each Hand
40yd Tire Flip as a Team – 970# Tire
Then With Time Remaining:
AMRAP Box Jumps onto the Tire
Four minute cap, huh? MK and I had the same mentality from the get go, ‘let us at those box jumps and we’ll crush this workout.’ The problem was having enough time to spare, after everything else, to have an honest crack at them. Four minutes is not a long time.
The workout started with an innocent enough 40yd sprint down the parking lot of Metlife Stadium to retrieve our 74lb Braen stones – one for each hand. Then the workout really started. Each team member then had to farmer’s walk (run) back 40yds to the starting line where your gargantuan 970lb tire awaited.
Normally, I’m not a particularly big fan of farmer’s carries. My grip strength definitely isn’t the strongest, and my hand size is on par with a prepubescent middle school girl – so physically wrapping my hands around the weight is always a challenge. But for whatever reason, chalk it up to the competition adrenaline kicking in, the farmer’s carry was an absolute joke. I grabbed the weight in either hand and took off at a pace not much slower than my initial sprint.
The tire on the other hand was worse than I thought it would be. Prior to the event, in the athlete warm up area, there were some – albeit much smaller – practice tires to work out any kinks in strategy your team might be mulling over. We came up with a simple 1,2,3 cadence. When Tim would yell ‘one!’ we would all grab the tire. On ‘two!’ we’d brace and get tight. And finally on ‘three!’ we’d lift. All fine and dandy on the practice tires, but the real deal was a whole other monster.
It was HEAVY! Much heavier than I thought it would be with three people. We have 500lb tires back at the gym, and we’ve all done workouts where we’ve had to flip in by ourselves, so I figured an extra 400ish pounds plus two other dudes shouldn’t be that challenging. I was wrong.
I think it was more the aggressive pace Tim kept driving with his cadence. Once the tire hit the ground, we were back with our hands underneath it ready for the next lift. There was no time to catch your breath, but it was out of necessity. Like I said earlier, the quicker we were able to get through the tire flips, the more time for box jumps – and that’s where we really excel. The last 15 or so yards of the push were awful, but we fought through it and left ourselves with a decent amount of time for the tire jumps.
I mean there’s not much left to say at this point. Once we got to the tire jumps, we did what we set out to do – crush it. MK and I cycled through reps at a feverish pace – even Tim got in on the action for a few. But the majority of the workload fell on MK and I’s shoulders – don’t worry Tim would shoulder (literally) a ton of the workload on the next workout. We finished with 102 tire jumps and 222 points overall (including points for the sprint, farmer’s carry, and tire flip). Which put us in a comfortable 11th place overall.
Braen 40yd Dash – 222 Total Points – 11th Place in the Event
WOD 2 – “The Extra Point”
8 Min Cap
Pick Your Poison Carry
31 WallBall Tosses 20#
Pick Your Poison Carry
15 Hang Cleans (Each Member) 155#
Pick Your Poison Carry
15 Shoulder to Overhead (Each Member) 155#
Pick Your Poison Carry
With Time Remaining: Extra Point MedBall Tosses
By far the most unique event of the entire competition, ‘The Extra Point’ had it all – and it only took me about five run-throughs to understand what the hell was going on. I’ll do my best to try and break it down into a somewhat coherent version, but know this, this workout was the premier event of Mayhem in the Meadowlands.
Why? Because more than any other event, ‘The Extra Point’ far and away required the most amount of teamwork and strategizing. Who would carry which object on the farmer’s carry, who would be first on the cleans and shoulder to overhead, what’s the best technique for deadlifting a telephone poll? All these questions needed to be sorted out before the event started if you even remotely wanted a shot to finish the workout – there was no time to figure it out on the fly.
The workout started with a ‘pick your poison’ farmer’s carry. Basically there were three sets of objects that each team member had to farmer’s carry 20yds down and back: a 100lb sandbag, two 80lb five gallon buckets, and two 100lb torpedoes (aka thick pvc pipes filled with sand and lead shot). Tim was the designated torpedo carrier – due to his freakish grip strength – while Kim and I were relegated to the sandbag and 5 gallon buckets. We alternated who would carry which object based on who would start the next segment in the workout – so Kim would carry the sandbag if he was going to start the hang cleans so as not to gas his grip.
I won’t try to sugar coat it, Tim got the short end of the stick on this one. The torpedoes were by far the worst object to carry out of the three. Awkwardly shaped, if they weren’t lifted perfectly off the ground all the sand and led would slide to one side of the pvc making it even harder to hold, let alone walk with.
After the initial farmer’s carry, the misery that was this workout continued for Tim. It was his job to hold a 155lb barbell in a locked out position overhead while MK and I completed 31 MedBall tosses over the goal post. The trick here was we could only complete reps while the bar was locked out overhead. The MedBall tosses were beyond awkward – the angle the ball had to be thrown in order to get it over the goal post was completely different than throwing it against the wall in the gym. It took that little extra ‘umph’ to get the job done. Tim did his best to hold the weight overhead the entire time, but was forced to drop the weight while MK and I only had one rep left – it was either drop the weight or break his face with the barbell…priorities Tim!
Back to another round of farmer’s carry – and more torpedoes for Tim. This time, on the return of the farmer’s carry, each member had to perform 15 hang cleans with 155lbs. The catch? Reps could only be performed while the two other members deadlifted and held a 365lb telephone poll. Ouch! The issue with the telephone poll wasn’t that it was heavy, it was the fact that handle to grip the pole was set about a foot into the poll making it impossible to stand all the way up without the poll doing some serious damage between your legs. But Tim came up with an ingenious plan that was really the difference maker in this workout. We decided, since the pole sat between our legs anyway, why not wrap our legs around the pole to take some pressure off our hands and save our grip. It worked beautifully and holding the pole up became an afterthought. I honestly don’t know how other people managed in this workout without doing that.
Back once again to the farmer’s carry. By this point the workout had really taken its toll on Tim and his grip. In retrospect, MK or I should have taken the torpedoes the last round and given him a break. BUT we didn’t. Oops. With not much time remaining on the clock, the final part of the workout were 155lb push jerks. The same standard applied as before, reps could only be counted as long as the telephone poll was deadlifted and held by the other two team members. MK went first and banged out his set of 15 with relative ease. Then it was decision time.
We had decided before the workout even began that the order would be MK, Tim, then myself when it came to the cleans and jerks. But by this point, after the multiple torpedo carries and barbell/telephone holds Tim’s shoulders were smoked. We should’ve deviated from the gameplan, and I should jumped in front of Tim and done my portion of shoulder to overhead while I was still relatively fresh.
Tim finished with 11 reps of the shoulder to overhead before the buzzer sounded. The only disappointment was that we were not allowed to rotate during the shoulder to overhead. On the other side of the field, the judges were allowing each member to perform as many reps as they wanted before rotating with their team members – as long as each member eventually completed 15 before moving on. However, on our side once a team member began the cleans or jerks, they had to finish all 15 reps before rotating. If allowed to rotate between members during the jerks, I potentially could’ve jumped in a squeezed out a few more reps. And you’ll see why that would’ve been so important later on.
The Extra Point – 162 Points – 17th Place in the Event
WOD 3 – “The Two Minute Drill”
Two Minute AMRAP at Each Station for Total Reps
Bench Press 185lbs
Squat Clean 185lbs
There has never been a more straightforward wod. Two minute AMRAP. Four movements. For total reps as a team. Simple. The only strategy involved – if you could even call it that – was deciding what order we should go in. Other than that, it was just go till the wheels fall off.
Two minutes really isn’t that much time – especially when you have to rotate between three people and have zero transition time between movements. So our game plan was relatively simple, have the athlete who is best at the given movement go first, have the other two athletes follow suit, and finish with the best athlete again. And by that point it should be time to rotate.
With that being said, I was going to start on deadlifts, Tim on bench press, and Kim on cleans and pull ups. Other than that the game plan was simple: HAM. The beauty of a workout like this is that you get a ton of rest – so during the time you actually are working, it has to be all out. It becomes an ‘empty the tank’ mentality on every set. The movements really didn’t overlap too much – except for deadlifts and squat cleans but bench press was sandwiched in between which provided some rest for your posterior – so there was no need to pace it in anticipation of the next movement. You could really go for broke.
And that’s exactly what we did! Not much more to say. The deadlift felt light, the press flew off my chest, the cleans felt tight, and the pull ups were smooth. Overall, we left it all out there – didn’t stop moving – and finished with 230 total reps.
Now, all that was left was to tally up the final score.
The Two Minute Drill – 230 Points – 12th Place in the Event
The Final Score
Most CrossFit competitions – Mayhem in the Meadowlands included – feature a final, winner-take-all, event for the top teams over the course of the day. In this case, the top 5 teams in each division would be qualified for the final event. Somewhat surprisingly, at the end of the three events Team Maxability was holding strong in 5th place.
But it was short lived. Because even though all the scores had been tallied and leaderboard updated, there was still one team who didn’t have their score in yet: CrossFit New England. And once their score got submitted for the final workout – a whooping 277 reps and first place overall in the event – Team Maxability got bumped down to 6th place.
In the end, we missed out of the final workout – a combination of Grace, Isabel, and burpees – by 2 measly points. Or to put that another way a couple box jumps or a few more shoulder to overheads – the margin was razor thin. A rep here and a rep there, especially in a field as large as the one today – 78 teams in the Men’s RX Division – makes a huge difference. It makes you think back to all the moments where you might’ve been able to squeeze in an extra rep here or there.
So we finished one spot outside of the final workout. Bummer. And by this point, the sun had almost set and the cold had crept back in. After a long day at the Meadowlands, the competition was finally over.
Mayhem in the Meadowlands ended like most other CrossFit competitions end for Maxability – getting burgers and drinks at a local watering hole. Besides for the obvious disappointment of finishing just outside the top 5, Mayhem was one of the best competitions I’ve been a part of. The competition was great – it wasn’t just local boxes but gym’s from all over the northeast – and to still finish in 6th place is a testament to the hard work we put in everyday at Maxability. I couldn’t have been prouder.
As for the other team competing from Maxability, Team Brower, it was definitely a bittersweet experience. It was their first competition and they did an incredible job, but I had to break the news to them – they definitely peaked when it comes to CF competitions. They’ll probably never experience a competition, and a venue, as unique as Mayhem.
And that was the best part of Mayhem. It wasn’t about the workouts, or the competitors, or even the fans – it was the whole experience. To compete on the field of Metlife Stadium is definitely one of those moments I’ll remember for a long time, and further legitimizes CF in New Jersey. CrossFit has definitely come a long way, even in the short amount of time I’ve been a part of it. I can’t wait to see what’s next.