First and foremost I just wanted to put it out there I had no intention of doing this competition – funny how some things work out like that. After my most recent competition, and my less-than-stellar performance, my goal was to use the summer to work on some weaknesses and train hard, consistently. I had already registered for two competitions in the fall so my main focus had been directed towards them.
But things don’t always work out that way, and I was more or less dragged into signing up for the competition at 5th Ave. You can thank Ryan for laying the guilt trip on me and getting me to sign up. It was his first individual competition and he had begged asked me to sign up and do it with him. I obliged. And in the end, we had a nice crew of athletes from the gym competing as well.
Establish a 1RM Clean Complex: 8 Min Cap
Buy In: 100 Double Unders
I have a love-hate relationship with complexes like this. Don’t get me wrong the Olympic lifts are far and away my favorite part of CrossFit. The technique, precision, power, and speed all wrapped up in one singular movement – and if I’m brutally honest/arrogant I don’t consider myself half bad at them (at least from a technical stand point). So why the love-hate relationship? Because at the end of the day – especially in a workout structured like this – raw power beats technical prowess.
Obviously, having capacity in both fields rather than favoring one end of the spectrum is the ideal standard. Unfortunately for myself, I’m lacking in the raw power department which always leaves me a little uneasy going into these events.
However, there was bright side. The squat clean – the downfall of all those meat wagon imposters popping up more and more. By making the initial lift of the complex a squat clean, you better have enough legs to stand the weight up – especially if you were planning on making more than one attempt at increasing weight.
I had tried this complex a few times in training hitting 245lbs as my highest successful complex (although I didn’t stick to the strict time cap that this workout required). The issue is that after completing the first two lifts of the complex – which, lets face it, meant two heavy squat cleans – the jerk felt 20lbs heavier than what was on the bar!
Needless to say, I was nervous about 245lbs going into the event. I knew I had to – at a minimum – hit that weight if I wanted to be competitive throughout the rest of the day. I had successfully clean and jerked 235lbs in the warm up area (minus the hang clean – trying to save the legs) and thankfully that felt pretty light. I had put a TON of work in recently with my split jerk –lowering my elbows and softening my back knee – and I finally felt like it was starting to pay off. It finally felt consistent – something my jerk has never felt.
When I arrived on the floor and the workout started I got right after my doubles. A few slips ups here and there (damn you oly shoes) but I managed to get through them relatively quickly. I loaded the bar up with 235lbs right off the bat and made the complex relatively easily.
The way this workout was structured, with the eight-minute time cap, I knew the most anyone could hope to complete was 3 complexes with any sort of sufficient rest time. So I loaded my bar up with 245lbs and partitioned my rest time out. Time to go. I hit the weight and surprised myself in the process. Felt light – especially the jerk.
Next up 255lbs. I loaded my bar and dug in. the squat clean went up without a problem, but I knew the lift really came down to the hang squat clean. It was all about position. I knew I had the legs to stand the weight up it was just a matter of getting under it in a good position. Well, I did just that and when I stood the weight up it actually felt light on my shoulders. I knew I had the jerk in the bag. Quick dip and strong drive up and under the bar and the lift was mine. I slammed the bar down and screamed as I looked up at the clock.
With barely any time left of the clock I decided to try and sneak 265lbs in under the buzzer. Unfortunately, I missed the hang squat clean – it got slightly in front of me and I wasn’t in a good enough position to stand it up. All good though. This event was about survival and doing what I had to do to be competitive in the later events – something I believed I was successful in.
On to the next one.
WOD 1 – 255lb Complex – 6th Place in The Event
9 Min Time Cap
Burpees Over The Bar
Overhead Squats 95lbs
This is where the competition really started for me. The goal in the first workout was survival, and to my surprise I finished well above where I expected to be in the standings – 6th place overall. I knew that this had set me up in a great position for the rest of the competition. All I had to do was perform up to my abilities and execute.
The second workout was right up my ally – definitely more favorable than the first workout. It boiled down to nothing more than a raw engine test. It was going to be a sprint from wire to wire, and I knew this. I had done this workout once before in training and knew what expect.
The burn in your legs is tremendous. It’s one of those workouts where that little voice in the back of your head is screaming at you to put the bar down and take a break. You can’t catch your breath, your legs are on fire, and the weight feels 50lbs heavier by that final set of squats. But at the same time you know there no way in hell you can drop that bar. There is no way you can face yourself in the mirror later that night and say “I gave it my all” if that bar hits the ground before it’s suppose to. It workouts like these that force you to really explore that area outside your comfort zone – to grit your teeth and bear down – and say “I gave it my all” and really mean it.
Surprisingly, the worst part of the workout wasn’t the overhead squats, or breathing, or even the burpees per se, it was the jump over the barbell. Miserable! I can’t describe how heavy your legs feel every time you make your way over the barbell. Once again it became a mental challenge to just keep moving no matter what.
Luckily for myself, I have decent flexibility overhead when it comes to overhead squats – something a lot of my fellow competitors were lacking. I knew the ohs had to be unbroken if I wanted a good time and I knew I was more than capable of it. It used to be (back in the day) people were really awful at double unders whenever they showed up in a competition, and I would feast on that. Now everyone and their mothers can do doubles – advantage gone. But thankfully for myself overhead squats have filled that void and I knew I could really push the pace while other people were struggling.
The workout went as according to plan as possible (AAPAP). I did everything unbroken, tried to push the pace as much as I could, and ignore that devilish little voice in my head. In training I had done the workout on my own in about 4:35ish, today I managed to take off around 30 seconds and finished in 4:06 – good enough for 3rd in the event.
By the time I caught my breath, finished cheering on the rest of my competitors and got a drink, I saw I had moved up in the standings. After finishing 6th in the first workout and 3rd in the second, I was now sitting in 3rd place overall heading into the final event. The top 5 competitors from the Rx division would make the final workout, and that was my goal.
WOD 2 – 4:06 – 3rd Place In The Event
The Dirty 30
14 Min Time Cap
30 Box Jumps 30”
30 KBS 70lbs
30 CTB Pull Ups
30 Wall Balls
30 Toes To Bar
The Dirty 30 did me DIRTY!!
Of course, this was the only workout I didn’t attempt prior to the competition. Why – obviously because this workout favored my skillset the most and would be nothing more than an afterthought in the grand scheme of things, duh. Wait, what do I always say to our new inexperienced members? Brush twice a day and make sure to floss regularly? No that’s not it. Oh, right every workout looks a hell of a lot easier on paper. Bingo.
I don’t know what it was about this workout – and MK agreed with me – but I couldn’t catch my breath for the life of me. It wasn’t like I blew out the initial row – not that I ever blow out a row. I knew that the row would really have no bearing on your overall finish in the workout as long as you weren’t one of the inexperienced few who decided to use this as an opportunity to set a new 500m PR and implode moments after. So I took the row nice and easy, rowed at about a 1:50 pace and stepped off the rower feeling pretty fresh.
Box jumps were up next and I knew this was my opportunity to really open up my lead on the competition. However, it didn’t exactly work out that way but not for a lack of trying. You see, the floor at NYC isn’t really a floor it’s almost like a raised platform covering the entire floor. So rather than lying the gym mats directly on the concrete base they built up this pseudo-floor and matted that instead. There are a few other gyms in the city that I know of that have a similar setup, and although I can’t speak for them, the issue at NYC was that these ‘soft spots’ developed all over the floor. Probably a result of constantly dropping heavy ass weight on the floor. Bottom line – the corner of my box was placed right over one of those soft spots.
So now, rather than using the box jumps as an opportunity to open up a lead on my fellow competitors, I was too concerned with making sure I didn’t eat shit on the box. Every time I jumped and landed on the box it would wiggle and shake under my feet. I could bound relatively easily on the big box, but found myself wasting time having to let the box settle before every rep. Sketchy. I was actually thankful/relieved when they were over and done with and I could press on with the rest of the workout.
The kettlebell swings were the only part of this workout that went pretty much according to plan. I banged them out in two quick sets and moved on to the final three movements of the workout.
The opposite couldn’t be truer for chest to bar pull ups. I really thought, prior to jumping up on the bar, that I would be able to blow these out in – at the very most – two sets. Well, I jumped up to the bar and my first set consisted of maybe (and I stress maybe) ten reps. After that my mindset quickly switched to survival mode. These were going to be a battle, but I made the conscious effort to chip away at them (in embarrassingly small sets) with whatever strength I had left. Then the voice started creeping in my head…
I distinctly remember, at some point during the pullups, looking down the rig and seeing all my fellow competitors right there with me at a point which I thought I would be well ahead and thinking ‘you are blowing this. That third place finish is gone. No way are you even making it to the final workout.’ And I wish I could sit here and tell you a bigger voice shined through saying ‘it’s not over yet’ but it didn’t. The voice won – and it beat me down.
My mindset became overwhelmed with self-doubt and, worst of all, pity. I had a “just get it over with and put me out of my misery attitude.” I never stopped working – that’s really not an option – but I definitely had a defeatist attitude. I finished up my pull ups and the wall balls as well. I managed to knock them out in three sets of ten – or to put that another way – in one more set than I thought I would.
As per the final kick in the nuts, the toes to bar turned out to be the easiest part of the workout. How does that work? I remember jumping up to the bar and thinking this is going to be just as miserable as the pull ups, but for whatever reason I moved through them relatively easy. Like I said earlier, I don’t know what it was about this workout but I could not catch my breath at any point. I think maybe the back – to back – to back – to back movements with your hands over your head – not letting your chest fully expand to take a real deep breath – may have had something to do with it. Or it was simply the fact that 30 reps really isn’t that many so you tried to push as hard as possible to finish each movement quickly. I don’t know. All I know is it’s a workout that mentally and physically beat me up.
WOD 3 – 10 something – ? Place (I never really checked)
Apparently, I still had a chance to make the finals – who knew? Turns out that the top 5 competitors in each division would be moving on to the final workout. After the last event, I had dropped down into 3rd place (4th place if you consider Kinney’s heat hadn’t gone yet). And so the waiting game began.
There were 2 or 3 more heats left to go by the time I finished, so it just became a matter of if anyone could make up enough points to knock me out of the top 5. Thankfully, they didn’t and somehow managed to squeak into the finals in 4th place.
After some number crunching on my own, I realized that spots 1 and 2 had already been locked up by Kinney and MK respectively and the gap between the person sitting in 5th was two great for him to jump up any higher. So for the most part the final event came down to a battle for third place between myself and the kid currently sitting there.
However, there was one more twist to the battle for third. For me to overtake the person sitting in 3rd place and earn a spot on the podium I would have to finish 1st and he would have to finish 4th or 5th. Tall order, but let’s take a look at the workout.
The Final WOD
Climb The Ladder in 7 Minutes (I think it was 7…)
So, truth be told I needed a lot of things to go right in order for me to end up on the podium. But that wasn’t my only concern, I felt like I had underperformed in the last workout and this was really my final opportunity of the day for me to kind of redeem myself. I really just wanted to end the day on a good note. Go out and give this last workout everything I had.
Really, my only hope to jump the guy in front of me was if he somehow had no idea to climb the rope (not really that absurd if you think about it – ask Rich Froning – but definitely a stretch). Here’s the problem, the kid climbed the rope like a fucking spider monkey! No exaggeration. I don’t consider myself bad at rope climbs – I’ve actually gotten much better since this competition – but I really wouldn’t call myself good either. This kid was GOOD.
Worst of all, the rope climbs were the key to the workout. Everyone in the finals could handle a 135lb snatch with relative ease. It was the rope climbs that would separate the field. And out of the corner of my eye, I could see the guy ahead of me in the standings crushing every trip up the rope. I knew at that point all I could do was try my best and end the competition with no regrets.
When the dust finally settled I had finished 3rd in the final event and 4th overall in the competition. A little bittersweet, I would have loved to be on that podium with Kinney and MK but at the same time it was the best finish I’ve had at any CF competition I’ve done thus far. It was a great experience – especially since I basically got dragged into doing it in the first place – and in the end I was glad I did it.
Finally, a big shout out to Ryan (first individual competition) and Al (first Rx individual competition). I was more than happy to hold their hand as they got their feet wet at their first real deal competition. They both preformed awesome and definitely walked away with a better understanding of their weaknesses and what they need to work on.
And last but not least, I just wanted to thank the entire Maxability family. It doesn’t matter who it is or where the competition might be, the community is always there in full force to support every athlete. It really means a lot to all of us and helps carry us through those miserable workouts. Thanks again.
Well, back to the lab and on to the next one.