Competitions — 12 August 2013
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WOD 1

4 MIN AMRAP
75 Double Under Buy In
Then with time remaining:
Max Reps Hang Squat Cleans Without Dropping The Barbell 135#

When this workout was first announced, a few weeks prior to the competition, I hated it! ‘Unbalanced’ was the word I would use to describe this workout, and just in general thought it was a poorly programmed workout. Thankfully, come game day, the powers that be modified the workout slightly to create a more even playing field.

See, when the workout was initially released there was a slight catch that went along with it: you weren’t allowed to rest with the barbell in your hips or in the front rack. Unbelievable. That’s what pissed me off so much. If you make the standard that you’re unable to rest with the barbell still off the ground, it in no way rewards an athlete who is good at doubles.

Look at it this way, this workout becomes an issue of grip strength plain and simple. Being a smaller athlete – without the greatest grip strength in the world – if I finished all 75 double unders unbroken that would leave me with around 3 minutes for hang cleans. However, I wouldn’t be able to utilize nearly all that extra time I earned from being proficient at double unders because my grip would give out well before the 3 minutes was up. But, if I was able to rest the bar in my hip crease and thus saving my grip, I would be able to use the extra time more effectively allowing me to get more reps.

Now look at the flip side, if you had a bigger athlete – where grip strength isn’t an issue – even if they’re brutal at doubles and don’t earn much extra time it wouldn’t make a difference because they’d be able to move through the reps at a much quicker pace without worrying about their grip fatiguing.

By not allowing an athlete to rest with the barbell still off the ground, the workout drastically favors the bigger, stronger athlete with superior grip strength. However, for whatever reason, that caveat was cut from the actual competition right before the event started. Thank God. Balance was restored.

collThe workout began exactly as I intended it to. I did all the doubles unbroken, and decided to chalk up and rest 30 seconds before picking the barbell up. This gave me a little bit of time to shake my shoulders out and make sure I was 100% before I picked the barbell up. Once the barbell lifted off the ground, the real workout began.

My goal for the hang squat cleans was just try to keep a nice steady pace – nothing too aggressive out of the gate. Going hard and heavy from rep one – allowing the barbell to bounce and jolt around in your hands – could be disastrous for your grip. So I chose the slow is smooth, smooth is fast option.

As expected, the legs weren’t the issue like they were for some of the other competitors, and nether was the technique. It all came down to grip strength – even with the ability to rest at my hip. I finished with 22 reps at the hang squat clean – I even managed to completely lose my grip on like the 20th rep and end up throwing the barbell before somehow reeling it in and catching it. And that was the goal – time it out and push hard enough so that by the time the final buzzer sounded you physically couldn’t grip the barbell anymore. Mission accomplished.

I actually tried this workout the week before at the gym one Saturday morning and ended up with a slightly better score – 24 reps. Which is strange, because most people in the heat of competition – when the adrenaline is through the roof – perform better. The difference was the judges were holding all the athletes to a pretty strict standard of having to stand all the way up, show control then bring the barbell down and start the next rep. This was not only a little more time consuming, but it also taxed my grip a little more as it was harder to get back into the hook grip.

Either way, I wasn’t overly thrilled with my score but I knew it would have to do. One event down, two to go!

Result
WOD 1 – 22 Reps – 11th Place in the Event

 

WOD 2

Deadlift Ladder
5 Rep Max – Increasing by 20# – 30 Seconds Between Sets
Starting Weight 225#

I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t love deadlifts.

But at the same time, that doesn’t make me particularly great at them. I have nowhere near the highest deadlift at my gym and compared to some of the other monsters lurking around other CF boxes (see: Anthony Rumeo 605lb deadlift) mine pales in comparison. I love deadlifts not because I am great at them but for what they represent.

Deadlifts are the rawest expression of strength and power when it comes to man verse barbell. Load the barbell with as much weight as possible and let’s see if you’re able to pick it up off the ground. It’s as simple as that. Either you are strong enough to make the lift or the barbell wins – there is no middle ground.

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The workout was structured to move at breakneck speed – it wasn’t so much a test of who possessed the heaviest deadlift, but who could handle the most volume. Each athlete had 30 seconds to make the lift, rest, and move to the next barbell. When the timer rang, and the 30 seconds expired, it was time to make another lift. There was no allotted rest time to rotate between lifts. Basically, that meant that you had to make the lift – and just for the record 5 reps is a shit ton of reps every 30 seconds – and try to recover the best you could in the 15 seconds you had left over.

This format definitely favored me. I knew there were other athletes that had monstrous deadlifts compared to mine, but I felt like I would be more adept at recovering and moving a relatively high percentage of my max for reps.

The first few weights were designed with the sole purpose of adding a little extra volume and get you breathing a little bit heavier for when you got to the heavier weights. What I mean by that is most of the top tier athletes at this event have deadlifts well over 400lbs – so 225 is nothing more than a warmup set for them. They could’ve started the ladder at 315 and I don’t think you would’ve heard a complaint out of any of them. But starting at a lower weight creates a ton of volume in an extremely short amount of time by the time they get to those heavier weights.

For me, the weight really started to get heavy when I stepped up to the 325lb bar – and when I say heavy I mean it hit me like a brick wall! My five rep max deadlift is 405lbs, but at that point I had already done 25 reps of a heavy deadlift and 325lbs felt way heavier than it should’ve. I made the weight and moved to the 345lb bar.

chloaThe gravity must’ve been on extra high that day because 345lbs felt like it wasn’t going to come off the floor! But I knew I had to get pass this bar and the next one if I wanted to be competitive going into the last event. The majority of athletes seemed to be failing at either the 345lb or 365lb bar – so not making either weight wasn’t an option.

After the last bar, I took a little extra time to rest and recover before stepping up to the 365lb bar. I knew this was probably the end of the line for me, so I waited an extra 10 seconds into my working time to make sure I was as ‘recovered’ as possible (ARAP) before attempting the lift. The first rep felt like it took 30 seconds all by itself. I could feel my hamstrings trembling under the tension, but I knew if I could just get the first rep I would have a great shot. I got the first rep and was able to use the momentum (see: bounce) to carry me through the last 4 reps.

When I stepped up to the 385lb bar I was smoked. I knew if I really dug in maybe I could make 2 or 3 successful lifts but making all 5 wasn’t a reality. And with one workout still left for the day, I decided to call it quits right there and watch a handful of freaks topple the entire ladder. Light weight, baby!

Result
WOD 2 – 8 Bars Cleared – 11th Place in the Event

 

WOD 3

8 MIN AMRAP
5 Rope Climbs
10 Power Snatches 115lbs
15 Back Squats 115lbs

There’s nothing like hitting the wall on legless rope climbs, again and again and again, staring at your arms in disbelief that they won’t do what you tell them to do when you’re not even breathing hard, and watching a workout unravel in front of you to make you so angry and frustrated that you can’t see straight. Just ask Rich Fronning. – Talayna Fortunato

It’s tough to put this workout into words. This was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most mind-numbingly strange experience I’ve ever had in CrossFit. If I had to sum it up the best I could in one word, it would be exploited.

Heading into the final event I was sitting comfortably in 8th place overall. I knew there would be a final workout for the top competitors – whether it would be the top 5 or top 3 from each division I wasn’t sure. My thinking was I knew that there were some athletes ahead of me solely based on the reasoning that the first two events were skewed to favor the bigger/stronger athlete. Whereas with this workout – a more gymnastic/bodyweight friendly metcon – I was hoping those same athletes that excelled at the first two workouts might flounder during this last one and give me a chance to sneak into that final workout. If you are going to excel at CrossFit – especially in the competition setting – you need to have a capacity in both domains.

I was in the second heat, which gave me an opportunity to watch a few competitors go before me. And as expected, I saw athletes who blasted through the deadlift ladder struggle to make it through their first set of rope climbs – which backed up my theory and simultaneously boosted my confidence.

I had been practicing my rope climbs pretty regularly prior to the competition. I used to rely on the classic ‘leg wrap’ technique to get myself up the rope until recently when I learned the much quicker ‘J hook’ method. So in the few weeks prior to the event I had been practicing my newly acquired technique trying to get comfortable and confident with it. And heading into competition day, I was more than comfortable with it.

rope climbBut that all changed at the sound of 3,2,1 Go! MK and I had talked about a strategy before the WOD had started. I was going to pace out the rope climbs, and try to blow out the barbell work. This workout essentially boiled down to who was the most efficient at rope climbs. And this is where my whole workout started to unravel.

I can’t even really explain it. At the sound of the buzzer, I jumped up to my rope and my feet immediately slipped off the rope. Before I completely embarrassed myself and fell flat on my face, I regathered myself and made it up the rope for my first rep. Now I don’t know the exact cause, but for whatever reason I felt like I could never get a grip of the rope in my feet. In my mind it could’ve been due to one of two things: my rope was significantly shorter than everyone elses – it started a good foot off the ground. So when I jumped up to the rope I didn’t have that extra slack to feed through my legs and the rope slid through them instead. Maybe. The second possible reason was the rope felt much slicker than the one at our gym. Maybe it’s because they use there ropes much more frequently at ACT and our ropes are basically brand new, but our ropes definitely have more of a bite to them. When I would jump up on the rope at our gym my feet would stick to it like fly paper, but not here – not when it mattered most.

Whatever the cause, when I returned to the ground after my first rope climb it felt like I had just done a legless rope climb. My forearms were already screaming at me. Not good. So on my second attempt I decided to switch to back to old, slower ‘leg wrap’ method in the hopes it would save my forearms. I was wrong. It had the same effect – my arms were taking the brunt of the work here (side note: it never occurred to me until after this event why so many Regional athletes taped their shoes for the rope climb event, now I know why).

I knew I was taking an exceptionally long time between reps – even though my strategy was to pace them out from the get go. I saw MK looking on giving me the “let’s go” twirl of his fingers meaning I was taking way too long between reps, but I knew if I rushed it I would end up looking like Rich Froning in 2010. At my snail’s pace I finally finished my five rope climbs and moved over to the bar. I cycled through the barbell work pretty quickly and made my way back to the rope. Four minutes left.

At this point, oddly enough, I was still on pace to put up a decent score on this workout. I knew that completing two full rounds would put me close to the top of the leaderboard for this workout. But my body had other ideas – cue the disappointing music.

Like I said, four minutes left which, coincidently, is the perfect amount of time to watch a workout unravel right in front of you. The rope climbs, much to my dismay, didn’t miraculously become easier. In fact, I’m pretty sure someone rubbed my rope down with coco butter while I was over at my barbell.

It’s a pretty strange feeling when your body betrays you. Normally, it’s your mind that gives up long before your body has truly reached its limit. It’s a constant struggle between your psyche and your willingness to endure and push beyond what your mind thinks is possible. But in this instance, the tables had turned and it was my mind urging on my body unwilling to cooperate.

I don’t know the exact rep when my forearms finally went, but it didn’t take long. We joke about it all the time in the gym, once your forearms go its game over. But the reality is, in most cases, if you take a step back, gather yourself, and shake it off you might be able to get some juice back – this was not one of those cases. After I failed my first rope climb, I knew I was in serious trouble. I failed again and again – making it 90% up the rope, one or two pulls away from the finish, before failing and having to slide down the rope.

The worst part was I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t breathing hard. I wasn’t looking for excuses – I wanted to keep going, but my body wouldn’t let me. I had never been in a situation like that either in competition or during training at my home gym. I was angry, disappointed, but above all else I was in disbelief.

When the final buzzer rang, I had only completed three rope climbs in the four minutes I had to complete my second round. I fell to the bottom of my squat, signed my scorecard and knew my competition was over for the day.

Result
WOD 3 – 33 Reps – 24 Place In The Event

Final Result
12th Place Overall

 

In The End

zombieAt the end of the day, I got in my car for the drive home still kind of shell shocked with what had just happened. I wasn’t overly upset or sad or anything like that – it was more just an empty feeling. A feeling of disbelief and a wasted opportunity. I definitely did not bring my A-game with me today.

But given some time to reflect and look back on what happened, I know it will serve me better in the long run. That I gained viable experience that will help me down the road and future competitions. And above all else, showed me some things I need to work on. I need to use everyday as an opportunity to get better.
On the brighter side, I’d like to thank everyone who came out to support and to all the competitors from Maxability – especially Colleen for taking home 3rd in the last time she will ever be competing in the scaled division.

But the highlight of the day, far and away, was Chloa conquering her fears and actually making up the rope – at least once. We had been working on rope climbs for a couple weeks prior to the event, but come game day – and facing the reality of climbing a rope probably 5ft higher than our own – who knew what would happen. Her goal was to climb the rope once and slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) but surely she made her way to the top. Definitely something I’ll remember for a long time, and I know she will too.

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