Monday, March 28, 2016

"Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our true potential." -Winston Churchill

Blogland, I'm happy to report that I finished the 2016 CrossFit Open this weekend, by surviving the last workout - 16.5. 

16.5 was announced on Thursday night, and I was glued to the live announcement. I felt really good coming off of 16.4 (ALL THE DEADLIFTS!) and was hoping for another WOD that I would be able to do as prescribed (Rx). What I got.... was not exactly what I wished for. 

16.5 was announced as:
(reps) 21-18-15-12-9-6-3


at 95# (m)/ 65# (f)

My immediate reaction was, "NOoooooooooooooooOOOOOoooo!!!" due to the extreme dislike I have of burpees. I do, in fact, recognize their training value, but literally, there is no single exercise that makes me want to die more, or faster, than burpees. I had a brief moment of triumph when I realized I could do it Rx (got my wish!) because I know I can do 65# thrusters... and realistically, why wouldn't you go RX, if there's no "scale" for the burpee? You're going to die either way, might as well get more "points" for going RX?

Then, I watched the pro athletes tackle it.... 8 minutes and change was the fastest time... which meant mine was going to be a grueling workout of 25 minutes, I guessed. Oh. Shit.

The feeling in my house after that was not one of calm readiness.... my track record with burpees sucks pretty bad, and I just envisioned myself flopping around on the floor through like 84 of them. I was not beaming with positivity. Further, my Inner Fat Kid had a freak out about how that was going to work on competition day.... I knew I'd take SOOOOOO much longer than everyone else, I just saw the scene in my head.... everyone else done, and waiting on stupid slow Aja to drag herself out of another burpee... Needless to say, I was not looking forward to it. 

I had a little strategy talk with Robyn and a pep talk from my long-time GT... and tried to get my head in the right space. What that turned into was approximately 36 hours of me arguing with myself in my head. Well, emotional side would freak out, rational side would try and outline the plan... and back and forth and back and forth. 

Friday afternoon arrived, and I was in a better headspace... or maybe just a "determined" one? Or a resigned one? Like, I'm going to do my best... and whatever happens, happens. 

Off to the gym I went. 

I got to judge and watch a couple of rounds of people tackling this ugly wod, and it was good (for my mental state) to see that EVERYONE was struggling hard with it. To varying levels of miserableness, but everyone seemed to be hugging the floor, starfishing or sitting like they had just died, after the workout. The end of the workout burpees for everyone were universally not pretty either. I knew mine were going to be.... rough.... but it was comforting to see even the fittest people dragging through those last sets. 

Then suddenly, it was my turn. 
3....2.....1.... GO. 

The initial round of Thrusters (and really, all subsequent rounds of thrusters...) were no problem. I broke it in half, just for good pacing, and I think I broke the 18, 15 and 12 up in half or sets of 5, too, just to pace. 
The burpees were another story. I tried so hard to keep an even pace.... but that looked like 1 burpee... 2 burpee... (maybe) 3 burpee... stand and huff and puff. Repeat. It was not good. Although, realistically people, I'm peeling 300# off the floor with every burpee. I bet if you put that kind of weight on a fit person, they'd look pretty rough doing them, too. 

It was a relief every time I got back to the Thrusters - they were my break, where I could kind of catch my breath (...said no one ever... except for me?).  65# thruster was more than manageable for me, so I was able to pace these nicely and breath -which was a pleasant change from BurpeeLand.
Somehow, those thrusters seemed to go by SO quickly though. It felt like all I was doing in this damn WOD was burpees. More burpees. Burpees again. 
Every time I'd hit the floor for a burpee, a refreshing cold breeze from the door would wash over my face and it was so incredibly tempting just to stay there, face down on the floor. But I had to keep getting up. Uuugh burpees. 
Over the bar!
By some miracle, I hit the single digits. 9 reps. 9 burpees sounds less bad too. Just keep going. 
At this point, the entire rest of my heat had finished. I had some staunch supporters around me, screaming encouragement. 

Denise (the queen of enthusiasm) at one point reminded me what my bracelet said - "Unbreakable."

Just what I needed to hear in the moment. My unbreakable bracelet is a Spartan Race bracelet that always reminds me I've done harder things.... like, 160 burpees, in sets of 30, admist 30 obstacles while hiking 14+ miles for the VT Spartan Beast a few years ago. If I can do that... I can surely keep moving until I finish these damn burpees.  
 On and on I went. All fears realized, I was the last one, everyone was waiting on. And yet... my CFW community was not exuding judgement, but just a lot of cheers, encouragement and support, that really helped me get through those last burpees. I wanted to stop and just lay there, SO badly... but how can you stop, when you have the support of all those people pouring in at you? 
"The Starfish"
I finished, with a whopping 30 min, 16 sec. Definitely not what I was hoping for, but I got it done, regardless. I didn't cry, I didn't die..... I DID starfish for like 5 minutes after, like a champ.... 

And with that... the 2016 CrossFit Open was over. 

What a ride. To recap:
16.1: Where we lunged, burpee'd and did some variety of pullups. 
16.2:  Toes to Bar, jump rope (uughh!) and Squat cleans
16.3: 7 minutes of power snatches and me throwing myself at the bar to get a Chest to Bar pull up. 
16.4: All the deadlifts!! (and some wall balls, rowing, and HSPU)
16.5: Thrusters and Burpees. 

So, I sweated (a lot.), I cried (a little), and I learned an immense amount. It was really cool to do the open with CFW and meet a lot of the members that I otherwise might not, as well as suffer together on things that we wondered if we could even survive. 

I also got to see that I did have some "value" as a crossfitter, even if it wasn't in burpees. LOL. Just because I can't burpee to save my life, I'm proud to say that I crushed every movement that came up with a barbell. 16.4 was a GREAT WOD for me.... where many other people struggled really hard. 

The lesson? The Open is there to test you. I learned quite a bit about what I was good at, what I definitely still needed to work on, and was able to put it in a much bigger perspective. I also learned quite a bit about my headspace coming into some of these events, and what I need to work on there.... Yeah, I cried in 16.3, for example.... but out of frustration because I couldn't. quite. get there. BUT... now I have a goal for next year - fix the Upper bod and get some "ups". 

The biggest lesson? In my head, I'm the failing fat kid who struggles every. single. time. with the workout, looking totally stupid in comparison to all the fit and fancy people who frequent my crossfit gym. 

The reality? Everyone struggles at CrossFit, in their own ways, to become better and stronger. We're all fighting the inner demons, and we all hate burpees. LOL. On a serious note though, despite being the biggest person at my gym and competing in the open, I never ONCE felt like I didn't belong - which was one of my fears... that I'd feel out of place. Apparently, my sacrifices of sweat to the gym mat god, were just as valuable as everyone else's. 

If you're wondering if you should do the open next year, you should. Even if you're last on the leaderboard (I'm NOT LAST!!! YESS!!! #Goalachieved), you're still ahead of everyone who was too afraid to try. 

Besides, I did it... what's your excuse?

(And with that, tomorrow I'm testing out my maxes in squat and deadlift with Robyn, so we can get ready for my powerlifting meet on Saturday! YES! )

UPDATE: Here's the leaderboard for CrossFit Waterbury... I'm not LAST!!!

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