Saturday, February 27, 2016

“I’d rather be the guy doing and failing than the guy doing nothing more than telling others they’ve failed.” -Greg Everett

The Open: 16.1  

(Codename: ALLTHELUNGES+Burpees.)

So, on the urging of my coaches and general curiosity, I decided to participate in the CrossFit Open this year. The CFW community was representing strong, so I thought - what the hell, right? There's a scaled division, which should be "doable".  Plus, I heard a couple people's thoughts on it that it was less a competitive thing, but more just a snapshot in time. This is feedback on your fitness as it is right now, and feedback to show you where your weaknesses are.  Knowing that I was not going to be qualifying for The Games anytime soon, I thought this seemed like a reasonable way to think of things. Kind of like taking a midterm test in school - to give you a barometer of how you're doing.

16.1 (Workout 1, 2016) was announced on Thursday evening. I admit, in true CrossFit groupie fashion, I watched the announcement live online, in a combination of excitement and fear.

16.1 was announced as:

25' Overhead Lunge (95#/65#)
8 bar-facing burpees
25' OH Lunge
8 Chest to bar pull ups

Scaled Version (what I did):
25' front rack Lunge (45#/35#)
8 bar-facing burpees
25' front rack Lunge
8 Jumping (chin over bar) pull ups
... for TWENTY minutes...

As I took a minute to let this sink in, I initially didn't think this would be so bad, as the lunges were super light, they weren't over head (in the scaled version), and jumping pull ups would  be no issue. There were a bunch of burpees, which would certainly add up.... but they were only 8 at a time. Maybe I could do this? Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.... Twenty minutes did seem like a long time, on initial impression, though...

I watched the rest of the live announcement, where they have to pro CF athletes go head to head and demo the workout. This year, they also had to "regular" people doing it as well. There was a girl doing the scaled version on TV that seemed to hate burpees ALMOST as much as I do... so, I was feeling a little more optimistic. The girl on TV did 6 rounds and change, so I decided my goal would be to complete 6 full rounds - that seemed reasonable.

On to yesterday (Friday), which was going to be workout day. I admit, the latter half of the day was less productive than usual, as my mind was going back and forth on strategy, goals, what it was going to be like, etc. I'm not really great at waiting, or sitting with anticipation... and I'd gotten to stew on this topic since the night before.

Finally, I turned up to CFW to do this thing! equipment was moved out of the way, lanes set up and markings laid out - luckily our little gym JUST accommodated the 25' regulation length for lunges.

The atmosphere in the gym seemed to mirror my own, as our trainers walked us through the standards and expectations - everyone was trying to psyche themselves up, or calm themselves down, to be ready to get to work. We'd be doing this WOD in heats of 4 people, so waiting one's turn became an exercise in managing your crazy self-talk during that time.

Thankfully, I got tapped in to help judge the first heat, so there was no standing around thinking. My judgee was awesome - she wasn't sure if she wanted to go scaled or not, but elected to try for RX to push herself. Her and the other 3 athletes competing at the time really started us off strong, showing some amazing grit and determination - as their shoulders burned, knees hurt and lunges exploded - getting through that 20 min loooooong WOD.

Finally, it was my turn. I set up my boxes for height on my jumping pull ups. I rolled my bar into it's starting position, and I stood behind my line, waiting for the countdown.
I felt pretty good. Calm and steady... and ready to just keep working for 20 minutes. Ultimately, that was my goal - just keep moving, as I knew this was going to be a long one. Didn't have to be fast... just KEEP MOVING.

3,2,1.. GO.

Racked my 35# bar and lunged away down the stretch. Legs felt strong, lunges were solid, all was well with the world. Maybe this wouldn't be SO bad, I thought optimistically.
I dropped down into my first burpee, got up, hopped the bar and down into my second. I moved pretty efficiently through that first set of 8, as I was fresh out of the gate. Back to lunges, still feeling good, breathing more heavily now and beginning to sweat....
Another solid set of lunges, and onto jumping pull ups.
Blogland, arm stuff is my nemesis, but thankfully, jumping pull ups allow you to use your legs more.... however, at that moment it occurred to me - you know what you're not going to have as much of, after doing lots of lunges? Legs....
That said, the first set came out pretty well, and I settled into a rhythm of 3, 3, 2 for most of my subsequent rounds.

However, on finishing that first round, I looked down the metaphorical barrel at my enemy for the day - it was going to be my rising heart rate and inability to breathe. In strategizing this, I thought the lunge breaks would give me time to catch my breath.... but 25' isn't as long as you might think - it's only maybe 7-12 lunge steps. You aren't really catching your breath there. Then you burpee... and for me, burpees jack up my heart rate so much (in all fairness, I'm moving a lot of mass...), that using 10 lunges as "recovery" wasn't really happening.

My lunges were EXPLODING.

I kept moving. I lunged, I burpeed, I lunged some more, I jumped up to my chin over bars... I just kept going forward.

..... And, somewhere in the middle of the endless time vacuum that was this long-ass WOD, I got a side cramp.

Not only did I get a side cramp, but I got a side cramp that didn't want to be relieved by some big slow breaths, or stretching an arm out overhead. Awesome.

As I rose from a burpee, sucking major air, and grinding my fist into my side to try and get that cramp to break up, I assessed my options..... quit, or suck it up.
Quitting wasn't going to be an option, so Suck it Up seemed to be the way to go.
Side-cramp be damned, I pushed through more burpees and on to more lunges.

... and on and on it went. Seriously, it was a really effing long 20 minutes.

Thankfully, as the minutes ticked down, and the energy of all the athletes on the floor was reduced to a determined tired march, the CFW community really rallied around.  My judge, who also happens to be my regular coach, gave me encouraging countdowns, and pertinent directions (Pick up that bar!) that my tired brain could just follow. People who'd already done the WOD, or were waiting their turn, gathered around our burpee stations to cheer us through each piece of it. We were all in this together - no matter how slow you were going.  This WOD was definitely not the kind you wanted to do in a quiet room by yourself... the energy from the crowd really propelled you forward when you gas tank was more than empty.

I heard the call for 5 min left - it had felt like an eternity to this point, but with only 5 minutes left, I could push through. I tried to pick up my pace a bit... more lunges, more jumps, more burpees...
Somewhere in the haze, someone called 90 seconds left.
SECONDS. I can do this for 90 seconds, I told my body.
I lunged toward my last set of burpees. I am happy to report that the last set of lunges was as solid as the first (Yay, LEGS!).
The burpees were another story... I sucked a few big breaths of air as I put my bar down, and tried to rally to get in as many burpees as I could in my expiring clock. There was no time for breaks, or to feel my lunges explode, or to indulge myself in "breathing"... Down, up, jump the bar, down, up...
I rushed to sprint through that last burpee and landed the jump just as the buzzer signaled the end of our work.

Blogland, I have never been SO HAPPY to get to stop. While this maybe wasn't the single most physically grueling WOD I've ever done, it was certainly highly difficult. As I paced around trying to catch my breath, I felt my quads begin to remind me what they had just done.... something like 100+ lunges. I looked down at my knees and my right knee was definitely showing a bloody spot in the knee of my pants.

My lungs had not exploded, I had kept moving, and I'd put in the work.

But... as it turns out, I didn't quite make my goal. I'd had a goal of 6 full rounds going into it... and finished just short of that - finishing 5 full rounds, a length of lunges and 3 more burpees. (Honestly, I think I'm most proud of those last 3 burpees... I could've dogged the lunges and not had to do any burpees, but I squeezed them in, even though I didn't want to!).

I was a bit disappointed. Somehow, I felt I was moving faster, or the time was longer, or... I dunno. 5 full rounds and change just didn't seem like very much, for the way my body felt.

As I drove home, my quad quivered in protest every time I had to press down the clutch (driving a stick isn't awesome after leg wods!). It was clear I'd worked hard.... but I wasn't satisfied with it. Thoughts of re-doing the WOD for a better score started rattling around my brain.

I seriously considered repeating 16.1 on Monday to see if I could get 6 full rounds. I think I could. However, the thought of doing that 20 miserable minutes again, was decidedly not appealing. Particularly as my quads began to stiffen over the course of the evening, despite my best efforts of foam rolling.

I looked at the leaderboard online, on Friday night - which didn't have a lot of scores yet, as it was really the first full day people could do the WOD - but I was solidly in the last page or two for people that'd done the scaled WOD.  Bottom percentile, for sure.

My inner competitor didn't  - and doesn't - like that. However, I had a long talk with myself, after reading a good article online. The article suggested that there was no benefit to re-doing one of these WODs for a slightly better score, unless you were on the cusp of placing in a competitive situation. If you had a major mishap during the WOD, sure, redo it... but people in my case - where you gave it a solid go and you're just not happy with what you got.... let it stand. You're not going to learn anything from obsessing over getting a few more reps.

After looking at the situation with a critical eye, my competitive side wanted another go at things, to hit my 6 round goal. However, the reality of the situation was that this was a LONG, endurance wod, with a lot of burpees (relatively) that was not a strong point of mine, and wasn't going to suddenly become a strong point of mine in a couple extra days. I'm a heavy person, still struggling with cardio, that gets thrashed by burpees, no matter the quantity. Yes, I could redo it and get a few more reps and probably cross my personal goal of 6 rounds, but really, what would I benefit from that?

Instead, I took a deep breath and submitted my score - 138 reps - online today.

AND... I'm okay. I have warned myself that I'm going to be in the bottom of the leader board after this wod - and THAT is okay too. I'm not doing this to compete with the world, but to compete with myself and have the experience of participating in the Open, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, understanding where my weaknesses are and moving forward.

That said.... Dear Dave Castro (the guy that masterminds the Open Wods), if we could move on to some heavy barbells now, that'd be great...... k thx.

With that, I'll leave you BlogLand with a quote sent to me by my GT.  YOU can - whatever it is, compete in the Open next year, kill that long run, sign up for that race, whatever it may be. You Can. You just need to choose to let yourself:

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