In which: many hurdles were successfully hurdled, screams were screamed, pain was felt, and delicious recovery carbs and proteins were consumed following the event.
So, over the weekend I accomplished one of my long time goals: I competed in a Crossfit competiton!!!!
Yay! Go me!
Let me tell you about it.
First off, there were five workouts. For those of you who don’t know, one Crossfit workout at regular intensity is enough to send anyone, regardless of fitness level, into fits of “hack-and-groan” breathing on their knees. So you’ve got these five workouts, designed to test the might and speed of the competitors (I’m refraining from calling them athletes because I have mixed feelings on the subject even though I know I competed), each one grueling in it’s own way. I’ll describe them as I get to them as best I can.
The competition was hosted by Crossfit Clarksville which happens to be in my hometown. I got to see my best friends while I was there and overall I had a blast. But I digress. Back to the competition!!!
It was a team competition and I teamed up with a friend of mine from my box. His name is Bill Borgens. Bill’s a strong dude. I’ve seen him tote a 700 lb yoke around like a backpack. I felt like we had a reasonable chance to podium on our first outing. More on that later, too.
12 min AMRAP
800 M run
25 Deadlifts @ 185 lbs
25 Burpee Box Overs
25 Dumbell Snatches @ 35 lbs
25 Single Under Jump Ropes
(in between movements, the partners must exchange a high-five to trade movements)
The judges were announced, our lanes were pointed out, and the workout was explained. This workout didn’t really play to either of our strengths so we decided we’d do what we could, which would put us in good standings because we’re both workhorses.
The countdown began. 3 … 2 … 1 … GO! Everyone took off on the half mile run. Before the event took place, even before our training for the competition began in earnest, I had been talking to someone about the smartest way to compete. I remember being told that it isn’t important to start as fast as possible out of the gate. It’s much smarter to find a pace that taxes you, but doesn’t absolutely run you into the ground 5 minutes into a 15 minute workout. That’s what the best do.
I wrote that motto on my heart that day.
I may not be the strongest, the most athletically gifted, or the most coordinated person, but I am intelligent. Where others may muscle their way through, I have been gifted the ability to strategize and step back and think things through. This is my advantage. This is what will build my strength, feed my athleticism, and help me develop coordination.
This attribute I began to apply that week. Pacing myself, thinking my way through every minute of every workout beforehand, finding places to rest or knowing I couldn’t rest if I wanted a good score. My scores improved. I now knew my weaknesses and I could train them harder in order to make them strengths. Slowly I began to improve physically.
Apply that to training and now I had a solid strategy for the workouts. I would watch Bill. Whatever he struggled on, I would step it up and muscle through, and if I needed help I would turn to him.
Back to the run.
I was firmly in last as we started.
Bill took off quickly staying firmly in the middle.
I watched as the fastest group rounded the bend much sooner than the group in second. I knew if I wanted a chance to place I had to go faster. So I pushed it a little. Not too much. Just enough. I began to overtake Bill and a couple of other runners. I didn’t pass everyone, and that was okay. I passed enough people. ON my way inside to start the rest of the workout, I checked the time. 3:31. I was floored! My fastest time in training was 4:36! I had just shaved a minute off of my half mile time!
There was no time to celebrate because not ten seconds later, Bill came running up the ramp. We exchanged high fives and I began repping out deadlifts.
I won’t keep play-by-playing this workout because in all honesty, who cares? It’s enough to know that my burpees improved and I had a new PR.
We finished the workout and we were firmly in last place.
4 minutes to establish a One Rep Max Hang Clean and Jerk.
This workout was the highlight of the event for me. I love Olympic weightlifting. I think it’s a marvelous sport and I get a lot out of the principles and the mechanics. I feel like a weightlifter becomes a magician of sorts. Tricking gravity into doing his/her bidding by throwing one’s body under a loaded barbell containing 2 or 3 times the lifter’s bodyweight safely. Magic.
Needless to say, I’m passionate about it.
I knew I wanted to hit a new PR here as well.
I wanted to put 225 lbs on that bar and clean and jerk it. I wanted to put that bar overhead as easily as lifting a child.
The workout begins. Bill and I change our strategy on the fly (A recurring theme during these workouts). Instead of trying to establish two different max efforts, we would each try the same weight until one of us failed. Our opening weight was 165 lbs.
Both succeed, but this weight felt the heaviest. This felt dangerous. My form suffered a little bit and I felt a little rattled.
225 goes on the bar. My goal. A mental block now sits on the bar. I ignore it. I rub chalk on my hands. I address the bar the EXACT. SAME. WAY that I had addressed the rest and I raise the bar to mid height (the hang position, hence “hang clean and jerk”). I pause. I don’t let the weight get to me. I dip slightly, knees forward, chest up, eyes up, and I pull …
What seems like an eternity only lasts 2 seconds, and before I know it, I’ve caught this barbell in the bottom of a front squat and I stand up. I’m so happy, but I can’t allow myself to rest yet. I’ve still got one more movement to go. I reset my hands to allow them to sit comfortably under the bar. I pause, take a breath in, dip, drive annnnndddd …
IT’S A SUCCESSFUL LIFT!!!
I slammed the bar down.
Honestly, everything else could have gone terribly and I would have been over the moon.
I beat my mind. My old adversary.
I can’t tell you how I feel when these things happen, but it’s sort of like an affirmation that all of the work I’m doing is worth it. That these promises given to me by who I think is God, and his words to me, were true and worthy of following which sounds insane but if you have any anxiety at all I’m sure that makes some sense.
The third and final of the five workouts that I want to talk about was:
Calories on the rower
Thrusters at 95 lbs
This workout was our biggest hurdle because Bill and I can’t do pull-ups.
Oh, not for lack of trying! We’ve both been working really hard to be able to do them, but
we were both over 300 lbs at one point in our lives (both of us pushing 400) and I guess it’s victory enough that both of us are now under the 300 lb mark … but man we really wanted to do pull-ups.
We agonized over this workout. We knew if we didn’t do it as prescribed we couldn’t podium, or rather, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to podium. Bill was more upset about that than I was. He argues for days with the owner of the gym until we finally settled on a solution. We’d bust out the calories and the thrusters as fast as we could, and in the remaining time we would work on pull-ups. Who knew? Maybe we’d get one.
We followed the game plan and then we got to the pull-ups. I was determined to at least try. I didn’t care if I got one, I just wanted to try.
I did a strict chin-up. I did a strict over-underhand pull-up. I tried to do a strict pull-up and I struggled. I couldn’t get it. I dropped, heaving from the bar and looked back up at it. If I couldn’t do strict, I would try kipping.
Kipping is a gymnastics term and it basically means that you use the momentum in your legs and hips to thrust your body upwards. It’s meant to accomplish more reps in a shorter amount of time.
I’ve never even attempted to kip.
So i did. I swung as hard as I could and the Judge said “that’s good”. I dropped off the bar elated! I just did my first pull-up!!
I proceeded to do 24 more during the workout.
That was the biggest win of the day.
The rest of the day was eventful and exhausting and I was happy when it ended. Happy because I achieved some long sought after goals, happy because I could stop exercising, and happy because my family and loved ones were there supporting me.
I hope you feel encouraged when you read this. I hope you know that hard work does pay off and while you may not win championships every time, you can at least accomplish your personal goals and make yourself content in the meantime.