When I started Crossfit in March 2013 the Open was just starting. I didn’t truly understand what the Open was until it was time for the Games. By then I had been CrossFitting long enough to worship Rich Froning, watch for Sam Briggs, wish Annie was competing and crush on Dan Bailey. The Open was an audition for the Games…and anyone could sign up. And, because I may have a mental condition that makes me sign up for shit I can’t do…I couldn’t wait for the 2014 Open.
I paid my $20 in late January and waited – for over a month – for the first WOD to be announced. During that time I heard conversations about preparing for the Open, or saw posts on Facebook about the final push of training for the Open. I was a bit dismayed. How (or why) do you train for something that you have no chance of winning? I was doing the Open for fun and to be part of the small community within my box that had decided to sign up. As February 27th approached, I completed my online Crossfit profile. I browsed the profiles of strangers, wondering how I would compare; and I read the profiles of acquaintances greedily, ready to start one on one competitions that no one knew about but me.
I watched the announcement for 14.1 on my iPad mini. Double unders and snatches. At that time my double unders were separated by singles (single, double, single, double), but I was confident in that rhythm and didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of disappointment in tackling that skill on the first Open workout. And 55 lb power snatches are no problem for me at all. My weakness would be moving fast enough to get as many reps as possible in the ten minute time cap. I am a turtle, and contrary to the classic Tortoise and the Hare story, in Crossfit the Hare wins.
Our Open workouts were scheduled for noon on Saturday. I arrived pretty early, Kelly Starrett’s Becoming a Supple Leopard crammed in my gym bag, and worked on mobility. (In fact I did this every Saturday before the workout, and mobility has now become part of my routine. I can now dig a lacrosse ball into each cheek on my butt and it feels good, which I didn’t think was possible.) I did a few double unders, got in some snatches…and started to get nervous. That’s when I met the true nemesis that would plague me each week before the Open workout: terror.
As I arranged my barbell and my jump rope (as suggested by numerous online 14.1 analysis, tips and tricks), my heart was hammering and my palms were sweaty. I felt a bit faint and maybe a touch dizzy. I was out of breath and the clock hadn’t even started. My first set of double unders were erratic, and I could only do one or two snatches at a time. At one point, I even took time to adjust my pants that didn’t need adjusting and straighten my headband that probably didn’t need straightened. I was terrified…until about five minutes in. Then I killed it. I got through my single, double, single, doubles unbroken and was doing my snatches in three sets of five. I was on fire. Then time was up and I mourned the first five minutes I had wasted.
That first workout set the stage for the rest of the Open. On 14.2, I handled the overhead squats better than I had predicted, and I got my first chest to bar pull up – my only chest to bar pull up. And although I had actually hit two really important milestones for me, I couldn’t help thinking that I could have achieved a few more chest to bars if my heart hadn’t been pounding in my ears and I hadn’t lost focus.
And 14.3 – dead lifts are my wheelhouse. As I lined up the plates next to my barbell, I even made sure I would have enough for 205 lbs. But again, I created my own PanicWOD before the workout and the already-fast-heart rate didn’t mix well with the first set of box jumps. By the time I made it to the 185 lb deadlifts, I was on a roll, but time was up and I was left with a shoulda woulda coulda.
A lot of Crossfitters were disappointed, if not downright angry, that 14.4 required 50 toes to bar so early in the workout. I was optimistic. In fact, I am a pretty decent rower for anything under 1000 m, so I decided my goal was to get 1 wall ball. That would mean I completed all the toes to bar with enough time left to do a wall ball. I got 39 toes to bar. Not even 40. I was so frustrated and disappointed with myself, I actually stepped outside to shed a tear or two. At this point I understood what I had wondered about prior to the Open – why do we prepare for this event? Because it’s impossible for most of us to do this just for fun. Never mind that I couldn’t even do one toes to bar a few weeks prior to the Open, or that my row had gone really well…I had wanted 50 toes to bar and had ended up with 39; therefore, 14.4 was in the shitter.
Everyone predicted 14.5 would be thrusters and burpees. And it was. And I was fine with that. But when Dave Castro specified bar-facing-burpees, the ol’ nerves started strumming again. Not only did I have a mild fear of jumping over the barbell, but also I knew it would wreak havoc on my fragile metabolic conditioning. Prior to the official workout, I planned the WOD down to the second and broke each section into minutes. My I-can’t-believe-I-did-this-I-am-so-awesome goal was 21 minutes, but my this-is-more-realistic goal was 30 minutes.
I was in the second heat, and I spent the first heat trying to calm my pre-WOD terror. The pulse soared and I felt the familiar dizziness I had felt each Saturday for the last four weeks. Except this time it was worse. As I lined up in front of my 65 lbs barbell and waited for countdown, I looked at my fellow Crossfitter and judge, Edwin, and felt a bit sorry for him for what we were about to go through. And then I was on my first set of thrusters, Edwin counting in the background. I did three sets of seven easier than I could have possibly imagined, and started on the burpees.
It was the WOD that would never end. I could sense others finishing around me then the big cluster of Crossfitters surrounding me, cheering me. “Scatter!” I begged between burpees. Sometimes the weight of goodwill adds to the pressure. After the final three burpees, I collapsed to the floor. 28:50. It was an odd sensation. It was not the score I had hoped for, yet I knew I could not have done any better. I did the final WOD of the 2014 Open as well as I could, and that’s the most you can accomplish with any workout.
The 2014 Open is over. I miss the anticipation of the WOD announcements, the strategy, the focus. I learned a lot about myself and have discovered a surprising weakness – my nerves. Most of all, I have taken a solid step forward. I can handle double unders, overhead squats and toes to bar. I can do these things and will no longer scale them. I will use a 65 lbs barbell in Fran. I am capable of a chest to bar pull up. Knowing this has given me a new foundation to build on.
High five, Dave Castro.
A complete detail of the Open workouts can be seen here.