Monday, April 16, 2012

The One About the CrossFit Open

By Jenn Casey

(Originally posted at my blog Rational Jenn on March 29, 2012.)

Yeah, so, I did the CrossFit Open this year and I am here to tell you all about it.

I am SO happy I did it--for a $20 registration fee, I got a little taste of what CrossFit competition is like, a good sense of what I am truly capable of at this point in my life/CrossFit career, and an overwhelming feeling of camaraderie with the awesome people I was cheering on at my gym and far away (and they cheered me on, too). A bargain for $20.

And I wasn't even going to sign up originally. I knew I'd be doing the Open WODs as part of the Outlaw Way programming that I follow at my gym, so I figured I might as well save my $20. But--and this could just be the way my psychology works--there was something about forking over that money that made it REAL. That made me want to not miss a single Open WOD. I think I tried harder each time, because this was a REAL CrossFit competition, damnit, and I'm nothing if not up for a competition.

And I wasn't alone--many of my fellow gymmates did the Open, too. It was fun to go check out our team scores and know that my efforts contributed to our overall performance. And, like most things CrossFit, it was fun to share our misery and triumphs during the experience. "Couldn't get that 61st snatch on 12.2? Totally understand." And "Did you hear so-and-so PR'd her push press during 12.3? Awesome!"

Really. So. Much. Fun. Way more fun than running a 5K. Even if you do that with friends, it's not the same. They aren't cheering for you along the way as you get to the 150th wall ball, and you aren't encouraging them as you are judging their burpees. And there is certainly a sense of accomplishment at the end of a 5K, and often a t-shirt, but it takes a LOT longer (for me) to finish a 5K, and it's A.) boring old running (or walk-bouncing if I'm going uphill, heh), and B.) that's it. With the Open, there was another WOD to look forward to for FIVE weeks! Yes, I'm aware of how insane that might sound. I'm not hating on all you lovely 5K-10K-MillionK people--if that's what you love, oh, please do it. But I love CrossFit way more than running.

My one reservation about officially signing up for the Open was that it would trigger my Perfectionism Monster. But the Monster must be on vacation, or sufficiently subdued these days. I felt competitive, but not perfectionisty. My whole attitude throughout the whole thing was "Let's see what I can do!" and "I got this." and "Wow, I did better than I thought!" And therefore, the Open experience makes me more confident about trying a local Masters or scaled competition. Because, you know, I got this.

How did I do? You may be interested to learn that I finished in 704th place in the South East region (that's for individual women). I'm not exactly sure how many women competed in my region, but I think I landed solidly in the middle somewhere, maybe last third or something. Which I am THRILLED with.

My scores (for full descriptions of each Open WOD, you can go here and click on the tabs):

12.1 82 burpees in 7 minutes. I kept a nice steady pace and didn't have to stop and rest. I'd done 100 burpees in 8:07 a month before, so 82 was a little short of my goal of 86. I considered redoing this WOD, but decided not to, because I was a bit worried about awakening the Perfectionism Monster (and this was supposed to be fun, after all), and also, frankly, because it's, you know, burpees. Duh.

12.2 60 snatches. Okay, so my 1RM is 90#, so I knew it was pretty unlikely I'd get that 61st snatch. However, I optimistically set out the weights for the 100# snatch in the event I had time to try. And I ALMOST had time to try. I had a good 40 seconds left when I failed the 60th snatch (ARGH!) and had to regroup for about 20 seconds in order to find the strength to get to 60. By then I was out of time to set up for 100 and try for it. SO CLOSE. And I was super proud of my 60.

12.3 200 reps. WAY higher than I thought I could do. Keep in mind, box jumps still freak me out mentally (I did step-downs off the box) and I'd only just gotten real live toes-to-bars the month before. And after all that, it was the push press that slowed me down. Funny, huh? You know there's something crazy when the box jumps are the easiest part of the WOD.

12.4 182 reps. I sighed a little when I saw double-unders finally show up on an Open WOD. It's not that I can't do them, but . . . I really can't quite do them consistently. I've only recently achieved the ability to do one at will on purpose, and have been working on stringing them together, which for me goes like this: single-double-single-single-double-etc. But hey, I figured I'd get at least ONE DU if I had time after the wall balls. And I had about 2.5 minutes after the wall balls (which I got to throw at a 9' target for the first time--I had to actually jump many times!). It was the cheering, and the feeling of competition, and I think I was in the zone, and somehow managed to pull off 32 DUs (and goodness knows how many singles). Lots of people were cheering me (I was the only person in the gym doing the Open and so I had a personal audience) and it was super fun! :D

12.5 5 reps. I knew we'd have pull ups on the Open, and I knew I'd get a low score on that WOD. I only got my first unassisted pull up ever on February 20th, a month ago! But when I saw it was chest-to-bar pull ups?!?!?!? Oh holy cow. My plan was to get my three thrusters and then spend the rest of my 7 minutes trying for a C2B pull up. I wanted to go down swinging, you know? And I managed to get TWO. So my measly 5 on this WOD includes a PR, so I am not at all sad about it. In fact, I'm just tickled!

Here's the thing, they structured these workouts so that the vast majority of participants could accomplish something, even if it was only a few reps. And that was pretty clever, I think. It was a great way to make the competition achievable for the likes of regular people like me, and competitive for those going on to Regionals and the Games (like this guy who was part of Team CrossFit Kennesaw). There was, as it turned out, literally only one skill I would not have been able to pull off had I made it that far in that WOD--a muscle up. But that was buried deep into 12.4. I hope the CrossFit Games peopleguys keep this kind of structure for future Opens, because it would have been no fun at all for most of us to have a WOD begin with muscle ups.

So that was my first Open experience. I am, if you are new to my blog, 41 years old and have been doing CrossFit for 18 months. Prior to CF, I was doing nothing--no fitness program at all besides occasional walks around our neighborhood or hikes. I'm also down around 65 pounds over the last ~2.5 years (that's mostly paleo and partly CF).

I also homeschool/chauffeur/feed/clothe/boss three children (and I boss my husband as well, heh), manage a couple of small businesses in my spare time, and, oh yeah, got through The House Closing From Hell AND moved to a new house DURING THE OPEN. (I mention all of this in case you're thinking you're too old or busy or tired to keep up with something like, oh let's say, next year's CF Open, for example.)

I was nervous about participating, and seriously nervous before some of the WODs, but I am SO HAPPY that I did this year's Open. There was only one skill in the whole thing that I literally couldn't do, and I have a whole year to improve my weakest areas (double-unders and pull ups) and get stronger (so maybe a 100# snatch might be no problem next time). I can't wait to see what I will be capable of in next year's Open!

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