CrossFit Comps, Triathlons, and More!
Happy summer, friends! Hope you’re all managing to stay cool despite the heat bubble that is encapsulating us all right now. It’s been a super busy few weeks for me, but I’m glad to finally have some time to sit down and blog about the fitness ventures I’ve been up to lately. This month, I competed in my first CrossFit competition, completed a sprint triathlon for charity (Huge THANK YOU to friends, family, and kind folks I’ve never met for donating to the cause), and started thinking about my goals for the remainder of 2016. That’s a lot of ground to cover in one blog post, so we’ll see how far we get. Let’s dive in, shall we?
The last time I blogged, I had just joined my gym and was working on a million new goals. In the 7-8 months since starting CrossFit, I’ve seen a lot of improvement, but still have a million things I need to work on 🙂 Anyhow, a few months ago, a local box was advertising a competition specifically for newbies to the sport. I don’t have any huge desire to compete on a regular basis, but I thought it would be cool to meet other new Crossfitters from the area, and have a little friendly competition, all in good fun!
Typically in competitions, you don’t get to find out what the workouts are until the day of. Fortunately, the folks in charge of this one decided to be kind and post the workouts a couple weeks in advance, so I got the chance to do a trial run of them all in advance and figure out a personal strategy for each. Frankly, my strategies weren’t ever too complex…they were more like, “Hey, self. This workout gets hard around Round 6. Ignore the pain and keep moving.”
I arrived to the venue around 7:30 in the morning, and the gym was super legit. It’s a regularly functioning CrossFit box, but it was rebuilt somewhat recently specifically for competitions. Music was booming, people were everywhere, lanes were set up inside and out for each workout, and barbells and plates sat on the floor just waiting to be lifted. It was sensory overload, and my adrenaline/nerves started pumping immediately.
This comp consisted of 3 different WODS (workouts of the day). Those who placed in the top 4 after the three workouts qualified for the finals, which I didn’t know was a thing until after I qualified. Surprise! Here’s a recap of the day:
The key to this WOD is that we couldn’t put the barbell down in between movements. We started with three deadlifts, then without putting the bar down, went straight into two hang cleans, and then one jerk. We could do any type of clean/jerk, but we only had 5 minutes to work up to our heaviest weight. Some people were choosing to do squat cleans instead of power cleans, which I thought was insane because that takes a lot more energy. But I guess you gotta do whatever you’re comfortable with, man. This WOD was one that I was really relying on for points. I felt relatively confident going into it because I’m not bad for a beginner, and my gym offers an Olympic Lifting class twice a week, which gives me a consistent opportunity to work on these skills. So, I was hoping to perform well enough that if I was weaker in other areas later in the day that I could still place high overall. We didn’t really have much of a chance to warm up, but I at least had a few minutes before the comp started to grab a barbell and quickly work up to my starting weight. I felt a little stiff, but there wasn’t much I could do about it, so I headed into my lane, greeted my judge, and waited for the clock to start.
When the buzzer went off, all my stiffness washed away and adrenaline took over. I quickly loaded my barbell up to start with 115. I knew I could hit that on any given day, so it seemed like a logical place to begin. My overall goal was to hit 125, but I wanted to work up to it, so I went up to 120 for the next attempt. Hit that, and felt great. Loaded up to 125, took a 30 second rest, then went for it and hit it. Feeling good! I had about 1:45 left on the clock, so I loaded up 130, and gave it a shot, but couldn’t get under the second clean. I decided to take a longer rest, and try again. I grabbed some chalk, took some breaths and shook my arms out. When there was :30 left on the clock, I walked up to the bar and tried again. Landed the first clean, and lowered it back to the hang position. Went for the second clean — got it! Then got ready for my split jerk, and — yes! Hit it! However, a lift doesn’t count until you’ve stood up out of the lunge position, showed that you have control of the bar and then put it down. When I went to stand up, I got too excited and lost my focus. I let my core go, and suddenly the bar was wiggling around. I couldn’t gain control of it before letting it go, so sadly the lift didn’t count 😦 Huge bummer. But still, I was happy with 125, and it was enough to secure me second place. The first place girl landed 150 — super impressive!
WOD 2: 6 Minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible)–Thrusters, Burpees, Med Ball Ground to Over the Shoulder
This was the WOD I was most nervous about. We had 6 minutes to do Thrusters (w/ a 40 pound barbell), Burpees, and Medicine Ball ground to over the shoulders (50 pound ball) in an ascending rep scheme. How it worked was we started out with 2 thrusters. Then we would run over to a mat where we would do 2 burpees. Then we’d run again to another mat where we’d hoist a 50 pound medicine ball over our shoulders twice. Then we had to sprint back to the start and do 4 thrusters, 4 burpees, 4 cleans, sprint, then 6 of each, etc. etc. Thrusters and burpees aren’t really my strong suit, but I was determined to just keep moving for this one. My goal was to get to round 10. When the buzzer went off, we were flying. HUGE shout out to my judge for this WOD because he was SO unbelievably encouraging. He sprinted to each station with me, told me I was holding a great pace, and kept me motivated when the medicine ball, which was wet and dirty from the rain, felt impossible to get a grip on. It was a tough workout, but I finished 7 burpees in the 10th round when time ran out. I came in 4th for that WOD, which was better than I expected, and I was sitting in 1st place overall for my division.
About an hour and a half later, it was time for WOD 3, which was split into two parts. Originally, we were supposed to do prowler pushes, which I was excited about because the prowler and I are buds. But they changed it to lunges… lunges and I are not buds. Haha. They also changed the height of the boxes. Initially, we were supposed to do 16″ box step overs, but then they changed it to 12, which is pretty low. And they gave you the option of doing Russian swings, which are easier than American, with no difference in points. So, I decided that since the difficulty level was lower, this workout would be for SPEED. When the buzzer went off, I flew through as fast as possible. The box step overs actually made me dizzy because I was basically jumping in circles. I hit somewhere around 155 reps, which secured me a 2nd place spot for that WOD, and then it was time for part B.
I’m not amazing at rowing, but I tried to focus on keeping my form as efficient as possible and kept my power output high. We had to row until the computer screen said we hit 10 calories, then we jumped off and did bodyweight alternating lunges. Lunges after rowing… OUCH. It was only 4 minutes, but it was mad hard, and I had a pretty good pain face going throughout most of it. I wish I had pushed just a little harder though, because I ended up tying for 5th, and was only 3 REPS behind the next girl — womp womp. Those 3 reps ended up sealing my fate later on, but more on that in a sec.
After the last WOD, I was sitting in 4th place overall, which qualified me for the finals. We had two hours before finals began, and no idea what the WOD would be. I thought back on the day trying to figure out what movements we hadn’t done, and was feeling somewhat confident because we had already covered most of my weaknesses (Thrusters, burpees, rowing, lunges). Then I saw them dragging out the wall balls. Of course. How could I have forgotten wall balls? In my home gym, we have to throw wall balls to a 9″ tape line on the wall, but this gym had specific round targets to hit.
We had 5 minutes to get as far as we could, doing 1 wall ball, 1 sit up, 1 snatch, then 2-2-2, 3-3-3, and so on. I was neck and neck with the girl in 3rd place who was next to me, so it was her that I was focusing on throughout the final comp. If I remember correctly, I think I ended up with 120 reps, and was doing sit ups in round 9 when the buzzer went off. I ended up 1 rep behind my competitor– Rats! But it turned out that I had beaten one of the other girls, so I ended up tied for 3rd at the finish. Yahoo!
Unfortunately, there are no ties in CrossFit. Instead of looking at total reps for the day, they broke it based on how we placed in our other events, which is a huge bummer. I had identical placements with the girl I tied with (we both placed either 2nd or 4th in all events), but unfortunately my 5th place finish in the last WOD cost me a spot on the podium. Still, I’m really happy with how I performed in each workout, and I was super inspired by the other girls I competed with. They definitely deserved their medals!
All in all, it was a pretty fun experience, and I’m glad I did it. I don’t know that I’d really want to do another competition, at least not until I improve on certain areas, but overall I’m pleased with how the day went. It was definitely something different!
I still think joining CrossFit has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I love my gym and the friends I’ve made through it, and it definitely helped prepare me for the sprint tri I completed a week after this comp.
The tri was a charity event to raise money for breast cancer research, and it’s meant to be more of a celebratory event than a race. It was really inspiring to see all the women from all different walks of life participating and going after a big goal! I didn’t really do much triathlon-specific training for it, aside from a few bike rides and swims, but consistent CrossFit and running helped me snag a PR on the course, despite biking in a downpour (holy scary!!!). I was going to write a recap of that race here too, but this post is getting quite long, so perhaps I’ll do that at another time!
Anywho, now that those events are over, I’m trying to focus more on my powerlifting goals that I set for the year. The one downside of CrossFit is that it’s really hard to powerlift consistently because the rep schemes, weights, and workouts constantly change– that’s a great thing for keeping things interesting and keeping your body guessing, but it can be hard to make progress on specific strength goals. In order to do it, I have to carve out time to do 5/3/1, so I’m still working out how to do that on a regular basis. My squat is especially something I really want to improve on, but it’ll be easier to do that when I can start lifting on Sundays again (the gym I go to on Sundays is closed for the summer).
I wish I had tracked my Olympic Lifting maxes when I started CrossFit so I could reflect on them at the end of the year. I know that I’ve improved, but there’s still a loooot to work on. Here are my powerlifting and olympic lifting maxes right now:
- Deadlift: 250 (Haven’t tested since March)
- Squat: 180 (Haven’t tested since January)
- Bench: 125 (Haven’t tested since Jan)
- Strict Press: 90
- Clean and Jerk: 130
- Split Jerk: 135 (Think I can hit 140, but haven’t tried)
- (Squat) Snatch: 90
- Overhead Squat: 120 (Haven’t tested since May)
Strength gains are a slow process, but progress always feels good, no matter how small!
That’s all for now, I think. Got any fun events planned for the summer? Anyone else have lifting goals for the year? Let me know in the comments!
And as always, Remember to breathe.