Another year, another Open. Well not exactly. This was actually the first time in my now 5 years of doing CrossFit that I actually committed to doing all five weeks of the Open.
For the uninitiated, the CrossFit Open is a five-week, five-workout competition in which athletes submit their scores to qualify for Regionals, which is a precursor to the annual CrossFit Games in California.
The workouts must be judged and athletes must comply with the rules and movement standards for their scores to count.
In the past, I have purposefully avoided the Open, half-haphazardly participated, or forgotten about it altogether. It hasn’t meant much to me as I don’t have the ambition nor the skill level or strength to qualify for Regionals.
However, the gym’s 60-day challenge was taking place at the same time as the Open and so I made the effort to do the Open workouts in keeping with the spirit of the challenge.
The coaches at CrossFit Kingfield organized a “Friday Night Lights” approach where everyone who wanted to do the Open would gather at 7pm on Friday evenings.
They ran heats and everyone helped keep score and cheer each other on.
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 20 minutes of: 25-ft. overhead walking lunge + 8 burpees + 25-ft. overhead walking lunge + 8 chest-to-bar pull-ups
Much to my relief, 25-feet is much different than 25 steps when it comes to the walking lunges. Nevertheless, with the Rx standard being 95 lbs., I decided to stick to just using a 45 lbs. barbell.
I got it in my head that was the scaled version, which was actually walking lunges with the bar in a front rack position.
So right away in Week 1 I disqualified myself from submitting a score on the CrossFit website to at least see how I ranked worldwide in the scaled division as there was no way in hell I was redoing this 20-minute slug.
Coach Danny was my judge and he absolutely drove me through the workout. Rather than thinking about the workout in rounds, he kept me focused on the task at hand.
Danny knew when to push and when to let me breathe as he would give me 5-10 second countdowns to rest and then get right back on the bar or start the burpees.
When I do a lot of overhead work – like the lunges and pull-ups – I get cottonmouth. I desperately needed water and Danny made sure my water bottle was on hand. He also though knew when I had to put in more effort.
“Give me 8 burpees and then we can have water. Just 8. Right now.” It was a very long 20-minutes but I knew from that first night that my coaches were going to get me through this Open.
Beginning on a 4-minute clock, complete as many reps as possible of: 25 toes-to-bars, 50 double-unders, 15 squat cleans (135#/85#).
If completed before 4 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to: 25 toes-to-bars, 50 double-unders, 13 squat cleans (185#/115#). If completed before 8 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to: 25 toes-to-bars, 50 double-unders, 11 squat cleans (225#/145#).
If completed before 12 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to: 25 toes-to-bars, 50 double-unders, 9 squat cleans (275#/175#).
If completed before 16 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to: 25 toes-to-bars, 50 double-unders, 7 squat cleans (315#/205#). Stop at 20 minutes.
A bigger crowd was gathered for week two. I arrived a few minutes late and heats were being assigned and people were busy warming up.
The workout was complex and at the Rx standards looked like it could be a quick 4-minutes. I decided to do scaled, which had the squat cleans start at 95 lbs., single unders and hanging knee raises.
With the Scaled movements, I wanted to get past the first 3-rounds. I could move quick on the single unders and knee raises.
Due to my tardiness, I ended up being in the last heat and I got to see some of the other guys set the bar in the Scaled division.
Jesse totally wowed the crowd as he completed the full workout before the 20-minute time cap and Louis fought tooth and nail until the buzzer.
As my heat started, I was able to move quickly to get to the first round of squat cleans. My goal was to give myself as much time for them as possible each round.
Fueled by the great energy in the room, I worked my way through the first three rounds.
Now it was me versus the clock to finish the 9 cleans at 155 lbs. Each individual clean required me to “get angry”, dig in and be as aggressive as I could under the bar.
Coach Chris will tell you they were far from the best looking cleans, but in this case it didn’t matter. I got 5 of the needed 9 as the clock hit 16:00 minutes.
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 7 minutes of: 10 power snatches + 3 bar muscle-ups
I was anxious going into the workout. Not because of the movements, but because my office had a small happy hour gathering for me mid-afternoon and I had two celebratory glasses of red wine.
It was the first time I have had a drink in 40 days. I had at least two and a half hours from the last sip of wine until we would even start warming up.
I wasn’t tipsy but I was feeling a bit flush. We were cheering my 5-year anniversary at the company and the recent birth of my first niece.
I went home and drank some water, did my ROMWOD and tried to clear my head. The workout was only 7 minutes but I don’t drink and WOD.
I have never done a bar muscle-up and so was expecting for a heavy cardio workout going scaled. Coach Danny had everyone who was gathered to do 16.3 practice the movement for 10-15 minutes before we began the heats.
At first he had me attempting a bar muscle-up with bands but I felt restricted. Then we talked through how a big swing was needed. I decided to just go big or go home and jumped on the bar.
Next thing I know I was on top of the bar and pushing my arms straight at the top. Everyone around cheered. I was elated.
The clock was ticking and so it was time to get started. Danny wrote everyone’s name on the whiteboard to arrange heats. He started writing “Rx” or “Scaled” next to each name. Next to my name it said “Rx”.
When the crowd dispersed to get ready for the first heat, I asked Danny, “Do you really think I should grind it out? I’ve only done one.”
“I think you should. Wouldn’t it be more badass to get one bar muscle-up? That’s all we need. Just one. You just have to confidence to tell yourself that you are going to do it.”
Okay. I got this. I was going to do the workout Rx and I was in the first heat.
3, 2, 1, go! Danny was my judge and he counted my reps as I quickly got to work on the 10 snatches.
With more than 6-minutes on the clock, it was time to get on the bar. I could feel the support of crowd. I put some chalk on my hands, deep breathe and jumped and big swing and I did a bar muscle-up. Everyone clapped and hollered.
But wait, now I still had a lot of time left on the clock. Danny said, “Let’s see if we can get three.” And jump-swing-push – another! And jump-swing-push – another! I had completed a full round. This was insane.
With the room buzzing, my head spinning, and Danny pressing me to just keep moving, I ended up completing a second full round and then getting 2 out of 3 bar muscle-ups in my third round before time ran out. I had gone from never having done 1 to doing 9 that night. This is what the CrossFit Open was all about.
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 13 minutes of:
55 deadlifts + 55 wall-ball shots + 55-calorie row + 55 handstand push-ups
As I had for the past few weeks, I showed up to the 6am class on Friday morning and Coach Caitlin immediately asked if I was planning on doing the Open that night. I said, “Of course.” She replied, “So, um, let’s think about that.”
The workout that morning was handstand push-ups and cleans. As I had been fluctuating between Rx and Scaled movements, what was I going to do that night? The fact was that 55 handstand push-ups was an excessive amount for me as was doing 55 deadlifts at the Rx weight of 225 lbs. With that in mind, I elected to go Rx in the morning and Scaled at night, which sounds like some sort of bad pick-up line.
Going scaled that evening meant the deadlifts were at 135 lbs. and the substitute movement for handstand push-ups was hand release push-ups.
I knew I wanted to finish at least 1 round. Little did I know how much of a challenge that would be.
The workout was an expertly designed mix of push and pull movements. By the time I was on the push-ups, my arms were feeling like jelly and I couldn’t string more than 3-4 at a time.
Jesse was in my heat and I was making sure to keep up with his pace, but I lost time also on the wall balls. At the end of the 13-minutes, I had gotten just 1 deadlift in the second round.
21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of: Thrusters + Burpees
Due to a family gathering, I wasn’t able to attend the last Friday Night Lights at the gym. I felt it was important though to do 16.5 and finish the Open. So I dutifully showed up on Saturday morning at Open Gym to face it head on.
I am not alone in expressing my dislike for the combination of thrusters and burpees, especially at this volume. Further, as many told me in anticipation, the clock can’t save you.
As the 9am class finished, the gym emptied out. I was going to be in my own heat of one for the workout.
Thankfully, Coach Tony without being asked assumed the role of judge and Coach Caitlin, Alex and John formed a small cheering squad.
To start me off on the right note, Caitlin even blasted “Gonna Fly Now” over the speakers (I had been featured the day before on the gym’s blog where I admitted it was my go-to “power song”).
The fanfare of the trumpets started and I picked up the bar and did the set of 21 thrusters unbroken. I’d like to say the music carried me through but those burpees got to me quick.
By the time I started the round of 15, my stomach was churning from the up and down of the thrusters and the up and over of the burpee bar jumps.
Thank goodness Tony was keeping count because I could not remember what number burpee I was on until I got down to the set of 6. Caitlin came up close and told me to not stop from the round of 6 through the end.
I heeded her advice and sped up my pace driven by the knowledge that soon I could lay down on the floor and be done. I finished in 17:16. The workout felt awful but it was over.
And now as I wrap up the recap I find myself wondering what the Open will look like in 2017 and what progress I will make between now and then.