Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My First Competition - Firestarter Challenge

Warning. This is going to be a long one. And have lots of pictures.

After taking a trip up to DC to watch the Regionals competition for the CrossFit games and cheer on the College Hill CrossFit gang I guess I was ready to jump in and try a competition. I'd read a few magazine articles about how competitions are for everyone, how much fun they are and how much you can learn from them. Anita at the gym had the same sentiments when I asked her about one she was doing.

I'd been looking at some of the competitions and most have an Rx (prescribed weights and movements) and a scaled division. No chance I would be doing Rx and scaled is still plenty tough, and has some movements I am still working hard to get the basics.

College Hill posted some local competitions on the facebook page and I found one called the Firestarter Challenge, held at Triangle CrossFit near Raleigh.
From the Firestarter Website: (The Firestarter Challenge offered by Triangle CrossFit in Raleigh, NC, is a fitness competition designed for athletes with novice and intermediate level abilities.  The event is a great opportunity to test your competitive spirit on an even playing field.  In other words, no Firebreathers allowed!)
(Firebreather = A popular term in the CrossFit community for an extremely fit person who has extraordinary power output.)

I thought, that sounds fun. I looked over the standards and fell into the novice catagory. After thinking about it a few days I signed up.

I waited a few weeks to tell anyone I'd signed up. Maybe I didn't want them to think I was crazy. Maybe I was still trying to convince myself that I wasn't crazy. Either way. I started asking some questions about pacing, how these things go, refueling, etc. The first 3 WODs were released a few weeks before things and the 4th (and 5th if you were in the top 5) was kept secret until the event. I ran the 1st and 3rd ones once in the weeks before the event.

Competition Day!

Getting some instructions

WOD 1:
10 Min AMRAP
200m Run
15 Dumbell Thursters (35)
The Run is 1 Rep

A thurster is a thruster. Not an easy movement. 

I finished with something like 12 more reps (including a run) than I had achieved in my practice run of this workout. 12th out of 17th in the Novice men as well. 
And then assumed the position I always am in after Thrusters (okay, most WODs)

WOD 2:
8 minutes to get a 3 rep max Overhead Squat
As soon as I saw this WOD released online I started working on mobility and overhead squats with a PVC pipe. I didn't have high expectations because this is my weakest weightlifting movement we do in CrossFit. 

And sometimes you learn from the pictures, huh? How about some weight in the heels?

I far exceeded my expectations for this lift. I'd discussed it with Spencer and he told me to start with a weight I knew I could do and build from there. 85 was my previous PR on this lift so I started with 65. Moved to 75, then 85, then 95. Still had time so I hit 3 at 105 and would have went to 115 if I'd had more time or plates avilable. As it was, i had time to add 2.5's to both sides and get 110 with about 20 seconds to go. I came in 15th out of 17 but was really happy with my efforts. A 35 pound PR and getting a lot more comfortable with this lift was a big win for me. 

WOD 3:
Cash In - 100 single jump rope skips
Deadlifts (155) / Burpees
Cash Out 100 Singles

I'd run this WOD after another WOD a few weeks priorto the competitin and it took me 13:29.

Time: 10:07! 3 minutes and 22 seconds faster than my trial run. I was pumped about that time. Placed 13 out of 17 for that workout but kept to my plan until the last set of deadlifts. 7-7-7 on the first set. 5-5-5 on the second set. I did quick singles on the last though. And broke the burpees into 7-7-7 with a short break between sets, same with the 5-5-5, and kept moving through the last 9. First set of jumprope was unbroken. I broke twice on the last 100. 

...because I'm happy (about the time and the fact that WOD is behind me)

WOD 4 wasn't announced until all the heats / divisions had finished 3. 
We gather around to find that since we'd lifted things in every wod so far, WOD 4 was all body weight.
21 sprints of the competition area
7 Wall Walks (novice to 36", intermediate to 24")
42 box jumps / steps (24")
10 bear crawls 

I'm glad they had someone showing what each movement looked like becuase I'd never done a wall walk or a bear crawl. I'm also glad I didn't have to wall walk my chest to the wall. And I'm glad I made a friend there who had done plenty of wall walks and had some advice. They had some set up time where you could practice. I went out, did a few wall walks and was good to go. 

This one had a 15 minute time cap, and I had no expectations other than finish under 15 minutes, and hopefully closer to 10. 

That one was also tough but I did it in 10:07 and was happy with that. 13th out of 17th for this one as well. 

Final Placement was in a tie for 14 out of 17. Results at Breeze Scoring

I had a blast a this competition. Triangle CrossFit did a great job keeping things on track and everyone was in good spirits. Thanks to Triangle CrossFit. I got in a lane with a new judge each time just to be able to thank someone else for being there and donating their time to judge those of us competiting. To Eric, Matt, Katie??(I forgot this one!), and Matt - a huge thank you. Thanks to College Hill CrossFit for the past 4 months of fun and training, I would have never imagined just a few months ago that I'd be doing something like this. And a very special thanks to my dad for going with me, being there to hang out and talk to and as always taking such great photos. 

I exceed my expectations in every event and had a blast. Can't ask for much more than that. I wasn't going with the expectation of winning, I went with the expectation that I'd work my ass off, have fun and learn some things. I did all 3. I'm looking forward to future competitions and future gains on my part, but if I always have fun, that's going to be a great measure of success.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

4 Months - Thoughts on my CrossFit Journey after 4 months

When does 1 hour = 4 hours. Right now apparently.

There have been a few times in my life I've been fitness obsessed. In 2006 - 2007 there were a lot of days I spent 2+ hours in the gym, and it wasn't unusual for me to be there 4 hours a day multiple times a week. I was determined to loose weight and I started that weight loss journey at my heaviest weight I've recorded. 255 and I'm certain it was some higher becuase I didn't weigh for a while. So I fell in love with the progress, the weight loss and the changes in my body. The thing that helped my determination the most was having 2 really close friends to work out with. I would get to the gym 2 hours before them most days and spend an hour on the elliptical and an hour on an exercise bike or in spin class. Alex and Eric would show up and we would do weights for 30 mintues to an hour and then play basketball or raquetball. We did weights 2-3 times a week and played ball nearly every day. Friday was a shorter workout as we would workout, shower and head to east coast wings, then back somewhere for video games.

If you know me well, you'll know I tend to cycle through hobbies. I've always had the love for cycling, but as I mentioned above, I've done the fitness thing, back to cycling, triathlon and running, and most recently golf. I've always been the happiest with I made fitness a priority and that's why I have every intention of sticking with CrossFit. That's a goal worth trying damn hard to keep if you ask me.

I haven't had my friends to workout with regularly like that in a long time and that's one awesome draw to CrossFit. You're working out with other people, maybe not directly but you suffer right beside them. And when you show up day after day and they do as well they become friends. It's hard to understand the CrossFit community until you experience it. I love the fact that the workouts are programmed for you, you show up, warm up, get instruction and then go. We do a skills or strength piece and a metcon daily. I may have used to been okay for an hour solid on the elliptical but now that would bore me to death. Along with the fact that I know that any metcon I do is going to push me harder than that. All our classes at CHC are scheduled for an hour but that includes a 15 minuteish warm up. The strength / skills piece and our metcon.

I now accomplish so much more in an hour  than I did in the 4 hours at the gym.

The basketball was amazing for endurance and I do miss that, but I didn't have the strength gains like I do now.

I can look back on times in my life an say that's when I was the most _______________.

I was my leanest in highschool (not athletic, although I did bike a fair amount), but happiest with my body.
I was in the best cycling shape of my life in 2009. I may never have that cycling fitness again but I'm happy riding 5-30 miles for fun, cardio or recovery and I enjoy it.
I was in the best shape of my life in the summer of 07. My weight was down 50+ pounds and I felt great about myself.
I had the best overall fitness of my life in 2010 as I trained for a sprint triathlon and also PR'd my 5K, 10K and half marathon times.

Right now, in 2014 I'm the strongest I've ever been. And I'm damn well on my way to in the best shape I've ever been. I don't really think my conditioning is where it needs to be for me to proclaim that I'm in the best shape I've ever been but by sticking with CrossFit I know I will be able to say that sometime soon.

I started taking shirtless pictures in February and I've taken one a month. I've made what I consider awesome progress but I'll share those at some point in the future.

CrossFit has changed my idea of what success will be. Before, I've always had a goal weight number. I don't' have that anymore because I've lost 15 pounds, but a lot of inches. I wish I'd taken measurements when I started. I've had to retire some pants and bring out others that didn't fit. Belts are using holes they haven't before. It's an awesome feeling. I'm lighter but like I've mentioned a lot stronger. Sometimes it's hard not to have that one quantifiable number that equals what you want to achieve. It's a paradigm shift that I'm getting more comfortable with by the day. I'm not saying I don't have more weight to lose because I do, I'm just saying that getting a flatter stomach, lifting more, having better endurance are now all part of my goals. There isn't just one measure of success.

I started this post before my four months were up and finished it about a week after. The sentiment is the same. CrossFit has given me an avenue to put in hard work and get phenomenal results. The changes in my mind and body have been awesome.

More Thrusters!?!? (W59)

Monday - June 23rd, 2014

Clean and Jerk (1 Rep Max)


"Harley" (Time)
6 RFT:
13 Thrusters, 95/65
14 Pull ups


After a thurster workout Friday, and a thurster WOD in the competition Saturday I wasn't sure about another WOD with Thrusters. But the wife had a great point, something to the effect of "shut up and go workout".

So I did.

PR'd the Clean and Jerk @ 175. I think that was up from 135 about a month ago.

Harley took me 15:57 and I did 75# thursters and ring rows.

I'm ready to master some pull ups soon and get off these rings.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Macho Man - CFNE Benchmark (W53)

Tuesday - 6/17/14


“Macho Man” (AMRAP - Rounds and Reps)
EMOM for as long as possible:
3 Power Cleans + 3 Front Squats+ 3 Jerks, 185/135
If you complete 10 rounds, add one rep to each movement for each additional minute.
For example minute 11 would be 4 Power Cleans+ 4 Front Squats + 4 Jerks. Minute 12 would be 5 of each, and minute 13 would be 6 of ea.

R+ as written
Rx 155/115

Work has been hard the past few days. Just mentally hard. Meetings and interviews. It was a struggle at the gym. I went with a light enough weight at 95# as Coach Joe wanted us to get in 6 rounds at least. Macho Man is another one of CFNE's benchmark workouts and gets tougher faster than it seems like it should. 

I got 7 rounds and 7 reps but it was a damn struggle every round after the first round. 

I was glad I went for sure, but it was a battle to not put the bar down duing the WOD today. 

When an Easy Day, isn't an Easy Day (W54)

When is an easy day not an easy day? When thrusters are involved.

Muscle Up/C2B/Pull Up Progressions


Metcon (Time)
7 Muscle ups
11 Thrusters, 155/105

Rx+: As Written
Rx: 10 C2B, 135/95

I haven't been able to workout like I'd hoped this week. Work has been insane. I was out of town for work Monday and Thursday, worked out Tuesday but had both jobs Wednesday. I'd planned to take today off as I'm competining for the first time tomorrow but since that's for fun and the journey is about fitness and fun I went to workout today. I could do the WOD at a heavier weight but I chose 75# as I wanted to pace myself and not be trashed for tomorrow. I was also doing jumping pull ups.

Round 1 wasn't bad. Round 2 got tougher. I did 2 jumping pull ups and was gasping for breathe so I moved to ring rows so I could keep moving at a steady pace. Round 4 sucked hard and I actually surprised myself in round 5 as I went unbroken on the thrusters. I just did them at a steady pace and kept moving.

Time - 14:07

There were some dudes doing RX+ in the next class and you could just see it taking its toll on them. Around the third round I got back on the floor to encourage them.

Thursters. Man they just suck it out of you. I've recovered well now and think that having osme extra time off this week and getting the blood flowing again today will be good for tomorrow. I'm excited and nervous about the competition.

I did a little work on OHS tonight since I hadn't done any in a while. I won't get a heavy weight up for the 3 rep max but I will have a score!

Tomorrows theme!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Competition Prep (W52) - 6.11.14

Today I went in and spent 15 minutes on a foam roller and then 10 minutes with a band before the class started.

Today's scheduled WOD was 2K on the rower and a 1 mile run, but I had other plans.

I warmed up with the class and when they got ready for their workout I set up to attempt WOD1 of the Firestarter challenge.

10 min AMRAP of:
200m run
15 dumbell thursters (35#)

I'd never done a dumbbell thurster before today and I'm damn glad I went through this to get an idea about how it will feel.

I was a little tired in the beginning and learned some lessons. Like, wow, this workout is tougher than it looks. And my dumbbell thurster sucked today. It was a front squat and push press with dumbells, no fluidity. The run counts as one rep and I did 3 runs and got through the 12th rep on the 3rd round. 45 reps.

I really feel like I should get through 4 runs and into the thursters on the 4th round. I hated having to break and i think a lot of it was mental.

After that I regrouped and did a little benching but honestly wasn't feeling it so I did 4 sets of 5 reps at 95 / 135/ 155 / 155.

I moved onto hand stand push up work. I got comfortable up on the wall and then can do strict HSPU's with 3 abmats but it felt like a huge gap trying to get down to 2 mats. More work on that next week.

I'm going to work on scheduling my workouts over the next two weeks to turn through all the WODs for the competition one more time and some regular class work before a rest day Friday and trying to go all out next Saturday.