HoA Day 3: Just the Beginning
What a weekend!?! Already back at home eating a bowl of trail mix and pumpkin puree, it’s hard to believe it even happened, the weekend flew by, and I realize how cliche things like this sound, but it’s the truth. I tried to be active over the weekend, but Saturday was just too crazy, from 6AM to 10PM I don’t think I had more than 30 minutes to myself; let alone a block of time to write a coherent thought on the internet. My head is so full of thoughts I have no good place to start. Sorry if this rabbles on a bit; I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment.
I guess I’ll start by saying what a fantastic job Crossfit Springfield, Jeremy Mhire and his whole team did with Heart of America, this is their 4th year doing the challenge and it shows. Setting up the WOD’s, resetting between heats, staying on time, organizing judges, vendors, etc, etc – the whole weekend was more or less flawless. In that same line, the programming was fantastic, with a great mix of skills, strengths, and even some less common modalities like prowlers and wall obstacles. It really kept us athletes engaged, at least I felt engaged. Of the 6 WOD’s, 4 of them included all 6 teammates, which was huge. Keeping everyone involved and forcing the teams to strategize constantly was really a dimension that regular Crossfit classes just don’t have. Honestly, it would’ve been an entirely different weekend with any other 5 people or 11 if you include the RX peeps, which I do, because they were fantastic to be around as well. I spoke a bit last week about the “Big Picture,” last week that meant HOA, but this week means so much more. Watching all the teams and competitors, different ages and backgrounds; this sport is so more than one competition or one team, I’m not sure exactly what it is yet, but the big pictures is much bigger than I originally thought.
Let’s do a bit of recap, all the WOD’s were posted to the HOA Facebook account, but I’ll list them all here again along with my comments.
Working simultaneously, each male and female completes a 5 minutes AMRAP of 5 OHS (95/65), 10 KB swings (53/35) and 15 DU’s. This was obviously a benchmark in two ways, one was work capacity, a 5 minute AMRAP is short, the teams with a greater work capacity at sub-maximal weights would come out on top. Secondarily, it was a test of skills, OHS’s and DU’s especially for scaled athletes are not going to be the cleanest, I know mine definitely weren’t. As a team I think we went into this workout aggressive but with some reservations, knowing it wasn’t our time to shine necessarily. My 5 minutes flew by, double unders by yourself in the gym and double unders with 200 people screaming are two very different beasts. You can’t even hear the rope to try and find a rhythm, you really just have to trust your wrists and feet to know what they have to do. The first set was ugly, 2 and 3 reps at a time. The 2nd set was better, I managed 8 or so and then another 6 and one. I honestly have no recollection of the last set. The OHS’s were gross, 3:30 hour car rides did my hip mobility no favors, I grinded through it but they were not efficient reps, it took a big toll on my shoulders. Luckily KB swings aren’t that bad, I think I got through 3 rounds. We finished 21 of 45 teams, not bad all things considered.
Time for bed right? Nope. Didn’t get back to the hotel till about 10:30 or 11:00 and it took me even longer to fall asleep. One of the worst nights of sleep of my life.
“3,2,1…TOTAL” (per gender)
1. 4 Minutes to establish a 3RM shoulder to overhead
2. 4 Minutes to establish a 2RM touch-and-go clean
3. 4 minutes to establish a 1RM snatch
This WOD was right up my alley, this has Outlaw written all over it. Four minutes is NOT a lot of time however, the last time I went for a 1RM clean was 5 weeks ago and I had 15 minutes. I warmed up to 175 without issue, my plan was to start at 185, in the fury of the WOD I started at 205 instead, which went up pretty cleanly actually (pun intended). From there I went up to 225, then 235. I tried 240 which is my 1RM and hit it for one, but couldn’t quite get under it a second time in the 4 minutes. Still very pleased with that. PR’ing in a competition is a lot to ask for twice. There were a lot of very strong folks in the scaled division, so this actually didn’t do much for us, after this WOD we moved up one spot to 20 of 45.
In alternating fashion (male-female-male etc) all 6 teammates must preform…
90m Prowler push (45m down and back) (240/170)
15 Thrusters (85/55)
Before we started I didn’t know what to expect for our team, our box has one prowler and I think it has spider webs on it. After we finished I was blown away, we absolutely destroyed this WOD, 2nd of 45 teams. Not to ruin the ending (whoops), I started for our team, the first 45m felt so easy that I actually ran too far and messed up the turn around, the 2nd 45m was brutal, about 1/2 way though the quads start mashing the “Stop!” button. The burpees are supposed to be the rest, if you can really say there’s rest in this, I had the mentality of Fran, as soon as you stop the wall catches you and you’re toast, so I tried to get through everything before I realized I was dead. I didn’t know it at the time, but realized later, by the 5th thruster pretty much everyone had the same face, the “what am I doing to my body” face, and it took incredible toughness to make your quads push through those last 10, and tap out. Before our heat no one had even finished in under the 15 minute cap, in our heat I’m pretty sure we were the only team to finish. I was so proud of our team, and I thought “here we go, this is our jam.” Having 11 other people from our box around helped a ton in this WOD as well, those last 10 thrusters belong to those 11 people screaming at you to drive up and get that weight overhead. Big picture moment. This rose us up to 14 of 45.
This WOD pairs with WOD 5 because the 4 athletes that do this WOD cannot do WOD 5, so you had to strategize this in pairs, which is important as you’ll see come WOD 5.
20 Sandbags Squat Cleans (70/45)
40 Pull ups
60 Medball bear-hugger jumping squats (20/14)
60 DB Push Press (35/20)
40 KB SDHP (70/55)
20 Burpee-over-box (20/16)
I’ll ruin the ending right now, I didn’t do this WOD, for a couple reasons, mainly anything without a weight over 100 pounds I’m pretty bad at, or maybe just not as good at we’ll say. I could’ve done this WOD, sure, but being 6’2″ anything with “squat” in the name takes me about twice as long as it would take my other two male teammates, I just have that much further to go. Secondly, my squat mechanics improve 100-fold when I have 135 at least on my back. If you watched me air-squat you’d think I’d never done it before, life’s a mystery I guess. So yes 35# push-presses and KB SDHP would’ve been pretty awesome for me, but I’m confident in our choice here, there was no better way to do it. Not to mention the weight of the snatch in WOD 5 is significant for my other two teammates and less significant for me. So it was the right choice. Our 4 guys & gals (I’m not sure they want me to use their names) CRUSHED, absolutely destroyed this chipper. It brought us up from 14 to 11 of 45, almost top 10!
“Death by ring rows…” (I made up that name, you’ll see)
2 Rope Climbs (15′)
30 Ring Row
2 Rope Climbs (15′)
30 Ring Dips
2 Rope Climbs (15′)
30 Snatch (115/75)
2 Rope Climbs (15′)
First I’m gonna say, apparently I have a reputation as the guy who doesn’t use his feet on rope climbs, because each and every member of my team made sure to ask me if I was going to use my feet on those…I assured them I would, and I did.
When you’re working as a team, you have a strategy, when it works things are great, when it doesn’t, it’s hard to make up the difference. This WOD is a perfect example of strategy biting back. Our plans was roughly this, split the first 6 rope climbs more or less equally, then my female teammate was going to do a majority of the ring rows and I was going to do all of the ring dips, and we’d split the snatches. Here’s the problem, judges are not all equal, some take their roles very seriously and ensure the athlete is meeting all the movement standards, other’s are a little more…liberal. Let’s be clear – I’m more than happy to have the strictest judge in the world, I want to know if I do well that I earned it, but I want everyone to have to do well in the same context. Unfortunately this was not the case, our judge was amazingly strict in wanting to see basically our thumbs hitting the nipples, that’s a deep ring row, I don’t do a lot of these and I don’t think I’ve ever done them to “standard.” So needless to say our plan went to shit, I think it took us about 5 minutes just to do the ring rows, I must’ve wasted at least 15 reps. Then came the dips, which at this point my arms felt rather like tree-limbs filled with jelly, stiff but unable to hold any weight. I was able to squeeze out the first 8 ring dips, but then it went down hill, 5, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, by the time we got to 30 it took just about everything I had left to hit it and that was all we got to. I warmed up my snatch for nothing. Jokingly I was saying later that I almost ran over to the bar and just ripped out 5, just because. It took me a solid hour to smile again after this WOD.
“HOA Finale Obstacle Course”
As a team, all members must scale a first 7′ obstacle wall with 2 slam balls (40/25) and 2 sandbags (70/45). On the other side, working simultaneously, each member must complete 30 sandbag squats, and 20 ball slams. The team could only cross back over the wall with equipment once all 6 athletes had completed both movements. Drop off the equipment, cross the first wall again, scale a second 7′ wall, and on the other side of the 2nd wall, each athlete must complete 10 clean and jerks (145/85). Then back over wall #2 and #1, against wall #1 as a team, accumulate 40 HSPU on 35# plates to 2 abmats. Then back over wall #1, #2 and up a 10′ retaining wall to finish. (How fucking cool does this sound? It was fun, the most terrible kind of fun, the sweaty, wincey, human-step-ladder, clean-and-jerk-your-bodyweight kind of fun.
There was a lot of strategy and teamwork involved in this, there was a really heavy emphasis on doing this whole thing as a team. The first thing we figured out was who was going last over the wall – it was me, no surprise there, I kind of liked jumping over a 7′ wall unassisted, but it also meant I was basically a human stool, a role I was awkwardly comfortable with as well. It felt good facilitating. The first wall scale went well. The sandbag squats shouldn’t have been a huge deal, but we got no-rep’d a lot, like too much a lot, lots of wasted time and effort. It was a similar situation to WOD #5, I don’t mind being held to a high standard, as long as everyone is held to it. In any case, the first bit was uneventful, the clean and jerks were really going to separate the teams. With weight that heavy, it really comes down to technique, any inefficiency and those 10 reps will be slow and grinding. I’m pretty sure 145 is about as much as one of my teammates weighs, so to clean and jerk it 10 times is no small feat. I was really impressed by their effort here, they didn’t stop, they did clean reps, and we did really well here. Not to sound arrogant, but having clean and jerked something around 205 multiple times a week for the last 6 weeks under Outlaw, 145 was pretty fun for me I won’t lie, it felt good. The best part, I didn’t even have to do a single HSPU, I can do them, but I didn’t have to, E wins the gold medal on this one. I think he crushed 20 in his first set alone, then another 10 or so after. We made up a lot of time on those. All that was left was a sprint to the finish and our inaugural trip to HOA would be finished. We came it at 15:44, well under the 20:00 cap. Good enough for 23 of 45 and 19th overall.
I don’t even know how to try and recap everything from this weekend. I’ve already written a novel and I feel like I’ve only laid out about 10% of what I have to say. I’ll try to summarize, good people are awesome, not good athletes, good people, it’s even better when those two coincide, but I prefer the former to the latter, or however that works..english is hard. Being around 500 other people who love exercise, paleo, mobility, and pretty much everything I live for as much as I do is amazing. So amazing that I actually suggested doing competitions every weekend, just driving from competition to competition, like we don’t have jobs or obligations… I eat a lot, I don’t think a lot about it when I only eat twice a day and train and what not, but in the midst of 4 WOD’s in a day whatever time I didn’t spend rolling out or yelling my guts out with my teammates, I spent eating. At the end of the day yesterday I think I had about 20oz of red meat…that’s a lot, even for me. Then I promptly went to bed. I want to train so hard right now. I just want to be better, at everything. Regardless of how good or bad, fast, strong, slow, weak I get. I have full confidence I will do Crossfit and eat Paleo for as long as I’m humanly able. There’s nothing to hate, there’s no downside. I don’t want to say this was the best weekend ever, because I might insult someone I’ve spent a weekend with lately, but this weekend was very very good. One I’ll remember until I’m very old. In summary, I hope that this is only the beginning of a much larger journey, a bigger picture than even I imagined it would be.