This was my 8th CrossFit Open, and I wish that I had a ton of pictures to share about the whole experience. Typically, my box does a really good job of taking pictures and putting them out on Facebook, where I then steal them for my own personal enjoyment. This year, the photographer showed up after my heat finished for week 1, the photos from week 2 never got posted, and while I haven’t seen photos from week 3 either, I was in the same heat as the photographer for that workout.
However, bonus for this year is that my box did record each heat of each workout. So I do get to look back at how I did. There’s just not an easy way for me to share that to my personal blog.
I was looking forward to this year’s Open, because I have been working hard on weight loss for the past year – weight loss while trying to build and maintain my strength with CrossFit and backpacking.
Having slimmed down by about 15 pounds, I was curious how my performance would be. I knew it would have to be “better” than last year, simply because my pull ups are soooo much better than they were. I was even ready with some strict chest to bar chin ups, should the Open require chest to bars. (I’m still not quite getting the right position/mechanics for a chest to bar pull up, but it’s getting closer.)
I also knew that when it came to lifting heavy weights, I would be at a disadvantage. I have less mass than I used to, and I haven’t been working hard on lifting. That’s going to come later, when I settle into whatever weight feels right and sustainable for me. Then I’ll start trying to bring the strength. But I hoped I would do enough to be in the top 50% of the field.
The first week brought back a repeat workout, but not one that I’d ever performed. It was from all the way back in 2014, a time when I had just started CrossFit and did not consider myself Open ready (though it was less the exercise part and more my being cautious in a new social setting). It was an AMRAP chipper that I knew I could not physically finish, even if the timecap were extended to hours, because the last movement was 20 ring muscle ups.
But I could row 60 calories, I could do 50 toes to bar, and I could try my best for 40 wall balls at the Rx weight of 14 pounds. I could even try the 30 cleans at 95 pounds, though I doubted I would get there due to my slow row speed and abysmal wall balls.
At my box, Arbor CrossFit, we have the Open workout scheduled for all Friday classes, and then we do a throwdown on Sunday. For this workout, I decided to practice by doing the scaled version on Friday, and then go Rx for Sunday. Another goal I had for this Open was not to tear my hands, and I figured it would be best not to try and do 50 toes to bar Friday and another 50 Sunday. I can whip through 50 hanging knee raises in the scaled version so quickly that it won’t impact my hands much.
After doing the scaled version, I confirmed my expectations on the row (60 calories for Rx and scaled) by going quite slow, but not so slow that I wouldn’t have time to get other stuff done. I got through the 50 hanging knee raises just as easily as I’d planned and made my way with trepidation to the wall ball shot. I struggled my way through 40 wall balls, taking way too many breaks.
I had thought, before I started, that I had a shot at making it to the pull ups. But not even with a 10 pound wall ball could I get through 40 quickly. I did get through, but with barely a minute to do cleans. No way to get through 30 before time was up. It was a bit disheartening. I mean, I expected not to do well at the Rx, but I thought I’d have done better on the scaled.
I signed up for Heat 3 on Sunday morning, and showed up in time to judge for Heat 1. From past experience, I knew that there tends to be a dearth of judges for the first heat of the morning. For the most part, the only folks showing up that early are the owners and the ones signed up for those early heats. After my experience at the Valentine’s Day Massacre event, I felt more confident with judging than I had any other year. The standards made sense to my brain, so I didn’t have any nervousness about it this year.
Judging before I do my own workout also gives me an idea of how the event will flow, which can be especially fun when you judge someone who goes far in the workout, as I had the privilege to do. I may have, erm, aggressively coached her just a tiny bit to get her to do more cleans than she wanted to do at the end there. But she was happy with her score afterwards, having beaten Friday’s score if I recall correctly.
I watched a bit of Heat 2, but I was also warming up for my own turn during that time. Then it was my turn, and I prepared myself to be the last one rowing. It’s kind of awkward for me when I’m lagging far behind the others, but everyone is cheering anyway. For Sunday, each heat had up to 5 people in it, and the workout started with all the rowers lined up right in front of the crowd. One by one, each of the other rowers finished their calories and went to start the toes to bar while I continued to struggle through my calories.
I got through the row in about the same amount of time that I took on Friday, maybe a little bit faster. Later, when I looked at the video, I decided I had been pulling too early with my arms on the row. But I also just need more practice on the machine to improve my speed and compensate for my short legs.
For the 50 toes to bar, I had a plan. While I’ve had some sporadic success with linking toes to bar, I decided to stick with what I knew I could do. Sets of 5 without dropping and also without linking. I do a kind of partial kip to get my legs up, but I don’t try to retain any momentum on the back swing. It might not be the prettiest or the most efficient, but I worked my way through 10 sets of 5 that way and finished the toes to bar with time to attack the wall balls.
For women’s Rx, the wall ball weight was 14 pounds. I know that I should have been practicing with that weight ball for the last few months, but I’ve consistently gone for a lighter ball. I don’t know what it is about wall balls, but I tend to avoid them and go light on them all the time. After this workout, I made the decision that I need to start working this particular weakness.
I did not make it through 40 reps on the wall balls. I did get past halfway though, with a total of 26 reps. It wasn’t a bad performance overall, and getting through the toes to bar did separate me from some of the Rx field. I stayed and watched the rest of the heats go, cheering every heat and judging one more time for a gentlemen I hadn’t met before. He had a very tough time with toes to bar, because they gave him cramps. He didn’t manage to get past that movement, but he made a great effort.
I was pleased to make it through a workout with 50 toes to bar without ripping anything on my hands. Now I just needed to keep taking care of them and hope that the next workouts weren’t super grip intensive. But with toes to bar out of the way, I felt good about the odds of keeping my hands whole for this year’s Open.