As fellow crossfitters will know, the 2015 CrossFit Open just started this past week. For those who don’t know, the Open is basically an annual event during which, every week, thousands of crossfitters around the whole world tackle an assigned workout at their own gyms. Those who perform exceptionally well in these workouts then move on to the next stage of CrossFit’s annual international competition.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Open. Last year, my first Open season, I dutifully signed up and entered my scores on the website each week.
Although the energy and excitement of the Open is fun, here’s the hate part: I finished the 2014 Open placed 44,588th out of 44,985 competitors, aka the bottom 1%. In my region (southwest), I placed ahead of a grand total of eleven people.
Although perfectly aware I’m no elite or even semi-elite athlete, I still felt like I was reasonably strong for my size, in good shape, not to mention a hard-worker. But the bottom 1%? That really has a way of making you question things, to say the least.
Ever the glutton for punishment, I signed up for the 2015 Open anyway. The first workout, 15.1, goes like this:
In 9 minutes, complete as many reps/rounds as possible of:
10 deadlifts, 75#
5 snatches, 75#
Immediately following that, establish a 1 rep max clean and jerk in 6 minutes
Although I’m fine with the other movements, the big problem here was that the last heavy snatch I had done was a mere 60 pounds. Sure, I’ve gotten stronger and improved my technique a little, but going up to 75 pounds would’ve been an increase of more than 20%. That is not a trivial change, and I was hella nervous.
First order of business: before even showing up to the gym when stuff like this is going down, your pants game better be strong.
Although I have several favorites, lately I’ve started calling my cobalt babies my PR pants. Once, I PRed my jerk by 15 pounds in these bad boys. Hoping for a little more of that good luck, I brought them out for this WOD, too. Who wants unremarkable crops when you’re really going for it? Not this girl. (Side note: these particular PR pants are captain crops by Alala.)
PR pants donned, I crept up on the heavy snatches very slowly during my warm-up, making sure each lift felt solid before moving on to the next 5-pound increase. After things started to get pretty freakin’ real and I was struggling pretty seriously, one of my coaches suggested trying the split snatch. She explained that it can help reassure you mentally, since your legs create a wider and more stable base in a split position.
It was like magic for me. After successfully lifting 70# twice and feeling ok about it, I loaded 75# and waited for the workout to start. (Hey, if I was gonna get a rep, I wanted it to count.)
Once the clock started and I finished up the first two movements, I was left with a little less than 8 minutes to face the barbell for the snatch. After a couple minutes of psyching myself up, failing my first attempt, and getting some cues from my coach who was counting/judging my reps, I picked it up again…
Somehow, it floated up over my head. I pretty much couldn’t believe it. A 75# snatch? I would’ve thought that was miles away. Clearly there was some PR pants magic at work here. (And maybe also the “magic” of hard work, but whatever, let’s not get picky.)
The awesome part of something like this isn’t just the massive PR, but hearing my coach let out an enormous yell full of excitement and pride as I fought to stand the bar up.
After a few moments marinating in some hybrid of glee and shock, my coach told me to pick it up again. After all, there was still plenty of time.
Sure enough, the weight somehow went over my head again. And then twice more for a total of four reps, all in the span of only a few minutes. How I went from not expecting to get even 1 at 70# to getting 4 at 75# is beyond me.
Feeling pretty much on fire, I started off my 6 minutes of clean and jerk time. I worked up to 95#, matching my max jerk (which I wasn’t expecting, since coming from the floor is generally harder than coming from the rack). I came so close to the magical 100#, but ran out of time.
Now, a 100# clean and jerk was something I’ve been working toward forever. I had cleaned this weight, but never managed a jerk, and certainly not together. Not only did hitting 100# mean breaking through to the triple digits, but it also happens to be my bodyweight, making it a double milestone. Based on my failed attempt, I knew I had it in me, and I wasn’t going to let it get away. So, I rested for a little while and tried again.
Finally, finally my coveted PR!
Although I still have plenty of room to improve, I’m proud of how far my olympic lifts have come, and definitely proud to have put up such awesome numbers this week. Hell, even if the rest of the Open is a cluster, and even if I end up at the bottom of the leaderboard again, I have this week to remember fondly.
For me, this is a big part of why I lift, why I crossfit, and why I even bother to work out at all. Yes, there are days where I honestly do feel like a misfit who will never quite belong despite trying really hard. But there is so much joy to be found in reaching new heights and discovering that you really are stronger than you thought. There’s joy in challenging yourself, digging deeper, and finding a little more of yourself in that process. And of course, there is even more joy in the support of friends watching, yelling, cheering, and hugging you through those awesome moments.
For anyone else doing the Open, I hope your first week blew your mind, too. Feel free to share your battle stories below. :)