(Photo courtesy of the amazing MGS Photo Creations.)
The 2019 CrossFit Open has ended. Even though I was writing throughout the 5 weeks, I never felt it was the right time to post. Most of my workouts were done without fanfare. I faced most of them with a healthy sense of apprehension, given my recent injuries.
Just like 2018, my goal was to complete each workout with some kind of score. I wanted to both participate and give each workout my best effort. I knew it was very likely that all my workouts would be scaled. That was ok by me, since staying functional and healthy is of primary importance.
There are many stories from my Open, some of which I might eventually tell in detail. But for now, I’ll share a highlight and a lowlight, using excerpts from what I’ve been writing all along. Reflections follow.
Worst Workout (for me):
19.3 – AKA Weighted Dumbbell Lunges of Death
Lunges. I immediately think “I don’t lunge.” I have said this to my coaches. But if I’m being honest, my problem is I don’t feel good about doing lunges. I don’t feel confident. Balance is a struggle for me. I am a total klutz. While I watch many at the gym fly through lunges like they were skipping through daffodils, carefree and effortless, my lunges are much more likely to leave bruises and scuffs on my knees from hitting the ground so hard. And then, once I’m down there, I don’t have any understanding of how to get up properly, either.
I did start doing lunges more often after I moved to my new box, CrossFit Faded Glory. Once in a while I do one in a way that doesn’t feel like just inelegantly dropping and flopping, but not often, no matter how many great tips my coaches share. But I generally don’t do them with weights. I’m still trying to get a feel for them unweighted. So seeing a 35-pound dumbbell lunge in the scaled version was enough to make me shudder.
Then, enter step-ups. I’ve talked before about my journey to jumping. After my injury I’ve made it back to jumping on the 12-inch box. But, I figured the scale for anything in the Open would be step ups on the 20-inch box.
I distinctly remember living in fear of this movement last year in the Open. I could NOT step up onto a 20-inch box one year ago. Again, clumsiness and lack of balance (or sense of how my body moves in space) is a problem, plus fear of falling. Kinda sad but it’s true.
Last year, at my previous gym as the Open approached, I would try and try to get those step-ups. I would put plates on the 12-inch box, etc. I finally got it on my right side, but still couldn’t alternate. Thankfully, step-ups were never a part of last year’s workouts. After an Achilles issue and the end of the Open, I went back to 12-inch boxes with dumbbells and decided that was enough of a challenge.
I started trying step-ups again about a month ago and was surprised that I could do them with both legs without too much trouble (but definitely not quickly). So, I felt pretty good about that. But throwing a 35-pound dumbbell on my back for them could be a different story.
Flash forward to Friday, the day of the Open 19.3. My nerves started about noon. Could I do any of this? (Where’s that fearless when you need it?)
I showed up. There were lot of people there, enough for 2 heats in the 4:30 pm class. I went in the second group. I tested the movements a few times and knew I could get through at least the first few reps and then I would see how it went.
And how did it go? It went verrrryyyyy slowly. The dumbbell was awkward and clumsy on my shoulder. I spent time adjusting it. When I lunge, I have a shuffle step / balance check which thankfully Alex told us in advance was not legal. So I warned my judge on the front end to watch me on that. I made sure to come to a full and complete pause at the top.
9 lunges down, 9 lunges back. The ones coming back were harder since the 35-pound weight was on my weaker side. There were lunges I got stuck in the bottom of and had to will myself to push out of. It was not graceful, dainty, coordinated, or remotely pretty. I am sure I use the completely wrong muscle groups to do it. It took me about 6-7 minutes to do the lunges, but I did them.
Then step-ups. This was just grueling. I had to mentally do 10 at a time. Felt like my legs were just shot. So, I would get my bent leg up on the box, move my weight up a little to basically be crouching on the box, then stand up. My friend Milagros took a video of this and when I watched, it looked as absolutely painfully wrong as it felt. As I pushed through the last 15 or so, I knew I was overrelying on my back (which is what I default to and what gets me in trouble) but it didn’t feel like I had other options. See our Instagram feed for a video.
Final verdict: 65 – definitely a lower score than I would have liked but I made it through it. Last year I might not have gotten to the step-ups at all. So, a win, also a benchmark to follow up on over time.
Runner-up for misery: 19.2..cleans that were MUCH heavier than I am used to doing with a barbell.
Biggest (and Most Unexpected) Moment of Triumph:
19.5 – Endless Thrusters and Pull-ups of Punishment
My prediction for 19.5 at my evening class on Thursday was 100 thrusters for time then 1 rep max deadlift. Each was outrageous, laughable, and struck fear in me. Little did I know how close I would be.
105 thrusters and then 105 pull-ups…broken into lonnngggg sets with descending numbers. It made me nauseous the entire night and day before.
Busy at work with book fair…just like other Open Fridays when I led a school parade, helped 500 kids find books…the Open has life as its backdrop. Life happens. It will always be busy.
As for 19.5, from the moment I heard the workout, I just wanted it to be over. Thankfully there were a few people there doing it at the same time. Doing it alone really isn’t fun. Honestly, I just wanted to get through whatever attempt I would make and let it be over.
For me, it was small sets from pretty much the start. 7 or 6 thrusters at the beginning turned into sets of 5 for the most part with 4s to even it up.
Pull-ups were threes with a shake of the arms to reset. Others easily passed me and finished quickly, or did Rx versions then hit a stopping point. I just tried to keep going…. going…. going.
Seemed like those 20 minutes would never end. It was gut wrenching. A few friends started to cheer me on, which helped without overwhelming me. I won’t forget the amazing John grabbing a clipboard to fan me as I tried to breathe during jumping pull-ups. I just kept going. Breaks got longer longer l-o-n-g-e-r.
I had no idea how far I would get. My hope was to get into the round of 21. Ok, finished that round with maybe 5-6 minutes to go, I don’t know. I didn’t want to go back to the bar or the barbell. I hated each one for different reasons.
Just keep going. I don’t want to pick up the bar. I pick it up anyway. Alex counts me down. Through the rounds of 15. Like 2 minutes left. There is no fricking way I am going to finish but I’ll be close which will make me so grouchy. But I keep going.
Round of 9. Alex wants me to go all 9 thrusters. Body won’t have it. 5 then a short break then 4.
Then jumping pull-ups. Jumping like my life depended on it. No shake breaks for this one. Counting down, just keep going, going going…Alex screaming for me to keep going. I finished with zero seconds to spare. Zero! Nothing left to spare!!!
Collapsed on the ground. Almost cried but then my breathing went south so I had to just calm down.
I didn’t really know what it meant.
I still don’t. At the least, it meant I didn’t give up.
I know I was hurting. A lot. I still got up and worked out the next day. I still have bruises all over…clavicles (from cleaning the bar too roughly – see pic below)…legs from who knows what…my chin from hitting the bar. Kinda battle worn.
Cheering for others all weekend long.
Runner-up triumph: all unbroken burpees in 19.4
Yes, I scaled the whole thing. All 5 workouts. Didn’t feel the need to go for Rx. I did give each my best effort. And for the most part, I didn’t let fear get the better of me. So, I achieved my goal.
The best part of the Open for me was cheering others on and feeling connected to the community. More about that in my next post.