So at the end of last week’s post, I learned about CrossFit Open WOD 13.4, an ascending ladder of 135-pound clean and jerks then toes-to-bars. I said this was, no fooling, a WOD that I couldn’t do.
Not being self-deprecating, not placing obstacles in my own way — I literally can’t do it.
I tested my max clean and jerk in January. It was 115 pounds. In week 13.2 I managed to jerk that same weight 11 times, so therefore my 1-rep max must be higher than that. They weren’t consecutive and I had lots of failed attempts, but I got 11 reps in 12 minutes. That’s got to count for something, but I didn’t think it could count for another 20 pounds. That’s kind of a lot for me. I’ve never even attempted a clean at that weight.
To say nothing of the toes-to-bars. Even if I could somehow manage to max out and clean-and-jerk more weight than I’ve ever lifted before, three times in a row, the toes-to-bar would get me. Toes-to-bars are where you grab hold of a pull-up bar, swing from it, and make your toes touch the bar. I’ve never done one. Ever. I can barely swing from the bar. I’m getting there, but I’m not there yet. I don’t think the heat of a competition, with a judge and a crowd watching me, is the best place to learn.
So I bowed out this week.
Nik bowed out too. Her clean-and-jerk weight was 95 pounds. Unlike me, she’s actually lifted that weight. Before she was pregnant, she could clean and jerk that. Now, she can’t. Post-pregnancy, she’s still building back up to where she was before. She didn’t feel confident she could handle the weight. So we stayed home.
I don’t regret it. I just regret that I can’t do it.
It CAN hurt to try
Right after the live announcement where that smarmy CrossFit guy described the workout, I realized I couldn’t handle it — so I swept up the pieces of my crushed spirit and put it out there on Facebook that I was out of the competition for that week. Not looking for sympathy. Just bitching.
One comment I got was from my friend Tony, who said it couldn’t hurt to try. I thought about it a lot, went back and forth for a while thinking maybe I’d give it a whirl anyway, and decided that yeah, it actually could hurt to try. Twenty pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but when it’s overhead at higher speed and at the limit of what I can do, it’s a lot. Doing too much more than you’re capable of is how people sometimes get injured. Getting hurt is pretty easy, actually. I could wreck my back, pull something in my shoulders, twist an ankle or a knee, fuck up my wrist — you name it. I don’t need that.
I also didn’t want to waste some judge’s time and take a spot away from some other, more capable athlete.
I also didn’t want to look like a fucking assclown in front of people. I don’t worry about that too much — if I did, I wouldn’t have a stupid blog with my name and image all over it, and I wouldn’t show up the gym wearing a goddam Hulk Hogan bandana. But looking like a pipsqueak is still not my ideal way to spend an afternoon.
A cool thing I did instead
I went to Costco. We needed food. That’s why you go to Costco. That and the free samples of spanakopita.
It was just me and Malley. Rather than figure out the fucked-up physics of pushing both her in her carriage and a shopping cart, I strapped her to my chest in the Ergo baby carrier. I decided we needed a 50-pound bag of rice, because it’s 35 cents a pound, which is an incredible savings vs. small bags. We eat rice semi-regularly but at that price I’ll eat it more. Anyway, I had to get a 50-pound bag of rice into my shopping cart with an infant stuck to my front. So I slid the bag off the pallet, squatted a little, drove up with my hips, and lifted the bag into the carriage with one arm, using the other hand mostly to guide the bag away from me so I didn’t smash Malley in the head.
I was halfway through the self-checkout when I realized I’d have to take the rice out again and hold it over the barcode scanner. Before I could, a checker came by and entered it manually.
“Don’t worry, I got it.” Then she goes: “How’d you get that in there in the first place?”
“I work out,” I said.
That’s either the coolest or the douchiest I’ve ever been in my life. Not sure yet. I’ll let you know.
Getting stronger is nice for situations like that. Having a higher degree of functional fitness is very handy. A few days later I got groceries at Stop & Shop (we eat a lot). I brought Malley in her car seat in one hand and four full bags of stuff in the other. To get the bags up onto our breakfast counter, I basically kettlebell-cleaned them. Simple.
That’s also why I didn’t attempt 13.4 and potentially injure myself. I don’t work out so I can be an athlete, testing my limits or whatever — I do it because I’m a middle-class guy who buys groceries every week.
Good but not enough
This week I thought I’d attempt a 135-pound clean and jerk in the comfort and privacy of my garage.
The results are in the video below, but here’s a spoiler: I couldn’t. I warmed up a bit, then did a few at 95. A lift at 115 went wonky because I lost my footing. I went up to 125 pounds and managed to clean it, but couldn’t get under it fast enough to bring it overhead. And that’s me, done.
Much of my problem is technique. If I had better form I could lift more. As it is, my form sucks, so I’m inefficient as hell. When I edited that video, I watched myself in slow motion and spent the whole time shaking my head. I don’t pop the bar high enough. Which means I need a lot more work — mostly clean pulls to get the movement down and build strength. I should make those a regular thing in my lifting routine.
But at least my hang power clean 1-rep max went up from 115 to 125 pounds. That’s very nice.
The final week
The last CrossFit Open WOD, 13.5, was just announced. Goddammit.
4 min AMRAP
15 thrusters @ 100 pounds
15 chest-to-bar pullups
If you reach 90 reps, make it an 8 min AMRAP
If you reach 180 reps, make it a 12 min AMRAP
And so on…
Another one. Dammit, another one barely on the edge of what I can physically do, and probably over the edge.
I’ll try. But it won’t be pretty.