I believe when we last spoke my last words were “Aw fuck.”
Let me explain:
I’d just had my ass handed to me by CrossFit Open WOD 13.1 and found out what 13.2 would be: a simple, standard-looking CrossFit WOD, combining strength, speed, agility, and endurance. There’s nothing fancy here like kipping handstand push-ups or muscle-ups or what have you. One bar and one box.
10 min AMRAP
5 shoulder-to-overhead (115#/75#)
10 deadlifts (115#/75#)
15 box jumps (24”/20”)
This is mostly doable for me, except for two issues which are a major punch to the groin:
1. The box jumps were 24 inches high. The highest I’ve ever jumped on a box was 21 inches. No can do.
2. The 5 reps of shoulder-to-overhead weight of 115 pounds is my 1-rep max. Difficult can do.
You let me scale back the weight on this workout to, say, 95 pounds and the height of the box to 20 inches and I will rock its socks right the fuck off. I’ll knock out a couple of rounds, end up on the floor, and 5 minutes later I’ll be ready to go again. It’s the kind of WOD that I’m saving and will stick in my garage CrossFit rotation at home. But you can’t scale back Open WODs. That’s not how it goes. Having to Rx this workout, I thought I’d be lucky to get past the first 5 shoulder-to-overheads to the deadlifts.
You get 1 point for every rep. So every round counts for 30 points. It occurred to me I might score a 2. Maybe a 3. Meanwhile everybody else around me would be going bananas with the bars and boxes, scoring well into the hundreds.
Hence “aw fuck.”
13.2 frustrated me because it was a mix of the easy and the impossible.
The deadlifts I didn’t have a problem with. I don’t bother to warm up with 115 pounds. I could theoretically give you hours worth of 115-pound deadlifts. Bring it, chumps.
On the other hand, the box jumps were almost a deal-breaker. They’re tricky enough as it is with the whole box-jump mental block thing without having to attempt a 3-inch boost of my max height in the midst of a competition, even a competition with as low stakes as this. Then people pointed out to me that the CrossFit Games fine print said step-ups were OK. So that was a relief. If they didn’t allow step-ups, that’s me done, staring stupidly at the box and trying to will my feet off the earth.
It was those five S2Os of 115 pounds that I thought about most in the days between when the Open WOD was announced (Wednesday night) and when I had to do the workout (Saturday morning).
There are no racks allowed, so every bar starts on the floor. That meant I had to clean the bar up to shoulder height first. I tested all my 1-rep maxes in January and February, and my clean 1-rep max also was 115 pounds. So right on the outer edge of what I can physically get up to my shoulders in order to start the damn process. From there I could use any style of overhead lift to get the bar locked out. In order from least complicated to most complicated lift: I could strict press the weight (nope — 85 to 90 pounds is my limit); push press it (still no-go — 110 pounds, tested in January); push jerk it (115 pounds); or split jerk it (115). So there we have it: clean the most weight I can lift once, and split jerk the most weight I can bear overhead once, except do it 5 times. Then do a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t take very long but is still tiring. Then somehow grind out another heaviest clean, then 5 more of my heaviest jerks, then the other stuff, and so on, over and over for 10 minutes, except, let’s face it, it wouldn’t be that easy because I’d be dropping the bar after every split jerk, which means I’d have to do another clean to get it back off the ground and onto my shoulders, making me more tired — and why the hell is my clean and jerk max so low anyway, considering according to EXRX.net and my body weight my clean still isn’t even up to novice level after a year and two months but my deadlift is almost at intermediate level, why are my shoulders and arms not up to the same level of fitness as my posterior chain, what the shit?
My friends online seemed to think I’d be OK. Nik said I’d be fine.
“It’s only five!” they said.
Yeah, but when at my best I managed only one…
A few days before the Open, my box just so happened WOW WHAT A STUNNING COINCIDENCE to have scheduled 15 minutes of jerk practice. I didn’t want to max out and risk hurting myself, so I kept my lifts to 95 pounds and a few at 105 pounds. I failed at a 105-pound split jerk because I wasn’t ready to lift and felt wonkiness in my lower back. It wasn’t debilitating, but enough to make me take up residence on the foam roller for a few days.
It just sucked a bit because clean and jerks are one of my favorite lifts. Last week I wrote how I don’t like snatches but I respect them. I find cleans and jerks loads of fun. Sometimes when I’m in the garage, alone, I grab my bar and jerk it for fun. SHUT UP NOT LIKE THAT.
Like the snatch (seriously STOP), the clean is another lift that’s about yanking (NO) yes yanking the bar up about yea high, letting it float in midair, and then quickly scooting underneath it to catch it, and pushing it up. Which seems to fascinate me: the epiphany that weightlifting isn’t so much about lifting as it is about pushing. Big difference. Jerks are the same way, right? You kind of dip and jump, punch the bar up into the air a bit and dive yourself down underneath it. Not so much picking the bar up as moving yourself underneath to catch it. The clean is very fast and slinky, and the jerk is an elegant explosion (CUT IT OUT).
They’re not elegant when I do them. Other people. I’m just saying.
But so to move away from crude sexual innuendos, I felt a little stiffed. WOD 13.2 had cleans and jerks exactly at my weight limit. There’s not much I can do to strategize around that. I could rest and hope that all the 5/3/1 progressive strength training I’ve been doing in the garage has helped. That’s it. There were lifts in 13.1 that was well beyond me, but I could at least amass some points before then. Also I was in good company, because a great many people found themselves stuck at the same point. For 13.2, I was fucked right off the bat.
I watched some Donny Shankle videos for inspiration. It was all I could do.
We went to get tested at CFP again. I was in a heat slated for 11:45. We had a little setback in the morning and ran late, so I barrelled down the highway with Malley and Nik in tow at 93 mph, arrived at the gym at 11:46. The place was set up more efficiently than last week, with bars and boxes already laid out for everyone and a space cleared in the center of the gym. I whipped off my coat and hoodie, ducked under some caution tape into the fucking Octagon of barbell badassery set up for us. My coach was about to start the clock when he spotted me.
“Are you warmed up at all?”
I go: “Yeah. Not really.” Still vibrating because of the ride.
“I’ll put you on later, after Nik.”
So I got a chance to warm up. I did some light rowing for 400 meters, then hard pulls for 100 meters. I snagged a PVC pipe and practiced push jerks and split jerks. Real easy with a PVC pipe.
Nik warmed up a bit and then it was her heat. Her go at 13.2 went smoothly, as you can see from the below video.
Nice 75-pound push presses to start with, smooth pivoting action on the deadlifts like one of those dunking bird desk toys, and full-on box jumps with bounding off the top, achilles-injury warnings be goddamned — she’s nimble enough to handle it. As she tore through the rounds, she turned from box jumps to step-ups, and then from push presses to push jerks, and eventually moving to split jerks, a lift I know she’s not a fan of because she hasn’t practiced it very much.
Despite that, Nik earned 151 reps — completed 5 full rounds plus 1 more split jerk. It’s about what she had expected and hoped for.
Then came my turn.
It wasn’t as fruitful. Although I did better than I thought I would. This is Round 1 and part of Round 2. Brace yourself.
There’s a whole lot of failure here. But right off the bat I push-jerked my 1-rep max four times in a row. So I must’ve been doing something right these last two months. Then there were a slew of failed attempts. On video it only lasts a few seconds, but for what felt like six or seven days there I thought 4 would be my score. I thought I might be tapped out, and that would be it. Then I somehow pulled another split jerk out of the bag thanks to a few extra seconds of rest and some casual leniency from my judge — sure looks like I didn’t lock out all the way, but whatever. Thanks, Lauren.
As I thought, deadlifts were no sweat. I used them to catch my breath. The step-ups mostly sucked because I have short little legs and it’s hard getting up onto that box.
In my second round, I kept up doing split jerk attempts, missing at least 1 or 2 for every successful lift. I noticed after a while that every time I struggled to lock out I heard people yelling my name and “GO GO GO” and then cheering when my arm finally straightened and I brought my feet together. Nik said there was a whole cheering section there just for me. That’s pretty sweet, considering I don’t really deserve it. Everyone else was pounding through round after round, and I chipped away at those 5 jerks in round 2 one by one. I remember once split jerking and not locking out completely, and holding the bar over my head and it taking at least three years to press up, up, up, grunting, forcing my elbows into lockout, and when I hit it there were cheers. At one point I looked over at Nik and saw that she wasn’t holding Malley, and I mimed holding a baby. She pointed somewhere in the crowd — another crossfitter was holding her. “Oh wow,” I said. Someone in the cheering section said, “WHY DOES HE CARE ABOUT THE BABY RIGHT NOW KEEP GOING DAN!”
To my shock I managed to finish another 5 jerks for Round 2, and there was still plenty of time left on the clock. So I barrelled through the deadlifts and tried to take the step-ups nice and easy so I’d have some wind left in case I got to try a third round of jerks. I had about a minute left when I got to the barbell for the third time.
“I think you have one more left,” my judge said. She was very kind.
I failed at another attempt and addressed the bar again. Planted my feet, brought it up, cleaned it and gave the bar a bump to adjust my grip. Breathed a few times, dipped, punched, and landed underneath it for one last split jerk. Brought my feet together to complete the rep, dropped the bar, and time was up.
In the end I scored 61 reps. That’s a lot lower than anyone else I know. Not an impressive figure at all. Considering I expected single digits and managed to split-jerk my one-rep max eleven times, it’s something. Now 115 pounds isn’t my one-rep max anymore. I don’t know for sure what it is until I test it, but it’s a bit heavier than that. So that’s nice. A benchmark for next year and a fun time is all I’ve wanted out of the Open anyway.
• This workout put me at 66,013th place worldwide. Already started to pack my suitcase for the Games. WATCH YOUR ASS FRONING.
• I did not hurt myself, which is nice considering I was pushing pretty hard against the limit of what I can clean and jerk. But I did end up with a couple of nice barbell hickeys — bruises on both shoulders from where I caught the bar in a clean.
• The fact that that is the limit of what I can clean and jerk is a fucking shame. I need to get bigger muscle-wise.
• What can I look forward to on Saturday for Open WOD 13.3? Just announced minutes ago:
12 minutes, as many reps as possible:
150 wallballs at 20 pounds
More stuff just over the border of too hard for me to do.