Leave No Doubt

Rarely have three words dictated so much of my thought process than the words, “leave no doubt”.  Rich Froning said this of his performance in the final workouts of the 2012 CrossFit Games.  He went into the final day with a thought in his head, “I didn’t want anyone leaving the stadium saying, “that Froning shouldn’t have won.” I wanted to leave no doubt”.

For Rich, this saying meant that he knew in his mind that winning by one or two points over Matt Chan wouldn’t be enough. He didn’t want to scrape out a win, he wanted to separate himself by such a margin that everyone would know that he, and he alone, should be on the top step of the podium.

For me, it means something else, and it’s meaning falls within another statement, “Full Effort, Full Victory”.  Back in an early blog post I said that I never wanted to leave the gym feeling like I could have given more.  No matter what the WOD, how difficult, how testing, I would give 100% and leave it all out there.

Leave no doubt; no doubt that 100% effort was given and that my best is my best.

During the CrossFit Open season, this is crucially important.  We take on 5 workouts over 5 weeks, designed and programmed to make the best in the world collapse at Dave Castro’s feet in a sweaty pile of broken human.  But, we do it every week, with a smile.  Maybe some butterflies, and even nausea, but a smile nonetheless.

Some people let the workouts get into their head, I was super guilty of this last year and this mind game becomes all encompassing and results in something I despise: the re-do.

During Open season, a lot of people will do each workout several times, and it bugs me.  Some people have a reason—if I’m in 61st place and an extra 3 reps will put me 60th to get a spot at Regionals, then a re-do makes some sense.  However, if I’m in around 1100th place like I am in reality, what am I gaining?

I go into every Friday knowing that I’m doing the CrossFit Open WOD, and that no matter how hard it is, I’m going to crush it, crush myself, and give it everything. EVERYTHING.  I will leave no doubt that my effort is full, and therefore my victory is full.  I have done what I can do and I know that even if I decide to re-do the workout the next day, the difference (better or worse) will be negligible.  I redid ONE workout in 2014’s Open and I didn’t do it for me.  I went to the gym to work out, and a friend needed some company and competition, so I lined up and repeated the WOD.  I gained 6 reps over my first attempt.  Better yes, but not so amazing that I’m now going to the next stage of competition.  That’s my point…why annihilate my spirit for 6 more reps?  Give it everything you’ve got and move on to the next one.  Don’t beat yourself up.

One of the most victorious performances I’ve ever seen in CrossFit happened last night.  Rich Froning did last night’s workout in 8:26, it took me 21:34.  It took one CrossFit 403 member almost an hour to do it, but dammit if there wasn’t a dry eye in that building when she was done.  Full effort, full victory.  She did the best she could and left no doubt in anyone’s mind that she is a beast and worked her ass off.  It was a proud moment for CrossFit 403–its coaches, and most importantly, its members. This was the theme of the Open, it always is.  This competition is for the everyman, the CrossFit athlete that has to drop their kids off at the pool, the athlete who has a day job, the athlete who does CrossFit to justify eating a donut.  The Open is for the regular people.  It’s not for Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa, Samantha Briggs, or Elisabeth Akinwale.  It’s for the rest of us—for us to test ourselves and know that we are capable of so much more than we may think, physically and mentally.

My CrossFit Games season is now over, I’m not going to Regionals, I’m not competing at the Games, but I did my absolute best, saw gains I didn’t expect, and put in 100% of myself over 5 weeks.  Full effort, full victory.

Leave no doubt.275 Deadlift chest to bar toes to bar 2 toes to bar

Ramblings

I’ve got lots I could go on and on about in this post, but I guess that just means I need to write more often.  Regardless, I apologize now for this post and it’s inevitable randomness

I just got home from doing 2014 CrossFit Open WOD 14.4.  We’re 80% through this year’s Open, the single biggest fitness competition in history with over 200,000 people competing from across the globe.  It’s pretty damn cool to be a part of all of that, and even more cool that after some reflection this year on my progress, weaknesses, and goals, to realize that I’m the top 50% worldwide.  This isn’t mind blowing as far as stats go, but what it speaks to is my topic for this post.

Progress, and why the CrossFit Open is so important to me.

I’ve talked about this before, sometimes at length, but this year it has sunk in more than ever.

My first CrossFit Open was in 2012.  I weighed around 300lbs and had been doing CrossFit for about 6 months.  I had goals, but really I just wanted to post a score for each of the 5 workouts.  I finished last in my region, but I still considered it a success for the reason that I did the work and posted 5 scores, something that several hundred people didn’t do.  I still vividly remember Steve as my judge on workout 12.3…my game changer.  It had toes to bar, a movement I still dislike.  I spent about 14 minutes struggling, fighting, ripping, and failing to do a single rep.  Not one.

Remember that, for later.

In 2013, the Open got into my head.  For some reason I had huge expectations of myself, and I still don’t know why.  I knew, and know, that I’m not a Regionals level athlete (yet…………………), but I had high hopes and 2013 crushed me.  I was grumpy, agitated, and really hard on myself.  I did well, even posted some pretty high scores, but felt horrible with my performance.  Oh well, move onwards and upwards! I still achieved the goal of doing at least one of every movement I attempted.  Nothing beat me but myself. I grew a lot over the past year though and I think my attitude is better than it’s ever been.

Now, back to 2014.  CrossFit 403 is bigger than ever.  A gigantic family of like minded, loving freaks, who consider dancing and bad jokes at the gym as important as working out.  Our Friday night Open dates are awesome, and the support is unreal.  I needed that tonight, and I got it.  I’ve been stoked with this years Open, and barring workout 14.2, in which chest to bar pullups crushed me, I’ve done a LOT better than I could have hoped for…and even then, I managed 10 chest to bar pullups, more than I’ve ever done before. I’ve placed in the Top 10 guys in our gym twice in 3 weeks (5th and 7th) and tonight went better that anticipated.

Remember when I talked about Steve judging me in the 2012 Open and not having to count a single toes to bar rep?  Well, he lined up as my judge tonight and all I could think was “he’s not getting off that easy this time, I’m getting reps”.  As I said though, the support was unreal.  I know I didn’t do a very good job of hiding my dislike for toes to bar, but everyone was just so G-damn upbeat, I just went with it.  As is extremely common with athletes in this sport, I am my harshest critic, and I know I wouldn’t have done nearly as well had I done this on my own.  Chris and Steve especially, I needed those words tonight…one at a time, get work done.

All said and done, I did 50…50…one at a time.  I was as proud about that as I was of Sang, who did 3.  She worked her ass off for those 3 and left the bar with a smile.  THAT’S what the Open is all about, do what you don’t think you can.

Next week, after 14.5, the final WOD, I’ll do a recap of my scores, but this post isn’t about that as much as it’s about believing in the ability to push through the tough circumstances thrown in front of you and learning to keep on truckin.

I’ve always taken pride in my ability to push through the hard parts of life and continuing to work when no one else is willing.  I work on that through CrossFit—push beyond.  Get outside the comfort zone.  I know it hurts but it’s worth it.  To me, the CrossFit Open is the most important and crucial part of CrossFit competition. It’s about competing with yourself.  It’s about the people, the positivity, the health, the growth, the progress, the challenge, the camaraderie, the limits being thrown for a loop.

I’m so proud to be part of the CrossFit 403 community, and the CrossFit community as a whole.  There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here, and I can’t wait to see what The Dave has programmed for 14.5.

Next year though….next year, I’m doing a f*****n muscle up.

The Mental Side

This post has been a long time coming.  I have literally reflected on this topic EVERY SINGLE DAY for almost two years.

On December 7, 2012, I wrote a note in my phone about a seemingly innocuous tweet from Andrew at Canyon CrossFit, posted mid 2012 (@crossfitandrew on twitter…follow him). Andrew tweeted something to the effect of “What’s the toughest phsyical test you’ve ever faced?” That simple question has bugged me for a long time.

My note says, “The toughest physical test of my life? I’m not sure. have I done anything truly difficult? Of all the things I’m proud I accomplished, I really haven’t done any single thing worth bragging about.”

Today, I can answer that question.

When he tweeted that, my mind jumped to things that I’d never done that I figured would be major hurdles in my life–completing a Spartan Race, doing a hero WOD called “Murph”, competing in a CrossFit competition, passing the dreaded “Beep Test”.  It’s 2014 and I’m a new guy…I did a Spartan Race, had a shitload of fun, then got home and went for another workout because I felt like I just got warmed up.  I’ve done Murph now, several times. I’ve competed in the Bridge City Beat Down twice, seeing PR’s both times, as well as 2014 being my third year in the CrossFit Open.  And the beep test…not only did I pass it to get the job I dreamt of my whole life, I’ve passed it well over a dozen times now, and gone past doubling my score from the first time I ran it in 2010.  Still, none of these things really stand out to me as amazing physical feats, ANYMORE.

Talking to my friend Lane yesterday, it finally hit me, I can finally answer Andrew’s question:

The toughest physical test I’ve faced in my life wasn’t physical at all, it was mental.  I spent so much time believing that physical things were unachievable, I had put all these things onto huge pedestals thinking that my mission would be complete once I knocked them down.  It was all in my head.  I’ve done them now, I do them often, they’re just things I do now…nothing special.

I couldn’t do a pull-up, squat my bodyweight, or deadlift a motorcycle.  I wanted to run a 10 minute mile, I ran an 8 minute mile wearing a weight vest two weeks ago.

Because I can.  Because I put in the work.

Lane spent the last week attempting to convince me why he shouldn’t enter the Open, he can’t do a pull-up (yet), he can’t do *blank* yet, he’s never done *inserttoughmovementhere*…well guess what buddy…welcome to the club!  Lots of us get beaten by movements in the Open, therein lies the beauty, you come back next year and fucking destroy it!  I couldn’t do a toes-to-bar in 2012, hell, I spent 16 minutes trying and failing, scoring ZERO reps of toes to bar, 27 reps total on Workout 12.3.  In 2013 I redid that workout and scored 3 complete rounds, 135 reps including 27 toes to bar–108 reps more than the year before.  THAT is why I do the Open.  Measurable, observable, repeatable.

So, all those things that are in your head as the goal, keep them there.  Train for that sprint triathlon, that 5km run, that single pull-up, to go to the gym when you don’t feel like it.  Believe that you can do something, work for it, acccomplish it, and move on  to bigger and better things because you have it in you.  After all, it’s just physical, no big deal, that’s why we CrossFit.

One person put that hurdle there, you did, now a whole community wants to help you find a way to push it over.

Is it February 27th yet?

13.5 The FranRAP

FranRAP, Forever Fran, FRANgel of Death, Hell on Earth—The final WOD of the 2013 CrossFit Open had many names, some much more dramatic than others, but to me it was one hell of an interesting take on the O.G. of CrossFit workouts.

As most of you may recall, Fran is a simple couplet of thrusters and pull-ups in a 21-15-9 rep scheme.  Do 21 thrusters, then 21 pull ups, then 15 of each, then 9 of each.  The best athletes in the world finish this workout in about 2 minutes–CrossFit Vernon, BC’s Jeremy Meredith does it in 2:01…ya…he’s a monster.

In hyping up the event it was Dave Castro himself who left the world guessing when he stated that “people who are decent CrossFitter’s are going to have a tough time.  People who are GREAT CrossFitter’s are potentially going to have a more difficult time”.  That didn’t make any sense until the WOD and it’s format was released:

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 4 minutes of:
15 x 100 pound Thruster
15 x Chest to bar Pull-ups

If 90 reps (3 rounds) are completed in under 4 minutes, time extends to 8 minutes.
If 180 reps (6 rounds) are completed in under 8 minutes, time extends to 12 minutes.
If 270 reps (9 rounds) are completed in under 12 minutes, time extends to 16 minutes.
Etc.

So, the better you are, the longer you had to dig deep and keep going.

I on the other hand knew that I simply had a 4 minute workout ahead of me!

3…2…1…GO! Let’s do some thrusters!

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Loading up the throw the weight overhead as quick as possible…I know, I know, elbows up.

With those out of the way, it was time for some chest-to-bar pull up action.  Now, I haven’t had pull-ups in my bag of tricks for all that long and at the time this WOD was announced, I had never done a chest-to-bar pull-up.  This had to change damn fast because my single goal for the 2013 CrossFit Open was “To not get beat by any single movement“.  In 2012 I couldn’t get many things; chest to bar pull-ups, toes to bar, and the 135lb snatch. By 13.5 I had bested the toes to bar and the 135lb snatch, but hitting a pull up bar with my chest was going to be a tall order.  Just 1, that’s all I want, just 1.

With my 15 thrusters done and out of the way I had given myself just shy of 3 minutes to get that pull-up.  I don’t remember which attempt it was, or how many tries it took, but Crystal (@nibs29) managed to capture the moment, something I’m very grateful for!

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I ended up getting another, for a grand total of 17 reps on 13.5.  Fifteen thrusters, and 2 chest-to-bar pull-ups.

Awesome.

With that, my 2013 CrossFit Games season is over but I accomplished my goal.  I beat every single movement that I attempted, getting at least 1 of everything.  Had I finished the double-unders as I had hoped in 13.3 I would have been bested by muscle-ups, but I’m totally okay with that! In 2012, I finished in last place in the Canada West region amongst the athletes who submitted a score for all 5 workouts.  There were many who didn’t finish all 5 WOD’s, so that was my takeaway in 2012, completion.  In 2013 I finished in 984th place out of 1281 athletes, almost in the top 75%.  Sweet.  There’s a long way to go and a lot of hard work to put in during the next year but you can be assured that the placings will only get higher as the years go on.

Bring it on.

The 13.4 Ladder

13.4 – 2013 CrossFit Open, workout number 4.

Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes of:
3 Clean & Jerks, 135lbs
3 toes-to-bar
6 Clean & Jerks
6 toes-to bar
9 Clean & Jerks
9 toes-to bar
12 Clean & Jerks
12 toes-to bar…and so on, as high as you can go!

Here’s the video of the live announcement, and, if you feel so inclined, you can watch 2 of the world’s best do the workout immediately after the announcement! (Fast forward to 5:13 to skip the babble and preamble!)

So, there it is.

In 2012, toes to bar was one of the movements that ruined me.  In a post called “Getting from T2B”, I discussed the WOD and how I really wasn’t all that disappointed that I hadn’t gotten a single rep of toes to bar, simply because I tried.  I did my best, period.  Well 2013 is a new year, a new competition and I know that I can do toes to bar now–not well–but I can do them.

So, here we go–3…2…1…GO!

The barbell work with 135lbs wasn’t super heavy for me.  Heavy yes, but nothing I haven’t done before and I knew that at the very least I could maintain good form just by doing singles.  I knew the toes to bar would be where I lost time so I aimed to push through the barbell reps as fast as I could.  Lee was my judge on Thursday and he was awesome.  In my face at the right time, and supportive.  He watched me do this last year and it was awesome to actually string together my first round of 3 T2B, I’d never done that before!

The next few minutes went by so damned fast that it’s hard to recap.  Same old mantra, “JUST KEEP MOVING”.  Plain and simple.  I did slow down on my toes to bar as I had expected but all said and done I scored 42 reps.

Now, being a guy, and sometimes having a bit of an ego, I had the thought that “well, 50 would be nice”.  No Josh, just no.  You did awesome, try to remember that one year ago, you could do one, and now you’ve completed toes to bar in competition for the second time.  Cool.

I’ll confess here that I did re-do the WOD on Sunday AM but only for two reasons–#1, it’s only 7 minutes, not something like 150 wall balls and #2 I wanted to workout that day and it was the programmed workout for CrossFit 403.  I did actually do better, totaling 44 reps, but thanks to a busy afternoon I didn’t get that score submitted.  No big deal, I’m still pleased with 42!

It is now 523pm on Wednesday April 3rd and the final CrossFit Open workout of 2013, 13.5, will be announced in just over 45 minutes.  Any guesses?  Good luck on the last week!

PS – I want to do a special shout out to a cool guy, Jonathan Robert, from CrossFit Function in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

Jon and I are a lot alike – we both started CrossFit around the same time, and we were/are both the “big guys” at our respective boxes.  We’re only a few years apart in age, pretty much same height and weight, and each of us has our strengths.  His, funny enough, is strength!  Dude is s-t-r-o-n-g. We chatted a few times on Twitter but officially met at our first competition, the Bridge City Beat Down in Saskatoon.  He actually introduced himself before the dreaded pull up/chipper WOD.  We were both pretty nervous because I hadn’t ever done a pull-up and he hadn’t done that many.  Well, as it stands, he kicked my butt on that workout and we both did better than we had hoped.  Currently, Jon sits just 1 point ahead of me in the Canada West region for the CrossFit Open.  I told ya we were close!  Good luck on 13.5 Jon, it’s always fun competing with you, see you at BCBD2013!

jonandme
For more on Jon, here’s a quick member spotlight on him on CrossFit Function’s Website – Jonathan Robert.  Possibly the best line I’ve ever read about CrossFit is in that post–“So, when you come into FUNCTION, watch your step. There is 40 pounds & 7 inches of my sweat and determination on the floor of that gym.”

Wall Balls Still Suck

Actually, I’ll clarify that title…wall balls don’t suck, I suck at wall balls.

CrossFit Open workout 13.3 was a direct repeat of 2012’s workout 12.4
In 12 Minutes, complete as many reps as possible of:
150 wall ball tosses
90 double unders
30 muscle ups

If you’re a freak of fitness and complete all that and have time left, start over again with wall balls.
For a quick recap, if you want to read my post on this last year, here’s the link–
https://crossfitrookie.com/2012/03/great-success.html

Well, a lot can change in a year so this year I knew damn well that there would be no smiles if I didn’t at least complete the wall balls.  I even went so far as to say that if I didn’t reach 200 reps (which I felt, and still feel is attainable for me) I would re-do the workout.

Friday night, 715pm, my turn.

3…2…1…GO!

Well, not much to say here–pick up the ball, squat, stand up, throw ball at 10ft target, catch ball, squat. Repeat 150 times.  Right…

As far as pace, the only real gauge I have is that last year it took 6 minutes to complete 75 reps, this year it took me just under 5.  Realistically, I’m still 250lbs and squatting that much takes its toll but I’m not one for excuses.  I pushed on from that point in sets of 5 at a time which is what killed me on the clock.  My arms and legs were jell-o, but I HAD to get to the double-unders, I knew I could make up reps with my rope.

With Steve counting for me (as he did in 2012), he was able to count past the 124 mark I reached last year and when he said “150! PICK UP YOUR ROPE! GO!” I had 24 seconds left.  It took 11:36 seconds to complete the 150 wall balls.

I did my best to make that 24 seconds of double-unders into something and I managed to get 19 reps.  That, I’m very happy with!

FINAL SCORE, 169 reps.

So, as much as it bugs me, I didn’t leave myself much time to skip rope and I didn’t even PR my time for 150 wall balls (11:33), but I still beat my 2012 effort by 45 reps so it’s really hard to be mad at all.  I did intend to re-do the workout on Sunday AM but my legs felt differently about that plan…I could barely move on Sunday so 169 it is!

And a couple pics for ya, courtesy of Mama Rook–

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For those who still don’t understand what a wall ball is, here’s a quick 13 second video that my mom took on Friday night…if only I could have maintained this pace!
http://static.photobucket.com/player.swf

Finding Nicho

You have to watch this video. If you’ve seen it before, watch it again, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

Nicho Montero is a real guy, he’s 40 years old and he’s a member of CrossFit CSA in Dublin, California.  He became a CrossFit internet star when this video was released to the world on February 28th.  In two minutes, it tells the story of a man who gives his workout everything he has, ends up on the floor with little to no recollection of what just happened, just a daydream about his favourite CrossFitters. mmmm…Jackie Perez…I mean, nevermind.

There was but one plan for this workout, don’t f**king stop. Everyone seems to get obsessed with strategy, plans, goals, and pace on these workouts (myself included) but I knew that if I kept myself moving for 10 minutes, a relative sprint in the CrossFit world, that I had a chance at a good score.  I had to find my Nicho–work so damned hard that no matter the final score I knew that I had given my all.  I don’t believe in re-doing things.  Do it right the first time. In my mind there is only one place for re-doing workouts and that is several months later to gauge progress but that is what benchmark workouts are for.  This is a competition and if I go out and compete to the best of my ability, I should have ZERO doubt in my mind that my score is a true reflection of my abilities. So that was the plan, don’t f**king stop.

To remind you, 13.2 was–
10 Minute AMRAP
5 Shoulder to Overhead 115lbs for men/75lbs women
10 deadlifts 115/75
15 box jumps/step ups

3…2…1…GO!

Pick up the bar and just give ‘er shit.  Honestly there’s no point in trying to tell you how I felt at what time, I’d be making it up.  From the word go, I just kept moving.  I purposefully left my back to the clock and just cycled through the reps.  Five push jerks, get the bar down and do 10 deadlifts as fast as possible, get your feet up on that box, open your hip, step down.

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I remember being on what I thought was round 6, attempting to reach 180 reps (which I felt would have been fantastic) when R-Star (who was judging me and counting my reps) says “45 seconds, YOU’RE GOING TO BEAT ME”.  Say what?  You did over 210 reps, completed 7 rounds, I’m 7 rounds in?  Holy shitballs!  At that point it was a blur.  He says that I picked up my pace at that point, but I don’t remember.  I just knew that in 45 seconds I better make every rep count.  No drops, no fails, no wasting effort. I got through the bar movements and managed 1 box jump before hearing “TIME”.  Workout over.

I had no clue what had happened in the last ten minutes.  I spent probably another 10 minutes pacing, going outside, trying to breathe, laying down on the floor, moving again, trying to take sips of water and slapping a few high fives before finding Ryan to see what my score was.  226.

Two hundred, twenty six! I didn’t believe him, not gonna lie.

That score, which I’m very proud of, is just proof that on a workout like this you cannot stop.  Rest later. I honestly don’t believe that I could have done any better.  That may sound negative but it shouldn’t, it just proves my point.  I said once before that “I never want to leave 403 after a WOD thinking that I had more left in me”.  It’s an awful feeling, so avoid it, put 100% effort into it and be proud, whatever the outcome.

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Here, Rob sums up this workout in one pose.

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Speaking of being proud, how about miss K-Jo?!  She only joined CrossFit 403’s BASICS class in January.  Before last night she had never done a 75lb clean, let alone a 75lb overhead lift.  Well this chica not only signed up for the Open within weeks of starting in this sport, but then showed everyone in the building what CrossFit is.  She recorded 1 rep on 13.2, and she was the HAPPIEST person in the building.  Every person and coach in the gym was grinning with pride for that one rep.  THAT is what it’s all about, doing your best and owning your score.  That one rep was all she had and she has high reason to be proud of herself, we all are. K-Jo is CrossFit.

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I found my Nicho, she found hers. Your turn, leave it all out on the floor.