Post Games Thoughts
It’s been a couple of weeks now since I returned home from the Crossfit Games in Los Angeles and life seems to be returning to normal. The nervousness and anxiety has gone and been replaced with a sense of accomplishment and a desire to become a better athlete.
When I now think about this experience there are a number of things that standout. The biggest thing is the people. Those friends and fellow athletes who were so generous with their support and encouragement for me every step of the way. It would not have been anything like the great event it was without all that love that I received. Crossfit Games is forever linked in my mind to all of those incredible people.
Next was the training. All the extra hours and the pushing myself harder than I had before produced a whole new level of fitness. If I did in fact inspire any of the other athletes it was simply by showing that we all have more potential than we realize and that hard work does produce results.
Finally the competition. To step up and put myself way outside of my comfort zone at this age and compete on a world stage was fantastic. I hope that I am able to earn the chance to do it again next year.
That is the short version of my retrospective. Anyone interested in the long version can continue reading.
I can look now at the training I did in preparation and assess if it was correct. To start with I followed the .com workouts all the way to the last day of training. It was following .com that improved my overall conditioning since I joined Crossfit North Vancouver so it made sense to stick with it. But I also knew I had deficiencies and I was lucky enough to have coaches Dave Kitchen and Chris Schallo in my corner. They produced additional programming for me that I did three days a week. They built up my shoulder strength that finally got me completing my hand stand pushups, I climbed rope, a lot of rope, I squatted. I trained hard for three months between the Open competition and the Games. I also started training one night a week with Mike Cartwright who helped me greatly improve my Olympic lifting.
When it was time to go to L.A. I felt I was in great shape. I had been recording Personal Records on all my lifts. I felt strong. I felt ready.
Throughout all of this training I was being encouraged not just by the coaches but also by the members of our gym. They showered me with support and I was overwhelmed by it. They came out in force and fundraised to help with my expenses. They believed in me. They were true friends and proved what an incredible community we have in this gym.
I headed down to L.A. on the Wednesday morning before the Games began. Got to my hotel, went to the host hotel and registered, was loaded up with a ton of workout gear and was made to feel like a respected competitor. The entire weekend at every location the support staff and volunteers did an outstanding job to make sure the athletes had the best possible experience. They were fantastic. Then it was shopping time to load up on healthy food from Trader Joes.
That night there was a reception and buffet for the athletes. Great chance to meet the other competitors and even though I was on my own the team from Taranis took me in and made me feel part of their group, a gesture that was very much appreciated.
Thursday was for resting and an athletes meeting in the afternoon where the first two workouts were explained. That night my three gorgeous supporters who were staying in the same hotel arrived, Roe, Mandy and Ainslie. Wonderful to have familiar faces there.
In the morning it was showtime. It had been raining but had stopped by the time we arrived at the Home Depot Centre. The Masters women were already competing as I headed into the athletes area to get settled and later warmup.
Finally my group was called. The 55-59 year old men who had placed between 11 + 20 in the Open headed out to face the racks. There was a barbell on the rack, a stack of weights on the ground and a judge. When the timer said go you had 2 minutes to get your maximum shoulder to overhead lift. I’d already decided on 185 lbs to start, wanting to get a reasonable amount completed but also one I was confident I’d do. After that I added 20 lbs and did 205. Time was racing by. I intended to add 10 more lbs to go for my recent PR of 215 but in the rush and not familiar with the Rogue weights I put on another 20 lbs for 225 and failed at that weight. No time for another attempt as at the end of 2 minutes there was 60 seconds to get the bar loaded with 135 lbs for the sets of front squats in the next portion of the workout. That done it was then 3,2,1 go and run to the rack and do two rope climbs, then do a shuttle run of 25, then 50 then 75 feet, touching 3 separate mats in the process. Now back to the rack for 5 front squats. I did all the front squats unbroken and tried to maintain a steady pace on the run and get the rope climbs done smoothly. At first there were lots of guys ahead of me on the run, not so many on the second round and by the third I was in third place. The temperature was warming up and the wet pavement was giving way to almost a steam as the humidity rose, this added to the challenge of controlling my breathing. I did my last set of rope climbs and did the run, came back for a last set of front squats. I racked the bar and stopped there looking at the judge who shouted at me, ‘Run’. I’d forgotten about the last shuttle run. So I took off and despite losing valuable seconds managed to finish the workout in 7:55, one of only 4 of the 20 in my division to beat the 8 minute time cap.
I was thrilled to have completed my first workout. I could hear the familiar voices throughout the event, calling for me to keep going. I was so grateful for that support. That wonderful group will never really appreciate just how much it meant to me for them to be there. At that point of could have cried tears of joy and relief. At the end of the first event, with the score for the lift and shuttle relay combined, I was in 5th place.
There were several hours before the next event and I ate and drank, then headed over to watch some other events going on elsewhere, trying to make sure that I took in what I could of the whole Games experience.
Later back at the Masters arena I could spend some time with my friend, Richard Roston who was also competing in the same division. His experience from the competing the previous year was informative for me to draw on so I could better understand how things worked there. We cheered each other on the whole weekend.
The afternoon workout was a triplet. All 20 competitors went at the same time. First there was an I K row, followed by 30 cleans @ 115 lbs and finally 50 burpees. I started rowing with my back to the crowd but could hear their encouragement as I worked at maintaining a 4 minute pace for the 1 K. As soon as the row was over it was straight to the bar and start the cleans. I did my first set of 8, then next was a couple of sets of 5, until I got down to the last few reps done as singles. Pick up the bar, clean it, drop it, do it again. The sun was shining and getting hotter as I went to the mat to begin the burpees, which ended each time with a two foot jump onto a 45 lb plate. I stayed with my strategy of maintaining a pace that allowed me to do the burpees straight through without taking a break. I finished in the middle of the pack. My time there combined with the morning’s work put me in 8th spot.
I watched some more competition and then caught a cab back to the hotel. Then it was time to relax, eat and prepare for the next day. Hung out with the girls for a bit and tried to get to sleep early.
Saturday morning I went with the girls to the Home Depot Centre for the first workout. This was a snatch ladder. My group went in one at a time and started with 95 lbs. After completing your lift you waited until the 30 seconds available was up then moved to the next station. Each barbell was loaded with 10 pounds more than the last one. I easily did the 95, 105, 115 snatches as power snatches. At 125 I switched to doing a split snatch to reinforce the technique that I had decided to do for my heavier lifts. I was able to do 125, 135, 145 and finally 155 which matched my personal record, which I had only set a week earlier. I failed at 165 so on the next rotation I took my skipping rope that I had moved with me each time and did as many double unders as I could in 30 seconds. It wasn’t a big number, 6 was all I got but it all added to my overall score.
At the end of that workout I was now in 10th place. I was very happy with my performance up to that point. I ate then went over to the track to watch some more of the individual competitions. It was so incredible to see the athletic prowess of these men and women. After awhile I headed back to the Masters area to get out of the sun and rest before the final workout of the day. I warmed up and got ready. I had my hands taped up as I had left my gloves in the hotel and many of the earlier competitors had ripped their hands on the hot pullup bars. Ready to go I headed into the arena for the Masters Chipper. 10 deadlifts @ 245 pounds, 20 pullups, 30 box jumps, 40 KB swings- @ 35 lbs, 50 double unders, then it was a reverse of that ladder all the way back to the deadlifts.
I started in on the deadlifts and was ready for that heavy weight. The pullups turned into a mess as I was called no rep repeatedly as my judge told me I was not achieving full extension. After receiving a lot of no rep calls I was getting tired and very frustrated. Eventually I hit the 20 necessary reps and moved on to the box jumps. Step ups were allowed and I marched through all of them and picked up the KB. Next was the 50 double unders and I was hoping this was going to be a breakthrough day for my skipping. Unfortunately what happened was more like a break down. My skipping is poor at the best of times and this was going to be a bad day. I was already way behind but any chance for pulling this workout together fell aside as I struggled to get any DU’s strung together. As all the other competitors completed the workout I continued to slowly grind my way through the 50 double unders on my own. Certainly not the first time I was the last one to finish a workout but not the time and place I wanted to repeat that dubious title.
Finally finished with the skipping I tossed my rope high in the air, hoping to relief some of my frustration. I picked up the Kettlebell and started the 40 reps. At this point my arms were tired from all the failed double unders and the other work completed to that point. I had to break the KB into sets but I got them done and moved on to the box. Time was running out as I stepped up again and again, then the announcer called time. My score was the full time plus another second for every rep missed to complete the workout. Despite my poor performance on this workout I was still given the hugs and support from those wonderful people who were in the stands cheering for me. Their kind words lifted the disappointment off my shoulders.
I had gone into the workout in 10th place and came out in 14th. The top 12 would be invited into the Stadium on Sunday morning for the next workout so that meant my competition was over. After watching the individual women competing their last workout of the day we headed out for dinner. Dave, Christina, Grace, Tim, Christine, Ainslie, Roe, Mandy, Annie, Scot and Olivia were all there and we had a great meal. Then went back to our respective hotels.
Sunday morning was for watching the finals for the Masters competition then the team finals and then the women and men individual finals. It was a long day in the sun but an incredible sight to see these fabulous athletes performing so well. When it was all over I made my way back to the hotel and later took a cab to the main hotel for the wrap up party. I didn’t stay there for two long and returned to my hotel to pack up for the return trip in the morning.
With all the stuff I’d been given my bags were completely stuffed and I loaded them into the cab to go to the airport and get checked in. The flight home was good and I was happy to be back in Vancouver.
The experience I had competing in the Crossfit Games is something I will never forget. In the end I was proud of myself for doing it and encouraged to take what I had learned there and use it to improve myself to be a better athlete.