Looking back at the Crossfit Games 2014

It took two years to make the return trip but on July 20, 2014 I found myself in Los Angeles registering to compete in the Crossfit Games. My experience in 2012 in the 55-59 Masters division had been amazing and I worked hard to make it back in 2013 but was ultimately disappointed with my final ranking ended up two spots out at 22nd. That disappointment fueled me for an entire year as I trained to make myself be ready for the next open.
I turned 60 in April and that moved me into the top division. I was now going to be one of the youngest of the oldest and I knew it was my best shot at getting back to the Games. I trained hard, got extra coaching, worked on my weaknesses and when the Open began I was ready. Five weeks later I was in the top twenty but this year the Masters had a second round of workouts to do. Over the Easter weekend the top 200 in each division did four more workouts and when it was over I was sitting in 5th place. Once my video was approved I received my invitation to compete. Then there was another surprise. Two of the top twenty had their videos rejected and lost their spots. One of them was ahead of me so now I was in 4th place.
The next two months was all about my training. I practiced my double unders every day. I had more special programming supplied to me from my coach, Chris Schallo, and I was doing 8-9 workouts a week while still taking two rest days. On July 20th I boarded a plane to LA and felt I was ready.
The worst part of the trip was the super long lineup to get my rental car, which I booked in advance. Then it was over to check in to the hotel and finally to the host hotel to register. At check in you are treated so well, they literally pile stuff on to you as you are given the clothes to compete in, new running shoes and new lifting shoes, a ton of other stuff and an enormous bag to carry it all in. For me the next part was to go to Trader Joes and stock up on healthy food. When I compete I stick to a very simple diet and eat the same thing every day. The bottle of wine I bought that day would sit in the hotel room sealed until Thursday night when it was all over.
Monday was a relaxing day with a long stretching session before I drove down to see Hermosa Beach and then later head to the Games Site for the Athlete briefing. We had only been told on Sunday what the workouts were going to be so there’d been no chance to try any of them and I hadn’t been able to discuss them with anyone so the briefing was the first chance to analyze them. We would be doing four events on Tuesday then at the end of the day be briefed on the next day’s events. I had an early night after stopping in to see Richard and Kate who were staying in the hotel beside mine and talk about what we’d be facing.
Tuesday morning arrived and I tried to stick to my routine, which is to get up early, shower and have a protein shake, then stretch for at least 30 minutes. I made up some food for the day, packed my gear and headed out. It was already warm by the time I walked into the Athlete’s area and dropped off my bag. In the warmup area I talked to Casey and Seth who had come down to support me and then Sarah Clark, Samantha Cox and Pete Williams. Sarah and Sam had flown down on Monday night and were flying back Tuesday evening. They had made this trip just to support me and I was moved beyond words by their being there. Pete was already in California but had made a two hour drive up, picked up the girls at the airport and then gotten them to the stadium the next day. Truly, such an amazing group of friends. The first event was a deadlift ladder that started at 265 and progressed through 10 bars to 455 lbs. I warmed up, included some triples at 285 and 305 and then it was time to check in. The announcer called our division, and we jogged out to the starting area. We would lift in the order we qualified so I’d go near the end. You were introduced, then you stepped on to the lifting platform and at the announcement of lift, had 20 seconds to complete the lift, then a call to rotate moved you to the next bar. If you were unsuccessful you could step to the bar behind each station that was loaded at 225 and perform as many reps as you could in the 20 seconds as a tiebreaker score.
I moved easily through 265, 295, 315, 33, 355, 375 and 395. Now it was getting heavy. My personal record was 425 and I was anticipating doing the 415. When I did the 415 I felt like I could do more so I stepped over and on the next lift set a new PR with a 435 deadlift. I could hear my friends shouting out my name as I lifted it. I knew 455 would be too heavy so I moved to it then went immediately to the 225 and did 9 reps although the first one was called a no rep for not getting my shoulders back far enough.
Afterwards I talked to Sarah, Sam and Pete and to Casey and Seth. Casey told me when I lifted the 435 she cried because she was so proud of me. Hearing that created such a special moment for me that at the end of the whole experience it would hold up as one of the best highlights.
It was time to go and eat something and relax until the next event. This one was an alternative for the 60+ division to the handstand walk that all the other Masters had to do. We would have 2 minutes to go the length of the football field doing walking lunges while holding a 50 lb slam ball over your head. The first ten went and then my group followed. We stood on the starting mats and the announcer called 10 seconds and then a buzzer went and we all hesitated. I think we were waiting for 3,2,1 go. Then we grabbed the balls and started the march downfield. I felt strong on this and focused on pushing up against the ball. I was soon ahead of the pack with only one guy slightly ahead of me. Stephen Algrove and I kept pace with each other and were well ahead of the rest. At the 90 second mark they called 30 seconds left and I figured it wasn’t worth pushing any further and I’d take second place and get the rest because all the others were already resting.
Sixty seconds later it was the sled pull, which was a 100 yard dash pulling a sled with a 45 lb plate. It was just put your head down and run until you crossed the finish line. I did okay with this one. All my training with the sled had been with heavy weight so I wasn’t sure how it would go.
At 3:00 we were back in the coral waiting to start the 4th event of the day. The Run/Rope was 400 M run then 1 rope climb for 5 rounds. The temperature had soared and it was around 104 F on the track. The rope climb was easy but each lap of the track got harder. On the third lap I looked at the fence and thought how nice it would be to just climb over and forget about the rest of the event. I kept going and ran the best I could but my already slow running was made even slower in that heat.
At the end of the first day I was in 4th place overall and delighted by that. It was back to the hotel to shower and eat then later Casey and I went for a drive up to Venice Beach and had a walk around at sunset. It was really great to hang out with her.
Wednesday morning I followed the same routine and then headed off to the stadium. We were starting the day with 2007, which was a workout from one of the early Crossfit Games. The Masters version was 1000 M row then 5 rounds of 15 pullups and 7 shoulder to overhead with 115 lb barbell. I stayed calm in the row, going at around a 1:55 pace and was one of the first off the rower. The first set of pullups I did as 8 and 7 and went unbroken on the barbell. I was able to stay unbroken on all the barbell work but my pullups got slower as I went along. On the third round I could feel the heat in my left palm and even though I was wearing my gymnastics grips I could see I had started to tear. I didn’t look again until it was over and by that time there was a puddle of blood in my hand. I went in for medical treatment and was told to go wash it first. In the washroom I let out a few screams as the water ran over the four, quite deep, gouges in my hand. The medical team cut off the torn flaps of skin and then applied polysporin and bandaged it up. Later I added some rock tape on top to keep it together for the next event.
The afternoon event was 21, 15, 9 of cleaning the 50 lb ball and tossing it over your shoulder followed by burpees. I’d never done this movement with the ball but it felt fine and I thought I moved pretty well with it. I did the first round of burpees as step ups and felt fine going into the set of 15, when I hit the last set I tried going faster and had a no rep called on the first ball as I didn’t get it properly over my shoulder, so I focused on the technique then did the burpees as fast as possible. The black matts we were standing on were so hot that some of the guys ended up with blisters on their hands like they’d just touched a hot plate, fortunately I’d worn gloves for it. I did okay on these two workouts and apart from my hand I was feeling pretty good physically. At the athlete’s briefing at the end of the day they announced the final event for Thursday afternoon. It would be a very fast event with a sprint across the field and back, 7 Chest to Bar pullups and 5 snatches at 115.
It was a quiet night, with a trip to Trader Joes for more food and some hand care treatment with Ript skin products, along with a lot of thought about the final day. I was sorry that I didn’t have anyone to really talk about the next workouts to and to consider what my best strategy should be.
Thursday morning was all about sticking with the routine, did my stretching, had my morning protein shake, once again I was glad I’d brought my own blender down with me, then made food for the day. I got up extra early so I could spend a good length of time doing a really good tape job on my hand.
The morning workout was a long chipper. It started with 40 box step overs to a large 24 inch box that you flipped over every 10 reps, then 20 toes to bar, followed by 40 wall balls, then 20 stationary dips on a attachment mounted on the rig and all the way back, 40 wall balls, 20 toes to bar and 40 step over’s. I had thought this would be a good workout for me because of the kind of training I’d done but I had not properly factored in how it was going to feel in the heat. I tried to do too big of sets and got tired. I was no repped a lot on my wall balls for insufficient depth and I struggled with them because we were standing on a very soft thick matt, which made my footing more difficult. The no reps frustrated me and the sun shining in my face sucked my energy. Halfway through I felt exhausted and a bit light headed. I kept pushing but I was slow. I finished in under the time cap but no where near the time I had hoped for.
Tim and Christine were there with Casey and Seth cheering me on. I went in to the Athlete’s tent to eat and rest to prepare for the final event. This one was going to be over quickly. When we were marched out I wanted to try to do well on the run, hoping to gain a few extra seconds for the pullups. That didn’t work out so well as halfway across the field I felt my right hamstring pull and I was forced to slow down to a jog the rest of the way. I got back to the rig and started on my chest to bar. With my sore hand I tried a reverse grip which gave my hand some relief but I had 2 no reps called for not reaching full extension. Once they were done it was on to the bar. The first two caused me some pain in my hamstring but I just said to myself it was only 5 and I had to do them touch and go, this was the last event and in the end I was finished in 1:16 beating Richard who was right beside me by just .05 seconds.
And then it was over. All the months of training had lead to this and in the end I knew I’d tried my best and had a couple of weaknesses exposed. But I ended up 6th overall and could certainly be proud about that.
me and name sign

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