Did I ever struggle with writing this competition recap – almost as much as I struggled through my competition Saturday. Here’s what happened.
On Saturday, I competed in the Armada Beginners CrossFit Competition. I thought I was ready for the WODs; my coach thought I was ready for the WODs. But coming off 16.4’s deadlifting nightmare, it wasn’t that simple. I woke up that morning feeling fine. I ate breakfast (a cottage cheese protein pancake and coffee), took my NO2 supplement, got dressed, and drove to Pearland. I met up with the other two Clear Lake CrossFit folks who were competing, Colleen and Cody. (Henceforth, when I refer to all three of us, it shall be C3.) We set up the tent (Colleen and I, with the help of some guys, because the tent I brought was HUGE). We got briefed. Our heats were called (Colleen and I were in the same heat), and we got into our lanes.
The first WOD was Max Effort Clean Repetitions with a 9 minute running clock. Every 3 minutes, you’d complete: 15cal Row Max Effort Clean (75/55)* for the remaining time in each round. You were scored by your clean repetitions.
I’ve done 55-lb. cleans hundreds of times in the gym. It’s not anything new. I kept up a nice, steady pace on my rower (pacing is my strong point in CrossFit), hopped off, and cleaned that bar. Hopped back on the rower, rowed those 15 calories (for me, it’s 3-4 pulls per calorie, because I am a hobbit), and went back to the bar.
And that’s when things went horribly wrong. I led with my derriere. I felt it a split second before it happened: my back just quit. It gave out. It screamed at me. I dropped the bar, gathered my wits, and tried to do a few more cleans. I got a few more in. I got back on the rower. I cleaned a few more times. When time was called, I signed my score sheet. Then I crawled over to my gym bag and struggled not to cry. Cody told me I had nothing to be ashamed of. I stood, went over to the chiropractor on-site, and got realigned. I got taped. Taking steps hurt. I was basically at the point where I was considering dropping out. Then the chiro put some more tape on my back, and I put on my weight belt. I felt better. I talked to the chiro, and he said if it hurt any worse, I was to stop. My coach said the same. So I walked around a bit, then decided to do the Floater WOD. It was 2 min AMRAP 10- Fat Bar S2OH (45 pounds, I think) 30m Sandbag Shuttle Run.
In the interest of full disclosure in this competition recap, I’m going to tell you that my 1RM for a shoulder to overhead movement is 60 pounds. I’ve also never used a fat bar. Again, I am a hobbit. I have little hobbit hands. Holding that bar sucked. In two minutes, I managed to get 18 S2Os.
I was still feeling halfway decent.
WOD 2 was the one I knew I could do well at: 5 min AMRAP 10- Slam Ball Step-ups (20/10) (20/18” Box), 15- KBS (35/26), 20- Goblet Squats (35/26). It’s all legs. By then, my husband and kids had arrived, and I was so incredibly happy to have them there. I got into my lane, tested the slam ball and kettlebell, and knew I’d be okay. And I was. With my kids cheering, “Go, Mommy!”, I scored 111 reps. I used extreme caution and went slower than I usually did, and my husband later told me that he could tell I was being careful. At this point, my goal was to finish the competition.
I was scared you-know-what-less of the third and final WOD: For time: 30- Wall Balls (16/10), 30- Lateral Burpees, 30- Thrusters (75/45), 30- Dumbbell Snatches (30/20). There was a 10-minute cap. I hate wall balls. And thrusters are basically the same movement. And 16.5 turned me into roadkill and almost introduced me to Pukie. So even if my back wasn’t grumbling loudly, I was afraid of it, although I knew I’d make up time on the burpees.
I only got 3 or 4 no reps on the wall balls (for not hitting the target), but at the end, I had to cycle through them one by one. I had told the judge that I was injured and there was a very real chance I would just stop. He understood. I ripped off my belt for the burpees; it was preventing my chest from hitting the ground, which was the standard. But I did the burpees fairly well. This is where being a hobbit comes in handy. Then, I wasted a few seconds putting the belt back on for the thrusters.
Those thrusters were straight-up hard. I cycled through five unbroken, then dropped the bar. Then I was doing sets of three (and dropping the bar, which I hate doing.) I made it through 28 thrusters before time was called. My score was 10:32 (one second for each rep I didn’t get).
So, my back was injured pretty badly (to the point where sitting was an impossibility on Sunday), and my pride was wounded. I stuck around for Cody’s last WOD, but then C3 convened to break down the tent (requiring outside help again), and I headed home to rest.
Sunday was really bad. I could barely sit, and walking hurt. I spent a lot of time in bed reading cheesy romance novels on my iPad and trying not to lick my wounds in self-pity. (I saved that for after the chiropractor told me Monday that I couldn’t run and had to lift super-light.) At this level, competitions are purely learning experiences, so here’s what I’ve learned:
- I need to get stronger. There’s no way around this; my one rep maxes have to be higher. This is going to involve a combination of strength training, some weight gain, and time. All things I’m working on, and all things I need patience with.
- I need to develop my technique further. Basically, I need to have Holly beat me with a PVC pipe every time I pull with my tail or engage in other bad habits with the barbell. But seriously, my technique needs work, to the point where it is second nature and, if I’m caught up in the excitement of a competition, my muscles will know what to do.
- I’m good at pacing. As a distance runner, I’ve learned how to pace myself. If you give me a 20-minute WOD, or anything that requires pacing (not a sprint, like the 2-minute WOD), I’m going to do well. I need to work on my sprint.
- I’m not a quitter. I realized Sunday night that this competition was a lot like my first half marathon. I injured my IT band pretty badly on that rainy, cold day. But I kept going. Same thing here: I kept going. I had to stop and regroup, but I didn’t drop out. I’ve earned my #littlebutfierce hashtag.
I’m now in recovery mode: swimming, lifting light, some gentle yoga. Monday was my second consecutive day of rest, and I did some gentle yoga poses. I plan to return to the box Wednesday and scale and modify the hell out of the WOD. But just like in life, I need to keep moving. The physical and mental injury is just a setback, and it’s not about whether you get knocked down. It’s about whether you get up again and learn from it.
*Unless otherwise specified, the numbers in parentheses are weights in pounds. The first number is for the men, and the second number is for the women. So, (75/55) would be 75 pounds for men, 55 pounds for women.