Let’s Get This Open Over!

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I am a new devotee to CrossFit starting around eight months ago when a new box opened a mile away from my home. I was looking around online a year ago at area boxes and noticed a new one was coming just a long walk from my house. I had considered CrossFit several times over the last couple years, but when CrossFit Greenwood Village was established so close to home, it was as if God was hitting me in the head. I felt like the next box would sprout up in my back yard if I didn’t finally give it a try.

As the father to a four and two year old, I let a lot of excuses get in the way of maintaining intensity in my workouts. I went from running an occasional marathon or half marathon to just putting in a ho hum amount of work each week. I see now I was doing the bare minimums to do my job in law enforcement and stay healthy. It was easy to justify it all by saying I was spending more time with the family.

I started CrossFit with an open mind and some intimidation. I’m a military vet and am generally comfortable around any globo gym or my work gym. This was different. My box was a big place with no machines beyond a couple rowers. Lots of Olympic weight sets, kettle bells, wall balls and rigs that looked like a bunch of reinforced scaffolding filled out this giant space. The coaches and many of the people I’d meet working out looked more like extras from the movie 300 than mortals such as myself. Despite all kinds of schools from boot camp to various law enforcement academies, I had never been instructed properly in any Olympic lifts. I had never played with kettle bells. A lot was new and the intensity of the WODs, even in the elements class, brought back memories of my more brutal high school wrestling practices.

I was hooked. It was painful at first. I will never forget some of the first weeks and the shock to my system of waking up muscles that had been sleeping comfortably for years. It was a combination of the realization of my sad physical condition, the positive atmosphere and new friends, the learning I experienced every session and the amazing amount of fun that I was having working so damn hard.

I kept my membership to my globo gym. It is cheap and they have a pool and steam room that my box lacks. I now go to my globo gym on rest and recovery days and still do my old workouts. My old workouts are now nice, relaxing recovery days.

CrossFit let me in on the trick to fitness. A hell of a lot of really, really hard work will get you places fast.

My first Open arrives and my coaches are all pushing us to enter. They gave us a ton of good reasons. It supports the CrossFit community as a whole, peer pressure, awakening your competitive spirit, using it as a benchmark, challenging yourself, fun, etc. They were all good reasons and I signed up fast. I knocked out the judges course to help me prepare and looked forward to the 14.1 announcement. I took my daughter to the box to watch it broadcast live with a bunch of members.

Well, that was a kick in the groin. Double unders for the start of the first open workout. I had been nursing a bone spur inflammation in my heel and the doc told me no plyo until the soreness subsided. I hadn’t tried any running or jump rope at all in months. Lots of experience on the rower, but I had not attempted a double under in quite some time. As aggravating as the double unders was the fact that the 75 pound snatches would be so light and easy for me being a big guy. I knew I had to get through a set of DUs to even pick up the bar. I walked out with my daughter pretty dejected. I obsessed over how crappy this was and couldn’t sleep. Even though I have no hope of making regionals, I knew I was technically out of the standings if I did not at least complete a single rep for each workout. It really pissed me off. I drink the CrossFit kool aid and want to compete and now I was kind of stuck.

I came up with an idea on the fifth or six time I woke up Thursday night. I would do the damn workout and I wouldn’t hurt my heel. I would do the double unders on one foot. Nothing in the standards or the judges course said I needed to jump with both feet. I knew it might take me most of the ten minute workout, but I would get a couple double unders.

I practiced on one foot that day and realized it was ugly, sad and slow, but possible. I ended up doing the workout. I even came back Monday and re-did it for a better score breaking into three digits.

The next workout comes and I see what bigger guys like myself fear – chest to bar pull ups. I obsess thinking about strategy and the workout all weekend again and get through it. The third brings in box jumps, but thankfully box steps are OK’d so my plyo issues are not a deal breaker.

I find that while I solidly sit in the seventy fifth percentile of my masters division, I am very dissatisfied. This score means nothing in so many ways as I am not going to regionals. I don’t even have a desire to get past the open. My wife and family doesn’t look to see where I fall in the rankings. I feel no pressure to do any better than I’m doing from my brothers and sisters at CrossFit Greenwood Village or my coaches. I feel nothing but love and support from them all.

I screwed up by not working more on my weaknesses. History shows each one of my weaknesses are programmed into the Open workouts each year. I thought I was doing my best by just hitting the WODs hard and continually bettering my work capacity and strength overall. I now know I was wrong not to be working a little on my weaknesses every day. A little too late now looking at week five already days away.

I am not satisfied because my coach was right. The CrossFit Open brings out a competitive spirit in us that sometimes had been dormant. It wakes up our drive to absolutely do our best even when the outcome means nothing in a grand scheme except to us and no one else could ever know just how hard we pushed. Few around us outside CrossFit will ever understand the drive we have. The Open has awaken a drive in me that I love. Any real barriers to my progress are now gone. I am limited only by my age, genetics and time training. Those limits can be pushed with hard work. Because I have seen the various PRs in my Open workouts and then come back to beat those on Monday afternoons – I know the future is wide open. I will someday soon be getting unbroken muscle ups after completing ten minutes of a brutal chipper. It will happen some day.

I know from the Open again what it is to really care about my performance. I never sweated my quarterly PT tests at work. I was above average among my peers and never felt the need to be any better. I never stressed over a time in a marathon or how I would get through my workout at my globo gym. I just enjoyed them.

The Open and our monthly Hero WODs stress me out in such a positive way. I want to go in thoroughly prepared mentally and physically to give it everything. My goal is to leave nothing in the tank by the end. If I can talk or stand up at the end I know I failed a bit.

These positive aspects of the Open are also the reason I cannot wait until 14.5 is over and in the record books. I want to relax and get back to the hard work. I now know exactly where I am and I don’t like it. I want to give myself some mental recovery time and get back to the pure enjoyment of knocking out a metcon or strength workout with my CrossFit family without so much worry about the number at the end. I know I need many months of doing this followed by daily work on my weaknesses. Let the progressions begin!

I want to relax and give everything to a Wednesday morning WOD without worrying about any kind of taper for what is getting announced the next night.

I want to smooth out double unders, chest to bar and toes to bar to make them my strengths. I want to have the skill set next year to go deep into every Open workout and have even more fun. CrossFit is a blast on even the worst days, but it is most fun when you are knocking out reps in something you see as a strength. I don’t want the embarrassment of having so many weaknesses.

Let’s get 14.5 over with, I have CrossFit Open 2015 to train for and the clock is ticking.

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