The announcement of CrossFit Open 16.5 proves that Deja Vu is a real thing. Not necessarily a good thing, but a real thing.
As I am in the midst of my fourth CrossFit Open Season, I have become aware of a strange phenomenon. I am ambivalent about the WODs.
No, I don’t mean I am apathetic or disinterested. But I haven’t worked myself into a frenzy about the movements like I have in the past. Perhaps it is because I know I can always opt to do a Scaled WOD if I so choose.
But I suspect it is really because I have come to peace with CrossFit and what it means in my life. I do it for fun, health and fitness. It keeps these old bones moving. It is a wonderful social outlet, where I get to play with kids half my age, who make me feel vibrant and alive.
Also, I know I am never qualifying for the Masters Games in Carson. So I compete with myself.
Open 16.5 is familiar, but it is not a friend. It is the only Open WOD where I wasn’t saved by the bell. I had to grind it out for time. And at this stage in my life, time is NOT on my side.
Two years ago, I completed 14.5 in 34:24, or 2064 seconds. I’d like to tell you that means I am four times better than Matt Fraser, but you’d see through that.
I am drafting this portion of the post at 6:30 on Friday morning, about 10 hours after the announcement. I’ve been at work an hour. I am assessing my fitness compared to two years ago, and determining whether I go Rx or Scaled.
- Rx Pro – I am much wiser than I was two years ago.
- Rx Pro – I eat much better than I did two years ago (paying more attention to macros)
- Rx Pro – I pay much more attention to hydration than I did two years ago
- Rx Pro – I am much more competent with a barbell (Clean, Squat, Press) than I was two years ago
- Rx Pro – I cannot benchmark improvement if I go Scaled
- Rx Con – I am much wiser than I was two years ago
- Rx Con – I am two years older than I was two years ago (I told you I was wiser)
- Rx Con – I suck at Metcons, and this is a metcon with no end.
At 6:30 a.m. I have decided to do it Rx again. Will my resolve hold fast for the next twelve hours, until showtime? Or will I succumb to fear?
Let’s begin by setting a goal, and then discuss how I plan to achieve it.
In 14.5 I finished in 34:24, or 2064 seconds. A ten percent improvement would yield a time of 31 minutes. Is it possible to shave 3 minutes off my old time? How can I hope to achieve it?
-Food and Drink
I’ve been up since 4:30 this morning, and I’ve already consumed one liter of water. My goal is to have 3-4 liters before I walk into the box this evening.
In 2014 I had drunk the low-carb kool-aid and was trashed. Over the past year I have increased carbs with oatmeal, rice and sweet potatoes. In 2016 I am watching my macros, diligently striving to reduce fat, increase protein and carbs.
In 2014 I tried to tough out the first set of Thrusters, breaking up to 11 & 10. I introduced fatigue very early in the event. This year, my plan will be to go 7/7/7, then 6/6/6, then 5/5/5, etc. doing the trusters. Yes, I know I add a couple extra cleans into the mix, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take to avoid premature fatigue.
In 2014, I managed to do the Burpees but I did a “bunny hop” to approach the bar. My legs grow very heavy with burpees, so to jump out of the burpee, positioned at the barbell is not likely. However, a single step to the bar will require less energy than adding a hop before the jump. This year I won’t waste energy bringing my 6’1″ frame to full extension, I’ll get high enough to clear the bar and get back down on the other side. So I am hoping I can gain some time and reserve some strength for the long haul.
Yes, I do overheat during these long WODs. I feel like I am burning up. I do not like taking my shirt off. I am not one of the male specimens you observe at the Regionals. But over the past year, I risk alienating the rest of humanity for the sake of my survival, and the shirt will come off at the appropriate time.
So in summary my plan is to be properly hydrated and nourished (with carbs for fuel), break up thrusters, remove excess movement in burpees, and in so doing, slowdown the onset of fatigue, and reduce my time by at least 3 minutes over 2014.
Post WOD Reality Check
OK, you’ve read my plan. Now what really happened at 5:30 Friday night?
I arrived at the gym at 5:00 p.m., the parking lot was full. The gym was packed and the first two heats were full. I was stuck in the last heat again.
I watched some amazing, strong, young athletes ranging in age from twenties to mid forties, knock this WOD out of the park. But after their last burpee, they were all trashed.
Now it was showtime. I began the thrusters and my judge kept reminding me to go below parallel. I knew I was already there, I assumed he was cautioning me to prevent a No-Rep situation. If I squatted any lower, I’d have a diamond plate imprint on my butt from the floor mats.
I struggled for every lift and every burpee. The bar seemed particularly heavy this evening. My body weighed much more than the 200 pounds that registered on my bathroom scale. I was dying and I wasn’t even 10% of the way into the reps. I knew I was screwed. I seriously considered throwing in the towel. I felt like trash, and I hadn’t even finished the round of 21.
I resolved to just try to keep moving, one rep at a time. My inhaler had dried out my mouth. It was like chalk. As I finished every set, I’d take a slight sip of water, just to wet my tongue, but every time I did, I was close to vomiting.
I overheated faster than I expected and the shirt came off. I knew my burpees now resembled a struggling, beached albino manatee, but I didn’t care I was too hot. I couldn’t wait to pass the 15’s. It’s all downhill from there.
By the time I hit the 12’s everyone else was done. The coach changed the playlist just for me, Hip Hop was replaced with Jimi Hendrix, and Purple Haze got me through the 9’s. I glanced at the clock. It was at 30 minutes. My goal was to beat my old time, and time was what I was running out of. I had already run out of strength 20 minutes earlier.
So I picked up the pace, not that anyone would notice. But I knocked off 6 thrusters, and the manatee did 6 burpees, then 3 and 3 and done!
Time 32:05! I fell short of my three minute improvement, but I’ll gladly take my 2:19 improvement.
As I am wrapping up this essay, 48 hours have passed. Biceps and triceps are not happy, but it is the overall fatigue that is most noticeable. Friday night I slept 8 hours and I took a three hour nap Saturday afternoon. Sunday, I napped again. I have a strong dislike for long metcons, they take a serious toll on me.
I was looking forward to an opportunity to recover from the toll the 2016 Open has had on me. Then I noticed my calendar, I have a Co-ed Partner Competition in a week. I felt sick to see it includes a WOD of 100 Thrusters, cuz I haven’t had enough of those in one week.
Over the next couple days I will assess my performance of the past five weeks. I will share my observations regarding what I must do to improve, and how my attitude must change if I wish to do better next year.
I trust I will not be alone during this time of CrossFit Open Introspection. How will you change things up over the next year? I’d love to hear. Maybe we’ll all learn something from you.