When I heard that we would be doing a repeat of the final WOD of the 2013 CrossFit Open, I began drafting an outline to write a follow-up feature to compare my results from March to October. Things didn’t go according to plan, so I scrapped my draft since I no longer had a story to tell. However, Julia was able to do the WOD and she offered to write about her experience. Enjoy.
Guest Writer – Julia Knowles
I have a clear memory of March 2013. I see us lined up against the wall performing the “couch” stretch and Nicole asking who had signed up for the “Opens”. At the time no one in our 6:30 class had, except Chuck.
I believe the phrases “it is really fun” and “everyone has a blast” were how Nicole described the series of five consecutive Thursday workouts, that were to be completed over the upcoming weeks. With such an upbeat description, what could go wrong? What I discovered in those weeks were a lot of ups, and a lot of downs. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone so fast, I hardly knew what hit me.
When they were done I gave a big sigh of relief and thought they were well behind me. Little did I know that someone (that someone being Chuck) would have this great idea to suggest to Nicole that we should retry some of the Opens workouts to really see how far we have progressed.
The last Opens WOD, 13.5, is one that has a lot of emotion behind it and I am not saying that just because I am a therapist. I had recently registered for my first CrossFit Competition, which was scheduled a few weeks after the final Open WOD. I knew what the WODs included, which were new movements that I had not done, and heavier weights than I had ever lifted. Also,I was recovering from bronchitis that sidelined me from the gym and from one of the prior Opens workouts.
The Open WODS were taking place on Thursdays. On the previous Tuesday we did a WOD that consisted of Thrusters and Knees to Elbows. During this workout I was doing Thrusters with 55 lbs and was really struggling. I was quickly “getting into my head”, because I knew that in a few short weeks I was going to have to do squat cleans with 65 lbs. If I could not do thrusters with 55 lbs, then how would I be able to do squat cleans with 65 lbs (it seems like a logical question, right?)? All the while I was sucking for air because, for the life of me, my lungs could not get enough oxygen.
This was not such a great moment for me. When I finished the workout, I sat down on the floor, and burst into tears. Everyone was supportive and encouraging, all helping me patch myself together. Wednesday evening I was driving home and I got a text from Tia with one word: “Thrusters”. The final CrossFit Opens workout was Thrusters, the movement that got the best of me the day before. Not only that, but it was an AMRAP of 15 Thrusters at 65 lbs and 15 Chest to Bar pull ups.
To make matters worse, if you got through three rounds in the four minute AMRAP, your time would be extended. The prospect of having to go back into the gym and try the Thrusters again, with more weight, along with chest to bar pull ups seemed unimaginable (seeing at that time I was still unable to even do chin to bar pull ups).
On Thursday, game day, these obstacles seemed insurmountable. Yet, with a lot of encouragement from my judge, Chuck, I was able to get through a set of 15 thrusters at 65 lbs. It took me almost the entire 4 minutes that was allotted but I did it, I almost cried but for joy this time.
Now we Fast Forward to October. On Sunday when I checked the CrossFit 2a website for the next day’s WOD, sure enough it was Open 13.5 again. Chuck sent me the blog post that he had written about the first time around and we chatted about our thoughts about this one. I told Chuck I was determined to “kick it’s ass”. I resolved to get through a complete round of thrusters and pull ups. A 65 lbs thruster is still a little on the heavy side, when I have to do 15 reps, but I knew I could get through those, and get in a few pull ups. In recent weeks I have made significant progress. I can now string together seven pull ups, so I was confident that I could slowly plod my way through the pull ups. That was the plan.
We warmed up and started preparing our barbells, when Nicole announced that she wanted us to get through the thrusters unbroken, she advised us to adjust our weight accordingly. I decided that to cycle through 15 reps, I would drop down to 55 lbs, which is manageable.
3. 2. 1. Go.
I cycled through the first set of 15 thrusters without dropping the bar. When I completed the 15th lift, I let the bar drop and I moved to the pull up rig. How funny it is that the focus of the stress from a few months ago shifted to a different movement. I grabbed the bar and was able to cycle 6 pull ups before needing to drop. I grabbed the bar and did two more. I kept that up until I hit 15.
I was able to see the growth, strength, and accomplishment
All I could do was grin at what I had done. Then I looked at the clock and realized that, with this accomplishment, I earned a second set of thrusters. These I was not able to complete in one unbroken set. I needed to drop the bar a few times, reset, and continue. I finished the 15th lift with less than 10 seconds to go! I had no gas, and no time left to hobble back to the pull up rig to get another pull up. I was fine with that. I knew that I had far exceeded my expectations. I had proven to myself how much stronger I had grown since last meeting this WOD six months ago.
I guess I should not complain too loudly that Chuck had brought these unfortunate WODs back into my life, seeing as I was able to see the growth, strength, and accomplishment I felt after finishing this one. I also need to dampen my complaints, since in the past two months I have pushed Chuck WAY past his comfort zone, with the WOD for Paws and the Rugged Maniac…