Coach Ken shares his Open experience
After the 2014 CrossFit Games Open, I set a benchmark for my fitness and after, I found myself excited to see how far I can develop my fitness after another year. That first Open was challenging, but I’m glad I did it. It wasn’t about how well I did or what I could or could not do, it was about putting myself in an uncomfortable situation and seeing how I can handle it.
The 2015 CrossFit Games Open was another opportunity for me to test how far I’ve come since 2014, and it was quite the ride. Looking back, it seems like there is a lot that is different between 2015 and 2014. In 2014, I had only been CrossFitting for just about a month. I fished CrossFit Calgary’s Intro to CrossFit at the end of January. I was still really new to the movements and I felt like I wasn’t ready for the Open. After conversation with Jason, who assured me that no one is every really ready, I signed up and competed in my first Open after 4 weeks of actual classes.
Fast forward one year to 2015. Movements felt a bit better but still struggle with a lot of the gymnastics movements. Engine still needs work. Mental fortitude is questionable at times. The toughest part about the Open in 2015 was that leading up to it, I had no motivation! I was really looking forward to the Open all year and at the beginning of February, it felt like I had nothing in the tank, no fire for the Open, no desire to train.
One of the biggest things that made a difference for me in 2015 was that I knew much more of the community than I did last year. I’ve built strong relationships and great friendships at CrossFit Calgary, and if it was for the community, I may not have done the Open that year.
15.1 – T2B, DL, Snatch…o and a 1RM C&J
One of the cool things that I like about CrossFit Calgary is that when the Open workouts are announced, some of the membership get together at CFC and watch the live announcement.
I was really hoping that the repeat workout for the Open was going to be the Chipper from 2014. I had a grudge with that workout because I couldn’t get past the T2B portion and i wanted to do it again so I could crush my score…but with T2B in the first workout, I had a feeling that the repeat workout wasn’t going to be what I wanted.
Interestingly enough, T2B being in the first workout, I felt like I had something to prove to myself. There were some parallels though, Mike Sydoryk was my judge for the 2014 chipper and he was my judge again for 15.1! This workout felt great because the T2B went way better this time around than it did last year, it was a light deadlift and relatively light snatch too. At the end of the first 9 minutes, I was pretty tired, breathing heavy, trying to collect my thoughts, and trying to regain focus because, for the first time ever in the Open, there was a 1RM. This was right up my alley.
I was thinking about keeping the loading on the bar the same 115lbs just so that I know I would get a score. But after feeling good about how things went for me in the first part of 15.1 I decided to up the ante a bit. I can’t remember what my clean and jerk opened at but I remember my last lift. I turned around and asked Kimmer, “what does he have on the bar?!” Trying to figure out what one of the other guys was attempting on their clean and jerk. I looked to Syd and said “255!” Indicating a 255lbs clean and jerk attempt.
Sweat dripping down my face, huffing and puffing, I get to my setup position, gripping the bar, locking in my lats. And as if all of this happened in slow motion, I move through the first pull, just past my knees in the hang position I sweep the bar into my launch position and pop my hips! Landing in a deep squat I catch the bar on my shoulders…only problem is, I only have one hand on the bar. My right hand slipped off the bat when I caught my clean and there I am, bottom of a squat, my left arm on the bar, my right arm extended out with this look of desperation as if I’m asking for someone in the crowd to take my hand and pull me up out of the bottom position.
I stand up from my clean arm still extended thinking “how am I going to get my hand back on this bar to finish the jerk?”. Using a pop of my hips and launching the bar up just enough to squeeze my hand back under the bar. It seemed so quiet, I don’t think I heard anything even though I can see the crowd I front of my cheering on me and the other athletes, but there was no sound. I took a deep breath, good solid dip and a strong hip extension gets the bar moving off my shoulders, my left foot kicks back while my right foot jumps forward and lands to help support the 255lbs over my head. As I bring my feet back together for the lift to count, it’s as if it was like a scene from a movie. As soon as my feet were back under me, the sound kicked back in, I could hear people cheering for everyone lifting. I drop my bar as time expires and give Mike a hug, signing my score sheet and and thanking him for being my judge.
15.2 – is 14.2
If there was another workout that I was hoping to do other than the 2014 Chipper, it would have been 14.2. I had Michelle as my judge and I got my first ever C2B pull-ups in that workout. I got 15 reps in 14.2
This year Jason was my judge and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to judge/coach/get me through this workout. Jason has been the coach that has taught majority of my classes at CFC. 3-2-1-Go…seemed like in no time I beat my 2014 score of 15 reps! I got out of the first round which was my goal in 2014…the cool thing about 15.2 being a repeat is that I had a direct comparison of the same workout and knew that I wasn’t satisfied! I heard everyone cheering me on knowing that they wanted me to do better than the previous year. I heard Michelle come over and cheer me on, Cody, who was doing the workout beside me was cheering me on, it was an amazing feeling. In the end I finished the workout with 63 reps, which is nothing really to write home about but here is the bigger picture. In the grand scheme of everything I got a 48 rep PR on this workout. After one year of training, I was able to improve some of my weaknesses and eclipse my old score four times over! How crazy is that?
Pretty sure after the workout I spent (what felt like 10 mins) on the floor recovering, Tyler came over to congratulate me and all I heard was “hey buddy…good job…o…you’re turning blue!” I got up and signed my score sheet…gave Jason a big “unwanted” hug and thanked him for helping me get through that workout. Another amazing experience, and it left me feeling pretty good about the 2015 Open.
15.3&15.4 – Scale City
Feeling pretty good about how the Open was going so far, I was getting pretty excited for next workout. However I was not expecting the announcements to go the way they went! 15.3 had some typical movements that we normally see in the Open, Wallballs Shots, Double Unders, and Muscle Ups. Here’s the kicker, Muscle-Ups were first! Now, if you know who I am, you know I’m not exactly the lightest person in the world, and as disappointed as I was hearing that Muscle Ups were first, I got over my frustration and had this goal to get my first ever muscle up in the Open.
I tried for the better part of 40 minutes to get that first muscle up but it just kept eluding me. It was awesome to see a few people to get their first muscle ups! There were lots of people there cheering and I don’t think I’ve ever been in the gym when it has been so loud, it was amazing! In the end I had to move from an RX athlete in the open to the Scaled athletes in the Open.
That was another new thing about the Open this year! There was a Scaled division! I thought this was awesome because it gave anyone who had reservations for doing the Open an opportunity to compete which is one of CFC’s core vales “Compete to be better.” For 15.3 the scaled workout seemed way worse than the RX’d workout in my opinion but alas I finished the workout and submitted my score.
For 15.4 it was movement we hadn’t seen in the Open before handstand push-ups. The standard for the HSPU was different too, your heels had to clear a line set up bases on your height when your arms are extended overhead. The day after the announcement I gave some HSPU a shot to see if I can do them to the standard set by the Games. I felt like during the workout I might be able to get one, but I opted for the scaled workout.
There were a couple of reasons for opting for the scaled workout. First, I was already switched to the scaled division from 15.3, second, if I were to get my first HSPU I don’t know how many I would get, and third and most importantly, I felt like if I could do the movement, I wouldn’t be able to do the movement safely. Frankly, the health of my neck is more important to me than getting 2 or 3 reps in a workout.
In the end I still got a couple of good workouts in and I still had a blast with everyone.
15.5 – Rowing and Thrusters
4 weeks and 4 workouts down. Only 1 left. I was scared that there were going to be Burpees in this workout…cause you know…buck furpees! Surprisingly there were ZERO burpees in the Open this year! I think everyone was excited that there were no Burpees…little did we know how brutal rowing and thrusters would be.
27-21-15-9 Row for Calories and Thrusters. Nasty little couplet. No time cap either…you had to do all the work! It was pretty awesome to do this workout and watch the other athletes finish. CFC ran this workout in a shotgun start. What I mean by that is since everyone was going to finish at different times, the first 10 or so people started at the same time and then when one of the finish, there was another athlete waiting in the wings to go.
One of the best things about this workout was if you were the last athlete to start, literally everyone is there cheering you on, motivating you to push yourself, everyone was suffering with you, and even though it hurt at the time, it would soon be over and you can just lay on the ground in the fetal position like I did and recover.
I can’t say enough about the community at CFC and how they run the Open. It’s a great environment, great group of people, great judges. If you ever wanted to know what your fitness is really like, the Open is an opportunity to test yourself each year and see if you built a better engine, got more gymnasty, develop better technique on your oly lifts, or just build more power and strength. You have no idea what you are capable of doing until you are put into a situation like that. It’s amazing.
For anyone who is still on the fence of doing the Open, just sign up. You won’t regret it! And if I can do it straight out of Intro, anyone can.