So, it’s been about a month since Canwest, and with the craziness of life, I really haven’t had the time to think about how things went.  So, I decided to take a little time and write this blog post, both to think about it from my own perspective, and to give a view into the event that many people probably haven’t had before.  So, here goes:

This was the first competition of this type that I have done before. I’ve done races, triathlons, even a lifting competition, but never this volume of work over the course of three days.  Wasn’t sure how the body was going to hold up with this much work to do.

Day 1:
The one that went exactly as expected

The first event was a single rep max clean and jerk. I was happy that we were opening on one of my strengths, because I was quite certain that my weaknesses would show up soon enough. We had seven minutes to do a maximum of three lifts. Given those restrictions, I was needing to be a little conservative. I decided to open with a 225 pound lift, which is usually a safe weight for me. I was hoping to go to 225-235-245, which would end my lifts on a 5lb PR. However, I’ve been struggling a little to get close to my PR these days.  Given that, I would not be surprised if I didn’t hit it. And that’s pretty much how it went. 225 went up fine. Waited 3 mins before my next lift. The clean felt fine at 235, but I let the jerk get a little in front me and lost it right around my forehead.  So I had a decision to make, go up, go down, or stay the same. On an ordinary lifting day, I was close enough to making the previous lift that I would’ve stuck at 235. However, this is when taking a look around at your competition comes into play. I noticed that a number of people in the heat were making their final attempt at 225.  So, instead of taking a chance at 235, I decided to drop to 230.  Set up for my lift with about 30 seconds left, and made it pretty easily. All in all, pretty much exactly how I thought this workout was going to go.  A good start.

The biggest surprise
We had a reasonable amount of rest before our next event.  This one was a shuttle run, double unders, shuttle run, kettlebell snatches, shuttle run, one-sided dumbbell thrusters, shuttle run. Because I was on vacation when they announced this event, I didn’t get a chance to try it out beforehand. Corey had warned us that this one was going to be a miserable one, and it certainly looked it, but I was hopeful. My double unders are quite good these days and I’ve been doing kettlebell snatches since before I was doing CrossFit. It’s usually a pretty strong movement for me. Well, reality was about to give me a quality punch in the face, in the form of the weather. It was about 30°C, the hottest it was scheduled to be during the whole weekend. We were in the middle of the field, which I’m sure jacked up the temperature a few extra degrees as well. I took the shuttle run nice and easy, and got into my double unders. They felt good, and I came off of them in the middle of the pack. I noticed that both Corey and Sandman were still working on their‘s when I was getting to the end of my shuttle run. I took this is a good sign, when I really should’ve taken it as a sign that I had come out too hot on the double unders. When I hit the snatches, the heat hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and while the weight was perfectly manageable, I could not get my heart rate down. Had to take far too many breaks, and by the time the next shuttle run came, I was at the back of the pack. I didn’t have much time left for thrusters, but I was pretty much done by then anyway. I got 10, and a last-place finish on the event.  Somewhat of a surprise to me considering I originally thought the movements would play to my strengths. A mixed day.

Day 2
The most fun
Saturday was a late start. First event wasn’t until 4 o’clock or so, plenty of time to get to the event. Four rounds of 15 cals on the ski erg, and 10 power cleans at 135#. This was a work out that I had had time to practice, and I did manage to comfortably finish it within the 8 min time, cap.  However, that was using bands to simulate the ski erg, so I was expecting it to be close. Starting out, the positioning of our platforms meant that when I was on the ski erg, Sandman and Waterboy were directly in my frame of vision. I stuck to my plan, went nice and light on the ski erg, and then tried to go unbroken on the barbell. Went pretty much according to that plan, although I did need to break my cleans in the third round. I was noticing that Sandman was starting to pull away just a bit, but I was neck and neck with Waterboy. He was coming off the ski erg faster than me, but I was able to cycle the barbell much faster than him. I tried to pick the pace up a little bit in the last round, and finished about 10 seconds within the time cap. All in all, probably the event I enjoyed the most during the weekend.

Little mistakes make a difference
We had a very short turnaround for the next event; about an hour. This one was a quick three minute hit of 30 cals on the rower, and then 30 fat bar thrusters at 120#, wearing a 20 pound weight vest. It seemed like the organizers were trying to keep everybody on track because, although they gave us some time to set up our rowers before the go, I felt rushed. As a result, I forgot to loosen the foot straps on the rower. That probably cost me at least six or seven seconds getting my feet in. As well, I neglected to chalk up my hands during my thruster breaks. That led to the bar slipping out of my grip, and probably costing me another few seconds. Not a huge amount of time in the big scheme of things, but being this was only a three minute event, even a couple of extra thrusters would’ve put me numerous spots higher up the leaderboard on this island. Attention to detail people!

Day 3
The biggest disappointment
Early Sunday morning we had our next event. Rope climbs, wall balls and toes to bar. Once we made it through four rounds of those, we moved into bar muscle ups, handstand pushups and box jump overs.  I’ve been practicing bar muscle ups all year, so I was just hoping to make it to them and get a few.  Thankfully, it was early in the morning, which meant it wasn’t as hot as it could have been, but it was still pretty warm once we got started. The rope climbs felt solid, but the wear and tear from the previous days showed up on the toes to bar. While I was able to do the 10 of them unbroken, my lats refused to engage enough to allow my usual quick clam shell style, and had to go for the much slower double kip. Between that, and my poor cardio raising its ugly head again, I only had about 20 or 30 seconds left when I got through my 4 rounds and hit the bar muscle ups. I had gotten them pretty easily in the warm-up area, so it was a disappointment when I couldn’t get even one in the work out. If I had saved myself an extra 30 or 40 seconds somewhere in the workout, I’m sure I could’ve gotten one or two, which would’ve put me much higher up the leaderboard. A disappointing start to the day

My greatest triumph (and stupidest mistake)
Finally, back to the barbell. One rep max hang snatch. I knew that this was an event where I could make up some serious ground on the field.  We had seven minutes, which meant three or four attempts were reasonable. I opened up at 165, which was a weight that I was confident I wouldn’t miss. As expected, no issues there. 175 went up pretty easily as well. My attempt at 185 was much the same as the jerk I had tried at 235; I had it over my head but I let it get out a little bit in front of me and dropped it.  I was going pretty quickly with these, so again I decided to be strategic and drop to 180. I lifted with 30 seconds left on the clock, so I would give myself time for another attempt if I missed it.  For whatever reason, 180 felt easy again. Not only was that enough for me to win the heat, I finished eighth in the event overall, which meant that I beat three or four guys in the other heat as well.  This, of course, meant now was the perfect time for me to make a really stupid mistake. 180 felt so easy that I decided to take a run at 185 again. I spent about 20 seconds slapping on a couple of additional plates and attempted the lift with about five seconds left.  After already trying 2 max attempts in the course of a couple of minutes, you think I would’ve been smarter than to do this. But, adrenaline and hubris got the better of me. With virtually no time to set up properly or recover from the previous lift, I went for it. I immediately realized the stupid mistake that I had made; as the barbell got about halfway up I felt the familiar pain of a pulled back muscle.  Not setting up properly and rushing things meant I had given myself a totally unnecessary injury. Nothing serious thankfully, but one that it did take me a couple of weeks to totally recover from (and had to miss a lifting seminar with Dmitry Klokov because of it). This would’ve been a serious problem for the rest of the weekend if it wasn’t for the fact that….

Comedy hour
…the final event was ski erg and handstand walking. While I’ve been able to get a few hand steps in the past, the minimum length for this event was 10 feet; something that I was quite certain was totally out of the realm of possibility for me. I did my 15 cals on the ski erg as quickly as I could, and then proceeded to entertain the crowd with my pathetic attempts at handstand walking. I did manage to get about five hand steps during one attempt, which is pretty much one of my best efforts ever. The artificial turf with the rubber crumbs felt nice and soft as well, so I wasn’t as fearful of falling on my head and breaking my neck as I usually am. Something to definitely work on for future events.

So there you have it.  Going in, my only real wish was that I didn’t want to be last, so I was happy with the fact that I ended up 17th out of the 23 guys that took the field. An enjoyable weekend all round, one that certainly had highs and lows. But one that really took it out of me. It’s a month later, and I still don’t feel like I’ve recovered properly. But I’ll be working towards getting back there, hopefully with a few less weaknesses than I had this year.  We shall see 🙂