After a great week in Hawaii, I stepped off the plane, cleared customs and walked into the 2020 CanWest Qualifiers in a week that went from bad to worse.
I started with the handstand walk because even though this was the longest event at 25 minutes, it was also less about conditioning and more about handstand walking skill so it was least likely to be affected by a week of vacation. Or so I thought. In the gym I always do 25 feet at a time and haven’t missed many attempts in the past year and a half so I was very confident about the short 20 foot track. Until round 1 when I failed my first few attempts. It was a shit-show from the start. I did improve but I couldn’t consistently complete 20 feet unbroken. Sometimes I did, other times I was reduced to 5 and 10 foot increments. In a workout that I should have dominated, I only made it part way through the 5th round. A competitive score for my division but far from my best performance.
Tuesday 20.4 + 20.5
Woke with a serious calf cramp that had me limping. I brushed off the disappointment from 20.2, chalked it up to the short 2 hours sleep, and looked forward to this dual event. With a recorded max of 255lbs, the Overhead squat is a great event for me. True, I haven’t lifted more than 215lbs these past few years since my hip trouble in 2017 but just before vacation I did a 3 rep set at 205lbs that felt easy. Top posted scores in my division so far: 225, 245, 285lbs. My goal was to open at 225lbs and see if I could work up to 245lbs in 3 lifts. Made 225lbs easily. Loaded the bar to 235lbs. Jerked it overhead and cracked the back of my skull with the bar which ricocheted backward as my head was knocked forward making me miss the jerk. Shook it off. Re-racked the bar. This time I overcompensated forward with the bar. No big deal. Re-racked, took some time to get composed. This time the jerk was good. Weight felt good as I sank down into the squat, felt in control. But on the way up, the bar deviated forward slightly on my left side. I tried to fight it but tweaked my left shoulder in the attempt and was forced to let it go. I looked at the bar on the floor for a third time. It didn’t feel too heavy but the throb in my left shoulder convinced me to let it lie and move into the second half disappointed in my performance but knowing it was still a competitive lift.
The 3-minute sprint is not my jam so it was not going to be my best event but it was also going to be less affected by deconditioning. And I’ve got strong thrusters and recently I’ve been completed double unders in sets of 100+ unbroken during WODs so I was confident with my skills here and expecting to get a few reps of thrusters at the heavier 135lb bar. The first 30 reps at 95lbs felt good. I did 20 and 10 according to plan. But the double unders proved my undoing. I had to stop at 45 reps, not due my calf pain or a trip but because of fatigue. When I tried to resume, it was short sets at a time with many trips. I only managed 72 of 90 reps before time ran out without me ever reaching the heavier barbell. Another subpar performance and not a competitive score.
Devil’s Dance. Already feeling a bit demoralized by my weak start in the first 3 events, we were now getting into the more difficult events where conditioning was going to play a more significant role. My right calf was still cramping, my left shoulder tweaked. So far I’d been protecting my strained right forearm but now it was going to get tested. The Devil’s Press with 50lb dumbbells is a hellish movement but I’d practiced it on the cruise and knew my pacing. My shoulders didn’t give out on the press or the handstand push ups and my forearm survived the toes-to-bar. I made it into the chest-to-bar pull ups with time to finish 21 reps to tie Sandman. I can honestly say I gave it everything I had on this WOD but when I jumped up for the bar to complete rep 21 for the tie, I had nothing. I dropped back to the floor as the time ran out finishing 1 rep behind Sandman. Despite the loss, I’d consider this the only qualifier event in which I was pleased with my performance. It was a competitive performance and I gave it my all. In the aftermath I noticed I’d strained the intercostals, the muscles between my ribs, on my left side. I went home feeling wrecked but content with my effort.
Last day of the competition with the submission deadline looming, there would be no redoes. I’d saved this for last because it is physically the most demanding of the 5 events. I’ve injured myself twice on DT at the RX’d 155lbs, once I tweaked my back and once I strained my right forearm. My right forearm was already achy from yesterday, my left shoulder and intercostals tender, my right calf crampy but my biggest concern was my very low energy. I felt beat up and utterly drained by this week’s competition. Last night I stayed up mentally rehearsing this WOD rep-by-rep from start to finish including pauses the breathe. I warmed up the barbell. Heavy but doable. Except for one error when the bar slipped from my hand, round one of DT went according to plan. Amazing how it made me look forward to burpees. I was sad when the 40’s ended and I had to go back to the bar. On rep 6 of the hang power cleans I strained a back muscle on my left side and dropped the bar to assess the injury. Not a nerve or disc injury, pure, simple muscle strain. Probably I’d been so focused on my right forearm my form had deviated. I picked the bar up and did a 7th rep that was so painful I dropped it again. Went for my lifting belt in desperation. Belted up, bent over for the bar and felt an excruciating stab of pain as I deadlifted it. Realized I was done. Dropped the bar and waved off the camera, my final qualifier event was over at 86 reps with more than 11 minutes remaining on the clock. A very disappointing finish and what is sure to be one of the lowest scores in my division. I walked off the platform knowing there was a very good chance that this poor event score may knock me out of a qualifying spot for this year’s games.
Don’t imagine for a moment that I am above self-pity. I’m not. This blog should be evidence enough. After Sunghee left and I was alone, I lay on the floor in the aftermath of my defeat and accepted an invitation to my own private pity party. We wore “poor me” party hats, stuffed ourselves with “the-world’s-not-fair” cake, and sipped some bitter “nobody helps me” tea.
Then, when I’d had enough wallowing I put my big boy pants on and acknowledged the fact that wanting something badly is not enough. Just because you want it, don’t mean you deserve to get it. Taking the actions required to attain your goal is a prerequisite to success. And if asked whether I’d done everything in my power to succeed in the qualifiers, the honest answer is no. I obviously did not want it enough to do everything necessary to optimize my performance. And therefore I do not deserve to qualify. And that’s on me and me alone.
Of course, I’m not the only athlete forced to withdraw due to injury and my scores in 20.2, 20.3 and 20.4 are solid so there is a chance that despite my horrible 20.1 performance, I may still manage to qualify for the 2020 CanWest Games. But let’s be really clear that if I do, it is by the grace of good fortune, it is not because I earned my place there. Before offering up excuses, please remember, there’s always mitigating circumstances, everyone always is dealing with mitigating factors!
At the end of the day, my performance was subpar and I own responsibility for that 100%. However it may sound, I’m not beating myself up about it. I’ve already moved on. Any energy spent lamenting the past is wasted energy. I’m already looking ahead to my next competition now armed with this poignant lesson I can take forward with me to ensure that I do better next time. I am very aware that until you own it, you’ll forever be at the mercy of the limitations created by the excuses you make for yourself.
The scores are not yet finalized but we will update you when we find out how our Empower team fared in this year’s very tough CanWest Qualifiers.