Why I Bombed In the CrossFit Open… But Loved It Anyway

I wanted to throw up, came away with whip marks all down my arms, had moments of pure frustration, and moments of proud elation. Several times I questioned my own sanity as I tried to do things I’d never done before, but I achieved new skills, and forced out a personal best lift. All of this while watching the world’s fittest CrossFit men and women perform the same workouts as me (albeit a hundred times better and faster!).

Wow. CrossFit Games Open… thank you.

Happy WOD

Where The Story Begins

“You never know, you might just get a PB out of it”.

These were the words of Annie, my CrossFit coach. For a few weeks her and Lee, owners of CrossFit Raeda, had been talking about the CrossFit Games. The world’s elite men and women of CrossFit, battling it out to achieve the title of The World’s Fittest Man and Woman. Surely this is no place for me, a slightly soft CrossFit noob?

That’s the beauty of the Open.

See, the first round of the CrossFit Games is an online shortlisting process. As many people as want to can sign up to have a stab at 5 weekly WODs, announced in the early hours of Friday mornings, and submitting scores to the leader board by Monday night. I knew the WODs were going to be hard looking at previous years, and I knew my limitations, but I wanted to challenge myself and set a baseline from which to track my CrossFit progress, so I signed up anyway.

Bring it on.

Whipping Donkey Kicks

Along came 14.1… and my heart sank.

A combination of double unders and snatches, I’d fallen at the first hurdle. I’d never successfully gotten a double under. Double unders, for those who don’t know, are a skipping technique where you spin the rope twice for every jump… F***.

With a zero score looming in the very first WOD I knew I had to try. I had three days to learn. By Sunday afternoon I’d managed it, I’d got my first double unders. Sure, they weren’t pretty, and they bloody hurt when I caught myself with the rope, but I’d got them.

Monday came around and it was time to WOD. After much arm whipping, and flicking my legs behind me like a crazed donkey, I battled my way through just over two rounds.

The Zero Score

And then it happened. It had to really.

14.2 brought with it overhead squats and chest to bar (CTB) pullups. Fail on both counts.

For as long as I can remember I’ve never been able to squat full depth. In CrossFit, a full squat is defined as when the hip crease goes clearly below the line of the knee… aka “Ass to Grass”. But, for reasons too lengthy to go into right now, this just isn’t possible for me at the moment. Because of this, every rep would have been a “no rep”.

At this point I became stroppy. If I could just get one rep out, one measly rep, I would still have been able to register a score and stay in the Open. But with a zero score you’re automatically off the leader board. There is no scaling in the Open, and this caused a fair deal of frustration – both via social media, and in my own defeatist mind-set. But after a slight tantrum I came round to the fact that the Open is designed to wittle down the masses to the fittest men and women in each region – it should be tough.

I brushed myself off and scaled the WOD to partial squats and jumping CTB. But I was out.

Picking Myself Up Off The Floor

Having bombed in the Open already, I was feeling deflated. Why did I bother signing up? And then 14.3 came along. Now this is my kinda WOD!

Deadlift

A progressive set of deadlifts and box jumps this was something I could do. Feeling a bit perked up I was eager to start Friday morning. Each round of the WOD the deadlifts went up in weight, from 43kg, to 61, 70, 85 etc. With a previous one rep max of 80kg I didn’t hold out much hope of going beyond the third round, but I set the weights out anyway.

And good thing too! A minute to go and I’d finished round three. I loaded the extra 15kg, set myself up and pulled…. Nothing. Shook myself off, dusted my hands and tried one last time to shift this bar that weighed more than I did, and I did it! Just one rep, but a new one rep max! Yesssssss.

Scaling My Way Home

It is well known that towards the end of the Open is the real crazy stuff, and Dave (Castro, CrossFit Games Director) didn’t disappoint.

14.4 was a chipper of rowing, toes to bar (TTB), wall balls, cleans and muscle ups.

Having already bailed out of the Open I decided to scale this one. TTB was another skill, like double unders, that I didn’t have under my belt before the Open, so I went for hanging leg raises instead – and this got me through to the end of the cleans.

Rowing

14.5 was the first “for time” WOD in CrossFit Games Open history, with a descending ladder of thrusters and bar facing burpees to complete.

Poor flexibility caught me out again, and without a full depth squat, my thrusters would have been no reps. I did as much as I could with a lesser weight and partial squats. I came in at just over 19 minutes, and my god were those bar facing burpees tough!

What I Achieved

As the title of this post suggests, I’m not going to Regionals any time soon (or ever haha!) but I can tick off a few firsts and PBs:

My first CrossFit Games Open. Yes, this counts! And I’m already excited for next year… hopefully I won’t get any zero scores.

My first Double Unders. Just don’t judge the technique. I’ll work at it!

PB Deadlift 1RM by 5kg. Annie was right… I got a PB out of it! I’m hoping to re-test this soon as it may be higher considering it was at the end of a WOD.

My first TTB. Since deciding not to attempt them in the WOD I tried TTB in practice at the box and can now do a few.

That feeling of community in a worldwide competition. The Open brings you together with athletes of all levels and allows you to compete as one.

If I Was To Sum It Up

I may not have earned a place on the leader board, due to my zero scores, but I still loved my first CrossFit Games Open experience. To me, it pushed me hard enough to make me appreciate how much harder I have to work to really call myself a CrossFit athlete, but also gave me a taste of what it could be like to compete against the best in the world. No other sport can do the same. Even in running, the elite start at a different time, and place on a different leader board.

And that’s what makes CrossFit so inclusive.

Did you take part in the CrossFit Games Open? How was your experience? Did you achieve any new skills/PBs?

Credits

Photos courtesy of CrossFit Raeda.