Six months in of doing CrossFit and the Opens came around. The Opens are the way to start off the competition to see just who makes it to the Games. They decide who goes to Regionals based on scores from the Opens. From Regionals, the best athletes go to the Games. Anyone can do the Opens. It doesn't matter if you're awesome or just started, for $20 anyone can sign up. The Opens consisted of five weekly workouts where they were announced on Thursday evening and you had until Monday evening to submit scores. To keep people honest, you have to have a judge who has taken a specialty course count your reps or submit a video tape. Now that you kind of understand the basics of the Opens, I'm going to share some of my experience in my first Opens ever.
1. The things I struggled with were the things I thought we're going to be a piece of cake. 14.1 had double unders (jumping rope where it passes twice under your feet before they hit the ground again). In the last four months, I have worked my butt off to get stupid double unders down and had gotten to a point when I could consistently pop out 20-25 in a row. Not super great, but a huge leap for me who couldn't seem to break out of the single digits for the first few months of CrossFit. And we don't even need to discuss the whip marks you get when you're pretty terrible at double unders. So when 14.1 came out and I saw double unders, I thought, "Yeah! That part will be easy. I can focus more on the power snatches." And wouldn't you know that I was able to do my power snatches unbroken (not letting go of the bar) until the very end but I couldn't get the double unders for the life of me! I was only able to string 5 or 6 together with maybe a random run of 15.
14.2 had chest to bars (C2B) that is like a pull up but you have to pull high enough that your chest hits the bar. This is another move that I really like and am usually pretty decent at for still being a newbie CrossFitter. Whereas I had been able to put 5 C2Bs together before taking a break, I was only able to do 2 or 3 in the beginning and by the end I was only doing one at a time.
14.3 contained my very favorite move when it comes to CrossFit--box jumps. I'm a jumper. I was a volleyball player through college and the only reason I made it through on my height of 5'7 was jumping. I've been doing box jumps in the WODs (workout of the day) on 24" and 30" boxes for the added challenge, so when box jumps came up in the Opens WOD and the women's height is only 20" I knew I would fly through them. When the first round of box jumps came, I got no-repped (they didn't count) SEVEN times! It turns out that I hadn't been fully extending at the top with straight knees this whole time! This really crushed me, but I figured it wasn't worth the questioning every rep I did so I did step ups which is totally fine, but a little blow to my ego on something I could do with my eyes closed. Just kidding--I would never try that with my eyes closed, but you get the point.
14.4 was a chipper which means a bunch of reps of several different moves. You just have to get in there and "chip" them away, one at a time. I like chippers! Especially ones that don't contain a lot of heavy lifting, the ones where it's all about getting through the elements as fast as you can. My chipper was screwed from the beginning. I had had a head cold that week and that morning when I woke up, I had the sneaking suspicion that it had turned into a sinus infection. I took a ton of meds, did saline rinses, steam showers, a steam tent with White Flower, and anything else I could think of. Low and behold, my head and dry mouth got the best of me. The chipper started out with rowing and I almost got off of my rower to get a drink of water because my mouth was so dry and my head was pounding/spinning. By the time I got to Toes to Bar (T2B) I knew that it was not going to be good. My hand tore, my head hurt. I had vowed to redo it on Monday when I felt better, but that didn't happen. I spent Monday morning in the doctor's office to be seen about my sinus infection.
The sinus infection kept me out of 14.5.
Now that I'm done with the negative things, let's move on to the positive! :)
2. There is a magic in the air that allowed me to do the things I thought were impossible going in. It is no secret that have terrible mobility on pretty much all of the key areas you need for CrossFit lifts like hips, ankles, shoulders, wrists, etc. I am not a big fan of the Olympic lifts that make up CrossFit--not even a little bit. I really want to love them and I think they're beautiful to watch, but I really struggle with them. In 14.1 they had power snatches. It was a light enough weight that I knew I could do it, especially since it was a power snatch meaning that I didn't have to go into a full squat, I just had to stand up. Even if my form sucked I knew I could still do the weight. Before I started my coach gave me the advice of "once you touch the bar, you don't let go". Meaning don't drop the weight to take a break, try to do the ten reps unbroken. I did really well at that for the most part. Any time I do an Olympic lift, I'm pretty pleased with that.
14.2 had overhead squats in it AND it was the very first component. I was prepared for my first score of a zero. I had never been able to do an overhead squat before. One of my coaches told me in one of my first CrossFit classes that overhead squats bring out everyone's weaknesses and since my weakness is my mobility, it had made these impossible for me. I couldn't even do them with a PVC pipe! The night before the Open workout, one of the coaches helped me with form and with my weight lifting shoes, I was able to get one rep at the weight prescribed for 14.2. My goal going in was to get one rep. When the time came, I got ten of those overhead squats and I am BEYOND proud of that!
14.3 had deadlifts. This is the only lift that I feel like I'm okay at. My previous 1 rep max was 185 lbs. and that was the third weight in the ladder. I hurried through the first two sets because I knew I would need all of my time to focus on this weight that was my max. I ended up doing it 16 times!!!
Like I said before, CrossFit has a magic in it and even more so in a competition setting where you're not given the option to modify.
3. Getting cheered on by your family and your workout family is a high all in itself. Who doesn't do better when you have your loved ones yelling at you from the sidelines. There is power in the words "you are strong" and "just pick it up".
4. Cheering for other people and seeing them crush their goals is even better.