First of all, Coca CrossFit is owned by Kate “Killer” Rawlings. She is a previous CrossFit Games athlete and by all accounts runs a terrific box. The facility was great and the event was top notch from top to bottom. We all owe her a huge thanks for the obvious hard work she put in. Every detail was covered from communication prior to the event to the people working the event. If you are ever looking for a Masters event to compete in I would suggest this. Just don’t get in my age division. This shit is hard enough.
I knew the day was getting off to an odd start when a dude walked up to me and goes “Are you John?” I answer “Yes” and he says “I’m Kevin. I read your blog.” I’m not gonna lie. When people approach me and say things like “I follow you on Twitter” or “I read your blog” I always get nervous. I make a lot of inappropriate comments and always worry about getting punched or told that “You need to find Jesus”. Regardless I just said “Ummmmm Thanks I think?” Turns out he meant it as a complement and now I had a buddy to talk to most of the day.
We started the day with the National Anthem and then kicked off with the first of three WODs.
10 min time cap:
10 burpees over the rower
15 burpees over the rower
20 burpees over the rower
This one is a nasty little burner. I had the opportunity to practice this WOD 3x prior to the competition and it hurt every time so I knew this wouldn’t be any easier. When you first look at this WOD it would be easy to think you need to row hard and just survive the burpees but every time I had attempted that, I missed the time cap. I went in planning to row well slower than my normal pace. I would normally row at a 1:45-1:50 per 500m pace but for this I rowed around 2:00-2:05 for the 1000m and 2:05-2:10 for the other two splits. It’s mentally painful to row slower than you know you are capable. Every single competitor got off the rower between 100-200m before I did on the first round but when I got off the rower thats where I planned to make up my time. I looked over at the guy next to me and saw him stand up straight up at his fifth burpee and then grab his knees for a second. I immediately thought to myself, “He’s winded already. I got this.” I went balls to the wall or in this case balls to the floor as fast as I could thru the burpees. By the time I finished the round of 15 my coach yelled “You’re in first. Don’t stop.” The final 20 burpees are a blur. Both quads cramped and it was all I could do to jump over that rower but I somehow finished at 9:36 and in 1st place after the first round. Only 3 of us got in under the time cap so I was really excited to start the day so well. I knew the rest of the day would be harder on me. I have to be honest though. It took me at least 45 mins to recover from this WOD. I forced myself to eat and drink and in hindsight I am glad I did.
WOD 2 was a strength workout. I knew going into this that I would need to at least finish 3rd or higher if I wanted to stay close to the podium.
10 mins to establish max weight of:
3 hang cleans
2 front squats
1 shoulder to overhead.
I had run thru this multiple times at my gym and had never done more than 185 and that was a major struggle. My plan was to start at 165# then go to 190#. If I missed then I could back the weight down. I hit 165# easy and stepped up to 190#. I’m not gonna lie. It flew up. I hit the first hang clean so fast it surprised me. I almost dropped the bar and put more weight on but decided against it. I completed my lifts and stepped up to 205#. I hit the first hang which is a huge PR for me. I couldn’t hang on for a second hang clean at that weight and after looking around at the weights everyone else had hit decided to conserve my energy and call it a day. In retrospect I wish I had stepped up heavier on my second lift but a PR is still a PR and I accomplished what I wanted to here. I finished 3rd in the event and tied for 1st overall after two events.
The third WOD was straight up nasty. I’m not exaggerating to say that if you asked me today “Would you like to do WOD 3 right now or get kicked in the balls one time?” I would seriously have to think about it. The WOD itself seems innocent but you have to go to a dark place to hit the time cap.
13 min time cap
Back Squats 135# (Bar starts on the floor)
Kettlebell snatches 53#
I had done this only one previously and had done it with the bar on the rack instead of having to clean it and get it to my shoulders. My previous attempt took 13:47. I solicited advice from multiple coaches as well as watched previous heats and decided that I would take the squats slow and steady and go hard in the kettlebells. I stuck to that and after the round of 18 and looking around the floor I knew I had made a good choice. Everyone looked like death. There was only one competitor ahead of me by the round of 14 and I was close enough I thought I could catch him. I got into the round of 12 and at one point legit thought I was going to puke. Now I have been CrossFit puke free since 2011 and I definitely didn’t want to hurl in front of a crowd. Suddenly the DJ put on Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba” and I came back to life. That’s my jam! It was a hillbilly miracle. My judge was fearless in the face of potential hurling and kept a loud count for me so I never lost my place. She was amazing and really saved my ass. Regardless, I followed my plan for unbroken and fast kettlebell snatches the rest of the way but I just missed the guy ahead of me but fortunately for me, he wasn’t in my age division. I finished the WOD 1st in my age group at 11:47 which moved me into the sole lead by 3 points.
The top five competitors make the finals and I was exactly where I wanted to be. I’m a banker by day so I had already done the math. I knew if I finished no worse than 3rd I would take first overall. I certainly didn’t want to leave it to chance so my plan was to treat this WOD like sex with a fat girl. Go as hard as you can for seven minutes then get the hell out of there. The problem was the WOD wasn’t exactly in my wheelhouse (thanks Kate!).
7 min AMRAP
10 Axel Deadlifts 185#
1 rope climb (15ft)
I’ll be the first to tell you that I hate heights, I hate rope climbs, and most importantly, I hate the thought of falling and breaking my ankles. I am also a mediocre deadlifter so I was a little nervous. Within seconds of this WOD starting I was in 4th. I saw everyone going up the rope and thought “F*ck. I am screwed.” (My inner child has a potty mouth) Once we got underway I quickly realized that my deadlifts were too slow and my rope climbs were only manageable. I seriously wanted to walk away at the 3min mark. At about 4 mins I turned to a friend in the crowd and said “How am I doing? Where am I?” He goes “I think you are in third. Now move your ass!” My friends have a real positive and motivational approach. I had solicited some advice from one of our coaches beforehand and had decided to do singles on deadlifts once I was tired to save energy for the climbs. It was good advice because I had just enough energy to do all my lifts and get up the rope one more time for my 7th round just as time expired. I finished the round in 3rd place which left me with an overall lead of first place by two points.
I’m not gonna lie. During the awards ceremony it was surreal hearing my name called to the podium. I felt I would be competitive but I didn’t really think I would win. I felt a weird mix of pride and unworthiness. I train hard and do my best but the other athletes do as well. As proud as I was to win, I am genuinely in awe at how talented and fit the other competitors are.
I owe a lot of people thanks here so I will apologize in advance if I miss anyone.
Kate “Killer” Rawlings: What an amazing event! You didn’t miss a detail and I am confident everyone had a great time. Thank you for your commitment to the CrossFit community.
Ed Ellis and Zak Leighton our CFD owners: You guys open the box to me during the off hours and you provide us all an amazing place to train. You always push me harder than I want to and you make me a better athlete. You have my sincere gratitude.
Coaches Scott, Gordon, Lindsey: Thanks for coming out. You all gave me solid coaching during the day and kept me mentally focused. I heard each of you yelling at me (especially Lindsey's loud ass) in at least one WOD each and it made a huge difference. Also Thanks to Coach Kyle for the mid-day text. I know you were there in spirit.
My fellow CFD competitors Kevin, Kate, Wild Bill, Scott, Josh, Patrick, and Nick: You guys were all amazing.
Josh - You’re a beast and took 1st in your division. You are an unreal athlete.
Bill - You took 2nd and did an amazing job start to finish.
Scott - You crushed so many WODs I lost count. I hope I am half the athlete you are when I look as old as you.
Kate - Your rope climbs were amazing and you are tenacious!
Patrick - You battled hard brother and made smart choices. Also your shaved head and beard game is on point!
Kevin - I loved watching you PR your events. Great job Brother!
Nick - Your tank top was ridiculous and you didn’t embarrass us so that is all we could ask really.
RALA BALA - Ralph & Beth Anne Lazaro:
Ralph - You were competing (finished 2nd) but still took time to give me coaching and advice. You are a hell of a guy and an amazing CrossFitter. Thank you for helping me.
Beth Anne - Thanks for the high fives and smiles. I know it doesn’t seem like much but when you are exhausted it recharges you. You guys are amazing.
Ryno & James: You guys really got me thru the WODs physically and emotionally. Having close friends there is important but you guys went above and beyond to coach and motivate.
To all my friends and family there in spirit that were texting me throughout the day: You have no idea how much it helped. I was physically spent most of the day and every text recharged me a little. Every one made me want to work harder. Every one made me want to win and make you proud.