So, Dave Castro. I don’t think you heard me right. Last week I said “bring on 15.2,” not 14.2. I think we had a little bit of a mix-up.
I was able to watch the live announcement this week. When I heard Castro say it was a repeat, I held my breath. I’ve never done the Open before, but I’m familiar with some of the workouts. When he said it was 14.2, my heart sank. What’s funny though, if you look at the picture to the right, is that, literally 2 minutes apart I got texts from two Crossfit friends bemoaning the appearance of C2B. At least I wasn’t alone in my despair.
Background: last week’s 5 minutes to complete 15 T2B is a positively outstanding, exceptional performance when compared to my pull-up ability. Prior to 15.2, I’d never done a single pull-up of any variety. Ever. Not a strict one, no chin-up, not kipping, not butterfly. Nada. Zip. Zilch. But it’s not for lack of trying.
In fact, achieving my first strict pull-up was actually the first goal I set for myself at my first one-on-one skills session back in October 2013, one month into Crossfit (I’ll let you do the math on that one). Since then, my coach and I have worked steadily, using different bands, progressions, accessory work, and supplemental exercises. We figured out last fall that I didn’t use my lats. AT ALL, so added some lat activation exercises in there too (I looked so sexy doing lat pull-downs with a band and a barbell on the pull-up rig). I’ve made a ton of progress, gotten way stronger and closer, but still wasn’t there.
I knew that pull-ups would inevitably show up in the Open. And I wanted to get one, just one, SO BAD. The story of my 15.2 attempt takes place over the entire weekend, in 3 parts. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Part 1: 6 AM Friday
I went in to my usual 6 AM WOD Friday morning prepared to give it a shot, but doubting that I’d actually do a pull-up. Coach Duncan reminded me and Jen, another 6 AM-er who had also been diligently working on pull-ups that Heather (yet another 6 AM-er) can’t do strict pull-ups but can kip a lot of them. So why not try?
Since a C2B pull-up was out of the question, we opted to attempt the scaled version of the WOD. Jen went one heat before me, getting her first pull-up during the warm-up and getting 5 in the workout. I warmed up, getting in some good kip swings and getting close, but no pull-up.
Then my turn came. The 6 OHS at 45# were easy. Then I knew I had 2.5 minutes to get that pull-up. I tried. Struggled. Swung. Got so close I could taste it. So close that Coach Duncan and everyone else told me I had it. But 3 minutes came up on the clock and I didn’t get one in. To get in a WOD, I threw some bands up for my pull-ups and scaled the scaled version, managing to finish somewhere on the round of 12.
After the WOD, I talked to Duncan to ask if it was worth trying again. We agreed that I wouldn’t make any crazy strength gains over the weekend, but decided that I could practice kipping and try again Monday. And if I didn’t get it, I’d switch to 65# and do 10 reps of OHS so as to submit an RX score.
Part 2: Sunday Afternoon
I couldn’t make it to the gym Friday evening or Saturday, so I made a rare Sunday appearance (I think it was only the 2nd time in 1.5 years I’d ever been on a Sunday) to put myself through kipping bootcamp. After hearing the advice of several friends, as well as Coach Duncan who said my chin-up attempts looked better than standard pull-up grip, I decided to give kipping chin-ups a try (yes, they’re a thing). It took a few minutes to get used to the different grip and then I probably spent about 30-45 minutes swinging, trying, getting so close, but ultimately not quite achieving that elusive pull-up (although I did get a nice view of the top of the pull-up bar). Duncan advised me to use my hips more and to try and pull as I swung, so as to make myself have less work to do at the end.
By this time, it was time for the WOD, so I decided to call it a day on the kipping. I did the workout and made plans to give 15.2 my final attempt during the first part of Monday’s 6 AM class (I’d still do the WOD, since I knew whatever I did, I wouldn’t be working longer than 3 minutes).
I did a lot of thinking over the weekend. The pull-up had been a goal of mine for so long. Not getting it was unbelievably frustrating, especially considering all the hours of hard work I’d devoted to it, and knowing how just how strong I am and how much stronger I’ve gotten. But then I had to remind myself of a few things:
1. We’re doing this for fun! The title of this post comes from one of the text conversations I referenced at the beginning of the post. My friend Courtney said that in the midst of our mutual disappointment and complaining about 15.2. And that’s just the thing. We’re not going to the games or regionals. Crossfit is our hobby. It’s what we do for fun, to relax and unwind.
Crossfit can bring you to tears. It can frustrate you, and make you mad as h*ll. It can humble you in ways you’d never imagine, and bring you to your knees. It will challenge and change you in a way that nothing ever has before. But at the end of the day, it is supposed to be fun. Don’t let not being able to do something inside the gym affect the rest of your life. That’s the exact opposite of what Crossfit is for. I had a weekend full of super-fun activities planned with my mom and hometown BFF, both of whom I hadn’t seen much lately.Spending the weekend sulking about my pull-up inability would be a total waste of time.
2. Your life will still be awesome even if you fail. I had been Crossfitting for almost a year and a half without ever doing a pull-up and loving it. I have an awesome life full of amazing people, both in and outside of the gym. Both of those things would still be true even if, come Monday morning, a pull-up hadn’t happened. It’s great to set goals, and put yourself under pressure to achieve them, but their success or failure can’t define you.
With those lessons in mind, giving me some perspective, I went to bed on Sunday night knowing that whatever happened Monday morning, it would be ok (and hey, if I didn’t get a pull-up, it meant one more workout I “completed” (see cat picture above) at RX, right?).
Part 3: 6 AM Monday
Here we go again. When I got to the gym, Duncan asked if I was ready to get my first pull-up. I half-heartedly answered yes. He said I didn’t sound convinced, and honestly, I didn’t feel that way.
I warmed up and got ready to give it my all for 3 minutes, along with Alex, who also had to complete her 15.2. We got started as the rest of the class was working on the lift.
How did 15.2 attempt two go? See part 1. Same drill. 15 seconds to do my 6 squats. 2 minutes, 45 seconds of swinging, struggling, coming frustratingly close, but ultimately failing. My goal of achieving my first pull-up for the Open just wasn’t going to happen.
I watched Alex achieve her first pull-up, plus a couple more. I was happy for her, but also insanely jealous. Of her, of Jen, of all the people that could do pull-ups and make it look so easy.
I walked away from the pull-up bar, feeling defeated, and threw 10 pound plates on the bar. At least I’d get an RX score. With no countdown, no timer going, Duncan watched me do my ten overhead squats and wrote my score on the board. Then I went on to do the WOD (having to scale hang power cleans at a weight I should’ve been able to do and performing some of the ugliest cleans I can remember. I still hadn’t gotten out of my head I guess).
I wish this post ended differently. I wish I could say that I left the gym with my head held high, remembering the things I wrote about earlier in this post. But in reality, I drove home feeling pretty upset and defeated, and wanting to cry. Oh, and to add insult to injury (I suppose it’s actually the other way around), I tore my hand (not badly, but STILL) without doing a single pull-up! Seriously?!?
I knew that I wanted that pull-up more than anyone else. I also knew that I had worked harder and longer than anyone else. Why couldn’t I get it? Why could other people who’d been there for less time than me walk in and make it look so easy?
I wanted this to be another “look what the Open pushed me to do” stories, like the T2B last week. I wanted to believe I could do it. Miracles happen during the Open, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes if you don’t have it, you just don’t have it. Sometimes you can push, and try, and give it everything you have; and you still fail. But it’s what you do with the failure that counts.
I come away from 15.2 feeling discouraged, frustrated and defeated. My hand is torn, my confidence is shaken, but I’m not giving up. I’ve come this far, and worked too hard to walk away now.
15.3, I hope you’ll be kinder to me.