15.3: It’s not even f***ing Karen!

So. 15.1 and 15.2 are in the books. First RX’ed T2B WOD, check. Try like crazy, still fail at getting a pull-up, go to the depths of despair for a day or two only to be pulled out by your encouraging and awesome Crossfit friends; check. I figured, great, two really challenging movements are behind me now, maybe I even have a shot of doing the whole Open RX? (How wrong I was)…..

I watched the 15.3 announcement at Crossfit friend Soph’s house. We got settled in after a few initial technical difficulties and watched Dave Castro do his little gag with the pull-up bar and barbell (me and my torn hands were singing the hallelujah chorus along with thousands of others, I’m sure).IMG_3159

When I heard wall balls and double unders, I was like, “Ok, I got this.” I’m not amazing at DUs, but fairly competent. And I don’t love wall balls (who does?) but I can do them. And then. Then, well, you know what comes next. Those muscle-ups. Cue the creation of a million hilarious Crossfit memes…. (Seriously though, can we just have a moment of silence to stop and appreciate how hilarious Crossfit memes are? Particularly Ryan Gosling ones. Next time you’re having a bad day, just Google “Ryan Gosling Hey Crossfit Girl.” You’re welcome).

Oh muscle-ups. The mystical Rainbow Crossfit Unicorn we’re all chasing after, but so few of us grasp. Neither Soph or I had ever grasped that magical MU Unicorn, so neither one of us was particularly thrilled at the announcement. We settled in to watch Lauren and Julie duke it out, waiting to see what the scaled option would be, all the while sending despairing texts to fellow Crossfitters and expressing our dismay at how the muscle up was coming at the beginning a WOD, instantly excluding a huge part of the Crossfit community from posting an RX score.

Then came the scaled version… you all know by now: for women a 14 minute AMRAP of 50 wall balls at 10# and 200 skips. Turns out there’s no substitute or scale for muscle-ups, according to Castro and his pals at Crossfit HQ. The triplet had become a couplet, 14 minutes of gas tank depleting fun.

…and that would be where the title of this post comes from. Our frustration was that, for athletes like Soph and I, who had been Crossfitting for a year or more, the scaled version seemed like a hard way to measure progress. DUs were out. All those hard months of practice that so many of us did were not going to count for 15.3. And the wall balls? Lighter than the 14# we usually use in a WOD. So we couldn’t really compare our progress to WODS we’d already done. That’s when Soph uttered those immortal words: “It’s not even f***ing Karen!” (meaning since the wall balls were lighter than RX Karen, it wasn’t a meaningful point of comparison). Those words seemed to sum up so perfectly what many Crossfitters seemed to feel…15.2’s scaling was still pretty tricky, and 15.3 seemed almost in a way unfair or too easy.

So…after some mutual complaints, sighs of resignation, plans to attempt to work on MUs (that was Soph…I’m nowhere near that point), we chatted some more, then I headed home so I could get to bed in time to make my early wake up call.

Friday morning, 6 AM (you’re probably sensing a pattern here). I wasn’t feeling super nervous. After all, the wall balls were lighter. Just skips, no DUs. After the physical, mental and emotional toll 15.2 took on me, I just wanted to get in, do 15.3 and be done. As unthrilled as I was about the muscle-ups, at least it made the whole scaling vs RX decision real easy (you guys, I hate to break it to you, but I’m not going to regionals now. I know, you were sure I was after the first 2 weeks, but alas, my scaled score cuts me out. Guess I’ll have to let that dream die). Seriously though, I knew a muscle-up was way out of my grasp this year, so I just resolved to go in, do the best I could on the WOD, and that would be that.

I figured I’d start with sets of 15, 15, 10, 10 for the wall balls and then just see how the skipping went. After warming up, I opted to go in the first heat because I’m a big fan of “get it done and over with.”

Round one: wall balls went as planned. 10#….great! Skipping, not awesome, but ok.

Round two: Hmmm…these wall balls might be lighter, but 50 of them is still pretty sucky. I think I still managed to get through sets of 10. Then skipping. SKIPPING. Why did you start to suck so bad?!?! I just felt really tired and gassed, and had to break it up into I don’t know how many sets because I was so. freaking. tired.

Round three: Did I mention how tired I was? 10# wall balls, I’m sorry I underestimated you. I take it all back. I respect you and your power to beat me into submission even though you’re not as heavy as the standard RX weight for most wall balling I do. I sucked it up on this round. 5s it was. Thank God for Coach Duncan counting me through 5s, then 5 seconds of rest, then forcing me to get back to it.

Didn’t quite make it through all the wall balls on this round, so finished with a final score of 540. Not super impressive (especially considering the next heat that went, where Jen, mother of 4 and one of my Crossfit Life Heroes, posted a score of 921!!!!), but I thought, “hey, I’ll take it. It’s over, it’s done, I’m good.”  I was humbled that the seemingly “easy” scaled WOD had taken so much out of me, but at least.15.3 was in the books.

I rolled, stretched, got on with my day and then came back that afternoon for Oly Lifting class (love that our gym has this option…one of my favs). That’s when he said it. Coach Duncan asked, “So, are you gonna re-do this one?” (cue inward groan).

“Why, should I?”

He answered that it was up to me, but he thought I could do better, saying that I hadn’t broken the wall balls up enough in the first round and had done way too big a set (Our accounts of my 6 AM attempt differ, I swear I did the 15-15-10-10, he says I did a big set and he was yelling at me to break them up and I didn’t hear him. Weird. Apparently I was in some sort of early morning Open Zone).

Hmmm…you have to understand that Duncan knows me pretty well as an athlete. Since I am a loyal 6 AM-er, he is the coach for the majority of the classes I go to, and has worked a lot with me one-on-one. He knows what I’m capable of, and I respect his opinion, so if he says I can do better, I probably can.

Dang it. So much for “one and done.”

I judged a few athletes Friday and another on Sunday between my own lifting and workouts (don’t ask how many hours I spent at the gym between Friday and Saturday. Yeah, just don’t).

I also chatted some more with Duncan, asking him what he thought my chances were of making it to the end of Round 3 if I re-did the WOD and broke up the wallballs more. He said I could at least make it way farther into the round, and agreed that it wouldn’t be worth doing for only a few more reps. We then proceeded to talk about my skipping. Let me say that I’m not bad when it comes to skipping and DUs. After practicing last year for many months, I’d say I’m a reasonably competent double-under-er. But I’m really inefficient. I tense up, then hit the ground way too hard, kick my feet up too much and use my arms IMG_3170way more than I need to. Even as it’s happening I know I’m doing it, hence why I get so tired and gassed out super quickly. Duncan’s advice? Take my rope home for the weekend, practice skipping, focus on staying relaxed and efficient, and if it felt good, go for the re-do again Monday morning.

Thank goodness it was a nice day on Sunday, because the ceilings in my apartment are too low to allow for indoor skipping. I didn’t practice a ton (in part because I was feeling pretty tired and lazy), but did 3 sets of 2 minutes of skipping with 2 minutes rest in between. My time improved a bit each round, and I felt pretty loose and mellow, so I figured I’d give it another go Monday morning (plus, when I texted Soph and Meaghan (she’s the one responsible for those Boxing Day Burpees. Such a bad influence), they both told me to go for it. Dang it again. I couldn’t let them down).

Monday morning. I “slept in” because I’ve got the week off for March Break (#teacherperks) and showed up at the gym for 6:40 (I was going to go at 7, but last night, my friend Breanne messaged me (she of snow day fame) and asked if I could judge her early (apparently my judging prowess has made me famous…ha!). So I judged her, then set about warming myself up. Going into an Open workout the second time is worse if you ask me, because you know just how much it’s going to suck.

A little before 7:30 was go time. I knew I wanted to make it past the 3rd round of wallballs or I’d be really annoyed, and my goal from there was just to make it as far as I could towards completing 3 rounds. Duncan was great about counting my wallballs and rest (I had another witness who said I did the first round almost unbroken. Jen had been helping judge me and she backed up what Duncan said. I have no idea what I was thinking). I did 10s right from the start, then he would count down from 5 and I picked it back up.

First round of skipping went pretty well, I tried as must as I could to breathe and relax (as Duncan kept reminding me). Then onto the second round of wall balls. Funny how breaking them up from the get go had me feeling less like death. 10s again, then onto the skipping. I got tripped up several times during the second round, which was sort of frustrating. Duncan even grabbed me another rope to swap out for my speed rope, which is still new for me and a little coiled up. Once I had the new rope things went a little smoother. Looking at the clock, I knew I was ahead of my previous pace.

Third round, I started with 10s for the wall balls but after 20 or 30, I went to 5s, with Duncan counting my work/rest the whole time. I knew I was going to finish all 50, which made me super stoked and helped me power through. With under a minute left, I made it back to the rope and skipped my little heart out.

Final score? 605, or 65 reps more than the first time….YESS!!!!

Lessons learned from 15.3?

Crossfit takes a village. You can call it an individual sport, but it’s all about the team effort if you ask me. If it wasn’t for Duncan pushing me to do better, I wouldn’t have even tried to improve my score. And his coaching and counting were a huge help. Then there’s Soph and Meaghan, who wouldn’t let me bail. And Courtney, who told me it was ok if I wanted to. And then Kellee and Emily, who were both there Monday morning to do 15.3, who helped cheer me on and push me through (Kellee crushed her previous RX score. She’s a retired gymnast, general badass, and another one of my Crossfit life heroes). All of them pushed me to higher heights than I could’ve achieved on my own.

Never underestimate a scaled workout. All that “it’s not eve f***ing Karen” business and talk about how the scaling wasn’t fair or too easy? Well, it still might not have been fair, but I challenge anyone who did this WOD to say it was easy. In fact, several of the people at my gym who RX’ed said scaled was harder without the muscle-ups to “rest” (I use that term lightly). You should never ever a) be ashamed to scale a WOD or b) think that just because you or someone else is scaling, it’s going to be easy. Push yourself to your limits no matter what, and I guarantee you’ll have a great workout.

Finally, (this one almost goes without saying): BREAK UP THE WALL BALLS! (Or any high volume movement). If you’re in a WOD with a lot of a single movement, even if it feels easy, be smart about it. Break it up sooner than you think you need to. Trust me, you’ll regret it later.

15.3, you weren’t easy. Dave Castro, I’m still not super happy about about those muscle-ups, but you still managed a scaled WOD that sucked pretty hard. But I pushed, I overcame, and I know I didn’t hold back. That’s worth as much as a muscle-up any day (but I’m still chasing that unicorn. I’ll get there, one day).




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