15.5: Is there a time cap for sympathy?

So guess what? The fact that I’m typing this, and you’re reading it means snoopy_happy_danceone thing: the 2015 CrossFit Open is DONE! (See accompanying image of Snoopy and Charlie Brown for my feelings on this). We made it!

No more angsty Thursday nights. No more shifting my lifting program schedule around due to Open WODs. No more mental craziness. It’s all behind me. I’ll sum up my Open thoughts at the end of this post, but for now, onto my 15.5 experience.

(If you missed my previous Open posts, catch up with them here: 15.1, 15.2, 15.3, 15.4).

Thursday night I missed the live announcement due to my very first (and hopefully not last, ’cause it was really fun) Crossfit Speaking Engagement (remember I mentioned it here). But of course, the minute I checked my phone, I had the usual series of Thursday night texts from my crew (I’ll actually miss that ritual).

So the two texts I had waiting for me said: “I’m going to vomit,” (Courtney) and “Rowing and thrusters! Lots of it!!” (Soph). Of course that made me hugely curious as to the rep scheme, so I had to go to the bathroom and look it up on my phone before I could get home.

27-21-15-9. That’s a lot (72 to be exact). My thoughts? 1. Guess I was wrong about those burpees and box jumps. 2. Finally, a week without gymnastics! 3. I can RX this one. 4. I don’t hate rowing, but I don’t love it either. Thrusters are ok, but will get old real quick after that many reps. 5.This is going to take a long time, and suck a lot.

My post title was a question I asked Courtney in our text conversation. We were making mental Murph comparisons. I figured it couldn’t be worse than that, right? I HAD to be done before 45 minutes, didn’t I? I had visions of a 20+ minute WOD, a total suckfest, and feeling like death after. I went to bed and couldn’t wait for Friday morning (to be precise, Friday morning at 7 AM, when I was done this WOD and the Open was behind me).

6 AM Friday: for the last time, I hit the gym ready to tackle an Open WOD. I was (thankfully) placed in the first heat (I like to get things over and done). Going into the workout, I had a loose strategy of breaking the thrusters up into 9-9-9 the first round, then 7-7-7, 8-7 for the third round and see how I was feeling the last round. I also decided not to kill it on the rowing. I knew the thrusters would gas me, so I wanted the row to be a nice break.

I got going with Jen as my judge. 27 cal row was good. I went at a good pace, but nothing crazy. Then onto the bar. Thrusters felt good. Surprisingly good. Better than I was expecting. I hit 9 and felt ok, so kept going. At 11 I decided to break. This is the strategy that, when sharing with others, I dubbed: “Drop the bar before it sucks.” I maybe could have cranked out a few more, but I didn’t want to gas myself early and regret it later. After a few seconds rest, I picked it up again and did 9 more. Drop, rest, then the last 7. Back to the rower.

21 cals – same as before, nice and easy. My memory is a little fuzzy on my rep scheme for the thrusters the second round. I either did something like 9-7-5, or possibly 7-7-7 – not sure (apparently the Open does something to my perception of pacing reps – remember my 15.3 delusion of breaking up wall balls?). But 3 sets either way. I love workouts with a descending rep scheme. Nothing like being 2/4 rounds in and knowing you’re over halfway done.

Coach Duncan was around the whole time giving advice and cheering me on. I got through the 15 calorie row, then did my 15 thrusters as planned in a set of 8, then 7. Then, it was on to the home stretch – round of 9!

I tried to push a bit more on the row but still didn’t go nuts. Then when I hit the bar, Duncan said to do it in one set, and rest at the top if needed. I gave it one final push, busted out those 9 reps and boom! The 2015 Crossfit Open was in the books. Final time? 12:42.

After a few minutes of recovery, I turned around and returned the favor and judged Jen as she crushed 15.5 and finished her Open. High fives all around at the end of class – we did it! We survived our first Open (I think all of us from the 6 AM crew were Open newbies this year).

I have to say, I really didn’t feel that bad after 15.5. Since I was the first one at Alchemy to do it, lots of people were asking for advice/how I felt. And I saw the pain faces of many fellow athletes over the weekend and how badly they felt afterward. Then I had a nagging feeling that maybe I could have pushed myself harder. Maybe the fact that I didn’t feel like death, and utterly depleted meant I had held back. Maybe I should’ve rowed faster. Maybe my thruster breaks should’ve been shorter. Maybe I should’ve done bigger sets.

But then again, maybe I was stronger than I knew. Maybe it had just been a workout that finally played to my strengths. Maybe my pacing was bang-on.

I had moments of considering re-doing it. I think if I had had someone on me the whole time, pushing me, I might have done better. How much better, I’m not sure. But ultimately I decided that 12:42 RX was still a darn good score (hey, within 5 minutes of the fittest girl in the world) and I would take it. Besides – redoing 15.5 would mean delaying the finish of my 2015 Open, something I was in a hurry to celebrate.

15.5Since my score was submitted and validated so early, come Friday afternoon, I was doing pretty well on the leaderboard. Unfortunately, the rest of the world was on the ball and also submitted their scores, so my placing didn’t last. 😉

Friday afternoon I was back at the gym and achieved a HUGE CrossFit milestone (but I’m going to leave you hanging on that one until next week…unless you go to my gym, then you already know ;)), and watched a few others complete their Open (including one scary barbell drop down the back on the last round of thrusters).

Saturday I worked out, then had my last judging stint of the 2015 Open. I was impressed by the mental fortitude of my fellow athletes who kept going when those thrusters got tough. I really enjoyed pushing people, cheering them on, and encouraging them to pick up that bar even when they thought they couldn’t.

I also had a moment (and this is in no means meant to sound like I’m bragging or minimizing others’ performances) of being really impressed with myself and just how strong I’ve gotten over 1.5 years of Crossfit. I saw others really struggling with the thrusters, and having to break them up into sets of 5 or 3. I allowed myself to sit back, look at my performance and say, “You know what Hilary? You may not have the top time. But you are STRONG.” I have a really bad habit of underestimating myself and selling myself short. But not anyone can crank out thrusters like that, just saying. I’ve come a long way, baby.

After everything was all said and done, Soph and I went out to celebrate the end of the Open and my big Friday victory (curious yet?) with lunch and cheesecake. 🙂

So…2015 Open. My closing thoughts?

  • 15.1: Push yourself beyond what you think you are capable of. You CAN do it and you just might surprise yourself.
  • 15.2: CrossFit is for FUN. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t let one failure define your story.
  • 15.3: Be smart about how you partition a workout. Listen when coaches who know you tell you that you can push harder (and be grateful for them).
  • 15.4: You’re stronger than you think you are. Don’t be ashamed to scale. Sometimes a WOD is just made for you, you crush it, and don’t feel bad about celebrating that.
  • 15.5: Be smart about pacing, but don’t hold anything back.

What I won’t miss…

  • How it messes with my schedule and screws up the days of my lifting program
  • The anxiety I feel going into the workouts
  • Feeling like a complete and total failure when I couldn’t get a pull-up for 15.2
  • Not lifting heavy like I usually do because it’s “Open Season”
  • The pressure of having to make sure I get my Open WOD done within the specific time frame
  • Redoing the same, horrible wallball/skipping couplet over the course of a weekend, because it’s THE OPEN (that being said, I’m still glad I did that, and glad to have a coach who pushes me when he knows I can do better)

What I will miss…

  • Thursday night text exchanges with my CrossFit gals
  • The general camaraderie around the gym as people commiserated about the Open WOD, or shared tips and triumphs
  • Feeling more a part of the global CrossFit community than ever, since the Open was EVERYWHERE (podcasts, social media, articles, memes)
  • Knowing I was doing the same workout as thousands of others, including the fittest people on the planet
  • CrossFit Open memes. Because they kill me. Every time.
  • Pushing myself to do things I never have before (RXing my first T2B WOD)
  • Finally crushing 2 workouts and knowing I killed it after 3 weeks of WODs that did NOT play to my strengths.

I’m glad I did the Open. It was hard (but I didn’t expect anything less). I know there were a lot of people who were angry about the Open this year (too much scaling/not enough scaling. And those muscle-ups). Some people said they wouldn’t do it again.

I still think I would. I’m glad the Open only comes once a year. I’m glad it only lasts 5 weeks (which flew by, to be honest). There are definitely things I didn’t like about it and I wouldn’t want this crazy competition atmosphere to last all year. But for me, in the end, the benefits, and lessons learned, outweigh the negatives.

I think about how far I’ve come since starting CrossFit. Then I think about the year ahead. I’m going to set new goals this week. I can’t wait to see how much stronger I am in a year. I can’t wait to come out and test myself, not just against everyone else in the world, but against the athlete I am today (who’s pretty fierce, I might add). Dave Castro, see you in 2016.

Stay tuned for a post next week that’s NOT ABOUT THE OPEN!

What are your final thoughts on the 2015 CrossFit Open?

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