A Tale of Two Opens

Well, another Cimage1 (3)rossFit Open is behind us. And, as I alluded to last week, I’m not entirely sorry to see it end. The Open is super-great, I think it’s really cool, and I love how it brings together the CrossFit community from all over the world. I’m definitely not sorry I did it.

But, much like last year, I was ready for it to come to a close. I won’t miss all the mind games, messing around with scheduling, picking and choosing movements to do or avoid based on what had or hadn’t come up. I’m looking forward to settling back into routine, starting a new lifting program, and focusing on other goals besides my standing on the leaderboard.

So, as promised last week, here is my Open summary post. The cool thing about not only participating in the Open two years ago but also blogging about it is that in addition to my scores and recollections, I have an actual written record to go on from one year to another. As I was writing all of my “16 on” series this year, I looked back on what I posted a year ago, and thought it would be cool to reflect back on my first two CrossFit Opens, to see what has changed, how I’ve grown, and what’s stayed the same.IMG_5306

Comparison number 1 is the first pair of pictures: me during an Open
WOD in 2015 and then during 16.2 this year (please ignore the horrible form on the clean/
give me some grace as it was during the last 10 seconds of the WOD. Also, how awesome is that pain face?).

Related to that is another comparison photo: On top my hand, casualty of T2B from 15.1 (and another T2B WOD the day before), bottom is this year, Easter Sunday, the day after completing the Open.

Why the comparison you ask? It’s not to say I ripped last year and not this year (although that’s great and true). It’s not to show off my Easter nails (although if you know me the fact that I painted my own nails and it doesn’t look like a 5 year-old did it is quite an accomplishment). It’s not a promo for Starbucks’ caramelized honey latte (pretty tasty though). Look at the ring. Same one in both photos. Index finger in 2015, and now it’s on the middle finger. Basically, it was getting too loose and I now have to wear it on a whole other finger!!! I’ll spare you body transformation details (read about it here if you haven’t) but it’s good to have tangible reminders of just far you’ve come, especially when it’s not new or fresh anymore.

And on the T2B front, I’d say that is one area where I’ve progressed SO MUCH from 2015 to 2016. I still can’t kip them (oh, to be able to kip things efficiently….). But, just think on this: 15.1 was a 9 minute AMRAP of 15 T2B, 10 deadlifts and 5 snatches. My score was 37. Meaning I did 22 T2B total, and if I had to guess, I’d say that was about 7 minutes of the whole workout.

This year: 16.2 was the whole T2B, DU, squat clean ladder. I almost made it past the first round, with a score of 87 I was just 3 cleans short (I still am hungry to re-do that one). But in that 4 minutes, I got through 25 T2B, 50 DU and 12 cleans. Wow. Just reading that comparison is a huge perspective-getter for me. I all-too-easily get down on myself and frustrated with what I perceive as lack of progress (especially when it comes to gymnastics movements). But when I see it right there in black and white, it’s hard to deny – I have come a long way.

Attitude is another thing that was different this year. I’d say that going into the Open this year, I actually felt a bit more nervous and anxious. It was because in 2015, it was my first Open and I had nothing to compare it to. This year, going in, I knew how hard I’d worked in the last year, I knew how I’d done a year ago, and I knew that I wanted to do better.

I think I’ve shared before my “CrossFit Philosophy: ” Assume that you suck at everything, and when you don’t, it’s a nice surprise. And I think that I’m just not used to being good at things, so when I have expectations, I stress myself out (I have no idea if that makes any sense). I’d rather go in with expectations low and surprise myself, than to get my hopes up and be disappointed.

So, going in, I got all psyched up, but once the Open started, I would say that overall I felt much more chill than last year. When I didn’t get a C2B during 16.1, yeah sure I was disappointed. But I didn’t quite plunge to the same depths as after failing to get a pull-up during 15.2 last year. There were a lot of things I wish I could have done better or differently, or made more progress in a year. But, at the end of the day, just as my 15.2 post was entitled: We’re doing this for fun.

image2 (2)

I LOVE this picture that my amazingly talented CrossFit friend Matt captured during the Open (week of 16.4 I believe). We’ll call it “Keep Calm, it’s just the Open. 1. Because it proves not all of my “Open faces” are terrifying (see 16.2 face above). 2. Because it was totally spontaneous and just captures the feeling of joy I have doing something I love with some of the most awesome people I know.

That doesn’t mean I have to lie or pretend I am always 100% satisfied with my performance. It just means that at the end of the day, I am getting better at shaking it off and moving on. With greater time spent in any sport comes greater perspective and maturity as an athlete. And, although I did ride the emotional highs and lows of the Open rollercoaster, I think this year I did a better job of remembering that age-old adage: Keep Calm, it’s just the Open.

Preparation-wise, I’d say the 2 months of Open Prep I did paid off in some regards. Gymnastics is still a glaring weakness (actual words of my coach – we are obviously now beyond the point of him trying to make me feel good when we are evaluating performance and goal-setting). I did a lot of work on HSPUs and C2B pull-ups, and yes, I’m disappointed that I didn’t do either one of them in the Open this year.

But gas tank-wise, I’d say the Open prep I did was really helpful. I got used to doing the “staple Open movements” (think rowing, thrusters, box jumps (although they never showed up), DUs, oly lifts, wall balls, burpees) under fatigue. So when they came up in the Open, it seemed almost like another day of training.

I also learned (again) that I am somewhat of a CrossFit anomaly in that I secretly love all those long, supposedly soul-crushing WODs that everyone else hates (read rowing/thrusters in 15.5 and thrusters/burpees in 16.5). I have great pacing ability, a pretty decent gas tank, a love for long workouts/a good grind, and enjoy WODS that are low skill, just requiring grit, mental toughness and repetitive movements. Both after 15.5 and 16.5, I felt like, what was the big deal? That’s what all the fuss was about?

One cool thing about 2016 vs. 2015 is that I submitted 5 scores RX this year. Granted, some were pretty low/I did the scaled version to get a workout in after submitting my RX score, but still, it is kind of neat to say I did the whole Open RX (although I still struggle with the whole RX vs scaling on some weeks and whether it’s in the “spirit of the Open” (whatever that means)…guess it just depends on your goals).

I have also learned, through 2 Opens, that progress, for me, is slow, but it is there. I have yet to get “my first ____________” during the Open, last year or this year (True, 15.1 was my first time RXing an entire T2B WOD, but not my actual first T2B). No C2B pull-up, handstand push-up, muscle-up (bar or otherwise) happened for me. And if I spend a lot of time thinking about it, I can get pretty upset (which is why I try not to).

That’s also why I posted a shout-out on Facebook after 16.3 to everyone who DIDN’T get their first bar muscle-up. I think it’s so cool all the people who did, and how the Open pushes people and all that, and I’m not trying to take anything away from them. But, reality is, it’s just not going to happen for a lot of us. And if you make the Open all about those elusive, magical moments that may or may not happen, you can set yourself up for disappointment (need I remind you of post 15.2 caverns of despair?).

If you’re showing up and doing the Open workouts each week, you win. If you’re working hard, chipping away at weaknesses, and grinding day in and day out no matter what season it is, that is the big victory. Don’t let 5 WODs and your ability (or lack thereof) define you.

 

Thanks to all who made this Open possible:

Dave Castro for your crazy Open announcement antics and the fodder it provided amongst CrossFit friends and on social media (I’m just going to hold back my opinion for now).

All those CrossFit friends: for the great Thursday night text conversations, cheers and camaraderie at the Saturday Open parties, and just generally being the awesome people that you are.

CrossFit friend Matt who took all the awesome Open photos at our gym this year, capturing my crazy pain and insanely happy faces, as well as designing some kick-a** t-shirts for our team.

CrossFit friend Kellee who forced/encouraged me to write Open update posts again this year when I didn’t think that I would.

CrossFit friend Kim for all the words of encouragement, being a (loving and honest) form judge, and all those post-WOD food and drink celebrations (which were much-needed).

All the coaches at Alchemy. Duncan for kicking my butt with 2 months of Open prep and unfailing honesty when it comes to assessing where I’m at. Broder for never letting me settle for less than I’m capable of (especially when it comes to kettlebells). Craig for encouragement/always making me laugh/reminding me to pull up my pants during 16.2 ;). Alex for your awesome countdown/pacing during 16.4. And Janet for captaining our awesome team (we should’ve won!) and great strategy advice each week.

So, with that, Open 2016 is officially a wrap. I made it through, with triumph and disappointment and a few bumps in the road, but ultimately I survived to WOD another day.

I’m ready to tackle a new lifting program starting this week and do a partner comp with  Kim at the end of the month (stay tuned for updates on both), and just generally shake off the Open crazies and get back to normal.

CrossFit Open, I’ll see you in 2017. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a heavy barbell I want to get back to and some gymnastics work to do.

 

 

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