On Saturday I competed in the Mercer Island CrossFit 5k Challenge. The event was put on by my good friends (and training partners) Corey and Allison McGee who are the owners of Mercer Island CrossFit. At the event I was helping judge other participants in the first couple heats, and participating in the forth heat (at 10:45am). From the moment that I got to Mercer Island CrossFit it was apparent that Corey and Allison were going to put on an amazing event. They had schedules and score cards printed for all of the judges, a welcome table where competitors checked in, a specific area for competitors to warm up, and a table full of Progenex (including free samples).
At 8:30am the clock counted down from 10-0, and it was on! The workout consisted of:
30 shoulders to overhead
25 front squats
30 hang power cleans
The Rx weights were 95 pounds for men, and 65 pounds for women.
Judging the first few events was awesome! It was a combination of keeping track of rep numbers, checking the competitors form, and trying to motivate them to push as hard as they could. I loved it!
About 30 minutes before my heat was set to begin I headed into the warm up area and started loosening up my body. The Invictus WODs we do for our everyday programing had been tough this week, and I spent a good amount of time on the foam roller before even thinking about moving weights. Once the foam roller had throughly tenderized my muscles I started picking up the 95 pound bar, and warming up my legs and wrists with some front squats. From there I slowly worked my way through a few reps of each exercise in the competition. My body warmed up nicely, and although you never know how a workout will feel until you’re into it, I felt like I was ready and headed outside to the starting area. After watching the other competitors I knew the event was going to be won on the run, so my main goal was to keep a big forward lean to keep me moving fast, and preserve my legs for the other exercises.
When the 10 second countdown started I tossed my shirt to the side, and felt my adrenaline jump!
Shoulders to overhead
The clock started and we were off and running (about 15 athletes per heat)! To my surprise two very strong female athletes took the early lead on the run. I chased them down and took a short lead before a male athlete from Cascade CrossFit passed me at about the 600m mark. He sounded like he was already really breathing hard, so I thought I’d just let him go and burn himself out. We ran back to the starting line where our barbells were waiting, and we started heaving them overhead. I was able to easily burn through the 30 shoulder to overheads, and head back out on the run.
The male athlete who passed me on the 1st loop, another male from Cascade CrossFit, and a female athlete also cruised through the first exercise, and it was clear they were the people to beat (or keep up with…). I was able to stay in 2nd place through the second 800m run, and picked up the barbell for 15 quick front squat reps. I was strategically not going to go through all of the reps at once to save my legs for the run. Of course that sounds like a good plan in theory… After completing the final 10 front squats my legs were so full of blood that I felt like I was doing a bodybuilding workout, and I stumbled off on the third 800m run with what felt like balloons for legs.
Power hang cleans
That’s about the point that I knew this workout was going to hurt, bad! I was passed by both the second male from Cascade CrossFit and the female athlete that I mentioned earlier. At that point I was thinking I’d keep them in sight, and when I got my 2nd wind, I’d catch them on the run… That plan started to come undone when I did the power hang cleans in 2 sets of 15, and the athletes in front of me did them in 1 set of 30, but I was still convinced that the event was going to be won on the run.
It was clear at this point that the first half of the runs from here on out were going to be a hellish transition of fighting my legs to keep running, to thinking that I might puke, to “ok I think I can do this”. The thrusters were the hardest exercise in the event, and I was hoping they might break the three athletes in front of me. As I approached the bar for thrusters the first place guy was already headed back out on the run, and I knew I was in trouble. I picked up the bar and actually felt like I had some spring in my legs, but I didn’t want to change my plan so I dropped the bar at 10 reps, took 4 breathes, busted out 10 more grueling thruster reps, and fell into another slow run.
As I started out on the run I could feel my stomach bouncing around, which wasn’t good! I have never thrown up during a CrossFit workout, and didn’t expect to during this event, but my stomach wasn’t happy with me. Once I hit the 400m mark things started to feel better, and I mentally prepared for the 20 burpees. I’m not sure why, but for some reason I actually felt pretty good going into the burpees, and banged out all 20 without stopping.
The final run
As I headed out on the final run all I wanted was to get some of my breath back so I could turn it up, and try to make up some time. None of my breathing techniques worked until the 400 or 500m mark when I was actually able to speed up a bit, and really pick up the pace for the last 200m’s. When I touched my bar for the last time the clock read 26 minutes and 9 seconds. I was about 2 and a half minutes behind the winner, and in fourth place for my heat.
After catching my breath and high fiving my friends it was recovery time and I heading to the Progenex table for a big Recovery shake! There was one more heat for the day, and I feverishly cheered on the athletes who all crushed the workout. In the end I finished 5th out of the men, and 6th overall. I really, really, really wanted to win, but the other athletes were awesome, and I was happy with my 5th place finish behind some other great athletes and people.